Tuesday, June 8, 2010

IG 1 of ?

In 5th edition with the masses of tanks that can be taken my army is rather unusual because I don’t have a single one. No walkers either. In general I despise tanks, but especially so with my IG. I do admit however that I have thought of buying some of the super heavy tanks just so I have them for apocalypse and spearhead, never mind the models are nice. This is even true with my tau. If it wasn’t for my pathfinders being required to take devilfish my tau would not have a single vehicle in the list as well. I also tend to avoid taking the vet based lists that are so very common now. I take them when I need to, usually because of a lack of guardsmen to do another infantry platoon

For me a large reason of why I do a large full foot grunt guard army gets back to the image. Not only. The image we so often read about in GW and black library stuff. But in movies and old documentaries as well. The image I mean is the hordes of regular joe standing there in the face of overwhelming odds and fighting as hard as they can. In the trenches, the woods etc.

Recently I have even been working hard to build lists around the whole idea of a standard guardsmen squad. So plasma for instance isn’t very prominent. It’s guys with flamers or grenade launchers, and maybe just maybe they have a missile launcher or heavy bolter or something. When you do get things like plasma its in the command squads in the hands of a vet. Now with the guard few other armies can match there horde might. Lets for instance look for a minute at just a standard platoon. The composition of a standard platoon is : 1 platoon command squad, 2-5 infantry squads, 0-5 Heavy weapon squads, 0-2 special weapon squads and 0-1 conscript squads.

Now the bare minimum for this one troop choice is composed of a platoon command squad and two infantry squads. That’s 25 models at a cost of 130pts with no upgrades at all. Now what can you get with that you may ask. Well this is where they shine. Infantry squads are the only units that combine if they wish in the IG codex. So this means you can field your 1 troop choice as two ten man squads and command or a twenty man squad and command squad. But the joy does not stop there. Keep that command squad close and the commander can issue orders. Yeah, he’s only a platoon commander and its only one order but he has three very useful commands. First, he has first rank fire, second rank fire. This command is fantastic for laying out firepower with your lasguns. When successfully issued this order makes it so each guardsmen fires one additional shot. That’s 3 shots at less then 12” and 2 at more then that. Take are 20 man squad, that would be 36 to 54 shots (damn sergeant has no lasgun). Yeah I know what your saying to yourself, pfft there just lasguns, but when you got that many shoots odds are with you. Especially if you do this on a 50 man squad of grunts or even conscripts.

Next the commander has the incoming order, this has the ability to give the targeted unit +2 to there cover save. So hiding in some trees, we just went from are 4+ cover save to a 2+. Damn handy in my opinion. The last one is called move move move, in short you run. But instead of rolling 1d6 you roll 3d6 and pick the highest. Once again handy.

Now are brave little grunts have more options then almost anyone else when it comes to upgrades and point cost is altogether reasonable. These little guardsmen have 17 different choices. What’s that your little guys are running away to often, no problem give them a commissar. Need heavier fire power, piece of cake, they have everything from flamers to lascannons they can take. Keep failing orders give them and the command squad a vox caster. Need some power weapons to take out those nasty marines? Great you can have 2 when you have a commissar. Add this with Combined squads and it gets nasty. Never mind being able to take things like priests. You can if needed equip these poor souls to take on anything.

Now your asking if there so great why doesn’t everyone use them. Well that’s simple, there are a long list of reasons. First lets look at the there main competitor for troop slots, veterans. So one Infantry platoon is a min of 130pts. But they can take a max in total of 6 special weapons and 3 heavy weapons (between command, and 2 infantry squads). And with a bs of 3 and a 5+ save they die very easily. Where the veterans are only 10 men but they have a bs of 4 and a 5+ save. They cost 70pts with no upgrades. Yet they have 21 upgrade options. Which include 1 special weapon your infantry squads cant get (heavy flamer) and doctrines. Yeah the doctrines are expensive but there good. 30points gets you 1 of 3 choices, carapace, camo-cloaks and snare mines or melta bombs and a demolition charge. Plus if you have any other commanders they can give them orders and they can take 3 special weapons.

So when a prospective or even current IG player looks at the list they may go, OH cool look at everything I can take. But then they realize the real world cost of taking a standard platoon. That’s a min of 2 boxes of guardsmen plus a command box or another box of guards. Where for the same price you can have 3 troop choices. The other side is potential point cost never mind real world cost of a full infantry platoon. If you max out just on bodies with no upgrades 1 infantry platoon consists of about 12 boxes of guardsmen (117models needed) and 5 boxes of heavy weapons (15 heavy weapon teams needed) that’s about 280 pounds. Points wise those models cost 945pts. Or you can buy 1 box of guardsmen for 15 pounds. And they cost you 70points. Hence the reason for so few people using them even in large games. Given you don’t have to take max, and I will probably never take conscripts Just because of the cost of buying all the models.

But its nice to have the option. Usually I take a max of 3infantry squads, a few heavy weapon and 2 special weapon squads and do two or three troop slots that way. The only real problem I encounter with an all foot army. Is the time it takes to set up the models. Hence for apocalypse and stuff I’m seriously considering a few super heavies.
The man thing I love besides the look of all these little guys together taking everyone one on is the look on people’s faces when even at 1500points im fielding more than a 100 models. Many people just don’t know how to react to it in game which is amusing to watch. Anyway more on my normal army lists later.

Tau part 3 of ?

In this post I want to talk about battle suits. As one of the things that most tau armies include, they are kind of important. This is mainly because of the bare minimum need of a commander (dang +1 requirement). In this post I want to talk about the options for them and the different types of suits. I will only briefly talk about the suits now and do a more in depth later.

There are 7 suit kits made by gw. The above is the old xv15 stealth suit. The new xv25 is below. Stats wise there is no difference. But I still think the old ones look better, they just look more stealthy. The big thing for the stealth suits is the stealth field generator. They come with a burst cannon, have a 3+save and can take 1 battlesuit support system with the Shas’vre being able to take up to 100 points of battlesuit wargear. For a small amount of points (2pts) you can switch 1 suit to a fusion blaster for every 3 models in the squad. They also have infiltrate.

Then you have Crisis suits, gw does two different main kits, the commander is one and just comes with some extra guns and heads, then you have the normal kit. They must pick 3 weapon and support systems in total. Commanders and Shas’vre can also pick up to 100points of wargear. The crisis and the stealth suits can also move in there assault phase since they are jump infantry (jet pack).

Broadsides must pick one support system. The Shas’vre ,as usual, can also pick wargear.

The last 2 suits are worn by special characters. The first is worn by commander shadowsun and is unique to her and you of course can’t change any of her equipment.
The last one is worn by commander farshight with the same restrictions. All suits also grant the wearer the Acute Senses and Deep Strike special rules.

The battlesuit wargear, if you have not guessed by now, is broken into three sections. Battlesuit weapon systems, Battlesuit support systems and Battlesuit wargear. There are a number of Specialized Equipment options that are 1 per an army and can only be taken by commanders and Shas’vre with a restriction of 1 per an army.

The Weapon Systems usually have two point costs. This is because if you take two of the same it is generally cheaper, however two of the same also means they are twin linked and thus its only really one weapon. The weapon systems are as follows.

Airburst Fragmentation Projector (special issue)-
18” str4 ap5 assault 1 large blast no cover (originally G18”)
Burst cannon -
18” 5 5 assault 3
Cyclonic Ion Blaster (special issue) -
18” 3 4 assault 5, all wound rolls of 6 count as ap1
Flamer -
Template 4 5 assault 1, normal flammer
Fusion blaster -
12” 8 1 melta, assault 1
Missile pod -
36” 7 4 assault 2
Plasma Rifle -
24” 6 2 rapid fire

The support systems are gear built onto the outside of the suit usually improves the character.
Advanced stabilization system -
Gives the model the Slow and Purposeful special rule, if 1 member takes they all must.
Blacksun filter -
Doubles the distance rolled for determining distance able to see in night fight
Command and control node (special issue) -
This piece is defunct in 5th edition, it allows players within 12” to use the bearers leadership for target priority tests
Drone controller -
Bearer most take 1 drone but can take 2 max, gun, marker or shield.
Multi-tracker -
Allows the bearer to fire two weapon systems
Positional relay (special issue) -
As long is bearer is on the table at the beginning of turn it allows a unit to deploy from reserve on a 2+, only works from second turn on.
Shield generator -
Gives the bearer a 4+ invulnerable save
Target lock -
In 5th edition it allows the bearer to fire on a separate squad from the one his unit is shooting at.
Targeting array -
Gives +1 to BS up to 5
Vectored retro-thrusters (special issue) -
Gives the Bearer the Hit and Run special rule. Can only be used on single model units.

The wargear section includes some of the support systems as Hard-wired and other different ones. These systems are described as being implants or pieces of jewelry worn by the models.
Bonding Knife -
Always allows unit to regroup as long as bearer is alive
Ejection System (special issue) -
Allows the pilot to eject (DUH) when his last wound is taken, is replaced with a model with -2str -1T who also has 1w and no save. Has a pulse pistol only. Only allowed for single model units or characters.
Failsafe detonator (special issue) -
If squad is forced to fall back from an assault this model stays behind and blows up. Large blast template, all models hit take a single str8 hit ap-. The enemy squad is not allowed to make a sweeping advance or consolidate. No moral check is needed for models killed either.
Gun drone -
Has a 4+save, twin-linked pulse carbine. Counts as same type of unit as bearer as well
Iridium armour (special issue)-
Gives the model a 2+save but the 6” move in the assault phase is reduced to a d6”.
Hard-wired blacksun filter -
Same as blacksun filter
Hard-wired drone controller -
Same as drone controller
Hard-wired multi-tracker -
Same as multi-tracker
Hard-wired target lock -
Same as target lock
Marker drone -
Has 4+save, a networked marklight (bearers unit can use marklight markers) and targeting array, shares bearers unit type.
Shield drone -
Same save as bearers unit and has a 4+invulnerable save. Same unit type as bearer.
Stimulant injector (special issue) -
Gives the bearer the Feel No Pain Special rule

Overall, my weapons and wargear change according to the points. With my commander I tend to take a cyclonic ion blaster, a plasma rifle, shield generator, hard-wired multi-tracker, hard-wired drone controller, 2 gun drones, and a bonding knife. With the crisis body guard I usually do a plasma rifle, a missile pod, targeting array, hard-wired drone controller, 2gun drones, and a hard-wired multi-tracker. For the stealth teams I take most commonly a targeting array though sometimes a shield generator, and the Shas’vre takes a bonding knife, Hard-wired drone controller and 2 drones as well. With broadsides I almost always take a drone controller for each with shield drones, though occasionally I take multi-trackers instead. This makes the broadsides a pain in the ass to kill and then the Shas’vre takes a Hard-wired multi-tracker and bonding knife as well. This is a large part of the reason I feel two man broadside teams are more effective then 3 man.
I don’t usually take crisis teams but if I did they would probably have a similar lay out to the body guard.
Overall, the most important piece of gear hands down is the bonding knife, it costs very little in points and makes the squads last much longer. After that I would say a drone controller and drones for the same reason. As for weapons the plasma rifle is my weapon of choice mainly due to the large number of 3+ saves out there. The missile pod is usually my second choice because of its overall strong use against all but the heaviest of units and its excellent range. I tend to avoid the position relay because if something is going to deep strike I just use my pathfinders devilfish for it. The airburst fragmentation system is interesting but is only really useful against some tyranids and guardsmen usually. This is once again mainly just because of the prevalence of mech armies and marines.
This post is mainly supposed to focus on wargear options I will focus more on the suits in future posts. Well that’s all for now IG is definitely next to much about the tau on here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tau part 2 of ?

Tau in spearhead

Alright first lets look at what the spearhead rules do for tau. The main spearhead rule makes it so tau can move at cruising speed and shoot there main gun. Since the hammerhead only really has one weapon this is great. The only catch is they have to be within 4 inches of another model. The other benefit is of course they can hold objectives. The main drawback for tau is a very short list of units available. You basically have 4 choices.

Hammerhead gunship
Comes in at 90 points without anything. ion cannons are 15points and railguns are 50. For a a secondary system you can have two burst cannons at 10points, 2 gun drones at 20points or a smart missile system at 20points. At base cost you’re looking at 115points without any real upgrades. The main gun as ion is good for its 3 shots at 60inches and str 7 ap3. Its great for infantry and light mech but struggles with the heavier. With the railgun you get the best of both worlds. 72 inch range and either str10 ap1 or str6 ap4 large blast. but that adds another 35points to the cost. At max of 3 tanks for most formations that’s 450points with no upgrades. And some of the upgrades are well worth that but that will come latter. Also keep in mind that forge world has a bunch more weapon systems available.

Sky Ray Missile Defense Gunship
At 125 points this unit is in my opinion a waste of points in everything but apocalypse games. It has 6 seeker missiles, two networked mark lights, a turret mounted weapon system and a target lock. The target lock is nice because it can launch its own missiles at two different targets but there are only 6. And the seeker missiles are only str8 ap3, however they are unlimited range. These mainly shine in apocalypse games because of there anti air abilities and the support they lend to fire warriors and pathfinders for taking out light mech.

At 80points with a burst cannon and drones its a decent transport but wont work for most of the data sheets since its a transport.

Pirahanha light skimmer team
Honestly I love the model but would never use this in regular games, mainly because I find pathfinders more valuable. They come in at 60points each in squads of up to 5. They have a burst cannon and 2 gun drones. They can upgrade there burst cannon for 5 points to a fusion blaster. And take most of the mech upgrades.

All tau vehicles are also equipped with a landing gear. If the tank does not move it can choose to no longer count as a skimmer until it moves again.
The tau also have 9 vehicle upgrades available.
Blacksun Filter - doubles distance seen when night fight is in effect.
Decoy launchers - Whenever an immobilized result is rolled on the glancing table you can force a re-roll.
Disruption pod - weapons shooting from further then 12 inches count the vehicle as obscured.
Fletchette Discharger - any model assaulting the vehicle on a 4+ takes a wound with saves before they attack.
Multi-tracker - can move and fire like it is a fast vehicle (ie 2 weapons at cruising with spearhead rules)
Seeker missile - can take up to 2
Sensor spines - allows the vehicle to move through a terrain feature as if its normal terrain without the dangerous terrain effects and counts the vehicle as obscured.
Targeting array - Adds plus 1bs to the vehicle
Target lock - allows each weapon to fire at a different target

The targeting array and disruption pod are two of the most valuable and a steal at 10pts.

Now we move on to the formations. Out of the 12 formations the tau can utilize all but 2 maybe 3. The two we really can't use are Monstrous Spearhead (DUH) and Crusher Spearhead (we have nothing but skimmers). The one that is difficult to have is the Super-Heavy Spearhead. Honestly the only tau super heavy stuff I know is forge world and damn expensive (min of 65 pounds plus shipping max of 895 plus shipping). So for the regular player it’s normally just not worth buying them. We also struggle a bit due to a complete lack of walkers. Alright now let’s look at the formations we can use.
Due keep in mind that in most cases the only viable unit to take is a hammerhead.

Armoured Spearhead- 60+units
Up to 3 tank units, 5+inv save

This one could be pretty handy on a group of hammerheads but once again that’s 510pts with no upgrades.

Ambush Spearhead- 75+units
Up to 3 tanks, with no transport capacity. Stealth and infiltrate are gained.

My god this will be nasty on turn one with disruption pods and such as well but once again well over 500pts.

Mechanised Assault Spearhead- 80pts+units
Up to three vehicles with transport capacity with troops, they must be held in reserve and can then outflank onto the table.

Could be handy, but sort of limiting when only 3 units of either fire warriors or pathfinders.

Tank Hunter Spearhead- 60pts+units
Up to 3 tanks, gives them all the tank hunter skill (+1 on ap rolls)

This could well be one of the more useful ones to take with hammerheads since they will then pen just about all heavy tanks tanks (land raider is 14) on a pen roll of 4+ and glance on 3+.

Archeotech Spearhead- 30pts+units
Up to 3 tanks. adds +1 str (max 10) can backfire and kill or wound the model.

For are hammerheads with railguns this one is pointless and would just give you a higher chance of killing yourself. So I say pass.

Outrider Spearhead- 60pts+units
two or three tanks, one tank must be from a different entry to the other tanks ,makes it so another vehicle can take the hit for the leader.

Once again not much point unless you need more tanks on the board. Since you would have to take like a hammerhead and 2 devilfish or sky rays.

Skyfall Spearhead- 45pts+units
Up to 3 skimmer units, held in reserve, all gain deepstrike only first scatters, all shooting attacks made by them on the turn they arrive count as pinning and always resolved on a vehicles side armor.

This is a great one for tau. With hammerheads it’s an instant pain for the other player. With Pirahanas it would be even better. That would be up to 15 pirahanas. Though very pricey in points this has the ability with Fusion blasters to wipe out a very large group of tanks. At 65points each with fusion blaster and another Target array (+1bs), target lock (shoot at more then 1 target or a different one) and a disruption pod ( more then 12inch away counts as obscured), for a grand total of 80 points a model. At 15 models this is expensive 1245pts, but you have the possibility of annihilating 15 tanks in one go if positioned right.

Mass Attack Spearhead- 90pts+units
Up to 6 troop choices, str 7 Krak grenades, preferred enemy: monstrous creature, Can always test to regroup.

With this one I personally think it would be a waste on fire warriors. However, on Kroot this would be deadly when combined with there infiltrate skill would make a crazy tank/hth kill squad for a messily 930pts. That’s 120kroot. But like I said depends on play style.

Seek and Destroy Spearhead- 50pts+units
up to 3 fast skimmers, one a game can move flat out but still shout like they moved at combat speed.

Only unit available is pirahanas for this but once again up to 15 of them with the same as the equipment as the skyfall spearhead could make this a very dangerous turn 1 or 2 for you opponent.

So overall this new expansion to 40k isn't the most fantastic thing for the tau but is manageable just very costly and points and cash for most tau players. However, as an add on to say my 1500point force for a 2000+point game its not to bad of an idea. Get some pirahanas or Hammerheads for harassing the enemy well the rest move up would work well. Otherwise I think I will pass in general on using my tau in this just on the basis of pure cost of buying new models to use with it.

Next time who knows but more to come maybe IG next.

Tau part 1 of ?

This is the first of who knows how many blogs on the tau. Today, I want to talk about tau tactics. At the lgs the tau are rather numerous compared to other places I have lived but you see two main play styles. The two main tactics you usually see are either fully mechanized or heavy on battle suits. At my LGS you see a pretty even split on these two tactics.

Let’s look at the first option. With the fully mechanized you usually see three Hamerheads, a few crisis suits (most notably the required crisis suit commander) and fire warriors deployed in devilfish or Kroot. Locally, I have also seen a few players use piranha as well. With this list a large part of successfully using it relies on the use of your hammerheads. There is one player here who is amazing at it and easily overpowers even mechanized IG players. Which with the newer codexes of other races is very hard because of there more mechanized manner and higher amounts of anti-mech weaponry. To successfully use this you need to be really good at utilizing the terrain. If your not you are toast.

With the second approach the person usually maximizes on crisis suits, often with farsight leading, and broadsides or hammerheads. Often I see kroot used with this tactic as there infiltration skills become very handy. In a list like this you often see 15+crisis suits. However, once again if the player isn’t well versed in the use of these units they fail horribly. This list has however suffered massively in 5th edition. It could dominate well in the last edition but mainly just pisses off the people who have it now. This is mainly due to the cost of the units compared to there effectiveness. This is slightly better with the use of forge world battle suits and rules.

Myself I use a completely different approach. My normal 1500 point list is as bellow.

Shas’el 82pts
missle pod
Fusion blaster
Hard-wired Blacksun filter
Stealth team 172pts
6 men
6 target array
Bonding Knife
Hard-wired Blacksun Filter
2 Fusion blaster
Fire warrior team 1 116pts
Photon Grenades
Bonding Knife
Hard-wired Blackson Filter
Marklight gun

Fire warrior team 2 116pts
Photon Grenades
Bonding Knife
Hard-wired Blackson Filter
Marklight gun

Fast Attack
Pathfinder Team 1 212pts
Photon Grenades
Bonding Knife
Hard-wired Blacksun Filter
1 Seeker missle

Pathfinder Team 2 212pts
Photon Grenades
Bonding Knife
Hard-wired Blacksun Filter
1 Seeker missle

Broadside Battlesuit team1 213pts
2 target array
Hard-wired Drone controller
2 Shield drones
Hard-wired multi-tracker
Hard-wired Blacksun filter
Hard-wired Target Lock
Bonding Knife

Broadside Battlesuit team2 213pts
2 target array
Hard-wired Drone controller
2 Shield drones
Hard-wired multi-tracker
Hard-wired Blacksun filter
Hard-wired Target Lock
Bonding Knife

Sniper drone team 160pts
2 teams

Total= 1496pts

Overall this list handles rather well. It relies heavily on a wall of fire with bonuses from the pathfinders marklights. Thus it basically runs as a gun line. The gun line works rather well for tau for a long list of reasons the least of which being there overall weapons range.

I mainly use the Stealth team for harassing though in one instance they had amazing luck and vaporized a blood thirster and then most of a squad of demons who then killed all but 2 in hand to hand and ultimately those two won and went on to supported the rest in killing off orcs (was a crazy four way game).

The main advantage to this army is it annihilates very well but suffers horribly in hand to hand. This is in my opinion partly due to the lack of options for any real power weapons. This has only ever really been a problem with my good friend the English Pillock as his Tyranid army and luck is astounding. Against the majority of the other players (marines) I usually table them or pull a draw.

Some of my choices, such as the blacksun filters, are just because of the frequency that I play certain types of games, mainly dawn of war games. The Bonding knifes are the single most important piece of wargear and anyone that doesn’t buy them for everyone is an idiot. With the ability to always regroup as long as the bearer is alive for a messily 5points, it has saved me on more then one occasion. The target locks and multi trackers are nice but cost a big hunk of points but they are worth it. With the target locks I can fire on two or more units (useful for mech) and the multi trackers make killing infantry much easier since I can fire both of my weapon systems. Target arrays are even better but in general I use the marklights to boost my BS.

The snipers are nice for there range and often make players focus on them instead of my pathfinders. They also pack a rather decent punch for only 80points. I also often use them to screen my pathfinders or broadsides since they don’t block LOS for them but due for the enemy.

Many people are surprised I only use photon grenades and honestly I find I need nothing else because I’m not rushing my guys in to hand to hand. And they cost a bunch if you want booth (4pts a model). Were photon are 1pt a model. People are often also often surprised that I only run broadsides in squads of two. This is mainly due to the point cost and the slight decrease in effectiveness at 3 models without costly upgrades. Unless it's a much larger game there just is no point, I can take more fire warriors, stealth teams, sniper teams, and a guard for the commander that work better points trade off wise.

Usually only in games 2500pts or bigger will I add my 3rd member to the Broadside teams. And for me running my Tau as a entrenched gun line style more guns are always better. However, in the future I am considering another stealth team, especially in bigger games. And of course more fire warriors and pathfinders. The only real downside to the pathfinders is the mandatory need to purchase a devilfish.

And that’s that more to come in the future next blog will probably look at the use of tau in spearhead.