Friday, 28 June 2013

The Tau Problem

It's a bitch isn't it? When your old armies get a make over from the one-dimensional shit houses they used to be and become the latest, greatest one dimensional terror weapon in the 40k universe.

Now, this happens a lot for me as I own a lot of armies haha...but I acknowledge it isn't the same for all.

Tau. Well.. they've really made us all rethink a few things haven't they?

When constructing an army - at list building stage, you consider a number of things (in no particular order):
1) Objective grabbing - it's 5/6 missions in the rulebook afterall
2) Mobility - linked to both objective grabbing and 3 below
3) Firepower - its a futuristic war game about dudes with guns. Seriously, you know this is a shooting game, right?
4) Resilience - you're gonna get shot at!
5) Line Break, Warlord and First Blood - these MUST be considered to create a competitive army
6) Psychic Defence and Offence (if applicable)
7) Assault - if you want it, how to get it... if you want to avoid it, how to!
8) Fliers - can you bring them down? But not at the expense of balanced firepower? Ignore them?
9) Infantry
10) Transports
11) Heavy Tanks

I personally then consider the top meta builds and think how the armies would handle them:
- Crons with balanced Air, Wraiths etc
- IG Blobs w Azrael or dual Rune Priest Prescience
- Heldrakes + Allies (often IG or Demons)
- Nids - for this I use the common build (not my own...) - Dual Flyrants, Dual Tervigons, Doom
- Demons - FMC Spam and super casty builds

Now, as a very strong army we must build in Tau. Now, this wouldn't be a big deal except that Tau are not JUST a build to consider when constructing your army, they also have a strong Ripple Effect....

The Tau Ripple Effect:

You don't just need to consider the potential Tau match ups at club or perhaps more importantly (for this article anyway) at tournament level.

You don't just need to have a solid target priority in place - Markerlights, Markerlights, Markerlights!

You don't just need a solid bait and hammer combined with ordnance or large blast barrage weaponry to seperate the Storm of Bollocks from the Ethereal.

You don't just need high strength, low AP weaponry to take down Riptides and Skyrays/Longstrike (maybe) quickly

You don't just need to be able to take out Broadsides FAST!

You MUST also consider the significant shift in the meta that Tau WILL and HAVE create.

AV13 Wall of Steel Necrons will and are emerging - Ghost Arks at range with cover and carrying multiple S8 AP2 weapons - plenty of firepower to remove infantry based Markerlight units - Drones and Pathfinders. Combine this with the usual Necron toys and this army is solid vs Tau and vs many others.

"So what?" I hear you ask - when was the last time you faced off against 11 Av13 vehicles? More realistically 9 Av13, quantum shielded bad boys..with Cron Air support.. I'd suggest 7 plus Fliers at 1850 could be very nasty whilst maintaining its strengths vs other builds.

Can your army kill it? I think about the armies I am running competitively and I know that whilt Tau may get there eventually, Nids definitely will struggle, FMC Demons will get there eventually IF they are grounded and slaughtered by rapid fire Gauss (psychic power dependent here)... It's a tough nut to crack.

Note: I am NOT saying this is the ultimate Tau beater, nor am I saying it is a tournament winner, not consistently at least.

IG can Mech up once more - as more and more Tau armies hit the tournament scene there is less likelihood of all those vehicles being multi assaulted off the board.. shot off sure.. but Av12 vs S7 is an interesting trade off - always has been. They also possess many of the tools stated above for dealing with Tau and for satisfying the usual "can I win a game?" questions up top.

Again, this changes up the army building equation that we run through when building for tournaments - just how many mech IG builds will we see? Can I deal with 15 Av12 vehicles?
What about the concept of Russes on the return?
Demolishers moving forward bubblewrapped by platoons is a horrid image for Tau - crap load of Av14 fronted vehicles lobbing S10 shots at you.. horrid.

What about Mech BA? Random I know.. BUT Flamer Baal Preds, Fast Vindicators, Drop Pod AV13 Furioso's with the triple flamer templates.. thats a tough deal for Tau.
Sure.. it's quite limited against other builds..BUT what if...

Pure Drop Pod armies? There is only so much Interceptor in a Tau list..

Ultimately, Tau counters will emerge and as a top player.. you need to think ahead of the game - predict what's going to be popular in the anti-Tau war and bring something that can beat the snot out of that AS WELL AS Tau and the regular builds.. whatever they are.. cause times they are a changing!


  1. Tzeentch screamer council.. with fateweaver and dog support.. i can see that on the up too with tau as they are

    1. K, I'll bite.. What's a screamer council? Presumably just a big screamer unit with dual level 3 heralds?

    2. sent you a message.. andy o will kill me if i plaster his new uber lisrt all over the interwebz : P

  2. Interesting point but I don't think Tau are the issue. First off the tau you're talking about are the missile spam variety. Balanced all rounder lists can already deal with the necrons you mention.

    The issue at the moment is how rapidly the meta is changing. Eldar with so many fast av12 hulls and ludicrous firepower need to be considered. Then I'm sure SM will change the meta again. More than ever you have to keep ahead of current trends to succeed but there'll always be an element of luck in what you face. I really don't think there's an all comers list anymore.

    1. I think the missiles are more balanced than the fusion wielding crisis you run buddy.. Dual riptides with nova ripple fire fusion and s9 ordnance (obvs and/or) is decent enough vs av13 especially when combined with Puretide commander

      I made the point about staying ahead of the game and anticipating what these lists will do - I'm not sure eldar serpent spam does change that much? Their speed is irrelevant to take them down and once critical mass is removed, I.e. you've killed 3 or 4 of them, then it far less effective.. Sure, you need to consider the resiliency of your list without cover and at range (serpent shield) but you'd consider resiliency to fire anyway...?

  3. very interesting read. i think i'll just start playing my old 5th ed guard list again, swapping hydras for two demolishers, and call it a day, easier for everyone ;)

    1. Lol..the Demolishers will be nasty fire magnets, but at their cost its a decent trade off.. Wrap the up in a blob and prescience them lol!