Hi folks. Rhys here. Let’s begin with a cliche alert: we’re living in very strange times.
For the reasons that we are all familiar with, there has been virtually no competitive 40k over the past few weeks. Those tournaments that we all know and love certainly wouldn’t comply with social distancing guidelines. I’m sure many of you are missing the excellent 40k Stats Center podcast. I certainly am.
Things will be back to normal soon enough. And we’ll all have plenty to talk about and to write about when that happens.
But for now, I want to take another look at a T’au unit that got a couple of significant buffs in the latest release. I want to take another look at the XV-88 Broadside Battlesuit.
I’ll begin with the most important point: are we going to see Broadsides in the competitive meta again? No, I don’t think we are. There are two main reasons for this. First, there are other, stronger options to take. The Greater Good didn’t do much to dissuade players from taking the alpha units in the codex. The Commander and the Riptide remain at the top of the pile. Second, Broadsides have no defense against the bad touch. If an opponent manages to tag a squad of Broadsides in combat, there isn’t anything that the T’au player can do. They won’t be shooting next turn. There isn’t a stratagem to use; there isn’t some obscure rule to employ. Those Broadsides won’t be doing anything.
And that is, I would argue, the crux of the matter: there’s better stuff in the codex and there’s no combat defense.
If you wanted a good reason to avoid the Broadside Battlesuit, there you have it. But there is, as always, another side of the story.
And that side of the story looks a lot like a Broadside castle with Shadowsun at its heart. This loadout can be absolutely deadly. It throws a truckload of shots downfield, supported by a character that provides excellent buffs to both hit and wound rolls. So what exactly does it look like?
Three Broadside Battlesuits armed with two smart missile systems and two high-yield missile pods, as well as an advanced targeting system and a seeker missile will run to 378 points. So it’s not cheap, but you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that the Broadside received a solid upgrade in the latest T’au release, The Greater Good. And this upgrade comes in the form of Sept tenets. The new T’au hotness — from what we saw of it in the before times — is undoubtedly the Farsight Enclaves. I’m sure many of you have been keeping up with what Richard Siegler and Brian Pullen have been up to. It’s all Commanders all the time. But the custom Sept options offer strong alternatives to Farsight’s Commander spam. The Hardened Warheads tenet and and Stabilization Systems tenet provide T’au players with excellent upgrades that make the best units in the codex even better.
Here’s a brief run down: the Hardened Warheads tenet adds +1 AP to missile weapons and the Stabilization Systems tenet allows Battlesuits to move and shoot without penalty. Yes, these tenets make Riptides even better, but we’re not talking about Riptides today.
Indeed, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite missile delivery system this side of the Eastern Fringe. Increasing the AP of both the Broadside’s main weapon and secondary weapon is excellent. Allowing Broadsides to move and shoot without penalty is also a handy bonus, but T’au players who opt for this loadout will find that one a lot less useful. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not where Broadsides with this loadout can shine.
I mention above that three Broadsides armed with smart missile systems and high-yield missile pods can kick out a lot of firepower. How much? Each Battlesuit will shoot 16 times. A squad of three Broadsides will shoot 48 times. That’s pretty good. But it’s not great. It’s not great because the T’au can’t quite shoot straight.
Yes, hitting on 4s can be pretty lame. And it gets worse if your opponent can hit you with negative modifiers. Hitting on 5s and 6s can be really disheartening, especially if you then get a below average spread of hits.
Enter Shadowsun. I mentioned earlier that the Broadside castle with Shadowsun at its core can be deadly, and here’s why: Shadowsun can use her Master of War ability twice per game. Now we have a way to mitigate the Broadside’s average ballistic skill.
T’au Commanders have an ability, Master of War, that allows them to grant a re-roll aura, provided that the model in the aura doesn’t move, or a move and shoot without penalty aura. There’s more to it than that, but for the purposes of this article that will do the trick. These two abilities are known as Kauyon and Mont’ka respectively. Commanders may only use this ability once per game. However, Shadowsun may use Kauyon twice per game and Farsight may use Mont’ka twice per game.
Now we’re in business. For two of the game’s six turns, Shadowsun can use her Kauyon ability to grant Broadsides re-rolls to hit.
What does this do to the average hit rolls? Since we’re looking at 50 per cent and then 50 per cent, it’s nice and simple. We start with 48 shots, of which 24 will hit. Of the 24 that missed, a further 12 will hit, for a total of 36 hits. Wouldn’t it be smashing if all mathhammer were that simple?
36 hits is nothing to sniff at.
Let’s break down exactly what the Broadsides are hitting with. The smart missile systems hit at strength 5, AP-2, and 1 damage. The high-yield missile pods hit at strength 7, AP-3, d3 damage. Let’s presume 18 hits with the smart missiles and 18 hits with the missile pods. These Broadsides are starting to do the business.
But it gets better.
T’au Commanders have access to an excellent stratagem, the Command and Control Node. For the cost of one command point, the Commander can forego his — or, in this case, her — own shooting in order to grant re-rolls to wound to a unit within range. And since Shadowsun doesn’t have a lot to offer offensively, this will definitely be the way to go.
Now the Broadsides have the capacity to start deleting units. With Shadowsun’s buffs, there aren’t many units in the game that can stand up to this kind of firepower. Those 36 hits are looking even more tasty now that we know that we can re-roll the wound roll.
I also really like that this unit gets better and better when use in tandem with another part of the army. It feels very T’au. To employ a somewhat strained metaphor: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
There’s a lot more to go into here. I’ve not yet talked about magna rail rifles, a very tasty new toy from The Greater Good, but I’ll pick at that thread next week.
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