Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

A review of past Tactics by commanders during the First, Second, Third & Fourth Phase Expansion.
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Panzer
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#19 » Sep 15 2016 02:29

To be fair Terminators are about as overcosted as Pathfinders with special weapons. And Assault Terminators without Stormshields are just easy kills if you build your list properly. :D

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CoffeeGrunt
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#20 » Oct 07 2016 09:05

As a Guard player I find the idea that Pathfinders are too squishy for these weapons to be hilarious, but that's just me. Giving a Pathfinder a 15pt Rail Rifle is the same investment as handing a Guardsman a 15pt Plasma Rifle.

But I digress.

Personally if I have the points and a FA slot free, I take a minimum squad of Pathfinders with 3x Ion Rifles. They Outflank and hit a tank in the bum with Ion Rifle fire, and at 74pts tend to pay for themselves fairly quickly. After that they're on their own and will continue to disrupt as much as they can until they die. Comes in only 2pts more than a Crisis Suit with dual CIBs, has similar firepower up close but more firepower at >18". It also doesn't take up my exceptionally-valuable Elite slots.

They basically fulfill the same role my poor Special Weapons Squads with Demo Charges do. Drop in, drop something nasty, kill a target, and go be annoying until they inevitably die.

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#21 » Dec 18 2016 08:39

The way I view it, the PFs are a squad of FWs for +2 pts/model that have outflank and ML's. ML's are a great force multiplier but a PF team shouldn't be your only primary source. 192 pts gets you a Drone Network and up to 16 ML's. Plus, drones are jetpack and PF's really limit themselves with heavy weapon ML shots, in an army that is known for move+shoot warfare.

I love the ion rifle, I think its pretty and its a fun weapon to fire off, even if you can get missile pod shots elsewhere. But for points and statline, a crisis suit with 2 missile pods isn't really all that less squishy that 2 PF's with ion rifles, about 10pts cheaper in fact (-1 T), and they benefit from cover more easily without danger checks. So as far as I see it, they aren't any better or worse than a crisis suit for that damage, and it's just about where you want to fill points on your list. And you can overcharge them. :fear:

By the same argument I also see the benefit of outflanking with a pulse-accelerated squad to pin the bejeezus out of something :) but ultimately I see the decision to fit the PFs with special weapons as a personal preference and not a no-brainer either for or against.

CommanderDeathrain
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#22 » Dec 19 2016 04:47

I have 4 squads of path finders (2 5 man ones and 2 4 man ones) and while I love my 1 4 man squad with rail rifles I've never fielded them because they cost too many points. My ion rifle squad I have used and while they are still kind off too expensive they can at least do something even of its just acting as a distraction squad. As much as I like path finders the only reason I'm still running a squad of them is due to the fact I don't have enough marker drones yet

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#23 » Dec 19 2016 12:01

There's a lot of cheap options for buying drones on ebay. I have, I have never counted how many drones in sprue, but I think up to 4-6 of them can be ML

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Ell'ran
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#24 » Dec 19 2016 03:35

http://www.advancedtautactica.com/viewt ... 21&t=20021

A short guide on how to make your own Marker Drones. Fairly simple and with stuff almost everyone has.

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#25 » Dec 19 2016 03:36

It is often difficult to get into a black and white discussion about Tau tactics and armaments because the codex almost always has a "yea this is good, but this other thing is better" moment for most things. As with everything else, it all depends on what you plan to do with these units. But let's talk about weapons first.

Both of the guns are equal in range, and about equal in S. The biggest difference is the AP and the weapon profiles of the Ion. The Rail rifle is more likely to bypass armor saves with its AP 1 profile. The Ion is more likely to actually threaten vehicles as well as ID T4 models with its overcharge profile. So in that regard, I think it's pretty clear cut: If you need to take out elites or MC, I feel Rail is your best option. If you need more anti-infantry and tank popping chances, I feel Ion is your best option. It really just boils down to what you need to counter, however, I will say that the unique profile of the Rail Rifle makes it more valuable than the Ion Rifle since the Ion Rifle's profile can be replicated in multiple units for the same cost or better. On top of that, the Rail Rifle can do more damage with proper markerlight support than the Ion Rifle can. See below.

Here comes our "yea this is good, but this other thing is better" moment.

A four man Pathfinder Squad with three Ion Rifles costs 74pts. This gives us 4 wounds with 3 S7 AP4 shots that can be overcharged to S8 AP4 Blast, Gets Hot!

A Crisis Suit with 2x MP and 2 gun drones is 76pts. This gives us 4 wounds with 4 S7 AP4 shots that are 6in longer in range. So for 2 extra points we get +1T, 3+ and 4+ saves and an extra S7 AP4 shot. As an added bonus, this unit is far more maneuverable and the gun drones add a little firepower to the unit.

A Strike Team with a DS8 Turret (MP) is 73pts. This gives us 7 wounds with 2 S7 AP 4 shots that are 6in longer in range. We lose 1 S7 AP4 shot, but we also now get 7 S5 AP5 shots at 30in range as well, adding to our firepower. Our armor save gets a slight boost to 4+. The squad continues to benefit from the DS8 turret so long as one firewarrior remains, ensuring the squad gets to keep the increase in firepower as casualties mount.

A HYMP Broadside with a single Missile Drone is 77pts. This gives us 3 wounds with 6 S7 AP shots, four of which are twinlkined and all of them have 6in longer range. We lose 1W in comparison, but get T4 and 2+ saves for the Broadside and 4+ saves on the drone.

Of course, one thing to keep in mind through all of this is that the Pathfinder team does better when the opponent is closer due to the rules of rapid fire.

A four man Pathfinder Squad with three Rail Rifles costs 89pts. This gives us 4 wounds with 3 S6 AP1 shots. The Rail rifle is appealing in that it is a long range weapon that has the AP 1 profile. That's actually pretty damn good for infantry units. As stated previously, this weapon profile actually does not really have a comparable alternative, and I could really only think of one.

A Crisis Suit with 2x PR and 2 gun drones is 76pts. This gives us 4 wounds with 2 S6 AP2 shots that are 6in shorter in range. This is partially made up for the fact that the crisis suit can JSJ which may help in regards to that 30in of the Rail Rifle. We also lose 1 shot at range. So for 2 extra points we get +1T, 3+ and 4+ saves and lose a S6 AP1 shot. As an added bonus, this unit is far more maneuverable and the gun drones add a little firepower to the unit.

Of course, one thing to keep in mind through all of this is that the Pathfinder team does better when the opponent is closer due to the rules of rapid fire.

So as a closing statement, if you HAVE to pick between Rail or Ion Rifle, the Rail Rifle is just going to perform better in nearly all situations. It's also a weapon profile that you will have a hard time replicating anywhere else in the Tau codex, which increases its value. However, if you have to pick between Pathfinders or any other unit in the codex, your probably better off keeping the Pathfinders in their box.
Sky IS Falling, T'au WILL Suck, Sell Me Your Models

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Ohando
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#26 » Jan 07 2017 10:16

A bit off topic, but i can't seem to find a good answer on this forum:

As a markerlight source, how pathfinder compare to marker drones (in a drone VX1-0 formation or not) in a game? To me (i am still painting a small army, my first game hasn't come yet, but i'll keep you updated) pathfinder are meant to stay in a strategic point on the map with good cover and mark whatever comes up, and drones are a more mobile source of marker lights.
I planed of using a bit of both (at the moment i only have 5 marker drones) as pathfinder are still quite cheap.

What are your thoughts on the marker drone vs pathfinder debate?

(feel free to move/delete this post if i missed the topic dedicated to this problem)

Barteh
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#27 » Jan 09 2017 09:41

Ohando wrote:A bit off topic, but i can't seem to find a good answer on this forum:

As a markerlight source, how pathfinder compare to marker drones (in a drone VX1-0 formation or not) in a game? To me (i am still painting a small army, my first game hasn't come yet, but i'll keep you updated) pathfinder are meant to stay in a strategic point on the map with good cover and mark whatever comes up, and drones are a more mobile source of marker lights.
I planed of using a bit of both (at the moment i only have 5 marker drones) as pathfinder are still quite cheap.

What are your thoughts on the marker drone vs pathfinder debate?

(feel free to move/delete this post if i missed the topic dedicated to this problem)


Drones are, quite frankly, almost always superior. In the VX1.0 formation, they're DEFINITELY much better. Normal pathfinders suffer from usual Tau infantry squishiness; T3 and only 5+ armor. They rely on cover to make them more survivable, but without going to ground, they're most likely still going to be cut down. If they go to ground, they're essentially dead for a turn.

The marker drones, on the other hand, rely on line of sight for their survivability. Being relentless (from the Jet Pack infantry unit type) lets them move and still shoot their heavy 1 markerlight. So you can move them from their hiding spot, light something up, and then use the assault move to jump back out of line of sight. Aside from that, they're also markedly more survivable (T4, 4+ armor). They do cost slightly more per markerlight hit, but I believe it's vastly worth it. Also note that drones in the VX1.0 formation have a slight but unique advantage over pathfinder; they gain the Interceptor special rule, which lets you get markerlight hits for you other intercepting units before the enemy can do anything with his deep-striking/whatevering units.

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Unicornsilovethem
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#28 » Jan 10 2017 08:04

Drones are significantly tougher than Pathfinders, much more mobile (Relentless and Assault Move), same leadership, and slightly better in melee due to higher Initiative. And with the Drone Net they also have the same BS, Splitfire, Interceptor and Jink. All for a measly +3 point cost, although the investment to get the Net isn't negligible in itself. I don't see that Pathfinders have any real benefit over networked Drones, except if you take them in the Ranged Support Cadre where are extremely good support for your Broadsides.

Of course, Tetras are the way to go. They cost 23.4pts per markerlight (Pathfinders cost 22, networked Drones 28 and standard Drones 42), are extremely mobile, let you Deepstrike safely, don't require a 228pt investment, tougher than Drones against most guns, and come with an extra pulse rifle for good measure.

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#29 » Jan 17 2017 04:01

you mean 14 points for a ML drone right? You also need to keep in mind the VX-01 network boosts the BS of every drone in your army, even those outside of the formation, so it's a real force multiplier.

In fact now that I think about it I struggle to understand why I need my PFs at all anymore.. ;(

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Panzer
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#30 » Jan 17 2017 04:12

He probably meant per hit since on average you'd need two Pathfinder or Drone-Net Drones to shoot to get one Markerlight hit.

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#31 » Jan 17 2017 04:16

Not following the math then, since a networked ML drone and a PF have the same BS and number of MLs per model.

I would say then that the reason to take PFs would be as part of a devilfish or something, but at minimum they should include the Recon Drone for the homing beacon. As for the Positional Relay, I don't see a thing in the codex that has the Outflank rule so I'm scratching my head as to why it even has that, besides Darkstrider there's nothing.

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Czar Ziggy
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#32 » Jan 17 2017 06:18

Outflank is confered to models with infiltrate if they are kept in reserve. Meaning Kroot and stealth suits.

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Unicornsilovethem
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#33 » Jan 18 2017 02:30

Overheal wrote:you mean 14 points for a ML drone right? You also need to keep in mind the VX-01 network boosts the BS of every drone in your army, even those outside of the formation, so it's a real force multiplier.

In fact now that I think about it I struggle to understand why I need my PFs at all anymore.. ;(


Overheal wrote:Not following the math then, since a networked ML drone and a PF have the same BS and number of MLs per model.


A regular drone (BS2) costs 14 pts and has a 1/3 chance of hitting with its markerlight, so we pay 14 points and get an average 1/3 markerlights (per turn). Scaling up by 3, we pay 42 points for 1 markerlight.

A networked drone and a pathfinder both have BS3 so they give us 1/2 markerlight, at the price 14 or 11 points per model. Scale up by 2, to get 28 and 22 points for 1 markerlight.

A tetra has BS3 and shoots 2 markerlights that are both twinlinked. The probability of hitting with a twinlinked BS3 weapon is 75%, or 0.75 hits per shot. Since it has two shots, it's 2*0.75=1.5 markerlights. Hence it costs 35 points per 1.5 markerlights, or 23.3 points for 1 markerlight.

I would say then that the reason to take PFs would be as part of a devilfish or something, but at minimum they should include the Recon Drone for the homing beacon.

Weeeell.... the recon drone costs 28 points which is almost as much as a tetra. It gives homing beacon, same as a tetra, and it shoots 4 S5Ap5 shots with BS2 at 18" while the tetra shoots 2 twinlinked S5Ap5 shots with BS3 at 15". So again the tetra lands 1.5 hits, while the drone lands 4*1/3=1.33 hits.

The drone does have the positional relay though, which the tetra can't get. If you really care about that.

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#34 » Jan 19 2017 11:23

Well, fixing my derp about infiltrate/outflank, the relay is great if you want to run an outflank move. But by the numbers, I reckon I see your point, my only conniption being that the Tetra isn't part of the standard codex, but then again Remoras are also pretty kewl.

How about the math on a VX01 net with 16 MLs?

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Panzer
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#35 » Jan 19 2017 12:55

Overheal wrote:Well, fixing my derp about infiltrate/outflank, the relay is great if you want to run an outflank move. But by the numbers, I reckon I see your point, my only conniption being that the Tetra isn't part of the standard codex, but then again Remoras are also pretty kewl.

How about the math on a VX01 net with 16 MLs?

I think you don't quite understand how the math works. :D
The point per markerlight (ppM) value won't change by taking more of them. It's all about the BS, number of shots and point cost of the model. So a Drone-Net with 16 ML Drones would have the same ppM value as a Drone-Net with 20 Drones and so on.

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Overheal
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Re: Tau Pathfinders - Rail vs. Ion Rifles

Post#36 » Jan 19 2017 01:30

Except they're BS3

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