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Pathfinders Tactica
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Old 21 Apr 2009, 17:54   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Pathfinders Tactica

Pathfinders:

A Pathfinder team can be invaluable to a Tau army, since they are our primary source of Markerlights and they can perform several roles on the battlefield.

Advantages:

- a whole bunch of Markerlights, with a full unit you should get about 4 tokens a turn on the target
up to 3 may be upgraded to AP3 snipers with deadly range, capable of shooting at different target each
- their Devilfish allows a re-roll on Deep Strike scattering roll if the designated spot is within LOS
- their Devilfish may be used by other units, namely Fire Warriors.
- their Carbines can move and fire, have better range than Pulse Rifles after moving, and they cause Pinning (however unlikely to happen)
- Scout move (granting the Outflank ability)

Disadvantages:

- they cost more than Fire Warriors, have lesser range than Pulse Rifles and no Rapid Fire
- mandatory Devilfish, the Pathfinder team must be embarked in it to use the Scout move or Outflank ability with their transport
- Markerlights and Rail Rifles are both move or fire weapons
- one of primary targets for any opponents with half a brain cell inside his or her skull

Pathfinder models:

Pathfinder Shas'La with Pulse Carbine and Markerlight

This is your basic Pathfinder. The primary source of Markerlight tokens.

Pathfinder Shas'La with Rail Rifle and Target Lock

A sniper. Enough said.

Pathfinder Shas'Ui with Pulse Carbine and Markerlight (the box comes with one, fully metal, Shield Drone)

The team leader. Better Leadership and most importantly, access to Infantry Wargear, especially the Bonding Knife (you should have plenty spare ones from your Fire Warrior sprues). May take up to two Drones, however, this is usually considered a waste of Points. May take Photon or EMP Grenades, the first one being a waste of a Point, since it would only affect the Shas'Ui.

Possible upgrades:

Shas'Ui team leader it may seem costly, but the Leadership boost may save the whole unit, plus this upgrade allows the team leader access to Infantry Wargear.

Photon Grenades Avoided by many Tau players, since in the case you accidentally allow your Pathfinders to be assaulted, you need your team to preferably run away from combat in the opponent's Assault Phase and this makes it harder.

EMP Grenades Some refuse to take them, some swear by them. Can destroy even the toughest vehicles on 4+, regardless of the Armour Value. However, with the 36 range of the Markerlights, any vehicle trying to get close to the Pathfinders should be painted and turned to Swiss cheese by our anti-tank units long before it can reach the Pathfinders. On the other hand, the EMP Grenades may become a nasty surprise for a charging Dreadnought. One EMP Grenade may be taken separately for the Shas'Ui team leader.

Rail Rifle - Deadly to anything with 3+ or worse Armour Save, not protected by a Cover Save, or denied the Cover save by markerlight tokens from another unit. Excellent range and Strength of the weapon. Can instantly kill Toughness 3 multi-Wound models, such as Imperial Guard Characters. Since it comes with a Target Lock, it allows the Shas'La to fire at a different target than the rest of the unit.

Bonding Knife A near must for the Shas'Ui team leader, since it allows a unit to regroup even if under 50% strength.

Drone Controller - Depends on the playstyle and preferences. A Gun Drone may add some firepower in case an enemy gets close, a Shield Drone may soak up a wound that would otherwise kill a Pathfinder. Marker Drone is virtually useless, since Markerlights may not benefit from other Markerlights, not even mentioning its Points cost. And it has to remain stationary to fire the Markerlight, since it becomes regular infantry.

Multi-tracker - No real use in a Pathfinder unit. Why would you want to fire both weapons on an enemy unit with the Shas'Ui? Both weapons have different uses. This upgrade is probably not worth the Points.

Target Lock - Allows the Shas'Ui to fire at a different unit. Under normal conditions not really useful. It is best to concentrate the Markerlights on one target to maximize the chance to hit. If there are Snipers in the team, they already have the Target Lock.

Battlefield roles (most may be combined freely):

1) Source of Markerlight tokens (mainly for giving bonus to Ballistic Skill and for denying Cover Saves)

The primary and most important task of a Pathfinder team. If a vehicle is painted, a Railgun (or another weapon) can use the Markerlight tokens to improve the chance to hit, which is especially deadly when Broadsides with their Twin-linked weapons use the tokens. When an infantry unit is painted, a Pulse Rifles salvo from Fire Warriors may be decimating with improved BS. Against light infantry with Armour Save of 5+ or worse, such a Pulse salvo can wipe out an enemy unit.

One of the most effective uses of Markerlight tokens is to deny Cover Saves. It is particularly devastating to an enemy Bike units, going Flat-Out for a 3+ Cover Save. If used in conjunction with AP 1-3 weaponry (such as a Sniper Drones team or a different Pathfinder unit's Rail Rifle snipers), this may mean a wipe for this enemy Bike unit.

There are more uses of Markerlight tokens, such as ignoring Night Fight rules for that particular shot, or reducing the enemy's Leadership for a Pinning test. However, these uses are not seen too widely, although ignoring the Night Fight rules in a scenario played using the rule (not the Dawn of War though, there is no way for the Pathfinders to use the Markerlights in turn 1) can give the Tau player significant advantage.

2) Sniper support

There are two main variants of the role. Either the team consists of three Rail Rifle snipers and a team leader with a Carbine and a Markerlight, or the team consists of three Rail Rifle snipers, four regular Pathfinders and a team leader, preferably a Shas'ui with a Bonding Knife, all five equipped with a Carbine and a Markerlight.

The first variant allows all three snipers to engage different targets each, while the team leader may use his Markerlight to paint yet another target for other units. The second variant allows 5 Markerlights being used on a different enemy unit than that shot at by the snipers.

The snipers are best used against Space Marine Equivalents (MEQ's). They are particularly deadly against Bikers and similar dangerous units with 3+ or better Armour Save.

The fact that unlike Sniper Drone teams Pathfinders do not have Stealth generators is compensated by Pathfinder snipers not taking a Heavy Support slot in the Force Organisation Chart.

3) Supporting other units, namely objective holders, with Carbine fire

When deployed near an objective held by a friendly unit, and an enemy unit threatens the scoring unit from close range, or threatens to charge it, the Carbines of the Pathfinders may prove more useful than Markerlights. The Pathfinders can even move normally and then shoot their Assault weapons at 18. If lucky, or aided by another friendly unit's Markerlights, the Carbines may even cause Pinning to succeed, given that the enemy is not Fearless. A failed Pinning test can prove lethal to the enemy infantry, which are then unable to do anything during their following turn and are subject to another salvo from both the threatened scoring unit and the Pathfinders.

4) Delivering Seeker Missiles to strike from sides or rear

If used for this role, the team has to Outflank, therefore it must start the game in Reserve embarked in their Devilfish, equipped with two Seeker Missiles. It then comes from one of the sides of the battlefield, preferably somewhere in the rear arc of enemy vehicles. This however requires a second source of Markerlights, since in the turns they enter the battlefield from the flank, the Pathfinders are unable to use their own Markerlights.

When an enemy vehicle is painted by a Markerlight, the Devilfish launches a Seeker Missile (or both if neccessary), needing 2+ to hit and 2+ to glance against most rear armours, usually without any cover in the way. This may be effective even against side armour.

A modified version of this role may be used. The Pathfinders supply the Markerlight tokens from the frontline, while Piranhas race forward to get to the rear of the enemy vehicles, using the Flat Out ability (both to get to maximum speed and gain a Cover Save), to deliver the Seeker Missiles.

5) Assisting Deep Strikes

This role is mostly performed passively by the mandatory transport, though the Devilfish has to be on the table already at the beginning of the turn when a unit enters the battlefield via Deep Strike. Any deep Striking unit landing in LOS of the Devilfish may re-roll the scattering roll. The re-roll can be really helpful when delivering a Fusion Blaster within 6" of the rear armour of an enemy vehicle, or when Deep Striking to contest an objective. This role is often used by Ninja Tau armies.

6) Granting transport to other infantry units

This role is simple. The Pathfinders deploy in position to use their Markerlights, or they use the Scout Move to get to position, and then the transport is used by another unit, namely Fire Warriors.

One of the possible ways of using the transport in a game where the Tau have the Initiative is to deploy inside the Devilfish, surrounded by the other unit, needing the transport, use the Scout Move to move 12 and deploy the Pathfinders. Then in turn one move back where it was deployed and the other unit may embark (and no measuring the distance back is required, since you are returning in your own tracks). Since the Pathfinders did not move after the Scout Move, they may effectively start the game 12 away from the deployment position and still use their move or fire weapons!

Notes on tactics:

- Deploy as close to the position where you want them for the rest of the game as possible and use the Scout Move to get there, unless Outflanking.
- If possible, stay in cover, such as some suitable ruin or in woods.
- Spread out! Stay within maximum coherency distance to avoid blasts and templates catching the whole unit. This is especially important against wepons ignoring Cover Saves. If inside a ruin, spread across several floors to minimize possible losses from blasts and templates.
- Remember, there is no Cover Save against a Markerlight hit, so do not worry about part of the team being deeper in some area terrain, such as woods.
- Protect the Pathfinders. Keep some other unit close by, so that it may be used as meat shield in case something gets close.
- Do not hesitate to move out of harms way or to a better firing position. You may lose a turn of painting the enemy with your fancy laser pointers, but next turn, your Pathfinders are still there and able to fire again.

Conclusion:

The Pathfinders are a great and versatile unit. They may be costly, both Points and money wise, especially since they must take the Devilfish, however, their battlefield performance more than makes up for the cost. My advice is: Never leave base without them if they can by any chance fit into the roster. In larger scale games, consider using two teams.
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Old 21 Apr 2009, 18:35   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog
- mandatory Devilfish, the Pathfinder team must be embarked in it to use the Scout move or Outflank ability
Incorrect, the scouts move applies to the Pathfinders, not the Fish. Otherwise very good.
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Old 21 Apr 2009, 18:46   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by pepin0329
Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog
- mandatory Devilfish, the Pathfinder team must be embarked in it to use the Scout move or Outflank ability
Incorrect, the scouts move applies to the Pathfinders, not the Fish. Otherwise very good.
3rd paragraph of the Scouts USR says the unit confers the ability to the transport if embarked in it. Since Scouts enable the Outflank ability, it applies too. In the chapter about Reserves it says that they may Outflank with their transport, but they must be embarked in it.

I agree that my wording was not the best. I will reformulate it. And thanks for the heads-up.
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Old 21 Apr 2009, 22:11   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog
6) Granting transport to other infantry units

This role is simple. The Pathfinders deploy in position to use their Markerlights, or they use the Scout Move to get to position, and then the transport is used by another unit, namely Fire Warriors.
I've been burnt enough times by that to be sceptical about that. On numerous occasions, my fire warriors get wiped out by blast templates before they can actually get into those vehicles it doesn't do much good when they can't start the game being inside it
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Old 22 Apr 2009, 01:33   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

One thing I would add. Like most non-battlesuit infantry in the tau army, pathfinders are fragile. They make such a large difference to a tau army that they need to be protected somehow. Keeping them in cover is not enough as two casualties is enough to force them to fall back, denying them at least one turn of fire with the heavy weapons. It's not hard to do four wounds to a T3 squad.

To protect them, there are two options I know of. You can outrange the enemy's basic guns (don't forget the Scout move to help with this) or you can attach a couple of shield'o commanders to the squad.
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Old 22 Apr 2009, 07:29   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

@Wu-Tang-Tau - Yes, you are correct, our Troops usually suffer a lot from blasts. That is why I suggested loading them into the Fish in turn one. This way you get a highly mobile scoring unit. I would suggest a small, like 6 man team of Fire Warriors for that task.

@knightperson - This is a good idea. And if one of the Commanders has Iridium Plates, you get 3 models with a 2+ Save. If you use an XV-89 Commander (if legal where you play), you can even get 6 such models.

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Old 22 Apr 2009, 23:39   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog

@knightperson - This is a good idea. And if one of the Commanders has Iridium Plates, you get 3 models with a 2+ Save. If you use an XV-89 Commander (if legal where you play), you can even get 6 such models.
Yeah, the iridium armor is a necessity. I've only tested it once so far (another try is expected this weekend), but what seems to work is one shas'el fireknife with iridium armor and 2 shield drones, and one shas'o with CIB, plasma rifle, positional relay, stims, and 2 more shield drones. The potential weakness to the tactic is that if an assault squad does manage to survive long enough to get them, a sweeping advance will wipe out all three units (ouch!). My plan is that the shas'o will detach and come forward to intercept the assault if necessary (and hope like hell they don't have a powerfist!).
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Old 23 Apr 2009, 01:14   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by Watchdog
@Wu-Tang-Tau - Yes, you are correct, our Troops usually suffer a lot from blasts. That is why I suggested loading them into the Fish in turn one. This way you get a highly mobile scoring unit. I would suggest a small, like 6 man team of Fire Warriors for that task.
Guess if they get the first turn I will have to keep those boys on reserve and rush em in on turn 2 if I can manage to roll them onto the board. Unfortunetly the devilfish won't be able to move if the fw have to move into it, am I right?
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Old 23 Apr 2009, 06:56   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Pathfinders Tactica

@Wu-Tang-Tau - If you deploy the Pathfinders from Reserves in turn 2 (IF they come at all), you won't be able to use Markerlights until turn 3. Not a good deal at all. And yes, if the Fish deploys a unit and then another unit moves close and embark, the Fish may not move any further that turn.

You can always deploy the Fish landed and hide the 6 Fire Warriors behind it so that they are out of LOS for those nasty blast throwers. If you are to go second, you deploy second. Therefore you see where the blast weapons are and you can check their LOS.

@knightperson - Yes, that could work. Still, I consider joining the Pathfinders with Commander a waste of the Crisis. Scpread them out instead and offer more immediate threats to the opponent, so that he has to concentrate fire elsewhere.
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