Thursday, 6 June 2013

Learning Points from Games of War Tourni.

So what did I learn at this tournament?

·         Ethereals are amazing! The leadership buff, 3 pretty useful warlord traits, and above all Storm of Fire … for 50 points..! Buttoned up in his D’fish he survived every game. Also taking him with the XV8 Commander means the Commander is not your warlord and you’re less concerned about putting the Commander in harms way.

·         XV8 Commander. I ran him with a Marker Drone squad in the 1750 list and with a double death rain XV8 team with Target Locks and  attached Marker Drones in the 2000pt list. His load out was the same in both lists - twin missile pods, Drone Controller, Target Lock, Puretide Chip and Iridium armour. He was outstanding in both lists, making the Drones more accurate and more survivable. Marker Lights are so important in a Cadre, I didn’t feel I was “wasting” the Commander at all. The only slight downside was that the Double Death Rain unit plus Drones has a large footprint and can be a bit unwieldy. Also, I wonder whether the 2 missile pods and Puretide Chip are worth it if all you’re doing is attaching him to a Drone Squadron.  

·         Fire warriors. Amazing. In all my games they were buttoned up in their D’fish until turn 2 or 3. Their role was to jump out and torrent something to death, which they do very effectively. Mostly they worked in tandem jumping out together and unleashing seventy two S5 BS5 shots at 15”. Very few infantry units can withstand that. HOWEVER, they must have 4 marker light hits (2 each) and they need to be protected from retaliation. If they jump out and e.g. a TFC or Whirlwind targets them, they evaporate.

·         Supporting fire. This is very powerful if you get your positioning right (which I managed to do once!), especially if you can fire a unit with marker lights first and get a couple of marker light hits, which another squad then pick up. Makes me wonder if putting a command and control node on the XV8 Commander is work it – 6 twin linked marker lights should get a couple of hits even at BS1.

·         Kroot. Still good at what they do (blocking, grabbing objectives and dieing for the greater good) and cheaper. Not being able to do anything in assault now is a little disappointing, but not a big deal. Beginning to wonder if sniper rounds might be the way to go, given the increase in MC’s and high toughness units I’m expecting with New Eldar.

·         Riptides. Hmmmmm…… tricky one. The Riptides were good, but not for the reason I thought they would be. The Ion Accelerator seems good on paper, but it’s too unreliable. Even with ML support it’s not that devastating. It’s probabaly more effective to kill MEQ and TEG with torrent of fire rather than high strength low AP weapons. However, where it excelled is in providing the army with something that’s big and scary and pretty resilient. It’s also a great tar pit for anything that doesn’t have high strength AP2 weapons.  In summary, it’s not really a fire power unit, it’s a tactical unit that gives the army more options. It’s also a counter to Helldrakes, in the sense that the alternative (XV8s) would get BBQed by ‘Drakes in an instant. The other thing that surprised me was the Early Warning Overrides. While good on paper, they didn’t really help much. The problem is that in interceptor mode, they can’t benefit from Marker Lights.

·         XV8s. I only used them in my 2000pt list, but double death rains are pretty powerful, particularly when teamed with a Commander with  Puretide Chip. MC’s just evaporate, and anything AV12 or less dies. Also, giving them target locks and attached marker drones worked well. If I was running XV8s rather than Riptides, 2 squads set up like that would be pretty powerful. My concern is that without the XV8 Commander and his 2+ save tanking wounds, they’re still pretty fragile.

·         Longstrike’s Hammer Head. Need to run him in a few more games. He wasn’t a star performer to be honest, but that’s probably because, while he always seemed to hit and pen, I always followed that up by rolling a “1” on the damage table!

·         Skyrays. Mixed. Fantastic when the other side has flyers, not so much when they don’t’. What I did like however, were the SMS after the Missiles were fired, and the extra BS4 marker lights. In one of my games I used them to start a Marker Light Chain Reaction, eventually allowing a squad of fire warriors to shoot an FMC at BS4.


·         I need to try out XV8’s as an alternative to Riptides.

·         I need to playtest Riptides with Heavy Burst Cannons rather than Ion Accelerators

·         If I’m running an XV8 Commander with Marker Drones I need to try him with no weapons and a Command and Control Node.

·         Jury is still out on Longstrikes Hammer Head and Skyrays.

In general, the one thing I’m not persuaded I have right is the balance between marker lights and guns. I think I need the same number of marker lights, but on 2 platforms rather than one.



  1. Interesting analysis, waiting for more games and more insight. Can't wait!

  2. Thanks for the useful analysis.

    I'm trying out a shas'vre as a cheap version of the Mark'O. I give him C&C Node, PENchip & Drone controller. The rerolls from the C&C Node gives the remaining 2 double deathrains the same hits (before markerlights) as a full squad, and the attached marker drones are only slightly worse than BS5 ones (hitting 75% rather than 83%).

    My PENchip is not transferable like yours on a Commander, however I think the full double deathrain team and commander is a lot of points in one place.

    When having the commander with marker drones I don't think the C&C Node is necessary. Twin-linking BS5 is only a small increase, where as you could have the commander with 4 str 7 shots with skyfire affected by the PENchip. I think a C&C Node is better suited on a shas'vre where you are not giving up BS5.

    Looking forward to more of your great Tau articles.


  3. @Rathstar - It's something I've been thinking about too. However, the problem is, without the Commander tanking wounds on his Iridium Armour, the double deathrain unit is much more fragile. For such an important unit, I want it to be as survivable as possible. I suppose the alternative is to have 2 double death rain units, just with Shas'vre's, supporting each other - lots of points though!

    The thinking behind putting the C&CN on the unit is to twin link the Drones - not because I need it in the shooting phase if shooting at ground targets, as you say, TL BS5 is not that much of an advantage. However, it allows me to put a couple of marker light hits on flyers, and then fire Longstrike's Rail Gun at them. More interestingly, it should mean a couple of hits when shooting overwatch. One of the units shooting overwatch using supporting fire can then pick up those marker lights and shoot overwatch at normal BS.

  4. Just had it pointed out to me that you cant use the C&CN in over watch. Bugger!


  5. Your point about the twin-linking to help firing at flyers is very good though. I still say it might be worth putting the C&C Node on a shas'vre rather than the Commander.

    If the shas'vre also took the drone controller it would leave the commander free to take skyfire and interceptor. At BS5 and benefitting from the PENchip he would have a good chance of doing 3 hull points on his own.

    After seeing in a battle report how well the commander tanked for crisis suit I'm trying to fit one in my lists.


  6. Concerning Riptides;

    At first when I Read the rules in the new codex, I conjured up an imagine of an unstoppable behemoth, laying down strength 9 ap 2 pie plates, and decimating entire armies.

    Fortunately that quickly turned out not to be the case. And it's dynamic changed to that of a bullet sponge.

    It's so big you can't hide it, and you opponent thinks;

    A. If I kill this massive thing, this tau army is going to roll over and die, because it has to he lynchpin
    B. I I leave it alone its going to pie plate my space marines with ap 2, oh god...

    Whilst the riptide absorbs all kinds of interesting and exciting las cannon fire, you crisis suits murder their respective targets largely unmolested.

    That in my opinion is the purpose of the riptide, the essence of the tau "greater good" philosophy.

  7. Concerning shot volume, "or how I learned to stop worrying, and love the pulse rifle"

    So I used to despise my firewarriors, I have been guilty of calling them "fire warrior tax" because I'd only ever use 2 squads of 6, to fill out my minimum requirement. They didn't love me and I certainly didn't love them.

    In my defence that was mainly due to 5th edition and an out of date codex. But I carried this opinion over even after the new codex dropped. My suit heavy lists were being soundly beaten in objective based games, not because I didn't have weapons that could kill, but because I had no tactical flexibility.

    So with gritted teeth I started designing lists with lots of firewarriors, trying not to think of how many suits I could have instead, an a wonderful thing happened.

    I played a blood angels DS list, something has always given me trouble. At =< 15 inches with maker light support and an ethereal. It makes no difference wether the squad your shooting at has 2 up saves or numbers 20 or more models, it's going to die or at he very least be combat ineffective.

    In fact I have had more success with my firewarriors than some of my suit squads.

    Don't get me wrong I call on my suits when things really have to die, but I always hammer them with firewarriors first.

    To this end I recently did something I swore I'd never do, I put 2 burst cannons each on a squad of crisis suits. I'll let you know how I woks out...

  8. @Firstname Lastname - please do let me know how the burst cannon suits go, its something ive been contemplating myself, but have been too ashamed to admit (!) - 3 suits with twin burst cannons a drone controler and 6 gun drones.... around 150pts for 24 S5 shots.....averaging 15 hits with no marker light support..... not bad!

    Agree re the riptide - but there's more (!) it can charge guard gunlines and scare the pants off them! Did this last wednesday - was a lot of fun!


  9. I've just got up from the floor after falling off my chair because you said "Fire Warriors. Amazing." I never thought I'd hear you say it. Storm of Fire and Supporting Fire have helped but they really aren't that much different to how they were in 6th before the new book. Glad you're finally converted though.

    On the subject of the riptide. I really didn't think it was up to much when I first read the book. However, I've given it some playtesting and I have to say I'm sold. I run mine with ion, twin-fusion, EWO and VT which comes in at 210pts. As others have said he certainly draws attention but I really think he does a lot more than that.

    Equipped like that he is brilliant for dealing with flyers and flying MCs alike. If you get off a Nova to let him fire the fusion blaster twice he can mince any flyer that is daft enough to come into range. Granted you can't fire twice using Interceptor (as Nova is limited to the turn you activate it) but the EWO is more so I can pie plate deep-striking terminators anyway.

    I find that most of the time I'm firing the ion accelerator in 3-shot S7 AP2 mode. Even without marker support he can still take down AV11 flyers easily and AV12 with a bit of luck.

    He's not awesome at anything particularly on his own but like all Tau units, when combined with the right units he can pull his weight. I'm considering running two but can't quite persuade myself that he's worth losing crisis suits for.

    I'm taking 1,850ps of Tau to Blog Wars 5 so I'll be posting some after action thoughts soon after.

  10. @FTF. I know, I'm a convert to fire warriors, who would have thought! Or to be more accurate I guess I'm a convert to fire warriors supported by and ethereal. On their own they are still pretty mediocre!

    I agree re riptides. It's their versatility that makes them so good. I want to try them with burst cannons, but when I built the bloody things the ion accelerator seemed so good I didn't magnetise it - duh!

    Look forward to your blog wars report. Have you settled on a list?