Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coming Back From the Brink, pt. 6: Thinking Through the Crisis

Crisis: "A stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or worse, is determined"

Greetings Gentlereaders,

Today I invite you all to consider the usefulness and archetypes of the iconic crisis suits in the Tau army in 6th edition.  Last time I discussed all of the different weapons available to battlesuits besides the special issue weapons.  Today, I want to get into how these weapons can be combined to get you out of your own crisis.  All Tau jargon will be explained.

When you buy a crisis suit you have a few options that generally fall into four categories: Double-weapon suits, Primary/Secondary weapon suits (+), Single Weapon+ suits and Triple Weapon Suits.  Each type has its place, but that does not mean each has a place in each list.  What you need to remember is that these units are designed to solve a crisis, that is to fill a hole in your list.

Double weapon suits have two weapons that have synergy and a multitracker.  These suits give up twin-linking and ballistic skill four for the ability to pump out more shots.  These are the suits I have used most commonly because of the aesthetics of having two weapons and the perceived benefits of firing both weapons.  Double weapon suits are able to fire two weapons with different profiles, which is much more valuable in sixth edition than it was if fifth.

For example, the Aurora pattern suit (burst/plasma/multi) can fire both armor penetration two and five shots.  When it comes to wound allocation, the Aurora's controlling player can determine in which order the shots are worked out.  This can force an opponent to roll Look Out, Sir! on a sergeant to try to avoid the plasma shots or to risk the armor saves in hopes that the sergeant will survive to roll his Look Out, Sir! afterwords.

Primary/Secondary (+) suits fall into two groups, one that features a twin-linked weapon and a standard weapon (usually a flamer) and another that has two standard weapons and a targeting array.  The + denotes the targeting array variant.  Both sacrifice firing both weapons for the ability to fire one more accurately.  The twin-linked suit type gains 9% accuracy with the twin-linked weapon over the ballistic skill four suit, but the ballistic skill four suit gains 16% accuracy with the secondary weapon over the twin-linked suit assuming the secondary weapon uses ballistic skill.  Thus we can say the twin-linked weapon suit type is better with its primary weapon, but is inferior if in a situation where 1) its secondary weapon is more effective than its primary and 2) the secondary weapon fires on ballistic skill.

Math Alert -- To compare the double weapon suit to the primary/secondary+ type, let's take a look at what a team of plasma/missile/multi suits will do in comparison to a team of plasma/missile/array suits.  The multitracker team will expect to hit three missile shots at all ranges, one point five plasma shots at greater than twelve inches and three plasma shots at twelve inches or less.  The targeting array team can expect to hit four missile shots at any range, two plasma shots at full range and four at half range.  The comparison is only contested within twenty-four inches, beyond that the targeting array team is more effective.

Within the secondary weapon's range we can calculate the trade-off between the suit types.  Whatever weapon the targeting array team fires will hit once more at the cost of one point five hits from the weapon not fired.  At this point the discussion becomes one of targets.  It is arguable that one additional plasma hit is worth more when directed at marines, especially terminators, than one point five missile hits or one more missile hit is worth more than one point five plasma hits against a chimera chassis.  It is likewise arguable that it is better to have more dice rolling regardless of what they represent.  This is justified by the Law of Large Numbers, which states that the larger the number of repetitions of an experiment (e.g. rolling a d6), the closer the results will be to the expected value of the outcome.

Single weapon+ suits specialize in one weapon, twin-linking it and taking a targeting array.    These forgo any diversity to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.  There is one weapon that could fall into this category (flamer), however when that is the twin-linked weapon the third hardpoint is generally filled by a second weapon because a flamer does not rely on ballistic skill, making it a primary/secondary weapon suit.  The weapons that usually appear on the single weapon suits are plasma rifles, fusion blasters and missile pods.  Theses specialists are most akin to aspect warriors and likewise suffer when they are not in their element, but excel any competitors in their element.

The final type of suit is one that I had discounted as shear nonsense.  These bring three diverse weapons to the table top at the cost of any accuracy beyond ballistic skill three.  These can be relatively cheap with a flamer/fusion/missile suit clocking in at 53 points while a plasma/missile/multi suit costs 62 points, a twin-linked fusion suit at ballistic skill four costs 53 points, and a twin-linked missile/flamer suit costs 47 points. While these suits are able to address three diverse threats (light infantry, light vehicles at mid-long range, and heavy vehicles at short range), to me they lacked the accuracy, exacerbated by my dice, to qualify as elites.  I think these suits have a place in the metagame of sixth edition that they did not in fifth edition, but that is part of the next article.

Until next time, what types of suits have I missed?  What types have you seen most often?  If you play Tau, or would like to, what type of suits do you run?  What do you think about crisis suits?

I'm Underground Heretic and I get to live with that every day


  1. With the decline of mech spam, I've been thinking about just adding plasma. something like twin linked plasma and a flamer. Two different overwatch options, and a good amount of plasma when needed. two squads of that, and maybe one death rain just to deal with the few dedicated tanks/fliers. Broad sides can still handle the other tanks when needed.
    And that's not considering allies.

  2. You're absolutely right that I'm not considering allies. Godfrey, Corvus and I have discussed this and they are firmly in the camp that crisis suits don't have a place in 6th. I'm not convinced and will be playing a pure Tau army mainly for aesthetics. The list I'm wanting to run is actually two deathrains and a plasma for exactly the reasons you stated.

    You should come up to our tourney this Saturday and we can chat more. The Keep has moved to white river plaza and it's spiffy now.

    1. At present, the issue is that they offer very little for their points. Stealth suits are cheaper I believe and can offer you melta punch if you simply must have it, and broadsides offer you better firepower and durability for only a marginal markup. If suits could score, maybe their enhanced mobility could be clutch, but even this is in some capacity diminished in utility due to the rapid fire rework.

      If you need to kill a tank, use broadsides. If you need to kill anything else, drown it in fire warriors.