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Seeker for success?
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 21:57   #1 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Seeker for success?

Since I'm in the middle of putting up some kind of Tau army I'm heavily into theoryhammer. I've been looking all over this place including skimming though the mech tau bible. There is one little inconsistency that I wonder about. It is the question of Seekers.

When I look at them I see a one shot weapon that hits on 2+ and excels at taking out light armour or isolated high T threats. Their cost of 10/shot shouldn't really be an issue since if we think that we may at a maximum get four shots of with a unit that would cost us 50pts for a "Seeker-cannon" (+ the Marker light, but we'll come to that). The closest thing we get to that would be a deathrain @ 56pts. If the seekers could be launched on their own they would clearly be way superior to anti-tank suits.

My guess then is that the resistance to Seekers I find in these forums depend on their launch cost. The least expensive way (per ML) is to deploy a fully kitted unit of Pathfinders, and they cost 196 pts = 24,5pts per ML. A "guaranteed" hit would require two MLs so a first turn hit by a Seeker cost 49pts. Really an expensive weapon for what it does. A pair of PFs with 4 seekers fired over four turnswould cost 89pts.

The imagined effect of a heavy first turn strike with a lot of seekers against priority target is tempting, so my question is: Are the Pathfinders really that worthless in a battle after they run out of Seekers so that they aren't worth taking? Do you think this would change if the Tau Empire rumours are true (choice between Deep Strike Accuracy, -Ld, Seeker, +BS)?

A team of pathfinders in a fish with four Seekers in the army should more or less ensure that a light vehicle of your choice (a transport for an example) didn't prove itself usefull. Meaning that your suits don't need to equip themselves to handle the light anti-tank role and could specialize in other fields.

I must say that I have Zero and Nil experience of Seeker field performance, but it seems to me that they should perform well - especially at low point games. Where every point count and the ability of the pathfinders to fill two roles (anti-tank and FW support) should be important.

/fork, now inform me.
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Old 21 Dec 2005, 22:28   #2 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Seeker for success?

Heya Fork

Good observation! Pathfinders, aside from obvious units like Krootox are the black sheep of the codex. Usually everyone owns a few, but never use them (part of the buy now and play later thing). The pathfinders were meant to be an integral part of the Tau army back in 3rd edition, giving us an average BS and allowing us the opportunity to instantly make super accurate shooting weapons each turn. 4th Edition made this far more difficult without screening so most people find their Pathfinders being huge point sinks because they (1) don't produce direct damage, (2) don't have pulse rifles, (3) can be targeted with a single leadership test and (4) require the devilfish. Now, all of that really doesn't mean much if you're just looking for a one-two system, where you buy something and it shoots and that's it. If you want something slightly more involved with fun catches, then you take the Pathfinders. The good news is, they can launch quite nasty attacks for what they do. Also, another misconception is that people go a bit crazy over the "one shot" weapons. However, the thing is, seekers may be one-shot per game per purchase, but they're pretty dead on in terms of doing their work. Unlike a purchased railgun, which costs a huge load of points for the upgrade on your hammerhead, will hit on average 4 times out of 6 turns? Look at the cost of that thing and the cost to field the railgun initially and all that. You'll find a lot of similarities. Anyhow, in the end, seekers are what they are and are expensive to really make happen, because they're very powerful. They're also very risky. The reason they're so powerful, is because of the number we can have hit on that first turn. Unlike the Imperial equivalent, we can launch all 4 of them, or more, depending on our markerlights. That's a full dead squad of Destroyers, or a really crippled Devastator team, as examples.

Anyhow - Pathfinders aren't for everyone, but they can be really powerful in good hands and against various opponents.
For more information, I'll offer up some reading material:

Pathfinders; Getting to Know Them
Seeker Missiles; Getting Them to Work For You
Alternate Pathfinder Uses/Employment
Pathfinders as a Heavy Weapons Team
Pathfinders or Fire Warriors? Mech Alternative

Aside from current things; the new era of Pathfinders will come shortly with the new codex coming soon. You will definitely see a lot more action with them (which may or may not, die down just as quickly).

Cheers!
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 02:44   #3 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Seeker for success?

Seekers. Powerful, versatile, durable. They are a heavy weapon, though they do not take a heavy slot. Very cool... but they are expensive. And they have competitors that tend to be cheaper.

Their competitors are:
Hammerhead
Power - The hammerhead is more powerful. No argument is allowed. ;D
Durablility - The hammerhead is the safest place to put seeker missiles, except perhaps a devilfish that will never show its hull. They have the same durability, except that shaken and stunned damage will not disable the seeker missiles.
Versatility - Although a hammerhead can fire its impressive heavy shot at more places than a markerlight can hit, that single shot can miss. The hammerhead also has anti-infantry capabilities in its submunitions round and in its secondary weapons systems.

Broadsides
Power - railguns.
Durability - With shield gens, soon-to-be-fixed shield drones, a 2+ save, broadsides can be pretty durable. If you consider that you need a pathfinder team to use your seeker missiles, a broadside team can be REMARKABLY durable.
Versatility - A broadside team can be more reliable than a hammerhead, but (in the current codex) is far more limited in where it can fire. Even with the rumored Advanced Stabilization System, you will still only have 6" of movement. Anti-infantry capabilities exist in the form of light fire from missile systems, or heavy fire from plasma rifles.

Now, to the Seekers
Power - A railgun shot is more powerful than a seeker missile, but often more expensive.
Durability - Have your pathfinders ever proved instrumental in defeating an opponent? Well, after that, they will be killed as soon as possible. Getting them into position without getting them killed will be difficult. The seekers themselves, however, are quite durable. Also you can take markerlights in Fire Warrior squads - an exceedingly expensive option.
Versatility - Your railguns can miss. There is no recourse when this happens, and no way to squeeze extra power out of your tank or battlesuit! With seekers you can take as much power as you have weaponry. Have 8 seekers? You can fire them all in one turn - provided you can get markerlight hits where and when you need them. This is where the seeker missile is (over)valued - the ability to lay down fire exactly where you want it. If this is the ability you need, go ahead and pay the points for it. Otherwise, you would do better with other heavy weapon options.


To answer your other questions - seeker missiles might perform well in low-points cost games, but only if you don't consider what you need to use them. With the current markerlight rules, pathfinders are only valuable if they have enough worthwhile guns to mark for. Generally this mark is said to be around 1500 points. I have taken them out of my 1500 point army, as I find myself wasting markerlight hits almost every turn.

Not taking a full team of pathfinders would be stupid considering the cost you've already paid for the devilfish. Shas'ui upgrade is also nearly mandatory, and bonding can even be considered here...

Such an expensive unit MUST justify its existence, and boosting the BS of one or two things per turn will not. Your hammerheads only get a boost of 1 BS - something that is useful 1/5 shots. They can still miss. With an ion cannon it is a little better since there are 3 shots.The same goes for shas'els - a 1 bs boost on one shot.

Stealth suits are pretty good when marked for, but this is hard to coordinate. Broadsides are pretty good also - a 35/36 chance to hit is not to be overlooked. But... your opponent will probably not let you point both pathfinders and broadsides at any of their squads or tanks.

The cover-ignoring is great... unless you face marines. Then it is all but worthless.


All this said... the new rules look VERY promising. The ability to spend markerlight hits towards many valuable services increases their versatility even further! Also, the "loss" of their max-out BS and ignore cover save rule is actually a benefit - it makes the unit less psychologically threatening. An experienced opponent will still fear them rightly, but you can play mind games this way.

I think I might buy another pathfinder unit with the new rules. My current one will definitely see more use in lower points games, where the markerlights will perform myriad roles, and the coordination issues will then be less nightmarish. They will be able to combo with almost any unit in different ways, and with enough hits, put the fear of the Tau'va into any enemy with the Mark of the Valkyrie on them.
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 07:57   #4 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Seeker for success?

Yes, when I did my Tau army I didn't bther with them much so was wasting my oathfinders potential (how I didn't see then) but i might get some when the new codex comes out, remember they are/might bring out a PLASTIC! skyray the thing with a rack of seeker missiles though we don't know it's rules there are roumers that it fies it's own missiles ad there are other roumers that they require markerlights from other sources to fire them so not much help there!
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 10:13   #5 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Re: Seeker for success?

Re: Skyray. In the latest WD the Skyray is mentioned as a definite plastic kit, (as is the Piranha).
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Old 22 Dec 2005, 20:04   #6 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Re: Seeker for success?

I guess I'll do some reading over x-mas and begin mu journey towards collecting a unit. Although they seem difficult to use I like the challange. The rules are about to change and I feel that they may prove to be a valuable unit in a near future. Still I rather play with a hard to use army and get beaten up than play with a place-models-shoot-win army. Thx for all the replies and explainations.

/fork
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