Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sniper Drones of the Tau Empire

As the 5th Edition OFCC tournament approaches and i prepare myself for it it is humorous on a couple of levels to me, because as part of trying to make a friendly list (which is sort of the point at OFCC, or at least ostensibly it is) I included this unit as one that never sees play...ever.  I've literally never seen anyone usee them EXCEPT me.

Yet looking forward to 6th Edition I am kind of glad I own them.  Let's take a look.

First off, they are STR 6.  In 40K, STR is easily the most important stat in the game.  Even terminators fail saves, given enough of them and so the more wounds you do, the more chances to kill them.  Obviously, STR 6 weapons are in the sweet spot for negating Feel no Pain on many more "mundane" toughness models like most Dark Eldar.  You're wounding on 2's against the vast majority and it means that even Monsters are getting wounded on 4's.  In other words, it inhabits a very important and valuable niche.

Adding to that is the AP 3.  It is a Marine killing gun platform for sure.  There really isn't a trygon anywhere who wants to see these things as it pops up in front of the Tau gunline either.  Even an Avatar would be less than enthused.

It is also a pinning Weapon.  2/3 of the Codex's do not feature primarily fearless units.  Everyone likes to live to fight another day.  So while it is poo poo'd by many, Pinning can and has won battles for people.  Being stopped from making a charge at a critical time can be a death knell.

Add to this the ability of markerlights.  6 markerlight hits will allow all 9 guns to hit on 2's, wound on 2, no save.  12 Markerlight hits (unlikely, but factually true) will do the same thing, only removing your cover to boot.  Point is, they can obliterate entire units of Marines.  Very potent threat.

Now the new rules make them even heartier.  You can no longer ALLOCATE KILL the Drone Controller which was a huge reason why people didn't take them.  when the enemy would dare to try the Night Fight rules to see them, three wounds usually did in the entire squad. 

But now Shrouded and Stealth make a Sniper Drone Team almost immortal.  They are AS HARD TO KILL AS BROADSIDES WITH TWO SHIELD DRONES.  And thats pretty darn tough!  Shoruded and stealth give them 4+ cover saves in the open and 2+ when actually in cover.  ridiculous.  When defended by their doughty Fire Warrior Buddies, they are just a really impressive unit now in the Tau repertoire.

I don't know if people will look at them more favorably than using the slot for Broadsides but if you have the slot, I can think of many things that would be a ton worse to have than them.  Its a very viable unit now.  if the Three drone squad kills 5 marines, it got its points back.  They should be able to do that every game with maarkerlight help.


  1. How do you like the way 6th edition has affected the Tau in particular?

  2. The Tau are stronger in 6th. What made them ferocious when they were ferocious AT ALL was their shooting. The second thing that made Tau good when they were allowed to do their thing is mobility. their units by and large can get to anywhere on the board at pretty much any time they want to. Take a look:
    Troops can fly in AV 12 Devilfish's which is great.
    Kroot can outflank or infiltrate.
    Crisis Teams Can Deep Strike
    Stealth Hammers can infiltrate, outflank OR Deep Strike
    HQ's can deep strike or now, thanks to the "one model in the unit" rules, they can outflank or infiltrate too!
    Pathfinders can redeploy (scouts) and outflank while Stingwings can Deep Strike and Drones can too.
    PathFinder Devilfish's even let you re-roll Scatter!

    In other words, what other army has about 80% of its units as mobile, in and of themselves, or with easy access to the ability? It's pretty impressive when you think of how many directions the Tau can come from and how much control they exercize over when and where that is.

    And now they can move AND fire effectively? Stay away from trouble and keep pumping out pain? Yes please!

    The Stealthfield change is huge though. 2+ cover saves is just silly awesome. What a deterrent unit, let alone "front line" unit. In cover and infiltrating, they can wipe a flank on their own. Jumping back after each fusilade and daring enemies to spend shots on a 2+ save unit. It's scary when you think about it.

    Snipe Drones, like I outlined here, are equally cool.

    Thus far, the allied combinations that seem to fill the best role for MY army will be Farseer+Rangers+Harlequins OR Lysander+Scouts+Terminators. Every army will differ in that regard though.


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