Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Tau Codex Unit Reviews - XV88 Broadsides

Continuing my, so far very wordy, series of unit reviews we come to another of the big talking points of the new Tau codex: Broadsides losing their S10 railguns to be replaced with S8. The only place you can now get the old S10 version is on the Hammerhead but I'll get to them later. So are Broadsides still a strong choice in the new book?

Before I go any further I want make a quick point about the new models. Whilst they're stunning models I've never really liked the suit holding the gun, preferring the shoulder mount. It's an iconic look in my opinion. The difficulty is that I'll be running them in tournaments where I can see people complaining that they're smaller and hence offer a gaming advantage. The solution is expensive as each Broaside costs £30 (less as I buy them at discount) meaning the units I like to run would cost £120 total (£96 with 20% discount). That's obscene in my opinion. Anyway, moving on.

In the old book Broadsides were almost an automatic choice for me. Twin-linked BS3 (or 4 with targeting arrays) was superior to a Hammerhead every time. I ran two pairs of XV88s with shield drones and they were frankly awesome. Before I get to talking about their role now, let me talk about their current options.

The suits themselves became 5pts cheaper and retain the same stats. A 2+ save and lack of Jet Pack being the key differences between them and their Crisis colleagues. Like Crisis suits they now have a built in multi-tracker and blacksun filter though. The blacksun filter isn't much use against flyers who'll arrive after the lights have been switched back on but the multitracker is excellent for Supporting Fire. They can still be taken in teams of up to three with one member able to upgrade to a Shas'vre. In the old book you needed to do this in order to take a hard-wired target lock but with hard-wired systems removed there's no need. However, Shas'vre are now Ld 9 which means 10pts is perhaps worth it to prevent them running off when they lose a drone!

The S8 AP1 "heavy rail rifle" (which I will end up calling a railgun by mistake in this post) can be replaced with a high-yield missile pod. Both are twin-linked but the latter is S7 AP4 with 4 shots. Personally I can't see a situation where the missile pod would be better. Whilst it would give you more shots against vehicles/flyers I don't think the loss of AP1 is worth it, nevermind the point of strength. Two railgun toting broadsides have a better chance of destroying an AV12 vehicle in one volley than two missile pod suits do. It isn't until AV10 that they start to even out and at AV10 why are you shooting with Broadsides anyway? AP1 is crucial here and the Tau are (I think) the only race that can fire AP1 at flyers at full BS.

You can now swap the (now twin-linked) SMS for a twin-linked plasma rifle for 5pts a model which makes that build a lot cheaper. I'm undecided on whether this is worth it though. If an AV11 or less flyer is in close range then two S6 AP2 shots (but likely only one hit) could still be enough to bring it down. However, that's assuming the flyer is within 12" of your suits. Plasma rifles are good if you're using the XV88s to take down infantry but that should only be last resort anyway. The SMS has far superior range and for Supporting Fire purposes has the advantage of not requiring line of sight.

Seeker missiles are an interesting idea. Being able to fire both the railgun and a missile at the same time is good and 2 S8 shots per suit is tempting against flyers. If a target has a single markerlight hit on it you're still better firing your railguns at BS4 than firing the single seeker at BS5 though. This comes back to AP1 again. Personally I think they're a bit of a waste of points but I'm going to try them a bit more before I totally rule them out.

Any suit can now take a drone or two. In the past Shield Drones were excellent as they shared the suit's 2+ save but added a 4++ save. They now have a 4+ save but retain their 4++ for 12pts instead of 15. Still worth taking then? Tempting but there's also the option of missile drones (exclusive to Broadsides). Sadly these don't share the suit's Skyfire (even with a Drone Controller - in my opinion) and so are only really useful against ground targets. Therefore, unless I'm convinced otherwise I'll still be taking Shield drones. Yes they can die more easily but if there's S8+ AP2 or AP1 fire coming at your suits then I'd rather have a 4++ save on a drone than risk a cover save on a suit that will instantly kill it.

The issue is that should the drone die you're going to have to take a leadership test. You might therefore think that 2pts is worth it for bonding knives to save a suit should he find himself alone. However, the likelihood is he'll be on the board edge or near it and will run off the table before you get a chance to regroup. Ld 9 from the Shas'vre becomes pretty important though.

Finally, we come to the Support Systems. Everyone, and I mean everyone will take Velocity Trackers. There's not even any point discussing the rest for competitive play. They can only have one system and the ability to choose Skyfire is too good to pass up. With more and more flyers around (thank you Death from the Skies) the Broadsides should ALWAYS been given a Velocity Tracker in competitive play. For this one reason Tau will now be incredibly popular allies for everyone, especially when mandatory HQ and Troops can be done so cheaply.

My units will look like this: one Shas'vre, one Shas'ui, velocity trackers and a shield drone each for 204pts. Not much more than before and for that you're getting great anti-air, the option for anti-infantry and 30" or less and decent Supporting Fire.

Conclusion
It should be clear why GW decided to make them S8. With the addition of optional Skyfire there was no way they'd allow a twin-linked S10 railgun. Everyone would take them as allies and there'd be literally no point taking flyers. Even now flyers with AV less than 12 will struggle.

In most of my games with Tau so far the flyers I've been facing are AV12 e.g. Heldrakes, Vendettas and Stormravens. Heldrakes are very popular right now and Broadsides provide a good answer. Their 2+ saves make them difficult for the Heldrake to deal with and if they manage to get a penetrating hit past the flyer's invulnerable save then it's basically 2+ to take it out of action (2 giving you weapon destroyed removing the baleflamer).

Of all the units in the book Broadsides sadden me the most. It's a shame that GW couldn't have made an anti-air variant that could have Skyfire but S8 guns whilst keeping the S10 original version. Daemons players will be thrilled of course, as you can no longer one-shot their princes. The loss of S10 isn't the main thing that bothers me though. I've never been a huge fan of allies (and rarely run them) but with the anti-air power of the XV88s we'll see Tau everywhere. It's a shame for all of the players who've stuck with them in the old codex. A similar thing has happened to Necron players of course. Great for GW though...

Anyway, moving on, next time I'll be talking about the only unit that still has S10 AP1 loveliness, the Hammerhead.

19 comments:

  1. Tasty input, looking forward to your thoughts on the Hammerheads, and the humble Skyray.

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    1. Hammerhead will appear tomorrow night and sky ray won't be far behind.

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  2. Just caught up reading your unit reviews and thought I'd post on the latest one. Really well thought out and logical. I have only 3 points/queries to make:
    1) "AP1 is crucial here and the Tau are (I think) the only race that can fire AP1 at flyers at full BS" Challenge accepted.... Umm... does the twin multi-melta on a Stormraven count or did you mean from the ground?
    2) I think you're right about the optimum weapon fit but I'd really like to try a broadside team with High-yield missile pods, Smart missiles and 2 missile drones each. I'm a firm believer in "everything counts in large amounts" and against ground targets especially this could be fun...
    3) ...therefore do you know how easy it would be to magnetise the weapons. For crisis suits and the new commander it looks easy and essential but i'm not sure if the components on the Broadside will make it impossible (thus meaning everyone only fields the skyfiring rail guns for the cost in ££££s).
    Really enjoyable read, thanks,
    Ian

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    1. 1) Yeah I meant from the ground but good point.
      2) Just been running some numbers and might change my mind actually
      3) See Jimbo's link below as he's been making the new models

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  3. Good review. It's a big shame that the broadsides lost str10, but then again the Railgun Hammerhead never got a look in.

    My worry is how does Tau deal with AV13 & AV14 ? Granted they are seen less on the battlefield. It almost forces Tau to sprinkle a few fusion guns in the army*. I'm still undecided on where to put them, crisis suits or piranhas (my Riptide now has on as a default).

    Rathstar

    * As Ion Cannons and Skyrays compete with Railguns for Heavy slots.

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    1. I think crisis suits are probably a better option for fusion. Whilst piranhas have the speed to get them into melta range, crisis teams are more likely to survive to melta several things.

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  4. Losing S10 on broadsides also made me sad. However, I'm tending to favour the HYMPs over theHeavy Rail Rifle. The problem with rail rifles is they lack volume of fire. The HYMPs can strip hull points really quickly, especially if you attach an XV8 commander with a Puretide Chip, to give them tank hunter. Chances are 2 of them and the Commander will strip 3 hull points from a vendetta. Three of them will probably do it without the commander. Add the commander and the unit will probably kill a hell drake, even with its 5++.

    EYIG

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    1. I think you are right about the HYMP being better for killing vehciles by stripping hull points, and there are costed nicely compared to having two deathrains (65 vs 84) and the comparison is even better if you include velocity trackers (85 vs 124) and consider the better armour save on the broadsides.

      However broadsides compete with the only str10 railgun we have (that can also have the dual purpose of horde control), excellent MEQ horde control (Ion Cannon), and Skyfiring Markerlights and Seeker missiles. I'm experimenting with other choices to deal with flyers as the two broadsides and commander seems like an expensive, points wise, and very static solution.

      So far I'm trying out having a skyray and giving a riptide skyfire. I'm also trying out a crisis team all with twin missiles, 2 with fusion blasters, and the last a shas'vre the neurochip. I'm hoping I can get them two markerlight hits from elsewhere in the army to bring them back up to BS3 if they are going to target flyers. If these options still leave the army lacking in anti-air I may add in a Razorshark.

      I'm hoping I can take the improved Hammerhead and Skyray for Heavy Support, rather than having to take more heavily armoured but static missile pod platforms when I can take missile pod platforms that can also deal with heavy armour (via fusion blasters) in elite slot crisis suits. Time will tell if it's possible.

      Rathstar

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    2. HYMP's have a place. People think AP1 is all the jazz, but with AP1 - on average you still need two AP1 pens to get that magic explodes result. Two pens are just 1 glance away from wrecking a vehicle through HP degradation.

      HYMP's do allow you to chip hull points at an obscene rate - almost doubled if you get tank hunters in there, and ignore cover helps them out too.

      The main flaw with the HYMP's is their 36" range, and the static platform they're mounted on. 36" may feel like long, but in 2/3 of the deployments (Vanguard & Hammer and Anvil), it's likely that a flyer can stay out of that 36" bubble. For a similar price of 2 HYMP+Skyfire suits, you can look at 3 T-l MP+Skyfire Crisis suits, which have that magic 6" move and 2D6" jump, for not a dramatic drop in firepower.

      I don't think that Broadsides are anywhere near the autopick they were in the previous codex, but I believe this is only partly due to the drop in Strength of the Broadsides guns, and has more to do with the comparative improvement in the crisis suits (cheaper) and the Commander (far superior buffing powers).

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    3. These comments are making me look again at HYMPs. Certainly for flyers wrecking them is the same as exploding them. All those S7 shots plus the SMS are more useful against infantry should you find yourself facing a horde.

      As you say, range is the big problem here. The deathrain suits are probably a better option in this role. The great thing for the Tau cadre is that your anti-air isn't dedicated to that role so taking several units with AA capability isn't really hampering your army.

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    4. If you ignore the range deficit, HYMP are very nearly twice as good at killing AV10-12 as HRR. While the range is a factor, I would still much prefer HYMP, as a whole

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    5. Not sure they're twice as good. I'd love to see your working on that. Range is a big thing to ignore.

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  5. Nice article as always pal. Got me thinking of several things throughout. Firstly, I initially disliked the new-look broadsides and have always preferred the over the shoulder look to the FW underslung look. However, the designs grew on me over the past few weeks and having now assembled the two new ones and sold the old ones I definitely have come round to being a fan of the new. Secondly, I'm glad they changed the profile of the railgun to s8 for several reasons. There's now a nice progression of s6/8/10 in the physical sizes of the rail weapons. As other have said, s10 vs flyers, twin-linked with skyfire was way too much. Also, now there's a reason to think about which loadout you may want on the broadsides as well as having a reason to take hammerheads. BTW, some size comparison pics of old and new broadsides on my blog here:

    http://codex-imperialis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/out-with-old-in-with-new-tau-broadside.html

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    1. Not as big as I thought they were going to be but then neither is the riptide. I'm content to use my old models though if I'm sticking with heavy rail rifles.

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  6. I enjoy very wordy reviews

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    1. That's lucky, I'm incapable or writing succinct ones.

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  7. this is a very good review as are your other Tau reviews. I do how ever have to disagree with your assesment about the best load out for them. after several matches ive found that high wield missiles are much more effective against all targets. also if you give them interceptor intead of sky fire you can fire 12 twin link s7 shots at flyers on the turn they arrive. the ability to kill before the flyers can even get a shot off is insanely good.

    If you deploy your broadside as close to the center of the table mixed in with your gun line they can control very large part of the battle field not to mention their over watch output 24 twin link shots are going to stop all but the most determind assults.

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    1. I'm still undecided. The HYMP and HRR are actually pretty comparable to the point where the choice becomes preference. I'm intending to play around with both and see which I prefer.

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    2. Excellent write ups From the Fang! Stumbled on your site from Natfka's blog links. I too have been contemplating HYMP's - sure they are only 36" but have you considered being able to move and then fire snapshots? This combo'd with markerlights being able to buff snapshots and your Broadside's range is bumped up by 6" if needed - 2 marker light counters and your hitting as if you hadn't moved. Heck take an ethereal and cast run+shoot on a turn you really need to re-position your gunline - bumping up the range another d6 for 43-48" range. No it's not 72" range, but you can cover a huge portion of the board by placing them at the center of it.

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