Warhammer GT Finals – by Lewis Elmes

Hi all,

I’ll start by saying thanks to the guys at Rapid Fire Wargaming for giving me this awesome opportunity to write for their blog! I wanted to provide a run-down of my experience of the Warhammer GT Finals with my T’au and offer up my thoughts on why you don’t necessarily need to take a spammy/soup list to perform with the best of them at these competitive events and, more importantly, to still have an amazing experience.

I’ll preface this by saying I did not win the GT Finals, I came twelfth (four wins and two losses). However, I would argue that out of the 500 or so people that tried to qualify during the heats and the 100 or so that made it to the finals, twelfth is pretty good! Especially when you compare my list to what is consider ‘competitive’ in the meta:

+++ Tau 1750 +++

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP ++

+ HQ +

Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit: 4x Fusion blaster, Puretide engram neurochip

Ethereal: Equalizers

+ Troops +

Breacher Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

Strike Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

Strike Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

+ Elites +

XV25 Stealth Battlesuits

. Burst Cannons, Stealth Shas’vre

XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit: 2x Burst cannon, Advanced targeting system, Cyclic ion raker, 2x MV5 Stealth Drone, Target lock

+ Heavy Support +

TX7 Hammerhead Gunship: 2x Burst cannon, Railgun

+ Flyer +

AX39 Sun Shark Bomber: Markerlight, 2x Missile pod, 2x MV17 Interceptor Drone, 2x Seeker missile

+ Dedicated Transport +

TY7 Devilfish: 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Burst cannon

++ Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment ++

+ Lord of War +

KV128 Stormsurge: 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector, Advanced targeting system, Cluster rocket system, 4x Destroyer missile, Pulse blastcannon, Shield generator, 2x Smart missile system, Velocity tracker

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP ++

+ HQ +

Cadre Fireblade: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Markerlight, Warlord

Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit: Drone controller, 3x Fusion blaster

+ Troops +

Breacher Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

Strike Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

Strike Team

. 4x Fire Warrior, Shas’ui

+ Fast Attack +

Pathfinder Team: MV31 Pulse Accelerator Drone, MV33 Grav-inhibitor Drone, 5x Pathfinder

Pathfinder Team

. 5x Pathfinder, 2x marker drone

My army from No Retreat VII. Add in a second XV8 Commander and there’s my GT list!

This a version of the list I took to No Retreat VII in Gibraltar, which I actually managed to win the event with! You’ll note here nothing is really spammed (expect I guess 4 units of Fire Warriors) and none of the typically ‘OP’ units in the T’au Codex (Coldstars, Riptides, Broadsides etc) are there. In addition, it’s all being run as Vior’la, the Sept which allows units to advance and fire assault/rapid fire weapons, instead of the more common T’au Sept.

My six games were as follows. You can see full breakdowns on my Instagram if you’d like more info (Average_Elmo_Miniatures):

  • Game 1 – took on Dan and his Aeldari/Drukhari Soup. His list consisted of several units of Talos and lots of Ravagers. I played very aggressively to block off and shut down the Talos units before they could reach anything really important and prioritised taking his units off of the objectives with the Sunshark/Fire Warriors. Despite the Ravagers taking a horrific toll on my forces, I managed to get ahead on points and bring home the bacon!

This shot of the Fire Warriors was too cool not to include; die pesky space elves!
  • Game 2 – took on Jack and his Imperial Knights/Astra Militarum Soup. His list had one of the Forgeworld Knights and I massively underestimated how fast they were! This thing moves, advances 2D6 + 2” and can then still charge 2D6 + 2”. That underestimation almost cost me as, were it not for the Grav-Inhibitor drone reducing its charge distance, it would’ve hit the Stormsurge turn 1! Luckily, it didn’t quite make it and I managed to focus down the Knight with the Stormsurge and Commanders whilst the Sunshark Bomber/Fire Warriors again picked off Guardsmen piling onto the central objective; meaning I could consistently have more models in range and claim the win overall.

Faster than he looks this one… shan’t make that mistake again!
  • Game 3 – took on Franco and his Plaguebearer Spam list; 150 of the bastards! We rolled the deployment with the 9” bubble around the centre of the board and were playing the mission with three objectives, more VPs for the one in the centre/other persons deployment. I had first turn and knew that if I let him swamp the centre, there was no way I was winning this game. As such, the Hammerhead and Devilfish advanced right across the central bubble and into the faces of the Plaguebearers, blocking them from moving into the centre. By continuing to throw up barriers to his movement, the Plaguebearers ended up falling over each other an unable to get out of his deployment zone. Any that made it through were cut down by Fire Warriors and the Stormsurge before they could reach the objective. Another win for the T’au!

Yes, that is a Hammerhead in the Daemon’s deployment zone turn 1… it’s all the Railgun is useful for to be honest!
  • Game 4 – a T’au off against Simon and his Broadside/Riptide/Piranha spam list. Simon went on to win the event, so I don’t feel too cut up about the loss here! He got first turn and I managed to fail 11/12 4+ invulnerable saves on the Surge in the first roll, meaning it went down immediately to the Riptide Burst Cannon/Broadside Missiles. I tried to get back into the game by tying up the Broadsides in combat, but I just couldn’t get through the overwatch and ended up feeding him more kills. By turn 3 I had nothing left and my hopes of winning the event were crushed! But no matter, the Greater Good prevailed through Simon!

Wasn’t fun attempting to charge all of this, can confirm!
  • Game 5 – took on a Deathwatch/Wulfen/Astra Militarum list. Ended up being seized on! Disaster! The Wulfen rushed right up, the Deathwatch marines made a mess of Fire Warriors/Pathfinders with their posh Bolters and I was starting to worry. However, the Sunshark Bomber’s mortal wound bombs made short work of the storm-shield armed Deathwatch marines and weight of fire from the Stormsurge, Fire Warriors and Commanders managed to bring down the closest unit of Wulfen. Once again, I used the Hammerhead/Devilfish as big road blocks to try to slow down their advance and buy me time to pick off one unit a turn, which broadly worked. By the end of the game, I had one Breacher remaining able to claim the objective and my opponent had three Guardsmen. Despite firing 4 Fusion Blasters at them from the Commander I failed to kill them… until a heroic desperate charge from the same Commander finished them off and saw me claim the fourth win for the T’au!

The smug face of a man who’s just seized on me… I’m glad I murdered all of his puppies.
  • Game 6 – took on another Knight/Astra Militarum soup list. The Castellan made a right mess here; taking 17 wounds off the Stormsurge in one round of shooting. I breathed a sigh of relief though as I figured I could at least have one turn of shooting with it before it went down. I hadn’t banked on the adjacent Hammerhead exploding and taking off the last 3 wounds however, unbelievable! I managed to keep up on victory points for the first few turns but soon I just ran out of units with my opponent’s superior firepower and eventually ran out of options, succumbing to my second loss of the weekend.

The above summary demonstrates the sheer variety of opponents I took on over the weekend. Getting four wins against some of these ‘top tier’ armies felt to me like an excellent result and something I’ll be proud of for a long time. I ended up with 5 favourite game/army votes too and had loads of people come up to me all weekend and comment on how great it was to see a list such as mine up on the top tables!

This brings me to my main point, I truly believe you don’t have to take the most OP armies/units to major events to perform well. You can take fluffy armies to tournaments and give the best armies a good (war)hammering! A fluffy list that is played well can take on a much more powerful list in an even battle. Three factors come into this, in my opinion:

  • Practice. I have played versions of this T’au list at tournaments regularly for over two years now. That means I’ve experienced everything this list can/can’t do and what units work effectively in what roles. It means I know before most of my games how I’m going to try and play it and how I’ll try and get the win. This enables me to get the most out of each and every unit. Between events I’ll make little tweaks here and there (going to put Markerlights into my Fire Warrior squads for the next one for example) but the overall list remains the same. I feel you’ll always struggle to perform consistently if you’re regularly making major list changes that require total re-thinks on how to play. So, pick a list you enjoy playing with, and practise with it over and over and over until you know it inside out!
  • Playing the Mission. I know you hear this from all the proper tournament players, but this is so important. Competitively, this game is not about slaughtering the opposition. It’s about claiming victory points. Prioritise this above all other considerations, think one/two turns ahead about where you want your units to be and where the objectives will be. In most of my games this weekend, I had very little of my force left by the end of the game. I was however ahead on points, and that’s all that matters! This is why I love Vior’la. I can advance my units for the additional movement to claim objectives, but still fire at full effectiveness. This allows me to rapidly redeploy as the mission dictates yet not sacrifice my shooting.
  • Not being afraid to make bold moves and get stuck in at key moments! This may be controversial, but I think T’au are great in close combat! Close combat is so useful for us. We have a large number of units with the ‘fly’ keyword that are resilient and don’t go down easily (e.g. Devilfish, Stealth Suits). These means they can charge in, survive the combat (note, I’m not thinking of this to do damage), then fall back and shoot the following turn. These rules, combined with the shock factor of being charged by T’au, can totally shut down your opponent’s strategy if timed well as you may prevent some of their key units from moving, shooting or dictating charges themselves. This came to the fore in my third game against the Plaguebearers. I needed to stop those units moving and I knew that, due to how packed in they all were, my opponent was going to struggle to put enough attacks on my units to do any real damage. It meant the Hammerhead/Devilfish could dive right into combat without getting killed, enabling my Fire Warriors to safely sit on objectives and blast apart unengaged units. This is also how I won the No Reatreat VII final against Mikey (Hellstorm Wargaming). His Leviathan dreadnoughts would tear me apart, unless they were stuck trying to punch Stealthsuits/Devilfish to death with their measly two attacks! This enabled the rest of army to kill the rest of his and accumulate the points I needed to claim the win and the trophy!

In summary, I take my fluffy list to tournaments and sometimes do okay. I think this is down to practise, playing the mission and sometimes making bold (stupid) movements/charges. I hope this article on the GT Finals and my two cents on using fluffy lists was an enjoyable read; thank you for taking the time to listen to my ramblings! As above, I’m on Instagram (Average_Elmo_Miniatures) if you want to see more; feel free to DM on there if you want to chat.



The not so handsome one on the left…

4 thoughts on “Warhammer GT Finals – by Lewis Elmes

  1. Thanks for the tournament write up, and well done for doing so well.

    Brilliant move with the vehicle road block against the plague bearers. However the Hammerhead sticks out as a sore thumb in the list, are you tempted to switch it for something else ?

    I’m tempted to make a Sunshark bomber. I’ve never been to happy with the look of it, but I’ve seen some nice conversions. Plus I have things for drones and ion weapons, so the interceptor drones just have to make the list. Whats you best advice for getting the most out of the bomber ?

    1. Lewis responded:


      So the Hammerhead is definitely only in the list because of the rule of cool… the railgun is just terrible! I’d probably be tempted to do a straight swap for a SkyRay as the chassis is useful for things like that roadblock and the seeker missiles might actually do something 🤦🏻‍♀

      Best advice for the bomber is to use to to clear infantry off objectives, pick off any exposed characters and generally cause havoc! The interceptor drones are easy to hide and great for scoring line breaker or claiming objectives of their own late-game. Hope this helps 😊

      1. Unless I’m completely mistaken drones have the same battlefield role as their parent units. Shouldn’t Interceptor drones therefore be unable to score objectives?

  2. Hi Rathstar – I’ll make sure that Lewis gets your message and will post his reply to you ASAP. Thanks for visiting the site.


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