Should I Buy A Riptide – Nights At The Game Table


Thats right, todays Should I Buy article is about the (in)famous Riptide! These big stompy Gundams are a staple for many Tau players, but maybe the cool factor isn’t enough. Perhaps, you want to know the merits of the once indomitable Riptide, and what its good for? Well dear readers,you better buckle up. Cuz’ its Riptide time!

A Bit of Backstory

Back in 7th edition these things ruined games, but not because they were bad. They were in fact incredibly overpowered. At the time, Tau were not themselves broken. In fact without the presence of a riptide (or 3) they were rather fair. Tough, but still fair. Unfortunately, most everyone brought the riptide wing and its silly formation buffs. Properly supported, these would be hitting on 2’s with re-rolls ignoring cover. Back then getting cover was a much bigger deal and ignoring it was a powerful ability.
Then 8th came and nerfed them into the ground, making them way too expensive. Then like a magic gift to Tau they were made considerably cheaper and are now a staple again. Albeit, they are not as OP as before but are nonetheless very good. So lets take a closer look that their stats.

The Crunch

To start, we have a solid wound pool of 14 with T7, and a 2+ save. This makes them fairly survivable on their own, but this is increased greatly by drones. Plus they have a 5++ save just in case. They have a fairly mediocre BS 4+ just like most of the army, but with enough markerlights and a specific piece of wargear it CAN go to a 2+. More on that later. They have a bad weapon skill of 5+ and a strength of 6, so they aren’t supposed to be in combat (shocker). Riptides are also very mobile with a 12″ move and the Fly keyword. Keep in mind however they do have degrading stats. Still solid overall.
However, Riptides aren’t to be taken at face value. Riptides can also use their nova reactor to Boost the number of shots a weapon makes, get a 3++ invuln, or move 2D6 in your charge phase. All at the cost of a single mortal wound.

Shooty Bits

These guys have some really sweet weapons choices and can fill whatever role you ned them to.

The heavy Burst cannon is amazing at mulching elite infantry, and swarms as well. Particularly ones with a FnP who will try to shrug off the damage. Its only weakness is its weak AP, but this can be remedied by an ATS making it AP-2. This bad boy can be upped to 18 shots when overcharged. The plasma rifle is a bit of an odd duck on a riptide, as its really only good against units with good saves and no Invuln. The plus side is its cheap and good at killing marines and aspect warriors. So maybe if your low on points or see a lot of marines.

The Ion Accelerator is the riptides go to Anti-Tank/ Monster weapon. Particularly when overcharged, and boosted with the nova reactor. Going to 6 shots at strength 9 doing a flat 3 damage. Plus, with a range of 72″ there is nothing beyond the riptides reach. On the other hand the SMS or smart missile system, is fantastic against infantry. The Riptide can be equipped with a pair of them putting out 8 shots at strength 5. The bonus? You dont need Line of sight to shoot them at someone! These will also benefit greatly from an ATS.

This last one is a little hard to recommend. While it is good for dealing with tanks and monsters up close, you really shouldn’t be getting up close in the first place. A Riptide should be using its mobility to keep away from the enemy. Maybe if your local meta has a lot of scary big units coming up the board fast or deep striking, then maybe its worth a look.

Fancy Wargear

Riptides and other battle suits can take items from the following list. In the riptides case it can take two, and these can alter how you use your riptide.

This is a nice way to hit certain units more accurately, or ignore a flyers hit penalty. While still situational, there are a fair amount of units in the game with the fly keyword, so overall not bad. Keep in mind this can stack this the Markerlights +1 to hit rolls, giving you a 2+ to hit.

This is a nice one. Markerlights can do the same thing but aren’t always the most reliable. This will let you stay mobile and shoot without penalty regardless of markerlights, and as such is a solid choice.

This one is a bit lack luster, Unless you are playing with NO markerlights for some reason, you should probably skip it.

This one is quite situational, but when it comes up it can make a big difference. If you find yourself dealing with a lot of deep strikers, like GSC this subsystem can totally screw your opponents game plan. Getting an out of turn shooting attack is nasty on a riptide. Plus your opponent will have eat your overwatch when they charge in. This one can be really sweet.

This wargear option is a waste on riptides. You are far better off putting this on a cheap commander, crisis suit, or stealth suit. Your Riptide has better things to do.

This one can be a solid choice, especially if you are playing Tau sept. Re-rolls are always good, and may let you play more aggressively.

Everyones Favorite. Do keep in mind that this is only good on stuff with weak AP.  Your fusion blasters don’t need to be -5 AP.  Conversely your SMS and Heavy Burst cannon will do a fair deal better in almost all situations (save for when fighting chaos daemons who don’t care as much).

The Verdict

The Riptide can do just about any job you need it to with the exception of fighting in close combat. This Bad boy can mulch everything from infantry to tanks, you just have to make sure you equip it right for the job. So should you buy one? Well you should probably buy 3.
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