Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Tau Codex Unit Reviews - Hammerhead Gunship (incl. Longstrike)

As I mentioned in the Broadside post. The Hammerhead Gunship is now the only place you can find the iconic S10 AP1 railgun that defined the Tau army for the last couple of editions. The Heavy Support section of the Tau FOC is pretty hotly contested but most people are likely to take a couple of Broadside teams supported by a Hammerhead or Sky Ray. The Sniper Teams simply won't get a look in I'm afraid. They're not awful but the other choices are brilliant so they'll lose out.

The Hammerhead Gunship has come down in price quite dramatically, well the railgun variant has at least. The armour profile of 13/12/10 has been retained, as has BS4. Interestingly submunition rounds are now a 5pt upgrade for your railgun but I think they should be always taken as it gives the hammerhead some flexibility.

The gun drones can now be swapped for a twin-linked burst cannon (rather than the two burst cannons previously, which doesn't make much difference) or a twin-linked SMS. Both upgrades are free and both put out 4 S5 shots. However, the SMS has much better range, Ignores Cover and doesn't require line of sight. The importance of this will become obvious later. As with other vehicles, Seeker Missiles can be taken but I don't really see the point.  The railgun can be swapped for an ion cannon but since this is the only place to find the railgun now I can't see many people opting for ion, even with the overcharge option.

The Hammerhead can be given Vehicle Battle Systems but, before we look at them, I need to talk about the most interesting thing about the new Hammerhead which is Commander Longstrike. For 45pts a single Hammerhead can have this little fella in the cockpit. Based on my experience of him in a couple of test games he's pretty awesome.

Longstrike makes your Hammerhead BS5 which means hitting nearly every time. He also has the Tank Hunter rule which means you can re-roll to penetrate vehicles which is frankly disgustingly good on an S10 weapon. Throw in Preferred Enemy (IG) and you're getting through Chimeras/Leman Russ pretty quickly. He also gives the tank a blacksun filter (only 1pt to buy anyway). The other cool thing he does is to give his Hammerhead the ability to fire Overwatch and Supporting Fire. Oh and it can do it several times a turn!! This is why the SMS is better as sometimes a unit being charged might not be in line of sight of the hammerhead but still within 6". The SMS can still hit the attackers even if the railgun can't. This makes your hammerhead a really scary proposition in the middle of your gunline.

Personally, I'm only planning on taking a single Longstrike Hammerhead in my armies so let's look at the Vehicle Battle Systems we can give to the tank. We don't need a blacksun filter or point defence targeting relay. The repair system is a bit of waste of time even for 5pts and we aren't going to reserve it so decoy launchers are out. The advanced targeting systems and flechette discharger are tempting but the hammerhead is already pretty expensive. The only upgrade I'd give a Longstrike Hammerhead then is the disruption pod as, if you can find some ruins to hide behind you can claim a near permanent 3+ cover save. Otherwise you're still getting 4+ from Jink.

Conclusion
The tank with submunition rounds, Longstrike and a disruption pod comes to 190pts which is cheaper than a pair of broadsides and probably just as good against ground targets. Essentially whilst it's alive you're killing a tank per turn.

Without Longstrike the tank is still BS4 and can be markerlight boosted to higher but personally I'd rather have Broadsides. Next up we'll round off the Heavy Support choices by looking at the Sky Ray. It's my favourite Tau model but there's stiff competition for it's place in the Tau army.

13 comments:

  1. I think you are right on the money with the Hammerhead. I'm really worried about facing Longstrike next time I use my guard army. Even if I take infantry spam he's two markerlights away from ignoring cover with a big old blast!

    I'm sorry you won't be reviewing the sniper drones. In all the Tau codex my favourite concept is that of the drones (I know battle suits are cooler but the drones just seem so logical in a future war setting). The sniper drones in anyone else's codex would be stellar: 6 BS5, S5, pinning, sniper shots at 24" range for 58 points! Read it and weep Ratlings! And then you get a markerlight hit to boost your next unit's firing if you didn't pin the target unit. Add in the stealth for at least a 4+ cover save (presuming you own any scenery) and they are golden. In any other codex. Hmm I suppose that counts as a drone review.

    Now to see if the Skyray is better than the little chaps, I'm thinking "no" at the moment but I'm looking forward to your next review to see if I change my mind.
    Ian

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    1. Thanks for the comment mate. Sniper drones won't be getting their own post as there isn't as much to say about them but they are covered in a post I've got scheduled for Friday.

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    2. It also seems worth noting that since Longstrike gives a blacksun filter and overwatch to his tank, that's 11 points in upgrades that just come with his value automatically... and that he gives his hammerhead regular overwatch, not a point defense targeting relay, which would suggest that it's not limited by the PDTR's strength 5 limitation on overwatch shots (wouldn't surprise me if that got FAQ'd, but you never know).

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    3. To me there's no restriction i.e. the turret can fire overwatch. Doesn't need FAQing but people will still argue with it. As I say, Longstrike is a bargain for what he does to the hammerhead.

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    4. I definitely agree, although I'd like to point out that ethereal's storm of fire works on sniper drones. Hence, a full squad is kicking out 27, twinlinked, pinning, rending, bs5, s5, precision shots. Plus, with two spotters, they'll normally have ignores cover. Oh, and did I mention they can jsj? Even if you simply take a min squad with 3 spotters, it's cheaper per marker hit than pathfinders, tougher, and has some awesome drones as well. If you have the heavy slot free, they are incredible
      Sam

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  2. The thing people will be remembering is that a longstrike hammerhead costs about the same as a railgun hammerhead of old but is so much awesomely better! If you are after a straight swap of your old army list into a new codex force then its a no brainer!

    - oink

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  3. sensor spines anyone?

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    1. I second the notion, Longstrike immobilising himself on some terrain robs him of that awesome DPod buffed jink cover save, at 5 points I think they're a no brainer.

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    2. If you can spare the points sure, why not?

      Personally my list is pretty tight on points at sensor spines were one of the first things to go.

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  4. Excellent Tau articles so far, keep them up!

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    1. Thanks mate. I've got articles scheduled until Friday night and plans for several more.

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  5. Out of curiosity have you considered using the Ion Cannon with Longstrike instead of the Railgun?

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    1. Hadn't really thought about it if I'm honest. However, with the railgun he's such a reliable tank killer that I don't really see the benefit of the ion cannon instead.

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