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The deep down truth
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been posting on the Tau army list forum and have been advising on the use of Drone squads in a circular formation quite a lot, so to avoid repeating the advice over and over I thought it might be an idea to make a small tactica describing how to use it and its benefits.

The circular drone tactic consists of an HQ XV8 with a full 8 man drone squad.

Now the 1st thing to clear up is the Shas'O or El (i will refer to them as Shas from here on in) should not join or be attached to the drone squad, the tactic relies on the rule that any independent character(IC) without a bodyguard, retinue or attached squad may not be targeted if he is not the closest unit to the enemy.

This means if another unit is between the Shas and the targeting enemy unit he cannot be selected for shooting purposes unless the enemy unit has a special rule to allow the targeting of IC's such as the Vindicare Assasin or Farseer with Mindwar.

Given this nifty rule we can use the drone squad to protect the Shas.

The drone squad should be at full strength this is mainly for casualty absorbtion, the drone squad can lose 2 drones before they have to start testing for morale and also the drone squad will be reduced to LDS4 if it numbers less than 4. So full drone squad mandatory.

Set up the drones at 1 inch intervals around the Shas with the drones 1 inch away from his central position this is important as will be explained later.

Now wherever the Shas goes he will be immune from the majority of firepower, the only threat really is ordnance but that usually scatters, but if it is a worry a shield generator can be taken along.

Assault, now this is the good part and also why the 1" spacing is important, most people would space at 2" to minimise the casulties from the aforementioned Ordnance template but the 1" is vital to avoid assaults on the Shas.

The rules for assault state no model can pass within an inch of a model to engage another model in close combat, also the assaulting unit has to make its 6"(standard) assault move in a straight line towards the nearest enemy model.

So this means any unit attempting to assault the Shas and drones will have to contact the drones first no matter which direction they assault from and will not be able to move past the drones due to the 1" spacing to get to the Shas.

Due to the high initiative of the drones and the good save and reasonable toughness the drones usually last for 1 or 2 turns of combat which means the Shas can jump out of the ring of drones and will have his next move to put more distance between the assualting unit and himself.
Given the fact that unless the Tau player has elected to assault with the drones the opponent will be assaulting in his own assault phase this will mean the Tau player will have his upcoming movement phase and assault phase to move 12" away from the assault plus the 6" moved in the opponents prior assault phase so the Shas should be well out of the danger zone.

One very important point, even though this tactic is brilliant for protecting your valuable Shas it should not be relied on solely to keep him alive, the Drones have a jump pack and have the exact same movement rules as an XV8. This means they can jump shoot jump the same as the XV8 and have the same 6" move in the assualt phase (I know I am stating the obvious) so use it to get the whole combined unit behind cover when possible, use it to keep distance betwen the unit and the enemy.

The circular formation should be used as a last resort and an extra barrier to the Shas being shot not as a replacement for the much proven and tested JSJ and assault move into cover tactic.

One point should also be mentioned it has been asked if the Shas and drones can deep strike at the same time, as far as I know the Shas and drones have to roll for Deep strike seperately so you would have to rely on the luck of the draw also the scatter could end up seperating the Shas and the drones, I would not advise using DS with this tactic.

One other benefit of the Drone squad is because its an independent unit if the Shas destroys a transport (or if he is using an AP1 weapon just hits it successfully) when the troops transported inside disembark the drone squad can then shoot the unit, which results in some casualties and often a pinned unit, also with the new rules for markerlights coming in the new codex which means the leadership of a markerlit unit is reduced by however many hits (-1 for 1 hit, -2 for 2 hits etc) this tactic will be even more usefull and valid.

Oh and last but not least you have two units with which to contest objectives etc.

Anyway this pretty much covers most aspects of the tactic, if anyone has anything to add please feel free, and please use it as a link.
 

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I think many of us have known of this tactic for a long time, the problem is it uses 96 points to protect the Shas'o, in a way that also often cripples that 96 pts of a lot of thier funtionaitly. (getting closer, shooting rear armor, DS, etc)
 

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what's the point in this? Why doesn't terrain surfice? I get the feeling that this is exploiting a disputed rule, and serves no other purpose then to annoy the opponant through excessive fluff. The gun drones alone cost 96pts, for that you could have 2 other crisis, and join the squad. That's ultimately more useful, as it gets a higher amount of higher strength weapons on the table, which is infinantly more useful against MEQs. But really, what is the point?
It's about 220pts, consisting of 8 Carbines, Plasma rifle and a Fusion Blaster. great.
 

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The deep down truth
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
squall14 said:
what's the point in this? Why doesn't terrain surfice? I get the feeling that this is exploiting a disputed rule, and serves no other purpose then to annoy the opponant through excessive fluff. The gun drones alone cost 96pts, for that you could have 2 other crisis, and join the squad. That's ultimately more useful, as it gets a higher amount of higher strength weapons on the table, which is infinantly more useful against MEQs. But really, what is the point?
It's about 220pts, consisting of 8 Carbines, Plasma rifle and a Fusion Blaster. great.
It does not exploit any disputed rule it is totaly legal, also please tell me the two usefull weapons fits for the crisis you mention, as far as I know 62 pts is about the cheapest you can get and 2x62 is 124pts.
For the 96 pts you can get one XV8 with decent weapons not 2.
For that 124pts you would get a twin linked BC and a fusion and 1 5 point support item on each suit yeah really usefull, seeing as the main point of the tactic is to protect the Shas.
Also the point is that the Shas can be kept alive longer to use the high strength weapons with his superior BS and the drones get 8 STR5 twin linked shots which is better than an equiv FW squad or the XV8's with BC, I know which i would rather take 1 extra XV8 with 2 shots at BS4 (max) or a drone squad with 8 shots at reasonable strength and the reassurance that my commander stays alive whatever is thrown at him, yeah what is the point sheeesh.
By the way its 96 pts for the drone squad and 108 for my Shas'O with PL/FU/MLTI so thats 204pts.
Bythe way what do you mean excessive fluff I dont understand what that menas, using two bog standard units from the codex in the roles they were intended is fluffy,correct me if I am wrong but are not drones meant to protect the Tau.

P.S Prometheus I know many of the more experienced players know the tactic, I just thought it would make it easier to point newbies etc to this tactica rather than explain the tactic in full everytime.
 

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if you argue, you're as bad as me. don't be annoying.

i've never seen the rule that says that you can't shoot ICs if they're not the closest. which page is it on?

even with higher BS, drones still hit more. Twin Linking.

if there is NO terrain, then i'm fine with it; but often enough there is at least one piece of terrain i can hid him behind. a competent commander (or one with any sense) will be able to keep his Shas'o alive.

Rikimaru said:
For that 124pts you would get a twin linked BC and a fusion and 1 5 point support item on each suit yeah really usefull,
two helios crisis is 126pts. that's 30 pts over, and only 5pts if you change to shas'el:yes: .
 

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Shrubs for the Blood God
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I don't think you understand the formation Rikki is talking about Squall, heres a diagram...

.......o...o
.....o..IC..o
.....o.......o
.......o...o

In this formation the Drone squad is always closer to the shooter than the IC, no matter what the position the Drones will be the only ones that can be targeted. The point of this tactica is not that people are incompetent and can't use cover, but unless your on a heavily terrained board there are just some instances where you can't jump back behind cover. This squad lets you make that bold move to close to knifefighting distance and get your 2 plas and 1 fusion shot off at the enemy if they're not convieniently close to cover so that you can hide again.

As to this being 96 points for three shots...I use a variant where I have 2 Monet Helios HQ's, so its 6 shots that will ignore +2 armor saves, pluse the TL Carbine shots from the drones.

And someone said this was a waste of drones, I ask how so? Do you think that your not shooting with the drones as they protect the unit. Your Drones are still shooting, still killing. Saying the Drones are wasted in this instance is like saying a line of Kroot protecting FW's is a waste. As all of us can attest, it is not and thats an almost equal expenditure of points just to protect FW's., so whats the rub?
 

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Shrubs for the Blood God
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If you noticed Sir_P that I did the digram because I though squall misunderstood the tactic, not you.

As to diff. ranges how so? Rapid Plas 12", Fusion 12" +6" JSJ so 18" for both, Pulse carbine 18" +6" JSJ. I don't consider 6" a staggering diff in wep ranges. How is it a waste because they would be firing at diffent ranges?

I don't think people understand that this is not a set in stone tactic that MUST be used all the time. It's something to keep in mind for those random difficult situations, its merely a reason to include a Gun Drone Squad in you list. It's comprable to FoF, you don't HAVE to use it all the time. The mounted FW's arn't useless if you chose not to do FoF, they still have other roles they can do, the same goes to the gun drones. If this was 96 points for a meatshield that your HQ was stuck with and that couldn't fire I would say its useless, but thats not the way it is.

This tactic can be boiled down to a short phrase: "Use your IC status." Its a tactic every army and player uses, none of them call it useless. Saying its useless is like saying that its stupid to use the IC rule at all. It's there, there's bennefits to using it, don't dissmiss it.
 

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squall14 said:
i've never seen the rule that says that you can't shoot ICs if they're not the closest. which page is it on?

Pg. 51 of the 4th edition 40K main rule book.

The heading is 'Shooting at Characters.'
 

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cool thanks grey

i DID understand the tactic, and i DO understand the benefits, but i can also see a waste of points.
 

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The deep down truth
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
squall14 said:
cool thanks grey

i DID understand the tactic, and i DO understand the benefits, but i can also see a waste of points.
Squall I really think we need to define a waste of points, I think this can be done by discussing advantages and disadvantages.

Advantges

1 Drones have:
Jump packs so can keep up with the XV8
STR5 pulse carbine twin linked which pins, this is even more important with the new rules for Markerlights reducing leadership.
Int 4 better than most other Tau units and double the intitiative of a Fire Warrior.

Now lets compare the points value of a drone squad to the equiv fire warriors for 96pts you get 8 drones or 9 Fire Warriors, the FW have +1 BS but the Drones are twin linked so pretty much even, as said earlier the drones have double the initiative of a FW and the same WS, STR, TGH and save.
The drone is 2 pts more but you get an extra six inch move in the assault phase which means they are much more mobile without the need for an expensive transport and are much more capable of utilising cover with the JSJ move.

Now a Shas'O is around about the 108 to 133 pts mark dependent on gear and weapons, he has the best BS of the Tau so he is very valuable not only as an effective killing machine but also in regards to victory points, now to make his points back he really needs to be used in a position where he can make those weapons and BS count. Making points back or the points value of something is related to a lot more than what it can kill, if that drone squad keeps my Shas alive long enough to kill 2 or 3 tanks or a unit of termies etc well they are not wasted points.

Yes the independent character rule can be used to a point and cover is usefull but we dont always play on boards with masses of cover and that unit your targeting may not always be close to that handy forest or building and like I said the rules for IC and cover should be used anyway with or without the drone squad.

So the drone squad optimises your usage of the Shas'O, now lets look at other units that can protect him the same way for 96pts.
Hmmmmmmmmmm no cant think of any, 3 Stealths yep that'll work, 9 FW they cant keep up, Kroot same problem.XV8 bodyguard well cheapest unit is 61pts (and is useless BC and Flamer) takes away the IC status and costs 122pts for 3 twin linked BC shots and a flamer, to be effective the cost goes way higher and you dont get the protection of the drones

The Drone squad is an independent unit that means it can target a different unit to the Shas , the drones can also go their own way at any time. So they can be used to harrass flanks or take objectives or contest table quarters etc.

So plenty of advantages

Disadvantages

Well I suppose it depends on what you can take for 96 pts.
13 Kroot
9 Fire Warriors
1 XV8
3 Stealths
1 XV88
For my list well I dont use XV88's (but if anyone does one may be a good choice but the Shas can kill anything the XV88 does), I already have 20 Kroot, the Drones can do whatever the FW do and 3 Stealths are no good. No one with any sense takes 3 Stealths (4 minimum) and 1 XV8 is less usefull than the drone squad.

So overall I dont really think the waste of points argument holds any water.
 

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Look, once again, when arguing something and supposedly backing yourself, up, you focus on the wrong things. But I'll give you some talking point on what you should be focusing on.

A) Crisis suits can be configured for close-in shooting but typically are not, which means no, the drones don't really get their shots of. And I'm not willing to risk it and change to a close range unit for reasons as follows.

B) The drone ring really isn't that robust. They can be shot up reasonably easily, of course, and they can be assulted. If there are casualties, you don't have a complete ring anymore, somthing jumping or flying troops, the most likely to catch you in the first place, can take advantage of.

C) Even if you have a coomplete ring, assaulting troops are pretty much guaranteed to get you. Either come in firing, kill some drones, and then charge the drone, but also making sure they get in base to base with the Shas'O, or they assault directly, and then they cathc you on the consolidation move, virtually guaranteed. The idea you're going to have a n opportunity to jump away is pretty illusory.



So yeah, it's a waste of 96 pts. I'd rather use the drones as intended, or give the Shas'O crisis buddies such that they actually kill what they're shooting at, or keep the Shas'O a safe distance away, or all three.
 

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Undead Bonzi said:
As to diff. ranges how so? Rapid Plas 12", Fusion 12" +6" JSJ so 18" for both, Pulse carbine 18" +6" JSJ. I don't consider 6" a staggering diff in wep ranges. How is it a waste because they would be firing at diffent ranges?
Typically Crisis arn't configured for close range shooting? I don't know of many armies that don't have a Helios Config in their lists. Plus, the drones won't get their shots off? Your engaging outside of 24" (18" +6" JSJ) with your crisis? Of course this tactic is gonna be useless for you, your not even close enough to the enemy to have to worry. The question is is just how big of tables are you playing on? Most games I play I find that the enemy doesn't convieniently stay that far away from my Crisis nor do they limit their fields of fire so much that I can always find cover behind something.

Sir P, Your running a fireknife, not a Helios. Which means ONE plas shot at ap 2 and two MP shots at ap 4. A Helios (if you can get within 12" of the enemy on the movement phase) will unleash Two ap 2 and one ap 1 shots (0 armor saves possible). The point of this tactic is that its gonna allow you to run a Helios config right up in the enemies face and bring along 8 TL Carbines that can pin; he's gonna start sweating real bad when that happens.

As to being assaulted by Jump pack or winged troops....this tactic is not designed to be idiot proof. If you can't judge when its safe to use this tactic and when it's likely your gonna get bent over a barrel then your doomed whether or not you use it. No one in their right mind would use this tactic on those sort of troops if they didn't feel they had a fair chance to break that squad, pin it in place, or reduce it to a level where it won't have enough attacks to eat your drones up and consolidate into your crisis. And sure they can shoot through the drones but if you've got half a brain you'll take drones off the side thats not in danger so that they can't open a hole and charge in. Your HQ shouldn't really be uncovered untill that Drone squad breaks or is eliminated.

Now that I see what configs your running, I agree Sir P, this is useless....for you. That does not mean its a useless or broken tactic, it means YOU don't have a use for it. I've used this tactic, it works, its a tactic that suits some playstyles but not other (gee...sorta like Mech vs. Static Tau). Can you honestly say this tactic wont work period or is it truer to say that it doens't work for you in particular.
 

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With Oden On Our Side...
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I'm with Sir_P and Squall on this one. There are much better uses of those 8 Gun Drones, or even just the 96 points. The Shas'O/'El is already an IC, so why bother putting a unit around him. Just drop the Gun Drones in, and they are closer. Gun drones are much more effective on rear armor, or getting units sitting behind cover from behind. Not escorting around an IC.

In that circle formation, you're basically using them as a 96 Point Meat Shield for something that is already highly protected.
 

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The deep down truth
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Sir_Prometheus said:
Look, once again, when arguing something and supposedly backing yourself, up, you focus on the wrong things. But I'll give you some talking point on what you should be focusing on.

A) Crisis suits can be configured for close-in shooting but typically are not, which means no, the drones don't really get their shots of. And I'm not willing to risk it and change to a close range unit for reasons as follows.

B) The drone ring really isn't that robust. They can be shot up reasonably easily, of course, and they can be assulted. If there are casualties, you don't have a complete ring anymore, somthing jumping or flying troops, the most likely to catch you in the first place, can take advantage of.

C) Even if you have a coomplete ring, assaulting troops are pretty much guaranteed to get you. Either come in firing, kill some drones, and then charge the drone, but also making sure they get in base to base with the Shas'O, or they assault directly, and then they cathc you on the consolidation move, virtually guaranteed. The idea you're going to have a n opportunity to jump away is pretty illusory.
So yeah, it's a waste of 96 pts. I'd rather use the drones as intended, or give the Shas'O crisis buddies such that they actually kill what they're shooting at, or keep the Shas'O a safe distance away, or all three.

Once again your wrong I am simply stating the disadvantages and advantages of the tactic, I am not backing myself up I am simply answering points with facts.

A) Crisis can be configured for close in shooting and often do, i use my XV8's solely as close up armour / tough unit killers a role they absolutley excel at especially with the drones adding the firepower. You dont want to risk it then dont, but other players who are willing wil find the drone tactic very uesfull.

B)The Drone ring is very robust, the drone has a 4+ save and seeing as their job is to take the shots your point seems a bit silly. The point about being caught well I would rather be caught with a squad of drones surrounding me than a BG of XV8's. I can lose 3 or 4 drones and still have an effective screen remember I take choose the models I remove as casulaties so I can leave drones between the Shas and the assualting unit and because its a circle it does not matter from which direction the unit approaches.

c)You really should check the rules for casualtie removal if that assault unit shoots and kills sya 3 I simply take the 3 drones at the rear of the squad and then the assault squad cannot contact the Shas, The squad would have to kill 5 or more drones to even have a chance of catching the Shas.
If they dont kill enough they cannot assault the Shas at all he is totaly immune because of the 1" rule so please tell me how he can get assaulted directly while surronded by drones, and by the way I use this tactic and have done for quite a while and I have indeed jumped out of the ring of drones while the drones have been assualted and in a totaly non illusory way.
This tactic is tried and tested and it works very very well.

You cannot dismiss all the advantages this tactic offers as a waste, its pretty obvious you have some problem with using drones and you wont even contemplate using it but thats your choice, but that does not mean it is not a valuable tactic in a lot of scenarios and lists.
Undead has a good grasp of why the tactic is usefull and like he says its not idiot proof or a be all and end all tactic its a good solid tactic that needs using intelligently.

Doctor the drone squad is not attached so can go their own way when needed, they do not have to escort the Shas all game, i am simply saying this is another use for the drone unit, I have moved the drones of to engage other units before and like I mentioned they can shoot different units to the Shas because he is not attached.
Also the dropping in tactic is all well and good if they are in range to do so, at least if the drones are in the circular formation from the game start the Shas is protected and can move away if needed later.

Anyway thanks for the input people but really the idea was not so much to argue the pro's and cons of the tactic but more to explain how it works for the newer Tau player without going into detail on the thread (just post a link) the tactic is tried and tested and is totaly legal so why not use it if it fits your play style, if it doesn't fine but at least the info is out there now to allow the choice to be made on an informed basis.
I am not going to participate further as I think I have said all I can say on the subject, adios
 

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I'm not a fan of the IC rule myself because it doesn't make sense to me, but everyone else I know uses it so I do too.

I've been following the rising mention of this recently and expiremented in my own way. It seems some of you feel the extra drone squad for this is a waste. Well, OK. If you play a Mech army like I do you can use the detached develfish gun drones in much the same way. I've only done this in one game but it seems that this could work better. Instead of one 8 model drone squad I had four, two model squads. Granted, one squad was guarding his back so that left only three of them that would be in front for purposes of intercepting fire. That still meant that 3 squads were needed to destroy the drones before the HQ was tageted. Much better than the one squad rapid firing needed to kill a drone squad of 8. Still I performed this move late in the game, and the drones were never targeted, so I can not say how it would have held up.

Anyway, theres how you can try this trick w/o purchasing an extra squad.

Note: I was trying this for fun and purposely didn't use it until the game was pretty much over. I believe this is an abuse of an already questionable rule and do not really plan on using this tactic, but I can't look down on anyone who chooses to use a legal tactic. Winners win by making the best of what is given them, in this case, the rules.

Phase Out....
 

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i agree with Sir P., i understand, i just think the points could be better spent. on crisis.

here's an idea: why don't you just use the drones to pin them and send the 3-strong crisis squad to J-S-J and vaporise them? i'd only ever use the IC rule with Ethereals and Fire warriors
 

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Shrubs for the Blood God
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You don't use the Drones to pin because its not a reliable thing. A SM squad of leadership 8 is only gonna be pinned something like 33% of the time (if I got my numbers right). A one in three chance is a poor thing to rely on to hold a unit it place, its usefull but not something you can count on in the course of a battle.

Plus a three strong crisis is still gonna have to expose themselves (if they're Helios config) to vaporise the enemy. Then your right back in the boat of your expensive crisis suits being exposed to fire from multiple enemy units. A couple lucky Las or plas cannon shots will send that squad (whats left of it) running for the edge of the board. Also, not many of us run three man crisis squads, too big, too easy to hit, to much of a risk in points.
 
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