Saturday, June 1, 2013

So how about that Tau?

Stupid blue fishgoatmen.

Well, I think it's something like 2 months now since the Tau army came out and I'm not too happy with the book.  The reason why I'm not happy is because of the meta changed for the worse; the balance and the general popularity of the codex is what kills it for me.  For one, I think there's something off about the Tau book.  This might be due to the fact they're the strongest shooting army in an very shooty edition, but I don't like a lot of the mechanics that the Tau incorporates.

In short, I think Tau has all their weaknesses covered.  Being able to take allies is one thing, something that all armies can look forward to for the most part, but there's something else much more worrisome.  When you look at the Tau from an external balance point of view, I think they're the kings of the battlefield.  A lot of the mechanics that they bring to the board outright counters others.  The best example of this is how they can outright remove cover from something.  In the last book, this wasn't a very common thing and you had to pay to play with this luxury.  Not so much in the new book: you have very cheap ways to get SMS, Pathfinders rock, Marker Drones are everywhere, and there's even viable Skyrays.  I don't think any ability should outright remove another ability; it's just bad game design and completely negates a defining feature of the game.

I honestly don't think the balance of the Tau codex is in the right spot.  They seem to annihilate most of their counters and make up for their weakness of low I, WS and poor CC with outright impossible firepower and extreme overkill.  Not to mention most of these scenarios ignores cover, is twin-linked, has volumes upon volumes of high S attacks, and is just capable of destroying most answers forced to meet them.  There's Skyfire, Intercept, but most of the time you don't even need protection vs. air because you just twin-linked and/or marker it to death.  Broadsides stand out as the most problematic, the Marker Drone Crisis Suit Leader is another, the +1ROF Ethereal with Fire Warriors on OW duty, the Riptide being god damn amazing, and someone tell me why would you take anything else other than SMS?

1/5 for External Balance.  Get some real playtesters GW.


OrdoBob said...

Agree 100%

Jason Mace said...

I have to agree. I use mine in casual games anymore.

Moros said...

Yep, Tau is completely broken... its akind to 7th edition Fantasy Daemons and should seriously be considered for being banned in tournaments. It IS that bad.

Valegorn said...

This really saddens me. Like grey knights of 5th, I love the Tau to death, played them, then a new dex gets released and boom, they're OP. Since I value good fun over winning, I find I can't take the OP army that I love without seeming like a dick. Meh, who knows, maybe Tyranids (or any future release) will turn out to effectively counter the Tau.

Razgriz said...

how about "they shall know no fear" it outright removes a whole bunch of stuff too and you don't see people complaining about it.

Morgrim Dark said...

Battle Focus in the new Eldar "breaks" the run rules. Over many years of playing 40k there have always been complaints of armies breaking core mechanics when it's really just GW trying to craft something new and different so that we aren't stuck playing with the same set of rules over and over and over again.

6th edition (and subsequent codex releases) feels like a move back to basement 40k - more narrative and less competitive. The new Tau book shores up some weaknesses as mentioned by the OP but it clearly retains deficiencies such as low I and low WS. Likewise Tau lost some of the mobility that the Eldar seem so have found. We have already started to see more and more characteristic tests, many of which will hit Tau like an Achilles Heel. The riptide falls readily to JOTWW and the Eldar characters have WS tests that punish low WS characters in combat.

To be fair, the Tau are a "good" book (as in, I can see purpose for each and every unit) and incorporate many more synergistic rules than any other current army (perhaps 6e psychic power 'nids are up there for synergy). In fact I have been considering a handful of house rules so that my opponents have more fun playing against the (Ethereal ROF doesn't work in Overwatch for example). But that may be until such time as my regulars have figured out how to break a Tau flank and more effectively play against them.

Tim W said...

Sup, Austin.

I'd say the ethereal power is one that could be limited in overwatch. It just gets disgusting how many shots get through. Tau beat you at range, and then get more effective the closer you get.

I agree with you. Tau stat lines can be exploited by other armies pretty effectively. Given that they also don't have any psychic defense other than "shoot the psyker", psykers can snipe key tau characters like the ethereal, commander and riptide.

That said...Tau are strong and borderline cheese. Gotta love those little blue-skinned bastards.
-Tim W.

ShasEl_Mike said...

As someone who picked up Tau when they were in the doghouse in post-SW 5th, it amuses me that they are considered so broken. Comparing the two codexes, not all that much changed. Indeed, Tau lost the ability to auto-remove av13/14 from the table that used to define them. It's more like the core rulebook mechanics had a vote and decided to become pro-Tau. The fishheads didn't become all that much more powerful, the game shifted decidedly in their direction and away from all others.

Jay Wornham said...

The thing with Tau, for me anyway, is that they force an opponent to think about them when they plan their army lists. My group and I enjoy bringing balanced, 'all-comer' lists and those simply do NOT work against Tau. Transport-rush? Dead. Assault element? Dead. Attack vehicles? Dead. Deep striking Terminator crazy squads of in-your-face awesomeness? Pretty damned near dead right away. I've been playing my Blood Angels for awhile now, and they're are the opposite of a 'cheezy' force the way I play them (Tac squads in Rhinos, Ass squads with jump packs, Destructor, Flamestorms flanking, and the good parts- a single Furioso in a Drop Pod and a single Vindie), and I've had some relatively close games against equally 'themed' Orks, IG, and Chaos Marines. But then I run into Tau and find it a colossal waste of time.
Now I have all things I need to make my Blood Angels crazy powerful (Land Raider, Terminators, 2 MORE Furiosos dropping from the sky, more Vindies, etc), but I don't want to HAVE TO play these as they may make my opponent have less fun in our games. But playing against the Tau (and not powerfully-designed lists) has forced me to think seriously about changing. It's not that the Tau are unbeatable, but they do force the meta-shift to the point that the idea of 'well-rounded, all-comers' lists doesn't work against them. And that makes me sad.
Or does it? After all, being forced to play cheezy really only justifies being 'that guy'. And can someone be mad at 'that guy' if he is forced into it? Hmmm... Mwahahahaha!

taipan567 said...

1/10, would read again

You're being too pessimistic. Tau have no answers in melee, they rely entirely on Allies to shore up their defenses in that department. Their Troops are pretty lackluster, and easy to kill. Battle cannons and S8+ still rape Crisis, as do plasma cannons. Broadsides are a pain, but if you manage to get anything into melee with them they're dead/useless. Riptide is amazing, but you can kill it with other MC's and massed AP2. You also forget that Tau are not cheap, especially with the upgrades you usually wanna take, plus pure support like Pathfinders or Marker Drones.

Supporting Fire is very overrated. Sure, if you're a pure melee list, it will suck, but you don't charge their gunline without softening them up first. You can also charge from certain angles and deny it even going off. Markerlights are usually on weak platforms that can be murdered rather easily, Skyray only brings two so its an inefficient marker source. Stripping cover only matters if they're ignoring your armour as well, which will only be a few units normally.

I play Tau and other armies as well. They're good, probably Necron good, but like Crons they really want Allies to shore up their weaknesses. If you're losing to them, you aren't closing the distance. Tau win by zoning you out, then moving in Turn 4/5 with their fragile scoring units. They excel in 'Purge' and at getting 'First Blood', because they only need a few key pieces alive to obliterate entire units each Shooting phase.

HERO said...

@Jay Wornham
It's not that the Tau are unbeatable, but they do force the meta-shift to the point that the idea of 'well-rounded, all-comers' lists doesn't work against them.

How is this a good thing? To a point where you have to tailor vs. the Tau? Any army that forces you to tailor hard against it or lose is just outright bad army design. The game should all be about "well-rounded, all-comers" lists, especially in a tournament setting. Or else you're just playing rock-paper-scissors in the most literal of sense.

HERO said...

I would like to know what melee answers you plan on having vs. Tau. What ICs and massed AP2 do you have planned vs. the likes of the Riptide? I'm very sure that Tau have answers to all of those, with most surprise threats answerable with Intercept, air with volume of fire, melee with mass overwatch, and markerlights to make those scenarios worse.

IG do a good job wrestling with Tau from ranged simply because they have more templates, outrange them, and doesn't need to commit any scoring until the coast is clear. What about other armies out there?

taipan567 said...

Destroyer Lords with mindshackle scarabs do pretty well vs Riptide. You also have things like Dreadknights, Daemon Princes, Bloodthirsters, Flyrants, Biker Warboss etc. Riptides are going to be camping back of course, but they're not invulnerable. And if you want to bring down whatever big beasty/IC is gunning for it, the Tau will have to expend a lot of resources that aren't going into your scoring or other threats. Opportunity cost and inefficient trades exist in 40k, you can force them to waste Shooting phases.

For wiping out Tau infantry in melee, you need like 3 Space Marines max to make it in. They might slap down 1-2 in melee with hot dice, but 3+ Marines will stomp both Shas'la and Kroot. You can also do the stealth multi-charge (ie declare one target, but contact two) and potentially tie up two scoring units. Not to mention the ungodly rape things like flamers do to both units on the way in. Sure, they're gonna pulse your face a lot, but you should've been forcing them to GtG with other ranged threats first. Even just tying them up and grinding them down with Shoota Boyz, Guardsmen, Cultists etc is enough.

AV13 spam is a pain for Tau to deal with, with the railgun nerf now in effect. Railheads are going to be 2 max, so you're down to fusion blasters or hoping massed S7 glances it down as alternatives. Meanwhile, BA are bringing a pile of cheap AP3 flamer templates/lascannons on Fast tanks. Or its Necrons, in which case its Ghost Arks constantly bringing back Warriors and Annhilation Barges spamming S7 into scoring/

Markerlights are overrated. For starters, you invariably need to bring the drones with a high BS character, otherwise their output is abysmal for pure support (as markers themselves don't kill anything). You aren't tagging Flyers except on hail mary rolls or Skyray, so forget that (Broadsides are twin-linked anyway). As I mentioned before, most marker platforms are not especially tough, so if they are a real pain your side, you can get rid of them with standard anti-infantry tools. Markers are always an addition to Tau strategy, they cannot be the focus, because they inevitably die after one turn of use.

IG can commit to scoring early and baiting charges if they want. That's why the Blob exists. Unlike Tau, they have cheap infantry they can expend as a mid-field unit, then just bring other scoring like Veterans to bear later. Tau (barring Allies) are stuck with two long-range units that never want to be anywhere near the centreline, nevermind the enemy objectives. Not saying Sniper Kroot or Shas'la are bad in their role (ie shooting your face off from outside 24"), but as flexible scoring they leave a lot to be desired over other factions.

I'm not denying Tau are stupidly strong in the shooting phase. They come close to outshooting IG in some aspects, and they have a neat box of tricks for getting around conventional defenses/tactics (ie stacking cover, bum-rushing melee units in without support, Outflanking/Derpstring etc). But they are utterly abysmal in melee, their Leadership is average across the board, they have zero psykers, they're neither cheap or especially tough etc. They have a plethora of weaknesses you can exploit with the right tools.

HERO said...

Tau eliminates the use of cover, so you have to rely on Invul saves and generically high T/AV to withstand their shooting. If 3 marines get near Tau for example, and they charge a gunline with supporting elements + 50-point Ethereal with +1 to Pulse, they die before they reach melee.

Tau might be abysmal in melee, but they more than make up for it with an unholy shooting phase, leaving most transports for melee wrecked, their contents stranded or dead. The only real weakness that Tau has they have made up with this edition's huge emphasis on shooting, removing cover for the vehicles that wants to get these melee elements in their face, and being able to kill anything they want in a shooting phase with half the cost and commitment compared to the last book.

Also, not everyone has the tools that you're talking about. I play Dark Eldar and Eldar, and the entire jig of Fast Skimmers is their cover save. SMS, plentiful markerlights and plentiful twin-linked S7 shooting eliminates this entirely. With Dark Eldar, I shouldn't even bother fielding an army vs. Tau. I just hope Eldar's foot Wraiths and Fire Prims will be able to change the current meta. Right now, I see bad matchups with all armies vs. the upstart Tau.

Lastly, it seems that Tau are very auto-pilot in terms of army playstyle. At this point, I think even marines need more thought to play than Tau.

Jay Wornham said...

I do agree with you on this. I am nowhere near happy about how the Tau have had this much of an impact on the overall meta, and that I have to play more 'cheezy' to have any fun no the tabletop. But what is fun is now this book (and ONLY this book) gives me the reason to play that cheezy way I avoid so much. If the Tau players out there want to believe that their army is in any way a fun battle for the opponent, then I shall take a perverse joy in slapping down the LR-spam and Drop Pod-spam that I've always wondered how it felt. Luckily, I still feel that only the Tau deserve.
In any case, I do agree with your sentiment. I've spent hours talking to my 'tournie buddies' and helping them understand how frustrating it has been for me. And in the process, I think I may have sold a ton of Tau many states away... Whoops.

HERO said...

Drop Pods are lost cost vs. Tau, just deploy tight and defensive and your Riptides should have Early Warning on them anyway. Marines come out of their Drop Pods and eat a AP2 large blast before the game starts. If only Furiosos can assault the turn they come down, I bet Tau will be crying right now. Unfortunately, it looks like LR and Helldrake spam it is to keep Tau on their toes. As an Eldar player, I weep at the fact I have neither.

Valegorn said...

which really bums and old veteran Tau player (among other things) out like me who enjoyed the challenges of a 4th ed codex.

Jay Wornham said...

That's why multiple Drop Pods are key. Building the 'shield wall' with them and saturating the area with enough units to force the Tau to make choices is key to overwhelming their awesome shooting. Plus, that shield wall means the rest of the army can advance in peace for at least a round, and that can make all the difference. After all, not being shot at for a single round by the Tau can make a huge difference.

Jay Wornham said...

I wholly agree with you here. It's not Tau players that I'm necessarily against (I actually am one myself, and even had the joy of wearing the Power Armour when they were initially released in Oct '01). But I do have to play to a codex's strength, and that means having to make some choices that I normally wouldn't. Example: Rhinos don't work against Tau, and bringing the Storm Raven isn't going to add any real benefit. But taking three Furioso Dreadnoughts in Drop Pods can utterly ruin the fire-line of the Tau and allow me to use my Rhinos. One Drop Pod, no good. Two Drop Pods, slightly better. But three? That's so good that it can make the rest of my army actually work against them. I don't normally play like that against other players (unless I have to), but the Tau BOOK almost requires me to do this.
Just like I stated in the 'cheeze' discussion, it's not the player's fault. It's the book that does it (in this case, anyway). I can't blame the player for having something so good that I have to rethink my strategy. But I do have to be smart enough to be willing to do so.

Valegorn said...

ok, sounds like I may have read you wrong. Cheers bud.

rihker said...

And there lies the crux of your problem. You play DE. So did I. For a long time, used to enjoy them too. Now they really suck. Tau counter everything DE do well, and I mean really well. When the basic Tau trooper with no heavy weapons can just ROFLstomp DE's trump cards, the fast skimmers, then what hope do you really have. Now all those power armour wearing beginner armies will be saying 'what? Tau are not so bad', but us 5+ers, who need cover, because everything in this game ignores our "armour" understand exactly what you are saying. So, no I don't think Tau are at all OP, but to you trying to do your best with an awful army such as DE, they are certainly going to seem like it. I don't know what to say. The best advise I have been given so far has been to try golf. It's relaxing.

HERO said...

I've consulted with other players using different armies as well, ranging from all flavors of MEQ, to Nids to Guard. Do you think everyone who posted here thus far only plays DE? Come on man.

Grovel said...

Akin to 7th Daemons? Did you actually play fantasy in 7th?

rihker said...

Yeah, but you have to admit that Tau are the hard counter to Dark Eldar, probably more than any other army. Guard can smash them with artillery and have lots of bodies/guns, MEQ have good armour and toughness, plus, like guard are a shooting army, so can go toe to toe, Nids will struggle by merit of being an assault focused army. DE try to be a shooting army, but have midling guns, no armour and now, no cover, so no hope. I'm sure you have collected anecdotal evidence from numerous players, but you posted the article, and all I am saying is, as a DE player, i know where you are coming from. Go to some competitive tourney's though, and you will see that Tau are not OP. That crown still belongs to Crons&Gk.

taipan567 said...

Again, you're assuming the markerlights A: hit and B: are still alive. Tau don't just auto-ignore cover (except with the one MSS Shas'O they get), they still need to hit with markers.

I wasn't saying 3 Marines would survive their gunline. You misunderstand. I'm saying if even 3 Marines survive to reach the Fire Warriors (after all Supporting Fire etc has happened), you are screwed.

Don't bring AV11 against Tau, they excel at wrecking it. Fast movers (don't Outflank/Derpstrike, that just lets the Riptide shoot you for free with Interceptor) are key. Assault Marine BA might get a bit of a resurgence, their FNP works against 90% of Tau shooting in 6th. Its a tough battle, but Tau are this editions shooty xenos faction (IG are the more flexible Imperial shooty faction, who can tarpit and claim objectives too). I'm glad they're forcing people out of their comfort zone, 5th edition mech spam is finally dead with Tau and Crons now established as strong xenos forces.

Yeah, DE are up shit creek, but they're not a top-tier army, they're a spoiler list for elite Marine forces. Same for Eldar, their new book didn't make them better, just slightly shifted things a bit (Wraith armies are more viable). The space elves are going to remain irrelevant for another edition (shrug)

Tau are not auto-pilot by any means. You have to prioritise targets, plan killzones, put screens to prevent your key units from getting tied up/murdered in melee etc. Even with Allies to shore up weaknesses, you still need good tactical skills to make the army work. The same argument got trotted out in 5th about Knights, and its just not true.

HERO said...

I don't think it's hard to have Markerlights hit. There are several options to do so, including allying with Eldar for double Guide. AV11 and under are screwed vs. Tau, you know it as well as I do. Same with marines coming down from pods due to Intercepting S8 AP2 large blast Riptides. Marines with BA FNP might do well, but they eat huge wound saturation and if many survive an onslaught, I would be thrilled. It's the over-charge S8 AP2 blast from the Riptides that worry me.

It really is the edition inadvertently buffs the Tau more than anything else. No charging from Outflank, emphasis on shooting, Overwatch, weight of fire on twin-linked missiles don't care about Skyfire, can't assault out of disembark, no melee consolidation to get back into combat, sitting ducks after destroying a vehicle in melee, decreased cover (like it matters), the list goes on and on.

Post a Comment