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  1. #1
    The deep down truth Rikimaru's Avatar
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    Tau vehicles a guide

    Tau vehicles a guide

    I have been busy updating the articles, tactica’s and guides I produced for the 4th edition Tau armies. I thought it would be useful to compile all the vehicle guides in to one article. Here is that article.

    Tau players have some nice vehicle options available for selection. I am going to discuss the standard vehicles available in the Tau codex. Other vehicles are available from Forgeworld but these are only usable with opponent permission. If I included all these vehicles (of which there are quite a few) the article would be extremely long and the information would only be of use to a very limited number of players.

    I think a good place to start is a discussion of the changes to skimmers in 5th. All Tau vehicles are skimmers so the changes are important.

    The rules changes

    The main change is the loss of the skimmer downgrade of penetrating hits to glancing; this rule no longer exists. If a skimmer is hit with a penetrating hit then it takes a penetrating hit.

    There is some good news though. Skimmers only crash and burn when immobilised if they moved flat out (over 12” up to 24”) so no more immobilised results ending with a destroyed skimmer . If a Tau non-fast skimmer is immobilised it simply acts the same way as any other vehicle apart from the fact it still hovers.

    If a skimmer is rammed it can dodge the ramming vehicle. The ramming vehicle contacts the skimmer but the skimmer controlling player rolls a D6 if the result is greater than 3+ the skimmer has successfully dodged the ramming vehicle and takes no damage.

    The vehicles

    Lets start with the Piranha

    The Piranha has probably suffered more changes in 5th then any other Tau unit. With this in mind I thought an article would be appropriate. So lets take a look at the Piranha in detail and what 5th means for it.

    The basic overview

    The Piranha is a fast skimmer, in movement terms this means the following:

    (a) A maximum movement of 24" when moving flat out
    (b) Can shoot all its weapons at all speeds up to and including combat speed (6")
    (c) Can shoot 1 weapon at cruising speed (6" to 12")
    (d) Cannot shoot any weapons when moving flat out

    If the Piranha moved flat out and is not immobilised it gains a 4+ cover save, however this cover save is only effective against shooting attacks and not close combat attacks (remember this applies to all vehicles not just the Piranha). This needs remembering if you move Piranhas down field in the opponent’s territory.

    The biggest change for skimmers in 5th is the fact that if they did not move flat out and are immobilised then they are no longer immediately destroyed (this is not the case for squadrons, I will discuss these later). Now individual Piranhas are simply treated the same way as any other vehicle.

    Seeing as we are talking about shooting and assault damage here would be a good place to discuss the rules for squadrons.

    Squadron rules and their implications

    If you are going to use Piranhas you will need intimate and in-depth knowledge of the squadron rules.

    First of all I will state the obvious, for a squadron 'you need more than one vehicle'. The following squadron rules DO NOT apply to single Piranhas. If a Piranha is taken individually then all the normal damage rules for skimmers apply.

    Ok so you take three Piranhas and they get shot at, what happens next?

    Well first of all lets consider line of sight and range. If a squadron is targeted and all the vehicles are facing the shooting unit with the same armour facing then the hits are resolved at that AV value. However and this is a big however, if the vehicles are presenting differing AV values then the AV value of the closest vehicle is used to resolve the hits against all the vehicles. I have highlighted that phrase because it needs remembering because if you are unfortunate enough to leave the closest Piranha to the enemy with its rear or side armour facing the enemy unit then all the vehicles are going to be resolving hits at AV10.

    The problem of squadrons and damage

    Next we come to the armour penetration rolls. Allocation of damage results against squadrons are treated exactly the same as per allocation of wounds against infantry units. This is probably the worse thing 5th has brought to the table for the Piranha, why? Well because even if only one member of a squadron is in range and line of sight then ALL the members of the squadron are eligible to be allocated damage results. So even if the rest of the squadron is out of sight behind buildings or out of weapons range they will still have to be allocated hits and roll on the damage table.

    So if your squadron of three Piranhas takes 6 hits on the one Piranha in range and LOS and three penetrating results are achieved then each vehicle takes one each. So it is quite possible to lose all three vehicles. It does not stop there though, if any of the damage results ends up with an immobilised result then the Piranha is immediately destroyed.
    All damage rolls taken against Piranhas have +1 added to them, so a weapon destroyed for instance would become an immobilised result and therefore the Piranha would be destroyed. Immobilised results when applied to squadrons have the unfortunate side effect of the immobilised Piranha being automatically destroyed, like I said not a good development for the Piranha.

    Stunned results are knocked down to shaken though, which actually is not as good as it sounds, yes the Piranha can move away but it still loses a turn of shooting.

    One of the main problems with damage results against the Piranha squadron is the fact that any damage results in an inability to shoot. If the result is stunned then it gets downgraded to shaken and it cannot shoot, if it is immobilised it is destroyed and weapon destroyed is not good on a vehicle that has one weapon (I will discuss the problem of Drones and weapon destroyed later). This inability to shoot when damaged severely restricts the Piranhas usefulness.

    Cover saves

    Cover saves can be taken against any hits as normal, however members of the squadron cannot be used as cover for another member of the same squadron. The rules for infantry in cover are used for squadrons (these can be found on pages 21-23 of the main rule book)

    Gun Drones and squadrons

    When a squadron of Piranhas includes Gun Drones they must all disembark at the same time, you cannot disembark Drones from individual Piranhas within a squadron. If the Piranha is destroyed the Gun Drones are treated as passengers bailing out but any hits inflicted on them are resolved at STR3. Remember if only one vehicle is destroyed and its Drones are forced to disembark all the other Drones in the squadron must disembark. All the Drones form one unit and are classed as a non-scoring Gun Drone squadron, they do however confer a kill point to the opponent if the unit is destroyed.

    Armour values the truth

    The Piranha is an open topped fast skimmer, it is relatively low armoured with an AV of 10 on three sides. This poor AV allied to its open topped status makes it extremely vulnerable to any weapon of STR4 and over. It is not all doom and gloom though the front AV is proof against most infantry weapons (beware when playing against Tau though as the pulse rifle/carbine and Burst cannons can all beat the front AV).

    If you are going to use the Piranha you need to ensure that the front AV is the only AV the opponent can trace line of sight to, obviously this is not easy to achieve when your opponent has multiple units of his own.
    Again we come to the problem of squadrons, if care is not taken when manoeuvring a squadron then you can have all the members taking hits resolved on AV10 because you did not take into account that infantry unit with its 'ineffectual' (or so you thought) weapons drawing a LOS to your side armour.

    I simply cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure you have considered every possible LOS to your squadron before you move a Piranha squadron.

    You will hear the same old tired, inaccurate piece of garbage spouted about Piranhas again and again "Piranhas are immune to infantry weapons" this is simply not true and this single fact needs recognising. Yes if are a 40K playing genius and you can consistently ensure the frontal armour is presented then fine but it is not easy to do and you should be under no illusions that it is very easy to gain LOS on the 75% of an open topped vehicle that has poor armour.

    And it gets worse

    The new rules have also dealt another blow to the Piranha (and all vehicles), when a vehicle is assaulted all attacks are resolved on the rear armour. This however is compounded even further by the fact that damage allocation is done exactly the same as per shooting. This means that all successful hits are resolved against the squadron as a whole, which means that you can lose a whole squadron easily. Even if only one vehicle is contacted the damage has to be spread throughout the squadron.

    If you are going to attempt to intercept a unit by blocking it and you are pretty sure you will get assaulted then make sure you move at a minimum of combat speed and if possible cruising speed; this is to ensure that at least a 4+ is needed to hit the vehicles when assaulted and give them a fighting chance of surviving (a 6+ is needed to hit a vehicle that moved at cruising speed and over). Also if you are pretty confident you are going to be encountering units in assaults or in blocking scenarios then take Flechettes, they are worth there weight in Monkey spit.

    Offensive power

    The Piranha comes equipped as standard with a Burst cannon and two Gun Drones. Not it must be said the most fearsome array of firepower. The Burst cannon and Drones only have a range of 18" and are basically only any good against infantry and low AV (11 max) armour/vehicles (though it must be said if you can draw LOS to lower AV10 rear armour the BC and Drones are effective).

    The average BS of the Piranha exasperates the fire power problem even further because the three shots of the BC means an average hit rate of 1.5 which means a very very poor casualty rate amongst any unit it targets.

    Drones are a little bit better as they have twin-linked carbines and can (if lucky) pin units; however the Drones will more than likely be disembarked quite quickly.

    So really the Burst cannon is not much of an option, luckily we have an upgrade option, the Fusion blaster. The Fusion offers vastly superior strength and an AP of 1 it can destroy anything it hits.
    Surprise surprise though the Fusion does have downsides, the main one being its range. Fusion blasters have a range of 12" and need to be at 6" to be sure of a damage result. When you the ally the iffy damage potential to the 50% miss rate for hits it means it is a far from certain thing that a Piranha is going to be successful when used to kill high AV vehicles (which it must be said is one of its most commonly put forward reasons to take it in a list).

    So given the fact that the Piranha suffers from a low shot volume and average BS we need to ensure we make the most of the weaponry offered to us. Luckily we have the targeting array as an option and at 5pts it does make sense to utilise it, BS4 is much better and when used with Marker lights a BS of 5 can make all the difference when hitting that tank.

    So we have a Piranha with a Fusion blaster, two Gun Drones and a Targeting array for 70pts, which is not to bad. What else do we need? Well given the fact that the Piranha is tissue paper tough we need to make sure it gets every possible chance to survive. Fortunately we as Tau players have been blessed with the Disruption pod, this confers a 4+ save (obscured) to any vehicle that is over 12" away from the shooting unit. Basically this is a MUST HAVE.

    Most will agree that this is the optimum build for a Piranha for a cost of 75pts. One other option well worth considering is the Flechette discharger; this is a nice bit of kit that inflicts an automatic wound on a roll of 4+ on a D6 on any model assaulting the vehicle before they roll their attacks. Remember that rule that says that assaults against squadrons are resolved against the squadron as a whole well the good thing is that the reverse of that is if all the vehicles have flechettes then the attacking unit gets hit with multiple flechette hits. So if a squad assaults a three Piranha squadron then the Tau player would roll 18D6, this can mean a lot of hurt for the attacking unit.

    Gundrones: a discussion

    Piranha’s come as standard with two Gundrones (GD from now on). These GD have a few rules and quirks that need to be understood.

    (1) GD’s are passengers! This means that they have a few rules that need to be understood in relation to this:
    • They can disembark from the Piranha but may not re-embark.
    • They cannot disembark if the vehicle moved flat out
    • They can assault after even if the vehicle moved before they disembarked (obviously not if the vehicle moved flat out)
    • They must disembark if the vehicle is destroyed and will each take a STR3 hit
    • If one Piranha’s Drones disembark all the squadrons Drones must do so at the same time and form a unit of Drones

    Some news

    Now we come to something that is not widely known, GD’s are not eligible for removal due to a weapon destroyed damage result. Don’t believe me then check the rules for GD’s in the vehicle armoury; it says that GD’s are treated as passengers if the vehicle is damaged. Now check page 67 in the main rule book under the heading ‘Effects of damage results on passengers’ the weapon destroyed section says that this result has no effect on passengers, so we cannot remove the GD.

    Now to restate the obvious a damage result is “damage” and the codex clearly states that if the vehicle is damaged then the GD’s are treated as passengers. This is not good for the Piranha because as soon as its main weapon is destroyed from then on any further weapon removed result means the vehicle is immobilised, if it gets another weapon removed result and is still immobilised then it is destroyed.
    We also need to remember that a piranha in a squadron that is immobilised is instantly destroyed.

    (1) GD’s fire as a part of the vehicle but they use their own BS, they cannot fire if the Piranha is stunned or shaken.

    (2) Even though disembarked GD’s form a unit they are never classed as a scoring unit.

    (3) Each GD unit counts for one kill point if destroyed. You need to remember this if taking multiple individual Piranha’s, if you take three that is a potential three extra kill points for the opponent and that can tip a game.

    Uses for the Piranha

    Ok so we have discussed the Piranha in depth now we need to work out how best to use them. Now we can use the Piranha in two ways:

    (1) As an individual unit
    (2) As a squadron between 2 and 5 strong

    Each of the above has positives and negatives, so let us discuss them.

    The individual Piranha

    Well the main strengths of an individual unit are:
    • Immobilised results do not destroy them, the individual Piranha is treated as a standard skimmer for the purposes of damage resolution
    • An individual Piranha is a lot easier to hide and it is also easier to ensure its front armour is presented to the enemy


    Well the obvious disadvantage is a lack of firepower. It cannot be denied that even with a Fusion blaster and a targeting array the Piranha is only putting out one BS4 shot. The Drones if not disembarked offer two more shots but even then the offensive power is hardly inspiring for something that costs 75pts on average.

    With these points in mind we need to assess what the best use for the individual Piranha. Well given the fact that it is going to be pretty hard to ensure that anything hit by the Piranha is going to die or be destroyed we have to think of it as a more tactical unit.

    A lot of missions in 5th rely on troops controlling objectives and a Piranha can contest objectives if it is within 3”. This is probably the best use for the Piranha in my opinion.
    The best way to achieve this is to take a single Piranha with Disruption pods, Burst cannon and Drones. Do not disembark the Drones during the game. Ensure the Piranha is kept hidden or as far away from the action as possible. (If needed you can shoot with the BC and Drones but make sure you do so at maximum range as this gives the Disruption pod a chance to protect the Piranha).

    It is best to keep away and ensure the Piranha is around for the last turn.
    You can either stay at maximum range and boost towards the objective and rely on the 4+ save to ensure a bit of survivability if the opponent has a turn left. Or you can manoeuvre so you only have to move 12”in the last turn and then move the Piranha to within 3”and disembark the Drones. This means the opponent has to deal with two units contesting the objective. If the opponent has a turn left then you can assault the unit on the objective with the Drones and have the possibility of keeping the unit in assault and thus prevent your Piranha getting shot at in the last turn.

    Either way the Drones are handy to have around and should be disembarked when the Piranha is used to contest an objective (obviously if kill points are in play remember to assess total kill points because a losing a kill point due to dead drones and losing the game is not a good result).

    Of course if it is you that has the last turn then simply just move within three inches and contest the objective. The Burst cannon is taken because it is better to have shot volume when shooting at units in cover (units on objectives are usually in cover)

    Another use for the individual Piranha is as lone armour, tough unit hunter. This is not the best use for an individual Piranha; however a lone vehicle is often overlooked and can take an opponent by surprise. In my opinion the best set up is Fusion blaster, Targeting array, Disruption pod and 2 Seeker missiles.
    Depending on scenario, opponent deployment etc the Piranha can be used several different ways.
    • As a fast flanking Seeker missile delivery platform. Deploy the Piranha on a flank and in the first turn movement phase boost it straight down the flank. The Piranha gains a 4+ cover save and hopefully will have line of sight to a target. If you have deployed sensibly you will have a marker light trained on the target and the Piranha can send a Seeker to the target on the side or if lucky rear armour. This can be a useful tactic to shift targets at the rear of the field. The thing to watch out for with this tactic is the fact that you will inevitably be moving the Piranha into enemy territory and therefore within range of the opponents weaponry. It is best to try to get the Piranha into some sort of cover, luckily Seekers do not need LOS to hit and have unlimited range so you can select the best place to move the Piranha to so you can utilise the best available cover. Consider Flechettes as well because you may well see the Piranha getting assaulted due to its close proximity to the opponents forces.
    • As a Dreadnought, Sentinal or similar hunter. The Piranha has the advantage of being fast; this means that it can manoeuvre to gain LOS to rear armour and even the Pulse carbine of the Drones can beat low AV. Even if it does not gain LOS to rear armour the Fusion is easily capable of penetrating the armour of a standard Dreadnought and damaging it (if you are lucky even destroying it).
      The Piranha is very well suited to hunting the slower walkers. Seekers can be taken for this role as they can offer another level of firepower and even allow one Dread to be targeted with the Fusion while hitting another with the Seekers. If one Dread is destroyed the Piranha has made its points back.
    • If you are considering using the Piranha to hunt things like Independent characters or Monstrous creatures then you must remember its firepower limitations. It is best to hit targets that can be insta killed and this limits the targets to toughness 4 maximum. Luckily there are plenty of characters with this level of toughness or even less. It is best to use the Piranha as a support unit when taking down MC’s. Obviously the Fusion is best used here.
    • Another tip is to disembark the Drones when confronting Independent characters or Monstrous creaturesC’S. Disembarking them in the movement phase and placing them between the Piranha and the target means that if the target survives the Drones can assault and hopefully allow the Piranha to escape. You can also just leave the Drones (do not assault) because the opponents unit will have to move around them to get to the Piranha and hopefully will not have the range to do so.
    • The reserves rule is very useful for the lone Piranha. When used in conjunction with a Positional relay equipped model It can be used to keep a Piranha safe until it is needed to contest objectives. If you take multiple individual Piranhas then you can bring them on when it best suits in the later half of the game. Remember you can be assured that even if the reserves rolls do not go to plan then the Piranhas still arrive in turn five which gives you plenty of time to manoeuvre in to position.

    Piranha squadrons

    First things first, forget about the full strength Piranha squad. It is simply too expensive, to unwieldy and is way to vulnerable to the conditions I described earlier regarding LOS avoidance problems and dispersal of damage results through the squadron. Two or three vehicle squadrons are advisable but three is the absolute maximum.

    Advantages and disadvantages of the squadron formation

    One advantage is obvious, more offensive impact. Three Piranhas with Fusions and targeting arrays can be assured of damaging pretty much anything they hit. Maximise this potential by taking targeting arrays, Fusions and utilise any Marker lights available.

    Errrr that is pretty much it for advantages , I suppose the fact that you can get a 6 man Drone squadron from three Piranhas is also pretty good.

    The disadvantages well first of all if you are going to use a squadron then you have to be extremely careful when using them. A three-vehicle unit is a large target and it is going to be extremely hard to keep them from drawing fire. Also three optimally equipped Piranhas will cost around the 220pt mark and this is going to take some earning back. I have already discussed the problems associated with damage dispersal and other problems such as vulnerability to assault, so lets see how we can at least lessen these problems.

    Ok so it has been established that simply rushing up the field with a squadron of Piranhas is foolhardy and will more than likely result in the loss of the squadron (or members of it at minimum). With this in mind we need to think about their role.

    A Piranha can move 12” and still fire its main weapon this makes it a very good unit for intercepting units. What comes to mind here is intercepting transport vehicles that are bringing units close to your lines or objectives, keep the squadron close to your lines/objectives and send them out to intercept when needed.

    When you are intercepting transports it is wise to disembark the Drones in the movement phase as these can be used to shoot any passengers that are forced to disembark and if needed they can assault as well, this is important, as with luck it will prevent the passengers from shooting at the now exposed Piranhas.

    Obviously transports are not the only targets open to this tactic; however be extremely careful when attacking units like bikes or Ork trukks as these units can be surprisingly resilient and of course can shoot back.

    If Marker lights are available then use them to up the BS of the Piranha squadron and if possible to down grade any cover save the target has acquired. You need to really maximise shooting with Piranhas to avoid any retaliation.

    The screen tactic

    A use much espoused is the skimmer screen, this used to be an effective tactic but 5th has really made this tactic less effective. The screen is usually used to prevent movement to another unit or portion of the field. If you are using the Piranhas to screen against shooting then you must ensure the frontal armour is the only armour the opponent can draw line of sight too and you have decoys. This will at least ensure the squadron has the best chance of surviving the shooting.
    If you are using three Piranhas the best way to prevent LOS to side and rear armour is to place the Piranhas in a half circle with the front of the vehicles facing outwards and the tails of the vehicles nearly touching each other, this ensures that the maximum area of the side and rear armour is protected and that any enemy in an 180 degree arc is presented with the frontal armour.

    Assaults are even worse for Piranha squadrons for the reasons discussed earlier. First to have any chance of surviving an assault unscathed taking flechettes is paramount. Second Drones are essential, so if you are sure you are going to use the squadron for a screening tactic do not disembark the Drones until you need to, they are safer on the Piranha.

    When you set up the screen disembark the Drones and have them set up in front of the Piranha squadron, these will provide a buffer and Drones are surprisingly effective in an assault situation. For a screen to be truly effective the Drones must be utilised in this fashion and flechettes taken, any unit surviving the shooting from a squadron of Piranhas, Drones, assault from a Drone squadron and the flechettes deserves to do well.

    I have edited this article to add another players viewpoint of the Piranha. number6 is a big fan of the Piranha and I think it only fair to show how he uses them and why he thinks they are good.

    Quote Originally Posted by number6
    Why Piranhas Are Awesome

    Why Piranhas are Awesome
    by number6

    They're wide, close to 5" wide. You want more than one because you can space them almost 3" apart and wall off a lot of physical board space. Just two will give you about a 14"-15" wall. (Recall the enemy is not allowed to come within 1" of your own units unless they are assaulting into it, so you have 1" all the way around each vehicle to count as well.) Imagine having 4 piranhas and being able to wall off close to 30" of board space. They may be paper airplanes, but if the opponent wants to do anything to you, they'll have to waste time on those paper airplanes first.

    They have a front AV of 11. It is not difficult, especially in the early turns of a game, to ensure that only the front is exposed to your enemy. So after you shove your piranhas into your enemy's grill, he then realizes that the only way he can get rid of them is either to assault them (and hit on 6s 'cause they moved more than 6") and perhaps glance on 6s on top of that (assuming S4 attacks) or to shoot them with anti-armour weaponry that, I'm sure, he'd much rather be putting into my hammerheads, devilfish, and even my broadsides or crisis suits. The stuff that is actually, overall, more killy than the piranhas.

    They have a 4+ cover save. Either I move them Flat Out or the disruption pods give them the 4+ save pretty much all the time. As Cole can tell you, that 4+ save kicks major ass. Sometimes it fails, but that's OK, that's meltas/lascannons/whatever that ain't targeting the stuff I really care about. And when the save holds, it just pisses away all that firepower you have. (Of course, all my other vehicles always have 4+ saves, too. :gag

    They have a melta gun. So I shove these guys in your face and threaten your armour with a melta that hits on a 3+ but which I am keen to boost with a markerlight hit or three or four. (See my Skyray and/or pathfinders back here nice and safe behind that piranha wall? I want to guarantee hits and also remove your smoke launcher cover saves.) Yeah, sure, paper airplane, relatively easy to take down, but it's in your way and a true threat if not dealt with. And it could just stick around despite everything you do. With enough piranhas, you almost always have a couple three left over to start causing havoc or continuing to just put up blocks on the field. Either works for me as I like to shoot from a distance and don't want you getting up close if I can help it.

    And there you have Piranha Tactics in a Vacuum. But, of course, you also bring along the rest of your army to integrate with that. For example, infiltrating Kroot with a mess of Hounds as a clean up crew for anything that manages to get past your piranhas and through the killing field that sets up. Thin the enemy down, clean up with a Kroot assault. Crisis suits, .... and so on.
    Squadrons can be used to hunt things like Independent characters and multiple wound Monstrous creatures. However you need to be careful, IC’s and MC’s are tough targets and you need to approach targeting them with care. Obviously Fusions are the weapon of choice with their strength and AP and again Drones and flechettes are your friends. Make sure the Drones are placed to prevent an assault from the character if it survives the shooting and the flechettes will at least have a chance of damaging the character if it does get into assault.

    The 12” move of the Piranha can also be used to catch out an opponent. Use a unit as a lure (possibly Kroot or a unit of Fire Warriors) and have the Piranhas move in to trap the unit in crossfire. Care needs to be taken though to ensure that you are not presenting the squadron to fire from units with longer ranged weapons or vehicles. This tactic is useful in hybrid lists with static elements in the army to use as lures and the squadron can be used to defend objectives.

    The best option

    All things considered I think the single Piranha is the better option for a Tau list. It does not suffer from the disadvantages presented by the squadron rules, it is easier to hide and losing one is not such a problem. In fact taking two or three individual Piranhas is probably the optimum set up.

    Utilising the reserve rules can be useful and can really give the opponent a headache because he has to take into account the fact that two or three fast moving units are going to be arriving at some point. Taking single Piranhas also means it is feasible to use one as a sacrificial speed bump or to use one as a suicide attack unit against armour simply because you are only losing 75pts and not 200 plus points. Squadrons simply have to many disadvantages under the rules in the 5th edition to make them a worthwhile edition, unless you are totally aware of all those disadvantages and are aware of just how careful you need to be using them.

    I have tried to give an honest and in depth appraisal of the Piranha in this article and I am sure that many will see it as a negative appraisal. This is not the case I have tried to cover every single angle regarding the Piranha to allow players to be aware of what is needed to play them well. I hope it helps anyone who wants to play the unit.

    The Hammerhead

    The next vehicle is the eponymous Hammerhead, widely and quite rightly regarded by many as the best tank in the 40K universe, but cheesy and overpowered by many others. Either way the Hammerhead is nigh on inevitably a part of any Tau players list.

    The Basic model
    The codex gives you the basic Hammerhead at a cost of 90 points. On top of this basic cost you must purchase a main weapon from either the railgun or ion cannon and a secondary weapon (burst Cannon, Drones or smart missile system).

    So if we took the bare bones versions we could have.

    (a) Railgun and Smart Missile System = 160 points
    (b) Ion cannon and Smart Missile System = 125 points
    (c) Railgun and Burst Cannons = 150 points
    (d) Ion Cannon and Burst Cannons = 115 points
    (e) Railgun and Gun Drones = 160pts
    (f) Ion cannon and Gun Drones = 125pts

    These are the bare bones Hammerhead configurations, and even equipped as such are very formidable tanks. However they all suffer from two problems;

    (1) A lack of mobility caused by restriction of shooting due to movement
    (2) Survivability.

    So we need to circumvent these restrictions, but the question is how do we circumvent them? Luckily for us the equipment available from the armoury is the answer. I am going to attempt to advise on how to equip a Hammerhead, and I will start with a breakdown of what is available as weapons and upgrades.


    The Hammerhead has the luxury of choosing between two formidable main weapons: The Railgun and the Ion Cannon.

    The Railgun

    Most players agree that the Railgun is an awesome weapon, and with good cause. Lets look a closer look at this formidable weapon.

    Firstly the Railgun comes with the option of a high strength solid shot option. When the strength of the shot is allied with AP1 and a huge maximum range it makes for a truly fearsome weapon, but this is only the start. The Railgun is a dual use weapon and has the option of using the submunnition round instead of the solid shot, and I will now attempt to describe each round in more detail.

    The Solid shot

    Strength 10 and AP1 make this a weapon to be feared by any unit in the 40K universe. Allied to the huge range of the weapon and the good ballistic skill of the Hammerhead no vehicle is safe unless it is out of line of sight.

    Remember no standard armour is immune to the solid shot, and this includes AV14.

    The AP1 means any hit gets a +1 modifier to the damage roll. This is helpful as it reduces the modifier for a glancing hit by 1, so the modifier is only –1. The +1 also means that any roll of 4+ on the damage table with a penetrating hit will result in the target vehicle being destroyed.

    Last but by no means least is the fact that the solid shot is capable of instantly killing any model up to and including toughness 5.

    The Submunnition

    A thing of beauty! this is the only way to describe this Railgun option; strength 6, large blast, decent AP and massive range make this a joy to behold. When used against infantry units with armour save values of 4+ or higher the effect is devastating.

    The sub round is a blast weapon, which means any wounds it causes on swarms are doubled and it causes two hits on any vehicle with the vulnerable to blasts rule. However the rules governing how the sub’s round hits has changed with the 5th edition rules.
    The round now scatters using the normal scatter rules Any scatter is reduced by the ballistic skill value of the Hammerhead. As an example if you rolled 7 on the two D6 the shot would scatter 3 (7 – BS4) in the direction of the arrow on the scatter dice.

    I think it is patently obvious how important Marker light help is for the Hammerhead in 5th edition; the +1 to BS will reduce the scatter by 5” and that is very useful.

    It should be noted that while the sub round does use the large blast template it is not an ordnance weapon.

    While it cannot be disputed that the Railgun is a fearsome weapon; it does have its downsides. These are cost and accuracy. The 50-point cost of the railgun has to be taken into account when creating a list.

    The accuracy is more to do with the fact that the railgun is a single shot weapon and thus can miss, with the Ion you get three shots. However this can be alleviated by the use of a marker light token to up the ballistic skill if the vehicle to BS5. However it cannot be ignored that to be truly efficient it does need marker light support and this means added cost and possibly taking ML support from another unit.

    However the fact is the Railgun offers something very rare in 40K, the ability to handle pretty much any unit it faces with its two fire modes.

    The ion cannon

    Sometimes seen as the poor relation of the Railgun; the ion cannon should not be regarded this way. Three shots at strength seven with decent range and good AP make the ion a good choice in many lists, but its major selling point is the ridiculously cheap 15 point cost.

    If you face Space Marine or Marine equivalents (MEQS) on a regular basis then the Ion Cannon should be considered a good solid choice. The AP of the weapon negates the basic armour save of MEQS and has a decent rate of fire.
    Again though! As with the railgun version to be truly effective the Ion needs Markerlight support; because the standard BS of the Hammerhead means an average hit rate of 66%. Sounds good but you have to consider that you are using a heavy support choice to kill two Marines a turn.

    The Submunnition is actually not much worse than this but is vastly superior against units with 4-6+ armour saves. The other shortcoming is the Ion is incapable of dealing with AV14 vehicles.

    The Ion Cannon is also surprisingly effective against light vehicles; up to and including AV13. The volume of shots and strength of the weapon make for an effective light vehicle counter unit. However it should not be forgotten that it needs a D6 roll of 6 to even glance an AV13 vehicle.

    Another point worth mentioning is if you are taking the Ion to take down vehicles and Dreadnought type models the Tau have another very effective unit in the Deathrain.

    For an approximate cost you can take a two man Deathrain team with a near as perfect hit rate when equipped with Targeting arrays. The Deathrain unit gets 4 shots per turn against the 3 of the Ion and no penalties what so ever when to shooting when moving. The DR unit never suffers from the inability to shoot that shaken and stunned results mean for the Hammerhead.

    To be quite honest if you have Deathrain units in your list you do not need to take an Ion equipped Hammerhead if all you want it for is to deal with light armour.

    I am not going to recommend either of the weapons over the other. Both weapons have their strengths and weaknesses, and much depends on list structure and the opponents you will be facing. So it is up to you to decide which offers you the best for your circumstances.

    Secondary weapons

    Burst Cannons

    The cheapest option but by no means the worst. The Burst Cannons on the Hammerhead are independent meaning they are not twin linked and each cannon can fire at a separate target (using the vehicles ballistic skill). The Burst cannons put out 6 shots combined; this is useful when you consider how many cover saves are available in the 5th edition.
    Decent strength and cheap cost make them a viable option, however it is worth remembering that in 5th any weapon over STR4 is NOT classed as a defensive weapon. This means that the Hammerhead can only fire its secondary weapons along with the Railgun/Ion if it moved up to 6” when it is equipped with a Multi tracker. If it has no multi then it can only fire all its weapons if stationary and one weapon when moving up to 6”

    Smart Missile System

    A slightly contentious weapons option. On the surface it seems to offer a lot. Decent strength, no line of sight needed, decent number of shots and an apparently decent range. While these do indeed seem attractive the problems arise when you take the SMS on the Hammerhead.
    What problems? You ask. Well the major advantage of the Hammerhead is its ability to shoot at range while remaining mobile. Equipping the SMS tends to tempt players in to using it, and to do this means getting within 24 inches of the opponents forces. This brings the Hammerhead within range of all the opponents anti vehicle weaponry, and this is not a good thing.

    Consider what you risk losing: the Railgun or Ion Cannon, stunned or shaken results meaning no shooting.

    Now the SMS does have some defensive benefits; mostly the ability to target units that are getting close but are out of line of sight. When used with the ion cannon it makes for a formidable anti infantry vehicle. Remember the same problem applies to the SMS as the Burst cannon in regards to moving and shooting.

    So it is up to the player to judge whether the Smart Missile System will offer enough benefits to outweigh the risk of getting so close to the opponent’s forces.

    Gun drones

    I am unsure as to why these are even offered as an option. The Gun Drone is pretty much useless on a Hammerhead, they belong on the Devilfish.
    The only possible use I can see is if you have the points spare you could take two drones and drop them for a free mini drone squad, but the problem with that is your reducing the Hammerheads possible firepower and you are also offering the opponent another kill point.

    The vehicle armoury

    The best way to explain the options available in the armoury is to go through them one by one and explain their benefits (or lack of them if applicable).

    Sensor spines
    Sensor spines allow the Hammerhead to use the obscured target rule in the same way as a normal vehicle. It also allows the vehicle to avoid the effects of dangerous terrain. The vehicle is classed as moving through terrain so can claim obscured target status if enough of the vehicle is in cover. Not really sure why anyone would take this in anything other than city fight type scenarios or in scenarios with lots of terrain

    Targeting array
    Standard equipment on the Hammerhead and included in the base cost, and no piece of equipment may be taken twice.

    Multi tracker
    This piece of equipment should always be taken on a Hammerhead. The multi allows the Hammerhead to function as a fast vehicle for the purposes of shooting. Basically this means that the vehicle can move up to 12 inches" and fire its railgun (it can fire one weapon) and still fire all its weaponry when moving up to 6”.

    Anyone who does not take this upgrade should not be considered a Tau player, but rather an idiot with some Tau models.

    To gain the maximum survivability for the Hammerhead you need to take a Disruption pod and Multi tracker. The Disruption pod needs the Hammerhead to be over 12” away from the shooting unit to be effective. So the Hammerhead needs to be moving as much as possible to keep the 12” between the HH and the enemy units. So obviously movement is key to survival, but if you move over 6 inches you cannot shoot any weapons; unless that is you take the multi tracker.

    So basically these two upgrades should be considered compulsory unless again you are happy being labelled an idiot

    Blacksun filter
    Actually not a bad upgrade, but only if you have the points spare. Only of limited use and marker lights negate the night fight effects anyway. When I take a Skyray I equip it with the Blacksun; this allows me to increase the chances of gaining hits with the Sky Rays marker lights, and therefore allow my Hammerheads to ignore the night fighting rule when they shoot.

    Target lock
    This can be useful. The best use of this is on an ion-SMS equipped Hammerhead, and also to a lesser degree on the Railgun-SMS equipped Hammerhead. It allows the vehicle to target two separate units with its two weapons systems per turn. Very useful on boards that have a high percentage of cover (Cityfight for instance).

    A target lock and SMS equipped Hammerhead can be extremely potent in games that include a lot of cover and restricted lines of sight. However if you use your Hammerhead primarily for long-range fire support then I would advise against taking this. It is also worth remembering that even with a Multi tracker the Hammerhead can only fire one weapon if it moves over 6”

    Flechette discharger
    A very nice, underestimated upgrade. Take this on your Hammerhead when you know your going to be fighting up close, and laugh as any unit that assaults you takes automatic hits and are wounded on 4+ before they resolve their attacks.

    Use this on the cheap Ion head with SMS and you have a very effective close quarter tank. Capable of large volumes of fire, tank shocking and if you keep it moving almost immune to assaults, but capable of inflicting damage on the assaulting units. Just remember that if you move over 6" you can only shoot one weapon, so this is most useful in close range engagements

    Not worth it for the ranged variant, but worth considering if you are facing those fast assault armies.

    Decoy launchers
    This used to be a must have but now is relegated to the scrap heap. Immobilised results no longer result in Hammerheads crashing and burning. Its place on the Hammerhead has now been taken by that upstart usurper the Disruption pod. It’s valiant service however will not be forgotten by the long time Tau player, we salute you.

    Disruption pods
    Offers a 4+ save if shot at from over 12” away. The save is taken before the damage roll, if it succeeds the damage roll is discarded. A must have along with the Multi tracker

    Seeker Missiles
    Only of any use if you have Marker lights in the list, and if you have no other vehicles capable of carrying them. The seeker is a useful weapon but overall you are better putting them on other vehicles, and keeping the cost of the Hammerhead down.

    Equipping the Hammerhead

    So given all the above what are the best options for equipping the Hammerhead?

    Anti vehicle and long range infantry suppression
    Railgun, Burst cannons, Multi tracker and Disruption Pod.
    165 points.

    Use at maximum range and keep it moving at all times. Use with marker lights whenever possible. Ill equipped for survival in close quarter scenarios.

    Remember the submunittion option excels at 4+ save infantry killing. This variant is probably the best all round option available to the Tau commander. This vehicle is capable of killing pretty much anything it targets and is definitely the most versatile configuration for its cost.

    Close quarters anti infantry and light vehicle killing
    Ion Cannon, Smart Missile System, Multi tracker, Disruption pod, Target lock and Flechette launchers.
    155 points.

    Now the Multi tracker can be disposed of if the game is going to be very close quarter orientated. However I would advise its inclusion as it aids in it survival from both shooting and assaults; by the virtue of allowing unrestricted shooting while offering that nice 4+ save and making it very hard to hit the vehicle in an assault.

    This variant is capable of targeting two separate units a turn, hitting units out of line of sight, taking down light vehicles and lastly doing serious damage to any unit foolish enough to assault it.

    All in all a very effective vehicle for minimal cost

    The cheap but cheerful option

    Hammerhead with Ion CCannon, Burst Cannons, Decoys and Multi tracker.
    130 points.

    Some players advise taking the even cheaper option of just ion and Burst Cannons. Ignore this advice as you are left with a very restricted vehicle. Without the multi tracker it is unable to move over 6 inches and fire and you do not benefit from the 4+ save offered by the Disruption pod.

    By taking the 130pt model you have still have an effective tank and a survivable one at that. Worth considering when points are tight or when facing MEQ type lists.

    The expensive option

    Hammerhead with Railgun, Smart Missile System, Multi tracker, Target lock and Disruption pods.
    180 points.

    Considered by some to be the best option. Well I consider it to expensive and the SMS does not fit the role of the Rail gun equipped Hammerhead. The fact that you are limited to using one weapon when moving over 6” also restricts the usefulness of the SMS.

    I would however advise carefully considering if it is worth it especially if your taking two Hammerheads. In my opinion this configuration does not offer enough advantages over the 165pt variant to make it worthwhile taking.


    The mistake a lot of players make is thinking the Hammerheads sole purpose is to take down high AV value armour, and this is simply not true. The Hammerhead is a very versatile vehicle capable of killing a wide variety of unit types, and this should be considered when creating your list.

    I for instance use my Hammerheads as my primary infantry killing units, and this leaves me open to take my XV8's as anti light vehicle and anti tough unit killers.
    This is simply one example of how the Hammerhead can be used to open up the rest of your list, and the beauty of it is that a Railgun equipped version can multi task as standard (the Ion can do this to a lesser degree as well).

    The Railgun Hammerhead offers the best balance of offensive options when facing a range of opponents. The ability to switch between round variants is extremely useful and a Markerlight guided Railgun is the nightmare of any opponent. The Submunniton is even capable of hurting Marine equivalent units. Taking two of these in any list will offer a very powerful backbone to any Tau list. Many players consider taking three Railgun equipped Hammerheads cheesy, ignore them, taking three Hammerheads is one of the few advantages the Tau have other armies and if you can fit them in take them.

    The Ion cannon equipped Hammerhead should be taken primarily when facing infantry heavy armies with light armour. The Ion is effective against MEQ armies and its cheapness means that chances can be taken with it (flechettes are handy if getting close on a regular basis) that could and should not be taken with the railgun equipped Hammerhead. A cheap Ion with flechettes and Burst cannons can be used to provide cover and protection for other units.

    Another combination worth considering is taking a railgun equipped Hammerhead and an Ion HH. This will offer all the benefits of both HH variants and few if any disadvantages.

    Remember there are many variables to be considered when deciding which variant to take. I however tend to stick to the 'Anti vehicle and long range infantry suppression' configuration as this offers me the best balance of effectiveness and cost, but that is my choice. I hope this helps you with your choice.

    The Skyray

    The Skyray, a more misunderstood, under estimated and plain discriminated unit does not exist in 40K.
    I am actually astounded at the level of ignorance surrounding the use and usefulness of this unit.

    The main point that tends to get thrown into the mix is that the "Skyray" is not "”a tank”" OK and why is that a problem?. Lets get something straight from the get going, the Skyray is not and never has been a tank, it is an infantry fire support and marker light provision vehicle, just because it uses a heavy slot does not mean it is a tank.

    So given the fact that it is not a tank we have to look at the Skyray in a totally different way to the way we view a tank. If you take a Skyray with the aim of destroying tanks or inflicting massive amounts of damage with the Skyray, then you really should not be taking a Skyray.

    So what does it do then, well the Skyrays main function is as a mobile markerlight platform and this role should not be underestimated. To get the most out of this mobility and the markerlights it carries we need to equip it accordingly.

    Best fit for the Skyray

    Burst cannons for cheapness (you should aim to never use these)
    Targeting array for BS4
    Multi tracker to allow full 12" of movement and still fire the markerlights (absolutely vital)
    Disruption pods to add to survivability.

    The Multi tracker and Targeting array are the most important additions The Skyray has a maximum movement rate of 12" when added to the Markerlights range this means an effective 360 degree of table coverage out to 48". There are not many units that will be able to avoid being markerlit by a Skyray and this is the major advantage of the Skyray.

    When your opponent realises how much of an area the Skyray can cover with its markers believe me it will make him/her think twice about where to move those valuable units, this can be used to good effect to effectively deny parts of the table.
    When coupled to the Hammerheads massive gun range the mobility offered by the Skyray really comes into its own. Being able to cover most of the table with a markerlight enhanced railgun is a real advantage for the Tau player.

    The other benefit is rapid response to changing tactical scenarios. The Skyray can get to most parts of the field quickly to provide marker support to a unit and this can make all the difference to for instance a FW unit in danger of being assaulted (24 shots at BS5 makes a bigger impact than the equivalent at BS3). Often other ML units will be out of range and unable to help, Skyrays do not suffer from this restriction.

    Things like Basilisks that are concealed near the back of the field can be engaged by the Skyray The Skyrays seeker missiles have unlimited range and by deploying the SR 12" into the field then moving it 12". Allied with the 36" range of the ML you are looking at possible 1st turn kills on Bassies out to 60" (12” deployment + 12” movement + 36” range of the Markerlight).
    It is very rare for all of the Basilisk to be totally in cover, so gaining line of sight to side or rear armour is usually possible.

    The maneuverability is the beauty of the Skyray, its ability to make sure the opponent has very little chance of avoiding a ML on his valuable units cannot be underestimated.

    Unfortunately one change wrought by the 5th edition rules has somewhat hurt the Skyray. In 4th edition the markerlights were totally immune to weapon destroyed results. Unfortunately this is no longer the case; markerlights are as vulnerable to weapon destroyed results as any other weapon. It cannot be denied that this is a real blow to the Skyray.

    The only real weakness of the Skyray in 4th was it could be stunned or shaken and this meant its markerlights could not be used. In 5th however we have the added problem of the removal of the ML’s seriously reduces the usefulness of the Skyray. One way around this is to launce one of the Skyrays Seeker missile as soon as possible, with the intention of shifting the opponent’s attention away from the Skyrays markerlights and hopefully the opponent will elect to remove the seeker missiles instead of the ML’s.

    The Skyray does make other markerlight toting units more viable, the fact is that you have a vehicle that can ML two separate units a turn, this means that the Skyray is brilliantly placed to provide ML support for two Hammerheads which leaves the other ML units more able to support other units like Fire Warriors.

    If you take a unit of Pathfinders and a Skyray you can markelight 3 separate units a turn, with a Target lock in the Pathfinder squad you can ML four units a turn to do this without the Skyray you need to either:

    Take 2 Pathfinder squads, which is expensive and they lack mobility.

    Take 3 Fire Warrior squads with markerlights or ML Drones and again this is expensive, lacks mobility and if the Drones are taken the cost goes through the roof.

    Stealths with 2 Markerlight Drones. This choice used to be a real no-no but the new relentless rule in 5th makes this a real competitor to the Skyray. Mobile stealth field shielded Markelights allied to the Stealth’s fire power make for a really attractive and effective unit.

    3 Sniper drone units, well Ok but the snipers ballistic skill suffers if the ML is used for other units and they have no mobility.

    The Skyray has the advantage of being able to target two units a turn as standard. To do this with other units entails taking Target locks and usually upgrading one of the troops to enable the TL's to be equipped.

    A Skyray is also a cost effective way of taking mobile Marker lights. A Skyray costs 155pts (optimal) and for this you get two mobile markerlights (able to fire at two separate targets) 6 Seeker missiles and two Burst cannons.
    When we take into account the 60pts for seekers and 10 pts for the BC's this leaves 85pts, when we divide this by two the price of the markerlights equates to 42pts per markerlight.
    Compare this cost per markerlight to:

    Stealth squad with target lock with 2 markerlight drones and markerlight with target lock and BS filters for all others (for cheapness) works out at 275 pts. That equates to 47.5 pts per ML (taking away base stealth team cost of 180pts).

    Fire Warrior squad with Shas'Ui (markerlight and a target lock) and 5 FW’s = 85pts, cheap enough until you realise you need two units to equal the Skyray and you get no mobility. So 170pts for two BS3 immobile markerlights compared to 155 for the Skyray (oh and you get 6 Burst cannon pulse shots with the Skyray, same as the FW squad)

    The sniper squad is in my opinion not a valid markerlight unit because using the Snipers markerlights means a reduction in efficiency of the sniper drones.

    So taking a Skyray is indeed a very cost effective way of providing extra markerlight support. Three units a turn can be markerlit by a Skyray and a pathfinder squad (4 units if a Shas'Ui is taken with a target lock)

    Most of the above non Skyray squads have inherent drawbacks, Fire Warrior are expensive, have poor BS and limit mobility and can only mark one unit.

    Sniper drones are Ok but if you use the ML to provide aid to another unit the snipers hit rate drops.

    Pathfinders do suffer from lack of mobility but at least have lots of markerlights and ablative wounds plus a Devilfish that can now be used by other infantry units.

    The Skyray is often seen as somehow depleting a list of firepower by virtue of filling a heavy slot that can be used by Hammerheads or XV88's. Well I do not agree with this, the Skyray has 6 STR8 missiles, how can that be seen as underpowered?
    The Skyray is able to launch its own missiles at two separate units a turn and even if it is stunned/shaken its Seekers may still be launched in response to other units markerlight hits.
    When you consider that many vehicles only get one main weapon shot a turn for 6 turns then 6 seekers should not be considered a bad deal when you add in the markerlight role as well.

    The other thing to consider is that the Skyray is actually helping the remaining Hammerheads to perform at a higher level and the hit rate is actually nearly comparable to 3 Hammerheads at BS4. The hit rate equates to 1.66 hits a turn compared to 1.9 hits per turn for 3 BS4 Hammerheads, which equals 9.9 hits a game for the 2 BS5 Hammerheads and 11.9 for 3 BS4 Hammerheads’.
    The three hammerheads do slightly better when using the solid shot but the improvement to the submunnition afforded by the reduction in scatter is also important. You then have to factor in the 6 seekers of the Skyray.

    So really the loss of firepower is hardly a justification to not take the Skyray when you factor in its additional benefits.

    Obviously the Skyray can be destroyed but then again so can that extra Hammerhead and it takes as much to destroy a Skyray as it does a Hammerhead. The Skyray can also help other units perform more efficiently with their markerlights.

    In 1500pt or 2000pt games I firmly believe that a Skyray and Pathfinder squad make a very effective markerlight contingent and the Skyray enhances both the Pathfinders and Hammerheads in a list.

    Obviously the potential for the loss of markerlights because of the rules changes in 5th does reduce the attractiveness of the Skyray it should still be considered a good choice if you require mobile markerlights.

    With the advent of 5th edition the Skyray is no longer the only source of mobile markerlights in the Tau army. The new rules mean that any unit with a jetpack can now move and shoot with heavy weapons and this includes markerlights.

    The Stealth Markerlight team

    Markerlight Drones can now move and shoot if taken by a jetpack equipped model.
    Now we have the option of a mobile unit equipped with markerlights that suffer no penalties for movement, have the not inconsequential protection offered by the Stealth field, infiltration ability to gain good tactical positioning. The Stealth’s can cover 12” a turn but they have the ability to shoot and then move to safety.

    The only downside to the Stealth’s is they are not a cheap choice when equipped with ML drones and they have a ballistic skill of 3which means a 50% miss rate. However the fact is the Stealth markerlight squad is a viable choice for mobile markerlights.

    If you take a bit of time and consider and study the Skyrays capabilities, you may well be pleasantly surprised.

    The Devilfish

    The Devilfish is just as important a vehicle in the Tau army as the Hammerhead (arguably in 5th more important) but for different reasons.

    The Devilfish is the only transport option open to the Tau player, which makes it pretty much compulsory if you want to move stuff around.

    I think a look at the 5th rules is needed before we start our look at the Devilfish. The most important change is to the rules governing dedicated transports.

    In 5th the Devilfish is now blessed with the ability to transport any infantry unit including the Kroot. This is handy as it removes one of the main drawbacks associated with taking Pathfinder squads. Taking Pathfinders meant purchasing a compulsory Devilfish that was of absolutely no use to the PF squad.

    Now the Devilfish can be used to transport a unit of Fire warriors or Kroot. Essentially we now have 85pts to spend elsewhere because transporting FW squads meant purchasing a DF for each squad when a perfectly good Devilfish was sat on the field going to waste, now we simply use the spare Devilfish.

    Having the ability to transport any infantry squad that needs moving is nice as well. The Devilfish is no longer tied to just transporting the squad it was purchased for.

    The other rules change is the fact that the Devilfish can no longer move to full effect and fire its weapons (unless it has a Multi tracker and even then it can only fire one when moving 12”) This basically means it is more practical to take the Devilfish for what it was intended, as a transport.

    That said equipping a Devilfish with a Multi tracker does allow it to fire its Burst cannon and this allows the Gun Drones to fire because Gun Drones can fire if one of the Devilfishes weapons can fire. Drones are also immune to being removed due to any weapon destroyed results (see the Piranha entry for a full explanation)

    So for a cost of 95pts we can take a Devilfish that can transport a unit and add 5 strength 5 shots as support. Not bad if you can find the cost for the Multi trackers.

    The other consideration with Drones is whether to disembark them and use them as a small Drone squadron. While it can be useful to have the Drones buzzing around providing interference it ahs to be remembered that they count as an extra kill point in missions that use them. However dropping the Drones to provide a bit of extra protection for a Fire warrior squad can be helpful, I however would advise leaving them on the Devilfish unless it is absolutely necessary to disembark them.

    Paying points for an SMS, Multi tracker and possibly a Target lock is simply a waste of points. It is not possible to use the SMS and the Burst cannon together. While it is handy to have a weapon that needs no line of sight it needs remembering that the Devilfish will usually be close to the opponents units anyway so a lack of LOS will not usually be a factor.

    If we accept that the Devilfish is best used as a transport then how do we equip it to perform said role.

    Devilfish with a Disruption pod! yep that is it. Cheap and does its job, if you have the points then feel free to take a Multi tracker

    The Devilfish is quite a tough ship with decent frontal and side armour and equipping it with a Disruption pod will help to keep it safe while it is covering ground. Remember the Disruption pods cover save is only available if the Devilfish is more than 12” away from the targeting unit and provides no protection in assaults.

    The other useful upgrade for the Devilfish is the Flechette discharger. Considering the fact that the Devilfish is often used to carry out the fish of fury tactic, this will mean the Devilfish is often going to be in danger from assaults. The new rules mean that any vehicle assaulted will be hit on its rear armour, which makes any vehicle with AV10 rear armour incredibly vulnerable to many units.

    The Flechettes at least offer the Devilfish increased odds of surviving an assault by hitting the attacking unit before they get to attack the vehicle. To enhance these odds even further the Tau player should be aiming to move the Devilfish at least at combat speed to make it harder for the attacking unit to hit the vehicle.

    The Pathfinder Devilfish

    The Pathfinders Devilfish has the nice ability to offer any unit within line of sight of the Devilfish the ability to re-roll deep strike scatter results. The unit can re-roll the result once. When this is used with the Positional relay it offers the ability to safely deploy units via deep strike from reserve with reasonable precision.

    The other thing that needs remembering is that the Pathfinders Devilfish now has the scout ability (this was lost in 4th). This is handy because the Tau player can deploy the Pathfinders and Devilfish and then disembark the Pathfinders and move the Devilfish 12”. This allows the player to move the Devilfish towards any unit intended for transportation. The scout move is a normal move so the Pathfinders can disembark and move as normal and the Devilfish can then move away as normal (deployment is not classed as movement unless deep striking). This ability is handy to get Pathfinders in to favourable positions and to get the Devilfish to where it is needed.

    If you use the outflank rule then the Devilfish can move up to 12” the Pathfinders can disembark but they cannot move any further and cannot shoot their Markerlights.

    The Warfish

    While a quite attractive option in 4th the Warfish has lost some of its glamour in 5th. Usually equipped with the Smart missile system, Multi tracker, Decoy launchers and target lock. It was useful in 4th because it could bring all its weapons to bear even when it moved 12”. This ability has now been removed and the Warfish actually has less firepower than a standard Devilfish (equipped with a Multi tracker) when it moves 12”.

    If you want an effective Devilfish and you have the points to spend then you are actually better of taking a Devilfish with Burst cannon, Gun Drones, Multi tracker, Disruption pods and Flechettes. This configuration will offer some offensive power and defence against assaults.

    So there we have it a guide to Tau vehicles. I have avoided overly detailed and lengthy advice regarding deployment, tactics and how many vehicles to take because this depends on the list type and play style. Any advice regarding tactics will always be coloured by personnel preferences and I want to avoid this. I have tried to describe each vehicle in detail so the Tau player can decide what suits them best. I hope it will be helpful and please feel free to point out any errors or omissions or submit any nuggets of info you think would enhance the article.

    Last edited by Rikimaru; January 6th, 2010 at 19:11.

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  3. #2
    Firefly Skarsgard's Avatar
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    Nice work riki, very comprehensive.

    Although, I will need to read it a few times before I can post a more thoughtful comment or two.
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    Son of LO Phaeron Typhoon's Avatar
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    It's good to know that the Skyray isn't useless.

    I really wanted to use one in the Tau list I will be making, but couldn't bring myself to do it since everyone seems to avoid all of the Heavy Support options except for the Hammerhead and Broadside suits.

    Now I have been convinced to try one out in my army (once I have gotten up to 1,500 pts)
    "I am the architect of fate!"

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    Really nice tactica! I´m playing a mechanised infantry list with 3 fishes and 2 hammers, so i found the hammerhead part exellent. I was worried wether or not to bring SMS on my ionhead but you kinda helped me decide.

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    Wow I never thought the sky ray had much use, nice job thats a huge help.
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    The ORIGINAL Sniper Puss eiglepulper's Avatar
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    Riki, one little thing you might want to re-word:
    It can fire its own missiles at two separate units a turn and even if it is stunned/shaken it can still launch seekers in response to other units markerlight hits.
    If you phrase it "its Seekers may still be launched", it would be better since the Sky Ray would not actually be able to fire its own Seekers when it is stunned/shaken. In its present form it might introduce the old argument of the Seekers being fired by the vehicle instead of being fired by an on-board Tau equivalent to a targeting computer in response to the ML source's request!

    Just a small detail that's all. Otherwise, I suppose it's a fairly moderately reasonable article!

    And yes, Sky Rays are excellent choices, NerdkKerd. We played 8 of them in a recent 30k-a-side Apoc game.

    "Tau Commandment #226: Participants who use Velocity Trackers in the Tau Clay Pigeon Tournament will be disqualified"

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    The deep down truth Rikimaru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eiglepulper View Post
    Riki, one little thing you might want to re-word:

    If you phrase it "its Seekers may still be launched", it would be better since the Sky Ray would not actually be able to fire its own Seekers when it is stunned/shaken. In its present form it might introduce the old argument of the Seekers being fired by the vehicle instead of being fired by an on-board Tau equivalent to a targeting computer in response to the ML source's request!

    Just a small detail that's all. Otherwise, I suppose it's a fairly moderately reasonable article!

    And yes, Sky Rays are excellent choices, NerdkKerd. We played 8 of them in a recent 30k-a-side Apoc game.

    I shall edit immediately, nay sooner than that even. Skyrays are indeed good but not as good as they were in 4th, with their indestructible Marker-lights, ah well

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    Member Toko Zob's Avatar
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    Great Guide. It helps a lot.

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    NCIS fan MaleOpener's Avatar
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    I have a question, Riki.

    I have two devilfish ( honor guard and pathfinders ), and they have the burst cannon/gun drones/disruption pod.

    I currently use them as a "shield" for my teams. Placed at the front, the team can fire underneath them.

    Do you think this tactic is a waste of points? If so, what is a better way to use them?

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    The deep down truth Rikimaru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaleOpener View Post
    I have a question, Riki.

    I have two devilfish ( honor guard and pathfinders ), and they have the burst cannon/gun drones/disruption pod.

    I currently use them as a "shield" for my teams. Placed at the front, the team can fire underneath them.

    Do you think this tactic is a waste of points? If so, what is a better way to use them?

    Well Honour guard are a waste of points, not to mention the Ethereal but I digress. The Devilfish is best used to keep the FW safe, so the shield tactic is valid, however you should be considering the missions. If you are playing the objectives missions then you should be using the DF to keep the FW safe as much as possible. only disembark them to fire if you KNOW they will not die, otherwise keep them in the DF. The FW can contest objectives in the DF and they can also hold objectives while inside it as well. If there is no reason to disembark them then don't.
    Obviously this does not apply as much to kill point missions. You should be using the DF and the FW to hunt down soft targets like infantry.
    How do you equip your Devilfish?

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