Tau in Action

jeremy Tau

Image by Jeremy Dale

So I just finished my first game with the new Tau!

Even though I got a new mud-hole stomped in my butt and made a lot of mistakes, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Making mistakes is all a part of the process though, and you just take it in stride while learning a new army.

Tau are still a difficult army to play well. Maybe even more now than before. They simply don’t have any units you can just shove down your opponent’s throat like many armies do. All of their units are very fragile in assault (read: get touched in assault and die) apart from Farsight (who still isn’t great), and they have some subtle changes that really effect the way the army plays.

I wasn’t using the units I would have chosen to use under ideal circumstances, but it is what we had available and painted.

Roughly I was using:


Commander with max defensive buffs: Iridium, FnP, 4++, Drone Controller, Missile Pods

Fire Warriors x 12

Fire Warriors x 12

Kroot x 20: Snipers

Kroot x 15: Snipers

Crisis x 2: Twin Missile, Flamer

Crisis x 3: Plasma, Fusion

Stealth x 4

Pathfinder x 4

Pathfinder x 4

Drones x 12

Broadisdes x 2: Shield Drones x 2, Velocity Tracker x 2

Raildhead: Submunitions, Longstrike, D.Pods

Ionhead: SMS, D.Pods

I was playing against a Chaos and Chaos Daemon army that was pretty dang solid.


Lv3 Sorcerer: Biomancy

GUO: Greater Gifts, LV 3 Psyker, Biomancy

Cultists x 35

Cultists x 11

Plague Bearers x 10



Flesh Hounds x 20

Havocs x 7: Auto Cannon x 4

Havocs x 7: Auto Cannon x 4

Aegis: Comms Relay

The other important factor to consider was that my opponent was having red hot dice when we played, making a crazy amount of saves.

All of that said, I think Tau are a great deal of fun to play. You just have to REALLY think things through, at least a turn ahead. Everything depends on that delicate dance of getting into maximum damage range, but staying out of assault range while utilizing force multipliers and synergistic elements to maximize what you’ve got. If that sounds a bit complex, that’s because it is!

Here’s some of what I learned.

The Devilfish sucks balls as a transport. They work decently as a cheapish gunship, perhaps transporting a minimum sized unit of Firewarriors, but the loss of Tau vehicles being able to fire as a fast vehicle really hurts. It entices you to keep your vehicles immobile to fire at full effect, which is often the kiss of death in later turns when enemy units close to assault range.

Longstrike isn’t worthwhile, IMO. Unless you play in a meta with IG all over the place, or tons of Mechanized armies, he is wasted points. Against your average infantry heavy army, I think you will be seeing his abilities largely wasted. Better to keep your Railhead cheap. Speaking of which, after having played the Railhead and Ionhead, I have to say, I think the Ionhead is the better choice. It’s more versatile: that strength 8 template is so dang useful. It lacks the punch of the Rail Cannon solid shot, but I think that is OK. Unless you face a lot of AV14, it’s wont matter that much. The Railhead is more of an insurance policy for that occasional Leman Russ or Land Raider.

Stealthsuits are slightly improved. They get an extra shot per model, and the increased range on the Fusion Gun is great, but I still doubt we’ll be seeing much of these guys in competitive play. Tough 3 is just too much of a bummer. For 2 points more, you get a Crisis suit with a Burst Cannon, 7 points and you get a twin linked Burst Cannon…plus an extra wound and point of toughness. You lose out on infiltrate and Stealth plus Shrouded which does make a big difference in cover but I think the increased durability of Crisis suits will be more useful overall.

Crisis suits are still very versatile. Just as with last edition, my favorite load out so far is twin Missile Pod and Flamer. Now with free Multi Trackers and Black Sun Filters, they are even better. That unit gives you a ton of flexibility. You can deepstrike in to take out a key, unit, fight light tanks, flyers, and light infantry. It really allows you to do a lot for a reasonable price tag. Plus, with Multi Tracker and Missile Pods, the Flamers can reach deep into a unit to scorch some booty! Plus, being able to Deep Strike is great. Deployment options makes for an army that is just so much more flexible.

The Ethereal is seriously good. I see him finding a place in a LOT of lists. That LD10 aura is immensely useful and in our first game saved my bacon at least 6 times. He kept units from running off of the table, and was a low priority target himself. For 50pts, you really are getting a big return on investment, particularly if you use a lot of infantry and suits, which I predict most Tau players will be doing.

The Fireknife Crisis suit teams were OK. Nothing great. They heavily rely on Marker Light support to really do anything. With that, they can be pretty deadly, but without it they miss a lot and frustrate you! Haha

The Commander was great. I went overboard with the defensive upgrades, big time. I think Iridium armor is plenty good. He never even got shot and unless you find yourself up against a lot of high power shooting attacks with Precision Strike, don’t sweat it. Give him more offensive punch, instead. I think in future games I will run with the Airbursting Frag Projectors.

Teaming him with Gun Drones though, was awesome. He makes that unit just deadly. Beefing them up to BS5 is deadly, and the extended range of his Missile Pods, again, really helps to make them very much more effective by estending their kill zone. His Warlord traits are very useful too, and can be game changing. In our game I got the trait that allowed Skyfire once per game with he and his unit, which was very useful. I am sure there are a million more combinations of wargear, warlord traits and units to use with him, but so far I thoroughly enjoy this unit.

Broadsides. They are a hot topic out there with now. I rolled like utter piss for mine this game, but I think they are all but required. They add SO much. Velocity trackers are really important for them and I think Shield Drones, too, just to soak wounds. These guys will thrash a lot of units out there, including most flyers. I am leaning towards taking High Yield Missile Pods right now, as it blends so well with Smart Missiles. Plus, they are really good against low AV targets….like Flyers. The 2+ and 2 wounds means they will weather the storm of most flyers very well, and then counter with deadly fire. I think these guys are going to combo with Skyrays REALLY well. I wish I would have had a Skyray instead of a Hammerhead in our game. Those are going to be fantastic tools in Tau lists.

The Pathfinders were amazing. I think the 4 man units are just right, but they risk giving up First Blood soooo easily. Beefing them up a bit, perhaps to 6, is probably the better call, but 4 man teams worked quite well. Tetras are the better bet if you play with Forge World, but Pathfinders are money and Marker Lights are critical to making Tau function at max efficiency.

Kroot. Hmmm. They were OK. My opponent focused on them because they were really the only thing I had that could do a lot of wounds to his GUO in a single volley, so they soaked an inordinate amount of fire. I think a unit of them will be pretty ubiquitous in most Tau armies though for their flexibility. 7pt Snipers that benefit from Marker Lights are awesome. They are a good answer to MCs, Termies, etc. Plus they can Infiltrate for deployment options and outflank. They are quite a useful tool, but two units was one too many, IMO.

I think this army would work much better with a Riptide, and some small changes. The Devilfish are a waste of points, IMO. Perhaps others like them in certain builds, but I was underwhelmed. A Riptde with Ion Accelerator, Twin Fusion and Velocity Tracker would be pretty sweet. That gives you a resilient unit with a lot of AP2 shots and the ability to drop Flyers like a bad habit. Plus the model is the absolute bomb dot com!

Here is the 1750pts list I am considering. I think it will be quite a bit better. For 1850, add an Aegis with a Quad Gun. Still so much to learn with Tau as they play so much differently, but I am enjoying them so far.

Tau 1750pts
Unit Description Size Cost
Commander Missile Pod, Drone Controller, Iridium Armor, Frag 1 143
Ethereal 1 50
Fire Warriors 12 108
Fire Warriors 12 108
Fire Warriors 12 108
Kroot Snipers 15 105
Crisis Team Twin M.Pods, Flamer 3 141
Riptide Ion Accelerator, Velocity Tracler, Twin Fusion 1 205
Fast Attack
Pathfinders 4 44
Pathfinders 4 44
Drones 12 168
Heavy Support
Broadsides Velocity Tracker x 3, Shield Drone x 2, Missiles 6 279
Skyray SMS 1 115
Hammerhead SMS, Submuntion 1 130
Totals 85 1748


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

13 Responses to “Tau in Action”

  1. Avatar
    Francis April 7, 2013 2:35 am #

    I look forward to some video batreps of you testing various Tau builds

    • Avatar
      Pellegrino April 7, 2013 7:50 am #

      Need like 3 riptides and suits in your list lol. I think the idea tau allying with SM would probably a good idea

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 7, 2013 9:26 am #

        I haven’t even touched on allies yet, but Eldar or Space marines will really, really add a lot to Tau. I think those combos will be pretty amazing.

        Riptides are awesome, but I honestly don’t know if 3 is required. It would certainly be quite good though, for sure. All of them with Velocity Trackers and Interceptor would be pretty brutal against Flyers.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 7, 2013 9:25 am #

      We have one on the way, sir!

  2. Avatar
    Invok93 April 7, 2013 9:30 am #

    will be awesome to see you look into this book, maybe some batreps if you get time? Do you think you could play 2 ionheads and a sky ray and have 9 T-L missile pod suits to take care of business? maybe with skyfire not sure how expensive it is.

    Keep up the awesome work 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 7, 2013 9:42 am #

      We have a Tau Bet Rep uploading now, but didn’t have all the models we wanted. It’s hard for us to meet specific unit requests because we often simply don’t have the models.

  3. Avatar
    Vox April 7, 2013 10:17 am #

    I wouldn’t write off Devilfishes too quick. In a few games I played yesterday, they were pretty key in getting up field. Otherwise I wouldn’t of gotten to any of the objectives or the Relic without taking heavy losses.
    If they weren’t transporting, they were blocking bikes or Chimeras that were making their way to Suits.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 7, 2013 12:42 pm #

      Yeah, I am sure folks can find uses for them. I personally just have no luck with transports this edition that aren’t assault vehicles. I prefer to save the points and keep my guys on foot. I am sure I wasn’t using them as well as I could have in this game, either. I probably won’t use them myself, but I am glad they are working for you.

  4. Avatar
    Invok93 April 7, 2013 10:20 am #

    Sorry It sounded too demanding, especially seeing as you already give us so much content and have a business to run as is.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 7, 2013 12:43 pm #

      No worries bro, you didn’t sound demanding at all. We get requests like that fairly frequently and we want to do it, but we just often can’t due to not having the models. We don’t mind the requests at all, though.

  5. Avatar
    Invok93 April 7, 2013 10:36 am #

    oh shoot sorry I didn’t mean ‘I want to see x bat rep with x models’
    I meant do you think a set up like that would be viable

  6. Avatar
    Gregorius42 April 7, 2013 11:26 am #

    I played a game with Farsight, 7 body guards, ethereal, riptide, 6 suits, 4×12 fire warrior teams, 2x 8 pathfinders, 2×3 broadsides and 1 railhead. Dropped all devilish and added a stealth suit team of 5. Riptide and broadsides had velocity tracker and we played James Orks.

    Lets just say 4 batewagons with Ghazzie and 6 mega nobs in one, 2 x 19 plus one Shooty Boyz and one x 10 Lootas move faster than they can be killed. The lack of a tau hammer makes it hard to play a game against an assault army like Orks. Oh and the nerf on the broadsides was felt as I could not punch the battle wagons.

    Otherwise, like Reece said, they are fun to play and the downside to deep striking is that it forced me to bring my suits in piece meal and they could not support the fire warriors appropriately. All my broadsides survives but so did Ghazzie and the meganobs.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 7, 2013 12:44 pm #

      Yeah, just like always, fast assault armies are going to be a major headache for the Tau. I think allies is where they will really shine.

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