Tactica: XV109 Y'vahra

March 24, 2016 ·

The Y'vahra has been out for some time now, and I think I feel comfortable enough with it to post a tactica that isn't entirely theorycrafting. I think it is probably my favorite Tau unit.

XV-109 Y'vahra

HERE is a summary of his rules. It should give you a good idea what he has at his disposal.

Not as Tough as You Think

The Y'vahra is not a Riptide. Remember this. It may be huge and look like a Riptide, but it is much closer to a glass cannon. Despite a decent statline, he has to operate within charge and/or Rapid Fire range of enemy units. This reduces his life expectancy against all army types. Not to mention the amount of D-strength and Grav that is available to players these days.

Like most glass cannons, timing is everything and you will often be walking the razor's edge. Be prepared to swallow your bad decisions (or bad luck) as your Y'vahra dies without contributing at all. It will all be worth it when you make the right decisions and the Y'vahra wins you games.


The Y'vahra likes to be put somewhere central. I made the mistake of putting him on one flank, thinking that I could just relocate. However, relocating is a bit of a waste by itself, and it requires you to accurately read your opponent's next move or two. Deploying centrally at least gives you a good chance of having enemy targets in range on turn 2. His thrust move is insane, but it really just gives him a threat range of around

Sometimes, you will be tempted to deploy him up front in order to jump deep into enemy territory to kill a specific enemy target. I find that this rarely works since you either deploy and go first, allowing your opponent to deploy somewhere out of range, or you go second and he has time to cast Invisibility, kill your Y'vahra, or move out of range.

In any case, the Y'vahra appreciates hard cover. The 4+ cover save (possibly 3+ if Night Fight) goes a long way towards keeping him alive against long rang shooting since his invulnerable save outside of 12" can never be better than 5++.

When to Thrust, Escape, Hit & Run

This can be trickier than you think. The thrust move allows you to alpha strike hard. But it also lets you re-deploy insane distances (24" move, 1-6" run, 2-12" jetpack move).
Unfortunately, in a tournament this isn't as much of an option, since the game has swelled to the point where you can't realistically expect to get past turn 4. Using your thrust to re-deploy on turn 1 means your opponent either needs to come to you or you need to hit him on turn 3. Most players wont set themselves up to get roasted by the Y'vahra on purpose, so turn 3 attack is more likely. In a tourney that could be over half the game your Y'vahra isn't killing stuff. Keep this in mind when considering the Y'vahra in a tournament setting.

Escaping combat via the Nova ability is touched on later. The short answer is to escape if you don't want to be in combat. Sometimes you want to be in combat, simply to keep a nasty enemy unit from your lines.

The Hit & Run is usually a good idea to try. The only time you should Not try is if you are in combat at the end of your turn and it is safer to be in combat during your opponent's turn. This would be when you are facing grav spam or an opposing Tau player. You can use combat, where you are guaranteed a 4++, as a relatively safe place.
Regardless, you should try to Hit & Run at the end of EVERY enemy turn. There is no reason not to.

Edit: I recently read a report where a Tau player fielded two Y'vahras and used the Escape ability to jump into ongoing reserves on turn 1. It seems like a roundabout way of automatically getting them on turn 2, but it does give you more deployment flexibility, especially if you get first turn. 

First turn assault
This is pretty much the only Tau model that is capable of doing it, and probably the only one that should consider it. As an MC he isn't bad in close combat: hammer of wrath, S6 AP2 attacks, causes Fear, etc. He also has Hit and Run and if that doesn't work he can simply jump into ongoing reserves.

At least in melee he has a better invulnerable save and is safe from enemy shooting (thinking of Grav weapons here...)

Despite being decent in melee, the Y'vahra is a powerful shooter. Know that if you charge something and fail to kill it, you are most likely going to have to survive 2 combat phases before getting the chance to escape with your Nova ability. Either way, you are probably giving up your next shooting phase to be in combat. His shooting is really good, so you should need an equally good reason to be in combat.

Getting the Most of your Shooting Phases

This can be tricky, but if you are careful you can actually target two-three different units. This mitigates the Y'vahra's inherent weakness of oddly matched weapons.
  • Step 1: use thrust to position yourself correctly
  • Step 2: hit your secondary or tertiary target (usually infantry) with the flechette pods
  • Step 2: your primary target should be the Ion weapon's target of choice: usually a vehicle or a MC/GC with a 3+ armour save.
  • Step 3: drop the torrent so that it barely touches the primary target, but also hits your secondary target (infantry that relies on cover or 2+ armour saves)
The primary target gets hit with the ion weapon, and the plasma flamer. If the torrent hurts it, then great. The main point is that the torrent Also got to hit some infantry. This requires an enemy infantry unit to be within 6-8" of the primary target, but that isn't unusual.
The flechette pods are simply a little extra 'umph' against standard infantry. Though Shred and S4 does make it somewhat useful against smaller MC's.

Another way to maximize your effectiveness, is through the EWO. If you use the plasma flamer during Interceptor, you are free to move and target things best suited to the ion weapon, and vice versa.

Don't forget that there is No Escape
Open-topped transports are excellent targets for the plasma flamer: you get to roast the guys inside! D6 hits can be rough, but especially rough when the hits are randomly allocated. Remind your opponent that he must randomize, particularly when he has a model inside that would normally tank wounds for the rest of the unit.
Ghaz may have a 2++ but it doesn't matter much when all the random hits are allocated against the meganobz or the painboy he has with him! Unfortunately, you'll have to randomize and resolve Each hit before going to the next one. That would take forever, so to save time you can roll to wound first, randomly allocate each wound one at a time and resolve it. Against single-wound infantry this will be quick, but against multi-wound infantry it can take a while. Be prepared.

The point here, is that if it is an open-topped transport, shoot the torrent weapon first so that you get to roast the infantry before you destroy their transport with the Ion weapon. In addition, since you can only get D6 hits, don't use the full rotation firing mode unless you really need the AP2.

Note: as of the GW FAQ, it appears that this actually inflicts 2D6 hits if you are using the full rotation firing mode.

Killing Blow Buff
While some opponents might challenge you on this (how else can they win?) the Dawn Blade Contingent's Killing Blow special rule actually benefits your entire army. So if you can fit an Y'vahra into a CAD that is not part of the Dawn Blade Contingent it is as good as being part of the Dawn Blade!
The Y'vahra hits pretty hard already, so this is mostly important if you are using the Y'vahra to take down an Eldar Wraithknight, an Imperial Knight, or some other tough vehicle (Daemon engines come to mind). The bonuses are small, but they add up.
Against an Imperial Knight, The Y'vahra gets a 30% increase in effectiveness. This isn't all that much, but all bonuses are welcome. It certainly will help mitigate those nasty 1's you tend to roll when all you need to fail is a 1...

Using the NOVA

The Y'vahra Nova powers are more situational than a Riptide. A Riptide will nearly Always want one of the Nova powers, but the Y'vahra does not. With only 4 wounds base, you may not want to risk losing a wound unless the situation really calls for it.
  • The 4+ cover save is currently no good. This might get fixed when the Y'vahra is released in a book, but for now it is something you can basically ignore. You can easily get a 4+ cover save via ruins or other hard cover. In any case, it is not much of an improvement from the 5++.
  • The escape ability is an easy one. If you are locked in combat, and you don't want to be locked in combat with that unit, then you escape. Your turn was wasted anyways, and you are guaranteed a 24" thrust move when you come back on from reserves (Unless you deployed via Deep Strike, you aren't actually able to come back in via Deep Strike) so you are likely to still be useful next turn.
  • The 3++ is rarely worth it. The Y'vahra already has 4++ in close combat, so your opponent needs to land 8 wounds to kill you. With a 3++ he needs 12. If you have the STIMS
  • The overcharged ion is a high risk/reward option. Potentially doubles your damage against vehicles and will at least increase your power by 33%. Thankfully, you roll your Nova power before you move, so you will know if it is worth risking the Y'vahra to kill an important vehicle.

Loadout Options

The Y'vahra, like the Riptide, has limited options. Since it is already 230 points, adding more needs to Really be worth it. I think the following are the only real options worth considering.
  • EWO: so cheap, and so perfect. The XV-109's short attack range means this might not come into play, but if it Does your opponent will be hurting. The native BS4 and torrent weapon mean the Y'vahra is much more effective at killing stuff with Interceptor than a regular Riptide, when it is in range of course.
  • Stims: expensive, but usually a good buy if you have spare points. I find that I usually do not have the extra points for this upgrade, but it is a very good one.
  • Velocity Tracker: The torrent weapon can't be used against Flyers, but the Ion weapon is amazing for bringing down flyers. With the vector thrust move you can usually get within range. The Y'vahra is actually one of the most potent anti-air platforms in the Tau arsenal, outside of the options that carry D weapons. Don't count on him as your only AA though, since he is not that tough and your opponent will likely target him if he actually has any fliers coming on.

Fitting one into your lists

Lately, contingents and formations have become all the rage. Unfortunately for Forgeworld, models like the Y'vahra don't fit into those formations. This makes it quite simple: you can only bring an Y'vahra in a Combined Arms Detachment or an Allied Detachment. Assuming the rest of your army is Tau, this just leaves the CAD.
At minimum, you will need to take a couple cheap troops and a headquarters. This can be handy for bringing an HQ you normally couldn't, like Shadowsun or Farsight. A couple strike teams and a Cadre Fireblade work too. Either way, if you weren't planning on taking any of these things, then the Y'vahra is probably too expensive to field, due to the CAD tax.

I have known some players to take the Y'vahra as a pair. I look forward to eventually doing exactly this, but for now it is only wishful imagination on my part. I can certainly see the merits. My only issue with this is that so many points are tied up in these two models, so your primary heavy hitter becomes your Only heavy hitter. If a target happens to be resilient against an Y'vahra then a second Y'vahra isn't going to help you out much.

Odd Things to Remember

  • The flechette pods will allow a cover save, unfortunately. Melee and Vector Strikes specifically make note that they ignore cover, and cover saves makes no note about applying only to shooting attacks. 
  • The plasma flamer only gets D3 hits during Overwatch, not 2xD3. The rules for template weapons make no allowance for multi-shot templates, so you must treat all template weapons the same when it comes to Overwatch. So the single canister will usually be your go-to Overwatch firing mode, unless the charger has a 2+ save. Note: new GW FAQ states you get 2D3.
  • No Escape, like Overwatch, only inflicts D6 hits, not 2xD6. Note: Again, FAQ means this is reversed. Yay!
  • Don't forget your hit & run! If you fail your Nova roll for escaping, or if it is your opponent's turn, it is always worth trying. 


TheGraveMind said...
March 27, 2016 at 10:54 AM  

Flechette is only s4, d6 hits with shred still do damage though.

Skyler Hoeft said...
March 28, 2016 at 4:58 AM  

Thanks very much sir for the correction! I'll fix that

Anonymous said...
April 24, 2016 at 11:36 AM  

Its a nice unit I just find the combined arms tax too high unless you can combine it with other FW stuff you need.

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