Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Tau Answer to Flyers

Hello everyone!

Welcome to 6th! Since the last time I have posted, an edition has both gone (5th) and come into being (6th). 
Also, I'll be starting grad school soon! But enough about real life. I'm here to talk about the thing that others are talking about: Flyers. They are fast, they are dangerous, and they are hard to hit. Namely, they require 6's to hit. However, they are (thus far) av11 or av12 on average and wobble and crash if you can manage to land anything on them. And, without using allies or fortifications, Tau might have a way to combat fliers. 

I am proposing that Seeker Missiles might be the answer. Okay, go ahead and laugh. Do it, it is good for you. Ok, lets go back to thinking about this. I think that they may be the way to not waste tons of firepower while at the same time knocking the birds out of the sky. Alrighty, let's begin. 

Seekers can only be fired by Markerlights, so we'll discuss them first. When packed by moving Pathfinders, they only hit on 6s due to the 'snap fire' rule. So if we hit the flyers with the lights, we aren't losing anything. At 30 inch range, plus 6 inch move, the planes could likely be painted coming or going. Unlike most weapons, moving markerlights do not have any wasted accuracy on fliers.

Now, we will check the Markerlight rules. A token can be expended to fire a Seeker Missile, which is resolved at an assumed ballistic skill of 5. To recap, you shoot the Markerlight which can then trigger another shot at a specified ballistic skill. So, a shooting attack triggers a special ability which is like a shooting attack. But more importantly, its a specified ballistic skill. Why is that important? Because codex trumps rulebook! 

So, there you have it. Markerlights and Seeker missiles might be the ticket to clear out flyers. And the best part is, you don't need any new units! Seeker missiles can just be tacked onto whatever vehicles you are currently using and fired using the Pathfinders you already are using. I'll be trying this tactic out once I can manage to get some games in. Until then, 

Keep it real. 

~ Shas'el Mike
I'm the soulweeper...


  1. I'm afraid a deeper look at the Seeker missile rules doesn't quite bear out your strategy. Seeker missiles are always fired normally, at an assumed BS of 5. This is only arguably a 'fixed value', since it's not replacing or modifying an existing value, like a Banshee Mask or a Signum or a power axe. But we'll put that aside for a moment. If it's not a fixed value, then the Seeker missile fires normally at BS5, which is to say, as normal for a model without Skyfire it immediately drops down to BS1. The codex doesn't say it always fires at BS5, after all, or that it hits on 2+.

    But what if it is a fixed value? Well, then, you have one fixed value coming into conflict with another. Since Seekers don't have Skyfire, they are required to fire as BS1 snap shots; if the BS5 value in the Seeker entry is a fixed value, that means that you have one rule telling you to do one thing (fire at BS5) and another telling you to do another (fire at BS1). In that case, you're supposed to roll off, each time it comes into conflict, in order to see which rule takes precedence (same as if you had, say, a Howling Banshee charging in with a power axe).

    The best answer to flyers, if you don't want to bring Allies or Fortifications, is either a whole lot of pulse rifles (AV10/11 flyers), or twin-linked missile pods. Don't worry too much about actually damaging the flyer with penetrating hits, just glance them to death.

  2. That is possible. Though I wouldn't throw all my eggs in that basket until another FAQ comes around.

    Personally, since most flyers are AV10-11, and at least AV10 on the back(not counting the stormraven), I'll probably just throw some pulse rifles and kroot rifles into them. They have to keep moving, so you're likely to be able to get yourself into position for some rear shots. That, or you can use your twin-linked missile pods and railguns. You still need 6's to hit, but you get another chance to do it with.

    Were you running many seeker missiles towards the end of 5th?

  3. Garnet, thanks for the comment! I think you have some points, and I decided to poke the statistical anthill. I posted another article, looking at the mathematical efficiency of minimum sized units targeting flyers. Oh, also I included the numbers for non-flyers for comparison. After looking at the numbers, I am still thinking seekers might be an efficient option.

    BoxerSaint, That is certainly option. However, given how (theoretically) troops are going to have a greater presence, wouldn't it be better to have your anti-infantry firepower pointed at them? I agree that that is definently an option, but it doesn't seem to be the best one.

  4. Yes, but that's because you still seem to be operating under the assumption that the BS of a Seeker missile completely overrides the lack of Skyfire; it doesn't, and there's no reason in the rules to assume that it does.