Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tau in 6th Ed: Crisis Suits (POST FAQ!)

I dropped an article one week ago going through the Tau crisis suit armoury options and unit configuration options in detail. Then, after all this hard work, Games Workshop release their now famous Warhammer 40k 6.1 Ed FAQs, screwing up several of my analyses and ruining a couple of tactical options that I was looking forward to trying out on the table.

However I can't complain because (A) they at least reinstated target locks to their former glory, and (B) these FAQs are fair, balanced, and the best thing to happen to 40k since, um ... OK I dunno. Maybe the Ork codex. Whatever, choose something that you liked. So instead here is the revised version, with original text scored out when no longer applicable, and new coolness added.

Oh yeah, not relevant to this article but disruption pods now give shrouding! Thats a 3+ cover save for all Tau vehicles which have 25% cover. Just saying :)

Airbursting fragmentation projector: At first glance this special issue gun, which ignores cover, might be considered weaker in an edition without the ubiquitous 4+ cover save. But you shouldn't  forget that night fight, defensive grenades and jink saves all both provide cover that this can ignore. There is a special rule added in the FAQ that makes this gun handy to have around at times - Barrage. In 6th edition this means that wounds must be allocated to the model closest to the center of the template until that model is dead. You can use it to snipe out a special model from a squad, though. Its unintuitive, but if you get 6 models under the large blast template then that is 6 wounds on the model you have targeted. Pity that Look Out Sir prevents you from killing special characters this way. (GREAT)

Blacksun filter: Whereas it used to double your vision distance at night, now it grants the Night Vision special rule. This is awesome because it means you ignore night fighting restrictions entirely! But the fun doesn't stop there, because this special rule is conveyed to the unit if any members have it! Now for the price of 3 points we can ignore night fighting, a rule that occurs in 50% of all turn ones in 6th edition and might continue further on occasion. This is mandatory. (GREAT)

Bonding knife: I could never quite find the points for this in 5th edition. Now that units only loose the change to rally (except double ones, I know!) when they fall below 25% size, this is less useful than ever. (BAD)

Burst cannon: This gun benefits from reduced cover saves a little I guess, but not much. Having to be 18" away might seem more dangerous with random charges, but you do get a 2d6" jump move in the assault phase. But like all the Tau S5 weapons it is better in 6th edition because it can glance vehicles to death. (GOOD)

Command and control note: Still useless.

Cyclic ion blaster: It has potential for AP1 which is nice in 6th edition, but its low S means that it is missing out on the benefits of glancing vehicles. There is no reason to take this now. (BAD)
Drone controller: Shield drones are better now because their 4+ invulnerable save will be more useful in 5+ cover. Gun drones are consequentially worse in this area, but those S5 guns can glance now people! So they are still balanced with each other. At first I thought drones might be slightly less useful with the new wound allocation system, because previously I was able to choose where the wounds go: put instant death wounds on drones, AP4 wounds on suits, etc. I don't think these hijinks are going to work as well now... except, did you know that drones take on the unit type of the model with the drone controller? That means that when attached to a character, drones are now characters! So that means they can Look Out, Sir! and issue and accept challenges! Especially great on an Independent Character where they can Look Out, Sir! on a 2+. (GREAT) Scratch that, drones no longer count as characters which is a real shame I tell you. Still, this is more than made up for by the ruling that units like Paladins and Nob Bikers are no longer all character units. (AVERAGE)

Ejection system: Still meh. Try not to die instead. It does protect you from slay the warlord, but hes likely to die next turn anyway. (BAD)

Failsafe detonator: It still blows up and prevents the enemy's pursuit. S8 AP- does as much damage as it did before. (AVERAGE)

Flamer: Better in 6th edition with that overwatch snapshot. But what the hell are you doing getting charged? And bigger units will mean that a small unit with flamers in the back field will make less of an impact. Get a real gun. (AVERAGE)

Fusion Blaster: Tau never needed melta to kill tanks, and with hull points and S5 spam it's easier than ever. Now there is no reason to venture anywhere near 12" from the enemy. (POOR)

Iridium armour plates: Did somebody say 2+ save? This guy is going to be at the front of your suit unit, taking all the fire and shrugging it off. Look Out, Sir! the AP1 and 2 stuff to those nearby shield drones and you should be OK. Hey look at the drawback: the additional 6" move in the Assault phase is reduced to D6". Well there ain't no 6" move any more, its 2D6". Guess that means that this just got awesome! (GREAT) Damn it they killed this one before it had a chance to fly. The item has been reworded to replace the usual 2d6 roll for movement with a d6 roll. No as good now, though still situationally useful. (AVERAGE)

Missile pod: It was the gun de jour in 5th edition, and that's not about to change. Medium strength high rate of fire is great for glancing tanks to death, and I am really liking the twin-linked option to help out against fliers. The 36" range works great with blacksun filters as we will always get to use it to its full potential. (GREAT)

Plasma rifle: I heard a rumour that plasma is the new melta. Other armies are switching to plasma to deal with 2+ saves, now that their close combat weapons have been neutered. But Tau always had to do this anyway, so no change there. Being able to glance vehicles to death is nice. Getting +1 on the damage chart will only occasionally have an impact. (GREAT)

Positional relay: The positional relay lets you bring one unit in from reserves on a 2+ - but now units come on with a 3+ anyway, so its not so useful for that. As for playing Ninja Tau and keeping the majority of your force off the table until turn 5, that isn't going to work anymore as you are only allowed to place half your army in reserves.  Leave it at home. (BAD)

Shield generator: A 4+ invulnerable save is better now with less cover around. But its still not worth giving up a weapons slot. Take a gun drone. (BAD)

Stimulant injector: In 5th edition I used to find this almost overkill, as usually when my Sash'o dies it was in spectacular fashion underneath a thunderhammer or similar. Now that characters can take point and absorb all the wounds for a unit, this is a bargain at the price. (GREAT)

Target Lock: For some unfathomable reason the Games Workshop Tau Codex FAQ update got 6th edition boldly pronounces "this piece of wargear no longer has any effect". Despite there being rules in 6th edition that explicitly deal with targeting multiple units. This really sucks, is surely and oversight, and needs to be fixed ASAP so that Tau can keep their competitive edge. But then they redeemed themselves in 6.1 edition, reinstating this iconic piece of Tau wargear to its former status.

Targeting Array: Hitting accurately is still good. Pity that this doesn't help with snapshots or it would be awesome. Its good for some weapon configurations. (GOOD)

Vectored Retro-Thrusters: This gives Hit and Run to a special character - which in 6th edition now means he gives it to the whole unit. Survive a round of combat and you are ready jump out and lay down some plasma. (GREAT)

Unit Configuration

6th edition seems to favour bigger units, ideally fronted by an IC with a rerollable 2+ invulnerable. OK we don't have that, but I think we can build a pretty awesome IC-lead large unit with lots of dakka. What really hurts is the loss of target locks, damn you GW! Once they fix that fiasco then Farsight is going to be an enticing options. The other option is to play Farsight, which does become a big points sink but is probably a lot of fun. Not something I have ever done, but with target locks back in play this is something to consider.

Anyway here is my attempt to build the "unkillable" crisis suit unit:

Shas'o - missile pod, plasma rifle, vectored retro-thrusters, hard-wired multitracker, hard-wired blacksun filter, hard-wired drone controller, 2 shield drones, iridium armour, stimulant injectors (185 points)

If we are taking a big unit, then the Ld 10 is going to be mandatory. Shield drones to maximise the effectiveness of their independent character status. Iridium armour and stimlant injectors to shrug off wounds. Black sun filter and retro-thrusters to give the whole unit Nightfighting and Hit and Run.

Shas'ui - Missile pod, airbursting fragmentation projector, multitracker, hard-wired drone controller, 2 gun drones
2 Shas'vre - missile pod, plasma gun, multitracker (206 points)
Not sure about the airburster but it needs testing on the battlefield. It's better here than on the Shas'o, as the bad BS doesn't show so much with template weapons.

Tactics wise, you put the shield drones up the front and/or sides as required, using 2+ 4+ "Look Out, Sir" rolls to distribute wounds throughout the unit. Those sheild drones rock a 2+ save from the Iridium Armour. As they die off the Shas'o moves to the front and takes over.

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