Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Battle Reports and debriefing thoughts about your Tau in action
Ire
Shas
Posts: 88

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#31 » Apr 13 2013 01:22

reading through the 2nd battle report more closely I think I can identify a couple of things that could have been done better (No insult intended at all, your tactics were standard for tau doctrine, but you were fighting a very non-standard foe in the tricksy eldar.)

First off was hammerheads with submuntions are certainly viable, and the submuntion shot is "good enough" compaired to the ion overcharge (and doesnt get hot). However, you used them against reavers, but due to the large size of bikes, even large blasts only hit a couple of them with each shot. You should have pieplated a unit that was more densly packed, like his warriors. don't forget that st 6 wounds ignore his feel no pain.

Secondly was that outflanking your foe with harrassing units is a excellent idea in general - just not against DE. A unit like your stealthsuits will do a little bit of damage but in the end be fairly easy for them to kill and might just provide them with a pain tolken. If you are going to use a stealth team then Id suggest using them as backfield armor hunters once his warriors are forward - but even then you'll only get one shot as the ravagers can outpace your suits, and those reavers can hit you anywhere within 48" so they can out-rapid-response you.

Some of those players made excellent points deconstructing our weaknesses. "Tau are only slightly more mobile than guard" "Moving 12" then shooting makes all the diffrence [compaired to JSJ's 6" then shoot], and "Markerlights being able to buff snapshot can make for some unexpected maneuvers" are lines that caught my eye.

He's a canny dark eldar player, who is not afraid to go to ground. I can see why you wanted a lot of ignores cover weapons. Im not certain that bladevaneing a unit off the table merits a pain tolken, Id have to look up the FAQ's for that one. don't be afraid to go to ground yourself - if it forces him to spend the time to shoot it with more units or to charge it that slows down that unit even more (hopefully). He was right that having special weapons sniped out isnt as big of a downer for DE as it can be for other races (a splinter cannon is just a couple more shots after all) so if you have snipers id look to kill blasters and, very importantly, the squad leader, if one is present. In his list, that would have been the arena champion, who's melee ability alone is as good as the rest of his squad's combined. Other dark eldar armies, the grenades are from the squad leader - kill the squad leader, the squad looses its grenades.

Specifically against that list - don't be afraid to tank shock his warriors out of position/cover. It looks like he is reliant on his backfield lances and forward blasters to get his hit, he's not going to haywire you as I don't see one in that whole list (unless that list is incomplete for wargear) and pushing him out of cover could be a death sentance for his troops. You'll risk a death or glory from the blaster but situationally it could be worth it.

I've made a big deal about killing off all the raiders - thats because a warrior squad without a raider is NOT a mobile squad anymore (fleet on a shooty unit isnt a great advantage). If you don't kill even the empty raiders you can be suprised how fast the DE can redeploy.

I think that this specific dark eldar player is going to try to kill your markerlights asap, he seems quite concerned about them in the writeup (especially with supporting fire). Use that as bait - I remember there was a BA player that I used to play that I knew, no matter what, was going to try to charge his bikes into my broadsides every single game. Predictability is death :)

The key to his list seems to be the reavers. Im suprised he didnt take caltrops on them for all the bladevaneing he did, but that is still a lot of reavers. With blasters, he'll only be closing to 18" before jetting away rather than the 9" his heat lance's would have required, so if he gets closer than that he's thinking about charging something. If possible, charge them, that will deny them two attacks per model (one for hammer of wrath, and the +1 a for chargeing) and while you may loose, you should kill some of them. Kroot would be nice here, as their ap 5 would still be effective. Just be careful about charging them based on the combat drug effect - if he gets initiative or weapon skill or run speed it wont matter much but the +1 a or +1 s rolls could hurt.

Im thinking that a crisis team with missilepod/flamers might be useful against him. flamers are scary to dark eldar, as you could jump out and toast a whole squad of warriors in cover, or wall of death anything that tries to assault your units. When not in flamer range the missile pods are more st7, and for support systems you could either buy them drones with a drone controller for more markerlights, VRT's so they can hit and run out of any assaults, or stims for more durability (as they will be a fairly high priority target for him, but watch out for st 8 lances/blasters ignoring stims). Or maybe just twin link the flamer. Three of those (before drones) will run you less than one of the riptides. perhaps two squads of two?

Adeptus
Shas
Posts: 33

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#32 » Apr 14 2013 06:42

Ire wrote: (No insult intended at all, your tactics were standard for tau doctrine, but you were fighting a very non-standard foe in the tricksy eldar.)


On the contrary. I appreciate you putting in the time to write two really thorough and helpful posts. Thank you for your considerable insight.

The main reason I was considering the Ion Accelerator was for the range, as it was suggested that I castle initially, take out his ravagers/raiders and then move out. I was concerned with the heavy burst cannon's shorter range forcing me to move out too early.

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kiyet
Shas
Posts: 127

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#33 » Apr 14 2013 07:08

Friday I played against a Dark Eldar list that included 2x 6-elf reaver squadrons in a Sliscus/Baron build. My (twin linked) SMS systems decimated both reaver jetbike squadrons in my first shooting phase (he went first, bladevaned/caltropped my pathfinders and my broadsides, failing to wipe either unit). However, I did have 6 SMS systems on the table (2 on the broadsides, 1 each on the Riptides, and 1 each on my devilfish), with three firing on each reaver squadron.

My opponent told me that he's going to have to permanently rewrite his list to deal with cover-denial from Tau as a result of that game.
MonT'au?
We're not lost, we're exploring.

Adeptus
Shas
Posts: 33

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#34 » Apr 14 2013 07:14

kiyet wrote:However, I did have 6 SMS systems on the table (2 on the broadsides, 1 each on the Riptides, and 1 each on my devilfish), with three firing on each reaver squadron.


I might give the devilfish in my list SMS. That way I would have seven twinlinked SMS in the list. But they are expensive. I would still have four SMS without them. Tough decision.

kiyet wrote:My opponent told me that he's going to have to permanently rewrite his list to deal with cover-denial from Tau as a result of that game.


Excellent. :D

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gr1m_dan
Shas
Posts: 333

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#35 » Apr 14 2013 11:44

I played against Dark Eldar today (Venom/Rav spam) and the SMS (only had two) were deadly. Even my friend said they have made them so much better and vital against armies like DE, IG etc.

It's even made me consider taking Missilesides for more silly tricks. You can pretty much take out whole squads of IG/DE hiding behind cover per turn.

I keep running my Devilfish with the SMS and so far it has taken out a lot more than it's points worth - at least two Venoms today plus squads inside before succumbing to a Dark Lance on Turn 5!
The Shadow that strikes, he that walks unseen

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Olannon
Fio
Posts: 99

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#36 » Apr 15 2013 01:45

Adeptus I don't have any experience against Dark Eldar and the concept I've outlined in my army list thread is greatly context dependent. In general, it is a strategy aimed to accomplish board control. If this can more effectively be achieved in another way, then by all means go for it! Against armies that are more mobile than us, the most important thing is to be able to lock this down and dictate the flow of the game. With multiple units advancing your flanks become vulnerable and if an enemy can exploit this you could be in deep trouble.
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Lysere
Shas
Posts: 92

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#37 » Apr 16 2013 12:04

All three of my games with the new Tau codex have actually been against DE, so let me say a few things. First off castle, deploy your army in such a way as to deny him a choice of what he wants to shoot, make him come to you, and if you can make him go first and go for the seize. I pulled that in one game and had him almost routed at the start of turn 4. (We called it there and did a second game) If you want a tough as nails unit you can run a crisis commander with bodyguard, here's what I ran and he only took two wounds the whole game. (One was an insta kill melee weapon but I was still winning after that)

Shas'O
- CIB, Plasma Rifle, Shield, Stim Injector, Iridium Armor, Neuro Web Jammer, 2 Shield Drones. Tough as nails and can tank even his lances. If he tries to shoot you with something you don't want to save just pass them back to his drones.

Also I highly suggest the ethereal, having 36 shots from Fire Warrior teams is brutal, even against his vehicles. Case in point I blew his Archon's Venom up with 7 pens from pulse fire and blew the archon away with suit fire. S6+ is simply brutal against them. Also when at long range Sense of Stone can make your units a bit tougher, not perfect but you'll save the occasional suit or FW.

Also most if not all of our warlord traits can be fantastic for facing DE, if your running an aegis then 'Exemplar of the Selfless Cause' can be absolutely fantastic when they fire at you. (I think that's the one that makes your units no longer count as gone to ground) 2+ cover behind the barricade then pop up and fire with 3 shots at 15".

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kiyet
Shas
Posts: 127

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#38 » Apr 16 2013 02:44

I play several variants of Dark Eldar, so I'll respond with more than just the brief "weee, I missile-killed all the reavers!" I already mentioned.

Ire wrote:Think of the DE as a scalpel. Their greatest strength is in their offensive capbilities and mobility - where *they* deploy is actually less important than where *you* deploy, as they are most likely not staying where they start, but are coming to you.

A good DE player has his target priorities down pat, and he'll look at spreading your forces out with diversions and bait so that he can get at the unit he really wants to kill. Having no way around your hardened front rank to the creamy center can be very frustrating to a DE player, so as I said, the key is to fortress up, kill his transports/mobility, then once hes left with just footdar and your jet packs have mobility on him, then you can go hunting.


This is dead on the money. Whether I'm fielding Duke Sliscus with a two cannon squad (trueborn with carbines in raider, 20 elf foot squad), running the Baron with Hellions, or pulling Haemonculi cult shenanigans I need to have my targets prioritized. I need to know where my reavers will do the most significant damage--not just the most, but the most significant--and I need to determine where to focus my firepower to help isolate a target, or to plant bait in order to draw out a target.

BlueFin wrote:Dark Eldar do what is referred to a slicing the pie. They shave off parts of your army using their extremely high mobility and then via localized superiority they remove that part. The army focuses on using its mobility to enhance its 'dagger' type of play.


Expanding on this, mobility isn't just used to isolate targets. Mobility allows the Dark Eldar player to pounce on any element that ends up isolated through mistakes on their opponent's part, through successful bombing/missile runs from their aircraft, through precise application of medium-long range weaponry (lances, cannons), or target saturation.
As a Dark Eldar player, you look for openings and exploit them. If they don't exist, you create them.

Oddly enough, this kind of thinking worked well for mobile/mech Tau--however, we're not as mobile as we used to be, as the Dark Eldar player pointed out in the battle report link(s) provided.

BlueFin wrote:So how do we stop this? There are 3 keys and they are:

Cut the cutter - target priority is hugely important against Dark Eldar. You have to be able to target and remove his 'slicing' elements - these usually include reavers and occasionally a scary CC unit in a Raider. So we want to use our tools to remove those - for reavers it is using our markerlights to nullify their otherwise great cover save and punish their 5+ save. Against the Raider CC unit it is a bit trickier because we cannot 'laser focus' on its removal to the detriment of the rest of the game. Generally I find a turn of focused fire about a turn before a potential assault will do the job. Remember to take advantage of the fact that our guns can penetrate their armor.


I had great success in cutting my opponent's cutters with the TL-SMS due to the system's special rules. Other systems that can punish overly-aggressive reavers include the AFP and the always fun flamers (and the TL flamers). If you're bringing someone who can take on signature systems, there's a system that outright denies cover as well--at the expense of the bearer itself not firing. Marker lights received a boost in their ability to strip cover that makes them more efficient against 4+ or better cover saves than our previous codex.

For the killy CC unit in a raider sneaking up, between their jink save and potential flickerfield, I'm less inclined to put a heavy investment of firepower on them until they're at about 24-30" from my guns. My opponent in my last Dark Eldar game was using two 6-bike reaver squadrons and an archon with 9 bloodbrides in a raider as his dagger elements. Target priority went to killing the reavers first (accomplished in turn 1), because their 48" threat bubble ensures that if I moved out of my castle, I would lose units to their caltrops and bladevanes. The raider can dart up as fast as it likes to drop off the bloodbrides wherever it wants (it did, they finished off my missile-sides--which I left out as bait for them), as long as it cannot get into the core of my castle. My opponent's intent was to bladevane elements to isolate units and finish them off with the bloodbrides, while his hellions and fighters kept my firepower tied up--at least until the bloodbrides gain FNP.

BlueFin wrote:Don't deploy on his terms

Don't panic


These are the most important pieces of advice. Deploy on your terms and on the terms of the terrain. Put your firepower where it has overlapping fields of fire and wide open shooting galleries, but have your elements postured to make use of Supporting Fire and to cover flanks and prevent being run over. Dark Eldar aren't holding still, so don't worry about lining up the perfect shot on elements that are deployed as is. They won't be there when it comes time for you to actually shoot--unless your opponent wants you to waste shots on it.

Above all else: don't panic. Play like you're a stubborn leadership 10 command and control drone that can reroll failed leadership checks. Have fun, enjoy the thrills and chills of near misses and the agony of things dying or overheating when you need them most--but never panic. BlueFin's description of establishing threat bands is spot on the money. Flip open the Dark Eldar codex and look at the threat range of their weapons and elements. Look at the weaknesses and strengths of each element. Hellions are fast and hit hard, but die quite fast if you're lobbing out large blast templates that are S5+ when they bunch up, or hammer with storm of fire on a rifle squad (trust me, they will be close enough) if they spread out. Beastpacks are fast and can hit hard and be resilient, until their handlers die. Then their leadership drops to the point where you can count on pinning them reliably (ATS on stealth suits with gun drones can do this within a single unit). All of their vehicles are spiky cardboard boxes--they will collapse under fire--that function at what the Tau consider medium range. They are anti-infantry par excellence across the board.

All this being said, you don't need to tailor your list to deal with the Dark Eldar. Cover-denial from SMS works wonders against Orks, IG, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Tyranids, and other Tau. Marker lights and medium to long-range high strength attacks have a purpose against all forces that aren't coming in massive hordes of small elements. With deployment and maneuver considerations, that depends entirely on what your opponent brings and the table looks like--and functions almost independently of your army construction (if you're building to castle up, then castle up according to the terrain--otherwise adapt your maneuvering to the terrain and availability/threat of targets).
MonT'au?
We're not lost, we're exploring.

Adeptus
Shas
Posts: 33

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#39 » Apr 17 2013 04:20

Thanks for all the great advice. I almost won this time :D . Though I still felt the Dark Eldar player was in control most of he game. Interestingly he told me castling was a bad idea. :?

Battle Report 3
Last edited by Adeptus on Apr 17 2013 04:51, edited 1 time in total.

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kiyet
Shas
Posts: 127

Re: Tactics for taking on the Dark Eldar?

Post#40 » Apr 17 2013 04:43

I'd love to read the battle report, however, it sent me to where I could do this instead :P [ edit: I see the link now, time to read it :) ]

Castling in the early game is only really a bad idea if you're playing a force that relies on moving or against someone fielding a lot of long-ranged template/blast weapons. One of the things I noted in the games where I did my best to capitalize on supporting fire is that it meant have more of my T3 4+ or 5+ armor save guys hanging around in one location or another.

Castling in the late game can cost you the game if you're playing for objectives and you've built such a resilient castle on 1 objective that your opponent has secured 2-3 relatively unmolested/uncontested.
Last edited by kiyet on Apr 17 2013 05:01, edited 1 time in total.
MonT'au?
We're not lost, we're exploring.

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