Friday, 13 May 2016

The Barracuda is Back [40k Tau]

[The new Forgeworld Tau Barracuda]

The Tau Forgeworld Barracuda has been out of stock for sometime.  I've got a barracuda myself, and much preferred it both aesthetically and tactically compared to our codex flyers.  It was part of my tournament army for a while, but has fallen out of favour since the new codex dropped last year.

Then out of the blue it's announced on the Forgeworld blog (link here) that a new Barracuda will be available at Warhammer Fest.  The Barracuda shares the same shape as the original, but takes some of the design elements of its larger cousin, the Tiger Shark, shown here:
The upturned wing edges (winglets) on the new Barracuda are nice, but personally I'm not totally sold on the vertical stabilisers at the back, but I'm sure lots of people will like them and prefer them to the fragile antennae on the Tiger Shark and the original Barracuda.

As if that wasn't enough the new Barracuda also comes with different weapon options:
As well as having the classic Ion Cannon and drone controlled Burst Cannons, the Ion Cannon can be swapped for a Long-Barrelled Burst Cannon or a Railgun, while the Burst Cannons on the wings can be swapped for Cyclic Ion Blasters.  It'll be interesting to see the points costs of these upgrades and whether the Barracuda's base cost will stay the same.

The original Barracuda was definitely best against Infantry, but with the addition of the weapon options it can fulfill more roles.  With a Railgun, Cyclic Ion Blasters and Seeker Missiles it can really fulfill an anti tank and/or anti air role (depending on it's aircraft designation follow the Death from the Skies supplement).  I'm tempted with a flexible role with an Ion Cannon & Cyclic Ion Blasters.  With the addition of the Missile Pod that the previously Barracuda had (and from the picture looks like it still has) that would give it 11 Str 7 shots with the option of exchanging 9 of those shots for a large blast & 2 small blasts at str 8 (although with the Gets Hot rule).

I can't wait to see the rules for the model, as it'll be interesting to see whether it stays as a 2 hull point flyer or whether it is upgraded to 3 hull points as it's bigger (and much bulkier) than the codex flyers.

What do you think of the new Barracuda ?  Will you be retro fitting an existing model or are you tempted to buy one of the new models ?


Friday, 15 April 2016

Adepticon 2016 Meta - A follow up look at the Meta after LVO [40k]

So it's only 2 months since the LVO, and another one of the large US tournaments has come round, this time Adepticon.  Adepticon has different comp to the LVO, in that it basically doesn't have any, so you can unleash unrestricted D, unrestricted Invisibility and as many detachments as you want.  I was interested to see if two things had happened:

  • Would this change the top armies much ?
  • Would there be an improvement in the Performance and a narrowing of the spread of performance for Tau & Necrons (which had rather larger spreads of performance in my analysis of the LVO, here, than I expected.
What intrigued me to do another analysis was two comments that I read/heard in passing about the event.  One was while watching Reece Robbins (of Frontline Gaming who run the LVO) explaining that his list for LVO was not good against Tau because he was not expecting there to be many Tau at the event because of the format.  Now I now Tau don't have psykers so can't have or fight against full Invisibility too well, plus their D weapons are limited on 4 one shot weapons that need markerlights to be D on one model in the Tau range, but they are still a good army.

The second comment game from the Blood of Kittens review of the event. here, where they said:
"If you take a look at the lists you will notice one army dominated over the rest: Eldar. Eldar have seven spots in the Top 18 and a few more Eldar shoehorned into other lists! All the Eldar lists had at least one Wraithknight and Scatbike units. Adepticon has full powered D Weapons, so with Eldar having the easiest access this wasn’t a surprise. Still, this is amazingly dominate army, the only other time I can remember an army performing so well was the Grey Knights  at the end of 5th edition. What is impressive are Eldar don’t have any way to get free upgrades or units, they don’t seem to need it. Unless future army rules find a way to easily kill Warp Spiders and Scatbikes I don’t expect Eldar domination to end anytime soon" - now Eldar were already dominate at LVO, but this sounded like they did even better, so was this an exageration or did Eldar really improve in their performance, I thought that with more time people would get better at fighting Eldar, so while good players would still very well with the army they wouldn't dominate as much as they had.

Also Blood of Kittens hosts, here, all the top 18 lists if you want to look at the actual lists of the top players.

Ok, so on to the number crunching to see what happened (but before we do I refer you to my last article, here, where I included some of the limitations of any number crunching):

First lets start out with the number of players, by primary detachment, and I think they changed the primary detachment to the detachment with the most points rather than where the warlord was:

For this analysis I'm only going to look at armies which had 7 or more entries.  I would normally have cut off at a higher number, but I wanted to include Necrons in the analysis.  Just missing the cut were Dark Eldar and Khorne Daemonkin at 6 players each.

Eldar in this tournament have surpassed Vanilla marines as the top army, however when you add in marines in all their varieties Marines are still the most popular, however for nearly 1 in 4 armies to be Eldar is a huge number for them (and a massice jump from the LVO where they were 1 in 7 of the armies).  It also shows that the numbers per army start to drop off very fast.  After Tau, Space Wolves & Daemons you're down to under 10 entrants.

So how did the armies perform ?  Again I would look at average placings, but then also compare the number of placings in the top 50 and top 30, and compare that to how many players for each army there were:
[Click on the pic to view a bigger, more readable view]
Although they are small samples, Dark Angels and Daemons came top, followed by what I think are the top 4 armies at the moment, Eldar, Marines, Necrons & Tau.  However the average placing for Eldar is significantly lower than the rest, and this born out when we look at comparing the portion of armies in the top 50 or 30 compared to the full list, eg. Eldar made up 23% of their field, but 42% of the top 50 players.  A killer stat is that apart from Dark Angels and Daemons which had a small number of entrants the only army to have an average placing in the top half was Eldar, the nearest to them, Marines, having an average placing 30 places down just below the mid point.

However is this better than Eldar did before ?  Due to the small size of Adepticon, the top 50 at LVO is comparable to the top 30 at Adepticon.  Looking at the top 30 at Adepticon Eldar were 1.57 more represented than they were in the general field, compared to looking at the top 50 at LVO Eldar were 1.55 more represented than the general field.

One thing that has changed is the spread of the armies performance, particularly Eldar:
The performance spread is much closer between the armies.  This stat shows how spread out the results of the army were.

The real oddity is Tau with a more narrow spread of results, particularly when you consider that their average placing is just below the middle (103rd against a middle of 92nd).  I have some theoryhammer ideas as to why, but would love to read your ideas as well.  Are Tau handily beating some opponents, but then coming up with things that they just can't beat ?  Is it Invisibility and Psychic Shriek ?  Is it rerollable cover saves ?  Or just the good old fashioned fast assault threats ?  Is it the mission requiring very mobile armies while Tau players are sticking to maximum firepower and ignoring mobility ?  Or maybe a combination of all of this ?

So overall it looks like Eldar are getting even more popular at tournaments.  The top four strongest armies are still Eldar, Marines, Necrons and Tau, however there are some less popular armies that are still doing very well, such as Dark Angels & Daemons (plus Khorne Daemonkin & Cult Mech).

The increase in the spread of the performance of Eldar, in my opinion, means that while players are learning to beat the poor Eldar players and/or those with less optimised lists, when facing good players with optimised lists it's still really hard (not impossible) to win.

Does this follow your idea of where the meta is, and which are the strongest codexes ?  What's your thoughts on Tau's average performance (10% of the field yet only 7% of the top 30, a drop of a third).  Yes I know a lot of armies do make the top 30 at all, but why is an army that is seem as so strong not doing better ?  It was interesting to note that Frankie (of Frontline Gaming) switched from his tournament winning Tau to a Gladius Strike Force with a Culexus Assassin & Inquisitor with Servo Skulls for this event, is Tau not quite cutting it when it comes to the big competitive tournaments ?.


Friday, 8 April 2016

Tidewall Gunrig Unboxing & Assembly


After a one day small tournament with my Tau I was tweaking my army list, and I wasn't sure what to spend the last 100 points on.  I was tempted with putting a heavy railrifle armed broadside in, but I already had a few broadsides in the list, and wanted something different.

My army list did have a problem with av14 (av13 was normally torrented down with lots of str7 tank hunter), so I thought I'd add a Gunrig.  It costs the same points as a defense line with a lascannon (or slightly below a defense line with a guad autocannon):
The Tidewall Gunrig can't protect as many models as a defense line but it can move 6" a turn if there's no enemy or terrain to block it.  The railgun is better than a lacannon, but lacks skyfire and interceptor.  Initially there was uproar when the Tau terrain pieces were released, but I think things have died down when they never appeared in every tournament list like some people were saying they would.

The big weakness of the Gunrig is that like the Quadgun on the defense line it only counts as 2 wounds at toughness 7 with a 3+ save, and although you can't destroy the drone base the railgun is quite easily to kill.  This I saw in the first battle report I saw the Gunrig in, it was blown off 1st turn before it got to fire.  However in another (this time written) battle report I heard Darkstrider used the railgun to instant kill a Hive Tyrant (Darkstrider has a rule that anything he or his unir fires at is -1 toughness and that this affects instant death).  I think those two examples show what the Gunrig will be like, a bit hit and miss, but overall fair for its cost.

Anyone onto my wonderful purchase, because at the end of the day what tipped me into buying it is that it looks stunning (as terrain pieces go):

Opening the box, along with the sprues:

it was nice to see that the rules for the Gunrig did indeed some in the box, particularly as I did not have the rules for it as I bought just the new codex (rather than the Kauyon suppliment):

The instructions were clear, and the Gunrig came together very quickly and easily.  I was very interested in how many models could fit on the Gunrig.  I was a bit disappointed when I put my Commander that I'm painting on the Gunrig base:

Yep definitely not even fitting my broadside unit with 2 broadsides and 4 missile on the gunrig.  I was even concerned that if my fire warriors were the full 12 in a squad whether they would all fit on the Gunrig.  I was considering putting my Sniper Drones team on the Gunrig, but the Gunrig would not be able to move unless the whole squad could fit on the Gunrig.  Here's two pics of my commander on and next to the Gunrig after it's assembled (apologies for the dark pics):

As you can see the commander takes up most of the space on the Gunrig, meaning the Gunrig is more for the infantry rather than the suits.

Against a smart opponent I think the Gunrig will die very quickly if there's anything in the enemy army that the Railgun would be a threat to, but the Tidewall Drone would still be useful for letting an objective secured kroot unit go to ground for a 2+ cover save while the Drone moves them 6" a turn.  However for that the cheaper Droneport would be a better option:
The Tidewall Gunrig, along with the Droneport and Shieldwall all look really nice, and I can't wait to get mine painted up and have some games with it.  Better pictures will follow once I've painted up my Gunrig (and Commander).

Have you been tempted with any of the new terrain ?  I'm tempted with the Droneport.


Friday, 12 February 2016

LVO Results - A chance to look at the 40k meta (Beware: Mild Number Crunching)

The LVO (Las Vegas Open) Results are out, and as it's one of (if not the) largest tournaments in the world it's always nice to crunch the numbers and see does the meta of that tournament follow our thinking of which armies are the top dog.

First some pretty huge caveats:

  • This is one tournament, and even if it is large it is still a small sample size as any statistician would tell you.
  • With most tournaments having comp that will always change slightly which armies are good, with some armies being able to adjust to the comp better than others.  For the comp in this tournament, please look up the ITC (Independent Tournament Circuit) Rules
  • Results can be skewed by several factors, eg. some people do not complete all their games leading to them having a lower placing than someone who does complete all their games, an army's primary detachment may be a very small portion of the overall army.
So while we should treat all such analysis with a pinch of salt, hopefully the above factors in some cases even themselves out with a large number of competitors.

The full results of the tournament can be found here.

So lets start off my with my predictions (honest I did these before the analysis):

  • All the analysis tables will be dominated by the top 4 Codexs (Eldar, Necrons, Marines for which I include Dark Angels & and finally Tau), ie. the recent codexs with Decurian type detachments (although in the case of Eldar I think their detachment is not their strength, which I think is the base unit cost of their units meaning a CAD with an allied Aspect Host(s) being very powerful for them.  Mainly the top 4 are the most recent codexs
  • They will be some placings for some armies, such as Daemons & Khorne Daemonkin, but the results will show the rest of the codexs are definitely chasing the top 4 in terms of performance, however good generals can get good results.
  • The last stat I like to do, which shows how widespread an armies results are, which to me shows how much a good or bad general can influence the army, I'm not to sure on what this will show.  People like to say that anyone can win with Eldar, but to me they are becoming (like Marines) an army that everyone knows because they are so powerful and becoming so popular.  When I'm playing my Necrons or Tau I feel I know the Eldar better than my opponents know Tau or Necrons and that I have less to fear if I'm playing a worse player.  However in general I still see Eldar smash average generals with average armies whoever they are piloted by.  I think Marines will still have a wide spread of results as they are a popular army and many beginners start with them.
Well onto the stats, and lets take a look at army popularity:
Well no surprises here with my view of the top armies dominated both the field and also the top 50 placings.  A shout out to Dark Angels which got 10% of the top 50 placings while being only 4% of the field.

A stat that starts to shows the power of a codex is to look at how much more they factor in the Top 50 compared to the overall field.  If we ignore the armies with less than 10 armies, we get the following table:
A bit of a surprise (for me anyway) with Dark Angels topping the list, I suppose I need to pay more attention to them.  Apart from that things were as expected apart from Marines, which had nearly the same percentage in the top 50 as they had in the entire field.  Cult Mech and Nids also did well (however the Nids sample is very small, eg. it could have been just 2 armies with loads of Flying Hive Tyrants making the top 50, which would say much for the rest of the codex).

Now lets look at the average placing:
Eldar still dominate along with Marines, Tau & Necrons, but Cult Mech gets a good showing.  I particularly like to look at the stats for the top 50, as this shows what a good general can get out of the army, and also gets rid of the newer players bringing marines.  This brings up a few things, first being the Necrons did very well in the top 50 along with Daemons (although a very small number, 3, made the top 50).  The Chaos Marines, Nids and Daemons armies indicate that is may have been a very specific build that made the top 50 as the overall performance of the three armies was very low.

And now we come to the last stat, which tries to represent the spread of the armies.  To calculate this I looked at each player and how far their position is away from the average for their army, and then divide this by the number of players.  Again just looking at the armies which had 10 or more entrants we get the following table:

At the top of the list we have the armies which had the narrowest spread in the army placings.  In the case of the top three I think it's because it's hard (not impossible) to place in such a competitive field regardless of how good a general you are.  Another view could be that people who take the weaker armies are there more to have fun and socialise, my counter is that even if you are there to have fun and socialise a good general should do better than a worse, and although this is true with these weaker armies it isn't as much as other armies.

Next we have Cult Mech and Eldar.  It may be controversial to some, but it can be hard to pick a weak list for Eldar once you don't pick silly choices, a complaint I've even heard from Eldar players trying to tone down their list when playing against some of the lower tier armies.

Next we have the middle of the road (in terms of spread), here we have Space Marines (being a very popular first army, so can have lots of newer players as well as experienced players), Daemons & Dark Angels.

Lastly we have a big surprise, in the bottom three we have both Tau and Necrons, which had bigger spread of performance than the average, only beaten by Nids.  The new Tau codex might have had an impact with people trying out the new toys and formations, and not having enough practice time with them, but the Necrons is definitely a surprise.  My only idea is that Necrons can be a win big or lose big army, in that they are very resistant to most shooting, but can be susceptible to some types of firepower and can get sweep easily in close combat.  Examples include a Cavalry and Beasts Space Wolf army could go throw a Necron force like a knife through butter, sprinkle in some allied firepower or a Knight and it could be very tough prospect for a Necron force.  Even though these two armies being low on the spread chart is surprising, and I'm sure the Tau will improve as people get used to the new options in the new codex, or maybe even realise that some of the old ones are still good (I'm doing well and i haven't built my Ghstkeel yet or even purchased a Stormsurge)..

So did anything surprise you ?  Why do you think Tau & Necrons had such a huge spread (I may expand on my thoughts in a future post) ?  Personally I'm going to have another look at the Cult Mech codex and the nasty formation that combined Cult Mech with Skitarii and Imperial Knights.

Lastly this was the meta at this one tournament, and is irrelevant for your local meta, and more importantly the group of mates you play with.  The meta in the UK will be different, the meta in the north US, the meta in the next tournament will be different, however I think it does give an indicator of what codexs are the most powerful, and wasn't toooo far out on my initial predictions, but even I will be doing a bit more research to be more familiar with Dark Angels and Cult Mech.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen - New Rules and Codex


We now have an onslaught of information about the new Space Wolves rules in the Curse of the Wulfen supplement, due to a teaser video which allows us to see the rules of the new formtions, plus confirmation on a new codex, which is a digital only.  Also here I'm going to touch on two of the new entries; the Iron Priest's updated rules and the Wolfkin (a new formation for fenrusian wolves).

The teaser video can be seen here, and someone has kindly freeze framed and captured the images on Imgur here, which makes it possible to click on each image and zoom in slightly to read the rules.

Other information that has come out yesterday is a pre-order on Black Library for the Space Wolf Codex: Wulfen Edition (link here).  This codex is a digital only exclusive, and takes the existing Space wolf codex and adds the new Curse of the Wulfen Space Wolf rules, including all the new dataslates and formations.

This would make this the cheapest way to get access to the new Space Wolf rules, with the tablet (android) edition being £22.

All this information gives us a very good idea of what the Space Wolves are getting rules wise:
  • 7 New Formations
  • 4 New Dataslates, for Wulfen, Wolf Lord Krom, plus updated rules for Ulrik and the Iron Priest
  • 6 New Great Company Formations
  • A "Decirion" style detachment called the Wolf Claw's Strike Force

The Great Company formations are a bit big, requiring a large number of units, however they do not require the specific Wolf Lord, and can instead be run by a Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  Some of the benefits are quite good (eg. units get free drop pods and they all come in turn 1, or units can disembark after a vehicle has moved 12"), but I'll have to look at them more closely to see if they are worth the heafty points investment, and can compare them to the straight forward but very nice +1 WS for Wolf Guard and Thunderwolf Cav from the Champions of Fenris' detachment (Company of the Great Wolf).

I now want to look at two of the updates close to my heart, first up the Iron Priest.

Iron Priest Update

The first thing you notice is that he has gone up 20 points, but then you notice that he has moved from Elites to HQ, and that his stats have improved.  As well as his WS increasing to 5 he also has doubled in wounds to 2 and gained a point of leadership.  The extra wound is huge, plus the extra WS will come into effect often, overall very much worth the 20 point increase.  His change also puts the Iron Priest in even more direct competition with the Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  The Iron Priest is 25 points more, but comes with a Thunderhammer and Servo arm for weapons, plus having Runic armour, while having one less Initiative (nearly irrelevant when using a Thunderhammer).

A Wolf Guard Battle Leader with a Powerfist and Runic Armour is 100 points.  Both Strike at Initiative 1 with their weapons, the Wolf Guard Battle Leader, and they have the same attacks in combat because although the Wolf Guard Battle Leader has one extra attack on his profile the Iron Priest's Thunderhammer and Servo Arm are both specialist weapons so can be used together to get +1 attack.

The move from Elites to HQ is an issue for people using the Company of the Great Wolf detachment from the Champions of Fenris supplement which requires 2 Elite units.  Previously the Iron Priest was the go to option.  Luckily the new Wulfen unit is an Elites slot to help here.

The other big changes to the Iron Priest is the cost of Cyberwolves.  Previously they were 15 points each, but now they have significantly increased to 25 points stayed the same.

As pointed out by aracersss in the comments section Cyberwolves have not changed in cost - I looked to quickly at a slightly blurred number :(  So every thing is as usual and I think cyberwolves will still be joining Iron Priests in battle

One of the main uses for an Iron Priest was to mount him on a thunderwolf, give him 4 cyberwolves and join him to a thunderwolf cavalry unit, giving them a 2+ save tanker with some ablative wounds to Look Out Sir any nasty hits to.  Now I've been correctly informed that cycberwolves are still 15 points this tactic will be sure to continue :)

It's quite ironic when my painting table has 4 (high elf) lions for cyberwolves, which will quickly be reassigned as leaders of fenrusian wolf packs or character fenrusian wolves:

Wolfkin Formation

One of the unintended ways that formations are great is that they gets units out of a CAD's (or simular detachment's) limit on particluar slots, eg. in my necron army I use a Havest and Destroyer Cult formations, effectively using 5 Fast Attack slots which would not be possible in a normal CAD (Combined Arms Detachment).

At the moment I use Thunderwolf Cav, Fenrusian Wolves & Skyclaws (I know, but I like them) as my 3 Fast Attack units, this formation would free up a Fast Attack slot to allow me the option of putting in a second Thunderwolf Cav unit (or splitting up the existing one into two units).  So how good is the formation ?

It consists of 2-5 Fenrusian Wolf units, which is quite flexible as they can come in units of anywhere from 5 to 15.  They gain Monster Hunter, which is ok, but their low strength will make them struggle against most monstrous creatures.  They gain Outflank, I've never been too much of a fan, but 5 wolves to gain line breaker might be useful.

The big benefit is that the units can all join together to form an Alpha Pack, and additionally when they do they all get +1 attack if the units if 20 models or more.  Now keeping this unit over 20 models will be hard if the enemy fires at them, as they only have a 6+ save, but it will force the enemy to choose between them and the thunderwolves.

I already use a max size unit of fenrusian wolves with Canis, who boosts the fenrusian wolves in two ways already.  When he's with them they reroll to hit in the first round of combat, plus (because of his warlord trait) he gives them furious charge if he's within 12" at the start of the assault phase).  I was thinking Canis with 5 units of 5 wolves, which would give 100 attacks, rerolling to hit, at Str5.  Now this will rarely happen, what opponent wouldn't put some fire into such a large unit ?  Killing 7 models would reduce all the remaining models attacks by 1 each.  However a swarm of 8 point models can be underestimated in both their hitting power and speed compared with other threats like a drop podded Murderfang, Thunderwolf Cavalry, and even Assault Marines accompanied by a Iron Priest on a Thunderwolf.  I just have to paint up some more fenrusian wolves, and unfotunately I use old Khorne hound models for mine, but I think I have a few more lying around.

[My "Fenrusian Wolves" can be seem on the right of the pic]

So overall there's lots to take in with the new information about the Space Wolves release, and I'm looking forward to having a more in depth look at all the other formations.

What part of the Space Wolf release is most exciting for you ?  Which models are looking forward to getting on the battlefield ?


Post Edited 8th Feb to correct the cost of the cyberwolves for the Iron Priest

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen Campaign Book [Space Wolves] - To Buy or Not to Buy ?


As more and more information comes out about the Curse of the Wulfen campaign book, the less I feel like shelling out the cash for it.  Like most gamers I have other game systems crying out for my hobby money, which is ever shrinking due to family commitments.

The limited edition Curse of the Wulfen camaign book (pictured above) looks absolutely stunning, however the actual contents is a bit disappointing from the point of view of a player.

I'm more than happy to shell out £35 for a box of 5 Wulfen, even through I think that price is a bit excessive, but what will I get for shelling out another £45 on the standard campaign book.  I will get:
[Includes background, so spoiler alert, don't click on the pic to make it bigger and (just about) readable
if you don't want to see the Wulfen background from White Dwarf]

  • The rules for the Wulfen - which I can get from White Dwarf
  • Some nice background, that probably the equivalent of any 40k novel
  • Some extra Echo of War missions, that I have never seen anybody play, and would rather play any number of alternative missions I already have
  • Some new formations "based on the Great Companies"
  • Lots of Daemon rules, formations & background that I am not that concerned about
For me, who's into playing with my Space Wolves, and not interested in Daemons, I don't think I get much over the £4 cost a White Dwarf for the Wulfen rules.

Unless the formations are very good that I want to put them in my army I won't be buying this £45 campaign book.  I was tempted with the Tau one, but this was has so little content that I probably won't get it even if one of the formations is very good, because £45 for a formation is more than my hobby budget can justify, when then is so much more that I can get for £45.  That £45 may still get spent in GW (eg. it's half way towards a Stormsurge, it's a second Ghostkeel, or second unit of Wulfen with change to spare for other games), but is this campaign book the best way to spend £45 on the hobby.

I just can't see that I'll get much enjoyment out of this campaign book for £45.

On the other hand if I had a Daemon army I would be tempted with their limited edition box set, which comes with a small format codex, all the daemon rules from Curse of the Wulfen (6 Dataslates and 10 formations), plus all the tokens, Warlord Traits and Tactical cards:

So will you be buying the Curse of the Wulfen campagn book, and why ?

I think the Wulfen themselves will sell well, but I'm not so sure about the campaign book, what's your thoughts ?


Friday, 29 January 2016

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 3 (Coordinated Firepower - how do you play yours ?)

So after looking at the Core formation for the Hunter Contingent (and the change to our previous formation, here) and the imho the best of the new formation in the codex (here), it's time to look at the main reason to take the Hunter Contingent, the Coordinated Firepower rule.

As well as being able to reroll your Warlord Trait, the other rule of the overarching Hunter Contingent is the Coordinated Firepower rule:

At first glance, and I mean glance it appears to be a nice fluffy rule that rewards combining units to boost accuracy, and will help Tau take down big deathstars.  Against smaller units it has to be carefully used not to cause massive overkill, eg. in most situations if I fire my Riptide and my 2 units of Broadsides at a unit they are normally dead whether I have any buffs or not.

Overwhelming consensus is that Rule As Written (RAW) this rules means exactly what it says, but one of my favourite quotes from all of the reviews I've watched and the people I've talked to is from Matt from Miniwargaming where he adds "but sure as hell there's no way I'm playing it as that".

When you take this RAW interpretation, it's like going down the rabbit hole when the implications are considered.  As well as my explanation here's a good series of videos by Minwargaming, where Matt (who started Tau a few months ago) goes through the new rules with Dave (a Choas worhipping fish-face hater - well as nice one at least):

Miniwargaming Tau Review (here), including the episode where they discuss the codex and the Coordinated Firepower rule (here)

Stage 1 - Targets Locks and Split Fire

The background to the Coordinated Firepower is that by working together and sharing targeting data the Tau become more accurate, well it makes them better at shooting that guardsmen :)

This kind of goes out the window when you look at the availability of Target Locks, which allows a model to fire at different target to the rest of their unit (and costs 5 points per Commander/Crisis/Ghostkeel/Broadside Suit).  Although most suits would give up the opportunity to get Early Warning Overrides (giving Interceptor) it can completely negate the issue that the units combining fire have to fire at the same unit to get the benefits.

An example is a Crisis Suit unit of 9 models, 8 have target locks.  They combine fire with 2 units of drones at one target to get +1 BS.  Now RAW the Crisis Suit unit gets +1 BS because their combining targeting data etc.  BUT 8 of the crisis suits can fire at different targets, which begs the question why are they getting +1 BS.  When you combine this with the Stormsurge being able to fire each weapon at different targets you could have a sizable portion of a Tau army firing at loads of targets all getting +1 BS.

My personal preference would be the rule to be amended that only "models" firing at the target of the Coordinated Firepower get the benefits.

However we're just started, lets take it to Stage 2

Stage 2 - Conferring Universal Special Rules

The Tau get access to two good Universal Special Rules (USRs) which are conferable on the rest of the unit; Tank Hunter & Monster Hunter.  The only two main ways to get these rules are to use the Firebase Support Cadre or for a Commander or Crisis Shas'vre to take the Signature System (relics in other codexes) Puretide Engram Chip.

The Firebase Support Cadre has to fire all models in the whole formation at the same target to get Monster Hunter and Tank Hunter (much reduced from it's previous incarnation when they got Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy (Space Marines) inanely.  The rule is good against deathstars, but against other opponents is overkill, after all if you fire 2 broadside units and a riptide at a single unit it is very normally dead without any buffs.  In my last game I combined fire once to get Monster Hunter against a formation of a Talos, Cronos Pain Engine & a character that was a single unit, and I never combined to get tank hunter as it was just overkill against the Dark Eldar vehicles.  It has to be an av12 or 13 vehicle that is very important for me to kill to fire 500 points of what most people would agree is 2 of the best units in the Tau codex at.

The other main option is the Puretide Engram Chip this can be used more easily, at the expense that it's normally on a Commander.  Here even though GW has been asked and responded that there is nothing to FAQ with the rule and it means exactly what it says, can a piece of wargear that was worth 15 points in the old codex where it could only affect one unit really still be worth 15 points when it can affect multiple units.

One last way to get Tank Hunter is to take te Special Character upgrade Longstrike on a Hammerhead, as he also has Tank Hunter.

Lastly Tau Battlesuits also have Night Vision, this confers to the rest of the unit once one member has it, so Crisis suits combining fire with Fire Warriors for example would confer Night Vision on the Fire Warriors, by RAW.

and this is where it gets crazy...

Stage 3 - Wargear that Affects the Rest of the Unit

The issue here is the sheer number of combinations, and for wargear that was pointed when it could only affect one unit, it seems unbelievable that GW would think they would be fine at the same cost if they have the possibility to affect many units.

The list of wargear that confer benefits on the rest of the unit (and therefore by RAW all the units combining in the Coordinated Firepower attack):

Command & Control Node (Signature System): Once the bearer does not shoot all other models in his unit gain twin-linked

Multi Spectrum  (Signature System): Once the bearer does not shoot all other models in his unit gain ignore cover

Drone Controller (Battlesuit Support System): All other drones in the unit use the bearers Ballistic Skill (BS)

Pulse Accelerator (Exclusive to a Drone only allowed useable by Pathfinders): The range of all pulse weapons are extended by 6" - this was intended for the Pathfinders 18" range pulse carbines, however by combining fire with fire warriors it will extend their pulse rifles to 36" range

and when we want to get really crazy we have Dark Strider's (an HQ Special Character, that is the cost of 2 Ethereals) Structural Analyser.  This item reduced the enemy's toughness value you use to wound against by 1, which also counts for instant death.  Marines would now count as T3.  This is not too bad (and to be fair I've never seen Dark Strider being used) when he could only effect one unit, because he also had the restriction that he could only join Fire Warriors and Pathfinders.  However now he can be in a Fire Warrior unit that combines fire with a Broadside team or a squad or Riptides/Stormsurges, in those example the -1 toughness would be huge.

How Have Others Ruled It

We have the Independant Tournament Circuit rules pack, that is big in the US, and it used as the basis of the majority of the tournaments in the US:

Frontline Gaming ITC (Independent Tournament Circuit), link here,

The ITC tries to give FAQs but also adds comp by modifying rules, examples include that the Invisibility spell reduced shots to BS1 rather than Snap Shots (meaning blasts can now by used against Invisible units), and 2+ rerollable saves only pass the reroll on a 4+.

The ITC had a vote on how they wanted the Coordinated Firepower rule to be played (not what RAW was).  In that case the vote was a narrow win that it should only give the +1 BS and joint use markerlight abilities.

The other big ruling organisation is the European Team Championships, which has a very comprehensive Composition (Comp) pack:

Current (as at 24th Jan '16) ETC Rules Document: link here

Within in this they have ruled the same as the ITC that the Coordinated Firepower only gives the +1 BS and the ability to jointly use markerlights.

Strangely neither changes the wording of the rule to stop target locks getting round the ability of target lock members to benefit to from the +1 BS (as it is conveyed on the unit) even through they are not firing at the target of the Coordinated Firepower attack.


Basically with most issues with 40k, it comes down to what type of game you want to have with your opponent.  If it's a nice friendly game I would advice only using the +1 BS and jointly using markerlights.  If you are using no-Comp balls to wall type lists and practising for a no-Comp tournament, and the opponents has the type of list that has stuff like D-Scythe Wraithguard deepstriking without scatter confered from attached Dark Eldar characters or unkillable Necron deathstars then you may want to play Rules As Written (RAW).  At the end of the day it's best to have a conversation with your opponent before the game starts, rather than these situations come up in the middle of the game.  They may not like the ability but at least they know to expect it.

So far I have only played the Coordinated Firepower as it giving the +1 BS and joinly using markerlights, but then I haven't played a cut-throat game, and even them I would have the conversation with my opponent first.

If you going to a tournament and your note sure on their ruling I would e-mail them before hand for a ruling (and have it printed out ready to let you opponent know at the start of each game).  It not only saves arguments, but it may impact how you build you army list.

Questions to Agree With An Opponent or Check with a Tournament Organiser:

First quote the whole rule, particularly the "resolving their shots as a single unit" part, then:

1) The +1 BS conferred by the Coordinated Firepower rule is given to the whole unit.  If a member uses a target lock (or other ability) to fire on a different target do they still receive the +1 BS ?

2) Do Universal Special Rules that confer to the rest of the unit if one member has it (eg. Tank Hunter) confer to all units combining in the Coordinated Firepower Attack ?

3) Does wargear that affects the rest of the model's unit confer to all units combining in a Coordinated Firepower attack ?

With these questions sorted out before you start playing, it will lead to better games where both you and your opponent can focus on rolling nice and moving plastic models round the table, rather than arguing over rules (when it crucial to an in-game event) or one player fun being soiled by what they believe is a Over the Top rule.

Hope this helps show the full implications of playing the Coordinated Firepower rule as written, and what to clarify before a game starts.

Now off to bed for me, one more day of work, a bit of painting tomorrow evening, and then my Tau get a run out in a 1 day tournament :)
[My 1500 point Tau army, set-up for their practice game, last Tuesday]



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