Like most of the coolest things to come from Forgeworld for the T’au Empire, the R’varna’s fluff is tied to the Ke’lshan sept. Due to lack of funds in battlesuit development (gotta love bureaucratic story hooks), this suit was publically known to be a stealth suit variant. Little did the oversight committee know that in reality, an extremely tough, long-range artillery battlesuit was actually in the works. Just in the nick of time, the R’varna suit showed up to save some T’au from Tyranids. The R’varna got its name from Commander Burning Rain, a hero of the Ke’lshan sept and a prior victor against the Zerg menace.
On the tabletop, The R’varna is a Heavy Support choice, single model unit that can optionally take accompanying shielded missile drones.
XV107 R’Varna Battlesuit
|7 to 15||8″||4+||4|
|4 to 6||6″||5+||3|
|1 to 3||3″||5+||2|
Shielded Missile Drone
The R’varna is armed with two pulse submunitions cannons (60″ Heavy 3[D3] S6 AP-2 D3). Each shielded missile drone is armed with a missile pod (36″ Assault 2 S7 AP-1 D[D3]). It can optionally take either or both of the Advanced Targeting Systems and Stimulant Injector (more on this below).
- For the Greater Good
- Allows units within 6″ of a charged unit to fire overwatch as if they were the target of the charge, at the cost of not being able to fire overwatch again that turn
- Drone Support
- Set up the drones with the R’varna, but after that, the drones become their own unit.
- Savior Protocols
- If within 3″ of a T’au sept <Infantry> or <Battlesuit> unit when that unit is wounded by an enemy attack, roll a D6. On a 2+ that wound is transferred to the unit of Drones and the damage is changed to a single mortal wound instead of the normal damage.
- Shield Generator
- Shielded Missile Drones have a 4+ invulnerable save. Each time they lose a wound roll a D6, on a 5 or higher, that wound is negated.
- R’varna Shield Generator
- 5++ for the R’varna
- Reroll To-Hit rolls of 1 if firing all weapons at the same target
- Nova Reactor (R’varna class)
- You can choose (in your Movement phase) to take a mortal wound to then pick one of the three below:
- Nova Shield: Increase invulnerable save to 3+.
- Electromagnetic Shockwave: Roll a D6 for each enemy unit within 6″ of this model. On a 4+ it takes D3 mortal wounds.
- Overcharged Munitions: You can reroll the number of shots for the pulse submunition cannons.
- You can choose (in your Movement phase) to take a mortal wound to then pick one of the three below:
Right off the bat, you’ve heard me say this before and you’ll hear me say this again. It seems like Forgeworld has all but forgotten about updating many of their units’ rules to match the current meta and even to play nicely with the current version of the codexes. The R’varna is case in point. On its datasheet, it says (see above) that you can take the Stimulant Injector support system and references the Index Xenos 2 book, the book that T’au used initially in 8th edition. The Index Xenos 2 book is now superseded by the T’au Empire Codex which changed (and its FAQ/errata clearly clarified this point) the Stimulant Injector from a support system to a stratagem. You cannot take Stimulant Injectors, it’s pretty clear. However, there is no update to the Imperial Armor Index Xenos book to modify the R’varna’s datasheet. I’m honestly not sure what the correct ruling would be in this case. Can the R’varna, who is still in an index, be able to take the support system from another index? Or is the R’varna just out of luck and not able to take a support system that is no longer available? I’m inclined to favor the latter interpretation but can’t be completely sure.
All of that aside, the R’varna is supposed to be (according to fluff) an incredibly tough long range gun platform that supports the rest of your units from afar. In this respect, it does just that on the table. To start with, it’s one of the very few T’au units that T8. The just from T7 to T8 is significant as it not only increases the wound roll required of S4 from a 5 to a 6, but also makes your opponent second guess overcharging plasma, ion, etc. weapons, because they will still only have a 50% chance to wound and still might damage themselves (rerolls and abilities not factored in). It’s a significant stats jump and not one to be overlooked. The main weapons of the R’varna are 60″ which do a good job representing the role it is supposed to have. In most games, a 60″ range will let you shoot just about whatever you can see. As there are not a plethora of other T’au weapons that have ranges this long, it’s another welcome feature. These two qualities allow the R’varna to sit in the backfield of your deployment zone and potentially both hold an objective and remain relevant to your sources of firepower for the whole game.
Just like the variation from whence it came from, this derivative of the Riptide also features the <Battlesuit> keyword, which anyone familiar will either appreciate or vehemently loath (depending on if you play as or against T’au, of course). The <Battlesuit> keyword is the key to unlocking a lot of the T’au Empire’s key stratagems and abilities such as Savior Protocols which, combined with its T8 stat can be extremely frustrating for your opponent to try and tackle. However, if we choose to compare the R’varna closer to the Riptide, I think we’ll both agree that it is lacking in many significant areas that will ultimately place it far substandard to its more popular variant.
The first big drawback of the R’varna is its firepower. Two weapons at 3D3 shots are…well, for one they’re not reliable. There are ways around the reliability of the number of shots (Nova Reactor and Bork’an sept stratagem), but neither is ideal. Taking a mortal wound through Nova Reactor just to reroll your number of shots (averaging 12 shots total but as few as 6 and as much as 18) is not the kind of thing I’d like to rely on. Compare this to the Riptide who take a mortal wound but then just gets a flat increase to the number of guaranteed shots with the HBC and it’s hard not to prefer the Riptide. Both the Riptide and R’varna feature S6 shooting, so their optimal targets are very similar/the same. The slight edge goes to the R’varna in AP and damage potential, but with random damage in addition to the random number of shots, it’s all too variable for my liking. You should always elect to take the ATS support system since you can do so without giving up a weapon slot and represents a direct increase in efficiency. But even with ATS, the R’varna’s firepower is comparable or potentially worse, very unlikely to be better, than the Riptide’s.
Another area of the R’varna that is worse than the Riptide’s is the keywords. Yes, both have the <Battlesuit> keyword but the R’varna doesn’t have the <Riptide> keyword which is significant. The Riptide keyword is what gives access to the Branched Nova Charge stratagem which is one reason why the Riptide is so strong – it can use two nova charge abilities whereas the R’varna just gets one. I guess it’s too much of a variant to get the keyword? Maybe someone forgot? While we’re talking about the Nova Charge ability, let’s talk about how bad the R’varna’s choices are. Whereas the Riptide’s choices can increase mobility (by a flat amount), mobility, or resiliency – all things that have value at some point or another fairly routinely, the R’varna can try to mitigate its variable shot count, increase its resiliency or…potentially deal mortal wounds to something really close to it. Since the gist of a long-range artillery piece is to keep as much distance between yourself and the targets, this last choice feels like if you’re regularly using it, you’ve messed up at some point. It’s like planning to fail in order to be in range to use it. Now, of course, there will be times when you’ll end up with enemies closer to you than you’d like, but wouldn’t it be better to just sup up your main weapons and blast them away versus guaranteeing you take a mortal wound with the hope that you do a variable amount of mortal wounds to whatever is nearby? You should be nodding your head.
The last nail in the coffin for the R’varna is its cost. How much would you expect to pay for something that was obviously worse than a Riptide, which depending on their loadouts are just shy of 300 points? Probably less than 300 points, right? Try well above 400. For the price of a knight, you can get suboptimal shooting and rules! Not quite the deal we were looking for. Obviously, this and all the other points were made with a matched play, competitive attitude in mind. If you have one because it’s a cool model and you want to use it, go right ahead. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- It has a 2+ save, which although you should be pawning off shots on drones most of the time, is pretty great. Not many other T’au units have Sv2+.
- It has less movement than both the Riptide and Y’vahra at only 8″. I guess those big guns are heavy.
- The way the datasheet is worded, it seems like the Multi-tracker affects the drones, if you took them (you shouldn’t have because they’re over-costed and any drones nearby are really just ablative wounds instead of sources of firepower).
The R’varna will be hard to kill. It’s T8 and will be surrounded by drones so you’ll need to chew through the drones directly and then focus on the R’varna or mitigate its firepower through LoS-blocking terrain. It has not indirect firing weapons and only 8″ movement so it’s not going to be the best suited at maneuvering to see your hidden units or otherwise still attacking them. It’s going to primarily be trying to target your artillery and outlast their return fire. Don’t let it do that because it probably can.
A huge weakness of the R’varna (on top of everything above) is that it doesn’t have <Fly>. Touch its toe and it’s out of commission for a turn when it needs to fall back. It does have, and everything around it will surely have, For the Greater Good, so expect heavy weight of dice on overwatch unless you can otherwise mitigate that through clever charging positioning or abilities. However, once you get in, you’ve won because you’ve just stopped a 400+ point model from shooting for a full turn.
Above and beyond the clear disconnect in legal loadouts mentioned initially, there’s a lot that is lackluster about the R’varna that, bottom line, has me advocating people leave it out of lists in its current state. It would take a combination of a reduction in point cost, less variability (or more mitigation) of its number of shots and damage, and some cool stratagems/abilities to help it better synergize with the rest of my army in order to convince me to use the R’varna. As it stands, T’au has other units that do what the R’varna tries to do, but better and other armies have the same. The fact that it is one of the toughest and longest range units the T’au has access to does not make up for its shortcomings.
Do you think the R’varna should have the <Riptide> keyword or was it an intentional omission? Also, what’s the deal with Stim Injectors?
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!