"Old Shatter Hands was unique in his methods. Untrusting of Tau Auxiliary Forces and untested technologies, few of his forces were drawn from other septs or alien allies. He relied heavily on the art of stealth and surprise. He often held Piranha Attack Wings under cloaking devices until the time was ripe to execute the killing blow." The Aun Elder stared out into the abyss of space. "Although some felt he took risks too great, his forces were successful in dislodging Gue'la elites and disrupting their armored spearheads. On the contrary, when his assaults were faulty, they lead to spectacular failures and loss of life. Over time, the lives he spent weighed heavy on his heart. The guilt eventually lead him to the path of the Monat."
Just a quick post about piranhas. Traditional Tau wisdom casts these great fliers into the category of over-costed and weak units. The last few games I've played with them suggest something else entirely. I've been using them to contest objectives, block the path of armored spearheads and threaten tanks (keeping the pressure off of my Hammerheads). In more than a couple cases, they allowed me to win games and keep my opponents guessing.
Are they weak? Vehicle squadron rules state that you use the Vehicle facing of the closest vehicle to the shooter (see page 64 of the main rulebook), positioning your Piranhas in a fan formation can effectively give you AV11 all around. That coupled with a 4+ cover save from either moving flat out or Disruption Pods, makes the Piranha very difficult to kill.
Even assaulting them becomes an issue. With each Piranha upgraded with a Flechette Discharger, even terminators are going to think twice about attacking them. Move 7+ inches and assaulters need a 6 to hit, but your flechette wound on a 4+.
What about the Drones? A squadron of 4 or more piranhas has the ability to drop off a pretty sizable unit of Tau Gun Drones. With twin-linked pinning weapons, the drones can do some damage in shooting. Strength 5 means you can also work to position them behind tanks to cause even more damage. This unit isn't going to be the best in hand to hand but it can tie up units with heavy weapons to good effect. Remember too that the Piranha is open-topped so explode results on Piranhas only cause S3 hits (pg70) and allows the drones to assault in the turn they disembark. With drones, a unit of 5 piranhas can pump out 5 melta shots and 10 pulse carbines shots. Not bad, eh?
How to use them? Let me first say that although I have been using Piranhas for a couple years, I've only recently been playing large squadrons in an aggressive role. If my opponent has a land raider filled with something nasty I set them up in Deployment and turn 1 I turbo boost them out to surround or block the Land Raider. My broadsides then pummel other vehicles and leave the LR free as next turn it'll be tied up with the Piranhas. My opponent will then pour everything he's got into the Piranhas but won't be able to kill them all unless he has lots of autocannons or ork lootas. Piranhas then disembark drones and meltagun the tank. Drones shoot the troops that pour out.
Other times, I've been putting them in reserve and turbo-boosting them out to clear objectives and contest. Because of the huge unit footprint you can manage to contest more than one objective.
The Cons - Cost. Piranhas upgrades with flechettes, fusion and pods can cost upwards of 400 points. You may scoff at this but I've been finding lately that Fire-Knives are the real points sink. Better to kit out your piranhas and go big than spend points on Fire-Knives. I'm looking to build an army of 5 piranhas and 2 squads of Deathrains instead of Fire-Knives.
Surprise! The Tau Empire traditionally isn't the army that gets up in your face as an opponent. People expect you to be holding back and firing from a distance. With 4 or more piranhas in a single squadron, you can move out from the get-go and get up in his face and force you to deal with something. FULL ATTACK. Most players are planning to do this to Tau players, they bring lots of fast assault specialists to the game and ram them right into your gunline. By throwing some piranhas at him, you are doing the last thing he expected. You know what you are doing but your opponent doesn't and that is the best way to win: the element of surprise. You can even hold them back, zipping around or in reserve until the moment is right and WHAM! Deal with this big unit of piranhas while the rest of my army pummels you with long range fire and claims objectives.
What do you guys think? Am I full of kroot droppings for taking some an interest in this over-costed and potentially weak unit?