Thursday, April 18, 2013
New Tau Codex Unit Reviews - Sky Ray Missile Defence Gunship
Sadly for the humble Sky Ray, it's been somewhat overshadowed by it's brother with a bigger weapon. Essentially both are the same tank. Where the Hammerhead has a railgun (or ion cannon) the Sky Ray has 6 seekers, two networked markerlights (which are like gold dust now) and a velocity tracker. It shares the support weapon options with the Hammerhead. However, even with a disruption pod it only comes to 130pts.
Let's take a quick whip through the Vehicle Battle Systems. Take a disruption pod and ignore the rest. I did say it would be quick! The advantage of the Sky Ray over the Hammerhead and Broadsides is its low cost. Otherwise it kind of struggles to be honest.
The Sky Ray is always touted in the fluff as an anti-air platform and by giving it a velocity tracker, GW has at least paid lip service to this. Sadly the rules for seekers mean that (despite the description in the fluff on p.51) only the Sky Ray can fire its missiles. In the past a Sky Ray could be hidden behind a building and a unit could use markerlights to fire missiles off. Now the description of markerlights says something like, "can fire seeker missiles if it has any".
All is not lost though. Some are calling it the Skylight as it has two markers that can hit flyers on 3+ which is better than any other markerlights. In the previous book GW actually rulled that you'd need to hit on a 6+ then fire the missile on a 6+ which was frankly ludicrous. Now you can fire them at BS4 by default or BS5 with a markerlight. Wait a second though, that sounds just as bad. Fire a markerlight at BS4 and then a missile at BS5, that's only slightly better than BS3 right?
Well that's if you're using the "Seeker" rule for the markerlight hits. Odds are you're going to get at least a single markerlight hit. Remember they're Networked so fire BEFORE your missiles. If you use "Pinpoint" you can now fire all of your missiles off at BS5 not just one. That means you can probably alpha-strike an AV12 flyer. However, you'll then have very few missiles left. This can be good or bad though. With no missiles you aren't perceived as much of a threat meaning you'll be free to markerlight other things including flyers to help out the Broadsides. Not bad, but far from excellent. It's worth bearing in mind that if you do choose to fire your missiles with the "Seeker" markerlight rule they'll get Ignores Cover which could help.
Sadly, I still feel like the Sky Ray needs a bit more love. The biggest issue is that it needs to remain completely still to get to fire all of its weapons. With the loss of the "defensive weapons" rules it can only fire one of its weapons at full BS if it moves including markerlights. This wasn't such a big deal in 5th as not only did the disruption pod allow you a near permanent 4+ save but also your Fire Warriors could fire seekers from the Sky Ray by expending markerlight hits. Now though it means your Sky Ray has to stay put to be effective. This is crap for a skimmer as it means if you can't find a building to stick it behind you're only getting a 6+ save from the disruption pod. Gone is the upgrade to make it a fast vehicle too.
It's a bit of a one shot wonder. For that volley against a flyer it could be a near automatic kill but after that it's left feeling impotent. Perhaps I'm missing something but it feels like GW were a bit lazy with the Sky Ray. Since it's parts are now boxed together with the Hammerhead (and always were for the savvy Tau player) there's not much need for them to make it appealing. It seems they looked at it and thought "it's meant to be anti-air so let's give it a velocity tracker" and then moved on to something else.
Now, the best thing about writing these posts is the feedback I get from you guys. I don't claim to be an expert in the new Tau book by any stretch and hearing the opinions of others will help me towards that goal. Am I missing something about the Sky Ray? Is there a redeeming quality I haven't spotted? I want to field one but I simply can't persuade myself.
That pretty much rounds off Heavy Support. I'll talk about Sniper Teams in a post I'm planning about markerlights. Next up in this series is the hotly contested HQ slot!