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Article: Battlesuit Protections
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An Article on the pros and cons of the protective upgrades available to battlesuits.

The new codex gave us a number of new protections for our battlesuits. We have improved shield drones, iridium armor, stim injectors, and ejection system on top of the shield generator which we already had. We also have the failsafe detonator and vectored retro thrusters.
 
Some of these are great but mostly the existing ones. I myself am not too impressed by the new ones but I shall explain why shortly. Also remember that these are my oppinions and you may agree or disagree as you wish, thats fine. I simply intend to take a look at each one and come up with some conclusions.
 
Iridium Armor
Confers a 2+ save but reduces the 6" move in the assault phase to D6 which on average will prove to slow the user down quite a bit and if used on a shas'vre in a team will slow the whole team down. Thus it makes it most viable for characters and monats. Now in my experience the weapons used to kill battlesuits are power weapons especially fists, DCCW, lascannons, krak missils etc that would negate the save anyway. In adition it slows down JSJ leaving the battlesuite with a large potential vunerability if it rolls short at a dire moment. So what can this upgrade do?
 
As far as Ive seen it is best used for a monat that wont be using its assault phase move anyway to accomplish its task. Namely a deep striking fusion armed suite perhaps accompanied by some shield drones to take out enemy armor as that would increase the survivability. Otherwise our main line battlesuits and HQ are probably better left keeping to IC and JSJ protection.
 
My oppinion: while it may seem fairly impressive its probably not a great idea in most situations. It does have its uses however. A decent protection but it has its drawbacks equally in kind to its bonus' and while quite usefull sometimes isnt wonderful all around.
 
Stimulant Injectors
Now this piece of wargear grants the user the 'feel no pain' special rule which if you dont already know lets you potentially save 50% of non armor negating and insta kill wounds all for 10 points. Sounds great as it could potentially double your commander or monats wounds. However as I said above the weapons that generally go after battlesuits are weapons that negate saves and insta kill. Lascannons, battle cannons, power fists, power weapons, melta guns etc. All these things would negate the usefulness of feel no pain.
 
However this is not a useless upgrade just one that must be used with care. A battlesuite armed with vectored retro thrusters and assault weapons could easily assault weakened targets without power weapons and finish them off. Perhaps to assault a team of heavy weapon users or it could be given to a deep striking suite that is again meant to blow up armor. As once the heavy target is eliminated the suite will be stationary and vunerable to takeing a fair deal of small arms fire. Thus for 10 points you could possibly save the suite and keep your enemy from getting VPs.
 
My oppinion: an upgrade that seems phenominal on paper but is in practice negated more often than not. However not devoid of uses but against weapons that normally target battlesuits will be all but useless. Unless you have a specific purpose for the suite given this upgrade I would suggest leaving it in the armory and spending those 10 points on a shas'ui or another Firewarrior or any number of other things.
 
Ejection System
Now this upgrade is quite interesting and quite fluffy. In essence it ejects the pilot once the suite is destroyed. However it only does this in shooting against weapons that dont double the suits toughness. Now that means that close combat and weapons like krak rockets and battle cannons will still kill the suite so this simply cuts low ap guns out of the running for eliminating its use but where as the stim injector and iridium armor worked in cc this does not. In addition the ejected pilot has 1 wound and no armor save. In other words unless you can safely get the pilot out of the way and out of sight quickly he is likely to die anyway. So whats the point you ask?
 
Well again I see this as being a good use on a deep striking suite. Not only will the deep striker probably get shot a lot it may well not be double toughness shots thus even if killed the ejection wouldnt be stopped. But so far back he might be doomed you say. Well perhaps so but that could also be used as an advantage. As he would technicly be a unit and thus probably closer to say an enemies fire base than anything else. They would have to take a target priority test to shoot at anything else and it might well be worth it to have a devastator squad or what not spend all its shooting at one lonely model without even an armor save potentially protecting other units that might have been about to be shot up. Not a fool proof plan but might aswell make as best a use of that suite as possible. But thats just one use.
 
My oppinion: a very neat and cool idea but one I dont think was executed very well. Now if it worked against all shooting attacks that would be something. I can see it not being used in cc but for its cost its a bit too limited for my taste. Still it has some merit and uses.
 
Shield Drones
Fixed thankfully and finally fixed. Now these little guys share the toughness and armor save of the unit that bought them meaning they no longer reduce the users save and tougnhess. For 15 points they are an investment but can potentially save your expencive battlesuite from that instant death weapon and can also free up a hard point for something else instead of a shield generator if you want that invulnerable save.
 
On the other hand they arent that cheap, remove IC status and count towards moral and half strength.
 
My oppinion: an excelent unit now and deffinetly a viable option however careful thought should be put into how shield drones are used as their drawbacks can really hamper the effectiveness of a unit more than the benefits the drone provides. Nevertheless deffinetly better than they were and deffinetly cool and fluffy.
 
Shield Generator
Now this is an interesting upgrade. It confers an invulnerable save and while that is usefull by itself it is interesting to note the access we have to it. Stealth suits, crisis suites, command suits, bodyguards, and broadsides all have access to this piece of wargear. That is far and above the access many other armies have to invulnerable saves. We can potentially give quite a number of our soldiers this usefull item and that is intrigueing. On the other hand it isnt cheap and takes up a hard point. Plus if the save is failed it is more than likely against insta kill weapons and that can be quite a danger too. 50% chance to save while good isnt great. There deffinetly is risk involved and used well a battlesuite especially an IC commander shouldnt need it. Plus there is the shield drone to consider. Now that drone controllers are 0 points getting a shield drone is actually cheaper than buying a generator. The only problem there is the drone removes IC status and the other negatives I already mentioned.
 
So what does this mean for its uses? Well it has the potential to save an expencive model from being killed too easily but it is costly. Equipping it to more than a few suits starts to really rack up the points spent on it and is probably unwise. Probably best used for something very expencive like a commander or broadsides that are likely to be targeted heavily when the enemy can.
 
My oppinion: a good solid piece of wargear that has its limits. Should deffinetly be used with care and not in numbers. Otherwise a good protection to add that with a little luck will more than make up for the expence.
 
Lastly lets look at two more things that can increase survivability but arent exactly protections per say but can be used as them. The failsafe detonator and the vectored retro thrusters.
 
Failsafe Detonator
This allows one member (with the detonator equipped) to stay behind when a unit falls back and allows them to break away without the initiative check. However the character blows himself up hitting the models around him with a str 8 blast. This could potentially knock out some multi wound characters but... well first the unit has to be in close combat, then it has to lose and then fail moral. If they pass moral and are then massacred later the detonater is not used. But luckily it seems the detonator still goes off even if the character is the only one left to fall back and blows himself up. Potentially a good last jab at an enemy for killing the unit. Still to get it you first need to have a unit so that means more than one suite and or drones aswell as buying the shas'vre upgrade and then the wargear which can get pricey and the chances of actually using it mean you need to be in cc and if your in cc chances are you did something wrong and we dont want to be banking on that happening.
 
Yet this has the potential to be very usefull. Probably best given to a shas'vre with drones possibly with another battlesuite or two. The drones can allow wounds and cassualties to be taken without killing too many suits allowing at least one to break out. However the new bonding rules mean that the bearer of the bonding knife must still be alive for the unit to regroup so chances are that even should any of the unit survive to flee they will not be able to regroup and be forced to flee off the table thus probably best used with a few drones and small crisis teams where there probably wont be anyone to run off the board left after the fight. Also probably better used on a team that has closer ranged weapons such as helios.
 
My oppinion: somewhat of a cool idea and can be a very good way of getting back at an enemy for killing a squad but it rellies on first getting into cc something I never like to do and so I myself would never use it but I can see its uses and for some especially farsight enclave forces it would probably have its benefits.
 
Vectored Retro-Thrusters
This piece of wargear takes up a hard point but gives the user the hit and run special ability. Which in short lets the user leave combat at the end of the combat phase of either player. Normally this is seen as an offencive move allowing the attacking unit to charge again and again aswell as avoid long drawn combats if things dont go so well. For Tau however this can be used as a method of defence from charging. As long as you survive the initial charge you have a good chance of escaping. Monats and characters without drones only so this is best used on a commander. It does take up a hard point however and thus limits other gear that can be taken.
 
My oppinion: an interesting piece of wargear but one that must be used with care as everyone knows Tau and close combat just dont mix. Can potentially save an expencive officer from a violent death in close combat however or finish off a weakened target more effectively. Probably best used in conjunction with a shield generator but this allows only 1 hard point for a gun, still with say the cyclic ion blaster thats still not a bad RoF.
 
Well thats my take on the defencive wargear available to the Tau. I hope it has proven usefull and good food for thought.

"Sometimes nothing is more reasuring than a good solid shield."
-Ximoro'An on protective wargear.