Revised Piranha Tactica

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I've been meaning to edit my old Piranha tactica, but when I started, it turned into a complete rewrite.

Without further ado!

Piranha Light Skimmer

The very pinnacle of speed meets firepower and versatility, the piranha has many tactical applications on the battlefield.  Unfortunately, many Tau players regard the piranha as a second rate weapons platform due to its perceived fragile nature and single weapon hardpoint.  Initial impressions can be deceiving however since  the piranha's offense also includes 2 "free" gun drones.  Defensively, they are more survivable than an initial survey would suggest due to their fast skimmer rules and front AV of 11.

The focus of this article will be all things piranha.  What upgrades to take, how many to run in a squad, tactical roles they fill, synergies with other units, enemy specific tactics, and special maneuvers they can perform.

Wargear Options

  Before any meaningful examinination the piranha, we must first decide on the most useful wargear and weapon options for them.  First, choose between the two distinct classes of piranha, theburst cannon type andfusion blaster type.  Once a weapon is chosen, proceed to pick wargear.

Target locks - Not useful at all on either version, since you can already shoot at separate targets with the drones after they detach, and the weapon ranges are always at or below 18".  Bad upgrade
Disruption Pod - Can be useful first turn, or if stunned, but most opponents tend to shoot at bigger tanks first turn.  Also, with open topped rules, a penetrating hit is not much worse than a glance anyway.  Useful elsewhere but not here.
Decoy Launchers - While these are definitely worth their points cost on non-open topped vehicles, the open top status of the piranha make their benefit marginal at best.  Most of the time they will lose you 5 extra points, but sometimes they complete save your bacon.  I recomend only to spend "extra" points on these.
Sensor Spines - Haven't had much experience with these, but they don't seem too useful since the piranhas are already fast skimmers and don't really need to hide inside terrain.  A completely useless upgrade.
Flechette Dischargers - Useful against most any CC attacker as the flechette discharger does not rely on a strength value to wound.  Therefore it can wound a nightbringer or a wraithlord as easily as a termagaunt.  That being said, your opponent has to choose to assault your flechette equipped piranhas for them to work.  So if your opponents are assault oriented you will probably be inclined to take the upgrade.  But, opponents who have seen them used before may try to avoid assault.  This is both good and bad as it can make them more effective as a skimmer wall, but costs more points with no additional offense.  So this one is up to your individual circumstance, but I think these are better on D-Fish and HHs.
Blacksun Filter - Nearly useless on a weapon with maximum 18" range guns.  Leave it at home.
Targetting Array - This is the one upgrade I always bring.  While absolutely essential on the fusion loadout, it is also economically viable on the burst cannon model since it only costs 5 points.  Always take it.
Seeker Missiles - These require their own section, as any piranha with seekers will need to behave somewhat differently than a piranha without.

That's it for the wargear, every piranha should come with the targetting array standard.  The flechettes are most useful against assaulty armies, while seekers can be good, but tend to change the behavior of your piranha (more on this later).  The other upgrades are pretty useless.  If you start wanting to load up on goodies for your piranha remember that the piranha, while somewhat tough, is still pretty fragile against higher strength weapons.  So keep them cheap, that way losing one won't sting so much.

Burst Cannon Variant

The first class of piranha for discussion is the type running a burst cannon. This form of piranha is most often used against hordes of infantry.  Some will ask the question "Why not just use stealth's instead?"  Well, stealth suits have their place in any Tau army to be certain, but the piranha with a burst cannon is a very different animal than the stealth suit.  Some notable differences include-

-Piranha's can engage 2 separate units via its drones with no upgrades.
-A piranha's "free" drones are useful as fodder and speed bumps since they are not worth victory point's.
-For 60 points both units put out nearly the same level of offense.  The piranha gets 5 STR5 shots with 2 causing pinning, compared to 6 STR5 shots for the stealth suits.
-A piranha is nearly immune to CC attacks because of its fast skimmer rules.
-AV11 requires a minimum of STR5 weapons to even have a 1 in 6 chance at glancing, whereas even STR3 lasguns have a 50/50 chance of wounding a stealth suit.
-The high speed of the piranha allows it to support multiple allied units anywhere within its massive Zone of Control.
-The high speed of the piranha makes it a more effective scoring unit.
-Piranha's can employ skimmer walls to slow enemy assaulters without removing LOS to allied units (similar to FoF).
-Not subject to any type of leadership tests.(this one is very important!!)
-Forces enemy to make target priority checks when targeting units, including vehicles in the backfield.  Stealth suits never cause any kind of target priority.

All these differences mean that it is not really fair to compare the piranha to the stealth in many respects.  They may use the same weapon systems, but they are different in their tactical applications.

Fusion Blaster Variant

As good as the burst cannon piranha is at killing light infantry, the fusion blaster type is that much better at killing hard targets.  High AV vehicles, beefed out enemy HQ's, and even MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentare all excellent targets for this form of piranha.  By mounting a fusion blaster on a fast vehicle, Tau commanders have access to a mobile tank hunter which can get within melta range of an enemies back line by turn 2 and does not rely on a deep strike roll.  Here are some of the advantages to using the piranha as a tank and heavy infantry hunter.

-They are faster than a broadside or a hammerhead, making it easier to flush out enemy armor hiding behind terrain.
-Adding seekers allows it to hit the side armor of tanks as early as first turn
-Almost assured arrival in enemy deployment zone turn 2.  Deep strikers on the other hand might never arrive and if they do, they may scatter of the table.
-Melta range is also assault range (6"), the piranha has excellent assault defense, crisis suits do not.
-Fusion blasters are more effective than everything except railguns against tooled up enemy commanders such as; demon princes, bike riding chaplains, hive tyrants etc.  Many big enemy HQ's can be insta-killed by the fusion blaster, and placing it on a piranha not only allows quicker response time to these threats, but avoids CC problems associated with fusion blasters on crisis suits.
-Dedicated Multi Role-  This simply means that while the drones detach and hunt/delay lighter infantry, the piranha itself is free to hunt harder targets.  So in essence a fusion piranha is two different types of units in one.
-Previously covered advantages from above include speedy scoring unit, skimmer wall, early target priority tests etc.
-Frees up a heavy support slot. (very important!!)

Do not gloss over that last benefit, freeing up a heavy support slot from dedicated tank hunting allows a Tau commander to pick from a greater variety of heavy weapons.  Sniper drones, ionheads, and skyrays were previously difficult to justify over a railhead or a broadside team.  This was unfortunate since ionheads, skyrays, and sniper drones are some of our most effective anti MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentselections.  With fusion piranhas in the list, it is much easier to swap that railhead for an ionhead while not losing heavy armor hunting capability.  BTW snipers, ionheads, and skyrays are also quite effective vehicle hunters, just not as much against AV13+

Special Case - Seeker Missiles

Seekers on piranha are a double edged sword, while it is true they add more punch to anti MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentand anti armor as well as alpha strike capability, they also increase the cost of the piranha to nearly unacceptable levels.  There are some advantages to using seekers on piranha since the piranha can move 24" and still fire them, but whether or not this offsets the cost is debatable.  There are two ways to use seekers on Piranha effectively.  The first is on a burst cannon variant (with no upgrades) operating alone.  Leave it behind cover the whole game and only use its detachable drones and seeker missiles from out of LOS to generate its offensive contribution.  Only bring it out last turn to grab objectives or bring it out in emergencies as a blocker.

The other option is to put seekers on teams of 2 fusion variant piranhas.  Run them up the flank 24" first turn and use them to snipe side armor across the field.  Make sure to keep them in cover though.  Then hunt tanks as normal, but if you lose one, be sure to hide the remaining one from harm so your opponent doesn't get any VP's.  After all, the increased cost the seekers add to the piranha will push this unit up to 180 points.  That's a pretty juicy target, so be sure to be careful with them if used in such a manner.

How Many in a Unit?

Always run fusion variants in either units of 2 or units of 1.  These numbers are the optimal setup for denying victory points to your opponent.  In units of 2, your opponent has to kill both to get any points and remove non-scoring status.  Units of one are easier to hide and less of a target due to their small size.

The burst cannon variant on the other hand need greater numbers in order to be effective.  Using 2 teams of 2 is nice for victory point purposes, but then limits the number of the tank hunting fusion variant.  Units of three are better offensively, but are harder to hide and less than optimal in terms of VP's.  So in this case, use your best judgment.

What about running 4 or more in a unit?  While this has obvious benefits in terms of firepower, it tends to make the unit unmanageable and impossible to hide.

So stick with smaller units of piranhas, and simply run more units of them.  This is key to making them effective.  By running multiple units, they are nearly assured to destroy those nasty pieces of ordinance forever hiding out of LOS (Whirlwinds and Basilisks come to mind).

A second reason to run multiple squads is to overload an enemies high strength weapons.  A piranha requires a minimum of STR5 weapons to even glance the front.  Most armies don't have access to a large number of weapons in this category (other than Tau).  Most basic weapons are STR4 ore less (except Tau). Therefore, many of the enemies "special" weapons will be forced to target piranhas if an enemy commander wants them removed.  Those are usually the same weapons that would normally be targeting Hammerheads and Devilfish.  This poses an interesting dilemma for an enemy commander.  Does he shoot at the durable hammerheads and devilfish and ignore those dangerous fusion piranhas, possibly removing neither?  Or does he target the slightly more fragile, but also more numerous piranhas and guarantee the larger vehicles survival?  Either way he chooses, he cannot get them all, and a clever Tau commander will then focus on removing their opponent's high strength weapons.  This in turn weakens the opponent's ability to deal with those skimmers.
All of a sudden, the enemy commander is caught in a vicious game of "catch up" which will ultimately end with his inability to respond to all those skimmers running around.  Additionally, consider if the enemy does you a favor and ignores your hammerheads and devilfish instead attempting to remove all of your piranhas, even if he does manage to kill all those multiple piranha units (highly unlikely if you use terrain) they still drop free drones when they die, so you haven't lost everything.  This will frustrate your opponent to no end.

The free gun drones brings me to the final reason to run multiple squads of piranhas.  Every extra squadron of piranhas means an additional gun drone squad.  This can seemingly double the size of your army once deployed.  Not only is this a great thing tactically, but will have a real effect on your opponent's perception of those little fish.  He will then tend to ignore your hammerheads/devilfish even more and focus on the little piranha.

    So run more than one squad of them if you plan on using them.  Piranhas are after all, a schooling fish.  In the wild a lone piranha or two is nothing but a slight nuisance while a large school of them can skeletonize a cow pretty in a few minutes.  Land Raider on the hoof?

Basic Tactics

Fusion Piranha

Early in the game, fusion piranhas should be zipping out 24" on the flanks(into cover where available).  This will get the enemies attention and hopefully takes the enemies first round focus off of your Hammerheads and Devilfish.  Second round, they should drop their drones to contest the middle of the board, slow enemy assaulters, and cause target priority checks.  Meanwhile, the piranhas should move another 12" to get within 6" of some vital piece of enemy armor or expensive commander.  Then use a markerlight hit (if available) to ensure destruction of that enemy target.

If you lose a piranha from a unit of two, the remaining one can zip back toward your line to hide.  This is smart to do because the opponent will have to destroy it or he will not get any VP's for the one he already did kill.  Alternately, if you feel they should remain and continue to remove high priority targets then do so, but always weigh the risks against the benefits.

Dice Gods willing, you piranhas should have removed a fair amount of the enemies dangerous weaponry by turn 3, without giving up any Victory Points.

After these first few rounds of high priority target removal, viable piranha units can help hunt down MeQ's, block enemy assaulters with skimmer walls, and finally act as a last turn scoring unit.  When hunting MEQ's, remember to go for those heavy weapons teams in order to protect themselves and Hammerheads/DFish.  If your opponent is using lots of fast assaulters, you may need to reprioritize your target list.  It all depends on how fast you perceive those assaulters will get to your assets.  If the opponent has multiple units of fast assaulters, obviously your piranha will have less armor/heavy weapons teams to hunt, and with therefore be more useful in the skimmer wall tactic.

Burst Cannon Piranhas - Defensive Linemen
While the Fusion Variant is primarily about high priority hard target threat removal, the Burst Cannon Variant is all about helping hold off approaching enemy infantry, and combining firepower with other units.  By using their great speed, they can assist infiltrating stealth and kroot by adding their weight of firepower.  Their assistance can be unexpected by your opponents due to their 30" zone of control (12" move+18" range on guns).  They can swoop in and assist another unit to the point that an enemy unit is completely wiped out, or at least so severely crippled as to no longer be a threat.  Stealth and Kroot are not the only ones who can benefit from this.  Their great speed and maneuverability allows for the assistance of virtually any unit you field.  For example, Fish of Fury can be greatly enhanced by extending the "skimmer wall" with piranhas and adding more firepower into the equation.

As far as armor hunting with this piranha goes, It can still be done by using the piranha's great speed to maneuver for rear armor shots.  They can be quite effective at this since they put out so many STR5 shots.

Advanced "Situational" Tactics

Feeding Frenzy - There are actually 3 related tactics which all bear the name "feeding frenzy"

Version 1 - The first version has been around for a while and doesn't require piranhas to pull it off.  However, a piranha's speed allows them to excel at this tactic.  The way it works is simple: First, surround an enemy transport in such a way that there is no legal place for transported models to disembark. Second, use the Fusion Blasters on your piranhas (or railguns, missile pods, whatever…) to blow up the enemy transport.  Since the units inside have no legal place within 2" of the exit points to disembark to, they are destroyed.  Try this against a landraider filled with terminators and watch your opponents jaw hit the floor.

Version 2 - This version incorporates either a Hammerhead or Devilfish. First, surround an enemy infantry unit with the piranha in such a way as to negate the ability of the enemy unit to move between them (1" rule).  Make sure to leave a gap where the Hammerhead or Fish can fit through to get at the enemy.  The resulting formation of piranhas should resemble a U. Now simply tank shock into the gap with the hammerhead/fish. Whether he passes his leadership test or not, he still has nowhere to move without breaking the 1" rule, therefore he is destroyed outright via the "No Retreat" rule.  His only hope is a successful death or glory.  This version has some controversy surrounding it so use it at your own risk(your opponent may cry cheese).

Version 3 -This version is really just a modified version of number 2.  In the event that there is no available tank with which to tank shock, surround the enemy completely with piranha then shoot them with units until a leadership check is failed.  When they are forced to fall back, they will have no avenue of retreat and will be destroyed via "No Retreat" rule.  This version is perfectly legal, but relies on the enemy failing a save(not likely in the case of marines).
Skimmer Walls - This has been alluded to already, but remember, no matter what happens a Tau commander cannot allow enemy units to get into assault with his infantry.  One way to prevent this from happening is to use skimmer walls.  Fish of Fury has been doing it for years.  The principle is the same, but instead of having to buy dedicated, non-scoring transports to do it, we can do it with a squad of 2 piranhas instead.  A nice bonus is that they can provide protection for practically whatever unit needs a CC buffer due to their great speed and non-dedicated role.  Much more on this in the "Unit Synergies" section.

Open Topped Assaults - Here is one thing our piranhas can do that none of our other units can do.  Use drones to tie enemies up in assault after moving over 6" (up to 12").  Imagine, it is first turn and there is a unit of infiltrators poised to assault your line possibly turn 1, definitely turn 2.  What do you do?  Well, you can move out your piranhas 12", deploy drones 2", fire all weapons, and assault 6" with those drones.  That's a 20" assault zone of control!!!  You can tie up nearly any unit on the board starting turn 2!!!  And since the drones are one of our better units in CC, you may just be surprised at how truly effective this tactic can be.  This tactic also helps when you need to tie up that annoying devastator squad, or even the tactical las/plas team.  By tying such heavy weapons teams up early, they waste precious turns of shooting while hammerheads and piranhas run amok.

Markerlights - By leaving drones attached to the piranha, both they and the piranha may benefit from a single markerlight hit.  So sometimes it is better to leave them attached, especially with the burst cannon variant.
EDIT: I found out the other day the new FAQ(from hell) doesn't allow this for some reason.  So this won't work at tourneys.

Unit Synergies

While all of our units can benefit from the piranha's abilities in one manner or another, certain units have an even greater perceived benefit when combining with the piranha.  Most of the following tactics center on the skimmer wall, but each of these units have specific small differences in how and when they can be exploited.

Stealth/Kroot-Often these infiltrators are left out of support range from the rest of the army.  This forced kroot and stealth to either operate alone, or to support each other.  By adding piranhas into the equation, they now have another potent support unit.  The burst cannon variant works better for this role since they can combine like firepower, but the fusion variant can also assist via its gun drones and skimmer wall tactic.

Mounted Fire Warriors- When a mounted fire warrior squad performs a fish of fury, they often have to remount and move the next turn.  By using piranhas to extend the skimmer wall, you can buy another turn or two of shooting without having to remount.

Static Fire Warriors- Static fire warriors can now benefit from a pseudo fish of fury using only the piranhas as the skimmer wall.  Simply wait until the enemy is in assault range then run the piranha in to block the fire warriors.  This can also be done with broadsides, sniper drones, or pretty much any static infantry unit.

Helios Crisis Suits-  For those who do not know a Helios suit is an XV-8 with a fusion blaster, plasma rifle, and multitracker.  The main use for such a suit is in Terminator and MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalenthunting.  The problem is that for the suit to be effective it must come within 12" to use its fusion and to rapid fire its plasma.  While it can still jump back out to 18" with its assault move, it is quite vulnerable to fast assaulters and it can be tricky getting the distances right.  So the answer is yet another skimmer wall using the piranha in teams of two.  The piranha is approximately 4.5" long.  Whenever your helios suits are in danger of being overrun by a unit that can move 18" (12" move+ 6" assault), simply swoop the piranha in front of them.  The helios can then jump over the piranha, rapid fire its plasma and fire its fusion, then use its assault move to jump back behind the protection of the piranha.  Since the base of the helios is an additional 1.5" and the enemy cannot land within 1" of your units the resulting total distance the enemy fast assaulter would have to fly over would be 7" minimum (4.5"+1.5"+1").  This means that with a 12" flying move of the typical jump infantry, they would have to be no farther than 9.5" from the front of the helios.  This is nice because before the movement of the piranha, the enemy could have assaulted those helios from 18".  Another nice thing is, the fusion gun on the piranha stacks nicely with the typical target engaged by the helios, so you probably won't be wasting firepower.

Vespid- Vespid are another unit with a short range that benefits from a piranha skimmer wall similar to above. The difference is that they cannot make a JSJ style assault move, and they lack a 3+ save in the open that the helios has.  So when screening vespid, it is important to make sure that they are in some cover, and not to use them against fast assaulters.  If done correctly your vespid will not be forced into an assault situation after they attack their target.  This can go a long way toward making them efficient points wise.  This is a difficult tactic to pull off correctly, but if achieved properly can be very worthwhile.

Enemy Specific Tactics

Some enemies need specific mention since special tactics can be used against them.

Khorne/Blood Angels- Use their blood frenzy against them by parking the piranha within 6" of Khorne Berserkers and/or Death Company and they'll be chasing them around all day futily attempting to hit them in CC.

Black Templar- Use the piranha speed to get behind them and then shoot Them.  They'll be running the wrong way.

Drop Pod Marines- Simply space the piranhas and the drone units out in such a way as to limit the space the pods can land.  If done correctly, your opponent should have to drop down in a place where you can demolish him on your turn.

Necrons- Avoid these guys like the plague, their gauss flayers glance any vehicle on a 6 and this can spell doom for your piranhas.  If you know you will be playing Necrons, I'd actually recommend leaving them at home and taking more crisis suits.  If you are in an all comers environment, try to use the piranhas to destroy enemy destroyers and lords.  Other than that they will probably be toast pretty darn quickly.


  In conclusion I'd like to leave you with some of Sun Tzu's tenets which the piranha fills admirably.

Tenet 1. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.
Piranhas are extremely versatile providing many different useful tactics/threats at the same time, allowing you to modify their role as the situation permits.
Tenet 2. All warfare is based on deception.
Piranhas only have one gun, but they have drones and can do much more than destroy tanks. Use this fact in the metagame by complaining about how "expensive" your 70 point piranhas are and that they are only equipped with the one main weapon. This will cause the enemy to discount them as a threat, which is what you want up until the point they release their drones. Then start pointing out how cool it is that they had those drones, and how you really like em now. This will cause a shift of fire away from your advancing tanks(which should be hidden first turn), to what has effectively become a 51 point model (drones worth the equivalent of 24 points).
Tenet 3. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
Use Vespid, Helios, or other short range weapon platforms to lure enemy units out.  Then just when your enemy thinks he has caught them, the piranha swoops in and blocks his assault.
Tenet 4. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
A single piranha can engage different types of enemy units and fulfill different battlefield roles, all while using their speed to escape out of LOS when the going gets tough.
Tenet 5. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
I love this effect midgame, nothing is more irritating than to ALWAYS have to test for target priority. Combine this with your markerlights ability to automatically pass the same test, and watch his ire rise. He'll be wasting shots on those cheap durable skimmers in no time. And, even if he kills 'em all, the drones will still be zipping around in the middle of the field causing the same tests(against infantry only).
Tenet 6. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
Once again, speed and enticement the piranha's forte allows them to harass nearly any unit on the board, and draw out enemy forces into compromising positions
Tenet 7. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
Skimmer walls, Feeding Frenzy, 24" movement, drones popping out of nowhere. Yeah it has this one on lockdown.

Happy hunting for the greater good!!!

Burst Cannon Piranhas: A Second Look

Well wouldn't you know it I'm writing another article about my favorite little fish.  I felt that my above tactica didn't do justice to the burst cannon model of Piranha as I had sort of previously discounted them as being usefull when compared to the fusion model.

But the other day I was thinking about them and decided to compare them to a devilfish mounted FW Definition: Forge Worldsquad and I reach some startling conclusions.

First of all, I want to illustrate the the teams I was comparing starting with a common setup of a mounted FW Definition: Forge Worldsquad.

Mounted FW Definition: Forge WorldSquad
10 FW's, Shas'ui
  -Devilfish,  DDecoy Launchers.
Total = 195 points

Here we have an efficient 10 man mech FW Definition: Forge Worldsquad with a leadership boost so they don't break from return fire.  10 is an optimal number I think as it is easier to get all the FW's in range while having some breathing room to stay out of CC.  The Devilfish is a barebones model that doesn't get much use from it's BC, but still has it's drones to add support.  A full blown warfish would cost an additional 35 points and I will discuss that later, but for now lets look at a 195 points worth of Burst Cannon Piranha.

Burst Cannon Piranha Squadron
3 Burst Cannon Piranhas with Targetting Arrays - 195 points

All right, a basic no frills Piranha team of 3 with the points efficient TA's added for good measure.  Now that the specific units have been defined lets compare the two units in depth.

First of all lets talk about movement.  While both units may move 12" and still deliver their offense, the Piranhas have the option to move up to 24" if they decide not to shoot.  This is a nice bonus for maximising the use of cover, gaining offensive positioning, grabbing objectives, and making tactical retreats.  Another bonus to this speed is the ability to maneuvor more often for rear armor shots. Speed is a nice little bonus for the Piranha and not one to discount lightly.

Second lets talk about weapon ranges, but lets not call them weapon reanges lets term them offensive Zones of Control.  In the case of the of the Fire Warriors they would seem to have a 24" zone of control since the Dfish can move 12" and the FW's can rapid fire 12".  Also the drones on the Dfish have a 30" Zone of Control.  However, I say seem to have because of the following fact.  The Fire Warriors must deploy at the rear of the Devilfish meaning thatt the fish itself must get closer to the enemy by its own body length to effectively deliver a FoF.Definition: Fish of Fury  This can shorten it's ability to strike sooner.  The Piranhas on the other hand have a 30" Zone of Control that shoots from the front of their models.  This is 6"+the length of a Devilfish longer reach than the Mech Squad.  This means they can hit targets sooner, and more easily manipulate terrain to their advantage to block LOS to enemy units.  This is yet another nice advantage for the Piranhas.

Next lets examine the raw offensive output of the two squads.  In the case of the mounted FW Definition: Forge Worldsquad, assuming a proper FoF Definition: Fish of Furywith the Dfish moving over 6" and all FW's in range of the enemy we have a total of 22 pulse shots(20 from FW's 2 from Drones).  These are largely BS3 so hits 50% of the time(except drones who are TL:BS2 and hit 55% of the time) so we can expect an average of 11.1 hits(one pinning) from the squad when not assisted by markerlights.  In the case of the Piranha we have 9 BS4 shots(66%) and 6 TL:BS2 shots(55%) so we can expect 6 regular pulse hits and 3.3 pinning pulse hits for a total of 9.3 hits from the Piranha squad.  Thats a difference of only 1.8 pulse hits, with a better chance from the Piranha squad to get a pinning wound through.  So in essence these are essentially equivilant offensive outputs.

Next lets look at defensive statistics.  The Mech FW Definition: Forge Worldsquad has a total of 12 wounds and an AV12 skimmer with decoy launchers.  The Piranha squad has a total of 6 wounds and 3 AV11 open topped skimmers.  This would seem to be a rather large advantage for the Mech squad in terms of defense, but lets examine things a little closer.  Both groups are essentially immune to close combat as CC attacks only hit them on a 6.  The Fire Warriors must dismount in order to fire thus exposing them to fire.  This is crucial since simple bolter fire can subsequently eliminate those dismounted FW's.  Keep in mind that every FW Definition: Forge Worldremoved is 2 less pulse shots and that bolters don't do squat to hurt the Piranha team. Additionally the FW's must remount in order to redeploy to avoid CC and regain defense.  Piranhas on the other hand may keep their drones on board and shoot and move every turn, this maintaining defense while not sacrificing offense.  Speaking of the drones on board, they have a lower leadership and smaller unit size thus are more susceptible to morale failures.  But on the other hand they have JSJ and thus if seperated from the Piranhas are much more likely to survive while still generating offense.  Also consider the fact that the drones are not worth VP's and that can be considered a form of defense right there.

Next lets look at the Dfish and Piranha themselves from a defensive standpoint.  Statistically speaking 1 BS4 lascannon will have almost a 10%(9.87%) chance of destroy a Dfish outright.  That same marines lascannon will have a 27.7 % chance to destroy a Piranha.  Hmm thats about 3 times higher....but keep in mind there are 3 times the amount of Piranhas.  Also being stunned is bad for both units for different reasons,  but in the case of the Piranhas any non stunned ones at least have the option of ditching the stunned ones and running away.  The FW's are pretty much tied to their Dfish and if it's stunned then it will likely die the following round thus leaving it stranded.  Finally, the Dfish has a slight advantage in that they are immune to STR5 weapons from the front and Piranah are only immune to STR4 and also the open topped rules make blast weapons bad news for Piranha teams.

Thusfar we have examined mobility, zone of control, raw offensive output, and defense.  Now lets take a look at the things that don't really fall into any of those categories.  First of all I'd like to point out that mounted FW's squads do benefit more from ML Definition: Missile Launcherhits as they have more shots overall.  This is certainly nice when your 20 FW Definition: Forge Worldshots hit on 2's.  The more split nature of the Piranhas firepower between 6 drones and 3 burst cannons make the ML Definition: Missile Launcherhits less usefull unless you use them on the drones possibly to lower pinning checks.

Speaking of the split nature of the unit I'd like to point out that both detached drones and the Piranhas can shoot at seperate targetrs.  Oh sure the 2 drones on the Dfish can shoot at a seperate target as well but their offensive output is negligable at best while 6 drone shots and 9 pulse shots can be split to do some reasonable damage on multiple fronts.

Next we have open topped drone assaults.  This adds both offense and defense to the Piranah squadron by adding in 12 initiative 4 attacks and tying up an enemy squad at the same time.  The range on this assault is 20" total since the Piranha can move 12"+2" deployment+6"charge range.  And of course the drones may shoot first as they have assault weapons.  DFish drones don't have this option if they wish to move over 6" since they're no open topped.

Lastly lets look at scoring status.  The value of the scoring unit for the FW's is 110 points as the Dfish is non scoring.  The Piranhas are fully 195 point scoring unit and must lose 2 before losing scoring status.  The FW's need only loose 6 of their number before they are non scoring.

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