So I bought the big set, and located the rules for its parts individually and I am enthralled! (The rules for the whole set are cool too, but there are already threads for that.). For those who are wondering this set contains: 1 Gunrig. 1 Drone port. 1 Complete Shieldline. 1 Incomplete shieldline (The shieldline set comes with a shieldwall+Disk, but this set only has 3 disks, 1 basic, 1 drone and 1 for the gun, I.E if you were to break this kit into its individual parts you wouldnt actually get 4 complete terrain sets, only 3 and a half). Keep in mind for all of the Tidewall models that as per the rules for Barricades and Defense lines enemy units only need to get into base contact with the platform model to make it into melee with the squad inside.First up
: Tidewall shieldline. A defense line that is a bit shorter then the regular aegis defense line but it has a circular piece (so omnidirectional cover) and for the models standing on the bit with the blue part you get the cool reflected wounds rule, also everyone on it gets to re-roll 1's on missed ranged attacks. It costs as many points as 6 Ard'boys.
(Note, on the datasheet the terrain piece very clearly has the disk part attached, on the grounds that the disk is PART OF THE MODEL nobody has any grounds to forbid you from deploying it. This was an issue at a recent local tournament I oversaw. If you run into opponents who do try to deny this please ask them to remove the gun parts of their models and see if that makes sense to them).
For what it costs its a very decent kit. It gives you deployable cover which is advantageous against shooting heavy matchups whilst it also gives a rare few models an interesting benefit, moving while stationary. This form of the wall is much more maneuverable than the full multi part fortresss so you can expect to deploy one and move it around strategically/tactically so a unit deployed on it can be used very effectively. The Disk is a little wider than a devilfish.
The disk can fit a single broadside (or three if you use the old model and base, but I personally would frown upon that as a tourney organizer) or a single unit of firewarriors, do note that this makes them very vulnerable to blasts. The wall part will hold roughly two firewarrior squads squished tight, a partial unit of Pathfinders supported by a band of firewarriors or just one unit of firewarriors will fit much more smoothly, the walkway is wide enough to hold medium size bases (crisis) but not large bases (broadside). A stocked up Tidewall shieldline with disk attached will hold two full units of firewarriors and a unit of pathfinders and still look good.
Because all Tidewall fortifications can move and the passengers count as stationary there are certain combos that are fun. Pathfinders can squat in the cover and fire markerlights with impunity from a safe range, Cadre fireblades can dish out bonus shots even whilst the Tidewall moves your unit into rapid fire range and Broadsides can be maneuvered into better firing positions. In general you gain the ability to move your stationary units around the battlefield for the sake of safety or pursuing new firing postions. A very important downside to the Shieldline in particular is that you should not move it into enemy territory, enemy models cannot move the shieldline if they take it from you, but they can benefit from the cover and the shield bounce.
The shield this model confers on defending models is perhaps the least important aspect of this terrain piece, but it can be very useful. One in every 6 successful cover saves made will result in a wound or glancing hit applied automatically to the firer, this ignores everything that might intervene except a successful armor or invulnerable save, this benefit may occationally cause unexpected devastation to important enemy models. The biggest benefit conferred by this shield rule is the threat it poses, an important tank with a large Blast weapon might forego shooting the fortified unit for the sake of not being destroyed in the backlash.
I would'nt include it in EVERY Tau army but if you intend to bring a lot of foot infantry then definitely consider bringing at least one of these just for the cover benefit.
Sample army utilizing this model:
500 PTS (Note, my area has semi-regular mini tournaments that forbids lots of stuff, including, Lords of war, Av 13/14 and T8+).
Cadre fireblade with 2 Marker drones. 84 PTS.
12 Tau firewarriors with a Shas'Ui and Bonding knife ritual. 130 PTS.
6 Tau firewarriors with Bonding knife ritual. 60 PTS.
6 Pathfinders with Shas'Ui and 3 Ion rifles. 106 PTS.
Crisis suit with 2 missile pods and Early warning override. 57 PTs.
Tidewall Shieldline. "6 Ard'Boyz" PTS.
Total: 497 PTS.
The Fireblade either joins the large firewarrior squad to improve their killing power or the Pathfinder squad to spread their Ion shooting around. In my two battles with this army (Using Aegis count as) it performed admirably. I havent tested it yet but I intend to drop two pathfinders and swap the Shieldline for a Gunrig in my next game
: Drone port. For the same costs as the shieldline above (Shieldwall+Disk) you only get the Disk, except this time the disk contains 4 drones. The terrain piece is maneuverable and will fit a full squad of firewarriros as described above. The terrain piece comes with 4 drones (Gun, Shield or Marker) chosen like wargear (I.E, write which drones it contains on your army list, don't just decide it on the spot!) the drones are inactive and invulnerable while attached, and can be activated at the start of any of your movement phaces as long as you occupy the platform.
The fact that it contains drones is hugely important for this terrain piece. To sum up what you get by picking this in your army you get: Moving cover with the benefits described above. An invulnerable "transport". And 4 Drones. A 4 Drone squad costs 56 points to start with, if you're the type who includes a small squad of markerdrones to swoop around dropping markerlight tokens here and there then you can get that 4 drone squad here and the moving cover piece for just 4 points extra! A flying piece of moving terrain for just 4 points! It almost sounds like one of those those "billionare secret methods to get rich" virus commercials except this one is not a hoax. If youre not the type to have 4 markerdrones flying around by themselves then consider this: A trygon's ability to spawn scoring units was extreemely useful a couple editions ago (and still is, but "scoring unit" is less important now), the Trygon kept the scoring unit safe inside and by protecting the rather tough to kill monstrous creature you could deliver a scoring unit wherever you needed it at the moment you needed it. With that considered now look at the Drone platform again, do you like it better now?
The small size of the platform limits its use as a moving firebase for a large contingent of troops, but it still functions nicely for one squad of pathfinders or a Broadside. don't forget the re-roll 1's to hit!
Although not my first choice out of the three terrain pieces the sheer usefulness of an "invulnerable transport" will ensure that this thing finds its way into all of my combetitive lists, I might also consider fielding it with a shieldwall or in the full Rampart configuration by clipping it on a Shieldwall for the added space. I havent tested it yet but I will probably like this model best in a maneuverable army wherein it would be a moving base for a pathfinder squad or Broadside to fire from.Last but not least
: Tidewall Gunrig. This one is totally amazing, in theory at least. It costs a little more than the others (think 6 Ard'boyz + One battlesuit shield generator) but you just paid for a twin-linked full strength Hammerhead railgun with submunitions included. One of the most epic (sub-D strength) tank-killing weapons in the game. don't forget that this thing also gives cover and moves like the other terrain pieces.
This thing as a terrain piece is no more destructible than the others, only the gun itself is destructible (T7, 2W, 3+ armor save), you can fully expect the gun to get wrecked rather quickly (especially VS armies with a lot of expendable long range firepower, which tends to include most armies this gun is good against). If we compare it in efficiency to a hammerhead you get three of these for every 2 bog standard hammerheads you take, and half another one if you upgrade the hammerheads, manning them inflates the price and causes all sorts of complications, the turrets can be defeated either by shooting the turret (easy task) or killing the occupant(s) (still not that hard), if you man it with a squad it will cause targeting complications (suddently a Shas'ui with a target lock is a lot sexier). Like the Shieldwall you really can´t expect to use this effectively unless you already have some groundlocked infantry. If you decide to get some kind of specialist specifically for this turret you can expect to be rudely surprised when the turret gets blown up (or the specialist gets sniped).
The Gunrig has perhaps the least number of possible "combo's", but its usefulness speaks for itself as probably the lowest costed source of a Large blast in the entire Tau range (as well as the lowest costed source of Str 10). The airburst is cheaper, yes, but it must be attached to a battlesuit, those tend to get expensive quickly. Notable synergies/misfits for this model include:
A Cadre fireblade can fire this at BS 5 twin-linked without causing his unit problems thanks to his split-fire rule, this nets you a near auto-hit Railgun shot to anywhere you can see from the top of a rather tall moving platform, even if your opponents decide they wont let you keep such a cool toy you will still be left with a Cadre Fireblade and a Firewarrior squad on a moving platform.
A Firewarrior manning this weapon still nets a 75% accuracy rate with the slug, thats more accurate than an unsupported Hammerhead, a normal firewarrior manning the turret also isnt all that bad when you're using the submunition, suddently your firewarrior squad has a heavy weapon dishing out str 6 blasts!
A model that fires a gun emplacement explicitly CANNOT FIRE ANY OTHER WEAPON, this means that a multy tracker will not let a battlesuit fire this weapon in addition to another weapon, it also counts as firing a weapon therefor not allowing you to bypass the "no shooting" clause of some Signature systems.
Aun'Va´s etheral guard net an impressive 88% accuracy rate manning this weapon.
An "Early warning override" system does not let you fire the Railgun in the opponent's round, the system gives all weapons on the model the interceptor rule, sadly that does not include the railgun, Velocity tracker's, target locks and perhaps most hilariously Advanced targeting systems will work with the railgun, snipe Warlords with impunity!
Finally, perhaps the most trolly of all, Darkstrider can not only net a near guaranteed hit but also lower the toughness of the target by 1, in other words, he can lower the very common monstrous creature toughness of 6 to 5 and instakill them!!!! Instakill a Dreadknight. Instakill a Hive tyrant. Instakill a Tervigon. It can be tricky to pull off depending on flight capabilities, LOS, cover and other stuff, but the possibility is there. Go forth Darkstrider and wield the railgun that will pierce the heavens! (Also Darkstrider reducing T5 necrons to t4 isnt shabby, nor is Reducing T4 tyranid medium creatures to T3 and instakilling with a large blast, poor tyranids.) Its a powerful combo but easily stopped by just killing one T7 2W 3+ armor save model.
This is perhaps the only Tidewall piece that I can imagine wielding in bulk, the droneport has some rather circumstancial benefits, the Shieldline doesn't contribute significantly to your damage output, the Gunrig however is at worst a killable heavy weapon for your Firewarriors. The fact that each Gunrig railgun is a unique target means that if you have two or more of them flying around in addition to the usual plethora of priority targets (Riptides, Ghostkeels, Stormsurges, ETC) your opponent simply wont have time to knock out your guns, and if he does your other units will be that much safer. Note that there is a formation for fielding three gunrigs that fixes the problems that might arise manning said gunrigs, albeit at the price of having to focus fire.
Despite the sheer potential, this piece is not a must have nor an auto-include. The innate downsides to it's configuration (manning it and protecting) make it not better than a Hammerhead railgun, merely different. The hammerhead will usually be more maneuverable, safer and more flexible. The key here is again the makeup of your army. If your army is made up of firewarriors in devilfish flying in support of Riptides and Crisis suits then you will find space for at most one of these to move and protect your token Pathfinder squad, unless youre running a crisis commander leading a squad of marker drones. On the other hand if you have a whole bucket of firewarriors walling around your new Stormsurge squad then these will be very, very useful.
I hope somebody reads that wall of text and comes away thinking "Huh, I gotta try that." I hope you liked my review/Brainstorming. The only piece i've tested so far is the shieldline, now that I got the actual models i'll start having fun with the rest.
In the war against humanity, forethought is key.