Firstly, I really like this list, and it is the result of the evolution of the ideas above. The play style is one that I have sought since beginning this thread and the original idea of fast durable bikes spearheading my tau shooting. I have played many games in the 1850, 2K, and also a 2.5k tourney and learned many lessons, some of which you can read about above. It is my hope that others will be able to use this thread as not only ideas on a specific concept, but for furthering their own list building skills.
At higher points levels this play style can work against those who are unprepared for it, but I wanted to play the same way at smaller points levels. Higher points levels can create a sort of misbalance in terms of firepower and cheese. Taking what I've learned I've trimmed the concept down to the bare bones, and have come up with a very solid list at 1750.
Instead of the normal “Help me make my list better”, I am posting this as a bit of a strategy guide on how I play this list, and will offer up a couple of alternatives. For those who have read through some of my ramblings above and my approaches to list building concepts I have one more link – Building blocks of War written by bayonet
. It is a short read and will help to setup the play style explanation that works with this concept.
Farsight Enclaves Primary
(177) Commander Missile pod, Cyclic ion blaster, Target lock, Drone controller, The Talisman of Arthas Moloch; Marker drone (x2)
(215) Riptide Heavy burst cannon, Twin-linked fusion blaster, Early warning override, Earth Caste Pilot Array
(222) Crisis x3 (MP, MP, Target Lock), bonded; Marker drone x4
(75) Kroot x10, Sniper rounds; kroot hound x1
(75) Kroot x10, Sniper rounds; kroot hound x1
(70) Kroot x10, Sniper rounds
(256) Broadside x3, HYMP/SMS, Target Lock x2, Bonded; Missile drone x4
White Scar allies
(275) Chapter Master Bike, Artificer, Shield eternal, Burning Blade
(190) Bike Squad x5, Grav Gun x2, Attack bike (multi melta)
(195) Bike Squad x5, Grav Gun x2, Attack bike (multi melta); Melta bombs (sarge) Basic Strategy:
The basics are simple, starting with the Chapter Master who goes in the non melta bomb bike squad. Both squads setup to rush up the table with Riptide behind them, providing a very tough wall that must be dealt with or risk loosing backfield units. Next, broadsides and one squad of kroot, to bubble wrapp the broadsides from harm, form a firebasemid table.. This is to give good board coverage, hopefully with a good field of view to rain down destruction. Other two kroot squads can stay off table or offer deployment options depending on who you are playing. Finally commander with crisis are mobile support with markerlights and target locks to put pressure out where needed.Core Concepts:
At the heart of this play style really is the Tau fluff tactical philosophy of the Mont'Ka or the “killing blow”. The point is take the fight directly to your foe. This list is made to play aggressively and very often suffers from playing timidly or too conservatively. See my comments above on the pro/con summery after a tournament about kroot and crisis support teams. Or, in this list, moving the Riptide behind the bikes as they go forward creates a “multi layered” approach to what seems like an impenetrable wall that “just has to be dealt with” in the words of an opponent. Without the Riptide behind them the bikes seem to be a bit more easily handled, and loose that psychological edge. Not to mention the firepower that gets directed at them. The two together is a fundamental way to achieve a measure of board control, by dictating what your opponent must shoot at or attempt to ignore, and while he still has a choice, you are the one giving him the choice.
In accordance to the building blocks of war arranging this list into doctrines works very well and hopefully shows off some of the flexibility within the list. The assault elements have purpose, goals, and direction. The support and firepower elements provide options and cover, while the whole army works together.Biker Troops – Assault
I want to say first that these guys are expendable. Not to say use them recklessly, but rather ruthlessly and aggressively. The goal is to force your opponent to deal with these bikers coming almost straight at him ready to blow up his tanks and wreck his infantry. Losses are inescapable and should be expected. Fortunately because of toughness 5, a 3+ armor save, and an improved jink save at 4+, these guys need more than a round of shooting from a single squad to frighten them.
In deployment I tend to think two turns ahead, or rather where I want these squads to be in turn 2 and then in turn 4 or 5. Even if not expecting them to survive till turn 4 or 5, an objective to end on with whatever may remain, more often than not.. an attack bike with a single wound, is the goal. And hopefully they cut a swath of destruction along the way.
While setup with a high strength multi melta and grav guns to take down MCs, tanks, or heavy infantry, these squads also do great at close combat with basic infantry squads, which leads to having to have flexibility in terms of what you shoot at and go after.
White Scars chapter tactics helps this aggressive play style. Never forget hit and run to avoid being shot at, or to gain extra movement Effectively ignoring terrain because of automaticly passing dangerous terrain tests allow them to be highly mobile in getting to where you want them to be, abuse this!Chapter Master – Assault
Lets face it, this guy is a beatstick, and should be used as such. At 275 points and the most expensive unit/single model and like the bike squads above, EXPENDABLE. With a 2+ armor, 5 toughness, 3++ invulnerable, 4 wounds, and Eternal warrior, if you include close combat considerations is just as tanky as a riptide. He is not your warlord, and should be at the front of your spearhead acting as a bullet magnet. Playing aggressive is his style.
When I deploy the Chapter master it is with the non melta bomb squad, and deploy him at the front of the squad. The other bike squad moves along with this but is the one I will try to LOS blocking with as I move up the field. The reason for doing this is to have one squad blow up a transport and to hopefully have the chapter master squad assault the squishes that come out. While not the only tactic it is an effective and common one.
Another consideration to think about is when to detach the chapter master from his bike squad and send him off on his own. Because of Eternal warrior I am not afraid of strength 10 melee hits and will have him go off and tank MCs or the like, to tie them up and then use hit and run when I am ready to shoot it dead with the rest of the force, or the other bike squads with their grav guns.
Once again, be flexible with him and he is expendable, do not worry about the points cost, but use him as a tool in your arsenal.Riptide – Assault/Support
I sometimes feel I could write a whole tactica on riptides, as I see them being used wrong in so many lists and on the tabletop. But this is only my play style, and only the way in which I believe they should be used. Not necessarily the right way. So I will give some examples here on how I use this one, and why.
The Burstide (Riptide with a Heavy burst cannon as opposed to an Iontide) is here to move up with the bikes. If you read the MTO (maximum threat overload) article above, while I am not straight using this principle in full the basic idea is still there. With the tankiness of the chapter master and the tankiness of the riptide combined they require a lot of firepower to bring down. All of which is firepower NOT being directed at the other elements of this army. And if left alone both can cause serious damage. IF you do not play him aggressively and keep him in the back, which often happens with the longer range of an Iontide, the bikes at the front can be targeted down a bit easier. This is both a real consideration with range of the opposing players guns and psychological. The point is to apply pressure in order to force your opponent to make mistakes, achieve board control, and help your army survive.
So move him up and use him as an assault element, but he is also support to the bikes, and often I do not have a hard target I wish to use him against. I will use him to maneuver around cutting off paths and taking down targets of opportunity as appropriate. Use him as a nuisance mid field daring your opponent to try and take him down.
One tactic that I have used a couple of times against deep striking lists is to have my forces castle up, then put the riptide off on his own. I expect to use a 4D6 thrust move to get him back into play, but deploying away from your forces will often make your opponent drop a drop pod out of position to try and counter him or take him out with sternguard for example. Jump away and leave an opposing unit out of position to be dealt with later or have him free to take on the minimal backfield units while you deal with the drop on your castle.Commander and Crisis Troops – Support
The heart of this list is here with your warlord and markerlights, and the only unit I tend to play conservative with, in the first turn or two. As I mentioned above, markerlights in allied lists can be a problem in getting enough and having the units available to use them. Here they are all in one unit and meant to be used as ablative wounds for the commander and crisis suits. Deployment out of LOS, in a multilevel building, anything on the first turn or two is a must to attempt to keep them around. Keep this in mind!
The commander load out with the Cyclic Ion Blaster is there for two reasons. One, because it is fun! Two, because a strength 8 blast can be helpful when dealing with deep strikers or necron scarabs for example. The missile pod helps kill what may be out of its range and both being strength 7 and AP 4 compliment nicely also. The talisman also gives the nice 4D6 deny the witch boost to units within 12” but gives your commander a 5++ invulnerable save to hopefully keep him alive on occasion.
The rest of the Crisis suits are dual missile pods with target locks so you can shoot at separate targets from what the markerlights are hitting. Having no markerlight support themselves and having to rely on the ballistic skill 3 doesn't always contribute to being super effective. What I often do is split fire two crisis suits and then one crisis suit and the commander at separate targets while the markerlights light up a high priority target. I should also mention that in firing priority the bikes shoot first then this squad, followed by the rest of your tau units. Now the split fire tend to be pot shots. I will target any tanks I can such as transports and generally get some hull points stripped off or a wound or two out on different targets. Lets revisit this again with broadsides
Markerlight targeting should be on a high priority target that either your broadsides or riptide are going to be shooting at (if not both).
Much like the Chapter Master above, there are times when it can be beneficial to also detach the commander. A tactic that I have used, and not one I recommend to try all the time as there is risk involved, is when I know all my firepower will be directed at one unit. Say I have a squad of kroot and my crisis squad needing to take down a tough unit heading my way. Detaching your commander with his two drones, shooting with him, and then using those hits to add to the ballistic skill of the crisis squad and their drones, which in turn can boost the shooting of the kroot. Then with your assault moves hop your commander behind the crisis squad. You cannot have him rejoin until the next movement phase, but this can save your commander from a charge, though it may leave him open to shooting.
Overall careful play with this unit makes the Tau elements of this list deadly, and good opponents will notice this. Sacrificing crisis suits over markerlights will be a judgment call as this unit takes casualties. Hopefully though the bikes, riptide, and broadsides can take some pressure off.Kroot – Reserve/Support
The overlooked heroes I like to call my kroot. Sniper rifles can be deadly, taking out riptides, wraithknights, rhinos, terminators, guardsmen, and grots alike. Screening my forces, infiltrating, outflanking and stealing objectives, kroot I feel are sometimes the measure at which flexibility in a unit should be judged. True they are weak and can die from a slight wind at times, but especially in this list where nearly everything but the riptide can be a troop they can be easily overlooked. And in turn will take out units two or three times their point cost.
A rule of thumb that I have come across when deploying them is: The more your opponent holds in reserve the more of them you put on the table. Now this is not a hard rule, mostly just an observation to keep in mind. Against a drop pod list they become the wall of your castle, or spread out to stop deep strikes into your lines. Against infiltrators I will always have one unit infiltrating to hopefully stop an opponents plan.
For particulars here I will keep the kroot squad without a kroot hound as a screen for my broadsides to give them cover. The other two squads are flexible to outflank with acute senses or do as needed depending on what you are facing.Broadsides – Firepower
The heading should say it all, HYMP broadsides are the god form of tau shooting. The only real static unit in this list, in deployment setting them front and center should be your basic concern. I will look for area terrain to set them in for a cover save, but attempt to make sure that they have good firing lanes and a decent reach to as much of the table as possible. Without an ADL the kroot screen can also give them a cover save and prevent direct charges to them (and twin linked overwatch) if you are lucky.
With target locks they have a choice of targets. I tend to fire them at what has been hit by the markerlights if the riptide has not used them all up, and remember those pot shots from the crisis squad? Target locks allow you to finish off those wounded transports or whatnot without sacrificing all of your firepower. Should also mention anti air duties fall into their realm also, which they can do as well as a quad gun, though at a steeper points cost Alternatives
That sums up the army and if you are still with me I'd like to point out alternate builds that fit. Some of these I have tried and a couple that I have not and were suggested by others.
Enclave vs. Empire
I like the extra troop choice in the crisis squad, talisman and the ECPA on the Burstide is a central reason, but I play Enclaves. Honestly that’s the best answer I can give you
An Empire “buffmander” does bring a lot to this list and I would not fault anyone for playing the same basic list on the Empire side.
Burstide vs. Iontide
I have to be honest and say I prefer an Iontide with plasma and an EWO for 99% of my other lists. But in this list the burstide with the ECPA supporting the bikes is a fundamental part of it. I have switched to it to try it out and it really depends on what you are playing against as to which one is better. For the extra points that it costs you can drop one kroot hound and come out even.
Broadsides with EWO
I am never against more interceptor in a list, it is currently a perk that Tau get over other armies, and can be easily added to one of the broadsides by the same dropping of a kroot hound as above. And if you do not have kroot hound models I actually would recommend it, and either use the iontide suggestion above, or add in the extra melta bomb to the bike squad with the chapter master.
When doing a pick up game or just needing to scale up the list, adding in a thunderfire is a very nice option. This is also when I would be most likely to switch to an Iontide, as you are more likely to see a bit heavier infantry or tanks.
Chapter Master vs. Captain
I has been suggested to me to drop the chapter master to a captain and then use the saved points to upgrade on of the biker squads to a command squad with an apothecary. This creates a tougher unit with a bit more firepower overall while loosing a wound from your primary tank, a troop choice, and the chapter masters orbital bombardment.
My personal thoughts about it are: Meh /shrug. It is a tradeoff, one I probably wouldn't do if playing Empire because of the buffmander buffs to the chapter master as an option. But it also ties the captain to that squad for the Feel No Pain boost, and splitting him off drops as a viable option. But it is an alternative that fits the list so I won't dismiss it.Final Thoughts
Thanks ATT! For providing a forum for me to post my thoughts, and for reading them if you made it all the way through ;P
I don't wish this to be a definitive treatise on how you play this style, but I hope it will help others in knowing some of what I have learned.
Also I will respond to any and all questions if something is not clear or you wish to know more about parts of the list.