So, in the new Mont’ka book rumors, we see a several new formations, including one called the Riptide Wing.
The Riptide Wing consists of 3 units of Riptides (so between 3-9 Riptides total) and has the following special rules:
(1) Coordinated Attacks — If a Riptide from the formation shoots at a unit that has already been shot at by another Riptide from this formation, then the second Riptide gets +1 BS
(2) Networked Reactors — All Riptides from this formation that are within 6″ of at least one other Riptide from this formation get to re-roll failed Nova Reactor attempts
(3) Riptide Hailfire — Once per game, you can declare a Hailfire attack. During that shooting Shooting phase, any units from this formation that did not move that turn can fire twice (and shoot at a different target for each “volley”). After doing this, the units cannot move in the Assault phase of that turn either.
All three of formation rules are good, but the “Networked Reactors” and Riptide Hailfire” rules in particular are exceptional. Networked Reactors means that the 3-9 Riptides that you have in this formation have an 88% chance of passing their Nova Reactor roll (vice their normal 66% success rate; that is a 22% increase in successful outcomes) and only an 11% chance to fail the Nova Reactor/suffer automatic wound (decreased from a 33% chance normally). This is amazing, as it makes use of the Nova Reactor something that your Riptides can count on, vice a very “dicey” choice (pun intended). With reliable Nova Reactors, Riptides can greatly increase their mobility, survivability, or damage output all battle long, which is a game-changer, especially when you have some many of these powerful Battlesuits from this formation.
In addition to the improved Nova Reactors, the ability to basically double the shooting of all these Riptides (and their Shielded Missile Drones) for one game turn by standing still can also be decisive, especially when combined with the +1BS from “Coordinated Attacks,” improved shooting from activating the Nova Reactor, and any available Marker Light support to provide an amazing Alpha Strike (or Beta Strike, or Delta Strike, or Omega Strike, or whenever you choose to use this). For example, imagine 3 Riptides shooting with BS4, a Nova Reactor Buffed Heavy Burst cannon, and the “Riptide Hailfire” rule: that translates to 72 x S6 AP4 Rending shots at a range of 36″, all of which can fired at up to six different targets if required. Alternately, imagine all 3 Riptides using Ripple Fire and “Riptide Hailfire” with their TLed SMS: that translates into 48 x S5 AP5 Homing, Ignore Cover shots at 30,” which can again be divided between up to 6 separate targets (i.e. 8 shots at each target); that is a lot of dead Guardsmen or Gaunts or Cultists or Orks in cover!
Finally, the Riptide Wing can use its unique capabilities to make itself exceptionally survivable. Imagine a Riptide Wing consisting of 3 Riptides, each with 3 Shielded Missile Drones. Give all of these Riptides the Stimulant Injector upgrade and use their Nova Reactors to gain a 3++ save. Shooting at such a unit we have the following Mathhammer:
-BS4 Bolters — Requires an average of 81 shots to cause a single unsaved wound (or over 500 shots to kill a single Riptide and its Drones)
-BS4 Plasma Gun — Requires an average of 10 shots to cause a single unsaved wounds (or over 60 shots to kill a single Riptide and it Drones)
-BS4 Grav Cannon/Amp — Requires an average of 7 shots to cause a single unsaved wound (or over 40 shots to kill a single Riptide and its Drones)
-BS4 Splinter Weapons — Requires an average of 27 shots to cause a single unsaved wound (or over 150 shots to kill a single Riptide and its drones).
-BS4 Shuriken Weapons — Requires an average of 40 shots to cause a single unsaved wound (or over 250 shots to kill a single Riptide and its drones).
As you can see, the Nova Reactor and multiple Riptides that this formation supports can be exceptionally difficult to deal with, even for some of the top-tier armies. As you can also see, this formation has the potential to put out a ridiculous amount of firepower against multiple targets, making it a threat that your opponent’s cannot afford to ignore.
While this formation should be highly competitive as part of any Tau army, I think it would be particularly effective when used along with Necron Allies, specifically a Reclamation Legion, which can provide lots of very durable “bubble-wrap” (i.e. Warriors, Immortals, and Lychguard) to protect the Riptides from assault and also high-mobility objective seizers (i.e. Tomb Blades zipping around the board), Flayed Ones (for more close combat “bubble wrap” and anti-horde ability), Judicator Battalions (mobile short-range shooting strong CC), Destroyer Cult (add target saturation, good firepower, an mobile “bubble wrap”), and/or a Deathbringer Flight (for anti-flyer/FMC support and also strong firepower to supplement the Riptides shooting). Put another way, a Necron Decurion of many different varieties can work very well with this formation.