+++Tau List: 2000+++
1 Cadre Fireblade
6 XV25 Stealth Suits w/ BC, Shas’Vre drone controller - 2 Shield Drones
6 XV25 Stealth Suits w/ BC, Shas’Vre drone controller - 2 Shield Drones
1 XV95 Ghostkeel w/ 2 BC, Cyclic Ion Raker - 2 Stealth Drones
3 XV8 Crisis Suits w/ 2 FB & 1 Shield Generator - 6 Gun Drones
Supreme Command Detachment:
1 XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit Commander w/ ATS & Shield Generator w/ 2 Shield Drones
1 Quad-Fusion Commander w/ 2 Shield Drones
1 Quad-Fusion Commander w/ 2 Shield Drones
+++Raven Guard: 2000+++
1 Company Captain (Primaris?) (Upgraded to Chapter Master w/ CP)
2 Tech Priests
2 Repulsor Tanks
6 Scouts w/ Snipers & Camo Cloaks
1 Redemptor Dreadnought
Allied Detachment - Astra Militarum
1 Primaris Psyker
(Indicated he mostly took as a Deny the Witch option)
Mission: My opponent wanted to play Open War, our mission was 3 objectives each (6 total) and we had to control each of the opponent’s 3 objectives to slash and burn to win. We also automatically pass all morale checks. My drones circuits started to overclock themselves when I saw that benefit.
Army Synopsis: My opponent’s list was a TAC list which he was undefeated with in this edition so far. He was getting re-rolls from his Chapter Master. He was also benefiting from re-rolling 1’s to wound, as well as 6’s giving a pseudo-rend with -1 AP. He kept everything as a death star, so essentially everything was benefiting from the buff. He was also benefiting from -1 BS more than 12” away on everything but the tanks and Astra Militarum allies. Each Repulsor tank has 11 guns and power of the machine spirit. They are daunting to say the least.
My Tau list was designed to leverage Str. 5 shots in mass with high model count and abundant Str. 8 fusion blasters when and where I needed them. I designed it for a split firebase, with 2 Firewarriors Squads and 1 Pathfinder team in each corner, supported by a Fireblade / Ethereal respectively. Although I ended up with 1 PF & 1 FW squad in each corner, with 2 other FW squads centered with a Cadre Fireblade for optimal cover mechanics. I deployed the Ghostkeep about 6” infant of my deployment zone behind a hill to hide my drones and the two stealth teams around it in cover, giving it 4 shield drones to absorb incoming fire. I put the Coldstar in the gunline with the two commanders and the crisis team in deep strike
Terrain: The board had 4 ruins on one side, a few forests and craters on the other. So it was relatively even other than the ruins were big enough they provided 50% cover to non-infantry models.
Pre-Game: I lost the roll off and my opponent selected the side with ruins, as to be expected. We took turns with him castled in the center with everything except the Scouts on one corner. I set up 3 distinct firebases with my 3 units (as described above) with my stealth teams in front to absorb fire / buffer. My opponent finished deploying first, gaining turn one. I failed to steal initiative.
Space Marines: He pushed up with everything and put a combination of firepower until my Firewarriors / Stealth Suits / Ghostkeel. He killed a combined 15 fire warriors to incoming stormbolter / gatling gun fire, 1 full squad and 5 from another, both centered in the board. I also lost 2 stealth suits which was much fewer than I anticipated. He also put several lascannon’s into the ghost keel. They missed or were shrugged off onto a shield drone which resulted in one dying. He also fired his snipers at the drones, killing none.
Tau: The tanks were his greatest asset and also one of the only units which did not benefit form the Ravenguard chapter tactic. They were priority one. My first Quad-Fusion Commander behind him, my second Quad-Fusion landed in front of them alongside my 3 Crisis Suits. First I fired marker lights into one tank, the first was successful and the following resulted in a total of 6 after re-rolling 1’s. The second Pathfinder team didn’t have LoS on the second tank, so he lit up the Scouts. They needed 5’s due to the chapter tactic, but I was able to land 5 on them in total thankfully. I also fired the Cadre Fireblade into the unmarked tank for re-rolls of 1’s on the other commander. I fired each commander into a separate tank, which was incredibly underwhelming. The first commander hits successfully, but I only rolled a single 4+ to wound, and rolled 1D. I used a command point to re-roll a wound but was unsuccessful. The second commander proceeded do do the exact same thing. Hitting with 4, wounding with 1 and rolling 1D. I couldn’t have been more disappointed by the performance. The crisis suits unloaded their melta guns and then their crisis suits did the same (due to infantry being 12” away, which would have resulted in 6’s to hit from the drones) I ended up putting a total of 8 additional wounds on the second Repulsor, with the gun drones causing 3 of those. His armor save results were below par however. It had been lowered 1 bracket which was all I could ask for after several failed damage rolls. The full steal suit squad and ghost keel easily eliminated his Scouts. My Coldstar moved up alongside them as well, lending his shield drones to the Ghostkeel.
Space Marines: On his second turn, he wanted blood. He jumped the Hellblaster squads out of one vehicle, mounting a hill and drawing LoS on my Ghostkeel. His tech priests started healing the repulsor’s, bringing them back into their primary bracket. The Repulsers wanted my Commander’s dead. But my XV25, XV8’s and gun drones were all closer targets which needed to be dealt with first. The embarked Intercessor squad disembarks towards the Crisis Suits & Commander in front of him. His Dreadnought went back to take on my commander in his deployment zone. The hellblaster’s didn’t want to overcharge due to the -2 to hit on the Ghostkeel. He fired and wounded heavily, the shield drones saved 2 FnP, resulting in absorbing 5 shots total with 2 more going through successfully. I had wished I had a Shield Generator or Stim Injector on the Ghostkeel, since the -4AP from a Primaris plasma completely bypassed my armor. The Dreadnought put everything into my commander, which survived with 2 wounds left between armor saves and the shield drones holding strong. The Repulsor tried to destroy my Crisis Suits / Drones so that my wounded commander would be the closest unit. I danced around wound allocation, leaving 1 drone alive in order to keep my commander safe. He attempted to finish it off with a few bolter shots from his Characters, but the drone remained. The second repulsor then opens fire into the stealth suits / fire warriors. Annihilating the 5 Firewarriors, and killing another stealth suit and wounding another, leaving me with 2 unwounded, 1 wounded.
Tau: Both Crisis Suit commanders were still on the field, which was the difference between victory and defeat. We both knew this. I poised the commanders against the 2 separate tanks again. I also declared Mont’Ka from my Coldstar, allowing my Ghostkeel and Stealthsuits to advance into the enemy’s ruins where the scouts had been, taking an objective and gaining optimized line of sight on the tanks / hell blaster’s. Marker lights proceeded to light up the hell blaster’s with 3 (due to hitting on 5’s) but splitting the other 10 into two volley’s of 5 at the two tanks, managing to get 4 on each. The first commander lands multiple wounds and brings the one Repulsor to his 3rd damage bracket. The Ghostkeel overcharges, gets 2 shots on D6, wounds with 1, he fails his 5+ armor save and I roll a 3 on D3 to finish it off. The second commander opens up on the second tank, bringing it down to 2 wounds. The Coldstar and stealth suits hit the Hellblasters, killing a majority, but I think 4 remained. The Coldstar split his missile into the Repulsor but it didn’t wound. The fire warriors on one side and the wounded stealth team opened up and the Repulsor failed it’s last 2 saves. Neither tank exploded, but the major threats were slain.
Space Marines : By this time my opponent was demoralized at this point. He had a Ruse card from the Open War format which allowed he could have brought any unit back and thrown in down outside of 9” of my units. It was extremely over powered and he stated as soon as he drew it he wasn’t going to use it. This was my first 8th edition game with Tau and I was already displeased that he was opting in for the strongest chapter tactic available against a shooting army. He did some more damage, killed a couple stealth suits. He brought the ghost keel down to two wounds. The dreadnought assaulted the backfield commander killing it off. The Intercessor squad in the center fired at the stealth suits, leaving one. It also assaulted my commander, but dealt only 1 damage. I dealt 1 back.
Tau: This round wrapped up pretty quickly. I basically ran the Coldstar Commander over to the second objective which was contested by only a Astropath. I wounded the Dreadnought, I think bringing it down a bracket. But overall I did limited damage at this stage, but scored the second objective with him having 0. The game was basically over, he didn’t have the mobility or fire output at this point to win the game over the next several turns. At this point we called it and discussed how it went. I just needed to drive his unit off the last objective and take it with my fast moving Coldstar.
Takeaway: The Commanders were intimidating, and seeing how ‘closest model’ mechanics work with characters definitely opens up some additional tactical options for keeping them alive. Gun Drones were okay, but just didn’t have the damage output that I was dreaming of for so long. Coldstar was good and fast, being able to take objectives is basically the only reason why I took him, but putting Mont'ka or Kau'yon where you want it is nice too. Crisis Suits are such an expensive chassis, and their weapons are such a threat, the shield drones had been surprisingly resilient, so I think buffing a crisis suit squad by adding more survivability is definitely something I will want to test more, because the gun drones melted under enemy fire and the shield drones were the difference between life and death for my power houses. Crisis Suit teams were a little underwhelming, although they immediately were wiped from the field once they landed. On the one hand, the shield generators DID allow the crisis suits to survive multiple volley’s before finally being wiped out. This definitely allowed other units to survive longer. However, it’s unclear if 3 more fusion blasters would have been enough to nuke the tank and thus eliminate a majority of the incoming threat. But given the point cost of the Crisis Suit, I think making them cheaper by increasing their survivability is a good trade off. The Ghostkeel was okay. It did exactly what I wanted it to, it was my one large model do draw Lascannon fire, the Stealthsuit’s drones and doing exactly what I wanted it to. But will my opponent make that same mistake regarding target priority is another question entirely, so I think freeing 40 points for a shield generator would be worth it, since most of the units my Ghostkeel was firing at had multiple marker lights anyways, which made my Target Lock obsolete. Stealth suits are obviously amazing, their cheap, fast, have decent fire output and good survivability. Having 12 was daunting for my opponent to say the least, when factoring in re-rolls the modifier becomes even more important than ever. Fire warriors are the bread and butter. They are as good as ever, decent save, they have the range to sit inside cover and be able to get a 3+ save and still have damage output. Pathfinders are a MUST TAKE. for 160 points I got 20 marker lights. These allowed my army to basically be a space marine. I was hitting on 3+ and rerolling 1’s for anything firing at my primary target. When I challenged something in cover, the cover benefit is negated. Without this ability to buff any unit firing at a model within 36” of my Pathfinder team. The Ethereal basically did nothing, it was giving a 6+ FnP but the unit’s it was buffing never were fired upon. The Cadre Fireblade was great for putting 1 more marker light wherever you need it.
+++Best In Show+++
Gold (MVP) : Quad-Fusion easily won me the game. I took them with the intent to make them my anti-vehicle unit, and without them I would have been up the creek.
Silver: Pathfinders, being able to buff any unit’s BS is a requirement to play Tau or you’re doing it wrong.
Bronze: Stealth Suits, they did damage, they took ground, they survived. They are worth it.
Copper: Firewarriors, they are cheap, they pump out Str 5 so they wound space marines on 3+ for 8pts each. Taking these in mass would allow you to pump out fire against hordes, and if you’re fighting an elite list it will make your opponent feel like they are fighting a horde themselves.
I’m going to play around with this list a little bit and see what it can do with a few minor changes. Honestly I was frightened of playing a modern codex with a plethora of stratagems, featuring one of the most powerful chapter tactics and running an all new vehicle with unbridled firepower. However I pulled out a victory at the end of the day despite minimal fire output on turn one. I think Tau are very much still a contender in this edition. Just leverage the range and fire output from optimized units and seize the day, or at least the initiative!