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Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?
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Old 20 Mar 2009, 19:11   #1 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

I have been trying to balance my markerlights with real guns and somehow, I still feel loathed to bring pathfinders - unless I'm going seriously markerlight heavy. The reason is, even being able to give their DF to other teams, it's still pretty expensive.

At a minimum, DF + 4 pathfinders is 128(pintofish)-133(dumbfish) pts. For 4 markerlights that are pretty much static and easy prey and all have to target the same 1 unit.

For 120, we can field 4 mobile, relentless marker drones with crisis or stealth teams that could potentially all target 4 different units if need be.

The stealth team also granting the marker drones stealth to boot! Basically, for +140, we can bring 6 relentless, stealthed, JSJ-ing markerlights in 2 different units shooting at 2 different targets each turn.

Also, deathrain+target locks + 2 marker drones make an interesting team that JSJ and operate at 36". The deathrain's TL'd MPs mean that the marker drones' hits can be used for other teams.

I normally have team leader + bonding knife anyway in my stealthsuit teams since I tend to bring stealth + gun drone teams. Team leaders can even aim at other targets if given target locks.

I don't have much use for the pathfinder DF either since my stealth teams either infiltrate or outflank. Or if not taking stealth teams, deathrains/firestorms start normally on the board. My FWs protect my Broadsides as cover save and (rapid-firing) assault shields. And Kroot infiltrate/outflank to assault/tie-up enemy heavy weapons.

I dunno why I'm so hung up on this pathfinder thing - perhaps it's just that so many people are singing their praises that I feel somehow 'bad' not bringing them...if that makes any sense :P

Just thinking 'out loud' I guess... thoughts, anyone?
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Old 20 Mar 2009, 19:21   #2 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

I totally agree with you and your sentiments on Pathfinders. They just cost too much due to the devilfish. Others who have units that can and want to hijack their devilfish are the one singing the praise. The biggest thing with pathfinders and their markelights is that every point you spend on the pathfinders places the burben of making those points back. Those points could of been spent on other units that are going to be killing units instead of markerlighting them. With outflank, drop pods, daemons, Nob Bikers and other fast hitting units running rampant the life span of a pathfinder is fairly low. The only viable use I have seen is outflanking them in a ninja tau army so that you a vehicle contesting your opponents objectives. Other than that, that being a stretch in my mind, pathfinders are a point sink.
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Old 20 Mar 2009, 19:34   #3 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

I still say giving their fish away is the best thing.

Drop one fish from your FW's and the points difference is almost non-existent.

A squad of PF's does excellent work when you figure giving their fish away. For the cost of two marker drones, you then have 5 Pathfinders. Odds are better for hitting and in lucky cases you outstrip the ML potential of the drones by quite a bit.

You lose out only in mobility in my eyes, but gain in more average ML hits and the capability to actually shoot a damaging weapon if need be.
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Old 20 Mar 2009, 20:53   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

Much of the advantage of pathfinders comes from the fact that you can have 8 of them. In my opinion it's unfair to them to do any cost calculations with less than a full squad. If you only want a few markerlights, tack them onto existing squad-leaders like fire warriors or stealth suits. Or add marker drones to a crisis squad.

In my opinion, there are at least 3 tactics that all but require an investment in pathfinders: seeker missiles, fish of fury, and stealth suit / gun drone squads. Seeker missiles are useless without markerlights, and unless you have several sources of lights you will have a hard time getting the missiles launched. Fish of fury and stealth suit / gun drone squads, because their AP is relatively low, pretty much require the squad to be shooting at BS 5. To reliably make them BS 5 (or twinlinked BS 4 in the case of the drones), you need 4 markerlight launchers per squad. If you want to do two squads worth of FoF, then you will need 8 markerlight launchers for BS 5, and you're just not going to do that without a pathfinder squad. Against tough guys like Marines, I find that you really do need that much firepower to take them out.

Lets look at some ways to calculate the cost per markerlight of the pathfinders: The cheapest way of doing the accounting (other than ignoring the cost of the devilfish entirely) is a full squad of pathfinders (no shas'ui) and a pintofish. That's 176 points for 8 shots, or 22 points per shot: way less than a marker drone. A more reasonable configuration would be the above plus a disruption pod and a shas'ui with target lock. This is 196 points or 24.5 points per shot: still less than a marker drone. Continuing to a full warfish (adding SMS, TA, and multi-tracker) we get 231 points for the package or 28.875 points per shot. We still haven't quite reached the points per shot of marker drones, and we now have a full warfish for free!

That being said, pathfinders do have the problem of being static units, but I believe that the overwhelming price advantage makes them worthwhile, and I rarely hit the battlefield without them. A bigger problem is actually that they're fragile. Marker drones attached to crisis suits are usually in a T4 unit with several 3+ armor saves, stealth suit marker drones are T3 but 3+ saves and a stealth field, sniper teams at least get a stealth field (although 5th edition wound allocation makes them useless), and the skyray is the toughest markerlight platform of all. Maybe the answer (I just thought of this, so it might not work) would be to combine "Patient Hunter" tactics with the "shield'o" trick. Take a full pathfinder squad, give them a pair of gun drones for extra wounds, and attach TWO crisis commanders (likely with target locks and stims and/or iridium armor) to the squad. Use this big juicy target as the lure that your opponent HAS to go for and swarm everything else onto any unit that tries to get close to them.
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Old 20 Mar 2009, 22:39   #5 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

I think the problem with pathfinders is not the question of using them, but how many teams we are forced to take. >
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Old 21 Mar 2009, 02:24   #6 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

And another important thing about pathfinders required devilfish that hasn't been mentioned yet is the marker beacon on it. I run a crisis heavy army, and love my deepstrikes. The re-roll able scatter dice has saved my behind more times than necessary. That and I don't even use the fish for my pathfinders. They simply infiltrate in a safe building somewhere while my fire warriors enjoy the safety of armored transport.
I do think that 1 squad of pathfinders is a good addition. Not necessary of course, but the benefits outweigh what people call negative.
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Old 21 Mar 2009, 07:10   #7 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

Pathfinders have become absolutely integral, and necessary in my army. I will never ever play without them in anything more than a 1000 points with the current incarnation of the rules.

DF is really irritating, however, it's necessary to balance the potential awesomeness of PF + killing units combinations. HOWEVER, like most, I think it should be dropped, the points spread across the team evenly, and a few upgrades given to help balance them against the other armies and what they can do. As is, however, I have almost my entire army revolving around them now, as everything in my army except Kroot benefit from them.

My HQ+Bodyguard team probably benefits the most from them, but my Railhead and Stealths are close seconds. In my 2000 pt list I played last game, I had a total of 13 MLs spread across my army.

My HQ+Bodyguard team is:

HQ
-XV8 Shas'el
MP, T-L PR, BK, H-W MT, H-W DC w/2 SDs
-XV8 Shas'vre
MP, T-L PR, H-W MT, H-W TL, H-W DC w/1 SD
-XV8 Shas'vre
MP, T-L PR, H-W MT, H-W TL
Total: 321

I know, lots of points. However, it can take down ANYTHING short of an uber-horde, which I have other things in the list to deal with, like my Railhead, other suit with T-L Flamers + AFP, full SS team, etc.

However, while the HQ squad is nice by itself, it becomes tons more deadly with some MLs. An average of 4 ML hits from a full PF team means no cover saves (normall) and BS4 for the Shas'vres and BS 5 for the Shas'el. One more ML from elsewhere will let them all hit with BS5, or negate a 3+ cover, and turn the best cover (2+) to a 6. This effect, if they all survive, over 6 turns, is devestating to all Teqs, Meqs, and, as I call them, "Aeqs" (Aspect-equivalent, mostly in regards to 4+ Armor Sv like Genestealers, other Tau, and Kasrkin, and most Aspect warriors). I mean, that's a huge variety of units. That could take a serious beating from that team. Termies drop in? Rapid fire? Combined with a little fire from my BS's = dedded. Incoming Dire Avenger rush? 2 turns = dedded; + RH = 1 turn dedded. Incoming Assault Marines? Team + Broadsides = dedded. Landspeeders? With good rolls, full squadron = dedded. List goes on and on...

And of course, with all my MLs in my army, I can do some serious damage. Done correctly, Most units on the board will be able to engage almost everyone else with at least BS4. I really like to smack down incoming mob units like Orks and Nids with the HH + some Stealths and/or FWs all w/ML support. I can literally annihilate almost if not a entire Slugga boy mob a turn if things go decent with that combination.
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Old 21 Mar 2009, 23:33   #8 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

I usually give amrier drones to Fw squads for the BS bonus and you don't have to worry about your enemy wiping them clean in turn one and they are always where they are needed.

That's my two cents. ;D
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Old 21 Mar 2009, 23:46   #9 (permalink)
Kroot Shaper
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?

Thanks, guys! This is precisely the kind of discussion I was looking for regarding this issue. Love this community!

Right... I guess it really depends on your play style but one can't argue about the awesomeness of a full fireknife team with plenty of markerlight hits to take out cover saves and max-up BS5. Agreed. In this case, marker drones would be too expensive.

Do you pro-PF guys bring any kroot? If so, how many usually? I don't suppose it would be too many since they take away from the shooty guys in the codex and they can't benefit from ML hits... and how do you use them (if you do)?

I'm still not convinced that SS-GD teams would need PFs if they carry 2 markerdrones with them. With their weapons, there's no real point taking out cover saves against Teq,Meq,Aeq, is there?

OK, so how do you guys keep your PFs safe? Do you stick them close to some kind of firebase (making a juicy but potentially survivable target area)? Or do you just keep them out on their own and hope for the best? Since PF's aren't much of a threat on their own and if they're out of the way, enemy's would probably just head straight for our shooty guys instead. Maybe?

EDIT: There's a thread relating to the issue of protecting PFs here:
Topic: How far is too far to protect pathfinders?
http://forums.tauonline.org/index.php?topic=80804.0
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Old 22 Mar 2009, 02:22   #10 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: Are pathfinders really the cheapest markerlight option?


Hi,

I use a full squad of pathfinders, and I find they are great at getting rid of cover saves from MEQ/TEQ and vehicles that when I'm firing my railguns and plasma.

However I do see that a particular play style may find as much use out of them. One of my troop choices is 6 fire warriors who were use the pathfinder's fish, so I see it as just the cost of the pathfinders I'm paying to get 8 markerlight firers.

If you prefer static (or at least umounted fire warriors), use smaller squad sizes and wouldn't make use of the devilfish I would you agree the pts spent on pathfinders may be better spent on more firepower.

To make the best use of pathfinders I'd also suggest that the rest of the list should compliment them, ie. full squads of crisis, stealths etc. In my list I have a unit of three broadsides (leader with plasma) joined by a BS4 fireknife commander. The pathfinders can help the broadsides against vehicles, and later help them against MEQ/TEQ that get a bit close (they can fire 7 AP2 shots at 12" range, and normally have a kroot unit nearby to get between them and the assauters, so they can do them same the following turn). I also include a full squad of deathrains (I use flamers or BSF rather targeting arrays, so these guys sometimes use a markerlight to increase BS). Lastly I use a full squad of firestorms at 1750 pts, another full squad to make best use of the markerlights.

As it happens I still use kroot (even though they can't benefit from the markerlights). My markerlights are busy helping the broadsides, crisis suits and hammerheads. I use a squad to outflank, and another smaller squad normally deployed between the pathfinders and broadsides. They can fire on infantry approching these two key units, and if needed just put themselves between the enemy to buy me another turn of firing.

Protecting the pathfinders is key, however as I see them as only costing 126 pts (ie. without the devilfish which is for my fire warriors) they only have to fire 3 turns to give me as many markerlight hits as the same cost in marker drones. First I give them a shas'ui with 2 gun drones for 2 ablative wounds. Then I join a commander to them who also has 2 gun drones. So 4 drones can die and my commander can take a wound or two before the pathfinders die. The commander increases the squads leadership. And I try to deploy in cover to give the whole unit a 4+ save (the commander and his two drones deploy just outside the cover so they don't have differcult terrain tests, but still get a cover save because the majority of the unit is in cover).

Lastly I don't deploy too aggressively with them, looking for a good piece of cover with good line of sight, a good distance from the enemy, and ideally without an approach shielded by terrain the enemy can use to get to them. Good piece of cover and distance from the enemy are the first things I look for when choosing their deployment.

So far the pathfinders have performed very well, but I have to say I didn't use them at all in 4th edition. The ability to use the devilfish for fire warriors and the increased cover saves in 5th have made them shine.

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