Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Are Kill Team Gun Drones As Good As They Say

A quick follow up my initial Tau Kill Team post, is taking a closer look at one of the two Tau units thats getting a lot of interest; the Gun Drone.

The main reason the Tau Gun Drone is good, when in 40k it is rarely seem since their points were increased 12, is actually nothing to do with the Gun Drone itself, but comes from the Kill Team rules itself:

This means that the Gun Drone can only effectively have a -1 to hit modifier.  This is huge in a faction that only starts on a 4+ to hit generally.  When most shots are at -1 or -2 to hit, and their are three very common ways to get -1 to hit (Long Range, Obscured Target & Flesh wounds) along with many others (eg. Moving/Advancing with Heavy/Assault weapons, firing at Stealth units) other Tau units can see themselves firing on 6's as well.

Some abilities can give +1 to hit or ignore the obscured penalty, but these will only work on 2-3 models a turn leaving the rest of the Tau army at the mercy of the negative to hit modifiers with no way to buff their to-hit chances.

However Drones have an even worse chance to hit than the rest of the Tau, so lets check whether the extra shots that Gun Drones have offset this poor shooting accuracy.  For comparison lets compare the Gun Drones to two other Pulse firepower units, the Strike Team Fire Warrior with a Pulse Rifle, and Steath Suit with a Burst Cannon.  To even out the comparison for points costs I'm going to compare a single Stealth Suit to 3 Gun Drones and 3 Fire Warrior Shas'la.

The charts below shows the average number of Injury rolls against a MEQ (marine equivalent, ie. T4, 3+ save).  Normally I would also compare against GEQ (Imperial Guardsmen equivalent), but all the rolls are the same apart from the save, so just double the MEQ figures to get the GEQ figures)
The Math
The basic Fire Warrior is going quite well out of this (well comparatively).  It wins with the extra range, although the damage output at 30" is not that great, and even wins against Gun Drones in the 9-15" range, where the Gun Drones is still at long range, but the Fire Warrior is getting 2 shots and not getting the Long Range penalty.  This still holds up when the target is obscured with Gun Drones and Fire Warriors tied when within 15" of the target.

The Stealth suits comes in last, however it has lots of other benefits which I'll talk about later that means it should not be ignored.  If we moved the comparison onto targets with -2 to hit, then the Gun Drone would easily be the best as it's damage output can not get any worse.

The quick conclusion is that Gun Drones are the best firepower unless you are consistantly at greater than 18" away from the enemy, which shouldn't really happen, as in most Kill Team games you can get Gun Drones in range on the first turn (they should even advance, and not hit any worse against a target they already had a -1 to hit against).

However as with any mathhammer, lets look at the only factors that this analysis does not take into account/  Lets first look at benefits of Gun Drones vs Fire Warriors (I'll look at Stealths later):

Gun Drone Other Advantages
  • Faster Movement
  • Ability to Advance and Fire
  • Saviour Protocols (great for saving Stealth Suits, Leaders and Specialists)
  • Higher Toughness (offset by a worse Save)
  • Can't gain experience ? (see note below)
Fire Warrior Other Advantages
  • Better armour save (offset by lower toughness)
  • Can take a DS8 Support Turret
  • Can be a specialist (however this is normally taken by the armed Pathfinder Gunners and Stealth Suits)
  • The option for a Shas'ui with better leadership and access to a markerlight
  • Can gain experience ? (see note below)

Note: Gaining experience is a double edged sword.  Models can gain extra abilities, however they will then cost more.  Even if its only a few points, 2 or 3 models that have advanced a level is the same cost of an extra model.  As the benefits of the better experience levels (outside specialists) is minor I think its best not to have higher experienced models.  having Gun Drones which can't gain experience helps stop Kill Team Bloat, where you have fewer models in a 100 point game in exchange for a fw minor abilities.

Overall I think the Gun Drones wins overall against the Fire Warrior, particularly after you've picked a Shas'ui.  Saviour protocols is huge saving Stealth suits and Pathfinder Gunners is huge, and the extra speed is very useful.  The icing on the cake is that the Gun Drones can't be affected by more than 1 negative to hit modifier.

Stealth Suits

[My Stealth Suit conversion, based on the conversion by Adam from Grotskull's Workshop]
Stealth suits against Gun Drones is an interesting one. Apart from Saviour Protocols, Stealths Suits just have all the advantages:
  • Much better save
  • Innate -1 to hit to enemy shooting at them and in combat
  • Option to carry a tank busting (and Infantry Obliterating) Fusion Blaster
  • Option to be a Specialist (with some very nice combos available)
  • The toughest Leader option
  • Much higher leadership
So how should all this affect your Kill Team.  Pathfinder Gunners, and a Recon Drone are still auto includes in my eyes (leave a comment if you disagree).  Stealth Suits are still good, but after 1 or 2 you have to ask would 3 Gun Drones be better than 1 Stealth Suit.  Personally for casual and for the local GW Store campaign I'm still going to use a Fire Warrior with a DS8 Turret, a Stealth suit & a non-Gunner Pathfinder, and my current list only has 2 Gun Drones, its a nice bit of everything (except Breachers) type list.

However, definitely not for a Store Campaign or anything like that, if I was going to a super competitive event I would consider the following methodology:
  • Take the cheapest leader
  • Take 3 Pathfinder Gunners
  • Take a Recon Drone
  • Take as many Gun Drones as possible
This would lead to the following list

Pathfinder Shas'ui (Leader)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Comms)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Demolitions)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Sniper)
Recon Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone

13 models (including 8 Gun drones, plus a Recon drone), costing spot on 100 points.  This list is putting out, at 18", 38 str5 shots, and 3D3 Str8, ap-1, 2 damage shots (save those command point rerolls for the overheats).  If you like Rail Rifles rather than Ion Rifles (I think they're good, but wanted to squeeze in another Gun Drone) you could lose 1 Gun Drone to have Rail Rifle rather than Ion Rifle Pathfinder Gunners, and upgrade the Pathfinder leader to a Fire Warrior leader.  If you like Stealth Suits you can easily swap the Pathfinder Leader & 2 Gun drones for Stealth Suit Leader with a markerlight and target lock.  Making both changes would still leave you with 5 Gun drones and a Recon drone.

Honestly don't take something like this to anything but a large competitive tournament.  So what do you think, are Gun Drones that good in Kill team, is this (too?) competitive ?

Are you tempted to put a few more Gun Drones in your Kill Team ?  What's been your experience with our Flying Frisbees ?

Back to painting for me, but until next time, happy gaming !!


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Dipping my Toe into Shadespire

When it first came out I wasn’t too interested in Shadespire, having chosen to end my Fantasy playing days; lack of time to devout to as many games, the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (not that I’d played it in its last two years) and really not liking the look of Stormcast when they first came out.

Overtime the great models that have been coming out for Age of Sigmar have pipped my interest, but the overall blockage that I didn’t enough time to plat mt existing games enough to warrant picking up AoS still stood.  That didn’t stop be picking up some models.  I picked up 2 Silver Tower Skaven Assassins to be extra Gutter Runners for my Skaven Bloodbowl team.  The Dark Elf Assassin was converted to be a second Succubus (with massive Blood Glaive), and I even picked up another Silver Tower model when in a moment I weakness (before the codex) I bought a model to be a Farseer (Doom is just too good of a psychic power).

Shadespire came out, and I thought it would another splash in the pan, and then disappear; Shadow War anyone.  However as with many gaming journeys I was convinced to give it a game by two close mates who had bought it.  One mate, Mike, who had stubbornly stuck to one faction in Infinity had gone all in buying every faction, including sleeves and dice.  We had a few games and was presently surprised and thought it was a good fun game.

The different warbands appeared relatively balanced (let me know your thoughts), and I liked the idea of the deck building aspect (eg. can tweak to be more killing or objective based), but I was weary that it would turn into Magic the Gathering when buying the last few cards for a deck can prove expensive, especially as you can’t buy the cards separately at all from GW.  However I didn’t intend to go to tournaments and the mates I knew would keep thing balanced, and wouldn’t go out and buy the top builds to smash by newbie deck; well not until I starting winning 😉

[I just need Ironskull's Boyz to get free postage - SOLD]
So with the decision made I bought the main game.  Then I made a unusual (for me) decision about painting.  I knew I would never have the time to paint the warbands with all of my 40k, Bloodbowl & Infinity projects., so looked at buying some painted warbands.  My favourite warband so far is the Khorne Bloodhounds, so I quickly found one on ebay at a reasonable price.  I was buying a well painted warband, rather than some of the top notch painting you can find.  Then I found an ebay listing of someone selling the main boxset with both warbands painted.  I liked the unusual Stormcast paint scheme, but thought the Khorne paint scheme wasn’t that good, so I would sell them on ebay.

I managed to pick this auction up for less than the cost that I had bought the brand new boxset for 😊  This gave me lots of cards, and allowed to me to keep he initial starter decks in the boxset complete (to play my son), while I built decks to use against my mates.

My last investment was a custom foam tray, which fitted in the box and perfectly held the warbands, tokens, dice etc.  This made it perfect to take the box and holiday, and I was able to pla a couple of games against my son in the evenings.

So far I’ve been having a ball playing Shadespire, and most importantly having fun with it.  Against my son’s Stormcast I’m 2-1 down (sometimes pesky Stormcast refuse to die!), I’m 3-0 up against Mike (horrendous dice in the 1st game against Undead, and then two close wins with both being equal as we headed into the last turn), and then I’m 1-0 down against my other mate’s Undead (first game playing with the short board edges touching).
[The surrounded Stormcast just wouldn't, even when a 4th Khorn guy joined in]
I’ve recently bought the Ork warband, so my next post will be a review of my first expansion box, and I’ve got my eye on a 4th warband when the Shadespire Season 2 comes out.

Have you been playing Shadespire ?  What do you think of it, and are you excited for Season 2 ?


PS. There are actually some ebay auctions selling the cards from the expansions individually, however in nearly all cases the best cards are sold out, but if you're not playing super competitively there are a nice way to pick up some extra cards.  If you want a lot of cards it might be worth buying an expansion and selling the models (and faction specific cards) on ebay.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Kill Team / 40k Differences from a Tau Perspective

By now there’s quite a few Kill team reviews and many of those go over the differences between the 40k and Kill Team rules.  For this post I wanted to go over the differences that specifically affect the Tau army.  So without pause here we go...

Markerlights Table

The first change that is noticed is the markerlight table is better than 40k:

Hey it’s shorter (due to losing the seeker/destroyer missile line), you only need 4 markerlights to get to the +1 to hit level.  This initially sounds great, but due to the increased number of negative to hit modifiers in Kill Team (I’ll come onto that shortly) it’ll be harder to get to that level.  Next you’ll have way less markerlights in a Kill team that you will in 40k, and lastly you’ll be affecting a single enemy model rather than a entire unit.  All these factors means markerlights are worth much less (even considering pathfinders only cost 75% of their 40k cost).  The resources needed to get +1 to hit on a single model, may only benefit the first short, eg. with other buffs a rail rifle gunner, particularly within 15” should kill the markerlighted target.

There is one thing to offset these issues, and that is the Uplinked Markerlight stratagem.  Like 40k it changes one markerlight hit into D3+1, but it costs 2 Command points, which makes it very expensive compared with 40k, as you only get 2 command points a turn (and that’s if you still have your leader alive).  These two command points have three very very good competing uses (each only costing 1 command point each):

  • The generic dice reroll
  • Sniper Stratgem (allows a Sniper specialist to get +1 to hit)
  • Heavy Stratagem (allows a Stealth suit Heavy specialist to fire 5 rather than 4 shots with his burst cannon)

Overall I think means its not worth investing too much in markerlights, and having only a few to get the first markerlight hit to reroll 1s for overcharging Ion Rifles.

Negative Modifiers To Hit

Anyone who’s played any of the -1 to hit armies in 40k, particularly Eldar which stack the neg modifiers know how deliberating it is to the Tau shooting.  Additional negative to hit modifiers in Kill team include:

  • Firing at over half range
  • Firing at a model that is obscured
  • Having a flesh wound

It’s important to reduce the negative modifiers, and a key to that is closing the distance.  Let’s look at the basic fire warrior firing at an enemy in the open, at 15-30” its 1 shot on 5+, at 15” or less it increases to 2 shots on 4+ thats triple the damage on average for getting within half range.  Sorry this is another edition your carbine armed fire warriors will not see any play.

When firing at an obscured model its 4 times as much damage firing with 15” compared to over 15" range.  This leads me to conclude that the best Tau playstyle is likely to be getting within rapid fire range, while hopefully staying obscured, with the intention of killing your target but not leaving yourself too open to retaliation.

What can help with those Negative Modifiers:
1) Use longer range weapons and play aggressively so its easy to get within half range
2) The Comms specialist can give a nearby model +1 to hit
3) The Recon drone can allow a nearby model to ignore the obscured penalty
4) Throw more shots, eg. Stealth Suit with a burst cannon Heavy specialist (for 5 shots), or gun drones.

 A quick note on Gun drones.  Gun drones seem bad when you consider they are BS5+ with no drone controller in the game, but they can advance for 8+D6 movement and fire at 18” on obscured targets on 6’s (6s always hit in Kill Team), that's only 1 less than normal even with a -3 to-hit modifier.  Remember though that if the target it not obscured a fire warrior would get 2 shots at 4+ to hit just a bit (3” inches) closer, so consider 1-2 gun drones to fire at those obscured targets using their speed to outflank the enemy with the Stealth Suit(s).  With so many negative modifiers in Kill Team I’ve seem some people saying the only competitive Tau Kill Team will be one with all but 2-3 members being Gun drones.  I’m not convinced yet, but time will tell, plus I don’t think I’d enjoy playing a Kill Team where I’m just rolling lots of dice needing 6s.

Although Kill Team in general, and the way I think Tau will need to play, will be at closer ranges than we’d like to play a 40k game, I think charging is not as much of an issue, as charging happens in the move phase and it a straight 2D6 charge, not the normal move and then a 2D6 charge.

Although this is not strictly true, because it is possible to get a normal move, and then a 2D6 charge by doing it in two parts.  The enemy can move and advance in one turn, and then if they get to move first in the next turn they can immediately do the 2D6 charge, so be wary about getting too close to models which haven’t moved yet.

Overall we should have a good chance of rapid firing at a model trying to make close combat in Kill Team, where as we're used to some models charging us when they start the turn miles away in 40k.

Model and Weapon Changes
Drones are not as tough as 40k with their save reduced to 5+.  There is no way to get a drone controller in Kill Team, so drones are stuck with their poor BS5+.  Marker drones do not ignore the negative modifier for moving and firing a markerlight.  The Pulse and Grav drones while being a point cheaper will be benefiting a lot less models than in 40k.  Overall drones are a lot worse, but most are a lot cheaper at only 7 points.  However, the stand out is the Recon drone which, while being the same 7 points, has 2 wounds and can offset the obscured modifier for a nearby model.

One small but crucial weapon change is that Ion Rifle overheating is on an unmodified 1 to hit.  So if you get +1 to hit you can still overheat, but more importantly with all the negative to hit modifiers you don’t die on a 1-3 when you shoot at something with -2 to hit.  If you get 1 markerlight on your target (to reroll 1's to hit) they are quite reliable, and punch very hard for a 10-point model.

General Tau Kill Team Types

[I'll be using one of my Firesight Incursion team, as a Railrifle Sniper Specialist for my Kill team]
So far, I’ve seen two types of Tau Kill teams being used.  One is stealth suit based with 4 Stealth suits and 2 other members to fill out the remaining points.  This list is very fast, hard to hit with a natural -1 to hit modifier on top of all the usual Kill Team modifier and are also one of the toughest units in the game with 2 wounds, toughness 4, and a 3+ armour save.

The other type, is one that I am favouring which still uses a Stealth suit (as they are so good) with a mix of pathfinders (making use of their excellent gunners) and fire warriors (with their long range rapid fire guns).  Some drones are occasionally sprinkled in.

Here’s 2 youtube battle reports I’ve watched with each type to help you see what you prefer:

Primarchs Youtube Channel Steath Suits Battle Report 

FNP Wargamers Youtube channel Tau Kill Team Battle Report

Here's what I'll starting to play with, any comments, tips or criticism in the comments would be greatly appreciated:

Fire Warrior Shas’ui with Pulse Rifle & Markerlight, Leader Specialist
DS8 Tactical Support Turret with a Smart Missile System
Fire Warrior Shas’la with Pulse Rifle

Pathfinder Shas’la with Pulse Carbine & Markerlight, Comms Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Rail Rifle, Sniper Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle

Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Recon Drone with Burst Cannon

Stealth Suit Shas’vre with Burst Cannon, Heavy Specialist

 - I'll be painting a XV25 Stealth Suit and a DS8 Turret for this list, now that I've completed (bar basing some models) my new 40k Tau list, but that's another blog post.

Overall I really like the look of Kill team, and look forward to playing it, ie. take everything I say with a pinch of salt, but I’ll report on my experiences so stay tuned for more updates.

Let me know in the comments what you're initial thoughts on Kill Team are, what you'll be using, and what tactics you think will work best for the Tau.


Friday, 5 January 2018

Conversion Corner [Bloodbowl - Chaos Dwarves]

Just a quick post to let you know about some converting I've been doing.

With a new season of bloodbowl with my mates about to start I decided to start a new team.  Last year I converted a Norse team:
and keeping the Av7 lineman theme, but with tougher, slower other players I opted for Chaos Dwarves, a team I'd always admired.

I used the new GW Dwarf linemen as the Chaos Dwarf Blockers.  For the hobgoblins I used the bodies of Skaven Stormvermin, with the tails snipped off.  For the hand and heads I was going to use old fantsay hobgoblins, but I found the hands looked too big compared to the stormvermin bodies, so I used the new GW goblins, using the goblins heads with helmets as they looked the closest to the old hobgoblin models.

For the Bull Centaurs I used AoS Chaos Knight horses, with the new GW Dwarf blitzer with added horns made with the spikes from the Dark Eldar Venom.  I'll eventually get round to converting the Bull Centaur star player using another of the Dwarf positional players, and the other Dwarf positional players will be good to convert into other star players.

I was tempted with buying the really nice Forgeworld Minotaur, but I'd already purchased the Silver Tower model to be my Minotaur, and he has an imposing stance.

Here's the team ready for battle:

For my first game I played my mates Underworld team, and I was feeling good having killed a Goblin, until a Chaos Dwarf blocker died in turn 8 of the 2nd half.  It was a fun but brutal game, not surprising with the Underworld team fielding all 3 big guys:
[Turn 1 with Underworld about to receive]
[It looks like a great confrontation, but the Bull Centaur is happy there's a square between them]

I still need to green stuff the gap where the Bull Centaur torso meets the Chaos Knight horse's lower body, but they are ready for a few games against mates.

Unlike my Norse which are still grey plastic I hope to get this team painted over the season in between my Tau and Dark Eldar painting, so further updates will follow showing my progress.  Well I won't be using my full compliment of Chaos Dwarf blockers for a while, so I have a model to test my paint scheme :)

What do you think of my new team, and what projects are you working on ?



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