I've been able to get in about a half dozen games in with my rebooted Tau and have been having smashingly consistent results. The smashing part has been my army against whatever rocks were nearby, but there are two upsides I've seen in these losses that give me confidence that I can return to playing Tau without hating 40k and the army. A quick recap of the Tau's latest (getting) hits might sum up why I'm loving losing left and right while I race to get the army painted for a Bloomington tournament on the 21st.
I've had the opportunity to play Loki and Meister Kai twice each with my new Tau, all four games were kill points and both pairs of games were similar. I played Kai's mechanized Eldar first on dawn of war and made some major errors in deployment that gave the opening to glean easy kill points. Getting seized on didn't help, but after the game we talked about how I could have deployed and played better. The next game we played we decided to take our time and talk about each decision and why it was a good or bad choice. Over the next four hours we talked about how to set up the next turn's shooting, what units constituted a bigger threat to the army and how to mitigate the influence of dice by moving to a safer position. Where the first game Kai and I played was a slaughter, the second ended with my broadsides as the only Tau survivors and losing by one kill point. The game involved some ridiculous rolls for good and ill, but I was able to be more aware of what I was trying to do with my army and what choices I hadn't seen.
Both times I've played Loki I've been facing his paladin army and can't say it's anything but a royal pain to kill anything. In the first game we played I didn't use my kroot to screen the rest of my army properly and lost a hammerhead to Loki's scout shunting dreadknight on the top of one, followed by poor use of my piranhas and the dreadknight butchering by broadsides on turn two meant that I ran out of weapons able to inflict instant death on the paladins fast. After only being able to get two of his six kill points, the game wasn't close by any stretch. The second game was very different. When Loki won the roll and opted to go first, putting two pallie squads on the midline of the board, I decided to not try to seize or deploy anything. On the bottom of one his squad without Drago was hit by my whole army, dropping it to four wounded pallies. When the sun rose next turn Drago and his squad started working on a parking lot of piranhas and hammerheads that had moved twelve inches to block them from the rest of the army that was almost base to base in a corner behind two units of kroot. One of those bought me the turn I needed to finish the first pallie squad and died to the dreadknight, the other died to Drago's pallies, buying another turn. Disruption pods saved all three shots from the vindicare before a railgun showed him what a real gun was. In the end it came down to four pallies, Drago and a cowardly inquisitor against three suits, an immobilized piranha and a hammerhead. Six models to five models, eleven kill points to three, but a much closer game than it looked.
What have I learned? I've learned that I can play Tau without getting a headache and I can stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to win. Odds are I'm not going to win any single game, but it will satisfy me if both armies are bloodied and I've learned something about how to play 40k better. Loki talked about a shift in 40k from a game that had a lot more options whose enjoyability came from their ludicrousness rather than their competitiveness as a choice. I disagree with his division between a 'fun' game and a 'competitive' game because I used to wrestle and get beaten, a lot. In wrestling and 40k, to me, the fun doesn't come from rolling another player over and mollystomping them as one mindset I haven't run into would have it, but from the both of you walking away with (proverbially) broken noses, knowing that you both gave your best and ended up evenly matched. The outcome of the game isn't so important to me as the effort that was put in and any insight gained for the next game.
I'll try to post some pictures of my Tau with the next update, but that would require me to get them painted, which I will, but first lunch. Ribs sound delicious.