[Troops] Strike Teams (7th Edition)

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[Troops] Strike Teams (7th Edition)

Post#1 » Dec 14 2016 02:35

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[Troops]Strike Team
Tau Strike Teams
in the 7th Edition of Warhammer 40,000.


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Courtesy Games Workshop


"The enemies of the Greater Good fear our ships, armor, and weapons. They believe our power derives from our technology. They fail to account for the Firewarriors the ships carry, the armor shields, and who wield the weapons. They should fear the Firewarrior at whose hands they will learn defeat."

-Por'El D'yanoi Ula'vesh, before the Third Sphere of Expansion



Table of Contents

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#2 » Dec 14 2016 02:43

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Introduction


Strike Teams, as one of three Troops choices in the codex, form the core of many Tau armies. They are useful for scoring purposes, but can be a powerful force in their own right, especially if supported. They can be considered light or medium infantry, with relatively low toughness and a respectable save. They are equipped with relatively powerful infantry weapons, but have poor leadership. Their shooting ability is average if unmodified, and their close combat skills are amongst the worst in the galaxy. Strike Teams have a decent selection of equipment and upgrade options which can shore up some of the unit's weaknesses and, to an extent, expand their capabilities. Although they are often vulnerable on their own, Strike Teams can be extremely potent when properly deployed and supported.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#3 » Dec 14 2016 03:05

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Options, Upgrades & Wargear


Strike Teams have 5-12 members who come equipped with Pulse Rifles and Photon Grenades by default. They have access to a Shas'ui upgrade character, who in turn allows the squad to bring two Drones. The squad can also purchase EMP Grenades, a DS8 Support Turret, Bonding Knife Ritual, and exchange their Pulse Rifles for Carbines.

Shas'Ui

One member can be upgraded to a Shas'ui, a character with improved leadership. A Strike Team with Shas’ui fail leadership tests significantly less often than a Strike Team without a Shas'ui. The Shas'ui is otherwise identical to the other Fire Warriors, except for one extra close combat attack which is rarely of much consequence. The Shas'Ui can take a Markerlight and Target Lock, potentially serving as an ancillary Markerlight source, although this upgrade comes at a relatively high cost.

Like all characters, the Shas'ui can challenge in combat. Shas'ui challenges may be used to act as a wound-sink, preventing enemy characters from killing other models. The ability to issue challenges can occasionally gain VP in Maelstrom missions although the presence of a character in the squad offers the same opportunity to an opponent.

Drones

The Shas'ui also unlocks access to Drones from the standard list. Gun Drones can augment the firepower of the unit at close ranges, particularly during Overwatch due to the twin-linked weapons they carry. Shield Drones or Guardian Drones can offer invulnerable saves which can be useful against weapons that bypass Fire Warrior armor and ignore cover. However Drones are significantly more expensive than a Fire Warrior and adding another Fire Warrior to the team is often a more effective choice. The Marker Drones potentially could be used in a “Cascade” style markerlight chain (see the article on Markerlight philosophy). The inclusion of any Drone raises squad Initiative to four for the purposes of preventing Sweeping Advances or making Initiative tests, such as against attacks with the Blind special rule.

Bonding Knife Ritual

The team can take the Bonding Knife Ritual special rule for a moderate cost, which can be useful in certain situations. Strike Teams operating independently of an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade can break easily, and being bonded can prevent decimated units from running off the table. This upgrade is less useful for units operating at the back edge of the table, because they often do not have the chance to regroup before they run off the table edge. The Bonding Knife Ritual is mandatory for Strike Teams taken in a Farsight Enclaves detachment or formation.

Rifles vs. Carbines

Fire Warriors are typically equipped with Pulse Rifles, since they offer better range than Carbines and equal firepower at 15” or less. Carbines are only superior in a few situations; permitting a charge and firing one more shot than rifles between 18"-15”. Carbines are also Pinning weapons.

Units that are Pinned can be ignored for a turn or destroyed with concentrated firepower as necessary. For the more aggressive minded player, a unit that has Gone to Ground cannot fire Overwatch. Further, units charging a unit that has Gone to Ground ignore the initiative penalty for charging through Difficult Terrain. This makes the Pulse Carbine the Tau equivalent to an assault grenade. Ultimately, the Pinning mechanic is extremely unreliable, so it is best to consider it a lucky bonus when it happens rather than planning tactics around it. Instead, the differences in range and rate of fire of the two pulse weapons should be the primary factors when deciding which weapon to equip your Strike Team with.

Photon Grenades

Fire Warriors also carry Photon Grenades, which count as Defensive Grenades. Models charging a unit equipped with Photon Grenades will lose their bonus attack against them. In the Shooting Phase, the grenades can be used to make a short-ranged attack with the Blind rule. These benefits are easy to forget, probably because they are not used in every game, but can be surprisingly useful when they do occur. The Blind rule is particularly effective against enemy units with mediocre or poor Initiative, such as Necrons, as a failed Initiative test will reduce their Weapon and Ballistic Skill to 1 for a turn. The combination of Pulse Carbines and Photon Grenades can make an enemy unit tempting to launch an assault at, but remember, with only a few exceptions the Tau are extremely ineffective in melee, so this should only be done to finish off the scattered survivors of a unit, or in times of the direst emergency.

EMP Grenades

EMP Grenades are a relatively expensive anti-vehicle weapon with the Haywire special rule; they offer Strike Teams a weapon able to damage the heaviest of vehicles or buildings. This weapon is severely limited however, due to being extremely short range. However, it also can be used in close combat, giving a Strike Team two chances in a turn to bring it to be bear.

The latest FAQ has clarified that only a single model may attack with a grenade in each phase, thus severely limiting the damage output of EMP Grenades on Strike Teams.

DS8 Tactical Support Turret

A Strike Team may take a DS8 Tactical Support Turret armed with either a Smart Missile System (SMS) or a Missile Pod. In either case, the turret adds very cost effective firepower to the team whenever it is not moving. The turret itself is stationary, but it may be placed within 2” of the unit on any turn in which the Strike Team did not move in the Movement Phase and is temporarily removed if the Strike Team move out of coherency with it or an enemy unit moves within 2”. The turret itself cannot be harmed which with careful positioning around Line of Sight blocking terrain can permit it to fire without exposing the Strike Team to return fire.

Costing only very slightly more than a single fire warrior the support turret - in either configuration - adds significant firepower to the squad. The SMS has a similar profile to a pulse rifle but delivers twice as many shots at short range and four times as many beyond 15" - these shots additionally have the Ignores Cover rule and may ignore line of sight. The Missile Pod has the same number of shots as the pulse rifle at close range but again more shots beyond 15" and a greater maximum range. With a significantly higher strength and slightly better armour penetration value this weapon is more damaging than the pulse rifle against a range of targets.

TY7 Devilfish

The Devilfish can be taken as a Dedicated Transport for Strike Teams. As a transport, the Devilfish is both fairly expensive and reasonably survivable. A Devilfish gives much greater mobility and survivability and a minor increase in firepower to a Strike Team at a significant increase in the cost of the team.

Relevant resources on ATT:
A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#4 » Dec 14 2016 03:32

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Battlefield Roles


Scoring

Strike Teams are one of three Troop choices available in Codex: Tau Empire, and as such their main role will often be capturing and holding objectives with the Objective Secured command benefit. Strike Teams are not naturally a resilient unit however; their low toughness and middling save cannot protect them against sustained fire.

Properly supported and augmented, Strike Teams can be decent objective holders. Leadership support is advisable, whether it comes from an Ethereal’s area of effect, an attached independent character, or a Shas’ui within the unit. Depending on the opponent, Strike Teams may need to stay in cover, but in some cases where there is a lack of AP4 weaponry available to fire on them and they will be able to operate out in the open.

Strike Teams are slow-moving on their own. Devilfish Transports can be useful in getting them where they need to be if objectives are located mid-field and are unapproachable until the late game. Devilfish are also durable and can protect Strike Teams while absorbing fire until they are needed to claim objectives. When taken as Dedicated Transports within a CAD or Allied Detachment the Devilfish themselves are Objective Secured and can be excellent in the scoring role.

Firebase

Strike Teams can also be a significant source of firepower for a Cadre. Pulse Rifles are relatively long-ranged, and can effectively engage light to heavy infantry as well as light vehicles. Strike Teams are most effective with Markerlight support, although care should be taken not to over-spend Markerlight tokens on Strike Teams, especially when removing cover, since many enemies will prefer their armor save to cover anyway. The DS8 turret is a highly efficient source of additional firepower for Strike Teams in a Firebase role.

Strike Teams in a firing line can be most effective in close ranges, under 15", where pulse rifles are in range to rapid fire. Augmented by an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade they can lay down an intimidating barrage at close range. When combined with the Supporting Fire rule and Markerlights, this can eliminate charging units before they reach their targets. Strike Teams in a Firebase role can be vulnerable to attrition from long range shooting; use of cover, fortifications or a Devilfish transport can mitigate this damage.

Mobile Attack

A more unorthodox use of Strike Teams, sometimes referred to as Fish of Fury, is their deployment in aggressive close-range shooting attacks. Strike Teams loaded onto Devilfish can move/disembark within a range of ~12" and Rapid Fire with rifles another 15", or fire two shots with pulse carbines at 18", for a threat range of 27-30" after movement. This tactic is commonly used for the attacking and claiming of objectives in enemy territory.

This aggressive style often exposes Strike Teams to assault and close range retaliatory fire. Careful placement of the Devilfish or its Drones can be used to protect the vulnerable dismounted team, if the transport and drones move after the dismounted team have fired their weapons they can screen against retaliation without interfering with the effectiveness of the massed pulse fire. If multiple Strike Teams are used in the attack then the multiple Devilfish may attempt to form a barrier against assault or return shooting after the shooting attack has been made by using their flat-out move.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#5 » Dec 15 2016 04:48

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Synergy


Strike Teams benefit greatly from the attachment of Independent Characters, such as Darkstrider, Cadre Fireblades, and Ethereals. Each of these has a direct amplifying effect on the durability and firepower of a Strike Team, by affecting their shooting and leadership in various ways.

Cadre Fireblade

These veteran warriors have the unique ability to increase the number of shots fired by a squad, even at maximum range. The Fireblade works extremely well in static gunlines, since his ability is dependent on staying still. He also greatly improves squad leadership, offers a BS5 Markerlight and Split Fire, enabling himself or one other model to engage a different target to the rest of the unit. Although the Fireblade does not directly enhance a DS8 Turret, the static gunline is a perfect place to deploy such a turret and Split Fire enables the turret to shoot at a different target to the rest of the unit which is particularly useful with the Missile Pod as that weapon is sometimes better suited for different targets to the pulse weapons of the Strike Team.

Ethereal

The spiritual leaders of the Empire are useful in several ways. They greatly raise leadership and offer variable bonuses to nearby units. Ethereals can be most useful when multiple squads of Fire Warriors are deployed in close proximity and can share the Ethereal’s abilities. Storm of Fire is particularly powerful, increasing the number of shots fired at close range, an effect that can work during the Tau Shooting Phase as well as during Overwatch in the enemy Assault Phase. The 6+ Feel No Pain from Sense of Stone can help Strike Teams withstand damage against typical anti-infantry weapons and with the Stubborn rule from Calm of Tides a Strike Team will usually hold out for longer against enemy assault.

All of the benefits of an Ethereal will work when the Strike Team is mobile - and the Zephyr's Grace power will aid mobility at the expense of having to fire snap shots. It is however difficult to apply these benefits in the Mobile Attack role because the sequence of declaring elemental powers and unit movement prevents them from being used on the turn in which the team - and accompanying Ethereal - disembark to make the attack. These benefits are most usable and useful in the Scoring or Firebase battlefield roles.

Darkstrider

This unique character gives several benefits to a Strike Team in addition to his considerably improved leadership. Shooting will be more effective via his Structural Analyzer which reduces the effective toughness of the target; in most cases this will result in more wounds being inflicted. He confers Outflank to the squad and also to their transport should they be embarked in one, enabling a Strike Team to make an attack on the flank of the enemy. He also grants an ability to move after firing Overwatch which can aid in evading retaliatory assault after an aggressive attack has been made. Darkstrider allows an aggressively played Strike Team in the Mobile Attack battlefield role to close with and destroy targets and then evade a charging enemy.

Kroot

Strike Teams also synergize well with Kroot Carnivore Squads. Kroot and Strike Teams can be used to screen each other, as the situation demands. Kroot are generally the screening unit, conferring a cover save and protective barrier for the Fire Warriors positioned behind. In the absence of AP4 weapons, it can be useful to screen the Kroot with Strike Teams, conferring a cover save to the Kroot. When faced with an assault, Kroot are the better screening unit, since they can benefit from the Strike Team’s Overwatch via Supporting Fire.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#6 » Dec 16 2016 03:24

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Formations and Detachments


As one of the core troops choice of the codex Strike Teams can be included in a number of detachments and formations and are central to many of them. Each of these choices provides distinct benefits and may suit different combat roles that Strike Teams may be used in.

Combined Arms Detachment (and Allied Detachment)

When taken in a Combined Arms Detachment (or Allied Detachment) Strike Teams fulfill the Troops requirement and gain the Objective Secured command benefit. Strike Teams taken in these detachments are strong in the scoring role, as are any Devilfish they take as Dedicated Transports.

Hunter Contingent

The Hunter Cadre may be taken in a Hunter Contingent. When in a Hunter Contingent the Strike Teams may use the Coordinated Firepower command benefit to increase their Ballistic Skill. Multiple small units benefit significantly from this in Firebase role and to a lesser extent in the Mobile Attack role due to the high cost of mounting many small teams in Devilfish. e.g. When attacking from a Devilfish the Strike Team, the Devilfish and its Drones may form three units in Coordinated Firepower to benefit from the mutual +1 Ballistic Skill from that rule. The ability to share Markerlights mitigates the main unique disadvantage to small units in a Tau force. With the same example of a Strike Team disembarking from a Devilfish; any Markerlight tokens on the target of their attack will benefit the shooting of the Strike Team, the Devilfish and the Drones.

Dawn Blade Contingent

Either the Hunter Cadre or the Counterstrike Cadre may be taken in a Dawn Blade Contingent. The Killing Blow command benefit allows re-rolls to wound or penetrate armour against one designated target per turn, this will increase the damage inflicted by Strike Teams especially against a high toughness target or light vehicle. The benefit of this rule is most relevant in the Firebase or Mobile Attack roles. The Dawn Blade Contingent is only available in a Farsight Enclaves detachment, and any Strike Teams in it must take the Bonding Knife Ritual at the normal additional cost.

Rules for the Dawn Blade contingent can be found in the Farsight Enclaves supplement or in the Mont’Ka campaign book.

Hunter Cadre

Strike Teams taken in a Hunter Cadre formation fulfill the Troops requirement, they benefit directly from the Ambushes and Feints special rule and Unbreakable Bonds of Comradeship. Ambushes and Feints permits units within 12” of the formation’s Commander or Cadre Fireblade to make a run move immediately before shooting. In a Mobile Attack role this rule increases the threat range of Strike Teams by the run distance of 1-6”. In a Firebase role Ambushes and Feints rule can be used to offset the static nature of a Cadre Fireblade because the run move does not take place in the movement phase and so can be combined with the Volley Fire rule.

The Unbreakable Bonds of Comradeship enables Supporting Fire at 12” rather than the usual 6” for units within the formation. This permits a Strike Team to distance itself further from other Tau units either to hold objectives or to avoid enemy multiple charges while still providing mutual supporting Overwatch.

Counterstrike Cadre

Available as an independent formation or as part of a Dawn Blade detachment the Counterstrike Cadre combines three Strike or Breacher Teams in any combination, plus a Pathfinder Team. All these teams must take Devilfish Transports. The Tactical Surge special rule enhances mobility on their first turn on the table by making the Devilfish Fast, with which they can move up to 30” across the table if they Flat-Out move. Precision Guidance gives re-rolls to hit targets close to any objective, with careful placement of objective markers this can be a significant benefit. The benefits of this formation are most useful in the Mobile Attack role as it grants a Strike Team both improved mobility and greater efficiency of shooting attack.

Rules for the Counterstrike Cadre can be found in the Farsight Enclaves supplement or in the Mont’Ka campaign book.

Ethereal Honour Guard

If the Strike Team within this formation is close to the Ethereal it may perform a rather unusual redeployment move in which all of the models but one are removed from the table and then replaced on the table within 3" of the one remaining model. The models in the excellent value Start Collecting set are also sufficient to form a Combined Arms Detachment the benefits of which will generally be easier to play and understand.

Rules for the Ethereal Honour Guard are contained in the Start Collecting Tau box set

Tidewall Counterstrike Cadre

A Strike Team is a mandatory part of the Tidewall Counterstrike Cadre. When a unit is fully placed on any of the fortification components the terrain piece can move 9” instead of the usual 6” when moving closer to the Pathfinder team from the same formation. When on either the Droneport or one of the Gunrigs from the formation the Strike Team can re-roll any failed to-hit rolls with shooting, when placed on a Shield Line they may re-roll 1's to hit with shooting. Strike Team models on a Tidewall will benefit from a 4+ cover save; if on the Shield Line section this improves to 2+ when they go to ground and 1/6 of cover saves made will reflect back onto the firing unit which can deter some units from shooting at the team.

The benefits of the formation are quite strong for a team in a Firebase role however the formation as a whole is large and its use will largely be confined to commanders who wish to use a large number of fortifications.

The rules for the Tidewall Counterstrike Cadre were available in a web-exclusive bundle from GW.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#7 » Dec 16 2016 04:32

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Competition


Breacher Teams

The other Fire Warrior Troops unit in the codex, Breacher Teams are specialized for the Mobile Attack role with weapons that have shorter range but greater hitting power than the Strike Team options. Broadly similar in all other ways the choice between taking Strike and Breacher Teams will largely depend on the battlefield role the commander wishes them to fulfill.

Kroot

Kroot are another Troops unit in Codex:Tau Empire, and they are the main competition for Fire Warriors in the Scoring and Firebase roles. Kroot can Outflank and Infiltrate onto the board, offering better flexibility in positioning and deployment. Kroot also have access to Sniper ammunition, which combined with their normal ammo makes them threatening to any model with a Toughness value. Kroot are also significantly cheaper and can be purchased in greater numbers.

However, Strike Teams hold several important advantages over the Kroot. Their Armor Save is much better, as many weapons simply ignore a 6+ Armor Save. Strike Team Pulse Rifles have a longer range and greater hitting power than Kroot Rifles. Whilst Kroot lack the Supporting Fire rule (outside of Allied Advance Cadre) Fire Warriors excel at Supporting Fire Overwatch, a synergy much used by Tau commanders to withstand assault. Strike Teams lack the Infiltration and Outflank options of Kroot but may take Devilfish Transports which give them greater mobility throughout the game.

Farsight Enclaves XV8 Crisis Battlesuits

When taken as part of a Farsight Enclaves detachment or formation XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are a Troops choice and so compete with Strike Teams in that role. XV8 Crisis teams are able to be customised to a wide variety of roles and as Jet-pack Infantry are inherently more mobile than Strike Teams; they are one of the stronger Troops choices available to the races of the galaxy and are a primary reason why a player might choose to select an army from Farsight Enclaves rather than Tau Empire faction. Strike Teams have the advantage that they retain their effective Troops role in formations such as the Hunter Cadre - the Battlesuit Spearhead rule which makes XV8 Crisis Battlesuits into Troops has little effect outside of a Combined Arms or Allied Detachment.

Rules for Farsight Enclaves Detachments can be found in the Farsight Enclaves supplement or in the Mont’Ka campaign book.

S5 AP5 overload

In a way, Strike Teams also face competition from almost every unit in the codex. Pulse Rifles and Carbines are both Strength 5 and AP 5, a profile repeated many times throughout the codex. Consequently there is often an overabundance of this class of weapon in a Tau army. Fortunately, the pulse weapon profile is effective against targets ranging from light infantry to light vehicles and most Monstrous Creatures, even if it is not ideal against all these targets.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#8 » Dec 16 2016 04:45

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Counters


AP4+ Ignores Cover

Weapons that ignore the armor save and cover save of Fire Warriors, and are quickly deploy-able can pose a serious threat to Strike Teams. Strike Teams are not high-model count or toughness units and can quickly melt if they cannot take a saving throw. If faced with this type of weapon, there are a few options available, however. Staying off the board entirely until the threat is removed is one option, effective at preserving the Fire Warriors but forfeiting their shooting for at least one turn. Similarly remaining embarked in Devilfish transports can protect Strike Teams from deadly fire. Area terrain can also be effective sanctuary against barrage-type weapons. Finally, Shield or Guardian Drones can also be used to take invulnerable saves against such weapons, although this protection is limited and comes at a cost.

Melee

Melee units of any stripe are dangerous to Fire Warriors, if they can make it into combat. Strike Teams perform quite poorly in combat; even units that are not considered 'melee' units will often be able to engage and defeat Fire Warriors in hand-to-hand combat who with their low Initiative Strike Teams are then at risk of the unit being swept from the table should they fail morale. Fast-moving or durable units are particularly dangerous. The primary defense against melee units is to prevent them from reaching the Strike Teams at all. Target priority and unit positioning must be paid close attention to if Strike Teams are to be preserved. The Supporting Fire special rule can be extremely effective if units are positioned properly, or augmented by an Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability.

The leadership bonus from an attached IC or nearby Ethereal can help prevent a Strike Team from fleeing combat as can the Stubborn rule from Calm of Tides. It should be noted that keeping a Strike Team locked in combat may not always be the best tactical choice as it will prevent the rest of the Tau force from engaging the enemy unit with shooting on the following Tau turn. Finally, the addition of one or more Drones to the team can reduce the likelihood of the entire unit being removed by Sweeping Advance due to the higher Initiative of Drones.

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Re: [WIP:nic][Troops] Strike Team

Post#9 » Dec 16 2016 04:50

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Conclusions


Firewarriors can produce an impressive volume of fire at close range, particularly when augmented by an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade. They can decimate light infantry and overload heavy infantry with wounds. Even limited markerlight support can turn this fusillade into a deadly-accurate wall of pulse fire.

Firewarriors are not particularly durable however, and need to be protected against heavy firepower. Often taken as an Objective Secured scoring unit, they will equally often be the focus of enemy firepower.

Fire Warriors are a solid Troops choice when properly supported and integrated into the core of a cadre. They can also be used as a potent, if fragile strike force if deployed appropriately. They work best when augmented, most notably by a nearby Ethereal.

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