The Combos...Sweet Mercy!

November 3, 2015 ·

If you have been keeping up to date on the Tau stuff of late, you will know that the leaked formations have everyone on the internet screaming for the nerf bat on a codex that hasn't been released yet: Tau. What is the big deal? Oh, everything.

The Hunter Contingent

This is a detachment of at least two formations: The Hunter Cadre and 1+ Auxiliary formation.
The special rule for these formations is that any unit in them can combine firepower with other units and act exactly like a single unit for that shooting attack. Plus, if you combine 3+ units you get +1 BS for the attack.
Pretty snazzy. This helps Tau use MSU without losing all of its synergy and Markerlight buffs. It also alleviates some of the pressure on Markerlights by having +1 BS built in. But this goes much further than markerlight efficiency... let's get serious about Firepower.
Tau don't mess around.
Add in a Buffmander. Suddenly everyone has Ignores Cover, Twin-Linked, and Tank/Monster Hunter. Pretty amazing, so whatever this combined attack is shooting will probably die if it isn't one of the super tough Death Stars.
Add in some Markerlights. You will not miss with anything. Even Invisibility won't save him if you can land a couple Markerlights on his unit.

Add in Darkstrider. (Note: you'll have to take him in a separate CAD since he isn't available as an option in the Hunter Contingent). Now you are wounding more often. Missile Pods are instant-death to T4, Pulse Rifles are wounding most MC's on 4+ (re-rolled too). Ion blasts are insta-killing T5 models. You get the picture.

Think he's had enough? Heck No! Add in an Ethereal and a Cadre Fireblade for some extra shots. Maybe give your pathfinders one of the Grav-Accelerator drones to extend all your pulse rifles to 36" range.
If you can find the points, put it all on a moving Tidewall Rampart just to make sure your opponent knows he isn't killing any of your models without your permission.
Dang. That is one dead unit. Some Deathstars could weather the storm with good saves, invulnerable saves, FNP, etc. But not many. For this reason alone, I would expect many people to call for the nerf hammer

So that is only one guaranteed dead unit per turn, big deal!
Think again: Target Locks, Split Fire, and Gargantuan Creatures. All these things allow models to shoot at different units, while maintaining some of the special rule buffs (not the +1 BS or marker buffs). A couple Stormsurges could annihilate several Razorbacks in one shooting phase with ease. Broadsides and Crisis Teams can too. If you plan your army with Target Locks and Stormsurges, you could easily have an entire army shooting Twin-Linked weapons with Tank/Monster Hunter that Ignore Cover. And it only cost you the 150-200 point Buffmander.

In order to pull this off, it takes careful planning during list-building, deployment, and very specific shooting orders. Unfortunately, all the nuance and tactical thinking that goes into utilizing this special rule will be lost on your opponent, who can't see anything past his tears of rage.

Is it OP? 

That is a relative question. Relative to an army like the Gladius that is allowed an extra 33% of points? or Wraithknights? or White Scars (seen their new wargear? Cray-cray)? Hard to say. Tau are still horrible in close combat and things like Line of Sight blocking terrain and Reserves still disallow shooting at them. Invisibility will still ruin your day. You could roll cold. Your opponent could roll hot.
No matter how you look at it, it is incredibly powerful to be able to grant those bonuses to as many units as you want if they shoot the same target. It will likely get nerfed for tournament settings, but I don't mind. The contingent has its own issues (objective grabbing/controlling) that I'd actually rather not deal with. Plus I don't own any Stormsurges.

I think that in order for it to reach its full potential, you necessarily have to bring multiple Stormsurges, either in the Heavy Retribution Cadre, or as a unit in the Hunter Cadre. The D missiles are necessary for putting down those Gargantuans and Superheavies. Any Hunter Contingent that doesn't have a Stormsurge really shouldn't be all that scary to an opponent because Tau weapons are actually not all that great against hard targets. We need the contingent bonuses to be able to handle Knights and the like.

One more thing. Getting the first shooting phase is immensely important for this army. If your opponent seizes, or you end up going second, your super combo attack could get neutered real quick.

How do we handle it?

Again, this will depend. It depends on the tournament you are going to, how true your friends are, how extreme your gaming group is, etc. One group may say "sure, why not?" while another might say "Obviously GW didn't intend for Tau to become super powerful, so this rule needs to be changed in order to be playable"
No matter what, this rule isn't the easy button. It isn't an automatic ticket to the top tables at tournaments, but in the right hands it can get you there. Like most things that can get you to the top tables, I expect this to get nerfed. But even if the codex did not even have this rule in it, Tau would have all they needed to win. So go out there and win with a handicap, because you can do it!

Notable Mention Combinations

Here are some other ways you can have fun transferring bonuses within your army.

Optimized Stealth Cadre

It is already a pretty self-sufficient formation, but if you take it in a Hunter Contingent, you can combine their firepower and be hitting at BS5.
Most people agree that you could also attach a Commander with a Velocity Tracker, Target Lock, and Missile Pods. He'll be shooting at BS5 (or 6) and hit rear armour against Flyers while ignoring cover! Give him the PEN and it is probably toast. Naturally, the PEN will help the Ghostkeels take down those tougher vehicles too.

Firebase Support Cadre

Another one that could transfer Tank Hunter to a massive combined attack, if taken in the Hunter Contingent.

Heavy Retribution Cadre

While this one doesn't actually transfer rules, it is a great way of getting multiple Stormsurges into the Hunter Contingent and getting some extra bonuses to boot. Against armies that don't rely on vehicles or big creatures (hordes) this formation is absolutely killer. Watch those Orks move 6" a turn and charge at half distance, HA! I almost feel sorry for them.

Retaliation Cadre

This one could be hard to fit into the contingent without giving up your Stormsurges, but it is pretty slick. The +1 BS stack so they'll shoot with hyper accuracy, and you can drop them all over for advantageous directions.
Not the greatest formation to put in the Contingent, since the Contingent is almost entirely geared toward a massive Alpha Strike, but a powerful Beta Strike could be just the ticket against Drop Pod armies.


scitzofrenic said...
November 5, 2015 at 10:55 AM  

I know there is a huge debate over whether or not buffmander gives his special rules to the whole army with combined fire. Im leaning on the more conservative side being that only marker lights are shared through out Tau's shooting phase, This is also comming from a Tau player that has tested both sides of the rule. There is only slight differences between the more powerful version and the conservative version depending on what you are facing, both however are super powerful and the conservative reading of the rule seems to be what GW's intent was/is. Just as an example, I played against a friend of mines Space Pup deathstar and by turn 2 he had 3 of the 10 models left in that unit, just to give an idea of how much VOF plus accuracy increase alone helps and thats without twin linking from buffmander. Hell, With marker light support i had consistently 5-7 BS on just about everything in my army plus BS 2 overwatch and any marker lights that hit. Thats pretty powerful all on its own especially when you are hitting on 2's sometimes with re-rolls of 5(BS7) and all with str 5 and up. But this is just my opinion and what ive experienced so far. Thumbs up on the article. Love running the Hunter Cadre with 1+ auxiliary to get all dem special rules, very juicy!!

Skyler Hoeft said...
November 6, 2015 at 7:28 PM  

Honestly, the rules seem clear to me, but many people will only see what they want to see when looking at rules. Strictly RAW, I think just about all special rules will transfer.

That said, it is very powerful, so I can understand the push to have it 'toned down'
I think that most people know this is what the rules say, and they also probably think that GW intended it this way. GW does not really playtest, and they don't seem to be very in-touch with their own rules, so the power level of it is no surprise.

However, when you look at the relics and formations that the White Scars and Raven Guard just got...You can almost understand why Tau might need this kind of power.

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