Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Farsight Bomb Configurations: The Bomb itself.

Preface:

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:

Weapons:

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. 

Note:
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. 

PEC

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.

Priorities:
AV13/14, Monstrous Creatures. T4 W2+.
Secondaries:
AV12, T6 (that isn't a monster.)** Terminators
Tertiaries:
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.

Priorities:
AV11, Terminators, Scoring troops / Marines.
Secondaries:
AV12 or 10, Monstrous creatures.
Tertiaries
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.

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

Tactical marines, terminators.

Drones

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!