"Welcome to Tau 101: Today you will be getting your butt handed to you... now assume the position..."
Last Tuesdays battle was an important learning experience for me. Dustin (of 'Gifts for Geeks') agreed to a 1500pt 'Tau Off' between the forces of an Ethereal called 'Largely Absent' and the nefarious and headstrong Commander Farsight...
While I've had some fun successes in the past with my Tau, Dustin is an experienced Tau player. As demonstrated in the Bolscon, with the stunning dominance of a Tyranid Force, knowledge in depth of ones army is essential. I would be the learner to the master for this contest.
Additionally, I wanted to try something a little 'different' and the level playing field of playing a mirror list would assist with understanding the balance of the game.
Army Lists: Unlike previous games, I decided to take a force based around my new SkyRay missile boats and Broadside Battlesuits. These two units would head off Dustin's usual choice of Hammerheads and Crisis Suits. The Missile Boat (in combination with a six man pathfinder team) would be able to deliver up to 8 instantkill S8 AP3 2+ to hit seeker missiles in a turn. Thus, ensuring that any crisis suit teams would be toasted nicely. Meanwhile, the Broadside would concentrate on taking out the enemy armour. Alongside this I had two Devilfish, two 9 man firewarrior squads, a stealth team and Commander Farsight with a meaty bodyguard.
Unfortunately for me, Dustin drew up his army list before the game and went for 2 Broadsides, a couple of Hammerheads (yeah) and 3 huge squads of fire warriors and a huge herd of Kroot...?
Game Synopsis: Immediately my missile boats were neutered by his choice to leave his normally ubiquitous Crisis Suits at home. To add insult to injury, I then compounded my problems by not reserving O'Shova (Farsight) and reserving the Stealth Team. These infiltrators should have been infiltrated, but instead flanked (IN TURN 3!)... things wern't going well.
My broadsides annihilate his, but this proves only a distraction as his Hammerheads template my meagre two fire warrior squads (to death).
Dustin moved forward with his fire warriors on foot, stripping off my pathfinders and targetting my firewarrior squads and transports. The missile boat and broadsides were ignored in order to target farsight and his group. Meanwhile, 15 Kroot infiltrated just outside charge range on my right flank - I was boxed in!
Crafty Kroot threaten my flank, I can't kill them, but I can't ignore them... tying up more resources.
Without the stealth team to distract the opposition, Dustin had a relatively easy job targetting Farsight and firewarriors. The Stelth Team failed to flank on turn 2 and didn't appear until turn three. However by then I was already 3 killpoints down and my ability to strike back was dwindling.
I did manage to take out his piranha for a single killpoint and (when they arrived) the stealth team were demonstrably dangerous, whittling down both a fire warrior squad and the Kroot. However, some quick 'go to ground' decisions later and my forces were sorely suffering.
I couldn't afford to 'go to ground' as I needed my men firing to have a chance of evening things, whereas Dustin had strong options all round - enabling him to strike from multiple directions...
My playmakers (stealth team and O'Shova) were effectively neutered by my own deployment and left Dustins Tau free reign, without the cautioning notion of 'guarding his flanks/rear'.
'All over, bar the flapping of hands...' My final Devilfish and Firewarriors try desperately to kill his Ethereal.
What was interesting was that we both learnt a great deal about playing Tau and how to get the army working in your favour. Despite having more transports and more firepower - Dustins Hammerheads and Broadsides effectively neutered my own Broadsides. His crafty choice of no crisis suits left me targetless for the Missile Boat - although it fought on it the SMS was a secondarily useful weapon. We also discovered the following:
- Using a Shas'O with Missile Pod as a mobile 'grav platform' for a fire warrior team. A useful tactic for armies who choose not to take a Crisis heavy force. I suggested deploying the Shas'O with Kroot to make an even more cost effective move and fire force, hell why not two? That would give the Shas'O a BIG bullet shield and enable the Shas'O to get in range, while still sitting behind a significant number of bodies.
- Rapid fire range is 12", why did I think it was 'half the long range' - this means that fire warriors can fire once at 30" or twice at 12" (not 15") - not knowing this (I know, fairly basic, but I mostly play guard) cost me some signficant shooting.
- Crisis Suits, Stealth Teams and Drones have jetpacks and jetpacks gift the 'relentless' rule to their owners. This means that plasma rifles are 24" fire once assault weapons. Meanwhile the sniper drone CAN move and fire its Heavy Rail Rifle.
- Target priority tests, while abolished in general for 40k 5th Edition, still applies to 'target lock' upgraded units.
Like don't deploy your army before the opponent has even written his list!
We live and learn.