Friday, May 31, 2013

WTF? - Ethereal and Cadre Fireblade

My first post in 3 days... I've been busy with anything but the Fire Caste, meaning that I haven't done any actual hobby-ing.

What I did do, however, is read up on the rules for Ethereals and Cadre Fireblades.
Time for another WTF post...

Having a Commander with the Puretide Chip and 2 Plasma rifles was nice but quite points-heavy for what he did. The points saved by cutting the Commander easily allows me to add a Cadre Fireblade and an Ethereal to my force. This also gives me another 70 points to spend elsewhere.

Both the Ethereal and the Fireblade are support HQs. The Commander (theoretically) should be good on its own as well, but as this is Tau we're talking about... do you want your warlord to act alone?

As a side benefit, this allows me to field two Deathrain XV8s instead of one, as I can use the Commander model as a regular XV8.

So what do the new options bring to the table?

The Ethereal is a pure support HQ. He grants some abilities to all friendly units within 12". As a downside, your opponent gets an extra victory point of the Ethereal is slain. More on the abilities later.

First, let's talk about upgrades... there aren't many options available but I do think there is one important one: the blacksun filter. For 5 points, this allows the unit he is with to ignore night fighting. Suddenly, this makes your squad of Firewarriors he joined have one extra (useful) turn of shooting... if your enemy is in range of the rifles and the night fighting rules are in effect... hmm... well, for 5 points, who's going to complain? If you have the points, take the upgrade.

Other upgrades?
I see no point in paying for a close combat weapon... and the homing beacon also doesn't sound like a good idea... you don't want your ethereal up close to the enemy... if he dies, your opponent gets an extra victory point.

Drones... maybe... but I believe it's better to just add some more bodies to the squad he joins. Maybe a shield drone could be a good idea for some extra protection, if you have the points.

So what about the 12" bubble? All units inside this bubble use the Ethereal's leadership for Fear, Morale, Pinning and Regroup tests (Ld 10). This is good in itself, but at every start of the movement phase, you can choose an extra bubble ability that lasts until next movement phase: Stubborn, Feel No Pain (6+), Fire snap shots after running or (and this one takes the cake) all pulse weapons fire an extra shot if shooting under half range.

All abilities have their uses, but the extra pulse shot is the deal-maker here... keep this in mind while we take a look at the...

Cadre Fireblade
It's a Firewarrior! An old one (16 years of active service!) at that.
This gives him an improved WS of 4, BS of 5 and Ld of 9. (This means the Ethereal, if taken, is always your warlord at Ld 10.)

He has a marker light and the split fire special rule, allowing him to fire at a different target than his squad.

His Volley Fire special rule allows him and the squad he is with an extra shot with pulse rifle or carbine if they remained stationary. Remember the ability of the Ethereal? These combine to give them 2 extra shots in half range. if they didn't move. A squad of 10 Firewarriors suddenly outputs 4 S5 shots instead of 2 within 15".

You should pay attention though, the Fireblade's rule only works in the shooting phase, whereas the Ethereal's ability also works with overwatch, but it specifically says each unit can only be affected once per turn. (I don't have my Rulebook in range... does this mean player turn or game turn?)

Upgrades? You only get drones... take them if you want... maybe some gun drones for extra pinning dakka could come in handy.

At 50 points for an Ethereal and 60 for a Fireblade, these are some cheap HQ choices but they can both give you a lot of bang for your buck (quite literally...). Bear in mind, the Tau army needs its synergies to come out on top, and these two help massively with that!

Next battle, I'll try out the combo of Ethereal and Fireblade. Have you had any success with this HQ-combo?

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