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Are pathfinders worth it?
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Old 24 Nov 2005, 17:45   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Are pathfinders worth it?

As time goes by and ive played battle after battle my pathfinders have been seeing alot of action. unfortunatly i dont see the results. my pathfinder team is equiped perfectly to do its task but more and more often it never gets done. my pathfinders are the unit that helps fill that gaping hole in tau armoury. Anti Marine. So combined with an ion head they parade along my flank and attempt to take out the marines. it works at first but then they get shot or assaulted or run out of things to shoot. this is their list segment in my army.

8 Pathfinders
2 Rail Rifles
Dedicated Devilfish
Decoy Launchers
4 Seeker Missiles on Various Tanks
Total 241

now thats alot of points considering id like more missiles or rail rifles or a beefier transport but thats my limit. at 241 they are pretty pricy and dont seem to be doing what i payed for. there markerlights make them static, the rifles the same, 8 carbine shots barely hurt a thing and so it seems like they hardly do anything. on the first turn they use advanced movement to get into position and unload then in my turn thy take aim and unload but after that i hardly see them do much more. after they fire they usually die from return fire, get assaulted after 2 turns or whatever cruel fate awaits. that hardly seems worth 241 points to me.

can i get some suggestions or input from other players? how do your pathfinders do? what do u do thats diff, whats their role?
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Old 24 Nov 2005, 19:38   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

Shinova:

Looking at your setup and your description of what you use them for, I'd have to say that you're expecting a bit too much from your Pathfinders. Overall, you've taken them in two directions and you're paying a lot of extra points for both abilities. Let's take a look at it, split up:

1 - 8 Pathfinders (Good - that's 4 markerlights hitting on average)
2 - 2 Rail Rifles (These are not accurate enough to be effect at marine removal honestly; you hit once on average and sure it may kill a marine, but pricey unit for one shot)
3 - Devilfish (This fish can be used for more than just Pathfinder transport; you could use it to block those pesky assaults by rushing it into their faces for example)
4 - 4 Seeker Missiles (Guided by lights, they're going to hit and cause some damage to infantry. They can also do it at one time, not over several turns. Very handy)

So you have a good squad, but I would advise you to decide between railrifles or seeker missiles. Having both prevents you from doing a lot of things, and gets their price too high. While you markerlight to send out seekers, your railrifles aren't really doing anything except flagging your unit as "dangerous" which makes them a target early on in the game.

Two rail rifles, on average, will remove 6 marines over the course of the game, if they hit and kill a model each time. This also assumes they survive and can fire all 6 turns and have valid targets. That's not a lot when you think about how an Ion Cannon can do way more than this.

4 seeker missiles, on average, will remove 4 marines right away, in a single turn, one time, very accurately. That means it's now and it's done. You kill less marines overall, but you do it much faster and then your unit can resort to another task, freeing up 5 turns to do something else (like get into the Devilfish and leave...); avoid assault, etc. Overall you kill faster and are safer, because you're not dedicated to staying the entire game in one place to fire a weapon that hit's only half the time.

So which one will help you the most for your needs? Personally, I've used railrifles and found them lacking. They simply don't hit often enough and don't have good targets the entire game, and they attract too much attention, which kills your pathfinders. It's just as if the pathfinders were holding lascannons or missile launchers from enemy marines--they're flagged as "kill them now" units to avoid losing marines too quickly to the low ap attack. Seeker missiles on the other hand, just show up, hit and it's over in one single round, and then I can either support my other units with markerlights, or I can pick up shop and move out of town and drop them off somewhere safe or at least away from the enemy. I use the seekers to kill off hard targets early, or targets that require attention now, such as devastator squads or assault marines for example. Combined with an Ion cannon, you can remove an entire marine squad right then and there, in one turn, killing not only all those marines, but their expensive heavy weapons they purchased as well. Small trade in the end.

So for more information on these things, here's some past threads on the matter:

Pathfinders - General Use / Information
Seeker Missiles - Making them work for you
Alternative Pathfinder Use - For when your opponents catch on

Cheers!
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Old 24 Nov 2005, 19:50   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

I know that a lot of the players in my area are always saying that they target pathfinders immediately. Not because of seekers or rail rifles but marker lights. Place the squad at the center of your line, not so far forward that they start taking fire but with the capability to mark priority targets. A few missil pods and an ion cannon may not be able to take down an entire assault squad alone but with markerlight support you can effectively remove a unit a turn, not doing damage themselves but by making other units more effective.

The Rail Rifle gets a lot of attention for very little effect. Some can be ok but you cant expect too much from them. I find massed small arms fire is better at this role than the handfull of pricey rail rifles that you can get.

The Devilfish like mal said can be used as harrasment or it can simply slam into the face of an assault squad and put up a wall they have to either destroy or go around, as a skimmer it lets you continue to blast away while the enemy is held up. Or it can simply act as a rescue boat to pick up the pathfinders when things get too hot to protect VPs or to secure an objective while everything else is busy.

In my experience pathfinders work much better as a support unit than as a marine killer one.
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Old 24 Nov 2005, 20:28   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

thanks guys your advice is very helpfull. ive used the devilfish in a fish of fury style defense before and it always works. the rail rifles were put as a sort of renuable seeker missile. it costs a pathfinder(12pts) and 10 extra so only 12 pts more than a seeker. it wounds the same and ignores armor and can do it every turn. i always guide them and so i have a good chance to kill a couple of marines and possibly pin.

true they target me alot because of them but ive been trying to use mont'ka attacks to eliminate return fire. in my opinion i find the rail rifle a good addition because of its pinning and unlimited ammo but it attracts the unwanted attention.

i was considering getting another rail for that team to max out and build a second team for support purposes. one team being a static hard hitter and the other spotters. good idea?

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Old 24 Nov 2005, 20:31   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

Perhaps but that is easily over 400 points and a vast chunk of any army. I would stick to one team and chose the role you think would work best. Perhaps play a few games without the rails and keep the seekers, a few tries without seekers and just the rails and some with no rails or seekers and see what you like best and what works well for you.
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Old 24 Nov 2005, 21:27   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shasoshinova
thanks guys your advice is very helpfull. ive used the devilfish in a fish of fury style defense before and it always works. the rail rifles were put as a sort of renuable seeker missile. it costs a pathfinder(12pts) and 10 extra so only 12 pts more than a seeker. it wounds the same and ignores armor and can do it every turn. i always guide them and so i have a good chance to kill a couple of marines and possibly pin.

true they target me alot because of them but ive been trying to use mont'ka attacks to eliminate return fire. in my opinion i find the rail rifle a good addition because of its pinning and unlimited ammo but it attracts the unwanted attention.

i was considering getting another rail for that team to max out and build a second team for support purposes. one team being a static hard hitter and the other spotters. good idea?

I suspect that you're guiding your Rail Rifles with your Pathfinder's markerlights. This is in fact illegal. Squads fire their weapons at one time, at the same time, and weapons guided by markerlights require the markerlights to have already been fired from another unit. So the reason for my post above, was due to Rail Rifles firing on the model's normal ballistic sill, and not using Markerlights. It makes quite a difference.

Markerlighted Railrifles are indeed very nice - but not possible unless you have other markerlights outside of your Pathfinder squad.
Non-Markerlighted Railrifles are very hit or miss, and only hit 50% of time, on their normal BS3. This is not worth it really, as you will see.

Unless I'm mistaken and you're guiding your Rail Rifles from other markerlights, such as from Fire Warriors or another Pathfinder team.

Cheers!
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Old 25 Nov 2005, 01:22   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

i never actually considered that rule. i completly forgot. well with that brought up then yah the rifles are usless without another team spotting and having a team spot for my scouts? sounds kinda rediculous. well thanx for the advice guys that kinda boots the rail rifles off my list.
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Old 25 Nov 2005, 02:10   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

The question is, what size force are you using this unit in?

In 1500 points it may work. In 2000 it may work even better. Below 1500... there's just not enough for the markerlights to guide.
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Old 25 Nov 2005, 05:30   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

I think another part of your problem (kinda touched on a little by Vash) is "moving them up the flank".* A moving pathfinder is a dimmed markerlight.* The most important thing with pathfinders is their initial deployment.* I always have to* : when people complain that pathfinders are a fast attack choice that isn't fast.* The point of making them a fast attack choice is so they deploy as late in the sequence as possible...so you can put them where they have the best lines of sight...not so much based on the terrain, but based on where the enemy is.*

Pathfinders should move twice, max.* One of those is the free move before turn one.* This has to be done before you roll for who goes first.* The only reason to actually use this move is if there's a nice bit of cover or a better line of sight just outside your deployment zone.* Don't use this move to get closer to the enemy, or "cause you can".* Also note that their devilfish gets this free move, but only if the pathfinders are inside.* This gives them a potential 14" scout move, and would presumably give the devilfish "skimmer protection" even if the enemy gets first turn.

Once they are set, don't move them except to escape an imminent assault.* These guys need to "paint" targets every turn, if possible.* IMHO, they only pay for themselves if they get four turns of markerlighting...or two turns and claim an objective that your army wouldn't otherwise be able to claim, or in certain scenarios, three turns and end up as a scoring unit in a scoring location (take and hold, recon, etc).* That's the second potential time it's ok to voluntarily move them.* Turn 5 or turn 6, if there are no targets left for them to markerlight that will determine a win or a loss, then you put them back in the devilfish and use them as a scoring unit.



/edit/

Now, when the rules come out, I will see a use for the rail rifles that just isn't there now. Sure, there will be rail rifle drones, and you can get three teams for one heavy support slot. But that's a heavy support slot. I'm thinking fans of the hammerhead won't want to give up a tank for that, and even those who take them will agree that it's only going to justify the heavy slot if you take all three teams. If you only want one, that's where pathfinders will be able to step in. It might be worthwhile to take a four man team of pathfinders with three rail rifles and a hardwired target lock for the "left over" markerlight. Of course, that's terribly uneconomical now, given that you have to take a dedicated devilfish for those four tau.

Why will it make more sense under the new rules? Well, first of all, because markerlight rules will be improved to the point where there's always room for one more markerlight. Currently, there is a limit to how many markerlights you can really get worthwhile use out of. One markerlight hit is enough for a tank. Four is overkill. Markerlights currently really only work well with suits and tanks. Once they open up to the entire army, there will always be another unit that could use a BS boost, or another enemy in cover. Right now, if your tanks have been marked for and your suits are out of range or twinlinked....what's another markerlight going to do? Make a single pulse rifle hit on 2+? Whoopee. Now that extra markerlight will make 12 of them hit on 3+! So having more markerlights will always be useful, justifying that hardwired target lock and making the 4th shas an asset instead of a liability. Second, there's still the issue of the Devilfish. The answer here is the SMS. Upgrading the fish to max out its weapons systems will make it a true gunship, equivalent to the real-world apache helicopter. Suddenly, it's not a "points drag mandatory transport", but a "take it to the enemy" offensive weapon like a skimming chimera.

So when the new rules come out, I may find myself taking two pathfinder teams. One maxed out with 8 markerlights and a cheap devilfish, and the other as a min/max rail sniper team paired with a gunship. At 2000 points, anyway.
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Old 25 Nov 2005, 08:28   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Are pathfinders worth it?

Hmm... I guess its been confirmed, then in Codex: Tau Empire those Rail Rifles dont have Gets Hot! anymore. This will greatly increase the survivability of those Pathfinders, which might make them more worth the points. Plus, again, in the new Codex, Markerlights will allow you to do nasty things with the marked units. Hmm... Then again... It might be wiser to use full unit of normal PF, to land as many Markers as possible on crucial enemy units: Hey, look! My FW's got 5BS! Eh? Youre in a Cover? What Cover? -2 Cover Save! and so on...

Thats just some thoughts on a newb =P
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