The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. -Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! - Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. - Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! - Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15′s, 6 XV25′s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders

Tau Pathfinder conversion by Douglas Furen

These past few tacticas I’ve talked quite a bit about the synergies of units and how the Tau army works better as a series of units aiding another rather than in isolation. So its time to start covering just how Tau armies can do that. The best place to start? Well, it’s not called Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders for nothing!

One thing. The unit can do a lot of things and to truly get the best out of them you will have to pick one, because choosing several impedes the units ability to do the others well. When you consider the cost of the unit, compared to others in the list, and just how fragile it is, you will only get a few turns worth of use out of them before they are blown away in a hail of fire from your opponent.

That’s because, if they aren’t already considered a deadly unit, they soon will be. They are that good.

Use one is to load up on either Ion or Rail rifles (Ion for light infantry and tank killing, Rail for heavy infantry), hunker down in cover and then shoot the hell out of whatever target is needed. If you go for Ion Rifles, its worth perhaps shelling out a pulse accelerator, so as your opponents units get closer, you get an extra turn or two of shooting with a higher weight of firepower from the pulse rifles which are now range 24″. It’s not much, but at the same time, don’t turn your nose up at another 2-14 shots at strength 5 (dependent on unit size).

The other, far superior use of the unit (to me at least), is to use those markerlights. Wonderful little things, they can increase your units BS, strip cover from enemy units or help guide seeker missiles. A unit or two of pathfinders will easily be racking up 4 or more markers a turn, which will equally delight you as much as it

annoys your opponent! Though they can’t be relied upon, taking a unit of 6-8 will produce a decent number of hits a turn, keep them alive long enough to be useful and greatly increase what your units are capable of doing each turn.

However you use them, to keep the unit hanging around longer, it’s probably worth spending a few points to buy a Shas’ui (+1Ld and the ability to buy a black sun filter- yes please!) and, if you have the points left over, springing for the bonding knife ritual so they can regroup regardless of size.

Now the big conundrum to me is if you should bother taking a Devilfish. Whilst they have their uses, being able to scout means you will probably be able to set the squad up in a good position before the game anyway and each turn they spend in a transport is one less turn they are capable of being useful. The option of taking a Recon Drone seems ok, but for the cost (and the rules being a bit unclear as to if it can stay a part of the Devilfish after the Pathfinders have disembarked), I’m not too sure if it’s a good use for the unit, unless you have a strategy that relies upon a part of your army being able to deep strike or appear on the flanks reliably.

All in all, Pathfinders make a great addition to a Tau force. Though forced to be static in nature, in an army that can be otherwise be flexible and on the move at all times, they make up for it by providing such a valuable commodity synchronicity. Also, no need to take markerlights in other units now either, so those units can focus on killing enemy units or securing objectives.

An example of the different approach the Tau Empire take to warfare, Pathfinders will probably make their way into your list at some point. Once used, I’m not sure if they will ever be removed from it.

Just a quick question to the community, how are people finding the Farsight supplement? I’ve yet to read it as I like my hardcover books, but has it affected how people play their armies? Or is it another nice addition that doesn’t add too much unless you like a certain type of list, ala the Iyanden supplement? I’m interested to hear peoples opinions on this, so post in the comments section your experiences.

Anyway, see you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.

Tau pathfinders painted by Kevin Auld

Short Tau Tactica: Broadsides

Broadside Support Team O’ran by Wolfs16

So in my short series of Tacticas on Tau units, I’ve covered not only the bread and butter troops, but the rising stars of the new codex. Now let’s go to the other end of the spectrum: those who lost out. The head of this group? Broadside teams. Once a name to strike fear into mechanised armies and monstrous creatures everywhere, they took a bit of a hit this book, with the dreaded railgun being downgraded from S10 to “only” S8.

This, as with all things on the internet, has resulted in many a person calling them crap and useless. For these people I cry, because it’s not so much they are now useless, it’s just the unit have undergone refinement and now have a different use.  I’m here to show you how to get the best out of them. 

The Broadsides we know are dead and gone. Long live Broadsides!

So, first off. The heavy rail rifle. Admittedly not so much of a threat now to armour 14 vehicles. It’s still fine and dandy with just about everything else though and the gun has remained twin-linked and AP1 to help balance an otherwise average Ballistic Skill of 3. With a range of 60″ ignoring Nightfight, I think its fair to say the unit will still be popping vehicles and monstrous creatures with ease.

The other basic armament, a smart missile system, seems a little mismatched with the rail rifle, so I think its worth swapping it for the plasma rifles to be able to knock off those extra wounds/hull points once an opponents units start to close (and they will, you don’t leave a Tau army to shoot you unless you are pretty sure you can out range or out shoot them). So that’s your basic layout. There are a few more loadouts I can see that will make it worth it.

For one, when choosing your support systems for Heavy Rail Rifle Broadsides, it’s a toss-up between Target Lock and a Velocity Tracker. What with Tau Heavy Support being a contested slot, you probably won’t want more than 1 unit, which means you need them to be flexible so they don’t run out of things to shoot midgame.

Probably best for now in such a target rich environment is to take Velocity Trackers for guaranteed flyer kills. After they go down, the unit can spend the rest of the game ganging up on vehicles that are still around.

There is different option to test out and that is the High yield Missile Pod/SMS combo. 9 shots a turn per broadside is nothing to sniff at and if kept close to the rest of the Tau Line with a Counterfire Defense System, should be able to cause a lot of damage from supporting fire.

Drone wise, I’m convinced it worth taking at least a missile drone or two and perhaps a trusty shield drone for protection from retaliatory fire. Just don’t expect the unit to be cheap after adding them.

So there you have it. Though not the must haves they used to be, Broadsides Teams are able to serve as vehicle/flyer killers as well as be the bane of infantry. An example of just how good the Tau codex is now, the unit can do pretty much anything you want them to, you just have to be careful not to spend too many points on them!

 

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica

Fire Caste – A Review

Though I do read my fair share of books and in my time I’ve consumed enough fiction from Black Library to break even the sturdiest of book shelves, it is very much 40k fiction rather than ‘literature’. Yet reading Fire Caste, written by Peter Fehervari, I got the sense of something I rarely get from Games Workshop’s publishing arm. Fire Caste is a book that works just as well as literature separate from the 40k universe as a part of it. This book is the one of the few fully adult science fiction novels I’ve read in the Black Library line.

Fire Caste reminds me of something I had forgotten about after years of reading bolter porn. Which is that the 40k universe has so much potential as a legitimate science fiction universe that’s so often squandered on just recreating the tabletop game in novel form. Whilst Fire Caste isn’t a perfect novel by any means, it manages to juggle the larger nature of 40k metaphysics and the battle scenes that the less mature players turn up for.

Let me be up front. If you were assuming that Fire Caste is about the Tau, then you are in for a shock. The Tau are used more as secondary antagonists and as a way to drive the plot, though they do play an important part early on and in the final act of the book.

Instead, the novel follows the stories of an Imperial Guard regiment, The Arkan Confederates, and a lone half mad Commissar called Holt Iverson. Together they fight to discover just what is really happening on the planet of Phaedra, all the while running from the deamons of their past which in 40k, joyously, means both figuratively and literally.

Now whilst that may seem like a typical story for the Black Library, what makes it stand out is Fehervari’s writing style. More than most other books in the BL catalogue, the author seems to grasp that the Warhammer 40K universe is much better when it leaves things to the imagination and has many half-truths floating around. The books setting, a sort of chaosified Vietnam, is massively condemnatory of war in general, the horrors it allows and its overall futility.

These themes, along with a rather different take on the Tau will probably put off a lot of readers who are used to the Black Library’s standard diet of bombs and bullets sautéed in blood, served up on a platter of Ork guts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And I’ve certainly seen a lot of complaints about how open-ended the book leaves certain threads.

It’s worth persevering though. Fire Caste gives us the great character of Holt Iverson who I’m sure will be in other novels (though perhaps not in the traditional sense) and gives us a very interesting portrayal of the Greater Good, after it’s been subject to a 50 year unwinnable war and all the while steeped in the nature of the corrosive touch of chaos.

Along with Atlas Infernal, I have a feeling that the second wave of Black Library writers will be allowed to dig into the weirdness of 40k to give that crazy fucked up universe its proper dues. I can’t wait.

Fire Caste is available from The Black Library, Amazon and most highstreet booksellers.

Short Tau Tactica: Kroot

As I focused on the Fire Warriors last time, it only makes sense that I cover the Tau Empires only other troop choice, Kroot. Some fans may have been disappointed that the option to have a Kroot Mercenary army doesn’t exist*, but I think that the unit still have their place in the army and even have a few new roles with the codex.

First off, lets see what you get for your points. The biggest change to Kroot is that they have lost strength 4, but they get a better combat weapon, the Kroot rifle giving them AP 5 in combat. Stealth and Move Through Cover keep with the theme that these guys are hunters. And they get proper Infiltrate this time, which is awesome! Less amazingly, they get a 6+ save for free now. Just what I’ve always needed.

This should be a signifier to most people that their role has changed from assault powerhouse of the Tau army to something a little different. Still, it’s possible to bulk up on the squad and add additional Kroot Hounds and Krootox and throw them into combat as a sort of buffer between the enemy and your more important units (read: everything else in the army).

A squad over 30 in number is still pretty rare in 40k, so there will be a significant psychological impact on you opponent seeing that many models get plonked down in one go. Just don’t expect them to remain that size by the time they reach combat.

Now, on to their more interesting uses. For 1 point a model, Kroot can take sniper rounds, which gives the Kroot the option to fire their rifles with the sniper rule if they remain still (or hitting on 6s if they move thanks to snapfire). Sniper rifles have always been a pretty underrated aspect of the game due to not many armies having units with access to them, but think about it. Kroot can now wound everything on a 4+ (if it’s less, they can switch back to the normal profile of the Kroot Rifle and rapid fire things to death) and have rending.

Kroot squads just gained the ability to topple even the mightiest of creatures in the 40K universe. Which will certainly surprise someone the next time they take their all Monstrous Creature ‘Nid army!


My best advice would be to stick a small squad of 10 in cover (to maximise the benefits of cover and make your opponent doubt if it’s worth targeting them) with a few Kroot hounds for combat purposes. They give the unit Acute Senses, which is very useful if you plan to have a bit more control over just where Kroot will pop up if you plan to outflank them close to an objective.

Kroot are going to fulfill a very similar role to the one they did for me last edition.  Sitting in cover near objectives and moving to claim them late in the game, or else just hugging terrain and acting as an irritant all game, or the ‘Eldar Pathfinder’ effect as I call it. They still can have a role as a counter assault unit, but the changing of the units focus is a clear indication of how the designers see them being used this edition. I’m not sure they are vital to a Tau army, but for one that wishes to be aggressive and keep an opponent of the back foot, Kroot squads will help you achieve that for a minimal cost and provide you with a unit that can reliably advance on an objective and hold it.

As such, despite what some parts of the internet may believe, I view the Kroot squads as very much alive and kicking in the new book. If an opponent isn’t careful, they may take their legs off.

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.


*Players with a predisposition towards “count- as” may note that due to the slight change of wording in what effects what in the Tau book, it’s entirely possible to proxy a Kroot Mercenaries army.

A Short Tau Tactica: Fire Warriors

Continuing a look at units of the Tau Empire codex, I’m going to focus on a unit that actually represents the entire army very well, Tau Fire Warriors. They look deceptively simple and underpowered yet have so many synergies with the rest of the army list that it can put out a surprising level of damage.

Just don’t let this happen

First of all, lets discuss what you get for your points. Fire warriors have pretty average stats for 40k (though as so many armies have a Space Marine stat line this actually makes them a little below  average), with a 4+ save and the best gun of any troop choice in the game, the pulse rifle. Range 30″ alone means that you can start popping off shows at an opponent’s units in their deployment zone. Taking a pulse carbine is tempting, but with the high level of Ld most armies have, pinning tends to have little to no effect, so I prefer the range every time.

However, for all the strength of their gun, that’s really all you are buying them for, which makes them hard to use when taking objectives, the most important part of the current game in most scenarios. So that means you need to get aggressive with Fire Warriors (or take Kroot, but I will cover them another time) which where the synergies start to come in.

Tau Fire Cadres add an extra shot to any unit they join using pulse weaponry, which is a very cool special ability. Combine this with an Ethereal’s Elemental power and suddenly Fire Warrior will be advancing upon the enemy hoping to get within rapid fire range!

Combine them with the pulse accelerator drone (which perhaps make it worth taking two pathfinder squads- one to flank and one to support the main line) that pathfinders can take and all of a sudden you have a solid base of Fire warriors with range 36” guns, with one unit putting out 2 shorts (4 at rapid fire range) a turn, plus whatever bonuses your pathfinders can give them from lighting up an opponent’s unit. I’ve seen terminator squads downed this way, even if it was a bit of a desperate tactic.

Tau Fire Warrior by Bozar 88 of Deviant Art

In fact, this may allow players to recreate an old Tau tactic, the ‘Fish of Fury’. This is where Fire Warriors in Devilfish transports move up the battlefield and use Devilfishes to section off parts of the opposing army, before disembarking the Fire Warriors dealing them a devastating blow with short-range pulse rifle shots. At this point though, you run the risk of spending so many points of fire warriors that the army becomes inflexible and very vulnerable if the initial volley doesn’t kill everything.

Now one think I did mention before, albeit jokingly, was that Fire warriors aren’t that good in assault. This is the counterbalance the army faces for having such a powerful gun. It’s not as bad as it used to be, as at least Tau has a chance of causing a leadership test or reducing numbers due to supporting fire, but don’t count on it doing much. Also, try to stop your opponent from launching multiple assaults into your gunline in one turn, as supporting fire becomes pretty useless then.

Though the common adage for any army that relies on shooting is to hang back and try to win the game by shooting the opponent to death. With Tau this can’t work in the long-term. The army is built to be fluid and always on the move and as such whilst I suggest you do invest in a few squads to form a gunline with whatever other static units you have purchased (traditionally Broadsides, though I have a feeling it will be Sniper teams from now on), at least one squad should be advancing up the board in a Devilfish to keep your opponent flat-footed and on the defence.

Even then, when your opponent’s assault units or objective takers move into your half of the table, don’t be afraid to leap your squads forward and abuse that rapid fire range. This edition is a lot more about manoeuvring than prior editions and being timid won’t win you games.

Still, don’t over stretch your mark. Fire warriors are still toughness 3 with a 4+ save so dedicated firepower will bring them down. Keep them protected.

The Tau face a unique challenge this edition. They have to keep up with the big boys and are far more reliant on the army working together as a whole to put them on a competitive edge with the more powerful codices (as it should be!). Through a mixture of caution and bold movement, fire warriors can become a troop choice to be feared and once you master their use, the army will open up its secrets to you and you will become a better player for it too.

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.

Tau Broadside – A Review

warhammer 40000 logo

As a nice contrast, having reviewed the Tau Pathfinders, I thought I’d take a look at a heavy hitter and a staple of every Tau army from its original release – the Broadside.Broadside

The first thing you’ll notice about the Broadside is that they’re not a top-heavy, lumbering, plastic and metal turds of misery that crumble beneath their own weight. The other thing you’ll notice is that look nails! More to the point, they actually look like the heavy chassis battle suit that they were always meant to be as lets not forget that the full size rail cannon has to be mounted on a tank.

In the box, as with the Pathfinders, you have two sprues. And unlike the Pathfinders it’s not crammed with bits. It’s crammed with big bits. Notable, lovely big armour plates that reflect the design aesthetic that we should have with the crisis suits but have to go to Forge World to get.
BroadsideSprues

It was absolutely the right decision for Games Workshop to turn these kits plastic. I had 3 of the originals back in the day and I had to repair them before every game and at least once during. And in the end there was so much dried super glue on the weapon mounts it stopped working all together. By the time I sold the army I had given up repairing them and fielded them in broken heaps. A drinks coaster would have been as much use on the board.

I’m also so pleased that the design has been refined. Although shoulder mounted railguns were cool it never struck me as terribly practical as any projectile leaving a weapons surely creates recoil through the displacement of air and the heat that generates. And seeing as the rail weapons companies like General Atomics are developing can hit mach 5, and the railguns on broadsides were strength 10 back in the day I could see the Broadsides flat on their backs, flailing about like a retarded tortoise. The new kit is also massive. Well, compared to the old one so you get quite a pit of bloke for your buck.

There’s other touches too – like the plasma rifles and missile pods have slight design improvements which is good but will overshadow weapons on crisis suits. But, I’ll take it. Especially as the version of the kit holding the heavy railrifle is awesome. It’s s rather Gundam but it’s not a bad jumping off point. The missiles also kinda remind me of Starscream from the Transformers movies. Again, not a bad thing but interesting to see where they’re getting their ideas from.

The kit is rather involved compared to some. Compared to most actually. It’s just as well the Broadside comes with an instruction manual because staring at the sprues without it just made me not want to bother. But I suppose it’s a sign that the designers are pushing the technology hard to get the best kits. So hats off there.

In game terms the Broadside has the potential to dish out some pain but with the reduced strength of 8 compared to the good old days. It can glance armour 14 but it’ll be a token inconvenience compared to other weapons in the game. The single shot means that the heavy railrifle is at its best taking out APCs to force the enemy to walk through the fire poser you send their way or making life unpleasant for Dreadnoughts. And for 65 points, it’s a cheap way of making life unpleasant. Just bear in mind that the Heavy 1 on a BS of 3 means you’ll be relying heavily on the fact it’s twin-linked. But I suppose for 65 points with that kind of stopping power (plus the missile pods/plasma rifles) it’s be a bit much to make it BS4.

The plasma rifles are a welcome addition to the unit upgrade list as it adds just that little bit of umph to its anti-tank capabilities. Again you’re only looking at thwarting smaller vehicles but the edge it gives against medium infantry is invaluable. Especially if you take a unit of them. Although as Broadsides are now relegated to very hard to kill snipers with (extremely) high velocity rifles I’m not sure if a unit is the way to go. I’m tempted to take a couple as separate heavy support choices, stick em in a lovely, thick-walled, building and use them to harass everything with armour value 13 or less whilst a hammerhead blows up the big shit. And for a relatively small outlay of points I think it’d work rather well.

It could explain why the Broadside is strength 5 and it has no shortage of attacks. It rather suggests one should be expecting to have fisticuffs whilst it operates alone. Although with armies in 40k getting faster it’s reasonable to assume that someone will, at some point, try it on. However, with only toughness 4 so it’ll take wounds. It should save most of them but to be honest, if you’ve let your Broadside get into combat then you deserve everything you get. Between plasma rifles and the sexy new missile drones it should be safe from all but the most concerted efforts.

It’s a brilliant kit, if a little fussy to build. It’s a huge improvement on the previous version and it’s kind funny to see the graduation from over-the shoulder to hand-held weapons in the same way as Space Marine devastators. It’s as it should be, it’s a logical evolution. And it looks awesome. More to the point, it looks like a bloody great mech lugging a bloody great gun capable of blowing bloody great holes in things. Used correctly it’ll be an utterly devastating unit in any Tau army.

Tau Broadsides are available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

A Short Tau Tactica: Stealth Suits

Hello there. My names Reece and Phil has kindly let me be a contributor to The Shell Case (the poor, poor fool). I’ll mostly talk about topics in the wargaming industry that interest me, along with the odd review, interview or tactica.

To get things off to a flying start, I’m going to post tacticas over the next couple of weeks which look at the usage of one of my favorite armies; the Tau Empire. Each tactica will focus on one unit and how they perform within the framework of a balanced tau force.

The first tactica will look at a unit that may have as well have been invisible (ha) in the last codex and I still think gets over shadowed by the more flashy units: Stealth Suit teams.

XV15 Stealth Armour painted by Dark6LTM of DeviantArt

In the last codex, I can understand why. They were in Elites, when Tau needed Crisis suits to give the army flexibility. Their stealth rules were a bit naff and they seemed a bit too expensive to be worth it, despite being toughness 4 with a 3+ save and a range 18″ strength 5, Ap5 weapon. But this has all changed in the new book for 3 reasons:

1.Improved Rules
We got a glimpse of how the designers were approaching Stealth Suits with the Tau Empire 6th edition FAQ last year, when instead of having the old Night Fighting rules, they were given Stealth and Shrouded for a total of a 4+ cover save even when in the open. This was, much to my joy, carried over to the new codex along with all tau suits having Night Vision as standard. Their Burst Cannons are also now Assault 4. This means that 3 guys are now putting out as many shots as a 12 man fire warrior squad and are more maneuverable  and capable of surviving return fire to boot.

2.Simplicity
The tau army is almost spoilt in what to do with many of its units, which can lead to rather unfocused army. Stealth Suit teams don’t have that option. They can take a few fusion guns to allow for tank and monstrous creature killing duty, but they are primarily all about killing infantry. Which is wonderful. The unit doesn’t really require much support either, so you can send them off to complete an objective on the battlefield confident that if you play well they will achieve it. Add Commander Shadowsun (so they can infiltrate) and watch them carry out a few sneaky tank kills followed by annoying the hell out of your opponent for the rest of the game.

Tau Stealth Suit Team painted by Burkhard of dhcwargamesblog

3. Surprise
Most opponents I have played in the past have never encountered Stealth Suits before due to their past unpopularity and certainly aren’t used to lots of units with jetpacks. They also tend to get overlooked on a battlefield when more flashy units are in play like Riptides or Crisis suits.

Use this to your advantage. Keep mobile and near cover, just off of an opponents main path of advance. If your opponent ignores them, then expect a wailing and gnashing of teeth when they suddenly find their important units gunned down and tanks blown up from the rear – because strength 5 rocks! If they choose to target them, a 2+ cover save and 3+ normal should mean they can shrug off the most determined shooting or assault, which means less heading for the rest of your army. Either way you win.

In summary, Tau Stealth suits are a great addition to your army and greatly aid its ability to disrupt and interrupt your opponents plans. They are not an over powered unit, but one I think opponents will underestimate at their peril.

Give them a try sometime and see you soon.

Tau Pathfinders – A Review

warhammer 40000 logo

Those that read my review of Codex Tau Empire back in April will know that I was rather taken with the grey skinned bastards. So much so that I’m doing a little 1,000 point allies force to go with my two companies of Ultramarines. And those that read my review will also remember that I was rather taken with the Pathfinders. So it’s really little wonder then that I’ve got hold of a box and giving them the once over. For the greater good you understand…

TauPathfinders01_873x627Even before I read the Codex I was pleased when I heard that Pathfinders were going to be plastic as even when the Tau were first released the Pathfinders were a useful unit to have on the board, but the fact that they were metal and came in blisters of 3 and units of 6 meant that those that didn’t buy the big army box rather missed out. It was doubly true over the years metal models became increasingly expensive and the use of Pathfinders, especially with the introduction of railrifles, became more important.

The third iteration of the Codex has made at least one unit of Pathfinders a compulsory choice in all but name because they’re so damn good. Their options, especially the pulse accelerator drone (which increase pulse weapon range by 6″) means that although vulnerable in the open, they are a heavy hitting unit that can take on medium infantry as standard and then bring the pain on Terminators and the like with the handy addition of the aforementioned railrifles. To be fair the plastic models aren’t any cheaper than the metal ones were but you do get variety and lots of drones including the fooking massive recon drone. But more on that later.

So what’s in the box? Well two – which seems to be the norm these days – sprues that are crammed full of components.

TauPathfinderSprues

I do have to hand it to the Games Workshop, although they’ve been pissing gamers off left, right and centre these last few months, they have really upped their game with getting the most out of the plastic. This arguably should make the models cheaper, but as I said – they piss people off. But I digress. The sprues are crammed with bits including some dudey pulse pistols, some pretty decent bare heads – at long bastard last – some spare pulse clips, bonding knives that don’t look lame and some other gubbins. Most importantly, you have enough bits to make a ten Tau squad armed with pulse carbines with bits enough to swap out three with railrifles or ionrifles or a combination of the two. So plenty of ptew ptew for your buck.

Although the fatigues on the legs are a little thin on detail and feel a bit more baggy than a recon unit would probably wear – and the poses are a bit shifty – the rest of the components are ace. The helmets have been refined and have improved comm aerials – just be careful trimming them free. All the weapons are crisp and the separate markerlights allows for the a degree of choice in how you build them. My small force doesn’t have them so the option of not sticking them on is good news for me. Although I suppose if you can be bothered and find magnets small enough you can make them removable.

Truth be told, the quality of the casting of the Pathfinders or the fidelity of the helmet antenna - especially compared to the Fire Warriors – or the quality of the weapons or the cool accessories, or the staggering lack of mould lines don’t steal the show. It’s the drones. They’re awesome. I mean. Awe. Some. The tits. The business. The dog hairy gonads. The recon drone is huge and may as well be Thunderbird 2 for all its whistles and bells including the pokeball grenade dispensers, a burst cannon and some nice detail. Plus the fact that you can mount it on a Devilfish is way cool.

TauPathfinders07_873x627

But, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an after thought like accessories and ‘bonus’ often do. The only bummer is that, aside from the recon drone there’s only enough drone domes to make two drones. But if you’re not bothered about giving your fire warriors drones then you can make the set which does give your Pathfinders a pleasant amount of versatility.

The Pathfinder kit is one of the strongest unit boxes Games Workshop have done in a while. The arm poses coupled with enough accessories means that you’re knocking on the door of variety that the Space Marine tactical squad offers. Not quite mind you, but pretty close. But the sheer volume of cool shit makes up for it. And having the railrifles cast in lovely crisp plastic rather than metal just makes them as cool looking as the boltgun.

Throw in the fact that Pathfinders are frigging nails in the game and it’s pretty much an essential purchase if you’re collecting Tau. Unless you take a butt load of flyers, but that’s a story for another day.

Tau Pathfinders are available from Firestorm Games priced £18.