The Y'Vahra - A Tactica
The XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit is one of the most destructive units in the Tau army. This monster can win battles single headedly and strike fear into the hearts of any that dare threaten the greater good. No matter whether your enemies are numerous and small or few and large, the XV109 is capable of killing them all. However, to ensure this unit performs to it's highest potential, it will need support - from both you and the rest of your army. This article will discuss how to best integrate and support your Y'Vahra('s) so they can deal as much damage to your enemy as possible.
The Golden Rules
These are 5 rules that form the basis of how you should use the Y'Vahra. These aren't absolute rules and should be taken more as a rule of thumb. However for the majority of situations, sticking to these 5 rules will keep you right. Since most of your target priority and positioning revolves around the Y'Vahra, these should help you decide what the right course of action is.
1. Keep it Killing! - This may seem like something obvious, but try to ensure the Y'Vahra is going after your opponents biggest targets. It's more than capable of killing an Imperial Knight in one good volley, so don't be scared to pit it against the more powerful units in the game (as long as you keep it supported). In turns 1-3 this is very important, but by turn 4 it will either be dead, or you should have killed most of their big threats against you. At this point you should consider using the Y'Vahra to help clear objectives, going after the most important ones and killing off any enemy units holding key points. The best case scenario for you in most games with the Y'Vahra is to have it attacking something with both guns each turn. If you can ensure this, the raw damage output of this unit should take care of the rest.
2. Keep it Alive! - This is one of the most important mind-sets to have when playing with a Y'Vahra. This unit has some of the most reliable killing potential of any unit in the game, but it isn't doing any killing if it's dead. If you have a Y'Vahra in your army, you build the rest of your forces around it. Simply keeping it alive will keep the game in your favour the majority of the time. Ensure you take plenty of drones to support it, and don't launch it after an important target if that's going to put it out of position and get it killed. Lastly, although a very valid tactic is to keep it back for a turn to kill/weaken it's major predators (more on this later), 2 turns of inactivity is rarely worth it. Keep it Alive! and Keep it Killing! are very closely linked and you have to try your best to find a balance between the two. Be too aggressive and your powerful XV109 will be butchered, be too conservative and it's not going to be doing anything.
3. Drones are your friends - This rule links directly to the second rule, and is more of a method to ensure the 2nd one is kept. The Y'Vahra loves drones. Probably more than any other unit in our whole faction. Keep these units together at all times if you can ( starting with no lower than 10, and preferably 15-20). Drones are the number 1 way to extend your Y'Vahra's lifespan, and as a bonus they can really help with your anti-horde potential.
4. Get the little guys - This might seem counter intuitive and contradictory of rule 1, but this one actually applies to the rest of your army. Other than your Quadruple Fusion Commanders and perhaps any Crisis teams you have, focus everything else on killing anything that's in range and effective at killing drones. That blob of 30 guardsmen with 120 shots is going to do 1.388 unsaved wounds to your Y'Vahra with Stimulant Injectors. Your drones however are going to take very heavy casualties/outright die. Ensuring as much enemy anti infantry in range of the drones is dead helps keeps them alive to protect the Y'Vahra from the powerful long range guns.
5. Learn how to make use of psychological warfare - This sounds strange, but in some games the most damage the Y'Vahra can do is to make the opponent make poor plays/mistakes. This is because the Y'Vahra is a powerhouse. Once your opponent knows what it can do, you can be sure it's going to affect his gameplay. It's hard to quantify, and doesn't always work, but just the presence of this model will affect your opponents play. Make use of this! There are so many ways in which you can do this, and it depends on a lot of factors, but done right it will win games. For example; play defensively against an assault based army to ensure there's a nice 8" bubble your opponent wants to go nowhere near, because nobody wants to be taking its overwatch. This is one of the most fun parts of the Y'Vahra, being able to get creative and shepherd your opponent simply by the way you position it. How exactly to utilise this rule very much depends on your opponent, how well you know them, the composition of their army and lots of other factors, so there is no hard and fast way to do it.
What are we dealing with?
Here's where I'll quickly go over the stats of the Y'Vahra just so anyone that doesn't know what it does can understand why it's such a lynchpin model.
So with the same defensive line as a standard riptide, the high toughness and 2+ save make it really hard to crack with small arms fire. It's also incredibly fast with it's 18" movement. It's important to note that the movement declines sharply (6" each bracket) as it takes damage. The damage bracket goes from 7-14+, 4-6, and 1-3.
The most important part however, is the guns! This is what makes the Y'Vahra truly terrifying:
The Phased Plasma Flamer - This gun alone would be enough to make the Y'Vahra horrifically strong. It's ability to take on elite infantry, Vehicles, monsters, and even hordes(in a pinch) is one reason the Y'vahra is the answer to so many things your opponent may have. Being an autohit weapon, it ignores most of the horrible negatives to hit that a lot of armies are capable of and it makes charging it/units nearby absolute suicide for anything short of Guilleman, and even he's not safe. This is the gun you play around.
The Ionic Discharge Cannon - Not quite a secondary armament for the Y'Vahra, but it seems close to that after considering the raw power and versatility of the Phased Plasma Flamer. This gun when Nova Charged is still absolutely lethal in it's own right though. It's only weakness is that it's susceptible to standard poor Tau accuracy, especially when it's down to the lower damage brackets. Get 5 markerlights on an enemy tank however and watch things go boom.
Fletchette Pod - An often forgotten weapon, the humble Fletchette pod can still be incredibly useful. It helps clear anyone hoping to bog you down in light infantry and when coupled with an Advanced Targeting System, it can even take out the odd Space Marine here and there. Also, being a pistol weapon you can still fire this in combat! Try your best not to forget this because it could make the difference you need.
"Most games are won or lost in the deployment phase". This is something that often holds true, and how you deploy is even more imperative than usual considering you have such a lynchpin unit. Deployment tactics can be broken down into 3 main categories, each requiring a slightly different approach.
Vs Gunline/Shooting heavy opponents:
If your opponent is primarily shooting orientated, you'll want to deploy the Y'Vahra out of line of sight if you can, even if it means going further back. This gives time for your Quadruple Fusion Commanders or Crisis teams to come in and take out some of the heavy firepower they have. If no good line of sight blocking terrain is available then ensure the Y'Vahra is surrounded by at least 10 drones, while keeping out of effective range of the scariest guns they have if possible. Good shooting armies like Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum are easily capable of wiping all the drones and the XV109 off the board in turn one, so any shooting denial is absolutely imperative. The Y'Vahra will often be the only big target you have so if you can force them to shoot lascannons at drones or smaller suits, then that forces extremely inefficient shooting from your opponent. If you have a Coldstar commander, he's a brilliant accompaniment to the Y'Vahra because he can deploy at the back of your line or wherever else is safest, then call Mont'ka to get the Y'Vahra in the fight that bit sooner. Then the Coldstar is free to advance 40" to get wherever he needs to go. If you get first turn, then only move the Y'Vahra out to attack if you're confident you'll remove a good majority of the firepower that's capable of killing it in their turn, otherwise don't be afraid to hold it back and let your commanders/crisis kill the biggest threats. If you go second and you've managed to mitigate their firepower then it should survive without any problems. Depending on line of sight and the positioning/range of your opponents guns, you then either want to keep held back till turn 2 or advance out and start killing. If you have terrain blocking line of sight to your Y'Vahra then it can be good to keep him safe there until you've had a turn of shooting to take out some big threats. If not, then you probably can't afford to take a 2nd turn of shooting so try to move forward as fast as possible to get in range of kills.
Vs Assault heavy oppoents:
Against an assault army, putting the Y'Vahra behind a decent screen as close to the opponent as possible works very well. Again, accompanied by 10+ drones. This way, if your opponent gets 1st turn they can't get their combat alpha strike off to hurt the Y'Vahra and even if they kill your screen, a fully functional Y'Vahra is going to significantly damage whatever is in front of it and you can counter drop your commanders/crisis. From here, you can feel free to move off to engage the biggest threat they have. The Mont'ka ability works wonders here, letting you get to almost any target. If they hold back a lot or all of their alpha strike, now they have voluntarily decided to have a shooting match with you as an assault based army in the first turn, have fun. If you win the roll off and get 1st turn then don't take it. Against this type of army, you want to go 2nd because then you can react to whatever they do. If you go first then you probably have to drop your suits before they have to drop their assault units, which will then probably charge and kill them. Sure you let them get some shooting but you brought enough drones to soak up any shooting they have. Deploying the Y'Vahra right up the front as an enticing target to try and draw out those nasty assault units can work wonders. As long as you have a decent screen of drones/firewarriors then you're 100% safe. Just watch out for rapid movers like Celestine who can move past your screen (just ensure there's no space for her to land to counter her). A niche problem can occur when there's an assault heavy army in transports with good guns that outrange you. In that case, going as aggressive as possible can work, but it's a rough match up. Something like Eldar of any sort is going to be a headache. The boon however is that if they have charging units they tend to be quite small, so you can actually jump out there and force them to either make 9" charges against you, or eat the 3D6 auto hit flamer in overwatch.
Vs Balanced opponents:
This match up is probably the most straight forward to discuss because it's so hard to have a rule of thumb for. Your deployment depends on the ratio of shooting and assault they have. If it's a 50/50 split you likely want to go first here since you can take out a majority of their powerful guns. Deploy similarly to how you would vs heavy assault (close as possible with a screen). If you go 1st, then target their long range heavy firepower, since their deadly assault units want to get closer to you, so you you're less likely to be out of range of them than long range guns. If they lean towards shooting then move as close as you can to them and engage at your most effective range. If they lean towards assault, play similarly to the above "Vs Assault heavy opponents" section, keeping your Y'Vahra behind a big screen until most of their units are on the board and get ready to counter drop. After your 1st turn It's quite likely your opponent won't have enough dedicated guns to take out your drones and the Y'Vahra so you should be ok to move out and be hyper aggressive (Mont'Ka helps here). Keep some commanders/crisis back to be able to counter drop any deep striking assault units and you should be ok. If you get turn 2 then you'll have to weather some firepower, maybe take some charges, and your screen probably won't guarantee safety since they might have the guns to deal with it. Either way you can still be hyper aggressive but it might be harder since you've had to take a beating before you can act. Counter drop with commanders/crisis against key units and focus the big threats with the Y'Vahra.
The loadout of your Y'Vahra each game is incredibly important. Picking the right gear for the right enemy can be the difference between winning and losing! Here's an overview of each Support System available to the Y'Vahra:
Advanced Targeting System - This is the most commonly seen support system for the Y'Vahra, and for good reason. Extra AP means more damage, and anything helping the Y'Vahra kill better is amazing. Against any army that doesn't feature great invulnerable saves on lots of units, this is almost a must take.
Target Lock - Allowing you to move and fire heavy weapons, the target lock is a fantastic support system for the Y'Vahra, and wheather or not to take it depends on a few different factors. Firstly, do you have a lot of markerlights? If you have a lot and you're confident you can mark the Y'Vahra's Ionic Discharge Cannon target with 3, then you probably won't need the Target Lock. If you want to run mostly independent of markerlights then this is an essential support system to take.
Stimulant Injector - Helping you hold up the 2nd Golden Rule by ignoring any wounds on a 6 has saved many a Y'Vahra's life, and marks the Stimulant Injector as another excellent choice. If you don't need an ATS or a Target Lock, then taking this will only help you.
Velocity Tracker - Being able to +1 to hit on shooting vs targets with the FLY keyword can be very powerful, however it's slightly less so for the Y'Vahra since most of it's damage output is from the auto hit Plasma Flamer. If you're against an opponent with FLY throughout the entire army this can be a solid choice. Situational, but if you know your opponent then it's devastating.
Multi-tracker - Unfortunately I can't see any reason to take this. Getting re-roll 1's is good, but we have so many sources of that already that it's unbelievably redundant and wastes the opportunity to get a much more powerful effect from another support system.
Counterfire Defence System - Another support system that's redundant on the Y'Vahra. Re-rolling overwatch is a bit pointless on a model that has most of the damage output on an autohit weapon.
Drone Controller - If you take a truly massive swarm of drones, this might be worth it, but 99 times out of 100 you're better off taking this on another unit nearby like stealth suits.
Early Warning Override - This will only work on the Ionic Discharge cannon, and while it's great to be able to shoot an extra time with one of the guns, against deep striking units you should also have a thick screen in front, meaning you'll be outside of the 12" range a lot as well. This support system features the same problem as a lot of other support systems, it's simply not worth taking in place of Advanced Targeting System, Target Lock or Stimulant Injector.
Shield Generator - Although technically able to take this, it's almost definitely not worth the cost, since the Y'Vahra has a 4+ invulnerable save at <12" anyway.
When picking Support systems, your choice will probably depend on 2 factors:
- Whether you have one or two Y'Vahra's
- If you have enough markerlights
If you have only one Y'Vahra, the ATS and Stimulant Injector are great choices. This is because you should have enough markerlights to light up whatever target the Ionic Discharge Cannon is pointing at for the first few turns, and the Stimulant Injector gives you that extra bit of survivability which can be paramount in staying alive. Target Lock is still certainly a great choice, but it depends on your markerlight dependency. If you have two then you probably want a Target Lock on both since it's very hard to guarantee 3 markerlights on both Y'Vahra targets.
To Nova Charge or not to Nova Charge:
You Nova charge. Almost always, and almost always the guns. The other uses of the Nova reactor are very situational, however there may be uses for them. I'll overview the uses for it here:
Nova Guns - In general you want to Nova charge the guns to make sure you Keep it Killing , because without Nova Charging the guns, the Y'Vahra goes from "terrifyingly destructive" to merely "destructive". It's still good, but loses 50-80% of it's firepower.
Nova Shield - 3+ inv is tasty, and you can definitely pop this if it looks like you're going to get smashed by a 10 man Assault terminator squad. It might just keep it alive long enough for a nearby Crisis team to lend help and get you out of that bad position. However, it's debatable whether this is worth it considering the Nova profile on the guns lasts for overwatch, which results in a couple extra dead terminators. It's situational and it's probably better to go with the offensive Nova over the defensive one.
Nova Jump - Again, this is super situational. This will probably only be used at the end of the game when you're Y'Vahra is limping along on it's last few wounds and you absolutely need to take that objective on the other side of the board. Otherwise it's never getting used. When you come back in you can't fire the Phased Plasma Flamer (out of range) which makes up about 2/3 - 3/4 of it's damage. So essentially you skip 2 turns of shooting.
As mentioned a few times already, Drones are absolutely imperative for keeping your Y'Vahra alive and killing. The recommended number of drones to accompany each Y'Vahra you have is 10 or more. 15 is enough to reliably keep it safe against most opponents, but it's never a guarantee. Since Gun drones are so great at the moment (Pre Codex) it's never bad to take 20, or even 30 drones. Having a couple shield drones for every 5 gun drones is another great way to keep your Y'Vahra covered by absorbing some of the mortal wounds the drones take from Saviour Protocols.
Once you've had your first turn and your Y'Vahra has leapt forward to engage the enemy, it can be tough to keep it covered by drones. If you're using drones as a screen it's not as hard since your Y'Vahra will be about 2-4" away form the deployment line with the drones right up against it. Couple this with the Y'Vahras long base, and your drones should be able to stay within 3" to provide Saviour Protocols. Moving + Mont'Ka advancing forward with both Y'Vahra and drones can be a great way to have the drones keep up and get into their effective range at the same time. Using an ethereal with the Zephyr re-roll advance moves buff can also be really helpful with this.
If you have any vehicles or squads with attached drones, then advancing those drones towards an uncovered Y'Vahra can help save it. It depends on if you need those drones to do something else or not, but usually getting them to cover the Y'Vahra will be the best thing to do. Dropping Crisis teams/Hazard teams near a Y'Vahra can be an extra 'reload' of drone support when it's needed as well. Remember you can string those drones out to cover both the Y'Vahra and the team they were attached to!
This can be a really useful phase for the Y'Vahra, and indeed any of our units (especially those with FLY). The Y'Vahra is T7 with a 2+, 5(4)++ save, so it's a tough cookie. Definitely don't be scared to eat some overwatch if it means you can charge into a Leman Russ/Landraider/Devastator Squad. If there aren't any enemy units geared for combat within charge threat range, then absolutely feel free to do this. It effectively shuts down another shooting unit (without FLY). Of course this can be done by any of our units, but the Y'Vahra is unique in that it will almost always be in range to do so. However, if there are enemy combat units that can hurt the Y'Vahra that you didn't manage to kill, refrain from assaulting and hope they're stupid enough to charge you. If you don't think that the unit(s) can kill you it can still be worth charging that shooty unit to deny that firepower. They'll either fall back, in which case you get your overwatch against their chargers, or they won't and the combat unit will get in unmolested. It 100% depends on the situation and whether you think your opponent will attempt a charge on you in flamer range.
I think this model is possibly one of the coolest in concept, design, and gameplay in the whole game, and I think anyone that can get their hands on one should do so. Even proxy it and see how it goes. It's so much fun and can really change the way you play. A few last tactical notes are:
- If you roll a 1 on one of the dice that determines the number of flamer shots, it's almost always worth a Command Point re-roll.
- The flamer is a good 2/3 - 3/4 of the damage. If it's a choice between moving to get in flamer range or not moving and using the cannon, it's usually better to move for the flamer to be used.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope this gave you some insight on how to get the most out of the Y'Vahra. I look forward to hearing any comments or tactical suggestions you may have!
Last edited by Shas'O R'Kai
on Feb 20 2018 06:36, edited 5 times in total.
Playing with a short reach since 2007