Monday, 12 October 2015

40k unit review - Tau Breacher Squad

Hi all - I've decided to test out my planned format for unit reviews on the new Tau Breacher Squad. Please feel free to have a look at things and let me know what's good/what's bad about the format, I've tried to keep the first part pretty short and to the point then at the end is a more descriptive section. If you have any suggestions for what else to include in the assessment, please feel free to leave a comment below

Battlefield Role Designation

Actual Battlefield Role
Aggressive infantry clearance.
Limited secondary usage for anti-armour, particularly given the option for EMP grenades

Mobility Assessment
Assisted mobility only – Devilfish is a transport option but no inbuilt mobility.
Additional cost to taking transport, and potential to become immobile if transport is lost to enemy fire.

Tactical Flexibility
Tactically speaking the unit has average flexibility.
The pulse blaster has a multiple profile, which is based on range rather than multiple firing modes. All of the profiles are anti-infantry, though the 5” range does allow for a very limited scope to damage AV10 on vehicles. The multiple profile weapon does allow for the unit to adapt to the enemy they are facing, as only the most elite units (2+Sv) retain protection against the pulse blaster. Similarly, the unit has an option for taking EMP grenades, which give it a respectable performance against vehicles in close combat. The drawback to this is that the transport option for the unit does not allow them to charge on the same turn they disembark. Given this, their main threat to vehicles is by getting in close and shooting it on any AV10 facing it might have.

The models come at less than 50pts for the basic unit of five. Given their potential for damage, this is reasonable, though unit costs will spiral quickly once you equip them with the required transport and start adding in additional members. Cost of the upgrades is in line with what is to be expected for main line infantry units.

Actual cost
Significantly higher than illustrated in the unit entry, as in practical terms the unit doesn’t provide a viable role without transport. Nonetheless, a full unit in the right place will be more than capable of ‘making its point back’.

Aside from the transport option it has no need to really, markerlights will almost certainly allow it to perform more effectively, however the main purpose of the unit seem to be to break an opposing unit without the need for support.

Essential, desirable or whimsical?
I’d say it’s likely to be a very desirable unit. The range limitations prevent me from classifying it as an essential, but in many metas the prevalence of space marines (and the resurgence of normal power armoured marines thanks to the gladius strike force) means you’ll see many more armies with this unit than without.

How many dice will you need?
A handful of 12mm should do you, maximum fire output seems to be around the two dozen mark, which when you take into account the unimpressive ballistic skill of the models will keep subsequent rolls smaller, unless you amplify their abilities with markerlights.

Failure likelihood
They should be fairly reliable – two shots each and a decent unit size should help to keep the randomness of dice at bay on the whole, so you should be able to figure out what to face them up against without too much performance anxiety.

Cheese level

I’m gonna go with a mildly pungent stilton here. Whilst there is certainly plenty of damage potential locked up in those lovely pulse blasters, the extremely limited range means that you’re going to have to work pretty hard to unlock it against a decent opponent. If they catch you unawares though you could certainly get a noseful!

The wordy bit.
Taking all of the above into consideration therefore, we’ve got a unit here that’s designed for one thing and one thing only – wiping out enemy heavy infantry, basically the equivalent of space marines. Anything with a 3+ save is fair game, and even smaller units of 2+ models could be a target through sheer weight of fire.

Think of them as the Tau equivalent of a Heldrake, but instead of a template you’re going to be rolling anything up to 20 dice for them.

At longer range the pulse blaster becomes much less effective and pales in comparison to the pulse rifle or carbine, so don’t be fooled into using them any further away than that 5” distance.
Also, don’t be fooled by their unit build options. You don’t need EMP grenades, they’re too expensive for this unit, particularly considering you can’t charge when you disembark from a devilfish. I’m also inclined to say that the turret option is probably surplus to requirements, since they will need to stay mobile to make the most of their firepower. On the other hand, giving a unit a 5++ is rarely a bad idea so depending on its cost, the guardian drone is definitely worth a punt. You do however need the devilfish, or they simply won’t get into range. 

Tactically, I see these units as doing a lot of the heavy lifting in your army. Once they’re in that devilfish the meagre 5” range of the good profile on their gun becomes an altogether nastier 17” (6” move, 6” disembark, 5” range) meaning that you can position them onto the field in such a way that if your opponent moves too early they become a real threat. Protecting them will become vitally important though, as even with a 4+/5++ save they are still pretty fragile at T3, so be prepared to do a lot of mounting and dismounting with them.

One last thing – combine them with markerlights for ignores cover and even the dreaded scatterbikes will be having palpitations as their cheesiness rises from Stilton to Camembert. These guys will not make you any friends – except of course when you do drop them on scatterbikes, at which point all the non-Eldar players will be wanting to have your babies.