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Broadsides: The Legend Continues
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 01:52   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Broadsides: The Legend Continues

In preparation for the release of the new Codex, the folks at MTT have begun work on an entirely new set of articles for an entirely new tactical website called The Advanced Tau Academy which will replace The Guide to Mech Tau. As the new name suggests, the site will discuss tactics and strategies relevant to all army playstyles.

Every few days, I'm going to post the "beta version" of an article here for comments and critique. When the new codex is realeased, this new site will be available where these articles will be collected. This is the 3rd in the series. Here are the others which have been posted thus far:

Tactics: Markerlights - The Beginning
Units: Skyray - The Empire Strikes Back

At the end of each article is a section titled "The Bottom Line". This is an opinion paragraph that details how I like to configure and use the unit. Furthermore, you'll occaisionally see a few sentences in italics in which I've broken from the flow of the discussion to offer a brief opinion. As such, take everything said there with a few grains of salt. Depending on your playstyle and personal preferences, these comments may be entirely inappropriate.

[hr]

[size=14pt]XV88 Broadside Battlesuits[/size]

The epitome of infantry bourne firepower, Broadsides are tough, strong, and carry the biggest guns in the Tau arsenal. Unfortunately they're also slow, so slow in fact that many Tau players shun them on this point alone. The fact remains though that they're the cheapest, most accurate, and longest range S10 shots in the game.

Who Cares About Speed when You've Got a Railgun?

While nowhere near as mobile as a Hammerhead or XV8, the Advanced Stabilization System (A.S.S.) upgrade gives a clever Tau commander just enough options to make the Broadside a deadly battlefield asset without simultaneously being too much of a liability. Mobility is important for 2 main reasons:
  • Avoiding Assault - Possessing of a devistating shooting attack and having little to no assault ability of their own, Broadsides are a tempting target for any assault squad with any kind of power weapon (in other words, any assault squad period). By assaulting you, not only do they tie up your big guns, but they net themselves in the neighborhood of 100 points per model. With most assault squads having some type of movement enhancement (transport, jump pack, cavalry, etc) you will generally only have 2 turns of shooting before they're on you. Unless you dedicate a substantial portion of your army to eliminating this threat, your broadsides will likely end up in close combat... and even then it may be unavoidable if they've made clever use of terrain.
  • Scoring - In 4th edition, the ability to score is of paramount importance in both casual and tournament play. Missions like Recon, Take and Hold, Search and Rescue, etc all give bonus VP's for units who are on an objective at the end of the game. Even with S10 guns, a Broadside team will be hard pressed to earn any significant VP's over the course of 6 turns unless either your opponent's brought some serious armor or unless your Broadsides can score.

Mobile Broadsides are also better able to seek out enemy armor. Most opponents (rightly) fear these monsters and will do their utmost to use terrain to shield their heavy vehicles from your LoS. This is much more difficult if your Railguns can move to engange them. Furthermore, a mobile Broadside team is less vulnerable to a first turn volley of enemy heavy weapons. By deploying your Broadsides behind terrain and then stepping out into a firelane, you effectively protect yourself against your opponent winning first turn without having to give up a round of shooting.

In general, the A.S.S. carries so much utility that it's essentially a mandatory upgrade. For the remainder of this discussion I'm going to assume that any Broadside team under consideration is being fitted with A.S.S.'s by default.

A Broadside heavy army might find use for a large stationary XV88 team as a deadly, and well protected "anchor" while smaller A.S.S.-mobile Broadside Teams work the angles. Extreme army lists like this are hardly the norm however.

If Mobility's So Important, Why Don't We Just Use Hammerheads?

While certainly a viable option, relying solely on Hammerheads for your Railguns isn't the best option in all circumstances. In larger games of 2000+ points, the primary problem is that it's difficult to get the necessary killing power in 3 force org slots. A trio of Railheads often just doesn't cut it in games this large. In smaller games, 3 Railheads might meet your S10 needs, but let's not forget that there are other attractive options competing for our Heavy Support slots as well. The primary edge that Broadsides have over Hammerheads is that they allow you to bring multiple Railguns in a single force org slot, thereby freeing up valuable space for other Heavy Support options.

Protecting your Investment

Although sporting multi-wounds and a 2+ save, Broadsides are tasty VP's for enemy LasCannons, Bright Lances, Bolts of Change, etc all of which will down your expensive suits in a heartbeat. It's with these threats in mind that we consider options for protecting our heavy hitters.
  • Shield Generator - While a 4+ invulnerable save is never a bad thing the Shield Generator suffers from a high cost and the fact that, if you fail your save, you still lose the suit. The real downside to the Shield Generator though is that it cannot be Hardwired and is therefore mutually exclusive with the A.S.S.
  • Shield Drones - Boasting the Toughness and save of the parent unit and a 4+ invulnerable to boot, Shield Drones brought with Broadsides are our best means of protection. Even a pair of Shield Drones can be reasonably expected to protect a full unit of Broadsides for a few turns. The Drone Controller can be hardwired on a Team Leader allowing the unit to buy the requisite D'yi. In fact, the only downside to Shield Drones is cost... and really, they're not that expensive considering the protection they offer.
  • Gun Drones - While Gun Drones might seem like a more cost effective way of adding a few ablative wounds to a Broadside Team, the majority armor rules essentially require a full compliment in order for them to be effective. They can also potentially introduce morale issues since they're so much easier to eliminate. In almost all circumstances, Shield Drones are the better buy.

Would You Like Plasma With That?

Although the SMS is a useful weapon, paying the points to upgrade to Twinlinked Plasma Rifles makes some sense as long as you also purchase a Multitracker. While the Plasma Rifles aren't terribly synnergistic with the Railgun in its anti-vehicle role, they are quite useful as a supliment to its anti-heavy infantry role. Against Terminator-heavy Marines or Nids, an extra AP2 shot is always welcome. A Teamleader with Plasma Rifles and a Hardwired Multitracker is the only model in our list that can take 2 twinlinked AP 2/1 shots out to 24".

The recent price increase of XV8 Plasma in the new codex has breathed new life into Broadside mounted Plasma Rifles. Including the cost of the Plasma upgrade and the Multitracker, upgrading a Broadside in this fashion will run you +15 points... half the cost of a Twinlinked Plasma Rifle on an XV8.

Options and More Options

Since Team Leaders are no longer restricted to a single Hardwired Support System, we've got many attractive options for equipping our Broadside team.
  • Multitracker - Really only useful if you're upgrading the SMS to Plasma. The AP disparity between the Railgun and the SMS means you'll rarely have any interest in shooting them both at the same target.
  • Target Lock - Not a bad option if you have a full team of 3 Broadsides, but it's not really necessary on a smaller team of 2. Unless you get really lucky, even a 2-strong team will likely need both of it's shots to kill an AV13-14 target.
  • Blacksun Filter - A good way to spend a spare 3 points considering the range of the Railgun and the value of its shots. Broadsides have the Acute Senses USR allowing the BSF to really shine.
  • Bonding - If you've already bought a Team Leader, paying 5 points for bonding is a good idea. Unlike Firewarriors or Pathfinders, Broadsides with D'yi can contribute meaningfully on the turn they rally, even if they're out of position. Furthermore, allowing them to rally preserves half of their (substantial) VP's in the event of an unfortunate morale mishap. Be careful though, in order to take advantage of bonding you need to be sure they don't run off the table straight away. Take care to deploy them a bit away from the table edge so they aren't immediately lost if they run.
  • Target Array - An attractive option for a unit with such high profile weapons, especially on a Team Leader with Plasma and a Hardwired Multitracker. The downside is that the Target Array cannot be Hardwired and therefore precludes the A.S.S.

Although most of the Special Issue wargear is ill-suited to mounting on an XV88, one piece does bear mention. The Broadside is the only Battlesuit that begins on the table in Escalation missions and therefore is a prime candidate for equipping the Positional Relay. However, since this option cannot be Hardwired, it vies for space with the A.S.S. While useful in certain situations, most would consider the Positional Relay to be less so than the A.S.S.

[hr]

The Bottom Line

The addition of the A.S.S. makes Broadsides a viable unit. Although they do require some protection both from shooting and assault, they make a good 'bait' unit which you can use to draw your opponent into a trap. The A.S.S. offers just enough mobility to allow you to avoid getting caught yourself... with a bit of planning ahead of course.

The Broadside team I use consists of:

2 XV88 Broadside Battlesuits (215)
[Team Leader, Bonding, A.S.S., Twinlinked Plasma Rifles, HWDC + 2 Shield Drones, HW Multitracker]
[A.S.S.]

If there are points available I'll add a BSF to the Team Leader as well. This unit gives me enough anti-heavy vehicle killing power that I only require one other Railgun to fill my S10 needs leaving me with the third Heavy Support slot free. It gives me 3 twinlinked AP2/1 shots out to 24", reducing my reliance on expensive XV8 Plasma. But most importantly, it's durable, mobile, and compact.
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"i like to think of playing against my list as being like punching jelly. you put all your effort in but it just moves out of the way and you cause no damage. then your arm is covered in jelly. and the chicks come out and start wrestling in the jelly, and i drink a beer with stone cold steve austin, and we watch the chicks jelly wrestling, and then the slap-bass funk starts wakka chakka wakka wakka woh" -- Spooky, describing Mech Tau

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Old 05 Feb 2006, 01:59   #2 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

this is cool. I'm hoping I'll get a batter idea of all of this once the new Codex comes out. It is informative though. I'll probably start using shield drones again.
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 02:10   #3 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

Wow. I have been thinking along the lines of this for a while. It is nice to know you do to. A two man, mobile squad of Broadsides is deadly. I was also going to give the leader tL plasma too.

Bonding might be worthwhile. I hadn't considered it, but you have seen the codex!

Great minds think alike. Fools seldom differ.
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 02:12   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

sweet...I can't wait to see your new site
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 02:14   #5 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

Quote:
Originally Posted by MechTau
Wow. I have been thinking along the lines of this for a while. It is nice to know you do to. A two man, mobile squad of Broadsides is deadly. I was also going to give the leader tL plasma too.

Bonding might be worthwhile. I hadn't considered it, but you have seen the codex!

Great minds think alike. Fools seldom differ.
Just remember that there is no point in bonding two man sqauds. there either at half or destroyed, so bonding doesn't help, unless it got cooler in the new codex.
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"The gue'la will either except our destiny, or die!"
-Shas'o Castris
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faolin
"Human nature" only prevents a better future if we accept it as unchangeable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MechTau
Shasocastris, since my return to these boards, nothing has made a bigger impression than you and your views.
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 02:21   #6 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

There are also two shield drones...
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 02:24   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

oh my bad... Hope your not doing what your avatar says you are
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"The gue'la will either except our destiny, or die!"
-Shas'o Castris
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faolin
"Human nature" only prevents a better future if we accept it as unchangeable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MechTau
Shasocastris, since my return to these boards, nothing has made a bigger impression than you and your views.
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 03:06   #8 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

good article missed out marker drons as a option but hey still good
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 03:33   #9 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

I don't know what GW Rules people were thinking when they designed an upgrade called the ASS. It's such a juvenile joke Having read your Broadside article, I find myself slightly depressed. If I understand correctly, ASS is a hardpoint upgrade, and XV88 suits only get 1 hardpoint upgrade? So if I take the ASS for my Broadside 3-man team, only the Team Leader (who requires an upgrade) can take hard-wired Multi-trackers or Targetting Arrays or anything else of use?

Why couldn't they just unlock all 4 hardpoints on XV suits instead of keeping it at 3
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Old 05 Feb 2006, 03:50   #10 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Broadsides: The Legend Continues

I actually never bang my head against the keyboard. I just leave the room, walk out the door in whatever clothing I happen to wear, and scream. The whole world hears my laments for your idiocy.
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