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Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 07:24   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

With so many shiny new bugs and fusion-cannon hotrods, it is easy to forget to leave a few points or slots open for our valliant friends the Gundrones. Yet this cheapest of fast-attack Tau squadrons has proven a reliable and deceptively effective unit; one that perhaps shouldn't be eclipsed so easily by some.

The Gundrone:
Gundrones are, to put it bluntly, dirt-cheap. But this doesn't mean they're weak. Far from it in fact, Gundrones are one of the best bargins a Tau Commander can buy himself pointswise. This should be of particular interest to mech and hybrid players finding themselves rather low on points after all those tanks and tricked-out Fire-Warrior Warfish. Let's take a quick look at what a gundrone offers.

First of all, looking at the statline, we see something rather unimpressive. Lower ballistic skills than a regular fire-warrior, their stats were instead shunted into Initiative, of all things. All this for a 20% increase in cost over the regular warrior.

But wait: Those two guns on the little guys aren't just for show. That's right; thanks to the twinlinked status of their weaponry, gundrones enjoy a statisticly greater accuracy than Fire-warriors. This is a marginal difference (55% versus 50%) but leaves us with a simple fact: A gundrone is a ever-so-slightly more accurate fire-warrior with better initiative.

Second we can take a quick peek at the equipment and unit-type lines. We are now looking at a carbine Fire-Warrior that gets to move again in the assault phase, and can even deepstrike. All of a sudden, those two extra points aren't so bad: You're gaining jetpack movement, deepstriking capability, and a 5% boost in overall accuracy, as well as an initiative to match the average marine, which at least gives them a chance of trying to hit with their equally abysmal strength and weapon skill rather than simply dying.

In short, a Gundrone is a carbine Shas'la, with improved maneuverability and movement, deepstriking, an average initiative score and a minimal increase in accuracy over the standard thing, at a cost of 2 additional points per model.

What to do with them:
So what can one do with a gundrone? Put a whole bunch together so that they'll form a unit, that's what. With 4-8 models per squadron, you have a moderately sized unit carrying pulse weaponry; a serious threat to anyone whose saves are 5+ or worse, as well as anything with armor 10 or 11 somewhere. Thanks to JSJ capability, the effective range of the pulse carbine is increased to a healthy 24", allowing a commander to decimate and pin lighter troops with ease.

Being highly mobile and capable of deepstriking, Gundrones can take down anything a Fire-Warrior can, only faster. Sentinels, Basilisks, anything with AV 11 or less can all be taken out by gundrones, without requiring the commitment of far more valuable anti-armor weaponry. Sure, one could send a piranha to do this kind of work, but one won't lose his entire squadron just because a single hit from a bolter managed to roll high enough to cause one wound or glance. While meant for lighter fare, their weapon strength also gives them a fighting chance against monstrous creatures, where the average bolter-round or lasgun blast would simply bounce off.

This firepower deserves additional recognition: Pulse weapons cannot just be ignored by anything short of heavier vehicle armor or excellent saves. Unlike flashlights or other low-strength weaponry, ignoring a squadron of drones behind one's lines could prove a devastating error depending on what they happen to find back there. By taking this into account, a Tau player can force his opponent between a rock and several hard places; either way there's bound to be a headache.

Vehicle-mounted
Vehicle-mounted drones deserve special mention. Often overlooked for smart-missile systems on larger craft, they're standard on piranhas and devilfish. Such drones come in pairs, and unless dispatched by a squadron of vehicles, each will act as an independant, worthless (victory-points-wise) pair of extreme annoyance for those opposing the greater good.

Obviously, such limited firepower, barring the occasional lucky rolls, will certainly not tip the scales in one's favor very often. They do, however provide a handful of highly appreciated additional shots, whose wounds will yet again demand yet another pinning test before moving on to the next pair...

However, their real strength lies in the fact that they are the closest thing in the empire to "utterly expendable". As a fully operational unit, this pair of drones can provide IC status protection to a commander or special character. They force target-priority checks, and can even interfere with assaults if placed correctly with the usual 1" rules. We all know just how serious failing even one targetting-priority test or screwed-up assault could prove during a game, and to waste an entire healthy unit's firepower on a measly pair of drones which won't even give you any points, while the real threat stands just a few inches behind. A simple pair of drones such as this costs little and can provide immense benefits.

Design Flaws
Unfortunately, no unit is perfect. Well, some come pretty damn close, but there are no marine chapters in the Empire. For all they bring to a table (mostly flying death and destruction), Gundrones nevertheless find themselves with a bit of a customising issue.

Simply put there's nothing to customise at all. One can decide on the size of a squadron, from 4 to 8 drones, but that's it. No grenades, no Markerlights, no commanders, vehicles, heavy weapons or equipment upgrades, nothing. Drones come as they are, and cannot take any of the fancy gear most of our other forces can enjoy. But that's to be expected, considering their price.


Whether a cheap source of additional pulse weaponry to be placed where and when you need it most, or as decoys, light-vehicle hunters or infantry LoS-snipers, Gundrones are a hardy, reliable source of carapaced pulse firepower. As 'vanilla' a choice as they may be, they are quite capable for their cost, guaranteeing nothing spectacular without some very lucky rolls, but no glaring weaknesses to be exploited either. While there's better choices for any given situation, you will never truly go wrong with taking a squadron of gundrones. It is this poster's hope that his relatively incompetant rants and writing will help convince some of you that they really are a valuable, reliable workhorse.
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 08:00   #2 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

I can definately see a use for them, It will be a pain to a friend of mine who always takes a defiler with the +1 armour upgrade making the front tough. I will be able to DS in behind and hit the armour 11 instead

Thanks

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Old 13 Aug 2006, 09:00   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Nice post, I like it. The drones can deffinitely live up to their reputation as frisbees of death and annoyance.....
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 09:09   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Wow. I have ignored gun drones until now. This is a killer tactia. Did you get karma?
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 09:30   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Yes this does deserve a Karma Cookie with tasty chocolate bits too, mmmnnn :P

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Old 13 Aug 2006, 10:19   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Nova, you said the following was a disadvantage:

Quote:
Simply put there's nothing to customise at all. One can decide on the size of a squadron, from 4 to 8 drones, but that's it. No grenades, no Markerlights, no commanders, vehicles, heavy weapons or equipment upgrades, nothing. Drones come as they are, and cannot take any of the fancy gear most of our other forces can enjoy. But that's to be expected, considering their price.
I don't consider this a disadvantage. The reason: you are not tempted to turn that 96 pt 8 drone squad to a 150 uber-mega-death-causing-flying-squad-of-doom.
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 13:38   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

I love gundrones a lot !

There like jumping firewarriors !

In my combat patrol list I got 2 units of 4, and I love working with them


GOod post !
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 16:25   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Quote:
Originally Posted by KCKitsune
Nova, you said the following was a disadvantage:

Quote:
Simply put there's nothing to customise at all. One can decide on the size of a squadron, from 4 to 8 drones, but that's it. No grenades, no Markerlights, no commanders, vehicles, heavy weapons or equipment upgrades, nothing. Drones come as they are, and cannot take any of the fancy gear most of our other forces can enjoy. But that's to be expected, considering their price.
I don't consider this a disadvantage. The reason: you are not tempted to turn that 96 pt 8 drone squad to a 150 uber-mega-death-causing-flying-squad-of-doom.
Yes, they dont become the 150pt overdone and uber squad, but you can't embed a drone with extra equipment in the squad. For instance, imagine if you could give a drone twin flamers or twin fusion blasters, or best of all, twin burst cannons. The other drones in the squad could absorb any incoming fire, allowing the more heavily armed drones to survive. Until the very last drone is killed, the squad doesn't lose very much effectiveness.
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 16:43   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

I consider the fact you can't upgrade them a disadvantage, of itself, but it is also a temptation you don't have to avoid. While probably useful, of course, it's still a trapping to upgrade your squads excessively.
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Old 13 Aug 2006, 17:23   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Kor'Vesa and you: A guide to rabid frisbees

Nova,

Gun Drones are certainly a nice little fast attack. Before the new codex, Gun Drone were one of my more common Fast Attacks. I filled most of my slots with small teams of Drones. They were imperfect in those days. However, with the release of Empire Tau, GunDrones got a buff. They got quite a bit more incentive to be taken as fast attack. For starters, the awful leadership network rules are gone. Our Drones no longer suffer immensely from low squad size. In fact, they benefit more from it now with the removal of that rule. And we gained valuable gear that aid the mechanics of Gun Drones in other fashions: (1) positional relay, (2) pathfinder devilfish beacon and a lesser accepted or used (3) shadowsun moral bubble.

In lower point games, Gun Drones are very useful. Adding a fast attack choice for 48 points to your list that is a scoring unit with no moral de-buff rules makes them quite attractive. In larger point lists, it's difficult to kit out with several Gun Drone squads with things like Pathfinders and Piranha also being available at higher point levels, but they're still a very valid option that is often times completely left out of lists and ignored all together in favor of a "skimmer."

One thing to really touch down upon, is the moral of the Gun Drone. Because honestly, in all respects, Drones are perfect for their cost. Their stats are actually very good for their point cost, and their gear and utility is more than the cost is probably worth. Drones are actually a very, very good deal. There is but one fatal problem: leadership. They're ultimately mobile, have a fantastic weapon and very good stats for the cost of the model. The only thing that hurts is the leadership. Average, un-ethereal-effective leadership. A single casualty in a small squad, will result half the time in a 3D6 fall back move. That's a big problem worth noting.

Other things to remember to make note of: Fast Attack. Sure it's a fast attack, but what does that mean? It means it's deployed last. It means, after our opponent has deployed the majority of his army, we get to make the choice, of how we're going to deploy or not deploy our gun drones, and what they are going to best be used for in the particular game. If there's nothing that needs absolute attention, we can just field the drones in a way that we like. If there's something deployed that is going to gun for assault, well, it's good to be able to place drones in a manner to help intercept that or stall. If we see a hidden vehicle or hidden unit that will effect us, it's nice to be able to see it in advance, and instead of deploying, choose to reserve them and enter the game via deep strike to drop down and nail said target. Just the fact that they are fast attack adds a lot of flexibility in choice and response to the unit, as well as their deployment methods gained from being a jet pack unit type.

A fun note, something that is not exactly "effective" but can be fun, is a Shadowsun based Tau army full of Gun Drones. Shadowsun's command drone actually effects Gun Drones. You can effectively blanket all your Drones (and other units except Kroot) to have maximum leadership, making them even more stable. It's not a game-breaker nor competitive, but it can be immensely fun if you want to base your army around Drones and not suffer the moral problem. Just a little fun there.

Good write up, and you did receive +1 for the efforts

Cheers!
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