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3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish
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Old 17 Apr 2006, 17:32   #1 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

I’m still the biggest Markerlight fan in the world, and I’ve also become a fan of the new “Warfish” (Devilfish with SMS and various upgrades) and I’m wondering what holes others might bring to my new army concept of three units of Pathfinders with Warfish…

The basic outline is this: (assume 1750 points)

3x8 Pathfinders, Shas’Ui upgrade w/Target Lock, Drone Controller, and 2x drones (shield or gun, not sure which), Bonding knife. (136-ish each)

The Devilfish would be SMS, MT, Targeting Array, Target Lock, Decoys, Disruption Pod (130-ish, each).

I’ve typically been running my FWs in units of 10 in Devilfish, and the longer I have played, the less Rapid Fire has meant to me, as I’ve found ways to avoid needing to be that close in the first place. Rather than re-tool to Carbines, why not use the Pathfinder?

Okay, no drones, no Piranha, no Vespid. I play a heavily mech list, and that might occasionally be a problem, but the amount of markerlighting that I can do is phenomenal.

Considering how many tanks I’m fielding, and the amount of firepower I can deliver through seekers (which I’ve never really used before) and SMS without needing LOS, there are some really interesting possibilities. With Pathfinders having Carbines, and with having 3 units of them, I can play a style that will enable me to do true “bounding” – by that I mean having a stationary unit using markerlights so another moving unit can hit, pin, deny cover. Having 3 units also disables the enemy’s ability to focus on the “one markerlight unit.” (I will probably field another unit of 12 FWs stationary in this list, the rest will be tanks and suits/kroot).

In addition, with the interesting idea planted in my head by Mal, I will have three gunships that can deploy 24-inches forward before the first turn, and the possibility of getting 36 inches if I move first, before the enemy can react. Moreover, Fast Attack sets up last (hmm, maybe it’d be a good idea to deploy those Fire Warriors in 2 units of 6 instead just for deployment considerations…)

What do you think?
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Old 17 Apr 2006, 18:32   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Hey man,

I think too much of one thing is usually not the best route to go, but there's a difference in this one: this one is for fun. First things to note are that, having lots of markerlights doesn't guarantee much if we don't have anything to guide. Seekers run out fast and if they don't do critical damage, we just buried ourselves. But theres are alternatives, which I'll go into, as well as the ideas you've presented here.

Quote:
3x8 Pathfinders, Shas’Ui upgrade w/Target Lock, Drone Controller, and 2x drones (shield or gun, not sure which), Bonding knife. (136-ish each)

The Devilfish would be SMS, MT, Targeting Array, Target Lock, Decoys, Disruption Pod (130-ish, each).
This is just shy of 50% of your entire army list in points. For that, I would really tone it down. However, considering how they work--it's much like using pathfinders as firewarriors. I wrote an article on this actually, to gain more FoC away from the Troops to increase mechanization and allow room for more small mobs of Kroot. Anyhow, you can definitely cut a little fat here probably.

Pathfinders are in trouble from turn one. However, if you have something more scary and more dangerous, then they will work.

Consider this:

6x Pathfinders; Shas'ui (82 points)

That's a small good scoring unit. They're flexible and they can be left in cover somewhere to guard their victory points, while you send out the Warfish to be a bullseye target and grab attention after doing some good scary damage fast. Three squads like that is pretty cheap for the sizes and scoring wise, they're great falling to 1/2 victory points at 2 models. Pumping the shas'ui and adding drones increases our size, but in the end, it's just another heavy bolter's worth of death on our hands.

Warfish
-Fish; Multi-tracker; SMS; TA; Decoy Launchers (120 points).

This is nearly the cost of an Ion head, which makes it questionable. But, as a pathfinder fish it is fielded in Scout and also is required--so we might as well make the most it. Additionally it will aid deep striking unit to scatter if we have line of sight (making some good use of suits perhaps).

Turn One - 24 to 36 inches, we will spray a lot of BS4 Str5 hits, through terrain, or near it. In a mission, this can be crippling (in escalation, this is just nasty). In a standard game where two people line up and shoot--this will fall short. So it's pretty much one sided in my book in terms of it actually being worth it. Missions & Escalation, yes. Otherwise, it's not going to be ultra worth it.

~ Fixing the Markerlights ~

Skimmers don't block line of sight. Infantry can fire right through. Pathfinders' markerlights beg to be shot by any gun that can't harm a skimmer. And they will die. The skimmers may last a while, but those Pathfinders will definitely feel the pain.

Sniper Spotters have BS4 markerlights. You don't have to light your sniper team and they're stealth fielded. Why not take advantage of this buried, cheap markerlight that hits with great odds, eliminating the need of 2 actual pathfinder lights? We can then buff any unit at BS4 accuracy and reliably. And we won't lose it to a heavy bolter. The snipers themselves are merely a bonus, to add a wound or two on their own BS3 value to shake up anything else. Ld8 allows the target lock to put those snipers on anther target, while our light does something else. Two teams give you two BS4 lights. And the drones give you 3ish dead infantry models per round on their own (without light help). So you're killing two birds, with one stone--just not that same stone.

--- Now, how do we make this work?

Vehicles that are very aggressive and in our opponent's face will take a lot of attention. We can then scatter the board with small scoring units who can do a lot when they work together. What's the difference between 12 fire warriors, and two squads of 6? What's the difference between 12 fire warriors and two squads of 8? Nothing really. We simply have more separated scoring units and targets--making it harder to kill them all in one sitting, and forcing our opponent to sometimes waste firepower with over saturation of a team.

I would probably use Kroot in this situation. Kroot up front can take a lot of attention away from smaller teams of firewarriors.

Suits can simply pick up the slack of the other things we need (light anti-tank and response).

Unfortunately--this puts you away from mech and more to hybrid.

~ List idea? ~

Consider something like this, and how it would be deployed and how the layers of shooting would work:

HQ - Shas'el; Pods; BC; MT
HQ - Shas'el; Pods; BC; MT
Elite - XV8; TL pods; Flamer
Elite - XV8; TL pods; Flamer
Elite - XV8; TL pods; Flamer
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Troops - Fire Warriors x 8; Shas'ui
Troops - Fire Warriors x 8; Shas'ui
Troops - Kroot x 12
Troops - Kroot x 12
Troops - Kroot x 12
Heavy - Ionhead (MT, DL, SMS)
Heavy - Ionhead (MT, DL, SMS)
Heavy - Sniper Teams x 2

Just taking the idea of deployment order and response. The Warfish & Kroot are your first responders and also build the infiltration fence. The FW's and Pathfinders actually take 2nd fiddle in terrain and just try to keep out of as much direct sight as possible. Depending on the game level, we may not have suits or tanks yet if we're in Omega. But right away, we've got BS4 markerlights on cue, and a lot of surgical hits ready to happen. Quite a bunch of kroot to maul before getting more towards the Shas.

--- Anyhow, it may be out of the ball park for what you're looking to do, but it's just an idea for you.

What's another method.. perhaps with seekers for a "change."

HQ - Shas'el; MP & FB; MT
Elite - XV15 x 4
Elite - XV8; MP & FB & MT
Elite - XV8; MP & FB & MT
Troop - FW x 8; Shas'ui | Fish; Decoy Launchers; 2x Seekers
Troop - FW x 8; Shas'ui | Fish; Decoy Launchers; 1x Seeker
Troop - FW x 8; Shas'ui | Fish; Decoy Launchers; 1x Seeker
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Fast - Pathfinders x 6; Shas'ui | Warfish (MT, TA, DL, SMS)
Heavy - SkyRay; TA; MT; DL; SMS
Heavy - IonHead; SMS; MT; DL
Heavy - IonHead; SMS; MT; DL

This sort of setup would be to take more advantage of the lights, via multi-gun setups on suits for anti-tank (pods & fusion do wonders from the side/rear, guided for absolute brutality for hitting). More armor too of course, and less of the static or infantry stuff that you may not like. Anyhow just another idea.

What were you thinking about the rest of our list, aside from the Pathfinders?

--Sky Ray could fit right into this.
--Fire Warrior boats to act as "mini-sky rays" ?

What do you think?

Cheers!
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Old 17 Apr 2006, 19:40   #3 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Well, in my haste to post, I did forget to add one thing about my approach:

The idea behind 3x8 PFs was exactly to replace three units of Fire Warriors. My latest lists in Tau Empire had been fielding 4x9 Fire Warriors with Shas'Ui upgrade, markerlight, target lock, 1xmarker drone, bonding knife (150 points) and some sort of Devilfish (usually 1 Warfish and 3 ordinary fish).

It was effective, and in the manner in which I am accustomed to playing (maneuver, maneuver, maneuver, shoot and hit on 3s or better). The aforementioned method of employing dispersed markers within FW units was nice, but because of targeting rules, I found the +1 BS enhancement a little too unreliable.

There is a cost-to-benefit ratio of PFs, with their inherent markerlight ability, over the cost of the Shas'Ui, Markerlight, and Drone. I am presently in a mindset of 'field testing' Tau Empire's ability to 'break' the game via massed markerlight usage (particularly that aspect of massed markerlight which pins and removes cover saves). So I'm working through permutations of markerlight deployment and cost minimization.

But ultimately my theories are more designed for my playstyle (a person who relies heavily to exclusively on mechanization/jetpack mobility) than for the greater community (although I don't mean that disrespectfully; it's just that I'm one of the seemingly few hard-core mech tau players here). I'm very good at mechanized Devilfish movement and deployment/redeployment, so that's what I stick with. I also find my brain's general love of fluidity is benefitted by having fewer models to move, thus leading me toward Mech over static. Still, I bring them here so that others can generate their own ideas for employing them in some capacity or other, and of course, to have them critiqued by "smart people" who see things I sometimes do not.

Now, on to the Warfish:
A warfish in the 18-to-24 inch range delivers more firepower than a Railhead at a range of 25-inches or more. With a Target Lock (TL), it can maneuver so that it can hit a priority threat (something with a decent anti-tank weapon) without being hit in return, and it can also maneuver such that it supports its own deployed FW/PF unit with the burst cannon. This is a pretty common strategy of mine - hit two things at once, one that can hurt me and one that can't - so the TL is an essential part of my equation. The Target Array and Disruption Pod, not so much so (but I have an addiction to hitting on 3s now, and while my Fish may not be scoring units, I consider them armored fire warriors in utility. I deliberately try to make them targets people want to kill, because most armies have an integral heavy weapon and have to choose either/or to shoot at infantry or tank threats, wasting the other.

This is because they are serving as distractions for: Markerlight pathfinders, and most importantly, Railheads (I field two in every list, "175 point specials" with BCs, etc.).

Mal, you're probably familiar with the concept of "bounding fire" but some might not be.

Bounding Fire is a concept of maintaining mobility while providing fire at targets. It's difficult to move and shoot effectively, but when two (or more) units team up, one unit can move while one unit shoots. This works itself into my theory on 3x Pathfinders in that one unit can be stationary in a "safe" location (e.g. something with a cover save) with a good field of fire for the 36-inch markerlight, one unit starts the turn boarded in a Fish and moves to a new location deploying PFs that shoot essentially at 18-inches plus the move distance, and if necessary, one unit of Pathfinders can be retrieved by a Devilfish and taken away from a dangerous/irrelevant location (else it fires markerlights are Pulse Carbines as appropriate to the threat). At any given time, at least one unit of Pathfinders is able to mark and two are capable of staying safely out of assault range (while still firing if they are deploying).

The markerlights can benefit either the Devilfish (carrying between them 21 shots), or the minimum-required 1+ unit of Fire Warriors (probably static in this list) and Kroot, or Stealth Suits, Crisis Suits, or Hammerheads.

I generally don't believe in missed shots, and if hitting on a 3+ is good, hitting on a 2+ is better. I know the costs don't support this on a Math-hammer perspective, but my play style has found it advantageous. The statistic that I consider most important is failed saves. Since Pulse weaponry almost always wounds on 2s or 3s against standard infantry, and standard infantry is the bulk of any force I face, I know I need hits now to start winning the battle of attrition of failed armor saves. I approach my games with the belief that I dominate the shooting phase, and the earlier I dominate it, the less attrition I will suffer throughout the game - so hitting more and earlier is to my advantage. I've admitted thoroughly that I'm bad at the math side of things, but if I can know that I'm hitting on 2s, I can figure out how many saves I'm likely to force an enemy unit to fail.

Indeed, to me, the Tau weaknesses to me are managed through proper threat assessment, and destroying utterly those enemy units that are the biggest threat on any given turn. Now, mind you that I don't require BS5 for my shots, but for critical shots (when I need that Railhead to hit that Leman Russ), I'll devote markers to it (thus the Shas'Ui with Target Lock in all of my infantry concepts).

I feel that people who dislike Pathfinders have generally over-emphasized the ability to scout forward from deployment zones. At least where I play, far too many players move Pathfinders forward in a scout move. In almost all circumstances, I've found this to be a mistake. To the contrary, I've often set up in an odd location where I appear vulnerable either to redeploy into my devilfish and move away from that spot, or to move into cover within 12-inches of my initial deployment spot during the Scout move. Further, the Devilfish and the PFs do not need to set up remotely close to one another, and with Warfish, there is an advantage to not doing so. The Warfish represent a greater degree of mobility and deployable firepower in a single turn, with a higher probability of survival from most weapons, than the Pathfinders themselves (does anyone else in all of 40K get a Tank that can take a Scout move? Let alone the firepower such tanks can carry?) They also channel movement, provide the distraction for failed Target Priority tests, and distract from Hammerheads (or augment them in such turns as Hammerheads are Crew Shaken).

Previously, playing infantry that always had a dedicated transport, Omega level "Escalation" games were problematic in some respects. Playing the style of force that I played, the possibility of Escalation required me to stop taking Broadsides and even Kroot, because when something is alone or virtually alone on the board, it was far too easy for the enemy to kill it through concentration of firepower. Indeed, it was this fact that caused me to redeploy my markerlights from PFs to FWs (in the form of the Shas'Ui upgrade plus Marker Drone) because PFs were required to start on board, they could be victimized by this.

By contrast, having three units of "fire warrior scouts" that I know are going to always start on board allows me to change a couple of aspects of my game. First and foremost, broadsides may now be included in the list without fear of isolation in Escalation. Second, Kroot become a much more viable shooting unit. Third, rather than 4 devilfish in the 4x9 configuration of Fire Warriors, I can eliminate one and use a static FW unit. The viability of static elements has been, as I see it, enhanced by the realization that I will have 30 models no matter what that start on board even in escalation (10 per PF unit when you add in drones), plus the possibility of 21 shots in armor.

I'll be proxying this force as soon as I find someone to face me.

Augmenting the PFs will be (possibly):
1 unit of FWs
1 unit of Kroot
or
1 unit of Stealth Suits

2x Railhead "175 point specials" (I forget who coined that term, but we use the same type of Railhead, so I'm stealing it from him)
1 Shas'El Fireknife
2x MP/flamer or MP/Fusion XV8
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Old 17 Apr 2006, 22:21   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Heya,

I think using your markerlighting pathfinders to fuel units like Kroot would be pretty useful. If you consider they infiltrate and have targets at 24 inches, cost cheap, and will be firing along with your Warfishies, you can use lights to pretty much pump out that damage.

Consider this:

Assume you have 8 Fire Warriors in a squad.

Each only taking full range shots; and another test at 12 inch range.

Anyhow:

8 x Firewarriors @ 30 (unaugmented) = ~1 marine casualty to expect (just barely 1).
8 x Firewarriors @ 30 (augmented to BS5) = 1~2 marine casualties to expect (between 1 and 2).

--- But like you said, in the game, it's very different in terms of what we see compared to what we can expect. Mathhammer isn't the answer in any case since it just gives a very vaccum based idea of things.

--- In the game, rolling a bunch of 2+'s to cause hits and wounds results in a lot of dead infantry models, regardless of their "chance" to save. Sometimes we have odd moments where they repel everything and we are stumped at our rotten luck or their supreme luck that day, but for the most part, it works to just throw a lot of dice that have a positive number on the end that we want.

Quote:
I feel that people who dislike Pathfinders have generally over-emphasized the ability to scout forward from deployment zones. At least where I play, far too many players move Pathfinders forward in a scout move. In almost all circumstances, I've found this to be a mistake.
I totally agree - I actually wrote an article specifically on that since throwing pathfinders in front generally get them killed all the quicker. But then again, a massive pool of people don't play omega level missions either and also down play the usefulness of the unit based on having all their tanks to begin with anyways. Pathfinders are a pretty great unit overall if employed well. And using pathfinders as firewarriors is another topic I've touched on since it actually is viable too.

Making it work for your play style simply opens up a lot of new possibilities

Quote:
I'll be proxying this force as soon as I find someone to face me.

Augmenting the PFs will be (possibly):
1 unit of FWs
1 unit of Kroot
or
1 unit of Stealth Suits

2x Railhead "175 point specials" (I forget who coined that term, but we use the same type of Railhead, so I'm stealing it from him)
1 Shas'El Fireknife
2x MP/flamer or MP/Fusion XV8
I think you'll get the most work out of your Kroot and ranged attackers who take less shots for the first part there. And for your 175 specials, it's nice that as a unit, it completely got better for shooting--not just one gun. That's just great. So guiding a tank is better than ever.

Finally your MP/Fusion XV8 will definitely shine if you have lights. He will put 3 nasty hard hitting armor punching hits into sides and rears of armor. I would frontal plate hits if you can, unless it's just a really weak transport, but otherwise, they will be brutal.

--Pathfinders & Kroot actually make a nice theme for "scouting" don't they?

Cheers!
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 03:33   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

I think the Target Lock is a waste on the 'Fish. I've been running the same thing minus the d-pods and target lock. I haven't really encountered a time when either of those would make a difference.

I was running 2 Pathinder squads before the new Codex. Since then I've only been running 1. In the last 4 games I've played they've not been able to get a single shot off. However, in the last three games they've been about the only unit to die. People focus on killing them while I have 4 'Fishes pounding out between 16 and 28 shots per turn. If I hope out its even better.

This is my atypical experience of course, but I think the FCW with a big 'Fish is a better buy simply from a psychological PoV.

Nice reading such deep discussion.
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 03:51   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Unorthadox technique. I can't say I'll ever reccomend it or use it...

You can't ML kroot. Sorry.
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 16:18   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

can't reccomend it? Really? I can't wait to hear some battle reports.

Lets say you were going to use carbine fire warriors anyway, in a FOF style. comparing that to a regular FOF, you half your shots but increase the range 6" and can pin. Allright, maybe this will never replace the rapid fire FOF, but as the second unit in a double FOF, It's not a bad addition.

Now, lets compare the Carbine FOF to a pathfinder FOF. Well, we can only have 8 finders and 2 gun drones, so we have a 2 shot/wound reduction. The decrease in bodies compensates on point value, making the pathfinder unit about equivalent in cost. so in trade for those 2 bodies, what do we get?

well, for one, free markerlights. If we look at our 'finders not as markerlight carriers, but as carbine fire warriors, the markerlights are FREE. we don't have to worry about the markerlights earnign their points back, as taht's not why we have the finders. If they EVER do anything, they are golden.

Second, the scout move. We start on the board in escalation, and even if we don't, we can react to enemy deployment before the first turn. Definately worth the 2 model squad reduction.

Third, the homing beacon. If you decide to deep strike anything, this will be invaluable.

So if used as carbine warriors instead of markerlight carriers, Pathfinders start to become more attractive for the points value

Next, the Idea of using more then one squad starts to make up for what many people consider the biggest weakness of the 'finders, their fire magnetism. One squad of deployed 'Finders gets killed quickly by concentrated firepower. If you have 2, however, that firepower isn't as concentrated. 3, and they won't know what to shoot at.

So if you normally run, say, 4 FOF firewarrior squads, I might consider switching 2 out for the pathfinders. I think this could be a very viable tactic.
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 20:03   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Quote:
Originally Posted by MechTau
You can't ML kroot. Sorry.
While that's a bummer (and something I can't see as I understand at all! Why Vespid and not Kroot?).
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 20:42   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Oh, and you can only ML Vespid while the leader guy is still alive! MAHAHA!

I really see this as deviant from the standard way of building lists. Potentially powerful, yes, but is it a good idea?

Rapid firing FW w/ ML get lots of MEQ kills. Truely dakka.
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Old 20 Apr 2006, 21:00   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 full teams of Pathfinders and Warfish

Quote:
Originally Posted by MechTau

I really see this as deviant from the standard way of building lists. Potentially powerful, yes, but is it a good idea?

Rapid firing FW w/ ML get lots of MEQ kills. Truely dakka.
It's ALWAYS a good idea to be deviant.

And this list doesn't lack Rapid firing Fire warriors. It still has the 1+ fire warrior squad.
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