Drone Net VX1-0

A review of past Tactics by commanders during the First, Second, Third & Fourth Phase Expansion.
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nic
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Drone Net VX1-0

Post#1 » Dec 09 2015 03:45

Drone Net VX1-0 Tactica

Composition

The Drone Net VX1-0 is a formation composed of 4 or more units of drones. The formation can be taken as an Auxiliary in a Dawn Blade contingent or as a stand-alone formation otherwise.

The drones in each drone squadron are of the typical Gun, Marker or Shield types and may number 4-12. There is little reason to take Shield drones in this formation and further discussion will be limited to Gun and Marker drones.

Special rules

All the drones in the formation have Enhanced Tactical Responses granting them Split Fire, Precision Shots, Interceptor, Outflank and Jink.

So long as there are at least two units from this formation on the table the Collective Targeting Data rule grants all drones on the table +1 BS in the shooting phase. This bonus only applies to the Shooting Phase so does not combine with the Interceptor rule. Drone controllers replace the BS of affected drones so this bonus will also not apply to drones which have the benefit of a drone controller.

Marker Drones

Marker Drones in this formation primarily benefit from the Split Fire, Interceptor and Jink rules.

Interceptor marker lights transform the ability of a Tau force to deal with enemies coming out of reserves. The ability to place marker lights to improve the BS of interceptor fire and strip cover saves enhances Interceptor fire to be as good as a normal shooting phase. If the marker drones are with a drone controller commander the lack of their +1 BS outside the shooting phase does not affect them. Against reserves-heavy armies such as drop pod lists Interceptor marker lights are dramatically effective and potentially game-winning.

Split Fire can allow a drone squadron to attempt to place marker lights on more than one target, this is of somewhat marginal value. What is of far greater value is that it applies to a Commander in a unit with marker drones removing the need for that Commander to take a Target Lock in order to direct its shooting onto a target other than that being marked with marker lights.

Jink is a significant survivability boost for drones when facing AP4 or better shooting without them needing to risk Dangerous Terrain tests for using cover on the table.

General use
Marker drone units are a very good marker light source when combined with an drone controller Commander. The additional rules from the VX1-0 formation make them perform even better in this role.

Marker drone squadrons running independently benefit more from the ballistic skill boost from the formation. This transforms them into one of the more cost effective means of putting marker lights on the table.


Gun Drones

Gun drones are more likely to benefit from the full set of special rules.

Split Fire can be used to pick off stragglers without over-kill and can also be used to maximise the chances of Pinning enemy units. If two drone squads are shooting at two enemy units the use of split fire can create the effect of the targets needing to take more than two pinning checks.

Precision Shots combine strongly with Twin-Linked creating a good probability of a unit of gun drones generating Precision Shots with each attack. As these shots are only AP5 it is unlikely that any individual shot will eliminate a key opposing model but when used in numbers they can force a lot of saves to be attempted.

Gun drones retain Interceptor and are a cheap and effective source of Interceptor fire, although only at BS2 unless with a drone controller Commander. Massed S5 Interceptor fire is effective against many targets - it is particularly useful against targets that rely on Invulnerable saves that more expensive Interceptor platforms such as Riptides are not highly effective against.

Jink is as much as survivability boost for gun drones as for marker drones. With their twin-linked weapons the shooting from jinking gun drones is still somewhat useful.

Outflank might seem superfluous on a unit that can Deep Strike but outflanking does not risk mishap or scatter nor run the risk of landing in terrain and failing Dangerous Terrain tests. If combined with the use of Positional Relays outflanking is a more reliable and predictable way to get drones into an optimum back-field shooting position. Strength 5 shooting is rarely effective against the front armour of enemy vehicles, it is far more effective against the rear armour of most.

General use
The ballistic skill boost from the formation improves the damage output of Gun drones to be almost as good per point as Fire Warriors. Compared to Fire Warriors they are faster and more durable, in addition to which they have a number of useful special rules to improve their utility. Gun drone squadrons in a VX1-0 formation are effective harassment and screening units.

Synergy with other units

The Collective Targeting Data rule combines usefully with drones outside the VX1-0 formation itself. This applies to all drones, including ones which cannot have their BS increased by means such as a Drone Controller, so it will significantly benefit lists with many drones. Any model with the (Drone) designation in its unit type will gain the +1 Ballistic Skill so long as units of the formation remain on the table.

Gun Drones
Gun drones taken as upgrades to other units are, with the +1 BS, even more points efficient sources of S5 AP5 shooting than Strike Teams.

Missile Drones
The improvement from BS2 to BS3 on Missile Drones makes them the single most efficient source of S7 shooting in the Tau codex. They remain limited in numbers and availability - just two per Broadside suit. Viewed as a whole unit the efficiency of Broadside teams with missile drones is improved noticeably. If the possible issue of morale checks from lost drones can be mitigated then taking missile drones on broadside teams is highly recommended when a Drone Net VX1-0 is in use.

Piranha
Much of the firepower of a unit of Piranha comes from their drones, the BS of which is increased by the presence of a Drone Net VX1-0 on the table. As a source of S5 AP5 shooting Piranha squadrons are promoted by this to be more cost effective than Strike Teams. The synergy with a Piranha Firestream is notable and with one or two turns of generating additional gun drones the amount of firepower this formation can generate is very high for its investment in points.

Gunrig
Drones from the VX1-0 formation have the Interceptor rule, unlike battle suits with EWO the weapons of which have the rule. This means that a unit of drones manning the Gunrig can fire the Railgun as an Interceptor weapon. They also have Precison Shots which can be occasionally awesome with a S10 AP1 weapon.

Limitations

Other than having to take a minimum of 4 units of drones each with a minimum of 4 models there are no limitations on the formation itself. Further drone units can be added at will.

The bonus from Collective Targeting Data is not cumulative, models do not gain the benefit of multiple instances of the same rule.

The key limitation on the Drone Net VX1-0 is that drone units remain non-scoring. The drones from this formation can fulfill many roles in a Tau army but they cannot score objectives and they generally struggle to generate VP other than by First Blood or Slay the Warlord. An over-dependence on drones could leave a Tau army lacking models or units with which to score VP to win the game.

[Edit November '16 for FAQ updates]
Last edited by nic on Nov 25 2016 01:48, edited 6 times in total.

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ShasODerpy
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#2 » Dec 10 2015 03:47

Jinking and Going to Ground!
I would never have even thought of that possibility.
Though I'm quite sure Jinking was never supposed to be used in combination with Going to Ground (no unit in 40k can do both), it does seem like the Formation Drones have the unique ability of doing both.

The Drone formation really sounds like a heap of fun, with many combinations possible. I'll have to experiment with the various options.


Having a game this sunday, I'm thinking of trying out your idea of some VX1-0 Markerdrones on a Gunrig.


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Siyath
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#3 » Dec 10 2015 04:09

ShasODerpy wrote:Jinking and Going to Ground!
I would never have even thought of that possibility.
Though I'm quite sure Jinking was never supposed to be used in combination with Going to Ground (no unit in 40k can do both), it does seem like the Formation Drones have the unique ability of doing both.


It's a barrel roll + dive straight to ground ^^

Seriously though, the formation looks really solid, and I'm also looking into arranging some of my new army's composition to perhaps include this formation. Definitely seems worth it, especially since I always opt Marker Drones over Pathfinders anyway.

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Vector Strike
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#4 » Dec 10 2015 05:58

I'm thinking (2000p) on a cheap VX1-0 (all drones) to come from outflank with FSE CAD 3x1 Tetras - which will let 6xX (dunno how many) FSE Crisis to DS without scatter and with good ML support. An OSC could come along as well, and all would be triggered by a cheap-as-possible Infiltration Cadre on the table.

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#5 » Dec 15 2015 03:54

I'm not so sure that you can jink and go to ground. Even though it isn't specified, I think you have to choose one or the other. I would equate it to skimmers that are immobilized being unable to jink as described in the BRB. Going to ground and jinking would be much the same thing IMO.

RAW can be debated, but RAI seems like it would make the most sense that way.
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boomwolf
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#6 » Dec 15 2015 04:12

There is no rule blocking it, or even a hint of such. saying that RAI is that they can't is wrong on the basis that you can't possibly know what they MEANT, and given zero indication to such, assuming they meant they cant equals to houseruling.
It may be a decent houserule, but its still just as much as a houserule as "D weapons are actually S10" that ran in the past, or "no LoW", etc. all are valid between your friends, but invalid when discussing the ACTUAL rules and game mechanics.

And no, RAW cannot be debated. every unit can GtG unless stated otherwise, and neither jink nor GtG prevent any other action unless specified, and neither specify they block each other. just as much as you can still use the ethereal zephyr's grace to snap shoot after running the turn after you did a GtG, or that the massive broadsides are somehow able to GtG (or the fact they are T4)-rules and "logic" do not always match.

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#7 » Dec 16 2015 02:05

Because there's literally no other unit in the game that can do that. It's also really well known that GW doesn't FAQ their game in any capacity. So we come to crossroads like this where we have to figure out what their intent might have been, or what would be fair for the game as a whole. We have zero precedence for this ruling.


boomwolf wrote:And no, RAW cannot be debated. every unit can GtG unless stated otherwise, and neither jink nor GtG prevent any other action unless specified, and neither specify they block each other.


This has always been a poor argument for rule discussion in this game. "Rules is rules" is a bogus toss away excuse to have a discussion go in one way. Sunshark bombers still cannot ever make a bombing run. So when we run in to obvious rule confliction and paradox, you can't just say "rules is rules" and be done with it. It's a cop out.

boomwolf wrote:just as much as you can still use the ethereal zephyr's grace to snap shoot after running the turn after you did a GtG,
I'm not following this example. If you GtG on your opponent's shooting phase, you can't move at all your next turn. How are you able to run and shoot? If you are arguing that that unit can shoot as normal in the shooting phase, this would be an example of GW not noticing a contradiction in their rules. RAI, zephyr's grace is for your units to "run and shoot". Both actions have to be completed, or specifically, be available to the unit.

boomwolf wrote: that the massive broadsides are somehow able to GtG (or the fact they are T4)-rules and "logic" do not always match.
You mistake my argument for an appeal to logic. It's an appeal to what's "fair" for the game. To make it enjoyable for everyone. Too often on this forum I see people trying to get "the most" out of every rule conflict, looking only to what they think would help them. You need to look at what is fair, and base your argument around that.

And the broadside example is poor because if I GtG out in the open, I get a measly +1 cover, which would "logically" be an accurate depiction
Last edited by AnonAmbientLight on Dec 16 2015 03:38, edited 2 times in total.
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NoobPwner84
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#8 » Dec 16 2015 02:30

nic wrote:Then when return fire came in they Jinked and went to ground[1] for a 3+ save in the open, soaking up a surprising amount of firepower.



THIS

is lulz inducing. Get it round you, eldar players!

Haha! can't wait to try this
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NoobPwner84
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#9 » Dec 16 2015 02:38

Serious post - I think that intercepting marker drones + cheap EWO's on riptides/Broadsides etc is going to make boards with Tau on them a deep strike/null deployment free zone, or more than they already are. I pack EWO's onto everything and its already felt like I get two shooting phases in a row if I go first against podding marines or nul deployment Eldar/marine bikes.

The boost to missile drones may indeed cause me to use some on my broadside units, as I've not really bothered with them much. And I've started running marker drones on my stealth teams with the OSC, so a welcome boost for those too.

Looks like you really ran amok with the gun drones, looking forward to more tactical insights with this formation
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Crisis55
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#10 » Dec 16 2015 09:16

I am curious what other people's experiences are using these things in game! Don't you think you'd need a TON of them to be effective though? I mean, sure they're 4+/3+ cover, T4 chaps with twin-linked (and often snapfiring) Pulse Carbines, but they are still 14 points a model. How many squads of Gundrones would you need to handle anti-infantry duties in a standard game? 20? 30? Plus a bunch for your Markerlight needs as well. I know we all have a lot of Drones laying around but do we really need scores of Drones to truly take advantage of it? I'm also thinking in the context of the infamous shoal of Piranhas spawning Gun Drones...
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boomwolf
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#11 » Dec 17 2015 02:25

Given that they are practically tougher, more mobile and more killy fire warriors with extra abilities, they really don't cost that much.

I mean, carbine FW pays 9 points, the drone pays 9.333,still one of the highest out there.

I find the minor dakka efficency drop to be very much worth the tactical applications of DS (FoF without a fish), interceptor (problem astrades? ) split fire, jsj and far superior defensive stats.

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nic
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#12 » Dec 17 2015 06:04

If we just look at the raw firepower then this formation does not turn gun drones into star units. The BS boost helps but the end result is that point for point their raw damage output is very similar to Strike teams.

What sets them aside are all the tricks that enable them to put the damage where you want it and your opponent does not. Jetbikes using JSJ to hide from return fire can be countered with outflank or the slightly riskier deep strike. Enemy units coming from reserves can be hit with interceptor, I know my kroot will suffer the first time I come up against this. Units with a key model such as apothecary can have that model sniped out. Almost uniquely these can be combined so we can throw out precision shot interceptor fire - and then jink as they will not be shooting next turn anyway.

I would not want to invest too many points in gun drones but a couple of cheap units can solve knotty little problems for you on the table.

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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#13 » Dec 18 2015 11:40

Probably a stupid question, but when it says that they formation must include "4 or more units of Drones", does that include sniper drones? Or is it only those units under the "drones" section? And how does a drone controller work with the +1 BS, ie will sniper drones be BS 3(5 with controller) or BS 3(6 with controller)?
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Vector Strike
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#14 » Dec 19 2015 04:35

Iron-Fist wrote:Probably a stupid question, but when it says that they formation must include "4 or more units of Drones", does that include sniper drones? Or is it only those units under the "drones" section? And how does a drone controller work with the +1 BS, ie will sniper drones be BS 3(5 with controller) or BS 3(6 with controller)?


Only the drones able to be bought by a Drone Squadron unit - so no Sniper Drones. Also, Drone Controller makes the Drones under a model with it use its BS; remember that anything that changes stats go in this order of importance: x < + < set value. So they'll be BS5, even with +1 via VX1-0.

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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#15 » Dec 19 2015 09:48

The way I'm looking at it, is that we've never ad intercept markerlights before (maybe a forgeworld suit on commander). But that that is the biggest advantage this formation brings, so I'm planning to run 4x4 marker drones, and one dc still on commander. That way I can be more confident in my EWO shooting (missing a template in intercept can lose you a game).

It then also gives you enough volume, at least initially, that you can snap at fliers in a pinch and not feel like its a complete waste.

edit: or you just use those that were forced to jink to then skyfire next turn since they're snaps anyway. (if there are fliers/fmc)
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#16 » Dec 19 2015 11:29

Just going to run this by the community, but if I read it correctly, doesn't simply taking 3 drone net formations give us bs5 via stacking the bonuses for all drones in the army? If you can see a reason for having the drones anyways, might be worth looking into...

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boomwolf
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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#17 » Dec 19 2015 02:58

The discussion was made already.

It will, under strict RAW and some loophole jumping.
However, it will cause you to never find a game again as it requires levels of law bending and dubious reading that will make even a corrupt lawyer blush.

When playing with the slightest level of common sense employed, there is no justification to allow it to work. and trying to do so is a quick way to lose friends, get banned from clubs and disqualified from tournaments.

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Re: Drone Net VX1-0

Post#18 » Dec 19 2015 04:24

That's pretty harsh.
Maybe I'm wrong here, but looking at running three formations of Drone Nets I believe that you will face at least three other obstacles that makes it impractical to running three formations of Drone Net.

First, balancing of points.
It requires you to put up a minimum of 672pts which is quite a big chunk of your total points.
Although you may think that all drones may be useful, finding a good ratio of gun and marker drones, it usually will leave you with too little of fire power outside of the drones. Further, if you go CAD you kind of get the troops as a major tax as you already has filled up your slot of S5AP5-shots through gun drones. The same goes for the Hunter Cadre. The retaliation cadre may still be valid. As will FE CAD.

Second, the return of investment.
So, you've got that lovely BS5!
Now, time to make it worth your investment.
Thus, you 'need' to go heavy on missile drones and thus Broadsides. That will mean that the list will be quite onesided and not able to tackle threats efficiently. You'll basically end up with mass S7.

Third, models.
Yes, you need to have a bunch of drones.
At least 48 minimum.
That is not all that easy for most of us, even if we may have a lot of unused drones from prior editions.
I can probably come up with 48 drones, but then about 10 will be shield drones...30 will be gun drones, and then 8-12 marker drones (converted and new ones).

An extra forth reason to consider is that according to RAW you also confer BS5 to your opponents drones IF facing a tau faction with any drones.

Personally, I say if anyone wants to go for it, do it!
I'd love to see these types of lists.
And as far as I can tell, they follow RAW.

/gustmic

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