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Why you should not take Markerlights and Seekers.
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Old 09 Apr 2007, 06:23   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Why you should not take Markerlights and Seekers.

Note, stats are taken from a previous tactica. For a pure math based breakdown of various forms of markerlights, check it out at http://forums.tauonline.org/index.ph...#msg1058230491

The idea: Originally, markerlights/seekers were to take the place of integrated heavy/special weapons in squads, something tau still lacks to this day.

The only weapon that could reasonably be considered heavy in the current tau troop selections is the kroot gun, which, with S7, Ap4, is moderately heavy, but certainly not a lascannon/missile launcher. It doesn't really affect any markerlight calculations, as it can't benefit from it. Other than that, you've got markerlights and basic troop weapons.

A comparison throughout this guide will be the seeker vs the krak missile. Why? Because they have an identical statline. However, a wide variety of armies have access to a heavy weapon in troop choices that is comparable.

In all comparisons to firewarriors, rapid fire is NOT accounted for. Since these are based of percentages, it's irrelevant.

First: Limited ammo. This is terribly obviously a downside. One more thing to worry about. Every time a skimmer drops, any unfired seekers on it further hurts your ammo reserve.

Second: Cost. Fielding a markerlight in a troop choice generally costs about 30 points. A FW with team lead upgrade and a ML costs 30, as does a ML drone(we wont even bother adding on the team lead upgrade to this cost). The only way you can really field markerlights cheaply is via pathfinders(fast attack). We'll get to that later. The cost of fielding a krak missile and crew is 25 for a SM tac squad, 23 for an SM scout squad, (27 for an IG infantry squad, 28 for an IG conscript squad. This may seem a small difference, but keep in mind that you still need to buy ammo.

Either a ML drone or a FW will hit half the time, so if you're lucky, and they live the entire game, you'll need three seeker missiles for them(assuming you don't lose skimmers prior to firing missiles). This ups our total cost to 60pts for a HW guy in the squad, more than double the price paid by the others.

Third. Interdependancy. As anyone who fields pathfinders can vouch for, markerlighting units tend to get shot up. Pathfinders are squishy, skyrays are high-value targets, and some opponents are fond of shooting down skimmers too. The problem comes in when you lose one, and not the other. If all your skimmers fall...well, you can use the MLs for other purposes, but you won't be launching those seekers you bought. Having your heavy weapons mounted on tanks that are, well, heavy weapon platforms is the epitome of putting all your eggs in one basket. Alternatively, if you lose your markerlights, those seekers are worthless.

Fourth. Special Squad members. Your team leader either IS the ML user, or controlling the ML users. Either way, if he dies, you lose the ML. Thus, anything that can single him out causes you to lose both your HW option and your team leader in one blow.

Fifth. They still miss. 12 krak missiles fired at BS3 lands you 6 hits. 12 BS3 ML shots launches 6 seekers, but gets only five hits. This further lowers the reliability and relative effectiveness for the points cost.

Well, thats the problems with using seekers as a heavy choice...lets go on to exploring it's possible benefits.

Unlimited Range/No LOS required. Not really an advantage. The MLs do have a maximum range and require LOS. Oh, and it's a foot shorter than the missile launcher.

Flexibility. A ML can do other things too! We'll explain why these are bad later. Keep in mind that in terms of killing other things, missile launchers also fire frag missiles.

LOS is drawn from launching vehicle: This can be an advantage. Realistically, it simply means that there are less targets that are a threat to armor. After all, piranhas, devilfish, skyrays, and hammerheads are all threats to rear armor anyhow. Being able to turn that side of your Leman Russ to the firewarriors, or rear to the gue'vsa without inviting an AT shot is quite convenient.






Now that we've determined that seekers are a relatively poor method of providing heavy weapon options to a squad, lets move on to the other reasons people take MLs in a squad.

+1 BS: This is a favorite...see it used all the time, actually. Ok, assuming you had a pair of ML drones(since honestly, networked are purely better), you're paying 60pts to get an average of +1 BS to your squad. With a full squad, this gives you 2 more hits a turn. Less, if your squad is smaller. Or...you could buy six FW, giving you three hits a turn, and more target flexibility. Note that these numbers are entirely irrelevant to your target, and thus, it's ALWAYS more efficient to add more FWs than to add MLs.

Autopass target priority: Well, it has a few problems. First, you usually have to pass target priority with your markerlighting unit to shoot them in the first place. This entirely defeats the purpose, as making a check to allow you to skip making the check gains you nothing. Secondly, it's not of any help for your own unit, if you've got a networked ML. Thirdly, you have to blow the counter before making the check.

Ignore Night Fighting Rules: Exactly the same as above.

Impose -1 Ld for a pinning check: Useless against fearless units. Pinning is mostly useless in the first place, with just about every army having a way to make it very difficult or impossible. Also, it requires a LOT of hits to do much. For example, lets say it's an LD 10 unit, five hits would require A PF squad and two integrated MLs shooting at it. That's about a 250pt investment. It still has a chance to pass at LD 5, though...On the other hand, 250pts more of units firing at it would probably kill a bunch of them, and at a minimum, cause them to take a LD check and a pinning check at -1. Dead models > pinned models.

-1 to cover save: Situational. If the armor save isn't already negated, reducing cover save is only going to help to a point. Lets take a rather extreme example possible...say, firing at kroot/catachans in a forest/jungle. In either of these cases, theres no armor save, so reducing the cover save vs your firewarriors is great, right? 12fw shots at BS3 translates to six hits, then five wounds. Unmodified, they lose 2.5models. With a -1, they lose 3.33. A net gain of .83 dead guys. Spending the 60points of MLs on more FWs instead would gain you another 1.25 dead guys. Like adding BS, it's about 50% more effective to just go buy more troops.


Now...as if those problems weren't enough, lets look at some more:

Interdependant: Same principle as before, only more gradual. For example, a six man FW team will only get half the benefit of +BS or -cover save that a full one will, and as the game progresses, you can expect to take some casualties.

Non-networked MLs: These are just annoying. You have to set up chains of fire, using many units to eliminate one. Strong interdependancy, which is a noticable weakness which many armies do not suffer.

Turn Specific: If you don't or can't use the ML counter, it's wasted. By comparison, firing missiles at something doesn't go to waste until the unit is completely dead.

Pre-firing Declaration: You get to declare all uses BEFORE any rolling to hit is made. In conjuction with the previous flaw, this can result in wasting ML hits.

Overshooting: An exceptionally lucky roll on MLs...say a pathfinder team gets all eight hits. It's quite possible that you won't be able to burn them all...but that the target will still be alive. Not a problem with traditional heavy weapons.

Terrain-dependant: If you have non-networked MLs, they're worthless unless other units also have LOS to the target. The heavier the terrain, the more difficult this is, and thus, the less effective the MLs are.





Lets look at the benefits:

Flexibility: You can use the ML to boost anything. The downside is, it can only support one thing at a time, and overall, your losing a fair bit of firepower to do this. In addition, buying more troops instead of MLs gives you a great gain in wounds. Feel free to do the math on various units to see how well the different ones fare. A ionhead? Instead of 2 hits, you get 2.5 with two ML hits. 60 points would buy you half a new ionhead(with an upgrade, and weapons systems included), or 1 hit. Twice the benefit for the price. The % gain is exactly the same for the secondary systems, btw.

Doesn't take up heavy slots: Pretty much the biggest gain. Skyray doesnt get this, obviously, but its worthless anyhow. The best thing about MLs is that pathfinders can slide into FA, which is hardly a crunch area.

Lets look at the various ML platforms.

Skyray. Seekers + Markerlights. If my efficiency calcs above are correct, you'd expect this to suck as opposed to say, taking an Ionhead. Well, in the course of an average six turn game, an intact skyray will fire all its missiles, getting 5 seeker hits and 2 ML hits(if you didn't buy it a TA, you wont get these). In comparison, an ionhead will have pulled off 12 hits. 1 less strength, same AP. Note that the ion cannon has a longer range than the markerlights as well. Secondary weapons systems perform exactly the same, and thus, are irrelevant.

So, the ionhead is almost twice as effective. Oh, and even with a TL, it's 15-20 points cheaper than the skyray. Next...

Sniper Drones: The biggest problems with these are that they take up a heavy slot and are pretty much immobile. Also, if the controller dies, the unit goes away, and they're non scoring. On the bright side, the ML is BS 4, and the rifles have TLs. Stealth is fun, too. Unfortunately, the ML range encourages you to be a bit closer than the stealth field needs to be to remain safe as long as possible. IMO, the biggest problem with this unit is not the ML, but that rail rifles are overcosted. 22points for a PF with one...is the 6S really that big of a deal? Basically, if you took eight FW instead of this unit, you'd kill more more of anything but MEQs. If you love the stealth field, XV15s/25s have the same kill/point ratio as firewarriors... Enjoy this unit against MEQs if you don't feel you need mobility, but thats about it.

Stealth Ldr with ML: Horrible idea. Negates the teams added mobility, and is very expensive. 45pts, even worse than a marker drone.

Gue'vsa Ldr with ML: The least inefficient of the team leads at this role, they clock it at 26points. Not enough to make them effective in the above examples, mind you, but it's less of a hit.

FW Ldr with ML: See all the above examples.

Marker drone: Same price as buying a team lead w a ML...except, it requires you buy a team lead. So, add another 5-10 pts that were not included in the above efficiency examples. In return, you get it networked.

Pathfinder. Ahhh, point-wise, your best possible way to get markerlights. Also, they come from a good place in the force org chart. A full team will run you 22pts a ML. It's not quite enough to make the above examples show a gain, but at least you nearly break even, and you get a handy lil devilfish out of the deal too. Unfortunately, this unit is very immobile and a very squishy target. However, as MLs go, it's your only real choice that gives you flexibility without greatly compromising the rest of your armies firepower. You can sacrifice some of that efficiency for a slight durability boost via dones. Depends on how much firepower you intend them to take.



There is only two real ways to make a ML unit efficient. The first is a farsight retinue filled with gun drones. The big problem here is that damage to either squad will rapidly reduce the overall effectiveness. Also, its an unholy amount of points to devote to shredding a single unit. Thirdly...with 0-1 pathfinder teams in the army, you get no redundancy. Lastly, the varying ballistic skills means hits after the first provide reduced benefits.

The other is a maxed stealth team with 12 gun drones. A ML BS boost will give you an average of 5.66 more hits. Purchasing enough stealth suits to provide that many would cost 113pts, a huge gain over the 60point cost to support the team. However, this does make the stealth team a huge, costly target, with too many models to DS, yet reasonably vulnerable to template weapons. Also, further ML hits provide a reduced benefit(second one is still profitable with maxed stealth team, third one really sucks though.)


+1 - Khanaris
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Old 09 Apr 2007, 09:38   #2 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

You put forward a very good argument but I disagree on a few points.

1. You compare seekers to krak missiles. While having identical statlines, they both perform different roles and it would not be reasonable to expect them to.

2. Markerlights are the heavy weapons of the tau army, not seekers. Seekers are simply another application of markerlights. You appear to be arguing on the premise that markerlights are taken for the sole purpose of firing seekers and the other roles they play are simply used when unable to do so. I am not sure about most other players, but the primary use for markerlights for me is to boost the BS of my firewarriors, therefore, the improved number of hits and subsequent wounds will almost always pay for the points spent on markerlights.

3. The price of the markerlight and seeker are not as high as you make out. Generally, most players will add a Shas'ui to improve the Ld of the squad, not just to get the markerlight. So, the markerlight will only cost 10 points on top of the existing squad. It is also important to note that not every seeker needs a markerlight, if taking markerlights for the sole purpose of firing seekers, you only need 2-3 for your army to launch 6 seekers.

4. You make the point that pathfinders tend to get huge amounts of fire thrown their way, indicating that this means you should not take them. However, I believe than if that is the case, you know that they are performing well. If your opponent is worried enough by your pathfinders to spend time trying yo dislodge them, that means that the pathfinders have plenty of targets to light up, spelling plenty of pulse goodness for all the fire warrior squads out there.

5. Every time I have fielded seekers, they have performed well and in the majority of cases, they have earned more then their points back in dead enemies.

Apart from that, it was a very interesting read, keep up the good work.
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Old 09 Apr 2007, 12:51   #3 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

You're right. If we had access to squad level heavy weapons in the form of 10 pt Missile Launchers... I doubt you'd see many Seekers being fielded. But we're not Space Marines. And we don't have squad level weapons of any sort, no less 10 pt Missile Launchers.

You need to conduct these comparisons in the context of the army as a whole.

Quote:
Ok, assuming you had a pair of ML drones(since honestly, networked are purely better), you're paying 60pts to get an average of +1 BS to your squad. With a full squad, this gives you 2 more hits a turn. Less, if your squad is smaller. Or...you could buy six FW, giving you three hits a turn, and more target flexibility. Note that these numbers are entirely irrelevant to your target, and thus, it's ALWAYS more efficient to add more FWs than to add MLs.
... if you're using your Markerlights to guide single-shot Firewarriors. If they're rapid-firing or if you're guiding something more expensive (like Railguns or Plasma Rifles) the situation changes a lot. Give this a read for a more in-depth treatment of this topic.

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Old 09 Apr 2007, 13:54   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

I was pretty much going to say what Tonka did.

It's all good and fine to compare ML effectiveness in relation to Fire Warriors, but you've done a great job ignoring some of the better units to use them with in the first place. Suits are a far better option to guide since they're where our special weapons lie. Marker lights allow your 'standard' plasma rifle + missile pod + multitracker suit to become more reliable at BS4 or 5. In fact, the biggest problem this encounters is the mindset people have of taking lone suits all the time - obviously the unit benefits more if there are 2 or 3 crisis suits instead.
The other great beneficiaries include Piranhas, who love to miss the broad side of a tank at the drop of a hat, and Vespid, who generally only become playable (some would argue, anyway) when supported by lights.

It's not that it's a terrible analysis, but that you seem to have gone into it with a (likely unintentional) bias. I think it needs more analysis towards likely scenarios rather than, "You're better off with more fire warriors."

I feel as though the point of MLs is to help a smaller number of units act as though there are more of them. It's all good and fine to say, "Well just take more units in the first place", but on the tabletop you can't always have all of those units in the right place.
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 04:06   #5 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pttocs
You put forward a very good argument but I disagree on a few points.

1. You compare seekers to krak missiles. While having identical statlines, they both perform different roles and it would not be reasonable to expect them to.
They come from different places, that's really the only difference. Given the indentical statline, they tend to be used on the same targets(light-med vehicles and instagibbing SMs). It's roughly as fair a comparison as possible...comparing them to say, lascannons really wouldn't be as good.

Quote:
2. Markerlights are the heavy weapons of the tau army, not seekers. Seekers are simply another application of markerlights. You appear to be arguing on the premise that markerlights are taken for the sole purpose of firing seekers and the other roles they play are simply used when unable to do so. I am not sure about most other players, but the primary use for markerlights for me is to boost the BS of my firewarriors, therefore, the improved number of hits and subsequent wounds will almost always pay for the points spent on markerlights.
Not the case. Seekers are the heavy firepower provided by a ML. All other options simply support an existing unit, be it heavy or not. Boosting BS for firewarriors is certainly not the role of a heavy wapon.

In fact, I dealt with all uses of a ML individually, and showed how markerlights are usually inefficient compared to simply purchasing more firepower.

Quote:
3. The price of the markerlight and seeker are not as high as you make out. Generally, most players will add a Shas'ui to improve the Ld of the squad, not just to get the markerlight. So, the markerlight will only cost 10 points on top of the existing squad. It is also important to note that not every seeker needs a markerlight, if taking markerlights for the sole purpose of firing seekers, you only need 2-3 for your army to launch 6 seekers.
In that case, it adds 20, as you lost a pulse weapon to get it...and certainly not every player upgrades every unit with a team leader. To be fair, I calcualted the cost of the carrying soldier into the price of other armies weapon options...for example, in IG, you need a two man team to handle them. It's something you MUST take in order to field the weapon, much like a devilfish for pathfinders. It may provide additional value, yes, but it is part of the cost as well.

True, you don't need a PF for every seeker. On average, a ML will launch about three, provided it lives the whole turn. Given that the above examples do not take into account extra MLs in case of premature death, it's not really an issue.

Quote:
4. You make the point that pathfinders tend to get huge amounts of fire thrown their way, indicating that this means you should not take them. However, I believe than if that is the case, you know that they are performing well. If your opponent is worried enough by your pathfinders to spend time trying yo dislodge them, that means that the pathfinders have plenty of targets to light up, spelling plenty of pulse goodness for all the fire warrior squads out there.
Why not kill them? They're no harder to kill than an equally sized firewarrior squad, but they net you far more victory points. Also, the stationary nature of the weapons, and moderate range tends to leave them in LOS to a decent area of the board, making them even more fragile. Yes, they have more firepower than an average FW, but the wounds/firepower ratio is higher, so they're premium targets.

Quote:
5. Every time I have fielded seekers, they have performed well and in the majority of cases, they have earned more then their points back in dead enemies.
Anecdotal, Im afraid, and not statistically useful. For example, they could have earned 125% of their points in 60% of the games, which would only mean they get around 75% of their cost back overall. And...are you counting the markerlight units torward that cost? A team of pathfinders, and a supply of seekers is hardly cheap.

Quote:
Apart from that, it was a very interesting read, keep up the good work.
Glad you enjoyed it, It's my feeling that sometimes folks are overly optimistic, and that by treating everything as good, just in varying degrees, it makes it hard to actually determine what IS useful.




Quote:
Originally Posted by T0nkaTruckDriver
You're right. If we had access to squad level heavy weapons in the form of 10 pt Missile Launchers... I doubt you'd see many Seekers being fielded. But we're not Space Marines. And we don't have squad level weapons of any sort, no less 10 pt Missile Launchers.

You need to conduct these comparisons in the context of the army as a whole.
I showed how they helped a wide variety of units, and how it was more efficient to simply buy those units. Comparison both within and without the army is the best way to make a balanced judgement about something.

The point isn't so much that a missile launcher is better...it is, but it's not a viable option. The point is, it's better to take more hammerheads, firewarriors, and all that goodness as long as we have force org space, instead of purchasing markerlights and seekers. Our heavy choices are excellent, and Im pretty fond of the elites as well. Using those options will get you more than markerlights or seekers.

Quote:
... if you're using your Markerlights to guide single-shot Firewarriors. If they're rapid-firing or if you're guiding something more expensive (like Railguns or Plasma Rifles) the situation changes a lot. Give this a read for a more in-depth treatment of this topic.
Already addressed this point, but I'll spell it out clearly. A ML hit supports 12 rapid firing FWs. Instead of getting 12 hits, they get 16. If they had instead bought six more FWs, they would have gotten 18.

Because it's a percentage based thing, rapid fire doesn't affect it's efficiency. After all, the new FWs you coulda bought instead can rapid fire too.

Remember that ionhead example? Lets look at broadsides, since you mentioned rails. Three broadsides, guided by a ML, hit on BS 4(twin linked) instead of BS 3. Thus assisted, they get 2.66 hits. 60 points more of unadorned broadside gets you 6/7th of one. This would get you 2.89 rail hits.

Plasma. A team of three Helios suits, for example, within the sweet spot(<12"), supported by a ML hit gets an average of six hits. Pouring the extra points into another suit(yes, I adjusted for the 2pt difference), would get you a mere 5.96 hits. That .04 really did it, eh? Lets look at plas over 12". 2 hits with ML support, 1.98 hits without. Notice that the percentage is the same....things like rapid fire don't affect it.

Note however, that squad sizes do, and I've been using maxed squad sizes, which give the markerlight the best possible efficiency. Lose a suit, and the numbers get workse.
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 16:57   #6 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

In my mech tau army i use pathfinders to guide in may three fire knife suits. They do an awesome Job. It makes my opponent really angry every time i kill three space marines in his squads in one turn. I see that pathfinders are the best way to field markerlights put if you are doing static tau, fire warrior marker lights are really good. Marker drones are best suited for this as they can give you +1 BS for the entire squad. Plus sniper teams are also very good. They aren't just for fielding ML. they are also snipers so they can do two Jobs. It is actually a very good unit and you get three of them in one Heavy support slot.

So i think that you are to harsh on thees units.
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 17:15   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscarius
So i think that you are to harsh on thees units.
Simply saying, "I use Markerlights and they are awesome and my oponents hate them..." does nothing to prove that they're worthwhile. None of your statements do anything to disprove Tyndmyr's quantitative assertions.
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 20:13   #8 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

Thank you, T0nka, took the words right outta my mouth. =P

Note that my stats are based on averages, so on any given day, you could get lucky and have the markerlights perform exceptionally well. Same is true of anything though...if your dice are lucky enough, you can get away with some crazy stuff. =)
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 20:31   #9 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Why not to take Markerlights and Seekers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyndmyr
Quote:
3. The price of the markerlight and seeker are not as high as you make out. Generally, most players will add a Shas'ui to improve the Ld of the squad, not just to get the markerlight. So, the markerlight will only cost 10 points on top of the existing squad. It is also important to note that not every seeker needs a markerlight, if taking markerlights for the sole purpose of firing seekers, you only need 2-3 for your army to launch 6 seekers.
In that case, it adds 20, as you lost a pulse weapon to get it...and certainly not every player upgrades every unit with a team leader.
This is something I strongly hate. I don't have a codex with me but I am pretty certain that giving a Shas'ui a markerlight does not get rid of the weapon he is carrying. Am I right in thinking that it says "the Shas'ui may take a markerlight" rather than "the Shas'ui may replace his weapon with a ML"? Otherwise where is the point in bothering to put HW multitrackers on the infantry wargear list?

The argument over infantry with HW MTs also gets on my nerves. But I posted about that elsewhere...

Otherwise, this is quite a well thought out argument, although it does fail to mention the odd point or two... But then everyone does, right? :

As for comparison, I think HK missiles are the closest to seekers, but hunter killers are less accurate, cost more, and are limited to one per vehicle, and although MLs have limited range, they have other uses once the seekers are used up. Therefore, it is more viable (in my opinion) to have a seeker heavy tau army, than a marine army where everything possible is given HK's, which is seemingly rather pointless anyway. Not that a seeker army is all that viable either, but I like the idea because too few people seem to use MLs in their army. I haven't seen any other armies using any MLs at all, but then, I've only actually seen two others... damn limited game experience...i should really try to get to the local GW sometime...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyndmyr
Note that my stats are based on averages, so on any given day, you could get lucky and have the markerlights perform exceptionally well. Same is true of anything though...if your dice are lucky enough, you can get away with some crazy stuff. =)
don't you just love it when four or five lucky fire warriors in a single squad kill a buffed up carnifex in a single round of shooting? or when a storm bolter gets lucky on a tank where a demolisher cannon didn't? ;D
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Old 10 Apr 2007, 21:24   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why you should not take Markerlights and Seekers.

When you consider that you're paying a Fire Warrior's worth for just one shot, the closest we can get to a Krak missile launcher costs, at minimum, nine times this. Consider that a missile launcher costs only one, and you see the problem. Not to mention that its less likely to hit, and shorter-ranged (don't think of Unlimited. It might as well be the Shas'ui holding it)...

I never use them anyways, but I never realised just how bad they actually were... :sadnshocked:
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"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

"Forgive you? Of course I forgive you. That is your god's function. Your crime is forgiven. However, your stupidity requires a response." - Leto Atreides II, God Emperor of Dune
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