This week I’m going to continue with the updated T’au units from the latest Imperial Armour book.
And I want to begin with the Y’vahra. While I discussed both the Y’vahra and the R’varna in my article last week, there was one particular detail that I missed: the Y’vahra’s Movement characteristic has increased to 18″. It was 12″ previously — the same as the Riptide — meaning that the model scored a 50 percent upgrade on its Movement.
Discussing the Y’vahra last week, I concluded that T’au players, while understandably disappointed with the decrease in Damage on the flamer profile, should consider giving the Y’vahra a look in 9th edition. And the Movement increase only serves to highlight that point. I really think that the Y’vahra might have some play. The Y’vahra’s Phased Plasma-Flamer now has a threat range of 30″ — and that doesn’t include the bonus to Movement that we can get from the Nova Charge ability.
I’m certainly not saying that the Y’vahra is the panacea that the faction needs, but I would argue that, all things considered, the model has become more playable.
But let’s get onto a unit that I didn’t discuss in any detail last week: The XV9 Hazard Battlesuit.
While this won’t be an in-depth review of the model — I’ll wait until the new codex before I start writing those — I do want explore a couple of the key changes that GW has introduced for this unit.
So what has changed?
First things first, the XV9 is roughly 20 points cheaper. An XV9 armed with two Twin Hazard Burst Cannons now costs 65 points. If we add an Advanced Targeting System, we’re at 70 points. All things considered, this is just a little too expensive for my tastes. The same package at 60 points seems about right to me. However, we don’t yet know how the codex will affect these Forge World units. There’s a good chance that something in the codex will make these 70 points an absolute bargain. We simply don’t know. For now, it is what it is.
Or is it? The IA book implies that T’au players don’t actually need to pay for Support Systems on XV9 Hazard Battlesuits. I won’t go into it in detail here, but I think that this is simply poor writing from Games Workshop. Indeed, GW does have a particularly poor record when it comes to editorial quality, so I think that it would be sensible to presume that this is just another oversight. For the sake of this article, I’m going to presume that Hazards must pay for their Support Systems.
Let’s briefly take a look at the offensive output that T’au players get for their 70 points. Each Hazard Battlesuit is armed with two Twin Hazard Burst Cannons, for a total of 16 Strength 5, AP-1, Damage 1 shots; a single Twin Hazard Burst Cannon is an Assault 8 weapon with a Range of 18″.
The output itself, then, hasn’t changed, but we get a bit more bang for our buck because the model itself is cheaper.
16 shots per Battlesuit is respectable. At the moment, weight of fire is a good strategy to employ with the T’au. Indeed, it’s a good strategy to employ with any faction in which most of the units have a Ballistic Skill of 4+.
We’re looking at an average of eight hits per model, then. We would be looking at a couple more if we had a Markerlight on the target, but let’s just take the pure stat-line as it is for the moment. This amount of output isn’t going to break the game. It’s not going to cause your friends to stop playing with you. But it’s decent. Against the right target, two or three XV9s will do some work.
But there’s more to go into here. I’m going to come to the weapon options in a moment, but first I want to talk about the defensive profile of the unit.
We’ve lost a Wound: an XV9 now has four Wounds instead of five. Of course, we would’ve preferred to keep those five Wounds, but this isn’t a particularly big problem. The Suit has come down in points, and for our trouble we lose a Wound. We’ll get over it.
The XV9 still has a Toughness of 5 and a 3+ Save. Against most small arms fire, then, the XV9 is reasonably resilient. Of course, concentrated firepower of almost any kind will destroy these Battlesuits, but that’s true of most of the Battlesuits in the codex. As defensive profiles go, the XV9 is reasonably tough.
However, the XV9 still has one more trick up its sleeve: each is armed with Photon Casters. Any time that an XV9 is declared the target of a charge, the opponent must subtract 2″ from the charge roll.
This is a great little ability. Anything to disincentivize charging units is a bonus for a T’au army. It works particularly well with the T’au Sept: Overwatch on 5s is already a strong ability, but now that the opponent must take Overwatch on 5s from the XV9s and all T’au units within 6″ as well as subtracting 2″ from his charge roll, there’s a good chance that he foregoes the charge move entirely.
Of course, good players will play the game in such a way to mitigate the effects of this ability, but it’s still a strong asset to have. Forcing your opponent to expend extra time and energy in his Charge phase can only be a good thing.
And what’s more, this ability used to subtract D3″ from a charge roll. Between a flat 2″ and D3″, I’ll take 2″ every time. We want to be able to rely on our defensive abilities, so removing the random element is a good thing in my book.
Now let’s get to those weapon options. Put simply, Phased Ion Guns are worth it and Fusion Cascades are not.
Let’s get the Fusion Cascades out of the way. First of all, taking two of these weapons on an XV9 increases its cost by 20 points. Each Fusion Cascade costs ten points, so we’re bringing the total cost up to 90 points. But we should be fair and remove the Advanced Targeting System, which would bring the total cost down to 85 points. For my money, this is still too expensive.
What do we get for our 80 points? A Fusion Cascade is a 12″, Assault D3 weapon with a Strength of 8, an AP of -4, and a Damage of D6. Furthermore, it takes the Blast keyword and deals D6 +2 Damage within half range.
There are two elements that I don’t like here. First, 12″ isn’t quite good enough. In order to take advantage of the increased Damage, we need to be within 6″. This is far too close for comfort.
Second, the variable number of shots is a problem. Again, we return to the issue of reliability. If I’m going to spend 255 points on three Battlesuits, I need to know that they’re going to do the business. If my boys are going to be hitting on 4s, I need weight of fire. While it’s possible that I get six shots from each XV9, the likelihood is slim. Four shots each is more realistic, which means that we’re getting two shots hitting our target. This just doesn’t cut the mustard for the amount of points that we spend.
Now let’s talk about the Phased Ion Guns. I really like this option. In fact, I would be tempted to pick up XV9s armed with these weapons instead of the Twin Hazard Burst Cannons when I next place an order at Forge World.
Here’s the first thing that I like: an XV9 armed with two Phased Ion Guns costs exactly the same as an XV9 armed with Twin Hazard Burst Cannons. We’re looking at 70 points for two of these guns and an Advanced Targeting System.
What do we get for our money? A Phased Ion Gun is a 30″, Assault 4 weapon with a Strength of 6, an AP of -1, and a Damage of 1. I must admit, I can’t quite recall how this weapon looked before this update, but I know that it wasn’t this tasty.
The 30″ Range is excellent. This gives T’au players plenty of tactical options when using the XV9s. They act as backfield fire support, chipping away at both infantry and light vehicles, or they can advance up the board and put their firepower exactly where it needs to be.
The number of shots is also very much welcome. Eight shots per model at this profile is going to threaten a lot of different units. Granted, we’re not in Space Marine territory. We’re not going to be blowing Terminators and Obliterators of the board. But we’re certainly going to be a threat. Three XV9s armed with these weapons are going to be a nuisance for a lot of different factions.
In fact, three XV9s armed with Phased Ion Guns and Advanced Targeting Systems have comparable output to a Riptide. Granted, the Riptide’s Heavy Burst Cannon is a Damage 2 weapon, but our plucky XV9s get more shots on target on average dice: nine from a Nova Charged Riptide and 12 from our XV9s. And what’s more, the XV9s are 95 points cheaper.
Am I saying that T’au players should abandon their beloved Riptides in exchange for XV9s? Of course not. These are two distinct units that fulfil distinct roles in T’au army composition.
However, I’m certainly saying that T’au players should have a look at the XV9. There’s a lot to like here. The IA update has brought this unit into 9th edition, and while I would argue that each XV9 is still a touch too expensive, there’s still a lot going on.
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