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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Metatransition - Gundam Tau

So starting the Metatransition posts (well, following-up on the Venomspam one and the Kan Wall - thanks fester!), we'll look at how the Tau monobuild (aka Gundam Tau). In 5th edition this had evolved to basically being suit spam - lots of Crisis Suits, lots of Broadsides with the occasional vehicle. Generally Devilfish/Warfish (Devilfish with lots of offensive upgrades), Piranhas and a token Hammerhead. The core of the list was the Suits though with a Kroot bubble-wrap and Piranha blockers so how does this transfer to 6th?

In short - pretty well though there are some changes to the army make-up of course. The core of suits remains though. Let's look at a few of the changes quickly:
  • Drones are now really bloody useful the way wounds are allocated. They keep taking them until they die. They aren't cheap but they make the core of your list better.
  • Shooting is better and since the list is shooting based, it's better, particularly the low AP aspects. Markerlights are less needed to strip cover now as cover is weaker in general.
  • Hull Points make the shooting more reliable against tanks. Tanks didn't last long against Tau in 5th but there were occasions when the dice just said no - a level of this noness has been removed. With general AV of 12+, Tau vehicles are still quite durable as well as it denies more weapons from stripping hull points.
  • Allies - scoring used to be a big issue which is why this list didn't see common results in tournaments. The firepower was there but the scoring capacity and ability to move into midfield was not. Allies provides this. Use them.
  • Target Locks now suck but BSF are great - Nightfight? Carebears caring.
  • Bubble-wrap is a bit weaker so Kroot aren't the must have if I want to survive unit they were before. Again, Allies can help with this in just having more durable options and being able to engage the opponent in midfield.
  • Fire Warriors are relevant again. Not spectacular, but relevant.
  • Flyers are currently an issue unless you wiggle in two Farseers with Prescience for twin-linking or a Tau flyer comes along. Or you solve them with Allies. Hey, a trend? Allies. It's Cinematic.
  • Combat still sucks for Tau and with RCL, combat can come from seemingly no where. Overwatch can help here as it is more likely to stop the longer ranged infantry charges but it's often going to happen and with bubble-wrap being weaker, you need to be wary of this and maximise what blocking and midfield engaging (ALLIES) you do have.
So...what we want is still the Suits - nine Crisis + one Shas'El if possible and at least four if not six Broadsides (nine is too many). Target Locks no longer allow split fire so you need more than you needed before - though vehicles drop to concentrated firepower regardless so how many more needs to be seen. How much you want to use the new wound allocation with Drones determines how much these squads cost and then you need the mandatory Fire Warriors...but now they can actually impact the army. Kroot are another option but it depends upon the Allies you're bringing in - and yes, you're bringing in Allies. Let's look at a template then. The point of this template is to give a basis for Gundam Tau army design - changes can obviously be made but it gives a good starting point.

Shas'el w/Twin-linked Missile Pod, Multi-tracker, Blacksun Filter, Retro-thrusters

3x Crisis Suits w/Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-tracker, Team Leader w/Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2x Gun Drones
3x Crisis Suits w/Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-tracker, Team Leader w/Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2x Gun Drones
3x Crisis Suits w/twin-linked Missile Pod, flamer, Team Leader w/Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2x Gun Drones

9x Fire Warriors
9x Fire Warriors
9x Fire Warriors
9x Fire Warriors

2x Broadsides w/Advanced Stabilisation System, Team Leader w/Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2x Shield Drones
2x Broadsides w/Advanced Stabilisation System, Team Leader w/Drone Controller, Blacksun Filter, 2x Shield Drones

Totals: 1434 points

Blacksun Filters on everything important to laugh at Night Fight. Leaves you  just under 600 points for Allies - stretching it at 2000 points if you want anything extra but enough for a good Troops core + HQ from Imperials or some tools from a fellow Xenos (looking at Eldar, Necrons & Orks mainly). So let's look at everything...

Shas'el - Retro-thrusters are really only there for Eldar/Space Marine armies though it can come in handy with some Tau units as well - though if you get in combat you usually die, it makes sticking in combat during your shooting phase less likely. Otherwise he's a mobile Ld9 character who comes with his own S7 guns and Blacksun Filter (again, really good for Eldar/Space Marine allies where ICs can join other squads). Could get some Gun Drones too for 20 points.

Crisis Suits - two setups here and there are no real changes from 5th in what works best. Plasma + Missile puts out lots of S6+ shots and drops the tougher MEQ units better now with reduced cover and how wound allocation works whilst stripping Hull Points like no tomorrow. TL-Missile are a bit cheaper and more reliable in stripping Hull Points but less effective against infantry. Gun Drones add durability to all units but can go if necessary and save 60 points if doing so.

Fire Warriors - No Kroot here as we're looking to get our midfield prowess from Allies but each FW squad can be dropped for a 13-strong Kroot squad (10 Kroot, three Hounds). Both are those numbers to up the required number killed first time they are shot to force a Leadership test - otherwise more bodies forces opponents to kill more to deny scoring. Fire Warriors bring mobile S5 shooting so can help plink off final Hull Points or torrent down infantry. Kroot can help with the latter but not the former except against AV10 but can push forward further to engage enemy units in midfield though the cover reduction hurts there here - and why we go for Allies more often than not. No BSF as not really important and don't want to overspend on these guys. 90 points is a bit steep for what they do but not too expensive.

Broadsides - Same as before really but without a Target Lock. They still drop tanks silly easily and give some ability against Land Raiders. Twin-linked helps against flyers but isn't that reliable. ASS allows them to move and shoot and shield drones are now super good at sucking up those initial wounds. Potentially upgrading to a Shas'vre for when the opponent doesn't have much S8+ firepower to fob off wounds to Drones at the back until the Broadsides are wounded is an option but one which can backfire.

So, from this basis we have our SHOOTING core. Allies need to help plug the midfield and scoring capacity hole. Even then, there are still extra options out there for the Tau part of the list:

Piranhas - blocking with melta though with Allies Land Speeders with two Meltas are a cheaper option. No AV11 though...

Devilfish - cheap skimmers which can provide some extra firepower and BLoS to units who can move in the assault phase or use it's Flat-out move during the shooting phase.

Broadsides - a 3rd squad.

Hammerhead - Brings a big S6 pie plate to the table but with the increased level of anti-infantry from the now relevant Fire Warriors, this isn't as important. The pie plate is at least better against vehicles than it was though and the single S10 AP1 shot is too unreliable for such an expensive vehicle. Main weapon is more reliable in sticking around though with 6th ed.

Most of these are vehicle choices - you'll note no vehicles are being brought in the template so if you're looking to bring some of these extra options, look to bring in more vehicles through Allies or these will get shot down pretty quickly and become wasted points. So, let's look at brief Ally concepts.

Black Templars - shootynators here can be quite scary and with HQ + Elites you can grab two of them but they don't score and the Black Templar Troops are solid but not spectacular. Nothing really special in the other slots either.

Blood Angels - again, shootynators, particularly with FNP, can be scary but this will all be locked into one big squad if running them. ASM are a much better threat than Black Templar Troops in both large and small squads and both on foot or in transport formats. If going with the smaller squads in transports though (don't go small squads outside transports), grabbing more Troops in Tau might be a good idea. Otherwise, 10x ASM combat squading from Rhinos can be a nice midfield force. Vindicator, Mephiston, Stormraven & Dreadnoughts are likewise solid choices though again - with vehicles consider getting more vehicles with parent Tau list.

CSM - meh. Plagues & Oblits are nice but Plagues don't really gain anything for being in larger squads and are still ass in combat. New Chaos might change this...

Dark Angels - We've discussed this in Thunderfish but Deathwing is great for many armies, Tau included. Two-three Deathwing squads + Belial (with two of them scoring) is a very nice proposition and answers a lot of Tau's questions. Not many options in other slots though with the current book though if Dark Angels get re-vamped this could change.

Eldar - Battle Brothers is nice here. Farseers are the real reason you want to ally thanks to their psychic powers (which can be cast on Tau units) and psychic defenses. Seer Councils with Hit&Run (from Shas'el) are also an interesting concept but still relying on Fortune. Not much in the Troops department which normally relies on transports to survive. Large Guardian squads can be make-shift Kroot (Conceal really helps, as does a Heavy Weapon) or simply act as another Fire Warrior squad (potentially changing some Fire Warriors to Kroot). Rangers/Pathfinders are same as Fire Warriors essentially, same as Dire Avengers - though they can be a decent tarpit with Defend (still not great). Guardian Jetbikes can be okay with a Positional Relay but is still relying on a delay game tactic. Otherwise War Walkers, Vypers, etc. can provide more firepower, Wraithguard a solid midfield scoring presence (which Hit & Run can actually help as it allows them to escape scary assault units). Not as great as Imperials for bringing durable Troops but helps Tau in other ways (Prescience...).

Grey Knights - Strike Squads in midfield are a nice addition to Tau, henchmen not so much. Stormraven here isn't a great choice but a Grandmaster with Interceptors and/or Purifiers + the Strikes can make a very solid core at the board centre. The Psybacks + Psyfles which are usual to Grey Knights stick out a bit unless more vehicles are brought from the Tau parent as usual. Draigo + Paladins can also work as the midfield scoring presence though is expensive.

Imperial Guard - durability through numbers. Lots of Platoons forces the opponent to deal with a lot of different scoring options - and these scoring options can bring heavy guns (not to mention Heavy Weapon Teams). Lots of nice choices in the other slots as well - Vendetta, Manticore, Hydra, Psyker (HQ & Elites), Marbo, etc. Guard adds firepower to an impressive firepower array already and lots of scoring durability through sheer numbers.

Necrons - With weak midfield concepts (Necrons fold in combat, too), Necrons don't seem as good a fit for being the Allies to Tau (make a better parent to be honest). The Flyerwing concept is still going to provide Tau with more firepower, mobility, anti-air and scoring (which is mobile) but isn't really going to stop enemy's from crossing midfield and trashing the Tau army. If using this blocking with flyer bases shall be very important but hard to pull off without Hovering.

Orks - Two Boyz, Mek w/KFF, Lootas & Kannons. More firepower, some annoyingly cheap and scary options in midfield which score. Sounds pretty good. Can also try Warboss + scoring Nobs (including Bikers) but a more expensive option which isn't the super OMGWTF durable unit it was before (and isn't a great firefight unit in midfield but rather super aggressive).

Space Marines - The second Battle Brother, retro-thruster Shas'el gives TH/SS Hit & Run and Space Marines provide Tacticals in Rhinos which combat squad. ASM from Blood Angels are probably better here but don't come with bouncing TH/SS if that's what you want. Like BT & Dark Angels though - little options in the other slots which really help Tau other than perhaps a Land Speeder squad in place/conjunction with Piranhas.

Space Wolves - The best alternative for Blood Angels in midfield is Grey Hunters. Chuck in a Rune Priest for psychic defense + increased firepower and a Long Fang unit (cheap enough) + Wolf Guard for the same. TWC (and maybe a Lord instead of Priest) add some aggression to the midfield scoring.


The Gundam core is still solid if not better - particularly if you put in the extra points for things like BSF & Drones. Fire Warriors become more usable and vehicles becoming more RELIABLE to remove makes the shooting of Tau a lot scarier before we even chuck in the cover rule changes. Their issue still remains midfield ability and scoring and Tau have so many Ally options to cover this (all but SoB, Dark Eldar & Daemons), it's no longer an issue. That issue can be solved in a variety of ways and certainly doesn't have to revolve around the above template but it's a good place to start.

All in all - Gundam Tau is go.

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