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]


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

New [Space Wolf] Wulfen First Impressions (Updated with Curse of the Wulfen & Weapon Option Rules)

[Click on pic to see it large to make out the Wulfen stats]
Rumours of new Space Wolves have been doing the rounds the last few weeks, which have coalesced into the rumour of a new campaign book featuring the Space Wolves and Daemons.  However more concrete evidence was light on the ground until this morning when I came across the pic above courtesy of the Space Wolves Blog Facebook page (link here).

The pic is from the German White Dwarf, and the Space Wolves Facebook page gives the following translation:

"Special rules:
Know no Fear
Curse of the Wulfen
Sharp senses
Feel no Pain
Todesraserei/Deathfrenzy: If a model in this unit is killed it can move up and attack at the end of the current initiative step. This even applies if the model already has attacked.”
Weite Sprünge/Leaping Bounds: This unit can run and attack. It also reroll failed charge rolls.

May contain up to 5 more Wulfen…. 30p/m
Each model may take a salvo grenade launcher 2p/m
Each model may take one of the following:
Two Handed Frost Axe 8p/m
Two Wolf Claws 12p/m
Thunderhammer and Stormshield 20p/m
One Wulfen can be upgraded to Wulfen-Pack Leader with two Frost Claws 20p
This unit may take a stormwolf as a dedicated transport"

Initial Impression

For this initial impression I'm going to assume the unit has rending (maybe it's part of the Curse of the Wulfen rule), so my view may change if they don't have that.

Update:  It appears that the Wulfen do not have rending, but for 30 points they still have a nice number of str5 attacks.  However the rules for the weapon options, which I think combined with the Death Frenzy rule (see above) gives them a nice boost, see below, with the icing on the cake being the buff to nearby units in the Curse of the Wulfen rule (see below).

The obvious comparison is to Thunderwolf Cavalry, our go to assault unit.  Both are 2 wounds, and are designed to kill things in assault.  The Wulfen come off significantly cheaper to start with 30pts vs 40pts), however the Thunderwolves win when it comes to natural speed and toughness.

The T4, 4+ save & Feel No Pain is not as good as T5 and 3+ save.  The Feel No Pain is nice, but I believe it doesn't make up for the worse toughness and save.  The Thunderwolves also get the option to pick stormshields on their own.

Thunderwolves move 12" in the movement phase compared to the Wulfen's 6".  The Wulfen ability to run and charge is nice, but they need to roll a 6 for the run to be as fast as the Thunderwolves, and outside of charging the Thunderwolves are on average 7" faster a turn (being fleet the Thunderwolves normally get a inch further with their run moves on average).

The Thunderwolves also do well when in comes to attacks getting 6 attacks on the charge compared to the Wulfen's 4, plus there's the warlord trait (that 2 special characters come with) that makes the Thunderwolves even better on the charge.

The weapon options are nice on the Wulfen, and are comparable to the Thunderwolf options, however they are slightly cheaper meaning a tooled up wulfen unit will be much cheaper than a simularly tooled up Thunderwolf unit.  Another bonus is that the smaller size will make the Wulfen easier to hide around terrain.

Overall I don't think the Wulfen top Thunderwolves (if the rules for the Thunderwolves do not get worse in the update).  The Wulfen are stunning models, and they would be good as a second assault unit after thunderwolves, as they are cheaper and occupy an Elites slot.

As they occupy an elites slot you could take other Fast Attack slots (eg. flyers, Swiftclaws etc.) rather than a second thunderwolf unit, or more likely you could split your thunderwolves into smaller units, eg. instead of having a thunderwolf unit, a fenrisian wolves unit and a skyclaw unit in fast attack, you could drop the skyclaws for wulfen allowing the thunderwolves to be split into 2.

My last concern with the wulfen is how to transport them to get them across the battlefield fast enough.  They can take a Stormwolf as a dedicated transport and another option would be the landraider.  A Landraider crusader with 8 wulfen coming out would be a scary opponent, and I think that will be the best way to use them.  The Stormwolf is nice, but it has one turn zooming (after it comes on) where it is a sitting duck for enemy anti air, which would be a tempting target as the enemy would kill around 500 points if they killed the flyer.  The flyer itself; is around 250 points and then each model inside takes a str10 (and I beleive ap2) hit which would instant kill the Wulfen allowing no save or Feel No Pain.

I do think the comparison to Thundrwolves is a bit harsh, as Thunderwolves are undoubtedly a very good unit.  Now the Wulfen are good, it's just in my mind they don't top the Thunderwolves for the 1st choice for an assault unit, however they should be in the running for a second assault unit to put into your army.  After all, after a landraider has moved them 18" closer to the enemy on the first turn, they are ready for a turn 2 charge, and they epitomise Space Wolves in assault.

I'm seen people take large bloodclaw units in Landraider Crusaders, and I think Wulfen would be perfect to replace them.  I'll definitely be picking up this unit to add to my Space Wolves, will you ?  A great excuse to finish off painting my landraider crusader.

Update: The weapon options include the following:
"Weapon Rules:
Salvo Grenade Launcher: 12", S4, AP5, Assault D3, assault grenades in close combat
Frost Claws: +1S, AP2, Shred
Stormhammer: X2 S, Concussive, Helfrost
Two-Handed Frost Axe: +3S, AP2, Unwieldy, Merciless Swing (Strike at normal Initiative when charging)"

What immediately jumps out is the Two Handed Frost Axe, which is Str8 Ap2 and keeps Initiative 5 on the charge.  The Pack Leader with 2 Frost Claws is also a steal at 20 pts.  Next we have the buffs from the Curse of the Wulfen rules:

"Curse of the Wulfen:
ALL non vehicle models within 6" affected.
Blood Claws, Skyclaws, Swift Claws affected within 12"
Long Fangs affected with 3"

Wulfen, Servitors and units that start in transports are not affected.

At the start of the player turn, roll a dice for ALL units. The affect lasts until your next player round.

Units outside of combat roll on the Hunt Table.
Units in combat roll on the Kill Table.

1-3: re-roll failed charges and get Hammer of Wrath
4-5: +3" when you move, run or charge.
6: Furious Charge and +D3 attacks when charging, unless they have Rage

1-3: +1 Initiative
4-5: Re-roll to wound
6: Death Frenzy (see Wulfen rules)"

The rules for the Curse of the Wulfen makes the Wulfen a good force multiplier as well, if you have other assault units nearby the Wulfen they can give them some nice buffs, and as a Space Wolf player you're bound to have some extra assault units.  Wolves and Cav units would benefit tremendously from the extra movement making them almost fly across the board (giving them an extra 6" of movement, from move and run or move and charge). plus the additional initiative would make them strike before other marines.  However the gravy would be the possibility of a models gaining an extra D3 attacks each and Rage on the charge.  Cav and Wolves would turn into complete blenders.

Overall these extra rules (weapons and Curse of the Wulfen) have lefted the Wulfen in my eyes into a very nice unit.  I'd still take Thunderwolf Cav first, but the Wulfen look like a very good choice for 2nd assault unit.  I think they'll be replacing my Assault marines in my current list, which frees up a Fast Attack slot for a Drop for 5 of them to deepstrike in (another option for a small unit of them).  It may be a small unit of 5 but it's still 10 wounds with Feel No Pain

I'm looking forwards to what else this Space Wolves update will bring, hopefully some formations will get leaked soon.


Friday, 15 January 2016

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 2 (The Best of the New Formations)

Well after looking at the basics of the Hunter Contingent, and the change to our pre-existing formation (here) it's time to look at the owww ahhhh part of the codex, with a look at what I think are the best of the remaining formations in the new Tau Codex

Optimised Stealth Cadre

This is my favorite formation, it includes the stunning new Ghostkeel model, the formation is so good that it gets my XV15 Stealth suits that haven't seen a battlefield in years out of the case, it helps with anti-tank, and is very very markerlight efficient.

For this formation you will need a unit of Ghostkeels and two units of Stealth Suits.  There is no restrictions on size of the formation so it can be as cheap as 310pts (however I think you should always upgrade the Ghostkeel's secondary weapon to at least a twin-linked burst cannon, making the minimum cost 315pts).  What makes this formation so good is the Wall of Mirrors special rule:

Basically at the start of the game you should just tell your opponent that this formation will be activating the Wall of Mirrors every turn (as there is no downsides).  It's interesting to note that the units in the formation do not have to fire at the same target to get the benefits, so you could fire at three different targets all with +1 BS, Ignore Cover and hitting rear armour.  However if you do decide to all fire at the same unit then they can benefit from the Hunter Contingent's Co-ordinated Firepower rule to gain a further +1 BS to mean all the shots will be hitting on 2+.  Hitting on 2's with Ignore Cover is like having 4 free markerlight tokens against any of the formations target - that is just a brilliant bonus.

Since the previous codex when broadside railguns were reduced from strength 10 to 8, Tau have struggled a bit with high value armour.  A hammerhead is a bit expensive for 1 shot a turn that misses a third of the time.  We were almost forced to take fusion guns and try to get within 9" to get the melta effect with either Piranhas or Crisis Suits.  However most vehicles have low value rear armour, perfect examples being Predators, Necron vehicles with Quantum Shielding, Leman Russ tanks.  For most of the these vehicles the rear armour is 2 to 3 points less than the front armour, meaning that the strength 5, 7 or 8 (all three units can get fusion weapons) guns in this formation could really do a number on them.

Lastly be aware that the Ghostkeel is the lynchpin of this formation.  If the Ghostkeel's are dead the Wall of Mirrors does nothing, so if you opponent snipes your Ghostkeels you'll just be left with subpar Stealth Suits.  Keep your Ghostkeel(s) safe (well as much as possible given the short range on the Ghostkeel's weapons).  For this reason I think the formation really starts to shine when you put a 2nd Ghostkeel to the Ghostkeel unit, making it much harder to take out the Ghostkeel unit.

Burst Cannon or Fusion ??

This is more of a personal choice and will depend on the type of vehicles you normally encounter and how much anti-heavy tank firepower your army already has.  With fusion to get the most of it you have to get within 9" for the melta ability to take effect, which may be dangerous.

Outside of 9" you may think that with ignore cover you'd want the AP1 of the fusion gun, however with four times the shots and a good strength of five, the burst cannon will kill as many marines as the fusion gun.  Going against rear armour, in terms of stripping hull points the burst cannon does just as well as the fusion gun against anything it can hurt (AV10 & 11).

The fusion also has the chance of causing instant death to T3 and T4 models, but to start with I'm going to try saving points and just using the burst cannons.  This will give my 315 point formation 6 str 7 shots and 30 str5 shots.  I can't wait to assemble and paint my Ghostkeel so I can try it out.

Retaliation Cadre

The biggest issue with this formation is that it is quite a large formation, which may make it hard to fit into a Hunter Contingent along side a Hunter Cadre*.  The formation consists of a Commander, 3 units of Crisis Suits, a Broadside unit and a Riptide unit; taking the crisis suits as units of one, but giving them weapons will see the formation cost roughly 500-550points, and this will rise sharply if you add more crisis suits and additional wargear.  Personally I also don't like spending too much on HQ characters and this formation forces you to bring a second commander* (after the one in the Hunter Cadre).

The whole formation gains Relentless (only really a factor for the Broadside, but a very nice buff).  If the whole formation is kept in reserve then they all deepstrike on turn 2 automatically (even the Broadside) and get +1 BS on the turn they deepstrike.

Again nice benefits, and will cause absolute havoc the turn they deepstrike (with a guarantee that they will come in early).  To make the most of this I would try to put a few homing beacons in your army.  Ethereals, Tetras & Stealth Suits & Pathfinders (one of their special drones) can buy them.  Also remember that a unit does not need to be on the table at the start of the turn for it's homing beacon to be used (unlike the Imperial equivalent) so you could deepstrike a Stealth unit with a Homing Beacon and then deepstrike Crisis Suits with 6" with no scatter (you just have the risk that the Stealth Suits arrive after turn 2).

Also be wary that deepstriking the formation will mean a large amount of points are off the board for what could be 2 enemy shooting phases, so you will have to build the rest of your army with this in mind.

* Both of these issues can be removed by playing the Dawn Blade Contingent from the Montka Campaign, for which the core formation can be the Retaliation Cadre.

I think the top 3 picks for formations to add to a Hunter Cadre to make a Hunter Contingent are the three already discussed (Firebase Support, Optimised Stealth & Retaliation), and along with the cheap Drone Network auxiliary choice, are the main ones you should choose between.  There is however one more formation that I think is good, it's just very expensive to field:

Heavy Retribution Cadre

This formation is expensive.  It contains a unit of Ghostkeels and 2 units of Stormsurges, making the minimum points 850, and you will want to spend more on weapon and wargear upgrades (eg. replacing the flamer secondary weapons, giving the Stormsurges an invulnerable save etc.).  To field the formation as pictured above (from the GW website) the unit would cost a minimum of 1110, and more importantly cost you £315 to buy.

Although the formation is (in my mind) impractical to field apart from in the largest of battles the formation rules are nice.  The Stormsurges can reroll to hit against targets within 12" of any of the formation's Ghostkeels, plus if an enemy unit is fired on by 2 or more of the units in the formation then they can not Run or move Flat Our, plus must halve the results of charges range in their next turn (helpful to reduce their mobility and keep the Ghostkeels from being charged).

If you have big pockets and regularly play big games this formation may be worth it for you.  However in smaller games I would rather have a Ghostkeel unit as part of the Optimised Stealth Cadre and not be forced to bring at least two Stormsurges.

Well that's it for the formations from the new Tau Codex that I believe are going to be used regularly.  However that's not all the new formations that will be used in Tau armies.  The Montka Campaign supplement gave us other formations, such as the Riptide Wing, Drone-Net VX1-0, Etheral Council & Ranged Support Cadre among others.

Next post I will go over the Co-ordinated Firepower rule and it's implications and then look at the additional formations in the Montka Campaign supplement.

What do you think of the formations I've dicussed ?  Will you be using them ?  Did I miss out a formation that you think is great ?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, happy gaming :)



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