Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tau Drones: A short guide to getting the most out of your Burgerbots.

Piranhas’ are perhaps the most important units in the Tau Codex. This fast skimmer has a wide front, 2 free gun drones and the remarkable front armor of 11. While being open-topped is a mixed blessing for the Piranha, it also allows the vehicle to drop drones that can move in the assault phase and reduces damage to the drones when the vehicle explodes (suffering S3 hits instead of S4, check your rulebook). While I used to field my Piranhas in a single large squadron, I have since taken to fielding them as individual vehicles, that zip around to block enemy transports, get in the way of things and blast away with their Fusion Blasters.

Piranhas are used to choke avenues of approach. In the first couple turns of the game I will use them to stall the approaching enemy force. By moving flat out, they can collect a 4+ cover save and reduce the enemies chances to hit in close combat, thus making them slightly harder to kill. They will die however, your opponent will make sure of that, because you’re likely threatening him with a meltagun.

Before this is done however, drop your drones. Disembark them deploy two inches from the vehicle at any point (open-topped disembark) and then you can move them around to attack or protect where needed. A unit of two gun drones (burgerbots) is seemingly tiny and insignificant, however your opponent will have to devote a unit’s turn of shooting to destroy them. Because of that, they are largely ignored by the enemy as they buzz around, firing their pulse carbines.

I use them as a defensive unit and speed bump unit. I’ll move them around to block assaults. They move into range to be assaulted without blocking any shots from my shooting then in the assault phase will move up as close as they can to enemy unit, while Crisis Suits move back, shoot and move further into safety. The bots then get assaulted or shot and killed, leaving the enemy in the open to get hit by Crisis Suits for a second time.

Drones can also be used to get in the way of enemy shooting, providing cover for any units behind them. The enemy has choice, waste his shooting by gunning down the burgerbots or fire on a juicier target with the bots providing that 4+ cover save. As I mentioned before, most enemies will choose to ignore the bots but any shooting at the drones is a bonus.

In the offense, you can look for targets of opportunity, moving them up to get side armor shots on Chimeras and rear on Rhinos and other transports. If you’re extremely lucky, you might be able to pin a unit or two throughout the game, so keep them burgerbots firing!

Your Commander can also do a “hamburgler,” by joining a unit of drones for free burgetbot protection.  

Don’t forget even if drones aren’t scoring units, they can still contest objectives. Drones that are already attached to a devilfish extend its contesting range by 15 to 21 inches. The devilfish drops the drones 2 inches from the hull, the drones move (drones disembark via open-topped disembark on all vehicle, check the TAU FAQ online.) 6 inches, run D6 inches and then move their assault move another 6 inches for that turn 5 contest.

And finally a word on Kill Points. GW made a huge error in games design when they created Kill Points. Using Kill Points as a win condition is just plain silly because it favors armies that have smaller, more elite hard-to-kill armies. Sure they made it a simply system that any 8-year old can understand and calculate but they ignored that fact that it is an unbalanced scoring system. The Tau got seriously screwed by this with all those free drones flying around. Luckily for me, organizers of local tournaments have had the common sense to use victory points over Kill Points.

If you are unlucky enough to be playing with Kill Points, drop your drones early, do not send them on any missions of burgetbot glory. Your opponent will look for them and hunt them down for those easy points. Keep them protected by sitting them behind terrain or generally in the back of your army. This isn't such a problem as Tau are generally good at Kill Point missions because of our range and  weaponry. 

Burgerbots are your friends and heroes, use them well. 


Pete W said...

A good shot can also eliminate any space marine Rhino chassis tanks on the rear armour, like the Baal Predator OSH took out in our last game.

I'll never again underestimate the little flying toasters.

ehemkeh said...

Drones are the unsung heroes of the Empire!

I love doing the turn 5 objective contest, even though people seem to think it's cheesy. Oh well, we're already at a disadvantage playing Tau, we have to use all the tricks we can.

Thanks for the tip on the S3 versus S4 hits for the pirahna drones. I've been doing that one wrong.

Anonymous said...

You cant disembark the drones the same turn as you fly flat out.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Anon, in one way yes, the other no. You can disembark your drones if it is done BEFORE the vehicle moves flat out. Not afterwards. So you can't fly out 24 inches and drop your drones, but you can drop your drones, then fly 24 inches to block a lane of approach.

tim said...

the drones that disembark from the vehicle don't count as kill points. it is on the page with the vehicle upgrades (i don't have the book on hand). i think it also says that in the tau faq.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Tim,Are you sure? There's nothing in the Tau FAQ about that and the Codex doesn't have any mention of Kill Points because they weren't invited at the time of printing.

Old Shatter Hands said...

I mean "they weren't invented at the time of printing."

tim said...

sorry, i was thinking of victory points. anyway, can you show me your tau list, i want to compare my list to yours.

Anonymous said...

very good article, I had actually been searching the web for such an article, and thought id check your page that I had book marked some months back. Very well written and I look forward to the report of you sending Jawaballs back to Baal with his tale between his legs.

Old Shatter Hands said...

@Tim, My list is classified information right now but if you email me I can send it to you. Check my profile and you'll be able to find my email address.

Xyhelm said...

Very great article, OSH! I've always wondered about taking a squadron of piranhas or taking them solo. You've got an excellent strategy there, but for the most part, I think that decision is up to how many Fast Attack choices you have to spare. After all, Pathfinders are a must!

Everything you mentioned are things that I attempt to do--with sometimes horrible results. But I never thought about running disembarked drones! That's awesome! I also didn't know that about how you can disembark before moving flat out. :)

Good advice on having drones run away on Kill Point missions. A 24-point kill point? Really?!

Firewasp said...

I love using drones to block peoples Movement, nothing more irritating to your opponent the blocking his expensive assault troops with a few points of gun drones.

sonsoftaurus said...

Good article, people often forget about the little things that can make a big difference.

I don't think Drones as KP is that big a deal since it's countered by them being able to contest in the other 2/3 of standard missions. That said, I wouldn't mind a FAQ/new book that made drones not bought as a squadron not able to contest and not count as KP.