9E Tau Codex Review: Heavy Support: Skyray Gunship

Today we look at Tau’s anti-air vehicle, the Skyray. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Skyray Gunship is built off of the same chassis as the Hammerhead and its variants, and has a profile to match. Movement 12″ makes it reasonably scooty for a vehicle of its size, while toughness seven and thirteen wounds mean it can soak at least some damage, though it won’t take many hits to degrade or destroy it. A 3+ armor save is standard for Tau vehicles, and ballistic skill 3+ is a nice bonus. Three attacks, weapon skill 6+, and leadership 8 round out its statline. At 150pts for the stock version, a Skyray is probably more than you generally want to be paying.

Special Rules and Wargear

The Skyray comes with the standard suite of vehicle rules for Tau- Hover Tank lets you measure to the hull or base as needed and Explodes does d3 mortal wounds on 6 when it dies. As a vehicle, the Skyray does not have For the Greater Good and thus cannot fire overwatch innately.

It does, however, carry some fairly unique gear. Most notably it has a Velocity Tracker, which gives it +1 to hit against any model with Fly; although battlesuits also have access to the Tracker, other Tau vehicles do not, giving the Skyray an interesting trick up its sleeve.

Aside from that, it comes with two Markerlights and six Seeker Missiles (S8 AP-2 DmgD6 Heavy 1), as well as a pair of Gun Drones (which can be detached in the normal fashion.) Note that while it can use its own Markerlights to fire its missiles, you must commit to doing so before you know if it scores any Markerlight hits- which is a pretty risky proposition.

The Gun Drones can be exchanged for a pair of Burst Cannons (-4pts) or a pair of Smart Missile Systems (+10pts). The Skyray does not have any other options.

Uses

Although it was a major component of a number of alpha-strike lists in the past, the changes to terrain and game mechanics this edition mean that the Skyray will rarely be seen in modern Tau lists. If you can hammer a good target with its full payload of Seekers you can often kill a target of similar value, but in doing this you are most often losing out on tempo even under the best of circumstances and more often than not, you simply won’t get such an advantageous shot.

The Skyray suffers a lot from the limited profile on its missiles, which is decent but not incredible- AP-2 is a big limiter, and while they can do decent work against most vehicles, they are unlikely to present any significant threat to squads of infantry and the like, even multiwound ones. In the absence of other support, a Skyray will likely push through 1-2 Seeker hits against an enemy tank, which will rarely be enough to destroy it- heaven forbid they have a good invuln, or are T8, or have 2+ armor, or have a damage reduction ability. Skyrays simply are not equipped to deal with modern vehicle chassis.

This is made worse by the fact that they cannot easily withdraw from combat this edition, and the fact that their preferred prey (aircraft) has become much, much rarer. In a game that is mostly about scoring objectives and fighting for midfield, the Skyray contributes essentially nothing to the game in most cases and will go down comically-easily if a squad of Terminators or Incubi get into it.

Final Thoughts

While there is some novelty to a dedicated alpha-strike platform like the Skyray, its glory days are long since past and it now exists mostly as a way to provide conversion fodder for people who want to scratchbuild Remora Drones. Its fate should a new codex ever come out will depend largely on how Seeker Missiles end up working, as it is basically tied entirely to them- we can hope that they are able to do mortal wounds or something else impressive, otherwise the Skyray will likely remain in the garbage heap.

As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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