Are you ready for the return of the Tau?

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Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to talk about preparing yourself for the coming of the Greater Good!

Crazy internet super rage about how to read the new Tau “Decurion” style detachment (the Hunter Contingent) Command Benefits aside, I am very pumped for the return of Tau. As a long time lover of all things giant robot and manga, (Voltron was my first giant robo love as a young lad), it will be very cool to see them coming back to the tabletops after a bit of a downturn in popularity.

Tau are getting a lot of the same in terms of units, wargear, abilities and points cost which is good and bad. Existing Tau players won’t have to restructure their entire army, just add in some of the new cool goodies. But, it also means they’ll have many of the same strengths and weaknesses they’ve always had which is frustrating a bit.

However, the new Formations do look REALLY powerful. Many are being immediately drawn to the Optimized Stealth Cadre for good reason. One, it includes the beautiful Ghostkeel kit (one of which we gave away to a lucky watcher on our Twitch channel last Tuesday!), but it also gives them the very powerful Ignores Cover USR and they automatically hit vehicles on their rear armor…wow! That is scary. Combined with their high cover saves and the Ghostkeels amazing ability to essentially go Invisible to shooting to one unit once per game and you have a nasty, self contained group of units that is going to be doing work.

knowing is half the battle

That is just one of many Tau tricks coming your way! It’s going to be a new landscape here very shortly, are you prepared? Here are some easy steps to get yourself up to speed and ready for battle:

    1. Read the Tau rules. Knowledge is power, grasshopper! Nothing worse than getting blindsided by something when it is too late to alter your plan.
    2. Learn how to use tricksy ticks to stop or diminish overwatch. There are LOTS of little tricks of the trade with model positioning that can mitigate Tau’s brutal overwatch capabilities such as only leaving a single model in LoS when overwatch is resolved so that only that poor sucker can get vaporized, leaving the rest of the unit free to make the assault! For reference, you only need LoS to the target unit when you declare a charge for it to be legal. Also, sacrificing a unit in an attempted multi-assault to force the Tau player to waste their Overwatch helps a ton to allow you harder hitting units to go in to melee after the suicide squeeze play, unscathed.
    3. Be prepared for massive Interceptor. Tau get Interceptor for 5pts per model on units that pack some serious heat. It’s brutal if you are not ready for it! Come in from reserves in position to hide from that crazy hitting power, or simply do not reserve at all. Another cool trick is to have a unit such as a vehicle move in front of your unit that just came out of reserve, cutting off LoS to it from the Tau units. As Interceptor is resolved at the end of the movement phase, you can save your units from getting pummeled before they get to do anything. Then, have the vehicle Flat Out of the way in your shooting phase before the unit that arrived from reserves activates, and it can shoot per normal. Now you see me, now you don’t!
    4. Break their morale! Tau have the inbuilt weakness of poor leadership for most units. Exploit this. Tank Shock them, hit them with leadership attacks, pin them, etc. Also, do not forget, many of their MCs are NOT Fearless. That is very, very important to keep in mind.
    5. Punch them. Well, duh!, right? Everyone knows this, but remember it. Even your weak units are usually going to steal the lunch money from most Tau units. Go hell bent for leather to get those Space Commies locked in combat as fast as you can. It also protects you form being shot! Multi-assault in almost every possible situation you can. Remember, their MCs are not usually fearless. Catch a Riptide with a unit of Firewarriors, smack the Firewarrionrs, win combat, run the Riptide down. It is immensely satisfying!
    6. Apply pressure. It can be intimidating to face Tau firepower and many players will hold back. Don’t! Go balls to the wall for the throat. Bum rush them and if even a few units make it into melee or simply force them back into a corner, it can win you the game. When the wheels fall off the bus for Tau, things tend to fall apart pretty quickly. So even if it feels like you are getting obliterated, stay focused and if you can get across the table with even a few stragglers and you win some multi-assaults, the tables can turn in a flash.
    7. Play to the mission. Tau often are not very good at grabbing objectives, particularly if you use progressive objectives. They want to stay away from you so play aggressively and go for board control. Keep in mind and while you may be eating Pulse rounds like they were candy, so long as you have a single model left on the table and more mission points, you win the game!
    8. Abuse Puppy added some more solid tactics and tips to the list:
      1. Range. Most Tau guns are 18″, 30″, or 36″; if you’re Imperial, you outrange them pretty easily. Even Eldar, who are only 36″ themselves, have the mobility to generally get the first punch in.
      2. Wraithknights. I mean, everyone struggles to kill Wraithknights, but for Tau it’s exceptionally bad because their common weapon profile (S7 AP4) is actually pretty weak against the big dude and they lack anything like Lascannons in number to really seal the job. With as fast as the WK is, they don’t get many chances to deal with it.
        1. Stormsurge Destroyer missiles will help a ton to deal with GMCs! -The French Overlord
      3. Fragility. While the Riptide and Stormsurge are reasonably tough to kill, most Tau units fold up pretty quickly when you start shooting back at them. Crisis and Broadsides are exceptionally vulnerable to S8+ weapons and the Ghostkeel, though it has a 2+ save all the time, is only T5 and can easily go down to concentrated Bolter fire. (Also, as Reece mentioned, low Leadership means any morale check is a chance to run off the table.)
      4. Psychic powers. Tau have no answer to enemy psykers other than “shoot at them some more,” which is their solution to basically everything. The Telepathy table in particular, while always good, is particularly-powerful against Tau due to their low Leadership values- Terrify, Psychic Shriek, and Dominate can all be absolutely backbreaking for a Tau army.
      5. Scoring. Tau don’t like sitting in midfield for the most part, and their troops are pretty weak. In ITC missions you should pretty easily trump them on Maelstrom for the most part, and in “normal” missions you can potentially keep enough pressure on them so that they don’t get the chance to ever start advancing.

Now drop and give me 20! You’re ready to face those fish faced aliens and give them what for!

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About Reecius

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

48 Responses to “Are you ready for the return of the Tau?”

  1. FrequentRespawn October 30, 2015 12:45 am #

    DA/SM are not in a bad shape I think. Interromancy can be a big deal since it specifically messes with the enemies leadership.
    I guess Darkshrouds will get a lot of use. Not for the better cover save, but for giving units fear and even more for surpressing overwatch (works great in combination with Ravenwing CS and Sammaels Warlord trait). Skyhammer will be a great deal but also pretty risky with all the interceptor fire. A couple of Whirlwinds can be put to good use and help to get rid of the markerlight support. Since they are cheap, ignore cover and can shoot without LoS. Those would be my first ideas.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:48 am #

      Good points to bring up, FrequentRespawn! Yeah, Skyhammer will be high risk/high reward. If you survive the Interceptor, you can kick butt, but surviving will be tough.

  2. abusepuppy October 30, 2015 1:10 am #

    >Also, do not forget, many of their MCs are NOT Fearless.
    >Catch a Riptide with a unit of Firewarriors, smack the Firewarrionrs, win combat, run the Riptide down.

    I did this last weekend against a Tau/Eldar player. In two sets of multiple combats, I managed to sweep almost 800pts of models in a single turn, massively turning the game in my favor despite heavy losses up until that point. Combat resolution is CLUTCH against armies that aren’t Fearless/ATSKNF.

    However, remember that while their MCs aren’t Fearless, they still cannot be Pinned. The Stormsurge is also the one exception to their normal status, as it gains Fearless from the GC rules.

    Also, to add to Reece’s points:

    -Range. Most Tau guns are 18″, 30″, or 36″; if you’re Imperial, you outrange them pretty easily. Even Eldar, who are only 36″ themselves, have the mobility to generally get the first punch in.

    -Wraithknights. I mean, everyone struggles to kill Wraithknights, but for Tau it’s exceptionally bad because their common weapon profile (S7 AP4) is actually pretty weak against the big dude and they lack anything like Lascannons in number to really seal the job. With as fast as the WK is, they don’t get many chances to deal with it.

    -Fragility. While the Riptide and Stormsurge are reasonably tough to kill, most Tau units fold up pretty quickly when you start shooting back at them. Crisis and Broadsides are exceptionally vulnerable to S8+ weapons and the Ghostkeel, though it has a 2+ save all the time, is only T5 and can easily go down to concentrated Bolter fire. (Also, as Reece mentioned, low Leadership means any morale check is a chance to run off the table.)

    -Psychic powers. Tau have no answer to enemy psykers other than “shoot at them some more,” which is their solution to basically everything. The Telepathy table in particular, while always good, is particularly-powerful against Tau due to their low Leadership values- Terrify, Psychic Shriek, and Dominate can all be absolutely backbreaking for a Tau army.

    -Scoring. Tau don’t like sitting in midfield for the most part, and their troops are pretty weak. In ITC missions you should pretty easily trump them on Maelstrom for the most part, and in “normal” missions you can potentially keep enough pressure on them so that they don’t get the chance to ever start advancing.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:43 am #

      Very good suggestions, AP, I will add those to the OP.

    • fluger October 30, 2015 8:02 am #

      This is why Orks fear facing Tau now though. 🙁 I mean, I don’t need MUCH to hit home, but getting there and getting combo charges is so tough.

    • Jeremy Veysseire
      MikhailLenin October 30, 2015 8:15 am #

      Markerlights + Destroyer Missiles are the Tau solution Wraithknights.

      • Reecius
        Reecius October 30, 2015 9:09 am #

        Yeah, those Destroyer missiles are a good solution to everything, lol.

      • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 11:23 am #

        True, although that is reliant on a single, specific model that comes with a lot of disadvantages of its own. But if you unload on that WK first turn (and have the 8+ ML hits to make it work), you should pretty much always kill it.

  3. Kevin Lantz October 30, 2015 2:08 am #

    also to add…

    the new rules only add at most twinlinked and monster hunger/tank hunter and a few others than only matter on charge and not shooting…

    feel free to decry them op while you romp over them with necrons (any variety with decurions) or marines with any special rules unnerfed

    • Kevin Lantz October 30, 2015 2:11 am #

      but feel free to ignore their codex given rules in favor of “hermerged” they give these rules to two other units shooting at the same target and have no native psychic powers….

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:42 am #

      Kevin, lol, that horse has been beat to death, haha. Let’s talk about ANYTHING other than rule for a little while, please? 😉

  4. Mark October 30, 2015 2:51 am #

    Cheers Reecius nice article , i’ve got a 5000 point apoc game against Tau in a few weeks. Haven’t played them before so i’ve been filled with a renewed confidence after all the new Tau toys have come out.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:49 am #

      Yeah, you will be kicking butt and taking names, I would guess.

      • Mark October 30, 2015 7:59 am #

        Im hoping my revenant titan will do some work and that the updated rules surface before we get at it. He’s got a tide wall, any suggestions on how to take care of it. or some do nots against it

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 30, 2015 9:35 am #

          The Revenant got better, which is comical as it was already mega powerful. You should do just fine with that bad boy, it will walk through most Tau units with ease.

    • Narfwak October 30, 2015 1:21 pm #

      Tau has some interesting scaling when you get into apoc now that you can take larger units of Crisis suits and can take units of vehicles and MCs. A triple Riptide unit isn’t really practical at 1850, but at 5000 points that may as well be your standard scoring unit. The passive +1 BS they get for having a three-model unit of MCs or tanks is pretty huge, too, especially when you consider that Tau tanks are actually BS4 base and not BS3 like everything else.

  5. T6Ted October 30, 2015 3:08 am #

    As a Tau player I do not like this article. lol Just kidding! Keep up the good work Reese.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:50 am #

      Haha, don’t reveal the counter Tau tactics!! But thanks, appreciate the support.

  6. N.I.B. October 30, 2015 5:56 am #

    Hey what happened to my most positive comment earlier!? 🙂

  7. Anvil
    anvilward88 October 30, 2015 6:25 am #

    I have a feeling Breacher Teams in Devilfishes are going to be popular for grabbing objectives. Cheap and devastating when close enough. There’s enough long range by the rest of the Tau army that having more Pulse Rifle Fire Warriors will be a bit redundant, and Breachers will fill the niche the Tau needed.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:50 am #

      I think that may be a very sound assessment. Tau need the means to go and get objectives, they struggle with it.

      • Sadclown October 30, 2015 8:25 pm #

        I think of breacher squads as Tau’s “counter assault” Marine kiler gun.

    • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 11:26 am #

      The issue is less the Breacher Teams (I’m warming up to them a bit, although I still don’t think they’re great) and more the Devilfish, which are still pretty expensive in an environment where everyone is taking guns to kill Battle Company.

      I think Kroot (or, more realistically, allies) are Tau’s best solution to grabbing Maelstrom. They are reasonably cheap and can Infiltrate/Outflank into positions to do what you need and aren’t a complete waste when on the battlefield thanks to Sniper ammo.

      • Narfwak October 30, 2015 1:25 pm #

        I was thinking about that as well. Stealth suits seem too fragile, and Crisis are too expensive. Eldar allies with scatbikes (or even without Scatter Lasers) seem to be a perfect ally since they’re going to be outside of the leadership check range and you can take them with basically no tax in either a CAD or an Allied detachment.

        Speaking of Eldar – anything with Monofiliment seems like it would absolutely crush a lot of the new Tau stuff, especially the Ghostkeel. Warp Spiders weren’t exactly bad to begin with!

        • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 2:16 pm #

          Well, Monofilament typically wounds most things on 2s anyways; the only places it really changes are the Ghostkeel, Riptide, and Stormsurge (wounding on 2s rather than 3s/4s/4s respectively.) But Monofilament is really just a very good rule to begin with- it’s great against virtually everything, bar other Eldar.

          Eldar are a fantastic addition to Tau, in my opinion; Scat Bikes are great scoring and add to your weight of firepower, a Farseer can solve many psychic woes, and Wraithknights are not only one of the best units in the game, they solve your issues with heavy armor and deathstars while also being good general melee defense.

  8. ehegner1 October 30, 2015 7:10 am #

    Ok. Now for the article on how tau can deal with a wraithknight and Iknights. Pychic armies and deathstars.

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 7:50 am #

      I am sure we can get that worked out.

      • ehegner1 October 30, 2015 8:18 am #

        The retaliation cadre formation with DS relentless broadsides is definitely a good start.

        • Reecius
          Reecius October 30, 2015 9:35 am #

          Yeah, that is savage.

        • Narfwak October 30, 2015 1:26 pm #

          Putting a Buffmander in the relentless broadsides seems like the way to run that formation even though the broadsides themselves are already twin-linked and the SMS ignores cover… just so you can buff six missile drones with TL/IC and BS5. Plus, relentless broadsides that can land in the middle of the board seem like a game changer by themselves.

          • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 10:42 pm
            #

            Missile Drones do not benefit from a Drone Controller.

    • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 11:28 am #

      IKnights are actually not a big deal- Tau have Fusion, Missile Pods, Railguns, etc, pretty abundantly.

      Wraithknights are a lot tougher; the Stormsurge works pretty well, but apart from that you’re really looking to bring in allies for something like Misfortune.

      • Sadclown October 30, 2015 8:26 pm #

        Why bot fire base cadre with free monster hunter and tank hunter?

        • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 10:44 pm #

          The Firebase has a chance against it, but since most people run the Missile version (and rightfully so), the WK is likely to shrug off most of the wounds without effect.

          However, I have been toying with the idea of a Firebase that runs two solo Railsides with two Missile Drones each and then a Burst Cannon Riptide to take maximum advantage of the formation bonuses.

  9. Bryan October 30, 2015 9:31 am #

    I wonder if Farsight bombs will be a thing with the increased Crisis Suit squad size? You can get up to 9 suits in a normal individual unit, add target locks, a buffmander and Farsight+ a heap of gun drones for a moderately priced deathstar. For extra spice, add in a FE detachment for another Commander with a Velocity tracker+target lock (Skyfire) and the Relic that gives the unit extra deny the witches rolls or the other one that gives move through cover and the option to outflank with acute senses.

    The buffmander would be handing out USRs and re-rolls to about 9 crisis suits, Farsight, a skyfiring Commander and more Gun drones then you could shake a stick at.

    The unit footprint would be massive though!

    • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 11:30 am #

      The problem is that 9 suits + Commander + Farsight + Drones is still running you in the neighborhood of 800pts or more, depending on kit. Even if you cut Farsight and trime the squad down to, say, six, you’re still looking at ~500pts, which is a big investment. It hits fairly hard, but you’re one assault/Battle Cannon shot/failed morale check/etc away from losing a HUGE chunk of your army.

      • Bryan October 30, 2015 11:52 am #

        True. I know one successful Tau tournament player used a 3 man crisis team equipped with missile pods, target locks, and marker drones, along with a buffmander with drone controller and another commander with Velocity tracker, target lock+missile pods,

        Not as aggressive as a Farsight bomb as missile pods+marker drones let you hang back. Still has some issues of course, but another way to run it.

        • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 12:55 pm #

          The three-man Marker team with Buffmander I’ve seen work quite well in the past, as it is good at sniping vehicles and provides the huge number of ML hits that a Riptide wants to be using every turn. I think it’s a bit different animal than a true “deathstar” of shooting.

          However, that’s not to dismiss the idea entirely- I know that Dr.Insanotron is working on something akin to what you suggested, and we spent some time talking over it (and other Tau stuff) this last weekend. It’s quite possible that it will work, I just have some misgivings about the idea, as I’ve run a similar unit in the past and had issues with it.

      • Narfwak October 30, 2015 1:29 pm #

        Not to mention that the physical board footprint of 9-11 battlesuits and ~20 drones is going to be hard to fit on the board without taking dangerous terrain checks even if without DS scatter. Cutting out Farsight with the full sized unit is basically impossible to deploy from DS without a homing beacon Sealth suit that may or may not survive to call him in.

  10. Dbiesto October 30, 2015 9:45 am #

    So, let’s say I normally have a squad of seekers of Slaanesh and my chaos lord on steed of Slaanesh with 7 FNP Slaanesh bikers outflank. Should I keep them on the field instead of outflanking? My main strategy is run up the field with a daemon Nurgle Prince, lord of Nurgle and 5 spawn of Nurgle with 2 squads of 1 Obliterator and a squad of havocs with 3 autocannons and a heavy bolter sitting in the backfield with my noise marine blastmaster. Would outflanking be a good strategy or should I just run everything assaults at them as fast as possible? I can’t afford the codex so need to know if their MC/ most guns are Str 8- 10 to uplift my FNP. Also, they still have the ignore cover shenanigans? Chaos sucks but it’s the only army I have and I love using them. Oh, and a hell drake but not sure it will do much to tau?

    • Reecius
      Reecius October 30, 2015 12:11 pm #

      Heldrakes still do a number on Tau, yes, that is your best asset.

    • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 12:58 pm #

      Tau have very few guns of S8 or higher; essentially, just the blasts from the Riptide (S8) and Stormsurge (S10) qualify.

      Whether or not to Outflank will depend a lot on the enemy army and mission, but generally speaking you won’t want to do so if you have lots of other targets moving forward (since the Tau player will just shoot those instead), but you will want to do it if that’s your only melee threat.

      Heldrakes are pretty nasty for Tau, especially against people running the Optimized Stealth Cadre. It won’t do a lot of damage to their Broadsides or Riptide, but everything else in the army is pretty vulnerable to it. Be careful of Interceptor, though, and remember that their guns only have 36″ range in most cases- you might have to ‘waste” a turn arriving on the board outside of where they can shoot you before moving in for the kill.

      • Dbiesto October 30, 2015 5:27 pm #

        Sounds like I have a fighting chance. If I split my heroes to tie up targets for several rounds, that’s 6 units with a potential turn 2 charge if they don’t run/ get nuked, I think they might focus less on the hell drake. Thanks for the advice! Almost got 3 colors on all units, can’t wait for next game to test out my new list.

  11. Narfwak October 30, 2015 1:44 pm #

    What do you guys think of being able to put Cyclic Ion Blasters on a bunch of Crisis suits? The extra shot per gun compared to missile pods is potentially a big deal, but the 18″ range seems like a big liability. You’re one bad assault move roll away from getting stuck in the open or in charge range of fast assault units.

    • abusepuppy October 30, 2015 2:12 pm #

      CIB’s definitely have some functionality, but as you say they are risky- I would think of them more like Burst Cannons than Missile Pods.

  12. Sadclown October 30, 2015 8:32 pm #

    Thanks dor all the hard work.

  13. Lord Krungharr October 31, 2015 1:03 pm #

    Hmmm, me thinks I need a Chaos Spartan and Storm Eagle with Dirge Casters and Ceramite, and the Eagle can have that Legacy of Ruin for a 12″ Dirge.

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