La'peln hoisted the bulky Rail Rifle as he leaned against the crumbling wall of the desert ruin where his squad stood poised, ready to spring the ambush. Their foe was closing; La'dal's scanner was softly pinging an overlay into their heads-up displays within the la'rua's helmets, showing the steady progress of the unit they'd been assigned to hunt.
Tension pulled at the nerves in his fingers, causing La'peln to shake out his arms and reposition the rifle more comfortably. Giving his fellow Shas a cursory glance, he could tell that they, too, were nervous, eagerness competing with logic and fighting a gradually winning battle.
Breathing in slowly, La'peln opened the comms to his team mates and spoke as calmly as he could manage. "On my mark; odds on the first, evens on the second". He paused to exhale the last of his pent up tension, breathed in slowly again, then began to count.
In their own time, each Shas'la raised their weapons, a mixture of carbines and Rail Rifles, commiting themselves to unleashing the Mont'ka; the Killing Blow.
The three-dimensional tactical map in his hud showed the two blips crossing into the target zone. La'peln allowed himself a tight smile of victory.
He had barely started to move when the screaming of a rapid fire mechanism drowned everything around La'peln. He had enough time to notice the first impacts across La'dal's shoulder plate and helmet armour, and to see La'marik begin to fall, before impact after impact thudded into him, driving him backwards into the far wall, where the repeated hits pinned him painfully against the crumbling bricks and sand-ridden cement. An unidentifiable orange fluid splashed gorily across his visor, obscuring his view of anything else
They were dead; they were all dead.
As the screaming died down, a chime sounded in La'peln's ear. Cursing, he wrenched off his helmet to survey the damage. Around him, his team were slowly picking themselves up, removing their own helmets, and trying to unstick themselves from the mass of orange and blue paint splatters that now covered them all, from head to foot. La'marik yanked his arm free of the gooey suction that slicked his arm to the ruined wall behind him with a look of utter disgust. Fuming himself, La'peln turned to stare vehemently at the two Xor'vesa's that hovered easily over the desert floor, just outside the ruin. The lead suit did no more than toss a salute, skimming off in a new direction, it's wingman in tow.
"And that, Shas'saals", Shas'el Elsy'eir Tyen B'saal Shi growled devilishly, as he stalked out amongst the paint-smeared cadets, "is why the XV8 is our primary anti-infantry asset".
The assembled cadets gathered their things and made their way dejectedly past the grizzled Shas'el down the hill towards the waiting Devilfish Troop transport. Waiting for a brief moment before following the last in line of the now garishly coloured warriors-to-be, El'tyen reached up to his earpiece and rumbled softly.
"Ui'var, if the Fio'el complains to me about the amount of paint rounds you just expended all over his nice clean training dome, I guarantee, I will not be the one clearing it up, understood?"
The jovial voice of the battlesuit pilot crackled back. "Understood, Old B'saal... but did you see their faces...?"
Whadda ya mean it's not a Fire Knife???
This is a tactica for all those people who are interested in something other than the cracked record saying "Fire Knife! Fire Knife!" over and over. However, before I get started, here are a couple of disclaimers for those interested in the dark arts of "not FK".
First, you are NOT going to see a glut of veteran tourney players throwing their beloved Fire Knife XV8 config to one side in order to devote themselves to Fire Storm. Not going to happen. There are perfectly good reasons for this, but some of the most vital are ones that most semi-comps will find quite suprising.
Second, if you are of a weak disposition, be warned - there are some scary mathematical conclusions in this article; not because they are hard to understand, but that they are hard to accept. I've done a double-take myself as I compiled this. You Have Been Warned.
Now, enough preamble; let's get down to the main business at hand - Tactica Fire Storm!
In the basic form, a Fire Storm XV8 is a Crisis Battlesuit armed with a Burst Cannon, a Missile Pod, and equipped with a Multitracker, all in all costing a mere 50 points.
This selection of weaponry has a stereotypical view by many inexperienced commanders as being no more than a light infantry swatter. This goes deeper, with players viewing it as superfluous when compared to Stealth Teams. Oft is the phrase "Burst Cannon do not belong on Crisis Battlesuits" seen on Tau threads around the web.
They are talking a load of what is technically known as "Honk".
"I can take it!" - Survivable Firepower
What makes the Fire Storm useful is the range it operates best at. Because the Burst Cannon has a range of 18, a Fire Storm will endeavour to keep as close to that maximum as possible, so jumping into 17-18 inches, so he can retreat to 23-24 inches, makes perfect sense. It also happens to make counter fire from rapid firing infantry, OR Assault moves from a vast majority of nasty infantry types, largely sub par or even impossible. And of course, the Missile Pod is hunky-doory about all this, too. Yay, result.
The Fire Storm is commonly acknowledged as the king of Crisis configs versus GEqs (T3, 5+save). It kicks out 5 shots, each of which would wound a GEq on a 2+, without a save. That means that the Fire Storm will statistically SLAUGHTER 25/12 GEqs per turn, just over 2 kills. The only way you'll get better is with a Flamer, and you shouldn't be intending to stay THAT close to an opposing squad except as a rarity. On a good turn, a Fire Storm can reliably rip through GEqs like a hot knife through butter. Getting closer to your maximum potential versus GEqs is not unheard of - 4-5 kills per turn is not uncommon.
Dance about at the aforementioned range, and you have a lean, mean, PBI-mulching machine.
"Ah! But! The Stealth does it better!"
Okay - statistics bit - 150 points of Stealths buys you 15 Str5 shots at 18 inches. 150 points of Fire Storm buys you 15 shots, too, but 6 of those are Str7 Light Armour Busters â„¢ with a greater range. They get 6 wounds at T4 to the 5 wounds at T3 the Stealths get, and they can stand off further and still cause pain if needed to. Yup, the Stealth Field can allow the XV25s to ignore incoming fire, but at their sweet range, you are looking at around 50% effectiveness - that'll drop to nothing if it relies on it and a Land speeder gets brave. The Stealths are dedicated (I love 'em, personally); the Fire Storm is multi-role
, and in the hands of a player who knows how to duck behind cover, they are potentially superior to the XV25, due to better firepower.
<<Cue the cries of outrage from Stealth fans.>>
Well, that's probably ruffled a few feathers, hasn't it? Right, next target. MEqs.
Anti-MEq - taking on the best.
Now, everyone knows that you NEED plasma to kill MEqs, right?
No, you don't.
When you consider the switch between plasma and burst, you are trading penetration for rate of fire. The difference? The Plasma wounds on a 2+, while the Burst does so on a 3+.
Oooh, well done, Plasma. But to get this increase, you pay 250% of the Burst Cannon price. Ah.
In order to really make a huge difference, the Plasma has to close to within 12 inches at time of firing. At this range, you radically reduce your chances of survival, a fact acknowledged by many. And point effectiveness-wise, the cost is only similar.
Now, the real kicker comes when you start factoring in cover saves. Versus MEqs, a Fire Storm will never know the difference, but the Plasma Rifle on Blinding Spears and Fire Knives becomes far less effective. If you are playing City of Death, this problem becomes more acute - and trust me, those MEqs will be wanting their cover saves, because they, too believe that they are most vulnerable to Plasma weapons. Ricochet may be a killer, but heresay can be murder, too.
Statistically, the BC will kill 4/12 MEqs per turn. The Plasma Rifle will kill 5/12 per turn, or 10/12 at sub 12 inches.
In CoD, the BC still kills the same ratio - restated for comparison purposes as 8/24 - where as the Plasma Rifle is down to 5/24, or 10/24 at sub 12 inches. But it does this at 12 points more per turn.
So you have to ask yourself - why pay 62 points for something that I can do almost as well, sometimes better, for 50 points?
There IS an answer to that, later on. Don't want to cause an outrage, do I?
Oh, and FYI, MPs kill 5/18 MEqs per turn.
Lastly, the thing that some forget is that the Plasma rifle is good at maintaining it's potential; so is the Burst Cannon, but it has the potential and scope to exceed it, too. Sure, you can't rely on the chance your pair of Fire Storm XV8s are going to kill six or seven MEqs in one turn, but nor can your opponent rely on the fact it won't
happen, and trust me, the first time this happens, they will remember it did!
But to summarise this section, not only is the Fire Storm a decent anti-MEq option, but in CoD it can be superior!
Anti-TEq - Fire proof?
Okay, let's get down to it - apart from AV14 armoured vehicles, the only thing a Fire Storm can't handle has
to be TEqs - Terminator Equivalents, to the uninitiated - and with a 2+ Save, who can blame them?
Ah, scary bit now. Sit down, grab a nice comfy pillow, make sure you aren't eating or drinking.
Done that? Good, then I'll begin.
Pulse rounds have a 1/18 kill rate versus TEqs. That means a Burst Cannon will kill 3/18 per turn.
Compared to the mighty Plasma Rifle, this is pants, right?
Now, while the Plasma wounds on a 2+, and has that scrummy AP2, it has to face off versus the invulnerable 5+ save that TEqs more than often pack. This means that, beyond 12 inches, a Plasma Rifle kills 5/18 per turn.
You heard it - Plasma = 5/18, while Burst = 3/18. Closer than you'd think, innit?
In the land of CoD, it gets closer - Plasma = 5/24, while Burst = 4/24. Yikes!
Of course, this is still where Plasma wins out, because it can double this, IF you close to 12 inches or less. That's when Mr Plasma pays for those extra points, but if you can cover this disadvantage that the Fire Storm faces in this situation, then you still have an excellent unit to bring to any fight. TEqs can be handled, I just wouldn't choose them as primary targets!
If TEqs are order of the day, make sure your Rail guns and Fusion Blaster armed Pirahna are shooting the same way when you want the TEqs decked.
Canned Meat - Tank killing
The Missile Pod, with it's range, two shots and respectable firepower, is very happy at punching through the front armour of any light to medium vehicle. AV12 will fall to Str7, especially if you can pump more than one pod in the same direction.
Versus side and rear armour, the 3 shot Str5 Burst Cannon can still make a big hit, and potentially more than one. If you get a Land speeder or something with AV10 in your sights, you stand a good chance of damaging it. Bringing out the ol' Plasma as comparison again, the only advantage the Plas has is versus AV12. The BC is actually better versus AV11 and AV10 (although if the target isn't a skimmer, the damaging hit of the Plas is slightly better because it can cause penetrating hits.
Versus AV10 - 7/6 chance of damaging a vehicle per suit. Fire Knife manages 11/12
Versus AV11 - Â¾ chance of damaging a vehicle per suit. Fire Knife manages 2/3
Versus AV12 - 1/3 chance of damaging a vehicle per suit. Fire Knife manages 5/12
So basically, when you need to, you can give an enemy vehicle a good pounding.
Tactically, the Fire Storm acts as an opportunist - while my Rail Guns are panel-beating the living snot out of enemy heavy armour, my Fire Storms are drawing beads on enemy Land speeders or Vypers if they show their faces. Teams of 2 make a mess of these targets very swiftly Your foe will know this, and as such, will be less brave with these assets.
But all you Fire Knife jocks knew that already, right?
Much like other configs, somethings never change. In this case, the 2x2 option is the best. Ideally, I'd look at 140 points for 2 Fire Storm XV8s, a Team Leader with Bonding Knife, and a pair of KV-S (Kor'vesa Shields). Because you want to get into your most effective shooting range, which, when you get down to it, is ideally around 2-3 inches deep, (You want to be just inside 18 inches when you unleash your shots, and really no closer than 15-16 inches, or you risk counter attacks from your target), it's way easier to keep 2 suits in that zone rather than 3.
The toughest thing is NOT blindly closing the distance. I would always advise you to become adept at identifying how far 18-24 inches actually looks - my arm, for example, is 12 inches, from elbow to knuckle, which gives a great visual aid in estimating distance - I'm not advocating laying your arm across the table to "guess" the distance, but it does give an example for me to base my estimations on.
When in severe doubt, back off; you have a Missile Pod that can pour in fire pretty well as you manoeuvre, and it beats getting an assault unit in your face.
Your best friend, as ever, is the nice big building offering to hide your Crisis team behind it. I frequently find myself using JSJ tactics from out behind ruins, then back behind them ; moving around them as the suits shoot; walking into a ruin, shooting, then jumping out. Basic is best - there is less to go wrong, but that goes for pretty much any config you mention.
Fire Storm can do the job many assign to Fire Knife, but they do it cheaper. You have to be a little more careful with your range, and ensure that if you DO need to engage TEqs, you pour a little more effort than you might otherwise into their destruction.
Fire Knife is always going to be the Tourney players choice, because, as has been outlined, when push DOES come to shove, the Fire Knife CAN take that extra risk and pour on that little extra firepower to pull off the win when you need it.
But those who look down on the little old Fire Storm, I hope you've learnt a little. And if you haven't, chances are I'm speaking on deaf ears. For the open minded out there, I hope you enjoyed this little look at the wonderful world of the Fire Storm XV8; filling the air with firepower and watching what falls over.
Okay, here's first draft, it's late, and I'm tired. If you would like to comment, please, make it constructive - what ATT is best at.