It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, but I know the others I published years ago are long irrelevant due to many many patches since they were written. The newest version of UA at the time of this post is the one we will be focusing on. THB.
So Tau have long been my favorite faction because I like the units and build order plus the melee to ranged ratio is very nice in my opinion. I have a preference to play them, but against the Hard and Harder AIs I have a little trouble, or, had. I have since implemented a new build order which maximizes the potential for success while limiting the vulnerability to the rush. Orks and IG will hit hard and within the first five minutes so it is important to have a strat that compensates.
The goal of the strat is to balance tech with unit production and timely units as well. Transition to vehicles quickly. Backloads armies with elite ranged.
I still think there’s no defense to an Ork rush, but every other faction can fall victim to this sequence.
Within the first few minutes:
Go barracks (ranged) then as many requisition nodes as possible until 4 – 5 are capped and listening posts are built. Then hit the first two power plants to quickly go tier 2. While all of that is going on. you need a commander and 1 melee or ranged squad (whichever is better). The military units should come out of the barracks not HQ building. These steps are core to any future build order because they enable fast leveling for the commander unit.
As Tau, I choose the ranged commander, the XV22 and a squad of Fire Warriors. Keep them together at some central point so they can act on intrusions. I also get a Kroot Alpha squad out and hold the next front with them. I need to get to tier 2 very fast. I’ll back up a second squad of FW and max out their squad size.
Next is a mad dash to tier 3. Try to build some Hounds out to beef up a unit presence and I will drop a Devilfish or two since the AI will have vehicles at this point as well. I stay away from the Skyrays since they don’t really mature as decent artillery until tier 3. So I do the best I can to hold ground until I get to both types of tier 3 that the Tau have (melee and ranged). I crank on tier 3 units and the new commanders/squads. I The secondary ranged commander and the command squad for ranged are good enough to hold a front by themselves with limited interaction from units and vehicles. They pack quite a punch once the base-level is up above 5.
Also, get that Ethereal out as soon as possible and flip on the create bodyguards function on all the time. Set the Ethereal somewhere where it isn’t in immediate peril and let it keep popping out free Fire Warriors in the backline somewhere. Those three unit squads pack a hefty punch, can capture nodes and are reinforceable if they lose members.
I get the Kroot Commander out on that massive beast and just let him tank the shit out of any melee that is happening on the battlefield. The Kroot Alphas are usually pretty strong by then too, and I do make sure to have them cannibalize as much as possible along the way so they end up with some late game relevance. The final push should be made when the commanders are all at max level. I typically go to production increases when it comes to the passive upgrades.
Barracudas are good at holding the sky and pummeling vehicles which is needed in my infantry-heavy approach. Since Knarloc Riders count as vehicles I’d say 50/50.
All along the way, I buy my technologies once the units I need are in play. I work on making them stronger only after I have secured some ground. I’ll spend up-front money on units and then make them stronger as they are in play, hopefully creating an instantaneous advantage. I think this start works, with the 4 or 5 requisition nodes first thing and then tiering up as fast as possible. The command units can hold ground for the most part, and I’ll combine the Kroot Alphas and the XV22 if I need to in order to hold a point. I value the Tau since they have multiple ways of countering.
ECONOMY UPGRADES YES: As soon as they are available since nodes and generators have limited yields. Get the economy upgrades to power your push and maximize your resources. Decay is based on time.
Try that and see if it works for you. A real hardcoire Ork rusher will still kill you. There’s no stopping an Ork rush. I’ve decided.