Tau Tactica: Path To Tau'Va

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 The Path to Tau'va
 The Path to Tau'va - Unit by Unit

The Path to Tau'va

There are 3 things that, in my opinion, are required to be mastered in order to successfully reach Tau'va. Firstly you must be mobile, if for no other reason than to run away! Yes it's true if you want to be successful with Tau you must avoid combat like the plague and therefore tucking your pants between your hoofed little legs and running is often times quite required. If you want to make a valiant last stand then play marines. Being mobile means two things, jetpacks and devilfish. At least half your army needs these. It's okay to have a firebase, but a stationary Tau army is just a guard army with better rifles and less ordnance.

Secondly you must master the art of target priority. My personal list of targets is as follows:

  • If it is in position to assault you it dies first
  • If it moves faster than basic infantry it dies next, especially if it assaults well
  • If it has an AP4 or better weapon it dies next
  • If it is holding a mission objective it dies as well
  • If it isn't any of these things in that order ignore it until there is nothing left.

The rule of target priority is this:

Pick one target, get as many units as possible to aim at it and don't shoot at anything else till that target is dead. Then rinse and repeat. Mobility and range are huge here, the only proven way to break through a Tau gun line is to find an approach path where only one or two Tau units can fire, 24 Fire warriors are good but it only takes 2 marines to make it there and they'll punch out all 24 with ease.
The third and final step in reaching Tau'va is to stay focused on your objective; I've won plenty of games by not killing more than 1/3 of my opponent even though he killed over half of mine. How is that possible? Because the half I had left were in his deployment zone during a recon game thus scoring double points. Again in most missions mobility is the key, so stay mobile. Keep track of leadership tests and half strength of enemy units, always try to force a 25% casualty test or force a unit below half if given the opportunities.


There's one member of a 200 pt tactical squad left on the table and 5 members of a 300 pt 10 man assault squad, its turn 6 who do you shoot? Most players will go for the tactical squad getting the points for wiping them out, cause they know they can't wipe out the assault squad but you've already got 100pts from them for getting them below half you get 100 more for killing a marine or you get 150 for killing one assault marine, doesn't matter if you wipe them out. Always look for points.

I'll leave you with two brief tactics

1. Get really good at measuring out 10 inches and 16 inches by sight. Why? Because it's barely inside rapid firing range. If you move a 12 man Fire warrior squad 10 inches away from a squad of marines so that only 2 are in range then you'll get 24 shots, 12 hits, 8 wounds and he'll fail 2 and 2/3 of his saves. If everyone in rapid fire range is dead then guess what, he can't assault you next turn. As for the 16 inches that's for stealth suits, in my opinion the best unit you've got. If you can get used to trimming the edges of opposing squads so that they can't assault you you'll dominate Necrons, Orks and any other foot infantry.
2. Volume will kill all - lets face it no matter how good you're setup and strategy is we're all still rolling dice and that means that luck can win or lose games. For those of you who are familiar with statistics you understand that repeating a random event lowers the variance from the mean. Or for you who are not math inclined - The more dice you roll the closer to average you get. If you can get your dice to average more than usual then your skill becomes more of a factor than your luck.
Reason two why volume kills is that you must be mobile, if you are then when that assault squad comes jumping towards you the response is two devilfish empty out 24 Fire warriors in rapid fire range that's 54 shots (including the Fish themselves) 27 hits 18 wounds 6 dead marines, not enough, you are mobile right then your 2 stealth teams shoot 36 more shots 18 hits 12 wounds 4 dead marines if I'm not mistaken that's the whole squad at maximum size on average plus I didn't include the 4 gun drone shots from the fish, they're insurance.

The path to Tau'va - Unit by Unit

(HQ) Ethereal

The best points you can spend in my opinion. He's cheap, he hides like a girl in the back of the board and he makes your army do what you want them to when morale time comes around. Use the new rule for targeting independent characters to your advantage. He can only be shot at if he's the closest. Leave him in the back and about 9" away from anyone; he doesn't even need drones to protect him. This is the only good thing about the abolishment of guess range.
You can no longer "accidentally" snipe characters with basilisks. The other thing to keep in mind is that you can re-roll any morale test, even a passed one. Why would you want to do that? Because a fall back in the shooting phase can get you out of assault range of the enemy and when you re-roll your rally to turn around and rapid fire on your turn the enemy will be most upset.

(HQ) Shas'o and Shas'El

If you prefer to have a souped up character then these guys are your only choice. Again you can abuse the targeting rules, especially with their assault phase move. Jump in-front of Fire warriors to get range and bounce back behind them to become an ineligible target. Being able to hardwire multiple pieces of gear I recommend a multi-tracker and drone controller. For weapons I'd pick at least two maybe three and no twin-linking for gods sake they already have a good BS.Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill I don't typically use these but when I do it's usually Fusion, Plasma and Missile Pod.

(HQ) Bodyguard

Talk about useless, you pay extra points compared to a Crisis suit team and for what? For the WS and I of a guardsman and while you're wasting your points why don't you kick yourself for taking away your commanders ability to use the IC targeting rules to his advantage. If you want a bodyguard then just buy an elites choice crisis team for cheaper and have your Shas'o/El join up. At least then he can leave if things don't go so well. There must be some saving grace to these guys you say... alright there is; you do gain the ability to hardwire one piece of gear to each of them instead of just the Team leader in a regular squad. Therefore they can all have Drone controllers and multi-trackers with two guns each and fire them all. Worth it? Not to me.

(Elite) Crisis Suit Team

These guys are pretty hot, if for no other reason than that they seem to terrify opponents more than they should. I recommend that all units in a Tau army (not just crisis teams) be full strength so be sure to grab three. For an elite unit they have a pretty crappy BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skillso I recommend that you twin link whatever you're going to give them, also do yourself a favor and arm them all the same. Watching a crisis team with one of every weapon go into battle makes the Aun cry.
As an elite unit they need to be given a role and stick to it. Mine are long range support with twin-linked missile pods, they take out light to medium vehicles and high T troops like bikes. Finally, and I know a lot of people are going to say I'm crazy, but don't underestimate Flamers. Lets say you took my advice and twin-linked your main weapon, you have one hardpoint left. There are only two things left to take one is the highly recommended drone controller the other is the target lock right. Wrong, if all your suits are armed identically then they'll all be shooting the same target so twin linked is worthless and a flamer is only one point more, and it never misses so why not.
If you take a drone controller then everyone needs one thanks to the majority rule. Otherwise you start taking hits on the suits that the drones are there to protect to early. The flamer may seem silly but if your opponent gets within flaming range of infiltrates in cover with, lets say, genestealers then the flamer plus 6 inch assault run away is the best thing out there.

(Elite) Stealth Teams

I'm not going to lie, these guys are my favourite. A squad of six will average exactly 2 marines a turn and they can harass the hell out of just about anyone. Once you get good at eyeing out their range you should be able to move in shoot and retreat to around 24" away which means your opponent will fail his night fight roll more than half the time. Very frustrating for them.
I've been trying out the team leader with marker light and target lock deal and it works okay for the first few turns. Remember he can't move in the move phase to fire the light but they can still assault jump. Marker lights become hugely useful now that the weapon they guide negates a cover save. Use a light to guide a submunition and that's a whole template of negated cover saves and AP 4. Can you say dead Space Marine scouts?

(Troop) Fire Warriors

Best basic gun in the game, carapace armour and only 10 pts a model. What else is there to say? Well actually, quite a bit, rule one: Always take twelve if you can. Read my tactics post, towards the end it talks about volume and then you'll understand. Next always buy the Shas'ui for his ld 8 and also potentially to get a marker with target lock for the previously described reasons.
Finally the Devilfish, very important to get these most underappreciated vehicles. Being able to move and rapid fire after getting out means you can relocate 24 shots a great distance in no time. Once the Devilfish has done its job, it's time to go start some havoc, it carries 5 shots which is enough to bother an enemy in a way a rhino never could, plus you should give it the multitasked and decoy launchers so it can move up to 12 and still fire and re-roll immobilised results.
If you have the points give it flechette discharges just for fun. Tank shock with these guys is just fun, your opponent will be upset if they have to waste a turn firing at a non scoring unit but more upset when you shock him off of an objective. The most useful thing these guys can do however is probably the escort tactic. By escort I mean the enemy, shoot or tank shock an enemy unit until it fails a morale test, that unit can only fall back up to 12" a turn and can't rally with an enemy within 6", conveniently enough the devilfish will always be able to keep up and ignore terrain. I once watched a Demon Prince fail a morale test for tank shock and then be "escorted" off the table by a devilfish. It was very unfortunate.

(Troop) Kroot

Kroot arenot an assault unit, they are a pillbox unit. Try this if you are going to use them:
  • Infiltate them into some cover
  • Use the 12" sight through forests if it's available but if not any cover will be fine.
  • Take 15 with a shaper at least and then don't move unless it's moving within the cover to get a rapid fire shot.
The first time someone assaults you and you take 32 attacks on I 10 they won't be happy. I watched a brood of Raveners charge Kroot in cover without knowing what Kroot could do and lets say that the Raveners didn't actually get to fight! Kroot aren't bad shooters either: They've got 24" range on their gun, and fairly good strength and they're a real pain to extract from cover. Use them as an anchor or don't use them at all.

(Fast Attack) Pathfinders

Honestly not a big fan of the pathfinders, having a marker light is nice but lets face it what are you going to guide with the light, broadsides hit 75% already, so do twin linked Crisis suits, maybe a Hammerhead but do you need that many marker lights for one Hammerhead shot, not really. Actually the only use for these guys is if you are one of those crazies that like seeker missiles.
Personally at 10 pts a shot, I think it is a waste. Only to be used if you don't have the models or points for 2 or more rail guns. Rail rifles are cool and all but with a target lock you're looking at 29pts a model, that's 1pt shy of a stealth suit on average he'll kill 3 marines if he survives the whole game. I'd take the stealth suit. "But, but... they also have carbines that can pin people" I hear you tearfully crying, so do the gundrone squadron, guess what, they are better, and here's why:

(Fast Attack) Gun Drone Squadron

"Twin linked BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill2 is better than BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill3" You say. They can deep strike, with pinning weapons and have jet packs that move in the assault phase. Oh and they cost the exact same as a silly pathfinder. Sign me up for some of them. Again a great harassing unit, don't expect them to be the game MVP's but it will greatly annoy your opponent if he gets pinned down by them.
If you want to annoy somebody, have a Shas'o join up with them for a few turns, because the one thing more annoying than gun drones is leadership 10 gun drones. I take them all the time, deep strike is actually nice for them because if an enemy unit stops to wipe them out you only lost a max of 96 points and it caused him to reach you lines to assault one turn later, points well spent.

(Fast Attack) Kroot Hounds

If you happen to use kroot then these guys are alright for adding some extra low points cost attacks. The increase in I shouldn't be that big a deal since you put your kroot in cover didn't you? Unless you happen to have a few points to blow or you have a soft spot for kroot I'd ignore these.

(Heavy Support) Hammerhead

Arguably the best tank in the game under the 4th edition rules. Given a multitasked and target lock it moves 12" a turn, has the armour of a predator and can still fire all of its guns at different targets and will count as a fast moving skimmer for only glancing hits. Throw on a decoy launcher and it's a serious pain to bring down. The disruption pod is alright if you leave your tank in the back as support. If you plan on using the burst cannons or my favourite the smart missiles then I'd drop it as you're going to get too close for it to be worthwhile.
The Ion cannon is okay if you don't have the points for a Railgun. Unfortunately it can't quite cause instant death on most of the armor 3+ targets it's aimed at and since, for some reason marine players seem to bunch up their squads, railgun submunitions are typically more effective, even against 3+ save armies. I prefer to shell out the extra points for the smart missiles for the extra 6" range and no sight required, it just happens that if you get within burst cannon range then you'll also be within meltagun range on your opponents turn. All in all the best heavy support you can get.

(Heavy Support) Broadsides

Like Terminators, only with more wounds, really hard to kill and carry strong guns. These guys are the only unit I don't recommend maxing out on, take them in units of one until you have no more Heavy support slots left before doubling up. Why you ask? Well you can always deploy them next to each other like they were in a squad but then your opponent can only shoot one of them at a time. Also you can spend your points on drone controllers, shield generators and not need to worry about target locks.
I give mine a drone controller with 2 shield drones and deploy in cover, a wall if available. I still get a 4+ invulnerable from the wall, but why risk a 50/50 chance that a lascannon kills you? With 2 drones and the majority rule you can still kill the drone first if you fail. If you have the points left over try giving them plasma rifles. Still a great weapon at 24", twin linked, prevents Space Marines from having an armour save, and you don't lose a turn when your 100+ point railgun doesn't have a vehicle in sight.

(Heavy Support) Krootox

To be completely honest I've never used them. Just look at them, and at first glance their stat line is impressive, but at a closer look they get instantly killed by strength 6 weapons, they have no save and that "great" krootgun is rapid fire and therefore rubbish. They would make a very tough anchor if attached to a kroot squad since they couldn't be singled out and would add a bunch of stronger shots to the kroot squad, but I can't see them being worth more than 35 points.
Not an entirely terrible unit but it has a limited use and when compared to the two other amazing units available they are a total waste of points.


I hope that this gives a new perpective to a few units and helps others to craft their armies. I'll leave you with a rundown example of my 1500pt list:

1 Ethereal

2 Stealth Teams

6 men in each. One team leader with marker and TL (Bonded)

3 Crisis suits

Twin linked Missile pods, 2 with flamers one with TL (Bonded.)

2 Firewarrior squads

12 men, Shas'ui, bonded.

2 Devilfish

Multi tracker and Decoy launchers

1 Gun Drone

8 drones

1 Hammerhead

Railgun, Smart Missiles, Multitracker, TL, D.L

1 Broadside

Drone controller and 2 shield drones
Adds up to 1500 even. Only two non mobile units and one of them doesn't fight anyways.


1. No Subject

good article but you need to have battlesuit commander

Posted by jmslft16, 14th July 2010 at 06:05pm [Report to Mod]

1 comment

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