Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Tau - the Firestorm Enclave is born!

Greetings all, time for another list post! A little while ago you may remember I posted up a couple of potential lists I was working on in terms of starting a new army, one for the Genestealer Cult and one for the Tau.

Since then, those ideas have largely sat around in my hobby folder and nothing has happened with them, but in working away the other night on my colour scheme for them, I reignited a bit of a flame for them, so I sat back down and took another look at the list I'd written, armed with a few more examples of Tau lists from battle reports I've seen and a little more information on how the units tie in together, plus a whole whack more experience of 8th edition. List discussion comes after the break.



The List - 2000 points

Ok so let's get straight into this just with one precursor - I do not want to play comander spam.

Vanguard Detachment

Commander Hammerfall
Tau Commander with 3 Fusion Blasters, Shield Generator and 2 Shield Drones

Crisis Team 'Meteor'
1 Shas'Vre with 2 Fusion Blasters and Drone Controller
2 Shas'Ui with 2 Fusion Blasters and Multi-trackers
4 Marker Drones

Stealth Team 'Ember'
1 Shas'Vre with Burst Cannon and Advanced Targeting System
5 Shas'Ui with Burst Cannons and Advanced Targeting Systems

Ghostkeel 'Backdraft'
1 Ghostkeel Shas'Vre with 2 Fusion Blasters, Fusion Collider, 2 Stealth Drones, Shield Generator and Target Lock

Battalion Detachment

Ethereal Aun'Do 'The flame within'
Ethereal on hover drone

Cadre Fireblade 'The firesword'
Cadre Fireblade with Pulse Rifle, Markerlight

Strike Team 1
1 Shas'Ui with Pulse Rifle
9 Shas'O with Pulse Rifles

Strike Team 2
1 Shas'Ui with Pulse Rifle
9 Shas'O with Pulse Rifles

Strike Team 3
1 Shas'Ui with Pulse Rifle
9 Shas'O with Pulse Rifles

Pathfinder Team
5 Pathfinders with Pulse Carbines, Markerlights

Broadside 'Inferno'
1 Shas'Ui with Heavy Rail Rifle, 2 Smart Missile Systems, Target Lock

Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment

Stormsurge 'Conflagration'
1 Stormsurge, 2 Burst Cannons, Cluster Rocket System, 4 Destroyer Missiles, Pulse Driver Cannon, 2 Smart Missile Systems, Advanced Targeting System, Shield Generator, Stimulant Injector

This list is based around the classic 'hammer and anvil' style army that I love to use, with a firebase made up of longer ranged fire support units, and a shorter ranged but more mobile reserve that can come in to claim objectives or collapse a flank.

'The Anvil'
Constructed from the battalion and super heavy detachments, the Stormsurge is clearly the rock around which this part of the force is built. Its firepower has huge potential, and that only increases the closer you get to it as first the smart missile systems and then the burst cannons become effective. In this way I am aiming to layer my firepower from the anvil. At range, I have the pulse driver cannon, which is mainly an anti-tank weapon. This is joined in the anvil by the broadside, which would be deployed close to the ethereal to benefit from the opportunity to re-roll 1's to hit. The heavy rail rifle seems to be a decent anti tank weapon, and whilst the volume of fire the high yield missile pods can output is prodigious, that's not something I think I really struggle with in this army, so I'd prefer the greater punch potential (see note 1). The next layer is then the cluster rockets, reaching out to 48", so will often be in play from early in the game. These are enhanced substantially by the Advanced Targeting system, which increases the efficiency of wounds you cause by about 17%. The next range bracket is then 36", when (thanks to the pathfinder's pulse accelerator drone) the fire warrior squads kick in, adding another 30 shots to the mix, before the smart missile systems add their fire at 30". Finally, once (if) the enemy gets that close, at ranges within 18", the stormsurge adds its burst cannons, the fire warriors triple their output and the pathfinders can start to contribute.

Other elements of the anvil include the markerlights from the pathfinders, which should allow the rest of the anvil to pick up bonuses against key enemy units, and the fireblade, who though his actual fire output is minimal adds another pretty accurate markerlight to the mix.

'The Hammer'
This comes in two parts, one deployed on the board, and the other coming in from reserve. The reasons for this is twofold, first - it allows me to have a threat up the board early in the game acting as a distraction to the opponent that can then be reinforced with the manta reserves to provide overwhelming force, and second because if the enemy doesn't fall for the bait units then the secondary hammer can fall on the other side of the board, catching the opposition in a pincer. The bait units can also encourage this by forcing enemy units into deploying away from them.

The first hammer unit then is the Ghostkeel, maxed out with as much fusion as it can carry so that I can really threaten heavy armour early. Its infiltrate style deployment really allows me to influence enemy deployments, though care does still need to be taken not to get too close without support. In that respect, it's important to keep the deployment passive, to limit incoming damage too - I don't want it deployed so close it gets killed on turn 1! Return fire on the ghostkeel is another reason not to get too close during deployment, because shooting at it from ranges over 12" is subject to a -2 penalty to hit! You certainly don't want to be overcharging weapons at this bad boy! With a potential of 5 fusion shots per turn aiming at tanks, the obvious answer to the ghostkeel is to swamp it with cheap chaff to drown its fire (it can fly but throw enough chaff at it and they will take wounds away). It therefore needs a supporting screen of its own, and that's where the stealth team comes in. I've always loved the stealth suit model (the current one at least) and I think that 6 stealth suits all sporting burst cannons and advanced targeting systems to give them -1AP is pretty nasty deploying near your lines, and will certainly give infantry units something to think about (just as a quick example, six of these guys firing at a marine squad in the open without any re-rolls etc should average 4 kills per turn and the return fire from 6 marines in rapid fire range would only cause a single wound, not enough to drop 1 model). As with the ghostkeel, return fire is hampered by the innate -1 to hit provided by their stealth fields.

The second hammer brings my serious anti-tank to the party. Despite the stormsurge and broadside, and the 3-5 fusion shots from the ghostkeel, the next two units beat all of that hands-down.

First up, we have the commander, bringing 3 fusion blasters and a shield generator. I'd normally expect him to also be my warlord, taking tenacious survivor for a 6+ feel no pain, so by giving him all that and a couple of shield drones, I should be pretty resilient. I did debate giving him a fourth fusion blaster but the trade off with the 4++ invulnerable save was too tempting. Even so, 3 fusion blaster hits are more than capable of finishing off tanks on their own. He's got backup however, with a squad of crisis suits with fusion blasters (another 6 in total) meaning that this element of the hammer really can put down any massed vehicle list pretty quickly. Add to that, the crisis suits are accompanied by another 4 markerlights, boosted to BS4+ by the drone controller on the Shas'Vre. That brings the total for the army up to 10, most of which hit on no worse than a 4+, which should comfortably let me hammer (haha) any particular unit in the enemy army that needs to die quickly.

So there you have it, there are of course other things that help oil the workings of the list, including the ethereal's powers, the commander's kauyon/mont'ka ability etc, but overall the plan in most games is to have that solid firebase controlling the key areas of my deployment zone, with a nasty thorn in the enemy side from the stealth units that can dramatically increase its power if necessary or take some of the heat from my reserve units, allowing them to capture key areas of the battlefield.

Note 1.
I thought long and hard about the broadside weapon options here, because when you look at them, there's a genuine choice to be made. In the end however, the key factor was that I would need support against tank units in the firebase, but less so in terms of volume fire. Equally, I figured that the likelihood of hitting the maximum damage output from the heavy rail rifle would be easier to get than the maxing out the damage from the missiles, because the odds of rolling sixes on two dice is much better than doing the same on 8 dice, and therefore in some ways the reliability of damage from the hrr is higher.

Conclusions

Please do take the time to let me know what you think of the list - I do read all the comments on my blog and respond to all where a response would be appropriate, and if I'm missing a really important unit I'd like to know before I go off and start buying models!

Also look out for a fluff post on these guys in the not too distant future explaining their origins, their nomenclature etc.