Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smart Missile Systems Versus Burst Cannons on your Hammerheads…What’s better?

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?


Oh, it's you, Bob... said...

I've recently gone to burst cannons on mine and it seems to be working out well. Another thing I've done lately is leave the rail gunning to my broadsides and field 2 hammerheads w/ Ion cannons (in a 1500 pt army). I am having a great deal more success with the 2 Ion cannons than I tended to with the one railgun hammerhead. Goes off your topic, sorry. The points saved are going into my suits so I don't miss the SMS, really.

Old Shatter Hands said...

I've got one Ionhead and I agree, I leave the railgunning to my broadsides...but the submunitioning to the 'heads! Railheads are no good at taking out vehicles because you'll roll a 1 or 2 to hit! Twin-linked BS3 is better than BS4 anyday. Ionheads are sweet but I just like dropping pieplates on people. You tend to get more wounds out of it. more wounds = more armor saves = more chances to fail.

Raptor1313 said...

I'm planning on keeping the Rail Gun on the 'head purely for versatility. More rail guns = more fun, and the submunition is win.

I'm starting it out with Smart Missiles for my two Hammerheads, though I'm combining them with Kroot screens. Judging from your lists, Shatter Hands, you're running pretty much pure mech, so you've no real screens for movement. In that case, I can see the Burst Cannons working out in your favor; you're going to get closed with whether you want to or not. Those extra six inches are likely to come in hand against folks when I factor in the screen o' Kroot (plus, I don't give them cover saves for firing through kroot.)

On the other hand, a 12" move and single gun means you're only missing one set of shots, instead of losing two guns. Still, I think in most cases I'd rather pop the submunitions.

Dezartfox said...

I've always gone SMS, he extra 6" and the no LOS rule is just too good to miss out on, I've shot down hiding vyper squadrons, landspeeders, rhinos, everything :D

quikdra14 said...

I personally always take Gundrones on Hammerheads. Multi-Trackers are not a useful upgrade when you are taking the secondary weapon systems. The 10 points would be better suited buying Flechettes imo.

With Gundrones, you save 5 points on the target lock (they can shoot at a different unit anyway)CAN shoot when moving 12" (If one weapon can fire on a vehicle, its gundrones can fire) cause pinning, can contest objectives: 12" hammerhead move +2" open topped disembark +d6" run +6" assault jump (21-26" away) and are great for moveblocking units threatening your firebases. I just feel they are far too versatile to ignore.

P.S. Grats on winning the conversion contest @ the SGi Tourney Old Shatterhands. I was the Tau player that was undefeated running the Kroot Blocks. Your army was really quite impressive on the tabletop

Dictator said...

Man,that is one sexy hammerhead.

I usually prefer quantity instead of quality firepower (being a guard player), so burst cannons are the way to go.

P.S. - cannot to face your army on the field

Dictator said...

Actually, looking at Quikdra's comment, I would do that. The gun drones sound awesome for versatility reasons.

Shas'O D'Narb said...

I agree that Gun Drones would be an exceptional choice, if they didn't give up a KP. Anyway, I think burst cannons are suited for the Ionhead's close support role whilst the Railhead is a better standoff choice for the SMS because of the +6" range.

Old Shatter Hands said...

Thanks for compliment, Dictator! I will crush you one day! Great discussion here. I could be convinced to stick with SMS or even try the drones but the kill point thing really sucks.That's why I've got SMS on all my devilfish. With gun drones a simple devilfish is 2 kill points and then the fire warriors so that's 3 Kill Points total. Not good in my opinion. On hammerheads, I might think about it but for 20 points...I doubt it...

quikdra14, I think you have the rules wrong about multitrackers and target locks.

1) If you don't have a multitracker on your hammerhead, you can't fire your railgun or your drones when moving 12 inches. As per page 58 40k rulebook, "vehicles moving at cruising speed may not fire." A multitracker allows your hammerhead to fire as a fast vehicle, which means you can fire one weapon at cruising speed, as per page 70 40k Rulebook. GW FAQ states a drone can fire if at least one weapon on the vehicles can fire. With a multitracker upgrade, moving at cruising speed (12 inches) you can fire the railgun and your drones. If I'm missing something do tell...I'd love it if I didn't need to buy multitrackers...

2) While attached drones fire as part of the vehicle so cannot target a separate unit as the vehicle unless you've got a target lock. Drones only count as passengers when the vehicle is damaged or when detaching. Page 30, Tau Codex. It doesn't say that they count as passengers in all respects. They can't re-attach, nor is there any mention of fire points, etc.

If I'm right (and as I said I could be missing something), they're not as versatile as you might think.

sorry to be such a pain about it...

Raptor1313 said...

I don't think I could ever be convinced to go Gun Drones on any Tau vehicle when I could get something else, precisely for the KP bit.

They're not very killy; it's an amazing 2 BS2 twin-linked S5 shots at 18" for the gun drones. I am not really that convinced it's worth it, but I'll take it on Piranhas because I have to.

I just don't see a benefit to the drones. Two-man unit that does what other than maybe draw a little fire and give up a KP?

I could see thinking about Burst Cannons on Hammerheads; it's a plce to get some points back and there is the second weapon part and the slightly more firepower in exchange for range, part. But not drones, given the options.

quikdra14 said...

@ Old Shattered Hands

I did not mean to imply you did not need a multitracker to move 12" and fire. That is pretty obvious.

What I meant was that if you ever move over 6 inches, all a multitracker helps you fire is the railgun, so the secondary weapon system is now pointless (dont ya hate not having "defensive" weapons) Personally, I never bring a vehicle without at least Disruption Pod and Multitracker.

now, onto the gundrones being able to target a different unit. According to the Tau 5th edition FAQ, Attached Gundrones do not benefit from Markerlight hits.

markerlights allow a UNIT to increase its ballistic skill by 1 per markerlight token and yada yada yada.

What red shirts and most organizers i have talked this over with conclude from this is: That though they are not "passengers" for shooting purposes (firepoints) they are neither the same unit as the hammerhead while attached, and therefore can fire at a different target.

The Tau Codex wording on "part of the vehicle" is at best, vague. Part of the vehicle as in same unit? As a weapon system? Or for purposes of what is allowed to fire as according to vehicle movement speeds, hence the reason they are allowed to fire "in addition to" other weapons firing.

This all of course can be argued both ways, but when people have made decisions on the legality of it in games terms, most people have sided with me. (Maybe because they don't mind/care about tau getting a little bit of help? who knows)

The only downside to Gundrones is the KP. I personally play a Positional Relay list, so having gundrones on arguably the most survivable tank in the game outside of a landraider or monolith is okay with me. Killpoints only apply 1/3 of the time in standard missions, and honestly. a proper tau army is NOT going to be low on killpoints if it wants to be competitive.

I also take SMS on devilfish to make them "warfish" but, I personally love my gundrone hammerheads and until the secondary weapon systems get revamped (in a far future codex) I will keep them, if for nothing else...

Being the absolute most annoying objective contestors in the 40K universe >=)

Old Shatter Hands said...

Jeez, we need a new codex or an FAQ that actually addresses frequently asked questions...thanks for the clarification, dude. have you seen this army:

It's got gun drones on all its hammerheads and I've always scratched my head at this...guess now I see.

Oh, it's you, Bob... said...

This is a great discussion! Simple question asked and I am gaining all sorts of extra info. I may make my army competitive after all :-) Thanks to everyone from all the novices out here.

quikdra14 said...

Yes, D6Vets Mech Tau army is what got me first thinking about Gun Drones on Hammerheads. I just couldn't think of why he wouldn't take a real weapon system instead of adding a Kill point to his army.

It was after I realized Gundrones could still fire with a fast moving Tau Vehicle that I saw the justification for it. Then after play testing a few games with them, they really are INCREDIBLY useful in capture and control and Seize Ground type missions.

I really do urge everyone to at least try Gun Drones on their hammerheads to see what they think. If you think you need to take a target lock with them, by all means do so (I would take a target lock and Gundrones if a FAQ came out saying they couldnt target a seperate unit w/o it)

In Objective missions, in the last turn or two, Detach them and bolt straight for an objective the enemy is sitting on. It is best to throw them at one where you have multiple potential contestors. Forcing them to choose between one unit... or a group of 2 gundrones.

In Killpoint missions... play it the way you would drones on a Devilfish... DONT detach unless absolutely necessary, and if your vehicle is destroyed. HIDE!

NockerGeek said...

I wrote a similar tactica article a couple of months ago, and my findings have been that while the SMS is the superior option in many situations, it's very dependent on what your point budget looks like and what you're facing. As you pointed out, cover saves against an AP5 weapon are mostly a non-issue. However, having 6" of extra range and ignoring LoS makes the SMS hard to turn down.