Friday, 31 May 2013

How to counter the "Unbeatable" Tau?

A lot of people are getting up in arms about the Tau and how broken they are. Now don’t get me wrong they are probably the most competitive codex we have seen since Necrons and Grey Knights. But never fear as good as the codex is, I don’t see it as broken or "unplayable" it’s just a great counter to the current Meta, and has that scary newness factor to it. So first we have to establish what they do well to work out how we need to play against them.

So what are the Tau strengths?  

In a word “SHOOTING”. There are other things like improved LD and stubborn from an ethereal but shooting is their main thing.   The tau shooting is amazing, and this is down to a few main reasons. Rate of fire, over watch, marker lights, ignore cover and skyfire. In a Tau army it is reasonable to expect they can put out 100+ shots in a turn (pushing 200 in short range with an ethereal in some lists), with bonus to hit and no cover this is very scary. Combine this with the fact they can often effectively gain an extra shooting phase when you charge and you are in trouble. So how can I play against this sort of smash list...?  


So how do we counter this...?

2+ and 3+ saves.
I think this is a bit obvious but I think people forget it, with a 2+ save you will only die 1 in 6 and a 3+ 1 in 3 wounds most Tau shooting. A lot of the current Meta lists run big units with T3 and 5+ saves and rely on sitting behind a wall. Bring T4 3+ and things start looking a bit better.  

Tau have a good range but don’t just run at them as they are much more effective in that short range. Think of a static Tau list it doesn’t want to move until it has to. Also those 200 shots get halved at 22"+. Use the rage on your heavy weapons to punch the static Broadsides, lascannons or lance weapons are very good for this.    

Now ironically Tau with all their shooting are not great at killing av 14. One of the best ways of keeping your units alive is for it to be in an av 14 tank or building. All armies have access to a bastion and at 70 pts and with a capacity of 20 (not including the roof seems) a bargain. It can also be used to give protection to those weapons you want to kill Broadsides with.  

Kill the Ethereal.
This guy is the linchpin to a static tau army giving stubborn and a LD bonus. He is also worth an extra VP this could help you claw back a game. Note that you need to kill him and his unit in 1 turn so he can’t jump ship. Barrage weapons can be useful for this.  

Play the mission.
Objective missions have never been great for the Tau. There troops are great at shooting but are glass cannons and are not very manoeuvrable. Try to kill these units early game, with the Tau players spending a lot of points on the shiny killy stuff there may not be a lot of these guys around (if the troops are dead you have a good chance of walking away with a draw at least).Position objectives as far apart as possible to try and isolate these units, or at least split up the fire base, this could even allow you to make charges you couldn’t attempt before.  

Don’t panic when stuff dies.
Tau are a smash list and you have to expect stuff to die, you even have to expect to look like you are losing for the first few turns but don’t despair just take some of them with you and win on mission.

This is just my thoughts

Let me know if you have any others..



  1. Nice areticle! A few more I have stumbled across in the games I have had against Tau.

    Target saturation and cover saturation.

    Overwhelming the tau with targets can cause them problems. Reserve is a bad idea as it gives them less targets to deal with and makes their target priority easier allowing them to take you to pieces piece by piece.

    The two reports below illustrate this:
    BR21: The Black Buzzards VS New Tau
    BR22: The Black Buzzards VS Tau (Rematch)

    Markerlights ignore cover, but they are a limited resource, they can't ignore all your cover! Also if they are using tokens to ignore cover, then they will be loosing out on a potential BS boost. :D

    Don't hesitate when an opportunity to strike arises and remember rip tides are not fearless so multiple charges cause them serious problems as they can easily get cut down.

    As illustrated in this report:
    BR23: The Black Buzzards VS Tau Mech/Riptide

    Finally no matter how much fire power the Tau have most of it is limited to 36" or 36"+6".

    As illustrated in this report:
    BR25: The Black Buzzards VS Tau Mass Broadsides

    Hope that's useful to someone. :)

  2. Tau are not static. Skimmer tanks, jetpacks and 6" move with 30" rapid fire weapons, able to get into a devilfish and escape