Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tau in 6th - Part 1

I have hesitated for a long time before posting this. It’s probably obvious, but Tau are my “main army” in the sense that it’s the one I’ve played most, and probably the one I’ve enjoyed playing more than any other…..until relatively recently.

I become frustrated with the Tau codex – I just couldn’t get them to do what they needed to do to be competitive. Which is why I moved to BA towards the end of 5th. With the advent of 6th edition I had high hopes for my Tau (and still do), but I’ve not really had enough time to test them. I’ve only played 1 games with my Tau -against Little Geek’s Demons (he well and truly thumped me!).. Not nearly enough to come to a conclusion on how the new rule set affects them. So this is really by way of a “first impressions” type post.

The commentary I’ve read so far seems to focus on individual units, and how this and that got better or worse. To an extent that’s true, but I suspect the more profound changes will prove to be more subtle. I’m going to split this post into 2 – first some commentary on how 6th ed affects some units, and then  my (very) preliminary thoughts on a few things that may prove to be a little more fundamental to understanding how a Tau army might play in 6th ed.

So first – some thoughts on various units.

Fire Warriors 
People are getting very excited about how Fire Warriors are better now. Frankly I just don’t see it. Yes being able to fire 30” and move is nice, and a 15” rapid fire range is also better, but they are still BS4, and AP5. While Fire Warriors are better, until they get embedded special weapons, you still can’t say they’re “good”. A full squad in rapid fire range is still only going to kill 2 or 3 marines in one turn of shooting. They might glance a Rhino to death with that same round of shooting, but who cares – that’s what death rain suits are for!
And they are still leadership 7!

One benefit may be that you might get 2 rounds of shooting, whereas before you might only have had one…..but that still doesn’t make them good. I would still rather have Kroot (and they are worse in 6thbecause of the new cover save rules and the prohibition  on assaulting from reserve while outflanking).

Tau still have crappy troops, and that’s even more of a problem in 6th ed.

If people are having great success with 3-4 full squads of FWs please let me know – I would be delighted to be wrong on this (and, FirstName, I do not believe that EMP grenades are the answer….. J)! .

XV8 Suits 
…are still awesome. In fact arguably they are better - cover has dropped from 4+ to (mostly) 5+, one black sun filter (a 3 point upgrade!) gives a whole squad night vision, and with the new wound allocation rules, shield drones make the units way more survivable.

There has been some chatter about giving a Commander Iridium Armour (for a 2+ save), a shield generator and 2 shield drones to “tank” wounds. I’ve yet to try this, but it sounds like something to explore. Also  - vectored retro thrusters to give any unit the Commander attaches to hit and run, sound like a blast – hit and run Thunder Shield Terminators anyone! Again, haven’t tried this but I might – it wound be great on a jet bike seer council for example, allowing them to avoid being tar pitted, which was a problem when I played them in the past.

The one thing that’s worse, is the change to 2d6 for the jet pack assault move. That really sucks. The certainty of being able to move 6” is far more important than the chance to go further than 6”, but perhaps only 2” or 3”. Oh, and no target locks also  sucks!

Finally, a thought – Commander Farsight has become pretty nasty(for Tau!)….! A T4 Character with a 3+/4++, 4 wounds, and 3 base attacks striking at WS5, I5, S5 with a weapon that always ignores armour saves! Maybe not as the commander of a Tau army himself, but as an ally with bodyguard and an elite Crisis Team…..might be interesting.

Stealth Suits 
Everybody seems to be saying they are awesome now, largely due to the changes to stealth. Stealth suits now get  a 4+ cover save in the open, and a 2+ in any cover. Now I’ve never played stealth suits, so I may be way off here, but there are still 2 big problems – first, they have very short range weapons (18” Burst Cannon, or 12” fusion blaster). If you get that close you’re in danger of getting assaulted. If they had access to Missile Pods, then they would be awesome, but they don’t. Secondly, the opportunity cost – they are not XV8s, and I would rather have more XV8s.

Again – if people are having a different experience with Stealth Suits, please let me know. The models are pretty cool and I would love to  use them.

I’ve read lots of talk about suicide Ethereals i.e. getting them killed so you have preferred enemy across all Tau units.

Now, setting aside the morality (!) of deliberately killing your HQ (some have even talked about jumping him of a bastion – won’t work he has 2 wounds!)  I think this is a very risky tactic. Firstly, you are relying on your opponent killing him – why would they -  but more importantly you are taking the risk of your whole army running off the board! Most Tau units are Leadership 7 or 8, and lurk at the back of the board. Taking leadership tests on 3 squads of XV8’s, and a couple of squads of broadsides is a risky proposition. I don’t know the exact numbers, but there is a very good chance you will lose 2 or three of them.

I have thought about this, as preferred enemy on Tau units would be awesome. The only way I thought it might work is if you ran Shadowsun as well. Her Command Link Drone allows all Tau Units within 18” to use her leadership 10. So bunch your units up until your opponent kills the Ethereal, pass all your L10 moral checks (making sure your Fire Warriors are in their ‘Fish so they’re fearless) and blow them off the table…..!

But, frankly, it’s a gimmick and a bit silly…!

Hammer Heads 
HH may be a bit better now (contrary to my initial reaction). While the disruption pod now only gives them a 5+ save, and they can’t contest any more, the change to the damage mechanic will I think help. AV13 is much harder to supress now, and weapon destroyed is randomised, so “one gun syndrome” is less of a problem. Also, if you fit them with smart missile systems, a multitracker, and a target lock you can move 12” and fire both weapon systems at 2 separate targets (and the SMS at something you can’t see if you want!).  There’s still a question mark in my mind over whether this is worth the points, but it makes the HH much more mobile.

Broadsides are just as awesome as they were before, perhaps more so given the drop in cover saves and the boost to survivability from the interaction between the new wound allocation rules and shield drones. The only slight nerf was the inexplicable deletion of target locks from the suit armoury! So now a unit of 3 XV88s can’t split fire, which makes them overkill for most things. Three units of Three XV88s is a thing of the past I suspect. Might be better to run 3 units of 2.

I think that’s the big changes – anybody got any others? 



  1. Good summary. Another big change for Tau is how Kroot work.

    With wound allocation in the hands of the opponent (ie. the nearest to the shooter) it's much harder for kroot to protect a unit by surrounding it.

    On the other hand they are another source of long str 7 firepower now. Krootox have rapid fire weapons so they can fire once up to 48" and twice at 24". I'm going to try out 10 kroot with 3 krootox. I'll attach my shas'el to offset their poor leadership.

    With the change to rapid fire I think less kroot hounds will be used, as +1 point to get a gun that can move and fire 24" is great.


  2. Agree on kroot. Bubble wrap is much harder ow. I get into this a bit more in part 2.