Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tau List Review

FU_2PartyBoy asked me for my thoughts on the following list

Commander Shas'o: Eject, BSF, Drone, Multi-Tracker
2x Gun Drone

10 Kroot

2x 6 Firewarrior w/ DFish (D-Pod Spines Gun Drones)

2x (seperate FOC slot) Piranhas (DPod spines fusion gundrones)

2 Broadside (shas'ver, sms, drone, mulit tracker, BSF, 2 shield drones

2x Hammerhead (Railgun, SMS, Target array, BSF, DPod, MultiTracker, Spines, TArget Lock)

Eldrad (traded powers for Divination Book powers)

2x 3 Guardian Jet Bikes (1 cannon each squad)

3 Shining Spears w/ Exarch (cannon starlance)

My initial thoughts were that for a 2000pt Tau list, there simply isn’t enough shooting, nor enough scoring units, given how fragile they are (the Kroot and Jet Bikes). So how would I change it?

I’ve already posted a little about Tau with Eldar allies. In brief they work really well at boosting the strengths of a Tau army i.e. they make Tau shooting even more deadly. Eldrad casting prescience on Fireknife squads or on large squads of fire warriors is just horrible. However, the problem is it does not “solve” the perennial Tau weakness - squishy troops with low leadership. Another aspect of the same weakness is the lack of effective bubble wrap, with the changes in cover saves making Kroot less effective. The question is how do you cover these weaknesses?

But first, comments on the list. Bear in mind that while going through it, I’m looking to save points for more guns and more troops.

HQ – Firstly, there is no need to pay the extra points for a Shaso over a Shasel. The extra point of leadership, BS, WS and a wound is not IMHO worth it. The weapons are not listed but I suspect the HQ suit is a Fireknife (plasma rifle and missile pod), as it lists a multi tracker. That’s pretty standard, and fine if your want him to run with another fire knife squad – we’ll come back to that. The ejector system is just not necessary.

Kroot – Kroot aren’t so good in 6th edition because cover saves are 5+, not 4+, and you can focus fire models that aren’t in cover. However, given the need for more troops and bubble wrap, I suspect we’re stuck with them. However, we will need more than 10.

Fire Warriors – I’m beginning to reassess my position on Firewarriors. I still think BS3 Leadership 7 Fire warriors are rubbish, but if you can get round that…..! We’ll come back to these as well.

Devilfish are expensive, but with Dpods really resilient. Not sure spines are necessary, but I could be persuaded on that.

Piranhas – In 5th piranhas were great at blocking armour before it crashed your lines. Now I’m not so sure. The ease with which they are hit in close combat, only having 2 hull points, and the fact that people are generally taking less armour, would tempt me to leave them at home and use the points elsewhere.

Broadsides – yes. Broadsides are still one of the best units in the codex and are in almost every list I run. There is no need for the multi tracker though – you are unlikely to want to shoot a rail gun and the SMS at the same time. I usually run them with targeting arrays for BS4.

Hammer heads – I’m still pretty undecided about Hammerheads in 6th. While they are super resilient with AV13 and a 3+ cover save from d pods, the fact of the matter is they’re really expensive, and their damage output is pretty rubbish for the points invested. I would be tempted to trade them in for 2 more Broadsides, and use the points saved elsewhere.

As for the Eldar allies drop the shinning spears. I used to play Eldar a lot before I fell in love with the blue fish guys. I could never get shinning spears to work. They are simply too fragile, and ever more so now that turbo boost only gives a 4+ save rather than a 3+.

So with that out of the way – what might the list look like? Well I’m going to suggest a reasonably “traditional” gunline list, using fire warriors and suits. It’s an idea I’ve been thinking about and I have not play tested it at all, but in my head it sounds good!

First up we need synergy with Eldrad rolling on the Divination table – essentially that means units that benefit from prescience. Some of the other powers are amazing, but you can’t really build an army around them as they’re random – but you can rely on prescience being cast twice per turn. The two units that benefit most from prescience are Firewarriors and Fireknife suits. If your’re taking Eldrad, IMHO you should take 2 full squads of Firewarriors, and 2 squads of Fireknives. That way you can decide what you need to boost each turn, depending on the situation– torrent of fire, or high strength, low AP weapons. But there are more choices to make before we move away from Firewarriors and Fireknives!

First the Firewarriors. The problem is low leadership and fragility. I think you can do 2 things about fragility – first, take an Aegis defense line, and second take 2 devilfish. If the FW deploy behind the defense line they get a 4+ cover save. Everybody knows that. However, devilfish have landing gear, and in any turn they don’t move can be deployed off their stand behind the defense line for a 2+ save. Fewer people know that! So you can either deploy your FWs behind the line beside the fish if you’re going first and have a juicy target to shoot at, or behind the line in their fish if you want to protect them for a turn.

Leadership is a bit trickier. The “easy” way is to put Eldrad in one squad, and your Shasel in the other, giving Eldrad’s squad leadership 10 and the Shasel’s squad leadership 9. If you go down this route you might want to give your Shasel Iridium armour and a couple of shield drones and deploy him front and centre, using him to “tank” wounds for the squad. The trickier, but perhaps more effective way, is to take an ethereal. He will make one squad fearless, and give all Tau units (sadly not Kroot) a reroll on any leadership test. The problem is you still have to take a Shasel, so it’s an additional 50pts. On balance I’m not persuaded the Ethereal is worth it.

As for the Fireknives, the decision is whether to take them as Elite slots, or as bodyguards for 2 Shasels. The issue is accuracy – you can boost body guard Fireknives to BS4 by giving them targeting arrays and HW Multi-trackers, you can’t do that with Elite Fireknives. The boost in accuracy however comes at a significant additional cost. Given we have prescience, we’ll stick with Elite Fireknives.

Next we need more troops. We could take another unit of Firewarriors, but without a way to boost their crappy BS outside of prescience, I’m not sure that’s the answer. If you could run Forge World units I might be tempted to take them with a couple of tetras, but otherwise I think we are stuck with Kroot. In addition, we need something to stop fast assault troops and deep strikers, and while not as good as they used to be, Kroot are our only option. They are also handy as a disruption unit coming on via outflank. So we will take a bunch of kroot as points allow.

Next, Broadsides and/or Hammerheads. Given that the plan is to deploy Firewarriors and Fireknives behind the Aegis, in a gunline, I think Broadsides win over Hammerheads. As points allow, 2 squads of 2 with targeting arrays and HW BSF and HW Drone Controller on the team leader, and a couple of Shield Drones.

Finally allies – and that’s reasonably easy – Eldrad with 2 squads of Guardian jet bikes. Eldrad ‘casue he’s awesome, and the Jet bikes for very fast troops for last minute objective grabs/ contesting/linebreaker. Putting a positional relay on the Shasel is also a good idea to try and keep them off the board until turn 4.

Putting it all together something like this

HQ – Shasel, Twin Linked Missile Pods, Positional Relay, Iridium Armour, HW BSF, HW Drone Controler. 2 Shield Drones


12 Fire Warriors Devilfish Disruption Pod
12 Firewarriors, Devilfish, Disruption Pod

10 Kroot
10 Kroot
10 Kroot


XV8 Team Leader, Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, HW BSF, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
2 x XV8 Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker

XV8 Team Leader, Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker, HW BSF, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
2 x XV8 Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multitracker

Heavy Support

XV88 team leader, Targeting Array, HW BSF, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
XV88, Targeting Array

XV88 team leader, Targeting Array, HW BSF, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
XV88, Targeting Array


Aegis Defense Line


2 x 3 Guardian Jet Bikes

This comes in a few points short (30ish), which you could use for bits and bobs, or if you feel the need, drop a couple of fire warriors and get a quad gun. The idea behind the list is that you sit behind your defense line and blow stuff away, using Eldrad’s buffing powers. You keep the ‘Fish “hull down” for a 2+ save protecting the fire warriors, unless/until they need to redeploy. The Kroot bubble wrap if necessary, or alternatively outflank if that would help. The Jet Bikes are kept off the board (using the Positional Relay) until turn 4 when they swoop in and snatch objectives.  

At least that’s the theory! As I said I have not played this list. I’ve played a variation of it without the Aegis, which was a classic “glass hammer”. The thinking behind the Aegis is to make it a little more robust.

If you think this could work for you, please let me know how you get on play testing it. My next tourni doesn’t allow allies, so I’m going to run my bikers until November so wont be playing Tau for a bit.



  1. Thanks for the great feedback. I think I would like to try this list. (after making room for a quadgun) In one variation of my list; I had firedragons w/ exarch (crackshot/tankhunter) to man a quadgun. However; I took both out for points when I realized the +1 to the vehicle damage scale maybe isnt so hot when no one is running them. lol

    When I have a chance I'll play it against the Demons and see how it goes, (they seem to be my hardest match up no matter which army I play.)

    Thanks again.