Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Breaking The Meta: KIlling Riptides And Trying New Things

Well I went 1 and 2 at the primer at Flatland games prior to the GT. Bill Kim laid waste to my army despite
my best efforts to wipe his troops from the board. My win against Dreadbeards Tau in round two did not prepare me for a more optimized Tau tourney list in round 3. I went 2 and 4 in the GT actual and once again the Tau gave me issues when Riptides were involved. Needless to say I hate Riptides. IN fact I have been putting a lot of thought into the Riptide. Mostly how to kill one quickly and efficiently with the tools I currently have in the codex. The real issue is killing multiple Riptides. As it seems the current meta makes facing 2 to 4 Riptides a forgone conclusion.  On the note of Meta, I have been putting a lot of thought into the current one as well.  I think its really time to explore the codex and try some new and different things.

Many tournament lists run more than one Riptide and therein lies the challenge. The amount of fire needed to bring down one Riptide can eat up a lot of your firepower. When you are dealing with more than one it gets tricky. You need a cohesive plan and very good fire discipline to take down more than one. You of course can ignore the Riptides and take out the players ability to score, which is pretty minimal when you are running 4 Riptides, but its hard to ignore the damage multiple riptides can do. So first lets look at the Riptide and see if we can find some chinks in its armor.

If we look at its stat block we can see it has the usual Tau weaknesses. A WS of 2 and a base BS of 3. It is T6 though with 5 wounds and a 2+/5+ save. When it comes down to it they are a big tough terminator with character like wounds thats lackluster in close combat. Its nova generator allows it to be fast, have a 3+ invulnerably save and overload its weapons. It can only do one at a time though and they have to do it in the movement phase. Lets look at what the Eldar have to kill Riptides on an individual basis before we move onto fighting groups of them.

Ranged Combat
This is an area that Tau excel in. You cant out shoot them with Eldar. Yes we have the Wave Serpent and they can bring massed fire, but as soon as you start taking casualties the amount of fire you can bring drops off quite a bit. In addition the real combo that makes them effective, scatter laser and shield, only has a range of 36 inches. Despite the mobility of the Wave Serpent force, Tau heavy weapons can range them in easily and take them out fairly quickly, especially when the shields are down. Combine this with tournaments moving towards making the shield a weapon that can be destroyed and you find yourself in a pickle quickly.

Massed fire can bring down models. Quality fire, the AP 2 kind, can bring down Riptides more quickly. So what do the Eldar have that gets the job done. They have more than you think. Bright Lances are the first obvious answer. Rate of fire is an issue with the Bright Lance though. Falcon's and Crimson Hunters, and War Walkers can bring several to bear, in the former two cases the pulse laser can be lumped in with the lances. The faithful Star Cannon is my personal choice. My War Walkers have become packs of Riptide hunting wolves. Three Walkers Armed all Armed with Star Cannons and the ability to out flank help put them in position to hit Riptides hard in their own backfield.

There has been some discussion among the Craftworld writers about how to best deal with the Tau. The consensus is that bum rushing them and weathering the fire is a viable tactic. This tactic also brings probably the Eldar's most deadly weapons to bear. Distortion weapons.

Wraith Cannons and D-Scythes are close range power houses. A squad of Wraith Guards can easily lay waste to a Riptide when they are within range. The real trick is getting them there. This of course means doing something contrary to current Eldar tactica. Not dropping shields on your Wave Serpents and moving them flat out into the jaws of the enemy. This same tactic is viable with Fire Dragons as well. Massed Fusion gun fire has a similar effect. Although the Distort rule does have the edge as it can kill a Riptide with a single hit.

AP 2 weapons are an obvious choice in dealing with well armored targets. The Eldar have other tricks though. Psychic tricks. Running deep with Warlocks and Spirit Seers gives you a decent chance of getting the Protect/Jinx power from the Runes of Battle. If you run Bike councils or Foot Councils, which I am trying to make work once again, you will get this power at least once.

This power can be major when facing the Riptide. Hitting a Riptide with a Jinx makes it way more vulnerable. Especially to Dark Reapers. A decent Sized Squad of Reapers and level a Riptide with Starshot Missiles. I know this can be a little tough to pull off, especially when the Tau player is running the Farsight Enclave book with that stupid amulet. The real key to that will be discussed in a future post about tactics. Namely it involves order of fire and target priority.

Next time I am going to talk about hand to hand combat. This is an area that the Eldar can really hurt the Riptide and the Tau in General. You just have to play it smart and not get shot to pieces while trying to assault the Tau lines. Therein lies the challenge.

Until Next time......

Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Nice article. I think you hit on the main points, the only one I would add is that you don't have to kill them all. When there are 3+ of them they are a true threat to most armies but once their numbers get thinned a bit they lose the ability to inflict horrific losses. Also the threat of assault can be just as good as assaulting itself. They are actually pretty solid in close combat but most Tau players don't know that and will over react to an assault threat. Breaking up their target priority can give you the edge you need. I played 4 games vs. a total of 12 (maybe 11) Riptides at the GT. I killed half of them but a number of kills were late game mop up type kills.

  2. Mate, I play Tripletide every tourney and my triple Knights chew Riptides up. I have gone a step further and included an allied DreadKnight with a teleported to make sure I have four Jump mounstrouc creatures pressing down on them ASAP. Combat is def the way to go.

    1. Yeah the winner of the Michigan GT was rolling deep with Dread knights. He was punching out Riptides like it was going out of style.

  3. Going the psychic route - for those with access telepathy, massed psychic shrieks can be pretty nasty, and the odd puppet master is also fun.

  4. Riptides can be rough, but I have also found that they don't push out much damage without some serious support. With that said, I do my best to completely destroy the Tau sources of Marker lights turn 1-2, then I focus on the Riptides and the mission.

    That all sounds good in theory, but yeah, sometimes you have to deal with them turn one. While Wave Serpents are good at pushing out firepower, I would lean them back and take out things that can kill wave serpents first (things that also aren't rip tides. What does that leave you that can deal with them/ other big deal MCs/ units? Well that is really the crux of the issue. Maybe wraith units are worth it and maybe not. They give me a hard time, but there are some Space Marines out there who have some new guns that may not think so, so I would balance that and also the fact that those same Marines may be chasing Riptides out of the meta, but we will see.

    1. I agree on the support thing. Tau are a synergistic army. Dividing and denying the mutual support really hurts the army as a whole