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Tau Logistics and Advancement
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 05:06   #1 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Tau Logistics and Advancement

I was interested in two topics: How the tau supply/maintain units in the field, and how exactly the advancement works.

For the first, I would assume that in the field there are shas trained to maintain equipment, from basic cleaning and maintenance of pulse rifles and armor to being able to do field repairs on damaged XV suits, as the Fio don't really do anything in battles. These people will probably be Shas'la, as they don't have time intensive jobs (all higher ranks have to either lead or something similar). For more intensive repair and refit, they would probably have to get to either the fleet or a base with Fio or a dedicated Shas logistics team (do Shas have non-combat military personnel like mechanics?). On a side note, do Mantas have a Shas crew or Air Caste?

For advancement (specifically, the types of people that will be in each category).

'La: Firewarriors, Pathfinders and possibly parts of vehicle crews, these soldiers form the backbone of the tau army. All tau start of at this rank, but according to the philosophy of the Greater Good there is no more honor in being an 'O than a 'La, so a member of a firewarrior squad might have served for 12 years but still be the lowest rank because his specialty is a skill (he might be a mechanic, a programmer or a medic), rather than leadership or skill at arms. Overall, a large number will be young warriors just out of the academy's, but there will probably be quite a few grizzled veterans who have logistic roles.

'Ui: Teamleaders in infantry squads, line battlesuit pilots and possibly commanders of certain vehicles, these veterans have proven themselves to have nerves of steel and a steady trigger finger. Their stoic courage and individual flexibility make them ideal leaders of infantry, and their proven skill in battle makes them ideal choices to pilot the rare battlesuits. This is the highest rank that is common for the Shas, so many will simply stay as line XV pilots for the rest of their career.

'Vre: These Heroes of the Empire have proven themselves to not only be skilled combatants, but also have the makings of a great commander. It seems that they are all battlesuit pilots, although it is possible that some are commanders of Hammerheads or Skyrays. Only a few soldiers reach this rank, and they have the distinction of outranking typical teamleaders of both infantry and most battlesuit teams which gives them the ability to actually command the common elements of a hunter cadre in the absence of an 'el or 'O. They are analogous to a lower officer, and although they do fill a role in a cadre, it seems like it is really a training position for the next ranks.

'El: These are the first true commanders in the tau army. By this time, these warriors are confident cadre and capable fighters in their own right. They are primarily concerned with the specific mission they are on, but are likely capable of taking over for an 'O if the need arises and command a larger force.

'O: The most competent soldiers in the empire, these commanders are capable of understanding all aspects of a battle, from the supply lines supported by the navy to the psychology of their opponents. They make the large scale strategic decisions for Tau forces, and are in "command" of several cadres besides their own (hunter cadres are largely independant, but take general objectives from the main commander).

These are my thoughts at least. Anyone have any ideas or evidence that contradicts this?
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 05:22   #2 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

I don't know anything about Tau advancement, but supply lines and maintenance requirements have interested me for a while.

I do know that, in Epic, the Manta is grouped under the Air Caste. As it's primarily a space bomber and transport that was only later adapted for anti-Titan use, I'd bank on Air Caste for that reason too.

As far as general maintenance goes, drones and crewmen are going to be capable of doing a lot of that work. Reloading plasma guns, fusion blasters, and other dangerous work is likely to be handled by drones, as would spot repairs on armor and vehicle hulls. The easy and unskilled stuff (reloading pulse weaponry, putting ammo in the Hammerhead) is likely to be done by the Fire Warriors themselves. In general, Drones represent a very easy way of doing low-resource maintenance without training Fire Warriors or dragging Earth Casters along.

However, it's worth noting that a lot of Tau equipment seems to be particularly high maintenance. Hammerhead Railguns are known to be finicky, and I think it's clear that anti-grav engines are going to be a bit more prone to failure, and a bit harder to fix when they do fail, than a traditional treaded system. Crisis Suits mount a wonderful array of technology, all of it occasionally prone to failure, and Stealth Fields simply have to be fairly complicated pieces of machinery. I'd even wager that the increased power we see in Pulse Rifles comes at the cost of increased ammo/energy and/or maintenance requirements.

Given that fixing a lot of this stuff requires a great deal of technical expertise, the Tau are simply not going to be able to get that far from an Earth Caste supply base. Tau supply lines are going to be of utmost concern for their commanders, as their forces, while more powerful on a one to one basis than the Guard, will quickly fall into disrepair and uselessness if successfully cut off.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 05:35   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

hmm. thats not entirely true.

Tau weapons and drones are incredably competant and sturdy- where do you think that rail guns are finicky? in fact, Tau weapons are much up to the standards of current weaponry today in terms of maintenance. The Tau don't just give weapons to their warriors that might not work- remember the rail rifle article?

I don't know where you read this but your categorically wrong.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 06:48   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

In the fluff on the Swordfish (a Hammerhead with two Railguns) it's noted as being very high-maintenance. I assume that this is a result of being armed with two Railguns, since it's otherwise identical. It seems natural that a Hammerhead with one Railgun would still require a good bit of maintenance. Further, I really don't see how you can argue that skimmer tech is going to be easier to maintain than treads. It's going to require some complex engineering; a shot to a Devilfish's engine is going to require a good bit more repair work than a hit on a tread.

I also didn't mean to imply that other weaponry was finicky. The Railguns probably are - they put tremendous stresses on the barrels and are going to be prone to blowout, bending of the rails, or overheating. While they'll be predictable enough in optimal conditions, I'd worry about poor conditions and the possibility of damage to the mechanism from enemy fire. Given the nature and size of a Railgun, and the necessity of keeping the barrel straight and uncluttered, it's obvious that enemy fire could knock it out of alignment or disrupt the connection between the rails, either making the gun useless or worse than useless (the Hammerhead could well damage itself trying to shoot). From the Swordfish fluff, we know that they require regular servicing. The other weaponry is simply high maintenance. A Crisis Suit is a very complicated piece of equipment - there's lots of complicated machinery in there (this is why the T bonus is built into the statline and why they get an extra wound) and it's not just a suit of armor. They're going to need more powerful jump packs than what are given to Assault Marines, and so, assuming rough technological parity, they'll need more maintenance there. Plasma is an unreliable technology - the Tau have reduced the output of their rifles to the point where they don't risk damage to the user, but it seems clear that there's still going to be significant damage to the gun itself over time - the guns actually contain raw plasma, after all. Pulse weaponry seems to work on something like what we see in Rail tech, and I assume that there are significant stresses on the gun, as well as heat buildup. Now, Pulse Rifles are small arms, and so aren't going to be as vulnerable to incidental damage from enemy fire, but that doesn't mean that they can't be high maintenance. They may work perfectly well for a predictable period of time, but that period of time isn't going to be that long.

As an aside, today's weaponry is hardly built to be low maintenance, particularly when we're talking about tank-mounted and specialist weaponry. It's often exactly as I describe the Pulse Rifle - very reliable for a predictable, but short, period of time, after which it needs extensive maintenance. That's certainly the principle behind almost all military aircraft - they require extensive goings-over after every flight.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 10:21   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

Pulse rifles and general maintainability: i think the pulse rifle could actually be a pretty sturdy weapon, as a lot of it will be solid state, and it tends to be machines with lots of moving parts that require the most maintainence. Battlesuits, on the other hand could be a whole lot trickier - repairing battle damage to a crisis suit is likely to require more than a field toolkit. That said, given that stealth teams operate unsuported for extended periods, they must be fairly reliable.

similarly gravitic engines could be more reliable for the same reason - fewer moving parts - despite their technical sophistication. Of course, once they break they're likely to be harder to repair, but that's a different matter.

I'd imagine that all vehicle crewmembers have quite extensive maintainance training, and carry spares and basic tools. The fact that their hulls have modular weapon systems means you can probably swap out a damaged burst cannon quite quickly.

For logistical support i'd imagine Earth caste technicians rendevous with a cadre for resupply and repair in the field; Devilfish or even Orcas would be perfect for this as counterparts to modern day Chinook/Hercules transports. (On that note it's probably easier to drop off a new crisis suit and take the damaged one back than to repair in the field)

Advancement: you don't see that many 'Vre on the battlefield (unsurprisingly as they're not really worth their points unless you want special issue gear). They are a good choice to lead a combat patrol, though, so fluffwise that's probably their main role: either backing up 'Els or 'Os on the field or leading small recon and patrol formations.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 11:54   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

Rail weaponry is high maintenance, not finicky. Besides, any good hunter/shooter keeps good maintenance on their weapons.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 12:45   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotchaye
In the fluff on the Swordfish (a Hammerhead with two Railguns) it's noted as being very high-maintenance. I assume that this is a result of being armed with two Railguns, since it's otherwise identical. It seems natural that a Hammerhead with one Railgun would still require a good bit of maintenance. Further, I really don't see how you can argue that skimmer tech is going to be easier to maintain than treads. It's going to require some complex engineering; a shot to a Devilfish's engine is going to require a good bit more repair work than a hit on a tread.
I can't really remember reading anywhere that hammerhead requires lot of maintenance, so I doubt it is the railgun that causes the problem directly. More likely would IMO be either structural stress from recoil of launching the twin railgun (Ok, it sort of affects this, but I'd assume it is more a damaged turret then damaged gun) or the overstressed engine as it has roughly the same frame, but a lot more weight in form of second gun, this propably stresses engines, even if they are slightly better then normal hammerhead ones.

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Old 24 Nov 2006, 13:04   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

With rail weapons, I read somewhere that they have to replace the barrels after a certain amount of time, so presumable, there are Fio caste haulers with replacement barrels on board, behind the front lines, hell even in orbit, and after an action, they can ship one over, the crew can replace it and ship the old one back for scrap/repair.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 14:41   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

It's not that Railguns are high or low maintenance: Tau typically produce things that are zero maintenance.

Unless something goes wrong...

As highlighted in the 'Tour' of the starship in the novel 'Killteam', the starships plasma core is zero maintenance. There's only a few people nearby who're doing other things, specifically not monitoring them.

When asked 'what if something goes wrong?', IIRC, the Air Caste crewmember simply looks confused (as if to say "What do you mean by 'going wrong'?).

Technical failure, in this respect, is largely non-existant in the Tau empire: Except for low production rate or highly experimental choices. Of which the Railrifle was and the Swordfish till is.

Skimmer tech likely requires routine cleaning after battle, but the skimmer engines, the gravitic drives and things themselves will likely not simply 'break' through over-use.

Routine cleaning and 'checking' is probably in order, probably carried out by drones (this means the Shas can learn better ways to fight rather than worry about how to take his rifle apart) and Earth Caste supervisors.

In this respect myself and Calmsword appear to be in unison. Every impression so far is that the Tau do not mass produce things that have anything other than 'extremely low' maintenance. They're, essentially, the antithesis, technologically, to the Imperium.
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Old 24 Nov 2006, 14:46   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau Logistics and Advancement

I would imagine, there is some machine, like a large box (bear with me) and all the pulse rifles are put inside. As they move through, they are pulled apart and cleaned.

I doubt things break, as such, I think its more to do with enemy fire rather than simple wear and tear.

Take Tau armour - everything is made from a nano-crystalline material, from shas armour to starship hulls. When damaged, they can probably spray in a liquid form into the hole, and it sets to be exactly as the original cast.
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