This week, Games Workshop answered the immortal question; what happens when the Immovable Object gets struck by an Ork Bike who can tank shock? Apparently Stormsurges die, and lots of people watching your game laugh. This week I’m talking FAQs, breaching 1000 points and my confusion surrounding the allies table in the rulebook.
To Kill a Stormsurge
So in their growing quest to placate the Warhammer 40,000 fans, rumours abound of an Age of Sigmar style revamp to the sci-fi setting have been quietly and cleverly quashed on a weekly basis by the releasing of FAQs to the factions. This week it was the turn of the Tau, and the general opinion was there would be various nerfs and rules consolidations to bring Tau back into line with the other factions. For most, that’s exactly what happened. The Tau received very little in the way of nerfs or buffs, but instead got a lot of clarifications on rules that simply needed to be read properly.
There was, however, one gem;
“Q: What happens when a Tank Shock is used against an anchored KV128 Stormsurge? Does the Unstoppable rule come into effect?
A: No. If the Stormsurge is anchored, it is destroyed.”
Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of the floodgates opening. It sounds like lots of people laughing. In competitive lists, Stormsurges are a common sight, especially in their formation that grants kill team and a blistering BS of 5 on a handful of Strength 8 missiles and half a dozen D strength weapons a turn. Wait, what’s this? Stormsurges can anchor themselves to fire twice in a turn? Why wouldn’t you do that? And that’s accidentally the question that Games Workshop answered this week. Now, Stormsurges are forever doomed to hide away from enemy tanks or be nudged over like a giant chess piece. Is it a bad thing? Not in this authors eyes. Tau are a faction that relies on tactical genius (Stop laughing), and having a doom-bot that sets up permanently in the deployment phase and has the potential to wipe out half an army on turn 1 doesn’t scream that. It smells like cheese. In fact it screams cheese. Now, they have to make a choice; stand your ground and hope nothing is within range of becoming a titanium battering ram, or prepare to stomp your way across the battlefield to make up for the difference. It invites risk taking and tactical planning, and in my eyes that’s fantastic, and speaks credit to the characteristics of Tau combat doctrine, even if it feels like a fleeting, accidental remark made by the fellows writing the FAQs. Something about the Butterfly Effect comes to mind.
The majority of the FAQ was quashing various rule-exploitations with the Tau and their love for defensive fortifications. Really, the FAQ did little for us Tau players. It didn’t nerf us, it didn’t buff us. Oh wait, they have to declare jink before you declare markerlights? Wait, what’s that sound… oh no, it’s the angry Eldar players, run for your lives!
The Tau have shotguns now?
When I last played Warhammer 40,000, Tau had two real options for Troops; Kroot and Fire Warriors. They still both exist, and both still have a place in the meta. Sorry, what? Yes I’d love some trees as terrain in this battle. Oh don’t worry about those Kroot, they don’t do a lot. Wait, what do you mean we can’t have forests in a Cities of Death battle?
Now, there’s a new kid on the block, at least for me. Firstly, let me get it out there; the new Fire Warrior kit from 2015 is beautiful. Even if you ignore the addition of the new turret and the ability to build a unique new squad from the same kit (The Breacher Teams), you now aren’t limited to building a gun drone anymore; you can build any of the core drones from the same kit. Meaning, you can tailor your entire squad as you please. Also, add to that the fact that the kits are beautifully devoid of mould lines most of the time, and other than the awkward helmet placement, the majority of the connections to the sprue are very cleverly hidden by overlapping body parts and armour plates, meaning even if you don’t clean your clipper-points, you’re unlikely to see any on a built model. Yay for sets that value quality of sprues!
So reading the new Codex, the Breachers caught me off guard. They are, in essence, Fire Warriors, with a gun that fires twice, has a maximum range of 15”, and – here’s the kicker – it gets stronger the closer you are to the target. Oh, and did I mention the entire unit gets a 5++ invulnerable save for 12 points? These soldiers are, on the surface, a little lackluster. Fire Warriors do the shooty-tooty job far better, and from further away. And yet, I was drawn to them. Kickass helmets, backpacks and shoulder-guards aside, this unit is designed to drop into an objective in cover, clear it of anything that’s sat there and never be forced out of it. They strip Space Marine saves and can carry EMPs, dropping anything short of a Land Raider with reasonable ease. I now have a squad, and they are my pride and joy; a squad designed to kick down doors in an army designed to shoot you through the windows... from 5 kilometres away.
Overall, I’m now at a stage defined by a crossroad. I have my core units; my troops are ready, my HQ units are built and I have elites to do what the Tau do best. And yes; Pathfinders in abundance. But now, I have to choose how I define myself as a Tau player. The coming choices are between tanks or walkers. Hammerheads, Sky Rays, Stormsurges, Riptides and Ghostkeels; everyone is on the ballot.
I’m a firm believer in playing what feels cool, and in the coming weeks you’ll no doubt find out, like I will, how my Tau force will shape up at tournament level of points.
Come the Apocalypse
Being a new player, I tend to spend a spare bit of time flicking through the rulebook and clarifying rules that came up in recent games. How do I assault vehicles? What’s the rules on monstrous Flying Creatures? What are my options when it comes to dealing with flyers? What about 4 Ork Flyers? Oh, they kill themselves. Never mind.
I came to a section of the rulebook that has perplexed me like no other; the Allies table. The table defines who can fight with whom in various ways, on a faction by faction basis. In some cases, they are Battle brothers, much like any of the Space Marine and Imperium factions. In others they are Allies of Convenience, who fight together on the odd occasion where it’s better to help each other.
Then, for the rest, only at the coming of the Apocalypse will certain factions stand shoulder to shoulder. Wait, wasn’t Apocalypse released in 2007? I’m going to ask everyone a quick question; at what point did the Eldar and Dark Eldar reconcile their differences and become Allies of Convenience? Sure, let’s make the Chaos and Space Marines Allies of Convenience while we’re at it, or the Necrons and Tau. Oh wait, that last one is actually true. Does no one else find this odd? I do. But, I spent the last few days trying to wrap my head around it.
On one hand, there’s the lore of universe, the story that’s being continually written and driven by our games and stories; only kidding. It’s whatever is in the books and games Games Workshop lets through the editorial net. Regardless, this spits in the face of the Lore. So, it leaves two other options;
Firstly, Games Workshop are highly incompetent and this is an example of them having low quality control and poor judgement. Despite our joking, one thing you can never accuse Games Workshop of is poor quality control or being generally incompetent. Now, give me a moment, I need to put my melting Finecast model next to the printed share prices of Games Workshop.
Jokes aside, the final option is the one I believe in; they did it purely for gameplay. What they are trying to do, I think, is match armies together to give them a second option in list building, and the only aim of which is to provide interesting combinations. Sure, Eldar and Dark Eldar would never work in lore, but maybe running a combined list of them would be cool in the game, and perhaps even provide interesting bonuses and boons. Maybe that’s their idea. Maybe, at the end of it all, it’s another sign of Games Workshop trying to move forward with the game in mind. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and find a way of cheesing Breacher Teams through a Necron Monolith.