Monday, 28 September 2015

KV128 Stormsurge - Rules & First Impressions - Updated 29/9 with clearer pics

This is about the time that White Dwarf leaks start appearing and bang on time the rules for the KV128 Stormsurge has been leaked.  Here are links to the original file and Faeit212 where I first saw it reported.

Now to set my bias out first, out of the 2 new Tau suits the Stealth Suit (below) caught my eye more.  So with a tight budget, the Stormsurge is the one that would have to impress me with the rules to get me to part with my money straight on release day.

First off it's a Lord of War Gargantuan creature, so it's doesn't take away any slots for Broadsides, Skyrays, Crisis Suits or Riptides.  It also has the increased mobility of being able to move 12" in the movement phase.  So a very good start.  Coming in at 360 points it's twice the current cost of a riptide, so direct comparisons should be made against Riptide (with an Ion Accelerator, costing 185 pts), and the Wraithknight, which is 65 points cheaper base (however I think a fair cost for the Wraithknight would be about 360-380 points).

Update 29th Sept: New clearer pics of a French version of WD has been found here


Defensively the Stats are similar to a Riptide.  It has the same stats as a Riptide apart from 2 key areas:

  • It's got a 3+ save rather than a 2+ save, which although making it less susceptible to Grav weapons (which will still be very nasty to it) it puts in a place where you could try to torrent the model down.
  • It doesn't have an invulnerable save, although it does have access to Support Systems, so hopefully it will be able to purchase a Shield Generator.  However as it is still slightly tougher in the secondary save arena compared to a Riptide because the Riptide can use it's 5++ invulnerable save instead of it's armour save, while the Stormsurge can use Feel No Pain in addition to it's armour save.
  • The Stormsurge has 8 wounds against the Riptide's 5
I think the 3+ armour save is a big issue, with many weapons being able to get rid it, such as Missile Launchers.  However most weapons that will kill both the Riptide and Stormsurge quickly will be AP2 (eg, Lascannons, Plasma guns, meltaguns, Grav) it may not make much difference in some games, however in others such as against my current Tau list, with MissileSides and Skyrays the lack of a 2+ save will really hurt the Stormsurge.

If, and it's still an if at this moment, the Stormsurge can get a invulnerable save from the Support Systems, then it's survivability goes way up, having effectively 3 saves, and being able to use 2 of them to avoid damage.

Overall the toughness of the Stormsurge goes not warrant it being twice the cost of a Riptide, so lets see if it's offensive output is enough to warrant the price tag.


So how good are these weapons systems, lets leave the main gun to last and look at the other weapons.

As what looks like a defensive option it comes with a twin-linked flamer, however this can be upgraded to a twin-linked Burst Cannon for a few points.  On top the large missile battery there is a twin-linked Smart Missile System. The big disappointment is the large missile racks, which are only 4D6 shots at the strength and ap of a pulse rifle.  Although there is the potential for 24 shots, because you're rolling 4D6, rather than D6x4 for example, you are very unlikely to get anywhere close to 24 shots, and are very likely to roll near the average 14 shots (you should only get 24 shots once every 1296 times it fires, but it that time you are likely to have also rolled 4 shots as well).  Fire Warrior shots are not exceptional, I use Fire Warriors because they are troops and at 15" with the Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability they get 3 shots each.  Probably the nicest secondary weapon is 4 Destroyer missiles which are one shot Str8 AP1 with a nice long range.

So far the firepower is very mediocre.  So lets more on to the main event; the main gun:

The Stormsurge comes as standard with a Pulse Blast Cannon, which is an odd weapon that is growing on me as I write this overview.  It's a short ranged weapon with a maximum range of 30" which is very short by Tau standards, however I've dealt with the 36" range on my broadsides, so we'll see.  This weapon has a different profile depending on the range the target is, going from Str9, AP3, Heavy 2, Large Blast at 20-30" to Str10, AP1, Heavy 2, Blast at 10-20", and within 10" it changes to Str D, AP2, Heavy 2.  These are very short ranges, but with the 12" mobility of the Stormsurge I think this can still work, when you combine it with Ignore Cover from markerlights, and it's Saving Grace (see below) it could be very nasty moving forwards 12" and them dominating the midfield with firepower.

Update 29th Sept: The clearer pics here show that the Pulse Burst Cannon is not as good as I first thought, it's second profile is AP3, and the last profile is only AP5, which is not as destructive as I thought.  The biggest thing is that it only reliable kills marines at the 10-20" range, and then it's only 2 small blasts.  This puts the nail in the coffin for this model for me, unless the Support Systems in the new codex radically changes something

The alternative to the Pulse Blast Cannon (for the extra cost equivalent to a Sniper Drone) is the much more straight forward weapon, with a great 72" range, and packs a nice punch with Str10, Ap2, Large Blast, Ordnance.

The two weapons dictate the two ways to use the Stormsurge effectively.  Either have it sit back and fire round after round of single large blasts, or move forwards and be more aggressive and dominate the mid field with all it's weapons in range of enemies closing in on the centre of the board.

Both weapons are nice, but don't quite do it for me, but don't worry there is...

The Saving Grace

You thought that was just a stabalising point just behind the leg, no that it what will make the Stormsurge worth it's points.

After moving, at the start of the shooting phase the Stormsurge can choose to deploy the stabalising leg, if it does it can not move for any reason and loses it Gargantuan creature Stormps, however from the next shooting phase it can fire Twice a turn.  Obviously easier to use with the long range main gun, but the devastation from 4 shots a turn with the Pulse Blast Cannon, imagine a target thats is just within 18" with part of the unit  over 20" away, that's been targeted by 4 markerlights to get +2 BS and Ignore Cover (if that doesn't change in the new codex).  It will face 4 Large Blasts Str9 AP3, and on average 44 Str5 shots (assuming the flamers have been upgraded to burst cannons)..

Best yet it is very quick to release the stabilising clamps.  It can do it at the start of any movement phase, so there is no disadvantage of always extending the clamps in any shooting phase, because if you need to move next turn you just release them at the start of the movement phase, or if all is well stay still and fire double shots.


My overall assessment is that this is an expensive model, and it is devastating sitting back with the stabilising clamps down.  However I think to really make the best use of all of it's weapons I would use the shorter ranged Pulse Blast Cannon.  You may not have the best targets (sometimes none) for the main gun on turn one, but a 12" move should put you in a good position for turn 2.  This allows you to threaten/capture objectives and also make use of stomps in the right situation.

Three factors stop me from purchasing this model straight away. One is that very expensive, if it can purchase an invulverable save from the Support Systems it's going to be close to 400 points, which is huge for something that could die in a turn to D-Scythes, multiple Grav weapons etc.

My second reason is that it may not be able to get a invunverable save.  We'll have to wait for nearly 3 weeks now for the codex (or probably two and a bit weeks before reliable rumours surface).

Finally my last reason is that it's going to need support from markerlights.  If they change in the new codex this model will suffer, because with that amount of firepower you really want ignore cover and a +1 or +2 BS to make the secondary weapons count.

I'm going to wait before getting this model, but I know it will sell like hotcakes, and I can see that the firepower with the stabilising clamps down can offset it's medicore toughness for it's points cost.  Even with an invulnerable save I think 2 units of MissileSides and a Sniper Drone team boosted with the 3 shot power of the Ethereal (ok it'll be hard getting the Sniper Drones to be within 24", but if they are) should do the following wounds:
Broadside Unit 1 HYMP:  1.3
Broadside Unit 1 SMS:  0.7
Broadside Unit 1 Drones:  0.6
Broadside Unit 2 HYMP:  1.3
Broadside Unit 2 HYMP:  0.7
Broadside Unit 1 Drones:  0.6
Sniper Drones: 2.5 (assuming no rends to make the maths easier, when they should be about 3 rends)
I make that 7.7 wounds, if the Sniper went first and the broadsides used their markerlight hits it would push the wounds past 8 to kill the Stormsurge in a turn.  However that it 708 points firing at one model that's less than 400 points.

Time will tell, but I expect we see lots of Stormsurges on the battlefield.  If you have a big wallet, a decision may be swap a Stormsurge and a Riptide to get the forgeworld KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Armour (reviewed here)

What's you thoughts on the new model, will you be buying it on release ?  Does it allow Tau to complete with Wraithknights and Decurions ?  Can it survive the usual deathstar killers, Grav and D-weapons ?

As potential opponents of the Stormsurge, how will you plan to take it out ?

Next week I'm sure the rules will be leaked for the XV95 Ghostkeel, and I can't wait to see if it can compare in effectiveness, and personally I think it's a really nice model.  With a much lower points cost it shouldn't require the complete rewriting of an army list like trying to fit the Stormsurge in will.


PS. Now back to converting, below is the first work in progress pic, can you guess what it will be ?  There's a pretty big giveaway :)


  1. I must say I'm undecided. For its points the fire power isn't exactly overwhelming, unless its stationary. And its not super survivable. But then again, I can see how it could be pretty terrifying with the right support. I suspect the ideal might be shield generator, EWO and Velocity Tracker..... but the again, that makes it even more expensive. Really need to see the rest of the codex first I guess.

    1. I agree it really depends on the Support Systems it can buy. If it can't get an inv save for a reasonable price it's a bit iffy. However with a 4++ inv save, and markerlight support it good be good.

      Plus it's a much more affordable Gargantuan creature than the KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Armour.

      Only 2 weeks to go before codex pics probably start appearing - can't wait :)

  2. Remember that it's a Gargantuan creature, and that any weapon that resolves a wound based on anything other then T is reduced to a 6+ to wound (like poison and sniper weapons)

    1. It's only poison and sniper that wound on a 6 against Gargantuan creatures, Grav and Fleshbane work fine, however you are right in that it gives the Stormsurge an advantage against the Riptide.

      My concern is that because the Stormsurge is only T6 (unlike the KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Armour or the Wraithknnight) that there is so many more weapons that can hurt it easily so an opponent doesn't have to rely on weapons that wound on a fixed amount to kill it.

      For example in the last Eldar codex I would use Sniper Drones to kill wraithknights easily because my multitude of Str7 firepower would find it hard to wound the wraithknight. Here the move to Gargantuan creature means that I suddenly don't have a good option against a wraithknight, I have to use weapons that's aren't so plentiful in my army or carry more risk to use (eg. seeker missiles and fusion guns). However the Stormsurge wouldn't give me that issue as I would take it down with massed str7 (or even enough str5) firepower.

      Just think that basic str6 or 7 firepower would kill the Stormsurge quicker than a Riptide and yet the Stormsurge is twice the points. Yes it's firepower can be very good at short range with the stabilising clamps down, but it can't take the same beating from basic fire that the Riptide can.

      Would it be better to have two Riptides hold up the enemy's firepower for much longer than to have a single Stormsurge ? It's a hard choice.



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