Tau Or Another Army

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Olannon


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Recently I have been pondering the issue of Tau Vs other armies a lot. The Tau play in a very unique way - they are arguably the most unique race in 40k:
For example, I can list a few major differences:
  • Tau basic infantry have no special/heavy weapons
  • Tau have no power weapons of any sort
  • Tau are the only race with Jet-pack suits
  • Tau are the only race with AV13 skimmer battletanks
  • Tau have no S8/9 long ranged weapons (barring seekers)
  • Tau have an insanely strong, long-ranged gun (yes, the Railgun) which can only be obtained in the heavy support section
  • Tau have an amazing amount of pinning weapons: Rail rifles, Pulse carbines, Airbursting fragmentation projector
  • Tau are the only army with markerlights, a weapon which gives us the option to focus a lot of firepower into a small area of enemy troops etc
  • Tau rely on expensive battlesuits to provide specialisation (though this has been reduced with the new codex units)

So, what does this mean?

-Well, it means your average Tau army will run completely different to every other army. Necrons can pack a lot of firepower whilst soaking up almost anything. Imperial Guard has a lot of men and/or heavy tanks with awesome ordnance. Marines can muster anything from static lines with tons of heavy weapons to 25++ terminators in 1.5k. The list goes on and on. But, the Tau are an exception. No power weapons, no ordnance, no heavy weapons or special weapons in our basic infantry squads. We are not the most mobile force (eldar), we don't have the most powerful static firepower (necrons/marines/IG), but we have a decent combination, which makes Tau unique.
When playing Marines, I tend to know how they will fare. I can usually expect the outcome of single engagements. This means that Marines follow a 'pattern', or you could say they are stable. They are reliable, you usually know what you can expect from them and they are usually good all-rounders. Their strong basic units also mean you can often get away with a mistake or two.This is how I view Marines.
When playing Tau, I don't feel as sure of every unit as I do with Marines. They seem rather random, and the results a unit can produce can vary a lot. I find it hard to estimate how much a given unit can do. This means that the Tau, as a race, seem very unstable and you are rarely able to estimate how much hurt they can put out in a turn. They don't have awesome basic units (decent, but not god-like), so usually a mistake or two could cost you the game.
However, I must admit that the more I play Tau, the more I feel I can estimate results, assign proper tasks without overkilling/under-tasking and usually feel more 'safe' with my army. The difference is, this takes a lot of time, while on the other hand, marines are quite stable from the first time you play them!

I'll compare this to music, trying to explain my point clearer

Category: Metal
Let us say Marines are heavy metal, and Tau are progressive metal. Heavy metal is quite easy to recognize, and you can often follow along a song after you have heard it a time or two. Progressive metal on the other hand, often changes pace, rhythm and riffs. This means it can be hard to follow along a song, and sometimes downright frustrating to listen to it, because it seems random and without any sense.
For example, let us assume Marines are the good ol' "Enter Sandman" from Metallica. I could follow that song after I had heard it 2, max 3 times. Marines play easy, you master the basics quickly and feel that you know your army almost from the first time you play. Let us now assume Tau are Dream Theater's "Dance of Eternity". This song seems utterly random, and changes all the time. The first time I heard it, it just annoyed me. It seemed so random and point-less that I just couldn't stand it. However, after I've heard the song a good few times, I'm starting to like it, and know it. I usually know what's next, when it changes etc. However, this takes time.

My point?

To know a Tau army, you need experience, it takes a lot more time than it takes to know a Marine army. It can seem random and frustrating at first, but over time you will no doubt know the army in and out, and you will usually appreciate it. It might seem unfair that it is harder to get to know a Tau army than other armies, but that means we are more special and play very differently.
So, if you are rather new to Tau, have patience. Don't expect to win your first games, don't expect everything to work perfectly. In fact, expect to lose, and lose hard a good few times (I know I did). Be prepared for this, and know that it is only a matter of time before it is your turn to bash some heads!

What is the fun in Tau then?

Well, after your first games, you will gradually feel that you are getting more and more comfortable with your army, and you will really learn to appreciate it. It is a unique force that is very fun to play with, and being regarded as the 'underdog' can be quite funny when you severely crush that Ultramarine army. (If you like metal you will also probably like "Dance of Eternity" after you've heard it a good 30+ times ).
Are you new to Tau? They can seem hard, but do not give up hope. They can be mastered and win a lot, but it takes time! Have patience, play games, learn from your mistakes, and you will eventually have one of the coolest armies to play with!
Disclaimer: I am not saying other armies cannot be hard to get to know, I'm just saying that my experience is that Tau are harder to get used to.




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