Tactica: Fighting the Sisters of Battle

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 Overview of the pure Sisters of Battle Army
 Kill List
 Discussion
 Your Units
 Worst Enemies
 Summary
 Acts Of Faith



I'm facing the Witch Hunters, but more specifically, a pure Sisters of Battle Witch Hunter army - What can I do? This is a guide to effectively battle with a sea of faithful Power Armor from a Tau perspective.



Overview of the pure Sisters of Battle Army

Pure infantry sisters of battle armies severely lack ranged firepower and are not great in combat. They are simply close range fire artists, with a few tricks. So once they are in rapid-fire range, then you have some problems on your hands. These girls are 1 point more than a fire warrior and have power armor and are packing bolters. On top of it all, they can get these horridly good acts of faith to turn situations into messes.
Right when you think your plasma rifles will finish off a squad of sisters, they suddenly have 3+ invulnerable saves and turn the tables on you. When you think you have beaten them down and pinned them, they suddenly can become fearless!
 Their flamers and bolters can become AP1, denying you your precious armor saves. Sisters of battle are effective with a high rate of fire, and close range high powered weapon as well as close range template weapons with a mix of acts of faith to alter many aspects of the game. However, Sisters are slow and require transports to become a quick threat.
Now, if girls are in rhinos, this is a good thing as rhinos are easy to halt with Tau and it shuts the Sisters of Battle down (Tau can reliably shut down any mechanized army).
The one thing girls can field that can be problems is Exorcist tanks and Retributors with Heavy Bolters. We all know how nasty heavy bolters can be, but these girls are easy to eliminate with a submunition shot or two, or any other long range artillery. If the Sisters field a penitent engine, no worries, as missile pods break them in half before they even get a chance to move. His exorcist can be a problem simply because it can destroy your tanks and destroy your suits with ease. So if you see it, destroy it first. But the most lethal unit that the sisters have against Tau, are the Seraphim. More on these units later.
Seraphim are the sister's version of assault marines. They're fast, have twin-linked guns, and can do well in combat. They can catch your suits and destroy them with hand-meltas (inferno pistols) and hand flamers. Worse yet, they have the "Hit & Run" ability and can jump back to shoot you again should you outnumber them in combat. They are great at hunting both your vehicles and your stranded smaller units (such as Crisis Suits).
The rest of the army is mentionable, but not to any great avail. Repentia and Penitent engines are fast units, but very poor aggressors against Tau because of their low rate of survival against Tau weaponry. Beware though, as if these units were to meet a Tau front line, it would be a serious problem. Arco-Flagellants are awesome in combat, but die faster than sisters do to pulse rifle fire. So again, no worries. These are more of threats to marines, not Tau, and all of which are only threats in combat. They simply move fast and assault well.



Kill list, in this order of importance

  • Seraphim (No matter how many or what they have, fry these girls)
  • Retributors with Heavy Bolters (If they have multi-meltas, forget them as they're not worth shooting until way later)
  • Exorcist (Overall it can be troublesome for your vehicles should you allow it to live) *
  • Rhinos/Immolators (Obviously bust any transport they have, especially immolators) *
  • The Rest **
* Sometimes, it may be more important to destroy his transports. In these situations, it is because he has more than 2 rhinos or immolators. That's when you will want to destroy his transports first, and not the exorcist. The exorcist is best killed early if you have valuable vehicles as it can seriously hurt your tanks--even your hammerheads. Solid shots from rail guns are great for the exorcist; otherwise, use missile pods on the transports. Don't waste a rail gun shot on a transport; instead, put template submunition rounds on his foot-squads.
** If any of the fast combat specialist units are found on the board (i.e.: Repentia, Aro-Flaggelants and Penitent Engines), these may be considered high threat but not higher than Seraphim. Consider them a high threat if they are within roughly 24 inches and there are also transports nearby. If there is the option of destroying a transport or one of these squads-destroy the transport first.



Discussion

(1) One thing that I've found a lot of Tau players doing that is actually a mistake against Sisters (well not mistake, but not quite as efficient) is that they take heavy plasma to deal with the power armor. Don't let this be you. Girls may be suited up in nice 3+ save armor, but their toughness is 3. This means every weapon in your arsenal, except a flamer, is wounding the sisters on a 2+. Plasma is fine to take, but don't think twin-linking it will make the difference (if it works well, they'll simply use a faith to create 3+ invulnerable saves to remind you that it was a mistake).
So if you see an opportunity to finish off a squad with plasma, you may want to rethink that if it requires you getting up close within rapid-fire range, because he can trick you with his acts of faith that will allow them to pass some 3+ invulnerable saves and then punish your suits for being too close. Your suits should always be striking from afar, using plasma at 24 inch range (unless it's an independent character, in which case, feel free to rapid-fire plasma to silence her for good--if she fails a single wound, she's insta-killed by S6+). So plasma is your friend, but don't let it be your crutch--keep your distance and don't be fooled into getting close to use plasma more effectively (he will turn it against you).
(2) You have quite a few nasty surprises for them. Pulse Rifles rip right through their ranks. The tactic " FoF" is actually great against them and so are devilfish. Girls do not pack long range anti-armor weaponry, so you can dance circles around them in Devilfish and if you do try out a FoF Definition: Fish of Furyattack, think of what you've got going for you--if you hit 24 hits, from 48 Fire warriors (two full squads in devilfish), he's going to have to pass something like 20 armor saves, which is pretty much going to be a dead squad of Sisters unless it's a huge squad of 15~20 models. But normal squads of 10 will be pulled to pieces.
Up close, he will have flamers and meltaguns, but meltaguns are only dangerous against your devilfish and crisis suits. These Sisters shouldn't survive anyways as you should be focusing your fire--anything your Fire warriors don't kill, be sure to mop up with a squad of Stealth Suits for support or some XV8 Crisis Suits supporting them. Do not leave your Fire warriors on their own and always attack by two's (multiple units supporting each other). You want two units, just in case one has bad rolls, so the other can pick up where that one failed. So long as you keep him rolling, you'll have the day.
(3) Burst cannons can be very effective on sisters-stealth suits are actually very useful since girls are slow, but beware of seraphim. These suits are good for hunting seraphim by the way. Stealths are safe too, since their only ranged weapons are heavy bolters and exorcists, which will be too far away anyways to spot them, so you can dance their front lines, spraying them with burst fire. But I would advise against this.
They can pull off some AP1 shots just to silence you should they spot you. Instead, I've found stealth suits to be best when used as a mop up crew. Use your Fire warriors and XV8's or Hammerhead to pound a squad to low numbers. Then use your stealth suits to mop up those few stragglers (or use gun drones should you want to save points). Units supporting units.



Your Units

Stealth Suits

As mentioned, they're best as mop up crews and for catching seraphim off guard. Personally I would use stealths to buff your fire lines of fire warriors. The bust cannons can be the final blow to put the last few sisters to sleep should your fire warriors fail. And they're great for punishing small squads of seraphim, you have more firepower than they do, but they move faster--beware.
As mentioned above, keep away from large squads of girls, use stealths only to punish small squads. Large squads may spot you and use divine guidance to quickly snuff you out with AP1 storm bolter and bolter wounds. Small squads will not be able to reliably pull off divine guidance, so they're the best candidates for stealth teams to pound into should you take stealths.

Crisis Suits

XV8's are best as fire knife against girls. You can punish girls from afar, and move up close. Girls do not have better than 24 inch range with their weaponry, except the heavy bolter in random retributor and celestian squads. You will see these, so no surprises. However, the normal girls are ripe to be picked with missile pods and a few plasmas here and there. Girls are easiest to dispatch when you make them roll more and more on their armor saves.
The missile pods will ruin their transports and can glance their best tank, so every weapon you have on a fire knife will be useful no matter what you fire at. Just be sure to keep your 24 inch range, since you can hop back out of range without worry of taking a hit back (exception: heavy bolter squads).

Fire Warriors

It goes without saying, to keep your distance unless you can finish a squad off. Mounting in Fish is a very good idea as girls do not pick off armor very easily, especially skimmers as they're AT is mainly geared towards one-hit kills. We all know one-hit AT is not reliable against skimmers, which require several hits to reliably put down. Fire warriors are best used in two's as mentioned before. You can have one squad sit and fire at 30 inches, while the other squad advances.
They can play "leap frog" so to speak in order to keep firing a few shots while moving forward, taking turns to do this--use this if you do not have devilfish. Always fire at the closest squad that is near you. Your fire warriors will be prime targets for heavy bolters, so if you see a lot of heavy bolters, it goes without saying to stay in your Fish and dance around until you have snuffed out the squad, or use your fire warriors in surgical strikes which result in good odds of eliminating whole squads (using something like "FoF").

Kroot

Kroot are actually very useful here, but only if you can get close enough with them for a charge. Kroot can shoot girls, but that will be counter productive because if a single girl lives, she most likely will be packing a heavy flamer... and we all know what flamers do to Kroot. Kroot can cause some serious damage to sisters in combat though, because they have the same initiative. Those kroot will get a chance to hit and land all their attacks, unlike when they assault marines. So you can get your maximum effect from these boys and outnumber them with ease. Don't write off Kroot, they can really slap girls around.

Gun Drones

Gun drones. This is my favorite unit against sisters, and the most feared when playing them. Pinning weapons are actually very useful against girls. Most girls will be running around with Ld9. A good sister players army will be mostly ld9, but a lot of ld10 (through books and seraphim). But pinning actually works wonders since you can bust their 50% strength really quickly, dropping them back to ld8, which is easy to pin should you force multiple pinning tests.
Also, gun drones can keep up with seraphim, so if you see seraphim on the board, and you have drones, this is their primary target. His seraphim should not be worrying about gun drones as they're probably going for your suits where they can cause the most damage and stick you in combat. Drones are great for stopping this or at least slowing them down.

Hammerheads

This will silence his vehicles, but your missile pods are best used on his armor. Only use this solid shot against his Exorcist if he packs one, otherwise, you will want to lay down the submunition template and force rolls on his heavy weapon squads (retributors with heavy bolters). Soften up his sister squads that are nearest to your fire warriors to help eliminate full squads at a time. The smart missiles are useful to pick off hiding HQ's with jump packs and taking pot shots at nearby seraphim. But mainly you really want to use this template to your advantage. None of their armor is thick enough to really have problems, so remember the missile pods to pound transports and submunitions to punish his foot sloggers.

Broadsides

Not much needs to be said here, other than hitting his transports. If he doesn't have many vehicles, then use your smart missiles--they're more effective than your rail gun and a squad of them can pick on hiding seraphim or girls that are in cover. Solid shots on the vehicles, smart missiles on everything else.

Pathfinders

If you take pathfinders, don't use them for marker lights every time, unless they have several multi-shot weapons using their guidance. Instead, just situate them near your fire warrior's lines and use them at greatest effect against squad which has been broken below 50%. You have a good chance to pin them, and should you pin them, he will have to spend a very valuable faith point to reverse that damage. One important thing to remember is when you're close enough to fire these weapons is to be sure that you're walking backwards and firing, instead of pushing forward and firing.
He will have to sit still to take his shots at full effect, otherwise, he will need to rely on rapid-fire to take a few shots at them, instead of large squads of fire warriors--if he does that, it's a big mistake on his part and your fire warriors will have all the opportunity to slaughter that squad. So remember, pathfinders support your fire warriors or any other squad that has broken an enemy unit below 50% strength. Otherwise, keep them in cover and marker light squads for your burst cannons (marker light + burst cannon is the best use of them against sisters... 2s to hit, 2s to wound = carnage).



Worst Enemies

Seraphim

Seraphim will be coming in two forms: All or minimal. That means, he'll have massive squads, or he'll have several little squads. Either way they're dangerous, so watch them with your fast counter units (stealths, gun drones). Do not use XV8s if you can help it to try and chase these girls down. They're good for distracting your firepower so try to either kill them in one phase, or don't bother with them if they're far enough away. What this really means is simply to take the shots if you have them, but if you have to chase them to get those shots, then don't chase them.
He can move fast and will just slow your rate of fire down. Don't make that mistake. Also, seraphim are great at busting vehicles, so if they get close to anything with armor, punish him. These girls are expensive and only come at a maximum of 10, so you should be able to rip them to pieces with just pulse fire (and once broken to below 50% strength they're not powerful anymore, they're only dangerous in large numbers with flamers and inferno pistols).
Big squads will use the flamers + divine guidance to rip through your squads. Small squads may be packing inferno pistols to pierce your suits and tanks armor. So watch his weaponry, it will generally dictate his intended target. One final note is that these girls usually count as having an imagrifier in their squad, and it will not show on the models as it is an ability that comes from a veteran superior. This allows them to roll 3 dice instead of 2 and throw one out when making tests for Faith--that means they're good at making their tests happen, and can sometimes pull off tricky Acts of Faith that normally would have been too hard to attempt (such as a large squad gaining invulnerable saves).

Saint Celestine

Another note to mention is Saint Celestine. Many pure sisters armies will be taking this HQ. She's horribly powerful and keeps coming back. However, you have something that can snuff her out. Plasma is your best friend against St. Celestine. The reason why, is because she may be uber powerful and all, and come back often, but you can instantly-kill her with a single plasma shot. Rapid fire her and she's bound to fail at least one. One failed save against plasma and she will be gone.
Missile pods also put her to sleep if she ever fails a single save. But one thing to remember, is that she's an independent character... she can also pass a leadership test and use an act of faith which will give her a 2+ inv save. Again, just punish her with S6+ weapons and she's bound to fail once... once she fails, she's out, but can come back. She will plague you. The best advice against her is to focus on the rest of his army first. Take her down if you can, because she is worth a lot of points if you keep her out of the game. But best of all, if you kill her, he will lose 1d6 faith points (and if he hits 0 faith points, he cannot get any back no matter what).
His army slows to a crawl without these points. She can hit & run, so if she joins a squad of seraphim, you will have some problems. Another point to remember is that her blessed weapon also counts as a flamer. So she can flame you and then strike you down with master crafted S5 power weapon attacks. She's better to have singled out in the shooting phase because once in combat, she will keep you there until she's finished with you. Another point to remember is that she is unique that she can move like your crisis suits do, with an extra move in the assault phase. She can even do this after deep striking, so pay close attention to her as she can land badly, but fix herself by moving out of sight or to a better position to place to make her next move from (she moves faster than suits).

Retributors, with Heavy Bolters

They are problems, but they're the lesser evil of the three so far. You can hit them from afar and they generally are not huge squads. Rate of fire is the best option against them because he will probably protect them should you whittle them down to 5 members or so (3+ inv is common on the smaller squads).



Summary

Rate of Fire

Where possible, use more shots instead of more powerful shots, because all your weapons wound on 2s. That means you can cause a horrible amount of rolls, and he will fail enough of them to bust his ranks.

Focus your fire

Don't spread your shots into several squads. Focus into a single squad until it is destroyed. Then move on to the next. If you have to split up, try and divide only on two targets, such as your hammerhead destroying retributors and tanks... while your fire warriors and suits focus on the front line of the girls. Don't bother trying to shoot past his front lines, unless it's his seraphim.

Keep your distance

If you think you have them beat and you can swoop in closer for the final punch, don't do it. This is where he will stop you with an act of faith and turn the tables really quickly.



Acts of Faith

Here's some good information to know, so to better predict what his units will be capable of:
The gamer has a couple of acts which you will no doubt see, and three of them will be the most useful. You will probably never see two of his acts though as they're combat acts and initiative acts, both of which he already beats you with.
You will see Divine Guidance, which causes his weapons to have the chance to wound with AP1 (this also works in combat). He will need large squads to pull this off (girls numbering 8+ unless he has an imagrifier.). Imagrifiers will help him pass these tests, so if you see a strange icon in their squad, you know he has one (but he can only use one once per turn. Watch him!)
The other main power you will see is Spirit of the Martyr, which grants him an invulnerable save equal to his armor save--that means 3+ inv saves on normal girls, and some 2+ inv saves on his HQ characters. This only happens on smaller squads and independent characters (about squad sizes of 6 or less usually).
The only other power you will find happening, is Light of the Emperor. This power only works on smaller squads and it grants them fearlessness (which is very helpful for girls as it causes them to auto-rally and all that). So be careful if you pin down a small unit, they may come back to life on you and spray you with flames for it.
So watch the big squads who can pump out divine guidance, allowing AP1 attacks, and watch small squads for invulnerable saves and fearlessness.
Keep your distance and don't under-estimate the smallest squads--they can turn into a nightmare with an act of faith.



I hope this aids in your efforts against the Witch Hunters for the Greater Good!




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