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Marker lights in 5th a small article on the changes (and a light-bulb moment for the Fire Knife unit)
Ok so we are in the 5th incarnation of 40K and it has meant some changes to the way Tau work. Foremost amongst these changes is the way the marker light works (ML from now on).
The most important change brought about by the rules changes is the fact that all models equipped with jetpacks are now classed as relentless. This basically means the following:
(1) Models with jetpacks can now move and fire heavy weapons
(2) Models with jetpacks can now assault after firing heavy weapons(3) Models with jetpacks can now fire heavy weapons after deep striking
The most important benefit for ML’s is number 1 in the list above; basically any model with a jetpack can now move and still use their ML. Obviously the most basic benefit is that the unit no longer has to decide to shoot the ML and stay stationary or move and lose the ML shot. This means (a) that more ML shots are going to be available throughout the whole game and (b) that the jetpack/ML equipped unit is now going to be much more tactically responsive, in that it can move in response to threats, movement of enemy units and to gain better line of sight.
The other benefit of (1) is that the range of units able to take ML’s without compromising them is higher and also the fact that the amount of ‘mobile’ ML units has increased.
It should be noted that Marker light Drones have to be a part of a jetpack equipped unit to benefit from the relentless rules. This is because all controlled Drones are classed as the unit taking them (I/E if Fire Warriors take an ML Drone then it will be classed as infantry and not have the relentless rule).
Ok so we established that more units can take ML’s, so now we need to discuss these new units and the ones that have had some sort of change. We will start with the Pathfinder unit.
Nothing much has changed with Pathfinders. They are not jetpack equipped so do not benefit from the relentless rules; that said they are still a good choice and now have the added bonus of their Devil fish being available for other infantry units to use. This basically means that if you take a Devil fish regularly for Fire Warriors then the Pathfinders are effectively reduced in cost to 96pts for a full basic unit. This is because you do not have to take a dedicated Fire Warrior Devil fish (you simply use the Pathfinders DF). The new cover save rule means that they get a bit more protection, especially if you use a couple of vehicle Drones to run interference. I advise taking a target lock equipped Shas’Ui just to give them a bit more target flexibility. Other than that the same applies as 4th; get them in cover and keep them cheap.
Still a damn good option but the exclusive status of the only fully mobile ML unit has now been removed. That said a HH chassis, 6 Seeker equipped and two independent fully mobile BS4 ML’s vehicle is still an awesome deal. Give the thing a multi, Disruption pod and a targeting array and you have a very nice tough ML platform with the added punch from six seeker missiles. If you like lots of heavy stuff (Hammerheads and XV88’s) then you can still take mobile ML’s in 5th, me I love the Skyray.
A very attractive option that comes in two basic forms; these forms depend on what you want your Stealth unit to achieve on the battlefield.
The full Stealth team; used for aggressive targeting of units with the odd ML supporting role thrown in. This unit is used primarily to infiltrate or flank the opponents units and to be an aggressive offensive unit but it has the option to be a support unit as well.
The configuration I use is full Stealth team, one member upgrade to team leader equipped with a hard wired Target lock, hard wired Drone controller and Marker light Drone.
This set up allows Stealth unit to benefit from a +1 to BS, this means 18 shots at BS4. The improvement to BS is very useful and really helps the unit to not only inflict punishment but also to avoid return fire due to the increase in casualties inflicted. The Target lock also allows the team leader to use the ML Drone to aid another Tau unit if needed.
This versatility allied to the improvement in offensive power makes the ML Drone really worth taking. It should also be noted that the team leader can also be equipped with an ML if so desired but this does add to the cost and it can only be used by other Tau units.
Infiltrating this unit can really mean problems for your opponent, you can gain advantageous line of sight to problem units like Tanks or a first turn strike on that nasty assault unit with the shot with improved BS or reduction to cover saves. The ML can also be used to guide Seeker missiles against targets that would be otherwise unreachable first turn. The unit simply cannot be ignored so use that to your advantage.
While many consider that taking a Marker light Drone is an expensive option, this is not really the case. It is actually just as efficient in point to kill ratio when the ML Drone hits (and ups the BS to 4) as a standard 180pt BS3 Stealth unit. Obviously the efficiency is better the more turns the ML hit is successful. The ML will hit 50% of the time on average and often more, however there will always be the odd time the average goes down but when you also consider the ML tokens can also be used by other units then the ML Drone is a bargain that is worth considering even if luck will let you down now and again.
Small XV25 unit; 2 XV25’s with HW Drone controllers, 2 ML Drones, Team leader, HW Target lock and Marker light. This unit is a dedicated ML unit that combines enhanced movement, Stealth field and good range (the 6” move adds to the range of the ML to give an effective range of 42”). Each of the two normal Stealth’s has a HW Drone controller and the team leader has a Target locked ML.
This unit costs a lot and I have mixed feelings about it, while it is true that it is immensely survivable and has the great advantage of being mobile, it does cost a hell of a lot for three BS3 ML’s and a unit has half the offensive punch of the full Stealth squad (also at least the comparably costing Skyray has its Seekers).
The unit will miss at least 50% of the time and if it does the unit has done very little; at least the full Stealth unit can hurt a target even if the ML misses. By virtue of its role the Stealth unit will usually be at maximum (or near max range) to enhance survivability, this means that it will usually be not be in range to use its Burst cannons.
The above being said though if the ML’s do hit they can lead to a large increase in efficiency for a unit and it only takes a few MEQ casualties to pay for a ML Drone and they are pretty much guaranteed to last out the entire game if used intelligently.
What also needs remembering is this unit can also infiltrate to get good position in response to the opponents deployment. I am not going to say this is a bad unit, only that you should think long and hard about whether you are prepared to lose the firepower of the full Stealth unit with an ML for a unit which can miss a lot and end up doing very little.
The XV8 squad
The light bulb moment
I have given this idea a lot of thought recently, the elite XV8 unit suffers from one major problem! Its ballistic skill; if you want to take a BS4 XV8 unit you have to take a targeting array on all the XV8’s which means not taking a Multi tracker on at least two.
This means you have to choose to either fire two weapons at BS3 or one weapon at BS4. Now taking a team leader with HW Drone controller and a Marker Drone costs the same as taking three Targeting arrays on a three man XV8 unit; however it leaves you open to take Multi’s on all three suits. For example on a three XV8 Fire Knife unit you will get 6 MP shots and up to 6 Plasma shots a turn at a minimum of BS3 but a lot of the time you will have a BS4 unit.
If you think about it surely it is better to have 12 high strength shots a turn, every turn, with the bonus of an average 3 turns of 12 BS4 shots (and often a lot more) then taking a unit that can only put out 6 BS4 shots a turn.
The set up would be something like this
1 x XV8 team leader with PL, MP, Multi, HW Drone controller and ML Drone
2 x XV8’s with PL, MP and Multi
You could even give the team leader a HW Target lock, HW multi and a Targeting array if you so desired for the ability to light up a separate target and to give the team leader a possible BS5.
I think the Fire Knife just got a huge boost.
I have been using a TA Deathrain unit (two Targeting array equipped XV8’s with team leader with TL, HW DC and ML Drone) in recent games. I have had a lot of success with the unit; I use the MLl token to either up the BS of the already deadly unit or to reduce cover saves. I find the 36” range more than ample (42” after the 6” move) to light up targets and the ML is usually in range if I need to aid other units with a BS boost or cover save reduction.
I think both these set ups have a lot of merit and I can see the Fire Knife unit being incredibly useful and a real answer to the old elite FK problem.
I am not going to cover ML’s on Fire Warrior teams; basically because nothing much has changed. They still suffer from all the disadvantages they always did, yet we now have many other better ways of taking the ML. I see no real reason for putting an ML on a FW team. It costs 35pts to take an ML Drone in a Stealth or XV8 team as opposed to 20 in a FW team (25 with Target lock) so why bother taking static ML’s when you can get fully mobile ‘networked’ Ml’s for only 5pts more.
Again pretty much the same as 4th.
So basically we have some good options for taking mobile markerlights and this can only be an advantage tactically for the Tau player. the only thing to watch out for is not being tempted to take to many. I take quite a few but only as much as I can afford from losing a Devil fish (the PF remember). Like I said a quick discussion but I really wanted to bring that Fire Knife idea to the fore.
Comments and criticisms welcome
Last edited by Rikimaru; October 2nd, 2008 at 10:13.
That is an amazingly helpfull guide.
Thanks.P.S. Rep for You
Vampire Counts Progress Log [W:2 D:1 L:1]
One problem Riki... If a team leader has a target lock and a drone controller, and there are other members of the unit, then only the team leader can declare a target separate from the rest of the unit, not the drone. The marker drone is a part of the unit and does not have a target lock. The drone does not get to fire at the same target as the model who is controlling it if that model has a target lock and has declared a separate target.
Fireknife team leader w/ target lock and, HWMT, HWDC
Fireknife w/ MT
The unit fires at enemy A, but the team leader with the target lock can choose to fire at another unit called enemy B.
The drone must fire on the same target as the rest of the unit (Enemy A) because it is part of the unit and does not have a target lock - only the team leader can choose a seperate target (Enemy B ).
So for your full unit of Stealth Suits, that marker drone can only ever fire at the same target as the rest of the unit, and only the team leader can choose a seperate target.
It also greatly affects the Deathrain Team w/ marker drone - you will always have to fire the drone's marker light at the same target as the non-team-leader suit which makes it a bit less useful. You will have the possibillity that the target of the markerlight will be destroyed, thereby wasting the markerlight hit.
I would love it if you could prove me wrong, however.
Last edited by ZenGamer; September 30th, 2008 at 18:32.
-Thread Killer Bryan
Tyranid Hive Fleet Typhoeus
T'au Empire, Bork'an Sept
Other than a bit of statistical fudging to prop up your obvious bias for one loadout over another ...[Stealth Squad Option 1]
The ML will hit 50% of the time on average and often more, however there will always be the odd time the average goes down but when you also consider the ML tokens can also be used by other units then the ML Drone is a bargain that is worth considering even if luck will let you down now and again.... this is a very informative article.[Stealth Squad Option 2]
The unit will miss at least 50% of the time and if it does the unit has done very little;
I mean, on average, MLs will hit 50% of the time. Full stop. There is no "and often more" or luck letting you down "now and again". If MLs hit more or less often, their average wouldn't be 50%.
But I think I see what you're getting at. You seem to believe that it's better to get the part-time boost in capability/flexibility in a traditional, full stealth team that is still primarily an infantry-hunting squad than fully dedicate a stealth team to mobile markerlight support, sacrificing firepower for an average of 1.5 ML tokens per game turn.
Me, I think which option you choose depends entirely on personal preference. I've fielded both squads you mention, in exactly those configuration, at least a few times each, and I don't find either one more attractive than the other. They just fulfill different overall roles.
Again, nice analysis.
ninjabackhand: point and click, again, really? even after i give you an military term "shock tactic" you still call it point and click.
RIP Warhammer 40,000: 21 Sep 1998 - 24 May 2014
Zen: Something to ponder. No where does it say that a controlled Drone is a member of a unit other than one instance, an IC controlled Drone forms a unit (check the codex). Other controlled Drones are only counted as 'with' a unit, that is a subtle and important difference. No where does it say that a Drone is classed as a member of a unit only that it is counted when assessing casualties etc (it is after all 'with' the unit). The Drone controller entry says that the model can fire at a different target to its unit but Drones are not classed as part of the unit, they are only 'with' the unit by virtue of being under the control of the model that is in said unit; again very different to being a member of the unit.
So think of it this way if the controlling suit is the only one left from a unit with its controlled Drone, then nowhere does it say that the (non IC) XV8 and Drones form a unit so the XV8 could not fire at a different target because it is not a part of a unit. Also if the Drones are controlled by the XV8 with the Drone controller then does it not make sense that it would engage the unit the 'controlling' model is engaging. Makes sense to me.
Another thing to note is that Drones are classed as wargear and only form a unit with Independent Characters, so I would think that if they are wargear they do as the model controlling them do.
Last edited by Rikimaru; October 1st, 2008 at 09:55.
I do understand what you're saying Riki, I sincerely do, but I just don't buy it. It sounds like you're reaching for an explanation why they work the way you want them to. Even if I did buy it I really don't think my opponents would buy it and it would cause arguments that I do not feel I could win.
This is one time that I would like it to work that way, and I think it makes sense that it would work that way, but I would never even try it because I don't feel the rules support it.
Drones not part of a unit? They move with the unit, shoot with the unit, count a casualties for falling back and such... but they're not part of the unit? Sorry, I don't buy it even if the exact wording of the rules can be twisted towards supporting it.
-Thread Killer Bryan
Tyranid Hive Fleet Typhoeus
T'au Empire, Bork'an Sept
Zen: the rules are not being twisted, go read them and you will see I am in no way twisting or sretching the rules. True the Drones would fire at the same target as the unit IF a target lock was not on the controlling model. Fact is it does not say that the Drones are members of the unit, they are wargear and are controlled by the model with the Drone controller; hence if the model with the controller has to fire at the same target the unit fires at then the Drones follow suit, if the model controlling them has the ability to fire at a seperate target then the Drones again follow suit and fire at the target the controlling model is targeting. Makes sense to me as the word 'controlling' indicates the Drones are under the control of the model with the Drone controller and not the other members of the unit.
It is not sketchy because if you read the rules it does not say anywhere that controlled Drones are a part of a unit, that interpretation is way sketchier and harder to support than mine.
You are saying I am wrong in a roundabout, non committal sort of way, but that is fine . However if you think I am stretching things or I am indeed wrong show me the rules that support your assertion that controlled Drones are classed as members of a unit and not controlled war-gear and would thus not do as the controlling model does and would do as the other models of the unit do (who after all should not be controlling it because they do not have the Drone controller).
I knew this would draw some comments and I am happy to debate it, but lets keep it all friendly (I know you do anyway Zen, so that is not aimed at you dude)
Last edited by Rikimaru; October 1st, 2008 at 14:25.