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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary

An Analysis of the Tau Empire XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Weapon and Wargear Options   by Mike Somerville
The objective of this analysis is to identify and quantify how to best equip the Tau Empire XV8 Crisis Battlesuit to maximize its in-game efficacy.  This will be accomplished by assessing the myriad of different weapon and wargear options available to the 40k player for this specific unit.


Mike Somerville, Your Humble Scribe

Approach
In the 40k game, killing or destroying enemy units is a key factor in battlefield victory.  In the three mission types in the core game, one mission utilizes enemy units killed to determine a victor whilst the other two depend on keeping units alive and having them claim certain battlefield objectives.  Because of this is important to kill the enemy while maintaining your own force and taking as few casualties as possible. 

Many papers and theorists of such tend to view unit efficacy as simply, “How much can I kill before being killed myself.”  My approach, while similar, takes into account a different mindset, specifically, “How can I outfit my suits to cause the most casualties per unit cost.”

I will begin by reviewing the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit options and charting the efficacy of certain weapons without respect to Ballistic Skill (BS).  I will quantize a weapon by taking the number of shots, multiplying that by the percent chance to wound with each shot, and multiply that by the probability that a model fails its armor save.  It is summed up the equation N x PW x PA, where: 

N = Number of shots of the weapon
PW = Percent chance to wound the target (usually expressed as a fraction)
PA = Percent chance that a wounded target will fail its armor save (usually expressed as a fraction)
Obviously, if the Armor Piercing (AP) value of the weapon is less than or equal to the armor save of the wounded model, the variable PA is set to 1, representing a 100% change of failure.

Were that enough to make an accurate assessment, I would end my analysis there.  However, not all weapons or targets are created equal.  Every weapon does not cost the same number of points.  To provide a better assessment of weapon options it is the belief of the author that they should be categorized according to the ability to inflict casualties per unit cost of the weapon.  To determine the kill-to-cost ratio, I will use the equation (N x PW x PA) / C, where C = point cost of the weapon, and all other terms are as previously defined.

Support and wargear options, however, are more difficult to quantify in terms of efficacy versus cost.  I will first begin by looking at which of the support systems make weapon systems better, and then I will talk about point cost for other (less tangible) things. 


Converted Crisis Suit, by Patrick Eibel

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits
Within Codex: Tau Empire there exist two different variations of the XV8 Crisis Suit as a unit choice; there is a Headquarters (HQ) version and an Elite version of this squad.  The two units have some similarities and differences that should be outlined.

The HQ and Elite Crisis Suits have two things in common, movement and hardpoint options.  Crisis suits move as if they were equipped with Jet Packs.  This means that they can move 6" in the Movement phase and 6" in the Assault phase, even if they are not making an assault move.  The application is that you can move a Crisis Suit into range, fire and then retreat out of range or behind cover.  All Crisis suits have three “hardpoints:” this only means that a Crisis Suit must be given at least three (total) of any combinations of weapons and/or support options.

The HQ crisis suits can take “special issue” weapons and support options and they can also have wargear options, such as hard wired support systems or other pieces of wargear. The Elite crisis suits cannot take any “special issue” items, nor can they take any kind of wargear, whether hard wired or not, unless extra points are paid to enable one of the models to do so.

Weapon Options
The Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can equip seven different weapons, of these two are classified as “special issue”.  The weapon statistics are summarized below.

  • Airbursting Fragmentation Projector (Special Issue): G18" S:4 AP:4 Assault 1 Large Blast, Ignores Cover Saves.
  • Burst Cannon: 18" S:5 AP:5 Assault 3
  • Cyclic Ion Blaster (Special Issue): 18" S:3 AP:4 Assault 5 (rolls of 6 to wound are AP:1)
  • Flamer: Template S:4 AP:5 Assault 1
  • Fusion Blaster: 12" S:8 AP:1 Assault 1, Melta
  • Missile Pod: 36" S:7 AP:4 Assault 2
  • Plasma Rifle: 24" S:6 AP:2 Rapid Fire
Support Options
The Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can equip several different Battlesuit support systems.  Some of them are classified as “Special Issue”.  The rules for each are described below.
  • Advanced Stabilization System: The Battlesuit gains the “Slow and Purposeful” special rule.
  • Blacksun Filter: The Battlesuit doubles the distance rolled when fighting in a “Night Fight”.
  • Command and Control Node (Special Issue): All friendly units within 12" may use the bearer’s Leadership for the purpose of Target Priority tests.
  • Drone Controller: The Battlesuit may take drones.
  • Multi-Tracker: The Battlesuit may fire two weapons per Shooting Phase.
  • Positional Relay (Special Issue): A single unit may be brought on from reserve on a 2+, although no other reserves may come in that turn.
  • Shield Generator: Provides a 4+ Invulnerable Save.
  • Target Lock: The Battlesuit may choose a target different from the rest of its unit.
  • Targeting Array: The Battlesuit gains +1 BS, to a maximum of BS 5.
  • Vectored Retro-Thrusters (Special Issue): A single model Battlesuit unit gains the “Hit and Run” special rule.
Wargear Options
The Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can be equipped with up to 100 points of wargear.  The different wargear options are outlined below.
  • Bonding Knife: The unit may re-group if under half strength.
  • Ejection System (Special Issue): If a single-member unit is killed by a shooting attack that does not cause Instant Death, the character bails out.
  • Failsafe Detonator (Special Issue): If the unit falls back from close combat, the model with the detonator stays and blows up using the large blast marker and S 8 AP -.
  • Gun Drone: The model gets a gun drone.
  • Iridium Armor (Special Issue): The model receives a 2+ Armor Save, however, the 6" Assault move is reduced to d6".
  • Hard-wired Blacksun Filter: A Blacksun filter that does not take up a hardpoint.
  • Hard-wired Drone Controller: A Drone Controller that does not take up a hardpoint.
  • Hard-wired Multi-Tracker: A Multi-Tracker that does not take up a hardpoint.
  • Hard-wired Target Lock: A Target Lock that does not take up a hardpoint.
  • Marker Drone: The model gets a marker drone.
  • Shield Drone: The model gets a shield drone.
  • Stimulant Injector (Special Issue): The model receives the “Feel no Pain” special rule.
Results of Weapon Analysis
Each weapon (except the Flamer and Airbursting Fragmentation Projector, I will explain later) was plugged into the second equation and calculated for many different types of Infantry Models (models with a Toughness and Armor Save).  Cover saves were not taken into account as certain aspects of the Tau army allow units to either reduce the efficacy of cover, or negate it altogether.  The results from the weapon analysis are plotted below.

Kills/Cost vs T/Save
From the graph, it is apparent that some weapons work much better when used against certain types of infantry models.  The Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, and Cyclic Ion Blaster fluctuate a lot depending on what they are firing at.  Unsurprisingly, the Plasma Rifle (both firing modes) and Fusion Gun remain pretty flat across the spectrum.  The biggest surprise is the dominance of both the Burst cannon and the Missile Pod across many parts of the spectrum.  In fact, in terms of cost, the Burst Cannon is the wisest choice against Space Marine Equivalents (MEQ’s). 

The Fusion Gun and Plasma Rifle (within 12") are powerful and perform well, but they require you to get your crisis suits within 12" of your enemy, which is rarely a good idea.  This is the same reason that the Flamer was excluded; it is not a good idea to use such a close range weapon.  The Airbursting Fragmentation Projector was excluded due to the inherent complexity and variables of using such a weapon.  If you know that your opponent is going to utilize models with a high cover save but low Armor Save (Lictors, Pathfinders, Ratlings, and Chameloline Guard), take this weapon.

Results of Support Analysis
The Battlesuit support systems are varied and not as difficult to quantify or qualify as is first imagined.  I will place the support systems in one of three categories based upon their usefulness (remember, they take up a hardpoint).  The categories I have chosen are “Worthless”, “Fair”, and “Excellent”. 

Worthless items are those that serve no practical purpose or have advantages that you would either never want, or that you can gain for free.  The items I defined as such are:

  • Advanced Stabilization System, 
  • Blacksun Filter, 
  • Command and Control Node, 
  • Shield Generator, 
  • Targeting Array, and 
  • Vectored Retro-Thrusters.
Fair items are those that may have a use or could find their way onto a model.  The items I have defined as such are: 
  • Drone Controller, 
  • Target Lock, and 
  • Positional Relay.
Excellent items are those that offer great benefit for a low point cost.  One support system meets these qualifications, the Multi-tracker.  It is so damn good.

Results of Wargear Analysis
Like the Battlesuit support systems, the Wargear options are not as difficult to quantify or qualify as is first imagined.  I used the same system as above.  Remember that these are only available to HQ Crisis Suits and upgraded Elite Crisis Suit Commanders. 

Worthless items are those that serve no practical purpose or have advantages that you would either never want, or that you can gain for free.  The items I defined as such are:

  • Ejection System, 
  • Failsafe Detonator, 
  • Hard-wired Blacksun Filter, 
  • Marker Drone, and 
  • Shield Drone.
Fair items are those that may have a use or could find their way onto a model.  The items I have defined as such are:
  • Stimulant Injector, 
  • Iridium Armor, 
  • Gun Drone, 
  • Hard-wired Drone Controller, and 
  • Hard-wired Target Lock.
Excellent items are those that offer great benefit for a low point cost.  The items I have defined as such are:
  • Hard-Wired Multi-tracker, and 
  • Bonding Knife.
Recommendations for XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Options
Based on the above analysis, certain load outs are recommended for each of the Elite and HQ sections.  For the Elite choice, it is recommended that the three hardpoints be filled with a Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, and Multi-Tracker.  One member should be upgraded to a team leader with a Bonding Knife.  This load comes to 160 points for a 3-member unit.

For the HQ choice, it is recommended that the three hardpoints also be filled with a Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, and Multi-Tracker.  Each member should have a Hard-Wired target Lock.  For three members (using the lower cost HQ), this unit costs 210 points.
 
 

Posted May 2009. Used with permission.

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Fighting Tigers:
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Other Pages:
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