Without support weapon options or specialists, the role of the Naffatûn is more limited than most line troops. Their main advantage is that both profiles are armed with a rifle and a flamethrower. The flamethrower is a direct template weapon and therefore does not require a roll to hit. The profile with a light flamethrower also carries grenades.
Their BS of 11 is adequate, though hardly great, whilst the rifle is a reliable option, usable even at long range against a vulnerable target, although excelling at 8-16". Flamethrowers are a powerful weapon because a hit from one can only be prevented by dodging. Obviously if your opponent is dodging your flamethrower then they're not shooting back (but watch out for troops which using the engage skill, which counts as a dodge)!
Don't forget that template weapons allow you to use intuitive attack against camouflage markers in the active turn. This is significant as Naffatûn have Haqqislam's characteristic WIP value of 14; meaning they're reasonably likely to score a hit. Use this to force camouflage markers to decide between being hit by a flamethrower, or reacting with a dodge or shot, but revealing themselves immediately.
It's worth remembering that Naffatûn also carry pistols, and unlike many troops they have a reason to use them. In the 0-8" rangeband pistols get a +3BS bonus, whereas rifles get +0. Generally using the pistol instead of the rifle at this range means you're more likely to win the face-to-face roll with your opponent but less likely to inflict a wound due to the pistol's lower damage.
Besides cover a Naffatûn's only real defence is that your opponent is likely to be hesitant to bring a valuable troop into flamethrower range. Flamethrowers have a significant advantage as an ARO weapon in that you don't need to pass a face-to-face roll to hit with one, if your opponent is shooting. Unlike a rifle or pistol which is very unlikely to do much when you're rolling 1 dice against your opponent's 3, 4, or even 5. What this actually means is that in engagements where the flamethrower is in range, a naffatun is easily able to threaten very expensive troops that it could never win a face-to-face roll against. This makes a well-positioned naffatun a reasonable defensive option.
Being armed with a both a conventional gun and a direct template weapon is what makes Naffatûns able to pull off some tricks. Depending on what your opponent chooses to do you can always force a favourable confrontation:
- If they dodge you can shoot the rifle or pistol with no risk, and maybe even cancel their dodge by winning the face-to-face.
- If they shoot you can fire the flamethrower to guarantee a hit of your own. This will likely kill both models, but that's usually a good trade for you as a Naffatûn is 12 or 13 points.
- Flamethrowers can "accidentally" burn camo markers by targeting a nearby enemy model.
- The profiles with grenades can use speculative fire to attack over walls.
Against Naffatûn deployed for any AROs the simple option is to get an HMG, spitfire, or similar high burst weapon into line of sight and blast them to bits. Naffatûn are not particularly accurate or tough.
To counter Naffatûn from within flamethrower range is more complicated. The easiest way is probably to use an even cheaper troop to trade, likely a warband unit. Another method is using a high PH troop to repeatedly dodge into melee. Once in melee it should be easy to take them down. Another option, which you only want to use if you're short on choices, is to use a tough model (high armour, multiple wounds/structure) to shoot the Naffatûn, then take the flame hit and rely on your defensive stats to minimize the damage.
Being as cheap as our other line troop, the Ghulam, and having an availability as high as we're ever likely to need (4), taking several Naffatûn is quite an easy way to bulk out a combat group with several additional orders. Having said this, it only costs a few points more to upgrade one to a support specialist model (such as a Barid, or a Najjarun), which may be more helpful for the mission. However if you're looking for a model that will sit in your deployment zone, provide orders to your other troops, and be sufficiently scary as a close-range ARO piece, the Naffatûn is a very good option.
Naffatûn can be taken as cheap lieutenants. However, it is usually recommended to field a minimum of two plausible lieutenant options if you have a particularly vulnerable lieutenant because you don't want your opponent killing the real one immediately. Taking an identically armed decoy or two is often a good idea.
Deploy each Naffatûn either in a position to ARO with it's rifle and flamethrower combo, or as safely hidden as possible and in position to counter-attack against enemy troops stranded on your side of the board.
With multiple Naffatûn you should typically spread them across your deployment zone, so that one will always be on hand and in a good position.
If your army size and deployment zone force you to deploy several models behind a single piece of cover then making one of them a Naffatûn can help protect the whole group. If the attacker has to deal with a flamethrower in order to attack the other troops then your opponent may hesitate to attack with a valuable unit. Just make sure you can angle the template past you own troops as you deploy.
Active Turn Role
As mere line troops Naffutûn should not often be spending orders, usually only acting if your opponent's movement has put one in a good position (or you're desperate and have no better options).
Naffutûn can be set up to ARO in two distinct ways, with the flamethrower or the rifle.
The rifle has two uses as an ARO weapon. It can either take advantage of it's +3 range from 8-16" by covering a cluttered area, or it can use its long -3 rangeband to prevent attacks from more distant troops. The latter option is obviously safer with troops that won't be able to fight back such as landing AD units or warband troops with short-ranged weapons. 8s to hit an enemy out of cover isn't terrible if they don't have a better weapon than you.
To ARO with the flamethrower you ideally want to maintain line of sight that is no longer than your template range, and position yourself in an important bottleneck at the front of your deployment zone. In this case the Naffatûn is essentially acting as a living mine, forcing attacking troops to deal with the flamethrower before they can get past.
On the occasions when surviving or preventing your opponent's action by winning a face-to-face is more important than dealing damage, the pistol is a useful close range ARO option to be considered over the flamethrower.