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Tactica Marker lights
Old 25 May 2009, 04:39   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tactica Marker lights

With the advent of 5th ed Tau tactics need an update. Here's my attempt to start with one important aspect, markerlights.

Markerlights are an under valued portion of the Tau empire. Filling the roll of psychic powers and special enhancers that other armies get, correct application of markerlights is imperative.

The first most common mistake is improper expectations. Markerlights will not win the game all by themselves and are not the super "hey your dead 'cause I fried your brains" power. Marker lights enhance your ability to shoot effectively or reduce your opponents ability to survive being shot at.

There are 5 ways to obtain markerlights in a Tau army.
1) Pathfinders-
The good: cheapest and my personal favorite at 12 points per model and a mandatory Devil fish you can set up in the begining and use the scout move if you want or outflank for a late game surprise. Pathfinders have a pulse carbine and can fire once at 18" if your desperate and you can get upto 8 in a single squad. My favorite tactics is to set these guys slightly behind my fire base of forewarrior squad(s) for the cover save they gain without giving one to the target forces.
The bad: Markerlights are heavy weapons and can not be used on the move. once set the pretty much need to stay put or they become overpriced firewarriors. Also with a BS of 3 only half of the markerlights will hit on average.

2) Marker drones-
The good: networked markerlights can boost the ability of the squad they are attached to. It is now safer to hide them in a squad of fire warriors and feel realitively safe that they wont die on the first turn. Also when attached to crisis suits or stealth suits they gain the relentless ability and can jump-shoot-jump. Attach to stealth suits and you have a potentially devestating unit able to move and fire to full effect and the enemy needs to roll to see if they can even find you. Have a stealth squad with marker lights outflank and see the surprise on your opponent when a high rate of fire and accurate unit lands behind his lines.
The bad: High points cost you can get two and a half pathfinders for the same price. When attached to firewarriors and broadsides they lose mobility because the parent uit does not have the relentless universal rule.

3) Sniper drones-
The good:Small easy to hide unit. Stealth armor increases survivability.
The bad: Only one in unit will miss 50% of the time. Heavy support slot is better used elsewhere IMO.

4) Sky ray-
The good: Mobile. 2 shots at BS 4. 6 Seeker missiles. Every marker light in the army can fire these missiles. Perfect for a rhino heavy army.
The bad: If your not using these 2 shots to launch seeker missiles then your losing most of your points in the tank. Use all the missiles and then use the markerlights to help your other units directly. Broadsides and hammerheads are usually too valuable to give up a heavy support slot.

5) Firewarrior teamleader-
The good: cheaper then drones and they can hide behind the rest of the unit. Target lock can also allow you to target diferent units so that you do not waste a turn shooting something that most of your guns cannot harm.
The bad: this one is not networked meaning that the firewarrior squad (who needs it the most) is not going to be able to benefit from it. also to use the marker light the unit is not allowed to move which is more limiting in 4th and 5th edition where the move 6" and rapid fire.

I hope this helps. Time to put the baby back to sleep.
Until our next installment, cheers
~3000+ points Tau
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Old 25 May 2009, 15:58   #2 (permalink)
Kroot Warrior
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Default Re: Tactica Marker lights

The Stealth team leader can have a markerlight as well.

I think markerlights are best used to support large units. One thing I really want to try is a unit of 6 stealth suits, all with drone controllers and 2 gun drones each. Pump up the BS of that unit and watch it mow down anything in its path (5.7 marines dead by per turn by my math, 21 gaunts, etc). Add the pinning tests and you can use any extra markerlight hits to help those keep whatever's left (if anything) of the unit from hitting back.
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Old 25 May 2009, 16:51   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tactica Marker lights

3) Sniper drones-
The good:Small easy to hide unit. Stealth armor increases survivability.
The bad: Only one in unit will miss 50% of the time. Heavy support slot is better used elsewhere IMO.
Actually, the spotter is BS4.

Also, it is probably a good idea to discus the uses for markerlight, and how you take them changes their use.

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Old 25 May 2009, 16:52   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tactica Marker lights

On the cheapness of pathfinders:

The danger of purchasing a pathfinder is in the prerequisite to also purchase its devilfish which increases the base cost of that unit. For a base price, it actually costs more to get 4 markerlights using the pathfinder strategy than it does using the Marker drone strategy, albeit by a small margin.

In addition, marker drones placed into squads allow for diversity of sight, additional networked marker light options, and diversity of a firebase. In contrast, the Pathfinders provide the enemy with a one stop kill shop and be thwarted by strategy movement and line of sight.

Granted, the pathfinders come with series of fringe benefits (beacon, scouts, not required to deploy in their vehicle, leaving it open to scoop up other troops...) In addition, their marginal cost per market light is less expensive than buying an extra marker drone. However, it is higher than purchasing a markerlight for a squad with an already upgraded shasui/shasvre.

That being said, having markerlights deployed in a stealth squadron seems to me the better option: the stealth ability as well as the 6" jump move in assault gives the unit added cover and mobility that is otherwise lost.

Firewarriors holding markerdrones and markerlights seem to be usually late game support, as by then they should be holding objectives. Making them fill the role of the pathfinders is a waste with the new transport rules (yeah piggy backing), as firewarriors need to get to objectives and stay protected from shooting.

Besides that argument, I find that your outline works very well. And, at max points (8 markerlights to 8 markerlights) Pathfinders are cheaper than drones and more accessible than markerlights in troops - for which you'd need 8 units to get 8 markerlights, and 6 firewarrior squads and 2 stealths is a huge commitment to one kind of firepower.
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Old 25 May 2009, 17:20   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tactica Marker lights

If you're going to be taking Devilfish anyways and are not planning on putting whatever is using them in reserve then the pathfinders are a steal for their markerlights.
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Old 25 May 2009, 20:05   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tactica Marker lights

Something I have discovered in the course of games is that Markerlights play an invaluable role, no matter where they are established. Markerlights are simply too useful not to bring along!

To put forward a divergent view, Markerlights should stand outside the arena of "points return" and "efficiency". While they serve the same purpose, how they are put to that purpose seems to change, depending on what force they are attached to.

Pathfinders serve the "massed fire support" option of the Tau army-- when many 'Lights are needed (to smack down Marine Morale, for example) then they are the go-to force to bring them on. At this level, Pathfinders are extraordinary in being able to do a great deal; the downside is sometimes they are *too* good-- they hit with more Markers than can be used!

By contrast, Fire Warrior lights tend to be a combined arms assault to terminate forces with a combo of massed small arms and precision guided plasma/missile/fusion fire. My personal preference is a three-Markerlight team (Shas'ui and 2 Markerdrones) occupying the "home field objective", while still providing flexibile support across the battlefront. Also, these attached units shouldn't be moving often anyway; thus, the lack of "Relentless" becomes less of a probem.

Expensive it may be, but intrinsic fire support isn't a bad thing either, achieved by adding Markerlight Drones directly to the units most likely to be using them-- Battlesuit teams. The ultimate in independant force, these units can devastate their targets with ferociously accurate firepower, without need for a Markerlight bearer on-field that might be destroyed or out of position when the time comes to use them.

And we've all seen the occasional "Nothing but 1's" come up when we needed our Marks before...

Other things could be said, but I think that any Tau force worth its salt needs a *minimum* of at least three-five Markerlights, spread between two or more units. They are expensive at times, especially in numbers, but for the job they do the cost really shouldn't be a breaking factor.

(Just don't spend the world on them-- someone has to carry an actual gun to be guided!)
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