9E Tau Codex Review: Flyers: AX3 Razorshark

Today we look at another one of the Tau flyers, the Razorshark. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Razorshark has a fairly standard flyer statline, albeit with some major weaknesses in places you might not expect. Movement 20″-50″ is very common for flyers and will get you around the board as easily as might be expected. Toughness six is a touch on the low side for a vehicle but not uncommon for lighter chassis, though twelve wounds is a pretty decent amount. Unfortunately, a 4+ armor save does it no favors, leaving it with pretty weak defenses overall. Ballistic skill 4+ is standard for Tau, though low for their vehicles. At 118pts for its basic version the Razorshark isn’t terribly expensive, but given its middling output it can’t really be considered cheap, either.

Special Rules and Wargear

The Razroshark has a host of special rules, but they are only the ones you would expect from any given flyer. Supersonic and Airborne mean it must move in straight lines and can’t get into melee with most things, while Hard to Hit means enemies subtract one from shooting attacks against it. Crash and Burn is just Explodes for flyers.

The armament of the Razorshark is at least a little more interesting. It comes with a somewhat unique main weapon, the Quad Ion Turret. It has a profile much like that of many other Ion weapons- 30″ range, S7 AP-1 Dmg1, with the ability to overcharge for +1Str and DmgD3 at the cost of an occasional mortal wound. However, the Turret also comes with a unique trait that gives it +1 to hit against non-Fly targets, which among other things means that doing so will not cause you mortal wounds as well as significantly improving your general accuracy. It’s not as good as having proper BS3+, but it’s something.

Aside from its main gun, the Razorshark also comes with a pair of Seeker Missiles and a Burst Cannon (18″ S5 AP0 Dmg1 Assault 4.) The Burst Cannon can also be traded out for a Missile Pod (36″ S7 AP-1 Dmg2 Assault 2), which is a pretty reasonable deal in most cases.

Uses

The Razorshark is, if you will pardon the expression, a fish out of water. It has never been a good vehicle by any standards, but it is at a particular low point in 9E because it simultaneously brings no scoring to the table (which Tau desperately need) and also brings very limited firepower. The fact is, the Razorshark is just undergunned by any useful measure, and since its only role is a mobile firepower platform, that leaves it in a pretty sorry state.

The main problem is the problem of competition. Tau have numerous medium-to-heavy units that can put out a lot of mid-strength firepower and are as-or-more resilient, which leaves the Razorshark without a lot to do. The Riptide (which pricier) shoots far, far harder per point while also being nigh-invulnerable. The Hammerhead is much more efficient and actually pretty close to on par in terms of survivability (as its 3+ armor save and ability to hide behind terrain both matter a lot.) And both of these chassis come with weapons that have significantly superior statlines, not to mention much better support options for buffing them.

This is doubly a problem because the Razorshark doesn’t really do anything special at all. Its gun shoots and has a statline you can find on practically any unit in the codex- so it’s not like you are getting something special and unique out of putting one in your army. It’s mobile, yes, but Tau has an abundance of deep strikers, so that also isn’t really that incredible. This is made even worse if you compare it side-by-side to its cousin, the Sun Shark, which actually carries more weapons overall (beating it out with two Missile Pods to one and a Markerlight thrown in for free, to say nothing of the bombs), leaving the Razorshark with almost no niche to speak of.

Final Thoughts

The Razorshark showcases what I think can be a pretty important lesson in game design, namely that units in your game need a purpose. It’s not enough just to exist, units should fulfil a role in the game (and in the lore) that isn’t simply done better by something else- and sadly, the Razorshark fails that test pretty hard. Perhaps it will get some new life breathed into it by the updated codex, where they have a chance to revamp its weapons and statline a bit.

As always, remember that 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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AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

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