Saturday, 23 February 2013

Next Three Tournaments

My next 3 tournaments are Games of War’s Spring Tournament inext weekend. Throne of Skulls at the end of March, and the WPS Club Challenge at the end of May.

GofW is 1750 day one and 2000 day 2, no Forge World. TofS is 1500, no forge world, and the Club Challenge is 1750, with only one Forge World unit allowed. Three very different lists and 3 very different tournaments.

Games of War is fun – it was one of the very first tournaments I went to. I enjoy the split point limits, and it’s great that Little Geek can come along too. It’s a real father/son weekend away from Mrs Geek and the Geeklets. The tournaments are reasonably competitive, but without being too “hard core” i.e. there will probably only be one demon player in the tournament (Little Geek), and I'll probably be able to count the number of Wraiths and flyers on my fingers! Also, having been to a few now, I know most of the guys that go regularly, which makes for a fun time.

Throne of Skulls is awesome – I know it’s not really a tournament, its more a gaming weekend, but as gaming weekends go, it’s pretty good (reminds me of the old Woody Allen joke – beautiful woman to Woody “But sex without love is an empty, meaningless experience…!”, Woody to beautiful woman “But, as empty, meaningless experiences go, it’s one of the best!). The sheer size of the event, the stunning armies that show up, and the venue, make it a “must do” for me. There are 3 of us going from the non-club and Little Geek’s now old enough so he’s coming along too.  

Finally, the WPS Club Challenge. I went to it last year, and while not up there with Caledonian, it’s certainly the most competitive of the 3. There is a bunch of us going from the non-club and we’re targeting the 40k Shield….!

Three very different tournaments, and probably 3 very different lists. And they will probably (hopefully!) take my up to the new Tau Codex, and after that “its all about the Tau”!

So, I need to come up with a 1750 list and a 2000 list for Games of War…….hmmm! I’m tempted to take Tau. I’ve been having fun playing them lately and they did pretty well at Cally. However, no Forge World really limits the list I can take. On the other hand, the Drop Pod list I took last time did pretty well!. Finally, I’ve been think a little bit more about the SM Bike list I took to Rapid Fire last Autumn, and I might give that a “run out” again.

I do enjoy the “agony” of list building!


Thursday, 21 February 2013

My Top Ten Malifaux Models

Greetings! Sir#67 here.

I’m in the process of writing up a report of my first Malifaux tournament but to keep the Malifaux momentum going I thought I’d post my top 10 Malifaux models.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of my particular favourites. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section! I have only included models actually available for the general public to buy now. So no Nightmare Chompy, Santana Ortega etc. Even though they look awesome!

10. Teddy

Teddy sums up one of my favourite things about Malifaux. They’ve taken something familiar and twisted it until it’s horrifying yet still instantly recognisable. The fact that in game they’re frequently seen with the Dreamer or Baby Kade, both children (well kind of!) only serves to reinforce this.

9. Doppelganger

For those of you who don’t know a Doppelganger is a counterpart of a living person, basically a copy. From the front this model looks like a fairly uninteresting female sculpt. Once the model is turned round its’ true nature is revealed, just like the way the model tends to work in game.

8. Snowstorm

The entity known as Snowstorm is the body of a young girl (Snow) containing a portion of the essence of a very angry god of winter. The idea behind the model is cool and I think the execution is terrific. Not only does this model look like a very angry god of winter but the size of the model is seriously imposing. It’s about the size of a hive tyrant (~ 4” tall) which for Malifaux is very big indeed.

7. Avatar Sonnia Cridd

It’s a girl floating in the air and breathing fire. Awesome! On a more critical note I love the suggestion of movement in the model. All the little flickers of flame and the curves of her coat come together to give the illusion of movement in what is essentially a static object.

6. Avatar Dreamer

Wyrd don’t tend to include photographs of their miniatures in their books, choosing instead to only supply artwork. However the models themselves tend to almost exactly replicate the artwork in the books. When I first saw the picture of Avatar Dreamer I thought it was a step to far and the mini could never look like that. Needless to say I was proved wrong. If you described the model to someone it would sound absurd but looking at it you can picture reality tearing and this monster stepping through. I also love how by leaving most of Chompy out of the picture it’s really easy for the layman to see that against all their preconceptions it’s actually the little boy that’s in charge.

5. BĂȘte Noir Alternate Sculpt

In the game the evil that is BĂȘte Noir manifests when another model dies. Her alternative sculpt shows this process happening in glorious detail. Eat your heart out Aliens!

4. Collete Du Bois

For me this model is all about the pose. Collete looks cocky, mischievous and alluring all at the same time, just what you’d expect from a showgirl. What I like even more is that she accomplishes all of this while still wearing most of her clothes (Other games companies take note). A feel that I should also mention that this model taught me how to paint tights. Don’t know when I’ll ever need to pain tights again but if I do I now know how.  

3. Perdita Ortega

Whereas Collete is cocky and mischievous Perdita is calm and composed. The pose is really subtle, essentially she’s just standing there but a series of small cues in her stance give me the impression that she’s about to explode into action, much like a viper about to strike. The crop top and lustrous hair help to counteract the generally masculine stance, she’s still sexy but you know she’s dangerous.

2. Avatar Hamelin

I love this model purely because it’s like a very well done diorama. It has the story telling of Avatar Dreamer and the sense of movement of Avatar Cridd. Looking at the model you can see clearly what he is trying to do However as you look closer, the subtle way the shape of the model hides and accentuates various bits of detail draws you into his world and holds your attention. In much the same way as the character Hamelin charms the unwary with his flute.

1. Lady Justice Alternate Sculpt

Never mind my favourite Malifaux sculpt, this is my favourite sculpt of any model anywhere. It’s gorgeous. The stance is perfect. The sword and guns let you know she’s dangerous but the over the shoulder glance and the coy smile give her a playful edge. The way she holds the sword and her jump suit keeps her looking lithe. I don’t know what practical purpose the scales serve but in this paint job they work as a really good spot colour. Again I’d like to point out that Wyrd have created an excellent female sculpt without resorting to some scantily clad buxom wench.

As I said above, this was only my top 10. There are plenty of great models in Wyrd's range some of which I’ve listed below.

Honourable Mentions

Rasputina Alternative Sculpt
Mae Feng
Avatar Nicodim
Baby Kade
Joakuna Ubume
Misaki (Master Version)
Brutal Effigy

Friday, 8 February 2013

Email In: Blood Angels List Analysis

Hello Sir#67 here,

Earlier on in the week I received this email from a player at me local store:

"Been pouring out the Blood Angels for your up and coming tournament, still figuring out their place in 6th Ed.
From what I see they haven't changed very much, everything minus has a plus to counter it, Like DC lost the initiative bonus of FC but gained an attack, so they are just as kill-y, also can't be kited about.

Been looking at Sanguinary Guard, Since 2+ Armour units just cant be swatted off the table by a random Sergeant's Power Sword or Lightning Claw, big downfall of Sanguinary Guard.

I've come up with this list I'd like your feedback on it


This is the list he sent in:


Honour Guard: Jump Packs and 4 Plasma guns

10 Assault Marines: Meltagun x2, sergeant with Lightning Claw and Storm Shield

10 Assault Marines: Meltagun x2, sergeant with Lightning Claw and Storm Shield

Sanguinary Guard: Death Masks and Glaive Encarmines (Power Swords)

Sanguinary Guard: Death Masks, Chapter Banner and Glaive Encarmines (Power Axes)

Baal Predator: Flamestorm Cannon

Baal Predator: Flamestorm Cannon

2 Attack Bikes: 2 Multimeltas

Looking at the list I can see that Nathan wants to play quite aggressively. I think the longest range of any gun in this list is 24"!. Sanguinary Guard are obviously important and Dante has been included to make them scoring, a good move in my opinion. He's also added a squad of plasma gun toting Honour Guard to take advantage of Dante's precision deep strike.

The two Baal preds add a bit of anti infantry firepower and could provide the assault marines/sang guard with some mobile cover while they jump up the field. The various meltaguns in the list look like Nathans answer to heavy armour.

Disclaimer: When I review lists I like to keep the core of the list as similar to the original as possible and change things around the edges. The only time I'd totally rewrite a list is if its way off the mark eg. If a Codex Space Marine List contained Vulkan but had only minimal flamer/melta weapons I'd suggest a full revision.


There are a few things that stand out for me in this list. First are the Baals. Only having 2 vehicles in the list means the majority of your opponents anti tank fire will focus on them. Using them as cover for the marines could lead you to giving up a relatively easy first blood. I'm also not sure the flamestorm Baal is the way to go in this edition. To use the flamestorm effectively you have to get really close and with the 6th ed rules on vehicle assault I think as soon as you get one shot off the Baal will be assaulted and glanced to death.

Another standout for me is the Sang Guard squads. Death Masks are not really worth the points you pay for them. They're also not cumulative so if Dante joins one of the sang squads then the points are wasted. The chapter banner is something else I'm not sure on. It's a lot of points on something that can't be picked up by another squad member. With the changes to shooting I can see this guy getting singled out quite often. The extra attacks also make it more likely that the Sang Guard are going to win combat in the first round exposing them to retaliatory shooting attacks.

In terms of armament I'd also like to see a mix of axes and swords in the two squads. I've found that 3 Swords, 2 Axes works best. The swords are your front line, they make their attacks and are also the first casualties if any are caused. The axes then step up in their initiative step and make their attacks.
A mix also means you've got a bit of flexibility in each squad. Mixing the weapons also means both units will have a similar threat status. At the moment most opponents would focus on the all axe squad as that is clearly the most dangerous. If they were both armed similarly then although both are slightly weaker threats the threat is spread over a larger area and thus creates more of an issue. (I understand this might sound quite abstract. I'll try to do a post on how I visualise level of threat across an army and how it changes the way I play my games)

The final thing I'm not sure on is that by making the list very aggressive your sacrificing the ability to hold backfield objectives efficiently. You could always combat squad and leave 5 assault marines back there but they wont be doing anything other than camping one objective and that's a waste of points in my opinion.

My Version:

After changing a few units/load outs but still sticking with the overall theme of Nathan's list I've come up with the following:


Honour Guard: Jump Packs and 4 Plasma guns

Sanguinary Priest: Jump Pack, Lightning Claw

10 Assault Marines: Meltagun x2, sergeant with Lightning Claw and Storm Shield

10 Assault Marines: Plasma Gun x2, sergeant with Lightning Claw

Sanguinary Guard: Glaive Encarmines (mix of swords and axes)

Sanguinary Guard: Glaive Encarmines (mix of swords and axes)

2 Attack Bikes: 2 Multimeltas

2 Attack Bikes: 2 Multimeltas

Devistator Squad: 4 Missile Launchers

I've swapped out the Baals for another 2 attack bikes and a devistator squad. Both units will add to the lists long range firepower and allow for some extra scoring units in Big Guns and the Scouring. They also increase the chances of you gaining first blood.

I've changed the assault squad load outs so that one squad can hang back slightly but still contribute with their plasma guns. If your playing a game with alot of objectives then this squad could combat squad and still contribute to the game overall.

The sang guard are now just 2 bare bones units. They still provide a decent threat that needs to be dealt with but at a significantly reduced points cost.

In fact I've saved so may points that I was able to fit in a Sanguinary Priest. The idea is he joins the Meltagun assault squad and provides a bit of protection from small arms fire, plasma etc. The reason I've got him joining the assault squad and not the sang guard can be summed up in one word: Challenges. Sang guard units don't contain any characters so cant usually be challenged. If the priest was with them then he would always be the one accepting/refusing and therefore would probably get himself killed or wasted his WS5 lightning claw attacks.

In the assault squad the Sergent answers any challenges, hopefully taking any hits on his storm shield, leaving the priest to get a few extra wounds in with his own weapon. The assault squad also needs his buffs more. The sang guard are armed with master crafted power weapons, some of which will give a +1 S bonus anyway. Its the kind of thing a lowly assault marine can only dream of.

To be honest I'm not sure if the priest adds enough to be worth his points. As he is he costs as much as a scout squad with cammo claoks which would be another scoring unit to sit on an objective or outflank onto one late game. I don't think the decision is that clear cut it's the kind of this that only playtesting will tell for sure.

I think this list will perform better and more consistently than Nathan's original. It still requires a skilled hand to use well but should be alot of fun to play.

If anyone else has a list they'd like reviewing drop me an email at

Until next time


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Horror and redemption!

One of my goals for 2013 was to finish my drop podding marine army. Well last  weekend I pretty much finished it. I only have some line highlighting to do on 4 of the 7 the drop pods and I’m done. Its 90% Forge World MkIII Iron Armour and it’s taken over 2 years to finish. Even if I say so myself, I’m mighty proud of the army.

So last Wednesday I packed them into my KR case to go to the non-club for the army’s first game as a completed army. I walk out to the car and go to put the case in the boot. Bugger… forgot my key. I  put the case down and go back to the house, get my keys, jump in the car and reverse out the driveway….!

Spot the deliberate mistake? I have just ran over hundreds of pounds of resin that took hundreds of hours to paint……!

I realise what I’ve done and retrieve the KR Case from under the car in growing horror. Can’t face opening the case, and drive off to the non-club in a state of shock. Walk into the club, and, verging on tears, explain what happened. The guys sit me down, make me a coffee and, while I recover, put the army back together again,. After a deal of effort on their part, I lose 2 models that are irreparable…!

Thanks guys. In a world of casual acquaintances, it’s good to have friends.

Fun fact…… as well as marines, there was a tray of fire warriors (!) in the bag. The 2 irreparable models were 2 of the fire warriors! And that’s the difference between T4 and T3!

Reality emulating the table top!


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Building my Dream Cadre - Part 2.

So, how do we change the Tau Codex so I get my dream army?

Remember, what we’re looking for is 

“…….. a [army] that’s dynamic, that allows the [Cadre] 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!

Hmmm…. a tall order, but I don’t think the current codex needs to change that much to get there.

Firstly I should say that this is far from a codex re write. It’s just me wish listing on how current rules and wargear might change to make my dream army. It also assumes knowledge of the existing Codex.

At its simplest, the whole dynamic of the army is the “beta strike” i.e. you spend the first turn or two setting up a devastating beta strike, hit your opponent hard for a turn or 2, and then fade away to seize objectives. I see 2 elements to the army – the forward element locates, isolates and targets the enemy, taking out key threats, and a second element delivers the beta strike, and then secures objectives . Kroot, Stealth Suits and Pathfinders make up the first wave, , Firewarriors and Hammerheads and Broadsides make up the second.

Forward Element

So how would I change Stealth Suits, Kroot and Pathfinders to provide that forward element?

·         Stealth Suits. The problem with stealth suits at the moment is that they do nothing particularly well. They are an expensive and inaccurate platform for marker lights, and they don’t pack enough fire power to do significant damage. At best, they are a distraction unit… and Kroot do that much better. However, the biggest problem is that the compete with Crisis Suits, and Crisis suits are so much better.  So first they need a FOC swap to Fast Attack. After that, they need to be really good at one thing, and I think that needs to be a as a Marker Light platform. So let them keep their stealth field generator, and their burst cannons, but give them High Intensity Marker Lights. These are the Heavy 4 marker lights fitted to Forge World Tetras. Because Jet Infantry are relentless the stealth suits can move and shoot the marker lights. Oh and give them BS4 and increase theri toughness to 4.

This would allow Stealth Suits to infiltrate into position and stay reasonably safe from fire until they “light up” targets for other units.

·         Kroot. I see Kroot as the ultimate utility players - light skirmishers, who’s main role is to get in the way, protect more valuable assets, and ultimately die for the greater good. For example, they might infiltrate forward with a stealth team, to protect them from assault until the Stealth Team fulfils its role. Or perhaps outflank into the enemy’s rear and target heavy weapon teams. Or infiltrate forward and assault some bubble wrap, clearing the way for a pathfinder team to take out a key target.

To do this Kroot could stay essentially the same, keeping infiltrate and outflank, and keeping their stats. However, to do this well they need to be “customizable”, to fit the role you had in mind. This isn’t my idea, I read it somewhere, but it’s a great one. You could allow the Kroot to get basic stat boosts, or USR’s through the mechanic of attaching a Shaper who has directed them to eat specific DNA giving them stat boosts or USR’s e.g. eating orks would increase their toughness to 4, eating elder would increase their initiative to 4 and/or give them fleet. Obviously there would be a points cost to upgrade in this way.

·         Pathfinders. At the moment pathfinders are the main platform for marker lights, but they’re a truly dreadful one. I would scrap that (making stealth suits the main marker light platform), and make them tau special forces, specialising in killing or destroying key enemy targets, before the main force arrives. The idea would be to make them very quick, very fragile, but very deadly. For example, they could have 2 main configurations, a simple Railrifle sniper team, with a black sun filter, and a stealth field, or a commando unit. The sniper team could target key units, perhaps picking out special weapons. The command team could to so much more! For example, you could give them a fast skimmer dedicated transport - AV10 all round, open topped, with a Disruption Pod, minimal weapons but with flechette dischargers they can trigger at the end of the vehicles movement phase, wounding all models within 12 inches of the vehicle on a 4+. The idea is they use the skimmer to launch rapid precision strikes against key targets. Give them EMP grenades so they can assault vehicles, demo charges so they can destroy fortifications, and plasma rifles so they can hit high value infantry targets. So the commando team scouts into position, (weathers the storm of fire if you’re going second) and then zooms up, triggers the flechette dischargers, the Pathfinders jump out and nuke a vehicle, or an infantry unit, or a fortification, before dying horrible for the greater good!

The Beta Strike

So how would I build the second element? The idea here is that the second element is able to quickly deploy devastating fire power on the targets identified (or exposed) by the forward element. It should stay hidden (either off the board, or very difficult to kill) until it unleashes death on the enemy.

There are 2 ways to do this – allow it to stay of the board for a turn or 2 (i.e. some sort of reserve manipulation e.g. the Positional Relay), or have a cloaking device that makes it very hard to kill. I suspect the designers had this in mind when they gave Disruption Pods  the Shrouded USR. AV12 and 13 vehicles with 3+ or even 2+ cover saves are pretty durable. So Hammerheads and Devilfish can “lurk” at the rear of the board until required to deliver the beta strike.

However, there needs to be balance, and I think 5pt D’pods are too powerful. The dynamic I would like to see is that when you deliver the beta strike, you expose yourself. This forces the Tau Commander to plan it very carefully, or be pounded by a counter punch. I would change D’pods to work only if no weapons are fired in the previous turn – so if the Tau general “breaks cover” to deliver his beta strike, in the following enemy turn, all his forces are exposed to return fire, with no cover save enhancements. So he better time that Beta Strike just right!

With this general principal in mind, how would I change specific units?

·         Fire Warriors. Along with Heavy Support, Fire warriors need to be the mainstay of a Tau Cadre. However, to do so in the way I want the Cadre to operate, Fire Warriors must be true mobile infantry. The key is some sort of Special Rule (call it “Air Mobile” if you like) that allows the Devilfish to keep out of harm until it delivers its “punch” and then melt away.

Some ideas – perhaps you could allow Fire Warriors to revert to the old 5th edition disembark rules  i.e. move 12 inches and get out to within 2 inches. This would extend their reach. You could also allow the Devilfish to take special weapon gun drones (plasma rifles, fusion blasters, and missile pods). These Drones could disembark with the Firewarriors and attach themselves to the Fire warrior team, just as if it were an extra body in the unit.

Finally, if you wanted to make them truly mobile, allow them to get out, rapid fire, and, if they pass a leadership test, re-embark in the assault phase (perhaps at the expense of being able to shoot next turn). Again, this plays to the “theme” of a devastating beta strike, and then a rapid redeployment.

·         Hammerheads. Hammerheads need to be more versatile. The solution is easy – simply import two of the alternative forge world turrets,– Plasma Cannons (Range 48, s7, AP3, Heavy 4 Twin Linked), and Long Barrelled Burst Cannons (Range 48, S6, AP4 Heavy 6, Twin Linked). Combined with a (reduced price) Submunition capable Railgun, that makes the Hammerhead a very flexible weapons platform.

·         Skyrays. These need to be the main Anti Air platforms. I dislike flyers intensely, so I would like them to mount Railguns with Skyfire and interceptor, but realistically I suspect they are more likely to be S8 AP3 missiles, with Interceptor and Skyfire.

·         Broadsides. I love Broadsides. I would keep them just the way they are!

Crisis Suits

So far I haven’t mentioned Crisis Suits because I don’t’ see them fitting into either the forward element or the beta strike – in my dream army, they can fit into both. A Crisis Suits role is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife, able to do anything the Commander wants it to do.

Crisis suits should not be the mainstay of a Tau army. A Cadre should not deploy (as they do now) with 12 Crisis Suits and 6 Firewarriors! They should play to their name i.e. the suits are deployed in a crisis, when the Tau Commander needs something, somewhere very dead, very quickly. Crisis Suits should be truly Elite units, rare, expensive, rapidly deployable, and utterly devastating. In this role I really like the XV9 rules from forge world. Close support suits, that are put in harms way.

So how would I change them?

Firstly I would make Crisis Suits deployable only in units of one – so a maximum of 5 suits if you fill all your elite slots, and take 2 Command Suits. As a result they should be very tough, and utterly devastating. Your enemy should be terrified of Crisis Suits!

Their toughness would  increase to 5, and  their BS to 4 base (which could be boosted by a targeting array to BS5). They should have 3 wounds. Other stats would stay the same. Given they are true elite, they would have access to all wargear, including what is now “special issue”. Accordingly they could “buy” a shield generator for a 4++, and take up to 3 drones (of any type) to add additional wounds (and Iridium armour for a 2+, and a  Stim Injector for FNP, if you really wanted). They would be Characters, allowed to Look Out Sir wounds to their Drones.

As for offensive capacity lets get one thing straight – there should be no assault suits. It’s just not how Tau roll!

One of the many joys of playing Tau is agonising over weapons load out on your suits (and coming up with weird names for each specific load out!). While it’s tempting to give suits a weapon that fires different rounds (like Sternguard Ammunition, or Commander Ralia’s experimental weapon) where’s the fun in that!

So I would keep the 3 hard point system, each of which takes a weapon. All other support systems would be “hard wired” (i.e. it would not take up a Hard Point). However, taking 2 weapons would not twin link them, rather you would actually have 2 weapons. The “traditional” weapons would stay the same – so plasma rifles, flamers, fusion blasters, and burst cannons (except burst cannons would be upgraded to Assault 4). They could take Heavy Gun Drones that could also take plasma rifles, fusion blasters and burst cannons (albeit Twin Linked BS2).

So you could build a Horde Control Crisis Suit with 3 burst cannons and 3 Burst Cannon Heavy Gun Drones, kicking out 24 S5 shots per turn. Alternatively you could build a “Plasma Storm” heavy infantry killer, with 3 plasma rifles, and 3 Plasma Rifle Heavy Gun Drones shooting 6 plasma shots over 12 inches, or 24 under 12! Or a “Bunker Buster” with 3 Fusion Guns, and Shield Drones so it might survive return fire. Or of course something in-between.

Next would be insertion. Crisis suits could deploy on the board if you wanted to, but more commonly I would see them staying in reserve  until needed. They could come in using normal reserve rules. However, If the Commander is on the board and has a specific item of war gear (an enhanced positional relay perhaps?) it would allow him to bring them at the start of any turn (except turn 1) on a 2+, but would also allow him to keep them off on a 2+. To take advantage of this rule they must deep strike, but would only scatter 1d6.  

Finally, they need to be able to avoid combat. Allowing them to move 2d6, re –rolling any one dice in the assault phase would help, and allowing them to automatically Hit and Run from assault would also help.

So the dynamic I have in mind might go something like this - the Commander sees a Landraider (or Tervigon, or Long Fang squad, or whatever) that just needs to die. At the beginning of the turn he calls in a Bunker Buster Crisis suit(s) and on a 2+ it deep strikes beside the Landradier blowing it to bits. It then jumps away 2d6 (rerolling one dice) in the assault phase, and, if assaulted, can automatically Hit and Run out of that assault. But say the Landraider is a Chaos one, bubble wrapped by cultists, and stuffed with Berserkers? The commander could call in a Horde Control Crisis suit turn 2 to blow away the bubble wrap, keep the Bunker Buster off until turn 3, and then bring down the Bunker Buster and a Plasma Storm. The Bunker Buster blows up the ‘Raider, and the Plasma Storm hoses down the Berserkers that pile out.  

So these are my thoughts on how the game designers might built my dream Tau army. I’m sure they wont! The new Codex will get a slew of new models, some good, others appalling. I’ll get a pathetically useless flyer, Broadsides will be nerfed and I’ll get some over priced Special Character that allows my army to something that no Cadre Commander in their right mind would ever do. Ultimately, the imperium will always get the best toys, power armour is the new lack, and flyers will still dominate the game….sigh!

Tau Codex Kickstart anybody?

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….!