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Analysis: Astra Militarum Regiment Mathhammer [Revised]

Now that most of the rules from the new Codex Astra Militarum have previewed/leaked online, it's time to start our proper Faction an...

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Analysis: Codex Tau Empire Preview #3


Another week, another round of leaks and new Tau information! What can we glean this time around?

Is It A Bird...?

...Is it a plane? No, it's a flying fish.


I previously speculated that the new XV86 Coldstar might be some sort of new 'stealth' battlesuit, scaled between the XV25 Stealth Suit and XV95 Ghostkeel. We now know that the Coldstar belongs in the 'tactical' line of suits, as a specialised Crisis Suit for Commanders (and potentially squads, but I doubt it).

The Coldstar transforms a Tau Commander into a Flying Monstrous Creature—minus the most 'monstrous' rules. I think this will be a popular choice, much like the ubiquitous Tyranid Flyrant, giving Tau a very fast and manoeuvrable shooter, that doubles as a blocker since it can't be assaulted whilst airborne.

I have two concerns with what we've seen of the Coldstar rules so far:

  • At only T4, it will get doubled-out by the S9 AP2 hit taken when it fails a grounding test
  • It has fixed weapon options—a Missile Pod and a Burst Cannon variant
Presuming the Burst Cannon remains a S5 weapon, if my predictions that the Missile Pod will also become a S5 weapon are correct, then the Coldstar will be quite a weak shooter. There is a massive difference between S5 and S6, and if the Coldstar ends up capped at S5 then we may not see much of it in the competitive environment.

Of course, nothing but S5 on the Coldstar would be a pretty boring design—and inconsistent with GW's usual penchant for illogically mixing weapons on models—so we could consider this counter-evidence to my missile-nerf predictions. And if Missile Pods do remain S7, then Fire Warriors and their 10 pts DS8 Tactical Support Turrets just got a whole lot happier!


Form Up!

A look at the Tau section of the GW webstore reveals three new Formations joining the good old Firebase Support Cadre:

  • Heavy Retribution Cadre – Two Stormsurges plus three Ghostkeels
  • Optimised Stealth Cadre – One Ghostkeel plus two Stealth Suit squads
  • Armoured Interdiction Cadre – Three Hammerheads plus one Skyray
The addition of these new suit-heavy Formations means it should be quite feasible to build all-suit armies with the new Codex Tau Empire, even without an old-school FOC-shift mechanic like Farsight Enclaves.


I expect the Heavy Retribution Cadre will provide the Stormsurges with some sort of shooting advantage against targets within a certain proximity to a Ghostkeel (good) or targets that have also been shot at by a Ghostkeel (bad). This shooting advantage could be fairly straightforward (Twin-Linked or Ignores Cover) or perhaps more subtle and tactically interesting (no LOS needed). We shall see.


The Optimised Stealth Cadre will probably have some sort of 'starts the game invisible' mechanic. This could be as straightforward as 'can only be Snap Shot at before they move', or it could be as wacky as 'deploy them at the start of any turn, then they act normally'. The latter would be very powerful in Maelstrom missions, especially if the Formation is free to spread out around the table; this might be just the boost Tau need to succeed in 7th Ed missions.


I'm not sure what to expect from the Armoured Interdiction Cadre; I suspect that it won't be a shooting bonus, but more likely a no-scatter Deep Strike like Eldar Falcons. That probably won't be very useful, since I'd much rather have my tough backfield shooters in play right from the start of the game.

Conclusion

I think our biggest knowledge-gap remaining for the forthcoming update is the Markerlight mechanic. Will it enable Tau to freely play the MSU game, or will it continue to reward quality-over-quantity?

The new codex surely can't be too much further away—I don't know how much longer I can wait!

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