Pieces of 8th: Markerlights

Markerlights- always an integral part of the Tau army, and always the first target of the enemy’s guns. (Or at least they ought to be.) Though their exact effects have varied from edition to edition, their general abilities (spend to increase BS or to reduce cover) have been more or less the same. 8th Edition brings a change to this, but while many regard it as being for the worse, it’s really just one more iteration of the way things have always been.


Now, it’s true- Markerlights can no longer increase any given one of your army’s units to a pinpoint-precision cover-ignoring mega-shooter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them as useful. In fact, I would say that Markerlights are more useful than ever now; their effects are arguably less potent, but so are most effects in the game- and what they do accomplish is pretty big. More than that, they are now cheap and rather plentiful; 40pts for a basic squad of Pathfinders is a steal when you consider their ability to “scout” before the game starts and presence of Pulse Carbines (useful in a pinch.) Marker Drones, too, are quite handy as long as you can keep a Drone Controller somewhere nearby and there are some options hiding the FW units that have some potential as well.

But the way we look at Markerlights in the new edition needs to change, because the game has changed. Even just how you shoot your Markerlights ought to be different now, because what you can expect to get from them has changed a lot. Each of the different steps on the table gives a distinctly different bonus, and depending on the situation your units may want some, all, or none of them- so when writing a list and when starting your shooting phase, it’s crucial that you understand what they each do.

The first step on the table is simple and easy to get- reroll 1s to hit with any further units that shoot at the target. It’s not a big boost, but it can be a very useful one just the same, especially for our BS3+ or 2+ units in the codex (yes, there are a handful of them and they’re almost all good or great.) It’s useful to almost everything we have and it’s pretty simple to pick up in most cases- and most notably it applies to other Markerlights. That means if you’ve got a target you desperately need to make dead this turn, the best way to do is to start a “Markerlight chain” by opening up by a small number of Markerlights on the target, then fire some larger units into them to build up the rest of what you need. Since in many cases there are no other relevant bonuses between this level and five hits, you’ll often want to split your Markerlights up to different units you plant to shoot over the turn.

The second hit doesn’t net you a lot- you can fire Seeker and Destroyer Missiles at full BS on the target. Most of the time, this won’t really do anything for you because you won’t have them or won’t want to use them, but when it does matter it will be big- an automatic mortal wound (or three) is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you stack up a bunch of them on a heavy target like a Knight. The critical point here is that these are one-use weapons, so you’re going to need to make sure they do their job- and for that, the first and fifth level of Markerlights are very clutch. There’s some built-in synergy right there for you.

The third level is one that is easily underestimated, but is actually pretty big- you can move and shoot (with a heavy weapon) or advance and shoot (with an assault weapon) at no penalty. Getting Broadsides, Hammerheads, Riptides, Ghostkeels, etc, mobile without need for a support system is pretty handy, especially since some don’t have access to it or want to take other things instead, and sometimes the extra distance from an advance can be very critical as well; this can help guarantee you that distance. A lot of times on turns 3-5 Tau will have to start pushing forward in order to be in place for the end of the game, and the mobility three Markerlights enables can be very useful in that respect if you’ve been hammering the enemy sufficiently on previous turns of the game.

Four Markerlights gets us the fabled Ignore Cover benefit, though it’s significantly less powerful than in previous editions. Still, with cover being applicable against virtually all weapons nowadays it can be very useful for flushing out some Marines from inside a ruin or the likes, so don’t be surprised when you find yourself getting a lot of mileage out of this. Note also that this is extra-effective against units which gain an improved cover save above the normal for being in cover (such as Lias Issodon.)

Five Markerlights gives a simple and powerful +1 to hit against the target, cumulative with all other modifiers.This is the holy grail, that takes our units from being fairly on-par with other factions firepower output to being well above the mark. If you have a target that absolutely must die this turn, five Markerlight hits is where it’s at. The lower your starting Ballistic Skill, the more of a benefit this will be- Drones and Strike Teams benefit a lot more from it than Hammerheads do.


So what does all of this mean?  Well, let’s break it down.

First, unlike in previous editions, Markerlights are ongoing. You don’t lose efficiency when you shoot successive units at a Markerlighted target; instead, you actually gain it. This really drives home one of the key factors in Tau, or in any shooting army: target priority. When you’re doing all your damage with shooting, target priority is key. Have a plan for where your guns are going to go and how many you’ll need for each target, and know how you thus need to allocate Markerlights to complement this

Second, Markerlights are mostly about negating penalties to our efficiency. One and five Markerlight hits do increase our raw efficiency, to be sure, but three and four are both about negating effects that would otherwise be detrimental to our damage output. Since you’re typically unlikely to reach the five-hit tier, a lot of what you’re doing is just shutting down the enemy’s abilities- but like last edition, the ability to apply this effect to any gun we get is pretty big.

Third, one Markerlight is usually enough. Gone are the days of needing a typical four hits (+2BS, Ignore Cover) in order to get what you wanted out of something- especially with high-AP weapons like Fusion or Rail that simply don’t care about the enemy getting a minor cover bonus. If you aren’t taking a penalty to BS, one Markerlight hit is just as good as any other result but the final one, so you’re often better served by spreading your shots around to multiple units that you intend to shoot at.

And fourth, to reiterate that, spread your Markerlights out unless you’re desperate to kill one thing. Every unit has split fire now- use it. Start Markerlight chains by having that understrength unit of four Pathfinders shoot two at one target and one each at two other targets.Distribute those tokens around where they’re needed, and if you’re going to fire a big unit of Markerlights at something, make damn sure you’ve got one hit on them already to ensure that you’re not gonna roll too many misses.

Markerlights are what the Tau army gets instead of aura bonuses; other factions have lots of “reroll 1s within six inches of me” type characters; we instead get a way to apply this bonus to any target we want as well as stack up better abilities if we invest in them. It might not seem like a lot, but bonuses in 8th edition are smaller in general- rerolls and USRs are hard to come by, so even a supposedly-modest boost like +1BS and reroll 1s against a target turns a lot of our units into pretty brutal killers.



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129 responses to Pieces of 8th: Markerlights

What're your thoughts on transports for pathfinders? I find myself really really wanting to grab a droneport for them to fire out of safely. A fireblade sitting with them and some marker drones coming with the droneport are of course a good add-on, but I feel the basic 10 pathfinders plus transport would work.

Hmm. I haven't run mine with a transport at all; they're cheap enough that I don't feel sad on missing out on that, but admittedly I'm filling all three detachment slots in my 2K list so it's not really even an option there.

I think you can make a reasonable defense of the idea, but it would also depend a lot on what else you have in the list. Honestly, I don't find myself desperate to protect my Markerlights in most games- the 36" range keeps them pretty safe, and a lot of my units function passably well with only limited support. As before, you shouldn't be _reliant_ on Markerlights to make your army function, but they can still be useful.

I think the drone port is a pretty awesome firebase, especially if you're going to load them up with more expensive stuff like Rail Rifles.

I'd save the devil fish for things that want to move and fire close — firewarriors and breachers (not sold on breachers)

This ^

I put a cadre fireblade and Rail Rifle pathfinders in my drone port.

I get an open topped transport for the pathfinders (which we have been waiting for years…) and the fireblade can fire the four marker drones at BS2. it is amazing.

Ironically, opponents usually don't even shoot at it – and if they do – that is less anti-vehicle fire that is going into your hammerheads or ghostkeels.

There is no need for a "markerlight chain".
Shooting happens one shot after the other, pathfinders can "chain" themselves.

e.g. 10 Pathfinder team: First one shoots and hits -> all nine following marker shots reroll ones.

Everything else is fastrolling and shouldn't be used here.

Why wouldn't it? That's how the shooting rules are written.
And the markerlight rules do not contradict that.

To be fair, the rules do seem kinda vague about it, and if you technically shoot one model at a time I guess that would work.

Pretty sure that's not how the rule was intended though.

It seems absurd to think, in an edition where they intend to speed things up, they would force you to roll weapons one at a time in case a casualty put later guns out of range, or out of Rapid Fire. It also completely negates the point of including the Fast Dice sidebar and all of its text.

p. 181:
4. Resolve Attacks
Attacks can be made one at a time, or in SOME cases, you can roll multiple attacks together.

Checking Range is p. 179 2. Choose Targets and happens once before all shooting. So it does not interfere with fast rolling.

This is how it works and it is intended, compare to the cover faq, where models gain cover vs a firing unit once the last model out of cover died.

The sidebar, p.179

"In order to make all the attacks at once, they must have the same Ballistic skill… They must also have the same Strength, Armor Penetration, and Damage characteristics. If this is the case, make all of the hit rolls at the same time…"

And again, the common-sense example: if you are firing Boltguns at a unit, one Boltgun should not put the others out of range. The game has never worked that way before, and there's no reason to think that it would do so now- none of the playtesters have played it that way, and none of GW's answers in the FAQ or in the Designer Commentary indicate that it would do so.

(To counter your point with regards to the Choose Targets step, not that you are only choosing which targets you wish to fire at during that step- NOT which weapons you are choosing to fire at them. The note about ranges there only says that the target you choose must be within range of at least one of your weapons- you do not check ranges until the Choose Ranged Weapon step following it.)

Note that allocating wounds to models is specifically different and is explicitly sequential, as it needs to be in order to function.

"Fast Dice Rolling" is optional, the sidebar has a bit more text in the beginning.

"…However, it is possible to speed up your battles…"

Possible != Mandatory

Out range examples exists where units out of cover gets killed and then the remaining models (now in cover) actually get cover for the remainder of shots.

The sidebar is completely optional. You may fastroll, but you shouldn't in this case.
Complete Example:

1. Choose Unit to Shoot with
I choose pathfinders

2. Choose targets
I choose some Marines and a Land Raider

3. Choose Ranged Weapon
I decide to shoot 5 Pulse Blaster at the Marines and 5 Markerlights at the Land Raider

4. Resolve Attacks (this is the "one at a time" part!)
I shoot one markerlight at the Land Raider, since attacks can be made one at a time.
It hits! I shoot another markerlight, rerolling ones because the target was already marked once. Repeat until all 5 are shot. (note that depending on the situation, other markerlight boni might apply during the process)

I shoot 10 Pulse Blaster shots at the marines, rolling all at once according to the fast rolling sidebar, since it wont make a difference. Wound Rolls and Saves all happen at once (according to designers commentary, if some of the Marines were in cover, you might have to stop fast rolling saves here). Finally inflict damage and remove Models.

"The sidebar, p.179"
It also says other things:
"The rules for resolving attacks have been written assuming you will make them one at a time. However, it is possible to speed up your battles by rolling the dice for similar
attacks together."
Note 'possible'. There is no actual requirement to do so: if you don't want to speed up your battles, you don't have to. You can follow the actual rules for resolving attacks, which assume you make them one at a time.

"if you are firing Boltguns at a unit, one Boltgun should not put the others out of range. The game has never worked that way before"
Except 7th. When it did. And 6th. When it did. i.e. if only one model is in range of all your bolters, and the first shot kills it? OK, done. One boltgun has put the others out of range.

"(To counter your point with regards to the Choose Targets step, not that you are only choosing which targets you wish to fire at during that step- NOT which weapons you are choosing to fire at them. The note about ranges there only says that the target you choose must be within range of at least one of your weapons- you do not check ranges until the Choose Ranged Weapon step following it.) "
Honestly, the shooting rules are poorly worded in a lot of aspects I think. There is no actual requirement to check ranges in the section you mention. The only mention of checking ranges is just done by a single model – the same for LoS, both under Choose Targets. Which…OK?

"Note that allocating wounds to models is specifically different and is explicitly sequential, as it needs to be in order to function. "
Even then, this doesn't necessarily work. Namely, if you've got attacks that trigger different effects (the best example being rending)…you've got no sequencing. Previous eds had owning player choose the order of saves for the separate pools. But…nothing. Technically, the 'order' would be completely random, since you'd be rolling one at a time. But no way I'm rolling a potential 100 stealer attacks individually just to work out in what order the rends trigger 😛 .

That said, I'm honestly ambivalent about how the whole thing works with this, since it'd open up a very impractical can of worms in a lot of situations. As far as I'm concerned, it's RAW, it may be RAI, but it's probably way too much of a hassle to bother with, on both sides.

All that aside (as a purely theoretical exercise, since this is isn't sensible) – move one of the Pathfinders. It now hits on 5s, different BS, you are literally not allowed to Fast Dice it. Now what?

The way I've seen this commonly ruled is like the old split fire – you pick all the targets for your unit at once. Whether or not we something official on this remains to be seen but I do imagine this is the way it will roll given the want for streamlining.

Otherwise. I will fire one meltagun at said tank!
Alas. It is not dead.
Still not dead.
THIRD MELTAGUN. Huzzah dead.

Fourth meltagun – this random target over here please!

Yes, you cannot select new targets while cycling through the attacks, as it happens before resolving attacks. So you have to split fire before shooting.

But you can benefit from your own units markerlights.

So, as far as I can tell, you definitely have to declare all your shots at once. But those shots are RESOLVED one at a time. This has to happen for normal mixed shots, first I do the bolters, then I do the plasma, or the reverse, and that's picked by the shooter.

So I've been playing it that you do all the markerlights, and then those shots can affect the rail rifles or whatnot. But I don't actually see a reason you couldn't resolve the markerlights one at a time, which would really only matter for the first hit.


GW really needs to drop the “prose” stylistic tone in their rules and adopt a strictly “mechanical” version. They’ve got oodles of lawyers in their contracts department, surely at least a one or two might also play the game, yes? Have one of them give the rulebook a once over during editing.

This is why I find it so incredibly amusing when GW waxes lyrical about how amazingly simple their rules are, and how easily understandable they are.

I think they've probably forgotten that they know the rules intention because they wrote the rules (or work next to the guy that did), and that the rest of the world doesn't have this option.

Been saying this for years, write more like warmachine, or magic the gathering. Hell, even D&D 5th has gotten on board with the very specific, keyword based language, and most people consider that game "simple".

Great example of still imprecise language is how they've now created two stages of damage resolution that involve the word "wound". When you roll S vs T that's "rolling to wound", or "wounding", but then you save and then roll damage, which they often refer to as "losing wounds".

THAT IS ALL KINDS OF FUCKED UP. Seriously, I've seen it cause so much confusion, especially with bodyguard rules.

Mmm. Prose based rules has its place – Storyteller (like Exalted, Vampire etc) games are very 'fluffy' rules, but they also know that. They don't try to say their rules are hard rules that will tell you everything.

But for a wargame, that doesn't work well. I'm not sure GW even realises there's a problem though – they know what the rules mean, and don't think other people don't. They keep publishing articles saying "These rules are really simple and easy to understand, you just do literally what the rule says", without grasping that the rules can be interpreted in different "literally what they say" ways.

To be fair to GW they have been writing their rules in prose style for a while now, in which time other game companies with more legalese rules-writing styles have come and gone.

They have "The most important rule" really prominently in there to deal with the resulting ambiguity. The problem is when players are just not in the mood to cooperate in having a fun game – which we must suppose is not as often as the internet thinks or else GW would have gone bust quicker than all those other games companies years or decades ago.

It is not so great for tournament play – or players who are always mentally in tournament mode – but it is what it is.

-shrugs- All of which would be fine if they appeared to accept that (Like White Wolf did with Storyteller).

But they don't. They repeatedly say (via White Dwarf, most obviously) "The Rules are perfectly simple and clear and there's absolutely no chance that they could be fuzzy, you just have to do exactly what they say".

The other part of the problem is that previously, they've written rules in a prose style…but spent 10 pages going over exceptions and provisos for each rule. WE may not be able to get to whatever they are intending, but we've got a much better chance than we do now, with their cut down "simple" ruleset.

No, I know. I personally feel that wargames should have tight rulesets, because fluffy players can use a tight ruleset to play fluffy games, but crunch players can't use a fluffy ruleset to play crunchy (like tournament) games.

But what I' was saying in response to happy inquisitor was that if GW wants to be writing a fluffy ruleset, they need to stop saying it's a tight, crunchy one.

Kinda feel like the markerlight table wouldn't be an issue at all if battlesuits were natively BS3+. Most other armies are natively BS 3+ and yet Tau have to pay a tax to get that on usually just one, maybe two units per turn. BS4+ and re-rolling one's isn't as good as straight up BS3+. In the games I've played this isn't an issue for infantry since they're cheap enough and have volume of fire, but most non-commander suits struggle to pull their weight. Bumping all non-commander suits to BS3+ would also justify their price hike.

Honestly, unless I know I can get 5 on a target, I don't find the other benefits of other tiers all that useful.

1 – Ok, sure re-roll 1's on demand is good
2 – Usually useless after turn 1 since your seekers/destroyers are usually all gone by then
3 – Basically only useful for tanks (which can usually afford to stay still) and some of the bigger suits, which can get target locks anyway.
4 – Useful, but cover is a lot harder to come by and rarely worth aiming for except as a stepping stone to 5

Tau guns are usually superior, and on superior platforms, to other shooting armies. Not universally so, but in more than enough cases to count. (That said, Crisis suits are rather lackluster this edition in many ways, so I doubt they're gonna see a lot of use unless our codex makes a significant change to them.)

#3 I find to be a lot more useful than people give it credit for- yes, it's applicable to tanks a lot of the time, but also for the big suits that don't want to use a slot on TLock (Broadsides especially, but also sometimes others.) Remember, it also lets you advance and fire assault weapons at no penalty- and a LOT of Tau weapons are actually assault.

#4 isn't always great, but I often find myself firing AP-1 weapons at Marines in cover; it's quite commonly as good as improving your AP by one, and anyone who's played with Advanced Targeting should know just how great that is. It won't do a lot against vehicles or other targets that struggle to find cover, of course, but usually #2 will come into play there, which can make up for it.

I wouldn't say Tau weapons are universally superior, some are sure but they're a lot more expensive and that is mitigated by average BS. Our platforms are only superior in the sense that we have drones and fly on everything.

For example, let's compare a SM predator with four lascannons to a railhead – the railhead has more wounds, fly and the railgun is better. Both are roughly the same price. BUT, the predator has more shots and that will make the difference.

#3 It can be but it's not reliable – see my reply to Kirby

#4 Yes, but unless i'm shooting troops on an objective there are almost always bigger and need-to-die-sooner targets around that don't get cover. From the dozen or so games I've played in 8th so far I've not really seen much mileage out of it.

In short, a lot of the markerlight benefits seem good on paper but they're less useful in practice, in part because you have to burn your way through ones you don't need to get to the one you do.

A Railhead is actually a significant chunk cheaper than a quad-Las Predator is (205 vs 171.) The Predator has superior anti-tank firepower, but if you assume Longstrike (which every Tau list is gonna take with their Hammerheads) the gap isn't nearly as wide as you might think, and the Hammerhead has vastly superior anti-infantry guns.

A more accurate comparison might be the Predator with Twin Lascannon and Heavy Bolter sponsons, which comes to 172pts. Its anti-tank firepower is slightly superior to a Railhead's, but its anti-infantry is somewhat inferior. Overall that might put the Predator slightly ahead (since anti-tank is its main role), but we have the benefit of Fly and superior wound count.

In other words, the two tanks actually measure up fairly well to each other, as they should.

Very good point. My only counter is that at least the predator has the option of taking all lascannons and going full anti-tank. Whereas the hammerhead is forced to play a mixed role. Only experience will say how marine players kit out their predators.

At this stage the quad-fusion commander still feels like our best anti-tank unit by far.

Fusion Commander is, point for point, one of the most efficient anti-tank shooting units available, to be sure, but he's got limitations; as always, I think it's good to have a mix of different types of firepower available to your list, and that means investing in other things.

I might expect SM players to run Quad-Las or AutoLas Predators to get their anti-tank, but that doesn't mean that having a "pure" anti-tank unit is necessarily better than one with mixed roles anymore. The ability to innately split fire really changes the dynamics of how you want your weapons distributed- compare, say, two Railheads two a Quad-Las Predator and an Auto/HB Predator. The Railheads can focus their main weapons on the Quad-Las and eliminate it, effectively neutering the enemy's ability to fire back at them; on the other hand, the Predators will have to kill _both_ Railheads to shut down the Tau player's anti-tank shooting because his guns are more distributed. (Notably, the same dilemma would happen for a player looking to eliminate the Tau player's anti-infantry shooting.) Having your weapons spread across multiple platforms makes it harder to eliminate all the guns of a particular type, which I think is a significant advantage this time around.

Yeah… dropping four fusion blasters wherever you want is pretty much one of the nastiest plays I've seen so far. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the codex reduced him to taking only three weapons and one supports system.

Also goods points. I've noticed that running SMS's on hammerheads make it a lot easier to do this – you only need to worry about getting LoS to opposing tanks. Then you can shoot whatever other squad is closest. Railheads are actually one of the units where I appreciate built in split fire the most.

Haven't done the math, but is a 172 pt Predator better anti-tank than a 2+ Railhead? Cuz really, as you said, they should be 2+.

The thing I love about Railheads is that they can do both so easy.

That Predator comes to ~2.6 wounds against most targets, whereas the Railhead comes to more like ~2.4 if I'm remembering my math right. It's not a large gap, but it's there.

Tau guns are good but a fair few of them are point costed as if they were amazing.

Case in point the High Yield Missile Pod – functionally identical to a Twin Autocannon except for having shorter range. Significantly more expensive than the superior weapon.

It is not a huge deal in itself but it does put a heavy load onto markerlights and the worst thing about them is that any platform that can put out large numbers of markerlight hits is really fragile and near the top of the enemy target priority list. Once they are gone the Tau army struggles. The characters that other armies use to buff their shooting are far easier to protect than pathfinders or marker drones. Character sources of markerlights do of course exist but that gets really expensive because you need so many of them.

I think this is a really good article but it does not yet manage to unlock the puzzle box of how to efficiently boost a Tau army with them in a way that will last beyond the first enemy shooting phase.

Crisis Suits / Riptides / Broadsides have definitely had a big price bump that is not necessarily needed in the edition change that will hopefully come down in their codex release. We will see. That being said, I think you are overlooking the benefits of the other tiers – 3 in particular. Not having to buy target locks on everything or being able to move, advance and shooting without a BS modifier is by no means OMK AMAZE BALLS but definitely worthwhile and can assist with the reduction in general Tau mobility from losing JSJ. 4 – cover should be a lot easier to get with the FAQ but also infantry units camping an objective can easily get cover – having a missile pod with ATS shooting at a unit of GKT in a ruins on an objective with this level is now a whole lot more effective.

I tend to find buying target locks for the bigger suits is more reliable than having to worry about whether I'll be able to get a markerlight to them or not.

And we do have a lot of assault weapons true, but I generally don't find a need to advance unless I'm legging it to an objective or falling back from combat and want to create more space. Because you need three lights and advancing happens in the movement phase now, you need to be damn confident you can get them otherwise you've now got a bunch of units hitting at BS5+

I don't disagree but it's an option – I'd much rather have ATS on my Broadsides for example than target locks and while I can never 100% guarantee I will get three hits, I can make a solid estimation. Or sometimes I need to Advance with my Commander to get on an objective. In both cases I'm not sacrificing shooting potential and effectively getting +1BS at the 3 level. I am also not restricted to sticking in a small bubble like the SM options are to get re-rolls and the what not giving me more flexibility and army spread.

We're not really any more mobile than any other faction now. JSJ is gone. Because most other armies are natively BS3+ they can move/advance and fire heavy/assault weapons and it only takes them down to our normal BS. We have slightly more deployment options than most factions, but that 's about it.

We are definitely one of the tougher shooting armies, especially with drones, I'll give you that one.

It is human nature to only look at what was taken away, never what was given.

Both Markerlights and Target locks allow a lot of moving and shooting with heavy weapons that other armies can't do. And advancing and shooting assault (which is pretty much all the suit weapons).

I know that seems less than before, but keep in mind this in an age when even Terminators, Bikes, 90% of vehicles suffer penalties for moving and shooting heavy weapons. None of that was true before. We're not the only one, LRs still have machine spirit, eldar still Crystal Targeting, but we are one of the few left.

Considering the general change in movement and firing, we are totally mobile.

You’ve missed my point. Everyone can move and fire heavy weapons, and everyone can advance and fire assault weapons. In terms of inches moved we are no more or less mobile than any other army, (but with JSJ we were definitely more mobile in 7th).

The only difference is the penalty paid for moving. We can mitigate that penalty through markerlights and war gear, but we pay for that. Most other factions have natively higher BS so this penalty doesn’t matter as much. With wargear/lights to ignore the penalty we’re just as accurate as most other factions with the penalty. And several key units in other factions get to ignore the movement penalty entirely.

Are you also making the argument that the natively higher BS of other factions isn't reflected in their cost?

Nope, my point is that in terms of inches moved, we're no more mobile than any other faction, and other factions don't suffer as much for moving and shooting because they have natively higher BS.

For starters, you just can't compare to previous editions, everyone got slower.

But, we have a lot of raw move (8" is a lot), basically everything has Fly, and look, we can move an fire withouth penalty for the most part, and that's really rare.

Plus you’re forgetting that last edition all suits could move and fire heavy weapons without penalty. So in that sense mobility is that’s something we’ve lost and now have to pay for.

Crisis can still move and fire all their weapons just like they used to be able to. For a token point cost, so can the "big" suits that don't have the ability innately.

We _are_ more mobile than other factions because of a very simple thing: we have higher movement values than most of them. Suits move 8", 10", or 12" in a turn- and yes, this is worse than JSJ letting us hide behind terrain, but guess what, most factions got less powerful because that's just how the game is now. We are, comparatively, quite fast- up there with Eldar and the other quick factions, and Fly on most of our relevant units means we can get out of situations many armies struggle with.

Suits moving 8" is only an inch or two faster than most other units on the field, and a LOT of units can move 8+". And our bigger suits are on par with the vehicles of most factions which move 10-12".

Also, which factions got noticeably less powerful? I haven't seen any other factions (apart from maybe admech) that got hit with the nerf bat as hard and as often as Tau did.

2" faster than the standard may not seem like a lot, but it's a 33% increase and it adds up a lot faster than you'd think. The big suits are more on par with other factions vehicles, to be sure, but Fly is a big advantage over them in that respect, since it gets more valuable the further you can move.

Eldar got WAY weaker, for one- no more Scat Bikes running the world, no more Warp Spider move-three-times-per-turn shenanigans, no more unkillable Wraithknights. Space Marines did as well- Grav Cannons are still good, but you can't expect one to completely vaporize an MC or vehicle in a single volley anymore, and the price increase on transports combined with the loss of ObSec combined with the disappearance of formations means that Battle Company doesn't exist anymore. And Daemons did as well- not a lot of 2++ rerollable saves anymore, nor are FMCs getting hit on 6s. GSC isn't flooding the table with reserve shenanigans, Renegades can't buy six T7 wounds for 30pts anymore, etc, etc, etc. With the exception of the garbage factions like DE and Tyranids, most every faction in the game lost a _lot_ of stuff, not just us.

Granted that the 2" does add up over a game, but it's still small on a turn-by-turn basis. IDK, I usually run an all-suit list and from most of the games I've played so far, Tau don't feel any more or less mobile than any other faction now.

I have mixed opinions on Fly… it's handy true. But speaking from experience, a non-dedicated CC unit generally isn't quite fast enough to catch most suits (ok, there I will admit the extra 2" is handy) but a dedicated cc unit usually doesn't have any problem catching up and will wipe out a squad in the first turn of assault. So it's been talked up a lot but I've gotten very little mileage out of it.

A lot of those things are specific units and builds that needed to be toned down. But in each case the faction as a whole still remained relatively unchanged. By comparison, Tau took some fairly army-wide hits with the markerlight table, losing JSJ, etc. Things that reduce the overall effectiveness of multiple units at a time.

I think you'll find that if you talk to players of some of the other factions that got significant changes, they will also say that they took major, army-wide hits to various abilities. For example, a Daemons player no longer has any way to improve invulnerable saves and psychic powers are _drastically_ weaker, plus they cannot simply Deep Strike any unit they want. Space Marine players no longer recover automatically from morale failures, Eldar can't move-and-shoot with impunity, etc. We are not the only faction that lost stuff.

It's really a matter of costing. Wave serpents are pretty good, but their troops are suuuupppper expensive, dire avengers in particular. A lot of the tank guns are super expensive, too.

I think they made a huge error with the DA costing so hopefully this is reflected in their codex. Shame they did not update it in the FAQ.

A ton of specific things- losing stats on many of their units, virtually all of them going up in price, losing the ability to move and shoot without penalty, etc, etc.

Really, the big one though is the secret nerf to S6 weapons that Eldar have always relied on: they don't wound all infantry on 2s anymore and they aren't nearly as effective at plinking damage off vehicles. Before, a lucky Scatter Laser volley might do 1/3 or more of a vehicle's HP; now, you're lucky to even inflict a single wound out of ten with it.

I do think people are underestimating Eldar somewhat, but considering the devastating raw power that they carried last edition, it's no surprise they were amongst the hardest hit by nerfs.

Our costs went up too, so that's hardly a point of difference. And regarding moving and shooting, they're all BS3+ so they don't suffer for it as much as we do.

The same argument could be make of our S5 and S7 weapons. Having S7 only wound T4 on 3's is actually a really bit hit considering that a lot of our heavy weapons are S7.

And I still argue that none of that is as significant as losing JSJ or the ability to get BS2+ on demand. I run all suit lists and the thing I walk away from every 8th ed game thinking is that suits just can't pull their weight in the shooting phase any more, and that they get caught and wiped in assault FAR more often.

I'm pretty clearly not going to convince you that any other faction took a bigger hit than us, so instead I'll just say: watch the tournament reports. Watch what factions show up at the top of ATC, BAO, NOVA, and Adepticon. Watch what factions consistently place high in the rankings. Tau have still been making decent showings (and I think they can do better, once all the Tau players figure out what our good units are and start using them.) Eldar have NOT been doing well; in fact, I don't think I've even seen an Eldar army make top 10 yet, in any tournament.

I will be more than happy to be proven wrong, and I hope I am.

But look at it from this perspective. Most of the nerfs in other factions are limited to a single unit, a range of weapons or a single rule. But most factions can do damage in the psychic, shooting and assault phase. So if the shooting ability of your faction takes a hit, there are other ways to deal damage. Tau can only deal damage in the shooting phase (effectively), and markerlights are the main amplifier for that. So nerfing the markerlight table reduces the damage output of literally the entire army. And a lot of other things I've mention tie in in tangential ways.

As for tournaments, I'd be wary of looking into them too much until the meta settles. My arguments are all based off my experience locally where Tau have NOT being doing well at all, and Eldar are still hovering around the top of the table.

The psychic phase took a DRASTICALLY larger hit than anything else- the fact that we were unaffected by that is actually a bonus. And other factions took just as wide of hits as we did- everyone thinks of JSJ as being "a Tau special rule" but in reality it's actually only present on a small minority of our units (Crisis, Stealth, Riptide, Ghostkeel, Drones.) Eldar actually had nearly as many JSJ units as we did (Windriders, Shining Spears, Warp Spiders) and arguably ones that saw significantly more tournament play.

I can't speak to your local experience, but honestly I think that isn't super-important; realize that within the context of a small area, player skill (and population) is a lot more important than faction strength overall. If the only good player in your area plays Sisters of Battle nonstop, your perception is going to be that SoB is an overdominant faction that inevitably places in the top 3 of every tournament- which isn't really true. So look at what happens with the various big (40+ player) tournaments if you're trying to assess what the reality of the meta.

It is going to be hard to tell how good Craftworld Eldar could be from tournament results because most players view Ynnari as better. So only fully committed fluff-bunnies are likely to be playing Craftworld Eldar at all and that teaches us very little about their power potential.

@Nazka Its not just the difference between 6 and 8 inches, I genuinely think you’re underestimating the significance of the FLY keyword. It is one of the most powerful abilities a unit can have in this edition, especially for shooting units that struggle in combat.

As someone who plays CC, can confirm 😛 . Fly is giving me fits so far (both from a list design standpoint, and a game perspective). Once I get the hang of things and figure out how best to focus things, it may become not as bad. But, against many dedicated cc units, if you didn't have Fly, they'd instead be able to assault large chunks of your army, and not necessarily kill it, but make it useless next turn.

Yeah, I have had lots of folks look real pleased with themselves because ooooh, I "accidentally" left some of my units too close to each other and see how they do this clever pile-in trick and lock those units in combat, too, in addition to the ones they charged? So smart! And then on my turn I just sorta walk out of combat without a care and they're like "goddamnit you have fly I forgot."

Fly is a really good ability.

On the downside, it does mean those special AA units and abilities murder about 80% of Tau units. Seriously, if you're playing another Tau player just get Velocity Tracker on everything.

I really wish they had separated out "jumping Fly" (suits, jump packs, hover tanks) vs "actually flyers" (things that you are -1 to hit and have to move at least 20" or whatever)

Isn't that… exactly what we've got? You've got "jumping fly" units (units with the Fly keyword) vs "actual fliers" (units with the Fly keyword and the Airborne, Hard to Hit, Supersonic and Crash and Burn rules).

Uh, yes, what I'm saying is they should have different keywords so that various "Anti-Aircraft" abilities don't work against things that aren't at all aircraft, like crisis suits and hammerheads. It seems meant to offset the -1 "hard to hit" rule but that is actually only a small percentage of things that have "Fly".

Why? If that was what they intended it to do, it would have just gained the bonus against units with the Airborne rule (or the Hard to Hit rule). And all such weapons would have been consigned to the scrapheap, just like they were before.

Fly – any kind of Fly – is an incredibly good keyword to have. Why is it a problem that there are things in the game to balance that out? It's not meant to offset Hard to Hit (a supersonic jet fighter is still harder to hit than a floating tank), it's meant to offset Fly.

It's not like Tau are the only army with a lot of Flying units, either. This isn't some targeted persecution.

I honestly have little faith that GW intended a particular thing, or if they did, that it's a good thing.

And yeah, Tau really do have more Fly models than just about any other faction. The eldar have all the hover vehicles but not their heavy lifting Elites and HQs.

And I don't think it's targeted, I think it's largely unthinking and accidental. That's worse.

It's taking a type of unit that was literally never seen because it was pointless, and giving it a niche and a purpose. That sounds good to me.

How much of a problem have anti-air weapons been for you? Is it just something that you find distasteful because you don't like the idea that there should be any downside to the massive advantage your Tau units get from Fly, or have you actually gotten crushed by a Space Marine player running nothing but Spearhead detachments full of Hunters and Stalkers or something? It just feels like you're complaining about a problem that doesn't actually exist.

Unfair framing. I correctly fear that should Tau or Eldar ever become dominant enough to be tooled against you will see Stalkers and Velocity Trackers and whatever things it is that IG have.

If Tau or Eldar ever became dominant enough to be tooled against, and people used the tools provided to them in order to do so, that would be a great example of game balance in action.

I really don't understand the problem.

Can you accept that I think a thing should be useful, without being so broadly applicable? Jesus, this is isn't a hard concept.

+1 to shoot all Eldar (all 3 kinds) and Tau Vehicles, as well as all battlesuits is too much.

Particularly when the purpose of the thing is counteract the -1 to hit actual Flyers like Stormravens and Void Ravens.

Can't speak for other factions AA, but +1 when shooting FLY/Flyers and -1 to shoot everyone else isn't exactly amazing. I'd be willing to trade hitting on 5s versus everyone else for hitting on 3s for FLY. Hydras aren't cheap. For 9 pts more I can take a Manticore and the Basilisk is considerably cheaper.

OK, well that points to a pretty easy solution then: If you want people to take more stalkers and whatnot, remove the -1 to everything else. But don't make them better at hitting hover tanks.

Can I just take your word for it that it's too much, when you've presented absolutely nothing to back that up? No. Can I take your word for it that the intent of the rule is to counter Hard to Hit, rather than Fly? No. Can I take your word for it that AA units would still be useful and commonly played if 90% of their utility was removed? No.

If you want to assert a point and have people agree with you, you need to put forward more than your own feelings as evidence for your position. Jesus, this isn't a hard concept.

You don't have to "math it out", whatever you think that means in this context (this is not a mathematically solvable problem).

Here's some "math" that you could do: how many units with bonuses of this type are there in the game?

From what I can see, here's the list. Let me know if I missed any:
Stormhawk Interceptor
Corvus Blackstar
Onager Dunecrawler (Icarus Array)
Imperial Knights (Twin Icarus Autocannon)
Icarus Lascannons and Quad-Guns on fortifications

And if you're worried about a rule targeting 80% of the Tau army, note that there are about as many units with Strafing Run, which gets a +1 bonus against 90% of everything else.

So really, the "problem" (if there is one) is not with AA units in general – they're a tiny minority of the units in the game, and units that can't Fly also have models that specifically target them. The problem is with the Velocity Tracker and its availability to so many Tau units.

And frankly, if it's a problem for Tau, and it's a problem caused by Tau, then it's not really a problem for game balance in general.

I think what they're trying to do with that is not put the 'Skyfire' stuff in the awkward position where it's useless vs 90% of the units in the game, so you don't take it just on the off chance you'll come across Flyers (especially since one of these units isn't really going to shut down Flyers).

I mean, that's how it worked before, right?

It's fine to make those AA abilities more useful, probably shouldn't work against 80-90% of an army, like it does against Tau.


most of the AA weapons should target units with "airborne" or hard to hit, not fly.

One of my buddies also plays tau, and recently he faced an army with a bunch of "+1 to hit units with fly" and it was brutal for him.

Yes. And it was terrible. I have literally never seen a stalker/hunter on the table, and a hydra only once.

There are lots of Tau units that don't have fly, and lots of units in other factions that do.

AA units that are ONLY effective against Airborne targets (i.e. Skyfire from the previous edition) are garbage. Garbage that no one ever did, or ever would use. Making them more versatile means they can see some actual play time- and if you don't understand why making units viable for play is a good thing… I dunno, man.

I see you edited what you originally wrote "You don't think units in the game should be allowed to fill a useful function? "

Which btw, is not even vaguely what I wrote. Yes, I want units to be viable. It should be possible to do that without having it affect 80% of certain armies.

I really don't see how that's hard to understand. If no one is taking Stalkers outside of the AA role, maybe make them good outside of the AA role with just a bonus to Flyers. Or make them a lot cheaper. There are various options.

You see, they did make them good outside the AA role, but you still see fit to bitch about that.

Yeah dude, I'm saying don't give them the -1 to hit everything else. Duh.

You're not really adding anything here. Just calm the fuck down and stop being a snippy bitch.

I don't know what else to say, my personal experience is that I'm either dead first round of assault or out of range. I've gotten very little use out of that rule.

Really hard-hitting melee units (like Wulfen, Terminators, Berzerkers, etc) obviously can finish the job in one round. But it's certainly not a guarantee, even for them, and in combination with tougher suits (Ghostkeel+) and/or Savoir Protocols, it's definitely very possible to survive combat.

Yeah, so it’s a good rule. But it isn’t as good as JSJ IMO and it’s certainly being over-hyped to some extent.

So? Seriously, so what? Lots of things for lots of armies aren't as good as they used to be. You used to be able to move and shoot without penalty with terminators, or make units that had 2++ rerollable.

Now you can't. This has become just whining, now.

Hahaha you are absolutely the last person on this site who can criticise anyone of whining. It only takes one mention of "forgeworld" to send you into literal fits.

You clearly don't actually read any of these comments. I've already covered moving and shooting, terminators only have to deal with that if they take heavy weapons which is not what most people take them for, and units that had 2++ rerollables needed to be nerfed cause they were clearly broken. JSJ was not something that needed nerfing. Crisis monats was not something that needed nerfing. The markerlight system… yeah I'm not gonna argue that BS2+ ignoring cover wasn't broken. But in it's current state it's just not very useful past the first markerlight.

Tau got nerfed hard, and quite likely harder than any other faction. Too many people are acting like they're in honeymoon mode and completely overlooking the flaws in 8th. I'm simply trying to inject some realism back into the debate.

Again, that's an extremely hypocritical insult coming from you. And there are 2-3 people here who disagree with me max, and that's only on a few specific points. But my opinion is hardly unique, go look on other sites DakkaDakka, ATT etc etc and you will find plenty of people who understand that Tau got unreasonably nerfed in 8th. Even Kirby/Abusepuppy agree that Tau took a hit. All we're arguing over is the impact of that hit.

That's "everyone" it's not a big group.

Look, don't accuse me of "clearly not reading any of your comments" when I (and others) have gone through an rebutted you point by point. I'm not saying Tau haven't taken a hit, I'm saying the criticisms you specifically have leveled are untrue.

You're just wrong, and I apparently already paid you more mind than it was worth.

No you really haven't. You just pointed to very specific nerfs in other factions and units and used that to justify the nerfs to the faction-wide rules that the entire Tau faction revolve around.

That's just your opinion, like I said, there are plenty of people in the wider community who have voiced the very same concerns I have.

And no you haven't because this is what you do, argue for the sake of arguing. No-one jumps around these comment sections picking fights anywhere near as much as you do. But I'm certainly done arguing with you.

"there are plenty of people in the wider community who have voiced the very same concerns I have"

Oh, the internet is full of whiners? You don't say.

Yes,but isn't that better than being the guy who posts in a comment thread and turns it into toxic garbage every time like you seem to be doing?

Well said, that man.

I was quite amused at the fact that Prometheus was actually the voice of reason… and then I read his "Anti-Fly stuff is racist against Tau!!" nonsense above. All is right with the world again.

For the record, at 5 pts a pop, you should pretty much take seeker missiles wherever you can get them — for me that means hammerheads, mostly, so 6 of them. Really handy for taking the steam off a land raider or something off the top. That plus a railgun and suddenly it's moving a lot slower.

Seeker Missiles seem to be ideal for knocking enemy armor from one line to the next in their damage chart. They aren’t the “one-hit kill” anti-tank weapons the fluff makes them out to be… But they’re pretty cheap, extremely reliable, and most enemy armor looses a lot in effectiveness as it drops from its first to second damage line.

To be fair, [i]nothing[/i] that isn't found on a big Titan is the one-hit kill anti-tank weapon the fluff makes them out to be. When even a Rhino weighs in at 10 Wounds, that "d6 Wounds" of many "super deadly tank-destroying ultimate devastation" weapons seems really tame.

I think taking that perspective, the Seekers are good for their price and spamming as many as possible works out pretty well for crippling mechanised lists – or focus-firing them all onto individual vehicles that absolutely must die.

I would not spam them for the fear of having no decent targets though to be fair, everything seems to be running something that has multiple wounds these days.

“Spam” might not be the best choice of words, but it’s not hard to fit 15-25 points worth of them into a 2,000 Points list. You’re probably going to have 3-5 Devilfish and/or Hammerheads anyway… So why not fill those last few points with a few Seeker Missiles. (Same goes for Hunter-Killer Missiles for the Imperium, but they’re far less efficient.)

The Skyray is probably still a nonstarter, unless it gets a way to fire more than six per game or it gets some other substantial boost (or a major decrease in cost).

Oh, look, I agree with Ish completely on something.

I've been taking 6, on hammerheads. Dunno that I'd take them on anything else as I feel like you need them to be BS2+

It is wrong to say that high AP weapons don't care about cover saves. An AP-4 weapon (pretty much the highest, I believe, what used to be AP1 (of course ATS could lead to -5 but who does that?)) takes a MEQ to 7+…..but only 6+ in cover. Meaning that taking that cover save bonus away removes that 1/6 chance to save, same as anything else.

It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t care as much: A weapon with AP –3 doesn’t need as much help to overcome the +1 Save bonus for cover the same way a weapon with AP — does.

I think the Necron Doomsday ark have AP-5, and possible the flier as well.
But yeah, really rare.

SO I guess this is a good time to ask: How do we think Tau are doing in 8th? I thought they were doing OK, but my GK have been doing sooooooooo much better.

They have been dropped down a peg IMO. Will see how they go in the tournament but yes my feeling is they are lagging somewhat behind other armies. Not unplayable bad but needing some adjustments.

I mean, everything is relative. But my GK have just been kicking an unreasonable amount of ass. They say deathstars are dead but if you plop Draigo down and just surround him for the re-roll bubble with whatever (for me it's mostly Paladins, ven dreads and a stormraven) they will murder everything.

Those are not deathstars though – just a bunch of units helping each other out ;). Imperial armies in general are doing well with their bubbles – Dragio, Girlyman, Azzy all come to mind for the power armoured folk.

Unrelated to the main topic, but "Pieces of 8th" is the best name ever and I look forward to more articles in the series just to see the name again.

It certainly makes me giggle a little every time I look at it, yeah. It's kinda worth continuing for that reason alone.