Shas’La, we need to face an important fact. We’re playing with an out-dated codex. If you want to win, optimizing your army lists and unit choices is of utmost importance. In this post, I’d like to talk about the secondary weapon system on your Hammerheads. Sure, it’s only a ten point difference between Smart Missiles (SMS) and Burst Cannons but if you want to win, you’ve got to maximize every point you spend on your Cadre. This post assumes your Hammerhead is armed with a railgun, multitracker, disruption pod and target lock (flachette dischargers optional other upgrades are mandatory IMO).
The Case of Smart Missiles
1) Range. With 24 inch range on your missiles, the SMS will help you reach out touch your enemy. It also helps you keep your distance when coupled with the Disruption Pod, as you’ve got to stay more than 12 inches to claim that 5-point 4+ cover save.
2) Line of Sight, Pah! With SMS you can shoot at any target within 24 inches, no matter your vehicle’s facing. This is great for hitting units that are hiding behind rhinos or terrain.
3) Cover saves, the SMS ignores intervening terrain and targets can only claim cover save if they are touching or within area terrain. With AP5, this really doesn’t matter so much unless you’re player guard or orks without a Big Mek’s force field projector.
The Case for Burst Cannons
1) More shots. Yep you get 6 shots as opposed to 4. This makes a difference, trust me.
2) Cheaper. You save 10 points for other stuff.
3) More Weapons on the Vehicle. With 2 burst cannons your hammerhead can take three weapon destroyed results before it’s neutered.
4) Moving 12 inches for only one shot. Because you’ve only spent 10 points on your secondary weapons, it doesn’t seem like such a waste when you move 12 inches to fire only the railgun. By moving 12, assaulters only hit on 6s. Plus I normally play a moving game so I prefer to keep moving 12 inches every turn if possible.
It’s up to your play style what to choose and I can only tell you what I do. I have one Hammerhead with SMS and one with Burst Cannons. I find that the Burst Cannon Hammerhead puts more wounds on people when firing but I am almost less concerned about moving only 6 inches to fire everything because a lot of the time my burst cannons are out of range. The Hammerhead with SMS is nice because I often split fire. Normally when the enemy is close, I move the Burst Cannon Hammerhead up to engage while the SMS Hammerhead moves back to protect my Suits and Infantry from assaults.
However, I think if I were to re-do one of the Hammerheads, I would replace the SMS with Burst Cannons. I find that enemies tend to close with Tau quickly and with Burst Cannons, the closer they get the more shots I can pump out. In my opinion, an optimized Tau list has its Hammerhead armed with Burst Cannons.
Over to you, what do you prefer Burst Cannons or SMS? Does it matter?