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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tau Codex Review: Broadsides

Broadsides are a very important piece to nearly all competitive Tau lists these days. The reason for this is simple, the kill tanks very easily. Broadsides have very effective anti-tank potential with minimal application against infantry for their points. They are quite expensive whilst being very durable and able to affect the battlefield from the back of the field. There are minimal upgrades available to Broadsides and are only going to be taken for a singular reason since their Railguns cannot be exchanged for anything. Let's take a look at the unit and their options and then as usual, discuss any changes which might be appropriate.

Broadsides come armed with a twin-linked railgun which overcomes their average BS and obviously has the much sought after S10 and Ap1. Unlike the Railgun on the Hammerhead however they can only fire in this mode which greatly restricts the ability of the Broadside to affect games when there are minimal vehicles on the table. This is mitigated by their secondary weapon system of a Smart Missile System giving every Broadside four S5 shots up to 24" away. For the points you pay on the Broadsides this is pretty crap but is obviously better than shooting the Railguns at Orks! The SMS can be upgraded to twin-linked plasma guns but is quite expensive and only really helps the Broadside against deepstrikers or if the Tau army lines are breached. Ultimately there are better uses of these points and keeping the SMS helps the Broadsides against infantry more.

Each Broadside also has to take a battlesuit support system which must be the same across each model. The obvious buy here is the Advanced Stabilisation System as it allows the Broadsides to move and fire. This may not seem huge but it gives your backfield that little bit of extra mobility to ensure fire lanes remain open. The Targeting Array is the other common buy but since Broadsides come with twin-linked guns already it is less useful. The Multi-tracker isn't really worth the points unlike Crisis Suits, as their weapons do not match up in ideal targets. If plasma rifles are taken they can make pretty scary anti-TEQ platforms but for their price are very expensive. Leave multi-trackers at home on these guys. Other options like Blacksun Filter and Target Lock are better equipped on the Team Leader/Shas'vre and are discussed below.

Upgrading to a Team Leader or Shas'vre is pretty important as it allows more upgrades and importantly, the ability to diversify the unit. There are three major upgrades this upgrade allows access to. A target lock which minimises the issue of over-kill and essentially doubles the units potential output as the Leader can shoot at a different tank. Blacksun filter which allows the Leader to be quite effective during Night Fight. Combine with Advanced Stabilisation and Acute Senses, this allows the unit to move on during Dawn of War and potentially do some damage. For three points it's a bargain. And finally we have the drone controller which greatly increases the unit's durability. By having shield drones attached to the unit, the Broadsides gain a couple of extra 2+/4++ wounds which instant death, AP2 weapons can be allocated onto. This greatly increases the unit's survivability which allows them to be more effective throughout the game.

Ultimately these units are great but expensive and they have a very particular role: anti-tank. In 5th edition this is obviously important and since the guns are S10, Ap1 and twin-linked, they are very reliable anti-tank with extremely long range. This makes them an important target for your opponent and thus needs to be protected as such.

So what changes need to be made...if any? A point reduction is probably in order but not by much. These guys can make tanks look like paper so they shouldn't be running around with Long Fang cost. We don't want to make them better anti-infantry either as that's really the role of the Hammerhead and would make Broadsides too much of an auto-pick. Rather having the ability to change their main weapon system (or indeed have to buy it) to allow them to fulfill more battlefield roles whilst not turning them into a super duality based unit. For example rather than just having the option for twin-linked Railguns, a heavy missile pod or plasma cannon (hell or an Ion cannon...) at much cheaper points could give the Tau army cheaper support firepower at the cost of S10 Ap1. If point costed correctly this would importantly free up other slots (namely Elites/Fast Attack) to be more dedicated anti-tank as that S7 range can be covered by units other than Crisis Suits.

There isn't really much change to be made to these units otherwise. A slight reduction in points would make them a bit more balanced for 5th edition and giving them main weapon options allows for diversification in the Force Organisation chart which is important for a good book. As they stand currently, Broadsides are one of the best anti-tank units in the game. They are able to hit multiple tanks in a single turn and with good reliability, significantly damage those tanks. They are durable and have good ranged but cost a lot and aren't exactly anti-infantry specialists. If your Tau army is having issues with tanks, look no further than these walking behemoths.

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