Today we look at how the T’au Empire fare in The Greater Good...post FAQ.
The T’au section of the FAQ covers a little more than one page, and, as with any update, they’ve packed quite a number of small additions and changes to the book.
We begin with the addition of Shadowsun’s points cost. The Greater Good doesn’t actually specify what T’au players must pay in order to include her. This is quite a telling oversight. That they missed something this basic must mean something — exactly what it means, I don’t know. But plenty of players and pundits have discussed the issue of sub-par editorial work. I needn’t add any more to that particular discussion here. But I think it’s worth mentioning it to add context to the rest of this discussion.
Next we come to a clarification of the prototype weapons rules. The FAQ adds the following text: ‘No unit can have more than one Prototype Weapons System and all the Prototype Weapons Systems in your army must be different.’ As changes go, I’m not particularly bothered about this one. While it would’ve been great to have a couple of quad-Fusion Coldstars both with Cross-Linked Stabiliser Jets flying around the battlefield (this signature system allows the bearer to re-roll hit and wounds rolls of 1), I can appreciate why GW would want to add this limitation.
But here’s my concern: surely they thought of this before the original book was released. And if not, any play tester worth his salt would’ve pointed this out. This point will become something of a theme as we go through these changes.
Next, we come to the big one. It was this change that most perturbed me when I first read the document. The FAQ updates the Modulated Weaponry stratagem, changing the first sentence: ‘Use this Stratagem in your Shooting phase, when a Riptide, Ghostkeel or Vehicle model (other than a Titanic model) from your army is chosen to shoot with.’ Previously, the stratagem allowed any Sept model, other than Titanic models, to use the stratagem.
For those who don’t know, this stratagem allowed a model with a weapon that obliged the player to roll for its amount of shots to shoot that weapon at full capacity. For example, a Hammerhead armed with an Ion Cannon could shoot six shots, instead of d6 shots.
For one command point, this is a useful little stratagem, but GW clearly didn’t consider the whole range of models that could employ it. The XV 109 Y’Vahra Battlesuit is armed with a 2d6 flamer weapon that can become a 3d6 flamer weapon for the cost of a mortal wound. And it’s a really good flamer. At strength 6, AP-3, damage 3, this thing is an absolute monster.
Let’s presume that the T’au player has nova charged — which he almost certainly will have — and take the weapon at 3d6. The average on 3d6 is ten. And ten shots with this weapon can be deadly. But if we could use the stratagem, we would get 18 shots. Don’t get me wrong: 18 shots with the Phased Plasma Flamer would wreck most units in the game. 10 is strong; 18 is bedlam.
It would’ve made the Y’Vahra a deadly model, no doubt. But would it have made it too good? Would we have T’au lists with two, three Y’Vahras on the tabletop? I’m much more doubtful of this. The Y’Vahra is a great unit with some cool abilities — and the model itself looks pretty cool as well. But there’s one significant problem with it. It costs over 400 points. There’s a little bit of customization that T’au players can do — different support systems and the like — but the Y’Vahra is going to be around 400 points. Put simply, this is too much. If the Y’Vahra gets into range and hits a juicy target, it could very well make a decent return on the points investment. But there’s always the chance that it might not.
Why not? The answer is simple: the range of the flamer. At a modest 8″, the Phased Plasma Flamer just doesn’t give the Y’Vahra enough reach to be dangerous enough.
Digging Deeper into the Xv109
And yes, T’au players could run it in a Bork’an Sept detachment, increasing the range of the flamer by 6″. This would solve the problem — but it would also present a number of others. First, the Bork’an option isn’t particularly competitive. There are much better Sept options to choose from. That’s the first problem, but the second problem is much more pressing: the Savior Protocols rule is Sept-locked. This means that T’au Sept Drones can’t intercept wounds for a Bork’an Battlesuit. And this means that a T’au player couldn’t even take a cheap Bork’an outrider detachment in another T’au force: if he brings a Bork’an Y’Vahra, he must also bring enough Bork’an Drones to keep it alive.
There’s much more to go into here, but for now I’ve argued my point: even if it could use the Modulated Weaponry stratagem, I don’t think the Y’Vahra would be worth it. And this prompts the next question: why did GW choose to exclude the Y’Vahra from the units that could use it?
Now, reasonable people can come to different conclusions from the same set of facts. It’s perfectly sensible to think that GW thinks that the Y’Vahra would be too good if players could use this stratagem with it. But this doesn’t get GW out of the hot water. GW should have considered this before the release of The Greater Good.
Whether you agree that the Y’Vahra shouldn’t be allowed to use the stratagem or you disagree, GW doesn’t come out well. And if it were a one-time mistake, I would be a lot more understanding, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. As I’ve explained above and as many great players have pointed out, this happens just a little too often.
I’ll finish with this. GW has been releasing content at a significant rate recently. Overall, this is a really great thing. Many of you will recall the days of 4th or 5th edition when we were lucky to get three codex books a year. Not so any more.
But this rapid release schedule comes with trade-offs. Quality does, to one degree or another, suffer, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how GW deals with this issue. I will, however, end on a positive note, as I did last week: we’re still living through a golden age of the hobby.
And most of the time GW knocks it out of the park.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!