Anatomy of the Farsight Bomb

March 3, 2016 ·

The Farsight Bomb has come a long way since it's development in 4th edition. Come see what is different and how it fits in today's gaming climate.


Some History

The Farsight Bomb has been around as long as the Tau codex. Unlike some of the tactics from that age, the bomb has only gotten stronger.

4th Ed

Farsight allowed you to take a bodyguard unit with the max size increased to 7. However, in order to have Drones you had to buy a drone controller, and multi-trackers were not in-built. You couldn't take the same weapon twice unless you wanted a twin-linked weapon. So you had some tough decisions. 
Farsight plus 7 bodyguards kitted with a Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Target Lock, and a hard-wired multi-tracker would cost about 700 points. That isn't including possible drones via hardwired controllers, or fitting in the awesome Targeting Arrays (10 points for +1 BS on a battlesuit).
The bomb was very shooty, and could target multiple units. However, keeping them alive was a conundrum, and deep striking in was always risky. 

On a side note: the Dawn Blade's 4th edition rules are identical to their current rules, even if it didn't have a 'profile' at the time.

6th Ed

There was no 5th edition codex, so we go right to 6th. Here is where the bomb really started to shine. Death Stars ruled the table and Farsight's was a good one. Now, Farsight allowed you to Deep Strike without worrying about scatter, plus every suit had multi-trackers built-in for added point efficiency. You could take multiples of the same weapon. And, of course, those beautiful signature systems.
Farsight, plus a Raven (Support'Vre), and 6 other bodyguards with two of the primary weapons and a Target Lock ran about 665 points. This didn't include drones, but now you had a big incentive to bring them because you could take 2 per suit and you could boost their ballistic skill to 3.
Really, it was the signature systems that made it so potent. They allowed the unit to target multiple enemies with exactly the right weaponry, with an accuracy boost, stripping cover, and a damage boost against MC's or vehicles. All this while being able to deep strike with no scatter and land in the exact right spot. To add insult to injury, Shadowsun could be taken as the second commander and added to the bomb (pre-FAQ). This made the bomb incredibly hard to kill at range, especially when you had 3++ drones and auto-pass Look Out Sir.
In an edition where Interceptor was rarer and Death Stars ruled, the bomb was probably at its peak.

The Farsight Supplement did not change the bomb overly much. If you chose to forego the Shadowsun (mandatory after FAQ ruled she couldn't join a non-infiltrating unit) then you could take a second commander with a Warscaper Drone for utility and Fusion Blades for when the opponent eventually caught you in close combat. 

7th Ed

We now come to the present. The bomb looks a little different now, so check it out below.

Components of the 7th Ed Farsight Bomb

You have probably figured it out by now, but the basic components of a Farsight bomb are these:

  • Farsight (duh): he is no longer required for the large unit, but you still need him for the No-scatter deep strike. On a budget you can try to get by without him and use homing beacons or just plain old balls-of-steel to bring your bomb in.
  • XV-8  Crisis Team: up to 9 models with their choice of weapons (usually high S low AP) and a target lock. You don't have to pay the bodyguard tax! Winning!
  • Raven or Buffmander: necessary to make your initial attack as potent as possible. 
  • Drones to Taste: primarily for anti-infantry shooting, especially with the Buffmander. 18 drones = 36 shots, S5 AP5, twin-linked, ignores cover, pinning. Wow.
For comparison, only 7 suits plus Farsight would cost a bit over 600 points. Add in the extra two suits and it is about 725. Add in, say, 10 drones and it is 850. Add the Buffmander and it is likely a full 1000 points.

Alternate "Bomb" Build

The bomb can be built differently with similar principles in mind, but not nearly at the same level of devastation. This is essentially the souped up version of the Deathrain Marker team; made possible by the 7th edition codex.
  • Buffmander
  • 9 Crisis Suits w/ Missile Pods and/or Plasma Rifles and target lock
  • Marker Drones to taste (more than 6 is probably overkill at BS5 twin-linked)
It is cheaper, more reliable, but less powerful. However, against its target of choice (transports) it is incredible. As Fireknives the XV8's could incapacitate 3-4 Razorbacks easily; as Deathrain-D they could incapacitate 6-7. Not bad for a unit that costs less than 700 points. And after the light vehicles are all popped, they can drown the enemy in cover-ignoring S7 shooting while handing out 5-6 markerlights on an enemy target.

Weapon Choices

The crisis suits have lots of options, but not as many as you might initially think. Burst Cannons, Airburst Frag Projectors, and Flamers are nice, but it is usually better to leave anti-infantry to the Gun Drones. Gun Drones were just an option before, but today they are nearly mandatory to get the most of your bomb.
  • Missile Pod: excellent weapon, though you might have S7 spam elsewhere in your list.
  • Cyclic Ion Blaster: another excellent weapon, The extra S7 shot essentially makes it a better Missile Pod on the turn you Deep Strike.
  • Plasma Rifle: the low AP makes this ok, the extra shot at 12" makes it devastating in the bomb but it lacks punch against AV13+ or T7+.
  • Fusion Blaster: my personal favorite. S8, AP1, and Melta make it the weapon of choice against most targets. It is also the most point-efficient against most 'valuable' targets.
I personally used to equip Fusion Blasters almost exclusively. But the CIB has proven to be an awesome secondary weapon. When combined with the signature support systems, you need about 11 Fusion Blasters to kill an Imperial Knight outright, regardless of facing. A Wraithknight with a 5+ invulnerable is tougher, requiring 24 FB or 22 CIB. If you toss in at least 10 Gun Drones and Farsight, you might be able to kill one outright. Maybe.
So I put FB's on 5 of my suits and the rest carry CIB. This seems to satisfy the minimum to kill Knights and makes me a tad more efficient vs Wraithknights toting invulnerable saves.



Synergistic Units

Screening units like Kroot are great for keeping the bomb out of CC. But a VRT and Farsight's high initiative can do that too.
Fast blocking units like Piranhas. A piranha is amazing for positional play, and a unit of 3 can come out of nowhere to block an enemy advance and grant some intervening cover to the bomb. They can also move fast enough to get into the enemy zone where Farsight has likely landed. They even bring their own screening drones.
Homing Beacons on Stealth Shas'vre, Tetras, or a Recon Drone will be handy when running the bomb sans Farsight. This can be quite tempting since Farsight is not cheap and you no longer need him for the large unit size.
The comms relay in an Aegis or Bunker can help bring in Farsight+Bomb sooner.

Markerlights do not help as much as you'd think. The whole unit doesn't benefit unless the whole unit targets the same unit. They are already twin-linked and ignore cover, so you would only need two hits to boost the unit to BS5. I actually am not sure if a model using a Target Lock can use a marker hit. If they can't then in most cases only the Drones could have their BS boosted. Either way, markerlights aren't necessary for the bomb to work.
There is one very good reason to bring Markerlights though: Invisibility. If you need to kill an invisible unit, like an opposing Deathstar or some other heavy hitter, then you will need the marker hits. So something like a Drone Net formation could be handy for getting large quantities of markerlights onto the board.

A hilarious use could be having the Crisis team portion of the bomb be a part of the Ethereal Honor Guard formation. This allows it to conduct massive redeployment to get closer to their prey or to create distance. The only problem you have is that redeploying them within 3" of the lynchpin could be tricky.

Example Bomb

Here is a bomb I've whipped up that clocks in a bit over 1000 points.
  • Farsight
  • Commander with PEN, CCN, M3S, DC, Iridium, Talisman of AM, Fusion Blades, VRT
  • XV8 Crisis Team
    • Shas'Vre with 2 FB, Target Lock
    • 4x Shas'ui w/ 2 FB, Target Lock
    • 3x Shas'ui w/ 2 CIB, Target Lock
    • 10x Gun Drones
While it will have trouble killing the toughest units in the game (Wraithknight with invulnerable saves or anything with Invisibility) it can kill just about everything else. In an 1850 list, that leaves you 800 points for objective grabbers and blockers.
It has 34 wounds to chew through and is a very credible threat in close combat. It can fire at multiple targets and (after the turn it arrives) it can charge another target. It can tie up a unit, keeping the bomb "safe" from enemy shooting, and then Hit-and-Run back out.

Summary

The 7th edition bomb is unlike the early 6th edition star because it favors devastating firepower over resilience. A Shas'O mortal can help keep your bomb alive, but the truth is that you need to deliver a blow so powerful on the turn you arrive, that your opponent simply cannot hit back afterwards. You need to deliver a ... Killing Blow, as it were.

Sorry the post ended up so long! Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

P├ęter Gyula Kiss said...
March 5, 2016 at 3:26 AM  

The enclave was good while you could use the eight separate. The riptide was indep, so it could join to a buffmander! :) And so on...

The large groups are bad, because you have just one overwatch and the enemy will ram first with a priceless team. A 600-800 point group is useless.

Fire Warriors with emp... 30" S5+1D6 (6-11 armor) and the enemy must come out from the 13-14 front armor transporters to protect them from the emps. They have bonding knifes so you can use 6 of them in a group.
3 battlesuits 6 fusion blasters and 2 targetlocks. Deepstrike close. Let them die, they are just tropes. Cheap, slowing enemy, T4 instant kill and anti vehicle.
The pathfinder is the cheapest marker light and they have bs3/11p.

The Shadowsun detachment the strongest. You can use a buffxv8/buffmander to fire twinlink and ignore cover with the whole army, and maybe with bs3-5 drones.

TheGraveMind said...
March 5, 2016 at 8:58 AM  

Just a note, I could be wrong, my understanding of the faq was that SS could only deploy with inflators. Not she couldn't join other units. She may still deep strike from reserve with farsight.

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