Mr. Fluffy goes to Tourney Town Pt. 3

Hello there fellow warmongers!  I’m back with a third installment of ‘Fluffy List for Competitive People’, and this time I’m going to try and build an space nazi fish people Tau List!


looking into it’s eyes is said to be like staring into the abyss.  Except this abyss doesn’t just stare back, it blows kisses too…

Space Marines will always be my first love in 40k, but when I decided to end my decade long break from the hobby it was the Tau who helped draw me back into the fold. Before I knew anything of their rules, I fell for the aesthetic of battle suits and fire warriors – the futuristic technocratic evolution of design a direct juxtaposition to the pseudo-gothic neo medieval vernacular of the Imperium of man.  Then of course I read the rules, which just sweetened the deal :)

Meme 1

Never has a meme struck such a truthful cord

The rules for creating the list are as usual – No Allies abuse / No Deathstars / No LoW or Flyer formations / No D weapons / No Spamming great units / No Formation abuse

List 3: Tau Empire – ‘Kauyon’ Combat Doctrine

So, Tau Lists.  Everyone has probably been on the wrong end of a Tau fusillade at some point, and more than one of use will be able to recount a painful story of being shot off the table by turn 2.  As a Tau player I will happy admit that this is the single most boring way to play Tau (and indeed 40K), both with and against it.  It is not hard to create a list that puts up a gun line of epic proportions, bristling with AP1/2, ST8/9/10, Ignores Cover, Large Blast, ‘pack up and go home’ firepower. And that’s just stomrsurges we are talking about.


So ‘bad’ a unit, they needed a special formation to give you an extra buff if you were silly enough to take two.  Presumably to make up for being punched in the groin by your opponent…

This list isn’t about that.  Sure it is going to involve some heavy firepower (because if you take the firepower away from Tau, all you have left is some small fisted angry blue dudes armed with ornamental letter openers) but this list will be trying to craft a particular Tau combat doctrine known as Kauyon, or ‘the Patient Hunter’.

Sound advice for galactic domination

According to the fluff, this is one of the oldest war doctrines for the Tau and it’s style relies on the interaction of the lure and the hunter – drawing the enemy out of the security of their defences and hitting them hard when they have over committed themselves.

Making this work in a tournament setting is going to be difficult, but there are a few tasty morsels you can hang out there as bait to try to tempt the enemy forward. Namely, the chance to get first blood against squishy units (looking at you Kroot), or the tactical necessity of removing your minimal ObSec from the table (look out fire warriors) or trying to hurt your maneuverability and ability to ‘objective hop’ in the ITC format (hello piranha!)

Damocles Expeditionary Force
3rd Reserve Encounter Hunter Contingent
8th Hunter Retaliation Cadre

8th Hunter Cadre
– Commander ‘Banetide’ O’Kais, Dual Plasma Rifles, NSJ, Vectored Retro-Thruster
– Strike Team (6), Pulse Rifles, DS8 Turet (SMS)
– Kroot Squad (10)
– Kroot Squad (10)
– Stealth Team (3), Burst Cannons, Shas’vre with Homing Beacon
– Stealth Team (3), Burst Cannons, Shas’vre with Homing Beacon
– Piranha, Burst Cannon, Gun Drones
– Piranha, Burst Cannon, Gun Drones
– Piranha, Burst Cannon, Gun Drones
– Broadside Team (1), Heavy Rail Rifle, Smart Missile Systems, Advanced Targetting System

8th Retaliation Cadre
– Commander ‘Calmstar’ O’Vash, Dual Cylic Ion Blaster, PENchip, Vectored Retro-Thruster
– Crisis Team (3), 1 x Dual Fusion Blasters+ Target Lock, 2 x Dual Plasma Rifles
– Crisis Team (3), 1 x Dual Fusion Blasters+ Target Lock, 2 x Dual Plasma Rifles
– Crisis Team (3), 1 x Dual Fusion Blasters+ Target Lock, 2 x Dual Plasma Rifles
– Broadside Team (2), High Yield Missile Pods, Smart Missile Systems, Bonding Knife, 1 x Target Locks
– Riptide Wing (2), 2 x Ion Accelerator & SMS, 1 x Target Locks


Little did GW know the vast meme industry they would create with the release of the Tau

So, considering the thematic way we are trying to play this list there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration.  First up, lets talk reserves.

The whole point of this list is to try and suck the enemy in and hit them hard when they have overcommitted.  This list really wants to go second (shock/horror, Tau go second!), to allow your opponent to come screaming across the table towards your weakly held position.  You also want to deploy almost everything in reserve – especially the Retaliation Cadre as it automatically comes in on turn 2, and contains both your hardest hitting units and those most vulnerable to an enemy alpha-strike (grav cents in drop pods make riptides cry).

However the real art here is going to be in deploying just enough to take a battering but not get tabled. Fire warriors are going to start, along with the lone railside, nicely tucked up in cover an maybe on an objective.  Kroot and piranhas will then have to fill out your deployment until you are at a level which feels like it wont be tabled T1.  If you need more, put the stealth teams on too, but this is a last resort and make sure they are somewhere safe!

Why?  Because they are the ones who are gonna make the ‘hammer’ of the Retaliation cadre fall on target. A lot of stuff in the retaliation cadre has big bases, and deep striking anything as large as two riptides is seriously risky.  The stealth teams homing beacons will help you get them in safe and sound and where you want them, which is why they need to be kept safe.  Ideally they would deep strike in with the Retaliation Cadre (as Tau homing beacons do not need to be on the board at the beginning of the turn to be effective) but this in itself is fraught with risk – they may fail their reserve rolls (which they have to make as normal) or indeed deep strike mishap themselves. However, I still feel like this is the better option as it places the risk in in your hands rather than your opponents, and there are some warlord traits which may help you out here.

So provided everything goes to plan and your units arrive where you wanted them too, there are some nice bonuses from the formations that are going to make up for the lack of marker lights. First, all units form the Retaliation Cadre coming from reserve get a +1 to their BS for the turn.  The detachment wide Coordinated Firepower rule also means a further +1 to BS if three units target the same unit.  By now, your drones should be off your piranhas and helping generate extra +1 BS, and the target locks on the riptides and broadsides should also help you achieve BS5 on pretty much everything for a turn. Oh, and the deep striking broadsides are now relentless too, which is nice.

After this, everything should be pretty straight forward – shoot to kill, neutralize the advanced units and blunt the charge, while objective hoping around the fringes with the piranhas. Then move on to moping up the back line with the big guns covering the crisis suits.  If your opponent doesn’t take the bait and sits back, the Retaliation Cadre works just as well dropping into their deployment zone – just don’t forget to place the first stealth team somewhere near but relatively safe and then daisy chain into a better position.

And don’t go thinking that cover will save you either…

OK so not my fluffiest effort.  I will admit to having min/maxed the formations a little bit here. Three troop choices is unlikely in all but the most depleted of hunter cadres, and a lack of devilfish all but unheard of.  But then that is sort of the point in a Kauyon style trap – a small force seemingly there for the taking by the enemy, who eagerly advance only to be hit from above by the full might of the Tau battle suits!

Two riptides is pretty strong – there was another version of this list where I dropped one and included two more strike teams and an extra broadside in the hunter cadre.  But, as always, when building this list I was faced with trying to tread the line between fluffy and crunchy, and I felt the two riptides would be a boon against harder tournament lists – weak list will probably suffer against just one riptide anyway, so two makes little difference to them.

There is also a lot harder version of this list which maxes the riptide squad out to three with 2 target locks, giving them another +1BS formation for Fire Team.  However, triptides is still widely regarded as a jerk move in this neck of the woods, and is not really going to make you opponents day any more enjoyable.

But of course you are going to struggle to convince anybody that anything remotely Tau is not cheesy.  They are one of the two main purveyors of cheese in the 40k scene (Imperial Guard being to other – ha ha, only joking , you know who you are pointy eared space elf jerks!) but played in the right manner I think any Tau player can sleep easy at night having used this list at a tournament. You wont be taking home the cup, but you will be having fun.  And so will your opponent, for a change.

And of course, it offers your opponent that tantalizing and rare opportunity of tabling a Tau force in a tournament before T2.  And if they pull it off, the win will be made all the better by watching you be hoisted by your own fishy petard.


You’re right Dawson, screw it!  Hexatide list it is!


Wargaming fanatic, miniature painting enthusiast and occasional blogger. I'm just not particularly good at any of them...

I began playing Warhammer 40K back in the heady days of Rogue Trader, having been weaned on Space Crusade and Heroquest as nipper. After a brief 15 year hiatus, I returned to 40K which has been my main source of gaming delight, although I have dipped my toes far and wide over the years and regularly partake in games of Epic 40k, Bolt Action, AoS, X-Wing and Armada.

I currently play Space Marines (Dark Angles, Ultramarines and Legion of the Damned) and Tau, but occasionally flirt with Tyranids, Imperial Guard and the dark forces of Chaos. I am also a keen hobbyist and while not the best painter, I do try my hand at shoddy conversions and ropey scenery from time to time.

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  • Kroot? How dare you cheese this up with Kroot? They are so over-the-top! ;)

    Looks solid to me. It’s similar to Tau lists I face where I play, and they do tend to kick my ass a bit.

    • iapedus

      Ha ha, I know right? Kroot – a byword for ‘Melee Fodder’ or ‘Speed Bump’ in the Tau High Command Echelons :)

      When you put this list down on the table most opponents focus will be on the Riptide and Broadsides due to the reputation that precedes them, but the hardest hitting part of this list is probably the crisis suits. If they come in on target, lot of things are going to melt away and explode under all that plasma and fusion shooting.

      • Crisis Suits are almost always my priority targets against Tau because of that. Once the Suits are out of the way then you can more leisurely pick away at the other threats. Of course, it’s not as easy as I’m making it sound either.

  • Beasts of Nurgle

    Loving these articles and I don’t even play 40k! (Just model renegade guard!) Keep it up!

    • iapedus

      Glad you are enjoying them! Renegade Guard you say? Sounds cool – where can we see your work?

      • Beasts of Nurgle

        Here’s what I got so far, an infantry platoon plus a squad of vets. Got a couple leman russes and the forge world enforcers kit to upgrade some cadians! To be honest it’s taken a back seat to AoS recently but I’m trying to get back on it! Need to do it on the cheap too as most of my budget goes towards aos!

        • Beasts of Nurgle

          Can follow me on Twitter @beastsofnurgle, or my blog but not got any of this on either yet!

          • iapedus

            Nice stuff, looks great!

          • I already follow you on Twitter, but I just added your blog to the blogroll here :)

        • That’s a great looking start to a Renegade army.

  • ming2005

    Fluffy? Not unless you also include marker lights! The fluffiest thing about Tau is when the opponent’s guardsman looks at all the pretty blue dots shinning on his best friend’s tank turret…Ya gotta have marker lights!

    • iapedus

      Ah yeah, you got me there! I went for Piranhas instead of pathfinders, but I could drop one and get some marker lights in the list. I guess I was thinking that the ‘coordinated firepower’ special rule was a bit like ‘marker lights lite’ – fluffwise they are probably using marker light tech of some sort to achieve it the bonus to BS, just not with a specific marker light unit in a dedicated role.

      There was an early version of this list using the Infiltration Cadre (3x path finders, 2x stealth teams, 1x piranha) but the pathfinder tax was too high and didn’t allow me to get both the Hunter Cadre + Retaliation Cadre as well filled out as I would have liked.

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