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 How to Take on Tau

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SCP Yeeman
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PostSubject: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 10 2020, 16:55

I am hoping once this whole world-wide pandemic ends we can all get back to the hobby we love and enjoy so much.  I also hope you all are staying safe!

So when I think of opponents and armies I do not want to face, Tau is the one that comes to the forefront the most.  Thinking about having to walk into the firepower they have, the resiliency via drones, and in some cases the maneuverability to grab objectives and "snipe" key units with movement is a scary proposition.  

I find myself asking the question, "How do I actually win this game?" Now when I see the tournament lists that are out there and how they play, my current iteration of a list may not have what it takes to take this Tau-Wall down.  I will admit, I have not faced off against Tau and the lists that are making its rounds on the Inet.

So let's use this thread to come up with different tactics on taking them down. I will throw up the stereo-typical list that most Tau players use as a base.  We will need to keep in mind that some people will change some things out for flavor or personal bias.  

Tau List:

Brian Pullen's SoCal Open List

++ Outrider Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [25 PL, 465pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [7 PL, 135pts]: Drone controller, 3x Fusion blaster

FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone
FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone
FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [51 PL, 1,022pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 182pts]: 4x Fusion blaster . 2x MV4 Shield Drone

Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T’au Empire) [28 PL, 511pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 182pts]: 4x Fusion blaster, 2x Shield Drone
HQ: Ethereal [4 PL, 70pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Honour blade, Hover drone, Warlord, 2x MV4 Shield Drone, Puretide engram neurochip

Troops: Strike Team; Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x Shield Drone
Troops: Strike Team; Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x Shield Drone
Troops: Strike Team; Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x Shield Drone

FA: Pathfinder Team [6 PL, 88pts]: MV31 Pulse Accelerator Drone, MV33 Grav-inhibitor Drone, Recon Drone, 2x Shield Drone, 5x Pathfinder: 5x Markerlight

++ Total: [104 PL, 1,998pts] ++

Basic Tactics:
Hide Riptides behind LOS blocking terrain and horde drones around the Tides. Keep Fire Warriors close as a deterrent for Overwatch (on 5's). Pathfinders are used to Mark a big thing if an opponent has one so the Riptides can take it down in one shooting phase. Coldstar Battlesuits can go like 43'' and with 4 Fusion Blasters are able to snipe characters or take out a key piece of a puzzle for an army. Ethereal give FnP to everything in its bubble.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This next section I want to outline different tactics, units, stratagems, etc. that will help us defeat a list like this. I want to keep it just to Drukhari since it is the Dark City Forum.  Then once we have built this out, we can begin talking about Harlies and Eldar combined.

Dark Eldar Tactics
Deepstriking/Denial-
Webway Portal- Blocks of Warriors, Grotesques, Wyches
Screaming Jets- Any of our vehicles to deny first turn shooting; Be able to target other units
Mandrakes- DS in backfield; Shoot + Assault

Mission Focused- For ITC.. Kill more/Hold more should be obtainable with small Drone units and our movement



Dark Eldar Obsessions:
Flayed Skull- Reliable firepower; Combo w/Screaming Jets; +1 to Hit vs Fly units Stratagem (Riptides/Suits/Drones)



Dark Eldar Weaponry/Relics:
Vexator Mask- Deny Overwatch



Dark Eldar Units:
Haywire Units- Mortal wounds




So I have a basic list going.  I could have made it more comprehensive, but I want people here to start adding things in the comments so we can add to this list, not just my thoughts on units. We can add to the basic-ness I have on here, but I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I will contantly upgrade the list as comments pour in.

Maybe this will eventually be a Sticker for the Tactics so we can refer to this constantly if people need help. So send in comments and thoughts on how to beat Tau!  Thanks for all of your help in advance!
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False Son
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeSat Apr 11 2020, 03:43

@SCP Yeeman wrote:

Dark Eldar Units:
Haywire Units- Mortal wounds

A few problems there. Riptides are not vehicles, so Haywire attacks won't cause mortal wounds. Even if they did, Saviour Protocols stops the mortal wounds because they are generated as part of the to-wound roll. Mortal wounds caused by Bladed Impact, Cluster Caltrops, Eviscerating Flyby and Void Mine wound apply, because those are not caused by an attack with a to-wound roll.

Torment Grenade could effect the Riptide, but only if it failed the initial to-wound roll from the PGL. If you managed to wound with the PGL the Ld test would go against the Drones.
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SCP Yeeman
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeSat Apr 11 2020, 18:38

Yes your right about Haywire, that is my mistake. With them being Monsters, Test of Skill looks rather enticing. It is not a reach as some people are already using a Flier Wing with it or a Wych Based army.

Savior Protocols will stop most things. And if you are able to clear those drones out, the Riptides should be easy pickings for Venoms and Poison; albeit more difficult as you will be taking casualties.

What else do we have?
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fisheyes
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon Apr 13 2020, 12:20

Tau are not too happy about Venom spam. The main way to deal with Venoms is in CC (no -1 to hit or 5++ in CC), which Tau do not like.

Otherwise I have found it hard to chew through Shield Drones. Math says their 4++/5+++ is equal to a 3++ in most situations, so logic tells me that splinter is the way to go (9 splinter shots per wound, for you Math hammer fans). In practice, it feels like unloading a Venom+boys into a drone squad does almost nothing (should kill 2 drones per the math).

We really lack the Mortal Wound generation that many other factions have. Been playing against a Psyker heavy Nid player recently, and really feeling the disparity on those sweet MWs.
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False Son
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon Apr 13 2020, 18:51

The problem with Tau is that our tricks don't always apply. Drones are neither vehicles or infantry, so
Haywire and No Escape do not work on them. Slashing Impact does not work. But, Dark Harvest does.

I don't think we have any easy fixes. One of the things that stands out to me is the low Ld of Tactical Drones. Torment Grenades is tailor made to hurt Shield Drones. Killing 5 models and hitting them with a PGL puts them at flat dice for casualties in the Morale Phase. Killing 7 would make it dice +2, or the unit dead on a 2+.

The good news is that the Tactical Drones have to die anyway. Without Markerlights the armies is far less intimidating.
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fisheyes
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeTue Apr 14 2020, 12:23

Just curious, but did he actually take an Enforcer Commander with 3x fusion? The main benefit of the Enforcer over the Coldstar is the ability to take Cyclic Ion Blasters (basically plasma guns with more shots and D3 damage), which is far more effective against us.

We also have the Vexator Mask, which allows a Haemonculus to ignore overwatch (along with a few other goodies).
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False Son
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 17 2020, 15:06

The more I dwell on it, one of our best units for taking down Shield Drones are Hellions. Their Hellglaives are well suited to marginalize the ignore injury roll. Between Combat Drugs and Cult of Stryfe of Cursed Blade you can get a +1S, +1A bonus going.
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SCP Yeeman
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeFri Apr 17 2020, 17:50

Do you say Hellions because of the damage 2 or the ability to reliably damage Riptide?

The damage 2 doesn't make a difference because drones only make one roll to ignore damage, not like FnP where you take one for each point of damage. So of we hit a Riptide with 6 damage with a Blaster or Lance, they shift it to a drone, they will only make 1 5+ roll to ignore it, not 6. That is a big reason why it is so stupid.
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sekac
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeSat Apr 18 2020, 15:26

@SCP Yeeman wrote:
Do you say Hellions because of the damage 2 or the ability to reliably damage Riptide?

The damage 2 doesn't make a difference because drones only make one roll to ignore damage, not like FnP where you take one for each point of damage. So of we hit a Riptide with 6 damage with a Blaster or Lance, they shift it to a drone, they will only make 1 5+ roll to ignore it, not 6. That is a big reason why it is so stupid.

I believe that he's advocating attacking the drones directly. Force them to take multiple FnP saves to drag them down quickly, then shift firepower to priority targets once their defenses are down.
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False Son
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon Apr 20 2020, 19:22

Yes. Attack the drones directly. I'm split on the math of Blasters/Dark Lances against the Riptide, vs the Shield Drone. The math is there for killing the Drones, but then again, there's that 1/6 chance Saviour Protocols fails and you have a chance to hurt the Ripdtide.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon Apr 20 2020, 19:25

Correct. By attacking the Shield Drones directly they will get their 4++ save, then must pass two 5+++ saves (1/9 chance of passing). Makes their FNP very hard to pass, but you still need to get into CC with them and get through the 4++ save
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AzraeI
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon May 04 2020, 01:42

dont charge tau (tau tau) without shenanigans
tau want to be charged
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Gelmir
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon May 04 2020, 08:49

My experience with Tau is that if they don't blast you off the table in 2 turns, that means you reach them and they die. You need to get in close combat, but you will die because of overwatch (or even before that) if you don't plan something against that. Expect your opponent to go all-out the first turn.

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The Strange Dark One
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon May 04 2020, 19:19

While I haven't faced Tau in 8th yet, I've been contemplating about beating Tau ever since I saw a DE battle report against them.

I think the -1 to hit is a key advantage we should leverage. But despite that I think Venoms are too squishy to bring back their points. You can take Flayed Skull but your Venoms get blown up regardless and leave your Warriors stranded without an obsession. Looking at the numbers, Splinter fire just doesn't seem to cut it...

I'm not even sure if Kabal is worth it since your enemy can kill a lot of points during his turn of shooting and you never win the outshooting game. However, I am tempted by the options that the Poisoned Tongue obsession gives us.

Even with transports getting blown off, the PT Warriors still get buffs outside of their boats. On top, Warriors will re-roll hits and wounds of 1 when they stand next to an Archon. And with "Insidious Misdirection" you can mitigate his shooting if he goes first. Heck, even Towering Arrogance might be worth it since your Archon probably explodes the moment he charges anyway.

Sure, the Flayed Skull stratagem sounds effective but I doubt you often get to use it to its full effect.

Furthermore, I think an unexplored counter are fliers due to their -1 to hit. And ever since Razorwings and Ravagers got more expensive, I've been tempted of getting a Voidraven. The Void Mine should leave a nice hole in a squad of tactical drones or Fire Warriors. Factor in the PGL and you look at a grim battleshock just from that alone.

Now take another 2 Razorwings in a Flyer detachment with the "Test of Skill" and you have a lot of firepower that is not trivial to get rid of. Razorwings also make up for missing Splinter Fire if you go light on Kabal. The Necrotoxin Missiles are no joke and are equivalent to 10 Splinter Rifle shots. And your Disintegrators will wound his army on a 2+ (with exception of the Riptide, which is what you have your Voidraven's Dark Scythes for).

I would almost suggest getting 3 x 5 Wyches to form a Wych batallion but in said battle report, Hellions and Wyches either died during charging or the turn after... However, the Reavers put out a lot of mortal wounds due to their Caltrops. At T5, they are also fairly durable and put pressure on the Tau early on.

As for Covens, if you don't go full-out on Taloi I'm afraid they all get shot off the board before they do much. And if you bring Grotesques, you know their transport gets blown off T1.

However, Wracks are dirt cheap for the durability they bring. They are one of the few units to likely survive the overwatch galore and you can make them sit on objectives, potentially drawing away shots from other units. AND you can strategically re-deploy + re-fill them with Black Cornucopians. I'm not even sure you should buy them all a transport but have more bodies instead.

Finally, don't forget about the sweetness that is the Vexator Mask and those +5 CP if you make a Coven Batallion.

Alternatively, Dark Technomancers + Dark Harvest has some serious potential. At D3, you could theoretically instagib Crisis Suits. And if your Wracks make the charge, the Tau needs to eat some Mortal Wounds. The custom obsessions are riskier and more gimmicky, but potentially more rewarding.

Again, I haven't played against Tau myself yet and this is all just theorycrafting.

@False Son wrote:
The problem with Tau is that our tricks don't always apply.  Drones are neither vehicles or infantry, so
Haywire and No Escape do not work on them.  Slashing Impact does not work.  But, Dark Harvest does.

I don't think we have any easy fixes.  One of the things that stands out to me is the low Ld of Tactical Drones.  Torment Grenades is tailor made to hurt Shield Drones.  Killing 5 models and hitting them with a PGL puts them at flat dice for casualties in the Morale Phase.  Killing 7 would make it dice +2, or the unit dead on a 2+.

The good news is that the Tactical Drones have to die anyway.  Without Markerlights the armies is far less intimidating.

I had the exact same impressions. However, why doesn't Slashing Impact work? I'm fairly certain the rule applies to Infantry, Bikers and Monsters. So, while it does not work on the Sturmsurge everything should be affected.
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amishprn86
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeMon May 04 2020, 23:38

I have only faced tau oddly in 8th (many times too) with my SOB, even tho i have the least amount of games in 8th with my SoB (like 20 lol) for some reason its always against Tau and Orks...

So i can't give first hand advice with DE, but iw ould just play them like any other fast moving, that can castle up list with lots of guns. Hug cover and LoS, strike flanks and strike hard.

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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeTue May 05 2020, 01:31

If you're open to allying in Harlequins, Silent Shroud could be worth a look for a couple reasons mentioned above.

I often run a small Outrider detachment of a Shadowseer, Solitaire with Starmist Raiment (no overwatch relic), and 3 units of 2 skyweavers with haywire and zephyrglaives. Haywire will likely not be too impressive with Tau, but thatd my TAC build. It's only 484 points and I rotate through different masques depending on the rest of my list.

Silent Shroud confers -1 Ld to any drone squad within 6" of the 5 different units with that debuff aura AND they must roll 2 dice and pick the highest. With the Shards of Light psychic power (casts on 7, so don't plan on it), you inflict D3 wounds and a further -1 Ld. Then shoot with the HGL on the solitaire to make them take another D3 mortals. Throw in a couple PGLs and keep the Torment Grenade stratagem in your back pocket and you can saturate the drones with mortal wounds and then crippling -2 or -3 (before wounds inflicted) Ld tests.

On top of that, they have a 2CP stratagem to stop overwatch. So that plus the Solitaire is 2 overwatch blocks per turn which should be more than enough to sink your teeth into that castle.

A PoF battallion of 2 haemonculi and 30 wracks will take Tau forever to kill, offers another relic to stop overwatch, and the extra D3 CPs helps fuel the Silent Shroud overwatch blocks.

I'd add another battalion to that and there are more options there. Either a Kabal battalion with ravagers and flyers, or a Dark Technomancer battalion with Taloi and transports. But a wych ToS battalion with 2 voidravens is pretty sweet too.
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False Son
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeTue May 05 2020, 17:43

@The Strange Dark One wrote:


@False Son wrote:
The problem with Tau is that our tricks don't always apply.  Drones are neither vehicles or infantry, so
Haywire and No Escape do not work on them.  Slashing Impact does not work.  But, Dark Harvest does.

I don't think we have any easy fixes.  One of the things that stands out to me is the low Ld of Tactical Drones.  Torment Grenades is tailor made to hurt Shield Drones.  Killing 5 models and hitting them with a PGL puts them at flat dice for casualties in the Morale Phase.  Killing 7 would make it dice +2, or the unit dead on a 2+.

The good news is that the Tactical Drones have to die anyway.  Without Markerlights the armies is far less intimidating.

I had the exact same impressions. However, why doesn't Slashing Impact work? I'm fairly certain the rule applies to Infantry, Bikers and Monsters. So, while it does not work on the Sturmsurge everything should be affected.

Because Tactical Drones are not Infantry, Bikers or Monsters. They are Drones. Battlesuits likewise, Battlesuits. Not Infantry. Poisoned weapons still work. But, lots of little things we take for granted, like the +1 bonus for Eviscerating Flyby doesn't not apply, either, because not Infantry. No Escape on Wyches, too. Drones and Battlesuits are categories onto themselves that makes them better than Infantry o Vehicles by being neither.
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PostSubject: Re: How to Take on Tau   How to Take on Tau I_icon_minitimeFri May 15 2020, 04:18

The new "Humbling Cruelty" Pivotal Role for Harlequins' Death Jesters allows for a cheap ranged option to deny Overwatch to a key unit, which is obviously massive against Tau. This is much more forgiving to use than the classic Vexator Mask as you don't need your slow Haemonculus to be in a specific position right in front of the Tau castle, and you don't have to hope to make it in with the Haemonculus' charge.

Also, without needing to be Prophets (which I am not a fan of anyway) you have even more reasons to go Artists of the Flesh with your Coven units to mitigate multi damage weapons, dramatically increasingly your resilience. Artist Talos can easily charge into Riptides and shrug off their Overwatch without taking much damage.

My current list (still tweaking periodically) looks like this:

Black Heart Battalion
Drazhar (Warlord)
Archon with Writ & Huskblade
4x5 Kabalites with Blaster
3 Ravagers with Dissies
5 Venoms

Artists of the Flesh Spearhead
Haemonculus with Whip
3 Talos with Flails, Scalpels & Haywire
3 Talos with Flails, Scalpels & Haywire
2 Talos with Flails, Scalpels & Haywire

Silent Shroud Auxiliary Support
Death Jester with Humbling Cruelty

Against Tau in ITC, the plan with this list is to dominate the centre of the board in the first two turns, and score as many points on secondaries such as King of the Hill and Recon as you can, while taking out markerlights, chipping wounds off Riptides and trimming the drone count at range. Be careful not to allow Coldstars to yolo into your lines to melt characters. Turns 3 and 4 you should have maxed your area-based secondaries, and can start lining up charges.

While I'm seldom happy to see Tau on the other end of the table, I would feel confident with this list against any traditional Riptide-based Tau list.

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