Tohaa is pure, synchronized aggression. As a vanilla faction, Tohaa might be the most unique and, to the uninitiated, overwhelming faction. Maybe your local Sakiel lover gives you grief with endless Burst 4 Viral Combis, or maybe you can’t seem to kill triads no matter how much flame you bring. How do you beat an opponent fielding a linkable, multiwound vanilla army in this game full of nonlinkable, mostly-monowound vanilla armies?
Tohaa has changed significantly in the recent wave of Human Sphere updates. Much of the information will still stand, in the coming months, but I will have to rewrite much, once Human Sphere settles in. Enjoy brutalizing your Tohaa opponents in the meantime!
Luck helps. But strategy goes a long way. Back when I was super active on the forum, I wrote up an anti-Tohaa tactica, after seeing Doremicom’s gentlemanly article on Bell of Lost Souls. As I know I get many visitors here who are not Tohaa players, I thought I’d rewrite this content to share with you how best to crush me, as your Tohaa opponent.
There’s a short joke I’ve made about Tohaa’s pros and cons, and it’s actually quite true and goes like this:
Tohaa Pros: Fire, Fireteams, Armor
Tohaa Cons: Fire, Fireteams, Armor
If you’re here, and especially if you’re new, you’ve probably already bashed your head up against Tohaa’s strengths. All Tohaa’s flamethrowers are Heavy Flamethrowers, and we get a lot of them. The smoky Makaul warband, commonly fielding them, was considered a good melee platform in the last edition, even when melee was considered bad. Rockets are easy for Tohaa to get, and they can outfit them on unlimited Triad Fireteams who have obvious benefits of mobility and firepower. Finally, of course, the relatively cheap Symbiont Armor keeps them alive well longer than many troops in their price range could hope to be.
Parallel tools are also Tohaa’s pitfalls. Let’s look at each one in detail:
Fire, I’m sure you know, is Tohaa’s Achilles heel. Flames instantly kill Tohaa troops wearing Symbiont Armor, if the trooper fails its ARM roll. And as all non-Symbiont troops in Tohaa have only 1 wound, with no presence of V: Dogged or V: No Wound Incapaciation, any thing you successfully burn will immediately drop or die.
But flamethrowers aren’t actually that dependable against Tohaa, as I’m sure you’ve found out, because Corvus Belli built in a protection for us Tohaa players, by giving these aliens above-average Physique. Most Tohaa troops get at least a 55% chance to dodge flame they face.
What you should really think about when using Fire against Tohaa is not about the fire itself, but the delivery platform. Since Tohaa is quite mobile, a fire-vulnerable Triad can easily run away from flamethrowers you’ve deployed. Fire therefore works best against Tohaa when it is deliverable at your advantage, or when it is deliverable anywhere.
Remember that if a Fireteam is Dodging, they aren’t shooting. And remember that we’re human opponents, irrational and reactionary. If you can’t successfully burn us, you can safely disperse us.
Here are a few examples, by faction, of good Tohaa cookers you might already be bringing in your lists:
• ALEPH’s hyperpowered Phoenix is feared by many, especially so by Tohaa because of his Heavy Rocket Launcher in combination with his Optical Disruptor Device. When linked Steel Phalanx, Phoenix, firing at the commonly threatening Viral Combi Sakiel, with both in cover, at 16-32″, has a 63% to kill the Sakiel, who has but a 15% chance to successfully dodge. Under the same conditions, shooting at the stout HMG Ectros who’s shooting back, those odds remain at 62% chance to kill the Ectros outright, who has less than a 12% chance of doing any damage in return.
Tohaa players often neglect to bring their MSV2 troop, which means that ODD and Camo/Mimetism troops will usually keep that benefit in firefights.
• Ariadnan Chasseurs can easily set themselves upfield through camouflaged infiltration, with a flamehrower in their hands. It’s also quite easy for Ariadna to coat the battlefield in a variety of camouflage, forcing orders or risk for the Tohaa to move forward.
Tohaa’s Sensor units aren’t actually fast, and so it’s not uncommon for us to be unable (or unwilling) to move them forward to discover.
• Yu Jing’s badass Tiger Soldier can airdrop his very scary little Light Flamethrower basically anywhere a Fireteam isn’t watching. The Tiger can easily win a shootout in a pinch, as Tohaa has good average but low peak Ballistic Skill.
Tohaa don’t typically field more than 1 Hacker, so a Tiger or other airdroppable flamethrower won’t have much interference on their Physique roll to jump.
• The Shasvastii Sphinx is a very fast, very mobile TO Camouflage TAG whose dual flamethrowers spell nearly-certain death to any trooper who fails his Dodge roll, which he may likely do with the new Surprise Shot penalty. Fast and mobile, and fully a TAG, the Sphinx is one of the most dangerous foes the Tohaa must fight.
• PanOceania’s Auxilia are tremendously effective. PanOceania, and the Neoterran Capitaline Army in particular, can and do spam these boys a lot. For the some of the same reasons Tohaa’s Rasails are now popular, Auxilia have always been popular. And they’re cheaper, and particularly effective against Tohaa.
Use the Auxbot synchronized flamethrower to force us to make the agonizing decision to either shoot back and get burned, or to dodge and get shot by the Auxilia trooper. Tohaa also adores antipersonnel mines, and Auxbots, being cheap and fast, are excellent at soaking up our patiently laid mines.
• Qapu Qhalki’s Sekban in Haris links―very similar to our Tohaa triads―bring the huge range and terror of the Heavy Rocket Launcher with a handy 360° visor. A parked Sekban link can deny lots ground that Tohaa might otherwise advance through.
Vanilla Haqqislam may not be as inclined to bring Sekban, but Heavy Rocket Launchers are as rarely offered as they are cheap. 360° vision makes the weapon good for defending backfield droppers and infiltrators, and both of these types of Tohaa troops have particular reason to fear rockets.
• Nomads are the kings of orbital drops, and Tomcats are no exception. Much like Tiger soldiers, the Tomcat’s Airborne Infiltration allows them to bring their flamethrower anywhere they want. And I do mean anywhere―Climbing Plus will allow you to get the jump on a triad who’s facing the wrong way, and just one Tomcat can easily cost us many dozens of points in only a couple decisive orders.
• If you’re a new Tohaa player getting your ass handed to you by a veteran Tohaa player, Rasails are a great way to handle symbiont assholes, for the same reason Auxilia are. Your Nanoscreen and BTS3 should keep you alive en route to your target, and the Chaksa Peripheral can deliver the final pinch. They are a bit pricey, though, so you might just pump them full of sniper rounds and Sakiels until they go down, or use amazing Makauls to ward off key areas and objectives.
You can still effectively use any flamethrowers you might have, if you don’t bring flame troops like these. Just like experienced players actively avoid sniper lanes and Total Reaction bots, experienced Tohaa players avoid Flamethrowers—use this to your advantage!
You can get a hilarious amount of board control with only one or two fire weapons. Treat Flamethrowers therefore as area denial. Or think of them as little mobile mines that Tohaa don’t want to explode. USAriadna’s Minutemen, Haqqqislam’s Naffatûn, and Combined Army’s Ikadrons are a great examples of a troops who don’t need to move to frighten Tohaa away.
There are two main reasons why this is a weakness of Tohaa, and I’ll address the active one first—your Fireteams, if you have them:
Fireteams can be used just as deadly against Tohaa, and more. As I note above, Tohaa has a good average but low peak Ballistic Skill. The only model with BS14 is the Gorgos, which of course you won’t often see. The highest Ballistic Skill otherwise is 13 on our few Heavy Infantry, and just 12 or lower for everything else.
A fully-manned fireteam of even basic line troops has more than a fighting chance against a Tohaa Triad. A fully-manned fireteam of Heavy Infantry is a real tough pie for us to eat, as Tohaa get less access to AP weaponry than any other faction, and zero offensive hacking outside of Kaeltars.
Unlike sectorials, Tohaa pays in points for their Triad-able troops. And while we can have as many as we want, there usually won’t be more than two or three, so it’s often fewer bodies than it seems.
And Tohaa may never have more than 3 to a fireteam, which has 3 clear benefits to you:
• Camouflage shenanigans are often neutered by Sixth Sense in large sectorial fireteams, but not so here: Tohaa Triads have no access to Sixth Sense of any level.
• Tohaa will never get access to BS+3. This should go without saying, but some Tohaa players or their opponents mistakenly think that Tohaa do. They don’t. The only bonus they get from being in a Triad is +1 die when making attack rolls, and moving together.
• Tohaa Triads are very easy to pick apart. With Sectorial fireteams, the fireteam won’t break unless the Fireteam Leader dies, or unless the whole fireteam gets reduced to less than 3 troopers. We only have 3 troopers. 🙂 Knock down any 1 Tohaa model, and the whole Fireteam breaks.
Veterans know many useful rules for countering fireteams. One of the standouts is the fact that because all members of a fireteam “activate” when ordered, they all generate an ARO together. Use this to your advantage when reacting! If a linked Sakiel comes into a view, but his Kamael behind him does also, shoot the Kamael. Yes―the Sakiel will probably hit you with his unopposed shots, but you’ll likely hit his Kamael and break his little link.
As a Tohaa player, what I want my opponent to do is to spend his orders trying to kill a whole Triad. What I don’t want him to do is try to kill 1 model from each Triad. Killing 1 model from each Triad is many times easier to accomplish, and causes a helluva lot more ruckus to me as the Tohaa player. Since a Command Token must be spent to reform a fireteam, and Tohaa’s Triad-able units are never faster than 4-4, it’s very costly to me in tokens and orders when you smite one guy here and one guy there.
Additionally—and this is important to consider—many Tohaa models are Impetuous. In a common fireteam of a Kamael Specialist, a Sakiel, and a Makaul, killing the Kamael means that the Triad breaks, the Burst bonus is loss, and the Sakiel and Makaul suddenly can’t claim cover.
We don’t have much of it, nor many of the standard tools to deal with it. This is a rather simple point, but an important one once you internalize what it means.
On your side, small arms fire, even from Combi Rifles, can plink away Tohaa’s troops capably, even our heavy infantry. An HMG or Spitfire can do it excellently. Since Tohaa doesn’t have much armor, you can rack up your non-crucial MULTI weapons in loud firefights and get pretty good results. Tohaa may have lots of wounds, but they die like everyone.
This also means that when your fire weapons do land a hit on a Symbiont trooper, it’s fairly likely to kill them, around a 60% success rate on most Tohaa troops.
On the other side, Tohaa has very little to counter high-armor models. TAGs and Heavy Infantry who are normally great Rambos are indirectly greater rambos against Tohaa, as we just can’t hold up to high-burst, high-BS models in firefights, and when we do land a hit, cover + high armor will keep those rambos alive to kill a few more.
Aelis Keesan and the new Kosuil are the only troopers with actual anti-armor weapons. A savvy Tohaa player will try to use Viral weapons on your high-armor targets, as Viral is truly effective against all types of targets except perhaps Bolts. When our few anti-armor untis are aren’t active, your TAG can go to town.
A few sporadic pointers:
Most notable in the Kotail, our Symbiont troops have (sometimes drastic) debuffs when the Symbiont drops. Even if you can’t kill a Symbiont troop, if you can wound its Symbiont, you will strip all its armor and a few other defining factors. Damage to Symbionts is irreparable, and for Symbiont models without the Courage skill, they instantly fail their guts rolls and must cower for cover. This can help you to get past an overwatching Triad, or to turn a Kotail into a sad slow Acontecimento Regular. It will also make your Tohaa opponent timid with his newly-nerfed model.
Almost all Tohaa troopers have WIP13, few have Multispectral Vistors, and none of them have Sixth Sense. We do have good access to Sensors, however. Use camouflage against us aggressively on the active turn, stacking negative camo mods to undermine our high-burst triads and expensive soloist units.
With few exceptions, Tohaa are uniformly 4-4 movers. Our Triads make us mobile, but not quite fast. This means that we can gain ground easily, but we can’t easily traverse wide swaths with Triads and most individual troops.
An example of why this is a problem for us is a game I had against the respected Tamrielo: On the right side of the board, he had my Lieutenant in a Triad locked down with the threat of an Auxbot, who failed to kill them. I didn’t want to risk activating them again to get burned, so I had to move Neema Saatar and her pair of Makauls all the way from the left side of the board over in order to kill it, in order to free up my triad. This consumed my entire turn, and lost me the game.
Get your good pieces in places where we have to cross hill and wood to reach you, and you can waste our time handily.
This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s always worth noting that Tohaa has no offensive hacking, and we do have a some hackable models. You’ve probably brought a hacker or two, and against Tohaa, hackers have little to fear.
The unique Kaeltar Specialists bring hacking of a kind, but you might not see them regularly due to point cost restrictions. Additionally, unlike regular hackers, their offensive Symbiobomb attacks are one-offs. Get ready for a few WIP resets when they come to the board, but don’t worry about them in the long term of the game, as they can’t survive.
Aelis is a lightly-armored package that fills many holes of the Tohaa faction—she’s a hacker, albeit a defensive one; and she’s a linkable Sensor, unlike the Chaksa Auxiliars; and she usually has the one of our pitiable few good anti-materiel/anti-TAG weapons, the K1 Combi Rifle. She’s 10% of our army’s points, and we often feel boned without her.
Always treat Aelis Keesan as a high-priority target.
SMART & SPECULATIVE WEAPONS
Most (experienced) Tohaa players have just 1 defensive hacker, Aelis Keesan. Given the factionwide lack of Sixth Sense skills, you can lob grenades and guide missiles with only your own dice to hinder you.
TAGs often represent the worst thing threat possible to Tohaa. With their high mobility, high Ballistic Skill, high Armor and (often) Heavy Flamethrowers, it’s a terrible threat to Tohaa. We can only have 2 Kosuils, after all. If you’re still a fan of your TAG in N3, be confident when fielding them against Tohaa.
I don’t recommend building a list with only Tohaa in mind, unless you’re doing casual games. But, it is good to know a couple tools and tactics to exploit when your opponents bring them. I hope this helps!