Monday, 4 February 2013

Building my Dream Cadre

Building the Dream Cadre.

With a new Tau Codex on the Horizon (hopefully!), I've been thinking about the position of my Cadre in the twilight of its old Codex, and with rumours beginning to come out, thinking about my dream Cadre, and what I would like to see inthe new Codex.

As regular readers know, while I dabble with other armies, I’m a Tau player at heart – why Tau? Well, that’s a tricky one. I find in 40k that either an army appeals or it doesn’t, and it’s often difficult to put your finger on why. It’s usually a combination of the models, the fluff and the “style” of play. For me, I enjoy playing the “good guys”. I could never play Dark Eldar  of Chaos. It’s just not me. I also like the “greater good” philosophy, as opposed to the oppressive authoritarian ethos of the imperium. I prefer the Tau’s technology based approach to solving the galaxy’s problems, rather than the mystical, semi religious nonsense of the imperium.

But here’s the contradiction, my friends would probably call me a “tournament player”. Now I’m far from a hard core a win at all costs, tournament player (if I was I wouldn’t play Tau!). What I suspect they mean is that I play by the rules, I play optimised lists, and I do go to a lot of tournaments (over 12 two day tournaments last year), and in most of the Tournaments I go to I play Tau. 

So, why do  I drag one of the oldest, most out of date codices to all these tournaments?

I used to have a friend who dated a girl who was horrible (bare with me!). She was manipulative, domineering, and down right unpleasant. One day I confronted him, and asked why he put up with her. He paused, looked into the middle distance and explained that, on occasion, she was delightful, engaging and so alive and sparkling that it made his heat sing, and for those moments he put up with all the rest.

And, if you will forgive the somewhat laboured analogy, that’s how I feel about my Cadre. Most of the time it’s frustrating and unrewarding, but now and again, when everything comes together, it’s a joy! To my mind a Tau army is, and should be, a subtle army, relying on synergy, movement and careful thought to win. It should be unforgiving and you should lose way more than you win until you have mastered it, but when you’ve mastered it ….. it should be a joy to play, and a terror on the table top!

And that is perhaps my greatest disappointment with the state of the current Codex – an effective Tau army is becoming more and more like a club, with which one bludgeons ones opponent to death, rather than the rapier I would like. And that is a function of the Codex, what works and what doesn’t work. Let me explain……..!

The problem is, the Codex has some real stand out units (wait, what!) – Broadsides are probably, the best anti armour unit in the game, and Crisis suits are the ultimate “swiss army knife”. You can fit them out to do almost anything. The problem is, everything else is pretty rubbish, and that leads to “mono” builds maxing out on Broadsides and Crisis Suits, and ignoring most other things. In turn that leads to gun line armies, with limited mobility, and limited flexibility. A classic Tau army is a delayed gun line army, i.e. most of your points are spent on guns, at the expense of most other elements, with the exception of bubble wrap and blocking units to delay anything getting to your gun line.

I’ve almost got to the point where, if I build an effective Tau list, I build a list I don’t enjoy playing, because its static, does only one thing (albeit it does it well), and has very limited tactical options. Where’s the fun in that?

And that’s the biggest problem with the Tau Codex – it is inflexible and pushes you down the route of building a (reasonably) powerful army, which is pretty one dimensional and a bit boring to play!

So, what do I want from a new Codex? At a high “concept” level I want a Codex that’s dynamic, that allows the army to play to the fluff – it should have a “special forces” feel to it, fully integrated, very mobile, very hard hitting, but then melt away from the counter punch. It should come at you from all angles, from the flanks, from infiltration, from the deployment line and from deep strike. And it should be fully interdependent, needing synergy among all units to play at it’s zenith!

I have an image of a Tau Cadre fighting an engagement like a gathering storm. At first their opponent doesn’t know the engagement has begun. They may catch a glimpse of a Kroot Kindred moving in woods, but dismiss it as imagination. They may see light shimmer as it distorts around a Stealth Suit’s stealth field generator, but think it’s a heat haze.  In the distance they may see a small speeder moving between areas of dead ground, but only for an instant. And then suddenly, like thunder crashing  in the skies, Hammerhead Gunships lock onto the Stealth Suit’s marker lights and rail gun slugs hammer into enemy armour.  The Kindred break cover and, screaming, tear the enemy command squads to shreds. Crisis Suits lock onto the stealth suits locator beacon and deep strike into the middle of the enemy formation, taking out a key objective. Devilfish appear from nowhere, embarked Firewarriors jump out and (supported by marker lights placed by another stealth team) unleash a devastating volley of pulse fire, destroying enemy infantry formations. But, just as suddenly, the weather clears, the Hammerheads disappear behind the brow of a hill, the Kindred melt into the woods, dragging off their next meal, the Crisis Suit jumps behind a ruin out of sight and, mission accomplished, the surviving Firewarriors re-embark and head for the Manta support ship.

I know it’s a dream – but an army that could play like that would be awesome.

The question is, how to achieve this on the table top? Well, it’s not a million miles away as it stands….!

Next post, some thoughts on how a new Codex might achieve this dream army….!


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