Unit Review: Tau XV109 Y’varha – AKA Lightining

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Howdy everyone.  It’s Severus and I am back with part two of my riptide variant review.  Check out part 1 here.  Today I will be covering the newer addition to the tau arrsenal, the XV109 Y’varha, or as I call him, Lightining.  I just picked this baby up and am getting an impression of how it works on the table top.  These are my early thoughts on it’s tactics, rules, fluff, and model.

Fluff wise, this one is a little light on it.  Essentially, the famed creator of the R’varna, Fio’O Kel’shan Sho’Aun, had at least one other suit design in his arsenal  After the success of the R’varna, he was given the green light to work on his other prototype, the Y’varha.  This suit is a shift away from his traditional philosophy of siege warfare.  It is designed for more hit and run style warfare.

Model wise this one is my favorite.  He looks absolutely fantastic.  His super charged jet pack really gives you the feeling that he can make some large leaps through the air.  Assembly was pretty easy.  I think the only complaints I could lodge is that a few gaps were left around where the resin plates cover the torso.  There was a fair amount of filing to make some of those pieces fit.  Otherwise, another great kit from forgeworld with lots of posing options.

Once again, at the time of this writing a set of experimental rules are available for download from forgeworld.  As always, since these are experimental, I recommend getting your opponents permission before playing with these rules.

Rules wise this guy is a huge mess of rules.  First off, the stat line.   Pretty similar to the riptide again, but now with 4 wounds and ballistic skill 4.  The Y’varha comes with hit and run as well as supporting fire.  It can take shielded missile drones or standard shield drones, which I still think I would pass on due to the chance for failed moral checks.  Support system wise, it has access to everything.  Stand outs for me are the stimulant injector (feel no pain) and possibly the counter fire defense system (overwatch at BS 2).  It is a fast attack slot and only available to the tau empire.  Guess old Farsight is left out again.

Now on to the pile of wargear this guy drags into battle.  It’s Ravelin Shield generator provides the Y’varha with a 5+ invuln, improving to 4+ invuln when the attack is made within 12 inches or close combat.  Up next is the Vectored Thrust Array.  This allows the Y’Varha to move like a swooping monstrous creature (12-24 inches).  It cannot vector strike or preform a movement like this in 2 subsequent turns.  Note it moves like a swooping MC, it is not swooping though, so it can be shot normally.  Finally, it’s Flechette Dispersal Pods.  When the Y’varha moves as describes above or comes in via deep strike, it can make a special shooting attack at the end of the movement phase.  The weapon has 6″ range, strength 4, ap5, assault D6 with the shred special rule.  Note, this does not count as firing a weapon (so he can still shoot his other guns at a different target).

Now onto the weaponry.  First off the Y’varha is packing a phased-plasma flamer.  Oh yeah, it’s that bad.  It is essentially a 6″ torrent flamer with two fire modes.  Single canister makes the shot strength 6, ap3, heavy 1.  Full rotation (as in all three canisters) is strength 6, ap2, heavy 2, gets hot.  This gun is MEAN.  It can essential wipe out any infantry squad it likes.  Templates ignore cover and depending on mode, it can be ap2 or ap3.  Add onto that the double shot for full rotation and you begin to see how much damage this can put out.  Remember, this gun can only kill what it can reach, so the 6″ torrent is your friend.  Don’t let a crafty tau try to cheat you.  After that try to keep your units spread out (pretty standard advice when dealing with template weapons).

Now for my favorite, the Ionic Discharge Cannon.  This thing is anti-armor to the max.  It has a 12″ range, strength 8, ap 3, heavy 3, blind and a special rule called haywire burst.  This rule states that for each hit this weapon causes against a vehicle, it causes a separate haywire hit.  Now that alone makes this gun mean.  If it gets in range, it can drop a land raider in one shot (with a bit of luck).  Once again, the down fall here is range.  It needs to get close to use this weapon, so a clever foe can try to stay out of it’s range.

Now onto the final bit, the special nova reactor that comes with the Y’varha.  It can increase the invulnerable save to 3+ in close combat.  It can increase the number of shots from the Ionic Discharge Cannon to Heavy 3 + D3.  It can be used to remove the model and place it into ongoing reserves (essential flying off like a flyer).  It can do this while in combat.  Finally, it can use the reactor to gain jink.  If it is moving as if swooping that turn, i gains a 4+ cover save.  Generally speaking all very useful powers (if a bit situational).  I like the extra shots from the Ionic Discharge Cannon.  That makes this guy able to drop a knight in a single volley (if you roll super well).

In terms for tactical use of this suit, it is pretty simple.  Get this guy in close to a juicy target, do as much damage as possible, then get back out.  Rinse and repeat.  The problem becomes target priority.  That is really a function of your list and your opponents.  Don’t have anything to deal with those sanguinary guard coming up your flank.  Fly the Y’varha over and use the full rotation flamer to burn them down.  Don’t have anything to slow down that land raider of terminators coming towards you lines.  Hit it with the Ionic Discharge cannon.  The key is to not get bogged down.  Use the hit and run or the nova power to jump into reserves.  Kill what you need to, then get out to take on a new target.  Staying mobile is key. (Side Note: these are mostly theoretical tactics, my experience with the Y’varha is limited).

Now, the final question.  How do you kill one?  This maybe a little harder than initially you may think.  It is one wound less than a riptide, so it should die quicker.  Same tactics apply there (large amounts of poisoned shots, high strength low ap shooting, grav weapons).  The best tactic for killing a riptide in my opinion is leadership checks and close combat.  Leadership checks are still a valid way to push this guy around or potentially run him down.

Close combat is a bit hairy.  You want to be able to kill the Y’varha in a single charge.  If you fail to kill him he has 2 chances to escape (hit and run in your turn or the nova power in its turn).  Then your assault you is stuck sitting out in the open and the Y’varha is free to run around wreaking havoc again.

That about wraps it up for Lighting.  I am really looking forward to getting these two on the table together.  I think they can have some great synergy and look amazing.  I just need to get them painted up.  What do you guys think about these forgeworld suits?  Are they fitting the tau army aesthetic and fluff like you would expect?  Any insights on taking them out or neutralizing them? How about the experimental rules?  I honestly expect that they will tone down the Y’vahra whenever it gets official rules.  Regardless, this is a piece I am happy to add to my collection.  Until next time, this is Severus saying have a good one and take it easy.

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