Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tau Stormsurge Tactics - Pulse Driver Cannon or Pulse Blastcannon?

I'll get to posting more about Double Trouble soon I promise. In the meantime I'm very busy building models up for my games against Matt next Monday. We're having a couple of games of 40K at Warhammer World followed by some Betrayal at Calth back at Matt's house. I've just finished building up all of the Calth models and I'm frustrated that I haven't gotten any paint on them yet. Hopefully I'll get chance to at least make them red and blue this weekend. Anyway, for the 40K games I'm going to be using my Tau so I've decided it's a great opportunity to field my brand new Stormsurge that was a gift from the Blog Wars players (thanks again guys).

I've built up all of the sub-assemblies and I'm currently trying to decide if I just got with the standard pose or clip off those pegs and create my own pose on a scenic base. It'll probably be the latter but that relies on me getting the time! The other problem I'm having though is trying to decide whether or not to magnetise the main gun. Obviously doing so would give me the option of either weapon but I find magnetising a pain in the arse and I'm sure I'll end up using the same gun every time. For example, I was going to magnetise the Riptide's main gun but haven't once thought about using the heavy burst cannon. Incidentally, I'm definitely paying the 5 pts to upgrade the flamer to an AFP. The flamer would see so little use and the AFP has the same profile but with better range and Barrage.

So then, which main gun should I go for? Well it's important to note that the pulse blastcannon (PBC) is 15 pts extra compared to the stock pulse driver cannon (PDC) which isn't an insignificant number of points on an already expensive model. Spending more points would make you think that you're getting a better gun though right? Well let's compare the two:

  • PDC - Heavy 2 always but: 10" SD AP1, 10-20" S10 AP3 Blast, 20-30" S9 AP5 Large Blast
  • PBC - 72" S10 AP2 Ordnance 1 Large Blast
First off, it's a nice touch for GW to specify that if it isn't clear what range you're in then the Tau player gets final say. I think the PBC is a great weapon, any S10 Ordnance weapon is going to pretty reliably hurt vehicles. The problem is that with AP2 and just one shot (when not anchored) you're only destroying the vehicle a third of the time. Of course, being a large blast there's a chance to hit two or even three vehicles but that's very situational. The other advantage of the large blast is that clustered troops of any kind will feel the pain, especially things like TWC thanks to S10. A great weapon like I say but the lack of AP1 and the single shot is a factor. 

The PDC on the other hand has less than half the maximum range of the PBC but brings the D if your target is within 10". That might not sound much but remember the suit can move 12" making that an effective 22" range with is a big ol' chunk of the board. If you can get some marker support for better BS then two shots should be enough to take down most vehicles including IKs if they're unlucky with their shield rolls. The other modes are reasonably useful, even S9 AP5 isn't bad since it can double out most troops and deny FNP even if they do get their regular saves. 

So, there are a few factors to consider more closely I think:
  1. Range - this is the big deal as it dictates how you're going to use your Stormsurge. Bear in mind the cluster rockets are 48" and destroyer missiles are 60". It's quite reasonable to go for the PBC and sit at the back between a couple of Riptides pumping out several low AP large blasts and plenty more besides. There's no doubt that the 10" range for destroyer mode on PDC means charges next turn. Do you want to put your big expensive suit into that position?
  2. Ballistic skill and marker support - BS3 on its own isn't great for a heavy 2 weapon. It's not a big deal for the blasts particularly though. The question is, if you're getting marker support would you rather use it to fire destroyer missiles than boost the main gun? Obviously BS boosting affects both but you start to need quite a few hits.
  3. Anchors - how often will this thing actually be in a position to anchor? It relies on you knowing where your opponent will be next turn. Obviously some stuff won't be fast enough to move away but realistically who's going to stay within 10". Even if you plan on charging next turn you could easily sit at 11", avoid the D and then give yourself a 5" charge range next turn. These are the things to playtest I suppose. With the anchors down though you're getting a double round of shooting. It's not totally clear whether you can shoot different targets though but I'd say you could since it's like getting a second shooting phase. Doubtless people will argue this though.
  4. Combat - the Stormsurge isn't exactly a combat monster, particularly if he's anchored. No Stomp is going to hurt you quite a lot. You're not going to be killing much with 2 S6 attacks either so if you plan on living to shoot again Stomp is the way forward.
I started writing this post with the intention of picking between the two main guns but it's ended up being more of a discussion about the role of the Stormsurge on the battlefield. That's a sensible question to ask though. If you're intending to use it as a midfield bullet magnet whilst the rest of your mobile force advances then strap on a shield generator and take the PDC. If it's part of a gunline then the PBC is probably the way to go. I'm still torn but I'm definitely leaning towards the PDC. Having a potential for 8 D shots in a turn is pretty exciting to me. That could decimate a good chunk of the opposition in a single shooting phase. The shorter range fits in well with my preferred mobile Tau army too. 

Screw it, I'll build it as a PDC to avoid the magnets and perhaps I'll just buy a second gun on eBay or from a bits store. Worst case I really hate the PDC and rip it apart to make the PBC. Maybe I'll use the glue sparingly in case!

What do you guys reckon though? What have you put on yours? Has anyone playtested them to know for certain?


  1. Alex, I did both easy, the nature of the gun barrel means both can just slot in and out, all the pipe gubbins are down to builders choice I reckon. I made the rear of the weapon as a Pulse Driver but did magnetise the barrel ends and will simply swap them out if needed. I went with blast cannons as S5 seemed better to me?

  2. I've done it with my Stormsurge. I've magnetised the main body of the gun to make transport easier and have magnetised all of the extra bits and pieces because my OCD will not allow me to do otherwise but as Siph says you could definitely just glue one set in place. I would go with the round generator-type attachment myself as the 2 tanks have an extra pipe that leads to the front portion of the gun which could cause issues. I have also magnetised the underslung weapon to allow for WYSIWYG weapon options. I look forward to reading how you do yours!

    1. Well, I've got three more Knights to magnetise so I decided to just go with the PDC. I prefer the look of it anyway. I glued the underslung too. I think the blasts are good. I like magnetising but it's a pain in the arse to do and bits keep falling off during games.

  3. I agree with you on that front but I know so little about playin Tau I wouldn't want to glue the nobody-ever-takes-this-weapon on the underslung and then have to deal with it. I think you have taken the much more sensible option than I did haha.

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  5. Just an errata to your post here, but you have the stats mixed up for the two weapons. The Pulse Driver Cannon is the 72" large blast weapon and the Pulse Blast Cannon is the one with the variable effects based on range.


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