This post has been updated since its original publication to reflect points changes in CA2018
Capitalizing on its remarkable maneuverability, the Razorshark provides support to Fire Warriors in the heat of battle. A variant of the Sun Shark Bomber, the Fighter trades the drones and pulse weaponry for extra thrusters (increasing its agility) and a powerful ion turret. Purpose-built to engage ground targets, the Fighter can also mount offensives on airborne enemies, making this gun ship a well-rounded and versatile tool at the T’au Empire’s disposal.
On the tabletop, the Razorshark is a single model unit, Flier role.
AX3 Razorshark Strike Fighter
|7 to 12||20-50″||4+||3|
|4 to 6||20-30″||5+||D3|
|1 to 3||20-25″||5+||1|
A Fighter is equipped with a burst cannon (18″ Assault 4 S5 AP0 D1), a quad ion turret (either 30″ Assault 4 S7 AP-1 D1 or 30″ Assault 4 S8 AP01 D[D3] but any 1’s to hit cause a mortal wound), and two seeker missiles (72″ Heavy 1 S8 AP-2 D[D6]). You can replace the burst cannon with a missile pod (36″ Assault 2 S7 Ap-1 D[D3]).
- Cannot charge unless the target also has charge and can only be attacked by or attack units with <Fly>
- Pivot up to 90 degrees before you move it. Add 20″ to its Advance instead of a D6.
- Hard to Hit
- Your opponent must subtract 1 from To-Hit rolls that target this in the Shooting phase.
- Crash and Burn
- Explodes on a 6 when reduced to 0 wounds, doing D3 mortal wounds within 6″.
If you thought the Sun Shark Bomber was a questionable take, the Razershark Strike Fighter is even worse off. To start with, it’s a fairly generic profile with a fairly generic set of special rules. A stereotypical T’au BS4+ is as good as you can hope for and it will degrade as wounds are lost. The movement of 20-50″ falls in line with many other fliers. Most of note is its resiliency, which at T6 W12 and Sv4+, it won’t be keeping it around long against dedicated firepower or even non-dedicate light arms en masse. Like most Fliers, it is hard to hit which does directly translate into a longer lifespan and is appreciated. It also suffers from the potentially precarious pivots and movements that most fliers are subject to. Lastly, like nearly every vehicle, it can explode. There’s really nothing here that you won’t have seen before in some shape or form.
Uncommon to T’au, the Fighter does possess a method by which to routinely increase its chance to hit while not requiring some third party support (for instance, markerlights). The main weapon on the Fighter, the Quad ion turret, gets a +1 on To-Hit rolls if that weapon targets something without the <Fly> keyword. This is a nod to the fluff, which is always appreciated. It also means that as long as you are shooting at something that does not have the <Fly> keyword, you can safely overcharge without worrying about taking a mortal wound. However, the rest of the fluff that states it’s a formidable and scary ground support platform seems to have been lost in translation. The biggest letdown is just in the small number of shots it puts out. Its default loadout puts out 4 S5 shots and 4 S7/8 shots every turn and that’s it. Yes, I won’t forget about the fact that it’s a Seeker Missile platform, but those are “one and done”.
I appreciate that both the Quad Ion Turret and Missile Pod came down in points substantially in CA2018. What results is a cheap as chips T’au flier that is “just” agile and fast to get in your opponents’ way by move-blocking. It’s not a gun platform and shouldn’t be viewed as such. My original review focused on how expensive and inferior its weapons were to other options and at their original costs, that point probably still stands. Now, however, in the age of mass fliers and abundant negatives to-hit, I think that having cheap fliers in your army is, while still situational, not completely and consistently bad. However, when you compare the Fighter to the Bomber, I still don’t think the Fighter wins out in this role. Since it doesn’t have drones embarked, you can’t really use it to make a ploy for grabbing a far-off objective like you can with the Bomber. You don’t inherently get a ton of CP from taking fliers, and T’au need CP to take advantage of some key stratagems. It also doesn’t have the For the Greater Good special rule, so it won’t help in overwatch. Really, it can’t kill a ton of stuff, it can’t buff your army indirectly with CP’s, it can’t hold objectives, but it can move-block. In most lists, that’s probably not good enough to warrant taking it, but in others – maybe it is. There has been some recent success with T’au utilizing 3 Bombers in large tournaments. I think there’s a very good reason why the player chose three Bombers and not three Fighters – the Bombers are better.
Countering the Razorshark Fighter is similar to countering the Sun Shark Bomber in many ways. When playing against any Flier, a detailed understanding of how they move is key. Understanding that the Fighter can pivot up to 90 degrees before moving up to 50″ but at least 20″ can influence some of your decision-making. Under certain circumstances, you can block off movement avenues for the Fighter and could even potentially keep it from making its minimum necessary movement – resulting in its destruction. At 30″ it’s most imposing main weapon can be outranged and out-maneuvered too. It will also have a hard time staying in range of a singular target for more than a turn, so you can weather the Quad ion turret for a turn and then probably be out of range for its next shooting phase.
It’s also fairly easily countered just by shooting it. Even a few auto-cannon shots can put a large dent in the Fighter and should you dedicate more serious firepower than that, like a las cannon, for instance, you’ll face no serious hurdle from shooting it off the board. Don’t forget that assault units with <Fly> will also make extremely quick work of it too.
The Razorstrike Fighter is one of the blandest Fliers I’m aware of. It provides no source of significant firepower by its inclusion in your army and though not expensive, is not worth what it does should you have the option to take a Bomber. The T’au army is lucky enough to have several good tools at their disposal and should you consider the Fighter in your army, you’ll be hard pressed to find justification for its inclusion over some of the more-alluring options like Hammerheads, Riptides, Fire Warriors, Coldstar Commanders, etc.
Are Razorshark Fighter’s cheap enough to use as solely a move-blocking unit?
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