Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Discuss tactical and strategic development for 40K/Tau.
User avatar
Arka0415
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 3194

Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#1 » Jan 14 2018 07:58

One of the defining features of the Tau Empire, and one of the things most conspicuously missing in the new Index, is highly-effective long-range firepower. In previous editions alpha strikes from 36" and beyond (using Railguns, Missile Pods, Seeker Missiles, etc.) were a major part of Tau strategy. However in the current Index Tau long-range options are not as powerful as they once were.

The main reason why we no longer use ranged weapons is (a) low total damage output, and (b) low mathematical efficiency. Across the board, long-range weapons have significantly higher points-per-wound scores than short-range weapons. If we compare a Broadside vs a Fusion Blaster XV8 shooting at a Chimera (as per this thread: viewtopic.php?f=52&t=27095) we can see that the Broadside pays 47.3 points per wound while the Fusion Blaster XV8 pays 28.6 points per wound. This seems to indicate tht that the XV8 is mathematically better at causing damage, at least in a vacuum. However... it would be unrealistic to assume that units with such a huge range disparity should ever be equal in points-efficiency.

Long-range weapons will always cost more than their short-range counterparts. If we invent a hypothetical weapon with the same profile as the Missile Pod, but with shorter range and a lower points cost (and thus better mathematical efficiency), is that weapon immediately "better" than the ordinary missile pod?

Long-range weapons, again, will never be cheaper than short-ranged ones. Under optimal conditions a Broadside can achieve a points-per-wound of 29.4 at 60", while a Fusion Commander can achieve a points-per-wound of 17.6 at 18". The Broadside is thus about 60% as powerful as the Fusion Commander but has 334% the range.
How much efficiency would you be willing to sacrifice to have a range advantage over your opponent?

User avatar
SlipperyPeteED
Shas
Posts: 14

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#2 » Jan 14 2018 08:27

Arka0415 wrote: How much efficiency would you be willing to sacrifice to have a range advantage over your opponent?[/color]


This is an interesting idea and really comes down to the way the player wants to play. personally i play gunline tau with hammerheads (railrifles and tons of pulse rifles) i understand this may not be as efficient as commander and fusion blaster spam but i find the gunline army more fun to play

User avatar
Lostroninsoul
Shas'Saal
Posts: 316

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#3 » Jan 14 2018 09:21

I just recently changed my list to be more Range Superior and I like it a lot. I dealt 17 (19 mortal wounds if you count Longstrike getting a 6 on a wound roll) wounds to a Stompa today and removed it on turn one. Resulting into table in the player by Turn 4

User avatar
gunrock
Shas
Posts: 110

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#4 » Jan 15 2018 03:22

Arka0415 wrote:One of the defining features of the Tau Empire, and one of the things most conspicuously missing in the new Index, is highly-effective long-range firepower. In previous editions alpha strikes from 36" and beyond (using Railguns, Missile Pods, Seeker Missiles, etc.) were a major part of Tau strategy. However in the current Index Tau long-range options are not as powerful as they once were.

The main reason why we no longer use ranged weapons is (a) low total damage output, and (b) low mathematical efficiency. Across the board, long-range weapons have significantly higher points-per-wound scores than short-range weapons. If we compare a Broadside vs a Fusion Blaster XV8 shooting at a Chimera (as per this thread: viewtopic.php?f=52&t=27095) we can see that the Broadside pays 47.3 points per wound while the Fusion Blaster XV8 pays 28.6 points per wound. This seems to indicate tht that the XV8 is mathematically better at causing damage, at least in a vacuum. However... it would be unrealistic to assume that units with such a huge range disparity should ever be equal in points-efficiency.

Long-range weapons will always cost more than their short-range counterparts. If we invent a hypothetical weapon with the same profile as the Missile Pod, but with shorter range and a lower points cost (and thus better mathematical efficiency), is that weapon immediately "better" than the ordinary missile pod?

Long-range weapons, again, will never be cheaper than short-ranged ones. Under optimal conditions a Broadside can achieve a points-per-wound of 29.4 at 60", while a Fusion Commander can achieve a points-per-wound of 17.6 at 18". The Broadside is thus about 60% as powerful as the Fusion Commander but has 334% the range.
How much efficiency would you be willing to sacrifice to have a range advantage over your opponent?


I think it's worth stepping back and considering the underlying premise of range. In my conception, the purpose of range is based on a few premises: extending the shooting window before the opponent can meaningfully engage with the attacking unit. In a vacuum, the unit would have to walk towards the broadside over multiple turns before being able to meaningfully engage thus negating its advantage. There are a few other obvious benefit is target selection/saturation. Range increases the likelihood that you'll be able to shoot at an 'ideal' target and always have an available target. This limit is much more apparent with weapons that have extremely short range, such as flamers which can hit target saturation eroding their efficiency. The other thought that comes to mind is that range is way of invalidating a superior threat by denying meaningful engagement. The problem is that once you factor in deep striking these factors go out the window. Range no longer confers the same extension of the shooting window it otherwise would, and the immediacy of a threat downplays the advantage of target selection and saturation. I think the third point remains relevant, you can win many engagements/control a space just by matching superior range to an target that has no meaningful way to engage. In the context of our army I think it to some extent justifies units like missile pod commanders who can choose an optimal target and range and completely invalidate certain threats.

From a pragmatic perspective, in the context of our army I think one unit with superior range is enough. The logic being that if we can eliminate all of our opponents long range threats (the ability to meaningfully engage), you've effectively won in the sense that your opponent has no way of controlling the field without dealing with that threat. Because war-hammer games don't last an unlimited length of time I would add the caveat that that a range unit needs to present enough of threat to deny your opponent a position in a reasonable amount of time. This is where most long ranged tau units seem to fail in that they don't really present enough of a threat to deny a position. A Hammerhead is pretty powerless to stop a squad of marines, even if over a long enough time line the marines can do nothing to threaten the hammerhead.

The other thought I would keep in mind is that range is relative, the 'advantage' is intertwined with another hard to quantify value, mobility as its only as useful as the extent to which it extends the amount of time before a unit can threaten it. The two are so heavily conflated I don't think you can really address one question without the other.

Nothing new, just my 2 cents.
All the rivers run into the sea, Yet the sea is not full; Unto the place whither the rivers go, Thither they go again.

User avatar
GND
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 147

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#5 » Jan 15 2018 03:56

Arka0415 wrote: How much efficiency would you be willing to sacrifice to have a range advantage over your opponent?


I would be willing to sacrifice a lot if only for the change in list flavour, However the biggest hurdle I have a hard time overcoming isn't PPW efficiency but rather survivability. A less efficient unit can be good if it can stay on the battlefield longer and cumulatively deal enough damage over time to pay for itself. Most of our close range units have Manta Strike and thus a guaranteed turn of shooting, hopefully crippling the enemy enough for some of them to survive. None of our long range units (with the exception of Missle Pod XV8s - but they are just sooooo expensive) can start the turn off the table. If you don't get first turn they can easily die, without doing anything. Then there's also the thing about facing armies with negative to-hit modifiers...

The obvious answer is MOAR drones in your backfield, but 1. that doesn't help vehicles, 2. forces you to commit even more points to your back lines to protect your long range firepower. And all of our long range firepower is expensive to begin with. In all my games when I tried to make a hardly back-line I had very little points spare for mid-field/frontline units and ended up cornered on my side of the table, unable to score objectives. I did actually almost table my opponents multiple times like this, but always lost on points with no way to kill the last models hiding out of LOS.

Stuff in our Index is just very expensive. The close range Manta striking stuff isn't just more efficient, but can avoid alfa strikes and do guaranteed damage. Long range stuff needs an exorbitant points commitment to survive and can be hard countered by some armies. An you can't play both of them properly supported unless you play 3000+ points.

User avatar
Arka0415
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 3194

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#6 » Jan 15 2018 05:47

gunrock wrote:Extending the shooting window before the opponent can meaningfully engage with the attacking unit.

...

Range increases the likelihood that you'll be able to shoot at an 'ideal' target and always have an available target.

...

Invalidating a superior threat by denying meaningful engagement.

These would be the main three, definitely, but #2 here is by far the "main" answer. Range can penetrate defenses that short-range units never could- bubble wrap and distance. Three Broadsides and a Missile Pod Commander using Kau'yon should be able to deal 12-15 wounds on a Land Raider, for a cost of 705 points. That's a third of your army, but it's also a decent chance for a dead Land Raider on turn one. Give those three Broadsides Velocity Trackers and you can down a Stormraven on turn one. And their points cost will likely drop in the Codex too! Fusion Commanders could definitely do it better, but what's the tactical value of stranding that Land Raider's occupants in the mid-field, or even the opponent's deployment zone? Points can't measure it. The idea of "always being out of range" is, sadly, somewhat of a pipedream, but ranged armies don't have to be defensive. Keep your big guns in the back, and thrust, skirmish, and feint with your main infantry/drone/battlesuit strike force. That's the way I see it. Right now Broadsides and Hammerheads are too expensive to really be viable, but my thought is, it won't take much to make them viable.

GND wrote:I would be willing to sacrifice a lot if only for the change in list flavour, However the biggest hurdle I have a hard time overcoming isn't PPW efficiency but rather survivability. A less efficient unit can be good if it can stay on the battlefield longer and cumulatively deal enough damage over time to pay for itself.

It's funny, I was thinking about the opposite. Hammerheads, Sky Rays, and Stormsurges are very flimsy, but the idea here would be to (as you mentioned) use battlesuits and drones. A Broadside behind two Shield Drones is quite durable, basically proof against anti-infantry fire and decent at taking anti-tank fire too with the Shield Drones. With that advantage, and the key T5 that makes almost nothing wound on 2+, I feel like it could be a solid, survivable unit. mean by my calculations it would take 22-23 AM Lascannons to bring one down, while it would only take only 11-12 to bring down a SM Predator.

User avatar
GND
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 147

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#7 » Jan 15 2018 06:57

Arka0415 wrote:A Broadside behind two Shield Drones is quite durable, basically proof against anti-infantry fire and decent at taking anti-tank fire too with the Shield Drones. With that advantage, and the key T5 that makes almost nothing wound on 2+, I feel like it could be a solid, survivable unit.


Oh I thought that too! And I really tried to make them work (I own 5 Broadsides). I knew the math looked bad, but 6 wounds seemed like a lot. That's a 300% increase! And yes they shrug bolter fire and even plasma isn't that big of a deal. But your drones will die in 1 - 2 turns and then they get eaten by anti tank shots. If the enemy anti tank firepower is dead by then, it's a cakewalk. If no, you will lose huge part of your points. Broadsides need at least 4 turns of solid shooting (meaning no bad dice rolls on your part) to be worth it imo.

And that's the crux of the issue. A Manta Striking core of suits is capable of crippling or killing enemy units that are a threat to them the most in the first turn they arrive, thus prolonging their durability. The cheapest possible squad of 3 Broadsides with 6 shield drones need two turn to kill a Predator. That's a single predator for ~560 points of shooting for two turns. They cannot kill units that counter them fast enough for them to be worthwhile. You therefore need to spend more points on different units to help them kill things that can kill them (I find complex sentences funny). But they are such a large part of your list in points you end lacking in other departments like board control, screening units, anti-infantry, etc.

The best a XV88 has ever preformed for me was then I put a HRR, Plasma Rifles and TL on it, deployed it behind LOS blocking terrain and used it to hunt enemy deepstrikers/fast moving units that ended in my deployment zone. Ironically for this thread, his engagement distance was 12" - 24" inches. After my part of the table was secured he peeked out and started hunting enemy stragglers.

User avatar
Arka0415
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 3194

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#8 » Jan 15 2018 07:38

GND wrote:If the enemy anti tank firepower is dead by then, it's a cakewalk. If no, you will lose huge part of your points. Broadsides need at least 4 turns of solid shooting (meaning no bad dice rolls on your part) to be worth it imo.

In my opinion, if the dice fail you and you can't remove enough threats on turns one and two, you're going to lose. Not due to bad play though. Removing firepower that can threaten our battlesuits is just critical, and if the dice don't work out, then I guess we need to suck up the loss.

GND wrote:And that's the crux of the issue. A Manta Striking core of suits is capable of crippling or killing enemy units that are a threat to them the most in the first turn they arrive, thus prolonging their durability. The cheapest possible squad of 3 Broadsides with 6 shield drones need two turn to kill a Predator. That's a single predator for ~560 points of shooting for two turns.

And that's why we don't field Broadsides right now. In theory, ranged play should be effective, it's just that right now our ranged units are really lackluster. Assuming we get a nice points drop in the Codex, Broadsides will become viable.

However, I think Broadsides are capable of killing a Predator more easily than that- I think two Broadsides with the right Markerlight hits should get 7-8 wounds, that's just a couple of Seeker Missiles and Ion Rifle shots away from a dead Predator. Three Broadsides should be more than enough then. 2-3 Broadsides can eliminate a tank every turn while a ball of battlesuits rakes through the enemy army, that sounds like a win to me. Right now it wouldn't be all that efficient (and the list would feel tight with 400 points worth of Broadsides) but hopefully in the Codex things will be much more relaxed. Hopefully.

User avatar
QimRas
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 390

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#9 » Jan 15 2018 09:01

I am gonna throw my 2 cents in on this. So I play PL, as opposed to points. This means I don't usually get into the weeds of points per wound and stuff. Also, as a generally narrative player I have more flexibility than your average tournament player, since its rarely going to be a super competitive game.

But I still don't use Hammerheads or Broadsides.

Why? They just don't do enough damage per turn to be relied on for removing the targets need to be tasked with.

I would happily pay more points/PL for a higher wounds per turn. Due to range, I would be happy to pay 125% more for 110% more wounds per turn. Maybe even upward of 150% for 125% more wounds per turn. Comparing Crisis/Commander to Broadsides, mind you.

User avatar
Arka0415
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 3194

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#10 » Jan 15 2018 09:16

QimRas wrote:But I still don't use Hammerheads or Broadsides.

Why? They just don't do enough damage per turn to be relied on for removing the targets need to be tasked with.

I would happily pay more points/PL for a higher wounds per turn. Due to range, I would be happy to pay 125% more for 110% more wounds per turn. Maybe even upward of 150% for 125% more wounds per turn. Comparing Crisis/Commander to Broadsides, mind you.

Yeah, we're more discussing the theory behind ranged units here. There still aren't any good ones really, besides Missile Pod Commanders. Hopefully with the Codex things change.

Honestly, what I'd love to see would be HRRs with 2D3, but since that will probably never happen, then 100 points (plus secondary) for 2 shots S9AP-4, D6 damage, to-wound of 6+ does D3 mortal wounds. That would be solid. The Predator would still be better, but at least it would be fair.

User avatar
QimRas
Shas'La
Shas'La
Posts: 390

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#11 » Jan 15 2018 09:45

Arka0415 wrote:
QimRas wrote:But I still don't use Hammerheads or Broadsides.

Why? They just don't do enough damage per turn to be relied on for removing the targets need to be tasked with.

I would happily pay more points/PL for a higher wounds per turn. Due to range, I would be happy to pay 125% more for 110% more wounds per turn. Maybe even upward of 150% for 125% more wounds per turn. Comparing Crisis/Commander to Broadsides, mind you.

Yeah, we're more discussing the theory behind ranged units here. There still aren't any good ones really, besides Missile Pod Commanders. Hopefully with the Codex things change.

Honestly, what I'd love to see would be HRRs with 2D3, but since that will probably never happen, then 100 points (plus secondary) for 2 shots S9AP-4, D6 damage, to-wound of 6+ does D3 mortal wounds. That would be solid. The Predator would still be better, but at least it would be fair.


I guess my answer to your question is that I would be willing to pay upwards of 30% more for a ranged weapon with the same stats and platform but longer range. I came up with that number kinda at random, but thinking it through a longer ranged weapon should be able to engage a target 5 out of 5 turns, where a short ranged should be able to engage a target 3 out of 5 turns at minimum. That puts the difference at about 40% at maximum, so going for 30% seems ok to me.

Shas'o Shortsight
Shas
Posts: 29

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#12 » Jan 15 2018 02:59

It's not that easy because the importance of range isn't linear. At least that is what I think.
Up to 36", every little range is very important. Between 36" and 48" it's good to have. And more than 48" is just nice to have but should be rare to use, because of terrain.
So you can't just say 'double range, double price' (exaggerated), because the difference between 18" and 36 is much bigger than the difference between 38" and 72".

Another important thing is what type of weapon you have. Heavy weapons need long range, because moving reduces their output. Assault weapons don't care about moving, so they compensate shorter ranges partially with movement. Rapid fire is the mix of both. Doesn't mind moving, but wants long range for earlier double tap.

Third point is the deployment. If you only have normal deployment, longer ranges are important to reach the opponent. But if your able to infiltrate, deep strike or use an scout move, you are already closer to the target and don't need as much range.

That's why some weapons aren't worth it on one model, but are good on another. At least at the same price.

User avatar
Iron-Fist
Shas'Ui
Shas'Ui
Posts: 327

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#13 » Jan 17 2018 09:47

The big reason for the change from previous editions is simple:

DEEP STRIKE IS NO LONGER RANDOM

No random scatter makes deep strike at LEAST 3x as powerful as previous editions. You can park a commander at the bare edge of 18'' and know that's he's there for good. You juuuust edge behind terrain for a save or to block LOS to a distant unit. You can count on your expensive unit surviving the drop and doing it's damage.

Native deepstrike on powerful ranged units (most notably commanders) is basically the Tau signature in 8th. No one else can really do it: drop pods got nerfed into the floor, 90% of other deepstrikers are CC units who need buffs or luck to get into combat. The only other unit Id put on par with the commander are IG stormtroopers, and even they got nerfed a bit.
Augmented Puretide Council
The Tau Deathstar 2015: 8-1

User avatar
Arka0415
Shas'Vre
Shas'Vre
Posts: 3194

Re: Ranged Superiority: How much would you be willing to pay?

Post#14 » Jan 17 2018 11:46

Iron-Fist wrote:DEEP STRIKE IS NO LONGER RANDOM

No random scatter makes deep strike at LEAST 3x as powerful as previous editions. You can park a commander at the bare edge of 18'' and know that's he's there for good. You juuuust edge behind terrain for a save or to block LOS to a distant unit. You can count on your expensive unit surviving the drop and doing it's damage.

Native deepstrike on powerful ranged units (most notably commanders) is basically the Tau signature in 8th. No one else can really do it: drop pods got nerfed into the floor, 90% of other deepstrikers are CC units who need buffs or luck to get into combat. The only other unit Id put on par with the commander are IG stormtroopers, and even they got nerfed a bit.

Yeah, this is big. Suddely going from hyper-random reserves (roll for reserves, roll for scatter, roll for mishap) to pinpoint precision really shook things up in 8th Edition.

Return to “Tau Tactics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests