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Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison
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Old 04 Mar 2006, 21:05   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison

Iím kind of bored. Iím working in Yemen right now and wrote this up. Please forgive any mistakes, as my Tau Codex is halfway around the world.

Tau Pulse Weaponry

The Tau are noted for their powerful weapons, including pulse weapon technology. Pulse weapons are an excellent infantry weapon, and used on practically all Tau units to some extent. Pulse weapons are used as both short range carbines and long range rifles. They are effective against lightly armoured infantry, but are capable of inflicting damage to heavy infantry and light vehicles.

Fire Warriors

The Fire Warriors of the Tau can use either the Carbine or Rifle pulse weapons, and large squads of markerlight-guided pulse fire can decimate enemy squads. These are some of the cheapest sources of effective pulse rifle fire available to the Tau player. The disadvantages to Fire Warriors are that they are foot soldiers, and generally require a Devilfish for maximum effectiveness.

When it comes to the question of carbines versus rifles, I think the deciding factors are enemy infantry armour and leadership. Against Marines, itís rare that squad can cause a wound, and the Marines high leadership makes it unlikely that they will be pinned. Against less elite forces, carbines can be highly effective. I would advocate dedicating a squad to either rifles or carbines, and making no more than half the squads carbine squads. Rifles, with their 30Ē range and rapid fire, are a better weapon, and can help carbine squads mop up pinned squads.

Another overlooked aspect of pulse weaponry is that they can inflict hits on vehicles with armour of 10 or 11. Given no other targets, this can give a unit of Fire Warriors a target in the shooting phase.

- Cheap
- Can take either Carbines or Rifles

- Limited Mobility

Effectiveness of Fire Warrior Pulse Fire versus Marines
0.111 MEQ kills per unit
90 points per MEQ kill (Carbine or Long Range)
45 points per MEQ kill (Rapid Fire)

A squad of 12 Bonded Fire Warriors and a Devilfish with Decoy Launchers, Targeting Array, Multitracker, and SMS runs around 250 points. With a Devilfish, the squadís effectiveness is changed dramatically.

12 pulse weapons for 12-24 shots
3 burst cannon shots at BS 4
4 SMS(pulse equivalent) shots at BS4
Maximum of 31 Str 5 shots
1.333/2.666 MEQ kills for the Fire Warriors (single shot/rapid fire)
1.037 MEQ kills for the Devilfish
2.37/3.703 MEQ kills total (single shot/rapid fire)
105.48/67.512 points per MEQ kill (single shot/rapid fire)

Marines are tough opponents. Against lightly armoured enemies, expect triple or quadruple the MEQ kills. What the points donít say is how the Devilfish improves the mobility of the Fire Warriors, protects them in transit, and protects them from assault.


A popular choice, with many advantages, the Stealth suit is fast and hard to hit. By maintaining 22-23Ē of distance from enemy units between turns, enemy squads will be unable to target the Stealthsuits a significant percentage of the time. By maximizing distances between the Stealthsuits and enemy squads not being targeted, that percentage is increased. The mobility of Stealthsuits allows them to manuever around enemy vehicles to hit side and rear armour. Even if an enemy vehicle rotates about to present its front armour to unit of Stealthsuits, this can allow other units to hit the flanks and rear of a vehicle with long range weapons, like pulse rifles and missile pods.

Distance Chance Stealthsuits can be targeted
36 0.027778
33 0.083333
30 0.166667
27 0.277778
24 0.416667
21 0.583333
18 0.722222
15 0.833333
12 0.916667
9 0.972222
6 1

Highly mobile
Can Jump-Shoot-Jump
Can Deep-Strike
Stealth Armour

Less wounds than a Fire Warrior squad
Not as effective as Rapid Firing Fire Warriors

Effectiveness of Stealthsuit Pulse Fire versus Marines
.333 MEQ kills per unit
90 points per MEQ kill

Gun Drone Squads

Gun Drone squads seem to be a poor second choice to Stealthsuits, but have their advantages. Against light infantry with poor leadership, their ability to pin troops can be valuable.

Highly mobile
Can Jump-Shoot-Jump
Can Deep-Strike

Small squads
Poor effectiveness

Effectiveness of Gun Drone Squad Pulse Fire versus Marines
0.123 MEQ kills per unit
121.951 points per MEQ kill

Crisis Suits

Crisis suits are capable of carrying burst cannons, but with so many other units capable of firing pulse weaponry, I feel they are best suited for carrying weapons unique to Crisis suit, such as the Plasma Rifle and Missile Pod. Still, they can be highly effective versus weaker infantry. They share many of the advantages of Stealthsuits.

Effectiveness of Crisis Suit Pulse Fire versus Marines
TL Burst Cannons, Target Lock for 52 points
0.592 MEQ kills per unit
87.837 points per MEQ kill


The Tau Pathfinders carry pulse carbines, but with their small squad sizes and increased cost from the markerlights, they are not as effective as a Fire Warrior squad and are best used to designate targets for the Tau Army.

Markerlights can drastically change the effectiveness of pulse fire, increasing its accuracy and negating the bonuses for high leadership against Pinning tests. A unit of eight Pathfinders will score an average of four markerlight hits, allowing two Fire Warrior squads to fire with BS 5. This will increase the effectiveness of a squad of Fire Warriors by 66%, meaning the two squads of Fire Warriors count as 3.33 squads of Fire Warriors. Factoring the cost of the Pathfinders and their Devilfish, the Fire Warrior effectiveness is raised approximately 15-20%. The effect is as if 16 Fire Warriors appeared briefly to fire alongside the existing Fire Warrior squads, only to reappear next turn where they were needed most.

With markerlights, target priority is an issue that should be discussed. Generally, one Pathfinder squad can improve the BS of two units. With this in mind, Iíd suggest using Stealthsuits and Fire Warriors in pairs. The Pathfinders are most effective when guiding large numbers of shots. For exampleÖ
- Two squads of Stealthsuits are threatening a squad of marines.
- Two squads of Fire Warriors and their Devilfish are within rapid fire distance of a squad of marines.
- Two more squads of Fire Warriors are able to take a long shot at a squad of marines.
- A couple units of Gun Drones jump out to fire upon a squad of marines.

In this case, the Pathfinders have three choices of targets to designate.
The Stealthsuits will average .333*12 for 4 MEQ kills. With BS 5, that is improved to .555*12 for 6.666 MEQ kills, an improvement of 2.666.
The Fire Warriors with their Devilfish will average 7.406 MEQ kills. With BS 5, that is improved to 10.96 MEQ kills, an improvement of 3.554, assuming the Devilfish doesnít benefit from the Fire Warriors BS increase.
The Fire Warriors taking the long shot will average .111*24 for 2.666 MEQ kills. With BS 5, that is improved to .185*24 for 4.444 MEQ kills, an improvement of 1.777.
The Gun Drones average .123*16 for 1.968 MEQ kills. With BS 4, that is improved to .197*16 for 3.16 MEQ kills, an improvement of 1.192.

Therefore, the rapid firing Fire Warriors will benefit the most, followed by the Stealthsuits, the long shot Fire Warriors, and then the Gun Drones.

Other Tau Units

There are some other vehicles in the Tau army that can carry pulse weaponry, but in the case of the Hammerhead, itís a secondary weapon and with the Piranha, I donít have the stats to accurately calculate the effectiveness.


- Pulse fire is a versatile and effective weapon in the hands of the Tau.
- Combined with markerlights, the Tau have multiple units that have a tactical flexibility that can render opposing infantry overwhelmed.
- The effect of boosting a units BS from 3 to 5 is as if the unit increased in size by 66%.
- A unit of Tau Pathfinders can designate for two units, which coincidentally is the recommended minimum for Fish-of-Fury tactics.
- Pathfinders should choose targets to maximize their effectiveness.
- Crisis suits can have burst cannons, but no other units can have a plasma rifle, missile pod, or flamer.

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Old 05 Mar 2006, 13:02   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison

Very nice! I think I'll bookmark this page. Plenty of useful into in here to remember.
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Old 05 Mar 2006, 13:09   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison

I agree with DireStrike

Very nice work... This post has some really useful information
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Old 05 Mar 2006, 13:57   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison

Thanks for that.

I was surprised that the fire warriors benefited more than the stealth. That will make a difference to my army selection.
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Old 05 Mar 2006, 15:19   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Pulse Weapon Tactical Comparison

Thanks a lot, guys. I glad all my math paid off. It took me about a half an hour to figure out the stealthsuit targeting percentages.

Tonka, please feel free to use this material for your MTT tactics site.
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