they have no psychic defense to speak of
(barring Farsight Enclaves)
The obvious one is that they have very, very fragile troops, GEQ.
Yup! Unfortunately, I find the fact that (with an Ethereal) they'll have 3 shots apiece (in close range), S5, BS5 with good markerlights, probably ignoring cover... ow. Painful. I've had to remove a whole squad of 20 allied Daemonettes from one squad's shooting. If you're trying to close with a wholly melee army, after the markerlights are gone, I honestly might start hitting these guys with your Baleflamer or BBoS...
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.
The Tide, by the way, is absolute garbage in close combat, so if you can catch it with, say, a Daemon Prince, it's going to explode.
Well, yeah, but most things you catch with a Daemon Prince are going to explode. A T6 2+ armor MC is going to make a mess of any standard infantry unit, though. Anything less than a Daemon Prince or Juggerlord or such, really. You can expect the Tide on the front line of any Tau gunline to receive your charges, probably with a 3++ invuln to boot. That's... tough, for anti-infantry units like Berzerkers. 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?
My most dominating wins (as in tabling by turn 3) against Tau have come from Noise Marines Blastmastering all of the Pathfinders off the table on Turn 1.
Brings a tear to my eye, that does. Of course, that's assuming they haven't brought any other sort of markerlights: markerlight drones, their bomber, or Forgeworld Tetras or Sensor Towers... but Forgeworld isn't allowed in a large amount of games and places out there, the others of those you'll see rarely to never. So... still valid, definitely.
A good example is Nurgle Bikers with Burning Brand Nurgle Biker Lord and Obliterators on one side, Raptors and Daemon Prince on the other.
What's the Art of War
say? "travel apart and strike simultaneously," or something? This strategy is all well and good, but do bear in mind if you can leave some enemy units out in the lurch, that's better than giving every enemy unit an ideal target to shoot at. I've found rolling up the flank a bit more useful more often than pincering, against a castled enemy gunline, in my experience.
-Cultists in Reserves: They'll get blown off the table if they're in, so keep them in Reserves and use them to hold objectives.
Very true, but be forewarned, if they have Interceptor units around... that's another risk that they'll just show up to vanish. Watch your lanes of fire.
-Allied Soul Grinder, Nurgle, Phlegm: Combines with the above unit for Divination goodnees on the Phlegm. After Markerlights are gone, becomes absurdly hard to kill, and will at the very least draw fire. If you're pressuring them aggressively he'll remain untouched, or will allow one of your guys to hit home. Also can move forward and punk Riptides.
This guy... is great. But you can also go for Baleful Torrent, for the AP4 torrent flamer you get to put right on top of a Pathfinder squad. Poof goes the squad! Also works against Astra Militarum Command Squads slinging Ignores Cover orders while hiding behind an ADL--if you don't get a cover save, good luck keeping your Ignores Cover buffing unit with a poor armor save. Might not want to go Nurgle then, since you can't run on T1 to get into position for a T2 Torrent--you might want that mobility, for all that a 2+ cover save on an AV 13 vehicle is awesome
Vehicles have really benefited from the new edition, especially against Tau. Riptides can only Smash for 1 attack, now; just beware DSing Crisis squads with 2 fusion blasters each, or something, and you should be fine. Though they're not so good as the AV13 Soul Grinder, I might also consider Maulerfiends or Forgefiends. 8 S8 shots (especially if you have Tzeentchi Daemons allies for Prescience) from a HAC Fiend are stellar early shooting, for popping transports and the like, and there's nothing like 2 or 3 Maulerfiends pouring up the board for support to your Princes/Bikerlords melee units. Plus extra free magma cutter hits are great against Tides.
I cannot emphasize the value of Be'lakor enough. With native Shrouded, he always gets a 2+ cover save--once those Pathfinders are gone, he gets free reign. Add Shrouding so any unit that can jink within 6" gets 2+ cover too? Bikers, Princes, allied Screamers... and then there's Invisibility. Let us never forget Invisibility, the guarantee for which you take Be'lakor.
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