Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Thinking about the Tau Codex.

Foreword


Tau is not an Army that suffers from having bad options. No, it has a viable, powerful offensive threat in potentially every slot - even troops! (well, maybe I need to except Fast Attack; Though I think that bomber could be a pain in the right conditions), with some of the best supporting choices I've ever seen in Fast Attack and Heavy Support.

What this means, however, is that it has options that are made subpar. Not necessarily because they're bad, but because there's just simply something better.

During the course of these random thoughts, I hope to shed some light on the abilities of the forgotten units; how they can be utilised and some of the cool things that they can do that you might not have thought of.
I'll be looking also at unit survivability, unit damage output, maneuverability and support potential (both giving and receiving.).

Elites

I'm simply going to say it's a Tie between XV8's and Riptides. One puts out a lot of firepower, and can be outfitted variously, the other is just brutally difficult to put down. Both are reliably survivable and both can move quickly enough. Of course, this leaves Stealth suits as the unwanted prom-night dumpster baby (NSFW).  

The troop suits
But, what can Stealth Suits do? They're jet infantry, and they can infiltrate. This means that they can be anywhere. You can deepstrike them onto the field, then thrust them to a good position or you can outflank with them, again thrusting to a good position. Their drawback is being Toughness 3 and having only 1 wound. This is offset by their 3+ armour and 4+ cover save. They can also snipe targets because they put out enough shots to do so, and they can deal with a little bit of armour. 

One trick is to give the Shas'vre a Markerlight and targetlock, Fusion Blaster and some support system (a VRT for example) Although this example costs 65-ish points, it means that you can target the markerlight and fusion blaster at a separate target to the squad's target, and also drop a markerlight on the target. 
Other options include having them man the Quad gun and ADL. Although they're BS3, they're allowed to use the Quad gun in addition to their main gun - remember they're battlesuits, so they have a multitracker. 
What you can do here is give your other fusion blaster a TL, then give him the use of the Quad gun. This way, the squad can shoot at some infantry or light armour target, while the quad gun knocks down a flyer. 

Honestly, Stealth Battlesuits would be best suited to Troops, but don't tell a soul I think they should have their armour dropped to 4+ and moved to troops. 

Fast attack

The undisputed king of Fast attack is the Pathfinder squad. they are a cheap effective support squad, that only has one drawback: they have terrible armour. Other than that, it's 22 points per markerlight counter. A perfect early game support unit and mid game firesoaker.

Because of this efficiency, Fast attack is something of a graveyard - this is where all the other options come to die. In the second place, it's a tie between Drone Squads and Pirhanas for me. Firstly, Pirhanas have a small drone squad incorporated in their being, but are otherwise 200 points for 5 suicide fusion blasters - with a jink save. Who could want something better? Drone squads on the other hand, are a nuisance. They can provide markerlight support, but to do so effectively you need a commander with a drone controller. This is a waste of points when compared to pathfinder squads. Otherwise, they can harry an opponent's flanks with small arms fire at an affordable price. Also in this slot is the Sunshark bomber, just because it's a flyer with bombs. 

The Razorshark and it's close cousin, the Sunshark.
(NSFW)
This means that the disputed place for worst option are Vespid and the unmemorable flyer with a weapon pretending to be as good as 2 twin-linked interceptor drones and 2 seeker missiles. Yeah. Actually, I changed my mind. There is one terrible option in this codex. This is it. 

As for Vespid, The stingwings aren't expressly terrible. The problem there is that Neutron Blaster. S5AP3 is a niche weapon. It's effective against PAEq, so you don't want to use it against anything with a save better than  3+, while not using it on anything worse than a 3+. That's fine against a Power Armoured army, but some armies will have very little PAEq. So you need to plan accordingly. 

On the other hand, Vespid are surprisingly decent shock troops. Although they're only S3 (I may be mis-remembering, if they're T3 and S4 tell me.) they're I6 which means that they can do a decent amount of damage on the charge, before getting slaughtered. Again, their 4+ save is efficient in combat. 

Heavy support

With the nerfing of broadsides, Heavy support has become a much less competitive slot. While broadsides can still put out a huge amount of firepower for a relatively small price (12 S7AP4 shots that are twin linked, 12 S7AP4 that aren't then 12 S5AP5 shots.) they can't deal with heavy armour quite so effectively. I suppose they can find usefulness if used with heavy rail rifles as anti-air weapons.

This means that the place for top dog has fallen to hammerheads. They are versatile, able to put out multiple kinds of high-strength firepower, with ion cannons being by far the most reliable option in the codex. 
Skyrays work well in conjunction with hammerheads, to markerlight skyborne targets like stormravens for the hammerheads more powerful weaponry. 

This leaves only Sniper teams to be at the bottom of the list, and I'm not so sure that this is a good place for them. They have stealth, markerlights and long range anti-infantry firepower all at BS5. I think sticking a sniper team on an objective with an ADL may be the most effective option available to the codex. BS5 on that quad gun and markerlight support, (remember that a drone, who is BS5 because of the firesight marksman may man the quad gun, so all 3 markerlights may be used.) all this means that sniper teams may be allowed to replace hammerheads in this slot, because they can do what pathfinders do, while putting the hurt on small enemies.