Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Deploying Tau Empire Markerlights

Could it be a new era for Markerlights?

Markerlights are a bread and butter tool of the Tau Empire, turning a mediocre unit at best into an elite one, and most importantly, being able to bring pressure where it is most needed, which makes Tau Empire units more adaptable.  They need not worry as much about where they are on the board because their superior range and the use of Markerlights make sure that whateveer they want to hit most, they will.

But 6th Edition has changed some fundamental things about the Tau Empire.  Namely, that the Markerlights don't need to be, perhaps, concentrated in just one unit. 

Pathfinders are easily the best value as far as deploying Markerlights.  They are essentially Fire Warriors that have 2 point Markerlight upgrades if they want to use them and can take two more if they want to spring for Markerdrones.  Consider that a normal Fire warrior squad needs to pay 12 points to get one markerlight, as much as it would cost to just have 6 Pathfinders.  Generally, the Pathfinders win in that comparison.

In 5E, the Devilfish requirement was no big deal because the Fire Warriors were GOING to take the Fish anyways, and the Fish that the Pathfinders get is better than the standard Devilfish.  So in essence, regardless of how some less astute players called it the 'Fish tax, the reality is, it wasn't one.


In 6E, ALL AV 11-12 armor took a hit on their main advantage, higher armor.  Whereas AV 10 vehicles got a leg up, AV 12 is no longer anywhere near as impressive.  So suddenly we find ourselves asking the question, is the 'Fish tax a legit idea?

I think there may be some truth to it, unfortunately.  The points spent on the Devilfish, given the HUGE increase in Fire Warrior mobility has changed the landscape.  A 12 man Fire Warrior Squad can move and still fire all its 30" guns.  Thats a lot more shots than the Devilfish was giving on the move even with missiles.  Cover makes the Fire Warrior unit at 12 basically the equivalent of a 6 man unit with 6 ablative Hull Points  when you get down to it and no chance for explosion!  They're never charging anyways (well...almost never), so the Devilfish loses some of its lustre given that it might only ever avail those Fire Warriors an extra 6" to 12" of movement over the course of the game at the best of times.  Fire Warriors were never your first choice for rear objectives, Kroot and Deep Strikers were.  So the Devilfish may well not be worth taking at all if not for the Pathfinder Beacon.

So this makes a few changes make sense.

1.  You can now get away with having just one Pathfinder unit, for the Beacon to guide Deep Strikers in.  A second one will make little enough difference and is no longer attractive for the Fire Warriors to steal in many builds.

2.  Markerlights on Fire Warrior Shas'ui make sense more than ever.  On the move or not, having one in the unit instead of on a Marker Drone or on a pathfinder can now be justified if there are in 12 man squads.

3.  Points for Markerdrone were never really available because of the need for 3-4 Devilfish's but without those Devilfish's taking up points, you have all kinds of points to spend on markerlights.  One in every Broadside unit is now doable and even putting them in the Stealthunits in small numbers makes infinite amounts of sense. 

4.  Sniper Drones are BS 4 Markerlights!  This fact is missed a lot of times by, well, everyone.  But they are, and so are the TWO you can get on the Skyray.  So suddenly those units look a lot more attractive as inexpensive ways to add them to a list.

Here is a fun example list of what the new look Markerlight driven Tau might look like.  It has its anti-flyer unit, plenty of FnP busting power, range up the wazoo, terrifying overwatch prospects, and even some sneaky objective stealing elements since you have no way to take the enemies rear objectives per se without allies.  In the mission where Heavies or Fast Attacks are considered scoring, the Piranha's will give you an added threat while the Broadsides will be very good at holding rear objectives if forced to in the former mission. 

But most importantly, the Markerlights will make some of these units quite a bit scarier than normal  There are 10 Seeker Missiles and 10 Marker lights in this list!  That's enough to blow an entire unit off the board in one go on a good day and you don't even feel like you're wasting the points like you used to.

Shas'El (Plasma, Fusion Blaster, Multi, irridium)
2 x 1 Broadside Team Leaders (MarkerDrone, Shield Drone, HW Multitracker, A.S.S.)
Skyray (Burst Cannons, Disruption)
4 x 12 Fire Warrior Squads (Photon Grenades, Shas'ui with Markerlight)
2 x 6 Stealthsuits (2 x Fusion, 8 Gun Drones, Marker Drone, Team Leader)
3 Crisis suits (TL FLamers, Fusion Blaster)
Piranha (2 x Seeker Missiles)
Piranha (2 x Seeker Missiles)

Models:  96
KP:  14
Markerlights: 10!


  1. Are you going to field a markerlight heavy list against Matt today? I'm working late, so I won't be able to play unfortunately.

  2. You know I have been so busy today at work that I hadn't even figured that out yet, to be honest. This blog was prompted by another forum I am on and the discussion on Markerlights over there. It got my wheels turning about the Devilfish tax and that evolved into me thinking about the Markerlights in more general terms and so it goes!


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