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Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?
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Old 13 Nov 2005, 22:46   #1 (permalink)
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Default Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

Hi all,

I'm fiddling with my mech tau list, and the thought occured that a mounted FW squad with maxed-out carbines really isn't very different to a Pathfinder squad.

Now, there is the disadvantage of smaller squad sizes, and an extra 2 points a model.* But what do you get for that?* A free markerlight on each model - and a normal FW squad pays at least 20points for that - and, what I thought was more important in the context of a mechanised list, is another unit on the table in Escalation games.* This'll get even better if the promised SMS upgrades for Devilfish show up.* Two AV12, 7 shot gunships on the table, first turn?* Teehee....

Sorry. Two AV12, 5 shot gunships'll have to do for now...

So, is this viable?* Looking at my current list, that'd give me two PF squads and two big kroot squads guarunteed to be on the table - more than half the models in the army.

Thoughts, suggestions, criticsm?
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Old 13 Nov 2005, 22:54   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

Personally, I love pathfinders. You get Markerlights that can guide the rest of your army to victory (literally) and they get to set up regardless of rules in a Reserves-type game. Fire Warriors are necessary and should be used for the longer range and larger squad size, but keep in mind a Devilfish can only hold 12 models, so that means no Drones for the FireWarriors, and no Ethereal to help them with holding the line. Kroot are also amazing, Infiltration with up to 20+ models is godly.

So yeah, I'd suggest as many Pathfinder teams as you'd like to fit in there, and maybe 1 or 2 FireWarrior teams of 8 or 9 models each. Mechanized Tau is the way to be<3. Though, what are your plans on Battlesuits?
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Old 14 Nov 2005, 03:40   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

At the moment, it is really just the markerlights, the Rail Rifle, and the Forward Scouts rule that make Pathfinders what they are. If you aren't using them for that, you would definitely be better off with Fire Warriors. Most of the time, regular pathfinders probably won't even use their carbines.

I wouldn't expect Pathfinders to fulfill the role of a Fire Warrior team very well, but it is definitely useful to have them on the table early in some missions.
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Old 14 Nov 2005, 06:57   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

i rarely use them, i just don't think that 10 marker lights in a squad is worth it. i just give it to a stealth suit or shas'ui. ive only got two hammerheads and no broadsides so i'll never use that many markerlights.
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Old 14 Nov 2005, 09:24   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

Ten to a squad? Uh, the max is eight. I find eight to be a great number...eight markerlights means four markerlight hits, on average. Four markerlight hits on a tank means 2-3 railheads are probably going to put that tank to bed for good. Four markerlight hits on a squad of marines means my helios suits will kill six of them...three tau killing six marines in a single round of shooting...wow.

Under the new rules, even better. Four markerlight hits means 24 pulse rifles hitting on 2+. Or it means a submunition hitting on 2+ and reducing the cover save of the target from 3+ all the way down to 6+ (bunker). Hey, the new markerlight rules actually get worse for tanks, but soo much better for infantry. I can't wait.
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Old 14 Nov 2005, 11:18   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders as Fire Warriors?

Originally Posted by usmarox
I'm fiddling with my mech tau list, and the thought occured that a mounted FW squad with maxed-out carbines really isn't very different to a Pathfinder squad.
We actually touched on this a bit in some other Pathfinder threads, how they could fit into a mechanized approach to the list. They do offer up some very handy abilities, but they lack the raw use of the Fire Warriors as a trade off, so using Pathfinders more frequently than Fire Warriors, as a means to get more Skimmers, but getting other abilities on top of them (such as Scout) while freeing up Troops for many many Kroot squads is going to require careful planning and prioritization. We will have to have a single Fire Warrior squad, that that's a mute point of totaling banishing them, but I think it will definitely make a difference in terms of what you do with the squads. Let's look at them:

Fire Warriors & Devilfish :: Pathfinders & Devilfish:

The first thing we think of here, in terms of Mech-Tau, is that this squad isn't going to be of maximum squad size. They will range from 6 to 8 members probably, as the points are spread around to several squads to afford as many skimmers as possible while retaining a good level of squad members and some essential upgrades. They're required so they should be used to their fullest I would imagine. But what do they hold over Pathfinders and what do they lack?


Pulse Rifles - Most players place an extremely large importance on the pulse rifle over the pulse carbine, even in Fire Warrior squads, because Rapid Fire is just that good. Even a small squad of 8 Fire Warriors can produce a lot of potential damage from firing their pulse rifles twice. This is the sole difference between Pathfinders and Fire Warriors that really is the selling point. Price really is of no issue, as the difference of 16 points is very, very small considering the gain. But it's the loss that we notice, more often, which is that lack of pulse riles. We see Fire Warriors offensively with their weapons, yet we look at Pathfinders as less offensive, if not down right useless with their pulse carbines as their single shots and normal BS makes for much smaller dice roll numbers (plus, not too many are keen on attempting pinning tests).

Everything else...

The rest falls to the Pathfinders. They have very similar squad sizes, and can take Gun Drones to achieve a healthy number of 10. But really, Pathfinders are all about utility, not pure offensive power. We have pure pulse carbines in this setup, and with Gun Drones, we can have up to 10 of them, which isn't that bad. Sure, they're one-shot, but they're slightly longer range than rapid fire so we can touch down upon things a bit sooner possibly than a pulse rifle after moving. But we don't even think of using Pathfinders to move, disembark and fire - not at all. We think of their handy marker lights. But isn't like we have to use the markerlights. We also think of those groovy rail rifles, which are so inaccurate that on a good day, they may impress one or two marines to leave the table. Is that justifiable for the rest? Well, it's up the player. When it comes down to it though, the weapons are not that important in my opinion in this case, because they perform other more important tasks. As we well know, the Pathfinders enjoy a Scout move and are always deployed. This is very beneficial for us, especially in a Mechanized list when it comes to certain missions which will really slow down your fielding of units due to transports and the like.

So now that we have a little bit of a distinction, between a possibly offensive unit (Fire Warriors) and a more defensive and utility unit (Pathfinders) maybe we can look at them in their lights and weaknesses:


Some Mech-Tau players would like to take more skimmers than Fire Warriors, so they take small squad sizes with zero character upgrades, to take the cheapest scoring unit possible, while affording a nice Devilfish, or four, to field on the table. Pathfinders can be another way to quickly field scoring units, in Devilfish, but also gain perks. So in the race to field more Skimmers for less points, surprisingly, Pathfinders will allow us to have more of these Skimmers, while allowing some room for more small squads of Kroot (if they're taken). The difference is though, these new skimmers from the fast attack have the nice scout perk and all that jazz.

Squad sizes & Victory points:

That's what it's all about right? The point in fielding the skimmers is to guard victory points while having a resilient and powerful Skimmer that can also move fast, deal damage and absorb a bit, while the squishy interior hangs tight and stays above 50% strength for the end game result of scoring points; after all, their transport doesn't keep them scoring if it's destroyed, but it does yield a few victory points over; but at least they still score.

The squad size is what becomes an issue for those who want to score the most points possible. The more squads we have, the more chance we have to score victory points, and large squads actually make it more and more difficult. Large squads require more firepower, which means a few units can unload a lot of firepower or assault strength and destroy a large number of models on our side. However, smaller squads force our opponent to waste several shooting attacks and waste a lot of assault power to destroy several small squads as they cannot split up fire from multi-shot weapons. That could be an advantage to thin your opponent's dakka that normally would rip you to shreds, or to help avoid template attacks a little more often. The point is though, to add a lot more choice to target selection, while allowing you more and more units which score points. The squad size of 6 is a minimum number for Fire Warriors, which will no longer score victory points when it hits the 2 model mark. That's not bad, considering the other 4 models must be casualties to prevent this squad from contesting table quarters and all that. However, 6 Fire Warriors aren't all that impressive offensively and when taken at an absolute minimum, it's no big secret that they're probably just there to score points and hardly ever see action until at least the very end of the game. Pathfinders on the other hand can take that number smaller, down to 4 members. That means we stop scoring at same moment we reach Last Man Standing. In terms of scoring units and non-scoring units; a 4 man team is slightly more efficient, however, it's easy to knock them below scoring level (a single heavy bolter would do it for example). But the point is, if we're just guarding victory points, they are cheaper and allow us the Devilfish still, plus all the perks of the Forward Scout rule, allowing a very similar setup as a minimized mechanized Fire Warrior squad. The difference? About 8 strength 5 shots is the difference. That's a pretty large difference too when you think about it.

However, on the topic of scoring, what's to say we cannot simply drop our small Pathfinder units (squad sizes 4 to 6 for example) in terrain, out of sight when possible, and simply using the Devilfish as the tool, while the unit itself remains in the shadows. The scout move would allow us to quickly gain ground, 12 inches outside of our deployment zone, and would allow two squads possibly to do this, then on the first turn, move another 12 inches again, allowing for a full 24 inch sweep by the end of turn one. That's a pretty decent chance to flank or take an objective, but at the sacrifice of a good portion of strength 5 shots.

So what's the real difference if we're looking just for skimmers and victory points?

I would say not too much. Sure, Fire Warriors can give us the damage we need and they're required, but if we're just after Skimmers and Victory Points, it's reasonable to try out Pathfinders in their place (but not completely in their place). A sort of half & half approach, I would imagine. For example: two Pathfinder Teams of 6, and two Fire Warriors teams of 8. That's 4 skimmers, 2 of which will always be fielded, and 2 of which have more offensive capability, while the other 2 can be further into the battle field for utility roles, or simply dropped off in an obscure location.

Future of the Pathfinders regarding Markerlights?

With all the talk of Markerlight changes; maybe this idea of Pathfinders becoming more frequent in the army list will start to touch more army lists more often. If it does indeed change, it will post an interesting boost to having several small squads which are scoring units, who drastically increase the power of other units. They will make our firewarriors outright deadly, they will make more close ranged battle suits far more effective and can still provide a lot of action for our skimmers and broadsides. However, even better, they will make Kroot all kinds of powerful, with massed dakka power from within area terrain. Of course, that's a big if, if we get these changes or not.

So will Pathfinders replace Fire Warriors?

Probably not. Fire Warriors fill a different role. Fire Warriors take that offensive point and run home with because of the simple Rapid Fire difference, compared to Pulse Carbines. Honestly, that's one of the only reasons to favor Fire Warriors to Pathfinders, because by all other respects, they're the same, with a very minor point difference. It all comes down to what you want to do with your unit. If you will be dropping them off, disembarking to perform small localized attacks, the Fire Warriors are obviously better. If you're swooping in to counter a fast moving assault team with a "drop attack," then sure, Fire Warriors are definitely better. But if you're just looking to get skimmers on the board and several scoring units to guard within them, Pathfinders could make more of an appearance and probably pick up a few slots in your army list, over Fire Warriors, but not completely; more like half & half, or slightly less (depending on Kroot being fielded or not).

In the end; I think the new codex will probably provide a little more insight into where future strategies like this will be headed...

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