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venkelos

The Tau in Space

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So, obviously there aren't really Tau in RT, if you use the material provided as provided, but we all know how well that can stop enterprising parties, right? I never got a chance to play Battlefleet Gothic, and while I actually DO probably have most of the rules stuff in pdfs somewhere, it doesn't all make sense to me, so I'll broach the question in the setting with "stuff in space"; take that Deathwatch ;)

 

What are the Tau like in space? What sorts of ships do they use, and what kinds of strategies? I've played several of the Dawn of War games, and I know that they have space bases, at least one of which they can cloak, and their ground forces are frequently heavily tech-assisted, with high-mobility, stealth, and hard-hitting firepower, but I don't know if the Air Caste work the same as the Fire Caste, or what sort of space-based assets the Tau make use of. They don't travel in the warp in the same way as numerous other races, so I'm not sure how easily they attack others, as opposed to being attacked, say by the Imperium. Would they all be Air Caste up there, with diminished gravity aboard ship? Would they have large contingents of Earth Caste and drones, Fire Caste for protection, and planet assaults? In one thread on boarding actions, I remember mentioning how it could be sick if the Tau used Stealth Suits, or a smaller variant of them, for assaulting enemy craft, and maybe drones of various sorts, but most people scoffed at the idea, and more said that the Tau don't use boarding actions much, and on.

 

The BS point of this is to better understand an aspect of the Tau that the published materials, at least that I've had access to, frequently gloss over; like or hate all the table top references I and some others make for the RPG, but that's a lot of the published material I have to go on, and the Fire Caste dominates that, with the ground-based battles of Warhammer 40,000 7E. I would love to cheese up a not forthcoming game of RT by introducing an initially small coalition of Tau to the Expanse, at first it was going to involve the Tau from the Reach finding a similar, but unknown to the Imperium, warp gate, that connected somewhere in the Canis Salient to somewhere in the Rifts of Hecaton, but has since evolved into living out the fanboy dream of teaming up the Eldar with the Tau, perhaps the dwindling strength of Iyanden, or some "I'll just make it up" little Craftworld. The Eldar could maintain a "tactician" aboard the Tau vessel(s), able to use their farseeing to predict the future, maybe do some of the stuff that player Astropaths can do aboard RT vessels, and, most importantly, grant the Tau access to segments of the Webway, allowing them significantly advanced access to the galaxy, at large. This act, however, shouldn't leave the Eldar at too great a disadvantage, as the Tau's lack of understanding in several fields should leave them, at least initially, unable to backstab the Eldar, and still maintain their advantages. For their part, the Eldar would gain a formidable addition to their military strength, and their claws into a still developing race that even some published content has hinted at the Eldar have a strong interest in.

 

All right, so this could easily become a point where, like last time I skimmed over this idea, everyone informed that the Eldar would NEVER do this, other Eldar would wipe out the fools who instigated this plan, Harlequins, etc, the Tau aren't really that allied with the Eldar, and on, all of which might be good points, probably even true, depending on your take of things, but I'd rather chat about space-borne Tau, first, and if it leads to additional chat about the ridiculousness of the idea, then that's all good and fine. ;) "Official" information might be limited; I'm not sure how long after Tau were introduced BFG fizzled out, for instance, so fan extrapolation and assumption can also be a good starting point.

Edited by venkelos

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BFG never "fizzled". A new design team took over the GW and decided to grab the IP hard with both hands, feet and teeth. Any system that relied on fan contribution like BFG was instantly and totally strangled out of existence. They tossed the fans out the window because everything was THEIRS THEIRS THEIRS DAMMIT! PEOPLE PLAYING OUR GAMES HAVE NO SAY IN THEM MUAH HAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Then those people were politely shoveled out the door along with their ideas of not only making rulebooks hardcover, but only making runs of one hundred of them because "collectable" etc...

We'll see how the next group does.

For most Tau tactics... Well they were a bit... Unsupported. The BFG Brits wanted their "ship of the line" cheerios pip pip and all that highbrow fighting in broadsides and lines nonsense that went out in WWII because airplanes lol. Then they tried saying in the fluff "of course airplanes never beat ships of the line lol!" An idea that lasted pretty much until Americans looked over like "oh yeah, we've played that game, say high to our thousands of airplanes!" and the Brits messed their drawers as their pretty ships of the line sunk.

Problem? Tau are a modern style lightly gunned fleet that fights over the horizon with OMFG hyooge bum kicking mega bombers. When the Brits couldn't find tactics to counter aircraft with "big boats lol" they took the "well we write the rules so we'll force you to fight our way!" Approach. They immediately took the Nerf bat to aircraft and that mauled the Tau.

For RT, Tau ships are a mix of carrier escort craft, redicu-huge carriers and combat ships with weak range 9 batteries that become troublesome because their port and starboard guns can fire forward. They also pack the occasional titanforge lance, maybe even a lance battery up front.

Oh, and their best ships against boarding just don't horribly suck at it. The idea of boarding an enemy ship for the Tau would be like the modern day Nimitz seeing the Bismarck on their radar and deciding to go BOARD IT. After which the insane people would be left off in a dingey and things would go on as normal.

Edited by SirRunOn

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... How fabulously sterotypical, insulting and surprisingly unhelpful.

 

Anyway - as RunOn sort of pointed out, each group in BFG had a distinct style to differentiate it.  The original pair in the game, the Imperial and Chaos ships, where based on an age-of-sail model based primarily on broadsides.  They do have both torpedos and attack craft in the fleet, but their effectiveness is somewhat underwhelming, in large part due to the relative speeds of the vessels negating the primary advantage aircraft have in a modern navy. (The ability to increase striking range.)

 

Now, on to the Tau:

What are the Tau like in space?

Like the Imperium, the majority of Tau space traffic is mercantile transport.  

 

What sorts of ships do they use, and what kinds of strategies?

The Tau have vessels in all the major tonnages/categories that the Imperium does.  A picture list of vessels is available here.  There were essentially two phases of vessels, which can be fairly easily distinguished by their appearance.  The boxy ones are the first generation craft, who's primary occupation were for colonization and transport of materials.  When pressed for war, they weren't terrible, but were generally inferior to any of the vessels of the "Great Races", at least by size.  The second generation of craft, with it's marked "winged" appearance, are primarily designed as war ships, and trade modularity for function, as well as integrating the technological developments (including reverse engineerings) made in the hundred or hundred and fifty years between them.

 

In both cases their strategy is generally two fold.  They start with extensive ordinance (Fighters, Bombers and drone-guided torpedos) to soften up a target, then attempt to focus their fire on a single enemy vessel and cripple or destroy it. To aid this, nearly all their weaponry is designed to combine fire in the forward arc, leaving them with less total firepower then their Imperial or Chaos counterpart, but a better ability to concentrate it.

 

I know that they have space bases, at least one of which they can cloak, and their ground forces are frequently heavily tech-assisted, with high-mobility, stealth, and hard-hitting firepower, but I don't know if the Air Caste work the same as the Fire Caste, or what sort of space-based assets the Tau make use of.

While it can have something of a similar tactical feel (long range & combined arms tactics), the ground and space war fight very differently.

 

They don't travel in the warp in the same way as numerous other races, so I'm not sure how easily they attack others, as opposed to being attacked, say by the Imperium.

The Tau's gravity drive is akin to half a warp-drive.  The Imperial drive punch through the interface between the Warp and Reality, than transit in the Warp before punching another hole to exit.  The Tau warp drive doesn't punch a whole, but rather pushes the vessel up against the fabric separating the two, where it can take advantage of some of the movement and space-shifting effects of the warp without entering before the barrier snaps them back fully into reality.  The result is a slower, but much more reliable and safer FTL drive.  On average it's about 1/5 the speed of an Imperial Drive + Navigator, or close to an imperial drive without a navigator.  However, as they never actually enter the warp, they have no chance of warp-encounters.

 

For attacking or defending, the result is about the same - Reinforcements only matter on a campaign length consideration, and there's no way to detect the attack until the ships are actually in the system. (Unless they were seen by scouts in a previous system.)  

 

Would they all be Air Caste up there, with diminished gravity aboard ship? Would they have large contingents of Earth Caste and drones, Fire Caste for protection, and planet assaults?

While both the vessels and the space stations are predominantly Air Caste, they're simply to large and complex to be run by a single Caste.  So you'd find members of all Caste on any full size voidship, like the Imperial Ships, they are basicly flying cities.  You captains and admirals, however, are all Air Caste.

 

I remember mentioning how it could be sick if the Tau used Stealth Suits, or a smaller variant of them, for assaulting enemy craft, and maybe drones of various sorts, but most people scoffed at the idea, and more said that the Tau don't use boarding actions much, and on.

Tau don't use boarding actions.  They do, however, use Hit & Run actions, particularly in the fluff (less so in the actual BFG game)  Shadowsun in particular was noted for launching particularly effective Hit & Run attacks against the Tyranids.  The Tau have also been noted use automated (read drone controlled) defense systems on their vessels to defend against boarding attacks by other races, to make up for the relatively small number of Fire Warriors on board.

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Another awesome 40k Forum member created a Tau Fleet doc.......  And for some reason I can't hyperlink anything.  Anyhoot, if you click on my link below, go to the "ships" folder, it's called "Tau Fleet." It follows pretty much what Quicksilver mentioned.

 

There is also a race the Tau used to utilize to guide their ships traveling in/near the warp.  I beleive they were called the Nicassar.  Once again, can't link anything, but you can find info on them on various Warhammer 40k wiki's.

 

It's my interpretation that Tau Void Tactics are similar to their ground tactics, in that they prefer to fight from a distance head on.

 

As for Dawn of War info being anything trully official for 40k, I have heard no mention of the Tau making cloaking devices for void craft, let alone space stations.  With that said, it is definetly in the realm of possability, and one secret they would jealously guard if they did.

 

I had a buddy who wanted Tau in the Expanse, so he created a back story and planetary system for them.  Haven't used it yet other than for rumors.

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Well don't forget that just because the tau don't like boarding actions, doesn't mean that the kroot aren't more than willing to head on over.

Oh I'm sure the Kroot would looove to have a goooood, loooong, word with whomever they're boarding. And a delicious dinner to boot X)

Edited by filliman

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Well don't forget that just because the tau don't like boarding actions, doesn't mean that the kroot aren't more than willing to head on over.

Oh I'm sure the Kroot would looove to have a goooood, loooong, word with whomever they're boarding. And a delicious dinner to boot X)

 

 And stay a bit longer. For diner.

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It still kind of surprises me that the Tau don't have "real" warp travel. I'm not sure if I'd see the Nicassar as significant help, or significant threat, as they are prodigious psykers, able to move ships with their psychic might, but they don't seem to have real warp drive, either, and they would probably attract flies in the warp, in the form of calamities unprecedented, but they might have divinatory powers, in addition to telekinetic might, so maybe they could be substitute Navigators. As for the Kroot, they seem to hold the Tau in high regard, and i assume that the Warspheres have "real" warp drives (did the Kroot eat some Navigators, or just have some shaman-ritual to steer?), and they haven't apparently shared this fact with their partner race. Oh well, it does give them a nice little "see, we're different from everyone else in this way" variety I like, and it helps me pointlessly ally the Tau and Eldar.

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Not that anyone I know actually uses it but current fluff as of last codex is that Tau have no FTL capacity. They simply go almost light speed with really huge thrusters.

GW doesn't believe in, or know about, time dialation BTW. They also believe this kind of drive can cross two hundred light years in six months. It's not like lightspeed has anything to do with how far a light year is? Right?!

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It still kind of surprises me that the Tau don't have "real" warp travel. I'm not sure if I'd see the Nicassar as significant help, or significant threat, as they are prodigious psykers, able to move ships with their psychic might, but they don't seem to have real warp drive, either, and they would probably attract flies in the warp, in the form of calamities unprecedented, but they might have divinatory powers, in addition to telekinetic might, so maybe they could be substitute Navigators. As for the Kroot, they seem to hold the Tau in high regard, and i assume that the Warspheres have "real" warp drives (did the Kroot eat some Navigators, or just have some shaman-ritual to steer?), and they haven't apparently shared this fact with their partner race. Oh well, it does give them a nice little "see, we're different from everyone else in this way" variety I like, and it helps me pointlessly ally the Tau and Eldar.

Warspheres definitely have actual warp drives, or at least a derivation of the orkoid warp drives. The kroot only left their homeworld Pech because a Waaaagh! landed there, and the Shapers incorporated the genetic disposition towards certain tek-know-wots (among other things) into the kindreds. That they later joined the Tau gave them access to certain technological upgrades (particularly with regards to weaponry), but also came with a strict exclusivity clause (deliberately circumvented by the kroot, which is why there are kroot mercenaries all over the galaxy, but the Tau Empire takes a very dim view of it. When they find out, anyway).

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