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]



  1. I genuinely struggle with the interpretations here, and think that a lot of people have had a knee-jerk reaction to the rule. The Puretide chip, only affects the commander - the benefit there doesn't spread beyond his unit. Darkstrider can only be taken in a combined arms detachment so you'd have to take all the basic requirements for the hunter contingent, and then a combined arms on top of that to gain the benefit, when those points can easily be spent better elsewhere.

    To my mind the rule is clear and I can understand why GW doesn't think an FAQ is necessary - if the units resolve their shooting as a single unit then any special rules that apply to the unit apply to all the shooting. Target locks are a bit more of an issue certainly, but I don't make much use of them anyway so I've not had to have that internal debate with myself yet.

    1. I agree there has definitely been a bit of a knee jerk reaction, and I wish there was more time for people to get games in and have the time to reflect on them.

      The Puretide Chip does only give the special rule chosen to the commander, however the rules for Monster Hunter and Tank Hunters says that a unit that contains at least one model with this rule gets to reroll to wound (or penetrate in the case of Tank Hunter). That's why it's been so popular since it came out. So although the other rules that can be picked with the Puretide chip only affect the commander Tank Hunter & Monster Hunter affect the unit he's with, as any model in the same unit as the Commander gets the benefits.

      How have you found using the new codex, and how has people's reactions been when you reveal that you're playing Tau ?


    2. Ah, that makes more sense, I've never used a model with tank hunter before, it's always been a rule for the whole unit.

      So far it's not been too bad, the rules are not so good that choosing between them and obsec is an easy choice. I've lost two of my last three games, though in each case I'd count myself unlucky, not tabling my opponent in the first game and watching in horror as my opponent scored 10 maelstrom victory points in the second. Yesterday was a simple win against chaos, but that codex is so limited now it's unfair really.

      We've only really been playing low points so far so I've been quite limited by the minimum requirements of the hunter contingent. I've got some bigger games coming up next weekend so I'll report back after them!

  2. Great game today dude, I have linked your blog from mine :)



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