Friday, April 2, 2010

Fixing Tau Fire Warriors

Before the time of the Mont'au, the Shas'la formed a subspecies of the Tau genus. Stocky of build and physically fit, they roamed the plains and savannas following the great herds on Tau'n. They moved from place to place and revered the beasts that sustained them. 

The Shas'la were social hunters, they set upon their prey in coordinated teams, each with a defined role. One team would move ahead of the main group, scouting out the terrain and locating prey. They would relay back information to their Shas'O who would in turn send another team would make chase, corralling the large herds of prey into a carefully chosen kill-zone. Once their prey was in position, still another team would spring from cover to execute the killing blow or as known in their native tongue, the Mont'Ka.

During droughts or other times of scarcity, the tribes of Shas'la would disperse and form smaller hunting bands. These bands would select and track a single large animal for days, waiting for the right moment when their prey was weakest to strike. These hunts tested both stamina and fortitude but their gain could sustain the bands for weeks of inactivity. Such methods were named the Patient Hunter or Kauyon. 

The Shas'la of the Tau Empire today use those same skills and techniques, imprinted in genetic memory, to wage war. The hunter culture is still very much apart of their being. To be a Fire Warrior is to kill in the name of sustaining their people and their empire.

In battle, they are cautious warriors, who tread lightly least their positions be revealed to the enemy. They use stealth and careful planning to eliminate the enemy, luring prey into kill zones and strike at once from hiding. Many Gue'la have fallen prey to the Fire Warrior's carefully laid ambushes. 

Without a doubt, Fire Warriors are probably my favorite models in the Tau range. Sure, XV8 and XV25s are cool but it is the light infantry of the Empire that originally caught my imagination. Unfortunately, their rules barely match the fluff. There are numerous instances all over the codex about the Tau military's use of stealth and careful planning yet their are few rules to support this.

I propose two simple changes to the rules for Fire Warriors that would change them for the better. Neither of these changes would "break" them. Neither rule makes them better at the assault. But both changes make better what they already do.

I think a Ballistic Skill increase is out of the question. With markerlights, we should not really be complaining about our BS of 3. There really is no need to be fielding BS4 Fire Warriors. No these two rules changes will make them easier to field and make them more tactical. It will allow you, the Tau Player, more flexibility and give them more utility.

Here they are:

1) Give Fire Warriors, Pathfinders, and Kroot the Stealth USR across the board. Give Tau foot infantry a chance to survive being shot at so they get a chance to shoot back.

2) Give them and any dedicated transport the Infiltrate USR. This would allow you the option to outflank and infiltrate your warriors. Now certainly, you would not want your Fire Warriors to infiltrate closer to the enemy, but it would give you the option to deploy them last if need be, or deploy them a top tall buildings and in advantageous firing positions.

Both of these rules additions would fit nicely into Tau fluff, wouldn't they?

Now sit back and imagine the possibilities.


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

Not bad, OSH. Not bad at all. I wonder about Pathfinders with these changes, though. Of what use are they? They would just be FWs with different gear...

NockerGeek said...

Interesting ideas, and I agree that they would fit the fluff well. One question: would the Stealth USR replace the Kroot's Fieldcraft, or would it stack with it? And would taking a Krootox still remove their Infiltrate USR?

@Oh, it's you, Bob: They'd still have markerlights all around, a 'fish with a Marker Beacon, and the Scout USR. And really, right now they are just FWs with different gear; even on the summary sheet, there's no separate line for Pathfinders. There's only 'Fire Warrior Shas'la'.

Diehard2501 said...

Both are great suggestions and are not game breaking. In the case of Pathfinders this would actually boost their usefulness. They could fully become the advance team they are supposed to be. Currently they only work as a suit/vehicle support team since they are the only options that can keep up with them when scouting. It will make it easier to get the warriors into the fight and not waste a turn of shooting.

Kroxitau said...

Stealth would be a solid addition to these units.

Bob- pathfinders are the cheapest avenue for marker lights, they are pretty useful but tricky to deploy properly.

Nockergeek- I think Krootox should force the Kroot to lose infiltrate, but i think they should somehow be able to still outflank. (and be monstrous creatures :))

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Nah, dude.
The ability to Infiltrate and Outflank everything makes Tau far too good; the only thing Fire Warriors need are a point decrease (8pts fits far better) and a weapon change (Carbines are Assault 2, Rifles are Rapidfire 36").
Outflanking should be reserved as either a Wargear option or a strategem for a Shas'O or 'El to take for the army/unit/self, or just kept with the Kroot.
Stealth has no real fluff background. Rangers practice many times the lifetime of a Fire Warrior to hide in shadow, as do Scorpions. Imperials and Marine Scouts need technology to gain such an advantage.
Nothing, save Stealth Armour, SDTs and maybe Kroot, really warrants Stealth as a rule.
If, you are interested in helping with a re-work of Tau rules to better fit 5th edition, check out the Redux threads here:

The Fabulous Orcboy said...

I have to agree with Aloh'Nan'El. Giving Fire Warriors two USRs like this would be kind of game-breaking. It would make them much too good.

The simpler fix is just to reduce points costs; both for them and for the Devilfish. That would immediately make them more effective.

I can see giving Pathfinders another USR, like Stealth. But not Fire Warriors, sorry.

David W said...

I stopped playing Fire Warriors when I realized they're strictly worse than Tactical Marines - at equal points, they'll fight to a draw in a shootout, the Marines will murder them in close combat, and Marines have free heavy weapons, free grenades, cheap transports, higher leadership - it goes on and on. Stealth and Infiltrate wouldn't really make up for that.

Now, if I wanted to play Marines, I'd be playing Marines - I don't want GW to make Fire Warriors into them, just give them an advantage like Aloh'Nan'El suggests so that they're not always outclassed.

At least with Kroot, there are situations where they outperform Marines point for point to make up for their worse performance elsewhere - shooting from a forest, assault with Hounds. They're not always good, but played right they can be effective.

Anonymous said...

Fire Warrior Changes:
- free photon grenades
- Shas'Ui upgrade: EMP grenade

Pathfinder Changes:
- option for stealth suit upgrade
- single-shot flechettes in one area terrain

Kroot Changes:
- stealth usr
- 18" assault kroot rifles

EMP Grenade Changes:
1-2 nothing
3-4 stunned
5-6 immobilized

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I had completely forgotten about something: I think 2-3 doctrine options would be interesting and useful, similar to what was done with the Penal IG.

Aloh'Nan'El said...

If anyone looked at the forum link I provided they would have seen the work we are doing, but basically it comes down to:
Fire Warriors:
the weapon changes, a cheaper 'fish
Can buy one unit as Troops for each FW squad (no Force Org. slot taken)
5+ save, but Move Through Cover
Intelligence Relay (A Devilfish upgrade that spits out Marker tokens if the Pathies are inside/nearby)
Maybe an Infiltrate wargear item
Sniper Drone Teams
Very similar to what they are now. May be point reduction. May take one with each Fire Warrior team (Troops, no FOC slot taken)
Scoring is in the air.
Gun Drone Squadron:
Same way to take Pathies and SDTs.
Not scoring, Not KP, ignored for all objectives

Pearlygates said...

I think it would be good if a shas Ui could buy an ability for his squad to gain the infiltrate/forward scout rule. say for an extra 10pts.

preferably, I think they could do with having an optional troop choice/set-up. have a squad that can have up to 3 members change their weapons to rail rifles/flamers/some other weapon that only fire warriors can have...something like a mortor gun.

I feel the fire warriors get over-looked, people only take them with pulse rifles to get the 30" range but then move them each turn reducing them to only 12".
We use them solely for objective grabbing now. time GW made them a little more versatile!

Anonymous said...

Fire warriors need to be cheaper, and have the option to take USRs. as someone said earlier, a HQ option to add these would be sweet.
Devilfish need to be a hell of a lot cheaper. 60 points base, thats a bit better :)

Aloh'Nan'El said...

Having a mortor gun or flamers would go against fluff. Fire Caste Doctrine disallows the use of integrated heavy weaponry. The Seeker Missile was invented to compensate for this.
Saytael (member of the above forum, leader of the Redux project) has something along the lines of a gyrostabilized (i.e. assault) markerlight in mind for Shas'uis to help Fire Warriors with Seeker strikes on the move.
A 10 point infiltrate rule with our vehicles and mid-range firepower would be insane en masse. Best would be to make Kroot more viable for such a role, or make Stealth Suits scoring. Getting a strategem that allows one Fire Warrior unit to Infiltrate may be acceptable enough.
Devilfish should indeed cost less, as we are paying for the Skimmers Move Fast rules that no longer exist. Gun Drones should not count toward mission objectives (no contesting, no KP, just like Spores.)
A 55-60 point 'Fish is a great start... but Dis. Pods are gonna end up costing 10-20.

Sholto said...

I am not a big fan of these kinds of unit-fixing efforts, as they tend to head off in all sorts of different directions - some intriguing and some less so.

Unless GW changes its policy significantly, they will continue to push mech, lower unit costs and special characters with army-altering rules, so regardless of where we might want the Tau to go, it is highly likely it will go in this direction first.

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to see walkers with jetpacks (Heavy Crisis Suits) - got to do something to distinguish shooty Tau from shooty IG and shooty Eldar.

C!nder said...

I like your would match up with the whole tactical aspect of the Tau...being that they don't pick a fight unless they have control over the deployment.

In regards to the aforementioned links and everyone's opinions/suggestions, my TWO CENTS:

Give Devilfish, including those for Pathfinders, an optional upgrade (at say, 30pts perhaps) to allow them to outflank. The same can be done for Crisis Teams (maybe 15pts per model).