Friday, October 30, 2009

Joining the Tau Empire

A Beginner's Guide Part 2: Heavy Support

OK so you’ve got your Battleforce assembled and painted. You army should look like this:Cadre Just kidding! We haven't gotten that far yet! What you have now is as follows:

12 Fire Warriors

Upgrades: Shas’Ui. Either 100% Pulse Carbines or 100% Pulse Rifles

1 Devilfish

Upgrades: Disruption Pod (gives your tank 4+ cover save at any shots past 12 inches away), Multitracker (allows you to move at cruising speed and shot your burstcannon and drones) and Gun Drones.

12 Kroot

No Upgrades yet.

3 XV25 Stealthsuits

Upgrades: Team-leader armed with a Markerlight, Hard-wired Drone Controller and 2 Marker Drones. (XV25s have relentless and therefore you can move, fire markerlights and jump in the assault phase)

1 XV8 Crisis Suit

Upgrades: Weapons of your choice, acts as your commander.

So you’ve got markerlight support, mechanized infantry and outflanking Kroot. What’s next? This army right now lacks some firepower. You need to get some big guns in there. At this point I recommend getting at least one Railgun. Assuming you’re willing to spend 50 bucks, you have two options: 1 Hammerhead or 2 Broadsides. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each and then I'll give you an idea on what you should be upgrading them with

The Hammerhead. - "Mark us a target and we shall destroy it."

The Pros

Tough: The Hammerhead is an AV13 vehicle, making it a durable mobile weapons platform. Upgrading it by purchasing a Disruption Pod makes it even more durable.

Firepower: For your first Hammerhead, I suggest you put a Railgun on that bad-boy. This is weapon can be fired on two settings: solid shot at S10(!) and submunition as a large blast. The Ion Cannon is nice, but for now, let’s get a Railgun.

Mobile: With a Multitracker, your Hammerhead can fire its main weapon while moving at cruising speed (7-12 inches). You can tank shock with it, ram other vehicles and contest objectives. It is relatively fast and ignores terrain as long as it doesn’t end it move on it.

The Cons

Not a reliable anti-tank unit. Even though you get an S10 Railgun, the weapon is not twin-linked so if you miss you miss. Plus it is only one shot, so if you hit and roll a 1 for penetration, you’ve wasted your shot. Alternatively, if you fire your submunition at troops, even if you miss you might hit something. Broadsides are much better at tank-hunting because a Broadside unit of similar points-cost has 2 Twin-Linked Railguns.

Mandatory Upgrades: Disruption Pod, Multitracker.

2 Broadsides - "XV88s ready for action."

The Pros

Tough: With a 2+ armor save and the option to attach some shield drones, your Broadsides are a rock-solid unit that can withstand all but the most determined torrents of fire.

Best Long Range Anti-tank Gun available to the Tau: With Twin-Linked Railguns at S10 and AP1, you’re going to be trashing tanks from very far away. Do not forget that because it is AP1, you get +1 on vehicle damage rolls.

Scary: Because of their big Railguns, people hide like the dickens from Broadsides. This can be used to influence your opponent’s movement on the board. Be sure to draw attention to your Broadsides to protect the rest of your from being targeted.

Extra Bits: with the Broadside set you will basically get another set of XV8 weapons, so you’ll have extra missile pods for making some Deathrains. Turn the Gun Drones into shield drones by gluing Shield Generators to the bottom of the drone.

The Cons

Static: Even with the (mandatory) Advanced Stabilization System Upgrade, Broadsides are static. They will never contest objectives, escape assaults and will get chewed up by outflankers, Snitgrot and Space Wolf Scouts (however, they can be used as bait for these units too). They are very vulnerable to fast moving units like bikers and Deffkoptas.

Expensive: Broadsides aren’t cheap. They cost 70 points a pop even before the mandatory support system upgrade. Compared to similar units like the Chaos Obliterator they are over-costed, but who cares? You get a Railgun.

Assembly: Broadsides are a pain in the @ss to assemble. Be sure to reinforce the Broadside’s ankle connection by shoving some green-stuff in there.

Manditory Upgrades: Advanced Stabilization System, Shas’Ui Teamleader, Hard-Wired Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones.


What would Old Shatter Hands choose? Tough call. I think I would get the 2 Broadsides as this will give me the added pieces it takes to make my next unit, XV8 Deathrains. But then again, Hammerheads are a lot more fun to play because of their mobility. Still racking up on Railguns early on is a good idea. Yep, I'd stick with getting the 2 Broadsides. Your choice may be different. It depends on what kind of force you hope to build and either choice is a good one to choose. Both units will make you happy as they pummel your enemy into submission.

Happy Hunting, Shas’la


Greywing said...

Great stuff! I hope you continue this series. I found this (and Part 1) to be very helpful as I ponder getting into 40k.

Brother Vizlani said...

Great articles! Please keep them coming.

Flekkzo said...

I've yet to finish my first 1500p army but I am planning many future ones. None of them are "gunliney", and your articles are just selling me more and more on the Tau. Maybe I could even try a Tau army with just suited up guys. Think it would be possible to build a working army without anything not in a suit? Hmm. Maybe transports are a must though. I wish that they release a new Tau codex around when it is time for me to get the shooty army:) (I don't like IG)

Keep 'em coming:)

Old Shatter Hands said...

Flekkzo, an all suits army would be nice. You could probably fit in 9 Crisis Suits, 3 broadsides and 2 Devilfish with the minimum 6 Fire Warriors and have an effective list. It wouldn't really be a gunline army either but one of mobile firepower. Taking Shadowsun as your commander would hold the army together as suits have a bad habit of running way and off the board (Ld8, flees 3d6). Your distraction unit could be a big unit of XV8 Shas'Vres, which are a commander's bodyguard (a little better than standard XV8s). It could work. Too bad there are no fast attack suits...

Thanks for the encouragement everyone. I'll keep 'em coming.

Hedzer said...

Very nice article!

What you could mention is that if you are willing to pay 7 pounds more per broadside, that FW has a completely different (and imo better) looking broadside :)

Spyrle said...

Great Article!

That was a good comparison of the Pros and Cons of the Broadsides vs the Hammerhead. I think even though I am determined to run my Sniper Drones I will pick up a unit of broadsides now to assist my HammerHead.

Pearlygates said...

Hey OSH, Do you know any detail about the Forgeworld Piranha TX42 because i would love to get one (3 preferrably) but only if the weapons are not twin-linked; having a squad of outflanking fast attack units with missile-pods, firing uptp 4times each would devastating and in my opinion become the best unit the tau have!

But only if the weapons are NOT twin-linked! are you (or any followers of the Greater Good) able to clarify this before i go ahead with the purchase?

Your humble Shas'la Pearlygates

Old Shatter Hands said...

Pearlygates, I think the weapons are twin-linked but I could be wrong. My friend has the Taros Campaign Imperial Armour book with the rules for it. I'll check it out. I personally would prefer them to be twin-linked, because if they aren't and you move 12 inches you can only fire one of them. Then again its an expensive model, so you're going to want to get extra shots from it on the tabletop. I'll let you know. I have a post about piranhas coming soon...

Sholto said...

This was a good round-up of the pros and cons of two of the best Heavy Support units in the game.

It's a tough choice when you are just starting out. The Hammerheads excel at killing troops whereas Broadsides excel at killing armour, due to the twin linking and the cost (2 Broadsides for 1 Hammerhead).

At below 1000 pts, a Hammerhead (or two) can be a very strong choice, whereas around 2000 points, going all Broadsides is the only way to get the required number of railguns on the table. In between, it is best to have a mix of the two.

I disagree on the ASS being mandatory. In my last six games I have run my Broadsides with targeting array. With true LoS and some careful deployment I have never found them without a useful target, and the +1 BS means they almost always hit what they're aiming at. It also helps enormously when it comes time to fire the SMS. The only downside is in Dawn of War, but I took BSF on my Hammerheads to get some 1st Turn railgun action in that scenario. They only died in one game of the six, when they were assaulted by deep-striking Terminators.

A target lock is a useful, although not mandatory, upgrade letting the TL fire at a different target.

The TX-42s are indeed twin-linked. Someone really should do a series of articles on those Forgeworld Tau units ;)

Pearlygates said...

OSH, I actually have the Taros campain book (but at my friends house in manchester) however, I have looked around on the net for extra info on the TX-42 and found (as Sholto has pointed out in the above comment)that they are indeed twin-linked! Boo :(

But I may still buy one anyway as they are a little better than the standard Piranha.

Thanks all for helping to notify me! With our combined effort the Greater-Good will prevail!!!

Pete W said...

Just chipping in to add that there are two more Heavy Support choices in the codex:

- Sniper Drone Teams (SDT).
-Skyray Missile gunship.

The former I don't have much experience with but being able to fit 3 teams (of 3 rail rifles) into one slot is nice.

I actually have a Skyray because I love having mobile markerlights on a heavy tank chassis. With a Multitracker (and SMS) you can zip 12" per turn, fire your weapon and markerlights at different targets and still launch seekers (assuming you have enough ML).

It's a cool tank but it has the same problem as the SDT in that it competes with slots that can have Railguns. I'm planning on using one along with two Hammerheads in my HS and using Fusion piranhas for additional anti-tank.

Also, if you're cheap, you can buy a battleforce and a skyray kit and (with a little fiddling) build a Hammerhead and Skyray because the kits comes with all the parts for both.

Pearlygates said...

I pretty much tend to field sniper drones!

9 drones with 36" range space-marine killing fire power that causes pinning too!
Not to mention that they're stealth too which I think alot of people fail to notify! Plus you get 3 markerlights that hit on 3+ thanks to being networked.

Definately worth having, even though they're rather static; you just need to keep a unit close to them in case of enemy deepstrikes or flanking manouver!

I always find they're the perfect little squad for cross-fire tactics on an enemy! (your oppenent is always watching the broadsides and failing to spot these little lurkers!)

Old Shatter Hands said...

I've used sniper drones once or twice. I remember when they first came out I was like YES but then after looking at them some more and realizing that I like Hammerheads and Broadsides more, they rarely got used. They are a viable choice though, but take a lot of practice. They wouldn't work with playstyle though as I tend to play with reserves too much--everything needs to be able to move and shoot.

Part of me wants to remove Broadsides from my standard list and the Skyray and an Ionhead are candidates for replacing them, with the Ionhead taking the lead here. But a Skyray might help with Markerlights.

A good Tau player is constantly evolving!

Pearlygates said...

Ah well that's where we certainly differ in army choices! I have never fielded an Ionhead (nice name, never heard that one used before!) as I feel that it only plays as a S/M troop killer; and for the cost of a tank I fail to see the need to employ one!
If on the other hand, broadsides could take Ion Cannons (IonSides!!)then I'd use the weapon.

Some games I tend to field 3 Broads' with Plas rifles to free them up moving/falling back from flankers.

Skyray has never really done much for me, I always hold it too far back and behind cover seeing as their seekers can be deployed by others; so I end up never using their markers.

It's always nice to see how Tau players field/favour different units!

Played a 2000pt game on monday using an Ethereal as was actually surprised on two counts; 1, he survived the whole game! 2, his re-rolls on morale checks won me the game! for the time being I'm going to give him a little more credit!
...Until he fails me!

HuronBH said...

Thank for this series on building a Tau force. I have one in my future (probably 2010 at the earliest) and your insights and explanation in to why to pick X or Y is very insight full. I have added you to my Blog roll and become a follower so I can continue to follow your thoughts on the tau.

And may I say you have a really incredible looking tau force as well.

Marshal Wilhelm said...

My D Pod mathhammer:

Hammerhead w/ D Pod versus LC @ bs4

4/6 to hit
2/6 to pen
2/6 to destroy
3/6 failed save

48/1296 = 3.7%

AV 14 versus LC @ bs4

4/6 to hit
1/6 to pen
2/6 to destroy

8/216 = 3.7%


Devil fish w/ D Pod versus LC @ bs4

4/6 to hit
3/6 to pen
2/6 to destroy
3/6 failed save

72/1296 = 5.56%

AV 13 versus LC @ bs4
4/6 to hit
2/6 to pen
2/6 to destroy

16/216 = 7.4%


Piranha w/ D Pod versus LC @ bs4
4/6 to hit
4/6 to pen
3/6 to destroy
1/6 to glance
1/6 to destroy

48 + 4 = 52/216

3/6 failed save

156/1296 = 12.04%

AV 12 versus LC @ bs4

4/6 to hit
3/6 to pen
2/6 to destroy
24/216 = 11.11%


The Hammerhead grows to the durability of the famed Land Raider.
The Predator's front armour, rightly regarded as tough, fails 133% of the time to every Fish destroyed. :D
The Dreadnought fails 92% of the time to every Piranha destroyed.

Overall, the D Pod goes someway to undoing the over-costed Tau Armour. Having our transport being tougher than the main Marine Battle-tank is no small thing, whilst having a fast skimmer at 9/10s of a Battle-walker is very handy.

D Pods ~ mandatory :D

Marshal Wilhelm said...

Another thing of note is this; the Multi-tracker on a HH.
It doesn't convert the HH into a Blood Angels monstrosity, but being able to waft 6" and fire all guns whilst being hit on 4s in close-combat is grand. All you need to do is move 1" and those pesky deep-strikers drop to 50% accuracy. Amazing.
The biggy is this ~ moving 12" and being hit on 6s. Why?
Moving at the same rate as most things can move forwards keeps the D Pod in effect. Gold.
The 2nd thing is 'The Drift' or 'sidewayz akshun!' ~ lol.
As OSH has shown, the HH move away from the Broadside fulcrum. Being able to move at double-speed should mean that side AV shots are available in half the time. Earlier side AV shots means things get taken out further away from the Tau deployment zone, which gives the fulcrum longer to gun things down.
Kroot and Fire warriors will be grateful of actually being able to shoot Infantry.

Synergy and buff buffing (multiplying a mulitiplyer) are ways of getting the most out of Tau fire-power.

Essential for an old codex *thumbs up*