Sunday, 29 August 2010

Kauyon vs Mont'Ka: The Key Difference

There has been much debate in the blogshere recently over the merits of Kauyon vs Mont'Ka. The debate has centred around the use of kroot, as a speedbump or sacrifical unit.

Supporters of both methods tend to use 3 units of crisis suits. The Mont'Ka favouring Hammerheads in heavy support over Broadsides the favorite of the Kauyon.

I find hammerheads are essential in taking heat off the more fragile devilfishs which are transporting the fragile Tau troops, to give mobility to railgun shots to allow some side shots on enemy vehicles, and lastly as good objective contesters. Therefore I have always used two, backed up by a unit of broadsides, and I believe that most people start with that set-up.

Given that alot of armies tend to have 3 units of crisis suits in elites, and 2 hammerheads and a broadside unit in heavy support, it seems to be the troops and fast attack slots that makes the tactics of the army differ.

Tau troops are fragile and not that good for their points from a shooting point of view, both types of army will tend to take as few as possible for the objective taking that they think they need. So whether it's a fire warrior unit in a devilfishs or 2 kroot units both methods try to keep their troops cheap as required to capture objectives so they do not take away too many points from the firepower of the army.

If Mont'ka is supposed to sacrifice firepower for mobility, what extra does the Kauyon have that should give it much more firepower. Although the first easy answer is Broadsides instead of Hammerheads I believe the real answer is Pathfinders. Mont'ka doesn't want to add static elements to the army which has to defended or can't move to where the enemy is, while Kauyon loves the extra damage the Pathfinders allows the rest of the army to do.

If you think of the pathfinders without their devilfish (which should be given to a unit of fire warriors), then the extra damage 8 of them will add, for less than 100 points, is remarkable. The change in tactics they demand is that sometimes you will be forced to protect them which will tether at least some of your army to be near their location. This will force you to use kroot as sacrifical /speedbumps units. Not only do you not want the enemy to get to the pathfinders you don't want them to get to any nearby units.

With the most cost effective firepower units left in the Tau codex being mobile (apart from one), ie. Shas'el, Crisis Suits, Hammerheads, the Kauyon way is to increase that firepower more, and to me the best way is mainly Pathfinders (aided by considering switching to second unit of broadsides at the expense of a hamerhead).

The use of Pathfinders and the tethering of some of your army nearby (due to their static nature) will require kroot screens (and if you like them, piranha blockers). Pathfinders require you guess where the enemy will come to ensure the pathfinders have line of sight to contruct the perfect killing zone (Kauyon). Without being restricted by the static area of effect of pathfinders an army can be free-er to hunt down their enemy (Mont'ka).


As a parting note, as army size increases (at 1850 pts and beyond) even crisis suits will run out of space to run and may require kroot screens. Also if LOS blocking terrain is commonplace then the effectiveness of pathfinders and broadsides could be serverly weakened. These two points show that this analysis could be flawed when looking at your local playing environment, but should give some food for thought on the style of army list you want to use.

Late Edit: Although Broadsides also add static elements to the army, they only add better anti-tank, and can normally be allowed to die after the first three turns of the game by when the essential tank killings needs to happen. However pathfinders add to the type of firepower that is needed that turn, eg. against a tank strip it's cover save for broadsides, for a horde guide missile & burst cannon suits, against MEQ guide Fireknifes or Helios in rapid fire range. If you can protect them you can improve the element of your army that is most required turn by turn. Broadsides also don't tether part of your army nearby as much as pathfinders.


  1. If Pathfinders could be taken without their Devilfish, I'd try to fit them in somehow, but the fact that it costs a turn of movement to get the 'fish from the PFs to a unit of FWs (or you have to deploy separately and lose the benefit of the 'fish's greater Scout movement) just makes them a hinderance to my mobile playstyle.

  2. If you want to be aggressive with the pathfinder and devilish, by deploying a fire warrior unit next to the front of the devilish aren't the fire warriors still within 8" of the back of the devilish after it's done it's scout move, so they can get in turn one.

    However I can't see pathfinder surviving long if they are using the scout move to advance on the enemy. I use them deployed much further back and try to anticipate the direction the enemy will approach from. It's a hard balance between surviving and having effective line of sight.

    Do you find you are forced to advance pathfinder to get a good position, or is there normally good positions to deploy in your deployment zone ?


  3. It's generally dependent on the deployment zones, but I often end up advancing the PFs to a prime location where they have range and a clear shot, while the rest of the army stays back a bit. With the scout move, I'm able to place and disembark them pre-game, whether it's in my deployment zone or not. It also allows me to shift position if I end up having to deploy first.

    Of course, this only applies to Pitched Battle and Spearhead. In Dawn of War, or in a number of the Battle Missions deployments, I'm stuck bringing them on turn 1 (there's no point in trying to outflank with them, of course), and it means 1 turn that they do nothing but get in place. When your force multiplier is unavailable in over 1/3rd of your games, it's not dependable. It's one reason I prefer Stealth Marker Teams in theory (in practice, they're in a bad FOC slot); the ability to come on at any time, either in deployment, infiltrated, from the table edge, deep striking, or outflanking, and immediately have access to their ML capabilities.

  4. "When your force multiplier is unavailable in over 1/3rd of your games, it's not dependable" - they're available for the rest of the game, just not turn one, over a game I bet for their points they add more than the stealth marker team, and can still add a lot by the end of the game.

    I totally agree that the elite slots are needed for crisis suit firepower.

    It appears our playstyles are quite different, which may be due to the heavy terrain you face. I tend to be more defensive in my set-up, and I'm more concerned that my pathfinders will have good line of sight to where the enemy will approach (sometimes this means they don't contribute so much on turn 1).

    I use a lure of the pathfinders, broadsides and one or two crisis suit units. If the battle goes bad and the enemy gets past my two kroot lines the crisis suits will have sped away, and even the broadsides would have been continually moving away. If the battle goes well the crisis suits can move agressively forwards. If terrain is very heavy it may mean than the advancing enemy can hop over the created kill zone, or be out of sight for the majority of the journey to the pathfinders/broadsides.

    My deployment is more about identifying a good kill zone, rather than making it the maximum distance the enemy has to travel. If the terrain is very heavy a good kill zone to make best use of the pathfinders may not exist.





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