Marker Lights and Marker Light Platforms

April 30, 2013 · 4 comments


Marker Lights are very useful. They can do 3 things 

·      Any unit can use a Marker Light hit to boost their BS by one point, this works on snap shots, and for other Marker Lights.
·      2 Marker Lights hits can grant any firing unit Ignores Cover, and
·      You can use a Marker Lights hit to fire a Seeker Missile.

So in an army when most units are BS3, and in a game where many death stars use (abuse!) boosted cover saves, that’s pretty useful. This post is about Marker Lights and how best to field them. But first…… do you need them at all?

At the end of 5th Edition, I stopped using Marker Lights because Pathfinders, the only (sensible) platform for marker lights in the old ‘dex, were not very good. You had to take a Devilfish that you usually didn’t want, they were very vulnerable to counter fire, and their Marker Lights were Heavy Weapons making them very static. I built my armies around twin linked weapons, and Targeting Arrays, and just took more guns.

However, that wasn’t to say that Marker Lights weren’t good – they were, and in tournaments that allowed Forge World units, I used Tetras, and they were awesome. So, while you could build an army without Marker Lights under the new codex (harder as there are no Targeting Arrays), you would only do so if you had to.

So the question is not whether you want Marker Lights, you obviously do, but rather whether the Marker Light platforms in the new codex are effective.

However, before I look at the available platforms, I wanted to talk about how I use Marker Lights, which of course informs the Marker Light platforms you want to bring. Now this is based on experience in the old codex, but the mechanism is broadly similar.

In general terms I usually found myself using Marker Lights on priority targets. I didn’t tend to spread them around, but concentrated them on one or 2 targets that simply had to die - the Landraider that would deliver Death Company into assault on turn 2, the Psyfilemen Dreadnaughts that would double out my XV8s, or the Paladins that had just deep struck in front of my gun line and would wipe me out if they were allowed to charge. Being able to kill one or 2 units reliably in one turn of shooting was often crucial, and Marker Lights made that easier.

However, what I found was that the number of Marker Lights I needed would vary, depending on how many units I wanted to shoot at the priority target. Roughly speaking you needed 3-4 hits per unit – one or 2 to boost BS, and a couple to reduce cover saves. Sometimes I wanted to shoot only one unit at the target, and another unit at a secondary target (e.g. A Hammer Head against one Psyfileman, and Broadsides at the other one). However, sometimes I would need to shoot multiple units at the target e.g to put the Paladins down I would need to fire multiple units at them, and would need to drown them in Marker Lights to do so.

Another thing I noticed is that, while Marker Lights are useful at the very start of the game, they are often more useful at the end. Turns 3 and 4 were usually when I lost a game, because that was when my opponent’s assault units had climbed out the smoking  ruins of their Landraider, slogged across the board, beaten down my Kroot bubble wrap, and were about to assault my gunline. If they managed to do so I lost, if I stopped them I won. Being able to drown that unit in Marker Lights was crucial.

So, in an ideal world, you need at least 2 Marker Light units, each of which can put 3-4 hits on one unit, or alternatively combine and drown one unit in 6-8 hits. And, if at least one of those units can survive until rounds 3 or 4, that would be good.

And the problem of course is that, the more points you spend on Marker Lights, the fewer guns you have to take advantage of them. You need to balance Marker Lights against guns.

Finally, before we go onto looking at the platforms I wanted to mention 2 things, that are relevant when considering Marker Light platforms – Cascading Marker Lights, and Maker Light Chain Reactions.

Cascading Marker Lights is when one unit has an embedded Marker Light that fires as the target along with the units other weapons. The firing unit cannot use that Marker Light (not generally being “networked”), but another unit can pick up and use the token, if they also fire at the same target. In addition, if the second unit also fires a Marker Light, the next unit to fire at the target can pick up that Marker Light. In this way the Marker Lights “cascade” along the firing line.

An example of this would be 3 units of Fire Warriors behind an Aegis, shooting at a squad of Terminators. Each squad has a Shas’ui, firing a Marker Light. The first unit fires at BS3. The Shas’ui gets lucky and hits with his Marker Light. His unit can’t use it, but the next unit to fire at the Terminators can. They pick up the Maker Light and fire at BS4. If their Shas’ui also hits with his Marker Light, the next unit along can pick up that Marker Lights and also fire at BS4. You can “enhance, the Cascade by giving the Shas’ui in the first team 2 Marker Drones, making it more likely he’ll hit, or you can start the cascade with more accurate Marker Lights (e.g. Sniper Drone Marksmen).

A Marker Light Chain Reaction is where one unit fires a small number of accurate Marker Lights, which are then picked up by another unit which fires a larger number of less accurate Marker Lights, hoping that the total number of hits exceed the number if both units fired individually.

For example, a Skyray fires 2 Marker Lights at a target getting 2 hits. A unit of 12 Marker Drones then picks up those Marker Lights and uses them to fire their Marker Lights at BS4, getting 8 hits rather than 4. The net gain is 2 Marker Light hits over the units firing individually.

So with that in mind, let’s look at the available platforms. They are

·      Pathfinders
·      Marker Drone Squads
·      Skyrays
·      Sniper Drone Marksmen
·      Stealth Teams
·      Individual maker lights/Marker Drones imbedded in teams.

Pathfinders

Pathfinders are the cheapest options for a unit with lots of Marker Lights – 110pts for 10 Marker Lights, averaging 22pts per hit. However, they have 2 big draw backs – first Marker Lights are Heavy, so they can’t move and shoot, second they are T3 with a 5+ save, so very fragile. Pathfinders are unlikely to last beyond turn 2 against anybody who understands their importance.

Marker Drone Squads

Marker Drone Squads are T4 with a 4+ save. More importantly they are relentless so can move and shoot, and as jet pack units can move 2d6 in the assault phase, allowing them “jump shoot jump”. The advantage they have over Pathfinders is that they are more mobile, and more survivable. However, they are also more expensive, being 14pts each, and less accurate being only BS2 compared to the Pathfinders BS3. Twelve Marker Drones are 168pts and will hit 4 times, so 42pts per hit.

The Drone’s inaccuracy can be dealt with by attaching a Commander with a Drone Controller, giving them BS5, but that just makes the unit even more expensive, and there‘s the opportunity cost of using the Commander here, rather than elsewhere. Alternatively, Marker Drones can be used with more accurate Marker Lights, in a Marker Light Chain Reaction as described above.

Skyrays

Skyrays have 2 BS4 Skyfire Marker lights. As such they are good candidates as the catalyst (if that’s the correct scientific term!) in a Marker Light Chain Reaction. In particular, because their Marker Lights are Skyfire, they can start a chain reaction against Flyers. So, the Skyray hits a Flyer with 2 Marker Lights, the 12 Marker Drones then fire at the Flyer at BS3 getting on average 4 hits rather than 2. Your Hammer Head then picks up 4 ML hits shooting at the Flyer at BS5.

The problem is expense – 115pts for 2 marker lights! However, it’s useful if you’re taking them anyway.

Sniper Drone Marksmen

Three Marksmen in a Sniper Drone Team costs 97 points, chances are all three will hit (BS5) so it works out at 32pts per hit. Three marker lights is enough to boost a Crisis team to BS4, and allows their weapons to ignore cover. Three hits are also good for starting Chain Reactions. Teamed with a 12 man Marker Drone unit, their 3 hits turn 7 hits if each unit fired individually, into 10 hits when combined.

The biggest problem is opportunity cost – most people would rather have Broadsides, Hammerheads or Skyrays in their heavy slots.

Stealth Teams

Stealth teams can take 2 Marker Lights, one on the Shas’vre, and 2 Marker Drones. The Shas’vre can take a drone controller making the Drones BS3. However, it costs 129pts for probably 1 hit, maybe 2.

The only advantage the Stealth Team has is that they can infiltrate. If you’re going first (and as a Tau player you usually want to go first), you’re opponent might hide that crucial unit out of LOS. Being able to infiltrate Marker Lights to get LOS, after your opponent has deployed, and then light up the hidden target and destroy it with Seeker Missiles, is pretty cool …. but very situational!

Embedded Marker Lights

Embedded Marker Lights are not the best solution. They are either limited in number, and/or inaccurate. But the biggest problem is that they’re not Networked i.e. the unit that fires them cannot use them. Thus they are only really useful for Cascading Marker Lights through a number of units.

The image I have in my head is of a regiment of Redcoats at Talavera during the Peninsula war, forming a firing line and firing by company! So line up 4 squads of Fire warriors behind an Aegis. The first one that fires has a Fireblade who shoots his marker light at BS5, and that starts the cascade. The next unit in line picks up his marker lights and fires at BS4, their Shas’ui firing his marker light…. and so on. Mix in a Sniper Drone Unit, and It could be moreeffective, but I suspect it might be difficult to orchestrate in anything other than a simple gunline!

However, the big advantage Embedded Marker Lights have are that they are resilient – they are spread through a number of units and are more difficult to kill in a couple of round of shooting.

Conclusion

It will come as no surprise that Pathfinders and Marker Drones are the premier Marker Light platforms, however each has their limitation – Pathfinders are fragile and immobile, Marker Drones are inaccurate and expensive. You can make Pathfinders more durable by attaching a Commander to “tank” wounds. However, that does not cure their immobility, and counters their advantage over Marker Drones by increasing their price. You can also increase Marker Drone’s accuracy by attaching a Commander with a Drone Controller, but that only exacerbates their expense! And both solutions have the opportunity cost of tying up a Commander

You can go round and round on this all day I suspect. Only field-testing will provide an answer, and it will entirely depend on what you have in the rest of your army.

However, one configuration I’ll be testing is a unit of Pathfinders and a unit of Marker Drones, backed up with a Skyray. The plan is that, in turn 1 and 2 the Pathfinders and the Marker Drones will work together, putting 4-5 marker light hits on a target each. At this point you could say, “why not just take 2 units of Pathfinders and save 58pts”. Well, the advantage of having both is durability. The Pathfinders are likely to die very quickly. Even 2 units are unlikely to survive past turn 2. However, the Marker Drones are more likely to survive for longer (through increased toughness, better armour save, and JSJ). Turn 3 or 4 is when I find I most often need to drown a hard target in Marker Lights, and focus 2 or three units on killing it in one turn of shooting. That’s where the Marker Drones come in.

The plan would be for my Commander (who I would be taking anyway) to stay with the Broadsides giving them Monster Hunter or Tank Hunter for the first 2 turns, killing stuff at range. At some point he would jump away from the Broadsides and attach to the Marker Drones and boost their BS to give me the ability to drown a target in Marker Lights.

The Skyray is there “just in case” as a potential catalyst in a Marker Light Chain Reaction.  If, for whatever reason, my Commander is unable to attach to the Drones, I can shoot the Skyray’s Marker Lights at the target and use them to boost the Marker Drone’s BS to increase marker hits. It’s a better option than the cheaper Sniper Team, as (a) you can use it to start a Skyfire Marker Chain Reaction, and (b) it is of more use as its own unit.

So that’s my Marker Light strategy!

What do you think?

EYIG

Just a quick note about a few photos that have appeared recently!

· 0 comments

There seems to be a bit if a buzz going around the web at the moment about Faeit 212 being shut down by Blogger at GW's request.

I don't know what the facts are behind this, but to be on the safe side I have removed some recent photos that were used in the Tau rumour posts (mainly those that featured photos of White Dwarf magazines).


Tau HQs Part 2

April 28, 2013 · 7 comments


This is part two of our three part series looking at the HQ’s available in the new Tau codex. For part one, please click here.
In the previous codex there was really no reason to want to take and Ethereal, they were weak, didn't do much, and if one died your entire army had to take a leadership check… and Tau leadership isn't that great. So have they gotten any better? Let’s first examine the generic Ethereal and then move on to the two characters, Aun’Shi and Aun’Va.

The Generic Ethereal

Coming in at 50 points this is our cheapest HQ option, and probably the most fragile. The generic Ethereal has no armor save and no options to get one. It does have an Initiative a single point better than your standard Firewarrior,3 base attacks and weapon skill 4?... This is really odd because there is no way you would ever want to get this guy into close combat, the two close combat upgrades feel almost like a joke as well; AP4? +2 Strength? Who is scared of strength 5 Tau?
But he/she/it does come with several good special rules; one is a 12” Ld10 bubble, another is stubborn to any unit it joins and finally “Invocation of the Elements”.  Pay attention because this is where it gets interesting. On its movement phase the Ethereal gets to select one special rule to confer to every non-vehicle unit within 12”; think of it as an IG orders only they happen automatically. You have the option to:
  • Make all models stubborn
  • Fire an extra pulse weapon shot when shooting at half range (aka the triple-Tap), which works on Kroot as well
  • Feel no pain on a 6+ (hooray?)
  • A unit can run and still fire snap shots after moving
The best part is you can reuse a single power indefinitely, although if you lose the Ethereal the power ends immediately. Speaking of losing an Ethereal, if he dies he gives your opponent 2(!) victory points, in a game where 1-2 points makes all the difference this is something that really bears consideration.

The powers the Ethereal grants is really designed for a mass gun line of Firewarriors; which as luck would have it is the best way to protect it. Add on a shield drone or two and maybe even a Homing beacon in case you need to call in some reserves for a “danger-close” deep strike.  The nice thing about the Ethereal is that the powers are bubble so if you huddle 2-3 squads of troops near it you can expect a veritable wall of S5 against anything that comes close. The trick is just keeping him alive.

Aun’Shi

So what happens if you double the points of an Ethereal and slap a name on it? You get double the awesomeness right?...ummmm.
The Blade master has all the special rules as a generic Ethereal plus one more.”Blade master” let’s you pick one of two different stance while in close combat (rending and rerolling saves). He does have a 4++ but honestly that won’t stop a whole lot when you get jumped by a dedicated assault unit. And therein lies the problem; he’s a close combat model you would never want to take into close combat. His save sucks; he only has 4 attacks, I5, and WS5. Sure it’s impressive by Tau standards but anything from any other codex is going to laugh at you when you decide to charge with him. Oh yeah he has EMP and Photon grenades but if you’re doing your job right he should never need to use either of them.

Aun’Va

I was getting ready t o say that you should always take Aun’Va over Aun’Shi because he gets to fire off two Element powers instead of one, everyone in the army gets to reroll their leadership and moral checks, he gets to shrug off any wound when you roll a D6 over the shot’s AP (bring on the plasma!), and once a game can order the whole army back up from ground, and has a couple of body guards. Not only is he a few a points cheaper than Aun’Shi, but is exactly what you would expect when you are paying double the points of a generic Ethereal. That was until I saw he isn't an independent character.

That’s right, this guy and his guards can’t join a squad meaning he is going to be target number one of any drop podding or deep striking units and will give up those two points pretty easily to massed bolter fire. I would suggest you hide him in a Devilfish, but fishes can’t hold bulky models… Darn.

In Summary
So let’s do a quick recap, of the three Ethereal options the one only one that should really be of any interest is the cheapest variant,  the other two are either over priced, or too fragile to be of any use.

Generic Ethereal: Cheap, easy to kill, gives two points for slaying a Warlord, but can hand out some serious buffs to surrounding units with several “bubbles”. I think he is actually a pretty good HQ but you need to use him wisely and build you tactics around him and maximizes his protection.

Aun’Shi: Double the price of the generic version but all those points go to close combat toys that are pretty sad by non-Tau standards. It’s a fun model, but a poor HQ choice.

Aun’Va: So close, and yet so far. His abilities are impressive and fairly desirable; however he’s a soft target and you can expect to lose him pretty quickly. Once again: a poor choice for your HQ.

Warhammer Tau Evolves for the Greater Good!

· 1 comments

I am happy to announce that we have a Cadre of new bloggers joining Warhammer Tau as regular contributors.

There will be new posts appearing over the next few weeks from all the new contributors. Here is a quick introduction to everyone who is on board!

In no particular order:-

Casey Roberts - Casey has already posted a couple of articles on the blog, and has certainly got some good discussions going!

Robert Taylor - Rob. has been in the Warhammer hobby for about 12 years now mainly playing 40k and LOTR. The Tau have always been his favourite 40k army, ever since their first release, he is a big fan of their design and fluff. And, he adds, a badass mech suit doesn't hurt.

Embrace Your Inner Geek - Embrace Your Inner Geek from Apostates Anonymous is a "mature" gamer, and probably old enough to be most of our reader's Dad! He started playing 40k half way through 5th, having been introduced to the game by his son, Little Geek. He played Tau competitively (if that's not an oxymoron) throughout 5th Edition, taking a couple of Best Tau Players at Throne of Skulls (not that that's big a deal ... there were only 3 of them at each event!), and spectacularly failing to qualify for the GT final, before winning best Tau General at Caledonian (all the good players were snowed in!). He takes his Cadre to as many tournaments as Mrs Geek allows, narrowly avoiding divorce by dragging Little Geek along, and persuading Mrs Geek it's "a father and son thing".

EYIG will talk mostly about tactics, lists and tournaments, but might on occasion mention painting or modelling. Sadly, for him "fluff" is restricted to deleterious material found between his toes.
Skyler Hoeft - Skyler is an engineer and has only been back in the hobby for a year or so. He played Ultramarines until college and sometime after graduation started up again with the army he always wanted to try: Tau.
Skyler love converting, personalizing, and painting his army, and Tau are fantastic for hobbying. He's a firm disciple of Mech Tau and Kauyon. Skyler hopes to contribute some articles on simple conversions, techniques and the tabletop experience for the Greater Good.

Josh Broughton - Josh, is 19. He has been playing Tau for about a year and a half now, after flirting with Ultramarines when he was 14, and hefeels he has gained experience with the Greater Good fast! More of a painter than a player (mainly due to time) Josh hopes to put out some painting guides soon!
When Josh decided to collect the Tau and chose his colour scheme, he decided on the same colours as 'Warhammer Tau'! So things should look fairly familiar then...

Will Lewis -Will is an avid Tau and Kroot player, and I have recently (gradually) switched over to 6th edition as well. He plays other armies as well, and has to spread the love a little, but Tau are his first and best, even though he have only been playing them for three years.
Will is a school teacher, an avid reader and war-gamer.
So that's it for now. There have been a few others that have offered to help out, and I thank them all in their keen support of the Greater Good. However I wanted to keep things reasonably tight for now. I may add some new blood at a later date if things work out well!

Hard Decisions...

April 23, 2013 · 0 comments

April 23, 2013

Over the past few weeks I have come to realise that I can't give this blog the attention that it deserves. With the arrival of the new Codex this blog should have been a buzzing hive of activity and new content, but I haven't managed to achieve anything like that kind of coverage. The only really valuable new content has actually been supplied by Casey Roberts, who has become a regular contributor over the last few weeks.

This leaves me in a difficult position, as I am still a keen Tau player and have every intention of expanding my Tau army to even more terrifying levels over the coming months. However, I am still using 5th edition, and I don't have any immediate plans to upgrade to 6th edition rules (my group are still happy with 5th edition). Also, with an existing large Tau army, and a very limited miniatures budget (family commitments etc.) I will only be buying the new stuff over a long period of time. So I wont be able to produce tactics articles or even model building articles about the new units for quite some time.I could just accept this and put the blog on a back burner for a while, but this seems ridiculous while the Tau are riding on such a wave of interest.

I feel my only real options are to open up the blog to a wider group of players so that they can all post articles (I would act as an overall editor and make sure things stay on the straight and narrow, but only contribute articles occasionally) or pass on the ownership of the blog completely!

So there you have it. If you would be interested in working with me on the blog, contributing articles etc. Please drop me an email at ironmammoth AT gmail DOT com and if I get 4 or 5 people interested in coming in on the scheme I will open the blog up to them. If not I will look for a new owner and if that fails I will contiue to post here, but it wont be as regular as I would like...

54mm Alien Commander

April 16, 2013 · 2 comments

I spotted this 54mm figure over on Deviant Art a while ago.

I must say , it is a very fine sculpt. I have been planning on picking one up...


Papah Minis don't seem to have a website but you can order the figure by contacting them at papahminis@gmail.com

We broke the million!

April 13, 2013 · 2 comments

Sometime overnight Warhammer Tau broke the million page views!

Thanks to all the reads the blog and also to everyone who has contributed!

Tau HQs (Part 1)

April 12, 2013 · 11 comments

Casey Roberts has had a chance to digest his new Tau Codex (I should be getting mine tomorrow). Casey has decided to start off with a series looking at the new HQ choices:-

Note: Casey has realised that he made a couple of mistakes in his reading of the Codex, I have adjusted his errors and removed the Farsight section. Casey will give us a revised insight into Farsight once he has thoroughly checked his facts!

With the new codex we have a plethora of new choices in all areas of our codex. One of the places that have seen massive amounts of change is the HQ section. The 8 HQs we have can be broken down into three sections: Suits, Ethereals, and foot soldiers. The Ethereal and foot soldiers will be covered in later articles; this one will focus on the Suits.
The Crisis Commander
clip_image002Your basic Shas’O hasn’t changed much from the previous codex to this one, except he gained 10 points and lost his “lite” version: the Shas’El. The O’ aka the Commander, has all the stats you would expect from a Crisis Suit, S5, T4, and 4 wounds. He is also one of the few places in the codex that you can find a unit with BS5.
What really makes a Crisis Suit is its ability to take special weapons and systems that make most marine players cry and this guy delivers! It’s hard to rate the Crisis Commander considering the wealth of options available will let you do whatever you need him to. However at a price point cheaper than most other HQ’s, a wealth of options, and the ability to dish out the pain with BS5 you can expect him to be a default, if not very useful HQ. Additionally you can give him the same, if not better load out than either of the named Suit wielding Characters for less points.
Shadow Sun
clip_image004It’s hard not to talk about Shadow Sun, or Farsight for that matter, without referencing their previous iterations… which were not that great. Previously Shadow Sun was expensive, but extremely fragile considering she couldn’t join a squad or take body guards. All this has changed, and so has she in terms of usefulness.
Clocking in at 135 points you get BS5, S4, T3, with three wounds. While these stats are less than amazing her XV22 battle Suit armor more than makes up for it. She gets Stealth, shroud, a multi-tracker, a black sun filter, and has a pair of fusion guns she can use to target to separate units. On top of her Stealth Suit like armor save she can purchase up to two drones that confer a 3++. Considering her weak stats these should be considered mandatory. There is another drone you can buy that gives her a 12” leadership bubble, but truthfully you could skip it since she will mostly be operating deep inside enemy territory.
You’re going to want her there, in close, making the most of her fusion guns. Oh and not only can she join squads now, if you pair her with a Stealth squad she can automatically pass her “Look out Sir!” test. Add on top of that she has the warlord trait “A Ghost Who Walks Among Us” warlord trait so she can get herself out of trouble quite easily.

Summary
So in review: The Commander is a decent HQ. He’s versatile and relatively cheap and with the right warlord trait can do a similar job as Shadow Sun and Farsight for fewer points. This makes him a good, if not great HQ choice.
Shadow Sun lost all of her weaknesses and with some special rules and her default warlord trait has become an excellent HQ if used properly with a supporting squad of Stealth Suits.
Farsight lost a lot of things, some were bad, and some were good; overall though he has become more usable. Consider him a good alternative to the Commander if you want to be sure you get the “Through Boldness, Victory” warlord trait. But if you don’t plan on loading up on deep striking Crisis Suits then you’re probably best looking somewhere else in the HQ section.
… Oh by the way, did I mention that Shadow Sun and Farsight lost the rule that they can never be in the same army list and you could join them together into the same squad? You might want to think about that one for a minute.

Heading for 1,000,000 page views!

April 8, 2013 · 2 comments

I don't normally fall back on these kind of self promoting blog posts, however I think that this is something of a landmark.

Somewhere in the next week or two (using Bloggers own stat counting system) Warhammer Tau is going to hit the 1 million page views mark. For a specialist blog that has only been running for a few years I think this is a real achievement! I can't take the credit for most of it as I only took over ownership of the blog in the latter part of 2012, also the arrival of the new Tau releases in the past week have certainly speeded things along a good bit too!

I will post again when we hit the 1 million views mark.

Thanks to everyone that reads the blog and especially to those that post  comments!

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About Warhammer Tau

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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