Tuesday, 25 January 2011

[Tau] De-Mech or Die, Part II


Welcome to part 2, I'd like to start by addressing some very good points bought up in the comments section to Part I

Completely De-Meching

To reiterate the main aim of the post was to explore increasing the anti-tank firepower, a solution I suggested was to reduce the mechanised elements in the Tau army to give the points required for more anti-tank.

It was quite rightly pointed out that removing all the mechanised elements of the Tau army would mean all the enemy's anti-tank guns would be directly towards broadsides and crisis suits, and probably instant killing them in short order. Tau tanks are one of the most survivable in the game, due to their good armour, long range on their guns allowing them to stay further away from their target, and the humble disruption pod which allows them to take their 4+ cover save with them.

Other reasons why I think Tau tanks are still required as follows:
  • They are great at contesting objectives, once they are moving >6” and there aren't any meltaguns nearby they are really hard to get rid of.
  • Our fragile troops can not march across the battlefield and hope to get to distant objectives, let alone survive on close at hand objectives. A Devilfish means that any objective can be threatened, and will take serious firepower over to remove (first the devilfish and then the occupants have to be destroyed.

I also stated in the comments that I did not think a fully mech army can compete too well in 5th edition. These two posts are me exploring where in between the two (fully mech and non-mech) is most effective.

The Change

Moving on to my current list I want to change:

Shas'el with 2 Drones
2 Fireknifes
3 Fireknifes with 2 Drones
3 Missile/Burst Suits with 2 Drones
6 Fire Warriors
10 Kroot & 7 Hounds
10 Kroot & 7 Hounds
10 Kroot
8 Pathfinders
3 Broadsides with Advanced Stabilisation Systems, Leader with Target Lock, Blacksun Filter & 2 Shield Drones

Everything normally did their job quite well, apart from the railheads. They didn't put out much firepower for their 165 points each price tag, but as mentioned above they were very useful for contesting and absorbing firepower.

I also noticed that in some games I did not always need to move the broadside unit that much. So my idea was to switch a railhead for a unit of static broadsides. So I tried to build the cheapest 3 broadside unit that was still effective; here is my result:
Broadsides Team – 245 pts
Broadside with Drone Controller with 1 Gun Drone & 1 Shield Drone
2 x Broadsides with a Target Lock

To ensure the railguns had the option to split fire the basic suits had targets locks (the only cheaper options to fill the har point is the blacksun filter or a drone controller). Also note that I did not include a leader because I used the basic hardpoint for the drone controller.

Lastly I downgraded one of the drones to a gun drone. Being behind my army or in terrain I nearly always got a cover save, so against a lascannon the gun drone would be the same as a shield drone. Of course I'm bound to now face space wolf missile spam where an extra 2+ armour save drone would be useful.

This new unit costs 80 pts over the railhead. Now I am losing a lot with the railhead, I'm losing a str 6 large template option, the durability to distract a lot of enemy firepower, and the excellent late game contesting ability, but I have upped the number of railguns hits (not shots) by over one and a half a turn, plus the new unit can not be shaken or stunned.

Now I had the hard choice of where the 80 pts required for the upgrade would come from. I was tempted to use lose the unit of 10 kroot, but I've found having only 3 troop choices is running a bit small especially as I would be making them more fragile; the pathfinder devilfish to transport a unit would come under more firepower with the reduction to only one other vehicle to distract the enemy.

So instead I picked the hounds from the second unit of kroot. It's always essential to have a large kroot unit to cover a lot of ground for the rest of the army to hide behind, but sometimes the second unit didn't need to be so large, especially if they were going to be sacrificed and I normally had a good idea by then the direction the enemy would break through the 1st line of kroot.

With 3 pts I could save from taking the blacksun filter off the broadside team leader (filling up spare points before) I had now saved 45 pts. The rest of the points would will come from what I think would be a controversial spot.

As I said before my railheads didn't seem to put out much firepower over a game. Part of the reason for this was that they were shaken or stunned on some turns. This will only happen more if I halved the number of railheads I had. However I was not going to drop the hammerhead, as I believe it is too essential to contest objectives and draw firepower, so instead I will morph it into an ionhead. Yes sometimes known as the bastard stepchild of the hammerhead chassis weapons, but it is significantly cheaper at only 130 pts for the whole tank (incl multi-tracker and d.pod). If it spends a few turns shaken/stunned will an extra 35 pts for a better weapon be that useful. The ion cannon still has it's uses, against monstrous creatures it is better than the railgun, marines don't like walking in the open with it around, plus against tank armour 11 it's performance is on par with the railgun, so it can add to the crisis suit's missile pods light vehicle killing and suppression firepower.

The anti-tank firepower has increased from 3½ to 4½ railgun hits a turn, and 9.8 to 11.8 str 7 hits a turn. At the expensive of 1 less vehicle chassis, and losing both mobile railguns. I will have to use the dual firebase tactic more to account for the loss of the mobile railguns; with spread far away from each other firebases if an enemy advances to one firebase it will expose it's flank to the other. However I think the change should help my army kill vehicles better and faster.

The New List

Here's the new list in full:

Shas'el - 102
Missile Pod, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Multi-tracker, 2 Gun Drones

Crisis Team 1 - 124
2 Fireknifes

Crisis Team 2 - 211
3 Fireknifes
incl Leader with 2 Gun Drones

Crisis Team 3 - 163
1 x Crisis Suit with Twin Missile Pods, 2 Gun Drones
2 x Crisis suits with Missile Pod, Burst Cannon, Multi-tracker

6 Fire Warriors - 60

10 Kroot with 7 Hounds - 112

10 Kroot - 70

10 Kroot - 70

8 Pathfinders - 96
in Devilfish with Disruption Pod - 85

Hammerhead - 130
Ion Cannon, Burst Cannons, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pod

Broadside Team 1 - 280
1 x Leader with Advanced Stabilisation Systems, Target Lock, 2 Shield Drones
2 x Broadsides with Advanced Stabilisation Systems

Broadside Team 2 – 245
1 x Broadside with 1 Gun Drone & 1 Shield Drone
2 x Broadsides with Target Locks

Total: 1750 Pts

What do you think of the new list ? It has some static elements, but still has a mobile element of 9 crisis suits and the 2 vehicles. Will it do better than the previous list, or have I de-meched too much ? What's your balance between mech and static, anti-tank and mobility ?



  1. Interesting idea with the Ionhead. I'm thinking of something like this myself but giving it SMS to sit back and launch 7 shots a turn.

  2. If you upgrade to the SMS it may be worth also adding a target lock. In my list I won't bother as I only have 2 vehicles I expect it to be stunned, shaken or dead a lot :)

    If you have two hammerheads I'd suggest leaving one as a railhead, so you could still have 4 railguns (firing at 3 targets). Leaving all.your railguns in one unit (with the Tau leadership) is risky.




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