[Tactics] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

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[Tactics] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#1 » Apr 25 2013 04:17

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A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy
To provide insights and observations behind designing your army lists with markerlights as force multipliers in mind

Authored by Paidinfull

Table of Contents

Introduction
What is a Force Multiplier?
How do Markerlights function as Force Multipliers?
Markerlight Build Types
Standard
Cascade
Commensal
Summary
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#2 » Apr 25 2013 04:17

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Introduction


In the iteration prior to Codex Tau Empire, Markerlights were incredibly powerful and were a core mechanic of the army. This fact hasn’t changed in the current edition however the unfortunate reality was that their previous design and implementation were inherently flawed. This fact was made readily apparent due to the constant evolution of the core mechanics of 5th Edition Warhammer 40k and the evolution of other army/race books over the course of many years on into 6th Edition 40k. While the impact of Markerlights on the game was given somewhat of a boost in 6th Edition as shooting became more of a focus; however, those design flaws still remained. The chief flaw among them was that only a few units had access to them, and those that did, came with steep overhead costs or “tax”. With the changes to, or addition of (depending on how you see it), Target Acquired, Markerlights are now cheaper, more readily available and can even affect other Markerlights. It is for this reason that it’s now easier to make them an integral part of a Tau Army. Why should you move back towards markerlights in your army design? Because they are force multipliers and offer significant benefits to all of our units.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#3 » Apr 25 2013 04:18

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What Is a Force Multiplier?


“Force multiplication, in military usage, refers to an attribute or a combination of attributes which make a given force more effective than that same force would be without it”

To understand this thought process, that is if you don’t understand it already, one first has to look at the design of our 4th Edition Codex and combine those observations with some insights about unit design. A unit’s cost is always associated with a number of abilities, its characteristics line, the interactions between the two and then the abilities interactions with other units in the army. When one takes these facets into consideration it becomes easier to evaluate a “value” associated with a unit. However, where the multiplier facet comes in to play is how much of a return that unit can then impart onto your other forces.

A simple scenario of a force multiplier in the previous book was the Ethereal. This unit allowed one to re-roll leadership tests for all Tau units within Line of Sight. If a player took five squads of fire warriors or pathfinders and upgraded the units to have Shas’Ui’s, the player would be better served investing those points into an Ethereal. The logic being, not only would the leadership benefit have been paid for, but there would have been additional benefits, or “multipliers” associated with it. Those benefits were: Additional units in the army would have their leadership improved as well, the leadership value would have been higher mathematically, and the greatest benefit being the ability to re-roll successful leadership tests in an attempt to fail.

That being said, we’re not here to discuss Ethereals in the last codex though, but rather the evolution of markerlights as a “force multiplier”.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#4 » Apr 25 2013 04:18

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How do Markerlights Function as Force Multipliers?


Markerlights do not score wounds when they hit and are therefore currently unpreventable as a shooting attack. They instead generate tokens that can be expended to improve ballistic skill, remove cover, or launch a missile. It’s critical to note however, that if you do not score a hit, that you are unable to place a token, and of course… unable to gain a benefit. For starters we are going to look at ballistic skill as we have some benchmarks from the previous codex for comparison.
- A squad of 10x Firewarriors could improve their ballistic skill by 1 for a cost 20pts total if taken as an Ethereal Honor guard.
- A piece of wargear could be purchased for a Crisis suit, improving their ballistic skill by 1 for the cost of 10pts
- A piece of wargear could be purchased for a vehicle, improving its ballistic skill by 1 for the cost of 5pts
This gives us a general idea as to how much the game designers felt it should cost to improve each unit’s ballistic skill by 1. In order to generate a single Markerlight token from a BS3 unit, at least 2x models (24pts) from said unit are to be expected. Using the values above as our basis for comparison, we can quickly see how best to use these tokens and how best we can manage them to see a return on investment. Now, this statement is a little deceiving as the armaments of these 3x units are completely different, but it does give you a general idea, as well as an insight into this line of thinking. The conclusion being, 2x Pathfinders + 10x Firewarriors are roughly the equivalent of an Honor Guard.

The expenditure of a markerlight token is therefore a multiplier for your forces by improving the performance of a specific unit a turn. While it is still a force multiplier, devoting 100pts of markerlight generation to a 70pt squad will always show a lesser return than that a player is expecting.
Hopefully this very simple example gives you an idea about how to proceed when it comes to markerlight token generation in your lists. Using this line of thinking we are able extrapolate the optimal uses for markerlights and effectively how many we will need to include in our armies. It should also allow you to conclude how many potential tokens you require for a set of units. I do feel compelled to point out though that it’s important to note that this does not account for the turns in which you could potentially have +2 BS or the tactical flexibility of using the other two abilities.

With that in mind let’s talk about the three different Markerlight Philosophies used when creating a build.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#5 » Apr 25 2013 04:18

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Markerlight Build Types


I have broken the lists into three categories
- Standard
- Cascade
- Commensal

Standard
The Standard build type is very straight forward, and one that I have dubbed The Remora Approach (Echeneidae). I’ve named it thusly because anyone who has owned a remora or “suckerfish” will tell you that they are “helper fish” feeding on algae and food that has fallen onto the floor of a tank or grown along the walls. The units selected for this particular role are not aggressive or offensive and therefor it felt appropriate when dubbed “Remora”. Until this codex, in almost all cases this is how a player built their list should they choose to even bring markerlights at all. A force that focuses around this philosophy has dedicated units specifically for providing markerlight support. Some examples can be found below:

“Remora” Examples
- Pathfinders
- Tetra
- Marker Drone Squadron

As you can see from the examples above, these units are entirely focused around providing markerlight tokens. They will have no other battlefield role than to provide support. This approach has the significant benefit of being able to provide the most tokens for the least cost. The drawback to it however, is that it is of “lynchpin” type design, thus making those units prime targets for opponents and a readily identifiable target priority.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#6 » Apr 25 2013 04:19

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Cascade


The Cascade build type wasn’t available in previous editions as Markerlights were explicitly prevented from benefiting from other markerlight tokens. Typically the focus is around single markerlights in a unit that on their own aren’t very threatening, but cumulatively they pack a punch. As the first bite isn’t usually nasty, but the multiple bites from the incredibly powerful jaws worsen over time, I’ve nicknamed this philosophy The Triggerfish Draw (Balistidae). When selecting units for this type of build, markerlights are often purchased as wargear for squad leaders with the intent either buffing other squads targeting the same unit or simply improving the BS of a “Remora” type markerlight unit.

“Triggerfish” Examples:
- Firewarriors with Shas’ui & Markerlight
- Fireblade
- Sniper Drone Team
- Skyray

These units are able to function with offensive power but are also able to lend some markerlight support. The Firewarriors are a good example as they pay a slight up charge to add a BS3 markerlight, but are able to fire it at either their target or use the target lock to improve another units shooting. The benefit to units designed with this philosophy is it presents a cumulative effect against a single target, and you are relatively safe from the negatives by the “Remora” approach. A “Triggerfish” while being immune to the lynchpin drawback and being very risk adverse, unfortunately suffers from a different drawback. That is, it usually comes with a significant overhead or tax. The majority of the examples provided above have a base cost of more than 30pts for a single markerlight. When taken in context with force multipliers and considering it’s evident that you are paying for the ability to hide the markerlight in this fashion. This is not to suggest it’s a poor tactic as the build is usually less dependent on lots of markerlight tokens. The idea when building these units is to expend tokens to potentially increase the odds at generating more tokens.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#7 » Apr 25 2013 04:19

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Commensal


The Commensal build type was actually available in the previous codex, but due to design was less than an ideal circumstance and meant that very, very few played with them. The goal of a commensal is to have two units function together as one, but without affecting the other. For this reason, I’ve dubbed the commensal philosophy Pilot Fish Symbiosis (Carangidae). With the redesign of the marker drone and the decrease in cost for most suits along with the addition of default wargear, this type of unit design is now actually viable. When one does the math to create the below units in the previous codex it’s readily apparent just how cost prohibitive these configurations were.

“Pilot Fish” Examples:
- Commander w/ Drone Controller, Marker Drone, Target Lock
- Crisis Suit team w/ single Drone Controller, 3x Target Locks, + 6x Marker Drones
- Broadside team w/ single Drone Controller, 2x Target Locks, + 6x Marker Drones

Much has been made about the means of taking a Commander with drone controller and joining it to a squad of Marker drones. This is easily the most identifiable of the “Pilot Fish” examples. The other two instances offer a very unique scenario that combines a “Remora” unit and another, and creating a symbiosis where both units can function independently with regards to targets. These types of units have some very specific benefits. They are usually tougher to kill either due to jump shoot jump or simply better armor. The other less obvious benefit to the team approach is that it is a force multiplier in its own right. You are combining what normally takes two spots on a force organization and merging them into one. This opens up the Fast Attack and HQ slot, to focus on other things if one desired. This 13% tax is made up by moving the unit to either the Elites or Heavy slot, but comes with a +1 BS boost as well. So while you have one less markerlight in 6, you are actually gaining more markerlight tokens. The initial thought is that you are getting less marker lights, but as you can see it’s the tokens generated that hold the value.
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#8 » Apr 25 2013 04:19

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Summary


While the examples presented were in no way exhaustive, players will find that in most cases their unit design will fall under one of these three categories. Depending on that player’s preferred playstyle they may elect to go with a single particular type, a mixture of a few, or all of the above philosophies. The nice thing about this particular codex however, is that there are so many new and exciting ways to design force. Good luck out there, and have fun. :)
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Re: [Tactica] A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy

Post#9 » Jun 26 2013 09:30

The Academy Article above is a living document. It will continue to be updated as our forces develop new tactics and strategies.

Please visit the discussion related to the above article here.

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