Variance Hammer Editorial: There are two armies ruining the game: Eldar and Tau.

I hear some form of this a lot.

A guest editorial from variance hammer.

Any mention of overpowered factions, units that need nerfing, ‘What’s wrong with the state of 40K’ etc. brings up our Blue Goatfish Friends. And given the Eldar are indeed pretty unquestionably overpowered, you’d think there might be a grain of truth to this idea.

But is there?

The short answer: Not really.

The long answer involves math.

When I wrote my analysis of the results of the 2016 Las Vegas Open, I included the following passage:

Whose Afraid of the Big Bad Tau? I hear the Tau called out a lot for being OP, for ruining the game, for being one of the codexes that must be feared and dreaded and nerfed. That’s just not born out in the data. They’re a solid army, on par with Cult Mechanicus/War Convocation, Dark Angels or Chaos Renegades, but they’re not at the big kids table – that’s held by Space Marines, Eldar, Necrons, and Daemons.

But that was just one (admittedly large) tournament, and the real effects of the new Tau units might not have been able to be seen yet. So I’m revisiting the question, with the results from two more recent tournaments in different parts of the country: The Broadside Bash and the Midwest Conquest GT.

Shall we take a look?

First, lets consider the distribution of armies at the two events:


I’ve eliminated a couple single-army factions, like the Militarum Tempestus (sorry Reece) or Eldar Corsairs. The Tau are a popular army, but not nearly as popular as either the Eldar or the Space Marines, and on part with a number of other factions. If they were game-breakingly good, there’d be a considerable amount of selective pressure toward playing them (hence the popularity of Eldar in the tournament scene). There’s…well…there’s not.

Alright, but what about how well they actually do? For this, I looked at the battle points for the two tournaments, normalized so that for each the winner got 5500 points so they can be analyzed together on equal footing.


The median score is a super-even 3000 points. As we can see, there are some under-performing armies (Tyranids, my beloved Sisters of Battle, etc.) and some strong performers (Space Marines, Chaos Daemons, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, Necrons and Imperial Knights). The Chaos Space Marines performance is driven by some very strong showings at the Broadside Bash – and ignoring the drama around the illegality of the winning list, it’s also not really a “CSM” list as much as it is an unholy mish-mash of CSM, KDK and Daemons.

Notably absent on this list? Tau. They’re a solid, midrange performer, as they were in the LVO – it’s hard to end up at the bottom tables with them, but it’s also hard to end up at the top. Looking at this another way, I used a regression model to predict the increase over the average score you could expect based on army choice for a number of armies, expressed as a multiplier (i.e. an army with a score of 1.50 should earn 1.50 times the points as compared to all other armies).

Lets take a look at some of those:

  • Eldar: 1.22
  • Necrons: 1.35
  • Space Marines: 1.02
  • Chaos Daemons: 1.17
  • Tau: 1.12
  • Astra Militarum: 0.68

Some of those armies are very strong – the Eldar and Necrons especially. The Space Marines are hampered by a lot of lower-performing entries, presumably people playing less-than-optimum Space Marine armies. But again, the Tau are far from the kind of multiplier the Eldar or Necrons see. They’re not in trouble (unlike the poor guard…), but they’re not setting the tournament world on fire either.

Which brings us back to the core question: What is it about the Tau? Why does every Tau release cause the salt to floweth over?


I have two theories, which I’ll present here:

Theory 1: Hating Tau Says More About The You Than the Tau

Statistically, most of us are average players. That’s how averages work. And then a bulk of us (and I would include myself in this category) are below average players. The Tau’s wheelhouse is being a middling-good army. That means lots of us are playing at or below the level where the Tau can be expected to do well, and relatively few of us reach the rarified air where we’re good enough that they’re no longer a threat.

Theory 2: The Tau Are Somehow Unfun

There are mechanics in the Tau codex I’d define as “unfun” – things where really only one side of the battle is enjoying things, rolling dice, etc. The flexibility of the Tau in countering certain mechanics in the game (anything cover related, anything with a vulnerable rear armor value, etc.) can trigger a feeling of helplessness. And that’s not fun.

Like my cover-dependent Eldar, who just get smacked around for a few turns playing Tau…


Beyond that, because of the synergy in the Tau army and their weakness in melee, Tau success is very front-loaded. There’s lots of killing while the full army is up, marker lights are abundant, and units can support each other. So for the first few turns, the Tau roll dice, and their opponent removes units.

Then, if their opponent survives that, the tables start to turn. When the Tau crumble, in my experience, they start crumbling fast. Which means that un-funness switches. Tau are being removed in droves, and then the final tally ends up being much closer than it felt like earlier in the game. And while in a game sense this might be balanced, two or three turns of unfun on both sides doesn’t average out to a fun game.

In reality? I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

But calling the Tau overpowered, or ruining the game? There’s really no empirical support for that.

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94 Responses to “Variance Hammer Editorial: There are two armies ruining the game: Eldar and Tau.”

  1. Dakkath July 11, 2016 12:29 am


    I am so sick of all the rhetoric going around calling Tau overpowered and getting shamed into feeling like an arse.

    • Heldericht July 11, 2016 2:01 pm

      As long as you are not bringing a monster mash list to a friendly game against Dark Eldar or something, just ignore those people.

  2. r July 11, 2016 12:37 am

    The problem is you’re assuming all players are tournament players or fielding top lists/are top generals who can compete evenly with or best Tau. Necrons, Daemons, vanilla marines, Eldar, Tau, they’re all problematic when compared with the other 99% of the game.

    Looking at only LVO 2016 also brings up another problem. You’re assuming LVO’s Tau players are representative of all Tau players. This doesn’t account for Tau players with strong lists purposely picking on weaker lists and casual players. It doesn’t account for how popular or common Tau is OUTSIDE of LVO, etc.

    All this study really proves is that Tau aren’t the best at LVO but are still a strong choice in one of the toughest environments.

    • Hush July 11, 2016 12:46 am

      Totally agree. You look at to tire meta it’s all death stars ether super best friends or cabal mainly. However you go to a local and friendly games Tau and Eldar are dominating big difference in the games and people’s experiences

    • Ytook July 11, 2016 3:12 am

      Maybe some good points, but people with strong lists picking on people with weak more casual/fluffy play style lists isn’t unique to Tau in any way, as a low tier fluffy/casual player you can believe me on that one 😛

    • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:10 am

      You did read the part where he said he was expanding his dataset beyond LVO, right? These statistics are drawn from a variety of GT-level events over the past half year or so.

      And no, it doesn’t prove that they are a “strong” choice- the numbers show exactly what he says, that Tau can perform well at the middle tables but struggle hugely to reach the top end of things (and in fact usually don’t.) Like Imperial Knights, Tau are good at smashing mediocre players in the medium ranks but can’t usually make it work when they have to play in the big leagues.

      • Pariah July 11, 2016 8:49 am

        Well, I think that’s the problem most people have. Most people are mediocre and they’re really good at beating mediocre players.

        It makes sense, right? Take a sport like BJJ for example. There are a few chokes that are EASY to lock onto a white/blue belt and win a match with, but leave you in compromised positions when going for them which a purple belt will jump on and make you pay for trying. That’s part of the learning experience. Most things have something that’s really good if both people are OK, but not as good as soon as someone gets good enough to counter it.

        I’m pretty bad myself, and playing tau can be frustrating. I rely a lot on cover and it doesn’t feel great losing half my army in one turn to the massed shooting, and it feels like all their units are so good. At the end of the day, do I think they’re OP? No, but they are certainly a bit of a pubstomper, which makes it a bit of fun trying to overcome that and become good enough to rise above that level, but I can see where a lot of people get frustrated.

        • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 3:49 pm

          Sure, and like Variance says- by definition, most players are average players. But that’s exactly his point- he’s giving such players a window into why others’ experience and showing why, at the top levels of competition, Tau really don’t perform as well as everyone seems to think that they do. It is, if anything, a ray of hope for those players- “If you really want to improve and hate Tau, eventually you won’t have to deal with them as much.”

    • McPoops July 15, 2016 6:31 am

      Because no players other than tau players have ever in the history of 40k built powerful lists to pick on weaker/unoptamized list players before. You are stereotyping pretty hard there, chief.

  3. Alex r July 11, 2016 12:49 am

    Agreed i played against a tau list against my salamanders army. On paper it was stronger but some solid armour saves and i was able to get stuck into him this was after getting shot twice before i could really have my first turn
    Bloody interception on everything

  4. Mike July 11, 2016 1:52 am

    I don’t think tau are OP outside riptides (a good bit undercosted) and the supremacy suit (an absolute steal at its point value,) but I really think the entire tau design breaks the game on a fundamental level instead of on a power level.

    It took wotc a while to figure it out in magic, but they did eventually realize that low-interaction decks are bad for the game. Combo decks to be specific. They aren’t unlike how most tau lists play out in a game. Extremely little interactivity. You just win, or don’t get there fast enough and lose.

    Tau need to be redesigned to be a more interactive army with their own twists.

    • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:12 am

      By that theory, ALL shooting-heavy armies should be removed from the game And Tau, especially these days, aren’t a zero-melee army; Frankie’s army and other “monster mash” variants as well as many Farsight-dependent armies make significant use of melee for their own purposes.

      I would agree there are some issues with the way the Tau book is designed, but certainly no more so than many of the other books- and yet the Tau get all of the whining.

  5. Sanchezsam2 July 11, 2016 2:50 am

    I don’t think tau is one of the most broken armies of 40k anymore it’s stronger and one of the better codexs but lost a lot since beginning of 6th Ed.

    However this dataset is super flawed the fact chaos Space marines are on par with space marines and eldar is a huge red flag that’s not so easily brushed off with a one liner about how a couple of people did well at broadside bash with kdk. And I’m someone who believes csm players whine more then they should considering csm players do get more attention then a lot of other armies.

    • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:14 am

      The dataset is what armies have won (or lost) tournaments. He wasn’t “brushing it off,” he was explaining a result most people would find incongruous- and you cannot deny that a CSM won that tournament. What that says about the book as a whole is certainly interpretable (and something he doesn’t attempt to delve into because it is tangential to the article), but it in no way reflects on the integrity of the data or his analysis of it.

  6. Blight1 July 11, 2016 2:56 am

    The issue is that tau bring enough to absolutely destroy most mid to low level armies and still fight the big guys if played right. A properly played tau list hard counters most strategies available to players and for many armies ignore the only things they have to be survivable. That leads to a lot of sore matches.
    It may be that tau get rolled by super space marine deathstar #3 or competitive eldar lists but they tend to do quite well against everything else. Though without their MCs they wouldn’t be much.

  7. tag8833 July 11, 2016 4:45 am

    I was at midwest conquest. It is not a representative event for many reasons.

    There was full strength Ranged D, and unmodified 2+ reroll, and invisibility. All of the top armies (Demons) made use of that extensively.

    In addition, The army comp allowed the Tau’nar supremacy suite. Every Tau list that I recall was a substandard list build around the Tau’nar, expected that one model to carry them to victory.

    When coupled with the missions that had a primary that both players got most of the time, and a secondary that was progressive, Tau were starting out on the back foot. In addition the progressive mission was at most 2 points per turn, and you got a bonus point for every 3 wounds you did to a super heavy, so Tau were farther punished by that (Though not nearly so much as my Big Mek Stompa list).

    Everything notable about that event was angled against Tau, and they never stood a chance.

    A more representative event would be Flying Monkey GT. I was the TO. Tau ended up in 3rd place and 11th. They were outperformed by Chaos Demons, and Matt Root’s War Convocation. Our final standings are here:

    • tag8833 July 11, 2016 4:50 am

      I should probably note as well that our 5th place finisher had Necron Primary but was running a Riptide Wing.

      • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 7:07 am

        I would really like to know how well riptide wing improves an armies performance

        • tag8833 July 11, 2016 10:18 am

          Well he is the Top Necron player at our event, and the top Necron player in the ITC. So Riptide wing doesn’t appear to hurt.

          Riptide wing + Eldar show up quite frequently. It bolts on so seemlessly to basically any army that can take it. You’d be hard pressed to find an army that Riptide wing or Warp Spider aspect host wouldn’t improve. Those 2 Formations need to be fixed for the good of a diverse meta.

    • tag8833 July 11, 2016 5:13 am

      For what it is worth after attending and running a huge amount of GT’s this year I can tell you without a doubt that Chaos Demons are the top army. Renegades of Vraks are broken, and a hard counter to basically everything except Demons and War Convocation. Tau are the next most powerful army. Tau lists tend to either win huge or lose huge, and they are a hard counter to many armies in the field. Eldar have a massively OP codex, but because they are so predictable (Mono build) top tier armies can take them out, so they are mainly in the upper 3rd serving as a barrier for entry for all of the armies below that.

      There are always imperial Deathstars floating around, but because the specific builds are less common you can’t call them representative.

      My opinion on the state of Competitive 40K is quite dire. Formations, Vraks, and the psychic phase allowed to run unchecked have created a meta where matchups are much more important than gameplay. We’ve got to address this to avoid stagnation in the meta resulting in a majority of builds lacking the tools to access the top 1/3rd. The Meta is shrinking, and the barrier to entry is rising. That is a bad place to be.

      • Blight1 July 11, 2016 5:58 am

        I’m unfamiliar with anything particularly broken about Vraks? What are the issues with it that put them that high up?

        I also find that daemons are too random to be reliably in the top spot. If their rolls go well they are insane but they can also sputter out and die right out of the gate.

        • westrider July 11, 2016 8:09 am

          The most noticeable one is the ability to bring their (very cheap and numerous) Troops Units back on a 2+ after they die, Outflanking them. Also, cheap artillery and Allies that complement them really well (Chaos Knights and Daemons). They can completely swamp the board with chaff and still have a couple of really nasty Units running around alongside that to take down any hard targets.

        • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:18 am

          Bringing cheap artillery as troops, mostly. With lots of expendable ObSec bodies, strong firepower, and plenty of points left over to bring other solutions (summoning, Knight with 2++, etc) Renegades can easily present most people with a wall of 60+ T7 wounds sitting in cover, which is something very few types of firepower can overcome.

        • tag8833 July 11, 2016 10:08 am

          And there is the combo with demons. Usually Fateweaver and a Screamer Star go with Vraks armies. Often Sorcerer’s Cabal as well.

          Their troops are either 3 Points per man guardsman with extra heavy / Special weapons that come back if you kill them, and give out bonuses to cover saves or T7 artillery that can shoot into CC. And of course fearless zombies.

          If they want to they can put out more high quality shooting than anyone. If not they can spam warp dice and do lots of summoning, or they can bring more barrage blasts than anyone.

          They are just generally broken. Because the guardsmen they get come back, and get bonuses to cover saves, they should pay more, not less (50%!!!) for them, and the artillery shouldn’t be able to shoot into CC, and they shouldn’t have such easy access to so many special / Heavy / Artillery weapons for so cheap. Points cost issues like Eldar ramped up a bit.

          As far as Demons. They’ve Been #1 at every GT I’ve been to this year except for 2. The new Demon powers, coupled with the new ways to spam psychic dice are a combo that means there are no hard counters in the field (unlike other armies). So a Savvy Demon player

  8. Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 4:55 am

    I think in general you’re right. My main complaint with Tau and eldar isn’t that they’re winning everything, its that the scatbike, and the riptide are meta defining. In that every list you put out has to first ask itself if it can handle getting hit by 70-100 strength 6 shots A TURN.

    So the good players know this and make sure they’re list can handle this, so tau isn’t a problem, they’re one gimmick of riptide spamming strength 6 doesn’t work. Eldar have other tricks besides strength 6 shooting so they still perform well against lists that can handle that much shooting.

    I think a lot of players don’t ask themselves that question, “What about 70-100 strength 6 shots?”, So tau will dominate them. And just like you said, they’ll do it a way that makes them feel helpless too.

    • tag8833 July 11, 2016 5:21 am

      That is a fair characterization, but also neglects the unkillability of those 2 armies. Riptides with T6, 5W, and a 2+/5++ that can go up to a 3++ are immune from many alpha strikes. Stormsurges are also quite durable.

      Similarly, Eldar can null deploy behind WraithKnights which are likewise immune from most alpha strikes, and warp spiders that can sometimes be immune from shooting. Not only are those 2 armies shooty to a degree that they are unbalanced, they are also durable to a similar degree.

      If those armies were super shooty glass cannons they wouldn’t be controlling the meta so thoroughly.

      • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 6:02 am

        I guess I never thought about the unkillableness of riptides. They could have 20 wounds for all I care. The only way I’ve ever killed them is by running them down. I looked at ways to kill them and decided that going after leadership to dominate them and force them to twiddle their thumbs or assaulting them is just so much more effective than any kind of shooting battle.

        Frustratingly, the best answer to eldar is gav alpha strike but it is also awful against tau in most cases. Makes it tough to keep that army till the high enough rounds to start wrecking eldar.

        • Heldericht July 11, 2016 1:28 pm

          What are you talking about? Grav alpha strikes are devastating against Tau. They wound on a 2+ with AP2. Drowns their MCs in wounds.

          • tag8833 July 11, 2016 2:18 pm

            5 point interceptor makes it hard to hit Tau with Drop grav.

          • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 4:56 am

            tag8833 is right. I was referring to how hard it can be to still have grav after a turn of interceptor.

      • westrider July 11, 2016 7:49 am

        These two comments together sum it up pretty well, from what I’ve seen.

        I would also note that a healthy tournament scene doesn’t just take into account the top tier. If the bulk of the Players are having boring, un-interactive Games, at some point, they’re going to stop showing up, and the scene is going to evaporate. “Bully*” Armies that don’t often make it to the top, but will roflstomp anything below the top tier are really bad for this, because they add little or nothing to the top tier experience, and shut out huge swathes of the potential field that otherwise might well be influential. Imperial Knights are another Army that can easily fall into the same category.

        *I should note that this is a statement about the Codexes, not the Players who choose them. It’s about poor design decisions in the construction of the Dex and the Game, not any particular desire on the part of the Players to push people around.

        • tag8833 July 11, 2016 10:11 am

          And bad Army Comp choices.

    • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:21 am

      The Riptide and Scatter Bike aren’t the only meta-defining units, though- Grav Centurions with Ignores Cover (and in fact Grav in general) is also huge, as are Renegade artillery and summoning in its multitude of forms. And I would argue that the Riptide is actually the weakest of the supposedly “meta-defining” units, since it is easily countered by two of the others (Grav, summoning) and fares poorly against a third (artillery.)

      • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:22 am

        I don’t know about grav as I play orks and daemons but I’m surprised you think summoning makes that list? Summoning! I always hear about people complaining about it. I’m not saying you’re complaining but I don’t feel like I’ve seen a true summoning spam doing well. Mostly how I see it and use it myself is occasional grabbing some daemonettes to stand in the way or screamers to get line breaker. What kind of lists are you seeing win or place in tournaments with summoning as they’re strategy?

        • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 3:52 pm

          Summoning, in and of itself, is merely annoying- but it is a major component of both psychic deathstars (such as the Librarius Conclave and Psykana Division) as well as daemonic FMCs/deathstars. It allows such armies to bypass one of their major weaknesses (small model/unit count) at a pretty trivial cost in most cases- often a mere 3-6 dice per turn.

          Summoning a unit, or perhaps two, per turn doesn’t feel game-breaking… until you get to turn 6 and realize that 80% of the summoning army is still on the table because you spent the whole game whittling away at Screamers and Daemonettes that it paid no points for.

          • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 5:00 am

            I would consider that a summoning heavy army and I really haven’t seen that do well, at least in my (northeast) area. Normally people just don’t have the dice after getting their important defensive powers off. 2 summoning a turn is 16 dice! Occasionally someone will try summoning with the conclave but that’s kind of gimmicky and kills the librarians off pretty quick without making them iron-hands with an apothocary. In which case you just paid a whole bunch of points to have access to some screamers and daemonettes. woohoo. The only time I’ll do a bunch of summoning is when I’m desperate because my enemy has as much psychic dice as I do and a psycker in every unit so I have no offensive ability.

          • AbusePuppy July 12, 2016 6:11 am

            With Tigurius you really only need three dice per turn for summoning, and you have pretty good odds of not even getting Perils off it.

            Deathstars often run summoning-capable units, as do Renegade and the Psykana Division (which is actually quite solid in most metas .)

          • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 7:52 am

            I guess all I’m saying is that its not meta defining you know? Sure you can make it work but I think I only saw less than a handful of armies using that at adepticon and none that made the top tables. Besides that, I haven’t seen anyone really use it to great affect in the Boston area. I feel very confident designing an army with absolutely no consideration of “But what about summoning armies?” I have a feeling that neither do you.

      • AngryPanda July 11, 2016 3:04 pm

        Space Marines got the gun that basically broke how the game even works, almost turning saves into a downside. But they’re Marines so there’s no complaints.

  9. Threllen July 11, 2016 5:28 am

    Part of the issue with Tau, as others have pointed out, is that they’re just a very solidly strong codex all around. So when you’re playing with people with more average to slightly above average ability, they’re pretty strong. Also, imo at least, they don’t rely on “cheese” quite as much as other codices. Ignores Cover, twin-linked, raise BS, all sorts of stuff like that are written into their codex without feeling like you’re “cheesing” someone by using them. Which is kind of the same boat Eldar is in. Both of those armies you can just field a standard army and do very, very well. Whereas you take Space Marines or Daemons or other armies and they really shine with invincible super best friends or 2++ invuls. Those kind of armies feel shitty to play against in tournaments but you rarely see them outside of a highly competitive environment. In more casual games or at tournaments that don’t allow as many shenanigans, that’s where Tau starts becoming much more powerful again.

    • westrider July 11, 2016 8:04 am

      I played in a Single-Faction, no Allies, no Formations, no Super Heavies/Gargantuans Tournament last month. From what I could see, the event was pretty much completely dominated by Tau and Eldar, because their strength lies in their basic Units, not Formations or combos with other Dexes or such.

      Kinda surprised I didn’t notice Daemons doing much there. Seems like they would have done really well in that format, too.

      • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 8:22 am

        Yeah, Daemons shoulda steamrolled that one. They lose almost nothing under those restrictions. Eldar are at least denied the Aspect Host and Wraithknight.

        • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:25 am

          yeah, I could play my exact same ITC and NOVA army in that format which I reliably place or nearly place in 30 person tournaments. So I imagine it would do pretty well in that format. All of my losses have been against battlecompany or wraithknights.

      • Threllen July 11, 2016 8:51 am

        Yeah, Daemons should probably do very well in that environment. Losing the new Daemonic Incursion limits your options a bit, but Daemons don’t really have important allies or super heavies/gargantuans so those restrictions only hurt other armies.

        But I guess it depends on how big the tournament was. If it’s just a small FLGS tournament, there’s a decent chance you just don’t have any good Daemon players in the area. Otherwise if a good one showed up, they should have at least made it an interesting top 3 against Tau and Eldar.

      • tag8833 July 11, 2016 10:46 am

        I’ve played lots of games in that format. Tau have the tools needed to win. Eldar have the tools needed to win, but lower tier armies like Orks, Imperial Guard, and even Militarum Tempestus have a chance to win as well. I haven’t lost to Eldar yet in the format with my Orks.

        A key element to running an event like that is a Cap of detachments (1 big, 1 small), and a cap on warp dice so that demons don’t walk over everyone else.

        If you do that, then Eldar, and Tau are the biggest losers. They have the best formations and superheavies, so they depend more on those things than armies that don’t have access to such things. The warp dice cap is all about Demons, and they lose there if they can’t rely on psychic buffs, but if you can calibrate it right, then they can still compete.

  10. zyekian July 11, 2016 5:28 am

    I strongly believe that SM/etc are ruining the game. Look at Aleong’s DA-SW list that rerolls 2+(or 3++) with FnP and the ability to LOS onto numerous cheap models in the rare case they’re needed.

    And the unit is so large it strings together 2-3 objectives and well, that’s game.

    THIS ruins the same much more than Eldar or Tau do. For some reason the ITC is banning Corsair RA moves because it takes away the ability to hurt them in assault… but it leaves bark star intact which takes away the ability to hurt then in *any* phase.

    • Heldericht July 11, 2016 1:34 pm

      Agreed, really frustrating to see Deathstars untouched in ITC.

      In-fact, lowering BS to 1 for invis actually hurts even Tau’s ability to deal with Deathstars since Markerlights can modify snapshots but not setting BS to 1. Considering Tau have no melee options at all, it basically makes Deathstars nigh impossible to deal with.

      • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 3:55 pm

        >deathstars untouched
        >2+ rerollable nerfed
        >invisibility nerfed
        >multiple detachments nerfed
        >worldscape and electrodisplacement nerfed

        You and I have very different definitions of “untouched.”

        Also, Reece has specifically said many times that the Invisibility change is not intended to prevent Tau from using Markerlights.

        • Heldericht July 11, 2016 4:35 pm

          Deathstars untouched in their current state in the ITC. More specifically, I was referring to the recent poll not doing anything to address the problem.

          Even with all those nerfs a Deathstar with powers rolling is practically impossible to deal with. Eating around the edges is not dealing with the problem.

          Secondly, it doesn’t matter what the intent is, the result is Tau not being able to use Markerlights to counter invisibility under ITC rules, unless I’m missing a FAQ entry somewhere.

          • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 9:36 pm

            I am almost 100% certain that if you call a judge over at BAO or LVO and ask them “Hey can I increase my BS with Markerlights when shooting at an Invisible unit?” they will tell you that yes, you can.

            Deathstars in the ITC haven’t actually been doing very well, that’s probably why people didn’t vote to make any particular changes (other than several of the ones above) against them. They certainly can be unfun to play against in some situations (and especially depending on the powers they roll), but they are certainly quite beatable- Maelstrom as a secondary is very punishing to them.

  11. zyekian July 11, 2016 5:31 am

    And yes Tau and eldar scatbike spam is dumb. Any army that can easily win by just standing and shooting on its baseline is absolute poison for the game. IMO it’s the number one obstacle to new players getting into the hobby and it’s the top reason casual players hate tournaments.

    • Heldericht July 11, 2016 1:36 pm

      Frustration can be borne out of inexperience with regards to any army. Dealing with summon spamming daemons or unkillable Necrons or all drop pod lists can easily turn people off, if it they are not willing to learn the tactics of the game and improve.

  12. Demofool July 11, 2016 6:31 am

    The Tau and Eldar in a competitive setting are beast and do work. But, They are not unbeatable and are not so over the top that you can’t compete. Each of these armies present a different problem for their opponent and will have to be dealt with differently. I love to play these armies and I am about 60/40 win/lose in the competitive scene. I played in Midwest Conquest against two Tau and two Eldar list. Both were extremely nasty list and I ended up 1-1-2. One lose was my dice failing me and the other was a tactical error on my part. All the while playing Black Templar SM. In the tournament circuit you have to be 1. A good general 2. understand your enemies army 3. Lucky. Eldar and Tau seem to take being unlucky and smash you in the face with repeatedly….. But you can win against them and can do well on the competitive circuit without having to join them.

  13. Horton July 11, 2016 6:53 am

    Tau are NOT over powered or weak. I think they are a great part of the game overall. There are not that many Tau players in my local meta though.

    • Blight1 July 11, 2016 8:03 am

      What do you typically play and what do your few tau players use? There is a big difference between a fire warrior tau army and an entire army of riptides supported by marker drones.

      Part of the issue is their formations are top notch just like eldar.
      Hope whenever we get an update of the game they go the AoS route and add points to the formations.

      • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:27 am

        I really want fish of fury to be good. I think that’s such a cool looking army.

      • Heldericht July 11, 2016 4:39 pm

        If the Devilfish was priced a little better, it might see more play. But at the moment they are not worth it, and that makes playing with infantry a sub optimal choice. If their price was cut down to half, you might see some more diversity with infantry heavy tau armies.

        But even in a CAD, a Tau force can be really strong. You can have a one CAD army with 2 stormsurges, Y’vahras/crisis bomb, some markers and basically create a top tier list.

        • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 7:55 am

          No doubt, but you’re still hamstringing yourself because riptides are just simply better. It’s not like eldar where you really don’t know if more jetbikes or more warp spiders are worth it.

  14. Jedper77 July 11, 2016 7:42 am

    I realy hate when people first complain when i bring out my eldar, and then act surprised when they waste Unit after Unit of my bikes: “dooooh are they only T4 with a 3+ save????” Yes you Retard! Read on the Unit before you start cheesecrying, they got SM stats but without ASKNF and i pay 81p for 3. If one dies a need to make a panic test and if I fail the Unit is most certenly dead. Yes, the WK is totalt OP and the warp spiders are OP. Booth these units are restricted in the ITC and imo handled. So Eldar are not OP. They are powerful buy not more powerful then some other dexes. People should learn to play against em instead of just whining. I say SM is the mest powerful dex. Most Eldar haters play SM and doesnt even want to talk about their totaly overpowered codex.

    • Blight1 July 11, 2016 8:00 am

      The problem is that t4 3+ save unit puts out 12 s6 shots a turn, is able to move 48″ in a single turn (staying out of range of 24″ guns is child’s play to them), has the ability to move shoot and move back, and is a troop choice. I would take them over a tactical squad any day. Their stats are not everything if you lose them in droves then you aren’t playing them right. They have the firepower to simply stay out of range of most shooting and blast their opponents from afar. The strongest troop unit I know.

      • Jesper77 July 11, 2016 9:54 am

        Yea they put out alot of shots, but if they werent they would be worthless, you cant drive people to death and they lack resiliense so they have to do something. You talk about it beeing easy to keep away and just drive 48. If you drive 48 you dont shoot and lose a full Turn of shooting witch is crucial for the bikes and the reason you payed 81p for 3 fast paperplanes and also dont forget that you play maelstrom. You got things to do also and play under stress. So yes you can keep away but if you do you dont get points and lose the game. The meta today, with large Battlecompanys, first time assault and Deathstars people still complain about bikes. Thats a mistery. They are darn good but broken? no way. Auto win? No way.

        • tag8833 July 11, 2016 10:36 am

          Eldar Jetbikes were elite troops, one of the very best troop choice in 6th edition when they could only take 1 Scat Laser. There was lots of people who considered them broken then.

          Now they have more S6 shooting than any other unit in the game on a point-for-point basis, and they didn’t lose any of their previously awesome abilities.

          They are only the 3rd most undercosted unit in the Eldar codex (Wraithknight, Warp spiders). But they are absurdly undercosted for their abilities. Reducing them to 1 in 3 scatter lasers, and they’d still be the best troops in the game. Bump the Cost of Scatter Lasers, and you’d still see them regularly in Eldar armies.

          • abusepuppy July 11, 2016 9:39 pm

            I’m not sure which “lots of people” you played who considered them broken in 6E, but virtually no competitive list took them when Wave Serpents were still doing their thing. It was Dire Avengers (and/or Guardians) all the way.

            With one weapon per three models they are… an acceptable troop, but certainly not broken or even particularly good. Still very fragile, still vulnerable to a ton of things.

          • tag8833 July 12, 2016 7:09 pm

            I posted a reply that somehow got lost. I think it got marked as spam because there were so many links in it.

            Look at the top 8 list from LVO 2014. (I posted links in the version of the reply that got lost) It was 6th Edition 40K. 4 of the Top 8 were Eldar. 3 of those 4 had Windrider Jetbikes, and the other one had a seer council on bike.

            They were more common than you remember. They were arguably broken because in 6th edition, only troops could score, and no troops scored as well as Eldar Jetbikes. Wave Serpents did more damage, and were harder to kill, but Jetbikes were the best scorers in the game. They weren’t more broken than Wave Serpents, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t broken.

            Our memories are fickle, and prone to error, but on this one item we have hard data.

    • Threllen July 11, 2016 8:56 am

      “Eldar aren’t OP.” – Talking about the most popular tournament army that is the most heavily skewed toward being in the high end of circuit points.

      I certainly see the argument for Tau not being OP when you compare them to some of the power lists that are brought to huge tournaments, but it’s pretty hard to defend the opinion that Eldar aren’t ridiculous. 81pts for 3 guys with 3+ armor, 4+ jink, a million shots, and can move accross half the map in a single turn. If you’re going to try to give an example of why Eldar aren’t super strong you shouldn’t pick one of their best units.

      • Threllen July 11, 2016 8:59 am

        You see some of the highest popularity armies (Tau, Daemons, and Space Marines) who have their average dragged down because they’re popular and a lot of players probably play them with “sub-optimal” lists or tactics. But Eldar are the only ones who manage to have even the average player far above average despite their popularity.

        • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:30 am

          Daemons I think have the best codex with the highest number of crummy units. Its also much more random. So if you have 3 good players with 3 good armies then there is a much higher chance that one of them failed their grimoire turn 1 in 3 games and just had an awful day. That doesn’t happen to battle company.

          • Threllen July 11, 2016 9:51 am

            Good ole randomness of Daemons. I can roll +1 invul save on the warp storm and use the grimoire to give one unit a 2++. Or… the Grimoire could fail and I could not roll the +1 and I could be down to 6++ instead.

          • Trasvi July 12, 2016 12:45 am

            You could roll #4 on warpstorm and give your ‘invincible’ deathstar 0 invulnerable save for a turn :D.

            Hence why Fateweaver is so crutch in Daemon lists. He’s good because he stops your codex from trying to murder you.

          • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 8:00 am

            That’s why you need so many redundancies. I roll a 4 on the warp storm table and fail grimoire?

            okay, well I can cast invisibility on them, with jink they might be okay.

            I can assault a small unit that can’t hurt them badly in combat so they can’t get the bajeezes shot out of them.

            I can turbo-boost them out of the way

            I can cast shrouding and have them jink for 2+ rerollable cover save

            I think that’s the difference between top ranking daemon players and lower ones. Lower ones just go “Well, I’m done for” when something bad happens. Or design a list that starts with the presumption “My codex won’t try to murder me and I’ll roll cursed earth”

          • Threllen July 12, 2016 9:55 am

            Thankfully, thanks to the Daemonic Incursion, Fateweaver has become the go-to “redundancy” because he can fix so much. He was already nice for the Warp Storm thanks to re-rolling the result, but now he has the re-roll plus you can choose to move it down or up one. So there’s a super good chance you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with it. And his once-per-turn re-roll can help you to avoid missing invisiblity by a single warp charge or missing the grim, etc. He turns 5 contigency plans into a single model in some games.

          • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 10:32 am

            yeah, I’m between a monster mash daemon list and swarm incursion because the monster mash is quite possibly the best army IN THE GAME when it rolls the right powers. However, if you roll literally nothing which has a roughly 1-15 chance on my list. If i roll that then its a middling army I’d say. However, the incursion swarm list doesn’t have that possibility.

  15. Horton July 11, 2016 8:55 am

    I think the issue with both Tau and Eldar is that they can have so much firewpower that the game CAN be decided in 1 turn. Im not saying that always happens, but it can happen. The perception of such firepower really bothers people I think. I would say that in reality, as this article points out, tau and eldar are very good, but do not dominate everyhing. They do have bad matchups and can be taken down.

    • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:32 am

      Both armies are pretty scared of true alpha strike drop pod armies? I feel like they’re pretty second rate alpha strikes.

      • Vercingatorix July 11, 2016 9:33 am

        second rate may be an exaggeration, but they’re not alpha strike orientated, they’re just shooty. They’re not designed to kill you before you realize what happens. Just to kill you. Drop pod marines are alpha strike because if they fail they’re kind of stuck.

      • westrider July 11, 2016 12:32 pm

        Tau can get Interceptor cheaply enough and on enough things that I often see them brought up as a hard counter to Drop Pod Armies. I know in the few Tau/Pod matchups I’ve seen, the Tau were not the ones who had worries.

        • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 8:02 am

          yeah, they can definitely counter pretty hard. Especially if its a “Normal” army that drops half pods on turn one and then sprinkles them out from there. The formations that are more “Drop everything turn one and assault” I think have a decent chance against tau simply because of the number of units. That’s pretty theory hammer for me though as I’ve never seen a battle report or in person game try that.

          • Threllen July 12, 2016 9:58 am

            That’s just a problem with some Drop Pod lists in general, at least in my experience. You shouldn’t be designing a list where half your army drops turn one and you have to roll in the rest in subsequent turns. Formations that allow all the pods to come down on the same turn are ideal. It’s like any reserves. If everything isn’t coming down at once then you’re going to be fighting half your army against your opponent’s full army for a turn or two which doesn’t end well. Reserve lists should always be centered around the highest possible chance of bringing everything in exactly when you want it (beginning of game for good units and end of game for objective grabbers).

  16. Happy_Inquisitor July 11, 2016 11:38 am

    From a year of playing Tau I sort of concluded that the issue people have with Tau is twofold

    1. It is fairly easy to build a strong consistent list with the Tau codex and to learn how to play it well. You cannot rely on random luck to beat Tau (unless perhaps you are playing Daemons) because the Tau list will perform so consistently.

    2. Most casual and mid-level tournament players simply do not know how to play against Tau.

    The second one matters in terms of perception but also helps explain the stats we see here. I know a lot of people will think I am being too harsh but honestly there came a point where seeing the same simple mistakes time and time again forced this conclusion on me.

    Good players know how to play against Tau and can beat them. Less good players do not – even with a very similar list to the good player they would take a beating from making basic errors due to not understanding how a Tau list functions and therefore how to break down its synergy or anticipate the next Tau move. Tau will dominate a lot of the players you see on mid to lower tables because if you have not learned how to beat and brought tools to do so them you are in trouble and lady luck is very unlikely to come to your rescue.

    In a couple of tournaments I played the only player I did not defeat was one who had previously been a Tau player. That is not a coincidence.

    • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 8:05 am

      I think that’s a very good analysis.

      On a related note, my absolute favorite way to play against tau is long way as the riptides can’t shoot the back 6 inches of your deployment zone. If scat bikes had a similar limitation I would hope for my opponent to bring scat bikes.

  17. VonCrown July 11, 2016 11:39 am

    I think the biggest problem with tau is less how strong they are and more how they define the meta via markerlights. Their mechanics allow such a profusion of ignores cover that enough tau present at just the mid to low tables creates a significant barrier to armies that rely on cover saves due to poor armor and no/few invulnerable saves.

    • westrider July 11, 2016 12:34 pm

      The fact that GW thought that making so many Armies Cover-dependent and also allowing such wide-spread availability of Ignores Cover was a good idea is a big part of the problem, yes.

    • Heldericht July 11, 2016 1:51 pm

      Tau are the shooting specialists, it makes sense for them to be able to do it. They are dependant on Markerlights for the majority of their ignores cover shenanigans, so they can be dealt with.

      I think having armies that rely on cover is the problem in the first place. Those armies will never do well regardless.

      • Vercingatorix July 12, 2016 8:06 am

        It’s also super satisfying to watch a tau army just obliterate a 2+ re roll cover ravenwing wolf star

  18. chad l July 11, 2016 12:21 pm

    Mmm. Seal tears sooo delicious.

  19. Vito July 11, 2016 1:59 pm

    Hey, I’m headed to the store. Can I get you some tissues?

  20. C-Stock July 12, 2016 2:20 am

    The problem with Tau is that they don’t belong in the same game as say, cover-dependant Dark Eldar. They typically give Dark Eldar units no save at all and there’s nothing the DE player can do about it. *That* is helplessness.

    • AbusePuppy July 12, 2016 2:28 am

      The problem there is less “Tau are too good” and more “the Dark Eldar codex was designed by a committee of weapons-grade idiots.” It’s not just Tau that roll over DE, it’s every book under the sun.

    • Threllen July 12, 2016 5:19 am

      Even with their cover saves Dark Eldar tend to get rolled over by most codices if both players are on equal skill levels. Dark Eldar need to get buffed in just about every conceivable way to return to power. Also, a shift where Ignores Cover only gives a -2 to cover save or something like that would help. The ability to instantly negate a cover save whether it’s 2+ or 6+ is devastating to units that rely on good cover.

  21. Karaghul July 12, 2016 4:23 am

    I think Theory 2 is correct, more than anything else. Ie. lots of players find Tau boring to play against, and misinterpret / mis-express that, resulting in calling Tau Over-Powered.

  22. Alex r July 13, 2016 6:34 am

    Ever since australian community adopted community comp its seen some radical changes in our meta space marines are still one the top because of our the variety of lists you can make. Eldar still good and tau good when youve got a player who knows how to ue them. I really stress you guys in america give a look to community comp

    • tag8833 July 13, 2016 6:56 am

      I second this. Community Comp is an outstanding system. I’ve had lots of fun playing community comp games, and our tournaments using Community comp have worked out well.

      Everyone owes it to themselves to get past preconceptions and give it a fair shake.

      • Vercingatorix July 13, 2016 7:49 am

        Glancing through it I”m pretty sure my army is like 40 points. ouch.

        • Alex r July 13, 2016 6:35 pm

          To give you a scale. Nsw scene is 12 comp limit 14 for championship like masters. This is updated by players and TOs across the country. So i recommend reecis or Frankie yo give it a go. You get all kinds of lists now