[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

A review of past Tactics by commanders during the First, Second, Third & Fourth Phase Expansion.
theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#1 » Feb 15 2009 06:54

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Unit Composition and Attributes


A single Hammerhead main battle tank occupies a complete Heavy Support slot; although visually similar to the Devilfish chassis, a Hammerhead carries no troops. The most heavily armoured skimmer available to most Tau Hunter Cadres, a Hammerhead sports a Targetting Array pre-mounted in a cupola underneath the chin of the vehicle hull; one of three different secondary weapon systems can be mounted on the hull of the vehicle, while the Hammerhead main turret can incorporate either an Ion Cannon or the massive Railgun, arguably the Tau signature weapon.

A Hammerhead can have a range of upgrades applied to it in common with other Tau Skimmers, and in situations where the rules from Imperial Armour 3: The Taros Campaign 2nd Edition are permitted, four more weapon options are available for the primary turret.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 02 2014 02:32, edited 9 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
Shas
Posts: 254
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#2 » Feb 15 2009 06:54

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[Heavy Support] Hammerhead Gunship
An outline to equipping and utilizing the Hammerhead in the 5th Edition of Warhammer 40,000.

Authored by theunderking
with selected contributions and editing by Mnemonic and RevRanDom.
Introductory fiction and artwork by Shas'El Tael



++
The bass hum of the Hammerhead massaged Shas'Ui Ryu in his combat seat, the tau pilot being nestled tightly within the sealed cockpit of his new found joy. Gone were the days of high speed, intense close quarter fire fights. Now he piloted a behemoth of armour and firepower. It was slower, more ponderous.. and maybe he should log in a rotaa back at the Pathfinder Tetra training dome, he thought to himself in a mental segway.
"Shas'Ui, prepare yourself." warned the Dome's Shas'vre instructor.
"Understood combat control, all systems amber, ready to run.."
"Hammerhead One, engage!"
Before Ryu could fully answer, the Shas'Vre began the rapid combat drop part of the battle. Several tonnes of Tau battle armour plummeted unceremoniously down from the central heights of the training dome, the mock city below hurtling up to lethally embrace it.
"Brace brace!" Ryu barked, resetting grav compensators and revving the thrusters for a less than orthodox deployment. He would be a kroot's quill picker before he allowed the Shas'Vre to get one over him.
"But our objective is over-" la'Dras spoke up, bracing as much as he could within weapons and sensor position.
"Exactly, the 'Enemy' would think us to engage immediately. Submission through Submunition won't work today"
"But isn't that the point of-"
"Rearward rotate the cannon Shas'la" Ryu replied in a sharp manner.
Within a moment, they both compressed in their combat seats, the realigned grav compensators finally snatching the tank from certain doom, some distance below doctrinal altitude.

Ryu's helm link offered him a direct view of his surrounds, but also overlaid the city plan in lined geometric forms, allowing him the chance to assess avenues of engagement and evasion. Spying a good location, he grinned beneath the face mounted visor.
"Ready to bring the cannon for-" encouraged la'dras
"Just keep me updated as to where they are, leave the cannon in place.." Ryu replied, already gunning the Hammerhead down a side alley.
"We have four elements moving in on our drop point they're co-"
The whole chassis reverberated as Ryu smashed into an abandoned tiered warehouse facility, he scooted through the hollow interior then pushed the thrusters to maximum as he wound up an interior access ramp to higher levels. Reaching a level that seemed to satisfy him, Ryu raced across the open space toward an outer wall.
"Shas'Ui! there is no-"
The tank punched out the other side, vaulting across the street, and speared into another building block at the seventh level. Ryu engaged airbrakes, ventral attitude jets and reversed the thrusters in a rapid but fluid motion. Having barely halted, the tau pilot shut down the energy core link, causing the hovertank to slump to the floor within the new building they had so violently entered.
"Enemy positions?" Ryu requested with an unhurried tone, the soft glow of silent running instruments warming the cockpit interior.
"Patrolling through our drop point, they're fanning out in a search pattern"
"Great!" Ryu replied, then fussed in a pack he had under his seat, "Nori-Bar?"
"We're in a-"
"Oh come on… let them look for us, those sims think we're still on street level" the shas'ui proffered a sealed packet over top the back to back cockpit seats, then felt a relenting hand grasp the bar.
"Excellent, give them a raik'or and the sims will get frustrated, then.. " the pilot made a boom sound with exploding hand signals.
"Shas'Ui!" barked a new voice over the comms, interrupting their impromptu snack time.
"Shas'Vre" Ryu replied with forced respect.
"Engage the enemy! Your mission is-"
"To engage several enemy platoons within city limits, aiming to delay their progress. Solo I might add. Engage where able, we have no time line on relief."
"Don't you quote me the brief-"
"Shas'Vre, I am currently delaying and awaiting a more appropriate time to engage. And now, I must insist on communications silence" he switched off the channel with a thought. Unnecessary given that it was a instructor channel and unmonitored, but one must maintain the realism.
Ryu smiled inside, as he imagined the aghast Shas'vre, surrounded by meek staffers witnessing the combat instructor proceed toward a meltdown within the facilities control room, high above the domes' training ground.
La'Dras disturbed Ryu's imaginary scene,
"Shas'Ui, the enemy patrols have separated even further, one is passing us along this avenue"
A path line lit up, closely passing their hidden lair.
"Hmmm.." Ryu took a thoughtful nibble on his bar, then after a pause, finished it in a single mouthful, "ready the Seeker drones, prep the Rail cannon, charge it as I engage the core"
A digital chirp acknowledged Ryu as a series of console fussing erupted behind him.

Ryu and Dras watched as the patrol slowly crept past in the street below, having clearly missed the Hammerhead sized hole on the other side of the building. As Ryu had hoped, the infantry took up the rear guard of the armoured fighting vehicle. This group were very much on edge, obviously the AI had figured the most likely place the tau had evaded it was in this part of the city.
"Brace" he warned, then thought the tank back to full readiness.
With an almighty crash and a shower of pulverised wall blocks, the Hammerhead vaulted out. Covered in dust and rubble, paintwork scratched away to bare hull, the curvaceous battle tank took on the visage of a true warmachine. The mass crashed down atop the digitally projected infantry, who simply snapped out of existence just as compensators ensured the mad descent went no further. The armoured vehicle ahead ventured a hope to come about, but the rail turret traversed swiftly and an imaginary rail round cored the alien vehicle out from rear to front. It too exploded, visually jarred and disappeared.
"The others?"
"Moving in on our position" Dras replied, already highlighting the closest.
"Reset, submunitions" Ryu ordered, vaulting the hovertank down a main street and up another to confront the nearest search party.
"Reset"
The enemy combatants were still busying themselves to return the way they had come, when their prey slurred about the corner behind them, a pall of dust and ruin flaring up about the armoured mass.
"Ta-ti-toe!" Ryu lightly muttered an old hiding game verse every tau knew from creche days.
The snubbed nosed hovertank leaned over forward and surged toward the enemy patrol. Advantage, surprise and a big gun. This was hunting.
++



The impact of a Hammerhead tank is often the first sign that a Tau force is in the area. When assisted by Pathfinder teams their shots strike with unerring, almost magical accuracy. They can destroy or disable key targets before the rest of the Cadre makes their presence known. Once battle is joined a Hammerhead is more than capable of operating in close support of the Shas on the ground.

Able to take a few hits and shrug off most of them it strikes an elegant balance between the swift yet seemingly frail craft of the Eldar and the lumbering firepower laden behemoths of the Imperium of Man.

Unlike most tanks the Hammerhead is at home in a city or dense terrain environment capable of skulking through the buildings, like its namesake does coral, or leaping them in a single bound raining death on the enemy from above.


Table of Contents
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 02 2014 02:32, edited 9 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#3 » Feb 22 2009 07:40

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Turret Weapon Systems


This is a classic trade-off between specialization and versatility. On one hand, we have the good strength and good AP of the Ion Cannon and its overcharged large blast. On the other, we have the Railgun with the submunition offering a large blast that consistently strikes with medium Strength and AP rating while the solid slug offers a single shot of the highest strength and lowest AP rating.

    Ion Cannon: An Ion Cannon, like all Tau Ion weapons, can be fired regularly or it can be Overcharged. It is identical in cost to the Railgun, though slightly cheaper than a Railgun equipped with Submunition Rounds. Although the range of the Ion Cannon is inferior to that of the Railgun, it is still long enough to allow the Hammerhead to strike with near-impunity under ideal conditions.

    • Regular Firing Mode: Three shots that are highly effective against MEQs and most monstrous creatures from across the board. For popping light vehicles, the Railgun is better on a shot by shot basis, but the multiple shots fired by the Ion Cannon make it better at disrupting light vehicle and vehicle squadron activity. Now that vehicles can no longer be destroyed by a single shot (excepting AP2/AP1 weapons) the multiple shots lend it better to stripping hull points. The Ion Cannon is just as effective against GEQ's as it is against MEQ's, but against heavy infantry with 2+ armour saving throws, its effectiveness falls off considerably.

    • Overcharged: A large blast template with identical AP and a higher strength than regular firing mode. This blast makes the Ion Cannon exceptional, and almost an automatic choice when facing MEQ-heavy lists. Its only shortcoming is that the overcharging the weapon requires a Gets Hot! roll, which could potentially negate the shot entirely and damage the Hammerhead instead.

    It should be noted that the Ion Cannon is widely regarded as an excellent choice in games under 1000 points, due to the lower frequency with which heavy armour such as Land Raiders is encountered in such games. Even in higher point games, its versatility and extreme threat to MEQ infantry make it a popular option.

    Railgun:The poster child Tau gun, commonly considered to be the Tau signature weapon. The Railgun can function effectively as two different weapons depending on need, firing either solid shots or submunition rounds. Both profiles share the same exceptional range. Note that previously the submunitions were included with the Railgun, but now incur a small point cost.

    • Solid Slug Rounds: this is the premier anti-tank round in a standard game. The exceptional strength of a Railgun solid shot means that even the hardiest vehicles in the game - Land Raiders/Monoliths – are affected by half of the shots that hit them, with a third of them resulting in penetrating hits. The low AP rating means that a solid shot can potentially destroy a vehicle with a single penetrating hit, albeit only one time in three. While the Railgun solid shot does not offer the impressive 2D6 penetration offered by Melta-type weapons at short range, it also ignores restrictions that render Melta weapons less effective such as the ceramite plating upgrade on some Imperial vehicles.
    • Submunition Rounds: this firing mode generates a large blast template that wounds most standard infantry on a 2+. Due to the fact that blast template weapons can still generate hits after scattering is resolved, the submunition round represents a better anti-infantry option than the Ion Cannon. The increase in available cover just serves to further enhance the performance of the submunition, since it does not rely on piercing armour against the most common enemies (MEQ), unlike the Ion Cannon; instead, the submunition relies on generating hit volume, forcing as may saving throws as possible. The moderate AP rating is sufficient to ensure that with the exception of infantry equipped with an equivalent to Power Armour or better, targets caught in the open will suffer a large volume of hits while being allowed no saving throw; this allows submunition rounds to do significant damage to exposed units of Eldar Guardians or most Aspect Warriors, carapace armour equipped Imperial Guardsmen, Genestealers and similar opponents.

    Primary Weapon Summary
    In common with designing the load-out of Crisis Suits within your Cadre, Hammerhead armament should be tailored to compliment the rest of your list. For a take-all-comers list, the Ion Cannon has become a better choice, as its overcharged profile can threaten everything but TEQ, and its multiple shots make it better at hunting light-to-medium vehicles or monstrous creatures. The Railgun's submunition is superior against GEQ due to reliability, and a hit from a Railgun solid shot can actually destroy a vehicle outright, and can harm the dreaded AV14 on half of all hits, but remains a single shot per turn.

Primary Weapons Comparison

Versus vehicles

Damaging hit

Code: Select all

AV | IC   | RG
----------------
10 | 1.33 | 0.67
11 | 1.00 | 0.67
12 | 0.67 | 0.56
13 | 0.33 | 0.44
14 | 0.00 | 0.33


Lethal hit

Code: Select all

AV | IC   | RG
----------------
10 | 0.00 | 0.22   
11 | 0.00 | 0.19      
12 | 0.00 | 0.13      
13 | 0.00 | 0.11      
14 | 0.00 | 0.07


Summary: The Railgun has a chance of making a lethal hits against an enemy vehicle while an Ion Cannon cannot. Against vehicles with an AV of 10-12, the Ion Cannon is more likely to generate a damaging hit than a Railgun, even though the Railgun has a chance of killing the vehicle outright.

Anti-Infantry comparison

Note: in all cases it is assumed that the large blast template hit 5 target models. Any situation where the probability is between 0-1%, is has been rounded up to 1%.

GEQ (T3, 4+)

Code: Select all

Unsaved Wounds | 0    | 1    | 2    | 3    | 4    | 5
--------------------------------------------------------
Ion Cannon     | 0.09 | 0.34 | 0.41 | 0.16 | 0 00 | 0.00
Overcharge     | 0.01 | 0.01 | 0.03 | 0.17 | 0.40 | 0.39
Rail Slug      | 0.45 | 0.55 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00
Rail Subs      | 0.01 | 0.01 | 0.03 | 0.17 | 0.40 | 0.39


MEQ (T4, 3+)

Code: Select all

Unsaved Wounds | 0    | 1    | 2    | 3    | 4    | 5
--------------------------------------------------------
Ion Cannon     | 0.09 | 0.34 | 0.41 | 0.16 | 0 00 | 0.00
Overcharge     | 0.01 | 0.01 | 0.03 | 0.17 | 0.40 | 0.39
Rail Slug      | 0.45 | 0.55 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00
Rail Subs      | 0.19 | 0.37 | 0.29 | 0.12 | 0.02 | 0.01


TEQ (T4, 2+, 5++)

Code: Select all

Unsaved Wounds | 0    | 1    | 2    | 3    | 4    | 5
--------------------------------------------------------
Ion Cannon     | 0.89 | 0.09 | 0.01 | 0.01 | 0 00 | 0.00
Overcharge      | 0.19 | 0.37 | 0.29 | 0.12 | 0.02 | 0.01
Rail Slug      | 0.64 | 0.37 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00 | 0.00
Rail Subs      | 0.19 | 0.37 | 0.29 | 0.12 | 0.02 | 0.01


Summary:

    Against opponents such as Imperial Guardsmen, Eldar Guardians or Tau Fire Warriors, the Railgun Submunition round will do the same damage as the Overcharged Ion Cannon, but without the risk of Gets Hot!

    Against a Space Marine or equivalent, the Overchareged Ion Cannon will do the most damage on average, but runs the risk of Gets Hot! and failing the shot altogether.

    Against the equivalent of a Space Marine Terminator, a Railgun will do more damage than an Ion Cannon; but if you can cover more five models with the Submunition or Overcharged template, those blasts will potentially do more damage and have the same chance of wounding a single model as the Railgun slug. Note that while the Railgun's high strength allows it to instant kill Toughness 5, multi-wound models, the Overcharged Ion Cannon is capable of instant killing the more common, Toughness 4, multi-wound models.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Dec 23 2014 08:22, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#4 » Feb 22 2009 07:40

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Upgrade Explanations


The key to equipping a Hammerhead- like all Tau vehicles -is not to go overboard. A fully loaded Railgun toting Hammerhead (Railhead), driven by Longstrike can cost you around 220 points. This is Land Raider territory. As a general rule, many players choose not go over 40 points of upgrades, but tank loadouts vary by playstyle. However, it is important to remember that the more fancy gadgets on your tank, the fewer Pulse Rifles and battle suits you'll have on the ground.

Secondary Weapon Systems
The Hammerhead has three available secondary weapons systems options. Dependent upon the style of play that you have in mind for your Hammerhead, one or more of these options may be particularly attractive to you.

    Twin-Linked Burst Cannon: This is best thought of as the sponson-equivalent option for your Hammerhead. With the 6th edition changes to the Hammerhead and Burst Cannons, this option has become inferior to the Twin-Linked Smart Missile System (SMS) in every way. In reality, this option should never be taken over the SMS.

    Gun Drones: On their own two Gun Drones are not a particularly fearsome foe. They lack the numbers necessary to lay down a withering hail of fire and they are unlikely to be able to withstand the firepower of the enemy. However, they do offer you three advantages on a Hammerhead:

      1. They can be detached, meaning that you do not need to expose the front of the Hammerhead to fire them, thus making it easier to gain the benefits of obscurement without sacrificing any firepower. They can also screen the vehicle from enemy assaults and be used elsewhere on the battlefield.
      2. The Gun Drones fire as passengers when attached. This means that a Hammerhead with Gun Drones can move up to 6" and fire the Gun Drones in addition to the main turret weapon, at the Drones' full BS or as snap shots if it moves up to 12". Though this point is still disputed, as passengers they would also normally be able to fire Overwatch if the vehicle is assaulted.
      3. They have the potential to cause pinning tests. The latter does not sound particularly dangerous, but it can turn a dangerous situation around real quick.

    Twin-Linked Smart Missile System (SMS): Thanks to the ability of the SMS to ignore Line of Sight, the SMS reduces the effectiveness of intervening cover between the Hammerhead and its target. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to positioning the Hammerhead on the tabletop than the other secondary weapon systems. In fact, you could potentially hide the Hammerhead in such a manner as to leave only the turret exposed above a hill or similar obstacle. This would allow you to fire over terrain with the primary turret weapon, eliminating any cover bonus your opponent would otherwise receive, and still be able to use the SMS at full effect - all while claiming the bonus for being obscured. The SMS also has the longest range of any of the secondary weapon systems, and this can make a crucial difference; any unit can potentially assault a Hammerhead that is close enough to fire on them with Burst Cannons or Gun Drones. The SMS can engage from up to 30" away, further than any infantry unit can move in a single turn.

Defensive Upgrades
These upgrades enhance the defensive capabilities of the Hammerhead by making the vehicle harder to destroy or incapacitate. Each upgrade only works in certain conditions, so understanding the threats placed against your Hammerhead will aide in the selection of equipment for each vehicle. In the past, the upgrades have been called 'End Loaded' upgrades due to the fact that they are purchased for a Hammerhead to prevent something that may not happen, similar to adding extra coal carts to a steam train. The train might not need those extra carts, but they are there just in case.

    Decoy Launchers: Since Hammerheads are hardy vehicles and are often used as a 'first strike' weapon, they will almost never be deployed in Reserve. As such, this upgrade is largely wasted on Hammerheads and would be better suited for fragile Tau fliers that must deploy in reserves.

    Disruption Pod: The disruption pod is exceedingly useful, particularly when used in conjunction with hard cover or the Jink save. There is no Tau vehicle that does not benefit from a disruption pod, but the Hammerhead likely benefits from it the least. Hammerheads rely on their respectable armour and hard cover to stay in the game. They cannot afford to Jink or move more than 6" at a time, lest they forfeit an entire turn of shooting their large blast weapon.

    Flechette Discharger: You can take action to mitigate the effects of an assault on your Hammerhead through movement and positioning, but a flechette discharger is another way to encourage the enemy to give you plenty of personal space. This can also be useful if you should find yourself making use of a weaponless Hammerhead as an impromptu shield for your infantry, as an enemy may balk at the prospect of running into those clouds of death; while Marine Equivalent opponents benefit from a high saving throw, units such as Ork Boyz or Tyranid Hormagaunts are much more vulnerable.

    Using a Hammerhead solely for the long-ranged primary weapon will probably mean that it is positioned in the rear area of your own deployment zone. This can place it within reach of enemy Outflankers, Infiltrators, or Deep Strikers. Although it is unlikely that the Hammerhead will have remained static, since it is foolish to do such a thing with any vehicle, the ability to attack first with the Flechettes against such units can cut down the potential amount of damage that could be caused by these units.

    Point Defense Targeting Relay: Giving the Hammerhead Overwatch capability when both of the standard Primary weapons are too high of a strength to be used, could be seen as a waste of points. Even so, it will often be nearby other Tau units, and being able to assist with its twin-linked secondary weapons can be helpful.
    However, if you have equipped your Hammerhead with two Long Barrelled Burst Cannons from Imperial Armour 3: The Taros Campaign 2nd Edition, a PDTR is a serious consideration.

Movement Systems

    Sensor Spines: Keep in mind that cover is determined via line of sight, that while firing is determined from the weapon mount, and that you only need in excess of 25% cover to gain the benefits of obscurement. Of course, your opponents may start referring to your Hammerhead as an ostrich if it spends too much time with its nose buried in cover. The Sensor Spines are at their most valuable when used in terrain heavy environments, such as Cityfight scenarios. Sensor spines can also be useful for allowing Hammerheads to more effectively tank-shock enemy units holding objectives, allowing you to contest or score objectives even with a Hammerhead that has lost all it's weapons; some opponents will switch fire to higher priority targets if a Hammerhead has lost all it's weapon systems, giving you an opportunity to gain a useful advantage from a tank considered to have been tactically neutered by your opponent.

    Automated Repair System: Hammerheads are not reliant on movement like some other Tau vehicles, but being immobilized removes what little mobility is has. While the ARS is inexpensive, it is not often that a Hammerhead will both require and successfully activate it. In 7th edition, it is more likely that a Hammerhead will be immobilized by difficult terrain than enemy shooting, making the Sensor Spines a more useful upgrade for the same cost.

Weapon Enhancement

    Blacksun Filter: The filter is mostly useful for the primary weapon, although it can be useful if Drones have been taken as the secondary weapon system. With the blacksun filter equipped, even Night Fight cannot shield enemy units from the Hammerhead's alpha strike. When considering taking the Blacksun Filter, the following points should be born in mind:

    • Night Fight frequency: Obviously, the Blacksun Filter will only aide the Hammerhead during a turn that is under Night Fight. Tournaments often make more inventive use of Night Fight scenarios, but some groups may not use Night Fight altogether. Even so, the cost is so absurdly low, it is usually considered a standard piece of wargear for all Hammerheads
    • The Primary Weapon: If you're fielding a Hammerhead with either an Ion Cannon or a Railgun, you're already paying a lot of points for a small number of shots from that primary weapon each turn. A Blacksun Filter makes it more likely you're going to get that expensive Railgun shot against a target during Night Fight turns and scenarios.

    Advanced Targeting System: When not targeting enemy vehicles, Hammerheads will usually be firing large blast weapons at infantry. Ionheads fire enough rounds that a Precision Shot is more likely, but the regular fire mode is not often used when targeting infantry. Few Hammerheads are equipped with this system, as it will almost always be a waste (no benefit when targeting vehicles or firing large blasts). More useful upgrades are generally taken instead of the ATS.

    Seeker Missiles: Upgrading a Hammerhead to carry up to two Seeker Missiles can be a useful way of bringing extra high Strength, low AP shots to the battlefield. The Hammerhead also has a better ballistic skill than the other vehicles capable of taking them, so it has a better rate of success without markerlight support. The main disadvantages to adding these missiles to a Hammerhead are that it increases the cost of an already expensive tank even further, and that where possible, your opponent is likely to keep any vehicles within line of sight facing your Hammerhead, to obtain the greatest level of protection against the main weapon.
    Seeker Missiles are an excellent source of Alpha Strike firepower, especially when spread across multiple Hammerheads on the table

Tank Commander

    Longstrike: The benefits of adding Longstrike to one of your Hammerheads are astounding. He automatically includes the Blacksun Filter and has a superior form of the Point Defense Targeting Relay. His higher ballistic skill and Tank Hunter ability make the primary weapon options absolutely lethal against vehicles. Seekers Missiles are excellent additions to Longstrike, despite the cost, as they benefit from all of his rules as well.
    In addition, the Preferred Enemy: Astra Militarum, makes him invaluable when facing large numbers of heavy Astra Militarum tanks, or even massed infantry. Indeed, his only shortcomings are the high point cost for taking him, and his inability to alter Vehicle Damage Table results. For all his accuracy and special abilities, he still requires a roll of 5 or 6 to destroy a vehicle with a Railgun.
    Though not a standard upgrade, Longstrike is a valid option for most Hammerheads, even when not facing his enemy of choice: Astra Militarum.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 02 2014 02:33, edited 5 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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Posts: 254
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#5 » Feb 24 2009 01:15

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Defensive Tactics


Use of Cover

With the emphasis on True Line of Sight (TLOS) to determine qualified targets, new commanders will be looking to use cover and movement to reduce the chance of direct enemy attacks against their army's Hammerhead(s). The high profile of the Hammerhead, combined with the fact that line of sight for shooting is drawn from the end of the Railgun or Ion Cannon barrel means that it will often be possible for your Hammerhead to fire over cover immediately adjacent to itself, while gaining a cover save from return shots. This technique is referred to as Line of Sight Sniping or LOS Sniping. This can be combined with the ability of the Smart Missile System to avoid enemy cover saves, and is particularly useful when engaging light infantry. Neither guarantees the complete safety of your tank, but they can extend the life of your Hammerhead.

Note: In the illustration of LOS Sniping below, the Hammerhead depicted is equipped with a Target Lock which, in 5th edition, allowed it to target two separate units. Target Locks are no longer available to Tau vehicles under the 6th edition codex. Without the target lock, the Smart Missile System is required to fire at the same target as the main gun or vice-versa.

Image



Heavy Weapon Saturation

Cadres that field multiple Hammerhead tanks take advantage of something often referred to as Heavy Weapon Saturation. An enemy force of a given points value is likely to only be able to field a certain number of anti-tank weapons such as Lascannon, Meltaguns, Dark Lances and so forth. While vehicles are vulnerable to melee assaults as these strike against the rear armour of the tank, if your opponent is shooting at your vehicles, he or she is likely to only have a certain number of heavy weapons capable of actually damaging your tanks. The more tanks you field, the more difficult it becomes for your opponent to destroy them, and this is one of the key tenets of the Mechanised Tau approach, which fields multiple Hammerheads and Devilfish to overwhelm the opponent with durable armoured chassis that many units will be unable to damage.

In simple terms, fielding two Hammerheads makes each more survivable than just fielding a single Hammerhead, and fielding three Hammerheads makes each more durable than if you'd fielded two or one, because there are fewer high-Strength shots likely to be taken per tank. A Hammerhead is usually a high-priority target for the enemy - more so than a Sky Ray, and often more so than a Devilfish in the early stages of a game, so you can expect significant quantities of weapons fire to head their way, and quite possibly attacks from fast-moving assault units capable of damaging the Hammerheads in close combat.
To some extent, the new XV104 - Riptide battlesuit produces a similar effect, and can be used alongside a Hammerhead with similar results to fielding two Hammerheads.

The Hammerhead tank vs. Assault troops

The Hammerhead is hampered somewhat by the interaction between secondary weapon systems, defensive upgrades and the rules for attacking vehicles in 7th Edition. While your Hammerhead can move up to 6" and fire one weapon system at full BS and the other as a Snap Shot, the range of the Burst Cannon and the Gun Drones is comparable to that of an enemy assault unit with Fleet. Broadly speaking, this means that if you're close enough to shoot at those Genestealers or that Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf with the primary and secondary weapon systems, then they're in range to charge you. The Flechette Dischargers can damage units attacking the Hammerhead in melee, but suffers against units with strong saving throws.

While a Hammerhead has a good chance of surviving enemy fire that comes from either the front or side arcs, it remains vulnerable to assault from enemy troops, which will strike against the rear armour rating of the vehicle. Units with Power Fists, Eviscerators, Power Klaws, Melta Bombs and other such weapons can cripple a Hammerhead, and the only defences against this are to keep moving more than 6" a turn - which means forfeiting the tank's shooting for a turn - or relying on the Flechette Discharger to reduce the likelihood of an enemy infantry unit destroying the Hammerhead by stripping its hull points with multiple attacks.

Unfortunately, if you're looking to engage the enemy with the secondary weapon systems, be it Burst Cannon, Gun Drones or even the Smart Missile System at range, you cannot move. A static vehicle is an easy target for infantry, and even glancing hits from Strength 4 models are enough to cause your expensive Hammerhead some concern, as it can only take a maximum of 3 glancing hits before being wrecked. A Flechette Discharger will only kill one in six of every Space Marines engaging the Hammerhead in melee, which means that the bulk of any charging attackers are likely to get the opportunity to attack, and Melta Bombs, Krak Grenades, or even a Space Marine's fist will soon make light work of a Hammerhead.

In summary, when dealing with assault troops, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. In other words, maximizing the movement of the Hammerhead to reposition it as far away from a potential close combat situation is usually a better defensive measure than trying to neutralize the threat by foregoing the additional movement in order to make use of the secondary weapon systems.
In some cases, your Hammerhead will be forced to Jink in order to avoid damage from shooting attacks. The turn after Jinking is an ideal opportunity to move at cruising speed, then Flat Out in order to reposition your Hammerhead to a safer location.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 09:30, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
Shas
Posts: 254
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#6 » Feb 24 2009 01:15

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Battlefield Roles


The purpose of a Hammerhead is relatively simple, compared to more complex or specialised units within the typical Tau Cadre. The bulk of the points paid for a Hammerhead are tied up in the primary weapon system, and the tank itself is often used simply as a delivery system for that primary weapon. However, the functions of the different primary and secondary weapons systems can be configured to fulfill very different battlefield roles, such as anti-armor, anti-infantry and contesting objectives.

Anti-Armor

The Ion Cannon is best used to hunt light vehicles, (those with an Armour Value of 10 to 12), units of MEQ, and Monstrous Creatures that have a 3+ or worse saving throw. Like any low-AP weapon, the Ion Cannon suffers if it's target is able to claim a cover save; this will often force a decision between engaging a closer threat that has a cover save, and a more distant threat that has no cover save, but which is not as dangerous in the immediate term.

The Railgun is renowned as one of the best anti-tank weapons in the game, but going after heavy armour with a Hammerhead is not necessarily the best option. 7th edition has decreased the effectiveness of anti-tank weapons across the board, making difficult to destroy even a light vehicle with a single shot. It can often be tempting to use the Railgun on lightly armoured vehicles, as the Hammerhead making a successful to hit roll against targets such as Eldar Vypers and Space Marine Rhinos automatically means some form of damage against the vehicle thanks to the high Strength of the Railgun, but destroying a low-point target with a Railgun equipped Hammerhead is sometimes a nugatory effort. While those Kill Points can be useful in Annihilation scenarios, you're likely to have more pressing priorities for your big guns in those critical first turns, and killing a transport after the troops inside have been delivered is often less useful than killing the troops themselves. Over the course of 6th and 7th edition, the Hammerhead's role has transitioned to firing accurate large blasts into enemy infantry from a survivable platform.

Despite this, a Hammerhead with Railgun is often more intimidating than a Hammerhead equipped with an Ion Cannon because of the chance of those Explodes! results and the relative certainty of at least some damage being inflicted with a hit.

If you only have Hammerhead mounted Railguns to hunt heavy armour such as Leman Russ main battle tanks, Land Raiders and Monoliths, you will often find that the Hammerhead needs to work with units that generate Markerlights to enable it to have the best possible chance of hitting, and to strip away any cover saves that a canny opponent will work to have. While it makes no difference which angle a Land Raider or Monolith is engaged from, being able to engage vehicles such as the Leman Russ from the side or rear can make a significant difference. What the Hammerhead lacks in this case is redundancy; the Railgun generates a single shot a turn, and that's it. If the Hammerhead is stunned, shaken, or Jinks, you lose the benefit of the Railgun completely, and if the Railgun is destroyed, the secondary weapon systems will all be of a much lower strength.

Anti-Infantry

Where the Hammerhead shines is its ability to punish infantry, particularly light infantry such as Gaunts, Imperial Guardsmen and the like. The large blast profiles of the Submunition Round or Overcharged Ion Cannon make up for cover on the battlefield simply by forcing your opponent to make lots of cover saves. This, combined with the long range of the Railgun, make it possible for you to spread large blasts the length of the table while moving. If your opponent is clustering models together in cover, particularly around areas such as objectives, don't be afraid to drop large blasts onto those units; if the unit is forced to go to ground every turn to make the most of their cover save, then that unit unable to shoot back at you. Against units in power armour or the equivalent, the Submunition blast doesn't care if the target is in cover or not; the high strength and relative accuracy of the Submunition makes raining Submunition rounds down on units such as Space Marines in cover a powerful psychological tool because your opponent cannot retaliate without sending assets specifically after your Hammerheads... and if your opponent has no choice but to sit there and repeatedly roll saving throws, it will often make him feel and respond defensively to an extent out of proportion to the actual damage inflicted.

Don't forget that if a unit goes to ground to increase it's cover save, it loses important benefits against assaulting units - so make sure you take advantage of your opponent electing to go to ground in response to inbound Submunitions or Ion Blasts by following up with a charge from a nearby assault unit, if you have one.

Contesting Objectives

With all of the natural focus on keeping a Hammerhead alive, it can be easy to forget that Hammerheads can work well aggressively; the Sky Ray and the Hammerhead can both be used effectively to perform the Tank Shock manoeuvre, thanks to their high speed rating and high frontal AV which allows them to move a considerable distance and still have a good chance of surviving a Death or Glory attack. Tank Shock can be very useful for forcing enemy units off or away from objectives, particularly if the enemy unit has nothing that can damage the Hammerhead, or if the game is entering the final turns and there's an urgent need to grab as many objectives as possible.

If the Tank Shock from a Hammerhead is followed up by a Devilfish filled with Fire Warriors to secure an objective, it can be very difficult for an opponent to muster enough firepower or combat troops to easily remove both armoured hulls and the transported Fire Warriors.

This can also work surprisingly well against enemy units that have parked transport vehicles with troops inside on top of objectives; a Hammerhead that can move a full 12" to ram an enemy vehicle is going to be making a Strength 8 hit, thanks to the combination of front Armour Value and simply being a tank. That makes even weaponless Hammerheads capable of damaging lightly armoured vehicles such as Rhinos and Chimeras.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 08:55, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#7 » Mar 25 2009 02:23

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Synergistic Units



Markerlight equipped units

With the prevalence of cover saves on the battlefields of the 41st millenium and the fact that a railgun equipped hammerhead has only one shot per shooting phase, it is often necessary to have markerlight support in order to achieve the maximum effectiveness of the cadre's tanks. Although any markerlight equipped unit can be of aid, units that can generate multiple markerlight hits per turn, such as pathfinders or marker drones, are particularly synergistic since they can boost the ballistic skill (BS) of the hammerhead while simultaneously stripping away some or all of an enemy's cover save. Markerlight equipped units help to ensure that every shot from a hammerhead has the best chance possible to deal damage to the enemy even though there are a fewer number of shots in total.

Jetpack infantry

Thanks to both the size and the imposing nature of a hammerhead tank, most enemies will choose it as a high priority target. A Tau commander can use this to his advantage by having a hammerhead escort an important but less resilient element of the cadre to it's objective. The hammerhead will absorb the attention and fire of the enemy while the escorted Tau unit will be able to advance, unmolested. One of the most common uses of this technique is for a hammerhead to escort a unit of potent, short-ranged crisis suits, such as Helios or Heatwave configurations, but it can be particularly effective with Vespid, since the auxiliaries are especially susceptible to enemy fire. The hammerhead can put ordinance on the target and shield the stingwings as they close to within the effective range of their neutron blasters.

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Riptides

As previously mentioned, a Riptide can be used alongside a Hammerhead for heavy weapon saturation. The high toughness and superior armour saves demand the attention of anti-tank weapons which would otherwise be aimed at the Hammerhead. The two unit types also fulfil similar roles as heavy weapon platforms without encroaching on each other's FOC slot.
The Riptide will sometimes be a higher priority target than your Hammerhead, as its weapons are very effective against TEQ. This draws even more attention away from the Hammerhead and allows it to do its mission.

Tau cadre

The Hammerhead is a versatile piece of machinery and it can make a nice chunk of mobile cover for pretty much anything else we have. A Hammerhead can also rapidly redeploy to another part of the battlefield allowing the cadre to adapt to a changing situation. The arrival of a hammerhead in a particular sector of the battlefield will shift attention away from other elements of the Tau cadre. This can help reduce the amount of enemy fire taken which in turn grants them a better opportunity to complete their respective missions.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 09:35, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#8 » Mar 25 2009 02:23

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Common Configurations


A Hammerhead can only be purchased singly, but can be configured for different battlefield uses depending on the upgrage equipment selected. Below are some sample loadouts which highlight different characteristics.

The Basic Hammerhead Tank

This variant of the hammerhead chassis was the initial configuration approved for mass production. The years of near constant warfare have lead to many design improvements which have rendered the "first flight" production hammerheads relatively obsolete. Though most have been either destroyed in battle or decomissioned, some original hammerheads can still be found in active service, usually in a reserve or garrison capacity but occasionally on the front lines as well.

This is a Hammerhead purchased solely for the main gun. This penny-pinching severely affects its battlefield performance however in that it will act as a slow moving artillery platform rather than front line tank.

Equipment: Gun Drones

The "Standard" Main Battle Tank

Proven effective time and again during the crucible of the second sphere expansion, this configuration of the hammerhead is the most common variant deployed throughout the empire and is considered the "standard" main battle tank of the Tau military.

This version of the Hammerhead tank offers a balance of firepower and mobility. Capable of getting into the deep, forming a wall for a while and then escaping hopefully before the enemy puts up too much heat.

Equipment: Blacksun Filter, Smart Missile System (SMS), Disruption Pods, Submunition Rounds (Railhead only)

Maximum Firepower and Speed

This variant of the hammerhead tank was first conceived and deployed in the Tash'var sept on the frontier of the Tau empire. Hunter cadres employing this configuration needed a hammerhead design capable of responding quickly and decisively to Ork and pirate raids which occur frequently in that region.

Designed to make the best use of terrain, this configuration is capable of moving in and around most terrain without affecting its ability to fire on enemy targets or endangering the vehicle with dangerous terrain tests.

Equipment: Blacksun Filter, Smart Missile System (SMS), Disruption Pod, Sensor Spines

Maximum defensive potential

In the wake of conflicts with hive fleet Kraken, the fire caste high command realized that it needed a hammerhead variant capable of simultaneously dealing with multiple independent threats from different vectors, including close assault. "Standard" class hammerhead tanks were retro-fitted with smart missile systems, point defense targeting relays and flechette dischargers in order to maximize their deffensive capabilities in the face of enemy forces that possessed an overwhelming numerical advantage.

The purpose of this hammerhead configuration is to maximize the tank's damage output by using defensive upgrades to engage enemy assault units during the enemy's turn. Although the smart missile system can be advantageous in heavy terrain environments due to the fact that no line of sight to the target is required, they can replaced with Gun Drones as the drones can detach and screen the Hammerhead from assault, or even target an entirely different unit from the Hammerhead.

Equipment: Gun Drones or Smart Missile System (SMS), Flechette Discharger, Sensor Spines, Disruption Pod, Point Defense Targeting Relay (only if SMS has been taken)
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 09:20, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

theunderking
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[Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#9 » Mar 25 2009 02:28

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Common Problems


High priority target for the enemy

One of the most common difficulties encountered by cadre commanders when they field hammerhead tanks is that compared to the rest of the Tau army, the hammerheads typically receive a disproportionate amount of enemy attention and fire power. This can be a problem since even a minor result on the vehicle damage chart or a forced Jink manoeuvre can hinder or prevent the hammerhead from completing it's mission. Care must be exercised to protect the tanks from unnecessary exposure and to not use them recklessly because even though a hammerhead tank is among the tougher vehicles found in the 41st millenium, it is not invulnerable; given enough shots, your enemy will be able to neutralize them.

As mentioned in other places in this article, however, the influence that a hammerhead projects on the battlefield can be turned to a Tau advantage in the metagame. In other words, every enemy weapon being fired at the hammerhead is one less enemy weapon targeting the rest of the cadre. By instilling a sense of fear of hammerheads in the enemy commander, the cadre can benefit not only from the heavy punch of the railguns or ion cannons, but also from the reduced fire directed at other elements of the Tau army.

Competition from other heavy support choices

With the proliferation of highly mechanized armies, many Tau players feel that even three hammerhead tanks in a cadre fail to provide enough heavy weapon support, especially in higher point games. In addition to the smaller maximum volume of shots per turn when compared to the maximum number of broadsides that can be fielded within the restrictions of the force organization chart, hammerheads often require markerlight support to be reliably effective. This "additional point cost" can often mean that hammerhead tanks are not the most point efficient method to field anti-tank in a cadre.
7th edition has opened up the possibility of fielding as many Hammerheads as desired, at the cost of forfeiting "Objective Secured" for your army's troop choices. While it will not always be an advantageous trade off, it opens the heavy weapon possibilities for purely mechanized cadres.
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 09:28, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

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Re: [Heavy Support] The Hammerhead Tank

Post#10 » Nov 17 2009 09:40

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Conclusion



Rightly feared by the enemies of the Greater Good, the hammerhead tank is the embodiment of the Tau Empire's military might. Thanks to the combination of powerful weapons and strong armor (not to mention the variety of secondary systems), the hammerhead tank has a forgiving learning curve which allows fledgling commanders to quickly and easily apply it's fundamental tactics in battle. However, with increased field experience, it is often learned that, like all elements of the Tau army, it is a nuanced machine capable of handling a wide variety of battlefield situations above and beyond it's traditional anti-armor role. Indeed, many veteran commanders will attest that, oftentimes, the psychological effects of a hammerhead tank on the battlefield are more powerful than the direct effects of the mighty weapons it carries.

To wield such power, though, bears a heavy price, both in terms of points value and in the increased attention of the empire's enemies. It is the clever Tau commander who understands that it is not only the strengths, but also the weaknesses that define the hammerhead's use on the field of battle. When armed with that knowledge, the hammerhead tank truly becomes "the fist of Mont'Ka."
Last edited by Das'Kyman on Jul 03 2014 09:38, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: updated for 7th edition

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