Using a Devilfish to Provide Mobile Cover
Authored by Daedalus Nix
When discussing in another thread I pointed out a method to use the Devilfish to new effectiveness in 6E.
What This Is and Is Not
This is an initial write-up of how to implement the Sea Turtle tactic in 6e, and an open discussion on improving it for full tactica use as well as to spawn ideas that may permit it. While this discussion focuses on using a Devilfish and Firewarriors - it can be used with any Tau vehicle that suddenly finds itself useless or needing dual purpose. This is not a discussion of the overall tactics or benefits of the Devilfish in 6e. It is simply a way to use the rules set to our advantage. Yes - the Devilfish has multitudes of other roles that can be deployed at any given time in the game. This is just simply a nice tactic to keep something vulnerable safe as long as possible.
At its heart the Sea Turtle uses an armored vehicle, typically a Devilfish (such as one from a Pathfinder squad), to advance at an angle to allow a unit, such as a Firewarrior Squad, to move ahead and fire. After the infantry unit has moved and fired, the Devilfish moves at an angle again to provide cover.
A more basic version of this tactic is simply providing enough space for a vehicle to move behind then ahead of a mostly static unit - such as a broadside unit.
The Movement Phase
To give a rough visual example we come to the beginning of our turn and a small section of the board looks like this:
Here we have 5 assault terminators1 inching their way towards a Devilfish with ten brave Firewarriors huddled behind it.
In order for the majority of the unit to fire without conferring a cover save to the cans of metal, we first need to move the Devilfish out of the way. And - just so we can illustrate the full use of the tactic here - the firewarriors. So our move looks something like this:
The Firewarriors now have mostly clear line of sight (and would have better if I was any good at Vassal ) to open fire on their target.
The Shooting Phase
The most important bit here is the order of operations - infantry fires first, vehicle moves flat out SECOND.
Bringing the board to now look like this.
By luck I was able to keep the full movement lines for the Devilfish here on its movement. As you can see - they roughly form a triangle.
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This is a standard template for moving the Devilfish around - by moving at about 5" both times the Devilfish can have an effective total forward movement of about 6". I call this the 3-4-5 rule: 3" forward, 4" to the right is the endpoint for your 5" move (a2 + b2 = c2). Repeat again and you're a total of 6" forward from where you started.
The Enemy Turn
When your enemy's turn comes up, it has a few issues to deal with. The first is that it has a large model in front of a priority target that is advancing up field. The models behind it have a 5+ cover save, or may be completely hidden depending on LOS) in addition to its normal armor saves. The vehicle itself is not only unlikely to be that high of a priority target - it is right in the way for an assault!
Yeah... You do that
By keeping enough distance so that a unit cannot assault around the vehicle, we keep the Firewarriors safe for another turn. In addition, Flechette dischargers can provide a few more wounds to soften up a target unit before it turns its focus to the real target.
The first is for more static units - my personal favorite being moving the Devilfish forward and backwards to provide cover for either a squad of Pathfinders or Broadsides. This allows for more protection to these high-value priority targets than may normally be afforded.
Stealth Suits can also benefit from this mobile cover - giving them a 2+ save in open ground simply by jumping back behind the Devilfish.
In the end - no plan ever survives contact with the enemy. Mech isn't as strong as it once was, but by using what tools we have available to us we can keep our units alive longer and do more shots which, by simple attrition, will lead to more wounds on our opponents.
Until then - keep in cover and open fire. Tau'va!
1Yes... I know... They won't do much against these guys. It's just a good visual and I didn't have to drag as many models over in Vassal.