Friday, June 19, 2009

For the Greater Good!.... after this coffee break.

Suddenly having realized its been a flipping month since I posted anything here, I figured I should do something about that. However, since the only people who I know read this are A). sadly confused alien cryptographers attempting to translate, decode, and possibly circumvent Human "military strategy" from their "terribly-insecure defense internet", or B). the lonely Google-surfer straining to find some useful information about the Tau for his own interests, his "friend's army", or to bide the time between endorphine injections, the entire concept of "posting a quick blurb of absense" is more to disuade my own psyche of the uselessness of throwing tidbits of random, rambling, and reasonably redundant information into an incohesive batch of nonsense I call "Good for the Greater Good!"

Also, I haven't been playing a lot of 40k recently, what with the internet class out of UofNC and applying for jobs in wyoming (not to mention starting a Lizardmen blog that will hopefully jump-start my painting/throught processes with that army as much as this one has with the Tau), so battle reports and repetitive, untested army list ideas are a bit more useless than the usual hard-to-fathom dribble.

Damn, I love this blog. Venting through angsty and depressive commentaries is actually very theraputic -- most especially when I'm neither angsty or depressed :)

Expect a battle report from the coming Tuesday (hopefully), and one or two at the Lizardmen blog about my painting status. Having 5 Tau Tanks and a bunch of battlesuits to paint up is perhaps more daunting than 30-odd Saurus, 20-odd skinks, a Stegadon, and some (yet to be recieved/assembled) Terradons.

I'll get back to the Tau Painting eventually... hopefully when I'm bored in Wyoming after having secured a job and settling down actually within walking distance of my girlfriend (Texas and Minnesota are, while cheap to fly between, faaaaar to far apart for either of us. This will thankfully change soon, with us meeting (ironically) halfway in the middle when she starts Grad School in Wyoming.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New 1000pt Tau List, quick battle report

Last saturday saw a 1000pt quasi-pickup game between Myself (Tau) and Matt (Space Marines) versus Aaron (Eldar) and Russell (Tyranids), played at Chaos Games (our FLGS) on what is without doubt the most amazing and awe-inspiring terrain board I have ever played a game of warhammer on. This thing was an epic, hilly skimmer/jump pack paradise, although as I learned, really obscured line of sight. The entire thing was a snowy painted landscape, and seeing how my models looked on it, I'm thinking about doing the bases as dark rocks with scattered snow - the contrast is appealing without looking absurd.

Anyway, moving on to the nitty gritty. Being as it was a 1000pt battle, I quickly switched around my "standard" 1000pt list to include another Broadside in place of the slow, useless, and utterly ignorable Kroot. Here's the result:

1000pt Tau Empire List
-Shas'El Commander w/ Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-tracker, Hard-Wired (HW) Drone Controller and 2 shield Drones
--> 2 Shas'vre Bodyguards, w/ Plasma Rifles, Missile Pods, Targeting Arrays, and HW Multi-trackers.

- 7 Fire Warriors
--> Devilfish transport w/ Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pod
- 7 Fire Warriors
--> Devilfish transport w/ Smart Missile System, Targeting Array, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pod

Heavy Support:
- Hammerhead Gunship w/ Railgun, Smart Missile System, Multi-tracker, Disruption Pod
- 2 Broadside Battlesuits, advanced stabilization System

Much the same as the last list, but I like having 2 broadsides rather than 12 kroot - with most of my army dependant on mobility and long range, having 1 lone unit of slow short range squishies isn't as effective as I thought, and at times is actually a detriment (12 kroot are __ points of stuff that the enemy doesn't have to worry about with most of his/her army, given that the little twerps aren't fleet and I always forget to make sure there's a good forest on the table.)

Since it was getting late and I'd already played 2 games of Warhammer Fantasy that day (my Lizardmen figured out that High Elves also taste just like chicken, and my Dwarf Army was brought out of retirement to remind me that, while they won't often win combats decisively, they're damn hard to kill, even against swordmasters -- a win and a draw/very minor victory, in total), I was pretty tired and not paying as much attention to the game as I should have been.

Tau (me) and Space Marines (Matt) vs. Tyranids (Russell) and Eldar (Aaron)

Game: Modified Capture and Control (I think...)
Deployment: Dawn of War
Allies: Matt (Space Marines)
Opponents: Aaron (Eldar), Russell (Tyranids)

The single objective was this truly massive and detailed Eldar custom-built Eldar tower (sitting on 2 hill levels in the middle) with rules on gettin infantry from the door to the shooting platform on top. Anything with 12" range was going to have a hard time shooting stuff directly below them, it was that high up (we used 'top down' sighting, we weren't that rules-crazy).

Given the massive amount of dangerous terrain cliff faces and obstacles (no 'slopping' hills here - dangerous terrain slopes were everything here) and the fact he hadn't played anything else for a while, Matt brought out a very standard and well rounded Space Marine Army, consisting of standard Marines (or sternguard?) in Rhinos, a Predator, some CC terminators, and another tank-busting-tank of some sort or another. I was getting pretty out of it by this time, it was after 8:00pm when we started, and I'd been wfb-ing since 11:00am. Russell's list was his standard with a few tweeks (the Genestealers had extended carapace - ohhhh man that hurt), and Aarons was.... some wierd Eldar thing with non-mounted/transported infantry and a big ol' forgeworld Wave-serpent thingy.

They went first, and Turn 1 saw very minimal deployment, given Dawn of War rules, and almost no shooting - except from my commander's battlesuits and the Hammerhead that rolled on during our 1st turn, both of which rolled EXTREMELY NICE night fight sighting rolls, taking out almost 1/3rd of a Guardian Squad, forcing him to go to ground and take a panic check. Matt took the middle/right, going for the objective, while I took the left edge, thinking to swing around and pump enough raw firepower into their flank to send even the synapsed Warriors running for the hills (if, you know, they actually were allowed to fail automaticly passed leadership tests).

Turn 2 - I continue to underestimate Russell, as a squad of incoming Genestealers obliterated my Battlesuits that jumped back to just too near the board edge rather than towards the middle. D'oh. Lots of fighting between Matt's Space Marines and the bulk of Russell/Aaron's infantry started up around the objective, and escalated with each turn. The waveserpent moved up to begin threatening my battlesuits/Hammerhead from behind cover, and recieved a few solid Railgun hits for its presumption, shaking the crew so they couldn't shoot the next turn.

Turn 3 - despite 3 solid Railgun hits, I failed to pen/he rolled good cover on his wave serpent that was progressing on my battlesuits, but 2 full rapid-firing squads of fire warriors finished off the Genestealers - as the 2nd squad came further towards my board edge. Oi. Fighting in the center started to get to a fevered pitch.

Turn 4 - Their turn saw the 2nd squad of Genestealers advance towards my Hammerhead, the waveserpent move from behind cover to point blank range, and the carnifex/warriors/gaunts moving around the middle objective hill to flank Matt's marines, and my hammerhead railgun getting busted off by the genestealers. Shooting was utterly worthless for me, as a lot of shots at the Serpent just ended up "can't move or shoot"-ing it, and another devilfish losing its weaponry to a Fex. The fighting in the center reached its climax, as Matt, desperate to hold the position at any cost, actually blew up the objective building, creating some cover for him to sit in and messing up the Tyranid advance.

Turn 5 - I didn't pay much attention here, with most of my fire warriors, the 2 broadsides, and the hammerhead being destroyed at the onset. Matt somehow managed to pass enough dangerous terrain tests to being his rhinos to the top of the hill to serve as a wall, and I followed closely (and more easily) with the weaponless Devilfish (which was promply blown up at the start of the next turn). A roll of 5 kept us in the game for another turn.

I left at the onset, having only 2 devilfish left, one of them without weaponry and quickly destroyed, the other doing a quick out-of-order but allowed shooting at the genestealers and getting packed up. It was well after 2:00am by this point, so I packed up and got a ride home from the 2 friends who had kindly stayed around another 20 minutes after their game of WFB ended to wait for me to get to a place to bow out.

What I've learned: My usual tactics and army builds works extremely well against tank and transport dependant enemies and MEQs, but not so much against infantry lists - I need to rethink a few things, possibly adding in a few more anti-infantry weapons on the Battlesuits in place of the Plasma rifles, or knocking off a devilfish in exchange for a few stealth suits and a static fire warrior shroud around the Broadsides. Despite some bad rolls this game, I never normally have trouble eliminating enemy tanks, and despite my mobility a lot of the hilly terrain really messed me up at first, allowing the more experienced Eldar player (whose board this was) to bottleneck me and keep me away from the main fight on the other hill. Of everyone, this board was really built for an infantry army, and both Matt and I had trouble with that.

This game also really hammered in the fact that I have to be more mindful of Genestealers/outflankers, especially when playing (Russell's) 'Nids. Overall, the game was fun but exhausting, and I'd rather not play with quite that much terrain and obstacles again, even if it does look just so gosh darn pretty.

Coming up - 3k and 4k Apocalypse lists and tactics for the game on Memorial Day. I'm not going to be there, but I'm letting them borrow my Tau to make the sides even if they can't find a 6th player (hopefully on the condition that they take pictures and let me live vicariously through their blog posts).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tau and 'Nids vs. Imperial Guard - The unfinished Game

Russell ('Nids), Max (iGuard), and I had our usual Tuesday 40k Matchup, this time without out illustrious Space Marine Biker Captain friend. The typical tuesday army smash is 1500pt per person 2v2, but since Matt wasn't going to be coming, Max boosted his to 2000pts, and both Russell and I took 1000pt lists.

I took the 1000pt list I posted earlier (check under '1000pt', or 'Army List'), thinking I'd give the Kroot one more shot at being relevant to my general army tactics. Heh.

Max's iGuard army consisted of a confusing platoon of mortar squads, infantry squads with laz-mortar-things, at least 2 chimeras, 3 Armored Sentinels, 3 Leman Russes, and a command squad with a Master of the Fleet and a Mortar Commander-thingy. I'm not entirely sure what was going on there, I just knew that I had a target rich environment, and to be happy with that.

My ally Russell's Tyranid force consisted of his 1000pt usual - 2 squads of warriors, 2 big squads of some kind of gaunts, 2 Carnifex - nicknamed Jake (a Sniper-Fex, notably the only close-to-WYSIWYG model on the table other than 1 of my fire warriors - you know, the only one with arms) and Jimmy (a horrendously potent Devo-Fex) - and 2 squads of outflanking Genestealers.

Rather than do another annihalation mission (we were all pretty much sick of those recently), we re-rolled, and ended up with standard deployment and 4 objectives (2 on his side, 2 on ours). The most interesting of the 7 pieces of terrain was the "warp field" - a big chunk of purple cloth that we decided gave a random, dice-rolled cover save each turn to anyone being shot through it, and did funky-random stuff to anything stupid/daring enough to chance going through it (which none of us were brave enough to try). Max won the roll and let us deploy first, fortunately failing his 'seize the iniciative' roll.

The first 3 rounds were brutal - EVERY army was a 'shooty' army, so mostly we just all slowly advanced and shot a ludicrous amount of shots at each other so we could displace the enemy off of a bunker enough for a chimera/devilfish to sweep in a and claim/contest it. Confusing.

What was more confusing was when we were told the store would be closing in 7 minutes - right in the middle of turn 3. Since our illustrious aforementioned friend works at said game store, we were used to just staying later and having him lock up when we were done. However, this was not the case, and turn 3 progressed in the span of give or take 4 minutes, with only the important shooting/moving/whatsits happening.

End Result - we controlled 1 uncontested bunker to the other 3 contested ones. There was a LOT of this game that hadn't been played, and had it actually gone another hour through turn 6, his slightly superior tank force would have probably wiped most of our tanks/the last fex out of existence. Despite some early victories with railguns, my Hammerhead was already imobilized by turn 3, and the broadside barely surviving the abusive treatment of 3 tanks per turn thanks to a 2+ save and nothing higher than AP3 with line of sight to it. The sheer quantity of template weapons Max was dropping each turn was astounding.

None of us considered this game finished, and as such I'm not even counting it for a win. At best, this was a Draw for me, as I'm sure that, the way things were going, I wasn't going to last much longer. Russell's army wasn't unscathed (he lost 3 gaunts and Jake), but mine was taking a brutal beating, even in the first 2 turns.

It did give me more good experience on how Guard tend to operate, though, which will go a long way towards the development of my Anti-Guard list. Hopefully I'll be able to finish a game soon :D

Also - Kroot are still worthless.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tau Anti-Infantry Weaponry

The Tau Empire aresenal is filled with a lot of high S/AP weaponry, most with very specialized roles such as anti-tank (Railguns, Fusion Blasters, Plasma Rifles, etc.), anti-MEQ (Vespid Neutron Blasters, Rail Rifles, Missile Pods, etc.), or just plain old anti-everything-else (Pulse Rifles, Burst Cannons, Smart Missile Systems, and just about every other S5/AP5 gun out there). There are also certain "random" helper weapons, such as the famed Markerlight Target Designator and the almost never used flechette discharger.

The tricky thing here is that, while most of the commonly employed Tau weaponry are effective against infantry due to their high S/AP, most of them just don't have the necessary rate of fire to deal with larger infantry blocks. Sure, a burst cannon's S5 AP5 will deny most non-MEQ infantry an armor save, but each burst cannon only has 3 shots at mostly BS3, and doesn't really come in bulk, truth be told. A 6-strong Stealth Suit squad can crank out a hiddeous 18 shots per turn with their Burst Cannons - but, at BS3, we're looking at a statistical 5-6 wounds on basic, bulk-underpants infantry. Not great odds when there's another 100 or so more ready to step up and take their place.

Since the weapon makes the Tau, in this instance, lets go through all the Tau weaponry that IS effective against massed infantry, ranked by availability. (To avoid a GW lawsuit/face slap, I'm not including points values).

Shas'O/Shas'El/Shas'Vre Battlesuits (i.e. access to special issue)
Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors - S4/AP5, G18", large blast and denies cover
- One of the three blatant exceptions to the normal theme of Tau weaponry, this fella is flat out designed to be anti-infantry. Only 1 shot a turn and special issue (i.e. you can only have 1 in a list), the AFP gives you a massive template of cover denial, and throwing this thing on a BS4/5 commander means you've got one heck of a potential Guard killer. Rank = A++

Cyclic Ion Blaster - S3/AP4, 18", assault 5
- The second exception to the trend, the Cyclic Ion Blaster is another special issue anti-infantry that would actually pair pretty well with the AFP on a Commander or, better yet, one of his Shas'Vre bodyguards. Low Strength means you'll have a problem or two with MEQs, but even Guard command squads will come to fear this little do-hicky thanks to its more substantial armor save denial. Rank = A+

Crisis Battlesuits
Burst Cannon - S5/AP5, 18", Assault 3
- one of the many SAP-5 Tau weapons, the Burst Cannon is still a very effective infantry killer due to its 3 shots per turn, and excells at killing the average 5+ armor save infantry. However, even on the cheaper Stealth Suits, you're going to have to kill 5-6 Guard per suit to make up their points. Rank = A-

Flamer - S4/AP5, template, Assault 1
- the humble flamer is the third trend-breaking Tau weapon, and much more common among 40k armies as a whole. The template weapons can wreak havoc on massed infantry, and the undesirable need to be incredibly close to the enemy is mitigated by jump packs and a high survivale rate against basic, non-upgraded or power weaponed infantry. Great for busting those hard-to-kill units out of cover, and even Twin Linked, its also really, really cheap! Rank = A

Missile Pods - S7/AP4, 36", Assault 2
- While generally more of a MEQ killer, what the missile pod lacks in comparable rate of fire, it makes up for in range and save-denial. Good at focusing fire on HQ or Elite infantry without fear of immediate reprisal, its still on the mildly expensive side, and fire warriors are nearly as effective. Rank = C-

Pulse Rifle - S5/AP5, 30", Rapid Fire
- the most famous of Tau weaponry, the SAP-5 Pulse rifle is the mainstay of the Fire Warrior arsenal, and a good anti-everything gun. The lack of a higher rate of fire is mitigated by the cheap cost of Fire Warriors, long range, and the rapid-fire option (though getting that close with fire warriors is always a gamble). Pulse rifles are one weapon Tau can bring to the table in force. Rank = A+

Kroot Rifle - S4/AP6, 24", Rapid fire, counts as +1 hand weapon
- Kroot themselves are highly effective anti-infantry (IF they get the charge), and the Kroot Rifle is a good weapon for them - getting in close with Kroot is the point, and having rapid fire and +1 hand weapon really helps with this. However, as cheap and effective as kroot are at assulting, even basic guard can shoot them to a quick and early grave. Best as a backup to more dedicated shooting. Rank = A-

"Ferocious Fangs"
- Strangely enough, one of the only (effective) close combat weapons mentioned in the text, they aren't on the weapons sheet, and don't actually do anything outside of the normal stats for their originators, the Kroot Hounds. These are worth mentioning simply because Kroot Hounds are basically weapons in and of themselves - they can only be added on to a Kroot squad, and are slightly more effective (and cheaper!) than Kroot at combat, but don't have a ranged weapon. Guard squads will quail before these guys (again, IF they get the charge). Rank = B+

Pulse Carbines - S5/AP5, 18", assault 1, Pinning
- nowhere near as effective as Pulse Rifles, carbines are worth mentioning solely for their pinning ability - which most armies have ways of ignoring anyway. Target a lonely basic Guard squad and they have the potential of delaying them, at the very least. BS2 Gun Drones, with Twin Linked Carbines, are mobile and ignorable enough to make these worth it for versatilities sake. Rank = C+ (on Drones)

Vespid Neutron Blasters - S5/AP3, 12", assault 1
- the under-used MEQ killers of the Tau List, Vespids' weaponry is only matched by their incredible agility at covering ground - Jump infantry with the 'Fleet (of wing)' special rule and the ability to re-roll failed dangerous terrain tests, these fellas can fly circles around most other infantry squads while laying into them with some very effective AP3 shots. Their 5+ save, T4, and I5 make them a decent CC strike team against weaker targets of opportunity, but throw in a Strain Leader and they've got Ld9! Although they're easily the most expensive non-battlesuit infantry in the Tau list and only have 1 shot a piece, their massive combat mobility (especially when combined with Kroot) is just too good to pass up. Rank = A

Rail Rifles - S6/AP3, 36", Heavy 1, Pinning
- available either on Sniper Drone Teams, or as upgrades to 1/2 a Pathfinder unit, rail rifles have never quite seemed in the right place for me. Up to 3 Sniper Drone teams take up a single Heavy Support choice, but that's normally better suited to another Hammerhead; and putting them on pathfinders costs more and negates the markerlights! You get 3 Drones and a Networked markerlight per Sniper team (so a potential 9 BS4 shots, using markerlights), though, and for long range precision, nothing beats that. A lot of Tau anti-infantry can be considered sledgehammer-like, so having a bunch of precise, mid/long range, save-negating, command/character killers could potentially be VERY lethal against infantry armies such as iGuard. Rank = A-

Markerlights - S-/AP-, 36", Special
- Nothing much to say here - markerlights don't actually do damage themselves, but given their ability to boost friendly BS and eliminate enemy cover, they can make other shooting MUCH more effective. Pathfinders are the most points-effective method of using them, and I'm on the fence about whether or not another squad and a half of fire warriors isn't more effective for the cost. They've got their place. Rank = B-

Smart Missile System - S5/AP5, 24", Heavy 4, Ignores Line of Sight
- SMS are another SAP-5 Tau mainstay, and prove themselves highly effective on both Devilfish and Broadside Battlesuits (not really a vehicle, but close enough). Their range and ability to shoot at ANYTHING within 24", even outside of line of sight (although this gives the target a cover save) is nothing to laugh at, but with only 4 shots a piece, it adds up to a very expensive option. Rank = C+

Hammerhead Railgun Submunition - S6/AP4, 72", Heavy 1, Large Blast
- available only on the Hammerhead Railgun, this blast template is startlingly effective against most types of infantry, especially at long range, but comes at a pretty high cost - I usually run Hammerheads at over 160pts! For an infantry killer, this bugger has one huge threat area, but most skilled enemies aready know this, so are less likely to cluster, even in their deployment zone, but with only 1 shot a turn for its cost, has some downsides. Rank = A-

Flechette Discharger - CC, Special
- often ignored, this add-on to Tau Vehicles isn't technically a weapon, though what it does can be almost as effective - any enemy model assaulting the vehicle take a wound on a d6 roll of 4+, with saves allowed, before combat begins. Given how often enemy infantry have assaluted my tanks, I'm surprised I don't take this more often, but its points value and relative ineffectiveness against MEQs' armor saves makes it less likely to recoup its points. Throwing it on a Devilfish (which is likely to get in close) might be a good option, especially against Guard, but for its points, not a mainstay on most of my tanks. Rank = C

Well, that's the weaponry I think will matter in this case. I'm deliberately not including Etherial CC weapons, or a bunch of Battlesuit weaponry, simply so save space on an already LONG post (and I consider Etherials to be useless to my style of play). After reviewing it all, there's quite a bit in the Tau army that has the potential to be anti-infantry (if used right), and I'm man enough to admit I was a little off in my earlier presumptions.

Taking Ranks, potential, uses, and how they all fit, here's what my top choices for things to make room for in my Anti-Guard/Anti-Infantry list, and why.

1). Vespids - mobility, mobility, mobility, and utter lethality
2). Airbursting Fragmentation Projector/Cyclic Ion Blaster - the best choices out there for modifying my command team.
3). Sniper Drone Teams - lots of potential at killing commanders/comissars/etc.
4). Kroot/Kroot Hounds - very effective against infantry, and good at protecting snipers/fire warriors.
5). more Fire Warriors - versatile and cheap anti-infantry fire, they can take out the whole gamut of stuff thrown down, and with Kroot to back them up, don't need Devilfish.

I'm pretty much set with a mainly Static build in my anti-Guard list - less vehicle-focused (no devilfish) while remaining agile (Vespids and Battlesuits), and more ability to lay down a withering hail of fire (fire Warriors, Sniper Drones, and Stealth Suits) with good combat backup (Kroot). Some of these may get cut in favor of a more generalized feel, but I'm trying to stay focused on the "tailored list" idea (also, given the Guard preference for tanks, a Hammerhead and a 3-strong Broadside contingent with target locks (fire at different Targets) are almost a certainty). We'll see.

Wow, this was an incredibly long post.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vote in the Poll! Also, weapons roundtable!

The title of this thread is slightly misleading - its mainly there to get you, my fellow warhammer crazies, to vote at the aforementioned poll to your immediate right. Thats right, look over there and vote quick for 2 units you believe would work well in a for-fun Anti-Imperial Guard list (who in turn is bringing an Anti-Tau list). Go on, vote....

... you voted now? Ahh, good, good.

Now, on to the other nitty-gritty bits of this post. As anyone who has experience with/against a Tau Empire army can tell you, Tau shooting excells at basically 3 things -

A). Anti-Vehicle Weaponry - Railguns, Fusion Blasters, Plasma Rifles: heck, even the humble pulse rifle has a chance of glancing or even penetrating AV10.

B). Versatility - Battlesuits and tanks have a surprising array of possible weapon combinations and upgrades, giving the ability to tailor specific Crisis teams and Devilfish/Hammerheads to one purpose or another.

C). Range - from 72" range Railguns to 30" range Pulse Rifles, Tau have very few problems finding suitable targets for their weapons, and with rapid-firing Plasma and Pulse rifles, getting in closer isn't necessarily safer for the enemy.

While these 3 advantages are all well and good, there are a few things that hamper the effectiveness of Tau shooting in certain situations. For example....

A). Volume of fire - Tau weaponry is definitely quality-over-quantity, and as such even the anti-infantry weapons can't match other armies in sheer quantity. Even burst cannons, for all their potency, only fire 3 shots.

B). Numbers - given the focus on Battlesuits and Tanks, and that the cheepest infantry units on the Tau list (that aren't Kroot) are 10pts a model, Tau have a hard time putting down as many ground-pounders as most other infantry-oriented lists.

C). Close Combat - there is nothing in the Tau codex that has a decent chance of survival if assaulted. Sure, battlesuits are S5 T4 - but WS2. Kroot can dish it out - but cannot take it. Vespids are mildly effective - but hiddeously expensive for it. Fire warriors... don't ever get fire warriors into combat.

What all this boils down to is a serious problem with Horde armies, who have too many models for a Tau player to kill enough of to stem the tide. Orcs, Imperial Guard, and Tyranids all have fairly effective Horde-options, and as such are probably the best suited to negate a fair amount of Tau Weapon advantages.

However, all is not lost! Even though they focus on anti-tank/MEQ weaponry, the Tau arsenal does have a few weapons specifically geared towards the hordes of uncivilized heathens who would rather die in the millions than follow the true and logical teachings of the Greater Good. However, they do require a fair bit more precision in both list construction and strategy than other Tau armies, and as such are most effective when you know you'll be facing a big ole' Horde and plan to counter it somehow.

In the next post - the lowdown on Tau Anti-Horde Weaponry!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Something different? - Anti-Imperial Guard Fun-ness, and a Poll!

Given that the pathfinders, burst cannons on Hammerheads, twin-linked flamers, and the Ion Cannon did reasonably well in the last game, I've come to the realization that I may have a few too many pre-concieved notions as to what works best for a Tau army. My current lists (as well as those I've played in the past) always focus on Railguns, Devilfish, and Crisis suits, almost to the exclusion of everything else (save fire warriors in varying degrees).

On that note, I've been considering looking over the limited-yet-available units in the Tau arsenal that could prove to be a usefull inclusion in my Tau collection. Rather than simply buy more fire warriors and battlesuits and call it a day, I've made up my mind to make a servicable Apocalypse battleforce, though it'll take years. From my equally limited Apocalypse experience, having a vast array of different weapons, vehicles, and combinations is far more interesting (and still almost as effective) as having a horde of railguns, battlesuits, and fire warriors to provide those tried-and-true tactics that make Tau reasonably effective. If its more amusing and just as good, why not go for the more interesting options?

Here's what's brought this on - after a recent converstaion/challenge, Max from the Defending Humanity blog (a friend and frequent 40k opponent of mine) and I have decided to gear up for an amusing "Tau vs. iGuard" battle, where we focus on something neither of us have done before - Tailored Lists. He's making an Imperial Guard list designed to kill Tau, and I'm doing the same with a new and interesting list to kill Guard. I'd call it a grudge match for the slightly amusing feeling of the phrase, but its more in line with just doing something new and just-for-fun.

So, here's a list of the "new" things in the Tau codex that I've never/barely used before that I think would make for a fun anti-Guard list. I'll put a poll up, and we'll see what my limited scope of readers think would be a fun idea -

1). Vespids - these cute little insectoids are often met with either intense praise or severe distaste from all Tau players I've read/talked to - there's no middle ground here, oddly enough. They're incredibly fast (jump infantry and 'Fleet of Wing', giving them a ~24" assult if they want it), and, like kroot, excel at assaulting most units, especially after laying into them with S5 AP3 Assault 1 Neutron blasters. Unlike kroot, they actually have an armor save (a T4 5+, but its something), and their ability to re-roll dangerous terrain rolls makes them some of the hardiest jump infantry in the game. While not as incredibly hard-hitting in combat as Kroot (as well as hideously expensive for the Tau list), Vespids seem like they could hold their own in combat against most things, and their blasters seem ideal at dealing with MEQs (Marine Equivalents). The speed alone makes me really want to consider them.

2). Etherial - there's not much love for this fluffy-centerpoint to the Tau list, as 5th edition's take on infantry combat has left made him more of a liability than a usefull addition. Re-rolling moral checks for all Tau-model infantry within line of site is nice, although in most mechanized lists fairly useless, but the price of his 50pt butt dying easily overrides the first advantage. Fire warriors (the principle beneficiaries of pretty much all his abilties) shouldn't be in combat no matter which way you look at it, so giving everyone the 'prefered enemy' special rule (as well as having to take a moral test or run screaming) if he dies is less of a good thing than ever. However, he does have one good point - at WS4, 3 attacks, and the ability to take a +2 str Honor blade or +1 attack (so 4 attacks, 5 in CC), he is actually the ONLY good CC Tau available. I can see him being a great focus for the rarely seen Kroot Combat List, as if he kicks it, non-Tau (i.e. Kroot and vespid) aren't affected. Either way, he's still not worth it, but I'll put it up anyway.

3). Sniper Drone Team - since I normally reserve my Heavy Support choices for Hammerheads and Broadsides, I've never seen much place for these guys. At 80 pts for 3 36" S6 AP3 shots + networked markerlight, its hard to justify these guys as better than a broadside - namely because they aren't. Sniping infantry is a touchy subject in 5th ed, as most special characters worth anything are normally immune to instant death, and those that aren't are just as efficiently taken out by solid-shot twin-linked railguns, or massed fire. Against Guard, where the officers often make the unit, this is a whole different story, and being able to slowly pick off each and every exposed character/command model could be incredibly useful. at BS3/4 and with a markerlight, I could easily see 3 of these teams making up their points pretty quickly against iGuard.

4). Piranahs - this is another unit that is either praised or disregarded completely among Tau players. The incredible speed, improved save, ability to outflank, and the possiblity to carry up to 2 seeker missiles to the rear armor of an enemy tank is a nice incentive, but being open-topped and still a little too big to effectively hope to hide from massed fire means these little buggers are without a doubt the most fragile vehicle the Tau have. To put it simply, their a huge gamble that can either pay off nicely with some tank killing or (in a pack of 3) infantry wiping, while at the same time 1 failed save will generally do them in . They proved effective seeker-caddies in the last Apocalypse game, but survived I think purely based on the fact that there were bigger fish to fry. The jury's out, but I could see a place for at least 1 pack of Piranahs in an anti-guard or Apocalypse list.

5). Stealth Suits - I'm putting this up here just for the sake of completeness - there's going to be a 5-6 man(Tau?) unit of these fellas in my anti-guard list. The sheer annoyance of stealth jump infantry with burst cannons is the reason for the old axiom a friend of mine uses - "every time Tau stealth suits fire, one of my Guard units dies." 24 S5 AP5 attacks on survivable stealth armor will do most squishy guard in pretty quickly, and their mobile enough to avoid most combat and shooting that has a chance of penetrating their stealth field. If I bumped my 1500pt list up to 1750, my 6 stealth suits would be the fist thing I included. I'm even thinking of finding a place for them in my current 1500pt list, though I'm having trouble figuring out what to cut...

6). Krootox/Kroot Hounds - anything that's described as armed with "their ferocious fangs" gets an A+ on my amuse-o-meter, and that's the reason I already own 6 Kroot Hounds. slightly more deadly than normal kroot on the assault (and 1 pt cheaper), kroot hounds are definitely a good addition to any Kroot carnivore squad that's not geard towards self-sacrificing oblivion. The mighty Krootox, however, is a different story - the 48" rapid firing kroot gun isn't going to take down a lot of tanks by itself, but against infantry and especially in combat, the S6 krootox can deal a murderous amount of damage against those big combatty guys. More expensive than I'd like, but still within the range of possibility. Both are good choices, and may involve me getting a seperate unit of kroot for each, and seeing who does better (my money's on the hounds).

7). Kroot Shaper - again, here for the sake of completeness, as I will not use this thing. I'm not just saying that - no matter what way you look at it, he's not worth his points. Of his 3 "bonuses", a 6+ save is useless, the +1 Ld bonus isn't worth his cost, and giving him a pulse carbine/rifle is pointless when I can just buy fire warriors. Despite several conversations a while back with friends, we couldn't find a single good point to this absurdly over-costed "leader", and I find it a lot better to just take 4 normal kroot than bother with him (yes, his points cost is exactly that of 4 normal kroot - he 'boosts' a normal kroot to a shaper for an extra 3x its cost). He's out.

So there we have it - I'm not including the Skyray because, honestly, I still don't like the thing, even after giving it a good try - an Ion Hammerhead is actually a lot better, cheaper, and more reliable.

Vote for what 2 would be good additions that I should try out for my anti-Guard army, and I'll likely pick one or both.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Battle Report #2 - Clusterf***ed

The title says much about how this game went (I really don't want to use offensive languge in this blog, but there's really no better description of this game, even after 20 minutes of trying). Matt, Russell and I got to the game store on time, with Max close behind (and my roommate almost beating us the 6-7 miles there on BIKE through downtown Minneapolis... yeeesh). Another friend was there that wanted to join in, and we thought 'hey, why not?' so he made a 1000pt list and Matt bumped his up to 2500pts to compensate.

This proved to be a terrible idea. Its not the fault of the friend of ours who wanted to play - he's a good guy, and fun to play against (also - Space Wolves!! Yip-yip!) - its more our collective fault for not really realizing that, while a 3000pt per side (1500pt per army) 2v2 is fairly streamlined and takes roughly 2-3 hours to play (depending on casualty rate), a 4000pt per SIDE, 2v3 game, with list corrections, time to setup, and general confusion, turns into a stressful 4 hours plus change, counting delays. It didn't help that we rolled Annihalation//Pitched Battle as the setup, meaning that we'd be going at least 5 turns, and starting 24" away from each other.

Combined with the massive amount of terrain we put down, Max's 2 Masters of the Fleet neutering Matt and Russell's HEAVY reserves (causing some very-justifiable animosity), and even the cramped nature of the tables, this game turned fairly stress-filled pretty quick.

Since explaining the full, confusing battle in detail would be long and nearly impossible, here's a quick Synopsis of how MY units did, in order of what I remember:

1). TL Flamer Battlesuits - turned out being the Tau MVP of the match. I left them in reserve, but they came on 2nd turn - right next to the broodlord and retinue that had taken up residence in a forest on our board edge after massacreing the previous inhabitants (iGuard command squad). After scorching the broodlord out of existence, they were caught in the woods a few turns (using missile pods to knock down some bikers), before deciding not to assault a biker command squad, and doing an emergency jump out (losing the Shas'vre) to help wrack up another kill point from the deep-striking space marine squad (Sternguard?). The setup proved fairly effective (the TL REALLY helps), and the gun drones especially made more standard armor saves than any shield drone ever does for me.

2). Hammerheads - the burst cannons proved to be a great addition, as although lack of line of sight was an issue for 1 or 2 turns, the 2 extra shots made up for this, doing some serious damage against 'Nids.

2.5). The Ion Cannon - worth it. So worth it. Its a 3 shot space marine killer, and is powerful enough to deny armor saves to most Tyranid units. Because it's cheaper/doesn't have a railgun, I felt confident wadeing it into the thick stuff, blasting bikes at point blank and (if I could manage to only move 6") throwing 6 burst cannon shots on top of that. It was actually largely ignored to focus on the broadsides, which was fine.

3). Pathfinders - they performed alright, though I'm still on the fence about them. My main issue was that, with all the crowding, I ended up not using some markerlight hits simply because I didn't have enough other units nearby to shoot with! They averaged 2 or more markerlights a turn, which was great, and I was lucky enough to scout them right into an AV13 bunker before turn 1, which left them essentially unmolested. I'm going to keep them, for now, because this game wasn't really the best testing grounds for them. They did end up helping a hammerhead pie-plate, 6 rapid-firing fire warriors, and a devilfish in annihalating 3 Tyranid Warriors, so I'm pretty happy with that, if nothing else.

4). Devilfish - I only managed to lose 1 devilfish, and 1 squad of fire warriors (from a different one), but they proved effective at putting out a heck of a lot of firepower at exactly where it was needed.

5). 2 Masters of the Fleet - not actually my unit, but DANG! They kept the enemy Lictors, rhinos, and the terrifying terminator-bearing Land Raider out for most of the game, helping us hold off enough of their units to scrape out a victory by the skin of our teeth. They caused some havoc for enemy tactics, and got yelled at quite a bit by the other side, but did their job. I even threw my Commander's battlesuit squad between one of them and a biker squad at one point, although the bikers headed for a different squad in the end.

Despite rolling a truly ludicrous amount of 1's in the early part of the game (it was a tough 1st and 2nd turn for out side, but we got some licks in later on), the Space Wolves/iGuard/Tau aliance won by a single Kill Point. In victory points, it was almost certainly a draw.

I'm not going to say it was a fun game (what with all the stress and hastle), but it wasn't exactly "un-fun" either. I do know that games this big are now reserved solely for the weekend, so at least I learned something out of this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1500pt List

Well, after some math-0-mancy, shuffling around, and a lot of agonizing over just what could be cut from the overpriced initial list, below is my new, improved, experimental 1500pt list. It incorporates a few things that I've been thinking about trying for a long time (the Pathfinders and Ion Cannon), and a few things experience has shown me might be a better bet (the gun drones and burst cannons). So, here it is.

1500pt Tau List
- Shas'el Commander w/plasma rifle, missile pod, multi-tracker, HW Drone controller & 2 shield drones,
---> 2 Shas'vre Bodyguards, w/ plasma rifle, missile pod, targetting array, HW multi-tracker
- Crisis Shas'vre, w/ TL flamer, missile pod, HW drone controller & 2 gun drones
---> 2 Crisis Shas'ui w/ TL flamer, missile pods
- 6 Fire Warriors
---> Devilfish transport w/SMS, targetting array, multi-tracker, disruption pod
- 6 Fire Warriors

---> Devilfish transport w/SMS, targetting array, multi-tracker, disruption pod
- 6 Fire Warriors
Fast Attack:
- 5 Pathfinders
---> Devilfish transport w/SMS, targetting array, multi-tracker, disruption pod, [Marker Beacon]

Heavy Support:
- Hammerhead w/ Railgun, burst cannons, multi-tracker, disruption pod, target lock, [targetting array]
- Hammerhead w/ Ion Cannon, burst cannons, multi-tracker, disruption pod, [targetting array]
- 2 Broadside Battlesuits w/ advanced stabilization systems

(As I always seem to forget about it, the items in [brackets] are what comes for free/standard on the specific vehicle - hammerheads always come with a targeting array, and pathfinder-devilfish always get a marker beacon)

I switched the smart missile systems for burst cannons on the Hammerheads because:
A). burst cannons are literally half the price of a smart missile system,
B). they get 2 more shots at the exact same S and AP of a SMS
C). counts as 2 weapons instead of just 1 (so the hammerhead 'fire magnet' stays in longer)
D). target lock and a multi-tracker allows them to fire at 2 seperate targets
E). most enemies attack hammerheads from the front as quickly as possible, making the SMS's ability to shoot around corners/out of line of sight rather useless 90% of the time.

They are losing 6" of range with the burst cannons, but the advantages more than make up for it, and I have 5 SMS's already (3 devilfish and 2 broadsides). Honestly, I don't know why I wasn't doing this in the first place. I need to start reading into the finer points of the list section of the codex a LOT more.

The Shas'vre in the Flamersuit squad was a must, based on recent experience - unlike most suits, they WANT to get close to the enemy to be the most effecient, and given how often they end up in combat, the Shas'vre's extra weapon skill and iniciative can't hurt. Likewise, experience has taught me that there are MUCH bigger targets in this list than these guys, so their likely to not take much/any hi-AP/S fire - the Shield drones are normally killed off by a bad armor save from some grunt's s4 ap6 gun. The gun drones are equally well suited to soaking up wounds in this case, and they're cheaper and can fire back to boot. We'll see how this works.

I've wanted to really seriously give my pathfinders a good try for a while now, and this list seems like a great place to do it - there's plenty of tanks, fire warriors and battlesuits to beef up the BS on, and it lets me really concentrate on killing those "must die" targets - land raiders, Carnifex/Hive Tyrants, command squad chimeras/rhinos, etc, and I needed a 3rd Devilfish for the 3rd fire warrior squad anyway, and it's not much of an issue to load up the fire warriors on turn 1 - they never end up doing anything anyway!.

I didn't include any seeker missiles in this list - despite their potential, they've never actually proved worth their points in any games I've played (even the massive apocalypse game where I had 30 of them and the 'markerlight drop' ability-thingy). Likewise, the Skyray really didn't live up to expectations, and I find the idea of a Ion Cannon Hammerhead much more appealing - I've already got 3 railguns, but a 'heavy 3' space marine/terminator killer is a whole new can of worms.

Tactics: fairly straightforward - the devilfish/fire warriors zip around and claim objectives/harrass and rapid-fire targets of opportunity while the hammerheads, broadsides and Shas'el's Crisis Suits start picking off transports, tanks, and threats. The pathfinders and Flamersuits act as floaters, covering up leaks - the pathfinders for more effecient killing, and the flamersuits are ideal for flushing things out of cover and actually jumping into combat once in a while.

So yea, there it is, along with long-winded exposition on how it works. I'm getting better at intuitively getting how each unit works, so I'm looking forward to the 1500pts/player 2v2 game tonight against Space Marines, Tyranids, and iGuard. Hopefully a brief battle report will follow.

thanks for reading!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Sept Name

My continued efforts to find a good, anecdotal name for my Tau Sept have ground to a halt - for whatever reason, I can't seem to think of anything that really just clicks.

True to the Blog-'o-cube, I'm on hunt for suggestions. If anyone who reads this cares to, throw out a comment with a possible Tau Sept Name that is highly reminiscient of that oh-so-infamous comic book villain, the Green Goblin. Don't know what goes into a Tau Sept name? well, here are some examples:

- T'au - the sept name for the Tau Homeworld. Cattle paradise.
- Tau'n - the first off-world Tau colony. Hold on to your cud, campers...
- D'yanoi - means 'twin moons' ("World of Two Moons"? Copyright infringement...)
- Bork'an - center of learning and academia. I compare it to Sweden (also, add a 'j'...)
- Dal'yth - trade world. (... I got nothing...)
- Vior'la - famous for it's noriously aggressive fire caste. Essentially, a world of Jocks.
- Au'taal - ever heard of Risa? This is it, but regarded as more 'lazy' than 'relaxed'.

There are some examples straight out of the Tau book. I keep trying to think of something clever that incorporates the basic feel of a Tau Sept world, yet clearly illustrates a connection to the Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, or the Osborns (Norman and Harry, not Sharon and Ozzy).

I'll throw together all the suggestions (As well as my own ideas) into a poll after a week or so, and we'll see how it looks.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Color Scheme/what to call them?

Space Marine players shouldn't have all the fun, after all - having your own themed, colored, and named Contingent (i.e. 'Chapter', 'Craftworld', or in this case, 'Sept') of a 40k army adds quite a bit to an army -- cohesion, respect, and moral support for those ever-fickle dice, if nothing else.

On par with everyone's favorite funny force, "The Emperor's Pointy Sticks", I'm firmly of the opinion that it should be a funny, anectodal name for the Sept my Tau hail from, preferably one based on the color scheme I've (finally) decided on:

-'Chaos Black' basecoat
-'Sanguine Base' (Privateer Press)
-'Dark Angel's Green'
-'Dwarf Bronze'
-'Blood Red'
-'Chaos Black' wash

The Sanguine Base is a fantastic color/paint to work with, looks great as the standard fire warrior armor color, and matches quite nicely with the Dark Angels Green clothing color. The Dwarf Bronze adds a nice contrast to the centerpiece of the fire warrior chest armor and elbow/knee pads and as a nice metalic element on the pulse rifle 'screw' and Devilfish-chassis sensor slots. Finishing up with Blood Red and more Dwarf Bronze on various sensor bits (pulse rifle scopes, backpack bits, helmet eye-sensor-thingies, etc.) gives it a menacing look, and a good quick wattered down Chaos Black wash really highlights things while giving the whole model a VERY nice hardened/gritty fighter look.

After I finished painting the first fire warrior and showed it around the Games Store like the shameless bragger I am, the first comment made was that it looked astonishingly similar (yet visually darker) to a certain infamous Marvel Comic Book Villian.

Yea, I can work with that.

My original idea was to have the Tau of Sept Gob'in, but on reflection that just sounds stupid. There's gotta be some sort of amusing, anecdotal, pop-culture referencing name I can use as my Tau Sept name, and I'm committed to finding it, or give up trying.

Any suggestions :)