Seeing as how my BA armies have been screwed over by 6th ed (controversial I know, but that’s how it feels), I’ve been thinking more about Tau.
In particular I’ve been thinking about Allies.
Seems to me that the Allies system is a perfect way for old codexes to be “boosted” to make them more competitive. As the Tau codex is now the oldest codex, I wonder….
If I were to list the 3 biggest draw backs with a Tau army they are
· Crappy troops (yes I know fire warriors got a little bit better, but not that much better!)
· Crappy BS on their elite fire platforms (XV8s being BS3), and
· Difficulty in dropping heavy infantry without plasma, and only having 2 viable platforms for plasma (XV8s and XV88s), both of which have their issues (XV8s are BS3, XV88s are very static)
I’m sure there are loads of options to boost these, but the 2 armies I know best are Blood Angles and Eldar (used to play Eldar a lot before I played Tau), so these are the ones I’ve been thinking about.
The most obvious one is BA. An allied detachment of a JP Librarian with shield and fear, combined with 2 JP Assault Squads (with priest if points allow) solves the first problem. Giving the assault squads twin plasma guns and the sergeants twin plasma pistols solves the 3rd. Putting plasma on the ASM allows you to put twin linked missile pods on the XV8s, solving the second problem.
However, more interestingly it would allow you to play aggressively, moving forward with your army (ASM covering the suits, suits giving fire support to the ASM) rather than hugging the board edge. A Tau army coming to get you is novel!
The more intriguing option however is Eldar. Run Eldrad as your HQ, with a squad of Rangers (Eldar snipers for those that don’t know). The interesting addition is Eldrad, he brings so much to a Tau army.
Firstly their is psychic defence. Eldrad has runes of warding. For those of you who don’t know this forces psychers to roll 3d6 on their psychic test. They then take one wound from perils for every point they roll above 12. There are no saves from perils any more. Oh, except Eldar Farseers who save on a 3+! If your playing Grey Knights laugh as their heads explode, or they glance their Dreadnaughts to death failing fortitude rolls!
Next there is Divination (not the new powers, but Eldrads own special power). This allows him to redeploy d3+1 units right before the game starts. This is pretty huge for Tau.
Finally, there are his psychic powers, and this is where it is really interesting. First up, none of the elder powers work on Tau units. But that’s OK, because Eldrad gets 4 rolls on the Divination table if he swaps out his codex powers. He is also mastery level 3, and (uniquely I think) can cast the same power twice. He has access to the Divination table and another one that isn’t important (!). Go look at the Divination powers. They are awesome for Tau.
The primaris power, Prescience (i.e. the on he is guaranteed to get) allows you to re roll missed to hit rolls – so twin linked fire knives! And because Eldrad can cast it on 2 unit per turn that’s 2 squads of twin linked fire knives. Foreboding gives Eldrad and his unit counter attack and Overwatch at normal BS. Perfect Timing allows the unit Eldrad is attached to, to ignore cover. Misfortune forces 1 (or 2) enemy unit to reroll successful saves. Forewarning gives one (or 2) units a 4+ invulnerable save. Only 2 of them are so so – Precognition allows Eldrad to re roll missed hits and wounds, and Scriver's Gaze allows you to re roll reserve rolls. However, because the best one is the automatic one, and he gets 4 rolls on the table, chances are he’ll get the ones you want.
These work so well with a Tau gun line army – Land raider in cover? Cast Perfect Timing on your Broadsides – no more cover. Terminators charging your lines? Cast Prescience on 2 squads of fire knives, and Misfortune on the terminators. Six twin linked plasma rifles, and 6 twin linked missile pods, shooting at the terminators who must re roll their successful saves! That’s one very dead squad of terminators! Or, my personal favourite – a unit of TH/SS assault terminators is about to charge your Kroot line – cast Foreboding on the Kroot giving them counter attack and overwatch at BS3, cast Prescience on the Kroot allowing them to re roll missed to hit rolls (shooting and combat), and then cast Misfortune on the terminators forcing them to re roll successful saves! On average Overwatch will kill 2 terminators, and assault will kill the rest before they even have a chance to swing! Alternativly cast Forewarning on the Kroot giving them a 4+ invulnerable save. Never seen such a scary pack of Kroot in your life!
The big downside of course is that it does very little to solve the biggest problem with a Tau army – crappy troops! Rangers are OK – they have the sniper rule, and unlike most snipers they rend on 6’s on the To Hit roll – so any precision shot they make is AP2. They also get stealth which is helpful. Upgrading to pathfinders also helps. Their stealth roll bonus is now 2+, and they rend on 5’s and 6’s, but they are still not great. So you will be “stuck” with 2 relatively rubbish back field scoring units (Rangers and Fire Warriors) and as many Kroot squads as you can afford. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.
I’m going to try both, but I really like the Eldrad option.