|Image by Josh Finney|
Tau seem to have everyone ducking for cover these days, and running for the hills. Time to get tough–Uncle Sam style–and sock it to those fish faced socialists!
Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to show you how to overcome the Red Scare of the 41st millennium! They’ve been kicking butt at tournaments and locally we’ve seen them steamrolling a lot of players.
The seldom seen red-headed step child of 5th edition is back with a vengeance to show the capitalists the error of their ways. Those of you who remember 4th edition will know how good Tau can be as they were a powerful force in the tournament scene back then. However with the core changes to 5th, Tau saw themselves go from THE shooty army from hell to a sad faced second fiddle. In the hands of a skilled general they could still perform fairly well but in general everything out-shoot them.
Come 6th ed and WOW! Tau are back in force. At Frontline one of the most common questions we get from folks is how to tweak their list to deal with Tau. Tau pack in an absurd amount of firepower and can easily overwhelm an opponent that is unprepared. More than that, it is a sobering experience to play Tau for the first time as it feels like you may as well not even use any terrain the way Tau ignore cover and LoS.
On top of that, Tau essentially shut down reserve tactics with their 5pt interceptor upgrades that can be had so easily throughout the army. Devastating overwatch abilities, cheap leadership buffs (oh how Chaos Space Marines wish they could get Ethereals!) and more unit/wargear combos than you can shake a stick at, Tau really do bring the heat. It is easy to feel a bit helpless when playing against a good Tau army.
But fear not, my fellow champions of democracy! The Reds will never overcome good old fashioned freedom!!! Freedom Imperium style, where if you don’t do exactly what we say you’re burned as a heretic….
But let’s not get caught up in petty details. Let’s look at what makes Tau good and how to counter it.
- Firepower. A bit of a duh! here I know, but this is what Tau is built around. Devastating firepower.
- Marker Lights. Marker Lights are what take Tau from good to great. A Riptide for example, sans Marker Lights is a solid unit, with them he is devastating. Marker Lights also mean that Tau can go to ground behind an Aegis for the crazy defense but then shoot in the subsequent shooting phase almost as well as normal due to those pesky marker lights. One of the tricks to building a good Tau list is striking the right ratio between offensive assets and support assets (largely Marker Lights). Too much support means your offensive assets become easy to take out leaving you unable to strike a killing blow. Too many offensive assets and your support assets are easy to eliminate which will dramatically reduce Tau Firepower.
- Offensive defense. Tau defense is brutal. Their overwatch can be as potent as many armies shooting. Charging into a Tau castle is often suicidal.
- Interceptor and Skyfire galore. Tau can absolutely devastate reserves and/or flyer armies.
- Powerful unit/wargear combos. Tau can pull off some crazy combinations through the use of wargear and unit abilities. Ignoring cover, Monster Hunter, Tank Hunter, Infiltrate, ignoring LoS, Deep Striking without scattering, etc. etc. etc. You really have to ask questions about your opponent’s army list when playing Tau to make sure you understand what everything does.
- Taking objectives. Tau stink at it. Their troops are for sitting and shooting, not so much the going out and taking objectives. Kroot can get sneaky with outflanking and such, but they still are not very tough nor do they excel at taking a held objective. Allies helps Tau out with this immensely, but pure Tau definitely struggle in this regard. We have had several games here where we were just getting pummeled by Tau but still won due to playing to the objectives. Tau often do not like to leave their castle.
- Close Combat. While it may be very difficult to get into combat with Tau, once there, they die like vermin! Little communist vermin! The suits can pack a surprising punch but generally this is where Tau die horribly. You don’t need much here, either. Assault troops with nothing but two flamers is great (and that is actually a great unit in general for all the wimpy backfield objective holding units we see these days).
- Long Range shootouts. Tau don’t have amazing range. They tend to hang out in the 30″ to 36″ range. If your army packs in a lot of firepower that exceeds that range, you can leverage that to your advantage.
- Ignores Cover. Tau are champs at ignoring cover but they do not like it when others pull the same trick on them. Weapons that ignore cover and bypass their armor will really do a number on many Tau builds which rely on the Aegis. Barrage weapons, template weapons, etc. are great for this. Hellhounds, shunting Dreadknights, etc. are great.
- Leadership. While the Tau can be really buffed up through leadership enhancements such as Ethereals, these provide key targets to eliminate. Taking out leadership buffs is extremely important to beating Tau as once gone, the little blue space men run like girly men! Also, Riptides are not fearless. Shoot them with pinning weapons, etc. and help to neutralize them.
- Instant Death! A lot of the Tau heavy hitters are only toughness 4. By using weapons that can one shot them, or comboing psychic powers such as Enfeeble, you can take this annoying little Evangelion wannabes out much faster.
- Psychic defense. They have none. Use that to your advantage. Psychic Shriek, Terrify, Enfeeble, Dominate, Fear of the Darkness, Null Zone, etc. are all devastating to Tau. Use them.
- Heavy Armor. Somewhat ironically, typical Tau builds lack any really reliable way of dealing with AV14.
- Ethereals. These little blue buggers are so good! They make the Tau gunline viable by ensuring that the rest of the army is unlikely to run away. If you can reliably take this commie rabble-rouser out early in the game, do not hesitate to do so. Not only is he worth double VPs, but he makes it immensely easier to scatter the rest of the roaches. I have found barrage weapons are excellent for this.
- Marker Lights. As stated previously, these are the key to taking Tau shooting from good to holy $#!^ good. Ignore the Riptides, Broadsides, etc. if at all possible until the Marker Lights are gone. This will dramatically reduce Tau firepower.
- Troops. Tau troops are squishy. Even if Tau are shooting you to Hades and back, they can’t win an objective based mission if they don’t have any troops left.
- T4 suits. These pack in huge firepower for their points but are relatively easy to kill compared to Riptides, Hammerheads or Skyrays. Again, double these jerks out with Las Cannons, Melta Guns, etc.
- Everything else. Riptides, tanks, etc. which are relatively hard targets require a lot more attention in general to destroy and as such, don’t worry about them as much. All of these units go way down in efficacy sans Marker Lights. Again, Riptides are not fearless, pin those suckers or get them to run away!