Impulse wrote:What about markerlights on Strike Team Shas'ui?
They're the cheapest Markerlights around! If you need a couple more Markerlights, and don't mind losing a few S5 shots (remember a model can't shoot both
a Markerlight and a regular weapon), then they're a good pick. There is one drawback though- you can't shoot a Shas'ui's Markerlight, then fire some other squad's weapons, then come back and fire the rest of the Fire Warriors' shots. The Fire Warriors in the Shas'ui's squad can benefit from the Markerlight hit (remember shots are technically fired one at a time, and "fast rolling" i.e. rolling in bulk is just for speed). However, you "activate" a unit, fire all weapons, then "activate" another unit.
Many players, myself included, like to fire all Markerlights first (using Markerlight-only squads like Pathfinders and Marker Drones), and then fire other squads' weapons. This way you can know how many Markerlights have hit which squads before you do any meaningful shooting. Some have to have a few extra Markerlights though (for example, Ion Rifle Pathfinders). So, you can put Markerlights on Fire Warrior Shas'ui, but it's not quite as "clean" since it means declaring shots before all Markerlights have been fired.
There's one other issue too- if you have many squads of Fire Warriors (I use four), it may be annoying to have one squad have a Markerlight while the others do not. Personally, I prefer my squads to be as identically-armed as possible: it gives the opponent no easy answers when assessing priority targets.
In my list, I have two Markerlights on characters, 6 in a Pathfinder unit, 3 each in Pathfinder Teams with Ion Rifles, and one each in the XV8s' Drone groups. I described the general strategy like this in another thread:
Here's my rationale:
Markerlights should be fired in pairs- two shots on 4+ should get you one hit. In my list, I have a Pathfinder squad with 6 Markerlights, two squads with 3 Markerlights, a Fireblade, and Darkstrider.
In any given round of shooting, I select squads A, B, C, D, and E to receive Markerlight hits.
First, the big Pathfinder squad shoots its lights in pairs at enemies A, B, and C. Statistically, one of those pairs should be a double-miss. Let's say it was squad C. Next, another Pathfinder squad shoots 3 Markerlights- one pair at enemy D, and one lone Markerlight at squad C, which went unmarked. Next, the final Pathfinder squad shoots one pair at enemy E, and has a lone light to fire in the case that any of squads A, B, C, or D are unmarked.
With all of this finished, the Fireblade and Darkstrider fire their lights to either double-mark a squad for a Seeker Missile strike, or to make up for other misses.
The two Markerlights in the XV8s' Drone groups are an odd pick, but there's a reason. Sometimes, just sometimes, the enemy will be out of range! For Tau this might be unthinkable but it does happen sometimes. These Markerlights allow me to have some Markerlight support on the enemy's side of the table (since the XV8s use Manta Strike).
So, at the end of the day, a Fire Warrior Shas'ui (Strike, not Breacher) is a good place to put a Markerlight. But there are some things to think about first!
Impulse wrote:What's a good number of people in a unit? How do I evaluate a good ratio of special weapons (like Ion stuff with Pathfindees) to regular people to drones?
Well, this is THE question in Warhammer 40k! How many things do I bring, which things, and in what ratio?
The thing to remember is, you bring units to serve a role. Don't just bring Fire Warriors because they look like a "core unit" or something like that. Each unit has a role, and you must identify the roles you need to fill (usually those roles are anti-infantry, anti-elite, anti-tank, and objective-holder) and select units to fill those roles. For example, let's say you're making a 1000-point list and you start with Longstrike and a 4x Fusion Blaster Commander as your anti-tank units. That's 385 points total. Now you have 605 points to spend on other roles. In general, it's better for squads to have a defined role than to be 'swiss army knives.' That is, unless you have a fantastic 'swiss army knife' (like the Cyclic Ion Blaster). For example, an XV8 squad with one of each weapon can engage any target, but not very well. As the saying goes, "jack of all trades, master of none."
Let's talk about unit sizes.
Large squads have the following strengths:
+ Good targets for buffs
+ Decreases number of "drops" and increases your chance of going first
+ Reduces the number of Victory Points your army can give up
Small squads have the following strengths:
+ Easy to fill up Detachments and get bonus Command Points
+ More resistant to Leadership Tests, since smalls are often destroyed before any models flee
+ Cheap and efficient
In a synergistic gunline that uses aura buffs to increase firepower, you want large squads since they interact positively with aura buffs. Units that serve roles in the far backfield (and are often "out of sight, out of mind") small squads are more ideal. A good rule of thumb is, keep squads to 4 models or more and don't spend more than about 400 points on a single unit. There are exceptions of course but in general squads should be large enough not to give up Victory Points too easily and small enough that they don't become- just imagine how annoying it would be to use a squad of 9 XV8s... let alone how much enemy fire that squad would attract!
When it comes to wargear (Ion Rifles, for example), if you can take only a few items, you should take them all. An Ion Rifle only has a net cost of 4 points (since it replaces a Markerlight), so you should always take all three. This is "min-maxing"- if a squad is going to have Ion Rifles, it might as well have as many as possible. Of course, if you want Markerlights, then don't take any Ion Rifles. As such, 5x Pathfinders w/ 3x Ion Rifles is a good loadout, while 5x Pathfinders w/ 1x Ion Rifle won't be very effective.
Likewise, with XV8s, use every weapon/support system slot. They can take 0-3 weapons or support systems, but don't field a battlesuit with just one or two guns. You paid the base cost, get the most "bang for your buck" and give that chassis as many guns as possible.
However, remember that upgrades cost points, and those points pile up. For example, an un-upgraded squad of Stealthsuits costs 90 points. If you give that squad every upgrade, it costs 161 points. Almost double! Very few units in the Tau army can fall into the "too much wargear" trap, but many Imperium and Chaos armies do. Similarly, you can buy a big squad of support Drones for a Pathfinder or Fire Warrior squad... or you could just get more Fire Warriors and Pathfinders! Often, you will see army lists posted here on ATT that are full of lonely Drones, extra wargear, Support Turrets, and other extraneous/inefficient upgrades. These lists aren't "streamlined", and an ideal Tau list should take just what it needs.
About the ratio of "regular people to drones", remember that Drones need to serve a role, and work better in large squads. Sure, you can give a Fire Warrior team two Shield Drones, but adding two more Fire Warriors would be a better idea. Likewise, you could give a 3x XV8 team one Drone to follow it around, but that Drone would likely be killed very quickly. Here are general rules of thumb for using Drones with units:
- Bring 2 Drones per XV8
- Do not bring any Drones with a Coldstar Commander
- Do not (usually) bring Drones with an infantry character
- Do not add any Drones to Fire Warrior or Breacher squads
- Do not use Drone Support Turrets unless you really
like staying still
- Keep Tactical Drone squads to 6 as a viable minimum, bring more if possible
- Pairs of Drones are only viable on Commanders, Stealthsuits, or Vehicles