Armies in 5th: Tau Part 4: Railguns

Well here we are onto one of the best ranged guns in the game.

The railgun seen on a hammerhead is obviously a far better gun than what you get on a Broadside. In terms of duality it’s perfect. One of the best guns at range to take down tanks and a very good S6 5″ blast for anti-infantry. Combined with the secondary weapon system of SMS (or BCs…) the Hammerhead is anti-infantry first, anti-tank second (3+ to hit on a single shot begs to be missed). It’s a perfect game starter against a mech army to drop an extra S10 AP1 shot on an enemy tank but throughout the game the SMS/Submunition combo is going to be much more useful.

So if the majority if our forces aren’t anti-tank first (Piranhas are disruption first, Hammerheads and Crisis are anti-infantry first but do a very good job at anti-tank) Tau really needs a “screw you” tank hunter unit. This is where broadsides come in. A much more reliable platform than Hammerheads to hit with and are able to spread their damage around with a target lock (read: do NOT take multiple broadsides without a target lock). The problem with such a unit is the same problem you get with Oblits and Lootas in their respective armies. They really stand out to mech armies. This is where the aforementioned defensive units of Tau really help and why you should buy a pair of shield drones.

It then becomes a tradeoff between the two units (Sniper Drones, Ionheads and SkyRays don’t scare a single unit as much as a Broadside unit can or they simply don’t have the duality a Railhead brings). I personally see a lot more 2xRailhead and a squad of Broadsides but 3xBroadsides and 3xRailhead seem to be common, too. The problem with such lists is the Broadsides kill all the tanks and then are left with little to do and with a Railhead list you require more dedicated anti-tank elsehwere (like ickle TL-MP suits). As mentioned before this isn’t great. Broadsides are at least a unit tough enough and with a long enough range to be that type of unit backed up by good duality units.

So this part wasn’t exactly ground-breaking (use more good guns…like duh) and will do Markerlight configurations later, maybe even tonight if I’m not too lazy.

1500 Eldar vs IG

I took my Eldar over to Vince’s today to have a game. Stopped taking pics midway through as it degenerated into “can Kirby use his Prisms to kill enough of Vince’s platoons to win?”. We played 1500 because I didn’t want the game to take ages (still did, thanks Vince for being awake @ 1pm! :P).

Here’s a summary of lists:

Seer w/Guide Fortune
2xDragons in Serpents
2xDA in BL Serpents
5xDA in Gunboat Falcon
2x Prisms

Command in Chim
Platoon Command in Chim
5x Platoons w/AC
2x Vets w/metlas in Chima
2x LRBT w/HB

This is another perfect example of why autocannons (and rate of fire) are so great in 5th. Vince rolled really well to hit and pen with his autocannons for the first half of the game (add in my inabilty to make even 25% of my cover saves) and on the first turn was able to shake or stun all but 3 of my tanks (his rolls on the vehicle damage chart were terrible). This made my turn 1 reprisal pretty bad. Following up with his amazing 2nd turn (he blew up all 4 Serpents) it really did become a scrambling game for me.

For the later half of the game Vince was unable to damage my Prisms (oddly enough seeings as they are the weakest tanks I had), blew up my Vyper and tried to get traction in midfield whilst I tried to minimise damage and take out as many of his troops as possible (one of my dragon squads got all the way across the board to blow up an LRBT in combat! woo). As it fell to turn 6 Vince got a damned lucky shot on my Prism and blew it up which forced me into a draw situation which I was luckily able to maintain.

Overall it was a bit of a tedious game seeing as I had so little to do and someone took long turns (hi vince! :P) but was enjoyable to see how Vince reacted to having essentially complete board control but not being able to capitalise on it which allowed me to crawl back into the game.

GG vince.

Answer to Rathstar

Rathstar raised a few questions here that I thought I’d answer more publicly as I think I glazed over these in my analysis.

Q1: What’s you opinion on drones for crisis suits ? I like adding gun drones to crisis suits for extra survivability. With use of cover they have the 4+ cover save to offset the invunverable save of the shield drone, and with only 2 gun drones in the unit they don’t lower the overall unit toughness.

Honestly, low. You’re already paying just under 200pts for the unit and whilst this is a good buy Drones are simply too expensive for what they give you which is not much. Whilst they give ablative wounds to the squad the main weapons shooting at the Suits are generally S8+ blasts/barrages which the Drone(s) aren’t really going to help much against. They also make the units footprint bigger and you need to take at least 2 to make an effect on Ld tests. I think there are a lot better places for thoes points elsewhere in the Tau army. And shield drones are useful on Broadsides because they get their 2+, generally can’t get LoS blocked (Crisis can JSJ) and are therefore generally shot at more.

Q2: I’m surprised you immediately right off burst cannons on crisis suits.

The rest of Rathstars comment in relation to Q2 can be found in the above link but I’ll answer his concerns here. The first problem with burst cannons is they are the staple of the Tau army. Tau already have a lot of S5 firepower so do we really want more? It certainly makes for a cheaper build but I’d rather less fireknives overall than more suits with MP/BC. The MP/BC is geared towards anti-infantry but doesn’t do it that much better than a MP/PR suit whilst the MP/PR suit is much better at those lower AV ranges.

It’s true that to get full effectiveness out of the MP/PR you have to get closer than the MP/BC or TL-MP suit but the MP/PR suit can be firing well from T1 and the MP/BC has to be within a closer range for a longer portion of the game. In an “damage dealth per point” the MP/BC will most likely win out more often than not (I think its the same with Vanguard against TH/SS termies but do we see Vanguard often?) but the MP/PR is so much more effective with MLs and more reliable at taking out those low AV tanks.

I don’t really think MP/BC are a bad choice at lower points (NB: I don’t play below 1500) but once you hit 1750+ 3×3 MP/PR gives the Tau army needed punch from 18″+ against both infantry and vehicles. Also (this applies for all suits), make sure you Kroot screen your Suits and have vehicles around (or BLoS terrain) to jump behind. This makes charging and rapid firing in reprisal a lot more difficult.

Thanks for the questions Rathstar.

Product Review: Legion of the Damned

This is a bit late in coming but the models can be found here. They’ve been out for a while now and are rather useless in game but I’d just like to say those are some damn fine models.

Once I get a bit of liquidity I’ll be bagging a few of these babies just for fun. Kudos to Games Workshop on a quality product. Thunderwolves next please.

Armies in 5th: Orks Part 1: Trukks

Well I’m getting tired of Wisdom of silence over on Warseer saying Mech Orks are good and that they threaten Tau by being able to get into your lines quickly. Ignoring the massive defensive bonus Tau get with Piranhas and Kroot I’m starting on the Ork army early for my Armies of 5th articles. I won’t revisit them until I’ve completed the Tau articles though.

First off, Orks are bad in 5th. Most of the internet thinks otherwise because apparently 100+ bodies is “tough.” Bullshit. The series of articles I will write will show you why. Keep in mind everything we know about 5th and it should be pretty clear.

So we’ll take a look at Trukks first and why they are a terrible basis to build a mech army around (which means Orks have to somehow go for an army build outside Mech to be effective…). Here’s what Wisdom of silence has to say on the matter:

Advantages of a trukk:
Speed: threatens assault out to almost 21″
Squishy: less dangerous to occupants than normal transports (important because orks have bad saves) and may even get you closer when it’s destroyed
Cheap: trukk+boyz+nob/pk/bosspole/4+ is less expensive than a naked tactical squad. leaves plenty of room in your list for goodies

Ya that’s a nice assault range. What does 11 Orks and a PK Nob threaten? IG, Tau, Tac squads, etc. Basically everything that sucks in combat and are shooty anyways. Orks need weight of numbers to be effective and even then they aren’t great. Ask an Ork player how it is to player an SW army? Ya the GHs crap all over your uber assaulty Orks and that’s without upgrades. Next.

So let’s really look at the Trukk.
1) doesn’t benefit from 5th, it’s open-topped and has low armor so it’s just as easy to kill as a tank in 4th
2) doesn’t leave cover for the poor Orks who need it and can send your Orks further away from your opponent
3) as previously mentioned has crap capacity
4) isn’t a tank. This is huge. You cannot tank shock. Anything can stop this bugger from moving. This makes it a lot easier to force those Orks to assault what you want which is not the point of a fast moving, open-topped transport
5) don’t create their own cover (they aren’t getting SMF or have smoke launchers, this means terrain every game, every time)
6) have a really low profile so while it’s easier to get cover for them, the rest of the Ork army doesn’t (compare to Rhinos/Chimeras)

So if it survives and or puts the Orks in a good position you then have a small amount of Orks attacking a largely untouched army which can easily take the charge, lose some sac units and then shoot the rest of the Orks. Trukks are fail. Mech is good in 5th because of the vehicle damage chart. Tranporsts survive the crossing of midfield and if they don’t they help the rest of the army with cover of wrecks. Some armies have transports which also sport guns that work (i.e. Serpents, Immolators, Razorbacks, Chimeras, etc.) and the Trukk has no access to this. Even a Rhino can get an HK missile.

So overall the Trukk sucks. It subtracts from the Ork strengths of numbers and gives them more weaknesses for the tiny potential to get across the board quicker. This means Orks have to rely on other means to effectively play in 5th which I’ll cover in my next Orky article.

Armies in 5th: Tau Part 3: Kroot & Defenses

More inane comments on warseer seen here. Wisdom doesn’t seem to appreciate what Kroot (and Piranhas) can do for a Tau army so we shall answer his confusion here!

Kroot are essentially a bubblewrap unit. Their shooting is okay and whilst their combat prowess is meh outside of the woods/cover (and hoping the opponent doesn’t have frag grenades) they are at least capable of doing damage in combat compared to the rest of the Tau army. Now Kroot have a big advantage over other bubblewrap units like IG platoons in they have a form of stealth (+1 cover in woods). Even if there are no woods around Kroot will still get a 3+ GtG cover save and since Tau do not rely on their shooting as a primary threat, there isn’t much of a twang when one has their Kroot cower on the floor.

So what does this mean? Kroot are there simply to slow the opposing enemy up and die in the process. Two squads are a must and use your math please for squad sizes. Kroot have shit Ld so you want to create squad numbers where the opponent needs to kill that one more Kroot to force a Ld test (i.e. 13 & 17, etc.) and use Hounds to fill out those numbers. They are cheaper and better in combat. So you’ve got your two squads (I use a 17 and 13 but 17 and 17 is generally better) and now let’s see what they can do for you.

Tau like to shoot. When they stop shooting they like to shoot some more. You therefore want your main army (Broads, Railheads, Crisis and Devilfish) to be shooting for as long as posible. With mech common and even foot units able to run and good calvary units becoming increasingly popular, assault armies get across the board faster. You therefore need to stop them. We’ve already discussed one option in Piranhas but Kroot are your second layer of defense. Layer the 2 squads 6″ apart and as far away from your actual battline as possible (use infiltrate if you can, this is harder against armies with other infiltrators or wargear like Chooser of the Slain but it gives you more room to manuever in Turn1) BUT make sure skimmers like Vendettas/Valks or Serpents/Falcs have to move flat-out to get between your army and Kroot. This gives you a turn to shoot at them or forces a risky dismebark (from Vendettas/Valks) and upon a destroyed result will most likely take the transported unit inside with it. Finally, make sure these squads are in cover (remember the cover rules, too).

So what does this give you? Any tank wishing to go through needs to tank shock two layers which is generally going to leave it surrounded by Kroot. Not good for passengers. Even when it gets through if you’ve deployed your army right the tank is right in front of your firing line with no cover to speak of. Any infantry wishing to go through or non-tank vehicle has to deal with the Kroot and this takes time. Essentially you’ve added Castle walls to your Tau army which take time to get through. Add in the movement blocking and delaying tactics of Piranhas and your army gets to shoot more (and as Tau is one of the best shooting armies around…well that’s a good thing).

Furthermore this negates alpha striking. All meltas shooting at your tanks are outside of meltarange and sometimes can’t even fire. Deep Strikers are forced away from your army lines which negates one of their biggest advantages and even normal weapons have an extra 12″ to cope with to reach your main army.

Overall this means the Tau army gets to do what it does best, shoot you. And due to the inheret mobile abilities in most of their units, even if a Kroot line is broken it is still possible to play keep away for a couple more turns. Tau without Kroot and Piranha defense layers will find themselves in combat on T2/3 whilst Tau with Kroot and Piranhas can avoid combat for a full 7 turn game. You pick what you want more.

Next I’ll look at the Heavy Support options and why 2x Railheads and a Broadside team are so common in competitive lists.

Armies in 5th: Tau Part 2: FW & Piranhas

Well dearie me more stupid comments on Warseer to fuel the fire. Check out the page here. Wisdom lacks some wisdom me thinks.

Anyways I decided to put FWs and Piranhas together here. The most under appreciated and over utilised units.

What do Piranhas do for a Tau army? They are the only unit which can move fast and can be used as an effective movement blocker and melta delivery system. In a direction comparison to SM Land Speeders they seem to lose out as they have less duality and cost a bit more and bleed KPs (but who cares?) though Piranhas do have that extra AV on the front which is at times invaluable (go away pesky bolters). However, the ability for a backline army to move out of their deployment and into midfield aggressively changes the dynamics of the game. No longer do TH/SS termies get into your lines by T2. Add in the fusion gun and if they survived the T1 firepower they are a large threat to your opponent whilst increasing Tau’s already effective anti-tank. The only problem is they compete with Pathfinders for slots. Whilst at lower points 2 Pathfinder units isn’t advisable it becomes a trade-off at 2K+ points.

Now onto Firewarriors. In relation to newer books they are extremely overcosted but at least one unit has to be taken. Now it is becoming increasingly popular to hijack a PF devilfish and use a single 6 man FW squad. Personally this is the best use of them. They are far less effective than an SM tac squad (which the internet hates…can’t see why) in that can’t take special weapons, are too expensive for what they do and require markerlights to be truly effective (raise their BS).

However, too many people still try and use FWs as the staple of their army. This is a sure way to a bad army list. Because they are not cheap and require a transport (and MLs) to be effectively used they are a very expensive unit that is fair at anti-infantry (becoming better as MLs are introduced). This means the rest of your units have to be that much better at taking out tanks (a potential reason why Deathrains are popular?) but this makes your overall list weaker. A list which has units A, B, C for anti-tank and C, D, E for anti-infantry is going to lose to a list which has units A, B, C, D for everything.

So far we have highlighted the importance that Crisis suits and Piranhas add to a Tau list. The suits offer the best of duality in able to take down tanks with a lot of high strength weaponry and then using their rate of fire also hose down infantry whilst still remaining mobile and at range (remember foot units in 5th generally suffer from lack of mobility compared to a mech army and have to get close to be effective). Piranhas allow the Tau army to affect a greater area of the board and significantly limit an opponent’s movement.

FWs on the other hand limit what the Tau commander can take in his army by sucking up points and force his other units to be highly effective at anti-tank because so many points are being tied up in a unit that is only good at anti-infantry (S5 only goes so far, S6 on the other hand…).

Next up I’ll do Kroot. Yummy critters they are.

Armies in 5th: Tau Part 1: Crisis suits

Well I’m still at the missus’ so don’t have full time on my hands ^^ but she’s sick on the couch atm 🙁 so I decided I’d go over to Warseer and see what I missed (bunch of whining really). A few comments irked me, like this:

Wisdom like silence:
“No and this is one of the reasons that Tau aren’t competitive in 5th – they don’t have any effective, efficient method for dealing with MEQs that isn’t also suicidal.”

Uh ya, 10 RF plasma, 10 autocannons, 6 SMS, 5 railguns (2 w/submunition), 4 fusions, 20 kroot rifles, 6 FWs, 1 burst cannon + 8 MLs can’t deal with MEQs or in that matter, any horde? *facepalm*

Anyways, this plus a few other posts that have bothered me have taken me to write some posts on specific armies that don’t get a lot of love or get too much love in relation to their effectiveness on the table. The first one is obviously Tau. This will be broken down into sections that I believe are the most…wrong in the eyes of the forums.

First off for Tau are their Elites, specifically Crisis Suits. We’ll take a quick look at Stealths at the end.

So what do Crisis suits offer the Tau army? A mobile shooting platform able to take most of the guns the Tau have at their disposal (some special weapons are exempt, Markerlights, Railguns and Ion Cannons as well) and coupled with their relentless ability allows them to shoot heavy and rapid fire weapons to their full potential. We obviously want to take advantage of this if we can.

So quickly looking at each gun:
Burst Cannon: the same S and AP that is built into the Tau list from the ground up, we don’t want our Elites using ‘basic’ guns though 3 shots is nice
Flamer: the only template weapon the Tau have access to but its short range is a huge liability and with the Tau’s ability to pump out shots, not really needed though can be good for a cheap tack-on
Fusion Gun: there are better platforms for a meltagun (piranhas) but are another good tack-on weapon to an HQ but suffer from the short-range of the flamer
Plasma Rifle: expensive for a RF S6 AP2 gun where cover saves are common in 5th which wipes out the advantage you get for AP2
Missile Pod: same as an autocannon but on a relentless, JSJ platform? priceless

So looking at these we want to take advantage of the MP as much as possible. Since we can’t take two separate MPs (aw :() we’ll start off with one. Now the flamer and fusion gun are completely incompatible with the range of this gun and bring the suit into “I’m dead” range where they are much more easily charged. The burstcannon also has a shorter range but is again the staple of the Tau army and we don’t want our Elite JSJ units carrying these babies. So that leaves us with the PR. It’s expensive but matches relatively well in terms of strength, range and has the added benefit of a good AP and an extra shot at closer range. Since we have two weapons we want to fire at once we need to buy a multi-tracker.

Now, this is the “staple” Crisis suit for most Tau players yet forum-goers in particular try to advocate a different out-load and claim it is far better than a PR/MP suit. This is the TL’d-MP suit w/varying wargear (sometimes it’s cheap to make them cheap and sometimes it’s the expensive targeting array to up the accuracy of the unit). The build however is inferior to the PR/MP suit. Why? Their advantage is in taking out tanks. Even with the targeting array raising their BS they are not significantly better than PR/MP suits. They are substantially better at damaging lower AVs but with the rest of the Tau army that is often not necessary (Broadsides, Piranhas and Railheads are generally going to be disabling/destroying the bigger targets from T2) so whilst the improved ability against Tanks is warranted a Tau army has to be able to deal with what comes out of the transports, namely infantry. This is where the PR/MP suit really shines. It has 9-12 shots compared to 6. Whilst the TL’d factor and improved BS can often leave the amount of hits similar across the board, anyone who knows some basic statistics is going to take the 9-12 shots over the more reliable 6 shots. Add in markerlight support and the AP2 and in that respect it should be pretty clear.

To reiterate, the crisis suits add a mobile torrent and light anti-tank unit to the Tau army which needs medium strength weaponry. They have a big “hit me” sign on them but with their mobility (they should never not have a 4+ save and can often get quite good LoS blocking with their tanks) they aren’t rolling over anytime soon. Even with them gone the Tau still have a significant amount of fire power to throw across the board at you.

Now why not Stealth Suits? They are worse in every way compared to Crisis Suits except they can take MLs in greater numbers but PF are better for that and I’d like more firepower in my army list thanks. The inability to take weapons which could take advantage of their defensive field (i.e. something 24″ or greater) across the board is what limits this unit. Tau don’t need more S5 AP5 guns.

Next up I’ll do Piranhas.

Dragon Age: Origins

I got this game just before I went away for holidays and haven’t written anything about it so I thought I’d make a quick post right now.

Good game. Producers were a little too obsessed with the blood all over the characters though… So would recommend getting it if you’re into in-depth RPGs. Following the storyline and trying to be ‘good’ takes a certain amount of time.

Blazers and the post-season

Well I’m back as I’m sure you all care and lucky for me I got to watch a Blazers game I had recorded whilst away (against the Spurs). It was a pretty decent game on the Blazers part offensively but they really are missing an inside presence (obviously) and without Roy in there, they are so…limited on offense. I’d love to see more drives from Miller and Webster (who after my initial attack has seemed to become more consistent as a scorer, rebounder and defender so it might be worth keeping him though you still have the problem of being 3 deep at the guard to small forward positions once everyone is healthy).

But what is the Blazer’s outlook for the rest of theseason? Gloomy but not as bad as everyone suspected when everyone kept falling down. With Roy they were competing for the 4th-6th spots in the West but having lost some very winnable games without him the best they should be competing for would be 6th and maybe, maybe 5th I think. Realistically they are looking at 7th though. So with Roy returning after the All-Star break the Blazers should be back to their more impressive winning ways and hopefully this year will have been a great building block for next year in the maturity and closing out department. The only thing the Blazers need to work on will be chemistry. Miller and Roy still don’t work as well as Blake and Roy and they seem to try and run (and with an excellent running big man like Aldridge, they really should be) but then settle for 10 jump shots in a row.

So hopefully the Blazers with Roy will be able to make as favorable match up as possible in the playoffs and squeeze into the 2nd round. But without an inside presence I don’t feel they can compete consistently over a 7 game series in the West.