9E Tau Codex Review: Flyer: AX39 Sun Shark Bomber

Today we look at the second of the Tau’s codex aircraft. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Sun Shark is a close relative of the Razorshark, unsurprisingly, having almost exactly the same overall statline. 20″-25″ movement is fairly standard between many flyers, of course, and toughness six with twelve wounds gives it the same defensive profile as its brother, right down to the 4+ armor save. Ballistic skill 4+ gives it a middling offensive profile, although thankfully its main weapon does not need to roll to hit. At 155pts base, the Sun Shark is a bit too expensive for what it does, but is not completely abysmal.

Special Rules and Wargear

The majority of the Sun Shark’s rules are the ones you would expect from a flyer chassis- Airborne and Supersonic mean it can only move in straight lines and cannot generally get into fights, while Hard to Hit means shooting attacks are less accurate. Crash and Burn functions as the Explodes equivalent, doing d3 mortal wounds within 6″.

In addition to those, however, the Sun Shark also comes with the Pulse Bombs rule. It can drop one bomb on an enemy unit that it moved over each movement phase, rolling a d6 for every model in the unit (adding +1 if the target is Infantry.) For every 5+, the unit suffers a mortal wound, although the dice rolled max out at ten. Note that this is not technically a weapon attack, it does not suffer from targeting restrictions and many stratagems cannot be used against it.

The Sun Shark’s main armament is surprisingly significant considering its nominal role. It comes with a Markerlight, two Seeker Missiles (S8 AP-2 DmgD6 Heavy 1 one shot), and Missile Pod (36″ S7 AP-1 DmgD3 Assault 2), and a second Missile Pod can be added for 15pts if desired. This alone wouldn’t be a huge deal, but it also comes with a pair of Interceptor Drones, which have a standard drone statline but with Movement 20″, and each one is armed with a pair of Ion Rifles (30″ S7 AP-1 Dmg1 Rapid Fire 1, can overcharge for S8 DmgD3). The drones can detach as they would from any other vehicle, acting independently from that point forward (and benefitting from the Savior Protocols and For the Greater Good rules.)

Uses

The Sun Shark ends up being essentially an up-gunned version of the Razorshark, as it can spit out a surprising number of S7/8 multidamage shots when it fires its full payload into a target. The twelve shots it gets may not be as accurate as one might like thanks to its middling ballistic skill, but by sheer volume alone they can do some damage and with assistance from Markerlights they can do some real work- and since the bomber has one Markerlight itself, this isn’t as hard as you might think.

The real draw, however, is the mortal wound output- something Tau are otherwise pretty lacking in. While expecting to get the 5ish mortals every turn is very optimistic, 2-4 is a very reasonable hope against most opponents and is functionally going to be about as good or better than a Smite. This is especially helpful for digging out tougher infantry units from cover, something that can otherwise be a bit obnoxious even for Tau, and since it can bypass obscuring/dense terrain it is especially valuable. The bomb is pretty lackluster when targeting individual models, but the fact that it can snipe the last wound off a character is a useful tool to have at times, so don’t underestimate it. Also, remember that if you are in Farsight Enclaves not only will it be easy to trigger the reroll 1s to wound, but you also can access the strat to cause mortal wounds to nearby unit. (You can also trigger this strat off of the drones, since they inherit its battlefield role, but be prepared for some nasty looks if you do so.)

The Sun Shark, overall, wants to be a bit of a generalist solution- it brings some unique mortal wounds, a bunch of generally-useful firepower, and a touch of movement utility for scoring engage/etc thanks to being able to detach its drones when needed. And it does a fine job of these things, but is not particularly exceptional at them- nor is it particularly cheap in doing so, especially when other units that can do much of the same for a far lower price exist. Add in the weaknesses of flyers to alpha strikes and the general weakness of the Tau codex in general and you have a unit that is not particularly likely to be taken by anyone, even if it does have a little bit to offer. If it had seen a drastic price reduction (120pts or less, perhaps) there might be some consideration for the unit, but as is there is just not much of an argument for taking the Sun Shark over many of Tau’s more efficient shooting and scoring units unless you are in love with its aesthetic.

Final Thoughts

The Sun Shark is a reasonably well-designed vehicle all things considered, bringing a good combination of firepower and useful abilities to the table- it’s really only the price point and the general weakness of the codex that hold it back. If it gets an update akin to those of the Ork or AdMech flyers, it could easily be in that same problematic territory that they quickly found themselves in, although I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath for this.

As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at a great discount 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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