As I see it, the Tau are so crappy in close combat specifically as a defensive mechanism: if you get into combat with them, they want to lose the combat so terribly that they have no choice but to run away with their crappy Initiative, get swept, and leave your unit hanging there with its trousers down for the Tau player's next shooting phase.
Fantastic point! The fact that you really can't stick in combat until the end of their turn makes an Assault more risky than one would like. Granted, an Ethereal nearby will increase their chances of staying (sometimes), but if the Ethereal is nearby with Firewarriors, you're in deep doodoo.
We can supplement this though by taking very limited upgrades for close combat; we want a round 2 sweep, not a round 1 slaughter. As usual though the best solution is to be picky about Assaults!
Obviously you want to get your Daemon Prince in there to wreck face, but that's still assuming you didn't lose your 2+ jink save to markerlights then get S10 railcannoned off the board by a Hammerhead (a painfully possible proposition, for all that yeah, the enemy Pathfinders are Target Priority #1).
I wouldn't discount the Tides as "garbage in close combat," really. In fact, I build my lists these days with 3 units in mind: Wraithknights, Imperial Knights, and "T6 2+ armor MC" (be that Riptide or Dreadknight)--how does my list deal with each of those?
Oh lord knights, any knight makes my head spin. But yeah, Riptide is still deadly even if it's weaker than the other MCs up close. At least a Tide can be handled somewhat easily when you get a Fisticlaws or Juggernaut Lord up in it though.
And yeah, Railcannons + Markerlights = Dead DP. Do you think the Skull is worth looking at, since we don't need stuff like The Black Mace against Tau?
Great tactica; very much food for thought and discussion. Agreed that Tau are tough and painful to face, but fall apart once you take out their markerlights. My real issues come up with Eldar Wraithknight+Wave Serpent spam... and I've fought 1 Imperial Knight enough times I don't even want to think about facing a pure Knights list, ugh. I look forward to any future installments, against other opponents--competitive or not--even if I do enjoy quibbling perhaps a bit too much over minutae. +rep
I do plan on covering some more bases very soon, but I have the most experience against Tau. I greatly encourage anyone reading to add their own tactics; even something outlandish can happen to be amazing in the right situation!
I have a funny story about an Imperial Knight though. A friend of mine had just bought the Knight when it came out and he was thrilled to get the chance to field it. The rest of my playgroup looked at the stats and saw the terror we were about to face, but all I wanted to do was have a Pacific Rim fight with it using a super-buffed Daemon Prince.
I gave it Tzeench, Armor, Wings, Black Mace, ML3, and a Spell Familiar, rolling on Biomancy. I got lucky and rolled Iron Arm, Warp Speed, and Endurance, and prepared for glory. Turn 2 I get the charge, activate all 3 powers rolling 3 on Warp Speed and 2 on Iron Arm. I luck out again and roll a 6 on my Mace for Daemon Weapon.
Combat begins and ends on the first round with me landing all 15 attacks as hits and scoring 5 pens, 4 glances. The Knight fails to save enough of them for it to survive, exploding in a blaze of glory. Since the explosion is Strength D though, my victorious Prince faces certain death.
Until he rolls a 1 to wound.
He ragequit that game, and hasn't fielded the Knight since.