- "Our tanks were useless. As soon as we broke cover, their Battlesuits' heavy guns were locked on to us. I swear it was as though they had someone nearby aiming for them before they shot. And when they did shoot... Emperor's mercy! Their guns punched through our armour like it was paper. All I could see were trails of fire where the projectiles had ignited the air."
- — Guardsman Cauley, 25th Graian Rifles
An XV88 Broadside Battlesuit is one of the most heavily armoured infantry units that can be fielded by the Tau Fire Caste, and as such are only worn by the most experienced of Tau veterans. Whilst similar in design to the more common XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, the Broadside sacrifices mobility and manoeuvrability to be armed with some of the most devastating weapons in the Tau arsenal. In this way, they can engage and destroy the heaviest of enemy targets.
The original decision to combine the deadly rail-weapon technology of the Hammerhead gunship with the most successful of Tau Battlesuits -- the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit -- produced the vaunted XV88 Broadside Battlesuit. Designed to offer long-range fire support, XV88 Broadside Battlesuit Teams have exceeded expectations since their conception, becoming mainstays of the Hunter Cadres and tank-killers of legendary proportions.
Powered by a Particle Accelerator, a Broadside's Heavy Rail Rifle shot can penetrate the thickest plasteel bunkers, often doing so with enough force to punch an exit hole on the other side as well. While the primary weapon carried by an XV88 Broadside is not as massive as the Railgun mounted on a Hammerhead, its range and destructive power are impressive nonetheless. In order to mount twin-linked Heavy Rail Rifles on a Battlesuit, Earth Caste engineers had to modify the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit’s design. Due to the increased weight of its new weapon system, the XV8's Jetpack had to be removed, meaning the XV88 Broadside would trade its mobility and manoeuvrability in favour of increased weapon power and range. In prototype production and during training simulations, it was quickly noticed that the new Battlesuit could not avoid incoming enemy fire, so further protective armour was added as part of its design. Later modifications added stabilisers and recoil units to the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit, and recent Earth Caste tinkering has moved the Heavy Rail Rifles from shoulder mounts to a hand-held position.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit Teams are deployed in squads of one to three and, unlike most Tau units, require a static firing position. Tau Commanders have learned to deploy these long-ranged hunters with care, for it takes valuable time for them to reposition; and while doing so, their main armament is far less accurate. Their standard secondary weapon system -- a Smart Missile System -- was chosen to make up for this shortcoming. Deadly in its own right, the Smart Missile System can fire off a barrage of guided missiles at any target within sensor range, even including those targets in cover or hidden out of sight.
Like all Battlesuits, an XV88 Broadside is only worn by a Fire Caste veteran, and can be upgraded with a number of sophisticated support systems. A recent addition to the Broadside arsenal came in the Great War of Confederation, when its primary Heavy Rail Rifle armament was replaced with a twin-linked High Yield Missile Pod. During the initial setbacks in that war, it was discovered that the mass of attacking Ork waves and the light nature of their vehicles meant the Heavy Rail Rifle, although deadly, did not have the fire rate to stem the overwhelming tide of attackers. The High Yield Missile Pod acts an alternative primary weapon that sacrificed some of the Heavy Rail Rifle’s range and hitting strength for the ability to lay down a greater barrage of missiles. It proved more than adequate to destroy the crude scrap armoured Ork vehicles. Since then, many Tau Commanders have included this variant in their Cadres, either on its own or sometimes in a formation with more traditionally armed Broadsides.
- "Yes... I remember the battle for the Heights...The xenos filth slashed through our Russ like a sabre through rancid fat. When the Rex's reactor went critical, the burn-flash took my eyes and the shame of our defeat was the last thing I ever saw."
- — Penitent Confessor Diyarbakir, Former Sergeant of the 12th Tallarn Armoured Regiment during the Taros Campaign
Broadsides are commonly seen deployed in heavy conflict zones all around the Tau Empire, such as against the Orks near Dal'yth and during the campaigns of the Tau's Third Sphere Expansion into Imperial territory. Those races that have faced the Tau in battle have grown to fear these heavily armoured Battlesuits.
While the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is by far the most common Battlesuit encountered by the Imperium, the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit variant has been identified as far back as the Damocles Gulf Crusade when it was used to engage heavy armour and provide fire support to squads of Fire Warriors. During the Damocles Crusade, the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit was quickly identified by the Imperium as a major threat to their armoured vehicles, whose soldiers soon learned to dread the whip-crack sound made by the hypersonic speed of a Heavy Rail Rifle round; the distinct noise could only actually be heard after the shot had already hit home.
In the battles against the Tyranid Hive Fleet Gorgon during the defence of the Kel’shan Sept, XV88 Broadside Teams proved highly adaptive and effective in combating the larger alien creatures, especially after a refitting of their secondary weapons. The mounting of twin-linked Plasma Rifles in place of the standard twin-linked Smart Missile Systems made the Battlesuits even more effective when confronting the gargantuan Bio-Titans of the Tyranids.
A recent addition to the Broadside arsenal came in the Great War of Confederation, when its primary Heavy Rail Rifle armament was configured to be replaced with twin-linked High Yield Missile Pods. During initial setbacks in the war, it was discovered that the masses of attacking Ork waves and the light nature of their vehicles meant the Heavy Rail Rifle, although deadly, did not have the fire rate to stem overwhelming tides of attackers. High Yield Missile Pods, on the other hand, proved more than adequate to destroy the crude scrap armoured Ork vehicles.
In open terrain, as at Taros or on the ice plains of Issenheim, a few Broadside Teams were sufficient to negate entire tank companies, quickly turning them into smoking wreckage. During the Taros Campaign, for example, a formation of XV88 Broadside Battlesuits engaged Imperial forces during the Battle of the Phyyra Heights. In this brutal fight, the Broadsides accounted for seven confirmed armour kills against the Imperial Guard's 12th Tallarn Armoured Regiment in under thirty minutes of engagement, including the famed Baneblade super-heavy tank Draco Rex. This forced the 12th Tallarn's retreat and dealt a hammer blow to the usually stout-hearted morale of Tallarn troops. The distinctive whip-crack sound and hyper-sonic speed of a Heavy Rail Rifle round became synonymous not only with the desert fighting on Taros, but in all Imperial engagements with the forces of the Tau Empire.
Imperial forces fighting on the Greyshell Front of the Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach have recently reported encountering a variant of the standard XV88 Broadside Battlesuit that replaces its Heavy Rail Rifle weapon configuration with shoulder-mounted twin-linked Ion Cannons. Groups within both the Ordo Xenos and the Adeptus Mechanicus are keen to recover an example of this variant for further study, although for very different conflicting reasons.
The decision to combine the deadly rail-weapon technology of the Hammerhead gunship with the most successful of Tau Battlesuits -- the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit -- has produced the vaunted XV88 Broadside Battlesuit. Designed to offer Tau combatants long-range fire support, XV88 Broadside Battlesuit Teams have exceeded expectations since their conception, becoming mainstays of the Hunter Cadres and tank-destroyers of legendary proportions upon the many battlefields of the Tau Empire. This Battlesuit's Heavy Rail Rifles can cut through the defences of almost any armour and entrenchments, and possess an extremely long range. The Battlesuit is small enough to utilise cover well on the battlefield in comparison to a vehicle, which makes it suitable to support Fire Warriors with much needed anti-tank firepower. This rates favourably in comparison to XV8 Crisis Battlesuits which often bear the brunt of an enemy attack. XV88 Battlesuits are also deployed alongside Fire Warriors to form static defence lines or to provide the equivalent of mobile artillery to support a Tau advance. In open terrain, as occurred on Taros or upon the ice plains of Issenheim, a small number of XV88 Broadside Teams were sufficient to negate entire armoured tank companies, quickly turning them into smoking wreckage.
Broadside Battlesuits are commonly fielded in teams of one to three and can be carried by Tau Orcas or Mantas for transport to the battlefield on a planet's surface from a Tau fleet in orbit, where they can provide heavy fire support for Tau Hunter Cadres. Occasionally, a single Broadside may be tasked with providing fire support for a smaller Tau infantry force. However, once deployed, XV88s are slow-moving units in comparison to Crisis Battlesuits, due to their lack of a Jetpack. Their need for a static firing position means they must be deployed with care and only when an engagement is imminent; for it takes valuable time for them to reposition; and while doing so, their main armament is far less accurate. Their standard secondary weapon system -- a Smart Missile System -- was chosen to make up for this shortcoming. For accurate deployment, Broadside Battlesuit pilots rely on good information from forward Pathfinder teams and other Tau scout units. As with all Tau Fire Caste warriors, the Fire Caste doctrine laid down in the Code of Fire instructs all warriors to fight closely together, with each member of a team doing his utmost to protect not just his comrades, but also nearby teams in his Cadre. With this training, Tau units can use overlapping fields of fire to provide all teams with mutual support on the battlefield in the case of enemy assaults.
During the Taros Campaign, Broadside Battlesuits were widely deployed in support of Hunter Cadres on the defensive. They could not be deployed as part of the fast-moving Pathfinder raiding force, or as armoured counter-attack forces which might be required to operate in the deserts for many days, fighting then quickly withdrawing before moving to attack again. Instead, when an engagement was imminent, Orcas or a Manta would quickly move Broadside Teams into position, usually holding a ridge line or an area of higher ground with good fields of fire. The Broadside Teams could then target the enemy at maximum range, singling out enemy tanks and troop carriers before being picked up again after the battle by Tau aircraft. Using these rapid deployment tactics, XV88 Broadside Battlesuit Teams could lend their potent fire support without slowing an armoured Hunter Cadre down as it raced to new positions for the next battle against Imperial forces.
- Broadside Destructor Phalanx – The Destructor Phalanx is a Tau battle formation employed against very heavily defended positions and the most powerful enemy vehicles, and makes use of a special-issue Unified Targeting Matrix system controlled by a Tau Commander of the grade of Shas’el wearing an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit. The Shas’el usually has extensive experience in Broadside tactics and battlefield engagements against heavy armour, and the matrix is used to coordinate the formation’s attacks under the Commander’s direction to demolish even the most heavily armoured target with ease. The Destructor Phalanx was first recorded in use against the Imperium in the Taros Campaign during the Battle of Phyyra Heights.
Pilots of XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are Fire Warriors who have progressed to the rank of Shas'ui and have been trained in the use of an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit. They can then choose to transfer into XV88 Battlesuits for additional training, or continue training in the XV8. However, within the Fire Caste's military academies, it is regarded as important that a Shas'ui should have some experience in an XV88 Battlesuit before he can be promoted to the rank of Shas'vre. Some Crisis Battlesuit Teams have performed the ritual of Ta'lissera and will transfer together to form a complete and bonded Broadside Battlesuit team. After serving their time piloting XV88s, a team will either return to the XV8 to complete their training, or, if they have performed exceptionally well, might all be promoted directly to the rank of Shas'vre.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are towering in size; easily twice the size of the Fire Warrior who wears it. To many Tau, they are a wonder and marvel of Earth Caste engineering. Powered by an advanced Particle Accelerator, XV88s go into battle heavily armed with potent weapons systems backed up by combat support systems that allow them to fight more effectively. However, no matter the Battlesuit configuration or weapons load-out, all XV88 Broadside Battlesuits share some common features. These include the advanced sensors built into the primary sensor cluster that serves as the Battlesuit’s "head." These sensors, which consist of a number of variable spectrum passive sensors and active scanners, allow the Battlesuit to detect hidden enemy units and their movement. This is information that can then be transmitted back to Tau command units. All XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system that enhances and magnifies a warrior's low-light vision whilst simultaneously filtering bright flares of light that could blind him in battle, and a Multi Tracker, a sophisticated fire control system that is mounted in a sensor node that assists Battlesuit pilots in engaging enemy threats by using multiple armaments at once. This capability makes the Broadside a formidable opponent in a wide variety of battlefield conditions.
As with all Tau Battlesuits, XV88s are protected by an extra-thick, dense nano-crystalline alloy armour named Fio’tak in the Tau Lexicon. This advanced alloy has a highly impact-resistant structure, and is also resistant to corrosive or toxic assaults; making it extremely resilient in the face of combat damage. Even the armour’s shape helps deflect solid projectiles, while a reflective liquid metal coating can reflect medium-grade laser fire. The material is relatively lightweight, which keeps the Battlesuit’s own tonnage down. In prototype production and simulations, it was quickly noticed that the new Battlesuit could not avoid incoming enemy fire, so the additional protective armour was originally added as among the first modifications to the XV88. During the Damocles Gulf Crusade, frontline Imperial forces submitted corroborated after-action reports of XV88 Broadside Battlesuits surviving direct hits from Autocannon and Lascannon fire. As such, the suits are rated as providing as much protection for their pilots as a suit of Space Marine Terminator Armour.
XV88s are some of the most well armoured units in a Tau arsenal. However, unlike the Imperium, the Tau are able to manufacture such heavy Battlesuits in large quantities. All XV88 Broadside Battlesuits also greatly augment the strength of the pilot, and grant the warrior within the Battlesuit the ability to smash apart light armoured vehicles in close combat, if necessary. XV88 Broadside Battlesuits feature retractable fingers built into their forearms for use in more delicate -- often non-combat -- tasks.
Whilst the XV88 shares an overall similar design to the more common XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, it does have several notable differences. The most important is that in order to mount its heavy armaments, Earth Caste engineers had to remove the XV8’s Jetpack due to the increased weight of the XV88 Battlesuit's new weapon system. This meant that the XV88 Broadside trades its mobility and manoeuvrability in favour of increased weapon power and range. The XV88's structure is also significantly modified to compensate for this, and later modifications added stabilisation systems and integrated recoil-absorption units to the XV88 that allow it to handle the additional weight and power drain of the heavy weapons it carries.
All XV88s are armed with a single primary weapon system with a secondary weapon system to back it up. All Tau Battlesuit weapon systems are fully integrated and supplied by continuous, high yield power relays and ammunition hoppers. XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are also designed with advanced recoil absorption technology, meaning that they can fire their weapons at maximum capacity and with maximum accuracy for their size. XV88 Broadside Battlesuits were originally designed to be armed with twin-linked Heavy Rail Rifles as their primary weapons, providing the heavy anti-tank firepower for which they are renowned. A Broadside's Heavy Rail Rifle shot can penetrate the thickest plasteel bunkers, often doing so with enough force to punch an exit hole on the other side as well. Whilst the weapon is not as massive as the Railgun mounted on a Hammerhead, its range and destructive power are impressive nonetheless.
However, recent advances in Battlesuit technology have allowed the development of twin-linked High Yield Missile Pods to act as alternative primary weapons that sacrifice some of the Heavy Rail Rifle’s range and hitting strength for the ability to lay down a greater barrage of high powered missiles similar to those used in Missile Pods. Since then, many Tau Commanders have included this variant in their Cadres, either on its own or sometimes in a formation with more traditionally armed Broadsides. As secondary weapons, Broadsides can be armed with twin-linked Smart Missile Systems -- which are weapons in their own right that fire off barrages of guided missiles at any target within sensor range, even including those targets in cover or hidden out of sight -- or twin-linked Plasma Rifles which are better suited to target and destroy heavily armoured elite infantry.
Original XV88 Broadside designs featured the primary weapon systems mounted on shoulder mounts, whilst secondary weapons systems were featured as arm mounts. However, recent Earth Caste tinkering has altered this design to switch each weapon system’s locations on the Battlesuit, allowing for the primary weapon to be in the more steady hand-held position. All XV88 Broadside Battlesuits can also be fitted with an additional back-mounted Seeker Missile if it is deemed appropriate to the mission. These missiles allow XV88s to provide long-range accurate strikes at targets marked by Marker Lights, though they can also be "dumb-fired" as conventional weapons upon normal targets.
All XV88 Broadside Battlesuits feature a single additional hard-point in addition their weapon systems, which means that a single Battlesuit support system can be mounted on the Battlesuit's chassis. These are often selected to complement the role the Tau Commander or Battlesuit’s pilot envisages himself undertaking in an upcoming mission.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit pilots of the rank of Shas’vre or higher can also take a limited amount of Battlesuit wargear. Combat support systems listed as hard-wired are cybernetic in nature, and are either entirely contained within the Battlesuit helmet, or are implanted within the Fire Warrior's body as warrior jewellery and cannot be removed without surgery. Special issue items and signature systems are experimental or hard to mass produce, and are currently undergoing field-testing prior to becoming widely available. As such, their distribution is usually limited to one per Hunter Cadre. Signature systems, like Battlesuit wargear, can only be taken by Battlesuit pilots of the rank of Shas’vre or higher. Any XV88 Broadside Battlesuit can also be accompanied by up to two Tau Drones into battle, such as Gun Drones, Shield Drones and Marker Drones. However, due to their specialist heavy weapon nature, XV88 are unique in that they can also be accompanied by Missile Drones in combat, which can lend additional weight of fire at long ranges.
Available XV8 Battlesuit Combat Support SystemsEdit
Below is a list of the most common available support systems with which an XV88 Broadside Battlesuit can be equipped:
- Advanced Targeting Relay – An Advanced Targeting Relay is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the Battlesuit pilot to automatically identify and pick out priority targets in the midst of battle.
- Counterfire Defence System – A Counterfire Defence System is a valuable artificial intelligence (AI) sensor suite first designed to counter the threat of charging Ork hordes. It incorporates logic circuits to ensure that assaulting enemies are met with a withering curtain of unerringly accurate Battlesuit firepower.
- Drone Controller - A Drone Controller acts as a hub for communications and interface between an operator and the AI battle programs of a number of Tau Drones. It gives the owner the ability to relay additional targeting data they receive to the Drones, thus directing their fire more accurately towards the target.
- Early Warning Override – An Early Warning Override sensor suite is calibrated to detect the electronic signatures of teleport beams and orbital-entry jump systems, and jolt the Battlesuit 's weapon systems to lock-on status before the target has a chance to react.
- Positional Relay - A Positional Relay digitally records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight encrypted radio burst to assets in orbit and squads held in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the incoming units to make a better decision on where to deploy onto the battlefield and coordinate their actions as part of the overall strategy.
- Shield Generator - Battlesuit Shield Generators project cohesive energy fields around the Battlesuit that can deflect weapons fire and melee blows that would otherwise outright destroy the Battlesuit, whether they be shots from heavy ordnance or anti-tank weapons fire.
- Stimulant Injector - A Battlesuit with Stimulant Injectors is fitted with advanced life support systems that are able to flood the Battlesuit pilot's body with painkillers, analgesic drugs, and other life-sustaining stimulants should he become badly wounded in combat.
- Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the user to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
- Targetting Array - The Targetting Array is a relatively new application of the Target Lock technology used in vehicles. It provides assistance to aiming at targets.
- Velocity Tracker – The advanced motion detecting and heat seeking sensor systems built into a Velocity Tracker allows Battlesuit pilots to track the movements of airborne targets, and effectively engage them with the Battlesuit’s weapons.
- Bonding Knife - A Bonding Knife is a ceremonial Tau blade that is not intended for combat, but is carried by the leader of Tau Fire Warrior teams who have performed the Ta'lissera ritual and bonded as a group. Battlesuit pilots may not actually carry a true Bonding Knife but instead have a similar knife design painted onto their armour.
- Ejection System (Special Issue) - An Ejection System provides the pilot of a Battlesuit a chance to escape catastrophic damage by ranged fire to his Battlesuit by ejecting the pilot at the last second. The pilot then has to fend for himself on foot.
- Hard-wired Drone Controller - A hard-wired version of a Drone Controller.
- Hard-Wired Multi Tracker - A hard-wired version of a Multi Tracker.
- Hard-Wired Target Lock - A hard-wired version of a Target Lock sensor system.
- Command and Control Node - A Command and Control Node is a sophisticated artificial intelligence-assisted communications system used by a Tau Commander to communicate more effectively with other Fire Caste warriors around him, and better direct battlefield operations by linking all Tau targeting computers nearby together. Though the sheer amount of information received can seem overwhelming, a Tau Commander who masters the flood of data can better orchestrate the firepower of his forces.
- Failsafe Detonator – A Failsafe Detonator is intended to be the ultimate expression of the doctrine of the Greater Good, as it is used only in the direst of circumstances. A Failsafe Detonator is a powerful explosive that can be detonated by the Battlesuit pilot in order to allow his squad members to escape from close combat.
- Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite – A Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite represents the pinnacle of Tau sensor technology. Each system is an advanced prototype that can scan all known electromagnetic spectral bands to locate stealth-cloaked enemies, and relay this information back into the targeting computers of the squad members.
- Onager Gauntlet – Onager Gauntlets were first utilised during the Damocles Gulf Crusade to keep XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Teams effective against Imperial Guard armoured companies in extended operations where ammunition reserves were low. So armed, a warrior could punch a hole through the side of a battle tank, but the casualty rate whilst attempting to get close enough to use them was extremely high. Indeed, of the twelve original Onager Gauntlets, only one remained by the end of the campaign, recovered from Blackthunder Mesa where Commander Bravestorm's critically damaged Battlesuit was surrounded by the smoking wrecks of over a dozen Imperial armoured vehicles.
- Neuroweb System Jammer - The Tau seek mastery not only over their own technology, but also over that of other intelligent races. To this end, they have created the Neuroweb System Jammer; a device capable of broadcasting a jamming field that interferes with enemy weapon systems, causing critical, and sometimes explosive malfunctions.
- Puretide Engram Neurochip – Commander Puretide was undoubtedly the most gifted Tau Commander of all time. The Tau were unwilling to lose his tactical and strategic brilliance, and upon his death, his mind was scanned and his accumulated memories committed to a massive hologram program on his birth world of Dal'yth Prime. A sliver of that genius has been crafted into several bio-chips. When surgically implanted into the brain of a Fire Caste commander, the bearer can access much of the wisdom of Puretide himself from the Puretide Engram Neurochip, drawing upon a great reservoir of tactical acumen.
- Repulsor Impact Field - The Tau have attempted to reverse-engineer the gravitic tractor beam technology recovered from Ork wrecks for decades, but their attempts to decipher its workings remain largely futile, due in no small part to the complete lack of logical, uniform construction method employed by the Greenskins. So far, the sum total of Tau ingenuity has only managed to produce a small number of functioning Repulsor Impact Field generators, but field testing has proven them to be a devastating weapon capable of emitting a shock wave of gravitic energy that smashes into those nearby with immense force.
Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical SpecificationsEdit
|Serial Number||85673-9081588||Main Armament||2 Heavy Rail Rifles (Twin-linked)|
|Vehicle Codename||Broadside||Secondary Armament||2 Smart Missile Systems (Twin-linked)|
|Weight||3.8 tonnes||Elevation||-5° to +70°|
|Width||1.9 metres||Armour Type||Nano-Crystalline Alloy; Composition Unknown to Adeptus Mechanicus|
|Max Recorded Speed||15 kilometres per hour|
The XV88-2 Variant of the standard XV88 Broadside Battlesuit switches the mounting of the Heavy Rail Rifles and the variable weapons system in the shoulder and arm positions so that the Heavy Rail Rifles are attached to the arms and the other weapons system fires from the shoulders. The XV88-2 variant of the Broadside Battlesuit also possesses enhanced armour plating that has been tempered to better fit the shape of its chassis, and has extra stabilisers connecting the Heavy Rail Rifles to the Battlesuit's chassis which are required because of the shift in weight balance after their repositioning.
- Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pg. 30
- Imperial Armour - Apocalypse II , pp. 59, 81
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 175, 284
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 6-7