Tau XV88 Suits – Broadsides – are one of the Tau Empire units that got both an awesome new plastic kit and a bunch of interesting new options with the new 6th Edition Tau Empire Codex.
As I am tinkering around with the new Tau Codex for Warhammer 40K, I drafted a first Tau army list build around two Riptides – just because I love the new giant monster-suits!
I did get a bit lazy with the Heavy Support though, including two different XV88s for the sake of diversity: One XV88 with High-Yield Missile Pods (HYMP) for suppression fire and one XV88 with a Heavy Rail Rifle (HRR) and Velocity Tracker for Vehicle/Flyer-sniping duty.
The more I think on it, however, the more I wonder: Are Heavy Rail Rifles even worth the bother?
#1 – Broadside Battlesuits Old and New
In the previous Tau Codex, XV88 Broadsides were a near-must-have. With twin-linked 72″ Str. 10 AP1 Railguns, they even took some thunder from the Railhead, mainly because they were more accurate (thanks to twin-linking). Some (no missing) upgrades like the lovingly nick-named ASS (Advanced Stabilisation System) also gave them more mobility than today’s Broadsides.
The “relative” nerf of Railguns to HRR, compared with the fearsome new option of HYMPs, clearly put a dent into the Rail-weaponry armed Broadside.
Still, Broadsides with HRRs should have three distinct advantages over their HYMP-cousins:
- Str. 8
- AP 1
- 60″ Range
#2 – Strengths of the Heavy Rail Rifle Broadsides
Let’s look at each of these strengths in turn (with an eye towards the HYMP-alternative).
The main advantage of Str. 8 is the potential to one-shot T4 characters (without Look Out Sir!). Than again, few characters of that class fail to bring an invulnerability save to the table, so I don’t see Broadsides being taken for that particular task.
Against vehicles, the HYMPs’ weight of fire certainly more than makes up for the lower Str.
Against AV12, a lone HRR Broadside will hit 75% of the time (twin-linked, no cover), scoring a glancing hit (4+) or better 37.5% of the time. A team of three will strip ~1 hull point per turn.
A HYMP-Broadside, in contrast, will land 3 hits on average (twin-linked), giving you roughly one glancing hit (5+) a turn per suit. A team of three should strip a vehicle of ~3 hull points with some reliability. The HYMP obviously does even better for AV11 and AV10 vehicles.
The HYMP may be the weapon of choice to glance enemy transports to death. The HRR, of course, has AP1 on its profile, making for far more potent rolls on the Vehicle Damage Table.
Nevertheless, using the same AV12 example as above, an unsupported broadside will only score a penetrating hit 25% of the time, followed by an Explodes! result on a 4+ roll.
In short, the hull-point-stripping powers of the HYMP still seem vastly superior.
It’s not 72″ anymore, but range is still the biggest advantage of Rail-weaponry for Broadsides.
The HYMP-Broadside needs to move into 36″ range to be effective. Not always a great idea as…
- Broadsides are terrible in close combat (hey, they are Tau!)
- Broadsides have no Jetpacks, meaning no relentless, and thus lose a turn of shooting if they need to reposition themselves
- Broadsides are – thanks to the loss of ASS – arguably the one Tau Empire unit that become less mobile with 6th Edition
A clear victory for the Heavy Rail Rifle! Hurray!
But is it really?
A HYMP-equipped team of Broadsides may lose a turn or two of shooting compared to a well-placed HRR-equipped team. Perhaps because they need to get into range first. Perhaps because they need to reposition themselves. Perhaps even because they get taken out by an Assault unit.
If HYMP-Broadsides are nearly three-times as effective as the HRR-Broadsides in taking down vehicles, it doesn’t matter if they lose a turn or two, no? And that doesn’t even cover better synergies with a Broadside’s secondary weapon-systems or missile drones.
#3 – Are Heavy Rail Rifles Really Useless?
The more I think on it, the more I feel the Heavy Rail Rifles are a bit of a waste for the Tau in Warhammer 40k 6th Edition (which is a pity, as the model is plain awesome).
- Do you agree?
- Did I miss some secret trick?
- Have you been able to get some good mileage out of the HRR?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!