Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hunter Cadre, pt. 2: The Fire Warrior

For the...greater...zzz
Greetings Gentlereaders,

It's time to look at the heart of the cadre around which you should build all your armies and most of your efforts, the Fire Warrior team.  While not greatly changed on the surface, the fire warrior team's wargear and options have changed significantly and they have been catapulted to center stage in the Tau player's playbook rather than being relegated to hiding in a devilfish.  While Son of Horus has been promoting them to me since before the new codex, I had consistently underestimated them due to my dice luck.

Statistically speaking, the fire warrior is unchanged.  They have the same stats in all categories they did in the previous codex, but have dropped one point per model.  By itself I would have said that was enough, but they also gained the Supporting Fire special rule and photon grenades.  Photon grenades now grant the fire warriors the Stealth rule if they are being shot from within eight inches and deny assaulting units their bonus attacks (but not any other bonuses) from charging.  That right there is a steal when you consider how the changes to rapid fire weapons improved their pulse rifles.

Not just for pathfinders any more
Moving down the options table, each fire warrior has the option to swap the default pulse rifle for a pulse carbine.  While I still think it is less powerful than the rifle, it is significantly better than its previous version because it became an assault two weapon.  It still retains the much improved pinning rule, which Godfrey will be discussing in his next Closer Look article.  While markerlights can't help carbines with pinning your target, the core rulebook has and I view pinning as icing on the cake.  Disregarding pinning carbines can surpass rifles  in damage output between 15.1" and 18" while bringing the same damage output within 15."  If you're expecting to be fighting enemies at close range, the carbine is the weapon for you, but I hope to keep my distance from my opponents if at all possible.

Speaking of EMP grenades, the fire warrior team may purchase these for two points per model.  In the previous edition these were simply worse haywire grenades, now they are haywire grenades.  The improvement to haywires means they can destroy a vehicle through weight of glances.  Fire warriors now can always hit vehicles on a 3+, which means a full team should get eight hits on a vehicle, which means six and two-thirds hull points of damage to any vehicle.  The amount of fire warriors in a squad means that their grenades are a legitimate threat to any walker that assaults them.  If you want to be really courageous, or desperate, a team of carbine warriors can assault walkers with a decent chance of killing them.  This may be the most improved option for fire warriors.

Nothing says "I got your back, bro"
 like slicing each other open
The other option fire warriors have they can purchase without a shas'ui is the Bonding Knife Ritual rule.  This is essentially a return to the third edition system of bonding a unit, no longer relying on the shas'ui holding the knife to remain alive to inspire the shas'la.  The rule itself allows the unit to attempt to re-group at their full leadership value no matter how many casualties they have suffered.  For a point per model, this is not a poor choice, but neither is it an outrageously good choice.  If the threshold was 50% rather than 25%, I would recommend purchasing this as part of your standard teams.  The 25% threshold means the rule only take effect when there are two or fewer models remaining from a full-sized team.  If there are two remaining out of twelve, those two models that benefit are essentially paying six points per model to benefit from the rule while a single model pays twelve points to benefit.  These costs are a bit high for me, so my teams go to war unbonded, but never without a shas'ui.

The fire warrior shas'ui upgrade is essentially unchanged in its built in options.  The shas'ui still offers a significant buff in leadership, an extra attack and access to options for the team.  The improved options he has access to make him well worth the purchase.  While the infantry armory has been removed, the most popular options have been retained: Markerlights with target lock, drones and bonding.

The markerlight and target lock have now been bundled together for your convenience for fifteen points.  Since your fire warriors cannot benefit from their own markerlight(s), the target lock can be quite useful, but not necessary.  The most significant change to this option is that the markerlight can benefit from any markerlight benefits your team uses.  Effectively, this means that marker drones and/or shas'ui markerlights can put markerlight hits back into the pool on a target when your team fires at it.  The target lock may not be a great option, but it allows your markerlight to "work ahead" of your other weapons if you are confident you can down your target with your current volley.

Fire warrior teams in themselves have been thoroughly examined and I hope you enjoyed thinking about them.  Seeing teams of six in devilfish I believe will be a thing of the past, while seeing four or more teams on foot should be expected.  I'll be looking at drones next time and the devilfish after that.  I hope you learned, I know I have since getting this codex.  More than that I hope you have found the errors in my article and would be kind enough to illuminate me about them.  Until then,

I'm Underground Heretic and I like trains.


  1. Replies
    1. Troops should be the core of armies, they just are rarely worth playing. FW are worth it.