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RTTT's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 14:55   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default RTTT's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

It has been some time since the last time I posted a tactica now. There is this thing, called 'real life'. Apparently, it takes up a lot of time every now and then. I have experienced this lately as well. Anyway, the earlier tacticas include the Kroot Tactica and the Vespid Tactica.

[hr]

One of the biggest changes in the new Tau Empire Codex was the Heavy Support options. Before, we only had 2 real options (seeing as no-one used Krootox): Hammerhead and Broadsides. The amount we now have is twice as many. Interesting one might say, but this provides another difficult issue:

-Can you prioritize?

With 4 strong units competing for the Heavy Support slots, it might be hard to fill all needs. This is especially true now that the vehicles and Broadsides have more options than ever before. Besides, Heavy Support units are the only ones sporting railguns. Will it be worth it taking those Sniper Drones?

[size=16pt]Tactica: Sniper Drones[/size]

Sniper Drones are totally new to any Tau player. They are a different unit with some interesting abilities. Many players complained back in the days of the old Codex: "How come Tau have no snipers?". The waiting is over. The Sniper Drones are here!

What kind of unit is the Sniper Drones?
  • Sniper Drones are an entirely different unit than any other Tau unit we have ever seen. Sporting the distracting Stealth Field, the powerful Rail Rifles and even a markerlight; these guys are an interesting choice for a mere 80 points per team. They are only a precious few per team, and eliminating one key model might prove to be the demise of the squad. Still, they do sport powerful guns, and their defensive measures are impeccable if they can keep their enemies at range. Sadly, they are only a 0-1 choice (you get to take 3 teams though), so it is not possible to have loads of them.

[hr]

-With these statistics, we can begin to form a picture of the Sniper Drones:

-They have pretty good firepower (and pin!)
-At range they are untouchable
-If your enemies can get close, chances are your team will die
-The low model count means that they will be vulnerable to basically everything
-Last but not least, it is important to note that they are not scoring (doh!)

The firepower of the Sniper Drones are best used against normal Marines, Necrons and similar units. They can only fire a few shots, but those shots are devastating if they can reach their intended target. As a team sports 3 Rail Rifles, I think we can all agree that it is ineffective to fire upon conscripts with Sniper Drones (except maybe for the pinning ability). If we disregard the markerlight, our Snipers will kill 1.25 Marines on average. In other words, this is ~40% more kills than a team of Fire Warriors (8 Fire Warriors = the cost of our Snipers) could kill (above rapid-fire range). Wow! This is what I call effective static firepower! And then, we haven't even taken the markerlight into account. Considering that our Fire Warriors are very strong basic troopers with the best basic gun in the game, our Snipers truly must be a good unit!

Continuing our example earlier, let's assume our units of Fire Warriors and Snipers are having a "firefight" with a small group of Tactical Marines. Assuming the Marines to sport a heavy bolter (making their cost = Snipers) and the range ~30", we can now continue our example:
The Fire Warriors will most likely be ripped apart in a few turns by the heavy bolter, while the Snipers will probably get away pretty safely.

However, what happens if these Marines get to, say, 18" and pass their Stealth Field test? Most likely your Snipers will be dead.

1st lesson learned:

Snipers are awesome against Marine Equivalents in terms of offensive firepower. They are also quite good at dodging enemy long-ranged firepower.
[size=7pt]However...[/size]
-If- the enemy can get close, it is pretty much over for your snipers.

[size=12pt]Thus we have a weak unit at close range who can provide us with some excellent medium-ranged firepower.[/size]

Alright, the basic theory and some Mathhammer results. What about their role on the actual battlefield?

As many players have pointed out, there is a lack of "medium-guns" in a Tau army. We have loads of S5 basic guns and some awesome S10 heavy guns, but in-between there are precious few. Usually, these weapons are sported by our Crisis Suits. However, many players don't like these. Some players again play static Tau, in which case the Crisis' will not even be there (barring the mandatory Commander). These players will want another unit to provide some "medium-guns". Sniper Drones are an excellent choice here. Their weapons can threaten even light vehicles and skimmers trying to sneak up your flank, they can (with a bit of luck) pop transports and they provide excellent weapons against Marine Equivalents.

Seeing as the Snipers are not mobile enough, they will never appear in a Mechanised list. However, there are plenty of options for them in a Static and Hybrid list.

With the much needed S6 guns, our Snipers can be used in different ways:

-Stay with the main gunline
-Cover a flank
-Decoys (Stealth Field)

[size=7pt]bear in mind that they are not scoring units[/size]

If you decide to stick your Snipers to the main gunline, it is pretty simple, really. It's just a matter of finding the good spots for them, and prioritize correctly. Several posts have been made about target prioritizing earlier, and they are worth reading (I can't find any good links at the moment- feel free to edit it in mods ). Anyway, Snipers in the main gunline is just like any other units: Find them a good spot, be careful not to expose them to too much (usually not a problem unless the enemy gets really close), have LOS to everything you want to fire at and make sure to prioritize correctly.

If you decide to use the Snipers to cover a flank, they should not be there alone. As their weaponry is very specialised, you will typically want a small, flexible unikt with them. Fire Warriors (maybe mounted to increase mobility) will work excellent here. Kroot will also do a very good job; especially if they can find some woods nearby. If you know you are facing Marine Equivalents a small squad of Vespid might be a good choice. It all depends. Use them in conjunction with whatever unit is effective against the enemies you will expect to try the flanking approach. Important! Bear in mind that although the Snipers are primarily bought for their anti-Marine firepower, it may sometime be worth it to fire upon weaker targets. Example:
You have decided to use the Snipers as a flank protecting unit. An Imperial player sends a team of Veterans up your flank. An allied contingent of Tactical Marines advances on your main line. The pinning ability of the Snipers might make it worthwhile to stand your ground and fire at the veterans. A re-deployment can be time-consuming.

We have all heard of Kauyon, the patient hunter. Usually, this is what playing Static Tau lists is all about. This tactic is usually about setting a trap. In order to set a trap, a decoy is needed. Due to their Stealth Field, the Snipers can be a good lure. They are also cheap, and not scoring, so if the situation turns hopeless for the decoy, they are expendable. More so than most of the other units in our book! The guns they sport will also ensure that most players will want to eliminate them ASAP. The pinning, the sheer power, even the casual markerlight hit will make most players fear them.

[hr]

I hope this tactica gave you some food for thought. As always, the goal is to show you different ways of using a unit- and what it's good for!

[size=7pt]EDIT: My 500th post [/size]

~Olannon
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 15:09   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

Out of curiosity - can a unit be forced to take more than one pinning test a turn? If you take a test each time even a Necron or Marine Force commander will be pinned 25% of the time with three snipers firing at them and a eldar or marine squad with LD8 will only pass 38% of the time. Because as you say the snipers can be expected to earn one kill each time they are now a very reliable pinning unit.
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 15:54   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

Fantastic. And everyone knows I'm the guy who usually comes in and flames people for fishing for karma with some half-baked drivel that they plagiarized from a 6-month-old thread.

A few more notes:

1. however many sniper teams you take, if they aren't sitting right behind a troops choice, spread them out. No sense in clustering them together where the same fast enemy can take them all out. It is a real PITA to hunt down a static stealthed unit with 36" range, and not too many units to do it with. So putting two teams on opposite flanks makes it extremely difficult for the enemy to kill both.

2. As has been implied by olanon, a great place for them is right behind a static gun line. They have a 6" range advantage over pulse rifles, so they can generally shoot at the same thing as the FW, provided they're sitting right behind them. A great line is 24 firewarriors with 8 pathfinders right behind them, and a sniper team on either side of the PF. And the stealth field eliminates the possibility of them getting sniped by lascannons from 40" away, which would be a very real threat, given the team's low model count.

3. A great use for them is a mech or hybrid kauyon. Stick them off on an empty flank, and the enemy is likely to send a force just powerful enough to deal with 4 weak models. To which you respond by crushing them with mobile forces as soon as they are out of support range of their main body.
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 16:15   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

Quote:
Originally Posted by march10k
3. A great use for them is a mech or hybrid kauyon. Stick them off on an empty flank, and the enemy is likely to send a force just powerful enough to deal with 4 weak models. To which you respond by crushing them with mobile forces as soon as they are out of support range of their main body.
Oooh! I like that idea! I generally put most of my forces on one flank, to try to concentrate firepower on portion of the opponent without opening myself up to return fire from the entire army. I like to put one or two units on the opposite flank to keep the opponent forces spread out, but they're getting taken out by long range firepower. The Stealthfield might keep the sniper team alive...
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 18:14   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastyfish
Out of curiosity - can a unit be forced to take more than one pinning test a turn?
Looking through the BBB....

The way I see it, there is nothing preventing you from having to make several pinning tests. Yay! Even more fun for our Snipers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by march10k
Fantastic. And everyone knows I'm the guy who usually comes in and flames people for fishing for karma with some half-baked drivel that they plagiarized from a 6-month-old thread.
Thanks It would be a little hard to copy this though, as I haven't seen any other big tacticas (at least not that old) on this unit (have you?). Thanks also for the points, everything contributed is appreciated.

So, thanks for the replies thus far; keep it coming.

~Olannon
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 21:53   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

I love the idea of sniper drones, and the way it came out as a unit. As you say, it is a really unique entry into the Tau army list. As always, A good tactica, though I can't say if it's totally correct since I've never played with the things. =p

Not everyone has to fill every heavy slot with railguns. I think the snipers will have particular appeal to those players who use an Ionhead, and play static or hybrid. Two teams can fill the role of an old ionhead for about the same price - similar board coverage, instead of mobility though they are two separate units to be deployed as you see fit, focused or apart. They also all have target locks! You want to try pinning 3 squads of guard? Go right ahead!

In addition to their devastating anti-infantry power, which will be great against necrons, they have a markerlight, which is fantastic. Pathfinders die all the time, perhaps the sniper drones' stealth field can make up for their low numbers? Although, they are harder to deploy than pathfinders.

One thing though - I take exception to your categorizing them as medium S weapons. Our S6 plasma struggles against demon princes and big monsters. Rail Rifles are no better - you really don't want to fire them against vehicles either. Like plasma, these things will be taken for their AP - and their pinning checks. A "medium strength" to me would be 8, I think.
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Old 07 Apr 2006, 22:08   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

I just tested out my drones against marines recently and WOW eh got terrified they killed in the whole game. ;D Yes, I got them already.

12 Space marines
2 termies
Ihmobolized a rhino
and killed 3 guys in the command squad!
This makes them way worth their cost

Id say they are best on flanks where the enemy is distracted by your main line.
Also they can totaly annalate strong units. Oh ya it is totaly good to have 2 units.
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Old 08 Apr 2006, 08:38   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

If you consider S8 'medium' strength, then the only medium strength we have are the fusion blaster and seeker missile.

And true, not everyone fills their heavy slots with railguns. Piranhas with fusion blasters work equally well sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tau Outcast
I just tested out my drones against marines recently and WOW eh got terrified they killed in the whole game. ;D Yes, I got them already.

12 Space marines
2 termies
Ihmobolized a rhino
and killed 3 guys in the command squad!
This makes them way worth their cost

Id say they are best on flanks where the enemy is distracted by your main line.
Also they can totaly annalate strong units. Oh ya it is totaly good to have 2 units.
You did kill a lot! I must say I am surprised that you killed terminators though.

~Olannon
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Old 08 Apr 2006, 08:40   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

cool tactica but it doesnt mention pining at all?
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Old 08 Apr 2006, 13:33   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Olannon's Tactica part III: Sniper Drones

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lanfeix
cool tactica but it doesnt mention pining at all?
I think pinning was left out because of all the damn armies that ignore pinning.
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