Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tau power; Codex or Edition

By TheGraveMind

When the Tau codex first came out, I heard a lot of trash talk. But after playing some games with my tau (pics soon) and also against tau I can tell you they are here to stay. Considering their battle brother allies are going to be the two newest books out, Tau will have all the new shiny toys to play with. It has really made me consider the strengths of the Tau book.

Is the Codex really that good? or is it just good in this edition. Lets not fool ourselves and acknowledge that shooting has become that much stronger, and melee even weaker. 40k has always favored shooting more than melee, and this edition just tipped the balance a bit more.

If we look back before the new codex, we can see that in 6th, the old 4th edition Tau codex was actually doing decent. Tau do one thing, shoot, and shoot well. While they weren't top tier, they were still able to hold their own and didn't become unplayble when 6th edition came out. Add in the prospect of taking allies, and they were a solid army. The new book has given them the edge and he flexibly the old book missed.

Tau's weakness is combat. Their defense against that is Supporting fire overwatch, which is in the codex. But it is dependent on the rules for overwatch, so when 7th changes that, who's to say how strong supporting fire will be.

6th edition has increased the number of USRs and expanded on a lot of such, but when the next edition changes, now that everything references to the rule book, they will all change with it. I guess I'm just thinking long term for my tau. I play my tau completely different than most people. Then again I am the Tau player who doesn't like battlesuits so meh.

The amount of small arms fire power they can put is astounding, and can really whittle away a unit fast. And they still have some amazing long range firepower. Though they lost some of the super range anti-heavy tank (aka losing the good S10 AP1 shots), but gained an unbelievable amount of light tank fire power.

One of the nice things is the variety of weapon range bands. Unlike my tyranids where every weapon is either 18" or 12". Tau have 72", 48", 36", 30", 24", 18", and then rapid fire ranges of 15" and 12". This gives a chance to hit the enemies as they come in. Just make sure they don't out range you too much as you can start losing that fight as you lose your support.

The more I play, the more I enjoy the book. I'm not stomping people with Tau, but I'm doing consistently well, having fun, and pulling out hard fought wins. There is yet to be a true hard counter to my list, and it doesn't feel like rock paper scissors like my tyranids do. I still haven't tried out all the combinations I want to with them. I do wish Stealth suits had gotten better, as I have about 20 of the xv15 models.

You can dodge a missile, but can you dodge 18?

What are everyone else's experience against or with tau? I know some local players were initially struggling until they got the hang of them. I've heard a few on the internet complaining about how tau are unbeatable and super OP.


  1. How does one address the seemingly obvious fact that the Tau book continues a long line of company policy otherwise known as "codex creep"?

    Tau are made for wrecking flier based armies very badly. Okay, so someone who had that army now has to buy a new one. How is that good?

    Why does there have to be "codex creep" and why does there have to be a rock-paper-scissors way of designing armies???

    1. to answer those questions, you'll need to talk to GW about their game design policy, and how they plan to get their playerbase to buy new models. Either the company needs to expand the customer base, or create a need in the old player base.

      Creating a need is a much easier option in the short run.

    2. Well I started Tau back when Dark eldar got their new codex, but I didn't get to play them much since I've been working hard on conversions and alternatives for the battlesuit models. While I don't like that there is codex creep, I do appreciate my codex now having rules that makes sense and options to take on fliers when beforehand I had no answers.

      A person with a flier army doesn't have to buy a new army, but will have to probably change tactics, and be more cautious with them. Just like an army that doesn't have an answer to fliers has to play differently when against one.

      I don't think there has to be codex creep or rock paper scissors, but GW doesn't seem to be able to nail down the balance like they want. The reason for that is beyond me, perhaps poor playtesting.

    3. The mechanics of 40K make it very difficult to scale the points of things like armor values, when weapons simply ignore it at certain values of AP, while at others the models' saves are unaffected. While other mechanics are so random in nature that it becomes impossible to assign any meaningful point value to them at all.

      If you look at a similar game like Flames, things like saves and armor scale linearly. So does morale. Making it much easier to come up with point-value equations that make sense. That makes Flames inherently more balance-able as a game, and cuts down on how much testing they need to do. Because it was designed that way from the ground up.

      GW's only choice then is to guess at balance. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong. Even when they would like to overpower something, they don't always do enough testing to actually overpower it. Because running 5, 10, or even 50 games isn't nearly enough to figure it out, and they don't have any other method that they can use. While they're under increasing time pressure to pump out new products.

  2. The only thing I disagree with in this article is the idea that, at least in 5th, and probably in 4th... and then at least in part 3rd... shooting was more potent than assault. I would venture to say quite the opposite was true, in fact.

    Anymore, I would put the balance between the two... well... relatively in balance. Shooting got much more potent, what with more mobile Rapid Fire, Overwatch, and various other things, but in my mind this didn't shift a 50/50 to a 70/30... instead it went the other way around. Maybe not a perfect 50/50, but armies that are good at assaulting are still good at assaulting, and will wreck those that aren't. If they get there.

    All that said, while I haven't had a ton of experience playing against Tau, thus far they seem to be a fun and worthy opponent. Even coming from a DE general, who have often viewed Tau as the proverbial Rock to our Scissors... I think there are definitely things that can be a challenge, but hardly impossible to overcome.

    The Farsight Bomb... granted... is... potentially a huge pain. But even that isn't impossible to deal with, so that's something, I guess.

    But yes. Fun army, and I look forward to seeing more of them on the table.

    1. "if they get there" might be the understatement of the edition thusfar.

      And if you think 5th was an assault-oriented edition competitively, I think you weren't paying close enough attention.

      5th was a tale of three armies: Imperial Guard, Space Wolves, and Grey Knights. And despite what people think at first glance, GKs were never an Assault-focused army. GKs beat you with Psycannons, Psyflemen Dreads, army-wide Storm Bolters, and Psy-Razorbacks. They positively won their games in the shooting phase. The only difference between GKs and a traditional shooting army was that they were also good enough in assault that you couldn't rely on beating them just by getting into combat; this was why Blood Angels basically ceased to exist competitively the moment GKs released, where previously BAs were filling an interesting role as a counter to Imperial Guard (nobody's Chimera parking lot wanted to play against massed DoA Melta).

      But suggesting that 6th is anywhere near a 50/50 shooting/assault balance is pretty crazy. The only remotely assault-focused competitive army is FMC/Flying Circus, and even as a Daemon player I have zero faith in those lists. By comparison, the things winning tournaments are:

      1). Virtually anything Tau
      2). Eldar Serpent spam
      3). Tesla Destructor Necrons (the Wraiths are a sideshow at best)
      4). Tyranids (every Hive Tyrant traded in his Boneswords/Lash Whips for Dakka)
      5). Imperial Guard Blobs (plus Manticores/Vendettas)

      Basically aside from Tyranids wanting to tarpit you moreso than actually kill you or Necrons throwing distraction-Wraiths at you to keep you away from the Warrior squads they're dropping off all over the board, we're talking about armies for whom the Assault phase may as well not exist.

      Traditional "walk across the board, punch some dudes" armies are a competitive impossibility in 6th. Anyone thinking otherwise just hasn't played against enough Tau lists yet. Again, as someone whose primary interest is Daemons, it was like a slow-motion trainwreck watching people flock towards those Seeker/Flesh Hound Cavalry Rush armies and convince themselves they were competitive--because they kinda look like they can be. Until you play against a hard Tau list.

      Those "punch some dudes" lists are my preferred playstyle, and ever since the Daemon book came out (in March), I'd been testing and tweaking variations to try to get something competitively viable. None of them ever got to a point I was happy with; I never got anywhere against Aaron's standard GT lists and got rolled by Tau and Necrons at the Feast of Blades qualifier we went to.

      I then slapped together a shooting-gimmick army, only tested it twice, tabled a couple of Aaron's potential NOVA lists and rolled through a different FoB qualifier.

      That's where 6th Edition is, in terms of shooting/assault balance.

    2. I don't think that Blood Angels DOA armies were ever much of a consistent threat to IG/Sisters Parking Lots in 5th. Simply because once you popped their rides, 2-3 guys with meltas/plasma would rape you next turn. Especially if there wasn't enough terrain on the table to provide cover.

      When I was playing SangGuard, I dreaded playing IG or Sisters. It was auto-lose. But I didn't mind playing GKs at all. In fact, I did much better with them against Spag than I did with IG.

      And yeah, from what I can see as an observer, 6th is more shooting-dependent, not less. Simply due to the reduction in cover saves, if nothing else. Without the "Look out sir!" wound allocation shenanigans, it would be even more lopsided.

    3. Dustin and Nik both had great stretches with Blood Angels in the middle of 5th during the height of the IG/SW-focused meta, though Nik's army was more mech.

      Your Sang Guard army paid too much for bodies, and you didn't get it out there until after GK anyhow. The (short-lived) strength of Blood Angels was that you could Combat Squad 10 guys in Power Armour, semi-accurately Deep Strike both halves, each with their own Melta, completely separate. Nobody else could do that; you can Combat Squad coming out of a Drop Pod, but those two squads were still in the exact same place and unlikely to have separate meaningful targets. And in terms of dropping for Melta, Descent of Angels was far more reliable than a Drop Pod--the Pod is safer, but DoA was more likely to keep you in Melta range.

      With DoA also providing reserve re-rolls, it wasn't particularly unlikely for 30 guys to drop out of the sky and wreck/disable all of the artillery and Russes on Turn 2. A MEQ drop-horde like that is too many bodies for Veterans alone to clean up.

      We didn't see as much of it locally because we had so many Daemon players (more than IG players), and those armies were already auto-lose to Fatecrusher. But playing 40-50 double-Melta Assault Marines was about as good a counter to mech IG as possible during the time period, right up until it also became auto-lose against GK, which became a tiny bit more common than Daemons.

    4. I don't think even the 'regular' non-SangGuard DOA armies did all that well against castled IG. I watched plenty of games at Adepticon where they'd drop, kill a tank, and then get blown off the table with a blast template or two.

      NOVA was a different matter, and I wish I had taken my SangGuard that year. It had enough terrain to make them viable.

      The meanest general build, IMO, was the BA Rhino rush, supported by Baal Preds. But GK were the perfect counter to that. So that left DOA builds. Which were auto-lose to IG, Sisters, and Daemons. As you point out.

    5. Actually my mech list beat dodger's deamons, then tabled a GK player, only to end up losing. to your ig sandwyrm.
      Prior to the gk release I ran the doa list, and I did very well against most mech. The trick was to hit one side, and to use the wreckage to hide from retalliation. That and target saturation.

    6. I can believe that. BA mech was the most competitive way to go. I just didn't do it because I wanted to play something more interesting. I understood the tradeoffs in picking what I did.

      I never won a game against mech Sisters/IG with SangGuard, and I never lost a game to DOA lists as an IG player. Though I lost to Daemons plenty. Mech Marines were a fairly even fight. Eldar mech was always a one-sided slaughter. Because their AP2 troops were easy for me to avoid/isolate, and they only had 6-8 tanks to deal with. GKs had similar problems with me, but had the numbers needed to make it a fair fight.

      DOA against castled Mech is/was very terrain and luck dependent. Dropping behind terrain before moving in on a flank was far better than dropping in close. If you didn't have cover though, you had to do this. But once you popped the tank you had to stand there and take the melta/plasma, hoping for some luck.

      If you did have cover, things were better. But if you failed to pop the tank with shooting, you'd have to do it with assault instead. Then, once again, you'd have to stand there and take melta/plasma to the face from the guys that piled out of the wreck.

    7. What about space wolves with thunderwolves......:)

    8. You won that one, but it was a nice, close game. We also played Dante's rules wrong, which would have made a difference to the outcome. Since you won on objectives, and he was out of place to contest because he'd fallen back (he's fearless).

      As for the Thunderwolves, I slaughtered them on turn 2 if I remember correctly. A far cry from frustrations as a guard player. :)

      The mech units you had were much harder to deal with.

    9. I was talking about your ig but that was a good game. Closer than most.

  3. Tau are good. That for sure. Gw has done a decent job in pumping up the xenos books imho. They are fun to play and can stand up to meq now. Not the golden age but fun for me. Looking forward to the sm codex also. I miss my space marines.

    1. Imperial Fists look to be a fun army with their chapter tactics....of course, they are totally boned compared to Smurf super-powers (sigh...)

  4. Tau have a reasonable amount of baked in flexibility to their design. Most of their units are adaptable to multiple roles. Tau managed to stay competitive(second tier mono built, but still) for a long time despite having poor troops. What took the old codex out of competition was how the shooting rules invalidated the Kroot screen.

    Really, the one thing the new 6th edition codex did was cost adjust them so they weren't paying a Xenos tax anymore. They still have poor troops, but the lowered cost helps mitigate it by allowing you to ally in better ones.

  5. I find Tau to be an unhill battle with my current army (Dark Angels Ravenwing), thanks mostly to their markerlights being able to remove my cover saves, but Tau are still crunchy enough to win against. I think the whiners and nay-sayers just don't want to learn how to beat Tau with their armies, and they give up before deployment begins. Every army is beatable, and every army can win, but sometimes it takes a bit of learning and adjusting before that happens. That's what makes this game so much fun!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. The edition obviously has a good deal to do with it, and the book seems like it's well written to take advantage of the edition - leveraging overwatch, etc. Much like how Blood Angels did well back in 3rd IIRC with fast rhinos and being able to assault out of the transports and ability to consolidate into new combats.

  8. Tau have an answer for everything in a well-thought list. Good Skyfire, SM libby allies who can Gate the Farsight Bomb, long ranged melta, and of course cover. They also have the less-used ability to bring in kroot on the side closest to the positional relay units....and kroot snipers own Monster spam. Add in monsterhunter for FS (and ork preferred enemy) and theya re a tough nut. Now marry that to a general who's played nothing but tau for years and done well in past editions, and its with trepedation you know you'll see him on table one yet again....


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