Tau Tactica: Know Yourself

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 Unit by Unit Guide
 Tau and Close Combat

Unit by Unit Guide

(HQ) Ethereal

This is the choice of leader taken by those who either a) want the cheapest option available, or b) want the psychological advantage for their troops. If you do take an Ethereal make sure you keep it alive, because if an Ethereal dies this could be devastating to your army.

(HQ) Commander

This is the leader that you choose if you want your leader to take a more aggressive roll in the battle. There are two broad choices you can take here, Shas'el or Shas'o. The Shas'el is cheaper, but the shas'o can shoot better and is better in combat.

(HQ) Bodyguards

Bodyguards are taken to supplement the Commander's fire power, and to prevent it getting killed. There are however, cheaper alternatives.

(Elite) Crisis Suits

Crisis suits can pack a lot of fire power. They are the midrange of the tau army, and also a pretty effective terror weapon. Their jet pack can be used to either advance quickly down the board and to back up your battle lines, or can be used for hit and run attacks. Instead of using a bodyguard, you can just buy a crisis team and embed the commander among them as a cheaper alternative.

(Elite) Stealth Suits

Stealth suits are an invaluable part of the tau army. They can be used as forward scouts, or as a unit that can harass the enemy battle lines. I use them to infiltrate into the enemy's side of the board and then use them to take out units that stray too far from the main battle line. They can also be used to take out enemy fire support.

(Troop) Fire Warriors

Fire Warriors are among the best value troops in the game. They have a decent save and a really big gun. Take as many Fire Warriors as you can, especially in a new army.

(Troop) Kroot

Kroot are not close combat troops, with the possible exception of vs. guard. Their very average stat line means they rarely strike first and don't have enough staying power to make up for it. If you do intend on taking Kroot take lots.
Having said that Kroot are equipped with what is essentially a bolter, and that is a good thing. Combine this with the Field craft ability and you have a troop that can be rather effective at shooting. Sit them 12" with in a wood, they can see out but most other troops can't see in (most troops can only see 6" through a wood)

(Troop) Human Auxiliaries

Cheap, good staying power= Cannon fodder. Unfortunately this is also not really the Tau way. Basically guardsmen with Fire Warrior armour. They unfortunately also have a Las-rifle and not a pulse rifle. Still they can be used as a cheap expendable unit. As such are good for dangerous roles, like taking an objective, or delivering EMP grenades to an intended target.

(Fast Attack) Pathfinders

Pathfinders are great for lighting things up for the heavy guns. They get to move before the game begins to get into a good position. Problem is that they all have to target the same thing. Now they have the option of rail rifles they provide the rest of the army with some mid range.

(Fast Attack) Drones

Drones aren't the best choice for any army. The only real way they can be a good choice is if your opponent underestimates them. The reason they aren't so good; for 2 points more than a Fire warrior to get what works out to be a .5 better BS,Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill fancy movement, worse leadership and no option for pulse rifles.

(Fast Attack) Kroot Hounds

The only real difference to Kroot is they don't get to shoot.

(Heavy Support) Hammerhead

This is a really expensive tank. It also happens to be really good when used in the right situation. It is a skimmer with the option of an ion cannon which is good at destroying marine characters, or a rail gun (with the optional sub-munition) which is really good at destroying anything. The secondary armaments are either smart missiles or burst cannons.
The burst cannons are good for obvious reasons, but the smart missiles no need of LOS makes them formidable in their own way. The catch with the Hammer head is making sure that you get value for money, which isn't easy. Only use this tank if you are sure it is the right situation.

(Heavy Support) Broadside Battlesuits

Mmmm massed rail guns. Hard to go wrong with these really. As a rule if you don't think you have the need for a hammer head take these. Problem is they are slow, and have to remain stationary to fire. In the vast majority of situations you should have either these or at least one Hammerhead.

(Heavy Support) Krootox

These are used to give Kroot (if you have taken them) heavy guns. Considering you still have to fire at the same target that you are targeting with Kroot rifles, I wouldn't bother and spend the points saved on Fire Warriors or Crisis suits.


Plasma Rifle

This is a good weapon, and an expensive one too. These should only be taken if you know that this is what you need. For instance if you are coming up against an all infantry Guard force, you would be better off with a burst cannon due to their low saves, but marines on the other hand...

Missile Pod

Great range, great strength, you get a few shots, not so good AP. This is good against the lighter tanks. Once again make sure you need it first.

Fusion Guns

Due to their short range, I have objections to these being used in Tau armies. But hey feel free to prove me wrong.


Same as the Fusion Rifle. Good in City Fight though.

Burst Cannons

For what it is it has a good strength and AP, not so good range, but combined with the Tau Jump pack this isn't such an issue. The number of shots however is an issue, to your opponent.

Pulse Rifle

This is the best standed infantry weapon in the game. Don't forget that.

Pulse Carbines

Due to its shorter range, in the majority of situations the Pulse Rifle is better. But with the ability to shoot on the move at a greater distance to the Pulse Rifle, this is the better proposition for use with Devilfish.

Smart Missile Systems

Just four pulse rifles with no line of sight needed and a shorter range. Always good.

Kroot Rifle

Essentially a bolter that doubles as an additional close combat weapon.

Kroot Gun

This is a weapon that gives the Kroot some mid range (The heavy stuff should be left to the Tau) unless you have al lot of Kroot, this could be better spent.


If you want to make a guard player scared, start talking about these. The trick with rail guns is not taking them when you don't need them, because they're expensive. But other then that hard to fault the really.

Ion Cannon

If you want to make a marine player scared... If you need something heavy and can't or don't want to afford a vehicle mounted rail gun these are a great alternative. I would say that Plasma Rifle missile pod touting Crisis suit is better though.

Vehicle-mounted Rail Guns

Just about every one fears these. The enemies of the Tau, because they are immensely powerful. The Tau them selves because they are immensely expensive. These are one of the most expensive weapons in the game, and that doesn't even include the tank.
If you are after them purely for tank busting I would consider Broadsides first. If you want them purely for anti infantry, Fire Warriors are probably better value. But they are good when used right.


Multi Tracker

More expensive then the normal one, but it'll be worth it in keeping your crisis suit alive a bit longer, assuming you've equipped the 3 hard points with 2 guns and a shield generator. That's where I view that it'll come handy; also on a commander it could be potentially devastating for the enemy as he'll be shooting two weapons at his high ballistic skill.

Target Lock

Depends on squad, e.g. broadsides, team leader has normal kit, and shield generator/drone controller, + HW TL, while the other two broadsides have a Target Lock and drone controller. This configuration allows you to take many drones as well as have your broadside team shoot at 3 different targets in one turn.

Blacksun Filter

Useful for night fight. Take as many of these as you can in night fight scenarios if you have the points and the hard points/hard wired spaces.

Drone Controller

The next best thing when you cant get a shield generator, use drones to add a small amount of firepower to your squad as well as adding a bit o' metal to soak up some hits, also useful for allocating heavy weapon shots to, that might otherwise kill your precious (controlling model) outright if its say, an ethereal or broadsides.

Gun drones

Adds firepower, twin linked carbines are good, although short ranged. Good for allocating heavy weapon shots to.

Shield Drones

These get in the way of shots that might/will kill/wound the controlling model. If it's an expensive unit, these might help keep them alive (A bit longer, heh!)

Sensor Spines

Depends on scenario and opponent, e.g. Tyranids (Lictors) or Catachans, and also if minefields are permitted.

Targeting array

Hammerhead already has this, devilfish would do better with it.. although keep in mind the devilfish only controls the burst cannon, the Devilfish drones use their own ballistic skill. Although the relatively low points cost is worth it.

Multi Tracker

This is essential in keeping your vehicle alive longer, mobile, and still able to fire. (Remember, move more then 6" each time to only get glancing hits. With this you can also fire a Railgun in retaliation for example!)

Blacksun filter

When night fight is in play, this is also essential, you're not limiting the range of your (hammerhead) weapons as much as they would normally be.

Target Lock

You might not need this until the 4th edition rules come out, but when they do, it will allow a typical hammerhead (Railgun + burst cannons) to fire at 3 different targets even when you have moved more then 6". This has potential, and with the edition less then a month away, this will soon give your army a slight advantage.

Pair of gun drones

Normally the devilfish takes this, but they're good for adding a little bit of extra firepower (provided you can find somewhere to put it on your hammerhead).

Flechette Discharger

Not as necessary, I'm not familiar with the "Death or Glory" rule, so maybe take it if you're thinking about tank shocking high moral troops.

Disruption Pod

Only really works against vehicles that are only just in range of you.. most of the time you'll be moving, so this upgrade seems pretty useless to me, seeing as it would be logical to move away from the enemy tank, and return fire with the Railgun.

Decoy Launchers

These are good, they keep you tank alive even longer, and on top of that, tau tanks are skimmers so if they get immobilized they'll just float around.

Seeker Missiles

Unlimited range is something your troops could do with when wanting fire support from a tank that's on the other side of the board.. it has pretty good AP and strength, on top of that it hits on 2+ (after marker light has hit).

Tau and Close Combat


Tau suck at close combat, no great revelation there. This is the only real flaw of the Tau list (They all have to have one.) But this is a really big flaw. If Tau lose a battle is can almost always (Either directly or indirectly) be put down to being bad at assault.
Unfortunately for Tau players, assault is also a really big part of the game. Probably the biggest (I don't think this should be the case but hey, that's my opinion). All the above rises a really big question for Tau players; what to do about assault.


Unfortunately there is no easy answer (Why is life like that?!). There is three Broad ways of dealing with assault for Tau players. A lot of people will argue one answer to the bitter end, but the truth is that each one is more appropriate for different situations. The three solutions are: avoid it by shooting, avoid it by moving, and let Kroot handle it.
Lets start with avoid it by shooting. Tau suck at assault, but they are really good at shooting. So good in-fact that you may entirely destroy your opponent before he gets the chance to assault, or weaken your opponent to the point that even Tau can win an assault. To do this you must get as much Fire power as possible and as many shots as possible. I prefer to get the cheapest HQ possible (Ethereal or shas'el) and as many Fire warriors as possible then use Broad side battle suits to provide anti tank cover then use either crisis or stealth suits to provide mobile support.
This works because with a cheaper HQ I can afford more fire power, the Fire Warriors (read above) (at least four twelve man teams) are excellent at taking out enemy units that would provide the bulk of enemy attacks in combat and thus are the most dangerous thing to your forces. The Broad Sides are a must because Tau can very easily find them selves with out effective anti tank support (at which point you have lost). Finally the Crisis or stealth suits are there because something will always go wrong, and they provide you with more options once it does.
The use of a speed bump can also be effective, but isn't very fluffy. Avoiding assault by shooting is best vs. fast assault armies or large armies e.g. Dark Eldar, Eldar, Nids, or Orks. It is also effective against Marines.
You can also in some circumstances avoid assault by out manoeuvring your opponent. An army that would use this tactic would be made up of units that are either mounted in devilfish or are equipped with jet packs. The HQ will almost certainly be a crisis suit either with body guards or embedded in another unit.
Elites will heavily in such a list because they are very mobile with a fair amount of fire power. Troops should be Fire warriors half of which will have carbines, as carbines work best with the devilfish that they will also be mounted in. Your heavy support will probably be Hammerheads rather then board side battle suits, as Broad sides have to remain stationary to be effective. This tactic is best against small but slow armies e.g. marines.
If Kroot are going to be effective in combat you either have lots of them and/or you had to seek it out. GW Definition: Games Workshoptends to say that Kroot are the assault element of the tau army. This is to a point true, because they are better at it then Tau, but that doesn't mean they're good. Kroot have a poor stat line and no save, this means that they will generally strike last and have little staying power. In their favor they are cheep and they get 3 attacks on the charge.
So if you are going to use Kroot in an assault you are either going up against rival Tau or guard. Kroot are best when used in great numbers so that their lack of staying power is negated. Thus an army that is intended for this tactic will comprise primarily of Kroot and little else. This tactic is best used against Armies that aren't that good at combat e.g. guard.

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