Last time we looked at all the cool Tau fliers and the Devilfish – you can read more about that here. This time we will have our final article in the Battlefield Slot series by looking at Tau’s fortifications and the Lord of War (LoW) choices. The fortifications for Tau are both lethality-driven and support-focused, so we will again break the article up into Synergistic and Combat choices.
First though, our assumptions:
- Situations that give weapons chances to do bonus damage on certain rolls (like on a 6 to wound) or get to re-roll damage rolls if they are within half range are not considered for simplicity’s sake.
- Weapon profiles that give more shots if the target unit has more models are not considered.
- A GEQ is defined as a model with T3 and Sv5+, one wound.
- A MEQ is defined as a model with T4 and Sv3+, one wound.
- A Tank is defined as a model with T8 and Sv3+, multiple wounds.
- For weapons that do multiple damage, we will assume it does average damage (3.5 for D6 damage and 2 for D3).
- I’ve taken the liberty of only showing the most-relevant columns (rationale here), GEQ PPW (point per wound), MEQ PPW, and Tank PPD (point per damage).
The droneport is an interesting unit. It can transport up to ten models and four drones at a blistering pace of 6″ per turn. The ten models can be any infantry and the four drones can be any combination of Shield, Marker, and Gun drones. The droneport itself is moderately sturdy with a T6 Sv4, and W10. As just a transport, it’s not great due to the limited movement range, but where I see the most value in it is through the open-topped rule (which allows the units embarked in it to shoot while embarked) and the drones themselves (which get to use the BS of one of the passengers. How do you use one? Put Darkstrider and a unit of 9 pathfinders in it, with four marker drones, and you have yourself a decent level of markerlight support – the drone port will help keep your flimsy pathfinders alive longer and the markerlight drones can use Darkstrider’s BS, not to mention Darkstrider’s own BS. It’s not a cheap solution though, as the Droneport stock (without drones) is already 70 points.
With stats identical to the Droneport, the Shieldline is actually my preferred dedicated method of keeping pathfinders alive. It doesn’t come with drones but it does have the Tidewall Field special rule, which allows save rolls of 6 to cause a mortal wound to the shooting unit. My only problem is that its Sv4+ is a regular save, not an armor save, thus it can be reduced. This definitely limits the lifespan of this unit. However, if you load up one or two of these with pathfinders, you give your opponent a hard decision: do they shoot at the hard casing protecting your pathfinders that don’t actually do any damage themselves? or do they shoot at your units that are actually killing them? When I have the points to spare and need to keep my markerlight sources alive, I’ll take the Shieldline.
Remote Sensor Tower
A forgeworld fortification that we have previously touched on in our markerlight article. I’m still not impressed with the Remote Sensor Tower.
I’ve heard a couple of people rave about the Gunrig. They claim that it’s SO CHEAP for what it does. Compared to the cost of Longstrike with a Railgun, who is not quite double the Gunrig’s points, the Gunrig falls flat on its face. The Railgun already has a lot of variability in the damage that it does, but with the Gunrig, you’re hoping that you hit at least one of its two shots with a BS5+. Yes, the Gunrig has a higher upper limit to the amount of damage it can do due to its two shots, but the odds of hitting just one of its two shots a turn is less than hitting the one shot from Longstrike. Even with five markerlights, the Gunrig simply can’t compete. Also worth noting, the Supremacy Railgun only has the “regular shot”, it can’t use submunitions.
Drone Sentry Turret
This FW model is before my time. It’s also quite the weird unit. It can’t move, it can’t target anything but the nearest enemy model, it can hit on a 5+ on overwatch, and it has a regular BS5+. I have no clue as to how you might use something like that effectively. It does have The Greater Good rule, so if you can draw an charge near it, you stand a slightly higher chance at killing stuff in overwatch. You could couple that with either a Hazard suit or a Pathfinder’s unique drone to reduce the charge distance, but this seems like a really fringe case, and even then, it’s only ok.
Lord of War
Yes, I know I usually go with the more battle-hardened pictures, but this little stormsurge was too cute to pass up. The Stormsurge is the only LoW in the GW Index and quite the iconic “giant robot” for Tau. In the above table, I have assumed you would take ATS, Shield Generators, and Stim Injectors as your three support systems, as I think this makes the most sense. I’ve also not factored in its four one-time-use destroyer missiles, because 1) they come stock, and 2) the are one-time use. They function just like Seeker missiles in use and how much I recommend them.
My opinion of the Stormsurge is…mixed. I want to like it. The model is great. But mathematically, it’s just…meh. At BS3+ (achievable with anchors or 5 markerlights), it’s pretty decent in terms of point efficiency. However, that assumes you are in range for all its weapons, which you won’t be 100% of the time. It’s also a giant (literally and threateningly) target. Your opponent will want to shoot it. It is NOT a <Battlesuit> so it can’t use drones for Savior Protocol. That’s why I have it loaded out with the Shield Generator and Stim Injector, because it needs it to try and stay alive. The way I’ve seen it utilized to maximum efficiency is paired with Shadowsun, using two Kauyon’s in the first two turns. Even still, it seems like an expensive and vulnerable platform.
The Tauar doubled its points after Chapter Approved. At its original points, it was a beast. I didn’t realize how point efficient it was, plus it would last forever while surrounded by shield drones. DOUBLE PLUS, it has to lose about 20 wounds before it drops to BS3+. I don’t have one. But I want one at the original point cost after doing this analysis. Even at it’s updated point value, it’s not bad, per se. Not the best, but it’ll still be just as hard for your opponent to remove it from the battlefield. Note, I didn’t include Crushing Feet in the analysis because I thought that generally, if your Taunar is in close combat, you’ve done something wrong.
Weapon name key:
- ATIC = Tri-axis Ion Cannon, standard
- ATIC_con = Tri-axis Ion Cannon, coherant
- FE = Fusion Eradicator
- POMS_con = Pulse Ordnance Multi-Driver, concentrated bombardment
- POMS_pat = Pulse Ordnance Multi-Driver, pattern bombardment
- NMMS = Nexus Meteor Missile System
- HRC = Heavy Rail Cannon
If your new to Tau or not sure what this is, go look up a scale comparison. This thing is huge. I believe I’m correct in saying it’s the largest model that FW makes, at something like 3 and a half feet wide. Or, you know, as wide as about 42 Firewarriors, as wide as a 3 year-old is tall, etc. etc. It’s massive. Plus, it can carry 55 <Infantry> or <Drone> models in its upper deck, and either 145 <Infantry> or <Drone> units in it’s lower deck, PLUS four of any combination of Devilfish/Hammerhead variants. And for lulz, the embarked Devilfish can have models embarked on it while itself embarked in the Manta too. All that being said, this thing is not brought for firepower. It’s brought to act as a transport and a statement that you’re the king of all nerds forever and always. If this has piqued your interest and you now want one, just know that if you have to ask how much one is, you’re not meant to have one. Also worth noting is that I didn’t include seeker missiles in the analysis, because they’re great and you should always take them.
Wow, what a ride. We have analyzed every Tau unit. I hope you have learned a bit along the way, I know I sure have. As points potentially change with the impending Codex, we will revisit units as needed. If you’re interested in reading the other article in the series, here are the links:
So what’s next? We may take a little break to brainstorm on future topics. We may start writing about other factions, either statistically, or through a “Know your enemy” type of article. We might work on a way to make analyzing your lists pretty easy. Or we might do none of that and something entirely different.
Did you agree with any of the analysis? Did you disagree? Do you think I made a mistake? Do you have a topic you’d like to see us write about? PLEASE let me know in the comment box below.
If you like what you’re reading, please consider following on twitter or via email in the sidebar to your right. If you have specific questions that you’d like us to address here, about Tau or other armies’ units, let me know below. Thanks for all the feedback and help in making sure my math is accurate and honest.
As always, happy dice rolls!