If you have tons of Firewarriors and Broadsides with Missile Pods, then you are short on Anti-TEQ and maybe Anti-Tank so you throw in some Helios* or Sunforge-D*.
All this is to say that their battlefield role can be almost anything you want it to be, and they will be good at doing it.
*See HERE for an XV-8 naming guide.
- Plasma Rifles. Often taken as a pair to maximise AP2 fire output. As AP2 is lacking in other parts of the codex, I am putting this as the most popular weapon choice.
- Missile Pods. I consider this weapon a close second in popularity. The Missile Pod is awesome and cramming more of them into your list is never a bad idea. The only reason this one loses out to the Plasma Rifle, is because Broadsides can put out more Missile Pod fire with greater accuracy. Can be taken as a pair, but are often twin-linked to save points.
- Fusion Blasters. Crisis suits are the best firing platform for this weapon, though it is available in a few other parts of the codex. Either taken with a Plasma Rifle for low AP utility or twin-linked and put on a suicide Monat for Deep Striking next to enemy heavy armour.
- Flamers. A handy add-on for Overwatch support, but rarely the suit's primary weapon
- Burst Cannon. Works great on an XV-8 but there are plenty of other sources for S5 firepower, so it is not usually taken.
- Specialty Weapons. The Cyclic Ion Blaster and Airbursting Fragmentation Projector are both excellent weapons, but you can only take one of each in your army. In addition, their profiles make them less synergistic with the more popular weapons (Plasma Rifles and Missile Pods).
- Stimulant Injectors. Though too pricey to put on a suicide Monat or your cheap Deathrains, it can be a good investment for full squads carrying dual weapons.
- Advanced Targeting System. Super cheap and easy to put in the list, and it synergizes well with the Plasma Rifle and the squad veteran upgrade.
- Target Lock. Perfect for getting the most out of your units and ensuring that each suit is using his weapons to the fullest.
- Drone Controller and Vectored Retro Thrusters really depend on what you are building the squad to do. They are usually a "one-per-squad" type of system.
- Counterfire Defense System. A useful upgrade, but Stealth Suits make better use of it. You're probably better off just tacking on a spare Flamer for Overwatch defense.
- Velocity Tracker. Fairly useful on Deathrain teams, but expensive. Broadsides and Tau Fliers should be your primary anti-air, but if you need the mobility, or don't have those models, the crisis suits can fill the gap nicely.
- Shield Generator. A 4+ invulnerable save is awesome, but for the same points you could buy two Shield Drones, and the Stim Injectors will usually be the better option anyways.
- Early Warning Override. Awesome system, but Riptides and Broadsides are better suited for this system, as their weapons are more potent.
- Positional Relay. Only useful for bringing in Outflankers and it is a "one-per-squad" upgrade. Situational at best, but a Reserve-heavy list could make good use of it.
- Basic. Helios, Fireknife, and Deathrain are all high utility loadouts and are the most common choices. Squads with these loadouts are used both at range and up close, using terrain to stay alive. Usually each suit will carry the same equipment to help focus the team's targeting priorities.
- Deathrain Marker Team. The crisis suits carry Missile Pods and a Target Lock. One of the suits trades a Missile Pod for a Drone Controller. Then they take the maximum of 6 Marker Drones. The Drones fire at a higher ballistic skill and the Deathrains are free to target other units.
- Suicide Monat. A single crisis suit that Deep Strikes onto the battlefield to fire with close ranged weapons, doing as much damage as possible before being destroyed. Usually carries Fusion Blasters or Flamers, depending on the intended target.
- Close Support. An uncommon build, but fun nonetheless. Use cheap, close weapons like Burst Cannons and Flamers an a couple suits accompanied by some Gun Drones. Using the Jetpack Thrust move to stay out of assault range, the team peppers an enemy infantry advance and acts as a speed bump when the enemy eventually catches up to them. Vectored Retro Thrusters are a good support choice, especially if the squad contains a drone or two. This is essentially building a mini-XV9.
Combos Synergies and Lists
- Naturally, the XV-8 Commander has the most synergy with a crisis team. They are all wearing XV-8 battlesuits after all.
- Broadsides. Unlike the other battlesuit variants, XV-88's do not compete with crisis teams for an Elite slot in a detachment. They also put out more firepower with greater accuracy, lightening the load on your crisis teams and acting as the bait for the Kayoun strategy (Patient Hunter).
- Hammerheads. In truth, a Hammerhead cannot put out the same amount of firepower as a full crisis team, but it does bring a powerful Large Blast attack on a decent vehicle chassis. This gets your opponents' attention, drawing anti-tank firepower that would otherwise be insta-killing your crisis suits. Like all Tau vehicles, it can also provide mobile cover for your crisis team as it moves about the field.
- Markerlight sources. Everything synergizes with Markerlights, so this has to be put in here. Crisis suits can twin-link their weapons to improve their performance but nothing beats a couple Markerlight hits. Pathfinders can be especially synergistic, as they can take the Recon Drone and guide in Deep Striking crisis teams
- Jetpack Thrust moves+Cover. Do a little bit of research on the odds when rolling two dice. This helps you gauge how far you can move your suits out of cover or how far they'll be able to go when making a dash for an objective. You also might find it extremely helpful to start bringing terrain pieces that ACTUALLY block line of sight to a crisis suit. Crisis suits need to avoid being targeted to stay alive and keep shooting, so block line of sight because regular cover isn't going to be enough.
- Wound allocation (aka Shenanigans). Lack of LoS blocking terrain results in targeted crisis suits and, inevitably, unsaved wounds. Taking the veteran upgrade allows you spread wounds around in the squad. With a couple drones and decent Look Out Sir rolls, your squad can take 4-5 wounds before losing any of its shooting power. Attaching a Commander adds to the resilience with his 4 wounds and 2+ LOS rolls.
- Rearranging. The thrust move allows you to jump back in cover, but also lets you "rearrange" your squad. You can cycle wounded suits to the back of the unit, or position drones so that they are out front. This is an incredible ability, as it lets you move to get all your suits in optimal shooting range, then prepare yourself for incoming fire by choosing what models will get hit first. Other races struggle to get their powerful weapons in shooting range without making them easier to hit. This rearranging can be the difference between losing a suit and not. Even if it postpones the loss of a crisis suit by only one turn, that is one more turn you have to shoot with it, and a single crisis suit can make a difference.
- Pre-measure. In past editions, this skill was learning how to gauge your distances (usually 12" or 18") but now you can pre-measure whenever you want. Abuse this advantage. Crisis teams usually have to be within 18" of enemy units in order to maximize their shooting potential. Jumping your suits the minimum distance before hopping away again will keep them just close enough to shoot at full capacity and just far enough that a charge is likely to fail.
Deep Strike Assault
Usually, this requires Reserve Roll manipulation through ally characters or by taking a Comms Relay in a Bastion or Aegis Defense Line. Without the manipulation you are at the mercy of the dice, hoping that all your suits arrive on the same turn. The drawback to this tactic is giving your opponent an advantage early in the game, so your units on the board need to be pretty resilient in order to last until reinforcements arrive.
Let's Get Tactical
Thanks for reading! Comment below if you think the article is missing something. Goodness knows, a full article on Crisis Suits could go on for pages and pages.