Tau Blitzkrieg... Is it now viable?

A review of past Tactics by commanders during the First, Second, Third & Fourth Phase Expansion.
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Tau Blitzkrieg... Is it now viable?

Post#1 » Mar 07 2006 04:57

Reading a number of the new strategies cropping up for the new codex has got me thinking. Currently, the Tau battle plan mostly centers around self-preservation and victory point denial. However, with some of these new options, I was wondering if a related, yet intrinsically different strategy would work as well. It would consist a focused all-out offense, using aspects of a target denial strategy to reduce losses. It's all just conjecture at the moment, and I haven't got anything pinned down just yet, but I thought I'd just throw my ideas out there so that we can flesh them out and see if anything comes of it.

Overall concept:
-At its heart, this list would theoretically aim to deliver maximum firepower to specific parts of the opponent's forces to take them out of the picture quickly and efficiently. This would be accomplished with a combination of seeker missile salvos, deepstriking/infiltrating battlesuit units, and vehicles.
-A measure of target denial would be involved in that deployment would consist almost completely of armored units. Infantry units would mostly consist of deepstriking or infiltrating battlesuits and mounted teams of Fire Warriors and Pathfinders
-The list would likely make use of first turn seeker missile alpha strikes on hard targets to soften them up. As for how many to use, and where to mount them is something I'll leave up for discussion.
-Deep-striking battlesuits, would be equipped to offer maximum offensive power for their points (either through quantity or quality of shots), attempting to recoup their costs as quickly as possible. Defensive equipment would be of secondary concern, as the hope would be to reduce the inevitable retalliation to a manageable level. These units would make use of the Pathfinder Devilfish's homing beacon, and possibly the Positional Relay to increase the accuracy and utility of their placement.
-By getting in close, we reduce the effectiveness of indirect fire weapons, especially if your opponent worries about scattering and hitting his own men.

List selection:
-Commander: The setup with Hit and Run and Feel No Pain, which Tonka has proposed to tie up squads, may come into its own here. It would be a nice asset to reduce your opponent's response to your recently-dropped units. When it comes to weapons, I'll address them in the normal Crisis suit entry
-Ethereal: I don't think there is really a place for one in a list like this, but feel free to show me the error of my ways.
-Fire Warriors: All squads would be mounted in Devilfish. They would likely be few in number, but it's tempting to include a large squad or two to take advantage of markerlight-guided rapid firing. The Devilfish themselves could be equipped with SMS to increase their potency, which would hopefully help to dilute anti-tank fire.
-Kroot: They're a nice, cheap way to increase model count and tie up dangerous squads. One unit of them is pretty much a given, though more might be preferable. Hounds are a possibility (though I wouldn't recommend it), but Krootox are less than ideal.
-Stealth Suits: This is another unit that's almost mandatory. I'd almost be tempted to fill out all three Elite slots with them.
-Crisis Suits: Overall, you'll want to keep them cheap, but there are some really nice weapon loadouts we can give them to suit their roles in this list. Burst cannons and missile pods are consistent and reliable, so that's something to build around, but the flamer, single or twinlinked, really comes into its own here. If you can get into position, you can do some serious damage, even to Marines, without using up markerlight tokens. The plasma rifle is of lesser utility, but since you'll likely be within rapid fire range, you can probably make it work. The fusion blaster is also a solid choice, depending on whether or not you take Piranhas. For leaders, both special issue weapons look good, though in such close quarters, you'll have to be mindful of the scatter on the frag launcher
-Pathfinders: This is one of the central units in our list, so at least one squad will be needed. In general, I've not been sold on taking a second squad, but if you're going to do it, this would be the type of list to do it in.
-Piranhas: Useful for tank-hunting and capturing objectives. They're a solid candidate for inclusion
-Vespids: Their speed and firepower make them a good fit in this kind of list, but it all depends on whether you can get use out of them without getting them torn up first. Still, they're under consideration
-Hammerhead: Ion Cannons are not an option here. We need to take the railguns where we can get them, so I'm thinking two Railheads will be a minimum.
-Broadsides: Equipped with ASS and a few Shield Drones, they could be an option, but they could find themselves in trouble early on. If I did take them, it'd only be one squad of them, probably two suits and two drones.
-Sky Ray: Its complement of seeker missiles could be a nice addition, but with this many vehicles around, we can probably get just as many by spreading the missiles around there. Its main asset would be the mobile markerlights, and I'm not sure if we can afford to give up a possible railgun.
-Sniper Drones: Again, they're static infantry, so I really don't see them having a place in this list.

Problems to overcome:
-A list built in this way would be a glass hammer. If your shooting in the first few turns proves ineffective, you can quickly find yourself in a world of hurt.
-If the mission does not allow deep striking, if your opponent castles up, or if your opponent also plays a list mostly consisting of drop troops, can the strategy of this kind of list be adjusted to compensate?
-If your Pathfinders' Devilfish gets blown up early, can this kind of list overcome the loss in deep striking accuracy?

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, we can build on that and something will come of it. Ideas? Questions? Sarcastic remarks?

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Post#2 » Mar 07 2006 05:36

Just threw together a very preliminary list to illustrate what I'm talking about. Lots of kinks to work out, but hopefully, it gets the idea across.

-Shas'El w/ Burst Cannon, Ion Blaster, Targetting Array, HW Multitracker
-Bodyguard x2 w/ Twin Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, HW Multitracker
-Stealth x6
-Crisis x3, 2 w/ Burst Cannon, Plasma, and Multitracker, Leader w/ bonding, Frag Launcher, Burst Cannon, and Multitracker
-Crisis x3 w/ Twin Flamer, BSF
-Fire Warriors x8 in Devilfish w/ SMS, Multitracker, Targetting Array, Decoy Launcher, Seekers x2
-Kroot x12
-Kroot x10
-Hammerhead w/ Railgun, SMS, Multitracker, Target Lock, Decoy Launcher, Seeker x2
-Hammerhead w/ Railgun, SMS, Multitracker, Target Lock, Decoy Launcher, Seeker x2
-Pathfinders x8 w/ Leader, in Devilfish w/ SMS, Multitracker, Targetting Array, Decoy Launcher, Seeker x2
-Piranha x1 w/ Fusion and Target Array
-Piranha x1 w/ Fusion and Target Array

Comes in at around 1842 if my math is correct.

Shas'O Tash'Var
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Post#3 » Mar 07 2006 05:47

I would love to use this kind of list, it sounds like a lot of fun but very fragile. I would use lots of Fire Warriors in 'fishes w/SMS and a heapin' helpin' (2 squads) of Kroot w/ hounds. I would use a commander, probably an 'O with a body guard. To overcome deepstrike problems with suits I would use LOTS of Stealth Suits and double team them with Fire Warriors. Fast attack would be lots of Pirhanas with burst cannons and Hammerheads with Railguns for heavy support. This list would concentrate on high volumes of Str. 5 shots and lots of 'fish chassis and FWs so it might actually have a chance of suviving. I dunno, sounds like fun.

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Post#4 » Mar 07 2006 05:55

I'm quite the Tau new person, but hey.

I like the fire power idea, 40k can be a game decided by the dice roll to see who gets first turn, just blow everything up in one mighty firefight. This only works without terain obviously, but thats beside's the point, the thing I want so say is, if you deep strike lots of units, wich I think you'r planning you will:
a. not have them all at once, allowing your enemy to deal with your troops one at a time.
b. not have the guys you drop shoot one your first few turns, you will waste a lot of firepower this way.
I say go for 1 or 2 units of deep strikers if you want the manouverability bonus, more of 'em will only hinder your firepower in the first few turns, when you need it most.

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Post#5 » Mar 07 2006 06:37

I think that reserve rolls can be managed. With four units, on average, you'll get two to come in on turn 2, another on turn 3, and the last on turn 4, and that's if you decide to keep them all in reserve. Any Stealth units have the option of infiltrating instead. Inclusion of a Positional Relay can help if there's a unit you really need to come in at a given time, if you've got a place to put it. Of course, there's always a risk involved, but careful planning can help to minimize the effect of that risk.

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Aun'O (Ret.)
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Post#6 » Mar 07 2006 09:31

I really like this idea Davian and one of our old members (DJ, where are you!?!) and I kicked around the idea a great deal.

In fact, the original idea of Mech Tau is somewhat "Blitzkrieg" in purpose, allowing us to concentrate our army and attack on a narrow frontage at a point of our choosing.

However, for an All Out Offensive to work, we need to have units that can create incredible damage over one or two turns.

And we don't, not really.

So, the result is that we come to exactly the same conclusion, a Mech Tau list like the one you have. It's balanced enough to hit hard, but not overwhelmingly so. Because of this, we need to balance our doctrine between All Out Offensive and Preservation of Forces.

Tau are too fragile to go all out offensive for sustained periods -they just don't have any staying power in hth combat to back up their Offensive.

They have Mobility, and Firepower, which boils down to Manoeuvre and Shoot.

I think the closest we might be able to do with this kind of idea would be to bring more Pathfinders and team them up with the harder hitting Elites. Pathfinders are a Force multiplier, allowing other units to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. They now also allow for precision Deep Strike.

I wonder how a list would play with;

Shas'O with... Plasma and the new Lots of shots weapon...., Burning Spear Vre, Burning Spear Vre, Shield Drones
El Hit and Run

Crisis Burning Eye, Shield Drones (change for Stealth on preference)
Crisis Sunforge (combination specialty unit, perhaps Flamers here too but definitely some FB's)
Stealth Team

Mech FW


Probably way over points, would have to tweak it around when I get the new book. Sprinkle some Seeker love around too.

No, this is in no way at all balanced and might not make you friends and is certainly the Glass Hammer you mentioned Davian.

But IF you could coordinate this kind of Frenzy and drop the right guys on the right spots with their right choice of target and Light 'Em Up, wow, they could dish out some damage on the turn they come in! The key would be having a realistic expectation of what they could do and have them mutually supportive of nearby units for back up.

And really nice dice rolls.... that Positional Relay upgrade might be nice too.


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Post#7 » Mar 07 2006 10:58

The more I think about the positional relay, the more I wonder if a Lysanderwing or "Drop Pod" Tau army might work. I mean, the positional relay can be bought for regular FCW Devilfish, right? It just comes free on the Pathfinder fish, is how I understand it.

Lets say you load up on Crisis suits. Fill out the HQ with bodyguards, and the elite section with 3 man teams. Would it be possible to get the kind of shooting superiority we could expect out of a deep striking tac squad or a unit or terminators?

Of course, the major drawback is that you don't really have anything comparable to the drop pod as far as blocking return fire. And, of course, no Fury/Fear. Still, is a (nearly) all deep strike Tau list viable? Perhaps as a Farsight list?

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Post#8 » Mar 08 2006 12:25

While I like the idea of a blitzkrieg army, I don't think the lists that have been mentioned quite fit the bill. In my eyes, a true blitzkrieg army would storm in, eradicate only but thoroughly any threatening opposition, then mop up the rest at leisure. The Tau are well-suited for something like this; a rush of skimmer chassis that immediately target and (hopefully) knock out the opponent's anti-tank firepower up close and quickly.

It is useful against heavy weapons squads and tanks - but numerous low-number heavy weapon squads provide more of a challenge, especially when combined with those larger heavy weapon squads.

Also, I think pure mech is the way to go for this kind of list. Kroot don't have the speed, firepower, or durability to be all that useful. This isn't a hold-ground style either; pillboxes are a waste of points rather than useful decoys/speedbumps.

Here's a quick list for example:

'el - Twin MP, Plasma, HWMT
'el - as above
Stealths - 6
XV8 team - 2, twin fusion, 1 w/flamer, 1 w/target lock
FW - 6, DF with Decoys, Target Array, Multitracker, SMS
FW - as above
FW - as above
FW - as above
Hammerhead - Ion Cannon, BC's, Decoys, Multitracker, Gun Drones
Hammerhead - as above
Hammerhead - as above

I don't have the new codex, so this comes out to almost 1700. I think in the new 'dex it's a bit less, maybe by 50 points. So with 200 points left over (1850 tourney for the standard) you could get another stealth team or a full helios crisis team for those pesky 2+ saves. But basically this is a tank rush list. Once any anti-tank guns are gone, it can run rings around anything.
Last edited by Tallen on Mar 08 2006 08:32, edited 1 time in total.

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Aun'O (Ret.)
Posts: 3480

Post#9 » Mar 08 2006 12:38

does Farisight still have the 1 PF limitation?

Tallen, I really like that list. Very fast but still very shooty in it's own way. With each of those DF pumping out their 7 Shots and perhaps some more SMS with on the Hammerheads... that's a very nifty amount of Hidden Spider firepower that can plink away at everything in and out of sight.

24 from the DF + 12 shots from HH is very repsectable. 20 hits. Add in the multiple mini FoF, Stealth shots and submunitions and...

I can almost field it, just would need another DF and do the SMS conversions.

Nice one, I like where this is going!


Posts: 11

Post#10 » Mar 08 2006 01:11

I like that list also. It sounds like something I will be trying out, but you need some way to deal with high armour vehicles. rail guns on the hammerheads, and/or fusion are required. If you are getting in the opponents face then fusion is a good choise, but if you are up against necron, you won't be able to kill the monolith. Often ignoring the monolith is a very sturdy tactic, so this might not mean you will loose, just that you won't have the OPTION of killing it.

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