1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Cadres who fought and bled under 6th edition rules.
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Olannon
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1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#1 » Apr 10 2013 01:30

Following the discussions in the upper concourse with regards to the new codex, I have a new idea for how the Tau can be played competitively. The goal of this army is to do well in all-comers environments where you do not know anything about the meta. Expect to face the worst and bring your best ;)

The basic idea behind the army is to play a game of Warhammer like chess on steroids. For those of you familiar with chess, the analogy is to take control of the center of the board early on, from which strikes can dominate any position. To accomplish this, the tactic reminds me much of the Rhino Rush which was used extensively some editions ago. While it's needless to say that I don't intend to rush Fire Warriors into combat, the actual method is quite similar.

.::. List Goal .::.
Perform very well in an all-comers, highly competitive environment.

.::. List Strategy .::.
Play super-offensive with highly durable units. A high rate of fire coupled with markerlights ensure the destruction of anything which can be considered infantry. Specialized squads deal with armour, air and monsters.





.::. Army List .::.

++[HQ]++
Commander with Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster, Shield Generator, Puretide Engram Neurochip, Iridium Armour, Onager Gauntlet, Drone Controller, 2 Marker Drones. [@217points]
This fella is extremely hard to kill and can put the hurt on any tough unit in the game. He is very expensive, but I believe the flexibility he brings, especially to a list that relies on being aggressive, is worth it. If I need anti-tank more than anything, he can join a Riptide early on for the Puretide Chip effects.
Ethereal [@50points]
Although seemingly a minor choice with some nice buffs, this guy is truly essential to the strategy.

HQ @ 267 points




++[TROOPS]++
12 Fire Warriors + Devilfish with Disruption Pod [@203 points]
12 Fire Warriors + Devilfish with Disruption Pod [@203 points]
11 Fire Warriors + Devilfish with Disruption Pod [@194 points]
17 Kroot, 1 Shaper [@116 points]
This is the heart and soul of the army. Not only do I enjoy bringing lots of troops because I think it's what 40,000 should be about, but it's also brutally effective. In a perfect scenario, these units combined with the Ethereal will put out over 150 shots in a single shooting phase. At this point, the volume alone is so high that it doesn't matter what you're shooting at as long as it doesn't sport a high toughness value. The Kroot will infiltrate to act as bait / ground holders for a central staging point for the initial assault.

TROOPS @ 716 points.




++[ELITES]++
Riptide XV104 with Ion Accelerator, Twin-linked Fusion Blaster, Stimulant Injector [@220 points]
Riptide XV104 with Ion Accelerator, Twin-linked Fusion Blaster, Stimulant Injector [@220 points]
Coupled with the Commander, these units fulfil a vital role to this strategy: protect the Devilfish early on (by means of physical cover) and soak up firepower. The Ion Accelerator was chosen over the Heavy Burst Cannon because of its capability to deal with tough targets which my Troops aren't equipped to deal with: while dakka can handle low-mid T, any armour save models, when T goes to 5+ the odds drop drastically. Also, the pie-plate, ordnance and range make it a very flexible weapon. Later on in the game this unit will be used for holding up the enemy where needed and / or come to assistance. With its MC status it can handle lots of opponents rather well in combat.

ELITES @ 440 points.




++[FAST ATTACK]++
4 Marker Drones [@56 points]
6 Marker Drones [@84 points]
Relentless and markerlights is spectacular. These guys are relatively fragile, so keeping them out of harm's way early on will be very important as landing markerlight hits when the assault begins is a key element to the strategy coming together: the difference between having 36 shots @ BS3 and 36 shots @ BS5 is quite big.

FAST ATTACK @ 140 points.




++[HEAVY SUPPORT]++
3 XV88 Broadsides with Twin-linked High-yield Missile Pods, 6 Missile Drones and 3 Target Locks, Ta`lissera [@285 points]

HEAVY SUPPORT @ 285 points.




ARMY TOTAL @ 1848 points.






So, why did I post this list? Well first of all I wanted to share my initial findings with regards to what I consider a potentially devastating and unique strategy: not many people expect Tau to want to engage, but I don't see the down-point of doing just this: get within those juicy 15" and unleash the fury of 100+ shots per turn. Combined with markerlights and overwatch, this is just brutal. However, as I haven't played a game in quite a while, I'm also looking for your feedback here. To channel it into something specific, I kindly ask that you consider the following questions:

- Where could this army fail? Is there something conceptually wrong, a missing weakness I haven't addressed?
- What could go wrong in-game? In particular, what typical disasters could really ruin my day? What is unlikely to happen but still devastating if it does occur?
- What are my worst and best matchups and why?

Thanks for reading :) Tau'va!
Last edited by Olannon on Apr 17 2013 04:11, edited 6 times in total.
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Olannon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#2 » Apr 10 2013 01:32

Ok, time to look at basic deployment and tactics. The following pictures show a deployment which will rarely be used, since I'll usually want to start inside the 'fish for protection. Also, if faced with heavy shooting the suits will physically grant the 'fish cover if I have to go 2nd. Regardless, it shows how the army can be deployed if you don't face sufficiently strong shooting to make you worried ;)

This first picture shows how the army plays if the table is divided diagonally, which is arguably the hardest way for this list to play as there's no natural flanking opportunities and thus things can get too crammed, too quickly. Here, it is important to minimize the range between the 'fish and the enemy, therefore they receive central placement:

Image

In the case where you deploy opposite eachother, regardless of whether it's the long or short table edge, this is the preferred style IF you have to go first:

Image

If you go second, then obviously you deploy straight across, leaving some room on both flanks, to get in as soon as possible. I'd argue it's better to go first because you can likely get in a useful range by T2 regardless.

T1 and T2 will see you march up as fast as possible and deploy to create a stronghold. The following pictures demonstrate the general idea:

Image

Image

Also note that although these pictures don't represent the scale 100% (especially the size of the units), it's fairly accurate with the board being 6' x 4' and the units moving their legal move each turn.

When you have this position, it's unlikely that you need to play as aggressive. At this point, it's a game of chess and mobility where you use riptides and detached gun drones to keep stuff away and redeploy as you need. With the mobility of the 'fish objectives can be claimed T4 and T5. Thus you usually get 2-3 turns of full shooting (T2+T3 and maybe T4). While this might not sound like much, in a perfect world that's as many as 600 (!) S4/S5 shots without counting anything but our core units. For achieving this, the list has the perfect tools. Here are a number of the tricks it can pull:
- detaching gundrones creates annoying and flexible roadblocks, freeing up the others to fire at will instead of being locked in combat
- the devilfish can move in the shooting phase after the core troops are done shooting to position themselves where needed for cover
- the riptides can assault any survivors (not likely to be many) and probably clean up the rest with ease, or use their assault phase to reposition as needed
- the Ethereal sports more powers than Storm of Fire, which can provide flexibility when needed. Firing 22 snap shots while running can still be nasty if you manage to boost it to BS5 ;)

to be continued...
Last edited by Olannon on Apr 10 2013 10:44, edited 3 times in total.
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indigoon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#3 » Apr 10 2013 02:49

guard will utterly ruin your day; volume of anti tank fire and able to get rid of devilfish cover save, pie plates to remove infantry and Armour 14 that you are unable to hurt. Against anyone who has ever played against tau those heavily relied upon markerlight platforms will give up first blood. Every time.
Things to consider. Bigger units of marker drones, forge world tetras, large units of pathfinders and because we can now take a twin linked weapon AND a single weapon on our suits deathrains are now cheaper and fire twice as many shots :D

indigoon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#4 » Apr 10 2013 02:52

Just a few thoughts, I am currently trying to come up with a really good way of dealing with armour 14 and kind of coming up short :sad:

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Olannon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#5 » Apr 10 2013 09:43

Hey indigoon, thanks a lot for your insight. I was assuming that IG would be presented as my worst matchup. However, I must ask: what is a typical way to play them @ 1850 (sample list) and just how good do you imagine their anti-tank and cover removing abilities to be?

I think that I'll change the commander a bit. With 2 Riptides sporting Stimulant Injectors, I believe I'm better off dropping the VRT in favour of Drone controller. This allows me to reduce the amount of marker drones yet increase the average number of markerlight hits, which frees up points for 2 shielded missile drones - one for each Riptide. This has a number of effects, from keeping the Riptides a bit more durable to allowing the Commander to join them.

What did you mean about first blood, by the way? I don't think I understand your sentence, unfortunately. Can you please elaborate? :)

Regards,
~Olannon
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Bouboukis
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#6 » Apr 10 2013 09:50

I like your list a lot but
sorry to tell you that but in the codex it is clearly printed only one of each signature system may be taken per army...
I also wanted to make such a commander but this small phrase stops me...

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draxil
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#7 » Apr 10 2013 10:01

As you've mentioned in further comments, some means of getting better than basic marker drone BS for some early target hits is definitely a good idea.

Personally I wouldn't take *that* many devilfish, I love them but does every squad need one? Backfield hold-warriors can hide or come in from reserve without the need for a fish.. If you like that much mobility then go ahead but it's a helluva lot of points.

Generally I like the list though, very thought provoking. Not so hung up on AV14 as some people, you've got some answers to that there with the ion and fusion.

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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#8 » Apr 10 2013 10:18

Looking at your list I think you are going to struggle against an army with one of the following:
- A Helldrake
- Multiple Fliers
- Medium to High Armor

While the Riptide is a great support unit, it is only going to put out 4 shots. Granted it does have the potential to take a S9 Ordnance round, but when compared to crisis suits, it's a significant drop in output at an increase in cost. However, what the Riptide lacks in Ranged support, it offers in Melee as it will be able to overcome those shortages by offering 3 to 4 S6 AP2 attacks in CC. Don't go thinking that he will destroy units in CC however as dedicated assault units should be able to handle him pretty easily.

The other issue I see is with your general tactic. Moving Tau into rapid fire range allows you, in most cases, a single round of shooting. It seems that your strategy is contingent upon fighting at mid range (something that SoB do very effectively). Unfortunately, Tau can't hang around in that range very long.

Think of it like MMA(mixed martial arts). You have a great kickboxer capable of devastating knockout power. However, the most average of grapplers can overwhelm them and defeat them if they're able to get their hands on them.

Tau still die in droves once melee is underway, and that hasn't changed with the new book. It's actually gotten slightly worse as our dedicated counter assault unit got a buff to shooting, but a debuff to melee. Yes, AP5 attacks are nice, but the loss of S4 and 1A is really big.
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#9 » Apr 10 2013 10:20

Olannon wrote:Hey indigoon, thanks a lot for your insight. I was assuming that IG would be presented as my worst matchup. However, I must ask: what is a typical way to play them @ 1850 (sample list) and just how good do you imagine their anti-tank and cover removing abilities to be?

I think that I'll change the commander a bit. With 2 Riptides sporting Stimulant Injectors, I believe I'm better off dropping the VRT in favour of Drone controller. This allows me to reduce the amount of marker drones yet increase the average number of markerlight hits, which frees up points for 2 shielded missile drones - one for each Riptide. This has a number of effects, from keeping the Riptides a bit more durable to allowing the Commander to join them.

What did you mean about first blood, by the way? I don't think I understand your sentence, unfortunately. Can you please elaborate? :)

Regards,
~Olannon

"First Blood" is the name of one of the secondary objectives in all big rule book missions.
When a player destroys/wipes out the first unit of a game, they score +1 Victory Point.
The small marker drone squads are prime targets for this objective.
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#10 » Apr 10 2013 10:26

@Bouboukis - indeed it is one of each as you specify, not one in total :) This means that a Commander can take as many as he wants to, provided it is not taken elsewhere in the army.

@draxil - I have a list change, just haven't gotten around to posting it just yet. I'll post up some pictures in a bit to clarify the purpose of the triple-fish :) See the ongoing discussion in the upper concourse for my stance on AV14.

New list is basically swapping the Commander to a Shielded Mark'o (swap VRT for DC and 2 Marker Drones). Will update the OP soon!

@paidinfull - I know what first blood is, I just didn't understand if he meant that I would get it easily or give it away easily: with JSJ it should be possible to hide them if need be. I get the point that they're fragile, but by potentially making an allied unit BS5+ and remove cover it could easily mean the exact opposite.

As for the Riptide, it can take insane amounts of punishment when compared to Crisis suits, something which is of paramount importance here. I also don't see why Tau can't fight mid-close ranged fights, given this tactic? You provide a statement without an argument, simply claiming "...Tau can't hang around in that range very long.".
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draxil
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#11 » Apr 10 2013 10:30

paidinfull wrote:The small marker drone squads are prime targets for this objective.


With their JSJ they should hopefully be tucked up behind a wall at this stage surely? Obviously any small unit is a possible target for this early game, but at the same time small units with jet packs should be easy to hide.

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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#12 » Apr 10 2013 10:46

@draxil - indeed, my point exactly! With the new, Shielded Mark'o as well (which will be the only targetable model in most situations) I only really need to hide one unit.

I updated the OP with the newest list and edited the 2nd post to include some basic diagrams to show how it plays. While we never play on planet Bowling Ball, the essence here is to show the space the list requires, the speed at which it moves and the flexibility it provides.
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#13 » Apr 10 2013 11:10

Olannon wrote:@paidinfull - I know what first blood is, I just didn't understand if he meant that I would get it easily or give it away easily: with JSJ it should be possible to hide them if need be. I get the point that they're fragile, but by potentially making an allied unit BS5+ and remove cover it could easily mean the exact opposite.

As for the Riptide, it can take insane amounts of punishment when compared to Crisis suits, something which is of paramount importance here. I also don't see why Tau can't fight mid-close ranged fights, given this tactic? You provide a statement without an argument, simply claiming "...Tau can't hang around in that range very long.".

Thank you for elaborating as it appears I misunderstood your post.

With regards to the mid-range fire fight argument, if you would like me to elaborate, I can.
If you are within 15", that typically makes a move of 6" placing a player within 9" for a charge or counter attack. BS5 firewarriors are great, and 12x of them @ BS5 rapid firing along with +1 shot nets 7x dead MEQ. However, what about the other supporting units? Spawn? Bikes? Other Tac squads with flamers? I've been playing Tau since 3e and the one constant that has not changed over the course of all that time is:
Tau are terrible in close combat. A veteran player will know this and send units to tie them up and grind them out.

Now granted, I don't know what your meta is like, but it's not uncommon for a CSM player around this area to have 4x units that are capable of assaulting on Turn 2. Moving towards an enemy such as this will reduce the number of total shots fired that the Tau player can make. How do you expect or anticipate your force to play? How will your battle plan change as your units are destroyed? Lastly... I'm just trying to offer insights from my own personal experience. In the end, it's only one player's opinion and all that matters is whether or not you have fun in your game.
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#14 » Apr 10 2013 11:13

draxil wrote:
paidinfull wrote:The small marker drone squads are prime targets for this objective.


With their JSJ they should hopefully be tucked up behind a wall at this stage surely? Obviously any small unit is a possible target for this early game, but at the same time small units with jet packs should be easy to hide.

Sure. I guess it comes down to how the terrain is set up where he plays.
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#15 » Apr 10 2013 11:21

paidinfull wrote:
Olannon wrote:@paidinfull - I know what first blood is, I just didn't understand if he meant that I would get it easily or give it away easily: with JSJ it should be possible to hide them if need be. I get the point that they're fragile, but by potentially making an allied unit BS5+ and remove cover it could easily mean the exact opposite.

As for the Riptide, it can take insane amounts of punishment when compared to Crisis suits, something which is of paramount importance here. I also don't see why Tau can't fight mid-close ranged fights, given this tactic? You provide a statement without an argument, simply claiming "...Tau can't hang around in that range very long.".

Thank you for elaborating as it appears I misunderstood your post.

With regards to the mid-range fire fight argument, if you would like me to elaborate, I can.
If you are within 15", that typically makes a move of 6" placing a player within 9" for a charge or counter attack. BS5 firewarriors are great, and 12x of them @ BS5 rapid firing along with +1 shot nets 7x dead MEQ. However, what about the other supporting units? Spawn? Bikes? Other Tac squads with flamers? I've been playing Tau since 3e and the one constant that has not changed over the course of all that time is:
Tau are terrible in close combat. A veteran player will know this and send units to tie them up and grind them out.

Now granted, I don't know what your meta is like, but it's not uncommon for a CSM player around this area to have 4x units that are capable of assaulting on Turn 2. Moving towards an enemy such as this will reduce the number of total shots fired that the Tau player can make. How do you expect or anticipate your force to play? How will your battle plan change as your units are destroyed? Lastly... I'm just trying to offer insights from my own personal experience. In the end, it's only one player's opinion and all that matters is whether or not you have fun in your game.


I strongly suggest you take a look at the diagrams in my second post along with the list of tricks this list can play. When I deploy Firewarriors within 15" of an enemy unit, that unit dies. That means that there are no units within 15". I then have the entire rest of the shooting phase and assault phase to move my riptides, drones and tanks to block and re-arrange as I see fit. Even if something does get to charge, I can move stuff so that the charger only gets to target what I want and/or I can launch a a withering hail of fire through overwatch. Even if he does get through it won't matter that much - a full unit of Fire Warriors is worth roughly 100 points. I just don't see anything getting through in this case unless they can pin down the mobility elements. The easiest things to target here are the 'fish and the suits can take an aweful lot of fire before going down.

The key is not to just unload with a lot of firepower in a single turn, but establishing a stronghold which is impossible to assault except if you do it on my terms. As with any strategy there are a number of things that can fail, but I don't consider it likely that this list will lose because it cannot win mid-ranged firefights decisively enough. Do the math on 100 BS5 pulse shots against bikes / spawn / meqs. That still leaves 2 riptides and a Shas'o armed to the teeth, all of which can reliably engage and destroy small leftovers as well. Then there's the Kroot, which might also be in range. Throw in another 30 shots. If anything's assaultable, the Storm of Fire rule is still in effect, meaning that every 2nd fire warrior will score a hit, prior to markerlights.
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Olannon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#16 » Apr 10 2013 11:36

Some interesting math:

A BS4 Lascannon has the following chance to put a wound on a Riptide with stimulant injector:
p = 4/6 * 5/6 * 4/6 * 4/6 ~ 25%. Thus, a Riptide with a single Drone takes, on average, 24 BS4 Lascannon shots to take down.

A BS4 Lascannon has the following chance to put a wound on a Commander with stimulant injector and shield generator:
p = 4/6 * 5/6 * 3/6 * 4/6 ~ 18.5%. Thus, a Commander takes, on average, 21.5 BS4 Lascannon shots to take down.
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paidinfull
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#17 » Apr 10 2013 11:51

Olannon wrote:
I strongly suggest you take a look at the diagrams in my second post along with the list of tricks this list can play. When I deploy Firewarriors within 15" of an enemy unit, that unit dies. That means that there are no units within 15". I then have the entire rest of the shooting phase and assault phase to move my riptides, drones and tanks to block and re-arrange as I see fit. Even if something does get to charge, I can move stuff so that the charger only gets to target what I want and/or I can launch a a withering hail of fire through overwatch. Even if he does get through it won't matter that much - a full unit of Fire Warriors is worth roughly 100 points. I just don't see anything getting through in this case unless they can pin down the mobility elements. The easiest things to target here are the 'fish and the suits can take an aweful lot of fire before going down.

The key is not to just unload with a lot of firepower in a single turn, but establishing a stronghold which is impossible to assault except if you do it on my terms. As with any strategy there are a number of things that can fail, but I don't consider it likely that this list will lose because it cannot win mid-ranged firefights decisively enough. Do the math on 100 BS5 pulse shots against bikes / spawn / meqs. That still leaves 2 riptides and a Shas'o armed to the teeth, all of which can reliably engage and destroy small leftovers as well. Then there's the Kroot, which might also be in range. Throw in another 30 shots. If anything's assaultable, the Storm of Fire rule is still in effect, meaning that every 2nd fire warrior will score a hit, prior to markerlights.

It seems as though I've offended you. If so, please accept my apologies.

I see your diagrams and they certainly look very nice.
How about I provide you with a list and you think about how your list might match up?

Tyranids
HQ
Flyrant (260)
Wings, 2x TL Devourers w/ Brain Leech (12x TL S6 shots @18"), 2x powers from Biomancy
Flyrant (260)
Wings, 2x TL Devourers w/ Brain Leech (12x TL S6 shots @18"), 2x powers from Biomancy

TROOPS
10x Termagant Brood(50)
10x Termagant Brood(50)
1x Tervigon (195)
Dominion, Catalyst (FNP), Adrenal Glands(FC), Toxin Sacs (Poison), Cluster Spines (S5 LBT 18")
1x Tervigon (195)
Dominion, Catalyst (FNP), Adrenal Glands(FC), Toxin Sacs (Poison), Cluster Spines (S5 LBT 18")

ELITES
3x Hive Guard (150)
3x Hive Guard (150)
Doom in a spore (140)

HEAVY
Trygon - 200
Trygon - 200

So you have
- 2x FMC that have decent odds at becoming T7 to T9, that are also mobile to re-position themselves around any terrain.
- 12x S8 shots @ 24" that ignore cover and don't require LOS.
- Doom dropping in and forcing LD7 checks on 3D6.
- 2x Deep striking T6 Monstrous Creatures
(edit: this the list that I've run for some time and just sold to a buddy of mine)
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Olannon
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Re: 1850 Tau Competitive List - new and unique build!

Post#18 » Apr 10 2013 12:25

You have not offended me, I probably come off as harsh, sorry about that but usually when I feel that people fail to see the point(s) I'm trying to convey I sound off that way. Again, no offense taken and sorry for sounding hurt/harsh/whatever ;)

Anyways, thanks a lot for providing a list: it is indeed one of the best ways to examine how a certain army plays against another.

The first thing I notice here is that there's nothing juicy for the Fire Warriors to engage, save for the Hive Guard. Thus, the entire reasoning above goes out the window: there simply is no need for me to move ahead in the early turns of the game in this scenario. I also believe that no other list than 'Nids can play like this, so it's fairly safe to say that it's an edge case.

If going first against this list, I would stand back and let him do the engaging. By having 2 Iontides and the Puretide chip on the Mark'o I have ranged superiority. This list is also struggling with objectives: while it has as many troops choices as me, it lacks the staying power: if I can overcome the worst MCs I can run around with mobile FWs and claim objectives as I please. Note that all my suits, barring the Commander, sports Velocity Trackers.

The primary objective for Tau here is to silence the ranged threats to the big things (really only 6 models // 12 wounds with poor armour save) to allow the Devilfish to move as they please. As for the Doom, I sport LD10 (average on 3D6 is 10.5). With a bit of luck it can be disastrous, especially considering a simple early warning override would pose a huge threat to it.

Again, I consider this list an edge case and it's highly unlikely that I'll start sporting lots of S8+ fire just to handle it better, when there are so many other configurations out there that are more homogeneous.

Mathhammer, Fire Warriors @ T6, 3+ save:
p = 100 * 5/6 * 2/6 * 2/6 = 9.3. Perfect world scenario, yes indeed, but if ranged superiority can be achieved, doing something similar to this isn't impossible, assuming the core haven't taken too much damage.

Mathhammer, Fire Warriors @ flying Tyrant (assuming long range):
p = 12 * 1/6 * 2/6 * 2/6 = 0.22. However, they will almost always get at least one hit, which forces a ground test. Since you have to take a ground test every time you're hit, this adds up very, very badly for the Tyrant. With two units just hitting it, the chances are greater for it going down than for it staying in the air. This can be accomplished by Broadsides alone.
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