Today we look at the worst models in the game. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Tidewall Shieldline, Gunport, and Dronerig are maybe three of the worst units in the game, although they admittedly do have to compete with the other fortifications. However, they still have a strong argument for them, and one we’ll be making today. Statline-wise, they are pretty similar- they all move 6″ per turn (and do not Fly, despite appearances), they all have ten wounds, and they all have a 4+ armor save. Where relevant, they also have a 5+ ballistic skill, just to make sure they can’t ever do anything. Almost all of the pieces are also toughness seven, with the one exception being the Shieldline, which is only toughness six. Each of the three pieces are purchased independently, though the Shieldline is allowed to add on an extra Defense Platform (same stats as the other pieces) if you want. The Shieldline is 75pts (+75 for its Platform), the Dronerig is 75pts without drones, and the Gunport is 125pts with weapons.
Special Rules and Wargear
All of the Tidewall pieces share a number of rules in common- as fortifications, they cannot move on their own or fight in close combat, and are hit automatically by enemies in melee. However, they also do not prevent friendly units from shooting engaged enemies. If a Tau unit is embarked on the fort, it can move normally (but not advance or charge) and any embarked units can shoot out from the platforms thanks to Open-Topped. Finally, all of them can Explode (6″, d3 mortal wounds) for some reason. All Tidewall pieces can also embark up to ten infantry models, as any transport vehicle would.
Beyond that, each piece has its own special rules. The Shieldwall can reflect mortal wounds from shooting attacks with unmodified 6s to wound, although the Defense Platform that can be bought along with it does not share this ability. The Droneport can embark a squad of up to four drones, which will shoot at the nearest target- but if an infantry unit embarks, the Drones can get out and furthermore can use that unit’s ballistic skill when shooting so long as the Droneport is alive. The Gunport, finally, will fire automatically at the nearest target with its Supremacy Railgun (72″ S10 AP-4 DmgD6 Heavy 2, 6s cause d3 mortals), although if there is an infantry unit embarked they can direct its fire as they please.
There’s… not a lot to work with here. The Supremacy Railgun looks slightly impressive, until you remember that it’s BS5+ and you can just buy a Hammerhead instead for barely any more points. The Droneport’s ability to make a squad of drones BS5+ (with the help of an HQ character) is cute, until you remember how fragile both drones and the fortification are. And the Shieldwall… well, it sure does exist.
Long story short, the Tidewall pieces look fairly cool but are utterly worthless on the tabletop. They cost a lot, are slower and easier to destroy than standard vehicles, have weak defensive stats, come with a number of additional downsides, and don’t do anything to fill a role that the Tau army actually needs. They are abjectly terrible in a way that puts even most other fortifications to shame.
There’s not even anything to build a gimmick around here. They aren’t cheap or interesting. They look cool, and that’s about it, which is a real shame because they definitely are one of the cooler terrain kits GW has put out, especially with the “floating” look and the blue acrylic barriers for forcefields. If you want to make a cool Tau display board, there’s a lot to work with here- but for the love of god, don’t try and put them in an army.
The Tidewall pieces unfortunately represent a trend in GW’s design as of 9E, where they have made sure to take all of the fortification pieces and make them absolutely worthless no matter how hard you might try. Nothing a fortification does comes anywhere near to being worth its points, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and there is every indication that this choice is intentional, what with the printing of most of the newer fortifications that are similarly-bad.
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.