Tau Unit Tactica: Piranha

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Compared to other units in the Tau arsenal the Piranha is an often overlooked piece of hardware. The first thing people tend to see is a lightly armored (fragile) vehicle with only one weapon for sixty points. Therefore at first glance it would seem to lack both offense and defense for the points.
The reality is a much different story. The piranha, is one of the most useful, flexible units available to a Tau commander. Lets look at some of the nifty options this sweet machine brings to the table.
First of all, Piranha should always run fusion blasters, one reason for this is obviously tank hunting. Also, fusion insta kills many hard targets, (though not as effectively as a railgun), it kills marines more effectively than the Burst Cannon, and it only costs 5 points. Besides there are many other units which have S5 AP5 shots.
If you are running FB on your Piranha, as you should, then you must take a Targetting Array. You don't wanna miss when it counts.
Lastly take a Decoy launcher as always.
So here is the loadout: Fusion Blaster, Targetting Array, Decoy = 75 ptsFactor out the cost of the independant gun drones(24), and the cheaper than crisis suit fusion blaster(7) and you have a 31 point savings on getting these abilities elsewhere.
Of course if you need more tank hunting you could add seeker missiles, but this is up to you. The Flechettes can be useful, but at ten points I'm not sure this is the case. Especially since the enemy has to decide to assault you.

Now on to their tactics and abilities

In this configuration they would seem to primarily be a tank hunting unit. They excell at this since it doesn't take long for them to come into 6" range of anything on the board. As they don't suffer from the immobility of the Broadsides, this is one way you could free up a heavy support slot. Also you can take multiples in a squadron so they aren't as one shot dependant as hammerheads and therefore benefit from markerlight hits more(especially against marines when their drones are still attached).
Ah the wonderful gun drones. The uses for these little frisbees are many. Piranhas have the unique ability to drop up to ten of them, coupled with the ability to get them "in the face" of your enemy quicker than even a devilfish and more reliably than deep striking. They can cause pinning tests, kill infantry, cause target priority tests, and become annoying speed bumps to enemy fast assaulters. This ability to slow down rapidly advancing enemy units should not be understated, it can literally mean the difference between winning and losing. Also, since the Piranha is open topped, they can assault out of it, which can be useful in some situations.
The Piranha itself can do lots of things which don't involve it's Fusion or Drones. Other than causing the annoying Target Priority test, they are great for screening vespid. The way this tactic works is simple the Piranhas form a line in front of a piece of terrain with 6" from their front tip to said piece of terrain behind. The Vespid fly into the terrain, immediatly behind the Piranhas which should improve their save against enemy fire. (These first two step could be done in either order, depending on the situation.)
They then have up to a 6" field of fire in front of the line of Piranha's. The enemy cannot move within 1" of the Piranhas on their movement phase, so unless they can assault more than 6" or fly over the Piranhas in the movement phase they are effectively out of charge range of the Vespid. The Vespid fire, along with the Piranha(if moved under 12"), and next turn, both teams bail out to another location. I call this tactic "The Bug Screen" and is my signature pride and Joy method of keeping those wonderful bugs alive.
The Bug Screen tactic will work in the open too, but the vespid will be more vulnerable to bolter fire. Of course the marines will still have to target priority test to shoot them, so it's much better than nothing.
Another unique tactic is using them in combination with either a fish or a hammer head. First, surround a unit with the Piranha in such a way as to negate the ability of the enemy unit to move between them (1" rule) leave a gap where the Hammerhead or Fish can fit through to get at the enemy. Then simply tank shock with the hammerhead/fish. If he passes his leadership test or not, he still has nowhere to move without breaking the 1" rule, therefore he is destroyed outright via the "No Retreat" rule. Try this on an expensive termie or HQ squad and watch your opponent's jaw drop. I call this little beauty "The Feeding Frenzy".
The Frenzy can also be used against transports(especially rhinos) by surrounding the access points then destroying it with the Piranha. They will have no where to bail out without breaking the 1" rule. This version has been seen before, but is a great use of these speedy machines.
Next, think about all the shots the enemy will waste trying to kill an11 10 10 fast moving skimmer squadron. It will require a minimum of STR5 to even glance, and it should only ever glance since you should move them over 6" every turn. This fire magnet effect is invaluable for saving your actual tanks from the grief of being stunned, shaken, or destroyed. And if you lose one Piranha, it's about half the points of even an economy ionhead.
Remember, it is important to use them in conjuction with markerlights for maximum effect and don't be afraid to ditch one which is stunned or immobile, to keep the others moving if need be.
Lastly they are great for objective grabbing as they can move 24".
Not a bad deal for only 75 points apiece!!
But how many should you take Huh Well, the answer to that depends on the points value of the game of course.
For 2000 points I always take either 1 squad of 4 and 1 squad of 2 or if I am not useing vespid I take 3 squads of 2.
For 1500 I take 2 squads of 2.
Smaller games are at your discretion, but even in 500 point I take 2 squads of 1.
The reasoning for these sizes ar simple, victory points. In a squad of 2, he has to kill both to get any victory points(but he gets full). In a squad of 4 he has to kill 3 to get any victory points(1/2 victory). When a squad of 2 loses a member hide the remaining one so it will remain a scoring unit and only pull it out when you need a quick fusion hit. Same goes with the team of 4 when they lose 2 members.

I'll leave you with some of Sun Tzu's "Art of War" tenets that the Piranha fills admirably.

Tenet 1. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.
Piranha's are extremly versatile providing many different useful tactics/threats at the same time, allowing you to modify their role as the situation permits.
Tenet 2. All warfare is based on deception.
Piranha's only have one gun, but they have drones and can do much more than destroy tanks. Use this fact in the metagame by complaining about how "expensive" your 75 point Piranhas are and that they are only equipped with the one main weapon. This will cause the enemy to discount them as a threat, which is what you want up until the point they release their drones. Then start pointing out how cool it is that they had those drones, and how you really like em now. This will cause a shift of fire away from your advancing tanks(which should be hidden first turn), to what has effectively become a 51 point model (drones worth 24 points).
Tenet 3. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
"Oh golly, my Vespid are all alone over there(in cover) and boy are they expensive, on top of that they were my best way to kill all those marines. I sure hope they don't die" you say looking terrified. He then (hopefully) takes the bait and moves a unit to towards them. In zips your Piranhas from 24". "Yeah, I call that one The Bug Screen" you remark as your vespid zip gleefully away from the unit they just mauled.
Tenet 4. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
The Piranha can entice units away from the main force, while using their speed to their advantage to escape out of LOS.
Tenet 5. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
I love this effect midgame, nothing is more irratating than to ALWAYS have to test for target priority. Combine this with your markerlights ability to automattically pass the same test, and watch his ire rise. He'll be wasting shots on thos cheap durable skimmers in no time. And, even if he kills 'em all, the drones will still be zipping around in the middle of the field causing the same tests(against infantry only).
Tenet 6. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
Once again speed and enticement. The Piranhas forte'
Tenet 7. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
Bug screen anyone, Feeding Frenzy, 24" movement? drones popping out of nowhere? yeah it has this one on lockdown.
 




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