Tau Tactica: Empire Cheat Sheet

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Tau Empires 'Cheat Sheet' - everything you need to know to further the Greater Good!


Shas'o or Shas'el

Seeing as these guys are mandatory, I thought I start off with them. In the old Codex, Shas'o was always my first choice. 25 points for all those shiny upgrades? No problems...In the new Codex, however, with the release of the Targeting Array, 15 points for those other upgrades (minus the price of the Targeting Array) isn't quite as fancy. As long as you keep your HQ out of imminent danger, there really isn't any difference between the two.
Personally, however, I still go for the Shas'o, because, even though the Targeting Array is wonderful, it takes up a hard-point, which CAN be used for more strategic options. Plus, you never know when you're going to be cornered by some pesky Guants, or some stray Bolters.

Ethereal: Is it still worth it?

During the reign of the old Codex, Ethereals were a very viable choice. Not because they were particularly powerful units (on the contrary, they were quite mushy), but because of, firstly, their passive morale boosters, and secondly, because of the fact that they were the cheapest HQ option available.
Now, however, with the mandatory Shas'o/el, the Ethereal presence is being felt less and less on gaming tables. Yes, they look fancy, and, with an Honour Blade, they are mediocre close combat units (don't, by any means intentionally get him into close combat!), but that HQ spot can be better used on another suit!
Still, the humble Ethereal has its uses. Perhaps the most obvious choice is the veteran Fire Warriors. With the increased Ballistic Skill, 12 shots will (according to Mathhammer) kill 3.5 MEQ's, as appose to the 2.6 of the normal Ballistic Skill Fire Warriors.
Another use is the fact that it makes any unit it joins fearless. Very useful for a Broadside team...


So many weapons ...what do I choose? And we come to:

The Battlesuits.

This is possibly the longest segment in my Cheat Sheet, so get comfy!
First I'll tell you about all the weapons, then I'll tell you what they are good against and then I'll give you some useful combinations.
Plasma Rifle: Ah, the trusty Plasma Rifle. So common on our suits due to the massive number of MEQs (Marine Equivalent) we see around. Unfortunately, too often I've seen this weapon used wrong. Rule one of Plasma Rifle, only put it on a suit with some kind of shooting enhancement, preferably your Shas'o. Never put them on your basic suits unless you twin-link them. This is because you only get one, maybe two shots with it, and they are very important shots. You can't afford to miss!
  • Effective against: Heavy Infantry, Commanders, very Light Armour if there no heavies
  • Ineffective against: Light Infantry, Heavy Armour
  • Works well with: Fusion Blasters, Twin Linked Plasma Rifles, Cyclonic Ion Blasters
Fusion Blaster: How I love a good Fusion Blaster. Somewhat moreaggressive than the average weapon in the Tau arsenal, Fusion Blasters can effectively counter almost everything in a Space Marine army (I'm not saying load up on them, because you have to get in range first, plus there are more effective options).
Like the Plasma Rifle, the Fusion Blaster needs to be insured as possible that it will hit (preferably twin-linked Shas'uiwith Targeting Array), but unlike the Plasma Rifle, I do not recommend to put them on expensive suits as much as I do Plasma Rifles (that being said, the Fusion Plasma Multi Shas'o is my favourite configuration). The reason for this is because Fusion Blasters are perhaps one of the most aggressive weapons in the Tau Armory, and due to this fact, twin Fusion suits do not often survive the whole game.
  • Effective Against: Heavy Armour, Light Armour, Commanders, Heavy Infantry
  • Ineffective Against: Light Infantry
  • Works well with: Plasma Rifle, Cyclonic Ion Blaster, Twin Linked Fusion Blaster
 Missile Pods:Perhaps one of the most popular choices on a battlesuit, Missile Pods are the gun you take when you have no idea what you're fighting. With great strength, long range and moderate punching power, these things are almost always going to further the Greater Good.
Especially useful for defending static elements of an army, as they can easily take down the bane of any static Tau element: transports. A twin linked Missile Pod, with a Targeting Array, can almost always at least temporarily stop a transport.
Unfortunately, do to their extreme range, any weapons you use alongside a Missile Pod either don't get used as much, because they're out of range, or the Missile Pod's maximum range can not be fully manipulated to your benefit.
  • Effective Against: Light to Medium Armour, Light to Medium Infantry
  • Ineffective Against: Heavy Infantry
  • Works well with: Twin Linked Missile Pods, occasionly Burst Cannons, due to high shots
Cyclonic Ion Blaster:This is definitely a weird weapon. It is designed to kill heavies, but can't kill them. Wha...?
This weapon is a gambler's weapon, if you will. Get lucky, and you could effectively screw up your opponents entire army. Get unlucky, and you're fighting Terminators and Marines with, effectively, a Lasgun.
That being said, it has an insane amount of shots, and a mediocre punching power. It could make a half effective anti-swarm weapon; although I personally think there are better weapons out there.
  • Effective Against: Low Toughneses, high Armour Save units
  • Ineffective Against: High Toughness, low Armour Save Units
  • Works well with: Plasma Rifle, possibly Fusion Blaster
Airbursting Fragmentation Launcher:Another weird weapon that was released with Tau Empires, this weapon is not one I'd put on any good suits...because it does not work using Ballistic Skill!
Seeing as it's an anti infantry weapon, these will obviously work well against swarm armies. Also, this weapon is surprisingly good in city fight, due to the fact they don't require Line of Sight (LOS).
  • Effective Against: Light to Medium Infantry, City Fights
  • Ineffective Against: Everything else
  • Works well with: Burst Cannon
Burst Cannon:Possibly my favourite battlesuit weapon, these things are great at tackling infantry, cost less than a Fire Warrior and look cool to boot!
The main drawbacks with these are that, although they have moderate strength, and good shots, their relatively weak punching power limits what they can do. Burst Cannons can also be found on Stealth Suits, so try them out if you love Burst Cannons as much as I do.
  • Effective Against: Light infantry
  • Ineffective Against: Heavy Infantry, Medium to Heavy Armour
  • Works well with: Airbursting Fragmentation Launcher, possibly Missile Pod
 Flamer:The Flamer is definitely an odd weapon to see on a Tau Battlesuit. It is, without doubt the most aggressive weapon in the Tau arsenal, forcing you to go into Assault range, even with a Jetpack move, in order to be used effectively.
That being said, Flamers are effective in city fights, or against mushy opponents. For example, if a twin-linked Flamer managed to get 6 GEQs (Guard Equivalent) under it, mathhammer says that that is 8 dead GEQs. Fairly effective if you ask me (remember the next turn, unless they are isolated, that suit is in some serious trouble).
  • Effective Against: Light Infantry, Terrain Huggers, bunched-up units
  • Ineffective Against: Armour, Heavy Infantry
  • Works well with: Twin Linked Flamers, Burst Cannons
Now that we have covered the weapons, let us move onto the support options and Wargear.
Shield Generator: Personally, I think that this option is too expensive to be useful on all but a few suits. For example, a Shield Generator on a tank hunting Deep Striker would make perfect sense (I'd still prefer Shield Drones). As long as you can hug some cover, and keep out of your opponents anti-tank weapons, leave this piece of equipment at home.
Multi Tracker: This is almost certainly the most important choice on all battlesuits...because who only wants to fire a single weapon? This is a must on ALL suits, except for ones with only twin-linked weapons.
Targeting Array: I like this one. The stats they give you are very nice. Unfortunately, the Multi Tracker is more important, so unless you can use a hard-wired Multi Tracker, or your weapons are twin-linked, leave this upgrade in you bits box (wait, they don't give you a model for it, do they?) .
Target Lock:I seriously dislike this option. It goes against the Tau philosophy of shoot everything you have at something until it is dead, rather than splitting up one's fire. The hard-point  spot can be better used.
Command and Control Node:At first, I liked the look at this thing. It gave the moderately fragile Tau boost their Leadership. However, this option loses a lot of its shine once you realize that the leadership boosters only apply to target priority. It gets even less shiny when, naturally, the Tau will usually shoot whatever is closest to them!
If you want Leadership boosters, bring an Ethereal.
Vectored Rectro Thrusters: This item can tend to be a life saver in some situations. Usually, when our suits are in close combat, they're as good as dead. This item, however, considerably increases their chances of surviving. The thing is, these suits should never be in close combat, and therefore this item should never have to be used!
Stimulant Injectors:Now here is a piece of handy gear! I'd suggest always taking this on my Shas'o, because, being a Helios, he takes a lot of fire, and this little legend makes a suit almost impervious to light fire. In fact, it takes about 40 Lasgun shots before a suit takes a single wound!
Drone Controller:Taking a Drone, although it can be useful, is quite expensive, and takes away IC status on the Commander. That being said, it does add an extra wound and an extra shot to your unit. Gun drones are useful alongside Stealth teams, shield drones can be useful when attached to Broadsides, and Marker Drones give you an extra Markerlight when attached to Pathfinders. Drones, in my opinion, are a thing of personally preference.
Iridium Armour: I love this piece of wargear. It makes your suits able to survive a missile launcher (!), and it makes it virtually immune to light fire (72 Lasgun shot will get one wound if it also has Stimulant Injectors, according to mathhammer). Unfortunately, it does slow the suit down, so I wouldn't suggest giving this item to a suit with short range weapons, like a Plasma Fusion Helios, due to the fact that when at close range, you can't afford to get an unlucky roll and be caught by those pesky marines.
Blacksun Filter:When in a night fight, this handy little item can mean the difference between a crushing defeat, and a crushing victory. It almost guarantees that your units will hit in a night fight. However, due to the rarity of night fight, I would not have this as a standard; although by all means bring it along if you are in a night fight.  
Positional Relay:This item is a useful, but not a must have for suit heavy armies. It greatly increases the chance your suits will arrive on the second and third turn. After that, however, it is useless and is just taking up one hard-point. Only use if you bring a lot of suits, and you want them to arrive early.
Failsafe Detonator: This is certainly a weird item. Virtually a suicide weapon, it is only effective in close combat, and therefore almost prompts the user into entering close combat (which is NO NO with Tau). Then again, this item may dissuade the attacker to assault your suit, especially if he plays low armour save armies (a Slugga boy has a 0.3/1 chance of surviving a detonation by the Failsafe, although a Space Marine has a 0.73/1 chance of surviving). I do tend to find them useful as a harassment style item, dropping in a Burst Missile Firestorm variant suit, then blowing up 15 Orks (J). Oh how I love mushy Orks...
Bonding Knife:I love a Bonding Knife. It prevents units from running of the table, and therefore adds more shots and wounds into your army. Definitely think about bringing this, especially in the larger Fire Warrior Teams. I know it's saved my little blue behind more than once.
Advanced Stabilisation System:This should be easily any Taus first choice on a Broadside battlesuit for multiple reasons, the most foremost one being that you don't have to leave your Broadside out of cover so he can shoot next turn. This way, you can deploy your Broadsides behind cover, granting them far better protection than when we were forced to leave them out of cover and risk being blown to bits in the first turn. Another reason is that now your suits LOS is greatly increased, as they are not refined to sitting still and waiting for a target to pop up. They are no longer 'deployed heavy guns' in a sense.
Ejection System:This item is infinitely useful when playing VP. It effectively halves the amount of VP your enemy receives when killing this Commander, and that is a lot in small battles. Due to the 'one only' rule, in larger battles those few points become less useful. I'd suggest taking it in smaller battles, on your commander.
Phew...I'm glad that is over. Now it's my turn to give you some useful suit variants, and what they can and can't do.
Fireknife: Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi Tracker
 The Fireknife is possibly the most widely used battlesuit ever to hit the production lines. And I hate it. The Plasma Rifle and the Missile Pod just do not work, The Plasma Rifle hunts Heavy Infantry, the Missile Pod hunts light vehicles. The Plasma Rifles effective range is 12", the Missile Pods effective range is 36". If you try and hunt Terminators with a Missile Pod, you will be in serious trouble. And the same will happen to you if you hunt Dreadnoughts with a Plasma Rifle. They just don't work.
Deathrain: Twin Linked Missile Pods, Targetting Array (optional)
 This is another highly popular choice. However, I like this option. Like it a lot. I always bring a few of these along, especially if I don't know what I'm fighting. They are highly effective at safely taking out transports, Light and Medium Vehicles, and Light to Medium Infantry. Beautifully cheap and effective against everything but the heaviest your foes have to offer.
Helios: Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster, Multi Tracker
 This is easily my favourite suit on the market. Equipped with a Plasma Fusion Combo, this baby is the bane of Terminators, Obliterators, Force Commanders and all those other big shots. No heavies to shoot (GASP). Never fear, your Fusion Blaster will make light work of any nearby vehicles as well (although aim for heavies if you have a choice). The only problem with this monster is his low shot count, and that means that this suit type I best left to Commanders, who have a higher chance of hitting.
Sunforge: Twin Linked Fusion Blasters, Targetting Array (optional)
 This suit is for all you people who love a game that involves luck as much as skill. With it's (usually) one shot wonder attack, this suit can either make or break a game. For example, I had one game where there was a Predator, Lascannoning everything that got into range. Then, my Sunforge arrived, blew it to smithereens, and I had a relatively easy time mopping up the remaining marines. Another time, I landed in a perfect position, directly behind a Leman Russ. I take my shots and MISS. My suit is taken out next turn, and I am in big trouble, as my primary anti-tank unit was gone in a turn, without doing anything.
   A Sunforge is a nice, cheap and relatively easy to use way of getting some anti-tank, but don't expect your Sunforge to survive every game.
Firestorm: Missile Pod, Burst Cannon, Multi Tracker
 This suit is so much fun to use, popping off 5 shots a turn at 18". It is also cheap, and can be used on a low ranking suit (with 5 shots you're going to hit something!). Severely underestimated, this suit can do some serious hurt to an unsuspecting horde style army. My personally preference is a Shas'vre with Targetting Array and Hard Wired Multi Tracker, plus a Failsafe Detonator. This guy is fantastic against Orks (my brothers army) as it will kill about 2 Orks through shooting each turn, and if he blows up in their faces, will kill over 70% of the Orks that attacked him. For the Greater Good!
Another way of configuring this type is on a Shas'o, with Simulant Injectors and Iridium Armour. That means he can be killing 3.5 MEQs per turn, and neading about 72 Lasgun shots to shoot at him before he takes a single wound, according to mathhammer
I realize that there are many, many more variants of suits, but I plan to finish this whilst we are still in 4th Edition. If, however, you want me to analyze a suit, or your whole army, infact, PM or MSN (mingo_jingo (at) hotmail.com) me and I'll me happy to help! Just remember when designing a suit, they are supposed to take out one enemy class, and do it really efficiently, not take on the whole army half heartedly!

Stealthsuits: The James Bond of 40k

Stealthsuits are, for the enemy, plain annoying. They don't do enough damage to divert much attention on them, but they do enough damage to force your opponent into doing something about it. First rule to Stealthsuits; NO FUSION BLASTERS. Fusion Blasters and Burst Cannons do not go well together.
The main question that poses a Tau player when he is choosing anti Infantry units is: Stealth Suits or Fire Warriors? Let's work this out...
For 120 points, we can get 12 Fire Warriors (with Pulse Rifles, for the sake of simplicity), or 4 Stealth suits. The Fire Warriors can get up to 12 shots at 30", but this requires them to stay still. If they move, however, they get up to 24 shots, but only at 12". The Stealth Suits always get 12 shots at 18", no matter how close, or whether they moved or not.
At the moment, the Fire Warriors are winning. But we're not done yet. The Stealth suits, although less in number, are more durable. They can get into cover and out of harms way easier than a large squad of Fire Warriors. They have Stealth Field Generators, which make them virtually immune to shots >24" away.  They have a better Armour Save. And they also have Jump Shoot Jump. Have the old Stealthies won you back yet?
The Fire Warriors, however, have the option of a Devilfish, grenades and the battlesuit Armory (if you have a team leader or Shas'ui). The Stealthsuits can get hard-point options, and armory items (again, if they have team leader or Shas'vre).
The scores look fairly even at the moment, so let's see if Mathhammer can split them up. The Stealthsuits efficiency of hitting is 20 points per shot. Hypothetically, that is how much points you are paying per hit. The Fire Warriors are them same. Defensively, it takes 12 Lasgun equivalent shots before a Stealthsuit takes a wound. It takes 8 Lasgun equivalent shots to take down a Fire Warrior. That means that Fire Warriors are, for their cost value, considerably more survivable. However, Mathhammer can't incorporate the effectiveness of the Stealth Field Generator, and this disables the majority of your opponent's army from shooting at you, if you're smart.
The choice between Stealthsuits or Fire Warriors therefore comes down totally to personal preference. I prefer Stealth suits, because they are faster and more durable against 'stray shots'. Fire Warriors, however, are also effective, so always try and aim for a healthy balance between the two.


Fire Warriors:NEVER leave home without them

Fire Warriors are the mainstay of the Tau army. Ever present on the frontline of Tau warfare, it comes as no surprise that they are mandatory.
The Fire Warrior, equipped with the most powerful basic gun in the 40k universe, is surprisingly hard to use. Relatively limited when left immobile, Fire Warriors cannot be played the same way Space Marines are. You cannot simply sit these guys on an objective and watch them shrug off fire, as they die considerably more easily than Space Marines do. The best (and most expensive) way to utilize the Fire Warriors is by putting them in a Devilfish. By doing this you not only allow them to quickly close in with the foe, unload, and Rapid Fire Pulse Rifle shots into your enemies face, but it also protects your Fire Warriors in an AV 12 APC,Definition: Armoured Personal Carrier making them almost immune to light fire and blast templates whilst inside.
Perhaps the most widely used tactic for Fire Warriors is the FoF,Definition: Fish of Fury or Fish of Fury. Although I didn't invent it, I think I should share this tactic to the rest of you unknowing Shas out there. The FoF Definition: Fish of Furybasically uses the massive size of the Tau Devilfish to us Tau's advantage. The FoF Definition: Fish of Furyis executed when 1 (or preferably 2) Devilfish unload their Fire Warriors at exactly 12" away from the enemy, Rapid Fire their faces in, and have the Devilfish block the way of any units trying to assault the mushy Fire Warriors. Although this tactic is by no means foolproof, it does grant some level of protection to the Fire Warriors. And if the enemy simply tries to fire back with whatever they have left stand, they have to take morale checks to see if they don't waste their shots on the Fishies instead. When using the double FoF Definition: Fish of Furywith two full squads of Fire Warriors, you can kill (according to Mathhammer) up to 6 MEQ's and about 20 GEQ's! This effectiveness is only increased as the Fire Warriors accuracy is increased with Markerlights!
Photon Grenades:I personally don't like using these. They are fairly cheap, and on paper look good, but there are two main reasons why these are mostly ineffective. First of all, your Fire Warriors should never be in close combat, especially if they are in a Devilfish. Second of all, if your Fire Warriors are engaged in close combat, grenades or no grenades, they are as good as dead.
EMP Grenades:Again, I wouldn't suggest putting these on Fire Warriors. Fire Warriors are the Tau's basic ranged troops against infantry...and why we would want to give them anti vehicle close combat weapons is way beyond me.
Bonding Knife:Unlike like the former other two options, it can be useful bringing one of these, especially in larger squads. The main question is “is it worth the 5 (or however many) Fire Warriors I am saving?" You yourself have to decide whether you are willing to pay the price of a Bonding Knife to potentially save under half a squad of Fire Warriors.

Kroot: The man-eating, gun/blade wielding Big Bird of 40k

Kroot are a lot like the Tau army itself. They are amazing when used properly, but unfortunately are almost never used like they should. First and foremost, NEVER use Kroot in assault unless you are sure you are going to win, or your against Orks. This is because firstly Kroot have a terrible initiative level to be a proper assault unit. Secondly, they just don't have the staying power to be effective. Let me prove this to you in mathhammer.
Let's say that 15 Kroot assault 10 Space Marines (I realise that these squad sizes are not even in points value, but are typical squad sizes for each respective unit). The Space Marines, with a higher initiative, go first. 5 hits, 3.3 wounds, 3.3 deaths, 23.1 points worth of stuff is dead. Then the Kroot retaliate, with 17.55 hits, 8.775 wounds, 2.9 kills, 43.5 points worth of stuff dead. Not bad? The Kroot are only on the charge for one turn, though. Let's see the next round. Space Marines with the higher Initiative go first. 3.55 hits, 2.36 wounds and 1.86 deaths, 13.02 points of stuff gone. The Kroot then retaliate with 9.84 hits, 4.92 wounds and 1.64 kills 24.6 points worth of stuff is killed. Judging by this use of Mathhammer, Kroot are able to hold their own in combat, although they're not exactly good at close combat. The Kroot, had the battle continued, would have achieved a minor victory, but a victory none-the-less. However, had they been fighting any dedicated assault units, such as Assault Marines, rather that a relatively dedicated shooting unit, Tactical Marines, they would most likely be beaten down with relative ease.
These drawbacks, however, can be countered. The first thing we must do in order to maximize our Kroot's effectiveness is use them as shooting units, not assaulty units. This, however, doesn't mean that you use them like you'd use Space Marines! Just because they're shooting and not assaulting doesn't mean they are any tougher. The thing you must ALWAYS remember to do is keep them in cover, preferably a forest. This considerably increases their armour save, and effectively makes them bolter wielding Fire Warriors.
Now that we have our Kroot in a forest, we can begin to use them effectively. Kroot would preferably be 7" or more into woods, as this increases their combat ability tremendously. Whilst they are in the forest, any shots that manage to hit and wound only have a 33% chance of killing the Kroot, thanks to their improved cover saves. Some shots, however can't even be shot at the Kroot!
When in the forest, Kroot aren't particularly better at killing enemies. They are just rock solid, and extremely annoying to kill. So hard to kill, infact, that it usually requires a unit to go after them and root them out. This means that there is one less unit attacking your main Tau force, which is definitely good. It also means that the Kroot will be able to kill of some of the enemy from a range, depending on how close they are. However, when the enemy are in close range, and you have a choice of charging them or Rapid Firing, always Rapid Fire. This is because firstly, you get an extra attack if you Rapid fire, as by Rapid Firing you get your 2 ranged attacks and 2 close combat attacks in retaliation round, rather than 3 close combat attacks, and secondly because, unless they have the appropriate grenades, you will go first in close combat.
To sum the Kroot up, use them more as an annoyance unit, rather than a 'vanguard' unit.
Krootox: You get a tank with a high powered laser weapon, I get a monkey with a gun!
In the old Codex, Krootox were HORRIBLE. Way overpriced, and they also took up a valuable heavy spot. Now, however, they are cheaper, and are an 'upgrade' for your Kroot. On top of that, they are strong enough to instant kill most regular models, and have a rapid-fire version of an Autocannon on their backs. That being said, I wouldn't suggest taking them.
For their price, you could almost afford a far more maneuverable, tougher and accurate Deathrain XV8 variant.
Krootox can, however, be a valuable addition to a static force, where the nature of their gun is no longer a drawback. Adding a Krootox also considerable increases the hitting power of a Kroot squad, and adds a few valuable wounds.
Kroot Hounds: And you thought Kroot were nasty...
 Now here is something I like, unlike the poor old Krootox (they ARE great paper weights, though!). The Kroot hounds are relatively cheap, great initiative and a very attractive amount of strength and weapon skill.
As pointed out above, one of the Kroot's two main drawbacks in being an effective close combat unit is their low initiative (the other being their inability to take a hit).  The Kroot Hounds really help out fixing the initiative problem, having a higher initiative than even a Space Marine, and therefore being able to attack the units that have a higher initiative than the Kroot.
The problem with bringing Hounds with Kroot is, due to the fact that Hounds are solely close combat units, they may encourage the player to send the Kroot into close combat, which is, more often than not, a fairly bad idea. But if you're looking to bolster your close combat ability, or to deter your opponents from assaulting you, you may want to think about bringing them.

Heavy Support


They bite hard, they don't die, and they look sexy to boot!
 The Hammerhead is arguably one of the best tanks in the game of 40k. They do PLENTY of damage, they are annoying as all shitake mushrooms to kill and they are fast! I always use at least one in battles of more than 750 points, and they always seem to do me justice. Anyway, let's get into the more technical side of a Hammerhead.
As with the Battlesuits, the abilities of a Hammerhead vary immensely depending on what weapons and wargear you give them, so I am going to analyze them individually.
Main Weapons:
Railgun: The Railgun is probably the most versatile gun in the game, able to take out both a Monolith and entire squads of light to medium infantry in a single shot, with relative ease. This power and versatility does come at a price however, and makes the Hammerhead Railgun the single most expensive weapon in the Tau armoury.
Although the Hammerhead Railgun does have the ability to quite easily take down any armoured vehicles it encounters, this job is probably better left to the Broadsides, as they are a cheaper, more accurate source of Railguns. Still, if your Broadsides can't take the shot, or if the shot is too good to pass on, the Hammerhead Railgun still does an exceptional job at breaking vehicles. However, due to the single shot nature of the Railgun, the lighter the armour becomes, the less effective the Railgun becomes, when compared to Missile Pods and Ion Cannons.
Against AV 14: Railgun has a 33.5 % chance of penetrating.
 Against AV 13: Railgun has a 44.89 % chance of penetrating.
 Against AV 12: Railgun has a 56.26 % chance of penetrating.
 Against AV 11: Railgun has a 66 % chance of penetrating.
 Against AV 10: Railgun has a 66 % chance of penetrating.
So, as you can see, whilst the Railgun is effective at destroying vehicles, it is not the best option, due simply to the fact that it is a single shot weapon.
The Hammerhead Railgun, whilst being very effective at taking down enemy armour, is possibly even more effective at taking down light and medium infantry. Let me prove this to you using the ever-reliable mathhammer.
Due to the fact that the amount of hits the pie-plate gets is determined by how close the enemy figures are together, I will simply work out the chances of killing an individual, and you can apply this rule to each individual hit.
Against a model that has an armour save of 4+ or worse, and a toughness of 4 or lower, there is a 84 % chance of killing the model. So, if you score a hit on the enemy, expect to kill 80 % of whatever is underneath the pie plate, unless they have a higher toughness or armour save.
As demonstrated above, the pie plate is an extremely effective weapon, both at killing armour and infantry. So effective, that I have managed to kill a Land Raider in a single shot, and three Guard squads in a single shot (completely smushed one, broke the other two and they did a runner). How many other guns can do that?
Ion Cannon: For obvious reasons, the Ion Cannon is not as popular as the Railgun. The Ion Cannon can however be an effective choice, especially when faced with plenty of 3+ saves, or light vehicles.
When facing light vehicles, the Ion Cannon is probably the most effective weapon in the Tau arsenal, having a great rate of fire, and a good strength. As usual, I will show this to you using mathhammer.
Against AV 10: Ion Cannon has a 45 % chance of glancing or better per shot.
 Against AV 11: Ion Cannon has a 34 % chance of glancing or better per shot.
 Against AV 12: Ion Cannon has a 23 % chance of glancing or better per shot.
 Against AV 13: Ion Cannon has a 10 % chance of glancing or better per shot.
Although these stats do not look very effective at first glance, remember that I have worked out the effectiveness per shot. That means in reality the Ion Cannon is three times as effective as it looks here.
As stated above, the Ion Cannon is very effective when fighting MEQs aswell. Perhaps the most effective weapon in the Tau arsenal against MEQs, as it combines a very high rate of fire, high strength and good punching power into one gun. Against MEQs, it has 56 % chance of killing a MEQ,Definition: Marine Equivalent per shot. Again, this calculation is per shot, so the actual effectiveness is three times greater than what is seen here.
So, if you are low on points, Rail Rifles or Missile Pods, bring an Ion Cannon, the most effective MEQ Definition: Marine Equivalentkiller in the Tau armory, and a damn good light vehicle killer to boot!
Secondary Weapons:
Smart Missile System: The Smart Missile System is a tactically safer weapon that the Burst Cannon and Gun Drones, for a few reasons, even if it does not get as many shots as the Burst Cannon, or the pinning capabilities of the Gun Drones. The extra 6" range that it has over the other two options is an enormous benefit, even if it doesn't seem to important at first glance. When analyzed properly, however, that extra 6" goes a long way. First of all, it puts your Hammerhead out of range of any Fusion Guns or Melta Guns the enemy might be carrying (initial movement plus range of gun = range of Gun Drones and Burst Cannon). Secondly, it also takes your Hammerhead out of the range of any Assault Marines that might have power fists, or Melta Bombs. The second main and more obvious reason why the Smart Missile System is tactically safer to use than the other two options is because you don't need LOS (line of sight) to fire your weapons. While this may not seem very important at first, due to the fact that the main guns of a Hammerhead to require LOS, it can become very annoying for any opponents during a later stage of a game. This is because, if your Hammerhead suffers a 'Weapon Destroyed' roll, your opponent will almost definitely opt to destroy your main weapon. Once the main weapon is down, your Hammerhead can run for the closest piece of cover, hide behind it and take out the mushiest targets your missiles can find! Not exactly devastating for an opponent, it will annoy the living Emperor of him, because he has to choose to either lose a few mushy comrades per turn, or detach a part of his force to take out 4 annoying shots per turn. The good part about this is that the Hammerhead is usually faster than whatever is chasing it anyway.
Burst Cannon:
 The Tau Burst Cannon, while having more shots than the Smart Missile System, does lack range. However, this is not always a problem, because it is not always dangerous to get close to an army, for example Orks. While it is probably suicide for any infantry in the Tau army to go anywhere near an Ork (except perhaps Kroot) Hammerheads are virtually untouchable, as long as any Orky light vehicles and Tankbustsas are taken care of. Once this happens, it will be relatively safe to close into 18" and open up with your Burst Cannons, tearing up any light infantry.
Although the Burst Cannon does have a shorter range, it is half the price of the Smart Missile System, it has more shots and it allows one extra 'Weapon Destroyed' roll.
Gun Drones:
 I have never, and probably never will take these things. They have a short range, very low number of shots, and a tiny chance of pinning the enemy. There is not much to say about these things, except that onemight consider taking them against Tyranids, where it is just as important to slow them down, as it is to kill them, as the Drones can detach and fore the bugs to kill them, rather than advancing.
Support Systems:
Unlike most other tanks, the support systems on a Hammerhead are almost as important as its main guns, being able to either make or break it.


1. Gun Drones

Adding Gun Drones to a Fire Warrior squad is a sound plan, as they do not count in moral checks, you can delegate wounds to them, and they add in a few extra shots. They also bring a Fire Warrior Team's I2 up to I4, which is a little help in assults. The Drone is one of the finest infantry support the Fio'las have put out yet.  

Posted by Yelman, 9th August 2010 at 01:05am [Report to Mod]

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