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Tautica: Skyray

Submitted By: Date: September 26, 2006, 08:00:00 PM Views: 2534
Summary: The Skyray Missile Defence Tank has come a fair way in the past few years, from an idea to a Forgeworld creation to a plastic kit now in the Codex! Financially it's quite a good deal as well, containing the parts to make every plastic Tau tank in existence, something which shouldn't be overlooked. Unfortunately, being less of a tank hunter than Railguns and not as good at killing infantry as well... half the Tau armed forces, it isn't the most common sight out there on the tabletop. Hopefully this article will go someway towards changing that, but if not, well it will never be the tank for everyone.

"But it's a heavy choice!"

It's a sad fact but yes, if you take a Skyray (or two!) then the number of Railgun-toting Hammerheads and Broadsides that you can take will be reduced. This seems to be one of the reasons a number of players aren't big Skyray fanatics, however it's a minor loss that can be compensated for by taking Railguns and the like in your other choices! Along with Fusion Blasters and Missile Pods, the Tau list has no reason to be caught short for anti-tank firepower.

That said, the Skyray is quite bluntly a bargain. You're getting a Hammerhead chassis with half a dozen Seeker Missiles and a couple of Networked Markerlights for about fifty points less than that would otherwise add up to (assuming you tag the price of a Pathfinder as around equal to each Markerlight). Let's be honest, if you take anywhere near as many Seekers dotted around your army it may well be worth it to invest in one of these. But before I go overboard, it must be noted that it's a bit safer to spread them around rather than having them all on one target.

"If it's so cheap, I can afford to take lots of upgrades right?"

Now that you've gone and made the excellent choice of getting that Skyray up in the air, the next stage is to decide what upgrades to take. The choice you must make involves the very common question of the secondary weapons - Burst or SMS? It's a trade of more shots vs. range and not needing LOS, with of course the small matter of the points cost of each weapon. The main things to think about here include the fact that the Burst Cannons are cheaper and add an extra weapon to be destroyed, although personally I'd favour the SMS here. The Skyray, especially when used in combination with Pathfinders, doesn't need to be within LOS to attack enemy units and so can sometimes stay completely out of the way! Also, as the vehicle comes with a free Target Lock, you can pull off the old Hammerhead trick of taking out heavy armour/beasties from a distance with the Missiles whilst firing the Smart Missiles at another lighter foe that otherwise would be out of reach (i.e. behind a terrain feature). Yup, I have remembered that Gun Drones are also an option, but you can get them in plenty of places elsewhere and if you like the disruption that they can cause enough over the loss in firepower you'll probably be ignoring the above and taking them anyway!

Remember that you are limited here by the options under the Codex entry, but on the other hand you do get yourself a lovely old Target Lock for absolutely nothing! Primarily I'd like to state that no matter the tank, Decoy Launchers are the upgrade of choice. Damn cheap and remembering that these vehicles are skimmers, gaurenteed to save your 'Ray every now and again.

The rest of the options come down to personal choice - I'd not say no to the Targetting Array myself with it's low price tag. It won't affect the Seekers but the secondary weapons system and Markerlights can benefit from it, and reduce the chances of you being unable to fire off a Missile at any time. The Multitracker can be handy on any vehicle to increase both mobility and attacking reach, although the other upgrades are less worthy of consideration.

Let battle commence!

A great way to get the most out of your units is by good target selection, or in other words - prioritising. The Skyray's Seeker Missiles excel at taking out mid-range armour and multiple-wound creatures, due to their high strength and low AP. So long as you have some form of Markerlight within three feet, there's also no limit on how far away you can hit them from! Non-vehicle hot targets include Wraithlords, 'Nid Tyrants and Carnifexes, and lone T4 or lower characters (wherever they may be hiding - you've just got to love Instant Death).

If you're taking one alongside Railguns, use the Seekers to attack the lighter vehicles whilst the Railgun takes out those tougher targets; thus not wasting its high cost on less worthy foes. The 'Ray is also king on high-terrain boards as it can attack a wider range of foes from outside LOS, without the fear of return anti-tank fire that Hammerhead pilots must have.

"Too close for Seekers, I'm switching to guns"

One of the most obvious (and unfortunate) cons about the Skyray is the fact that sooner or later, you're going to run out of Missiles to fire off of the thing. And no, before you ask, you can't mount any extras on it thanks to GW's clever wording in the codex! However, before abandoning your tank as useless and sending it on kamikaze tank shocking missions, there are a few things to remember.

Firstly, remember the extra guns! You paid for them after all, and whether you took the Burst Cannon or the Smart Missiles you can still cause some hurt to both infantry and the rear of most vehicles. Secondly, you've still got those Markerlights, which are even more effective than the regular kind - with up to 12" of extra reach thanks to the fact that (unlike any other Markerlights in the Codex) they can move and fire. The final option is a bit more of an unorthadox one, but may make sense to some in theory. Remembering that the Fish of Fury tactic becomes ever more useful with multiple vehicles (as the enemy must move further to try and assault you) the Skyray can serve yet another purpose by parking up alongside a Devilfish during one of these manouveres.

At the end of the day, the Skyray is by no means the replacement for the Hammerhead tank, but is a flavoursome vehicle that offers a change every now and again and does it's job with efficency. I hope that this has inspired you to give one a try if you don't do so already!

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