View Full Version : Tau Pathfinders

04-09-2009, 23:32
For the second campaign I'm designing I'm working on Tau Pathfinders.
The most tempting thing to do with the Tau is to load up on battlesuits and storm in firing pulse weapons.
The main problem with this is that it's not really in character with Tau and their reasoning behind boarding a hulk and it's not really any different to marine style of play.

So with this in mind I'm designing two different Tau forces that use two different approachs to space hulks.
So in short a vessel appears on the edge of a Tau occupied system and the pathfinders are sent to investigate.

Given that Tau aren't really much good at close combat and have a slower perception of the world around them than most races they are not really going to last long against a massive hulk full of stealers.
With this in mind I have come up with the following ideas so far based on them investigating a much smaller hulk.

First off you have a regular pathfinder force of around six to twelve pathfinders supported by drones.
I've increased the APs for some actions to represent them being a little more awkward and to emphasise a reliance on command points. Although their fire power is conciderable it's short ranged and they are reliant on their drones which are faster and more agile.
Drones however can't complete objectives.
Close combat-wise they are rubbish, drones can't attack in close combat and the pathfinders aren't much better either.
I'm also going to introduce specialist drones like shield drones, etc, so that the Tau player must rely more on diverting the stealers whilst they achieve their goals rather than attack them head on.

For the second force I'm designing a steathsuit heavy force using both XV15 and XV25 battlesuits. This will be a much more conventional head on attack force but I'm turning the concept of blips on it's head. The idea will be that they will also use blip markers that I'll design so they can be printed off and will mean that the stealer won't know exactly where the stealth teams are untill they get a line of sight.
Each blip will either represent a Tau Stealth Suit or a Decoy Drone.

So the idea will be that you get two different styles of play with the Tau, one a tactical objective driven blocking game and the other a hunt and destroy game.

Here's the basics for the Pathfinders so far minus all the gizmos.

05-09-2009, 00:36
what were you thinking for the pulse grenades?

05-09-2009, 00:51
Rather than an offensive weapon I was thinking of having it as a movement blocker.
So the idea would be that you have a kill roll but instead of killing the stealer it ends it's movement.
So say the stealer enters the affected area it takes a hit as it normally would for passing through an area effect weapon. So if it enters with five action points left, passes the first square leaving four aps, moves on to the next square and then takes a hit. It's not killed but looses it's remaining APs for that turn.
It's a passive weapon but should allow the Tau player to slow the advance of the stealers and create bottlenecks.

05-09-2009, 01:05
i think the idea has merit... but..

thus will indeed create wondefull bottle necks, but it might be worth increasingthe pulse carbines to 5+ to kill... they are short ranged weapons, and with no way of clearing a bottle necked room they could become severy stuck...

Cpt. Drill
05-09-2009, 01:07
I like the idea of the stealthsuit teams. But I can really imagine they would send pathfinders in to a hulk. Probably just pump it full of drones!

I am tempter to make a drone force now!

05-09-2009, 01:08
I was thinking the same actually, I think you could be right there mate. :)

05-09-2009, 01:18
Yeah that's sort of what I'm going for in some respects.

An all drone force is an excellent idea but there is little risk to the tau themselves. What I'm aiming for is a small tau presence that is augmented by drones, so the pathfinders complete the objectives whilst the drones get munched by stealers.

The key to creating races in space hulk is the scenario and narrative rather than the actual army list like in games of 40k. So what I'm going to do is have the hulk small but on a collision course with the Tau colony.
Lacking any significant space vessels in the area the Pathfinders investigate but find the stealers on board so it's then a race to destroy the hulk before it hits the planet.
Normal hulks are massive, made up of often several wrecked vessels so this one is fairly small about the size of a cobra escort.

So where as they might just send drones in rather than risk Tau lives, or just blow it up, I'm removing those options so that they have no choice but to go inside.

05-09-2009, 01:31
well space hulks are always full of interesting tech, and tau are often after this..

the surounding detris of electromagnetic stuff makes remote drone retreval of interesting stuff impossible.. hence the landing of men...

Cpt. Drill
05-09-2009, 03:36
Thats not a bad explination actually.

Could be cool to have rules for a Shield drone using the force shiled psykic powers give it so many charges and make it rubbish in combat... maybe it can only win a fight but not actually kill anything.

05-09-2009, 03:54
ooo now thats a good idea...

shield drones could act like self mobile versions of the deployable shields..
ie you can send them off down a corridor and they will then block it off for you..

that or once they deploy they stop anything from entering that board section [projecting a bubble afterall] with a set number of hits its able to take... say 4..
a six is required on a combat/shooting hit to knock down 1 hit..

anyway, just an idea...

05-09-2009, 07:28
Is the negative to the attack dice to a minimum of 1? Or do you go into negatives?

From an aesthetic perspective I think that things not powerfist wielding marines use D3s.

A marine rolls 1D3, a guardsman rolls 1D3-1.

However, something I was thinking is that units made up of smaller sized creatures, say eldar, tau, and power armoured marines, can fight in melee over the top of each other. So someone in a square behind someone in melee with a genestealer adds their dice to the one in front. However the downside is that if the genestealer wins it kills both of them.


05-09-2009, 08:57
What I'm currently thinking in terms of shield drones is basically just a mobile shield that blocks movement and line of sight, requiring a couple of hits to kill it much in the same way as the Broodlord. That way it's nice and simple.

The other drones I'm thinking of are the basic gun drones and a variation on the sniper drones. Ideally it'll be tailored to existing models so that players can just use existing models rather than have to convert their own.

I like the D3 idea for combat, I'll have to play around with that for my own games.

05-09-2009, 09:19
The rules for tactical Marines in 1st ed used 1D6 with negative modifiers (1D6-2 from memory but I might be wrong) in combat. I don't think there was a minimum of 1 but it's probably worth having.

05-09-2009, 12:50
Done a bit with the Tau using 1st ed rules.
We limited Drones by not allowing them to open doors, but they moved like blips, and could overwatch for free. They couldn't use sustained fire or command points, though a Team Leader with a Drone Controller could use command points for a similar effect.
For the Grenades we had them fire a 'rubble square', a first ed terrain effect, which slows movement through the target square. Also we used Smart Missile Systems from Hammerheads as missile drones.
Attached picture of the Tau in action in a big multiplayer game last year. More in my Photobucket account.

05-09-2009, 17:07
Hey Doghouse I like a lot of the ideas you have going on here. The sheild drones I'd give the hard to kill rule with any enemies in their front arc. (but not enemies attacking from the sides or rear) I don't see them as being able to fight back in combat, I think maybe they should have a fixed combat value of 5 but if they win combat as a result they don't kill the genestealer. (kinda like a terminator that's not facing his opponent)

That way the genestealer would need two 5+ rolls in order to smash a sheild drone if he's head on or just a single 5+ if he's flanking it. The sheild should be directional and should only block movement through the square in front of it, blocking of rooms would require multiple drones. The directional shield also lets the stealers have a chance at flanking a drone.

One think I think would need to be changed up slightly is how the pathfinders are outfitted, the hulks are often full space vaccum with no atmosphere part os the extreme leathality for the terminators has been when their armor is breached it turns a normally survivable wound into instant death due to decompression.

Tau on a hulk dive would need some sort of enhanced suit a bit closer to power armor. It wouldn't have to be full on power armor in the game sense but on the models it need to look like they have gear capable of sustaining in a void possible enviroment. Ie they need space suits possibly with exo-frames.

I think a d3 roll for Tau models is quite suficient, I do think marines and powerarmor armor troops should probably have a d3+1 or a d3+2 as in a normal game they hit with the same accuracy as the terminators, but their ability to wound is a bit less unless they have power weapons.

A marine with a power weapon should have a d3+3. Sergeants should be upgraded to a d6+1 if they have a power weapon as they'd kill with the same effect as a terminator witha power weapon. While marines may not have the durability of the terminators or powerfist theya re much quicker in combat and a sergeant being the most experienced would be capable of striking on par with a terminator even if his armor isn't as tough.

Back on the Tau I think their heavy fire power should come from gun drones and heavy gun drones that have burst cannons, flamers or ion cannons. The stealth suits are a fun idea, I'd prefer to use the old school metal suits as the new plastic suits are huge and there's not a lot of room in the hulks.

Maybe instead of using face down blips for drones and stealth suits cloaked units instead would get to roll 2 dice in combat keeping the highest one that'd represent the fact that they are very hard to see while cloaked. Models shooting at them would need to land 2 or more hits on them as if they were tough reresenting the fact they are nearly invisable while cloaked.

Other options could be invented to represent the Tau's more advanced tech, improved sensors could force blips to reveal if they are within a certain distance, experimental drones with cloaking fields etc.

05-09-2009, 18:03
SentinelV: That looks really good mate. I like the "rubber square" as well.

paulsongames:Hello mate. :)
Nice ideas on the drones. I especially like the facing idea, that's a great idea.
Yeah I'll be re-addressing the squad load out for the path finders for space hulk. That's the beauty of the scenario system is that any rules are designed specifically for that scenario/campaign so don't really have to adhere to 40k codexes. What I'm planning on doing is starting off with a six man team and then adding drones to beef them up a bit so like you say anything like burst cannons will be mounted on drones as far as the pathfinders are concerned.
What I want to do with this specific campaign is allow the Tau Shas'o the option of either using Mont'ka or Kauyon tactics that will determine whether they'll use stealth teams or pathfinders. It'll also open up sub-missions in the campaign as well.

As far as the vaccum of space is concerned I'm working on the idea that the pathfinder suits are self contained and that some level of life support has been restored to the area of the hulk that the Tau are investigating and this is what has woken the stealers up.

Because they're just fighting stealers I don't have to worry too much about stealth capabilites. What I'm going to use it for is to give the Tau player blips if he uses the stealth suit team instead of the pathfinders. So he'll have one for each suit at the begining then a number of drone decoys that he can imploy so the stealer doesn't know exactly where he is till they both get a line of sight.
I may include rules that once a stealth suit has been spotted then he's revealed. If there are no stealers in line of sight he can spend two aps to become two blips again by deploying a decoy drone. So as long as no one is around he can recloak which might be fun.

There are a few gadgets that could be translated quite well from the Tau dex, trick is not to go too over board and kept it simple as that was the downfall of the original first ed version.

I concidered the D3 attacks thing but someone shot it down with mathhammer and to be fair they were right after I tried it a few times.

05-09-2009, 22:15
I was doing a bit of brainstorming and I had a couple thoughts in regards to the weapons. I think that it'd be an interesting option to include both the pulse carbine and the pulse riflethe reason being is that the terminators have a fairly good arry of weapons when you look at the extras they get for close combat. IMO Tau would be the reverse of that with no CC options but a better array of shooting weapons.

Pulse Carbine is a 1d6 weapon but also has the grenade launcher or a marker light. It'd be capable of overwatch and sustained fire but it weaker in those roles than the pulse rifle as the trade off as a dual role weapon. Having only one die makes it a bit weaker at shooting that a stormbolter but it wouldn't jam, as even at peak opperation Tau pulse weaponry is muh more reliable than Imperium balisstics.

Firing the grenade launcher would act like an immobilzer, on a sucessful hit it wouldn't kill the genestealer but it would lose all remaining APs and be unable to move or fight for the turn. In some situations this may be preferable to actually killing them as it creates bottlenecks and restricts th movement of other stealers.

Firing the launcher counts as an action so it would end the models overwatch status.

Pulse Rifle is a 2d6 weapon, capable of overwatch and sustained fire, The squad leader could add an optional marker light. In standard 40k games pulse rifles are capable of rapid fire so at space hulk ranges they can throw just as many dice as a stormbolter.

To keep them from being too good they'd have the jam rule just like a stormbolter, but for storyfluff you could say it's barrel overheat, or overcharge etc that has to be fussed with before fire can resume, mechanically it'd be the same as clearing a jam.

In a standard game Tau rifles have a higher strength than marine weapons have a much better chance at wounding a model, to represent this Tau could gain a +1 to their shooting rolls, this would be in trade for their non-exsistant ability to fight in close combat.

40k style marker lights would be quite useless as even with a lock there's no line of sight or time to maneuver to allow other models to gain advantage of a lock. So they definately need to be modifed to fit hulk games. My thought is to make it function as a sort of laser sight and allows the shooter better accuracy, granting them an additional +1 to dice rolls.

This would mean a shas'ui squad leader with a marker light would be shooting a pulse weapon at +3 but that's the race trade off for being total dead meat in combat.

Rail Rifles I don't see as being a great option as they ae meant for much larger battlefields, but they are exceedingly accurate provide you can bring them to bear in time. A rail rilfe could kill on shot of 3 or better, however it takes 2 Aps to fire and it cannot combine firing and moving in the same action. A railrifle can go on overwatch but when fired the model loses overwatch as it takes too much concentration to aim and fire rapidly.

Gun Drone would have a pulse carbine but it'd be a 2d6 weapon as it's putting out a much greater amount of fire as it has twin linked linked carbines. They'd also have the Tau benefit of +1 to shooting roles, so they'd be rolling 2d6+1, the trade off is no ability to fight in close combat. If a genestealer gets in combat with a drone it's gone. A normal Tau may have a terrible chance in combat (D3 or D6-2?) but the drones don't even get a die so they auto lose combat.

To represent the speed and mobility of a drone it should be able to change it's facing for free as part of a move, or to make a 180 turn for 1 AP. In order to keep balamnce they'd have 4 APs like regular Tau which avoids cutting into the genestealers speed advantage too much. Drones cannot complete objectives, unless the objective is to specifically destroy a target by weapons fire or flamer fire.

Flamer Drones function the same as a standard gun drone, but instead of the pulse carbines they use a pair of flamers. Same rules as the space marine flamer, 6 shots and uses the same template.

Flamer drones are a new drone type because normally the only Tau unit that can carry a flamer is a crisis suit and they are not very fit for the narrow confines of a hulk. This allows for the inclusion of a flamer in a standard pathfinder boarding squad.

Burst Cannon Drone functions the same as a gundrone but it is armed with a burst cannon. Burst cannons are a 3d6 weapon that kills on a 5 or 6. It has sustained fire and overwatch. Burst cannon drones have superior targeting arrays and may enter overwatch for 1AP they also have the Tau standard +1 to all shooting rolls. Burst cannons have 15 rounds and may be reloaded once per game at a cost of 4 AP. Once reloaded they have the same critical malfunction that assault cannons do, if they ever score triples they are destroyed.

Sniper Drone functions the same as a gundrone but is are with a railrifle. The Railrifle kills on a 3 or better, and may enter overwatch. The Sniper drone has superior targeting arrays and internal compensators that help it stablise while it is firing or moving, this allows the sniper drone to target and fire much faster than a Tau pathfinder is capable of. Firing costs 1 AP and may be done while moving. Firing on overwatch does not cause the sniper drone to go off overwatch.

fusion cutter a piece of gear that can be added to any standard drone, functions identical to a chain fist.

As for stealth fields I had an alteration to my earlier idea, instead of using a hard to kill rule the opponent gets one less die when shooting at units equiped with a stealth field. Also units with a stealth field may be deployed as blips however unlike stealer blips they are not revealed by line of sight spotting unless they are at a range of 6 or less squares?


Missle Drone equipped with a SMS launcher, may fire up to 12 squares which does not need line of sight to the target, it maybe fired around corners. Place a flamer template on the target square and all models touched by the template are destroyed on a 3+. If a blip is targeted it is revealed and the genestealer places any revealed genestealer and decides their facing, then you resolve any hits from the template. The SMS system has 3 shots.

05-09-2009, 23:32
I concidered the D3 attacks thing but someone shot it down with mathhammer and to be fair they were right after I tried it a few times.

Out of interest what kind of mathhammmer?


06-09-2009, 10:08
One option for seeker drones, which we used back when we had tau stealth suits fighting in a Hulk a few years back was to blatantly steal an idea from starship marine, arguably the oldest Boarding action style game there is.

Drones themselves cannot activate their missiles. any Tau can "lase" a target for one AP to call in a missile strike. Missile range is unlimited but must be able to trace a direct route to the target( I.e no doors in the way) the blast worked extactly like a flamer for simplicities sake back in the day.

Just an idea

09-09-2009, 13:29
One idea for the rail rifle is to make it function like a bolt thrower i.e. due to it's tremendous velocity it will blow straight through a genestealer and hit what's behind. Ruleswise it could be something like this.

Cost: 2 AP
Attack dice: 1
Range: infinite

Kill roll:
1st 3+
2nd 4+
3rd 5+
4th 6+