Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Puretide Speaks: The Piranha Squadron

I am always surprised at how often the Piranha Squadron is scoffed at. People will tell you that they're worthless, they're weak, they're open-topped, and that their guns are too short-ranged. Until you start playing with them and using them wisely, you never realize how awesome they can be. I currently run 3 Piranhas in a squadron with Fusion Blasters, Targetting Arrays, Disruption Pods and Flechette Dischargers.

Because they're fast, you can turbo-boost to collect a 4+ cover save. Because they're a squadron you can position them to get AV11 all around (see vehicle squadron rules in the BRB). Because they have melta-guns, you're opponent can't ignore them or his mechanized army will get wrecked. Because they have 3 flechette dischargers you get 3 rolls per attacker if he assaults them. Meaning that your opponent will probably not choose to assault. So he has to shoot them. Basic weapons are useless because of AV11, so now he has to use heavy weapons to shoot them down. But then your getting a cover save so 50% of those shots will be wasted. Sure they might die over the course of the game, but there is no way he's gonna kill them all in one turn.

Move them out to threaten pricey, high-value units like Land Raiders, terminators or Battlewagons. This will end up taking the pressure off of the rest of your army. You've giving them breathing room. On top of that, you're forcing your opponent to react to you, rather than the opposite which is often the fate of Tau armies.

Sure they might die horribly, but it's a wargame, models get destroyed. The point is, they have created this huge distraction for your opponent. How many players expect that a Tau army is going to get up in their face like that? ZERO. Get up in his grill and surprise him. You know what you're doing but he has no clue. Once you've gotten in that position, you're a ready to win the game.

I like to send them out to attack pricey tanks on flanks or even those that have moved out into the center of the board. Remember you use Piranhas to shut down Land Raiders the Saim Hann Way.

Piranhas make one of the best distraction and screening units that the Tau have at their disposal. Need to block an assault from happening? Zoom your Piranhas in. Need to slow on-coming movement? Zoom your piranhas in to create a AV11 Skimmer Wall with a 4+ Cover Save. 3 Piranhas can create a Skimmer Wall 18 inches wide.

And we haven't even gotten into the uses of the drone squadron that come with them!


Pete W said...

I for one am completely sold on the uses of Piranhas for aggressive strategies and controlling enemy movement. It's a real challenge to deal with the little skimmers unless you have assaulting vehicles on your side.

Note though that there is some debate on how Flechette dischargers in squadrons work so be prepared for an opponent to deny you all of the rolls.

(In essence, the launcher indicates that you roll once for each model attacking the piranha model. If they are in a squadron, there is no written ruling to support all of the launchers firing if one member is assaulted. I think that's a bit unfair given that squadron members can be damaged in assault even if they are not in base contact and so I play the way OSH does)

Flekkzo said...

Ah, the wonders of GW's FAQs. They would gain so much good will from just freaking updating them on a regular basis. Had to be said, has been said.

What I am curious about is how Piranhas differ from other fast fragile units such as Vypers, Land Speeders, etc. Seems like speed/maneuverability isn't valued as high as it should be players, only weapons and armor. Feels like a fast skimmer can get more done in a game than a slow poking "hard to kill" unit that won't fire or assault much during the game. Getting into position should be more valuable than it is.

Same goes for squadrons. Seems like a consensus that they suck. But do they really?

Old Shatter Hands said...

The difference between Land Speeders, Vyper and Piranhas is that Piranhas have front armor 11 and only carry short ranged weapons. In my opinion, the extra point of armor on front is what makes Piranhas better than other speeders. In addition they each carry two drones that can disembark to form a unit.

Vypers and Land Speeders are more fragile because rapid firing bolters can tear them to sheds, where as the Piranha is immune to such weapons if placed right. This allows them to close in and use their short ranged weapons.

Squadrons are important for speeders because on their own they are simply easy targets. For piranhas, bigger squadrons are better for a couple reasons.

1) The drone drop: A single piranha drops a unit of 2 gun drones-essentially worthless. However, the bigger the squadron is, the better the drone drop. A unit of 3 piranhas drops a 6-strong unit of drones. a unit of 5 piranhas drop a 10-strong unit.

2) Cover: If 50% of the squadron is obscured, they all get a cover save. For a squadron of 2 Vypers, this means you can put one behind terrain and still take a pot-shot with the other.

3) Vehicle Damage: You get to allocate penetrating and glancing hits so you get stack penetrating hits on models that have already taken damage (like weapon destroyed or something) Plus Stunnned gets down-graded to shaken which is nice.

suneokun said...

The downside of running a squadron is that any immobilise result is an autokill... that means that combined with open topped +1, that's a 3+ autokill until the last man's standing.

Pray the autocannons pack up!

That said, I love piranha's and intend to get 3 (eventually, when I've stopped buying nids) ... which will make my other half very happy. She want's piranha's in her army!

Plus it's easy to use speed badly in games. Buff up on Fritz tactics and Piranha can be game breakers...

They can also be a lot of fun in Apoc.

Pearlygates said...

Why do I feel my last comment may have inspired you to write this OSH???

I have actually come to enjoy using the Piranhas, although on most occasions I have had less fortunate results with than I'd like, they are becoming one of those units that I don't play a game without.

Thanks to your Battle reports and your high support for these fast attack units, I have seen the light and become a follower of the unit that provides an excellent harasment squad. Though I am yet to decide if they are better kept in reserve or to follow Sholto' way of his 'First Turn' principle of "as long as they do what I wanted them to do in the 1st round, I am willing to sacrifice them"

Managarm said...

I must admit that your regular praising of piranhas persuaded me on buying some in the future. I've been one who scoffed at them, like you put it, as I have absolutely no luck with land speeders so far and thought that those should be the better one of them as they field far the way better guns. But the more I read, the more I began to re-think their value. I'll definitely give them a chance, when I continue with Tau.

Xanadu said...

Since reading this blog, I have also fallen greatly in love piranhas. I intend in january to get myself a few TX-42s as they will have greater survivability.

What weapon loadouts would you recommend? I personally intend to magnetize and alternate between TL fusions and TL missile pods. The rail rifles seem attractive, but it isn't really worth it for a terminator a turn.

As for land speeders, my housemate uses them regularly and I know how much of a pest they can be so I shoot them down first turn if I can help it. Never played vypers, but I can imagine that the'd be a problem.

Old Shatter Hands said...

If I had the choice, I'd go with the TL-missile pods. This allows you to keep a distance and stay behind your Disruption pod save, while still be able to pump out lots of shots.

Sgt. Brisbane said...

Dude, just want to encourage you to keep posting these 'how-to' articles. I'm recently inducted into the Tau and still have the Battleforce (which I've built around your suggestions).

Each of these articles gets me closer to finally fielding a fully realized forced. My next purchases will be 3 Piranhas and 3 Broadsides. Keep 'em coming!