Sunday, 28 July 2013

450 points of Barkham Blue. (Riptides)


As of right now, I've finished my 1850 Tau Army. It is all Painted, based and ready to play, save for my "Comms Relay" (a converted Recon drone model.) These are my two riptides. Each is equipped the same, a Twin-linked Fusion Blaster, an Ion Accelerator, Vectored Retro Thruster and a Stimulant Injector. This makes each riptide worth 225 points, which is a bargain for their staying power. On the table, they're there to take the punishment before I can deploy my farsight bomb. Once the Farsight bomb is deployed, they provide fire support: Their S7-9 AP2 weapon ensures that heavy infantry or tank targets can be dealt with effectively. In the event that I play the Farsight Enclaves, the crouching riptide will be carrying the mirrorcodex, the leaping riptide the Earth Caste Piloting array. 

The Miniatures

So here are my two riptides. The one on the perspective left I'll refer to as "Leaping" and the one on the right, "crouching". At the time photos were taken, the sealing and detailing PVA/water mix wasn't finished, so the models appear to have a very milky white base - this is merely an oversight on my part, it matches all my other units in the farsight bomb. 
So here's the Leaper - my second riptide, but the more interesting pose. He's meant to look as though he's leaping from the sky, aiming his Ion Accelerator at a target he'd just reduced to smoldering ashes. 

This riptide's just a little bit taller than the crouching riptide, so he's the one I'll use if there won't be much cover to protect me. If there's a chance that line of sight will be blocked by terrain, the crouching riptide's on it like flies to rotten meat. If my enemy can't see him, but I can jump/shoot/jump them, then I'm in for one irritated opponent.

 The leaping riptide's pose was based on the standard pose of the New Resin Tau Commander (Modified version Pictured).

because of the pose, the model did need to have the flying stand. Who would've thunk? You could actually use it!

The other Riptide I've affectionately named the "Croucher". I loved the fact that the model makes it possible to have riptides crouch and I knew I had to act on this. hence, this riptide is in its pose.

I thought the riptide would crouch to reduce its body size and make the most of its riptide shields. Hence, the riptide shield generator is in the air and the ion accelerator is almost sheathed, facing the ground.

To add to the effect of the riptide protecting itself, I made what my friends have 'affectionately named' the dartboard.

This is a piece of plasticard mounted on a flying stand, with greenstuff sculpted to look like ripples in a quintessential "kinetic shield" (you know the kind I mean - the one in all the movies where shields are a thing.)

The green object in the middle is a missile taken from the Tactical Marine Kit.

Of course, the model had to have a *reason* to be protecting itself, so I modeled him to have taken some damage. On his right thigh, he's taken some rending damage, from an assault cannon or similar weapon. on the left thigh, he's taken a melta shot which one could only assume would've crippled the user inside, were it not for his stimulant injector.

The kit also has a neat feature of having the legs and torso separate, meaning it was possible to not glue the body together, making packaging easier. This also mans each riptide's body is interchangeable, the result rather appealing.

Next, I'll be showing off my farsight bomb command squad. The final parts to my Farsight bomb Tactica are to come, as well.

Monday, 22 July 2013

First impressions of the Farsight Enclave.


Hi guys, I've been in another city for a family holiday. I will be continuing my all 'round coverage of the Tau Farsight bomb, but since I just got home and just downloaded the farsight enclave book, I figured now was a brilliant time to analyse the supplement. Allow me to start that before going into this book, I can't possibly see this book as competitive as many tournaments won't allow it, although it does have some particularly powerful units and unit combinations, as well as the Tau Codex first: Battlesuit troops.

What changes:

The Farsight Enclave seeks to change how the player runs the Tau. The Enclaves are as radically different to the original empire as the commander is to his kin. That said, the book fails to change too much. Most notable restrictions are that you can't take Aun'va or Commander Shadowsun in the enclaves army, although the book allows the player to run darkstrider or longstrike, as well as not explicitly disallowing the player from running either shadowsun or Aun'va from being part of an Allies list (or vice versa.)

The book makes up for this by providing players with a grand total of 7 new unique characters, all with their own special equipment (they don't have any expressly special rules, save for two.) These units are arranged in an ensemble called "The 8" and include a Fio'O - an Earth caste "Planner" (commander)

Most importantly, the tau of the farsight enclave are able to fight with battlesuits as troops - In fact, the codex makes it necessary to take at least one unit of 3 suits. The price of this upgrade? Any model with the ability to buy the bonding knife ritual, must buy the bonding knife ritual. Aside from Crisis Bodyguards, this means all units cost one point more, as a "tax". In exchange for this price hike, they all get preferred enemy against orks in close combat.

Finally, the farsight enclave gives 6 new and rather wonderful signature systems to try out. Unfortunately, all of these come at the cost of the original Tau Signature systems - goodbye MSSS, C&CN, PEC and NSJ (Not really, there are ways around this.)

Ultimately, the Farsight enclave does two things:

Ensures players can legally take crisis battlesuits as troops


Ensures no one uses a farsight bomb. Seriously. This expansion book ruins farsight bombs, unless you're willing to take an ally with a commander.

Farsight Battlesuit troops 

Let me just begin by saying that Battlesuit troops have been asked for for a long, long time. This book does it well, also ensuring that casualties don't get to them by forcing the player to give them the bonding knife ritual. This is a point upgrade, which, for the most part (gaining the scoring type and preferred enemy in combat against orks) is a price well worth its product. The heroic morale bit might come in handy, too. 

This has a few unexpected effects, as giving Tau a fast scoring troop is the final nail in the coffin for Devilfish (I never used them anyway) and marginalises Kroot and Fire warriors (10 point fire warriors starts to rack up...) On the flipside, Stealth suits are suddenly a consideration, as you don't have to call your elites slots "Precious" anymore. alternatively, it is perfectly possible to have 4 riptides without an ally. (you bastard.)
While I would suggest running the battlesuits in much the same spirit one used them in Tau Empire book, it is my belief that burst cannons may come in handy now. A build like this would ensure the lack of fire warriors isn't harmful, while providing a hidden fusion blaster suit.

2 Dakkasuits (One with VRT, one with DC) and a Tank hunter suit (with TL) gives the player 28 S5AP5 shots, 12 of which are Twin-linked and cause pinning. Alternatively, one could go with 3 dakkasuits - although I can't think of a support system for the third. 

Otherwise, Plasma Nomad and Tank hunter squads can be taken as normal - except that you can take more of them.

Another note is that  Tau now also become able to produce the second (?) cheapest MSU, after Grey Knight Lackeyspam. While I wouldn't recommend it, 5 squads of 1 battlesuit in reserve could ensure you capture - or contest - key objectives because they're irritating to kill turn 4. 

Signature systems 

I don't know that I should talk about the signature systems in detail, I haven't been able to fully comprehend when or where they're taken. An interesting note is that because of the Earth Caste Pilot Array, the Farsight Enclaves give signature system access to Riptides. Things such as the Mirror codex could make a riptide an excellent anchoring point for a mobile gunline. 

The 8 

Aside from The independent character riptide, Commander Brightsword and Farsight, all of these are small bargains for what they have, but they're all subpar. Even brightsword is forced to be subpar, because of fusion blades having to be a twin-linked fusion blaster rather than two fusion blasters. 

Is it competitive?

Overall, I would say yes. Merely because Battlesuits as troops is a really, really powerful tool. It not only makes tau viable objective holders, but also ensures stealth suits are a consideration, or alternatively frees space for more riptides. Because of their price increase, firewarriors linger on the edge of not valuable and kroot become a joke. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Farsight Bomb Configurations: The Bomb itself.


Hi Guys, this is the continuation of my last post, regarding the basics of farsight bomb building. In this article, I hope to look at building the farsight bomb itself. Specifically, I'll look at the so-called "Raven", although I'll be referring to him simply as the support suit. The name is silly and I refuse to use it. I then plan to look at the signature systems that should be included on him, and the signature systems that should be left elsewhere. I'll also look in depth at the weapon options available to the farsight bomb, the drone options and I'll look more in depth a the extra HQ options. I'll also include an important comment on the Comms Relay, which, for all intents and purposes may as well be a part of the 

The Support Suit

I need to get something clear right now: As much as one can pretend that it is, the farsight bomb's support suit is not optional. Farsight's squad wouldn't be anything more than two crisis battlesuit teams mashed together were it not for this support suit. Since this is covering the bomb itself, I will assume you're taking a Shas'vre as the suit. There are a number of benefits to running a commander as the support suit, as I will discuss later. 

Firstly, let's understand that the support Shas'vre can take a potentially unlimited amount of signature systems. This is important, as it means that they can have potentially every signature system, while not having to worry about those same systems taking up a support slot. This means that the suit can carry its important systems - the Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite, that ignores cover, and the  Command and Control Node, that allows all weapons to be twin-linked - and carry other useful support systems for the squad. 

Without any extra upgrades, a Bodyguard with MSSS and C&CN costs 67 points per model. You still have 3 slots for certain upgrades. I will list your options quickly:


The only useful option is the flamer. Although you shouldn't ever dream of using it during the shooting phase, 2 or 3 extra S4AP5 shots on overwatch never hurt anything.

Support systems:

Lots of options here. The two most useful are the VRT, for hit and run on Farsight's initiative 5 and the Drone Controller - assuming you're not running a commander separately with a DC, raising your gun drones to BS3 can change your shooting odds from about 15/28 hits to as much as 21/28 hits. definitely a consideration. If you decide to equip your support suit. with XV8-02 armour, a stimulant injector is a good idea - it's like a 5+ invulnerable save against anything >S10, and it makes sure your support suit takes fewer wounds from small arms fire.

Another consideration is the Positional relay - this costs the same as your flamer upgrade, while arguably being more tactically useful. If you have your suit in the right place on Turn 4, you can ensure that your suit is in the right place (6" from a specific board edge) and you can bring a kroot or scout squad to outflank onto an objective.

An alternative to the Positional relay is the CDS. This piece of kit will give your Drone-controller wielding suit BS2 - meaning your Drones will be the most accurate units in the game on overwatch.

Extra signature systems: 

I've already had a look into the two main systems (MSSS and C&CN), but there are a number of other systems one should consider when building their farsight bomb. The most important for the support suit is the XV8-02 armour. If you're taking a commander, this is an auto-take - T5, 2+ save and a 5+ fnp on 4 wounds ensures that your support suit won't die. It's still something to consider on a Shas'vre.

Other systems that should be included are the Neuroweb System Jammer and the Puretide Engram Chip. I would consider placing these on other models to your support suit - that way, if your support suit gets sniped out, you don't lose all your special rules.

The Sub-commander

I've affectionately named the bearer of the secondary support systems "Sub commander". He's not a support system jockey - he's a normal Shas'(el)vre suit. I tend to make him a Plasma gun / Plasma gun / Target lock suit - this way, he can use the NSJ while being in an optimal shooting position. Realistically, it makes no difference who carries the NSJ - it just seems silly to leave your support suit within 12" of enemy fire, unless you've already gone balls-deep - in which case, it doesn't matter who holds the NSJ anyway. 

I forget about the Neuroweb system jammer every game. I highly recommend players write NSJ on their hand or forehead so they might remember it occasionally. 


The other system the sub commander should carry is the Puretide Engram Neurochip. This fifteen point upgrade is a beauty.  It gives you one of five (three powers) every turn. I'll list them quickly here:

Furious Charge: Doesn't transfer to the squad, not very useful at all. 4 S6 attacks at WS2 won't even scrape a marine. 

Counter Attack: Once again, doesn't transfer to the squad, and is not very useful.  4 S5 attacks at WS2 won't even scratch a marine while he tears your suit's limbs off. 

Stubborn: Does transfer to the squad! This power is the default - LD 10 means you won't get swept very often if the bomb gets wrecked in assault, usually you can break off with hit and run after passing your stubborn leadership check.

Hunters: both Monster and Tank hunter transfer to the squad. Obviously, there's no point in using either power if you don't have a monster or tank to shoot at. However, the turn you come down, you can ensure your weapons do maximum damage against those primary targets. Make this choice carefully. You can't take on both forms of this power, so look at your targets - if you can bring down the tanks without tank hunters (Melta range, for example), go monster hunters. if the monster is a daemon prince or similar flyer, it's probably best to ignore it unless it is your primary target. 

The Protection Detail. 

Here I was going to look into detail about all the guns, but there isn't too much insight I can give here. If you can't see that burst gun detail is covered by gun drones and that flamers and special weapons are too situational to be useful, I don't think I can be much use to you. I hate to be the guy telling you "this won't work", but, well, this Burst cannons, Flamers, CIB and AFP systems are all really bad for the farsight bomb.

This leaves the three viable options as the Plasma Gun, Missile Pod and the Fusion blasters. I'll explain what you should consider when kitting out your suits. Before I continue, I've pretty much gone off most other support systems that aren't called the Target lock. At least for the farsight bomb, there really isn't a much more useful tool.

I'll also explain my priorities system: I'm trying to give my readers an idea of how their fire selection should be split up. These will not apply to every situation, nor should you assume they will - if you need a T3 model with no save dead because it's the only thing holding an objective, it is more important than a higher priority target.

I'll start with the easiest.

Fusion Blasters: S8AP1 melta can deal with anything. Give it twin-linked, ignores cover, Tank/Monster hunters and potentially force your opponent to re-roll successful invulnerable saves*, and you're looking at the most versatile weapon in the game. The only issue Fusion blasters face is that there's simply never enough of them in terms of dice rolled. That said, I wouldn't take more than 4 - they simply don't put out enough shots.
Support systems: Target Lock.

AV13/14, Monstrous Creatures. T4 W2+.
AV12, T6 (that isn't a monster.)** Terminators
Scoring troops, AV10-11.

Plasma Guns: Not nearly as good as the Fusion blaster, but having four shots makes this tool ideal for dealing with threats that it is identical to the fusion blaster against.
Consider no more than 3.
Support Systems: Target Lock or ATS on no more than 1.

AV11, Terminators, Scoring troops / Marines.
AV12 or 10, Monstrous creatures.
T7+ (that is not a monster).

Missile Pods: One usually takes Missile Pods for their long range but a farsight bomb likes to go balls-deep. For this reason, I do not advise that the player takes missile pods - their range simply won't make up for the AP4 in the long run. Consider no more than 2.
Support systems: Target Lock.

T5+ (with a save worse than 4.) 4+ armour saves, AV10/11.
Monsters, T6+. AV12.

Tactical marines, terminators.


Believe it or not, Drones are the best part of the Tau Codex. The unspoken 12 point heroes. Here, I'll discuss the three kinds of drones available to each suit, the benefits of each kind of suit and why it may be useful to you.

      Gun Drones

I've tried to write this paragraph seven or so times. I can't find the right words to describe how useful gun drones are. Let's look at what you get. For 12 points, you get a T4 fire warrior who's slightly less accurate but has a better initiative and is faster. On top of this, we get a twin-linked Pulse Carbine. Let's have a look at a twin-linked pulse carbine for a moment.

At BS 2, one pulse carbine (shooting two shots) kills .246 of a marine. That means four gun drones kill about 1 marine. This means 14 gun drones kill about 3.46 marines. A Pulse Carbine also has the pinning rule. At Ld9, a model has a 1/4 chance of failing his pinning check. Assuming you cause just a single unsaved wound, This is a 1/4 chance that you will ensure that that squad does nothing next turn. 

How about on overwatch, right?  even if you don't run with a CDS, you're looking at .135 unsaved wounds per gun drone. this means about 7 drones are needed to kill a Tactical marine. Guess what? You still cause pinning on a 25% chance. A pinned squad can't assault you.

Two lessons to take from my notes on Gun Drones:
Pinning is really powerful, when you give it a chance to work. 
Gun Drones make for very accurate overwatch. 

Tactics: IF you're running shadowsun and you're capable, put these guys out the front of your unit, preferably in area terrain. In Area terrain, they do have to take a dangerous terrain check, but they then get a 2+ cover save. This means very little firepower can actually get through to your suits - even in the open, put them in front. Also, try to keep only one suit in coherency of the drones then keep them in coherency with other drones. This way, if a drone does die, the next target will most likely be another drone.

The most important tactic is to roll multiple dice. roll 2 dice if you have a 4+ save. Roll 3 if you have a 3+ save if you have a 2+ save, roll 6 (or as many wounds as you've taken.) If you have one drone with a 2+ cover save, and the first roll you make is a one, you lose that 2+ cover save - if you roll 6 dice and roll two ones, the drone has to take a wound, as does the next model but is considered to have passed all the 2+ saves - this means that your 2+ drone can tank 4 S8AP3 wounds for the battlesuit hiding behind him.

Eighth times the charm, eh?

Shield Drones:

Before I continue, I want you to think of how many commonly used weapons have AP4 (or better) and ignores cover. Most of them are flamers, right? Other than a few barrage weapons, your opponent's gonna have to come within 12" to use the weapons that will deny all the saves available to your drones, but, that doesn't stop them being viable ways to deal with the farsight bomb. While I wouldn't consider having fewer than 10 gun drones in any farsight bomb, you should consider a few shield drones if your meta contains lots of S6+ AP3- weapons that ignore cover. 

Marker Drones

Markerdrones are a conundrum. If you shoot 4 marker drones at BS3, you get 2 markerlights on a target, ensuring your riptide can ruin it. The problem with this tactic is that usually, 14 gun drones will wreck a target that 10 gun drones couldn't. For this reason, I don't recommend Marker drones. IF they had networked markerlights, we'd be singing a different tune. 

What's next?

This ends the part of my tactica on building your farsight bomb. Next time, I'll look into more detail on the things I haven't finished today - that is, Independent characters and fortifications. Until next time, lads!