Sunday, April 14, 2013
New Tau Codex Unit Reviews - XV88 Broadsides
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.
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.