Tuesday, 12 April 2016

40k unit review - Tau Devilfish


Battlefield Role Designation


Troops Dedicated Transport

Actual Battlefield Role

Dedicated transport, with optional role as force multiplier using the hunter contingent.

Mobility Assessment

Innate

Tactical Flexibility

It comes as standard with a burst cannon and a pair of gun drones, with an option to change them for a smart missile system. All these weapons have exactly the same shooting stats for strength and AP, so its flexibility is limited to anti-infantry shooting, but as that’s its secondary role anyway, this isn’t much of an issue.

Cost

Let’s be brutally honest here shall we? The devilfish is not cheap. 80pts for the basic model and kitting it out with the full range of gear will run you to 165, which is quite clearly insane.

Actual cost

The high base cost of the devilfish means they work best when they’re kept cheap as possible. I personally really like the smart missile system upgrade for them as it allows them to target a unit that’s out of sight. The other philosophy, that is entirely viable also, is to keep the gun drones as the devilfish, the drones and the unit within it then form a self contained trio of units that can fire at the same target to benefit from the hunter contingent rules for combined fire. The only other upgrades I would consider are the blacksun filter (which to be honest might as well have been incorporated as a default piece of equipment, 1 point seems a little extreme to not be included) and the disruption pod. Particularly in the case of devilfish transporting Breacher teams, the disruption pod is an excellent piece of equipment, as it gives the transport a much better jink save. 90-106pts therefore is the most likely range for this.

Synergy

As with the point above regarding use of the hunter contingent, it most certainly does. This loadout would allow a breacher squad to operate at effective BS4 naturally without the need for support, which means it is far more viable to send them off to deal with isolated targets without having to support them with the rest of your army. Clearly its main role as a transport is extremely synergistic with the units it can be taken for, especially the breachers. It works fairly well with pulse carbine fire warriors too, though it’s not really necessary for the pulse rifle teams, which will probably want to sit pretty still to make the most of their range and the support turrets they should be bringing.

Essential, desirable or whimsical?

Well, obviously if you’re going with a gunline and only taking pulse rifle fire warrior squads then no, it’s not essential and is 100% whimsical. If on the other hand you like to take breachers (and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do) then a devilfish is an absolute essential, and should be considered as part of the base cost of the unit.

How many dice will you need?

Maximum output is 8 shots, so nothing outrageous, though I dare you to find another transport in the game that can shoot that many times in one phase without passengers!

Failure likelihood

The burst cannon I find is pretty unreliable, it’s only BS3 so doesn’t hit a lot, though both the additional systems (gun drones or sms) are twin linked, so are much better. Taking the gun drone option also means you can boost the BS of the burst cannon to 4, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’d wasted the shots from the breachers because the burst cannon and gun drones had killed my target before I got to roll for the pulse blasters (it was a landspeeder in case you’re wondering)

Cheese level

I think honestly it can only really be classified as a cheddar, the high cost ensures its performance doesn’t overpower things.

Conclusions

Ok, so here we have the only codex transport available to the Tau, and it’s not cheap. It certainly plays well with others and is capable of bringing noticeable fire support as you’d expect from the gun masters of the 40k universe.

One thing a lot of people tend to underestimate about the Devilfish I find is its resilience. AV12 at the front means it’s substantially more tough than the Rhino (it would have to be given its cost) and enemies often have to manoeuvre into its side/rear arcs to reliably take it down. The key thing here is that this, combined with its ability to jink, means you can pretty much expect it to deliver its payload where you want it to.

I love the devilfish on the tabletop, they bring out a lot of the benefits of the new units and formations from the codex and most essentially they allow the Tau to play a really manoeuvrable force in maelstrom missions that their popular gun line approach never did. I’d never leave home without them, but then I really like and am used to playing a mobile army.