Monday, July 2, 2012

Rise of the Empire

The Tau Empire is beginning to Rise from the ashes in 6th Edition.

So many rules to talk about!  The Tau Empire has become more effective in 6th Edition.  Some of that comes from unexpected quarters of the new rulebook, other things come from the FAQ.  Let's dig in.

Snap Fire:  We all know that for the most part, when taking charges, the Tau are lost.  It is only a matter of degree and whether we can take a few with us first.  Snap fire is therefore obviously awesome in TWO ways and a downside in one.
First, it can break a charge and stop it from happening.  Snap Fire happens before you roll for the charge distance, and just one casualty caused by snap fire can be all the difference between a made or failed charge.  So it isn't just the damage you do, but it's also the added 1/2" to 2" inches you can rob the charge of.

Being able to snap fire heavy Weapons is going to mean a lot more to Tau than some armies.  Rail rifles are more useful than they were when outflanking and Sniper Drone Teams are at least marginally more useful when coming on from reserve.  Markerlights themselves will be able to hit on the move on occassion too. 

Broadsides might risk not taking Advanced Stabilization and take multitrackers more now that they can snap fire.

Snap Shot really is going to make for a more potent Tau force given that shooting IS their offense.  Fire Warriors, for this reason and others have grown much scarier.

Downside is, you used to be able to fire as you fall back, at full BS, and since so many Tau find themselves in this unenviable position, it's unfortunate that tyhey will be less effective when doing so.  This is far outeigh'd though by the benefits.

And regrouping is now far easier in 6th Edition!  there is no 6" rule.  That is huge.

Another unexpected quarter of help comes from a piece of Wargear no one ever uses:  Vectored Retro Thrusters.  If you've read my blog, then you know I like Sealthsuits.  Only one member of a unit needs to have Hit and Run in order for the entire unit to have it!  That means that a Shas'El can grant this ability to the Stealth unit.  The possibilities of a Stealthsuit unit with a Shas'El with this wargear, coupled with the Failsafe Detonator are even more awesome than they already were.  You don't even have to hide the commander from combat like you used to becasue you have a Team Leader to accept or issue challenges for the Shas'El and the units LD is not affected by the loss of a Team Leader.  Overall the Vectored Retro Thrusters should prove quite useful.

One other benefit of theFailsafe Detonator is the way pile in moves work.,  The Pile in mechanic ensures a really nasty number of hits for the failsafe detonator, better than any LashWhipe could ever hope to cause!

Positional Relays remain the boon they always were. Though the rules have changed, the functional value of it has not.

Shield Drones now work ten times better than they did.  Thanks to the Look Out Sir special rule and the fact that once unsaved wounds start getting allocated to a character they KEEP getting allocated to him til he's dead (or not dead), the Drones ability to negate these wounds when you get to the last one becomes quite valuable in preserving the units strength.  Lets say my Shas'el is the closest member of the Stealthsuit unit.  He then will be allocated wounds until he dies.  So with irriduium armor and Look Out Sir on his Drones, his entire unit may take no damage at all from a Leman Russ Punisher!  The added staying power this can give a unit is ridiculous.  Draigo and Archons are both other excellent examples of characters that can lead the way and protect their unit from considerable damage from the front and the Tau Commanders now join their ranks in that regard.

High armor values are very much rewarded in the new 6th Edition and Iridium armor is now worth its weight in gold for this reason.  It becomes ten times better than it was for protecting the unit behind the leader.

Drones that belong to a dead Controller are now going to be able to at least swing at the enemy before dying thanks to the FAQ clarifying that they go away at the end of the phase.

Sensor Spines, with the new terrain rules, have just shot up in value.  The ability to ignore terrain effects is a big one withthe mysterious stuff that's been added to the game.

The FAQ made Decoy Launchers relevant again, which was nice.  In the land of objective missions, the Decoy Launcher is King.  Hull Points make keeping a vehicle alive a little longer difficult, and now you only explode on a 6.  This makes a Decoy Launcher more valuable overall.  Of course there will be times when you don't wish to employ the launcher, but the option is very nice.

The Mishap table was kind to Tau.  Not only is it less lethal now, but in addition, Reserves come on faster so that being put in Reserve or Ongoing Reserve is a small matter.  The fact that Pathfinder Devilfish's let you re-roll DeepStrike locations makes Tau the Deep Striking KINGS of 40K as they should be.

Add to this in the case of Stealthsuits, that they can take advantage of cover like no one's business now, and you have a really REALLY good unit there.  Consider also that enemy Reserves rolling on from the board edge can't charge you on the round they appear!  This is an enormous advantage for a Deep Striking army because it ensures that the melee threats you see when you Deep Strike are truly the only immediate threats you have to deal with.  No surprise charges.

The Jet Packs rule has now made the Stealth unit a lot easier to use also.  Before, you were unable to bounce on the round you arrived via DeepStrike with any Tau units except Drone units.  That prohibition has been lifted and you now can.  This means that even a bad Deep Strike too close to the enemy will not mean certain doom.  In fact, there will be almost no time when a stealth unit or Crisis unit will worry about getting charged the round it comes in.  Premeasuring makes Deep Striking a science instead of an art.  Excellent!

I've often said the REAL value in Crisis suits is their TL Flamers.  This package is highly affordable and the damage output is worth the price, plus losing them isn't so bad.  Now that you don't have to worry about reserve troops whacking you, their boldness can increase also.

Sadly the importance and usefulness of pinning has been sharply reduced, and Crabines are much less attractive.  But that's okay because the Fire Warrior Pulse Rifle now has a 15" Rapid Fire Range!  This is an incredibly significant change given you can premeasure and stay out of charge range much more easily.  While the truly fast unit WILL catch you eventually, that 15" range is awfully significant.  Staying 21 inches from units means never being charged by any BUT the fastest and pumping out a very significant rate of fire.  Fire Warriors are BACK.

Nothing but good news for Stingwings who now have the Hammer of Wrath ability.  As an emergency charger, they became a lot better and their ability to help out in contesting objectives improved.  Can't tell you how many 5 man scout units they've been forced to go after on a rear objective and been bounced or unable to affect much.  With their Fleet of Wing ability, it will almost guarantee they can get the charge off when they need to and this will dramatically increase their rearguard attack ability.

Photon Grenades are pretty cool now.  With the new rules, they grant stealth to the unit against units that are close enough to charge (within 8" anyways).  That means chargers will be able to do less damage to Tau before the charge and that can only help.

Even Hammerhead Railguns got an upgrade.  Thanks to the fact that blasts now do FULL damage to vehicles they touch, no matter where they scatter, the Submunition is a little better than it was before.  It still wont win any awards as a vehicle killer but it is something and therefore at least worth mentioning.

There were a couple downsides.

Kroot suffered big time.  They can't charge from outflank, nor infiltrate, nor reserve.  Overall they took a serious bath.  As a low cost firebase they might still be viable, but not even the Hounds can save them now.  They are a bad unit now unless something changes.  60 points will get you a cheaper fire Warriors that can block charges or "bubble wrap" just as well as any other unit can and now that Fire Warriors can actually move ones in a while, this is twice as true.  It will be a very difficult thing to include Kroot now.

Piranhas lost their ability to take the Target Lock as did all Tau units.  this was a head scratcher.  This might seem small but the Target Lock was a really powerful piece of wargear for a lot of reasons.  It made Broadsides better, and allowed you to make more use of the FOC.  in the case of Piranhas though, you could lay waste to multiple vehicles in a round.  this ability was very useful for "breaking the charges" of the enemy. 

The loss of value on Pinning, coupled with the Sniper Drones loss of Target Locks really makes the unit a lot less attractive.  Snap Fire helps a bit but overall, you go from a unit that could pin three units to a unit that can pin one.  There's just no getting around that what was alreayd a suspect unit in some peoples eyes because of its lack of the relentless rule has now sort of come to rest in the TRULY suspect category.

Well those are the biggees.  I hope you enjoyed reading it.


  1. I find it invigorating that 6th Edition has breathed new life into a few old codices. Allies seem tipped in the favor of the Imperium, unfortunately. Overall, it seems there is plenty for competitive and non-competitive gamers.

    I'm still reading, but so far I am pretty impressed with 6th.

  2. How it plays in actual games will be the true test. I got in a couple rounds today and it rerally didn't FEEL different, but I could tell how much better some units got almost immediately.

  3. Hey, just catching up on some reading. One point of clarification: my understanding is that Markerlights will not improve your ability to hit when snap firing, (see multiple modifiers and set value modifiers for clarification). Did you see something which led you to believe differently?

  4. Most of the time it won't matter, as they are used up in your player turn. However I suppose if you moved heavy weapons, they would fire AT BS 1. Looking at page 2, I'd say that this is a set value and so Markerlights would not IN FACT help. That little sentence there is key. I had not caught this nuance when I first wrote this blog entry. I like that ruling in a lot of ways because while it doesn't help Tau, at least it clarifies a lot of question makrs that used to come up and that have come up in 6E already. As we get further into 6E and more allied combinations are tested, I think we'll see even more benefit from that clarity.