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Author Topic: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)  (Read 1566 times)

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Offline Wyddr

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The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« on: July 2, 2017, 10:43:12 PM »
Okay, so I've been turning over the new Tau for a week or two now and I feel prepared to talk about them and how they compare with the rest of the current armies, at least from an armchair perspective. I don't think the prognosis for this army looks especially good nor do I think the army plays as it ought to. In this sense, I think this is one of the worst iterations of the Tau to date, right down there with 5th Edition (which was *the* worst).

General Assumptions
To my mind, the signature units of the Tau are their battlesuits and the signiture playstyle is their ability to make pinpoint shooting attacks from mobile platforms that hobble the enemy before they get into close combat.

The current edition of the rules has seen most infantry get faster in several ways, has increased the ability to alpha strike, and made first turn assaults entirely possible. Vehicles (and notably transports) have gotten much tougher, making it much harder to prevent a close-quarters battle from happening. Furthermore, the capacity for assaulting units to tie up enemy units with consolidation moves is back, making close-order formations a significant risk and large assaulting units very dangerous to gunlines. It seems as though most armies need to find a way to make do in the charge/fight phases of the game.

The Tau Strategic Dilemma
In this faster environment with tougher transports and reliable reserves/deepstriking, as well as the larger divide between assault specialists and regular troops, the Tau, more than ever, need to be more mobile and be able to level greater firepower to survive.

However, Tau firepower has not increased overmuch. They have the distinction of being able to largely wound everything on 5s, but their access to high-AP weapons and multiple-wound damage weapons are rather severely restricted. This, coupled with the fact that markerlights are less powerful (if more broadly useful) and the army has no access to any BS better than 4+ apart from Vehicles, makes the Tau shooting phase less effective than in previous editions. We're basically shooting like we did in 3rd/4th Edition, which would be fine but for the fact that other armies are doing better in this category than they were.

Furthermore, the Tau have lost some maneuverability thanks to the elimination of Jump-Shoot-Jump, which has been replaced with the Fly mechanics. This don't help much, since they are predicated on the fact that the Tau unit in question survives combat in the first place. The Tau are not much good at this.

The Infantry
I'll start with some of the good news first.

Strike Teams have gotten a little cheaper and shoot basically as well as before (minus easy access to BS boosts). The loss of the pinning mechanic, while never crucial to the Tau gameplan, is a notable blow, given than it was very useful when it happened. Photon grenades are objectively better. 

Breacher Teams are arguably worse than they were before against MEQs, but substantially better against TEQs--your metagame probably dictates whether this is worth it or not. Their problem--that of mainly having to get super close to do their best damage, but that damage not being sufficient to prevent them from being wiped out immediately thereafter--hasn't gone away at all. Because you can't arrange for them to be boosted to a 2+ BS easily anymore, that problem is arguably worse. They're a bit cheaper, though, so that's it.

Pathfinders are dirt cheap now and that's good, but their markerlights, as mentioned, are only "meh." Their special weapons are overpriced, but given the choice between equipping a Pathfinder or shelling out for a whole Crisis Suits, the Pathfinder sounds damned attractive. I generally like these now. One possibly beneficial side-effect of the markerlight nerf might be that people don't shoot them off the board turn one anymore. 

Kroot are legitimately terrible now. What once made Kroot very useful--their infiltrate ability, field-craft, and boosted cover saves--are all gone now. They don't even have access to sniper ammo anymore. About their only role is as cannon fodder or assault buffers. Certainly an important role, but I've never really liked paying points for units that will do no damage and die outright to a stiff breeze. Cover barely even helps them anymore. Blech.

Kroothounds are ostensibly the only thing in the army definable as a "counter charge" unit. They are really bad at it, though, and compete for Fast Attack slots which are already competitive. You need lots and lots of these guys to work. I do, however, like them a bit better than Kroot themselves.

Shapers are every bit as worthless as they've always been, which is saying something. You'd think they'd finally give these guys a tactical purpose besides "I desperately want to waste the cost of 5 Kroot on a guy who makes my Kroot "braver." As if Kroot ever take anything but massive casualties that would result in the unit being wiped and isn't that the only point of Kroot now, anyway, so what the hell are we even doing?

Krootoxen are overpriced autocannons with a worse statline. They hit reasonably hard in assault, but why anybody would expect them to survive long enough *to* assault is somewhat suspect. Basically you need to buy the assault abilities to get the gun, but don't really want to use the assault abilities because then you will probably lose the gun you wanted in the first place. They have the distinction, however, of being the cheapest platform for heavy weapons in the army, so there's that.

Vespid are the shining stars, here. Fast, tougher than before, better shooting, good deployment options, and cheap as chips for what they do. I like these guys (though I don't like the models) and can see taking a bunch of them.

Vehicles

Devilfish are mostly okay. They are about 30-40 points more expensive than before, but are suitably durable to make up for that. Smart Missile Systems are no longer worth it on this tank, though, since you want it to move all the time and paying for those shots at a -1 BS is not a good bargain. Better to take the drones.

Piranha doubled in cost and got a *little* more durable. Firepower, on balance, remained static. The overall reduction of the effectiveness of melta weapons (i.e. no one-shot kills anymore) makes them less attractive fusion blaster caddies. Kicking out a ton of S5 seems mostly what they're good for, but you can get that for cheaper elsewhere.

Hammerheads have returned to the cost of the old 4th/5th edition tank. Their firepower is about the same as it was back then, too, but the tanks can't quite move as easily and still fire their main gun at full effectiveness. The railgun solid shot is okay, though they special ability is mostly just a gimmick (2 extra wounds done once a game? Meh). The cost of the ion cannon vastly outweighs its efficacy, so I kinda doubt those will be seeing much play. Likewise, the Railgun submunition took a pretty hard hit (like most large blasts in the game). I would provisionally say these tanks are still worth it in the absence of any other D6 damage weapons that have a good BS. It's a lot to pay for the privilege, though.

Skyrays have sunk considerably in my esteem. First is because markerlights are really only good en masse, and this tank costs about as much as a Hammerhead for two of them. The second is that their seeker missiles are only so-so. Yes, they're mortal wounds, but they're only one shot each. 6 mortal wounds do not a game win. Hell, they won't even blow up a transport.

Battlesuits
Here is where the army gets kicked in the teeth and I don't quite understand why.

Stealth Suits are approximately as good as before and cost about the same, though the fusion blaster is wildly expensive. I can see using a bunch of these guys.

Crisis Suits got insanely expensive for no particularly good reason. They are modestly more durable, but this is readily counteracted by the loss of their jet pack move. The support systems are lackluster and their weapons are overpriced with the exception of the Burst Cannon. The stand-out here is the missile pod which, despite it's autocannon-esque statline, costs 10 points more than all other autocannon clones out there. Furthermore, you *have* to take 3 of these guys--no more monat suits. The costs are prohibitive (doubled what they used to cost), meaning you are fielding half the guys you used to and they really didn't get *any* more shooty. The only offensive benefit is firing three weapons at once, but at the weapon prices we're paying, that just means fewer guns overall on the board. This wouldn't be so bad if Crisis suits didn't play such a crucial role in the army--they're only real platforms for special weapons we have. I am a total loss as to why they needed to be priced this way. I mean, Christ, you could have at least sprung for a 3+ BS for a unit that is a shooting specialist in a shooting specialized army. When I compare these guys to what other armies can get for the same cost, I cry real tears.

On that note, Riptides have become prohibitively expensive to the point where they are basically unfieldable. They follow a similar pattern as the Crisis Suits: modestly more durable, but same firepower and weaker weapons in the new environment. Is there any godly reason the Ion Accelerator should have a 3-digit price tag? I can't think of one. The Heavy Burst Cannon is the way to go, but even that is pretty lame for what you pay. Oh, yeah, and the Nova thing just automatically does wounds, so I guess the Earth Caste technicians have regressed a step or three.

Ghostkeels are probably the best deal for suits in the army at the moment, weighing in just north of a Hammerhead and having decent weapon systems and area buffs that will pair very well with Stealth suits. 

Broadsides are also super expensive for reasons not entirely clear. The Heavy Rail Rifle is a good gun, though, and maybe worth taking. The point to power ratio here, though, is really bad.

Stormsurges cost about what they ought to cost, given all the guns they're toting. What is crazy is that they aren't *that* much more expensive than a Riptide, but are tougher and have triple the firepower. Go figure.

I'll come back and finish this later--all I need to talk about are Drones and HQs, but it's late and I'm tired.             

Offline The GrimSqueaker

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #1 on: July 2, 2017, 11:09:58 PM »
I skipped 5th, played 6th, skipped 7th and now we have.... yeah.

The costs are quite surprising. Battlesuits are rather expensive while their previous benefits are now standard rules for other armies. Support systems with a few exceptions are rather lackluster. The Skyray used to be one of the few useful anti-air units and now anti-air is the same as moving with a heavy weapon so the benefits just aren't there anymore.

While drones are for the next one, Gun Drones are in a resurgence as they're why not. Since Shield Drones sit there why not have something that'll shoot back? Always loved those guys so more of them in my army is a certainty.
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr\'s Complaints)
« Reply #2 on: July 3, 2017, 09:51:33 AM »
Drones
Gun Drones got great, full stop. Savior Protocols makes them a floating wound bank for anything valuable you pay for, they got waaay cheaper, and throw in a Drone Controller and they'll kick out a ton of firepower. Love these guys, going to be taking lots of them.

Shield Drones, conversely, stopped being worth taking at all, since Savior Protocols bypasses their invul save and they count as separate units from the units that buy them. You're basically paying points for a floating wound nobody is going to willingly shoot at and, if they do, they certainly aren't going to bother with weapons that would make their invul save worth it.

Marker Drones got cheaper, which is good, but the fact that makerlights are less useful coupled with the fact that their BS is still awful and no Jump-shoot-jump means you're better off with pathfinders.

Sniper Drones are just terrible. They are bad at their job (worse, even, than all other snipers) unless you eat another slot to take a spotter or babysit them with a drone controller (and even then, they only hit on 4s). Their guns will not be killing much in the way of characters anytime soon, even assuming you take a bunch of them.

Rando-drones, by which I mean all the other weird drones, are about as useful as they've always been, which is to say "not that useful." Missile drones are perhaps the best of them, costing less than the missile pod they're carrying. Of course, the only guys who can take missile drones are Broadsides or Riptides (shielded missile drones, then), so you're still getting overcharged.

Post Merge: July  3, 2017, 09:42:33 PM
In the future, please use the modify button. Double posting is against the forum rules, and for that reason, the system merged your posts.

HQs

Commanders are pretty reasonable buys, weighing in at between 100 and 150 or so with various options and kicking out accurate special weapon firepower. Some interesting math here: 2 Crisis suits + guns costs a good bit more than a single Commander and has pretty much the exact same defensive stats AND has more or less the exact same offensive output, assuming you aren't triple-gunning your XV8s. Plus, their status as characters makes them even less likely to get blown away. The moral of this story? Make all your XV8s into Commanders unless you have some maddening desire to spend heaps of points on less effective units.

Also of note is the Kauyon/Mont'ka abilities. These are fluffy and cool EXCEPT they only work for units sitting right next to the commander, they are once per game (TOTAL, no matter how many commanders), and you can only use one or the other. So...yeah. 

Ethereals enjoyed a brief period of awesomeness in 6th/7th Edition with Storm of Fire. That time is now elapsed and they provide modest buffs to nearby units for about the same cost as before. That said, they aren't too bad for a gunline and, bonus of bonuses, the whole army doesn't collectively lose its amphetamine parrot or give up a bonus VP if they're killed. Yay!

The Cadre Fireblade got better, in my estimation, since he now does what the Ethereal used to--boosting the firepower of nearby firewarrior teams to pretty spectacular levels. He's also blessedly cheap, so if you lose him while riding along with some FWs, nobody cares. Throw in the fact that he can shoot his markerlight AND his pulse rifle at the same time at different things, and everybody is happy.

Coldstar Battlesuits exist for people who don't like access to the weapons they want and have a desperate desire to see their Commander isolated and assaulted. I'd like this guy if he could take support systems or swap his weapons out, but as it stands he's just an expensive commander who goes faster than you really have any need for him to go.

Commander Farsight is pretty good, I must say--especially for his cost. He's the only damned unit in the whole army who can make a good showing in the assault phase and his special abilities are broadly useful.

Commander Shadowsun, however, is pretty lackluster. Too expensive, the drones she is forced to buy have all the interesting powers (but, of course, killing drones is hardly a challenge), and the damned super-shield drones have the exact same problem regular shield drones do. Getting Kauyon twice would be good for something designed to babysit a gunline, but then you're buying something more expensive than a Hammerhead to be out of range to use its guns half the game.

Overview/Conclusion
Armies of battlesuits, or even large teams of them, are pretty much dead in this edition. I expect we'll be seeing a lot more infantry in Devilfish, fleets of Gun Drones, and Commanders to support them all. I am not really sure this will work well, but it will probably work. The bigger issue, I guess, is that this edition decided to remove as a viable tactical option the very thing that made the Tau distinct and fun to play all these years--the battlesuits. I am honestly baffled as to why this is, as I can't see how Battlesuits deserved such toxic price increase. Were people abusing XV8s or something? How the hell did somebody look at them and say "yup--double the cost."

As for the Riptide--I get it, they were annoying in the tourney scene. That is no excuse for their treatment. They took a cool looking and neat model and rendered it a 300 point paperweight in a fit of pique.

Near as I can tell, the winning strategy this edition is probably spamming as much S5 as possible and supporting with markerlights and as many rail weapons as you can feasibly afford. This won't stop transports in time to prevent assault, so you better hope For the Greater Good overwatch is enough to keep you alive. Me, I'm skeptical.     
« Last Edit: July 3, 2017, 09:42:33 PM by Wyddr »

Offline kaldolaf

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #3 on: July 5, 2017, 09:43:08 AM »
Just a few corrections Wyddr.  The Coldstar can take two support systems and since the weapons are fixed taking an ATS for the AP boost is pretty awesome, especially since the ATS works in close combat as well he actually isn't terrible in close combat, though granted no Farsight.  Use a target lock on him and move 40 inches every turn with no downside.  I've played around with him a bit and he is actually very useful.

And on the fireblade, he can't fire his pulse rifle if he fires his marker light.  Pg 48 of the Index, Markerlights, specifically says non vehicle model firing markerlights may not fire any other weapons that phase.

Overall, the only other viable strategy I'm seeing for Tau is a alpha strike army.  Since Manta strike puts our crisis suits and commanders exactly where we want them and puts them at optimal Fusion and plasma range (sadly out of flamer range though).  Here is what I'm thinking

Vanguard detachment
Coldstar - ATS, TL
Riptide - ATS, TL, HBC, 2 SMS
Ghostkeel - ATS, TL, CIR, 2 BC
Crisis - 1 Vre, 8 Ui, 15 PR, 12 Fl
Stealth - 1 Vre, 5 Ui, Homing Beacon

Supreme Command
Commander - 4x FB
Commander - 4x FB
Commander - 4x MP

comes out to 1996 points

The idea would be the coldstar and riptide deploy in my deployment zone, the stealth and ghostkeel infiltrate, and the crisis and 3 commanders setup in Manta hold.  As only deploying 4 units have a good chance of going first.  First turn move the riptide to a good position to provide a base of fire, move the coldstar, stealth, and keel to the point I want to attack, deploy homing beacon, then bring down all Manta units.  Homing beacon lets the flamer suits come down in range.  FB commanders target monsters/vehicles, MP commander target multiwound infantry units.  Everyone else shoots whatever targets are in the kill zone.  Could possibly play around with the mix of PR and Fl on the Crisis suits.  Could also switch the MP commander for a 3rd FB commander and could swap the Riptide for more Crisis.  Just have to be careful to have half the units start on the table vs in Manta hold.

Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #4 on: July 5, 2017, 10:08:40 AM »
I think that list has too few models with too little firepower for a 2000 point list. The Riptide, especially, is crazy expensive.

This is a nice alpha-strike, granted, but once you've expended that...where are you? Anybody who fields scouting units or simply spreads out with some clever deployment can keep your manta strike from hitting what it really needs to--that 9" bubble can get pretty huge.

Granted, I could be wrong--I'll need to test this stuff for myself more--but I see this list and I just keep thinking once that crisis squad drops the rest of the army folds right up. And those wounds *aren't* that hard to score.

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #5 on: July 5, 2017, 02:11:20 PM »
I've heard of some people theorizing that you shouldn't run riptides, etc because despite being effective they are overpriced, and should stick to just crisis suits or (for best points cost for shooting) command using supreme command detachments.
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #6 on: July 5, 2017, 02:26:13 PM »
I think basic suits are overpriced right now. If they had BS 3+, I could see it, but not as they are.

Command suits are solid, certainly. Better than Crisis suits, point for point.

As for Riptides, I don't even think they're that effective.

Offline Myen'Tal

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2017, 10:50:02 AM »
An excellent and very informative read for new players interested in Tau especially. Thank you for the effort you put into this, Wyddr :), gives me much more information when making a list. Though I'm sad to see that Tau Empire are in a rough spot this edition  :(.
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2017, 12:23:38 PM »
An excellent and very informative read for new players interested in Tau especially. Thank you for the effort you put into this, Wyddr :), gives me much more information when making a list. Though I'm sad to see that Tau Empire are in a rough spot this edition  :(.

For the record, I think the list you posted is going basically in the right direction. I am partial to Commanders over Hammerheads, myself, but the basic theory is still solid. Infantry + Transports + Pathfinders + (somebody who has a heavy weapon).

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2017, 01:03:49 PM »
For the record, I think the list you posted is going basically in the right direction. I am partial to Commanders over Hammerheads, myself, but the basic theory is still solid. Infantry + Transports + Pathfinders + (somebody who has a heavy weapon).

Good to know that I can create viable list ;), sometimes it is more difficult depending on which faction I'm looking into. I think some of the cost of Tau Empire Units and weapon options may decrease when Chapter Approved rolls around. At least, if the Age of Sigmar General's Handbook 2017 is anything go by. Points were adjusted across nearly the entire fantasy range GW currently supports with rules, with many units becoming cheaper and more viable. I know they're two different systems, but it does give me some hope :).
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 03:21:09 PM »
I would expect so. A lot of points have been gotten into line in the Chaos Marine and Astartes books, so let's hope.

Crisis suits need to be severely discounted, above all other things. Commanders just should *not* be a more economical option.

And Riptides seriously need about 100 points cut off their price tag. 

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 05:30:44 PM »
Seeker Missiles with marker lights are not bad, but need to be supported with additional firepower. Skyrays are still a good source of seeker missle support, which can be helpful, as it bypasses potentially good inv. saves, or high toughness.

Coldstar suits are good for maelstrom and objective grabbing. easy to hide behind terrain (or other units) and then bounce around objectives. Probably wouldn't make it my warlord though.

Riptides are going to be MIA until the Tau codex comes out and adjusts points.

I've only seen the Tau on the table a few times are high level events, and it's usually commander suit spam. Considering how much points changed in the codex's released so far, when Tau get their codex we'll see changes for them too. Just sucks to wait until then. *Shrug*.
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Offline Wyddr

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2017, 08:32:39 AM »
Seeker Missiles with marker lights are not bad, but need to be supported with additional firepower. Skyrays are still a good source of seeker missle support, which can be helpful, as it bypasses potentially good inv. saves, or high toughness.

They're *okay,* but you only get 6 of them and they hit on 3s. A lot of effort to go through for 4-5 wounds done (total, all game).

Quote
Coldstar suits are good for maelstrom and objective grabbing. easy to hide behind terrain (or other units) and then bounce around objectives. Probably wouldn't make it my warlord though.

Good point about Maelstrom--forgot about that. Seems kinda niche, though.

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #13 on: October 7, 2017, 01:24:22 PM »
Been out of the game for a couple of years now due to busy-ness in real life.  I was vaguely aware of the fuss about the new edition, but haven't looked into it at all.  Having seen what you have to say, it doesn't sound like it's worth trying to dig my T'au out of the garage and try a game just now  :(

Offline The GrimSqueaker

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #14 on: October 7, 2017, 01:26:07 PM »
Wait till the proper codex drops later on (date undetermined). Then we'll have a better grasp of fixed or still costed off the board.
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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #15 on: October 7, 2017, 04:32:52 PM »
Been out of the game for a couple of years now due to busy-ness in real life.  I was vaguely aware of the fuss about the new edition, but haven't looked into it at all.  Having seen what you have to say, it doesn't sound like it's worth trying to dig my T'au out of the garage and try a game just now  :(

They're playable, just not if you like battlesuits. Drones, infantry, and Commanders, all the way.

But yeah, when the codex shows up it should get better. Hopefully.

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Re: The New Tau, Unit-by-unit (aka Wyddr's Complaints)
« Reply #16 on: October 7, 2017, 04:42:24 PM »
They're playable, just not if you like battlesuits. Drones, infantry, and Commanders, all the way.

So, Tau then.  :P

Other than Hammerheads, pure Tau erotica right there.
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