Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Discuss tactical and strategic development for 40K/Tau.
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StealthKnightSteg
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Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#1 » Jul 18 2017 09:12

So I have seen the mathhammer lists and have seen the suggestion about using the Ion Rifles a lot in pathfinder units. But I'm not having so good of an experience with it, though I only played at a 500 point level.

Ion Rifle (rapid fire1) = S7 -1AP 1D
Overcharged Ion Rifle (heavy D3) = S8 -1AP 1D

As I see the application for this weapon is targetting a high toughness, low save and low wounds model with this.. (pretty slim bracket if you ask me)
Overcharging would mean (for me in most cases) having 3 ML's on the target.
ML1 for re-rolling 1s to not blow up the model and ML3 for negating the -1 to hit for moving with a heavy weapon (and my pathfinders are usually moving to get LoS on targets, hence why I find it usefull to have a squad of ML drones (with Dronecontroller) around to get to the 3ML mark)

Now the Rail Rifles don't have the extra involvement needed for getting the ML1 and ML3 on a target though the ML1 is usefull and for my feeling do have a bigger range of suitable targets due to their -4AP and D6 D with 1 MW on wound roll of 6+.
But I do feel the S6 is a bit lacking to penetrate the higher T targets.

So what target potentials are you guys seeing to use the weapons against and how are you (possibly) using them differently then I'm seeing it?

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Panzer
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#2 » Jul 18 2017 09:22

Well if you take them for just the Markerlights then none. If you want some more from them then Ion Rifles (apparently, according to some user on this forum). If you love Railweaponry then Rail Rifles (opponents also treat them as much more dangerous due the AP-4 than they actually are which is kind of funny when you have more than enough Pathfinder anyway :D )
The big difference between Ion and Rail rifle is the cost. Ion rifles cost almost nothing while Rail rifles are quite expensive.
Last edited by Panzer on Jul 18 2017 09:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Atzilla
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#3 » Jul 18 2017 09:28

Looking at the mathhammer tables, the Ion Rifle can be pointed at everything short of maybe Sv2+.
The range is what makes it work and it's cheap.

The Rail Rifle is good, too, but it makes a flimsy model really expensive and needs the rapid fire range to shine.
I would only put one in a large squad.

Using none of them is also fine. Pathfinders are our best markerlight source.
Honestly, I only use special weapons on Pathfinders if I have points left and nowhere else to spend them.

In a 500p game though, I would try to spam Ion.
Just don't expect too much, they are 12p models after all.

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Shymer
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#4 » Jul 18 2017 09:36

Ion rifle teams shine at anti-vehicle work - and thus against armies that field plenty of vehicles and have the points to field them. In a 500pt game, you may not see a whole load of suitable targets. You may get more mileage from a larger 'naked' pathfinder team. Carbines and markerlights are super good and the ability to mix shot types and supporting fire creates great flexibility.

You may need fusion blasters for cracking high wound T8 vehicles, but overcharged ion rifles against T7 transports, walkers and seems to work better (and more cost efficiently) than missile pods on crisis suits and having an option to target transports with something other than a QFB Commander frees them up for crunchier targets.

They are glass cannon units lacking in robust defence characteristics, but that can lead opponents to make suboptimal targeting decisions. Having these guys as a secondary source of anti-vehicular firepower may pay dividends for fights with a higher points total against mechanised armies or monstrous foes.

I loved rail rifles in 7e, but they seem expensive for the anti-heavy Infantry role they now fill. Still OK against Terminator armies, but the IR's overcharge shot is double terminator toughness and so wounds more regularly, and we have S5 fire in volume which might be better for drowning terminators to overcome the 2+ save. Also fusion blasters are not necessarily wasted on terminators.

For me, combining suits with fusion blasters and pathfinders with ion rifles offers greater flexibility and points efficiency to take on high toughness enemies in larger points battles. At 500 points, I might prefer a larger unit of straight-forward pathfinders.
Shas’O Sa’cea Kar’Li Cal’Cha “Commander Fairlight”

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StealthKnightSteg
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#5 » Jul 18 2017 09:44

Shymer wrote:Ion rifle teams shine at anti-vehicle work - and thus against armies that field plenty of vehicles and have the points to field them. In a 500pt game, you may not see a whole load of suitable targets. You may get more mileage from a larger 'naked' pathfinder team. Carbines and markerlights are super good and the ability to mix shot types and supporting fire creates great flexibility.

You may need fusion blasters for cracking high wound T8 vehicles, but overcharged ion rifles against T7 transports, walkers and seems to work better (and more cost efficiently) than missile pods on crisis suits and having an option to target transports with something other than a QFB Commander frees them up for crunchier targets.

They are glass cannon units lacking in robust defence characteristics, but that can lead opponents to make suboptimal targeting decisions. Having these guys as a secondary source of anti-vehicular firepower may pay dividends for fights with a higher points total against mechanised armies or monstrous foes.

I loved rail rifles in 7e, but they seem expensive for the anti-heavy Infantry role they now fill. Still OK against Terminator armies, but the IR's overcharge shot is double terminator toughness and so wounds more regularly, and we have S5 fire in volume which might be better for drowning terminators to overcome the 2+ save. Also fusion blasters are not necessarily wasted on terminators.

For me, combining suits with fusion blasters and pathfinders with ion rifles offers greater flexibility and points efficiency to take on high toughness enemies in larger points battles. At 500 points, I might prefer a larger unit of straight-forward pathfinders.


Somehow I can't see how they shine against vehicles... yes they can hit/penetrate them more easily, but the -1AP doesn't make their save a lot worse and even if they fail the save a 1D doesn't do much against a 10 wound model.. even 3 D when your lucky enough to have rolled a 5/6 for the Heavy D3 and passed all the rolles afterwards doesn't seem to do that much. And with 3 max models trying that hard I don't see much more then taking maybe half the wounds down on a transport.

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Vector Strike
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#6 » Jul 18 2017 09:48

I'd rather use Rail Rifles on TX-42 piranhas

Ion Rifles can be interesting, but Commander CIB already does their job

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StealthKnightSteg
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#7 » Jul 18 2017 09:51

Vector Strike wrote:I'd rather use Rail Rifles on TX-42 piranhas

Ion Rifles can be interesting, but Commander CIB already does their job


I guess you mean shooting at Piranha's (or equal stated units) with rail rifles?

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Atzilla
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#8 » Jul 18 2017 09:54

StealthKnightSteg wrote:Somehow I can't see how they shine against vehicles...


They shine because they are cheap as chips ;)

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Panzer
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#9 » Jul 18 2017 09:55

StealthKnightSteg wrote:
Vector Strike wrote:I'd rather use Rail Rifles on TX-42 piranhas

Ion Rifles can be interesting, but Commander CIB already does their job


I guess you mean shooting at Piranha's (or equal stated units) with rail rifles?

No, he mean the Forgeworld Piranha who can have Rail rifles.

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Shas'Bro
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#10 » Jul 18 2017 09:56

See, the one thing we miss (especially in this edition) is the proliferation of S9 weapons. We have railheads, which are pricy, or even R'alai, but we need massed, reliable anti vehicle firepower. You can spam fusion blasters, but they'll be within nose hair distance of anything that can beat them up with a 2x4.

I'm trying out some (2) ion rifles this edition, mainly because 8 markerlights split between two targets in addition to a Fireblade and two marker drones can already get 5 hits reliably. So I might as well get some massed S7/8 firepower. I think you should spam the overcharge option as much as possible with markerlight support, though using the double tap at 15" is probably when that would be a better option.
*As your Rules Laywer, I advise you against that action

Sheeb
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#11 » Jul 18 2017 10:06

Neither, unless you think the models look cool. You have plenty of other toys for your opponent to be concerned about. Also, it will make your PF more of a target with scary -AP weapons. So I opt for more ML.

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Shymer
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#12 » Jul 18 2017 10:32

StealthKnightSteg wrote:Somehow I can't see how they shine against vehicles... yes they can hit/penetrate them more easily, but the -1AP doesn't make their save a lot worse and even if they fail the save a 1D doesn't do much against a 10 wound model.. even 3 D when your lucky enough to have rolled a 5/6 for the Heavy D3 and passed all the rolles afterwards doesn't seem to do that much. And with 3 max models trying that hard I don't see much more then taking maybe half the wounds down on a transport.


Well - your mileage may vary, of course. I have found that having a number of small 5-man units rocking three IRs in the backfield is great value. You're not always limited to just three models - and markerlights on one vehicle count for every model firing at them. Three overcharged IRs firing at a transport might not scare your opponent (at BS4+ or 3+, re-rolling 1s and ignoring any cover), but how about three teams firing nine of them from different parts of the map? And what would that cost you?

The rifle's threat range, ability to target units independently of the markerlights, and combine fire with other pathfinder squads, or commanders with fusion blasters makes them cheap, rangy and punchy. As a secondary source of anti-vehicle fire, I have found them to be flexible and credible units at higher points values. They pay back much better, in my experience than costly rail rifle squads.
Shas’O Sa’cea Kar’Li Cal’Cha “Commander Fairlight”

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Yojimbob
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#13 » Jul 18 2017 10:47

So far I've been pretty impressed with railguns on pathfinders. I have a VERY specific role for them and that is hunting elites and multiwound guys. Arm them with stuff for the role you want them to take on. The ion is just stupid cheap but if you get over the fact that the rail rifles are expensive just think about every elite model you remove easily paying for the cost of the weapon.

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Unusualsuspect
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#14 » Jul 18 2017 11:39

Ion Rifles are glass cannons - cheap for what they bring, die to a stiff wind vaguely blowing in their direction, and with surprising amounts of firepower. Rail Rifles have better firepower against most targets and, for their point cost, are even more delicate.

I like Rail Rifles for their style, but that's a LOT of gun to put on a very vulnerable model (T3/5+ is about as vulnerable as most units get), and it really provides incentive to your opponent to focus down your Pathfinder squads.

But the Ion Rifle? Still a glass cannon, but not one you've invested tons of points into, and its firepower is legitimately amazing.

For 52 points, you get a ML hit and 3 Overcharged hits per shooting phase (without any other boosts to accuracy). Even ignoring the ML ablative wounds, that's a bit over 17 points per hit. A Commander with 4 CIB is putting out 40/6 hits per turn (similarly without any boost to accuracy), or roughly 6.67 hits per turn, for 148 points, or roughly 22 points per hit.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: Ion Rifles are so point efficient in shooting that they OUTPERFORM COMMANDERS as a shooting platform. COMMANDERS!

"But they're less durable!"

Yep, and that's why Commanders remain the Gods among Men of our codex... But still, outshooting a Commander point-for-point in something other than S5/0/1 spam is undeniably an impressive feat.

You could also take more Pathfinders as ablative wounds, lessening the durability gap (and, coincidentally, providing some lovely ML support to reroll all the 1's you're going to be rolling when you Overcharge the Ion Rifle like its going out of style).

"But the Overcharge is Heavy!"

Yeah, but its also 30" of "reach out and do decent damage to pretty much any target unit in the game efficiently" (I'm not kidding, its even a half-decent weapon against a Warlord Titan, particularly one that's relatively fresh with a 3++ Void Shield). It shouldn't need to move, so the Heavy quality is mostly ignorable.



I find it odd how much work people are expecting a relatively cheap upgrade gun (with up to two 8/-1/d3 damage shots! Up to three Ion Rifles!) to kill vehicles on their own, when it actually does so much for so few points.

I mean seriously, people... What more do you want a dozen points to be able to do?

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Yojimbob
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#15 » Jul 18 2017 12:05

Unusualsuspect wrote:I find it odd how much work people are expecting a relatively cheap upgrade gun (with up to two 8/-1/d3 damage shots!


Only 1 damage from the Ion rifle whereas the rail rifle DOES get d3 and a potential to get another MW and isn't hindered by movement. Again, my flavor of playstyle benefits my use of breachers and pathfinders in a single fish with darkstrider moving in a tougher shell then jumping out and laying down serious hurt. Both of these units go after the same type of targets with the rail rifles able to extra wounds on things like bikes and termies and killing them outright. Use the ion if you want to hunt tanks but they both have a place IMO.

Also, if you're opponent is shooting pathfinders with things like crisis suits with CIB and QFC's on the board, I call that a win.

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Unusualsuspect
Kroot'Ui
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#16 » Jul 18 2017 12:21

Yojimbob wrote:
Unusualsuspect wrote:I find it odd how much work people are expecting a relatively cheap upgrade gun (with up to two 8/-1/d3 damage shots!


Only 1 damage from the Ion rifle whereas the rail rifle DOES get d3 and a potential to get another MW and isn't hindered by movement. Again, my flavor of playstyle benefits my use of breachers and pathfinders in a single fish with darkstrider moving in a tougher shell then jumping out and laying down serious hurt. Both of these units go after the same type of targets with the rail rifles able to extra wounds on things like bikes and termies and killing them outright. Use the ion if you want to hunt tanks but they both have a place IMO.

Also, if you're opponent is shooting pathfinders with things like crisis suits with CIB and QFC's on the board, I call that a win.


Huh, missed the D1 for some reason on the Ion Rifle (I'd thought all the non-Riptide/Hammerhead Ion weapons were d3 damage on the overcharge).

It's still a damn decent weapon, IMO, for such a low cost.

But yes, against T5 or lower multi-wound models, Rail Rifle will probably outperform the Ion Rifle (unless that multi-wound model also has a good invulnerable save - hello, SS Terminators/Thunderwolves/Wulfen!

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Yojimbob
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#17 » Jul 18 2017 01:18

Unusualsuspect wrote:
Yojimbob wrote:
Unusualsuspect wrote:I find it odd how much work people are expecting a relatively cheap upgrade gun (with up to two 8/-1/d3 damage shots!


Only 1 damage from the Ion rifle whereas the rail rifle DOES get d3 and a potential to get another MW and isn't hindered by movement. Again, my flavor of playstyle benefits my use of breachers and pathfinders in a single fish with darkstrider moving in a tougher shell then jumping out and laying down serious hurt. Both of these units go after the same type of targets with the rail rifles able to extra wounds on things like bikes and termies and killing them outright. Use the ion if you want to hunt tanks but they both have a place IMO.

Also, if you're opponent is shooting pathfinders with things like crisis suits with CIB and QFC's on the board, I call that a win.


Huh, missed the D1 for some reason on the Ion Rifle (I'd thought all the non-Riptide/Hammerhead Ion weapons were d3 damage on the overcharge).

It's still a damn decent weapon, IMO, for such a low cost.

But yes, against T5 or lower multi-wound models, Rail Rifle will probably outperform the Ion Rifle (unless that multi-wound model also has a good invulnerable save - hello, SS Terminators/Thunderwolves/Wulfen!


I agree it is a good weapon for it's cost. But they both have their place IMO.

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nic
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Re: Pathfinders: Ion Rifles or Rail Rifles (or none)

Post#18 » Jul 18 2017 01:36

I have a set of Rail Rifle pathfinders ready for dry-brushing and the Ion Rifles are just getting built. Having proxied (ahead of wielding the green stuff and paint) I would make a few different observations to some of the other responders.

Rail rifles are only as frail as your supply of gun drones. As expensive infantry they can and should off-load wounds onto their AI buddies. Castled up with a big units of Drones and a Battlesuit with a Drone Controller they present a far greater threat than just the drones because the units that want to distract the dumb drones and make them shoot ineffectively - such as meganobz or terminators - are the exact same units that Rail Rifles are built to kill.


Ion Rifles by contrast are just good medium range firepower at a cheap cost. You might off-load wounds from them onto drones or sometimes the gun drones will be more valuable in the late-game and you just let the pathfinders soak it up. I find the Overcharge good for just getting more shots at 15-30" but the S8 does come in handy against vehicles. Sadly my Krootox are mostly getting retired to the shelf because these pathfinders are just so much better.

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