How To Win with Tau, A Beginner's Guide (well sort of)
So for some reason, you find yourself here in Advanced Tau Tactica. You've bought yourself the beginnings of a Tau army and you've played your first game with your Tau Cadre and your wondering how you are going to come back from the loss and administer the revenge of the Tau Empire. You've cruised this site a bit and are having trouble gleening any worth-while information from it, relevant to 5th edition.
Your question is, how do I win any games with this army?
The best way to learn how to win with your new Tau Cadre is play lots of games. When you go to your local gaming club night, I want you to play like 3 games in a row. If you can't do that, sign up for every tournament you can. That is another great way to improve your game as you get 3 games in on one day against a variety of opponents. It's as simple as that.
The Tau Empire will prevail by the light of the undying spirit within every Shas'la. Our essence as Tau Players will carry us through the big fight.
So unfortunately the title of this thread is a little misleading, isn't it? You thought I was going to give you some actual in-game advice. HA HA! Well I can't give you any specific advice without seeing how you play, what units you have, etc. I can tell you some basic principles about the Tau Army that will help you get to a point where you are winning games.
Never give up, never surrender. This is an important lesson for a wargamer. I plead, by the will of the Ethereal, do NOT concede defeat. When the game ends, the victor will be joyous, but the loser will have learned valuable lessons. Even when you go into a game, knowing you're going to lose, you can still try out new things. You still have valuable tabletop time to get to know your little warriors. Bottom line, play the game to the last turn.
Broadsides. Speak softly and carry a big stick, just the XV88s. Broadsides are a tough unit that carries one of Tau's most iconic weapons, the Railgun. I almost always go to battle with a unit of 3 with a Team Leader, armed with HW-DC and 2 Shield Drones. Ideally I'd like to give one of the Shas'Uis a twin-linked plasma gun so that makes every model in the unit unique. By doing so, you be able to put instant death wounds on the Shields and normal wounds on the XV8s without losing whole models.
Broadsides have two tasks at hand. Soak up fire and secondly, intimidate the opponent. Broadsides should be targeting Rhinos, Razorbacks, Chimeras and other AV12 or less vehicles. The point is a shock and awe strategy. I want to blow things to kingdom come every turn. That's why I don't target Leman Russes and Land Raiders with them (that's what my piranhas are for), because even at s10, a railgun is hard pressed to wreck a Land Raider in one shot. You need to intimidate your opponent with them by blowing stuff up that you are certain to destroy like Rhinos and Razorbacks. This will focus your opponent's attentions to getting rid of these tough but static models, who in the end, won't win you a game.
Cloaking systems up! Reserves. I have a saying, Reserve to Preserve. I put units that I want to preserve in reserve, fragile units and scoring unts. I need scoring units to last to the end of the game so I can claim objectives with them. No matter what your preference, Kroot or Fire Warriors, put them in reserve. Set up during deployment and watch them get wrecked by enemy fire. Put them in reserve and watch slip onto the board to claim an objective.
It's ok if your Crisis Suits die...Not just your crisis suits but any non-scoring unit, unless its Annihilation of course. In 5th edition there is stuff coming at you from all over the place. Space Wolf Scouts ambushing your Hammerhead. Blood Angels deepstriking on Pathfinders. Vendettas outflanking you and wreck your skyray from the rear. All manner of things in 5th Edition can pop up and ruin your day. Anticipate that. Set up lures. Broadsides are good for that. For example, say I know my opponent is fielding Space Wolf Scouts going behind enemy lines. It's an objective based game. Those scouts could rampage through my army if I let them. Instead I deploy them far in a corner away from any objectives. The scouts show up, kill my broadsides but are now just footsloggers at the other end of the board Now useless. Your scoring units are still safe. Use perceived high value units as lures for your opponent so that you can keep his dangerous tricks away from your scoring units.
Be mobile. Build mobility into your list. This one is easy. Most units on the Tau roster sheet are mobile. Use that to your advantage. The Tau army works well when everything can move a shoot. That way you can bring the entire weight of your army to one crucial point of the battlefield. While broadsides are static, their range and their Smart Missile Systems that ignore LOS can still contribute to a firing frenzy when needed.
Keep these principles in mind and you should be finding yourself doing better. Always remember, its your army, you'll find a way to win if you get enough games in and you don't give up. Your spirit will help you prevail.