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New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 02:07   #1 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

I recently read a thread, started by Frankthetank talking about how much he loved his pathfinders. Several excellent posts by MalV and some others have convinced me to go for them, where I had been debating it earlier. At first I believed the principle of pathfinders was a sacrifice in firepower for reliability and efficiency. What I've come to realize, however, is that if your list is built to utilize them, you might not need to sacrifice a dram of firepower!

I had always considered using pathfinders as a way to make railguns just that little bit more reliable, or to rip into hordes with burst cannons, or to augment Ion Cannons (which I rarely utilize). When you think about it, however, the greatest boon pathfinders provide is to their crisis suit friends in the field.

Think about it. The most popular (non HQ) suit configs feature twin-linked weaponry, or suffer from "jack of all trades" syndrome, and are woefully unreliable.

Fireknife: One of the favorites around these parts, I am *loathe* to field these buggers. Veratile, yes, but I feel they are simply too unreliable to act as anything but a "bolstering" element in your army. If I'm putting this many points into a unit, I want it to be an efficient cog in my war machine. Shooting marines? Get into rapid fire, and you're still only going to hit with 3 plasma shots.

Deathrain: You're sacrificing firepower for a suit dedicated to the role of armor / medium unit hunting. Twin linked becomes the only way to field these units, and see reliable results.

The largest increase in efficiency comes from the use of marker-lights with choice suit weapons (missile pods, plasma, and fusion, mostly). I feel like kicking myself for not thinking of it, but Mal and others made a good point. What I hope to do is take their observations a step further:

Suits are starting to feel a lot more viable to me, again. And my trust is restored that everything is in the Codex for a reason. (Cept for Krootox. Poor little guys! O0)

So, I'm going to do the math, and try and weigh the benefits and disadvantages. Keep in mind that I'm doing the calculations as I write this, so the results may well be as much of a supprise to me as they are to you! The baseline, of course, will be our favorite whipping boys, the Marines.

I shall classify the primary schools of thought into 3 rough categories:

1. Get a moderate ammount of guns, and augment them externally with pathfinder units.
2. Get a lot of guns, eschew reliability and let volume even out the odds.
3. Get a moderate ammount of guns, and make them reliable in their own right.

--------------

Teh Mathzorz!!1 (Doing stuff roughly in my head. When I say approximately (~), assume it's +/- 0.25. I tend to use integers when possible, cause I'm not about to buy .065 of a Banana.) I will try and have each scenario use a roughly equal number of points (and roughly equal mobility!), to validate the findings in the context of constructing an army.

One Round of Firing

3 Crisis Suits. Plasma, Fusion Blaster, in rapid-fire range. 1 Pathfinder unit marking
Because the Commander can count on his Pathfinders to assist him, he's unworried about BS3.

5 plasma hits. ~2 fusion hits. ~6 dead marines.

This took a turn of dedicated fire from your pathfinders, and a unit of crisis suits to accomplish.
Cost of Crisis unit: 189
Cost of Pathfinders: 176
Total points: 365
Total "point-commitment" per kill in 1 turn: 60 points/marine


3 Crisis Suits. Plasma, Fusion Blaster, in rapid fire range.
12 Firewarriors, Devilfish. In standard weapon range (FoF is generally a finisher move, and overcomitting is bad)
This Commander recognizes that his suits are unreliable, yet wishes to keep them unaugmented, in exchange for greater volume of firepower.

3 plasma hits. 1.5 fusion hits. ~4 dead marines.
6 pulse rifle hits. ~1.5 dead marines
3 Str 5 hits from fish. ~0.5 dead marines

This took the dedicated fire of the crisis suits, and a squad of fire-warriors.
Cost of Crisis unit: 189
Cost of FW Squad: 200
Total "point-commitment" per kill in 1 turn: 65 points/marine (unmarked)


3 Crisis suits, TL Plasma, Flamer
3 Crisis suits, TL Plasma, Flamer
This Commander wants to make his suits more reliable, cheaper, and independant of aid from other units.

9 plasma hits. 7.5 dead marines.

This took the dedicated fire of the crisis suits alone.
Cost of Crisis unit: 390
Total "point-commitment" per kill in 1 turn: 52 points/marine (unmarked)


"Reliable, independent guns!" argument appears to be winning! But bear in mind, these results as calculated above are for only one turn of firing! Any usable and accurate experimentmust also include the result's effects on the game, and integrate the opponent as well as possible. For the sake of sanity and time, I'll omit the effects of assault. I'll asume the Tau player is respectable at avoiding them. So I present to you a very simple encounter.

3 squads of 10 Tactical Marines
1 squad of 6 Devastator Marines
1 squad of 10 Assault Marines

Our little strike-detachment is woefully out-pointed in this flank of the battlefield! So let's see who can get the most "bang for their buck" before being crushed under the imperial boot! >

Turn 1, Tau:

Every Tau player hates Assault marines!
"Augmented Guns" drops 6 Assault Marines.
"More Dakka!" drops 6 Assault Marines or "More Dakka!" saves his FWarriors for a better time, killing 4 Marines
"Reliable Guns" drops 7 Assault Marines.

Turn 1, Marines

Against the "Augmented Guns" player, the Marine has few targets. The suits are evasive and few enough to avoid reprisal, and the pathfinders are across the board. Against "More Dakka", the marines will either have plenty of targets (Fire-warriors) or be devoid of them as well. Against "Reliable Guns", it is unlikely that he will be able to hide all 6 suits in such a concentrated area, and may run into s ome problems.

"Augmented Guns" takes rapid fire on his suits from half a tactical squad. (LOS blocked by good crisis positioning.)
"Augmented Guns" loses 1 Crisis Suit.

"More Dakka! (Agressive!)" over extended himself and takes Rapid Fire from 2 tactical squads, 4 Krak missiles at the Devilfish!
"More Dakka! (Agressive!)" loses 9 Fire Warriors and a roughly 33% chance the Fish is destroyed outright. Let's say it's shaken and stirred, but ultimately okay.

"More Dakka! (Conservative)" takes rapid fire on his suits from half a tactical squad. (LOS blocked by good crisis positioning.)
"More Dakka! (Conservative)" loses 1 Crisis Suit.

"Reliable Guns" feels the fragility of the Crisis suit. He takes rapid fire from a full tactical squad, and a Krak missile.
"Reliable Guns" loses 2 crisis Suits,

Turn 2, Tau:

"Augmented Guns" retreats from the advancing tactical marines, and gets behind cover.
"Augmented Guns" kills 4, leaning towards 5 tactical marines (The marker light which was used on the 3rd suit's plasma now works for the fusion blaster on the second!)

"More Dakka! (Agressive!)" Rapid fires with remaining Firewarriors. Engages with suits.
"More Dakka! (Agressive!)" Kills 4 marines.

"More Dakka! (Conservative)" Dances around with his fish, waiting for his crisis suits to whittle down the enemy.
"More Dakka! (Conservative)" Kills 4 marines.

"Reliable Guns" Can now hide his 4 Crisis suits better, as there are regrettably fewer. He falls back, firing.
"Reliable Guns" Kills 4, leaning towards 5 tactical marines.

The results are interesting, as markerlights show a tendancy to "cushion" the effects of losses, by giving an increased efficiency boost to the survivors! By being able to mark for systems that were previously un-marked, they give a consistent utility boost that's not dependant on a unit's survival. Agressive More Dakka is currently losing. Though Conservative More Dakka isn't showing much action on the kill-board, he's poised to strike later in the game.

Turn 2, Marines:
Against "Augmented Guns", the Marine player is at a loss for targets! He chases after the suits with his tactical marines, and moves his devastator squad in position to start firing into the pathfinders.
"Augmented Guns" suffers no losses.

Against "More Dakka! (Agressive!)", the Marine player is poised to gobble up the remaining fire-warriors, score points from the fish, and chase down the still-large crisis suit squad. Half a squad manages to angle around some terrain and rapid fire into the crisis suits.
"More Dakka! (Agressive!)" loses 1 crisis suit, his remaining Fire-Warriors, and the Fish is blown into fine shrapnel.

Against "More Dakka! (Conservative)", the Marine player has the same targeting issues as with "Augmented Guns"
Marines move devestator squad to threaten the Devilfish, and chase suits to little avail.
"More Dakka! (Conservative)" takes no losses.

Against "Reliable Guns", the Marine player manages to sneak in another 6 or 7 marines worth of rapid-firing.
"Reliable Guns" loses 1 crisis suit.

(TO BE CONTINUED, PENDING FEEDBACK AND SAMMITCH BREAK! ;D)
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 02:25   #2 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders

I just can't see pathfinders being very effective in most Tau lists. The unit size is small, but expensive, especially with the expensive, non-objective holding Devilfish. Most of the rest of the Tau army is either out of range of enemy guns (things with railguns) or hidden behind terrain (suits). Because pathfinders need to be fairly close to the enemy, and need LOS, the enemy quickly shoots them up, because there's often little else to shoot at.

They're a neat idea and all, but in a 1500 or less point list, I just don't think they're worth it. I don't think I'd take them at 1850, either, honestly...Another squad of firewarriors in a devilfish, perhaps, or a BUNCH of kroot....
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 03:59   #3 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

I read your response as I was drafting up my main post, and figured I would point out something:

Pathfinders are a scoring unit.

There's nothing to stop you from scooping them up on turn 5, and claiming an objective on turn 6.
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 04:35   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

One issue you may not be considering is range. You're using the Helios config for your suits instead of the classic Fireknife. Is the aim of your experiment to illustrate what method is best to support a trio of Helios suits in close range shootouts? Wouldn't you agree that the argument of "pathfinders make Crisis suits cost effective" change, depending on the suit config, distance to enemy, cover and enemy itself? I do like what you're trying to explore though, since I've always wanted pathfinders (see my army fluff) but I've never found a strategic reason to justify their purchase.
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 04:41   #5 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

I'm trying to consider it as well as possible. A few points:

1. The Tau force in this experiment isn't meant to survive.
2. The Plasma guns are assumed to be in rapid-fire range, so I am accounting for the 12 inch range.
3. The *losses* the crisis suits suffer are greatly increased by the "razor's edge" of fighting in close combat, yet somewhat mitigated by the marne's immobile nature.
4. Though the numbers may change, general trends will remain constant between observations using 2 weapon suits, and TL weapon suits, provided that the weapons are "ideal" for fighting their targets.

Yes, I'll concede that the "More Reliable Guns" strategy is markedly more effective at long range (IE, missile pods). But the weapons that make the strategy more efficient, also severely limit it's effectiveness against multiple unit types.

For example, a Fire-Knife augmented by marker lights is a reliable multi-unit counter, whereas Death's Rains are a *devastating* single unit counter. Depending on what you are fighting, is which strategy will dominate. I suppose I'm just trying to prove that Pathfinders aren't worthless, as many seem to believe.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 07:01   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

my own tactica has a use for pathfinders.

Whilst my mech tau are forced to have no markerlight units in general (and i pray for a codex legal tetra) i do have a place for pathfinders, even here, but generally in games of 1500+ points. In 1850, i'd definately take one.

Look up my own tactica, ive pretty much said what you said.

Suits generally have 2 good loadouts. One being fireknife, but as you say this is unreliable. the other is deathrain, which i am increasingly coming to prefer. Pathfinders role for me is to spot high priority targets for annihalation at the hands of my stealthsuits/ ta'ro'cha fireknives.

As scoring units? Workable, but it means the fish sits idly for 5 turns, and the pathfinders could be destroyed, making the concept worthless. it can be done, but its not their main role. I'd rather load out an assault fish and have it zipping around causing chaos.
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 15:34   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

i play mech tau and alot of people at my local store play SM they like to take lots of SM with heavy weapons and sit in cover shooting at my tanks
so i take lots of kroot to infiltrate to shoot at them with mass bolt fire while my path finders use seekers or help ions or rail gun take care of that cover
it aways works for me if the guy your play with try to take out your path finders give him some more in your face troops to worry about like deep strike some crisis
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 16:09   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

You can try a FoF-type strategy with them. Hide them behind the Devilfish and they can't be assaulted. And if they're behind the Devilfish, a leadership test is needed to shoot at them. And deep-striking a Crisis suit or some Drones and sending in some Kroot will distract the enemy for a couple of turns.
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 16:17   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

Why did you reduce total marines killed from plasma/fusion? Range considerations? Plasma and fusion do not let you use armor saves, and markerlights do not let you use cover saves either.

But I see now that you accounted for the pathfinders where they must be. Never mind!
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Old 12 Aug 2005, 16:37   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Thoughts Regarding Pathfinders (And a lengthy psuedo-simulation)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Behemoth
You can try a FoF-type strategy with them. Hide them behind the Devilfish and they can't be assaulted. And if they're behind the Devilfish, a leadership test is needed to shoot at them. And deep-striking a Crisis suit or some Drones and sending in some Kroot will distract the enemy for a couple of turns.
The enemy can select either Infantry or a Large target (Vehicles) when choosing a target. Therefore, hiding behind the Devilfish will not force the enemy to roll for leadership unless there is another Infantry unit closer than the Pathfinders. Also, Skimmers can't screen, so they will always be able to see your units unless the skimmer is immobilized or is a wreck.

Besides, why would you want to waste a support unit like Pathfinders in a Fish of Fury rip-off move?
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