Ignoring Cover with Tau Smart Missile Systems

June 26, 2009 ·

I've been thinking about Tau Smart Missile Systems for a while. In 4th edition smart missile systems were brilliant, because you could simply hide all your tanks and pepper people with a mass of smart missiles.

Because they fly around terrain, your targets never got a cover save unless they were actually IN cover. However, in 5th edition where everyone seems to be constantly firing through cover, people have been getting cover saves against smart missile systems because they're firing 'through cover' when before they didn't.

I just accepted that this was the way things would be until there was another Tau FAQ or a new Tau Codex...

...until Raptor 1313 replied to one of my Imperial Guard battle reports stating:

"Page 27: the target can count the benefits of the cover they are in, or are touching it if it lies between them and the firer."

Now, everyone take out your Tau Empire Codex and find page 27.

Here is the exact wording from the Codex (sorry GW, but important rules are at stake!)


Tau Smart Missile System Rules

The smart missile system fires self-guiding missiles with the intelligence of a drone, which first search for then hunt down the target, passing around any blocking terrain.

The smart missile system can engage any target in range regardless of whether there is a line of sight to it or not. The target can count the benefits of cover they are in, or are touching if it lies between them and the firer.


Ignoring the bit of fluff (because sometimes this is contradictory) and sticking to the second paragraph, which is pure rules, it states that:

  • you don't need line of sight to your target
  • your target gets a cover save if they are INSIDE or TOUCHING cover that lies between them and firer.
  • No it cannot shoot passengers inside a tank! Although if you want to be a Rules Lawyer and lose all your friends, give it a try.


  • 14 comments:

    Raptor1313 said...
    June 26, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

    I think the other big perk that the Smart Missile Systems give you is that they remove the Gun Drones, and thus a spare Kill Point. I mean, they can pop the Devilfish, then the pop the drones that fall out of it, and get 2 KP in the relevant scenario.

    Plus, I'd wager that the SMS is just a little more frightening then the amazing twin-linked Pulse Carbines that the Gun Drones offer.

    Tim M said...
    June 26, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

    To quote Marty Johnson (showing my age here): "Verrrry interesting."

    Email on it's way to GW for ruling.

    Old Shatter Hands said...
    June 26, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

    Thanks for this my man, just in time for my tournament tomorrow where I am bring 4 sets of smart missile systems.

    What about the seeker missile? Do you think it works the same way?

    Damon said...
    June 26, 2009 at 1:59 PM  

    By the strict RAW, you're correct.

    However, with the way 5th edition grants cover saves when shots are taken *through* terrain or intervening units, the expectation will be that cover saves will be allowed.

    Recall in 4th edition when the codex was created that cover saves were never granted just because terrain was in the way. That meant you couldn't see the target at all! And intervening friendly units didn't even block line of sight, let alone grant cover.

    In that context, the SMS rules for cover saves were really just repeating the standard rules of the basic game under the circumstance where SMS had "line of sight" to everything within 24 inches.

    The entire shooting/line of sight/cover safe framework has completely changed. So while the old RAW is (relatively) clear, it creates a situation where an opponent is going to feel cheated. Is it really worth being a literalist RAW lawyer just gain this advantage? You're obviously gaming the system to your own advantage in spite of what any "reasonable" person could "reasonably" expect.

    And even the most die-hard literalist RAW lawyer couldn't argue that the SMS could possibly target an infantry unit inside a transport. It has nothing to do with SMS rules at all, and it has nothing to do with line of sight. It's simply that units in transports are not legal targets in the shooting phase.

    Anonymous said...
    June 26, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

    I made a post about this very same thing at ATT. Look at my Hammerhead Tank article draft and you can see the summary of when you can claim cover against SMS.

    To quote some lame internet meme : MONTHS BEHIND! :P

    Anonymous said...
    June 26, 2009 at 5:07 PM  

    Hmmm interesting. So if what you said is true... does that apply to Seeker Missiles as well? Since it doesn't really require LOS just like the SMS.

    Anonymous said...
    June 26, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

    SinSynn here.
    It actually took an opponent explaining it to me for me to accept it!
    I, too, was under the impression that everyone got a cover save for just being around cover.
    Mech Tau don't really NEED cover so much, since we have D-pods and shield drones, etc. so I never sweated it. But my opponents surely benefitted from my ignorance!
    But that's over now. All 3 of the devilfish in my 1750 list(which I generally play) have smart missiles, as well as the 2 tanks I usually run. That's 20 missiles a turn- now featuring limited cover saves! Whoo-Hoo!
    My Broadsides pretty much always fire the railguns, so I don't count the extra 12 potential missiles....
    Still love this blog. Hope I don't lose you to the space puppies.

    Adam Hunter said...
    June 26, 2009 at 10:55 PM  

    Seeker missiles have their own rules.

    Itgiger said...
    June 28, 2009 at 4:50 PM  

    Hey..... this isn't really related to the missile system thing but.... I just wanna know how do you create all these internal links on your Blog? such as those on the top of the page.. and those at the end of articles the ones that are titled "You Might Like These Stories"

    Adam Hunter said...
    June 28, 2009 at 10:49 PM  

    I went on Google and searched for Wordpress templates which had been converted to Blogspot code.

    the other bit is a plug-in called Linked Within.

    NockerGeek said...
    June 29, 2009 at 7:54 AM  

    Looks like it was a good weekend for discussing the SMS; I posted something similar over on my blog and on ATT. I'm completely in agreement with you on the cover rules. I even take it a bit further - unless half the unit is actually touching (or within) cover-granting terrain, there's no cover at all.

    Adam Hunter said...
    June 29, 2009 at 7:55 AM  

    Well yes, that goes without saying.

    Dan said...
    September 27, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

    What about when scarabs or something else, that moves like a jet bike and gains a +2 cover save. Do the scarabs benefit from that cover save?

    Adam said...
    September 27, 2009 at 11:52 PM  

    I believe so, due to it being a special 'moving fast' rule. But this needs to be clarified.

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