This is an update to our previous Fast Attack analysis and a lot of what we originally said, still holds true now. You may notice that some information is suspiciously similar to our original article, and that’s on purpose.
Last time we reviewed the Elite choices. This time we will look at the different Fast Attack choices and their pros and cons.
But before we begin, I’d like to give a shoutout to Battle Brothers of the GCWA blog. They have a lot of content related to Tau as well. Here, we often talk about point efficiencies – I think their article on how the FAQ effects the game from a Tau perspective is worth the read. Check them out!
Tau is full of good choices for our Fast Attack slots and for this reason, I have no trouble filling up Fast Attack slots in Brigades or Outrider detachments most games. Whether I’m supporting my main forces with drones or melting face with the Y’vahra (and thus more drones), there’s lots to look at in the Fast Attack slot.
- Kroot Hound
- TX4 Piranha
- Tactical Drones
- Tetra Scout Speeder
- TX42 Piranha Skimmer
Assumptions that we will make:
- For units with variable loadouts like Crisis Suits, we will focus our analysis only on burst cannons (BC), cyclic ion blasters (CIB), fusion blasters (FB), plasma rifles (PR), and advanced targeting systems (ATS). This is because those weapons have been shown to be the most effective at the targets we are looking at.
- We will assume maximum shots (i.e. within rapid fire range) for rapid fire weapons. This is due to the fact that those rapid fire weapons have a range such that Manta striking into rapid fire range or getting into rapid fire range is always possible and should therefore be considered.
- 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.
- Points for drones are included in the cost of units that must take drones. They have to take them and pay that “tax”.
- 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 VEQ (vehicle equivalent) is defined as a model with T7 and Sv3+, multiple wounds
- 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, VEQ PPD, and Tank PPD (point per damage)
- We will ignore extra damage on certain rolls (like a To-Wound roll of 6+)
- We are ignoring pistols because none of these units that can take them should be using them in most cases or it would be better to fall back and then shoot instead.
I’m a big fan of the Kroot Hounds and it’s not just because they have great point efficiency against GEQs. A 12″ movement and the ability to reroll failed assault rolls when assaulting a unit that’s suffered an unsaved wound this turn is great. Kroot Hounds can be the cheap meat shield and speed bump that our army needs. Plus, they are great at engaging melee units just for the sole purpose of getting the enemy to have to fall back, and thus (barring some special rule) not shoot the next turn. Dirt cheap at 4 points a piece, Kroot Hounds can find a home in nearly any list. The only down side is that their actual models are crazy expensive and hard to come by. I’ve been building an army of Kroot Hounds out of Chaos Warhounds, (which can be found even cheaper on Ebay) and loving them.
If you’ve read the Getting Enlightened article then you already know that I think pathfinders are amazing and our best source of marker lights. If you haven’t, go read it.
Pathfinders are efficient and on par with our infantry choices in terms of lethality. But pathfinders are also a cheap source of markerlights. Pathfinders do have a 5+ armor save, compared to Firewarriors’ 4+, which is their biggest (and one of the few) downside when comparing them to our infantry choices. Because of this, the biggest struggle with using Pathfinders is just keeping them alive. You’ll want to consider something like a Tidewall Shieldline to allow them to markerlight targets somewhat safely. If you’re considering bringing any of the other weapon loadouts on them for some diversity, the Rail Rifles are not bad, but having a 5 point model with a just shy of 20 point gun just feels like you’re asking for a bad time. The Ion is a bit better, since the Ion Rifle is more affordable now. Some sort of transport or extra defensiveness is absolutely mandatory if you’re taking any of their exotic weapons.
The Piranha is probably just slightly ahead of the middle of the pack. Keeping it’s drones attached so as to take advantage of the Piranha’s BS4+ is encouraged, and the Piranha can help give you a couple more Seeker Missiles, which I’m a fan of. However, it’s not especially durable, and the fact that the models stay one unit even after deployment, unlike some of the Astra Militarum vehicles, means that if one Piranha in a multiple Piranha unit dies, not only will at least one other piranha will be in range of the possible explosion (they have to be within 2″ of each other), but you run the risk of losing more models due to morale.
One interesting tactic to use with Piranhas is done with the Mont’ka ability and helps get drones across the table faster. If Drones were on their own, they would move 8″ + d6″, hit on 5’s unless you had a DC. But if you keep the drones embarked on the Piranha, they move 16″ + d6″ and don’t need the DC to still hit on 4’s. Plus, while embarked, the drones are protected by the Piranha’s T5 chassis instead of their regular T4.
I definitely think the Piranha could use some tweaking as it’s just not nearly as good as some of our other choices.. As it stands right now, you may have a few reasons for taking one (mobility and Seeker Missiles), but there are certainly reasons to pass them by too.
As a Tau player, you can never, and I really do mean never, have enough drones. Tactical drones as a category are made up of Gun, Shield, and Marker drones. Gun drones are more in line with their colleagues with their point increase and change to the Cadre Fireblade’s ability that give each model an additional shot, not longer granting an additional shot per weapon. Sure, they only hit on 5’s unless a drone controller is present and they have to target the nearest enemy unit, but these are limitations that can easily be overcome once you see the fist-full of dice you get to roll. They no longer outclass firewarriors and similar units though, so while they are not bad at all, they are certainly noticeably weaker than they were in the Index.
Shield drones are now the darling of Tau forces everywhere and the root cause of why your opponents will hate Tau. If I’m planning on Manta Stiking a commander in, I always bring two shield drones with him to help soak up more firepower. Now that shield drones get a 5+ FnP in addition to their 4++, you have 2/3 chance in either making your invuln or FnP rolls. If you’re having a hot day with the dice, those can make for some really frustrating models for your opponent to have to remove from the board. Plus, now that we have a terrifying battlesuit worth taking (Riptide), you can all but guarantee that you can keep him around well into the second and third turns with proper shield drone usage. If you’re taking swarms of Gun Drones on their own, mixing in one shield drone can help as well, as you would allocate the wounds to that unit to the shield drone first and hopefully help soak some wounds.
The only drone I’m not sold on is the Marker Light drone. I appreciate that it has a Sv4+ and can move and still shoot at it’s regular BS. However, since it hits normally on a 5, you’re effectively getting a moving pathfinder anyway, with a slightly better save (which you pay for, by the way). You should be keeping your Pathfinders in cover anyway, which will give them a Sv4+ and brings them back in line with the Marker Light drone. The Marker Light drone will always be more mobile, which is its chief advantage over the pathfinder. Combined with a DC, the Marker Light drone will be able to move, shoot, and still hit on a 4, plus has the advantage of Savior Protocols.
No longer the laughing stock of the Tau forces, The Vespid have a niche, legitimate role now as GEQ and MEQ killers. They can deploy just like suits with Manta Hold, but get a different name for the ability – “Plunge from the Sky”. They are lightning fast with their 14″ movement and are infantry, so can benefit from cover to give them a Sv3+. The problem is that they each only have one wound, so every failed save will be a 14 point model down. They can make good “scalpels” for the precision removal of some light infantry units, and then can be useful scooting off to grab an objective. Overall, Vespids make for an effective light skirmish unit worth remembering.
Or should I say “Y V A H R A”? The king “burninator” of all the burninators. This suit kills whatever it looks at, due to its incredible damage output of both guns. Fun fact: it’s got the highest Point Per Damage on Tanks that we’ve looked at. Another fun fact, with the Nova profiles for both of its weapons (no ATS), you’re looking at an average of almost 16 damage a turn against a Tank, if using both weapons at the same target. That’s enough to reliably take out a Leman Russ every turn of shooting. If something is stupid enough to charge you, you can expect to do about half that damage during the overwatch. This thing could theoretically take out a Knight in one turn, though your dice will have to be hot.
After the release of the Codex, I’m actually not seeing nearly as many Y’Vahras, though the effectively stayed the same. This is because Tau now has so many other great units worth taking and the Y’Vahra has competition for what it does. A diverse pool of units to choose from is a great problem to have.
Tetra Scout Speeder
Did you need a really fast, flimsy, source of “all or nothing” marker lights? Then the Tetra is for you! The same toughness as the Piranha, but with only four wounds means that you’ll probably be relying just as often on your 18″ movement to protect you as your Toughness and Sv4+ value. The weaponry is laughable and not why you’re taking this, plus it can’t take Seeker Missiles. I’m just not a fan of the High Intensity Marker Light, which you can read more about here, and as a result, the movement and chassis just don’t do it for me.
TX42 Piranha Skimmer
Trading the two drones that the regular Piranha gets for a higher toughness and wound pool, the TX42 is really just a fast, durable platform for its weapons. However, the increased mobility and durability doesn’t make up it’s sub-par point efficiency an inability to take Seeker Missiles. Regular TX4 Piranhas or just suits with Plasma Rifles would usually be better choices than the TX42.
Fast Attack Summary
Green mean top 4, blue is 5-7, and yellow is 8-10. As we can see, Gun drones are still decently point efficient, even if they’re nowhere near where they were in the Index. Pathfinders are also decent against GEQs and MEQs, providing you can keep them alive. Vespids are also worth keeping in mind, primarily due to their AP-2. The Y’vahra still eats VEQs and Tanks, while the Kroot hounds are just so dirt cheap it’s almost impossible for them to not be efficient.
Check out the next article in our series, covering the Heavy Support choices.
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Thanks for reading – happy dice rolls!