40K: Level(ed) Playing Field – Stormsurge & Superheavy Meta


Today we examine the KV128 Stormsurge and the shifting meta of Warhammer 40,000 with ever more Gargantuan Creatures and Superheavy Vehicles.


By Samuel Nolton

Welcome to my weekly article, Level(ed) Playing Field, where I examine the shifting meta of Warhammer 40,000 and the growing presence of Gargantuan Creatures and Superheavy Vehicles on your local tabletop battlefield. You may be familiar with my previous pseudo-rant article, “You Don’t Know Better.” If so, this is very much in the same vein, so be warned.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: love it or hate it, super heavies are part of the main game now. You may have your old school “things were better in 3rd edition” mentality. You may think the GW design team has lost its collective mind. You may ban superheavy vehicles and gargantuan creatures at your local store. But they are not going away any time soon. They’re part of the game, not just an optional Escalation supplement anymore and no longer reserved only for Apocalypse, so get used to it. I will be using this article to examine superheavy units individually, and dissecting their presence in normal games of 7th edition Warhammer 40,000 as well as Apocalypse.

The KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit 


The Tau Empire just got a big boost in the form of the KV128 Stormsurge- the first “ballistic suit,” a walking tank equipped with enough firepower to level a small city! Since this is the newest superheavy (in fact, a Gargantuan Creature) to grace the tabletop, it will be the focus for this week.

As a gargantuan creature, the Stormsurge has all the basic rules- Fear, Hammer of Wrath, Unstoppable, Move Through Cover, Relentless, Smash, and Strikedown. All of these are explained in the basic rulebook, but we’ll explain a the most important ones which matter for the Stormsurge itself below:

Fear: Anything short of Space Marines or Daemons will have a tough time assaulting a Stormsurge, they’ll have to test every turn they’re in combat with it, and god-emperor help them if they fail! Being reduced to WS1 against Tau is pretty pathetic.

Move Through Cover: With 12” movement already due to being a GC, the KV128 is an extremely mobile machine. Add Move Through Cover to that and this beast is able to traverse nearly anywhere on the battlefield, even though it’s lacking the classic Tau jetpack.

Relentless: Simply put, the Stormsurge can fire any and all of its weaponry even if its moved, with no penalties.

Strikedown: RAW this means that EVERYTHING the Stormsurge fires- if it wounds (even if that wound is saved) an enemy unit, that unit is slowed to a crawl, moving as if through difficult terrain until the end of next turn. Add that in to the fact that a GC can target each of its guns at a different enemy, and you can potentially slow your opponents’ advance to a crawl (and if you’re firing twice with stabilizing anchors…you could potentially stop the entire enemy army in its tracks).

Unstoppable: Replete with armor and defensive systems, the Stormsurge is far less vulnerable than its battlesuit brethren. With snipers and poisoned weapons only wounding on a 6 and instant death or removal weaponry and psychic powers only removing D3 wounds instead of killing it outright, the Stormsurge has phenomenal staying power, even with a relatively low T6 and a 3+ armor save. Its pool of 8 wounds ensures that it can potentially survive multiple D weapon hits.

Additionally, we have all seen the Stabilizing Anchors rule, allowing the KV128 to deploy anchors in the shooting phase, forcing it to remain stationary and allowing it to fire twice in the next shooting phase. I think this rule is overlooked, as while yes, it does make the suit a veritable heavy weapons platform, it delays that ability for a turn while rendering it immobile for two consecutive turns. It can remove the anchors and move normally in any following movement phase, but since shooting occurs after movement, you will effectively lose two turns of potential objective grabbing or maneuvers while waiting for your alpha-strike capability to kick in- plenty of time for a canny opponent to maneuver his own forces into firing positions or cover.



Of course, no unit is truly without weakness, and the KV128 has several. Namely, it is a massive target! Standing as tall as an Imperial Knight when built in GW’s standard “crouched” position, the Stormsurge gets even taller when built standing upright or striding forwards. It will be difficult to get the unit into cover, and nearly every enemy unit should be able to draw Line of Sight to it.

This Lord of War may be taken in squads, yes, and that has many people frightened, but it is also only BS3 and costs 360 points base. This means if you’re running a squad of them (bare minimum 1,080 points), you’ve got 3 massive points sinks that will be missing their shots half the time, be useless in close combat if caught by any halfway decent enemy, and still fall to massed Heavy Bolter or Autocannon fire. Are they powerful? Yes. Are they broken? No.

Markerlights may be the Tau player solution to everything- and they are highly advantageous, yes, but for every Markerlight token you expend to get more mileage out of your KV128, other units in your army will go without. It’s a tactical decision and a huge tradeoff- sheer firepower at the cost of immobility with stabilizing anchors deployed, more accuracy at the expense of using Markerlights that might benefit other units in your army, etc.



The KV128 Stormsurge is a heavy gun platform alright, capable of laying waste to an unprepared opponent, but it is far from invulnerable. Every army in the game has access to S7 or better weapons, and these will put wounds on a Stormsurge with ease. Once you reach S8 or better, AP3, AP2, or AP1 become increasingly common, forcing the KV128 to make a 4++ with shield generators equipped or else take a wound. This means even with an invulnerable save, your big guns have a 50/50 chance of dealing wounds to the Stormsurge.

Protecting your units is paramount when fighting a Tau army with one or more of these Lord of War units. Cover-camping will protect your vital assets at long range against the Stormsurge’s cluster missiles and pulse driver/pulse blast cannon. However, close-in the ballistic suit’s smart missile system and airbursting fragmentation projector will tear apart lightly-armored squads. If cover is your only reliable way to keep troops alive, you’ll have to find that sweet spot outside of 30” (the smart missiles’ max range). Other survivability-increasing buffs include Kustom Force Fields for Orks, the benefits of which should be obvious, or Feel No Pain. While obviously FNP has drawbacks (usually 5+ for many armies, can be voided by Instant Death), it can save certain units.

“Suicide” units or tarpits might be the easiest way to tie the Stormsurge up. If properly timed, a Stormsurge with the stabilizing anchors deployed (making it unable to make Stomp attacks) makes a prime target to be assaulted by a huge unit of Grots, Conscripts, Plague Zombies, or any other unit of 20+ soldiers. While they may not be able to hurt the KV128, they CAN tie it up for a few rounds while your more valuable squads clear other enemies off the board, take objectives, or maneuver for a better shot once the Stormsurge is clear. If unable to stomp, the Stormsurge has a paltry number of attacks at WS2 and S6, so it’s unlikely to be hitting half of the time, and will struggle to put a dent in a big squad. Even making Stomp attacks, it will still struggle if multiple large squads (like Termagants or Hormagaunts) are engaged at once.

For more specific counter-tactics, let’s focus on some big guns of 40k that, without even needing to be Lords of War, can combat the KV128 Stormsurge:

 Flyers: Without its own dedicated anti-air weaponry, the Stormsurge will struggle against flying units. None of its weapons are AA-focused (time will tell if it can take the Early Warning Override or Velocity Tracker), though you could get lucky with the Cluster Missiles’ 4D6 shots (but at only S5). Some of the beefier fliers have weaponry that can tackle a Gargantuan Creature like the Stormsurge, and especially strong ones such as Vendettas or HelDrakes will make mincemeat of this expensive Lord of War.

Can Openers: Big, mean, 2+/5++ or better melee death stars are the bane of even Gargantuan Creatures. Space Marine Terminators with Chainfists, Ork Meganobz with Killsaws, Grey Knight Paladins with Force Halberds, etc. Though they may run the risk of being Stomped on, they usually strike before or at the same time as a Stormsurge, and can easily shred through its 3+ armor and take huge chunks of wounds off in a single attack. With these units also having plentiful access to invulnerable saves, they can bear the brunt of any counterattack and survive to fight on.

Psykers: Tau have pretty much zero presence in the psychic phase. BRB powers such as Iron Arm, Enfeeble, Hemorrhage, Misfortune, Molten Beam, Psychic Maelstrom, etc. are all extremely effective not just because they’re difficult for Tau to deny, but also because they are supremely damaging. Further Uber-powers like Eldritch Storm or Killbolt can and will ruin even Gargantuan Creatures like the Stormsurge.

All things told, the KV128 Stormsurge is a powerful addition to the Tau armory. And while a Gargantuan Creature with some truly powerful weapons, it is not without vulnerability, nor is it a cheap investment for Tau commanders to field. A lot of points for a large target, use it wisely, or your whole army will suffer against a prepared opponent.

~What is your take on superheavies in the game?

  • I came in here to read about defeating Superheavies and got distracted by these big Email a friend boxes…

    As for the counter tactics, there are also some nice tricks out there that give and/or have monster hunter for relatively cheap. Makes easy work or Gargantuans when applied properly

    • Learn2Eel

      Ironically, the Tau “Buffmander” and the potential usage of the Cooridinated Fire rule plays really well into this. I played a Tau V Tau match-up the other day and one of my Stormsurges got torn apart by massed Fire Warrior/Missile Drone fire.

      • Me

        Can the Stormsurge itself take part in the formation, detachment, or whatever it is that has the Coordinated Fire rule? I was thinking that would sort of nullify the Marker Light weakness he mentioned in the article.

        • Learn2Eel

          It can, it is both part of the Core Hunter Cadre formation for the Hunter Contingent detachment, and a part of at least one Auxiliary formation in the Hunter Contingent. The Contingent is the one with the Coordinated Firepower rule.

  • Keaton

    Good breakdown, enjoyed the read. Super heavies are annoying and not my style, but it sure is rewarding to beat an opponent using them. It’s easy to overlay your hand when you think your knight/surge is unbeatable.

    • Kyu

      Read up on all of the rules for it so you can be prepared though, the writer of this article didn’t.

      • Me

        Can you expound on what you think he got wrong?

        • Charon

          He completely ignored possible formations (which do cover a lot of weaknesses) and “forgot” about FnP in the survivability compartment.
          You can hardly call a unit that takes the combined shooting of 15 Ravagers to lose its 8 HP “squishy”

          • deris87

            I wouldn’t really use Ravagers as a metric of effective anti-GC firepower, certainly not for their points.

          • Charon

            It is in fact the most cost efficient anti-GMC unit dark eldar have at their disposal. Everything else is either poison or melee.

          • Me

            Thanks. I just hate it when people make statements like that without any explanation.

          • Kyu

            I’ve explained it multiple times across this discussion as have other people.

    • Learn2Eel

      I tend to agree with the ITC rulings of removing the “Titan-class” Lords of War from regular games as it just makes games too lop-sided, matches literally devolve into “can you survive against or kill the titan, if not, you lose, if yes, you win” which isn’t fun for either player. I personally don’t mind playing with or against such models but I won’t deny not seeing them in regular games gives me a sigh of relief. Also, as an Eldar player, screw the Revenant.

      • Barnabus

        Revenant is lol-worthy, and the Eldar stuff has gotten even more ridiculous with the new FW book. I was always a Corsair/DE player, and my pointy-ears have been retired for quite some time, but I feel bad for current Eldar players. The book is so lopsided, it must be hard to get games set up, or at least have games without the opponent’s constant grumbling.

        • Charon

          To be fair Eldar do fit in pretty well with all post-necron releases. I would even get as far as saying “with a few tweaks (invisibility for example) the recent releases are quite even in power level (minus KDK to an extent but that is largely because everything is still based on old books). So you can enjoy an Eldar vs SM/Tau/Necron/DA game. If your opponent happens to have an older codex it won’t be much fun for him.

  • Crevab

    Most important basic rules…
    talks about Fear, but doesn’t even mention it has Feel No Pain…


    • DeadlyYellow

      Is anything actually subject to Fear at this point?

      • euansmith


        • Snord

          You name it, Grots are subject to it.

        • Mr_Pickles

          also Orks, Mob rule covers Morale and Pinning tests. Fear is just a Leadership check, So a Green Tide full of Orks (300+ models) can be “Feared”.
          Warboss Ld. is 9
          Nobs Ld. 7
          Boyz Ld. 7
          Grots Ld. 5

          The only model that has Fearless is Mad Dok Grotsnik. There is a formation for 3 squads of Meganobz which give “Fear” and “Fearless”; the Big Bosspole relic in the Ghazkull supplement also gives Fearless. Outside of that, normal gits like Lootas, Burnas or even Stormboyz could be subject to Fear.

          • euansmith


      • Charon

        Chaos Space Marines, Dark Eldar,… in short the Codices that are already on the weaker side of the balance scale.

      • petrow84

        Half of the necron codex, though with LD 10 it is rarely an issue. IG, if you manage to snipe out support characters. Also, Orks can fall to it.

  • Charon

    I love the counter tactics. Because this is something any army can employ… not.
    Especialy the flyer scetion made me laugh hard.
    Heldrakes do make mincemeat out of a stormsurge with what? With their single S7 stike or their S6 blaelamer that does a single hit?

    FnP is not even mentioned.
    It does take around 27 (!) vector strikes to kill this thing. So if you really think the heldrake is the way to go you will need 5 Heldrakes (900 points) to kill it in round 6 while hoping that everyone arrives in turn 2 and the stormsurge sits somewhere you can reach him on the turn of your arrival.

    I would really love to see how he kills it with DE as you need around 54 dark lances (that is on the cheapest platform possible 2.250 points), have no psykers and no can openers.

    • kaptinscuzgob

      chaos marines – use them as counts as space marines and get good units
      dark eldar – ally with regular eldar, then wonder why bother and drop the dark eldar entirely

    • Morollan

      I made it 33 Dark Lances but hey, that’s only 11 Ravagers (not to mention 4 CAD’s worth of obligatory HQ and Troop units). No problem!!

      • Learn2Eel

        If you factor in rolling to-hit with BS4 it takes roughly 50 Dark Lances to kill a Stormsurge with a Shield Generator in one round of shooting, so it’s much worse than that but not quite as bad as Charon’s initial claim.

        • Andy Charlton

          Not sure where anyone is getting these numbers from.

          A T6 8W model with a 4++ and 5+ FnP needs 43.2 S8 ap2 shots to kill it on average.

          To remove 8 wounds it needs to make 12 FNP rolls
          12 failed save rolls at 4++ means 24 wounds
          24 wounds at 2+ means 28.8 hits.
          28.8 hits at 3+ is 43.2 shots

          So 15 Ravagers.

          There’s very few armies that can remove this quickly with shooting. A decent Tau player will bubblewrap to prevent charging so it’s not going to be easy to remove.

          • Learn2Eel

            Ah, my bad. Cheers!

          • Muninwing

            … but removing a superheavy in one round? is that a fair option to claim as an army weakness?

            you — strongman! sure you’re strong, but can you carry this elephant? no? then you’re WEAK!

          • Charon

            So how many rounds od shooting do you suggest it should take? Keep in mind this is only 360 points. A hypothetical Venom with 5 Kabalites is 105 points. Havin that thing around for more than 2 turns basically means it will probably double its initial investment in enemy casualties. Which also means that your chances (and weapons) to get rid of it also get fewer and fewer each turn.
            The stormsurge does not exist in a nutshell. In an average game there will be at least 1300 points next to the stormsurge also shooting at you.

          • Mandragola

            Guys I don’t want to have to break this to you, but the Tau will shoot back at all these ravagers and venoms. It’s going to be pretty messy…

          • Charon

            Sssshhhhh…. do not bother them with facts….

      • Andrew Thomas

        You can get that in an RSR Detachment, if all you take are Blasterborn, Scourges, and a little filler.

        • Charon

          Blasterborn are Elite and have 18″ range. The sit in a 2 HP AV10 paperboat that will kill them if it blows up (and it probably will). This also costs 180 points (50 % of the stormsurge for 4 S8 shots with 18″ range)
          So you can take 3 of them.
          Scourges are another T3 unit that have to come into 18″ range and cost around what? 140?
          So the 33 required lances will come in at a discount of only 1200 points.. to kill a single 360 points model… which will probably wipe said 1200 points in one or 2 rounds of shooting.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Assuming that you catch all of them on the battlefield at the same time (and your opponent allows you to interpret the GMC shooting rules as implying that you can fire all the guns, to which I say, “go fly a kite.”)

          • Charon

            I have not met a single person that interprets it otherwise. And “catching them” is not the hard part when you have 36″ with most weapons and they got 18 + 6. They HAVE to come close, you don’t need to “catch” them… they are coming to you.

          • Andrew Thomas

            GMCs only fire 2 weapons a turn. It’s in the BRB. There is no specific clause in the GMC rules that states that GMCs can fire all of their weapons in a shooting phase.

          • Charon

            It is as it says a GMC can fire all its weapons at different targets.
            I have also never been on a tournament that interprets it like you do.

          • Andrew Thomas

            The syntax says that it’s still two. There’s no comma separating “it may fire each of its weapons,” from “at a different target.”

          • Charon

            There does not need to be a comma here and franky what does it make a difference if you are the only person that interprets the rule in this particular way?

          • Andrew Thomas

            Yes, there does, because it’s still not saying that you can fire all of the model’s weapons in 1 shooting phase. It’s not telling you how many weapons you can fire, only where they can be targeted. But I can’t help if basic English isn’t the TO community’s strong suit.

          • Charon

            I have NEVER played in any community that handles it like you. So it is basically irrelevant as everyone else is playing it different from you. You can pretend you are the only person to get it right if that makes you feel better but it makes no difference at all.
            I do not play you so I stick with the interpretation that is widely accepted as it is the interpetation I have to deal with, no matter what a random stranger on the internet thinks. Your opinon effects the game not at all.

          • Andrew Thomas

            Oh well. They might make it clearer in 8th… or not.

    • Djbz

      Disintegrators(5+ to wound, ap 2)
      Grotesques (wound on a 5 with 6s causing d3 wounds if they get past the armour save with 5 attacks each on the charge),
      Incubi (lots of attacks that bypass it’s armour, wounding on 5’s when charging with furious charge)
      Huskblade archon (6 to wound but d3 wounds)
      Reaver jetbikes hammer of wrath (especially with cluster caltrops). Splinter rifles can still chip off wounds (not as easily as the average monstrous creature-but they can still do in a pinch)

      And chaos have plasma guns(havocs can have 4and a combi-plasma in a unit)-get them in rapid fire range (outflanking or deep-strike if possible) to really ruin the stormsurge’s day(sure it doesn’t do it as easily as grav but it still works)

      • Charon

        Let us see the math for Disintegrators. It takes 36 Disintegrators to down him. On the cheapest platform that is 1320 points (12 Ravagers -> 4 CAD).
        Grots are nice and if the tau player has nothing else on the table they even might get into melee. But before that they will have to chew through the bubble wrap of units while he goes on to kill your army. But for fun and giggles lts see (you only can have 5 grots or else they have to walk, which pretty much kills them instantly) what a unit of grots does if it actually gets into melee with it (and loses nobody on the way). On average 1,4 unsaved wounds per combat turn. 1,4. It has 8. then comes FnP, reducing it further to 0,98 and then it stomps. But lets pretend the grots do not die. It still takes them 4 rounds of combat to kill it. So it dies in round 5 earliest.
        Incubi with furious charge? Lets see that kicks in at turn 4. So you are sitting and waiting till turn 4 while the entire tau army takes their ignore cover potshots at you. A unit of 10 incubi only costs 200 points. And you suggest to let them sit somewhere and wait for turn 4.

        Your Chaos example made me laugh as you seem to confuse them with Space Marines. There is no deepstrike or Outflank for CSM.

        • Djbz

          With the right combo it’s possible for turn 2 furious charge dark eldar.
          And chaos do have deepstrike (terminators and obliterators) and outflank (warlord trait of Ahriman and/or Huron)

          • Charon

            With thr eight combo means Haemonculus (even more points) and Kabalite Raiding party which means you eben have to include a hellion tax. So in short you pay triple the points of the stormsurge to be able to cause af few hp?
            Yes, chaos does have deepstrike. Just not on the units you mentioned. Also Ahriman and Huron are nearly the price of the GMC without adding anything useful to your army, so you juat want their Warlord trait.
            And then you just need to outflank 13 units of havocs to kill it. Or 7 if your opponent is sleeping and lets 7 units just walk um in 12″ range. So if your opponent is sleeping and you cheat really hard by letting 7 units outflank with a trait that lets you do so with D3 units, you still need to pay 945 points in havocs (+230 for ahriman) to eliminate it in turn 2… if everything arrives in turn 2. But as you are going to cheat anyways, that should be no trouble.

          • Learn2Eel

            Chaos Terminators and Obliterators natively have the Deep Strike special rule.

          • Charon

            He did mention Havocs. Everything else is even more expensive.

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus

            and what do you expect them to do upon arrival? get intercepted by a massive riptide pieplate? and obliterated is what happens when i play the chaos space marine v tau game.

            its sad certain armies have zero answers for something like this, or a wraithknight.

        • Spacefrisian

          Erm….Karibdis droppod or dreadclaw waves at you and there is this warlord trait that grants infiltrate, infiltrate can be used for outflank….

          Oh and cause you seem to forget about Slaanesh, there is this steed thing that grants outflank as well as accute senses. I get the idea many peeps around here dont bother reading the entire CSM codex.

          As for the number of shots needed, it suprises me no one is using combo time with this, seeing as the diehard players like there Deathstar combos why not do the same in this case, but use psychic powers to improve shooting and lowering toughness on such creatures. Basicly what an Eldar Farseer can do for a Dark Eldar army.
          or in other words, bring a Luke to defeat a Deathstar…something.

          • Learn2Eel

            The point regarding number of shots needed is stressing the fact that the Stormsurge is not fragile as the author of the article seems to suggest. If it takes 50 Ballistic Skill 4 Dark Lance shots to kill a model, that means it takes a ridiculously high points investment to kill it too. Throwing in support options only worsens the latter factor. The reality is that a lot of codices natively do not have optimal or efficient tools to deal with GMCs, and Dark Eldar are one of them.

          • Muninwing

            part of the issue i have with the modern math-hammer thinking is that the focus has become solely on max efficacy in no time, and usually acheives that by focusing solely on one weapon to complete the goal.

            yes, its target priority is high. but aren;t there things you can do in round 1 to weather the hit, and in 2-3 to take it out?

            i know that the chance of causing wounds via certain other methods are low, but throwing units to tarpit it isn;t wholly out of the question, even with stomp.

            the “i need x darklances” example should be a hypothetical… but you’re now going to see people try it.

            there’s options. and there’s mitigations. and there’s reductions in effectiveness. so the lack of ability to kill in one turn isn’t a huge disadvantage, it should be the norm.

          • Charon

            “weather the hit” is a fine catchphrase if your army consists of AV10 vehicles that heavily rely on cover and poison that is frankly useless on the GMC and even gets punished when aimed at anything below T4.

            Tarpitting does mean you need a unit crossing the entire battlefield unscathed AND an opponent that is asleep and does not try to protect the stormsurge at all. I mean since when bubblewrapping has become a rare occurance?

            Even if you manage to break through with nobody shooting at your unit and your opponen “forgot” how to play… you are still talking about a turn 3 assault (with the required movement to not get hit and the GMC hiding way behind) which results in possible 3 turns of shooting (possibly double time) and the removal of most of your vehicles anyways.

          • Learn2Eel

            Again, I was merely pointing out that the author of the article suggested that most armies shouldn’t have too much trouble killing the Stormsurge when we all know for a fact this is not true. The “mathhammer” gives us a raw impression of how much firepower it would theoretically take to kill a Stormsurge – and it is one durable model, contrary to what has been claimed in the article.

            As an aside, being one of the people that has championed the Stormsurges’ competitive potential since the first rules leak we got, the whole “it’s over-powered” craze is frankly tiring.

          • Barnabus

            Pie in the sky nonsense is all I’m hearing from you. “If you keep the Emperor in your heart, surely you will prevail!”

            Get out of here.

          • happy_inquisitor

            But why would you try to out-shoot Tau?

            Really that is just the same recipe for tragic defeat that it was just before the new codex dropped. Shooting is what Tau do best, very few other armies can or should be able to compete in pure shooting contests against Tau.

          • Charon

            Because everything else does fail either. As a DE you basically have the option of shooting it or attacking it with S3 IF any of your T3 5+ troops manage to get there alive.

          • Learn2Eel

            Tau are incredibly fragile outside of their MCs/GMCs, hence trying to outshoot them actually can work depending on the army if you know which units to kill first – generally Markerlight sources and Broadsides.

          • Charon

            So the suggestion is bring Eldar to deal with it? Why bother playing Dark Eldar?
            I gladly wayve back at the FW droppods wich cost from 100 to 250 points just to deliver ONE unit close to a 360 points model, that can kill them as soon as they leave the pod (intercept).
            Also the slanesh steed… lets make it cheap:
            so you only need 95 points to get your 4 plasma guns near (another 135 points) that will do .on average 1 wound per shooting (that is if your opponent hates protecting his stormsurge)

          • Me

            I love that last sentence.

    • An_Enemy

      You bother with playing Tau? When the Tau players around here ask me if I want a game I just put out my hand and tell them they won. It’s just the dumbest and least fun experience a DE player can have imo.

      Coming from a DE player that says a lot.

      I mean, its possible to win. If your opponent is a poor player.

  • kaptinscuzgob

    neat article. its nice that the tau titan isnt an immediate win button.

    arent they increased to BS4 when in a group of three though, or do they not have the fire team rule?

    • Kyu

      They don’t have the fire team rule, but they benefit from coordinated firepower if two other units shoot with them making them BS4. this could be higher with markerlights and those markerlights will also buff the other units firing with them. Not to mention the heavy retribution cadre formation which includes rules that allow it to re-roll misses and stop units from running/moving flat out.

      It’s still not unbeatable but there are a lot of factors the writer of this article overlooked. This is a woefully inadequate analysis.

      • kaptinscuzgob

        >coordinated fire, markerlights
        any method of getting rid of markerlight support is still valid. the stormsurge isnt an imperial knight, it cant go it alone

        >heavy retribution cadre
        tbf, the formation is the problem here, not the stormsurge itself.

        • Kyu

          But the stormsurge doesn’t live in a vacuum, it’s fielded alongside other units and formations and likely combinations of units have to be taken into account if you’re going to formulate a well informed counter strategy. An imperial knight can’t go it alone either, imperial knights wouldn’t be half as dangerous as they are if you didn’t have to consider the rest of an army alongside it.

  • Learn2Eel

    Nice article, but a few errors I noticed. Feel No Pain is a glaring omission from the GMC rules section. Flyers are not a counter to a Stormsurge, it can pay 20 points to gain Skyfire on a per-phase basis; even if you don’t opt to take a Velocity Tracker, Tau rarely have problems with flyers when built optimally. Heldrakes barely put a dent in a Stormsurge, and Eldritch Storm does very little to one either. The 4+ invulnerable save (the Shield Generator is near mandatory) and 5+ Feel No Pain make it deceptively durable even despite the Toughness 6 as most GMCs lack good invulnerable saves.

    Ballistic Skill 3 is also not a “weakness” of the Stormsurge, it is a balancing factor inherent with all Tau that offsets their incredible weaponry. Even raising the Stormsurge only to Ballistic Skill 4 via one Markerlight or the Hunter Contingent in all of my/other demos makes it a terrifying killing machine. I would also suggest better melee units to label as counters to a Stormsurge; Stomp and the potential to take it in units means that those units you suggested will often get obliterated with no guarantee of even killing one Stormsurge in my experience. Additionally, the units you mentioned are slow and will get eaten really quickly by Tau shooting. Now, Canoptek Harvest Wraiths in a Decurion, Thunerdome and Screamerstar? Yes please.

    I also wanted to make a note, if you want to try and tarpit a Stormsurge then do it with a faster unit than the basic infantry squads you mention. The majority of its guns have 48″+ ranges so suggesting players should use tarpit units that move 6″ a turn is a bit pointless, especially as – in your scenario – a Stormsurge with its anchors deployed will obliterate horde units with its twin-linked Airbursting Fragmentation Projector alone.

    A legitimate way of reducing the impact of the Stormsurge that is not listed here is to eliminate its support elements, as should be key to any tactics article discussing how to counter a Tau unit. Riptides aren’t exactly stellar in terms of damage output if you remove Markerlights from the equation, and while a Stomsurge is still very strong without any help, removing any potential buffs it can receive will still make a big difference. Armies that rely on cover get obliterated by Markerlight-backed Stormsurges so stressing the point of killing Pathfinders/Marker Drones/Tetras/Skyrays is more important than ever.

    One last thing….how do you suggest that a unit of three Stormsurges will be made useless if caught by a halfway decent melee army? There’s almost nothing in the game that wants to be on the receiving end of 3D3 Stomps. Additionally, massed heavy bolter or autocannon fire do not kill these as easily as you infer. It takes almost 100 Heavy Bolter HITS to kill a Stormsurge, and roughly 55 Autocannon HITS to kill a Stormsurge. Mind explaining this one?

    • Spacefrisian

      Well if you do face a unit of 3 of these there is one action you can use that makes victory garanteed, its called table flip.

      • Learn2Eel

        Boogie would be proud!

        Of the armies I am in the process of collecting and playing with at the moment and using the models I currently own, my best counter to three Stormsurges would probably be my Imperial Knights formed up in either the Baronial Court (3+ invulnerable save to the front) or Exalted Court (damage boosts) formation. The plan would be to hide/deploy openly depending on who has the first turn, kill the Markerlight sources ASAP then go to work on the rest of the army as necessary. The Destroyer Missiles aren’t nearly as scary for Imperial Knights if you remove Markerlights from the equation!

        My “pure Skyhammer” Space Marines wouldn’t stand a chance against three Stormsurges (5 point Interceptor on a GMC with eight guns is so darned stupid) nor would my Eldar (they are built as a fluff army). My Grey Knights and Tyranids….yeah, no, that’s not happening.

      • Pyrrhus of Epirus

        i dont think anybody at my club would ever field more than 1, but even as an eldar player , i wouldnt play the guy without forwarning he was fielding 3, and i would just bring three wraithknights of my own. I feel sorry for non eldar players now. This thing is a beast.

    • Andrew Thomas

      But who wants to pay 1230 pts for 1 unit? And a Dominus is still going to slug it out with that unit, especially if I attach a Beast-Hunter Vanquisher, or Pask and co., and a bunch of tar.

      • Charon

        It does not matter if it is one unit as they are all GMC and can fire all their weapons at different targets anyways.

        • Andrew Thomas

          Well, I’ll still be at or beyond their own effective range, with enough AV 14 HP to shrug off their big guns before they get long range Strength 10 Clover-stamped/ID’d.

  • SundaySilence

    This article and “You Don’t Know Better” are laughable. 40k has turned into the biggest pile of bollocks since flyers and superheavies were legit additions to the regular game. But then; what do people expect when GW have basically run out of things to add to the existing armies or factions they can crowbar in? Flyers and Superheavies should have just be in a separate game so that everyone who wants to play 28mm Battletech can do so without ruining it for everyone who doesn’t.

    • Crevab

      Oh man, 28mm Battletech. Some kind of close quarters arena? mmm

      • An_Enemy

        So…Solaris VII?

        • Crevab

          On a 28mm I had been thinking even Solaris would be a floor sized game. dunno

    • Victor Hartmann

      Flyers and Superheavies are just options. No one is required to use them. Talk to your buddy ahead of time and come to an agreement. And there are lots of tournaments which don’t allow super heavies. I’m not aware of any tournament which disallows flyers but I haven’t looked either. Not that you see a lot of those anyways at most tournaments.

      At any rate, I’d rather have a large buffet with lots of choices than a smaller one because someone didn’t like bacon. Just choose what you like and enjoy.

  • Witch Beatrice

    Hehe another giant mech my Harridan can kill. Twelve St10 Ap3 range 48″ Bio Cannons should take down one stormsurge a turn. She eats Imperial Knights for breakfast this stormsurge is no different.

    • Charon

      Care to share the math behind this bold statement?

      He comes at 735 points (which is 2 stormsurges) and 12 St10 shots at BS3.
      That is after invul save and Fnp -> 1,6 wounds on average. So only 5 turns of shooting with your harridan will kill a single stormsurge… that is if the 2 do not fancy to skyfire and blast you to bits with their D Missiles at BF5

      • Andrew Thomas

        Markerlights can’t Skyfire outside of Stealth Teams.

        • Charon

          You do not need markerlights as he can buy support systems that give skyfire.

          • Andrew Thomas

            But you need to hit with those 3 Markerlights before you can gain any of those benefits.

          • Charon

            You need to hit ONE to get D. +1 BF is part of the core formation. If you really want BS5 you just have to hit a second one… not much difference.

        • Learn2Eel

          Yes they can, Skyrays have two Networked Markerlights each.

          • Andrew Thomas

            And Sunsharks, I think. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Ron Farber

      i thought those biocannons were AP4

      • Learn2Eel

        They are AP3. You may be thinking of the Tyrranofex which can take a S10 AP4 gun.

  • Unferth

    It takes about 14 volcite culverins to down this thing in one turn. That’s 490 points divided on two heavy support squads. +1 for the emperors or warmasters finest. CHOOM

    • kaptinscuzgob

      volcite culverins? i didnt know tau were in 30k

      • Charon

        I also did not know Volcite weapons were a thing in 40k

        • An_Enemy

          I didn’t know so many people called Volkite Volcite.

          • Pyrrhus of Epirus


            Here comes the spelling police.


    • Sounds like some fun! 30K Vs 40K.

  • Fred Deppe

    My biggest problem with super heavies and gargants is this whole I can take mine but you can’t play yours mentality… I play nids and am routinely told my gargants are not allowed but armies of knights or now formations of stormsurges are totally OK….

    • Charon

      Have yet to see that…
      Could be worse actually… imagine you play an army that does not even have a superheavy / gmc and doesn’t get FW support either.

      • Fred Deppe

        What army doesn’t at least have a super heavy/gargants? All imperials do as does chaos and I can’t think of a single zeno that doesn’t at least have a forge world option.

        • Charon

          Try Dark Eldar.

        • Learn2Eel

          Dark Eldar are the main one, frankly I can’t understand why the Tantalus isn’t a Super Heavy Vehicle. Otherwise, every army has one.

          • Charon

            To be fair it would not make a difference. The weapons are garbage (2×6 S5 shots) and it is an AV12 Transport that cant even pick up more than one unit (so your transport capacity will probably go to waste anyways). Changing it to a superheavy only does one thing to it: it prevents it from jinking.

    • Learn2Eel

      I am assuming you play in an ITC or comp-based gaming community? In ITC rules anything that is “Titan-class” is banned because it makes games too lopsided in either players’ favour; the titan gets hard-countered or it isn’t hard-countered and dominates the game. This is why even GMCs that are considered sub-par such as the Harridan are not allowed in ITC events. However, “Knight-class” models such as Imperial Knights, Wraithknights and Stormsurges don’t have nearly the same effect even if competitively they are often a lot stronger.

      Regardless, I’m sorry to hear that this is the case in your community. At the very least they should be letting you field either Heirodule sub-species to compete with the other mid to low tier GMCs/Super Heavies.

      • Fred Deppe

        I do play itc and have had to play against 4/5 knights with allies and can tell you there wasn’t much point playing the game…

        • Learn2Eel

          As a fellow Tyranid player, I feel your pain. A full Imperial Knight army is a darned nightmare for us.

      • Andrew Thomas

        Promethium Relay Pipes + Electroshock Grubs+Tank Traps. Problem Solved.

  • Geo

    3 marker lights can make your 1000 points of stormsurges shoot at BS5 and ignore cover…And give them skyfire too for the hell of it. BS3 is not a weakness when it’s that simple to overcome it. Chances are, if you have 3 stormsurges on the table, you have a s**t ton of marker lights too. All this talk about “wasting” marker lights on the stormsurges??? a whole 3 markers for 1000 points of shooting?? Idk Bols writers… I think their biggest weakness is playing against MSU. Divide your units as much as possible so 3 stormsurges have to overkill whatever they shoot at. However, they may be able to shoot guns at different targets too, or probably at least have target lock.. so no guess that wont work either.

    • Charon

      Can shoot every weapon at a different target.

    • Learn2Eel

      Gargantuan Creatures can shoot all of their individual weapons at different targets, meaning a unit of three Stormsurges can split their fire freely. Target Locks on Stormsurges are thus useless, much like Multi-Trackers on Ghostkeels and Riptides.

    • Fred Deppe

      SH/GC have stock split fire…

    • Andrew Thomas

      And they have Fire Team.

    • Geo

      Thanks for clarifying guys. I mean the stormsurge has the same weakenss as anything tau.. psychers and CC. That whole bs3 thing he has written up there is just plain silly though.

  • RogueAccount

    Question: Did they change Move through Cover for Gargantuan Creatures? Last I checked it still worked like it does for everything else: 3d6 take the highest. They did update it for superheavy walkers though (double the highest), but I never saw an update for GCs.

    So this would mean that it has 12″ movement standard, but it can (at best) move half of that when it runs into a bush.

    I’d love to be wrong though.

    • Pascalnz

      yup, it’s been faq’d to 3d6 pick the highest then x2

  • Ben

    You forgot to mention it has FNP which is a big deal and makes it much more survivable.

  • Nomic

    Actually the Stormsurge is not forced to stay immobile if it anchors. It puts the anchors down in the beginning of shooting phase, after it has moved (although won’t benefit from them untill next turn), and while it can’t move while anchored it can unanchor itself during any of your movement phases and move as normal.
    So you could anchor it on one turn, then at the beginning of your next turn notice the enemy has gotten dangerously close to assault range and simply unanchor it and walk 12” away from them (although you lose the extra shots you would’ve gained if you remained immobile).

  • Crablezworth

    may ban superheavy vehicles and gargantuan creatures at your local store. But they are not going away any time soon. ” Actually if you ban them, they would go away. That’s how banning works.

    “They’re part of the game, not just an optional Escalation
    supplement anymore and no longer reserved only for Apocalypse, so get used to it.”

    No. Nice Jervis impression though.

  • Mr.Gold

    easy way to beat the Stormsurge: Join Them, for the Greater Good… 😉

  • Charles Rink

    I cant believe this guy trotted out the old “strikedown” chestnut. No reasonable person or FAQ agrees this is the case. Otherwise I guess my Knight Warden can strikedown your Tau army too? And the Heavy Stubbers on my Knight Paladin also do that. No? Guess not then.

  • Deadlysin

    Tarpit units being a counter to this? are you joking me? Have you ever fought against a unit with stomp before? this thing will eat a 30 man blob of orks/guardsmen/whatever in 2 turns or less with average rolling. deathstar units without invisibility will be ripped to shreds by the shear mount of firepower this thing brings to the table. strike down doesnt work like that also, atleast according to any tournaments, so that rule would only work RAW when being used by some cheasedick player trying to take advantage of a casual player. I am also shocked this article didn’t once mention the largest strength of this model, the fact it can potentially fire 4 str d shots in a single turn. This is the largest amount of str d that can be sent out via shooting attacks from any LoW in the game currently (excluding titans of course). The stormsurge isnt over powered but i feel like none of the listed “weaknesses” in this article are even remotely true except to the one stating this unit will die to massed bolter/autocannon fire.

  • JP

    So we solve this problem the same way we solve any other big shooty unit problem. Out shoot it, or punch it in the face.