Friday, 14 June 2013

When are GW gonna get a grip? More thoughts on Tau.

Great comment on the last post pointed out that GW had dropped the ball again.  Only Broadsides can take Missile Drones.  Which means a highly versatile mobile firing platform is tied into a unit that doesn't really want to move.  Way to go GW, lets turn a win into a fail ... again!

This changes the dynamic quite a lot and balances the book better, as it quickly reduces the overpowering effectiveness of the "Commander+Drone Controller+Missile Drones" Blitzkrieg.  No one in 40k should have that kind of spammed firepower at their fingertips, unless they are Space Marines, or Space Wolves, or Imperial Guard.  Anyone non-human anyhow...

(Anyone from Nottingham may wanna skip the next paragraph, it's meant in jest, kinda.)

So is GW racist?  Well, dah?  Course they are, they're based in Nottinghamshire, (originally mistyped Nottinghamshite, oooo freudian) what do you expect?  I grew up not 30 miles from HQ and I can categorically state that while the 'gamers' were the most thought provoking of all my classmates, I also lived in a region that won 'whitest' in the UK.  Let's just say that if Morgan Freeman really had accompanied Kevin Costner to Nottingham Forest - he'd have been 'fuck this racist shit' in about four days.  That's not to say that Nottingham does not have a black and asian culture, it certainly does.  It also has one of the highest gun crimes rates in the UK, a big problem with gangs and drugs.

Anyhooo, my own childhood trauma aside... how does this effect the Tau list.  What would work?

Crisis Suits, ok they can't take Missile Drones, but marker drones are only 1 pt more expensive than pathfinders.  For one point they are toughness 4, gain a 4+ save over 5+ and most important are jetpack troops - allowing them to move-fire-move thanks to their relentless jetpacks.  They are BS2, but the addition of a drone controller makes them BS3, a commander with said controller makes them BS5.

So the real question is how many markerlights are effective.  This is a balancing act between several factors:
  • Enough Markerlight hits to refuse cover save and give BS5 to an engaging unit (4)
  • Having enough units to spread enough hits to 'spread the pain' around if needed.
  • Making the unit big enough to impact severely (remember that each unit that shoots at the target will require 3-4 markerlights to maximise impact)
  • Making the unit small enough that it can use cover effectively and minimise retaliation.
So lets see, the strongest contenders (ignoring Forgeworld loveliness) for 'markerlight' has to be the SkyRay, followed closely by the markerdrone (especially with a drone commander).  The last contender has to be pathfinders. 

4 drones at BS5 will score 3-4 hits, 8 drones score 6-7 hits.  This thrashes pathfinders raw, as two to three hits of each 55 point team is dire, PS: Using markerlights to 'breed' markerlights also seems shortsighted.  Yes, handing your team a 2+ to hit is nice, but it cost 2 markerlights.

There is another way...

Commander Shadowsun + Pathfinders

Commander Shadowsun and 10 pathfinders, including a command-link drone and an MV-52 drone costs 285pts.  Here's the advantages.   The MV52 'confers' a 3++ invulnerable save.  It doesn't have this, it confers it.  Let's share it around.  Shadowsun also just made her unit Stealth and Shrouded, oh AND night vision.  Your pathfinders now have a 2+ cover save and 3++ invulnerable save.  Hmmm, you still need a couple of markerlight bonuses to get 2+ to hit for your targets, but your command link drone also give you a reroll on 1's. 

Upside: That's pretty damn hardcore.  That's like Thunder termie saving throws on a markerlight until almost guaranteed to score 9-10 markerlight hits a turn.

Downside: Static and very squishy on the charge.  As upgrades go, she's pretty expensive and it ties her down to a low toughness unit.  Shadowsun will keep vehicles at bay though.  Although charging hordes aren't worried.  It's also expensive, just like the Stealth team below, it offers marginal advantage over just spamming pathfinder teams (285 buys nearly 26 pathfinders) and its not like there's loads of competition in the fast attack slot.

Stealth Team Rethinking...

Ok, here's my thinking.  A Group of Crisis Suits are hard to hide.  A Group of Stealth dudes, less so.  Combine the following:

Commander, 2 x Plasma Rifles, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker drones: 156pts
Stealth Team x 3, Shas'Vre with Markerlight and Target Lock, 3xATS, fusion blaster, 2 Marker Drones: 143pts

Total: 299pts

Now hear me out.  The advantage of this is as follows.  The unit is majority T4, it has 7 'disposable wounds'.  It makes 4 BS5 Markerlight shots a turn.  It's small, easily concealed and gets a 2+ cover save easily.  It has enough antipersonnel firepower, anti MEQ and anti tank firepower to make any unit wary of approaching it, and it can still be tactically useful while 'holding' an area.  Add in to this that the whole unit has ATS, and that means that the Shas'Vre can drop a markerlight precision shot on a specific model on a 5+.  Follow that with a Seeker Missile (no cover save, S8 and AP3) That's something worth talking about.  The rest of the team have enough firepower and precision shot ability (6's on 8 S5, AP5 shots, 5+ on the commanders 4 shots) to make terminators blush.

Is it better than a crisis team, or three large 9 man Pathfinder teams?  Sadly no.  But it's the most use I can make out of what GW have done to the Stealth team.  They would be a pain in the arse, they would be a super mobile toolkit of doom, they would be arguably less effective than a huge hulking elite robot.

Fecking GW.

Kroot Sniper Horde.

7pt each 24" range sniper rifles.  What's not to love.  They have some stealth ability, are slightly less accurate than ratlings, but 2 x 20 infiltrating snipers for 280 is awfully tempting.  Yes, they are prone to dying, but they will also throw a lot of firepower out before they do.  As an ambush unit, this is their best use, lulling the enemy into thinking they are 'just a deployment screen' and then unloading 40 sniper shots at point blank.  Add in enough markerlights against aggressive opponents (and try to save 4 for their charge and boost your snapshots to BS5) and watch the enemy drop.  40 shots should produce 5.55 rending hits with just 2 markerlights.  Remember to deny them cover with an extra two.  That's potent stuff.  That's a whole unit of space marines dead, or nearly 4 terminators.  Hmmmm.

Just watch out for Landraiders...

Tanks and Heavy weaponry

Speaking of which ... I can't see anything in the codex that beats the good'ole Hammerhead in tank destruction.  When you really positively have to kill a landraider, that's your only option (beyond suicide suits with fusion missing risk).  Even Broadsides with the Puretide engram commander only gets a reroll to penetrate, and that's expensive and also pretty shit.  If you want a killer, choose Longstrike - the combination of BS5, tank hunter, black sun filter and defensive fire automatically means he actually only costs 34pts for BS5, reroll 1's against Imperial Guard and reroll failed and non-penetrating hits on tanks - that's like a no brainer.  The downside is that Sensor Spines, Disruption Pod etc are essential - as this guy will attract Loads of heat.

Blocking with two sets of SkyRay's could do the job though.  4 markerlights, 12 seeker missile (for those precise Stealth team shots) Plus 2 Skyrays can block a charge, give cover to the real target and give you the option of 12 twin-linked Smart Missiles flying out every turn, as you retreat in the face of the charging enemy. 

New Thoughts, New List - 1502 pts
  • Commander, 2 x Plasma Rifles, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker drones: 156pts
  • Commander, 2 Missile Pod's, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker Drones: 156pts
  • Stealth Team x 3, Shas'Vre with Markerlight and Target Lock, 3xATS, fusion blaster, 2 Marker Drones: 143pts
  • Crisis Suit Team x 3, 6 Missile Pods, ATS, 6 marker Drones: 237pts
  • Riptide - 180pts
  • Fire Warriors x 9, Shas'Ui: 91 pts
  • Devilfish, disruption pod, drones and sensor spines: 100pts
  • Fire Warriors x 9, Shas'Ui: 91pts
  • Kroot Sniper Unit, Shaper and 20 kroot, sniper bolts: 155pts
  • Hammerhead, Longstrike, Disruption Pod, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 190pts
  • SkyRay, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 120pts
  • SkyRay, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 120pts
Tactics:  consider this an army made of mobile sniper units.

The Kroot hold a flank, preferably in a bit of woodland for some extra cover.  The Shaper hopefully keeps them together long enough to launch a sniper ambush on them.  The on-foot firewarriors come on late for home defence, or take up a strong position.  The Sky-Ray's escort the Hammerhead to LoS on targets of opportunity and run interference.  Marker drones in both units attack targets of opportunity, with the riptide and kroot focusing fire.

Once vehicles are downed, it's on to the troops, which I believe this list will thrive at killing.

The danger is that the enemy get the drop on Longstrike... but then it's just a game of relocate for the win.  The inclusion of Shadowsun or the Stealth team really hold the same impact.  One has the ability to splatter a unit with so many markerlight it'll be taking every shot at its vulnerable bits.  The other has the ability to be a swiss army knife of killing at medium range, complement the markerlight tally and get away from the bad guys.

First rule of shooting is target priority.  If you have to drop a target you want the markerlight hits to make it hurt with everything you've got.  10 markerlight hits on a charging unit can give 2+ to hit for 3 units and still save 4 lights to give them a 2+ on the unit when it charges.

On that analogy, the static, high stealth unit is stronger - offering a big juicy, hard to kill unit which will kill a lot of the enemy.

The mobile list above offers 14 markerlights, the static version offers 22 per turn. 

It's gunline versus mobile again.  Does the static variant sacrifice too much firepower to enable markerlights?
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