Options against Heavy Infantry

Discuss tactical and strategic development for 40K/Tau.
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Arka0415
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Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#1 » Jan 25 2018 01:39

With the release of the T5/W3/2+/4++ Custodes (and their T5/W4/2+/4++/6+++ Allarus friends) there's a new breed of ultra-heavy infantry coming into the meta. This has led me to thinking more about the answers we have available against heavy infantry- there are three general types:

Terminator: T4/W2/2+/5++
Paladin: T4/W3/2+/5++
Custodian: T5/W3/2+/4++





Against these heavy, non-vehicle targets, we have a few options:

Plasma Rifles: The cheapest answer to heavy infantry, Plasma Rifles offer a low volume of reliable firepower that doesn't risk variable damage. They offer an indescriminate solution against both MEQ and TEQ targets, but leave the firing vulnerable due to their 12" effective range.

Cyclic Ion Blasters: A versatile solution against all targets, the Cyclic Ion Blaster's D3 damage is both a blessing and a curse. Capable of killing a Terminator with a single shot, it can also whiff rolls and waste a potential 4 damage against a W2 target.

Fusion Blasters: While normally an anti-vehicle weapon, the Fusion Blaster offers huge stopping power and reliable damage. Against W2 targets it will almost assuredly kill in one shot, and its AP will effectively penetrate all armor saves. However, it is expensive and will likely waste potential damage against most targets.

Missile Pods: The longest-range hardpoint-mounted weapon in the Tau arsenal, Missile Pods deliver solid, variable-damage firepower over a long range. With a weapon profile weaker than a Cyclic Ion Blaster and a 33% more expensive price, the Missile Pod certainly pays for its range- take this weapon in small numbers, if at all.





Let's design a few similarly-pointed units that might offer an answer against these ultra-durable targets.

1. 3x XV8s w/ 9x Plasma Rifles; 6x Gun Drones (273)

2. 3x XV8s w/ 9x Cyclic Ion Blasters; 6x Gun Drones (336)

3. 3x XV8s w/ 9x Fusion Blasters; 6x Gun Drones (363)

Here's the math I've come up with firing these units at Terminator, Paladin, and Custodian targets. These calculations are made assuming 5 Markerlight hits, to represent the units' optimum damage output. Damage is calculated with maximum damage constraints in mind (a Cyclic Ion Blaster cannot deal 3 damage to a Terminator).

Target 1: Space Marine Terminators
1. 7.78 damage (35ppw)
2. 8.04 damage (42ppw)
3. 8.67 damage (42ppw)

Target 2: Grey Knight Paladins
1. 7.78 damage (35ppw)
2. 9.34 damage (36ppw)
3. 11.28 damage (32ppw)

Target 3: Adeptus Custodes Custodian Guard
1. 6.34 damage (43ppw)
2. 7.39 damage (45ppw)
3. 6.99 damage (52ppw)





With these numbers in mind, a few things become clear. First, no option stands out as being particularly better than the rest. The Plasma Rifle seems to show good damage but higher efficiency, but its high-risk playstyle offsets that strength. The Cyclic Ion Blaster shows solid damage but slightly lower efficiency, but offers longer range, a safer playstyle, and higher versatility. The Fusion Blaster is very expensive, showing solid performance against high-wound targets but lower efficiency against targets with invulnerable saves.





Note: XV8s are, of course, not the strongest units in the Index. Commanders outperform them in every way- however, the differences in efficiency between Commanders with these various loadouts are the same as the differences in efficiency between XV8s. Consider these numbers to be valid for both Commanders and XV8s for determining which loadout to select. Also, the Y'vahra is better than all of these units, but not everyone has access to a Y'vahra, or plays in a local environment that allows their use.
Last edited by Arka0415 on Jan 25 2018 03:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Krospgnasker
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#2 » Jan 25 2018 02:00

Excellent insights as always, Arka. No matter what we bring (except the Y'vahra, which is basically the perfect Custodes-killing machine), Custodes will be a real pain to deal with. A Shield Captain with Dawneagle Jetbike, Auric Aquilas relic, Superior Creation trait and Victor of the Blood Games stratagem has... 7 wounds, T6, 2+, 3++, 5+ FNP and a free armor save reroll every turn. He's pretty damn fast, too. Tough nut to crack.

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gunrock
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#3 » Jan 25 2018 02:45

Arka0415 wrote:
Note: XV8s are, of course, not the strongest units in the Index. Commanders outperform them in every way- however, the differences in efficiency between Commanders with these various loadouts are the same as the differences in efficiency between XV8s. Consider these numbers to be valid for both Commanders and XV8s for determining which loadout to select. Also, the Y'vahra is better than all of these units, but not everyone has access to a Y'vahra, or plays in a local environment that allows their use.


I know that you explicitly mentioned these weapons having a parallel level of efficiency on commanders, but I also think that Commander MP+ATS should be considered individually as it's a load out that translates poorly to XV-8. While strictly less efficient then the CIB its the only reliable weapon that can stay out of terminator/paladin 29'' threat range (5'' move + 24'' storm bolter, or 6'' move + 24'' spear), and outrun them indefinitely. Obviously this doesn't help if your already on the field, and they teleport in. The efficiency margin is slightly better given the Independence from needing marker lights to support the CIB overcharge profile, and also presumably less risky then any of the other proposed load outs. As you touched upon, we really lack a good weapon against these targets on suits, which perhaps explains part of the popularity of the Y'Vahra (when it can be taken) as one of the few units that can answer heavy infantry. I think this may be a scenario where range+deployment flexibility is relevant beyond pure points efficiency considerations.
All the rivers run into the sea, Yet the sea is not full; Unto the place whither the rivers go, Thither they go again.

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Arka0415
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#4 » Jan 25 2018 03:47

gunrock wrote:I know that you explicitly mentioned these weapons having a parallel level of efficiency on commanders, but I also think that Commander MP+ATS should be considered individually as it's a load out that translates poorly to XV-8.

Good point, I forgot to add Missile Pods. Missile Pods would just be...

+ Longer range
= Equal damage against Custodes as CIBs
- Less efficient than CIBs
- Less damage against Terminators and Paladins than CIBs

For the time being though, I don't think Missile Pods can properly be compared to the other three weapons. Missile Pods and Gun Drones don't synergize very well, and a simple points-per-wound analysis would undersell the value of the Missile Pod's superior range. What do you think?





By the way here's something fun. To chop through 5-man Custodes squad (T5/W15/Sv2+) you would need 154 Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors mounted on 52 XV8 battlesuits costing a total of 3,724 points. Fun!

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Krospgnasker
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#5 » Jan 25 2018 04:24

Arka0415 wrote:By the way here's something fun. To chop through 5-man Custodes squad (T5/W15/Sv2+) you would need 154 Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors mounted on 52 XV8 battlesuits costing a total of 3,724 points. Fun!


Or a mere 375 Fire Warriors outside rapid fire range, clocking in at a modest 3000 points.

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JancoBCN
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#6 » Jan 25 2018 05:41

I like that post.

Since I started playing 8th games, one of the things I have feared more is the heavy elite infantry lists. My plan, at first (since most of the games I played was vs AM) was to overload in QFB to kill all the tanks in 1-2 turns, and then still have them to pop those 2+ models (Bullgryins, in my cas). This plan, though might not be efficient point-wise, and if they have all Vehicles/2+ models, a huge part of your army is useless at that point (AP0 vs Sv2+ is not a plan, not even with 50 Gun drones (around 11 wounds to a TEQ, and 8 to a Custodes T5, Sv2+ guy), so you may have too many jobs to do with your FB Suits.

That philosophy is what I apply when designing lists, where I always put some density of AP-1 (at least) firepower, which almost always end up being 2-3 XV9 Hazard Support Teams from FW. Note, though, that this is NOT a solution to this problem, but a mere way to have some help from the anti-infatry deparment of my army capable of dealing 1-3 wounds to a Sv2+ model.

Another thing I do to help this extreme case is to choose my troops to be Breacher teams. 8of those little guys with 5 markerlight support do 4.15 wounds even when advancing to TEQ that already deepstriked close to your Deployment zone. Also, they can put themselves in the middle of their path, while shooting, to make them charge them or sorround them, giving you more time to actually deal with them.


Enough about what I do to add some minor edge in our worst case scenarios. Let's talk solutions:
One weapon that is not discussed above is RailRifles. This is clearly a weapon designed to take down those 2+ Save models. Of course it can be hard to pass their 4++ sometimes, but remember that your 6+ to wound inflicts mortal wounds. I usually take them with markerlight support as well, so I'm looking at 5.2 wounds vs models without invul save, and at 3.1 wounds VS 4++ ones. Also, if you happen to have your Darkstrider around, you can deal a 25% more damage vs T4 models with one of your sqads. Those numbers are without the random mortal wounds that you will end up dealing.
I know they are weak, but 15" of rapid fire range is a big deal, and starting from 30" away at 3 shots per unit is not nothing, too.
Those weapons are very expensive and they are carried by some very weak guys, I know, but with some shield drones around and at the perfect distance they can basically damage everyting.
Against T3 infatry, they just anihilate them, with 5 markerlight counters you are looking at 4 per volley, and as you are almost hitting everything, you will end up dealing 1-2 mortal wounds per unit more often than not. Those can be 6p gaunts, but can also be 32p Dark reapers or other Eldar elite units.
Against T7+ Vehicles, as bad as wounding on 5+ seems, you will end up wounding around 2 per rapid fire volley, and around 1 of them will already be a 6, so 2D3+1 damage, which is not bad at all for a unit that is not designed to shoot at those kind of targets.


All said, I think the T'au does struggle a bit with those kind of units, but my experience tells me that with some more versatile units (2xCIB+ATS crisis teams) and some units in your side than can do some damage to those heavy armoured models, you will be okay, as they tend to be so expensive that you can go full markerlight on them to further improve your chances to beat them.
I find that low model count lists are almost never a problem for me (Black Templars, blood Angels), but maybe it is because I can easily kill everything first, and then focus on the 5-10 Terminators that are left in my oponent's army. I actually look forward to play against an all 2+ save list! :D

Sadly, we don't have a cheap, versatile, efficient weapon like imperial plasma to fight those kind of units almost unintentionally (they already use plasma to kill vehicles), so maybe we have to give some AP here and there and trust in our team effort to shot them down.


All of that, or you just put a Y'vahra on your list, and you are good to go! :)

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Arka0415
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#7 » Jan 25 2018 06:23

JancoBCN wrote:Another thing I do to help this extreme case is to choose my troops to be Breacher teams. 8of those little guys with 5 markerlight support do 4.15 wounds even when advancing to TEQ that already deepstriked close to your Deployment zone. Also, they can put themselves in the middle of their path, while shooting, to make them charge them or sorround them, giving you more time to actually deal with them.

As long as you're playing close range Tau, Markerlight-supported Breachers aren't bad at all. The 10" range isn't shabby, it's better than a Pulse Rifle against targets within its range, and the 15" option isn't terrible either as long as you're shooting T4 enemies.

JancoBCN wrote:One weapon that is not discussed above is RailRifles. This is clearly a weapon designed to take down those 2+ Save models. Of course it can be hard to pass their 4++ sometimes, but remember that your 6+ to wound inflicts mortal wounds. I usually take them with markerlight support as well, so I'm looking at 5.2 wounds vs models without invul save, and at 3.1 wounds VS 4++ ones. Also, if you happen to have your Darkstrider around, you can deal a 25% more damage vs T4 models with one of your sqads. Those numbers are without the random mortal wounds that you will end up dealing.

Rail Rifles are good, but I didn't include them in this list because any opponent who knows what they're doing can take them down pretty easily. If you invest in defensive measures, like Shield Drones, Transports, or Tidewalls, the whole benefit of their low cost drains away. I guess that's my issue with them.

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Draco023
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#8 » Jan 25 2018 09:56

Arka0415 wrote:Rail Rifles are good, but I didn't include them in this list because any opponent who knows what they're doing can take them down pretty easily. If you invest in defensive measures, like Shield Drones, Transports, or Tidewalls, the whole benefit of their low cost drains away. I guess that's my issue with them.

We do have another source of rail rifles from forgeworld ; the TX-42 Piranha. Not the most point efficient at 112, but I've used a pair of them against my friends all Valkyrie list to great success. 4 shots at 15" on a up-armored piranha is a great finisher and distraction.

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JancoBCN
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#9 » Jan 25 2018 10:15

Draco023 wrote:
Arka0415 wrote:Rail Rifles are good, but I didn't include them in this list because any opponent who knows what they're doing can take them down pretty easily. If you invest in defensive measures, like Shield Drones, Transports, or Tidewalls, the whole benefit of their low cost drains away. I guess that's my issue with them.

We do have another source of rail rifles from forgeworld ; the TX-42 Piranha. Not the most point efficient at 112, but I've used a pair of them against my friends all Valkyrie list to great success. 4 shots at 15" on a up-armored piranha is a great finisher and distraction.


Uuh... I really like the sound of that... I may need to buy a piranha or 2 :P

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Draco023
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#10 » Jan 25 2018 10:21

JancoBCN wrote:
Uuh... I really like the sound of that... I may need to buy a piranha or 2 :P


I'm not gonna lie, that's what I do with my sniper drones now, mount them on the drone slots on the GW piranha and use it as a counts as! I'm not proud, but it does set them apart. Just waiting on the codex ( fingers crossed for tonight!) before I commit to the FW ones.

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SlipperyPeteED
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#11 » Jan 25 2018 10:30

Another option that I like quite a bit is rail rifles on pathfinders. They provide -4 AP, 6 strength and D3 wounds which works well against terminators IMO. They have decent range at 30" and have rapid fire making them deadly at medium to close range as well. Not to mention the fact that they are used in a squad with pathfinders allows for very good markerlight support. 22 points makes them fairly cheap, Also putting 3 of them in a squad of 10 pathfinders will allow them to survive for quite some time.

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Yojimbob
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#12 » Jan 25 2018 10:38

SlipperyPeteED wrote:Another option that I like quite a bit is rail rifles on pathfinders. They provide -4 AP, 6 strength and D3 wounds which works well against terminators IMO. They have decent range at 30" and have rapid fire making them deadly at medium to close range as well. Not to mention the fact that they are used in a squad with pathfinders allows for very good markerlight support. 22 points makes them fairly cheap, Also putting 3 of them in a squad of 10 pathfinders will allow them to survive for quite some time.


22 for the rifle alone. It's 27 for a t3 guy with a 5+ save. I love them too but competitively they are garbage.

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SlipperyPeteED
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#13 » Jan 25 2018 10:55

Yojimbob wrote:22 for the rifle alone. It's 27 for a t3 guy with a 5+ save. I love them too but competitively they are garbage.


i agree they are fairly weak but surrounding them with another 35 points worth of meat shield (pathfinders with carbines) makes them a more viable option. Unfortunately all tau infantry are fairly weak...

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JancoBCN
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#14 » Jan 25 2018 10:58

SlipperyPeteED wrote:Another option that I like quite a bit is rail rifles on pathfinders. They provide -4 AP, 6 strength and D3 wounds which works well against terminators IMO. They have decent range at 30" and have rapid fire making them deadly at medium to close range as well. Not to mention the fact that they are used in a squad with pathfinders allows for very good markerlight support. 22 points makes them fairly cheap, Also putting 3 of them in a squad of 10 pathfinders will allow them to survive for quite some time.


Yeah, as I commented earlier, Rail Rifles on Pathfinders are a very good option if you only care about firepower. If you start to weight things like durability and price, the whole plan starts to fall apart.
RailFinders are one of the things I really have hopes for when our Codex relases. Give them +2 to save on cover, -1 to hit, 5 points discount or actuallly GOOD stratagems/auras (or any combination of them) and suddently they become the monster that they should always have been.

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QimRas
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#15 » Jan 25 2018 11:12

Anyone have numbers on the Sunshark or Barracuda? That would be my go-to as an air-cav player. Thinking an Ion Barracuda would do a number on heavy infantry.

If you wanna drop lots of Seekers than Remora Drones seem like a potential choice.

TX7 Heavy Bombardment Hammerheads might do pretty decent.

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Yojimbob
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#16 » Jan 25 2018 11:43

JancoBCN wrote:RailFinders are one of the things I really have hopes for when our Codex relases. Give them +2 to save on cover, -1 to hit, 5 points discount or actuallly GOOD stratagems/auras (or any combination of them) and suddently they become the monster that they should always have been.


Do want!

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Draaen
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#17 » Jan 25 2018 12:55

I like my AP-4 and stuff but only mainly to negate vehicles with 3+ saves and no invuls. A lot of heavier 2+ save models have a 3++ or 4++. I figure I can kill any infantry with a 3+ save if I put enough dakka into it. So part my solution for heavy infantry is actually the coldstar commander with ATS. He can put out multiple wounds with the missile pod and high yield burst cannon and he can force quite a few 3++ saves. He's kind of the perfect mix for me. I try to make sure I include -1 and -2 AP shooting as I feel that is the sweet spot that can let me clear out guardsmen and have a good chance at taking out heavy infantry without wasting AP.
All empires fall you just have to know where to push

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SniperTau
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Re: Options against Heavy Infantry

Post#18 » Jan 25 2018 04:28

On a squad of ten TEQ, A sunshark will do, supported by 5 markerlights, about 7 Mortal Wounds from the seekers and pulse bomb. then, the ion rifles on the drones will do (inside of 15") 6 hits, assuming overcharge 5 wounds, 1 failed save, 1 dead terminator. the missile pods will do 3 hits, two wounds, possibly one dead. @QuimRas its pretty good, killing about four.

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