Monday, 25 July 2016
This morning the Forgeworld newletter gave some welcome news if you have any Forgeworld flyers or are thinking of getting any. Not only did they release the initial experimental rules for the Tau Barracuda AX-5-2, but they also released an update for all forgeworld flyers giving them Combat Roles (including 3 new forgeworld specific combat roles), Pursuit and Assault values (link here). Three flyers even got updated dataslates.
One of the interesting points on the flyer update is that the Barracuda and the Barracuda AX-5-2 are listed separately, which is strange since the original Barracuda is out of production now.
So what are the major changes with the AX-5-2 ? Its a more hefty flyer being just over a third more expensive at base costs, but most of that increase will be coming from the fact that the AX-5-2 is 3 hull points against the 2 on the original Barracuda. However would you rather have one of the new Barracuda or one of the old ones AND a Forgeworld Tetra for the same cost is a close call.
Weapon wise the Barracuda AX-5-2 has very versatile weapon options. The main gun on the original Barracuda was an Ion Cannon, while on the AX-5-2 starts with Heavy Burst Cannon and can swap it for a Barracuda Ion Cannon for free or pay 20 points to upgrade to a Swiftstrike Railgun. The big thing for me is that the Barracuda Ion Cannon does not have the option to overcharge to get a Str8 AP3 large blast. The Heavy Burst Cannon has twice the shots of the Ion Cannon, but the Str and AP is one worse and the range is a paltry 24" which is a pain on a flyer which moves so fast, and ideally wants its first shot at long range so it doesn't overshoot some potential targets the following turn. The Swiftstrike Railgun is a Hammerhead railgun with half the range and no option for a Submunition round; a very nice option to be able to target flyers. Overall I think the Ion Cannon is the best overall, but with the option to take secondary weapons to match the main weapons it opens up plenty of valid options,
When I used to play with my Barracuda it wasn't impossible to get the 18" range burst cannons into range, but there were definitely times when when the Ion Cannon and Missile Pods best targets were outside the 18" range of the burst cannons. With the new Barracuda's burst cannons having a long range it will nearly always be firing, and 12 extra shots is nothing to sniff about and probably makes up for the Ion Cannon not having a large blast option. However the cyclic ion blaster does give some more high strength shots giving the option of having the Barracuda with all strength 7 or higher shots, becoming a very good anti tank and/or anti flier solution. If you didn't want the option of a str 10 shot having an Ion Cannon and 2 cyclic Ion Blasters would give the Barracuda 11 (!!) str 7 shots. The ultimate anti tank option is the Swiftstrike Railgun and Cyclic Ion Blasters, but that options starts getting expensive at an extra 30 points of ever the base AX-5-2, and pushes the cost of the Barracuda past 200 points.
So what loadout is "Ergonomically Terrific" ?
Overall I think the old Barracuda loadout of Ion Cannon and 2 Burst Cannons is the best general option for the new Barracuda. You lose the option of the ion cannon large blast but you have more shots from the burst cannon that will be in range nearly all the time.
However the great thing about the new Barracuda is that they are very worthwhile alternative options. You can go with loads of shots with 20 shots from heavy burst cannon, 2 long barreled burst cannons & missile pod, or you can go very anti tank with Swiftstrike Railgun, 2 Cyclic Ion Blasters, Missile Pod and Seeker Missiles. Therefore choosing the right load-out will depend on the rest of your army, and what gap needs filling most.
The new Barracuda also has a few extra things over it's predecessor. The new Barracuda has picked up Strafing Run, which means with it's combat role of Strike Fighter and its BS4 it can be hitting a great many land units on 2+. It also has Dispersion Shield which gives it an invulnerable save against glancing (5+) and penetrating hits (6+), however because it has the Agile rule the Barracuda is likely to Jink if it is the target of any decent firepower for a 3+ cover save.
The new Barracuda is a very nice upgrade over the old one, The biggest point being the increase in hull points from 2 to 3, but the extra weapon options gives it great versatility and allows you to make the Barracuda a better fit for your army.
Previously when I used the Barracuda it was a mainly ground attack craft, and the main threat was the large blast of the overcharged ion cannon, but what I particularly like is the extra range and shots on the burst cannons, meaning the previous load-out now gives 17 shots all at a range of 36" (or greater), and if you're concerned about heavy armour you can either upgrade the burst cannons to cyclic ion blasters for short range destruction and/or add on seeker missiles for longer ranged str8 firepower.
Overall a very nice addition to the Tau arsenal :)