Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tau - Hunter Cadre Thoughts

So after several games, I have come to like the Hunter Cadre out of the Tau book - though it's got its perks and drawbacks.  Now, I'm gonna sit down and run through its requirements point-by-point, and explain my logic behind army composition.

Why Take a Hunter Cadre?
First off, re-rolls on Warlord Traits can be nice.

Second, you get Coordinated Fire - if 3+ units pick the same target, they get +1BS, share markerlight perks, and resolve fire simultaneously.  The bonus to BS helps with markerlight economy - especially since those are priority targets.

Filling out your Cadre
Step 1 - leadership
First, take a commander.  You have to.  Unless you're going to take multiple commanders, I have to recommend skipping the Coldstar Commander - he's not terrible, but he's likely to end up dead (and giving up the VP) moreso than an XV8 commander and you're probably not hurting for anti-air in Tau.

Step 2 - troops
Next up - troops.  You need three.  Your options are regular Fire Warriors, Breachers, and Kroot.  Personally, I'm a fan of Kroot - they're cheap, they infiltrate (so you can grab objectives) and have the magical ability to die in one assault phase.  They're also good in cover.  And if you want to burn the points, they can all grab sniper rounds for those fancy kroot guns.  Also, they die horribly in assault.

Fire Warriors - they've got range and you can snag a single markerlight in there on the leader.  They otherwise excel in bringing the S5 shooting.  You're either taking a sizeable group to camp in your DZ with markerlights and pulse rifles, or mounting up in a Devilfish - which can serve as mobile cover for your other assets.

Breachers - so, they're total murder at short range.  They'll much through any infantry short of terminators, but you're basically trying to use them either as a pseudo counter-assault, or mounted in a 'fish.

My personal favorite is kroot - they're cheap, they're assault screens, they can infiltrate and let you react.  Also, if you need some inconsequential shooting for the Coordinated Fire perk, well, it's a buncha BS3 guys with S4 shooting.  They're either helping out some anti-personnel fire, or they're contributing to some anti-tank work.

Step 3 - suits
Here's where you get to grab some battlesuits.  This is where it gets a little tricky - do you know what other formations you're going to take?  You're going to take some Crisis Suits, Stealth Suits, or Riptides at this point.  Think about what you're going to take as Auxiliary choices before you grab suits here.

I lean towards Crisis Suits here unless I'm deep-striking, though this is a place to grab Riptides as well.  Your Crisis Suits really, really want cover - either terrain or something like Devilfish.  Riptide suits don't care about cover, and can provide anti-air support OR interceptors support, because guns.

If you're thinking about grabbing a deep-striking formation/squad, then Stealth Suits are worth considering because of their Homing Beacons.  Take a couple - if the other guy figures out what you're tring to do, he's gonna try to delete your homing beacons, and that's sad.

Ghostkeel suits aren't as killy as your other options, but have a bit of survivability on them.  But they're also readily available as formation fillers.

Step 4 - Fast Attack types
Now we're onto some of the fun.  Here's where you start grabbing the good stuff - markerlights.  You'll now need to grab 1-3 fast attack types.

Vespids - not saying they're bad, but this is where you get Pathfinders and Piranhas - one has markerlights, one has speed and AV.  Also drones, but you can grab one set of drones as cheap auxiliary units if need be.

Pathfinders - here's your markerlights / distraction unit.  You could, if you wanted to, kit them out as shooting units with fancy-schmancy Ion Rifles - but why?  You want markerlights, because cover isn't your friend at all.

Drone Squads - here's your other source of markerlights.  HOWEVER - note that you'll want something like a Commander with a Drone Controller to really make use of these.  Drones aren't known for accuracy (BS2 is...sad?  Yes, sad.)  If you want Markerlights, you're using your BS4 Commander (and his Drone Controller) to get 'lights this way.

Piranhas - remember how I was talking about screening units?  Here's your other choice.  I'd slap a disruption pod on them and forget about the rest of the wargear.  If they split off their drones, then you now have two units to contribute to Coordinate Fire.  Also, you now have two screening units after you kick the drones out, and if you jink (with your 3+ from disruption pods) then you're extra annoying to kill.  Granted, you can only snap fire next turn, but if you're just trying to abuse Coordinated Fire then who cares if you're accurate?  You just need to fire.

Step 5 - Big Guns
Now you're gonna get 1-3 Heavy Support (or Lord of War) type choices.  You can go as cheap as a Broadside here, or you can go as high as a Stormsurge unit here; it's your choice based on what you're going to do with the rest of your slots.

Broadsides - grab some anti-air here, or grab some accurate long-ranged shooting if you'd like.  If you're into the minimal spending here, grab one and call it.

Hammerheads - they're still survivable, they're still nasty, they're still S10 AP1 railguns with backup pie plates.  It's hard to argue with that kind of versatility, especially with a jink.

Sniper Drones - technically they're cheaper than Broadsides, but you can get some sick anti-air out of those guys.

Stormsurge(s) - hey, you can grab a Lord of War as part of your base detachment.  Is it cheap?  No. (Especially after you grab the obligatory shield generator, and markerlight support to make those Destroyer missiles worth it).

Now You Have Your Hunter Cadre - Grab an Auxiliary!
So, your hunter cadre has run you a good chunk of points already (as it should).  You have to take at least one Auxiliary Choice.  And here's where some of your thinking is gonna have to happen, because your aux choice gets a vote on your core choice.

Drone Squad
This is your cheap choice.  Take a drone squad! BAM.  Done with your aux choices.  If you want a backup source of markerlights, grab a marker drone squad and you can grab a commander with a Drone Controller and have backup markerlights.

Optimised Stealth Cadre
Perks - you get rear-arc shots on vehicles with your massed S5 guns - which is funny.  You're also taking some sources of positional relays, so you can deep strike stuff if you want to.  You'll be taking a couple units of Stealth Suits, thus freeing up your other slots for Riptides and XV8s.

Drawbacks - your stealth suits and ghostkeels aren't super-tough.  If your enemies aren't taking AV10 rear vehicles, then your biggest trick is useless.

Retaliation Cadre
Perks - that's a LOT of suits falling on top of the other guy, and they're going to be accurate that first turn.

Cons - you really, REALLY need a positional relay to make this work.  If you're willing to grab a couple units of stealth suits and can keep them alive, this is going to be fun.  If not, that's a lot of deep striking units that aren't necessarily going to be accurate.

Allied Advance Cadre
Perks - your Vespid infiltrate, and your formation gets to use Tau-style self-supporting Overwatch.

Cons - you took a heap of infantry that could've been battlesuits and/or hovertanks.  I'm not saying it's necessarily bad, but I'm saying that it competes with points that could've been spent on something other than speed bumps.  You're already taking three troops choices, and none of your infantry are good at swatting tanks.

Firebase Support Cadre
Perks - hey, get you some Tank Hunter / Monstrous Critter Hunter love on your broadsideds and Riptides!  Buy something else in those compulsory slots in your Hunter Cadre.

Cons - really, the only con of this is that you're focusing several heavy units on a target - and that doesn't quite seem to synergize with the Hunter Cadre's Coordinating Fire rule.  Still, you economize on marker lights, which is good.

Allied Air Caste Cadre
Perks - self-repair and extra armor on flyers.

Cons - your flyers aren't that killy.  Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily great for the points - you're gonna need more bullets elsewhere.  Also, as Tau, you don't need a ton of anti-air, because Broadsides and Riptides can make mulch out of flyers.

Assigned Air Caste Asset
Take a flyer.  Just take one.  Not as cheap as drones, but hey, it's your auxiliary choice, so there's that.

Infiltration Cadre
Perks - grab some pathfinders, piranhas, and stealth suits.  You don't have to take those in your normal Cadre, and they can provide precision deep strike places (Stealth Suits) and free seeker missiles that you didn't pay for.

Cons - none of these guys have a ton of firepower.  Not bad per se, but these are all units you can take in your normal Cadre and you're probably taking more of them here.  It's the opportunity cost that's likely to get you, unless you fill out your core detachment with a lotta firepower.

Heavy Retribution Cadre
Perks - wait, re-rolls on Stormsurge to-hit rolls?  Yes please.  Keep that Ghostkeel unit alive and they'll call down accurate fire from the big guys, and also slow down whatever you're targeting.

Cons - honestly, there are only a few real cons that come to mind here - 1) Stormsurges aren't cheap (in dollar or points), 2) that Ghostkeel unit is going to take a heap of fire, and 3) Stormsurges have their own capability gaps.  Seriously, this formation STARTS at like 800+ points.

Not a con, per se - but I'd wager that more than any other, this is a formation that absolutely dictates how you build your army - you want markerlight support and screening units as a start.

Armored Interdiction Cadre
Pros - hey, this is pretty much how you get Skyrays into your army here!  And those guys are hard to get in otherwise.  Also, if the enemy congregates around a spot, you get more accurate, and you can move that spot from turn to turn.  Skyrays are nice because it's another source of marker lights - and they don't die to anti-infantry fire.

Cons - Honestly, the con of this perk is the points spent on units. Then again, you could do worse than take some Hammerheads in an army - bring the right support and this will probably be fine.  The other con is that you're building around this.

Honestly, you're gonna have to think about your auxiliary choice with your Cadre, and your points values.  Ask yourself the following when you're building your cadre -
1) Do I want to keep it cheap? IF yes, THEN buy a drone squad.
2) Do I want to deep-strike stuff? IF yes, THEN consider a Retaliation Cadre - provided you have the points and a willingness to bring some Stealth Suits to vector them in.
3) Do I want to bounce S5 off someone's rear armor?  IF yes, THEN grab an Optimized Stealth Cadre.  Also grab some fusion blasters for that, because it's fun.
4) Do I want to grab some Broadsides and a Riptide?  IF yes, THEN consider a Firebase Support Cadre.
5) Do I really, really want to bring some Stormsurges? IF yes, THEN consider a Heavy Retribution Cadre.  And hope you're playing like 1800+ points.

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