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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tau Codex Review: Revisiting Markerlights

We've already discussed markerlights in relation to this review but lying on the couch this morning I had a brainwave (it couldn't be a brainwave about something important nooo, had to be Warhammer) in how markerlights can be changed. A quick re-cap. Markerlights are very effective tools to improve Tau shooting by reducing cover and raising BS. The problem however is getting them into your army. Few units can effectively bring mobile markerlights (i.e. Crisis Suits) but they are generally very expensive anyway or have high opportunity cost (i.e. Stealth Suits) which relegates the Pathfinder unit as the only viable source of extensive markerlight numbers. These guys are dirt cheap for what they do and the only reason you don't see three squads of these guys in every army is their unit layout (each squad must buy a Devilfish), the need to balance guns and markerlights and opportunity cost of losing access to Piranhas.

There is a certain advantage to having a lot of markerlights in one unit. You can put a bunch of hits on a singular unit, fire on that unit and move on knowing what has been brought to the table compared to firing multiple markerlights from multiple squads to get that huge buff. However, I think having Markerlights spread out around the army needs to be an option. Pathfinders (or Marker Drone units) are excellent for putting 4+ ML on a unit for BS5 and no cover but utterly useless in raising BS or lowering cover for multiple units because of their restrictions outlined above. Ensuring the Markerlight is more accessible and usable throughout the Tau army allows this. Ensuring Marker Drones aren't 30 points a pop (maybe 15?) and perhaps making them Assault weapons (or split profile with Heavy 1, increased range and Assault 1, decreased range) and some units like Fire Warriors can upgrade their normal weapons to include Markerlights.

However, I propose a further change. Whilst the current Markerlight counter system is great (ignoring most of the uses being rather useless) I think a more streamlined system and one geared towards encouraging the spreading of Markerlights has its merits. Here I reference the new Pain system from the Dark Eldar codex. Rather than being able to arbitrarly assign what a Markerlight does (i.e. lowers Ld for pinning, raises BS, etc.) allow Markerlights to affect the targeted unit in a pre-determined way. This can be used to affect all units shooting at it or only one. For example, at one ML counter the shooting unit gains +1BS against said unit, at two ML counters the targeted unit has cover reduced by 1 and at three ML counters both +1BS and -1 cover, etc. This is focusing a bit more on spreading markerlights throughout the army rather than having groups of markerlights like Pathfinders but with the need for Piranhas and new FA units like XV-9s and Piranha variants very likely to be included in the next codex, Pathfinders may not be a viable option.

There are obviously some issues with this sort of system such as deciding if only one unit or all units can benefit from ML hits on a specific unit and balancing this ability with what those counters provide. So thoughts? Markerlights are an integral part of how Tau currently operate but they are very hard to implement outside of Pathfinders who have their own associated costs. This needs to be changed in some way when Tau are re-released whilst maintaining a unique feel to them.

P.S. Yes I will finish the Codex review soon.

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