Pathfinders Lead the Way

February 27, 2009 · 9 comments

February 27, 2009

Tau Pathfinders are a much debated unit. And I often wonder whether Tau Pathfinders are better than a Tau Skyray. Especially when Tau Pathfinders don't take up a Heavy Support slot in my army.

(These Tau Pathfinders were painted by Dave who I've comissioned to give me a hand with painting my Tau army because I'm a painfully slow painter.)

Tau Pathfinders: Awesome support unit or waste of points?

For many players, facing Tau Pathfinders is facing FEAR itself! The Tau Rail Rifle is a comparatively pathetic weapon compared to the vast array of laser powered death that the rest of the Tau army can deliver. So I've chosen to give all 8 of my Pathfinders nothing by pulse carbines with markerlights.

So that's 8 shots, hitting on 4+ at range 36". So I'm pretty much guaranteed 4 markerlight hits. And as I have found from recently fielding a Tau Sky Ray, just 2 markerlight hits can be extremely devastating.

The negative attitude towards Tau Pathfinders comes from having to buy this static unit a transport. But now in 5th edition, that transport can be given to a Tau Firewarrior team. Not so bad when you consider that it has a Marker Beacon, which allows Deep Striking units to reroll the Scatter dice.
Now I only need to address the cost of the Tau Pathfinders themselves.

At 12pts each they're quite a steal when you consider the range 36" markerlight. Simply chuck them in some cover (or use their Scout move to help them get there) and they can concentrate on lighting up priority units throughout the game.

If they get shot at by a particularly nasty volley of fire, simply make them Go To Ground. You'd be amazed how much firepower will be wasted on a 72pts 6 man squad.

So when you consider that they can be as cheap as 72pts, they're a real bargain (minus Devilfish) when you're never going to use that Fast Attack slot anyway.

I need to check the rules, but as Pathfinders get the Scout rule, then so too does their Devilfish, which means it can Outflank.

So when it comes to getting your much needed markerlight fix, which is better: Tau Pathfinders or the Tau Skyray?

Technically the Pathfinders are cheaper if you want a Devilfish for your Firewarriors anyway, plus they can put out up to 8 markerlight shots, which will typically get you 4 markerlight hits. But in all honesty, I can't think of many units (apart from a tree hugging Lictor) that I'd need 4 markerlights on to effectively kill.

Usually 1 or 2 does the trick when combined with a high fire rate unit like Tau Battlesuits or Tau Stealthsuits. Or Tau Broadsides for when you absolutely have to hit that tank with your railguns.

I'll come back to this question after some more playtesting.

But right now, the Tau Skyray is king simply because it's a tough vehicle that can cruise around 12" while firing all its guns and you don't have to worry about it coming on from reserve, while Pathfinders are pretty useless on the turn they arrive, especially if you've given their Devilfish to another squad.

Crisis Battlesuits VS Stealthsuits

February 23, 2009 · 12 comments

February 23, 2009

My Tau battlesuits were amazing last night. Tau battlesuits seem to be a much better investment than Tau Stealthsuits and last night's game against the Tyranids really pressed that home when I ended up with a clear comparison between the two units.

Because this was a 1,000pts game, I couldn't splash out on the usual Plasma Rifle / Missile Pod combination Tau Battlesuits, so I took Missile Pod and Burst Cannon instead combo instead.

Obviously, it wasn't quite so effective as the Plasma Rifles when gunning down the Carnifex, but against the horde of little gribblies (and that accursed Lictor hiding in the woods with a 2+ cover save) the Burst Cannons were invaluable.

By comparison, the 6 Stealthsuits didn't do so well. They were still highly effective, but lacked the strength to deal with tougher targets and as they took up a larger space on the board, they were more vulnerable to blast weapons and fast assaulting units as well.

So after the game (which took quite a while because we were chatting about all sorts and admiring each other's painted models) we stood round with a few other people and commented on the events that had unfolded as well as the performance and value for points of the various units.

While the Tyranid army had offered minimal resistance and been shot en masse instead, I had still lost the game due to my inability to claim objectives.

I had started by placing most of my infantry units in the building that dominated the centre of my deployment zone. This was to counter the dreaded Genestealer-Lictor-Genestealer tactic most Tyranid players seem to employ nowadays.

The 2 Genestealer units Outflank and move on from the sides (with rerolls thanks to the Lictor) while the Lictor appears in the centre of the enemy deployment zone.

The enemy are then caught between these units and close combat ensues in some form or other. But not today!

By filling the available space with infantry, there was nowhere for the Lictor to go. So I quite happily defended that single terrain feature, which I'd also placed an objective on in our game of Seize Ground.

On Turn 5 most of the Tyranid army was destroyed.

There was a Carnifex in the centre of the table (an immediate threat to my defence and my objective), 2 units of spinegaunts in the far right of the Tyranid deployment zone, claiming an objective, 1 unit of Outflanking Genestealers (reduced to 3 models) on another objective in the right of my deployment zone and a 2nd unit of Outflanking Genestealers on my left.

Had the game ended then, I would have lost on objectives, but I got another turn.

I had to kill the Carnifex in the centre, which took all the firepower I could muster from the Tau Battlesuits and Sky Ray (hooray for markerlights!). Meanwhile the Skyray and Broadsides wiped out the Genestealers on the left flank with their combined Smart Missile Systems. It was up to the Stealth Suits to kill the Genestealers on my right, because then, if the game ended, it would be a draw on objectives and a big win to me on kills.

Well, I killed all but 1 Genestealer. And the game ended.

I need more troops to claim objectives. But then, if I lose any of my Elite units I'll simply be overrun.
My opponent was keen to count up the Kill Points (if Kill Points had been an objective) and pointed out that I would have beaten him 7 to 1.

At least the Tau work well in Annihilation and Capture & Control, because you can go kill things, then sit on your objective in the centre. Still rather worrying for tournament play where you're likely to play 2 of each mission, which means you can only win 4 out of 6 games.

Ah yes, I was talking about Tau Battlesuits and Stealth Suits wasn't I?
Got distracted with my bitter loss for a moment there.

Well, we worked out that for 180pts you can have 6 Tau Stealth Suits.

That's 6 wounds, all with 3+ saves and 6 Burst Cannons which put out a total of 18 shots at Strength 5. Plus the stealth field, which everyone seems to spot anyway...although you do get Infiltrators and Outflank.

Or, for 185pts you can have 3 Tau Battlesuits armed with Burst Cannon, Missile Pod and Multitracker, plus a team leader upgrade with 2 Sheild Drones.

That's 8 wounds, all with 3+ saves, 4+ invulnerable drone saves and 3 Burst Cannons, plus 3 Missile Pods for a total of 15 shots, but 6 of those are at range 36", Strength 7 and AP4.

They take up less room on the board and they're not bad in close combat either with Strength 5.
I think I may drop one of my usual 6 strong Tau Stealth Suit teams in favour of some more Tau Battlesuits.

Expect more regular Warhammer Tau updates on the run up to Carnage 2009

New Army Rumours

February 21, 2009 · 1 comments

February 21, 2009

The recent Imperial Guard rumours have certainly been interesting with regards to the firepower the new Imperial Guard tanks possess. Notably the Leman Russ variants, which include the Leman Russ Executioner which fires 3 plasma cannon shots, while the Leman Russ Punisher's gatling punisher cannon fires 20 shots at range 24" with a strength of 5.

Does anyone else feel that 20 shots is rather excessive?
Well, you may not have so much reason to fear this new tank. So feel free to leave your troops within 30" of this tank and I'll explain why.

That's 20 shots, hitting on 4+ to produce 10 hits and then wounding (lets say space marines) on 3+, which inflicts 6 wounds, 4 passed 3+ power armour saves = 2 dead space marines.

Okay, perhaps its not so bad? Or it just highlights the sheer futility of firepower in 5th edition 40K, especially when you consider it could kill (on average) 2 marines or 6 orks.

It's good to see that the Imperial Guard are getting some new toys after all these years, but none of the new and shiny specimens seem to beat the old Imperial Guard favourites like the Leman Russ, Leman Russ Demolisher and the Hellhound. But I suppose they had to give the Imperial Guard something extra now that the Basilisk has become rather obselete thanks to the True Line of Sight rules that feature so heavily in 5th edition.

The plastic Valkyrie is a truly lovely model. I got to see some of these at the Games Workshop Open Day up in Warhammer World. They were nothing short of breathtaking and I can see a lot of Imperial Guard players getting ready to spend their hard earned monies on the rumoured plastic storm troopers (still haven't seen images of these yet), all riding in Valkyries. No doubt some clever minded persons will install some small speakers and an ipod to play Flight of the Valkyrie as the army swoops in low over the ocean and destroys an Ork village.

I had an interesting discussion recently on Bell of Lost Souls regarding Imperial Guard and the Tau. Tau became kings of the firepower throne through combining elements of Space Marines, Imperial Guard and Eldar, so when I said I was upset to see the Tau losing their top seat, other posters were quick to remind me that the Tau Empire had been shoe horned into the game and into the fluff in order for Games Workshop to break into the Japanese hobbies market.

So upon reflection, will the Tau lose out to the Imperial Guard in the fight for firepower? Probably not if the Punisher can only produce the same number of shots as 20 fire warriors, but without the benefit of marker lights.

Neil from Flame On fame has often lectured me about the value of marker lights for the Tau in 5th edition 40K. After my recent escapades using the Sky Ray and with some Pathfinder models on the way, unleashing an overdose of firepower that hits on 2+ (thanks to 2 markerlights) makes a devastating difference when it comes to killing your targets.

But it seems that Imperial Guard are the least of my worries in the long term, Due to suffering against armies that benefit from the Outflank rules, my Tau are really not looking forward to facing the new Dark Eldar.

We were treated to some new Dark Eldar artwork in the 5th edition rule book, portraying the Dark Eldar as similar to the Craftworld Eldar, but with more sweeping spikes similar to the Dark Eldar glyphs instead of the 'chaos eldar' look they sported before.

I'll confess that I'm quite excited to see the revamp of Dark Eldar, although one play tester warned me that their rules are quite disgusting and suggested that the entire army could come on from the sides of the table (this was in early 2008, long before 5th edition) and that they would retain their 'always get the first turn of the game' rule.

So I think we can expect to see the same fast and fragile approach to the army, provided they don't pounch on you from the flanks and start gnawing on your entrails.

In the last edition, a Dark Eldar Raider with Nets could zoom 24", then disembark its troops who could then Fleet of Foot and charge for a total move of up to 34". If Raiders are crusing on from the sides, sitting slap bang in the middle of the board won't save you, unless you've formed a conga-gun-line. Shadow Fields for vehicles are also set to make a return, allowing Dark Eldar to play the long range game by adding a handful of inches required to get your guns into range.

As before, I expect Dark Eldar to be an army for the tourney goers who have the competitive mind to min/max terrorfexes, destructors and other tasty Dark Eldar weaponry while newcomers to the hobby will struggle.

But for veterans of fluff and tenacious young newcomers, the Space Wolves will be back soon! Great news for all gamers really. I've never met anyone who didn't love the Space Wolves for their character. While they might be a bunch of drunken, hairy heroes in power armour with pet wolves, they have long deserved a new codex.

While nothing has been leaked yet, the Space Wolves will probably continue to follow the trends of their previous codex books with a focus on close quarters fighting and drop pod tactics. Whether or not they get all the new Space Marine toys remains to be seen. They're quite eccentric in nature, so I can see them turning their backs on a lot of this 'new confangled technology' in favour of a big battle axe and a beer.

For anyone following the Horus Heresy books, 'Prospero Burns' has a fantastic image of Leman Russ and the pre-heresy Space Wolves on the front cover. Plus it's written by Dan Abnett.

I'm buying it -that's for certain!

That's all from me for now. It's back to painting those blasted Forgeworld Broadsides.

Army Painting Rack

February 20, 2009 · 0 comments

February 20, 2009

"Nice Rack!" my friend said when he saw me painting my Tau army behind my new painting rack. I was reluctant to invest in a painting rack from CNC Workshop, so I got my relatives to club together and buy me one for Christmas.

But I've got to say what a god send it has been when it comes to keeping my painting and modeling space clean and clutter free.

Before, when I used to use a paint pot, it ended up being placed slightly closer to me, so over an hour or two of painting, a wall of paint pots gradually marched towards me, making my painting space constantly shrink throughout the session.

The great thing about the painting rack is that it not only forces you to organise your paints, but keeps them away from you and slightly elevated, saving massive amounts of space.

As you can see, I got a corner section for all my tools and other random odds and sods. Okay they don't all fit in their perfectly, but it goes a long way to keeping everything tidy and organised. Before I used to use the entire table for painting, but now I only use half.

Yes, I do have more paints, but they're all neatly stored in a shoe box for when I need them. The paints you see here and just for my Tau army, because I'm not painting anything else right now.
So yeah, I highly recommend a painting rack simply for keeping your painting space in order. Never again will you wonder where the green stuff went or struggle to find an essential pot of paint.

That reminds me; I need to go through all my paints, throw out the dried up pots, make a note of all the duplicates and make a list of the ones which are about to run out. I've been getting through Scorched Brown like there's no tomorrow.

The Trouble with Tau Armylists

February 18, 2009 · 0 comments

February 18, 2009

One friend was fed up of playing against my Tau army all the time (and who could blame him when I kept winning). So I've taken a break from the Tau army for now and borrowed some of his other armies for a quick game.

Now the problem I have with my Tau army. In fact, it's a problem I have always had with my Tau army is what to put into a competitive list -especially in 5th edition 40K.

Due to the fragile nature and limited number of Tau Fire Warriors, holding objectives isn't a viable tactic, nor is pressing forward for them, unless the Fire Warriors are safely riding in a pimped out Devilfish costing around 100pts, which is quite pricey for what it is.

On the flip side, it's easy to simple go kill stuff. But can you kill enough and safely contest the objectives without getting charged and torn to shreds?

Little wonder then that so many tournament players appear to have abandoned the Tau in the short term.

My Tau army building dilemma comes after these pick up and play sessions against a friend. He simply gives me a 1,500pts armylist because that's all his has of that particular force and I just plonk it on the table and get on with it, because I have to.

In many ways the Tau army has spoilt me for choice and this choice has led to indecision.
Maybe I should ask my friend to make a Tau army list and I'll just give that a whirl and be done with it?

It could prove interesting and provide a temporary solution until I get more units painted. Speaking of which: Forgeworld Broadsides will be coming soon!

Imperial Guard Threaten the Firepower Throne

February 13, 2009 · 0 comments

February 14, 2009

Having long ago usurped the Imperial Guard as being the firepower army of choice, Tau players will be interested to know that the Imperial Guard are back with a new selection of tank variants packing a variety of new weapons.

Most worrying of all, is the return of the Leman Russ Vanquisher with its single shot battlecannon which fires an armour peircing tank shell with 2D6 armour penetration.

Formerly this unit was only available from the non-tournament-legal Forgeworld books and for a short time when Codex Armageddon was legalised. So does the Imperial Guard have a rival to our beloved Railgun once again?
Well, with an average 2D6 roll of 7, I'd say yes. Add that the Strength 8 battlecannon and Imperial Guard players will be needing a 6 to glance Armour 13, a 7 to glance Armour 14 and an 8 to penetrate Armour 14, which is rather worrying.

Statistically, the Vanquisher Cannon has better odds to damage a tank than a railgun. Let's just hope the Leman Russ Vanquisher remains at Ballistic Skill 3.

The new Imperial Guard have all manner of other tanks; none of which appear to be particularly threatening or effective Heavy Support choices. Instead Games Workshop appear to have designed a new range of tanks and weapons to draw mass appeal to the army from the hordes of kiddies who are into the hobby.

Meanwhile tournament players who plan to squeeze the very best from a potential new army will turn to the old favourites, finding few improvements. Although from the rumours posted on Bell of Lost Souls, it seems that the Hellhound is stronger than ever before and cheaper in points as well!

So what does this all mean for a Tau player? Simply that the Imperial Guard have some new toys, but still can't match us for the sheer quantity of Railguns we are able to field and that Tau and Eldar tanks will still rule the roost thanks to Disruption Pods and Holofields.

However, many of the Imperial Guard units are forecast to become far cheaper in points, which is interesting as I always felt that the 'Guard were often the underdogs due to being far too numerous for a 6' X 4' table and unwieldy due to their static nature.

As a result one of my friends who has been playing Warhammer 40K since the start of 2nd edition dropped his Imperial Guard army in favour of the specialised firepower units available to the Tau.

And it's really no wonder when you consider how specialised Tau units are when it comes to wiping out the enemy: We have railguns for tanks, stealth suits for gunlines of troops, plasma rifles for armoured infantry and missile pods (aka: autocannons) for light vehicles and smart missiles for anything we can't see -plus, the best basic weapon in the game.

While the Tau army has had a rough ride at the start of 5th edition, I believe that if we stick to what we do best (killing stuff!) not even the numbers of the Imperial Guard will be able to absorb all of our firepower.

I love the smell of railguns in the morning!

February 7, 2009 · 1 comments

February 7, 2009

Winning games with a Tau army has never been easy, especially not in a competitive environment and especially that now in 5th edition, due to all the fancy deployment types, you're highly likely to be charged before you can get a your necessary two turns of firepower off.

But if there's one thing that always makes your opponents think twice, it's the humble railgun.

Strength 10, AP1, range 72"

Whoever came up with the railgun clearly wasn't satisfied with their lascannons. In many aspects, it's the biggest gun in the game and makes any opponent think twice about forking out 250pts on a pimped out landraider for their commander to cruise around in.

Two units in the regular Tau army can take railguns and that's the Tau Hammerhead tank and the Tau Broadside Battlesuits.

Recently I've lost faith in the Hammerhead due to the simple fact that you only get one shot with the railgun. This is fine for firing the submunition round, becausse you'r targeting troops and you're bound to hit something. But for the 'solid slug' as I like to call it, I seem to always roll a 1, meaning that markerlights do little to forgive the inaccuracy of this weapon.

However, on a Tau Broadside battery, the railgun becomes a high feared weapon! I've developed a new fondness for Tau Broadside Battlesuits under the 5th edition rules who now seem to stand out in the open, absorbing heavy portions of fire thanks to their 2+ abundance of shield drones while striking back at any threat with their railguns or smart missile systems.

The beauty of the Tau Broadsides are their twin linked railguns and while they may only be hitting on 4+ (although I like to boost them with a markerlight when possible), the reroll almost guarantees that they will score a hit or two on their targets.

Luke is currently running two squads of 2 Tau Broadsides with the Slow and Purposeful upgrade, while one of them has been upgraded to a leader with bonding knife and two shield drones. It's the standard config for Tau Broadside battlesuits, but as I'm thinking of fielding a Skyray in the 3rd heavy slot instead of a Hammerhead, I may try a squad of 3 Broadsides. Or For maximum survivability, 3 broadsides, each with 2 shield drones. Or perhaps the humble Tau Hammerhead has had its day?

Either way, I need to get some more games in.

It won't be long until Carnage 2008 at the end of March and I still have new Forgeworld Broadside Battlesuits to paint.

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Warhammer Tau is a group of wargamers who feel that they have a little something different to offer other Tau Empire, Kroot, and allied players... even if it's just a starting point for discussion! Our goal is to produce at least one article per week to inform and encourage the Tau and Warhammer gamer community. For the Greater Good, of course!

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