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Old 21 Apr 2015, 03:25   #2 (permalink)
wilderun
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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As much as some of us would hope to have special weapons integrated into our Fire Warrior squads to add a little extra versatility, it's just never going to happen. It would be a complete violation of established Fire Caste doctrine. Which is somewhat unfortunate, since Pathfinders are an extremely poor platform for special weapons. They are too fragile to survive long on the front line, and in doing so their primary focus of providing markerlights is wasted.

Honestly though, Fire Warriors really don't need special weapons. The pulse rifle/carbine is an extremely effective tool for almost any combat role. The relatively high strength (for a standard issue weapon) with AP5 and high volume of firepower our squads are able to dish out will crush massed infantry, since essentially any large blob of troops (with some exceptions) will have 5+ armor or worse. Even heavy infantry (Marines and Terminators) will fall under the deluge of forced saves. These same points allow Fire Warriors to also threaten Monstrous Creatures and light vehicles. Equipping squads with EMP grenades will enable them to offer some menace to heavier vehicles, though this utility is extremely situational and should not be relied upon to replace our usual anti-armor capabilities, it is really more of a stop gap measure and a general deterrent against rushing the line with armor.
Additionally, Fire Warriors don't need to worry about special weapons since they can rely on our battlesuits for specialist support. In my opinion, the Crisis suit is the most versatile elites option in the entire game. They excel at tackling any foe if equipped properly. Fire Caste doctrine emphasizes the mutual support of all elements of a Hunter Cadre, in game terms depriving our troops of special weapons forces us to do just that.

In terms of what the rail rifle has to offer in combat, such a role is more suited to Crisis suits wielding plasma rifles. The AP1 on the rail rifle is fairly negligible considering that the reliability of one-shotting vehicles has decreased with 7th ed. Even so, massed firepower to glance out vehicles has always been the more effective option. Against light vehicles, the obvious answer is our abundance of strength 5 weaponry. Dual plasma rifles on Crisis suits also provide high strength weight of fire and the added benefit of a possible explodes! result, not to mention being carried on a more sturdy platform. Against heavier targets missile pods, fusion blasters and our other heavy hitting weapons will all outperform rail rifles, either brought to bear at close range by a unit capable of taking its licks (which is the range at which pathfinders would be forced to play if they want to be effective) or by units that can reach out from halfway across the table or farther. At best a Pathfinder squad operating at close range to the enemy would have one turn of good shooting before falling either to counterfire or assault, and would likely have to either outflank or bum rush the enemy in a Devilfish in order to reach a position to provide said effective shooting.

Overall I just don't see rail rifles as an effective option for Pathfinders, especially since it more than doubles their model cost. In order for the firepower to tell, you'll at least need to land 1 if not 2 markerlight tokens on the target. If you want the unit to remain effective for more than one turn, the squad will need to be maxed out (which is an expensive way of achieving such a goal) and also supported by units that your opponent will be forced to find either more dangerous or more worthwhile as targets for his vengeance. It's a lot of points, as well as a potentially large portion of your army, to risk on one play. That isn't to say that I don't support the idea of trying out new tactics, I'm all for it! I've toyed with the notion of loading up a full squad in a Devilfish, equipped with their recon drone and the pulse accelerator drone to provide a 24" killzone for an outflanking Fish of Fury attack. 20 strength 5 shots at 24" inches would be pretty nasty. Add in Darkstrider to lower the target's toughness value for greater effectiveness and deepstrike reserved battlesuits in a safe cluster around the devilfish to provide your opponent with the conundrum of what to focus his battered forces on next turn. I'm a big fan of mechanized infantry supported by outflanking Kroot and Stealth teams, so that idea fits into my current playstyle.

If you want to try out an alternate source of anti armor or horde control, you could deploy 2-3 small units of Pathfinders carrying Ion rifles. It's a good bit cheaper than the rail rifle, and three strength 8 blasts is nothing to sneeze at. Watch out for Gets Hot! though, as any rolls of 1 will likely lead to a dead Pathfinder. Even Fire Warrior armor wouldn't be dependable protection.

In regards to your suggestion of a "veteran" firewarrior unit, the ability to complement our army's firepower with markerlight support negates the need for a veteran level of ballistic skill. Going with what you proposed though, a unit with BS 4 and perhaps Ld 8 would be reasonable, a unit at BS 5 and Ld 9 would not. There is to my knowledge not a single elites or other "command support" squad that carries a similar statline. If you've ever read the old Tau Codex, you'd probably have noticed that our ability to equip our battlesuits and tanks with targeting arrays (which boosted BS by 1) were sadly removed. They were a fun option, especially since it only cost 5 points per model!
It's really interesting to go back and see all the neat options our codex had that got scrapped. I started collecting Tau before the 6th edition update, but I didn't actually learn the game or codex until afterward, so it was all new to me when I reacquired the old codex (I had traded it in for the most recent book).


Welcome to the forum, by the way! You'll unfortunately notice that it's not particularly busy here, the site's heyday was quite long ago and it's been a ghost town for the past few years. I haven't been on myself in many months, I usually make a quick browsing of Advanced Tau Tactica when I get the urge to think Tau thoughts. Rarely post there though, the "elevated" atmosphere is not particularly conducive of casual discussion without Substance! and Informed Opinion! in my opinion at least... but I digress.
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