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 XV109 Y’vahra Review and Rules Discussion

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PostSubject: XV109 Y’vahra Review and Rules Discussion   Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:44 pm

by AbusePuppy

For those who aren't in the know, Forge World has released another variant of the Riptide suit (available for download here). Given the fiasco that the last one, the R'varna, was, we can hope that they at least learned some kind of lesson with the whole thing in making the Y'vahra. At first glance, one might assume that they had not- it seems to feature all the worst qualities of its predecessor and then some, but having read through the rules I think that's very deceptive. The Y'vahra, while possessing many strengths, also has some very significant weaknesses that make it more than a “duh of course you would” choice over the R'varna and Riptide, which is a good sign. While I'm not sure I would call it well-balanced overall- all the more because I don't really have any experience with it yet- it's not clearly and obviously broken, at least.

Of course, it does have some little faults, most notably a pretty major rules interaction that isn't clear. So we'll open up talking about that and then transition into a review of the battlesuit proper.

I Believe I Can Fly
The big issue with the Y'vahra is its Vectored Thrust Array rule. For simplicity's sake, here is the text on the rule:

At the beginning of any of the controlling player’s Movement phases, a Y’vahra battlesuit may choose to move as though it was a Swooping Monstrous Creature for that phase. As this
move represents a long bounding leap rather than true flight, the Y’vahra battlesuit does not gain the Vector Strike special rule while moving in this fashion. This movement may not be used in two consecutive turns.

To get one thing out of the way: Yes, rules as written the “two consecutive turns” clause is meaningless because turn, except where specified otherwise, means “player turn.” So until you find a way to move it like an FMC in the enemy's turn, that technically doesn't actually limit it in any way at all. (Of course, this is clearly FW's poor writing at work, so let's assume for the time being that they mean “two of your movement phases in a row” and pass on to the real issue.)

So: when a Y'vahra decides to Swoop, does that have any continuing effect on its status? That is, will it follow the rules for a regular FMC on turns when it chooses to Swoop, thus being allowed to gain Skyfire if it wishes, be hit only on 6s if the enemy doesn't have Skyfire, be immune to assaults, etc? I'm honestly not wholly sure here- on the one hand, the text does specify “for that phase,” which could be interpreted that it ONLY functions as an FMC during the movement phase and during all other phases of the game it is a regular Jetpack Monstrous Creature. (This implies that it can then make a Thrust move even following its Swoop, however.) On the other hand, regular FMCs also only actually move in that way during the movement phase and their special qualities are all dictated by what they do in that one phase of the game. A fluff-based answer also leaves us no closer to the “intended” functionality, as you could argue that either at the end of the movement the Y'vahra has come crashing down and is thus on the ground (and thus no Skyfire is needed, etc) or that the model's location represents its final landing point, just like with flyers and other FMCs, and that it doesn't truly “land” until the following turn (when it hits the ground and is unable to Swoop again for a turn.)

What are other people's thoughts on the subject? Certainly remaining in the air makes the Y'vahra more powerful, but I'm not sure it's excessively so (and it would hardly be surprising even if it did, as FW has a tendency to write those kind of rules.) Also, what happens to any Drones when the Y'vahra chooses to Swoop- presumably they can't follow it, but is the whole unit hit on 6s and so on? Or would that imply that the Drones are allowed to “tag along” and also move like a Swooping model? The whole thing is a real mess.

More Meat
Okay, now for the actual review/discussion. The Y'varha is, at first look, very similar to the Riptide to an even larger degree than its other FW counterpart. The statline is nearly identical, though the Y'varha trades out one Wound for a point of Ballistic Skill- an interesting exchange, given the usual Tau battlesuits. It comes with the standard 2+/5++, Supporting Fire, a Nova Reactor, and two unique guns as well as the option for Shielded Missile Drones and any two support systems. However, a couple of interesting points stick out even thus far; the Y'vahra has Vectored Thrusters (giving it the Hit and Run rule) as well as the option for standard Shield Drones, both of which are pretty handy. It also comes in the Fast Attack slot, meaning Tau can get heavy battlesuits from all of the “optional” slots now.

The two guns, however, are the real stars. Both of them are extremely powerful, but also very short-ranged; the Ionic Discharge Cannon is only 12″ and S8 AP3 with three shots; it has the Blind rule as well as a special version of Haywire that triggers in addition to the normal penetration roll- in essence, every hit is counting for double with the IDC. Overcharging the reactor allows you to get an extra d3 shots with it. The Phased Plasma-Flamer is also rather kooky, starting as a S6 AP3 template that can be thrown 6″ in the manner of a Torrent weapon; firing it on full mode gives you a second shot and the benefit of AP2, but risks Gets Hot (which admittedly isn't hard to mitigate when you already start at BS4.) With both weapons only useable at point-blank ranges, the Y'vahra is entirely committed to its game plan of getting in close, but also more than capable of ravaging most targets at those ranges.

On top of all that, when Swooping the Y'vahra can drop a Flechette Pod on the enemy rather than being able to Vector Strike- it causes d6 S4 AP5 Shred autohits to a unit within 6″ of where the suit landed and can also be utilized when Deep Striking. To add gravy, the suit's invulnerable save improves to a 4++ against targets within 12″ of it (including melee attacks), making is a surprisingly tough customer despite missing out on a wound.

The Nova Reactor options are similarly unique to the suit- it can go for a 3++ save, but one that only functions against close combat attacks; as already mentioned, it can add d3 shots to the Ionic Cannon; it can gain the Jink rule (with a bunch of nonfunctional text for 7th edition); or, most interestingly, it can “leap” off the board entirely and go into Ongoing Reserves, even when locked in close combat. This suite of very singular abilities serves the Y'vahra well in distinguishing it from the other battlesuits; its options for increasing firepower and defense are somewhat limited, but being able to escape any combat on a 3+ (in addition to having Hit and Run) make it a very slippery customer indeed.

Taken as a whole, the Y'vahra is a very intriguing addition to the Tau arsenal. I'm still weighing just how powerful it is, since you're paying a bit of a premium over a Riptide for it (230pts base), but the option to get very mobile and hard-hitting firepower against both infantry and vehicles is nothing to sneeze at. Native BS4 also makes it a lot less reliant on Markerlight support than a Riptide or R'varna would be, though of course any Tau unit appreciates their presence. I think the ideal method would be to field a pair of them, since they can keep pace with each other and target the same or nearby units to bounce around and “clear” portions of the battlefield. The fact that they can make such excellent use of Supporting Fire (having a double-mega-flamer and a strong AT gun) is a huge point in their favor, but with only four wounds and few defensive advantages compared to a Riptide they extra 33% cost is definitely very steep. For a Tau army that wants to stay on the move- like a mechanized force- I think they are very solid, as they provide the kind of point defense that such a cadre will need while opening up some interesting strategies over a normal Riptide- however, competition with Tetras, Baracudas, and Piranhas is definitely an issue there. More “traditional” Tau armies may not have nearly so strong a use for them, as the lower price point and superior ranged firepower of a more common variant will likely prove more beneficial. Armies allying in Tau, most especially Eldar or other quick-moving forces, may have good reason for them, however, and the ability to slip up to three “superheavy” suits into an Allied Detachment is an amusing, if probably not particularly overpowering, trick.

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