Post Tournament Analysis: 1) My army
I thought that my army performed rather well. As with Caledonian Uprising, the core unit I had built my army round were the OSC ghostkeel unit and they didn't disappoint. They only all got killed when I decided to leave them right in front of an enemy wraithknight like an idiot. This unit has so much going for it - it ruins all forms of armour short of AV14, destroys light transport spam, infantry and MC's in equal measure and is extremely durable with a 2++ cover plus the countermeasures. Great unit too for squishing spiders in combat when you can't pin them down in shooting. 2nd best unit in the Tau armoury just now, superseded only by a Burstide Riptide Wing fire team, but that requires markerlight support, wheras Wall of Mirrors + fire team means that the Ghost OSC unit is a Tau rarity - completely independent and deadly with it.
Riptide Wing - Now, I felt it nigh obligatory to include a tide wing, but unsupported by markerlights they did ok but not spectacular. I was wondering whether I should have persevered with my trusty Firebase Support Cadre (would have been of use for the amount of tides/WK's I played against). However, one thing that riptides do have is the fear factor. Opponents often have an unrealistic fear of what they can accomplish and therefore shoot at them a lot. Which is ok as they are relatively durable aside from against destroyer hits, and mobile enough to get away from trouble they can't deal with. I think that if you build your army around a burstide fire team and can support it you can do lots of damage, however not sure my riptide wing of 3 individual tides is anywhere near optimal.
Eldar allies - I will say that a lot of my success came down to using a Wraithknight and two units of Warp Spiders alongside the Tau formations. The fact that I have a large Eldar army and had access to these models means it would be crazy not to utilise them. These two units are simply awesome in their killing power (Wraithknights), their annoyance factor (Spiders) and their durability (both). The ability to charge head first at the opponents with the WK knowing that it will take the heat and allow my tides and ghosts to do all the work is very satisfying. 2) Did I meet my goals from going into this event?
Ok so despite some strong showings at tournaments this year, I haven't won any. However, I feel I have done relatively well - over the last 3 tournaments I have only lost 3 games from 16 and only 1 game per event - all on table 1 against a Tau'nar Supremacy suit, and two ETC players respectively.
With a 2nd place finish in a strong field, I was pretty happy with that. 3) The metagame!! It's all about the metagame!
My thoughts on current UK tournament meta -
This is something we have discussed at length on the Caledonian Deathwatch podcast - tournaments these days are perhaps displaying a bit of a cancer at the heart of the 40k hobby IMO. Unless your units are on a bike, cavalry, flying or are MC's then they are pretty much cannon fodder. Next to nobody from my regular opponents use the models they bought getting into the hobby - fire warrior blobs, marines, terminators, tyranid warriors, orks - the list is endless. I feel that if you enjoy competitive play you are generally getting pushed to buy 'moar big shiny scary stuff' like riptides, wraithknights etc. However, I do realise that GW has to keep making a profit and therefore so be it. I had hoarded enough models over the last couple of years that I have enough units and armies to keep me immune from the meta changes, though it does make me sad that there is a lack of guardsmen, marines, orks, nid warriors etc on the tables these days.
As regards my rankings of 40k armies currently, based on my experience from the last 4 big events I've attended I'd say-
1. Eldar (many builds possible - spider spam, scatter bike spam, seer council etc etc)
2. Tau (again, a few builds to go for)
3. Necrons (generally restricted to LifeStar in Decurion/Canoptek)
4. Marine Deathstars, whether SM/SW/DA or mixes of some/all of them
Sadly, this is likely to be my last competitive event for quite some time as I will be going travelling for a year or so. Hopefully I will be settling down in New Zealand this time next year, so may get my armies shipped out to me to sample the tourney scene on the other side of the world
Thanks for reading