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.