First 8th Edition Tournament – Tau 2000 points

So after however many years of not going to a tournament, jumping into one straight away for 8th. I feel Tau are lacking somewhat in 8th but I’m also waiting on an order for some of the models I want for my Marine armies and Tyranids (while Eldar haven’t really pricked me with the 8th edition bite yet) so what better way than to review that in a tournament setting. There will be 50+ people there using ITC format rules and missions so it will be very interesting to see how everything goes.

Exploring the list below.

One of the main concerns I have in Tau for 8th edition has been scoring, particularly given the Maelstrom components of missions in the ITC format and grabbing objectives during the game. Unfortunately, I had no time to playtest this before submitting the list which has some stark changes from what I’ve been playing in 8th edition with Tau to date (I had anticipated getting access to the Marine models I had been proxying for either a Dark Angels Mech + Imperial Soup or Girlyman Mech + Imperial Soup type list to take to the tournament). This is never a good thing heading into a tournament so it will be super important to make and keep attention to cheat sheets.

What I have is as follows:

Battalion Detachment – 

Ethereal w/Honour Blade
Longstrike w/Railgun, 2x MV1 Gun Drones

5x Stealth Suits w/Burst Cannons
Ghostkeel w/2x Fusion Blaster, ATS, Cyclic Ion Raker, 2x MV5 Stealth Drones and Target Lock

9x Fire Warrior Breachers
11x Kroot
10x Kroot

5x Pathfinders
5x Pathfinders
5x Pathfinders

Hammerhead w/Railgun, 2x MV1 Gun Drones

Devilfish w/Burst Cannon, 2x MV1 Gun Drones

Supreme Command Detachment – 

Commander w/3x Missile Pods, ATS
Commander w/3x Missile Pods, ATS

Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment – 

Stormsurge w/Pulse Blastcannon, Shield Generator, 2x Flamers, 2x Smart Missile System, Cluster Rocket System, 4x Destroyer Missiles, EWO, ATS

Totals: 7 CP, 2000 points

The Stormsurge was going to be integral to any Tau list I made – it’s straight up damage efficiency is strong in terms of anti-infantry potential with the SMS and Cluster Rockets. Throw in ATS and it does decent plinking work against vehicles as well while the Shield Generator keeps it alive, the EWO make it a deep strike deterrent (somewhat) for more aggressive units and the Pulse Blastcannon puts decent and reliable damage against vehicles while not also paying the crazy cost of the Driver Cannon. The two Railheads with one of them being Longstrike add to this ensuring I’ll be able to drop a vehicle a turn relatively reliably.

Pathfinders are a no brainer and two Kroot squads as speed bumps give my backfield a little bit of time to ply the game with their shooting. The backfield is quite small though here without any Broadsides or on foot Fire Warriors but I needed a 5th HQ, so enter the cheap Ethereal. A Fireblade would have upped the damage of the Gun Drones and Pathfinders but the Ethereal starts the marker chain nicely with his shooting aura or adds some decent flexibility which also helps the Commanders.

I do not have any CIBs so the Commanders are all Missile Pods unfortunately – I initially had one Commander and a Broadside but felt the firebase was too vulnerable and the Commander, while lacking two missile shots and all the SMS, is a good 50 points cheaper. There is lots of anti-infantry in the list regardless I think. The Commanders can obviously provide some more mobility as the game wears on but can hang around the main firebase early.

Finally, we start to add some extra mobility and aggression around this. I have tried the Darkstrider + Breacher combo to decent effect and while there is not a lot of infantry to take advantage of his fall back ability here, he makes the Breachers a decent anti-tank option and lots of options around anti-infantry (not necessarily at the 5″ range) depending upon the opponent in question. The Devilfish is a great throwaway unit as well and if it blocks up movement and delays shooting, all the better. If it survives late game, it can magically turn into three models on an objective as well. The Ghostkeel brings a mobile and annoyingly durable (particularly if there is terrain to hide a drone behind and keep him moving) with a spread of weapons to put multiple wounds on tougher vehicles or potentially character snipe if opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, can wail on some infantry with the normal shooting mode of the CIR. Stealth Suits are a completely new addition for me, and if I had CIBs, think I could be running a Fusion Blaster in here pretty easily. Essentially, some more disruption / slightly harder models to remove models that give me some mobility outside of my standard firebase.

Anyway, I will be giving it a go and see what happens. I worry that my firebase will be too easily assaulted and I don’t exactly have a ton of models but we will see how it performs, particulalry with different elements I’m not used to. Prepare for some battle reports with many mistakes.

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47 responses to First 8th Edition Tournament – Tau 2000 points

Stormsurge with PBC, Shield, EWO,ATS seems to become the backbone of every tau army.
I'm building mine at the moment, what do you think of the secondary weapon options?
Flamer>Burst>>>Airburst frag?

Flamer helps with Overwatch support, Burst / Air Frag adds more short ranged dakka which the army already has. Cannot really go wrong with any of them I feel.

I used Burst for a while, but after switching to Flamers I don't think I'll ever go back. The shorter range can be problematic at times, but automatic hits against charging units, against Hard to Hit targets, and just in general are absolutely beautiful.

I'm actually running ATS, Shield, and Velocity Tracker on mine, though EWO is a close second. But as popular as all-flyer lists seem to be becoming, it feels like a very obvious choice.

So, I'm biased cuz I have my RIptide all LED lit, and I can't stand the look of Mr. No arms McGee Stormsurge, but I still don't think the Stormsurge is that great. Riptide is arguably more durable because of drone rules and 2+ save.

To be honest, I'm still not sure GW has turned over a new leaf (they promised free rules, this pushing of FW, poorly edited things still), and I'm just not willing to commit a large amount of money, yet. I bought a ghostkeel and that's about it for the near future.

Ignoring the points of contention…

They've definately improved. They've realised that they need to allow cheaper entry points (The start collecting boxes, for example), and they've realised that they AREN'T just a model company.

On the other hand…there's a lot of hype around 8th edition, and it's not looking all that balanced, their fluff writers are abysmal (This is important to me), and I'm finding the speed of codex release after the Indexes…suspicious.

Perhaps they've not turned the leaf yet, but they've at least twisted it a bit.

Yeha, I can't really disagree with that. During the later part of 7th, they were showing definate signs of improvement, especially with better ways of buying models.

The way they are handling 8th (and Primaris Marines, but that's just me) does seem very Old GW, though.

Ya I'll be converting mine to have arms likely but the needing multiple D6s to get the maximum damage off on the Iontide scares me too much.

I re-roll my 1 on shots because that's crap. Then I roll a 3. Still not great. I only get one wound through (because even with 3's re-rolling 1s, you're likely to miss one and then 3's to wound) and then roll a 2 on damage. There's too much variance there – you have random number of shots, then to hit and wound (standard) then random number of damage. Those weapons are not my favorite in this edition because of that randomness – why I've also been moving away from the Ion Cannon.

Looks good. Nice to see most competitive players are identifying the advantages of Pathfinders over Marker Drones. Drones seem good, but being locked into marking the closest unit is really not conducive to effective marker token generation. ("Yay, look at all the marker lights on your bubble conscripts.")

Have you considered adding Pulse Drones to your Pathfinder units? Since a model can fire all of it's weapons now you might as well get some use out of those Pulse Carbines. Mark one unit, pulse blast another.

The only glaring issue I see with your list is maelstrom objective grabbers. Your commanders can deep strike in to grab lone objectives, but if there are any units near them you're outnumbered.

I've actually been eyeing up, believe it or not, Kroot Hounds for objective grabbers. They're cheap, fast, and can be taken in big packs to outnumber MSU objective contesters.

If you fire markerlights, you cannot fire pulse carbines. It's under the markerlight rules.

Marker Drones and Pathfinders are about equal IMO but Marker Drones need a more completely mobile list / list elements with a Drone Controller to be on equal footing.

Yeah, I really like Marker Drones for that T4 and native 4+, but needing someone to babysit them can be very inconvenient. They're also more expensive than Pathfinders, albeit not by a lot.

I do not find the expense worrying – moving and shooting without penalty is pretty important as is T4. Harder to get cover though and need a babysitter.

Ya not taking more than on Vehicles – main place they are needed is for Pathfinders or late game for Commanders (but by then they should all be dead). A lot of my army can be pretty self-sufficient without Pathfinders as well so happy for them to have potshots taken at them.

I just think drones are the best thing about 8th ed Tau so far (besides Longstrike) and you're giving up a lot by not taking a few swarms of them.

If you took more marker drones, you could have enough to make Riptides work. 😉

Oh, you should try Rail Rifles, too, those things are disgusting.

Ya I want to try Rail Rifles (particularly with Darkstrider) but no models with them – never magnetised my Pathfinders!

I've tried some Drone swarms, including with Riptides, but I think the Riptides are just too expensive for their average damage output.

Wait… Close range fire warriors? Stealth suits? Ghostkeel? Ethereals? Darkstrider? No crisis suit squads?

Have I had a stroke? Am I hallucinating? Or is 8th really that different on the tabletop from 3rd-7th?

I think that's more the Tau rules than the 8th edition changes. Crisis Suits and Riptides got a lot more expensive and while Broadsides got three times more expensive, they doubled in firepower and durability.

Would it be possible to have an article or more in the future about how to think well about such changes? There are enough variables that have changed in the new edition that I am struggling to not compare the current unit profiles against a 7th-ed world. It's been challenging to gauge how unit usefulness vs price has changed strictly within the context of a new edition, compared to other current armies rather than against previous tau ruleset iterations.

It's definitely tricky; I'm not sure it's something that could easily be summed up because there's _so much_ that's different and so many things to consider. However, I'm working on a small series of articles about how various specific things are different in 8th, so that may be of some value to you.

Sorry if this is too irrelevant but I figured this is the best place to ask since the commenters know their stuff and it’s Tau related… without blast weapons, how do you deal with Tau and other gunline players castling up in area terrain and blasting you down? And are Deldar just a bad matchup against them? I love my army to death but I’d rather play something else if it would help me score even a single win against Tau…

Charge them.
Better yet, charge them with more than one unit and let that first unit soak up the overwatch.
Bring dual threats against the enemy units you need gone. as it is more likely the T'au will likely only be able to markerlight-up only 1 of these threats.
Really focus on unit placement and maneuvering, T'au no longer have JSJ (not counting RT nova ability), so bringing them out to get LoS on you will leave them just as exposed.
Not too familiar with Eldar/D. Eldar, so I'm only telling you some of the mistakes I have made as a T'au playe

Charging with vehicles is an easy way to lock units. Tau have the advantage of Flying away pretty easily but if you have enough board presence, you can limit their fly away moves, particularly if you half kill their vehicles and surround them. Otherwise stripping markerlight support early is important – some units are self-sufficient without it (i.e. Commanders) but other units really need those re-rolls, no movement penalties or +1BS.

Castling up is often a bad plan for Tau against an aggressive army because it leaves you nowhere to escape to when they get you in combat.

DE often struggle against Tau, though it's by no means unwinninble. Remember, most Tau guns have only middling (30"-36") ranges and with DE's superior mobility you can often start outside of their range and then on your turn move in to get the alpha strike, even when going second. DE also have tons of anti-infantry firepower with good range, and their poison weapons can be turned on the larger suits without regret once the Drones are all dead. (In fact, you may as well shoot them at the big suits from the beginning, since they wound the same and if they choose to pass to a Drone it won't get a save.)

Getting up-close and personal is also an option, although not a given. If you do so, you have to go all in- put 5+ transports right in front of them with a dangerous unit in each and you're pretty much guaranteed to get some assaults off. Wyches can be very problematic for Tau, since they can't just walk out of combat with them. (In fact, it's often worth spending Command Points to try and win the roll off for No Escape.) Nothing in the Tau army is even remotely good in combat anymore, bar Kroot- and those you should scythe through pretty easily.

As Kirby notes, assaulting with vehicles to absorb overwatch and lock units in combat (especially units without Fly, such as Strike Teams or Pathfinders) is very key. Transports aren't just for transporting things anymore, so use 'em like you would any other unit.

Actually, from the games I've played DE do really well against Tau now. Over the last edition their vehicles are far more durable to small arms fire and virtually everything got faster. They're also a lot more points efficient, and between the poison and dark lances they can actually out-shoot us.

In particular, Ravagers with three dark lances are just straight up more effective that our equivalent (railhead), they're weaker sure but have more shots, are more mobile and have the 5+ invul. You want to take them out quick cause they can drop tanks and suits like flies.

Hmm, could be; I haven't played DE a lot, but at least from what I've seen I feel like it's a matchup where the lists I'm running would be at an advantage. Velocity tracker gives +1 to hit against basically every relevant unit they have; S5 guns pick apart their transports pretty badly, and we have those in spades; our S7 multi-shot-/multi-damage weapons are also very prevalent and are (and always have been) a nightmare for DE. While their units won't fall to pieces quite as easily as previous editions, we still have a lot of the "right" kind of firepower against them.

That said, poison and Dark Lances are both very dangerous to us in the right situations, so it's not like they just roll over and die.

The velocity tacker is amazing, true. My opponents usually bring mixed coven/DE lists so it's only useful against a few vehicles usually.

All valid points though, and I agree, it's definitely an even match up at the very least which is great, considering DE in last edition tended to evaporate against most Tau lists.

There's a one day 1500 point tournament this Saturday at the Games Cube in Parramatta as well. Going to be playing my first games of 8th with the Orks.

I'm incredibly interested in seeing how Kroot fair as bubble wrap; I enjoy just throwing more Gun Drones into the problem.

Gun Drones are great, but Kroot fill a troop slot (still necessary in most cases) and are actually cheaper by enough to matter. The 7" scout move is also very clutch, since it allows you to expand outside of your deployment zone in order to keep enemies back.

I can see what you are getting at and it makes me tempted to try it (If I had any Kroot Models to play with, of course) but I'm cautious mostly because I generally face up against Turn 1 Chargers or Nercrons and I learned through my Pathfinders that the 7" Scout Move can become a liability.

…There is the other stranger issue, which could just be misplays on my behalf, where I typically end a game with several command points left.

So… I am incredibly curious.

Look at the most recent Tau battle report we did – that 7" scout move saves a turn of being assaulted. First Turn charges are pretty probable to happen regardless. I'd very happily make that a guarantee on a unit that I want to have charged, 7" further away from where my deployment zone started. If I get the first turn, it can be right up against their deployment zone. The disadvantage of say Hounds / Drones / etc. is if you're going first, they have penned you into your deployment zone.