Sunday, 30 January 2011

Piranha 101

The fantastic South Park operation hide behind the darkies joke rings in my mind every time I deploy my Tau. Sometimes it's Kroot, who are much more conventional bullet magnets, but mostly its the Piranha I'm thinking of.

Lets talk about configuration. The deal here is you get two gun drones, worth 24 points if you actually paid for them, a burst cannon, worth 8 points or so and a FA11 fast skimmer, worth around 40 points based on comparison to a land speeder. 72 points of vehicle for 60 points.

It is better than that though because these vehicles, with their FA11, their access to excellent vehicle wargear and their large wingspan are ideal for the job of Darkie. First up the most quantifiable element of this hidden discount - wargear.

A fusion blaster for 5 points represents a 7 point discount, which is roughly the cost of the burst cannon you gave up. That on its own is a rarity upgrades are not normally discounted to factor in the cost of the lost weapon system. It gives you tank hunting potential. It would be a good call if you didn't have broadsides seeping out of your heavy slots and instead had glass-hammerheads.

DPod's exist but like I said a few days ago you don't take them here because you expect to close to within 12" of enemy guns, you can hide half your squad to get a cover save and your low target priority on deployment.

Flechette Dischargers are fairly awesome but they're 10 points each. You probably want some sometimes against some opponants which means you need to consider what I said about Friction and decide if being assaulted by the likes of Orks, Nids and Dark/Eldar falls under Anticipated Friction or not.

Seeker Missiles. Here is the dope. Some games with Tau depend heavily on a single turn of shooting. Shooty Marines, less shooty shooty IG and shooty eldar is where I am at here. In most of these cases your relying on taking out vehicles through a burst of firepower before those vehicles prove useful. What seekers do is allow you to have more firepower in the critical turn and in exchange they require markerlights and cost points. Again this is a Friction call.

So FA11 is the new 3++ which is the new black. Reasoning here is simple - bolters are strength 4, as are most basic weapons. Where your newly arrived space wolf gaggle and their rhino have a very good chance of fudging up armor 10 they're not so hot against armor 11 - and when I say not so hot I think here of Dawn French in Antarctica with only a pair of nipple tassels for warmth. This forces the wolves to assault you, where they're on 6's to hit 6's to do anything and may loose a few to flechettes. It is hard to say how many points this is worth because effectively it eliminates a whole category of weapons and relegates your opposition to shooting real weapons at you or charging.

Last in the value area is the wingspan. So your piranha squadron gets its coherency from the edge of its model. The wing span on a Piranha is like 5-6" vs a Landspeeder's 2-3". That means you have a much larger footprint on the battlefield which translates to more safe troops behind your Darkies who provide their 4+ invulnerable save. This is pretty much why you don't take these in squadrons of one, that and you want a functional drone squadron to add yet more Darkie footprint - who by the way can disembark from the open topped piranha and assault, for you know extra range and stuff.

A lot of people here would mention contesting quarters or objectives or cheese and Branston sandwiches. All of which are fine an dandy but frankly you won't have your piranha's at the end of the game unless you reserve them. If you reserve your Darkies you suck unless your reserving everything else ninja style at which point you rock because there is nothing more ninja than Darkie piranhas jumping on the board and contesting while providing their cover saves.

So they're good but how many is enough? We don't want to spend too many points on Darkies because they don't kill stuff. I own exactly three. In all my games of 1500+ points I have used exactly three. I use them in one unit. If I owned four I might use two units of two though. Those are the configurations that work in my opinion. So your looking at spending at least 180 points on Piranha. Start thinking about how many AP3 S8 shots that deflects every turn on your other stuff and consign those points to room 101 because you won't be getting them back.


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