Friday, 25 October 2013

Reality Check: Tau Edition.

Errrggghhh! Tau!

After being lulled into a false sense of security at Blog Wars earlier this year, I think I have finally experienced the full power of the new Tau Codex and I have definitely been underestimating it.

Alex of the fantastic From the Fang blog and organiser of the above-mentioned Blog Wars tournaments (and my opponent in the game I was referring to), came down to Warhammer World this past Thursday for some list practice. In our first game we played his 1850 Tau list for Blog Wars against my 2055pt “I-really-should-check-my-list-before-I-deploy-my minis” Space Marine list. I won’t go into details but the extra Tactical Squad I had in my list made little difference and he beat me handily.

Shadowsun is about to make my day even worse.

In our second game we played a 1650pt game so I could try out a list I’m considering for the GT, again it was Marines on Tau and while I was beaten again it was close, coming down to First Blood in the end, and if it had ended on Turn 5 – I would have won! However that would not really have accurately reflected the dominance of the Tau and if Alex had remembered all of Shadowsun’s special rules I think it would have been far less close, I certainly would not have been in contention on turn 5.

The Fire Warrior Cavalcade closes in.
If I had to put my finger on what the difference was in both of the games, I’d have to say two units really stood out on the Tau side of the table … and they were both Riptides. Seriously, is there anything they can’t do (apart from successfully Nova-Charge that is)? In the configuration Alex was running they could Intercept and Skyfire with either of their guns which were – I think – an 18” melta shot (potentially 2 if they managed to pass a Nova roll) or two 60” S7 shots (I think) which could also be fired as a single AP2 Ordinance Large Blast which could also be improved to S9 (or possibly 10) with the afore-mentioned Nova-Charge-of-Doom! Add to all this that they are a monstrous creature with all the goodies that entails; sorry, a JET PACK Monstrous Creature so they can duck back behind cover or out of sight after shooting; sorry a Jet Pack Monstrous Creature (T6) with a 2+ save and a 5++ , wait for it, which can be Nova-boosted to a 3++. I mean really?!? Does that sound reasonable to you? Where exactly is the downside of this unit?

If anyone says “Oh, they’re only BS3” or “I2” or “That Nova Charge is a bit risky”, I’m afraid I’ll have to hunt you down and slap you.

Down-range of two Riptides - it's "squeeky bum" time
*deep breath*

Anyway both games were somewhat close so there must have been some positives from my side and there were. As was expected, Centurions with Grav Cannons eat Riptides for breakfast (as long as the Riptides don’t go first) but I think an Omniscope is a must-have. This is because, if you are facing two Riptides you need to have a chance of killing them both or the other one will wipe you out next turn, also 15 Prescienced grav shots which are re-rolling wounds is probably overkill in anyone’s books.

The Thunderfire was also completely awesome and if it had not died in turn two to outflanking Kroot, I think our second game would have looked rather different. Lastly Tigurius, I think everyone knows that he brings a huge amount of awesome to the table so I won’t be going into detail here on him but I will say that I think he may not be right for this list or possibly this point level. I have a nagging feeling that something needs to change and he feels a bit over-priced (which I know sounds ridiculous given what he gets for his points) but I just felt like he didn’t contribute as much as I expected him to. It’s probably just that I’m not using him to his best effect but I couldn’t help but feel that a Bike Chapter Master would have done more in the games.

Centurion fury about to be unleashed while the Tac marines circle round to the objective

Things that did not work well were the Stormtalons and the Tactical Squads. I put the Stormtalons in for air defence so they were definitely sub-optimal here against two lists with no flyers … I’m beginning to think that Lascannons rather than Sky-Hammer missiles would have been a better choice “Ho-hum”. I’m also wondering whether or not the Devastator part of the Ultramarines’ Chapter Tactics would be sufficient to deal with most air threats and just accept that I’m going to lose if I face two or more Heldrakes. I could then drop the Stormtalons and use that 250pts elsewhere, Drop-Podding  Sternguard perhaps.

As for the Tactical Squads, it’s not that they didn’t work well, more like they didn’t contribute past taking objectives and they felt very flimsy. This was probably more due to the Tau across the board than any other factor and they may come into their own against other armies but maybe I could use them in another way, I’m tempted to put one or both 10-man squads in Drop Pods just to give me more options and at least get them where they need to be before their Transport is destroyed!

As for the 1850pt game, even though the result was skewed by the fact that I deployed an extra Tactical Squad, Mephiston clearly showed that he is a total beast and worthy of inclusion in any force that can afford him. Similarly the Storm Raven acquitted itself with distinction, delivering Meph and then contributing to the demise of a Riptide.

There's a Riptide left? It's all over bar the shouting.

I never got a chance to see if the Corbulo/Tigurius/Centurion-star would be effective as Alex stole the Initiative and wiped the unit off the board before they crossed the starting line. But the lesson from this was that they are a huge target and if your opponent can remove them no amount of cover or 2+ Feel no Pain will stop them doing so, other armies will undoubtedly struggle with them but Tau do not – so keep them in a Land Raider if you want them to have a chance of firing those Grav-Cannons!

All that being said, I am encouraged by the fact that the 1650pt game was close and in a tournament situation that’s all I’d be hoping for against Tau, just to at least give my opponent a game and give myself a chance at getting something out of it.

So what do you think, have you run into two Riptides and just breezed through them? Do you never leave home without Mephiston? Do you agree that Tigurius, while clearly awesome, may not suit lower point values lists?


  1. Just in case Elmo sees that picture of my hands, I'm not playing with my wedding ring. No siree

  2. For reference yes its an 18" melta. The big gun is 72" with 3xS7 AP2, overheat for S8 large blast or nova for S9 large blast ordnance. Feels balanced to me!

    Seriously though, you may have felt it was one sided but I wasn't so sure. Either game could've gone your way, especially if I hadn't seized in the first.

    PS looking back at my pictures compared to yours you can tell who the professional is...

  3. I played against double riptides with my SW+IG at Heat 2. Going second I managed to take out one in my first turn of shooting, but after that I had other priority targets (skyray so my vendetta was a bit safer, ethereal for the vp as it was emperor's will, and enemy troops). Riptides are excellent though, bringing a lot of tools in a mobile contesting threat. I can see why they're popular!

  4. Love the colour scheme! I have encountered double riptides, they are horrible,
    Backed up with lots of suits as well. Really difficult to shift so I share your pain. They even consistently pass thier jaws tests!


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