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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thunderfish - Tau & MEQ Terminator Allies

Escape Theory

Let's start looking at some Ally combinations. We'll start with Tau - an army which has some serious perks but serious weaknesses, too. The goal of the Allies is to obviously cover those weaknesses as best as possible whilst minimising the impact upon the perks. Tau have excellent shooting but lack in two key departments - scoring and close combat. Most Space Marine armies have excellent scoring units - they are all MEQs after all and some excellent combat units (TWC, TH/SS, etc.). Can we combine the two and make a half-way decent list?

The first question is, what do we want from the Tau. Their best firepower units are obviously Crisis Suits and Broadsides, no questions really. What's also interesting to note is Fire Warriors are MUCH better in 6th edition (not hard to be when you were trash before). Still not really worth 10 points a pop, particularly without special weapons, but with the ability to effectively shot 36" (30" range + 6" move) at S5, well they have some more options and are able to double-tap at a better range than any other unit in the game. S5 also allows them to glance death vehicles or take off that final Hull Point your other units couldn't quite crack. Again, not a fantastic unit but much more viable than last edition.

So we need to decide what we're going to ally with the core concept of Broadsides + Crisis Suits. The Tau are unlikely to be packing other blocking units like Pirahnas, Devilfish or Kroot as that's what we're looking for the Allied army to do (and where their original points are going). Initially we did something as noted below:


So we've decided on a TH/SS screen and what works well with that? A Librarian - it allows them a lot more freedom to operate on foot due to Gate of Infinity and ensures they aren't going to get stuck against high invul save units with Null Zone (which also helps thearmy in general against the improved Daemons army). That's 500 points however and mass Crisis Suits + Broadsides aren't exactly cheap. A couple of Tactical squads wouldn't go amiss but at around 200 points each, we're already up to 900 points of Allies which doesn't leave us much room for the Tau - it's possible but let's see what we can do without them for the moment. For now, we'll take a cheap Troop from Space Marines - scouts with Cloaks.


Now, well the obvious choice seems like replacing these with Deathwing Terminators (thanks to Billy for this). I mean, why not? It's the same price with Belial and two Cyclone Missiles, you get the same number of TH/SS and they score. The only loss really is number of models total (16 down to 11) and lack of Psychic powers/assistance in Denying the Witch (and Deathwing are not Battle Brother Allies with Tau). You still have the scary bodies in CC but you also bring more firepower (4x S8 shots) and scoring power, something which the first Allies didn't really address.

So let's plug this into the concept of a Tau army:

Parent List:

Shas'el w/Retro-thrusters, twin-linked Fusion Blaster

3x Crisis Suits w/Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, mutli-tracker, leader w/Hard-wired blacksun filter
3x Crisis Suits w/Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, mutli-tracker, leader w/Hard-wired blacksun filter

11x Fire Warriors w/Shas'ui w/Hard-wired Blacksun filter
11x Fire Warriors w/Shas'ui w/Hard-wired Blacksun filter
11x Fire Warriors w/Shas'ui w/Hard-wired Blacksun filter

2x Broadsides w/drone controller, 2x shield drones, blacksun filter
2x Broadsides w/drone controller, 2x shield drones, blacksun filter


Belial, Master of the Deathwing

5x Terminators w/TH/SS, Cyclone Missile Launcher
5x Terminators w/TH/SS, Cyclone Missile Launcher

Totals: 1781 points

A few snips here (FW numbers) and viable for 1750 points. A squad added here or there (another Crisis Suit squad? more Broadsides? Shield drones?) and you've got a 2000 point army to go though this is probably not viable at 1500 considering the Deathwing portion takes up so much space.

First impressions - no tanks. Unusual right? Tau generally didn't run many in 5th regardless and with the addition of 600 points of Allies mainly aimed at keeping the enemy at bay, most of those vehicles are now less than useful. The hammerhead is the main exception but with the decrease in cover and change to the way shooting and cover works, plasma is MUCH more effective and thus less anti-infantry is needed. The Fire Warriors take up the slack from the loss of Kroot as well and the Termies also bring 4x small blasts in a pinch.

The Fire Warrior squads all have Shas'ui's for challenge bait - we discussed the merits of this (on both sides really) in the recent 3++ Nerdcast, though upon further looking at the rules it's not as beneficial as we initially thought! However, it also gives access to a blacksun filter for the squad - very important with all the night fight running around. You don't want your early Tau shooting to be ineffective. Crisis and Broadsides also have the blacksun filter for the same reason. The Fire Warriors are 11 strong for that extra shot needed to bring them below 25% and forcing them to take morale - still an issue for Tau.

The Shas'el with Retro-thrusters gives whatever he joins Hit & Run. In the previous incarnation with Space Marines, this was huge as it gave you a bouncing TH/SS ball of doom but since Dark Angels are not Battle Brother Allies, this is not possible. Changing this to a more standard PR/MP loadout and dropping the Thrusters is probably a fine idea unless one goes back to the Space Marine allies - though you lose scoring power here.

Crisis Suits are much improved anti-infantry and anti-tank in 6th edition. Cover saves are 5+ standard and S6/7 strips hull points like no tomorrow from weaker AVs. Add in the shooting player gets to choose when the plasma wounds are resolved on a unit, cover is done on a per MODEL basis and focus fire allows one to ignore part of a squad in cover and their anti-infantry has gone right up as well. Broadsides are just as good as ever in dropping vehicles though the lack of target locks really hurts now and overkill is more possible. A 3rd squad of either of these units would be very good at 2000 points.

The obvious lack here is Markerlights or any improvement to BS and not having three units of both Crisis Suits and Broadsides. This could hurt versus fliers (no re-rolls) or in general in one of the Crisis suit squads fluffs. With 10x Terminators shoring up the scoring, cutting back on the Fire Warriors could open up space for another Crisis & Broadside unit at 2000 or 1850 though it would be a very tight squeeze at 1750.


The big question is of course, are the Allies right? There really are a lot of options for Tau here. As already discussed TH/SS from Space Marines whom are battle brothers could provide a bouncing ball of doom thanks to hit & run and the Libby gives good access to psychic powers. Eldar like-wise are battle brothers but don't really have great Troops - a couple Pathfinder squads could help out the Fire Warriors and Crisis Suits aren't going to say no to a Farseer with BRB powers and the D-Cannons can provide some anti-mech castling. Elsewise? Eh.

Orks are amusingly enough a good choice. Large shoota boyz squads can replace the Kroot from before and with the change to Fearless, they can be great tarpits though keep in mind they are keeping the Tau from shooting as well. Nob Bikers (with a Warboss to make them Troops) can likewise be a good option - keeps the opponent from the Tau and gives a more aggressive bent to the unit. Imperial Guard can also replace the Kroot before them and add their considerable firepower to the Tau arsenal with Infantry Platoons, Heavy Weapon Teams, etc. A Vendetta squad can also overcome any particular weakness to flyers the Tau army may encounter, etc.

In the end I think Dark Angels, Orks or Imperial Guard will provide the most benefits to Tau in this sort of setup though others obviously provide different strengths elsewhere and certainly aren't bad (if they are at least allies of convenience). Either way, the tip of the iceberg is being uncovered with these many more options!

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