Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Battle Reports and debriefing thoughts about your Tau in action
Commander Skyfall
Posts: 64

Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#1 » Mar 29 2016 06:51

Student Nationals 2016 Report
The Student Roleplaying and Wargames Nationals is an event that I have attended a few times over the years. Though now I am very much an *ahem* ex-student … this event is still open to alumni. My main gaming group is the University of Sheffield Wargames Society where I have played for over a decade now (feeling old!). So this year I fancied trying my hand at with taking my Tau for 40k. Here follows my report on the build-up, planning, play-testing and eventual performance at the Nationals…

The Format-
- 1650 points limit
- 2 sources
- Forgeworld permitted if 2nd edition (i.e. not experimental lists) though not 30k
- Max. 1 Superheavy / Gargantuan
- Alliance levels; Battle Brothers or Allies of Convenience only
- 5 rounds, each being a pre-determined Eternal War mission, lasting 2 hours
- Invisibility has been comped: shooting is at BS1 rather than Snapfire, or BS2 against affected Superheavies / Gargantuans. In close combat, rolling 6s to hit, or 5s and 6s against affected Superheavies / Gargantuans.

The Army List
Source 1: Optimised Stealth Cadre

3* XV25 Stealth Suits, Shas’vre[Warlord], Markerlight & target [= 110pts]

3* XV25 Stealth Suits, Shas’vre, Markerlight & target lock = [110pts]

XV95 Ghostkeel, Bonding knife ritual, Cyclic ion raker, Twin-linked fusion blaster, Early warning override, target lock, 2* MV5 Stealth drones [= 151pts]

XV95 Ghostkeel, Bonding knife ritual, Cyclic ion raker, Twin-linked burst cannon, Early warning override, velocity tracker, 2* MV5 Stealth drones [= 161pts]

XV95 Ghostkeel. Bonding knife ritual, Cyclic ion raker, Twin-linked fusion blaster, Early warning override, velocity tracker, 2* MV5 Stealth drones [= 166pts]

Source 2: Riptide Wing

XV104 Riptide, Bonding knife ritual, Heavy burst cannon, Twin-linked smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, early warning override [= 189pts]

XV104 Riptide, bonding knife ritual, Heavy burst cannon, Twin-linked smart missile system, Early warning override, target lock [= 191pts]

XV104 Riptide, Bonding knife ritual, Heavy burst cannon, Twin-linked smart missile system, Early warning override, target lock [= 191pts]

XV104 Riptide, Ion accelerator, Twin-linked smart missile system, Early warning override [= 190pts]

XV104 Riptide, Ion accelerator, Twin-linked smart missile system, Early warning override [= 190pts]

Total = 1649 points

The merits of the Riptide Wing and the Optimised Stealth Cadre, and their respective tactics, have been exhaustively analysed in other topics on this forum so I won’t labour over the army’s tactics here. There is a very informative article re: OSC by Noobpwner which I found really helpful: ... 52&t=24436
and mertis/drawbacks of the Riptide Wing are discussed here: ... 52&t=24447

But broadly speaking: this isn’t an especially subtle army, my plan is to deploy the OSC centrally as possible, on the front line, with the Riptide Wing deploying close behind (in a long chain but keeping within the Synchronised Reactor ranges). The aim is to maximise the effective radius and coverage of my main weapons over the battlefield right from turn 1. The Stealth Suit teams would likely start well back, hidden in cover or possibly even in Reserve, given that they are the squishy easy Kill Points.

Preliminary testing
I ran the list at my local gaming group, where some very generous volunteers agreed to go up against a tournament-style list that is atypical of what we would normally be expected on our gaming scene. With the guys properly forewarned I encouraged them to tailor their lists accordingly to give my army as hard a time as possible.

The test games went well for the Ghost/Tide Wing . The match-ups were hard going but victory was secured. The field-testing highlighted the following points:

- Highly mobile, all jetpack infantry, lots of Move Through Cover with the MCs meant that the army could make good use of JSJ-ing into place where I need them. The nova-charged Boost move was great for moving up to secure distant objectives and Linebreaker in late game.

- Resilience; lots of high toughness, high armour, multi-wound MCs and the Holophotons & Stealth/Shrouding all added up to make a very tough gun line.

- High volume firepower; especially with a Hailfire triggered in T1/early game, this helped to eliminate high-priority targets before they could get close, and the Wall of Mirrors provided consistently high damage output throughout.

- Low reliance of markerlights; Fire Team, Co-ordinated Attacks and Wall of Mirrors meant that I didn’t miss markerlights all that much. The couple from the Stealth Teams were handy for boosting the Riptides’ BS to capitalise on their shooting attacks.

- Interceptor defence; self-explanatory really – all my MCs have Interceptor to help keep those pesky drop-podders, outflankers and incoming fliers at bay.

- Playing the Missions; this tournament wasn’t using Maelstrom missions, so having a low number of KPs and only having to worry about objective grad late game really plays well with this army. I think a Maelstrom mission would be quite a different story.

- Fast play; with only 2 hours for each game I needed an army that played fast and dealt damage quickly. I was not disappointed.

- Low model count; perhaps not a major consideration but it is handy when thinking about transport, carrying and moving around at a tournament.

- Close combat potential; whilst still no CC champions this Tau army gave my opponents a surprisingly tough time in CC compared to the armies I’m usually taking.

The large Ghostkeel unit in particular; the high Initiative drones moving up in their I-step to absorb the nasty AP1,2,3 wounds so that the Ghostkeels could Smash back in their I-step. Admittedly I got a bit lucky but I managed to use this approach to kill an Imperial Knight in CC, having softened it up first in the shooting phases before it charged me and then it failing to roll strength-D on its Stomp attack. I had also forgotten that penetrating hits in CC count as 2 wounds for combat resolution - not too shabby - so the Ghostkeels were balancing out the combat res. with their attacks.

So at 3x S6 AP2 attacks (or 1x S10 AP2 Smash) apiece my MCs can hold their own in CC - albeit not against dedicated assault units - but certainly it caught people out/ off-guard.

The play-testing of course highlighted some disadvantages too, ones that I’d now have to work around:

- Gets Hot; when Hail-firing with Nova-charged heavy burst cannons the 1s to Hit really start adding up. Maybe it’s just my rubbish dice? But a couple of failed armour saves and it can leave a Riptide much more vulnerable. Or at least, feeling less inclined to risk further nova-charges in later turns.
Not a huge problem but something to keep an eye on.

- Low markerlight count; I know I put this in the Advantages list… but there were brief moments where the odd extra marker hit could have swung things even more in my favour. Removing cover for the Riptides’ shooting would have been really handy.

- Warlord; a Stealth Shas’vre warlord gives up Slay the Warlord very easily. I think that this unit will always be starting in Reserve* and look to Outflank later.

*Afterthought: the only obvious exception to this might be if I can roll a decent Warlord Trait that requires table presence. I normally go with Strategic Traits, but I might have a punt on the Command Traits on the off-chance I can strike lucky and roll a 5 on the table… i.e. units within 12” re-rolling 1s for shooting attacks - this would be awesome! :D

- Low model count; again I had put this as an Advantage, but on the flip side of this coin, where I had taken higher casualty rates it didn’t leave a lot for grabbing the objectives in the end phases. I would need to be considered and selective about what objectives I pushed for.

- Large footprints; all those large bases meant that there were odd times, once I’d fluffed a couple of JSJ rolls, there wasn’t room to move past and land between/behind friendly units. JSJ-ing would need to be carefully considered as to what priority and order to move units in order to mitigate for the chance of a sequence of low rolling and the traffic jam that could follow.

The play-testing had gone well and I was feeling pretty happy with the army build. The disadvantages were fairly minor niggles that were outweighed by the hefty advantages that come with this Ghost/Tide-wing in this particular tournament format.

The OSC and Riptide Wings complement one another nicely. Together they provide a balance of high firepower, resilience and manoeuvrability that I’d expect from a competitive Tau army; Plays fast, hits hard, jumps around and is difficult to take down.

There were certainly some metas / builds out there against whom I wasn’t feeling all that confident, namely: Bike/Wolf stars, Psychic councils, Grav-heavy armies, and some of the Forgeworld superheavies (where I’m less familiar with their rules & tricks). But I felt that for this tournament’s format I had got the strongest army that I could assemble (short of going out and buying an Eldar CAD :roll: )

Now to take my army to the real fight! Painting all the models is going to be right up to the deadline (always the case for me!) but progressing well. The tournament takes place over the weekend of 2nd/3rd April so watch this space for reports of the Ghost/Tide-wing’s performance. Battle reports and hopefully some good photos to follow soon.
Last edited by Commander Skyfall on Mar 29 2016 03:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#2 » Mar 29 2016 08:14

This is a beautiful list Skyfall. What did the guys you were playtesting against use? And you're not wrong, its a very sledgehammer Tau build with much nastiness throughout it. Will blow most armies away, and is very resilient in itself

I think you hit the nail on the head with weaknesses - Space Wolves/Ravenwing deathstar armies are going to give you problems if you go second (going first you should do a deal of damage), basically the same applies to Seer Council, and some Necron lists also may be problematic with their mega resilient formation builds.

Looking forward to seeing how you get on.

Edit: Yeah, the Gets Hot! wounds can soon add up for the Burstide unit and it can feel like you are making the formation more vulnerable to your opponent's firepower, but bear in mind that you can always rotate the model at the front of the fireteam (after the first turn of double fire lolz where they can't move, not even a jet pack move in assault phase) and they should last most of the game unless they are assaulted by something scary.
The true warrior engages only the worthy opponent

Commander Skyfall
Posts: 64

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#3 » Mar 29 2016 10:20

Thanks, Noobpwner.

Had I been able to take more sources, or perhaps play longer games, I might have gone with something a little more varied. But hopefully the sledgehammer will do the job! Without Maelstroms to worry about I think I can get away with this army. Don't know that it'd be so good in ETC and similar multi-mission types.

I've practiced against a few different armies. Notable opponents:

IG/Space Marines; Forgeworld Beast Hunter shells giving Instant Death to Vanquisher cannons was a nasty prospect, they had to get killed first! The Drop-podding Grav.Cents managed to get out into cover, down one end of my battleline, but after their initial strike they were quickly mopped up.

Space Marines with Land Raiders and an Imperial Knight; proved a scary-looking army - the all-round AV14 mitigating the Wall of Mirrors. But some lucky rending hits on a T1 Hailfire killed one Landraider and badly damaged the other ready for a Turn 2 kill. The Grav.Cents and Terminators that fell out didn't like rending much, either. ;)
This was also the battle when the Knight died in close combat to the Ghostkeels. Some deity-level rolling on the Knight's 4+ Ionshield saves bounced a good deal of my Ghostkeels' shooting, allowing it to get into range to charge. But by virtue of the drones soaking up the wounds in CC the Ghostkeels got some lucky Smash attacks in there to level out the combat. A tactic i hadn't considered before but certainly one that I shall remember if caught in a tight spot again.

Heresy-era Legio Cybernetica: an army that I won't face as it's a 30k list, but one of the toughest lists at our gaming group and expertly played by my friend so it was a good one to practice against. High toughness, multi-wound, good saves on lots of monstrous creatures with plenty of FNP in there too. They put out lots of firepower. It was kind of like a twisted mirror match, really. After receiving plenty of damage myself the Tau shooting eventually outweighed his own and I was able to snatch the objectives once the Cohort has been whittled down.

The one army I know I can't beat; my friend is taking his Tau/Eldar double-CAD. It includes Jetbikes, Tetras, 2x Warp hunters (D-blast barrages, urgh) and a Ta'unar supersuit. I think the best I can hope for in this eventuality is that we're matched up in a Killpoints game, where I can try to weigh things back in my favour by squashing the smaller support units before I get pounded. Fingers crossed that, as my team-mate, I should only have to face him if we're both doing really well.

NoobPwner84 wrote: I think you hit the nail on the head with weaknesses - Space Wolves/Ravenwing deathstar armies are going to give you problems if you go second (going first you should do a deal of damage), basically the same applies to Seer Council, and some Necron lists also may be problematic with their mega resilient formation builds.

Agreed. Though my experience of the Nationals is that this is an event that shows a greater variety of army lists and often lacks some classic examples of tournament builds/meta. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps because it's predominantly a pool of younger gamers who tend to take what they've got in their collection, rather than a specially-tailored list? Knowing my luck, this year they'll all be Seer Councils and Bike/Wolf Stars :sad:
Last edited by Commander Skyfall on Mar 29 2016 04:01, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 54

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#4 » Mar 29 2016 11:39

Nice list! Just out of curiosity why not make one of your ghostkeels your warlords? or maybe even one of the burst tides?

Posts: 139

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#5 » Mar 29 2016 01:17

Can an MC be a warlord? I thought your warlord would be considered an IC.

Posts: 54

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#6 » Mar 29 2016 01:50

I haven't see anything in the BRB that suggest a MC can not be your warlord... Now That could just mean I missed it so If anyone can quote the rule that would be much appreciated :)

Posts: 298

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#7 » Mar 29 2016 03:19

Make sure you remove the point costs for the specifics of each unit. The total for each model is fine, but not the component costs.

The list does look nasty though.

Posts: 139

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#8 » Mar 29 2016 03:32


If an MC can be your warlord, I don't think it could be one of the Ghostkeels in the unit with the rest of the Ghostkeels. As, unless I'm getting my rules confused, your warlord counts as an independent character, so could not be joined by MCs. It would have to be one of the single Riptides. Also, it is my understanding that your warlord would essentially be a squad-leader upgrade (what we refer to in our Fluff as a Shas'El), so it would have to be a unit type with the upgrade option (such as a battlesuit with the 'Vre upgrade option). My understanding could be entirely wrong, though, I was always under the impression that it was as such, though. I'd be happy to find out I am mistaken.

Commander Skyfall
Posts: 64

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#9 » Mar 29 2016 03:35

abraxus wrote:Make sure you remove the point costs for the specifics of each unit. The total for each model is fine, but not the component costs.

The list does look nasty though.

Yikes! Thanks, abraxus - big oversight in my copy/pasting! Thanks for the spot there. Edited accordingly.

On Warlords: BRB states that your warlord must be a character model, unless you don't have any characters in your army. So in my case it has to be a Stealth Shas'vre.

Unless i ditch the Stealth team upgrades, thus making it possible to have a Riptide or Ghostkeel warlord. But, as non-character models, they don't get a warlord trait.

Maybe that's not such a big deal? Plus, the points saved could buy said Warlord a Stim.Injector for durability. But then i lose my only 2 markerlights. Difficult choice.

Commander Skyfall
Posts: 64

Re: Ghost/tide wing for University Nationals 2016

Post#10 » Apr 07 2016 06:41

So the Nationals 2016 has been and gone and the Ghost/Tide Wing had its first tournament outing.

Some additional rules and comp. that came out with later rules packs/updates:
- When rolling on D-table for Shooting attacks, 6s count as 5s. No change to Melee though, 6s counted as normal.
- First Blood can be claimed as long as you destroy an entire unit in your first turn; so both players can claim First Blood.
- Smart missile systems were allowed to Intercept units that arrived from Reserve and were placed/moved out of LOS of the firing model.

Game 1 Mission: Crusade
Deployment: Dawn of War

Deploying and going 1st (opponent failed to seize)
Warlord trait: Warlord and units within 12” re-roll 1s in CC

Opponent: Eldar & Dark Eldar alliance. D-cannon Wraiths in a Raider and D-scythe Wraiths in a Raider, both arriving via Deep Strike. Deployed were 3 Wave Serpents, with Guardians & Avengers on board. A unit of Warp Spiders in cover, and the Farseer (warlord) hiding in Dark Reapers unit in cover in the far corner.

Initial thoughts: provisional reading of my opponent’s list suggested that the Raider-mounted Wraiths looked to be the obvious punch in this army. They were coming in via Deep-strike which provided me a window of opportunity to Intercept them. The mechanised infantry could bring lots of shuriken fire but they were soft targets for the smart missile systems once I cracked the transports open.

Battle: Turn 1 saw the Ghostkeels move up to unleash their Ion rakers, and duly nailed two of the three wave serpents (turns out I needed that 2nd target lock, I probably could’ve got all 3!) The Ripple-firing Riptides blew apart the infantry that fell out of the Serpents, whilst the main HBC Riptide unit brought down the Farseer and Reapers. A very bloody first turn indeed.

My opponent moved the Warp Spiders and remaining units up to deliver a smattering of fire but it wasn’t in the volume needed to hamper the Riptides. Also, moving the Spider into such short range was an error; I moved the Riptides forward in kind and Ripple-fired again, taking the Spiders down with weight of fire whilst the Ghosts popped the final Wave Serpent. His Flicker Jump rolls were low, but even long distance jumps would’ve struggled to get far enough away to be out of SMS range.

The main contest came with the arrival of the Wraiths in the deep-striking Raiders. I unleashed the full wrath of the combined Intercepting might of the Ghosts and the Riptides but the fully tooled-up raiders made plenty of saves, meaning that the majority of the Wraiths were still alive for his shooting phase. The D-scythes only managed to drop one Riptide. Having used all my shooting to intercept, I boosted away across the table with the 4D6 jump to re-group well out of range of the Wraiths, who were now left to foot-slogging. It didn’t take long to mop up what was left.

Result: Victory. Opponent conceded at the end of his Turn 4

Post-match analysis: The weight of fire from Interceptor was immense, but lacked the effectiveness of my normal shooting phase because Wall of Mirrors and Co-ordinated Attacks only apply during the shooting phase. I had neglected that fact when designing the army, but nonetheless it was a helpful counter to a nasty deep strike and ultimately saved me from D-shooting doom. My army easily met expectations; tough and durable, highly flexible and with overwhelming firepower to carry the day.

Game 2 Mission: Relic
Deployment: Vanguard Strike

Deploying and going 1st (opponent failed to seize)
Warlord trait: Warlord and units within 12” re-roll 1s in shooting phase

Opponent: Baronial Court with Inquisition alliance. Knight Acheron Warlord with Sanctuary – now annoyingly, with RAW this is an additional Ion shield and hasn’t been FAQ’d to say otherwise… so both front and rear facings would be protected from my combined shooting attacks :sad: . 3 Knights consisting of Warden, Paladin and Errant. Inquisition allies of small units of Acolytes each with Psykers, mainly supporting Knights with powers like Prescience.

Initial thoughts: Knight Acheron Warlord presented a tough target with very nasty Hellstorm AP3 that could ruin the Ghostkeels in short order. The Knights all got a 3+ invun. on Ion Shield saves to front facing. This deployment would prove difficult to out-manoeuvre the battle-line of 4 Knights abreast. Servo-skulls deployment effectively cut off any decent Infiltration options to get me near the Relic.

Battle: My warlord deployed behind my battleline, out of LOS, to buff my MCs with his warlord trait. I went for the first turn Hailfire and though it took all that shooting, plus the Ghostkeels, I managed to bring down the Acheron. My opponent was very good with his 3+ invun. saves and Sanctuary limited the Ghostkeels’ impact. But at least Acheron was out of the way and Slay the Warlord and First Blood were in the bag.

The Knights made their implacable advance, gradually herding me away further back into my deployment zone. A wildly scattering battle cannon shot nailed a Stealth Suit and forced to my Warlord to flee of the table! I dropped another Knight but it was taking a huge volume of fire to chisel through the Ion Shield saves.

When they finally reached me in combat the Knights made short work of my MCs, as expected. A lone Riptide managed to go the long way round to avoid the Knights and close on the Relic, but by this time it was already being carried away by Acolyte units.

Result: Defeat. Game ends Turn 5 with Acolytes in possession of the Relic.

Post-match analysis: In retrospect I should’ve realised early game that these Knights were too tough to gun down quickly. Taking out the Warlord garnered the early points and nerfed a scary threat, but I should then have switched focus to Ripple-firing the infantry squads to prevent them carrying off the Relic. I would have meant accepting the charge from the Knights – which was inevitable anyway - and I could’ve forced a draw instead.

Game 3 Mission: Big Guns
Deployment: Dawn of War

Deploying and going 2nd (didn’t seize)
Warlord trait: Warlord and units within 12” gain Move Through Cover

Opponent:Tau Hunter Cadre with Strikers & Breachers mounted in Devilfish, including an Ethereal. Buffmander warlord in large Crisis team, all with dual cyclic ions, in non-scatter Deep Strike thanks to his Warlord Trait roll. Some Pathfinders, small Sniper Drone team providing markerlight support. An OSC of a lone Ghostkeel and 2 min. units of Stealth suits.

Initial thoughts: Main threat would come from sheer volume of fire if I allowed the infantry to disembark close enough with the markerlights and Ethereal’s Storm of Fire in Support. The Deep-striking Crisis & Buffmander would be a nuisance but they lacked target locks so would struggle to bring the pain without being left dangerously exposed to my return fire.

Battle:The mechanised infantry sailed up towards my deployment area, and his Infiltrating Stealth teams were sneaking up through cover to fire off some speculative shots. But my return fire was too much for the Tau. Devilfish were wrecked and the infantry bailed out only to die to sheer weight ofcombined Ripple-firing & Hail-firing SMS.

When the Buffmander and his unit arrived in Turn2 they landed in a ruin to avoid being in LOS of my main battleline. All the same SMS firepower served to ping off a few wounds and ablative drones. Meanwhile the rest of the Tau troops struggled forward through the wreckage of their transports.

The Buffmander’s unit produced a very impressive volley that dropped the Riptide on the end of my line. My opponent felt satisfied that the unit was hidden well back behind the high walls of the ruin but hadn’t considered the prospect of assault. I threw the HBC unit forward and they made short work of the Crisis unit. On the flanks, my Stealth teams moved in to start whittling down the marker units hiding in the back lines and secure the objectives in his deployment zone.

Result: Victory. Opponent conceded at the end of his Turn 4, having gone first.

Post-match analysis: not much to be said here. Bad match up for my opponent. He had little in the way of anti-MC firepower and his only main punchy unit was something of a “one-hit wonder” kind of build. It was vulnerable to interceptor and counter-attack. My MCs proved once again that they’re no push over in an assault. The Ghostkeels once again demonstrated their sheer contempt for enemy transport vehicles as they had in Game 1.

So by the end of Day One of gaming I was in a strong position. Two big wins, and having still managed to garner some points in the game that I had lost, had put me in a solid position. Given my previous tournament performances I made good progress.
Team Sheffield were starting to get something of a reputation, my team-mates both having won 3-0. The Ghost/Tide wing had attracted lots of attention from the other players as a "scary list", so I felt pleased that at least I’d put together an army that spooked potential opponents! :D

Post for Day Two to follow...
Last edited by Commander Skyfall on Apr 08 2016 10:31, edited 2 times in total.

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