Tag Archives: kauyon

Back to the Tau’Va: Trying My Hand at a Hybrid List

Remember these guys? The Tau? Believe it or not, I still play them. My Chaos army may be getting all the attention because it’s new (for me) and shiny, but the Tau remain my primary army. In fact, I recently made some new additions to my Tau army: 6 Kroot Hounds and a Fireknife commander suit. The former have been assembled, but still need a bit of green stuff to fill in gaps before priming, and the latter is still getting the final touches in assembly (I tried something different with the head, and I’m not sure if it worked out or not). They’re not even primed yet, but they’re together enough for use in casual play with friends and testing new things out, so this weekend I brought a new list over that utilized them. When you throw Kroot Hounds into the mix, it means you’re adding Kroot, and that can only mean one thing: your list has gone hybrid.

I know, I know; mechanized Tau remains my one true love list-wise, but it’s good to stretch once in a while. So, taking some lessons and inspiration from Old Shatter Hands, I took my standard 1500-point mech list and hybridized it. Here’s what I ended up with:

HQ: Commander Shas’el (112 pts)
1 Commander Shas’el (Hard-wired Drone Controller; Hard-wired Target Lock; Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker)
2 Gun Drones

Elite: Crisis Battlesuit (211 pts)
1 Crisis Battlesuit (Hard-wired Drone Controller; Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker; Team Leader)
2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit (Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker)

Elite: Crisis Battlesuit (211 pts)
1 Crisis Battlesuit (Hard-wired Drone Controller; Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker; Team Leader)
2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit (Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker)

Elite: Crisis Battlesuit (166 pts)
1 Crisis Battlesuit (Flamer; Hard-wired Drone Controller; Twin Linked Missile Pod; Team Leader)
2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit (Flamer; Twin Linked Missile Pod)

Troops: Fire Warrior (145 pts)
6 Fire Warrior (Pulse Rifle x6)
1 Devilfish (Disruption Pod; Gun Drones)

Troops: Kroot Carnivore Squad (88 pts)
10 Kroot Carnivore Squad
3 Kroot Hounds

Troops: Kroot Carnivore Squad (88 pts)
10 Kroot Carnivore Squad
3 Kroot Hounds

Fast Attack: Piranha Light Skimmer (75 pts)
1 Piranha Light Skimmer (Disruption Pod x1; Targeting Array x1; Fusion Blaster x1)

Fast Attack: Piranha Light Skimmer (75 pts)
1 Piranha Light Skimmer (Disruption Pod x1; Targeting Array x1; Fusion Blaster x1)

Heavy Support: Hammerhead Gunship (165 pts)
1 Hammerhead Gunship (Railgun; Two Burst Cannons; Disruption Pod; Multi-Tracker)

Heavy Support: Broadside Battlesuit (160 pts)
2 Broadside Battlesuit (Smart Missile System; Targeting Array)

Total Roster Cost: 1496 points

I ended up dropping two Fire Warriors squads (and their Devilfish) and one Hammerhead, and adding two Broadsides, 2 squads of Kroot, and gun drones for all my Crisis Suit squads. I give up some mobility and some survivability for the troops, but I gain extra screening, extra firepower, and some ablative wounds for the Crisis Suit squads. Having less-hardy troops is a bit to get used to – I’m still no fan of Kroot having no appreciable armor save – but that can be mitigated somewhat in the right terrain. Other than the Kroot, though, it’s my standard army, so there’s not nearly as much mental retooling as I feared. I still have a unit of Fire Warriors for rushing late-game objectives, my Crisis Suits still go after the same targets and focus-fire them down, my Piranhas still screen and hunt armor, and my heavy support units still sit back and lob railgun rounds at the enemy.

Now I just need to read Aloh’Nan’El’s Deployment Tactics articles and OSH’s Defending Your Firebase article to figure out how to use the cannibalistic little blighters properly. In the meantime, I’ll have a batrep up on Wednesday about this list’s run against the new kids on the block, the Dark Eldar.

A Hybrid Hybrid: First Tests

Tonight, I got a chance to test the Stealth Team screening idea suggested by Aloh’Nan’El against my friend Jon’s Space Wolves. I wanted to see if that unit could play defense comparably to a similar line of Kroot, and if its strengths – the stealth field, the increased mobility, and the decent armor saves – would prove to be a benefit. The unit was set up as such:

Stealth Team (215pts)
3 Shas’ui (3 Burst Cannons; 3 Drone Controllers; 6 Gun Drones)
Team Leader (Burst Cannon; Hard-Wired Target Lock; Bonding Knife; Drone Controller; 2 Gun Drones)

The target lock was there because I revised the list somewhat and ended up with a few points to spare. It only came into play once, though, to negligible effect, so it’s hardly a necessary add-on. Normally, I would run without it at 210 points. Without getting into too much detail about the game itself (Sieze Ground/Spearhead, 5 objectives, Jon went first), here’s what worked:

  • Stealth Field: On Turn 1, Jon tried using his Long Fangs to punch holes in my defensive line so that one of his 3 Rhinos could plow through. The Long Fangs were perched on a hill in one of the far corners, and the combination of range and my Stealth Field made him waste a turn of fire, even with a reroll from Acute Senses. Everything else in my army had a cover save or was out of LoS, so it was one of the few shots he could take, and he lost it.
  • Mobility: After said Rhino was wrecked by a Missile Pod shot from my commander suit, Jon started footslogging towards an objective with the unit, and I was able to move my Stealth wall up take fire at them. I was then able to jump back and keep them out of assault range, leaving his troops out in the open for more firing. On the next turn, I was able to shift them into a shielding position to protect my other troops from assaulting Terminators after taking shots.
  • Armor Save: When Jon did get to fire on the Stealth team, they weren’t reliant on cover (and there was little to be had on the table; there was no area terrain, and everything else was LoS-breaking hills or ruins) to survive. Instead, the 4+/3+ saves on the drones and suits allowed them to withstand fire with few casualties.

And here’s what didn’t work:

  • Just One Unit: Jon took a risk and tried dropping Logan and a unit of Wolf Guard Terminators into my backfield, and managed to avoid scattering all together. Had I had a second screening unit, I could have filled that space with models and made it difficult/impossible to easily insert deep strikers. As is, I chose to screen off his Rhinos. I ended up losing both a unit of Fire Warriors and a team of Fireknives because of it. The rest of the army shot the unit apart, and the wall locked up the remainder until the bottom of turn 4, but it would have been better to force him to drop ahead of the screen.
  • Weak in Assault: The Stealth team ended up locked with the Terminators for 4 rounds of combat, finally getting that last wound in by virtue of numbers. Had I had Kroot with Hounds, rather than Stealth Suits with Drones, I would have had more attacks and better initiative, which might very well have tipped the combat in my favor sooner. Also, against Terminators with power weapons (in this case, Wolf Claws), the Kroot’s lack of an armor save was a moot point; my Stealth Suits would have fared no better.
  • Unable to Claim: At the end of turn 5, I managed to have units capturing 1 and contesting 3 other objectives, but ended up less than a half-inch short of contesting the one Jon was holding. The remnants of my Stealth team were sitting happily on the objective in the middle of the field, but as they weren’t troops, it wasn’t enough. We were tied on objectives 1-1, and I won the tiebreaker on Kill Points, but if that Stealth team had been a unit of Kroot (or even Fire Warriors), I would have clearly won 2-1. Now, whether or not they would have survived to the end of the game is debatable, but if even one or two models had survived, it would have been enough.

I won’t call this test a failure, but it’s not a success either. The Stealth Team managed to leverage all their strengths as I’d hoped, and they were relatively effective at blunting my opponent’s advance. Unfortunately, all their weaknesses showed through as well. For the same point cost, I could have run two units of Kroot – one at 10 Kroot/7 Hounds, and the other at 10 Kroot/3 Hounds. The Kroot lack the durability, the mobility, and the stealth tricks that the Stealth Team have, but they would make up for it with numbers and the ability to claim objectives. I love the Stealth Team, but in this instance they fell short where it counted – helping me seal a decisive victory.

If they were cheaper – perhaps 20 points a suit instead of 30 – and if there was a way to make them count as Troops, they’d be fantastic. As it is, I still feel like they fit the mobile theme better than Kroot do. In terms of pure effectiveness, though, I don’t know if they’re worth the cost and the Elite slot. I think that even a mobile list that doesn’t maintain a clearly-defined firebase would benefit from having Kroot to fill in the spaces and act as a distraction.

A Hybrid Hybrid

One of the challenges I’m trying to resolve lately has been adding screening/blocking ability to my army without sacrificing much in the way of mobility. Piranhas are an obvious choice, but they’re not enough on their own. Kroot are a common choice, mostly because of their low cost and flexibility, but they can slow an army down by going to ground, and they’re often used sacrificially. But is there an alternative?

Aloh’Nan’El recently suggested using Stealth Suits in the blocking role. He went for a maximum-sized unit loaded with drones to cover as much area as possible, but it’s an expensive unit. At 300 points, it costs more than a fully tricked-out unit of Broadsides, which makes it prohibitively costly, especially in a 1500-point list. But is the concept still workable at a more moderate point level? I think it might be. Besides the point cost, there’s the FOC cost; you’re giving up an elite slot, rather than the more plentiful troop slots. Fortunately, Crisis Suits can be moved into HQ if necessary (although it’s more expensive), so it’s not a huge issue, but it will cost you some of your more powerful guns.

This means making your remaining guns more useful, which means markerlights. That means Pathfinders. Yes, I know I’m not a huge fan, but they’re the most cost-effective solution, and our Stealth Team is playing defense, not markerlight support. This also allows you to trim one Devilfish from your Fire Warriors. Again, not a big fan of this tactic, but it’s a point-saving measure. To give that ‘fish some more punch, it’s upgraded into a Warfish, so it can still manage to put out some firepower as it moves up the field.

Here’s the list. Keep in mind, this is just an experiment, not anything necessarily combat-ready:

HQ: Commander Shas’el (77pts)
Comamnder Shas’el (Flamer; Hard-Wired Target Lock; Twin-Linked Missile Pod)

Elite: Stealth Team (210pts)
3 Shas’ui (3 Burst Cannons; 3 Drone Controllers; 6 Gun Drones)
Team Leader (Burst Cannon; Bonding Knife; Drone Controller; 2 Gun Drones)

Elite: Crisis Battlesuit (141 pts)
3 Crisis Battlesuits (Flamer; Twin Linked Missile Pod)

Elite: Crisis Battlesuit ( 186 pts)
3 Crisis Battlesuits (Missile Pod; Plasma Rifle; Multi-Tracker)

Troops: Fire Warriors(145 pts)
6 Fire Warriors
1 Devilfish (Disruption Pod; Gun Drones)

Troops: Fire Warrior (60 pts)
6 Fire Warriors

Fast Attack: Pathfinders (211 pts)
8 Pathfinders
1 Devilfish (Disruption Pod; Smart Missile System; Multi-Tracker)

Fast Attack: Piranha Light Skimmer (70 pts)
1 Piranha Light Skimmer (Fusion Blaster; Targeting Array)

Fast Attack: Piranha Light Skimmer (70 pts)
1 Piranha Light Skimmer (Fusion Blaster; Targeting Array)

Heavy Support: Hammerhead Gunship (165 pts)
1 Hammerhead Gunship (Railgun; Two Burst Cannons; Disruption Pod; Multi-Tracker)

Heavy Support: Hammerhead Gunship (165 pts)
1 Hammerhead Gunship (Railgun; Two Burst Cannons; Disruption Pod; Multi-Tracker)

Total Cost: 1500 points

The Pathfinders form a sort of fire support base, with the Stealth Team screening/blocking for them and the Crisis Suits as needed. The Hammerheads provide mobile railgun fire, and the Piranhas do their blocking/melta business as normal. At least, that’s the plan. How well it will work, I’m not yet sure. For one thing, the Stealth Team is just shy of the magic number 13. Unfortunately, it’s another 30 points to add another suit to the mix, which 1500 points just doesn’t allow for. I could possibly shed a Deathrain suit and let the commander stand in that slot, but I’d rather have that firepower than one more Stealth Suit.

So, thoughts? Critiques? Concerns? A horrible idea, or potentially workable?

Mont’ka: We Will Strike the Killing Blow (redux)

After a week in Kauyon education, it’s time to give the counterpoint I should have given.

There’s no denying that trying to stall out your opponent with walls of sacrificial Kroot can be an effective strategy. They can be used to close off routes to both infantry and vehicles, and by being able to infiltrate, they can be placed in response to your opponent’s deployment. With intelligent use of cover, the otherwise-fragile Kroot can be surprisingly resilient. Behind those walls, a mix of (mostly) stationary Broadsides and mobile Crisis Suits can operate with some impunity thanks to the cover the Kroot provide. It’s effective. But is it perfect? There are a number of weaknesses:

  • Tethered to Cover: To get the most out of a Kroot wall, it needs to be able to hide (at least 50%) in cover. With the average wall being between 13 and 17 Kroot (including a handful of Kroot Hounds), it can be hard to both keep a unit in cover and stretched out in wall form. This can also make it hard to move the wall forward and maintain that cover save. This is especially true with one of the common tactics with Kroot, going to ground. It can maximize the wall’s cover save, but it can lock them in place until they fail a cover save. If you’re trying to both keep your Crisis Suits behind the wall and to keep them moving forward, this can hamper your attempts to advance them across the board.
  • Fire Bad: One common criticism Kauyon players raise about the Mont’ka style is that skimmer walls are weak against increasingly-common melta weapons. This is true; most melta weapons are most useful inside the 12″ cover offered by disruption pods. Kroot walls, however, have their own silver bullet – flamers and other template weapons. A well-placed flamer template or two can inflict heavy casualties and flush the Kroot out of their cover.
  • Assault Worse: Kroot are better at assault than almost anything else in the Tau codex, but they’re still unable to go toe-to-toe with most dedicated assault troops. Again, this is a situation where cover won’t aid them, and by assaulting the edge of the Kroot line an assaulter can force the rest of the unit to pile up out of cover, possibly opening a gap in the lines. While this won’t allow another assaulting unit to get past them that turn, it gives the assaulting unit control over where the defensive lines are. It also allows them to assault somewhere where they won’t suffer from assaulting in difficult terrain. Granted, if the Kroot lose, it leaves the assaulter out in the open on the Tau player’s turn, but a smart player will try to consolidate into the very cover the Kroot just lost.
  • Around, Over, or Through: Anything that can move over the wall – jump infantry, jetbikes, and skimmers – or can just deep strike behind it counters the strategy. Outflanking scouts and infiltrators can have a similar effect. The counter to that usually involves deploying the Kroot as a loose cloud around the static firebase. It’s somewhat effective, but it also makes it harder to use the Kroot as mobile cover, as they have to stay in place to keep the area safe from invasion.
  • Fire Lanes Required: Having a static firebase means you’ll need to have clear firing lanes available from the start. Your heavy guns won’t have the freedom to reposition themselves easily, so a good initial deployment is absolutely key to success. In a situation like a Spearhead deployment, where your opponent can put you into a less-than-stellar table quarter, or Dawn of War, where you’re walking your guns onto the board, this can leave you in a bad situation. Advanced Stabilization Systems on your Broadsides can help, but you can’t quickly relocate them as needed. If you have fire lanes available, you’ll be reliant on your Piranhas to force your enemies to use them over alternate, safer routes.
  • Support Dependency: Most Kauyon variants run at least one, if not two, units of Pathfinders in order to maximize their firepower; they may run fewer guns, but those guns are more likely to hit. Pathfinders, unfortunately, need to stay stationary to use their markerlights, which just compounds the firing lane requirement. They also increase the area that needs to be protected behind a wall, possibly stretching the Kroot defense (who also can’t benefit from the Markerlights) a bit thin. A canny opponent will realize that the Pathfinders by themselves are no threat and go after the other guns instead.
  • An Objective Too Far: Finally, the core vulnerability of the Kauyon style is its very static nature. To maintain a solid castled formation, the Kauyon player’s firebases need to remain relatively stationary, or at best move slowly forward. While this can make holding an objective inside one’s own deployment zone very easy, it makes it difficult to capture other objectives. Using troops as ablative cover increases this difficulty, as your units that can capture are likely going to either end up breaking or going to ground. They won’t be easily crossing the field to capture points. A minimum-sized unit of Fire Warriors in a Devilfish can help somewhat, but it’ll be required to go outside the defensive¬†perimeter, where it will lose the benefits the rest of the army is built around.

Interestingly, the Kauyon style can mitigate some of these shortcomings by playing a variant Mont’ka game. Some may trade a Broadside unit out for a single Hammerhead, or may drop the walls and instead outflank with the Kroot, keeping their Crisis Suits on the move and hiding behind LOS-blocking terrain whenever possible. However, it can end up being a poor-man’s version of the Mont’ka strategy, depending on how many points are tied into slow-moving/stationary units.

On the other hand, the Mont’ka strategy addresses most of those issues:

  • Making Our Own Cover: With the focus on skimmers, Mont’ka armies depend on disruption pods for cover. While this doesn’t help at short ranges (which is why melta weapons are so strong against the style), it guarantees a cover save even when a unit is wide open. Those skimmers can also be used as mobile terrain for Crisis Suits trying to Jump-Shoot-Jump across the field.
  • Assault Not As Bad: A mechanized army has less to fear from assault for a number of reasons. For one, as long as the vehicles are staying mobile and moving at Cruising Speed or better, enemy assaulters will only be hitting on a 6, which greatly reduces their chance of damaging a vehicle. Also, skimmers can’t be locked in combat, or even boxed in by infantry, but can still tank shock other units off of objectives. Finally, even if an assaulter does manage to destroy a vehicle (keep an eye on power fists and thunder hammers), it’s not considered a win in assault, meaning the unit doesn’t get to consolidate. They’re stuck just where they were.
  • Making Our Own Fire Lanes: A Mont’ka army can deploy first turn in a spot where the enemy can’t draw LOS to it, knowing that it can move to a clear shot next turn. As the enemy moves, the Mont’ka force can easily reposition to maintain clear lines of fire, and (with Crisis Suits) can move during the assault phase to deny the same to the opponent.
  • Support-Independent: Mont’ka armies don’t often run Pathfinders because of their stationary nature. This frees up points for either more troops for capturing objectives, or more Crisis Suits/Hammerheads/Piranhas for hammering the enemy. In actual effectiveness, it’s probably a wash – more shots for Mont’ka v. fewer but more reliable shots for Kauyon – but it also means that the Mont’ka player doesn’t have to worry about keeping an otherwise-harmless unit alive and can focus on pressing the attack.
  • Capture and Contest: While the Kauyon player can have trouble dealing with far objectives, a Mont’ka player has far less trouble dealing with capturing, or at least contesting, points all over the table. Typically, this involves spending the first few turns trying to clear out the enemy, and then rushing in with troops in transports, usually kept in reserve, at the last moment. Of course, the Mont’ka player will often abandon their own objectives in order to go after the opponent’s.

I find the Mont’ka style to be more flexible, especially when oddball deployments come up, such as some of the missions in the Battle Missions book. By being able to quickly shuffle itself about, it can overcome poor deployment options and keep itself alive by constantly moving whenever possible. It is a bit more fragile, as vehicles can be one-shotted, but I consider it a fair trade-off for the resiliency of a more static army. A mechanized list can still castle up, of course, just as a castle style can switch to mobility, but neither will be quite as good at it as an army dedicated to the tactic.

In the end, it comes down to the style you prefer. Do you prefer the flexible, quick-moving style of the Mont’ka? Or the static, tenacious style of the Kauyon? Both are effective, and each can easily take lessons from both – I’m contemplating adding Kroot in my mechanized list as cheap outflanking contesters. Which one works for you? For me, make mine Mont’ka.

And I think that’s my last post for a long while on this entire debate. It’s been a fun week or so, and very educational. I’d like to thank Old Shatter Hands for getting the ball rolling, Aloh’Nan’El for holding my feet to the fire, and for everyone who’s visited and commented during the entire debate!

Quigley Down Under

Quigley Down Under is a 1990 neo-western starring Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley, an American cowboy and rifleman hired in Australia for his long-range shooting skills. Throughout the film, he uses a customized buffalo rifle to deal with Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman, playing an excellent villain as always) and his band of hired thugs. In fact, that’s just about all he uses. During a conversation early in the film, Marston asks Quigley about shootouts with Colt Revolvers, and Quigley responds that he never had much use for revolvers.

This has everything to do with the current Mont’ka v. Kauyon debate, I swear.

See, a lot of this debate really comes down to personal preference, play style, and environment. How do you like to play, what are you used to playing,  and what are you playing against? What are you trying to get out of the game? Have you found a style that fits you well? How do you react to the tables and opponents you face regularly? I could restate these questions over and over again; my point is, these are the things that shape how we approach the game and can bias us one way or another.

Take Aloh’Nan’el, for example. He’s a big supporter of the static playstyle, because it works for him. He admits that it may not be as fun to play as a more mobile list, but with the armies and players that he plays against, it gives him a better chance of winning, or at least of making his opponent fight for the win, and that makes up for any fun lost by not playing the mobile style. Old Shatter Hands, on the other hand, admits that the list works for the most part, but doesn’t find it to be as enjoyable a game or as good a fit for his playstyle. Outside of tournament competition, he’s mobile all the way. (As always, if I’m misrepresenting either of you, let me know.)

I outright reject the notion that there’s only one way to play, or that there’s even only one “competitive” way to play. I prefer a mobile style, because it fits how I play, how I’ve assembled my army, and, most importantly to me, I enjoy playing it. It’s a very fun army for me to play, and I’m learning to use it well. I also enjoy trying to adapt it to a changing environment while keeping its flavor the same. I’ve heard it said that “[i]t doesn’t matter if you win with it, if it’s a bad list it’s just bad,” but I disagree with that school of thought. If you’ve found something that works for you, and you enjoy playing it, then it’s not really bad, is it?

And now back to the movie (and be warned, there are spoilers, if you care about spoilers on 20-year-old films).

Near the end of the film, Quigley is injured, captured by Marston, and forced into a quickdraw duel with Colt revolvers. Marston, a wannabe quickdraw shooter, figures he has the edge on Quigley, who he assumes has skill only with his rifle. Quigley quickly disproves that assumption by shooting down Marston and his two remaining thugs before they can even draw from their holsters. He then walks up to the dying villain and delivers what is perhaps the best line in the film, “I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use it.”

That’s why I’m grateful for this whole debate, because one of the keys to becoming a better player is to understand more about what your army (and others) can do. Before OSH had posted about the Kauyon style of play, I was honestly unaware of that style of using Kroot. It’s mostly been a development from the tournament scene, and as I’m not really a tournament player I don’t usually frequent those parts of the 40K blogosphere. A week later, I’ve received a pretty thorough education in the basics, and having had a chance to try it out myself, I can appreciate the strengths of such a strategy in a way I couldn’t a week ago. That doesn’t mean I’ll adopt it as my own – it’s very different from how I like to play, and I find its differences to be somewhat frustrating – but learning about it has made me expand how I look at the game and re-evaluate how I build my army.

In summary, Quigley provides a good model to follow. It’s best to understand multiple armies and ways of playing, while at the same time finding the style that fits you and making it your own. You can hone your skills while still getting what you want out of the game – enjoyment.