I really wanted to delay this again just for Prom :).
So finally – we have Tau weapons. We are going to start at the entire reason everyone plays Tau – the Crisis suit (if you don’t play Tau for Crisis Suits, I am not talking to you).
An interesting array of numbers that are… well rather low. Only one gets into the remotely green area and that’s the Fusion Blaster with the overchaged Cyclic Ion Blaster matching, and often exceeding, the Missile Pod. The flamer has strong stats compared to anything else in the anti-infantry department until we get to MEQ type units and the dual roles of the CIB actually make it decent against MEQ type infantry and light to medium vehicles. Range is an issue there though – same with the Fusion Blaster. It’s certainly the best at damage tougher targets but to get the extra damage, like all Meltaweapons they are getting close. The Plasma Rifle looks horrendous (remembering it’s on Rapid Fire mode in this table) and looks on par with the Burst cannon. The Missile Pod certainly isn’t blowing things away but has the best range and is the most expensive.
Let’s take a look at when we start adding Markerlights and ATS though.
Throw in a single markerlight (re-rolling 1’s) and we start to see some green creeping in for the CIB and Missile Pod with the Burst Cannon and CIB gaining some ground on the Flamer in the anti-light infantry department.
Get five markerlights for a bonus to hit (the only other one which would apply to is really going to be no cover but we are running these tables without cover regardless or when Advancing and shooting most of their weapons) and that green is becoming a bit more prominent. The Plasma Rifle still looks horrendous and the AFP, BC and Flamer will always be pretty bleh against 2+ Sv targets. I’m really impressed how the CIB is keeping in step, if not ahead, of the Missile Pod.
And finally we see what happens when we add in ATS (in order – no markerlights, 1 markerlight and 5 markerlights).
We see a strong increase in general damage with the ATS – probably the best 8 points you can spend on the smaller models, particularly given most of the weapons are Assault so you have less use for things like Target Locks. Picking out a few random numbers we see anywhere from a 20.2% increase in damage (Fusion Blaster against Land Raider, CIB overcharge against GEQs) to a steady 52.2% increase (Missile Pod against Mephiston) to a demoralising 90% increase (AFP against Mephiston). Certainly less useful for certain weapons such as the cheaper Burst Cannons / Flamers or the Fusion Blaster who is already ignoring all but the sturdiest of saves, but definitely strong options for the more expensive weapons such as the Missile Pod or CIB and across other bigger models with more damaging weapons. Edit: For clarity, getting three of a weapon on Crisis Suits over the ATS does more damage – you are just more efficient points wise with the ATS.
Anyway, back to the tables at hand.
Time and time again though I’m looking at the CIB and thinking for six points less than a Missile Pod, you’re more flexible with the two firing modes and do more damage on average across every model type sans mid-toughness models were you are on parity. Make sure there is a single Markerlight on the target, you’re unlikely to take a mortal wound from the Overcharge as well. Half the range is a big negative though but with a standard Crisis Suit sporting two Missile Pods and an ATS being a staggering 98 points, shaving 12 points off for better damage may be worth it. Fusion Blasters as well seem like a solid choice –
throwing some Markerlights on a target to allow for an advance after deep strike can get within that lovely 9″ bracket Edit: Cannot do this woops! though the ATS on them is far less needed except versus 2+ save models (particularly in cover; oh look Markerlights solve that as well).
Overall though for Crisis Suits, I’m having a hard time justifying them anymore. Missiles (and CIBs apparently) do damage – we all know this, the math back its up but a Broadside at 210 points does about 77.6-95.3% of the work of three suits with Missiles at 71% the cost. You lose mobility and some durability (T5/W9 vs T5/W6 though for every three wounds the Crisis firepower drops) but are more efficient shooting wise.
That being said, I’m growing more and more fond of the Crisis Commander (thank you everyone). At roughly half the cost of a Missile squad, he does more than half the damage thanks to his better BS and his lovely Master of War ability helps the army as a whole or a Commander with four Fusion Blasters can reliably wreck face on any tank, particularly if you land a single Markerlight hit (I’m sensing a theme…).
With that, to Broadsides (I’ve included the ATS here in base stats, same order of markerlights)!
I’ve also simply doubled the shots for the HYMP and SMS given you have to take two. The HRR is 77% the cost of the HYMP and is normally about 50% of the time worse off except against 2+ Sv models and T7 and up. Which is very interesting – that’s right in the wheelhouse for what you’d normally want Broadsides targeting. T7 vehicles. Your mid-range stuff – gets slaughtered by the HYMP while the HRR simply does not have the shot quantity to even bother them. Your light transports, flyers and light vehicles can quite easily be turned into lunch meat by a single Broadside but once we start hitting Rhino toughness, their damage output drops dramatically. Personally though, I hate relying on small dice numbers when there is randomness involved (damage table) so the more dice you’re rolling, even at D3D, appeals to me over the less D6D option of the HRR.
We can see the SMS is also miles ahead of the Plasma Rifle except against 2+ Sv models though it still takes the edge there. The significant advantages across the board though seem to warrant the double the points cost.
Markerlights really double the damage of the Broadsides though and allow them to move and shoot – super important these little buggers are.
Let’s check out the Hammerhead next (normal, re-roll 1’s and +1 BS).
Surprisingly the Ion Cannon does the same damage on standard shots compared to Overcharging along the lower durability lines. Not that shocking when you think about it but reminding yourself on occasion you don’t need to Overcharge unless the Toughness exceeds 7 or you’re looking to do the extra Wounds damage is quite important. D3 random shots will do that but the ceiling for Overcharging is obviously higher (potentially needing a Command Point re-roll to maximise those chances when you need it). If you force the Ion Cannon Overcharge to three shots, the damage is quite a bit more in the multi-wound model department.
Also surprisingly, the Railgun is consistently on par with the Ion Cannon across the multi-wound model durability. It is a little bit behind in the less durable area (i.e. light vehicles) but quickly takes the lead against anything with T7+ or a 2+Sv. Similarly to the HRR for the Broadsides though, I am not a fan of the limited rolls – one shot and one D6 roll is frustrating when you flub it (I had a game where I playtested Longstrike in a Railhead – missed all 3 shots, stupid Markerlights). Over the course of multiple games of course this will average out and the Railhead is certainly cheaper than the Ionhead… Edit: I completely missed the Ion Cannon got D6 shots against 10+ model units! This takes it’s damage up to just a little bit better than the Railgun submunition so they both have really good flexibility across target types though the Ionhead is unit size dependent. I did not include Longstrike here but suffice to say, his damage against anything that’s a vehicle goes up significantly.
The secondary systems are obviously identical, the SMS gets 12″ extra range and no LoS needed for double the price.
Riptide and Ghostkeel time!
My initial reactions of the Riptide are its too expensive for what it does so let’s see what the numbers say, particularly compared to its new (for me anyway) counterpart in the Ghostkeel. Firstly, there’s green across the board – these are good weapons guys. The HBC shreds lighter infantry but we have no need for that in Tau – the amount of anti-infantry shooting they bring is strong but if we move along into the mid-durability section, the HBC is comparable to Broadsides with HYMP – it drastically falls off though once things hit T7. The Ion Accelerator is pretty much the same across all three functions against weak infantry (leave it for the Pulse weapons!) but we see drastic improvements with Overcharging and then Nova charging along with the application of ATS (though ATS’ application for the Nova charge is only really seen against 3+ and 2+ Sv models). For close to double the cost of the HBC, you are getting more than double the damage at the higher end (Rhinos+). I hate that D6 shot though, there’s so many of these in the Tau army that you can only Command re-roll one.
The Ghostkeel’s weapons on the other hand are decidedly less deadly but their durability with the -1 to hit benefits is a lot higher (plus no wounding self with Nova charging). They are cheaper though with a Raker/Fusion Keel being 183 points (plus drones) and Fusion / Fusion Keel being 188 compared to 324 for a HBC / SMS Riptide and 376 for a Ion / SMS Riptide (all with target lock and ATS). The Fusion Collider hangs out with the Nova’d Ion at the upper durability range in terms of damage so is a far more efficient option there, quite often not needing the half-distance to keep it’s damage potential up. The CIR is definitely the weakest of the lot though and doesn’t appear to be doing it very efficiently. It is probably around half the damage of the Nova’d Ion in the mid-range durability but the Nova’d Ion just keeps on trucking as the durability increases. Based on this I will have to give an Iontide a go but 3FKeels (Fusion Collider, 2x Fusion Blaster) seem like a solid option for tougher armor as well at half the cost.
And just for consistency, here’s the tables with markerlight (re-roll 1s and +1 BS). Important to note here that all these weapons are heavy so Target Locks are being used to ignore that though markerlights can be used as well freeing up the option for other support systems. I feel like ATS / TL is the best combination though.
The amount of damage increases Markerlights provide is staggering.
Okay Stormsurge just to look at it’s gaudy numbers and then everything else that has not been looked at.
And this is without the potential +1 to hit from standing still. I also forgot to include ATS sorry – just imagine those numbers being even higher. The Blastcannon is great, even at medium range while the Driver Cannon’s numbers are misleading. Rarely do we see units of 10+ models that are good targets for something with a S10/AP-3/D6D profile – so keep your eyes peeled on the normal version. The Cluster Rockets pick off infantry like no tomorrow though obviously fall sharply as soon as there is some armor involved. The Pulse Blastcannon and Pulse Driver Cannon do comparable damage to the Iontide but, the Blastcannon need you to be really close to get those numbers and the Driver Cannon is 82 points more expensive for less damage across the board. Throw in you cannot move if you want that beautiful extra BS without the need for markerlights and the Riptide wins out I think (though I’m bloody tempted to buy one and see what that Pulse Blastcannon can do up close…
Okay, final set – everything else!
The Quad Ion turret seems an interesting option but I am much more partial to the Bomber with its Pulse Bomb which also has two Ion Rifles from the Drones. Otherwise, nothing really unexpected here – most of the weapons are terrible at damaging anything with some sort of durability but put enough shots down and damage can be seen. I’m sorely tempted to try a Breacher squad with Pulse Blasters and Darkstrider… The Railrifle is also surprisingly damaging against medium vehicles – if only it had the sniper rule, we’d have a half decent sniper weapon in the game!
The make up of a Tau army is going to look vastly different. We see huge drop offs in damage potential for a lot of the old hats once we hit T7+. All but the lightest of vehicles are T7+ so those Missiles you love from 6th edition onwards, may not be the best bet here. I certainly don’t think HRR Broadsides are the way to go but they are getting a serious playtest and while Deathrain Crisis Suits and Plasma Suits may be gone the way of the dodo, this opens up some interesting options for other weapon loadouts (CIB and Fusion) to be popular, particularly I think on the originally Kirby maligned, Commander. I’m rekindling my love for the Riptide – I will just have to suck it up and pay that many points it seems, but the 3FKeel is tickling my fancy as well.
Markerlights are so key though. The damage increase appears to be 55-56% ballpark. Fifty. Five. Percent. And your whole army can use that on the particular target.