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Vehicle Drones: Tactics
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Old 25 Dec 2008, 13:29   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 127
Default Vehicle Drones: Tactics

Set yourself on those Warfish huh? Seven Strength 5 guns sure are a must...

OBJECTION!!!

In this thread Im going to argue on how much Vehicle Drones (Or VHDs as they will now be referred to) can turn a game around and ultimately be your best friend. They can do much more than an extra pair of Strength 5 guns, and are usually a lot cheaper too!
I will however have to say that they can be awfully fiddly and difficult to use if youre not used to controlling masses of them (My 1500 list contains SIX squads of VHDs)
If you dont manage them properly you may find that they benefit your enemy just as much as they benefit you.
If your club counts them as Kill Points, theyre still awesome in 2/3 of your other games.


The best source for Drones
VHDs are found on all Tau vehicles, but some are better placed on certain vehicles than others. Starting from the lowest:

Hammerheads/Skyrays: VHDs are expensive, costing as much as an SMS. Not being part of the vehicle itself is also problematic, as it only takes two weapon destroyed results for your tank to blow.
Devilfish: Cheap drones! Whereas a Smartfish needs to spend an average of 35 points or more on upgrades, the Dumbfish can get away with just a Disruption Pod. By scrapping two Warfish, you can afford yourself the equivalent of a Piranha.
Piranhas: Top of the pecking order, the piranha is open topped, allowing VHDs to move, shoot AND assault up to 18 of their original position!

The thing about VHD's is that you have to spam, spam, spam. You cannot be half hearted about it, you either take a lot of them or not at all as they're supposed to be the 'meatshield' of Tau.

Now lets look at the many uses of these beauties...


Take cover!
Drones can make your squads MUCH more durable by obscuring line of sight to your opponent with the new 5th Edition rules. Crossing open ground without a transport doesnt have to be a death-trap; VHDs can come in support with Fire Warriors, Kroot, Vespid and Suits and effectively halve their casualties if positioned properly.
This can be an enormous boost to the normally fragile Tau infantry. Heavy Bolters can easily force your units to get pinned down in cover. Not so with VHDs! Use them as mobile cover; your enemy has to waste a turn shooting at said moving scenery.
When fighting against a static gun line, LOS (Line of Sight) becomes predictable. Use it to your advantage and take advantage of this tactic!

Maximising your potential
Use fast moving Piranhas to support outflanking Kroot, Deep Striking Vespids and Suits. VHDs allow you to play more aggressively than usual. Use the drones movement phase to move out of your units line of sight and use the assault phase to cover your troops.
If you find one set of VHD's go down too quickly, give your squads another. When playing this tactic you should have plenty to spare.

What can go wrong?
Your opponents fast movers and deep strikers are a problem and can position themselves to negate your mobile cover.
You also have weapons that ignore cover. These are usually at AP 5 and make no difference to squads of Fire Warriors or Suits. Vespid and Kroot on the other hand...
Ordnance weapons, but that comes as standard doesnt it?
Your biggest problem (at least for me) is yourself. When getting used to controlling more than four squads of VHDs, it can be hard to know whos covering who from what. Not only do you have to make sure your drones protect your units from enemy fire, you also have to make sure they dont obscure your own units LOS.
One game I had had me using VHDs to cover my Kroot as they advanced towards the Ork line. Unfortunately, I positioned my drones in such a way that they gave bog standard Boyz a 4+ Cover Save against my Fire Warriors!
VHDs die if someone blows on them, theyre THAT fragile...durr


Commander Boosting
VHDs allow you to have more durable Commanders. Join your Commander to a squad of VDs and you can have up to four drones in your unit alone. Of course you can go the extra mile...
A recent tactic Ive been experimenting with involves a ShasO with, Gun Drones and TWO squads of VHDs. I join the Commander with one set of VHDs. The other squad of VHDs remains in front of the ShasO, using the cover tactic explained above. What do we get?

Thanks to the majority toughness rule, FOUR drones get a mighty T4!
The Commanders unit get hefty cover saves, whilst remaining HIGHLY mobile.
A turn of shooting wasted on behalf of my opponent taking out my mobile scenery.
No points wasted on costly Shield Drones or Generators, very economical in these hard times.
No slots taken in the Fast Attack option


Disrupting enemy support

Attention duellists, my drones are assaulting you!
Alright, so imagine that you have two SEPARATE squads of Fusion Piranhas closing up to the enemy Marine army. Its your turn and you have a choice of going after a Marine tank or a (relatively) small squad of Devastators. Both units are just as dangerous as the other, but your opponent has braced his tank against a potential attack and going after it would no doubt smash at least one of your Piranhas up. But its worth it for the Greater Good, right?

HOLD IT!

How about another option?
VHDs can be VERY shocking in assaults against vulnerable enemy support units; i.e. Dark Reapers, Marine Devastators, IG Heavy Weapon Squads, Gretchin Artillery, essentially the units that suck in close combat as much as you do...almost. No, not to kill them, but to tie them up indefinitely!
To maximise this tactic you need at least two SEPARATE squads of VHDs assaulting a relatively small squad in a single sweep. VHDs in Piranhas with the 18 assault range is by far the best choice for this. Now lets go back to our Marine example...

Shock, horror! Instead of going after the tank you sent your two Piranhas after the Devastator Squad, opening fire within 6 of the squad.
According to Mathammer, 1-2 MEQs should die if you chose Burst Piranhas, or 2-3 MEQs if you went for a Fusion. I hope you detached those VHDs in the movement phase, because its time to assault with them!

In theory, you should NOT assault with VHDs against enemies with more than 4-5 attacks as you dont want to lose more than one drone in a single phase!
5 MEQs with 5 normal attacks would on average kill 1.11 drones. Your drones...dont have much of a chance of wounding anything. Youd have to make TWO LD tests at 6. This is the saving grace of assaulting with two units of VHDs.
The chance of passing an LD test at 6 is ~42% whereas the chance of passing at least one test with two units is ~66%. As long as one unit passes the test, your enemy CANNOT make a sweeping advance to wipe you out.

Maximising your potential
Weaken your opponents support units before pulling this off. Its pretty obvious your drones cant hold off a full squad of 10 man Devastators, so weaken the squad with conventional means first.
Like everything with Tau, timing is crucial, wait until the target is about ~4 strong (preferrably under) before you tie up those expensive Lascannons/Reaper Launchers and HIT HIS WEAK POINT FOR MASSIVE DAMAGE!

What can go wrong?
The fact that two squads of VHDs are almost necessary to pull this off; their transport (Piranhas) is fragile and so are the drones on foot.
Even with the rerollable Leadership, theres still a chance that both your drones run off, getting cut down in the process.
There's also the fact that the squads of Piranhas take up two slots in the Fast Attack choice.


Speedbumping enemy assaulters
By positioning your drones in such a way that they're standing in between an enemy assaulter and your more important units, you're buying yourself time.
Consider a mob of Ork Boyz slogging their way to your Fire Warriors. Intervene with your VHD's and block their movement. If they shoot at the drones to remove them, they can't assault your Warriors, if they Assault the Drones, they cannot consolidate directly into your Fire Warriors! In order for this to be effective, you need around 2 squads of VHD's to make sure the enemy doesn't go 'around' them.

This can a pretty difficult one to pull off well. First of all you need to make sure you're not giving your enemy any cover saves. You also have to judge distances correctly as to deny them their full movement phase. Positioning is paramount, imperfect positioning on the drones will lead to your important units getting assaulted anyway.

Oh, and this doesn't work against jump troops.


So I urge readers to test them out, I find them a LOT more fun than a few extra guns. They're also very fluffy, AI are used to protect your 'real' troops no matter what race they are. Isn't that nice? And just in time for Christmas too.
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Attention duelists! My Tau are assaulting you!

Alien beans, my face is my shield, my furry is my sword!
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Old 25 Dec 2008, 17:50   #2 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 76
Default Re: Vehicle Drones: Tactics


They do add versatility, you just need to be careful when you decide to disembark them if you want them to serve a purpose. Also i remember reading somewhere that all the drones in a squadron of piranhas form there own unit or have to disembark at the same time or something, can someone check me on this. If thats the case then you'll have a squad of 6 annoying moving scenery units.

One thing mentioning is if you choose to disembark them your taking away from the firepower the vehicles caring them had and also your risking them getting destroyed if they get more then one weapon destroyed hits.




I was kinda iffy on your reasoning seeing the pros and cons.

But when you said attention duelists you had. For you must be someone very informed.

"Attention Duelist.... My Hair is Spiky!"
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Old 25 Dec 2008, 18:53   #3 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 127
Default Re: Vehicle Drones: Tactics

Quote:
Originally Posted by FADE

They do add versatility, you just need to be careful when you decide to disembark them if you want them to serve a purpose. Also i remember reading somewhere that all the drones in a squadron of piranhas form there own unit or have to disembark at the same time or something, can someone check me on this. If thats the case then you'll have a squad of 6 annoying moving scenery units.

One thing mentioning is if you choose to disembark them your taking away from the firepower the vehicles caring them had and also your risking them getting destroyed if they get more then one weapon destroyed hits.

I was kinda iffy on your reasoning seeing the pros and cons.

But when you said attention duelists you had. For you must be someone very informed.

"Attention Duelist.... My Hair is Spiky!"
Yeah it was a half an hour job, I'll clean the post up a bit later.

Anyway if you take drones they're not part of the vehicle itself and doesn't protect the vehicle from any further weapon destroyed results.

But for example if you take two piranhas in the same squad, the drones have to detach to form a single unit i.e, in this case one unit of four drones.
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Old 26 Dec 2008, 06:07   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 521
Default Re: Vehicle Drones: Tactics

While very expensive, you can use a full squad of 5 piranhas to create a bigger drone squad than you could buy in the normal units of gun drones.

And 20 attacks on the charge does stand a decent chance of getting a kill or two. Back it up with an outflanking kroot squad, and Tau may find melee to be a decent option vs. dark reapers, devastators, and similar small units.

Worth a thought at least.
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