This is the 7th Edition tactics. Other editions can be found at Warhammer 40,000/Tactics.
- 1 Why Play Tau
- 2 Tau Armoury
- 3 Warlord Traits
- 4 Unit Analysis
- 5 Allies
- 6 Supplements
- 7 Formations
- 8 Games Supplements
- 9 Building Your Army
- 10 Helpful Hints and Fun Strategies
- 11 Wise Words of Wisdom
Why Play Tau
When you start a Tau army, you know others are going to hate you, be it because you're bringing a plasmagun to a knife fight, thrashing their best guys with Gundam-style battlesuits, or abusing the ever-loving shit out of cheap-and-effective long-range missile strikes and widely-available infiltration and cover-save-raping. You may win battles, but that is not your goal as a Tau player: you play Tau to drink your enemies' tears.
Veteran Tau Commanders recommend an order of sushi to go with those tears.
Remember, you cannot spell "Taunt" without "Tau".
With 6-th and 7-th edition being all about shooting, Tau, with their focus on shooting and nothing else are at their peak, competing with Eldar, Necrons and
Astra Militarum Imperial Guard for the title of the cheesiest power faction in the game, while routinely tearing apart most other armies. You have all the rules to fit the crunch changes: widely available ignore cover against bullshit 3+/2+ cover saves everyone throws around and area terrain covering half of the board, easily the best anti-air in the game against flying cheese, excelent mobility to hunt objectives in Maelstrom missions, and monstrous creatures in every slot but Troops to capitalize on their effectiveness in a current edition. About the only thing you don't have is anti-psychic defense, but with the reduce of warp-charge-effectiveness in 7-th edition it's no longer such a huge problem.
Thats not to say you can park your guunline, back it up with power units end expect it to mow everything thrown at it - that's Guard and Necron way. With Tau you need to support even your "power" units in order for them to earn their points, and carefully pick key targets to be focusfired one by one, since most things in your army works better when you concentrate your firepower. Good thing pretty much your entire HQ and half of FA are force multipliers or could be made into ones, and your superior range allows for better focus firing.
So to sum it all, Tau are a power army. Not only do you have delicious cheese combos, but all other armies' cheese could be hard countered by you to the ground. Mass flyers? Velotrackers on everything! All terminator army? Eat plasma/ion interceptor shots! Heavily covered gunline? Ignore cover with markerlights! Nidzilla/Wraitharmy? Our cheap snipers would drown them in poisoned wounds. Mass heavy mech? Fusion blaster drops and EMP grenades everywhere! Hordes of light vehicles? Oh boy, our basic guns are S5 and their jink saves wouldn't help them due to markerlights.Deep striking dedicated melee Units with Feel No Pain? Counterfire Defence Systems, and Early Warning Overrides will help you make short work of them. There is no way one can out-cheese properly prepared Tau. Not like you can do all of these with one army, but if you want to ruin the day of some local gameclub cheesemonger Tau are definitely your army.
Modeling note: If you mind the the weeaboo aesthetic of the Tau battlesuits, Forge World makes variants of the Crisis and Broadside suits (as well as a named commander) that are more in line with the "high-tech aliens" look of the rest of the range. They even have a Riptide!
Bonding Knife Ritual: A unit with this upgrade has Heroic Morale, allowing them to always test to regroup on their unmodified Leadership. Is it that useful? Perhaps too early to tell, but it is cheap... then again, if your Fire Warriors are running away, there's a good chance something has gone horribly wrong and regrouping won't save you now. I would always take it on squads of suits that include drones. The increased squad size can mean being below 25% is a possibility and only cost up to 3 points (since drones don't take it). Spending 3 points to make sure your last suit doesn't have to roll snake eyes to regroup is worth it. Note that if you're running a Farsight army, this is mandatory.
Supporting Fire: One of the new biggies, this rule lets all units within 6" Overwatch as if they were members of the charged squad. Note that each model can still only Overwatch once per phase. This is absolutely vital; it can stave off assault by a turn or more. It can be especially devastating when combined with copious amounts of Markerlights, which due according to Pinpoint, benefit during Overwatch. It allows your infantry (and some battlesuits) to become a "wall of pikemen." If you keep the units tight together, the enemy charge will not break, but it will be much more painful for them if they try it, and they will be likely to lose a few models just closing the distance. The survivors will still kick your blue ass though, so do not count on it. This is especially hilarious when combined with 30 man Kroot squads stretched out from table edge to table edge, allowing for units 30 inches from the assaulting squad to auto-hit with flamers. If enemy complains, flip to Wall of Death and prance about.
Markerlights: As any defender of the Tau'va worth their salt should know, Markerlights are what turns a rambling mob of morons into a synergetic army of hard cheddar. The delivery system for these little babies has stayed the same; Pathfinders, Tetras, Markerdrones & Skyrays (amongst other niche delivery systems). Their uses have been ever more streamlined, leaving you with the most beneficial uses. These being;
- Pinpoint: Spend 1 marker for +1 BS with no limit even to snaps shots and overwatch, if you happen to have markerlighting units in supporting fire range (which you really should in a Redcoat gunline army).
- Seeker: Spend 1 marker to fire a seeker missile at BS5 with Homing (ignore line of sight) and Ignores Cover. The missile must be fired by the unit spending the token and must be at the same target that the rest of the unit is firing at.
- Scour: Spend 2 markers to give the entire firing unit Ignores Cover against the marked target. In all better than before seeing as it used to take on average three markerlight points to completely negate someone's cover save. This sees good use amongst skimmers that can use a jink save, since jink confers a 4+ cover save. Since you can't save against markerlights then an enemy has no opportunity to make use of their jink ability.
Skyfire: While this isn't a rule that all Tau actually have standard, a plethora of units in the codex have access to Skyfire. This makes Tau the absolute leader of 7th edition in anti-air tactics. A tactic that was popular when the codex was first launched in 6th edition was to put Skyfire on next to anything that could take it, but this is far too expensive. But don't forget the fact that you have some very interesting options due to your army's flexibility. Opponent likes to run a Vendetta/Night Scythe/Storm Raven exploit list, then two squads of High-Yield Missile Pod Broadsides equipped with velocity trackers can very quickly ruin their day- or, with their Twin-linked ability, just take an EWO and get rid of the bastards before they're even a problem. Either way, a Tau army can easily rule the skies. Remember this.
- Precision of the Skilled Hunter: Enemies can't use Look Out, Sir! when shot at by your Warlord. Useful for sniping the enemy Warlord if he is a coward and a fewl and hides in a METAL BAW- I mean, if he hides in a unit.
- Through Unity, Devastation: For one Shooting phase, all Tau within 12" reroll To Hit rolls of 1. Particularly useful if you're deploying as a nice castled up gunline, then your first turn of shooting just gets magnificent. Especially if you combine with Markerlights. Note that in 7th edition, there now exists a warlord trait in the base rulebook (Target Priority from the Command Traits table) that provides the exact same benefit but is not single-use. Meaning this trait just became far less special.
- However, this can be situationally extremely useful, provided the situation is lots of Gets Hot weapons. Imagine a XV104 Riptide firing a heavy burst cannon on full nova-charge, while a hammerhead gunship overcharges its ion cannon, supported by pathfinders overcharging their ion rifles? Anything targeted by this combination is dead, dead, dead, and you run (statistically very low to) no risk to yourself while this is in effect. Some cheesemonger who concentrates all their points in some kind of super-unit will explode with rage when hit by this. Get your tearcup.
- A Ghost Who Walks Among Us: The Warlord and his unit move 3d6" with their Jet Packs. It makes them much less likely to have a snake-eyed fail of a thrust move. Commander Shadowsun gets this trait by default if taken as your warlord.
- Exemplar of the Selfless Cause: Once per game, all units that have gone to ground stand back up and act normally. This means you can weather a turn of enemy shooting, then stand right back up and shoot him in the face; needless to say, this is one of the better Warlord Traits. Aun'va gets this trait by default if taken as your warlord.
- Predator of the Skies: For one Shooting Phase, you Warlord and his squad get Skyfire - which you might already have from a Velocity Tracker. Still, it's not that bad, it just might not fit your Warlord's role. It's great if your Warlord's unit has markerlights.
- Through Boldness, Victory: Your Warlord and his unit don't scatter on Deep Strike. If you're planning to do a Commander-bomb, this is the one you should fervently hope/pray for. Commander Farsight gets this trait by default (if taken as your warlord), and can deepstrike with SEVEN bodyguard suits (and all their drones)(and a second commander with drones if you're feeling saucy) with guaranteed no-mishap. You'll need another tearcup.
X: The Assassin: This one is special, because only one Commander gets it - O'Rly. It grants Preferred Enemy: Independent Characters. You get no matter if IC is alone, attached to a unit or hiding elsewhere, and it works well enough to blast the things, hulls and idiots that get in the way as long as IC still alive and attached. It, sadly, doesn't give you Preferred Enemy to target character's squadmates, but they're usually eager to catch the death for their boss with their "Look Out, sir!" and the like.
The new Death From the Skies gives you the ability to bolster flyers with a special rule. For 35 points, you can roll d3 and give a Flyer or FMC (FGC are up to debate though) a special bonus. Not available on the Y'Vahra because of that one rule it has.
- Targeting Array: +1 BS. Could be useful in conserving Markerlights if you're going economical with them.
- Stealth Shielding: All cover is improved by +1 to a 3+ Cover Save. Expect to spam this to keep them running.
- Marker Plane: Any targets within 12" gain d3 Markrlights in exchange for shooting. Rejoice as you give your troops an opening to kill with.
There are a few notes on selecting equipment for a Tau army. The way wargear has been selected has been changed in the new codex to stay in line with the way the 6th Edition Codices are being written. Now units select off of one of four lists depending on the type of unit they are. Some units can also take up to two drones, this is a simple choice out of three possible standard-issue drone types. The pathfinders, Broadsides, and Riptide have special issue drones exclusive to them which can be taken instead of or in addition to (depending on the unit) the standard drones.
Non-Battlesuit Ranged Weaponry
- Pulse rifle The basic Fire Warrior weapon, this has a Range of 30", Strength 5 and AP 5, as well as being Rapid Fire, possibly one of the best basic weapons in the game now that it's not affected by the Plasma siphon, just remember how you want to play it
- Pulse Carbine The other Basic Fire Warrior weapon, and the basic loadout for Pathfinders, this thing has a Range of 18", Strength 5 and AP 5, but has Assault 2 and Pinning, meaning it can pump out more shots at its comparatively shorter range and has the chance to stop your enemies, this is better if you expect to be facing down highly mobile foes with low leadership, just expect to take a fair bit of damage before you get in range, comes with a built in underslung grenade launcher, which fluff-wise launches photon grenades, but crunch-wise just justifies pinning, although blind would be more fitting.
- Kroot Rifle The basic Kroot Rifle is just a downgraded Pulse Rifle, with a Range of 24", Strength of 4, AP 6 and Rapid Fire it's hard to imagine why you would take it, unless you're low on points or want numbers to face off against the Imperial Guard. This weapon is much better with the investment of an extra point per model to give it Sniper Rounds, this turns it into Range 24", Strength X, AP6, Heavy 1 and Sniper, which is a good deal on infiltrating troops.
- Kroot Gun Mounted on the back of Krootox's and 'manned' by a Kroot gunner these things are heavy duty varients of the Kroot Rifle above with Range 48", Strength 7, AP 4 and Rapid Fire the ability to put 3 of these with an infiltrated Kroot gunline is a good idea for an alpha strike, just don't expect the users to survive for long.
- Rail Rifles So much fun, these things are great weapons for a Pathfinder squad needing some special weapons, with a Range of 30", Strength 6, AP 1 and Rapid Fire these things will make an enemy keep his head down and his light vehicles hidden, just be aware you're trading away a Markerlight for this and can only take a Maximum of 3 special weapons per Squad at an extra 15 Points each.
- Ion Rifle The other Pathfinder special weapon, once again a Range of 30", but a Strength of 7, Ap 4 and Rapid Fire, these are more for putting the hurt on Elite troops, and can be overcharged for Range 30", Strength 8, Ap 4, Heavy 1, Blast and Gets Hot, so you can fry your little Pathfinders brain with radiation should you wish, however, much like the Rail Rifles above you can only take a maximum of three Special Weapons per squad (less if you've already taken Rail Rifles) at an extra 10 points each.
- Markerlights There is a page for these guys, go there because there is too much to say for here, but needless to say they are awesome and a necessary part for your army to function.
- Neutron Blaster The Vespid's signature weapon, not quite as shit as before with a Range of 18", Strength 5, AP 3 and Assault 1, these guns do make for decent enough Marine killer with their AP and their short-ish range is somewhat negated by the Vespid's movement range of 12", just remember to back them up with some Markerlights if you want them to be a threat.
- Pulse Pistol A nasty little surprise for anyone closing in on a Firesight Marksman this thing has Range 12", Strength 5, Ap 5 and Pistol, and does make for a decent enough weapon of last resort backed up by a BS 5 wielder, just don't expect it to save your guys from a Tyranid horde.
- Longshot Pulse Rifle A Supercharged Pulse Rifle designed for sniper fire this thing has a Range of 48", Strength X, AP 5, Rapid Fire and Sniper, and only comes on Sniper Drones, just remember to position them properly because, while the Drones might be Jetpack Infantry, their controller is not, and he'll be footslogging up and down the table if you need to move him.
- Burst Cannon Can be mounted on a Recon Drone if you want to bolster your Pathfinders even more with a Range 18", Strength 5, Ap 5 and Assault 4 gatling cannon, just remember it's expensive to field here, and is better suited to being on a Battlesuit or Vehicle (see Below).
- Missile Pods Only found on Missile Drones these are good Light Vehicle hunters with a Range of 36", Strength 7, Ap 4 and Assault 2. Missile Drones can only be taken with Broadsides thanks to the Errata, but using split fre these could potentially Glance a Light Vehicle to death while the Broadside focuses fire on heavier threats or fliers.
Battlesuit Ranged Weaponry
These are chosen for Crisis suits, including the Commander and his Bodyguards.
Note: You can make a weapon twin-linked for some extra points and it will take up a second hard point (same as last codex), or you can take multiples of the same weapon at the base cost for each. Example: You could take a Plasma Rifle for 15 points, Twin-Linked Plasma Rifle for 20 points, or two individual Plasma Rifles for 30 points (15 points each).
- Airbursting Fragmentation Projector*: This was iffy in the last codex when it was damn near the only thing with a blast template, and it's still iffy now. An average S and AP mean that Pulse Carbines and Rifles out class it in most aspects. It's only really useful against cover-camping cowards. Cover camping blob armies will be kinda pissed, but anyone with reasonable AP or T will laugh it off. The update from blast to large blast helps it though. It is worth noting that this is the only Barrage weapon in the entire codex. Flamers do the same STR and AP, ignores cover , costs 10 points less, and gets guaranteed hits in overwatch (they both ignore cover, and this gets more hits regularly and has better range). Pass.
- Burst Cannon: Same as last time except with 1 extra shot. Good for dealing with light infantry and when combined with a flamer it's awesome at tackling hordes. However you get lots of S5 AP5 shots elsewhere. All in all, not a bad choice but not a great one either, this weapon will be more likely to come into its own with other wargear made to take maximum advantage of it. If you are going to take them, consider taking two of them on one unit as the separately linked weapons, and chug out eight shots from a single Crisis suit per turn, and indulge your Gatling fetish, you sick bastard. An even better option is taking three suits doubled up on burst cannons for the ultimate ninja-pulse team. 24 5/5 shots out of nowhere, even better if they're marker-lit up (do it, you don't want those shots to miss), and it gets absolutely retarded when the suits have six gun drones. Say good-bye to that guardian cluster, guardsman squad, ork boy mob, guant team... or at least enough that the rest is laughably pitiful. More troll-worthy than anything to see the look on your opponent's face when your three suits drop THAT many dice. Watch enemy Orks go green(er) with envy at the absolutely XBOX HUEG amount of dakka you put out.
- If you're gonna go Farsight Crisiswing, outfitting a team with double Burst Cannons (and gun drones for a taste) can be perfect at clearing hordes or cheap and fast tarpit units like DE beasts or Chaos Spaw...WAIT, NO I DIDN'T MEAN-AjRSPLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBLBL
- Cyclic Ion Blaster*: This has been changed to be an extra shot missile pod in normal mode (with half the range). In overcharge mode it becomes a +1S blast. The only downside is the chance to burn your little weeaboo fingers. Not a bad choice as it costs the same as a missile pod but it doesn't have the option to TL.
- Flamer: Good old reliable, If you have points and hard-points to spare stick them on. They are a good deterrent for weaker units trying to tie up battlesuits. Another idea is to stick them on a crisis suit who has a TL-Burst cannon, since Multi-trackers come as standard now it's a good way of cheap fire at 42pts
32pts (22+5+5)(22+15[TL-BC]+5) a model. Just remember that you only get to fire a single weapon in overwatch (multi-tracker specifies shooting phase)(actually, if someone gets semantic about that, the page where it says a unit can only fire one weapon also specifies shooting phase), so loading double flamers on to suits for extra OW hits is a no-go. That said, you can take two as a single twin-linked weapon and that twin-linked flamer can be fired on Overwatch, giving it all that to-wound re-rolling flaming goodness as your enemy charges in. *addendum* overwatch is defined as a shooting phase in your enemys assault, blow away! Actually overwatch is defined as a normal shooting attack resolved in the enemy assault phase, no where does it say it counts as another shooting phase, so it's still a no-go
- Fusion Blaster: 6" extra to the range might not seem like a lot but it is,this makes deep striking and cracking open the soft caramel center of vehicles all that much easier. Properly measured, it puts you on average 16" away from the vehicle that you just exploded at the end of your assault phase, making charges from units left to defend them far less likely.
- Missile Pod: Excellent for sniping walkers, other light vehicles and the odd monstrous critter or two (Ones with invuls or low armour svs to be exact). The low output of shots however that battlesuits equipped with these should avoid firing at larger sized units unless they have no better option. A tactic of old was to stick one of these with a plasma rifle. This tactic still works thanks to good range. Now that Multi-tracker comes as standard it leaves a hard-point open to be filled. Velocity Tracker or Early-warning override are good choices in this ever flyer centric age.
- Plasma Rifle: Before the inclusion of the Riptide and the new Ion weapons, this was the Tau's only source of reliable AP2 weaponry. Not that the new codex has not stopped their usefulness. They have good range and are rapid-fire. Stick them on and go troll me some big fat slow Terminators. In truth though even a full unit all equipped with TL-Plasma rifles are still going to need more than 6 shots, so consider a second plasma rifle (thanks, FAQ!) to back you up.
*Only one of these experimental weapons each may be taken per detachment. This means that you only need to make the basic 1HQ 2 Troop tax if you want to bring in another one of these weapons. If you run Farsight, this definitely becomes a plus.
- Heavy Rail Rifle Only found on the XV-88 Broadside Battlesuit, this rifle has the second-best range of any Battlesuit mounted weapon, coming in at Range 60", S8, AP1, Heavy 1 and Twin-Linked. Replacing the shoulder-mounted Railguns on Broadsides from 5th Ed, the Twin-Linked nature of this weapon makes it more likely to hit than the singular Railgun of a Hammerhead, and with the addition of a Velocity Tracker this can be an extremely effective anti-flier weapon.
- High Yield Missile Pod Once again only found on the XV-88 Broadside Battlesuit, this weapon trades in the raw power and Range of the Heavy Rail rifle in order to deliver a higher number of weaker attacks at a shorter range coming in at Range 36", S7, AP4, and Heavy 4, much better suited to Glacing to death light vehicles than the single high strength shot of the Heavy Rail rifle it replaces.
- Smart Missile System Comes as standard on XV-88 Broadside Battlesuits in a Twin-Linked pair, clocking in at Range 30", S5, AP5, Heavy 4 Homing and Ignores Cover, this is the weapon you use when your poor Broadside is coming under threat by roving bands of Melta Units, or if you need to conserve Markerlight Tokens and your opponent is already within the 30" range.
These can be taken by nearly all battlesuit variants, albeit to varying degrees; Broadsides, for instance, can only take one. Items marked as (standard issue) come with all battlesuits, do not need to be purchased, and do not count toward a suit's support system limit. They are included for the sake of completeness.
- Advanced Targeting System: Allows an equipped model to use the Precision Shot Special Rule (get to pick the model to take the wound on a to-hit roll of 6). In the case of being equipped on a character their Precision Shot roll is enhanced to 5+. Consider equipping them with this plus a burst cannon and a cyclonic ion blaster to maximize the odds of sniping special weapons and characters from enemy units as a kind of tactical-level Mont'ka maneuver.
- Blacksun Filter (standard issue): Tau Nightvision, it grants the Night Vision special rule (obviously) and immunity to Blind, which is nice, since Blind become more common nowadays and could seriously fuck your I2 gundams up. Unlike certain options (like searchlights) available to other forces, this does not give away its user's position at night. Once a separate option, this now comes as standard issue equipment built into all Tau battlesuits for free and without occupying a hardpoint.
- Counterfire Defense System: Increases a model's Overwatch fire from the normal BS1 shot for snap-fire to BS2. For my money and points I'd rather a Flamer. In most cases you'd get more hits and wounds. It's a personal choice though, can be useful if you decide to go TEQ hunting with some plasma rifles. Also a good choice if you feel like investing in support systems on your stealth suits. When combined with drone controller would allow you to overwatch at BS2 with marker drones to boost someone else supporting fire (massive hilarious if "someone else" are pathfinders)
- Drone Controller: Formerly necessary for a unit to use drones, that functionality has become built-in. This new little bad boy works to enhance the drone's function, meaning the drones in your unit use the same BS as the bearer, making Markerlight hits that much easier to get. If your squad is taking any sizable amounts of drones (unless they are all shield drones) then think of including this as it will make up its point quickly.
- Early Warning Override: A battlesuit aimbot program. Provides Interceptor. While your first thought would be to combine it with velocity tracker, its too expensive to be effective against anything save absolute cheesemongering (i.e. all-air lists). Instead use interceptor rule for what it was designed: to shoot down reserves at the end of THEIR MOVEMENT PHASE. Do not forget to bring your tearcup while your Riptide blows apart tightly packed teleporting terminators or drop-podded Sternquards with single ion accelerator blast. A decent buy all things considered.
- Multi-tracker (standard issue): Sensors and targeting systems which allow a unit to manage the fire power of two weapons simultaneously, like a battlesuited John Woo action hero. Once a separate hardpoint-filling option, its popularity (bordering on ubiquity) has made it a now standard issue piece of equipment built into every battlesuit, so comes free with the unit and does not occupy a hardpoint.
Note: There is an argument here about whether or not they work in Overwatch. Most people go with the "Multi-trackers only work in the Shooting Phase not the Enemy Assault Phase" side of the argument, although there are some notable exceptions (like the NOVA tournament organizers) that think otherwise. Make your own judgement call.
- Positional Relay: This allows outflankers in reserve in your army move in from the same board edge as the bearer provided he is within 6", including both your opponent's edge and your own. Used correctly this could allow you control of most of the board. However there isn't much need for lots of these in your army. Expect to use it more often on larger point games. Note that this piece of gear also comes as standard with recon drones that can accompany pathfinder squads, so weigh that in consideration for this if you are already taking pathfinders.
- Shield Generator: Another that remains unchanged. It grants you a 4+ invulnerable save. Basically it's a one upped version of the Stimulant injector. Combine the pair and add shield drones for a model that just simply refuses to die.
- Stimulant injector: Again another item that is no longer one per army. This will give the equipped model feel no pain. It's not cheap but it prevents a wound on a 5+ that is only denied by instant death. Get it if you have the points and the unit in question is likely to see a lot of fire and needs the endurance.
- Target Lock: Allows the model to fire at a different target from the rest of the unit. This tool, while cheap, is often over-used. More often than not the one extra weapon does not make the difference. The only real time its effectiveness comes into play is when used in conjunction with fusion-blaster wielding, deep striking, jihad shouting, suicide squads. Deploy them onto the back armoured line of a foe and watch him cry. Remember to have your china tear cup at the ready. It is worth noting that all models in the unit fire at the same time, regardless of whether or not all of the dice are rolled together. (In other words, you have to choose all your targets at once, rather than waiting to see what the results of your target locked model are.)
- Vectored Retro-thrusters: No longer one per army this gives the model both fleet and hit and run. Useful if you get bogged down in combat and need to redeploy quickly. The only downside is a poor I means that you won't always pull out in time, unless you get drones (which are I4 for some reason), stick it in a Farsight Bomb (Farsight is I5), or put it on a commander who is palling around with Vespid (who are I6, but why would you do that?) (Why indeed, since Vespid have Hit and Run anyway.). Note: You only need 1 suit with this system in order to give the entire unit the benefits of Hit and Run, but you need to give this to everyone in the unit if you want to gain the benefits of Fleet.
- Velocity Tracker: Another new toy. This thing allows a model to choose on a turn-by-turn basis whether it wants to use the Skyfire rule or not (so that unit can be firing at fliers one turn and ground units the next with no penalty to either.) Slapping these on Broadsides may be everyone's first move but they don't do too badly on Crisis suits or the riptide either. Combine with Early Warning Override to give flier heavy lists an early bus ticket home.
These are taken by the Commander, his Bodyguards, or Crisis Shas'vres. Basically, these are the equivalent to the artifacts/relics of other books. Note: Only one of each can be taken per army. On a Crisis Commander or Bodyguard these take up no Support Slots and as such any number of each could feasibly be equipped, (meaning you could be a complete retard and stuff all of it on one single Shas'O if you wanted) however only three systems total from the Weapons, Support and Signature lists can be taken on a Crisis Team Shas'vre.
- Command and Control Node: A 4th ed piece of tech that was killed off in the switch to 5th ed when target priority tests went the way of the dodo. Back from the dead and clocking in at 15pts, it makes all of a unit's weapons Twin-linked at the cost of giving up the bearer's own shooting. Using this and Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite on a gigantic Farsight bodyguard squad looks broken on paper and kicks total ass.
- Failsafe Detonator: Useful as a last 1 fingered salute to anyone assaulting you and not much more. Select if you wish to put on units you don't expect to survive the battle, but by no means an auto-include.
- XV-8-02 Iridium Battlesuit: Adds 1 Toughness and gives a 2+ save. Don't waste this on a Crisis Shas'vre save it for the commander (Your warlord if there isn't an Ethereal present) Alternate opinion: put this on a bodyguard loaded up with stims and a shield generator and you'll keep your commander's support systems free for maximum offense while having a bodyguard (who causes you to auto-pass Look Out Sir rolls) to act as a T5, 2+, 4++, FNP whipping boy while leaving your commanders hard points free to load up on dakka
- Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite: Like Command and control, you forgo shooting with this model in place of giving the model's unit's ranged weapons the ignore cover special rule. Take it on your Commander with the Command and Control Node, because if you're doing something else with it, you're probably wrong (see above regarding Crisis Shas'vre).
- Neuroweb System Jammer: At 2pts this little gadget is an auto-include. At the start of your shooting phase the bearer selects 1 enemy unit within 12" to have its weapons get hot until the end of the next turn. Even if you never use it it can still be funny to watch your foe create a wide area of space around the bearer.
- Onager Gaunlet: The first close combat weapon for a battlesuit. Shame there is only 1 and it only gives 1 S10 AP1 attack. Can be useful for opening tin cans or crumpling lower key characters in challenges. Just watch out however as you're still Tau and 1 attack that you may miss with isn't all that when you're T4 with a 3+ save. On the other hand, HIDDEN POWER FIST! That unlike similar weapons it does not strike at I1 should come as a surprise to anyone expecting a Tau commander to go down immediately in close combat to a monstrous creature without a good chance of taking the thing with them.
- Puretide Engram Neurochip: Select one of five special rules (Counter-Attack, Furious Charge, Monster Hunter, Stubborn, or Tank Hunter) at the start of Movement. The bearer has it until the next turn. The only ones of note are Monster Hunter (situational at best) and Tank Hunter (correctly outfitted Crisis suits who are going after tanks probably won't need it) which will benefit the entire unit, but the 3 others are close combat related and only affect the bearer and therefore mostly pointless. Although if you know that CC is inevitable I guess it might be worth popping one of the CC abilities since every little bit helps.
- Repulsor impact Field: Another neat (anti-)assault gadget. It's like a flechette discharger for battlesuits. It won't make an enemy unit think twice about hitting you though, but the handful of I10 hits might score you an wound before your opponent strikes. If you're taking any assault phase gadgets, it's best to take them in a bunch although the points will pile up fast.
- XV-81 Prototype (Forge World) Once limited to commanders, it is now available to all able to take Signature Wargear...so, mostly still commanders. The Model gains the Extremely Bulky rule, but in return, gains a Smart Missile System. Limits you to taking a maximum of two other weapon options, but who the fuck takes TL weapons on a Commander anyway? Does not stop you from spending your full four choices on support systems. Plus, 25 points isn't too much to ask for this nice piece of equipment,
but unless you desperately need one, is a little risky for most armies. Use with caution.Combine with the Iridium suit for some real lulz.
- XV-84 Prototype(Forge World) Also once limited to commanders, the XV-84 contains a Networked Markerlight and a Target Lock. Useful for supporting a low BS unit with a networked markerlight, the XV-84 would probably see its best use in a Farsight Bomb. At 20 points, the suit is a relatively cheap addition to any force.
Only Drones that can be taken by more than one unit entry are discussed here. The rest will be discussed in their related entry. All drones discussed now cost 12pts (with the exception of Shielded Missile Drones, which cost 25pts each). This is a big decrease for the marker drone, a minor decrease for the shield and a minor increase for the gun drone.
- Gun Drone: Has lost its Jetpack Jump infantry status and has been demoted to simply Jet pack infantry. Still with the changes to assault carbine being assault 2 and drone controller giving the drones the same BS as the bearer it has made them a much more usable option for some extra firepower.
- Marker Drone: A staple of many Tau armies has just seen a massive improvement! Watch as markerlights rain down as heavy as the tears of your fallen enemy. 16pts has been taken off the tab and it benefits greatly from improved BS granted by having a Drone controller in the unit. The down play that not many players have noticed yet is loss of Networked markerlight. Meaning you better have two units firing at the same target and some pathfinders if everyone is going to benefit from those lovely markerlight hits.
- Missile Drone: It's a missile pod in a drone. Due to errata it can only be taken by Broadsides.
- Shield Drone: It's a shield generator in a drone. It's actually a cheaper, more effective shield generator to boot. Cheaper than the support system version by 13pts. It gives multi-wound characters a second chance at outlasting any scary S8 weapons that would insta-kill it. Even if not attached to Commanders it still makes a decent addition to any unit that can take it. Unless you have other plans or points are too tight, you cannot go wrong attaching a pair of these to Crisis suits, as they are tough enough to whether some anti-infantry fire, but not so robust that they can easily survive anti-armor weapons. The shield drones will let them do so, at least long enough to neutralize the threat to them. If these are the only drones you take, then there is no need for a drone controller. A full crisis team can take six of them without using up any support slots at all.
- Shielded Missile Drone: A cross between a Missile Drone and a Shield Drone, combining the strengths of both types. Only Riptides can use them, but on the bright side they also have T6.
Vehicle Battle Systems
- Advanced Targeting System: It gives "To Hit" Rolls of 6 Precision shot. A trollworthy thing if your Rail Gun can insta-gib a enemy HQ hidden within meatshields, but there are plenty of snipers in the codex that are better suited for this role. Doesn't make it any less hilarious though.
- Automated Repair System: On a 6 it repairs a weapon destroyed or immobilised result. It's cheap and can give you back what you once thought lost. Use if you have points to spare.
- Blacksun Filter: While these come as standard on battlesuits, they still have to be paid for by vehicles. It lets you ignore Night Fighting and Blind effects. As it's so cheap, it's hardly points wasted even if you don't ever get to use it.
- Decoy Launchers: 4+ invul to glancing or penetrating hits caused by the interceptor rule. By far the best use of this is on the flyers. Makes those nasty quad guns seem like a bad dream. Sadly it has little other use.
- Disruption Pod: It gives a +1 to your cover save, so it effectively acts like stealth while still being stackable with stealth. Not as brokenly powerful as it as before, but still pretty damn good.
4+3+ in 7th in the open is great. Always buy it for your tanks, never for aircraft, unless you expect jinking a lot (which you don't).
- Flechette Discharger: Fires a S4 number of hits equal to the number of folk in contact with it. Scares lightly armoured grenadiers (meltabomb vets, witches and swooping hawks comes in mind), but MEQ's don't give a shit about it.
- Point Defence Targeting relay: The S5 and below weapons can overwatch. Gives the vehicle Supporting Fire as well.
- Sensor Spines: Gives move through Cover. Another case by case one. Useful for hiding tanks in cover, especially with disruption pods, but almost worthless on fast skimmers and definitely worthless on flyers.
- Ethereal: Ethereals used to be a bad joke for the Tau army along with Vespids (the Fast Attack bad joke). They provided marginal benefit coupled with a serious drawback leading to much regicidal humour. So it came upon the Hamster to improve this rather terrible selection and so he made an attempt: instead of a meager benefit, all friendly units from this codex with a model within a foot of an Ethereal must use his leadership for Fear, Morale, Pinning and Regroup checks; in addition to this the Ethereal can grant all friendly non-vehicle Tau units one of four abilities each movement phase: Stubborn, FnP 6+, Snap Shots after running or a bonus pulse shot against anything less than half-range away. The only downside for Ethereals now is that killing the Ethereal gives an extra victory point and undoes whatever power was being used at the time. Can also take a beacon for fairly cheap, presumably so you can launch a defensive deep strike to protect your Ethereal.
- To summarise, they became Badass. Not only is the Ethereal a force multiplier of the first order with his Storm of Fire Invocation, but he bestows Leadership 10, and can bestow Stubborn on his Fire-Warrior flock when you want your thin Orange Line to hold rather than break- effectively turning the Tau into the bravest army in the 40k universe, even more so than Grey Knights and other "elite" armies.
- The real selling point of Ethereals however is precisely that- the selling point. At 50 points, unless you're running an almost completely battlesuited army you should be seriously asking yourself why you shouldn't be taking an Ethereal, and even in those armies, the FnP and ability to fire Snapshots while running (which of course can be augmented by markerlights) is well worth it.
- Needless to say with a glorious W2, T3 and a complete absence of a save, you can expect your Ethereal to be the prime target of the Marbos, snipers, CC infantry and anything with "precision shot" in the description. Place at the back of large fire warrior squads, amongst large numbers of similarly large squads for maximum survivability.
- Battlesuit Commander: An excellent unit if kitted out properly. The versatility of the battlesuit chassis means you can equip him however you need to be most effective, and being the commander, all special issue equipment is available to him (see Armoury for setup tips). The Generic Commander is however the most expensive generic HQ Choice in the Codex, clocking in at 85 points before wargear. Commanders may take special bodyguards. He is equipped with XV-8-05 Enforcer Armor, the "Standard Commander Armor", and comes with a total of 4 hardpoints for your mounting pleasure (and Signature systems don't count!)
- Bodyguards: Each Commander in your army allows you to take a single unit of bodyguards that do not take up an FOC slot. When taken, they turn your XV8 Commander into a very up-powered Crisis suit team (which is no bad thing) although there is nothing specifying that the commander needs to be attached to the body guard, which is odd. They automatically pass Look Out, Sir! tests, which means you can cram the survivability-enhancing gear on them and the offensive gear on the commander. Like the commander you can stick any number of signature systems on these guys, however you still only have 3 slots for weapon/support systems. You can make some interesting combinations of gear on these guys. Think about the possibilities.
- Cadre Fireblade: At first glance, the Cadre Fireblade looks pretty crappy, especially compared to an Ethereal. He's 10 points more than an Ethereal but can only really buff a single Fire Warrior squad (or Pathfinder squad, if you're so inclined), with a markerlight, Split Fire, and Volley Fire (which grants an extra shot to everybody so long as they stand still). Pretty bad, right? Actually, not really, at least in an allied detachment. Although the Ethereal is much improved, he's still somewhat of a risk if you field him, especially in an allied detachment, as you give up an extra Victory Point if he's killed (and, given how weedy the Tau are, that's not very hard). Also, his abilities only affect Tau, which isn't very useful in an allied detachment. The Fireblade, on the other hand, will almost always be useful (at least for your one compulsory unit of Troops) and will never be a liability. Also, that markerlight of his (fired at BS 5) is pretty darn handy, because you can never have enough markerlights, and (with Split Fire) it can be fired at a different unit than the rest of his squad. Also, Volley Fire is up to the entire range of the guns, not just half range like the Ethereal. So, all in all, you'll probably usually want an Ethereal in your main detachment, but in an allied detachment, a Fireblade is probably the better choice for a "cheap" HQ. This might be an edge case, but hey, at least he has some use, unlike certain other units.
- Aun'Va, Master of the Undying Spirit: The popestick got a huge buff! Roll equal to or over a weapon's AP to ignore wounds? Auto-pass against AP1? Enemy railguns/death rays/tachyon arrows/meltas can eat shit and die. However, you can't roll against AP- so Tesla will still ruin your day (You only have a 5+ normal armour save). Only 100pts? Vetock, you are a god. OK, so the bodyguards are still meh but they're better than they used to be. 5+ saves combined with the Paradox's harder-you-hit-it-harder-it-is invulnerable save gives the whole unit a variable amount of protection. He also gets 2 ethereal bubble abilities per turn, which either give Stubborn, Fnp(6+), +1 pulse weapon shot in half range or snap shots after running. His massive, multiple buffs are just awesome. He also provides a table wide re-roll for any morale checks, anything in Tau codex. That shit is money.
- Aun'Shi: Brought back from 3rd edition into 6th. Shi is essentially a close combat HQ (albeit a modest one) in an otherwise shooty army. Always use patient hunter in CC, because re-rollable 4++ is hilarious. He is basically an Ethereal with the weaknesses removed for a price bump, but beware of anyone with strength 6 or over, because you'll be insta-killed.
- O'Shovah (Commander Farsight): The l33t renegade commander of the Fire Caste, Farsight is odd in the fact that he's specced for assault in an army meant for shooting. His Dawn Blade is very nice and got one hell of an upgrade to what is essentially a Necron Warscythe (AP2 Armourbane); his ability to take a seven-strong battlesuit bodyguard is intimidating, especially when he can perfectly deepstrike with it. With 6th edition, preferred enemy is actually quite useful, making his unit BS 3.5 against orks. His restrictions from the previous codex were his biggest hindrance, but now they don't exist in the new codex. The suits in his unit could purchase hit and run and use his I5 for the test. That could actually make assaulting worth while with him and counter-assaults hilarious (take a few suits with twin-linked flamers for additional lulz).
- His warlord trait opens opportunities for a "farsight bomb" where you have farsight and 7 body guards -carrying fusion blasters and plasma rifles for heavy infantry/tanks and burst cannons and flamers for light infantry- deep strike into the middle of the enemy and shoot their faces off (Grab two plasma rifles each and you get 15 plasma shots at long range and 30 at close range if you have path finders to light up the squads target everything is going to die). Give one of his bodyguards the Command and Control Node and the Multispectrum Sensor Suite, the rest of the unit (including drones) will be re-rolling hits and ignoring cover. Get your tearcup ready - even better would be to add another commander with drone controller, vectored retro thrusters for that hit and run goodness, neuroweb system jammer because gets hot is fun, and the puretide engram neuro chip (give everything in the squad tank hunter, monster hunter or stubborn even counter attack (edit: CA is put on one model, not unit wide) if you think it will work), give one of the body guards command and control node and multi spectrum sensor suite, and take all gun drones (gun drones are armour 4 so if that evil new gravity gun of the spess mahreens wounds on majority armour with all the drones that becomes 4+ you might need a tear bath) that's 32 pulse carbine shots at BS5 that ignore cover on top of the twin linked (I would suggest dual that's 2 shots a model at 24" and 4 shots a model at 12") plasma rifle fire that also ignore cover. tearcup? tear bucket. Though, you can also make all those drones marker drones, give the bodyguards+commander target lock. Give the suits dual fusion blasters and see entire mech lists disappear.
- O'Shaserra (Commander Shadowsun): Commander Tsundere herself, she wears an experimental next-gen stealth battlesuit and is outfitted for cover-camping and jump-shoot-jump close-range tank killing (which makes her much better on dense battlefields than in open ones). One of the only ways to make her useful is to stick her in a stealth suit squad, where she bestows 3D6 JSJ range to the unit and benefits from auto-passing Look Out,
SirMa'am! rolls to prevent instant-death (and being T3 there are a lot of weapons that could instant-death her). With buffed out fusion guns and 2+ cover in any terrain she could put some hate on vehicles while being all but invulnerable to return fire. Her command-link drone can let an unit within 12" re-roll to hit rolls of 1 and her shield drones confer a 3++.
- Let us reiterate what her command-link drone does: Any one unit within 12" of the drone gets to re-roll any 1s on its to-hit roll. And she can do this every turn. You know how that Riptide heavy burst cannon was almost as dangerous to itself as it was the enemy when you fire it with a nova-charge? With Shadowsun in support, that is no longer the case. Just think about how much dakka you can (relatively) safely put out from the two of them on a continual basis...
- As both Stealth and Shrouded confers to the entire unit, it's possible to put Mrs. Tsundere into Crisis or Hazard team (or take a bodyguard team), giving them 4+ cover in the open and 2+ in any terrain. Sure, you don't get auto Look Out
SirMa'am! (unless you took bodyguards), but 2+ is almost as good as an auto-pass and overall T4/5 of Crisis/Hazard solves instant death problem much better. And on top of that her unit benefits from 3D6 thrust moves if she is your warlord.
- Note that she cannot join Riptides and share the hax. Yeah, that would've been too cheap.
- New little dirty trick being tried in some armies. Drop her in a pack of Kroot with Sniper round and put them in cover. Wait....screw cover. You don't need to put them in cover anymore thanks to her stealth and shroud. Just another fun way to make your opponent cry after your first turn with them.
- El'Myamoto (Sub-Commander Darkstrider): The second Tau commander to piss off the Ethereal elites, Darkstrider is best described as a Cadre Fireblade for Pathfinders. His key ability is to lower the toughness of anything his squad fires on (only for his squad, but it counts for Instant Death) which works best with railrifle equipped pathfinders. Can be very troll-y. See that crazy powerful Paladin or Meganob? A single Pathfinder in this guy's squad just sniped him. Also works on T5 (Nob bikers, Ogryns, Thunderwolf, Harpies, Daemon Prince) with an overcharged Ion Rifle. As well, he has a special rule that allows his unit to consolidate D6" in any direction immediately after firing their overwatch and BEFORE the charging unit rolls for charge distance. Stick him in a Pathfinder squad with a Grav Inhibitor drone and they become one slippery unit. You can even attach him to a squad of Fire Warriors and sneak them behind enemy lines to wreak havoc. Problem, Astartes?
- O'R'myr (Commander Longknife) (Forge World): Dread Pirate R'myr, who inherited the name from four previous commanders, is a decent suit that seems to want to be charged. A double-barreled Plasma rifle with an enhanced shield generator, he looks built to take down heavy infantry / monstrous creatures. His Signature Wargear is the XV89-02 Battlesuit, which contains a flechette launcher that nicks the attacker for a S3 hit at the I10 subphase. Depending on how you interpret the word 'any,' the flechette launcher may not be one use anymore. He has a special shield generator that has a 4++ against shooting attacks and a 3++ against close combat. His flechette dicharger is a really nasty surprise to swarm armies thinking they have just trapped the expensive tau HQ unit in CC. A good choice, especially against Imperial Guard due to Preferred Enemy against them, though the generic commander is far better for facing hordes or tank hunting. He has the fixed Warlord Trait "Through Unity, Devastation" which is great for an alpha strike. Add to the Farsight blob LULZ.
- O'Ra'lai (Commander O'Rly) (Forge World): O'Rly is a monster of a unit; he is your Commissar Yarrick, your Failbaddon, your Mephiston, your Swarmlord, your Ghazghkull, with BS5, T5, I4, and the power of the XV-9 battlesuit the main difference he has compared with the above heroes is that he is primarily a ranged fighter whereas most uber-hq units tend to be close combat focused. O'Rly's main strength is his versatility, allowing him to be effective against almost every unit type in the game with his ability to switch to four different templates for his Pulse Sub-Munitions Rifle, though every template except for his default have Gets Hot!. Keep him away from TEQs though, as none of his weapon templates get better than AP3. Against MEQ's and Tank armies, however, and you got yourself a certifiable nightmare of a unit, with the ability to Ignore Cover, Rend and Haywire on one weapon depending on the specific template used. Of note is O'Rly's ability to make vehicles melt, with the choice of BS5 Haywire shots at 24", or 36" S9 AP3 shots, allowing O'Rly to decimate light vehicles and heavy vehicles alike.
- The latest Imperial Armor Apocalypse Second Edition rules have updated O'Ra'Lai's equipment. His shield no longer conveys stealth, but gives him a 3+ invulnerable save if fired at from outside 12 inches. On top of that, All of his weapons are now Assault 2. This involves all of the "gets Hot!" weapons, so you run the risk of taking more damage, but can cause a lot more pain as a result. With this change, he no longer has "Baby's First Lascannon," instead he has "Oh what the fuck, he has an assault 2 lascannon?!" His template weapons now make him a real nightmare to just about any army, and he also is now the best HQ unit the Tau have.
- His drones are T4, which means you're losing that awesome T5 bonus until a drone dies. He USED to be able to join guys, but the special rule 'Lone Warrior' prevents him from joining units, despite his Independent Character rule. However, he can leave his drone unit (though he may not join any other unit unless he wants to rejoin his drones for some reason), which means you can separate him from his drones and let him be majority toughness 5 while you get 2 markerlight drones for free, though they drop from BS 5 to BS 2 without O'Ra'lai's drone controller.
- Make him your army's warlord. Period. At T5, 4 wounds, a 3+/3-4++, I4, hit and run, and JSJ, he is an absolute bastard to kill without S10 or instant death weapons. His Warlord Trait, The Assassin, leaves much to be desired however. It grants Preferred Enemy: Independent Characters, which leads to an awkward position when shooting at units containing Independent Characters - When exactly are you allowed this reroll? (Due to wording, one can interpret it as PE against any squad with an IC in it, and the opponent will have no way to disprove it. Lolz)
- Fire Warriors: Yes, they have the best basic infantry gun in the game. Yes, they will go down like a sack of wet shit if properly targeted or assaulted. For the new book, their price gets dropped to a much more workable 9 pts/model, so it just got a lot easier to buy a squad with a Devilfish; however, larger squads are going to be more difficult to squeeze into cover, but if they fit in a fish, you got it made. The price break does let you spend a little more on the Tau's new toys elsewhere though. Devilfish give Fire Warriors much needed mobility, and safety from assault. After all, the second ANYTHING gets into close combat with a Fire Warrior squad, the Fire Warriors will lose. Even if it's other Fire Warriors or even fucking Grots and Rippers. With abysmal WS and mediocre BS, if these guys are firing, use markerlights to up their hit chances, although other units may make better use of the markerlight tokens. 6th edition buffs them a lot: new shooting weapons rules make them rapid fire on 15", hullpoint system allow them glance to death light vehicles with pulse rifles or blast them to oblivion with EMP-grenades, and new defensive grenades (which you no longer have to buy as an option) 8"-stealth also help them survive bolter drills a bit better. Fire Warriors get other goodies like the ability to overwatch with another friendly unit within 6" of them - yes, they are now quite the bargain.
- Alternative option: A fun, unconventional and down-right troll worthy tactic. Stick 6 FW's in a Devilfish with EMP's Now only costing you 11pts per model (with added photon grenades for free) you just launch the DF at an enemy vehicle. The change to EMP making them true Haywire (opposed to the haywire lite that they were) means that your opponent will scramble to save whatever you're targeting. Most of the time it will not work out, but now it's so god-damn cheap to do it's almost worth it for the lulz.
- When Shas'Ui takes markerlight for his rifle, he also get free target lock. This allows you to chain markerlights between fire warrior squads by using the markerlight on the target of the next fire warrior unit. This may also be useful to man fortification gun emplacements without forcing all his squad wasting their shots on something they can't hurt, which is worth.
- take a unit of fire warriors in a devilfish bomb it up towards an enemy tank pile out and throw emp grenades at it (they can now be thrown as a blast weapon) and if that fails to kill it and your fire warriors are still alive by the time they get to charge charge in and muller it with nades (this could also be done with pathfinders but they are best left doing other things
- Kroot Carnivores: Disregard what fluff says - Kroot are NOT assault infantry. Yes, they have WS4, so what? They can not assault after shooting, their saves are weak and they lost their S4 and extra attack from the rifle for no fucking reason (while remaining super-strong in fluff), and AP5 melee looks like a fucking joke in all-marine metagame. Instead look at their gun. It's a fucking bolter just with AP6, which don't matter a lot, cause most of the infantry in the game is either Sv4+ or better, or constantly in cover. No, instead spend the extra point per model (for a total of 7 each) for Sniper Rounds. A 20 strong squad hidden in a forest taking out Characters hidden in squad. This is more deadly against certain armies than other, but it's rather troll worthy at any rate. The only downside is the shortish range of the Kroot Rifle. Still, 140pts for 20 Sniper shots it's not that much of downside. And speaking about cover, these guys have stealth(forest) for 4+ in forests (even better if they're Ironbark). What you got is fairly cheap, hard to shoot down from cover and hard to kill in CC area denial unit that shoot bolters or even sniper rifles, and can deploy anywhere on the field, messing with opponents pathing and deepstriking, and keeping his forces away from your fragile gunline until they all die. In addition to regular Kroot, you can field the following Kroot subspecies:
- Kroot Hounds: These are Space Chickens... In a dog form. Surprisingly these pups aren't bad, as they have I 5, so they get to go first before Space Marines/Necrons/Chaos Space Marines/etc. And will go at the same time as Gaunts and Eldar. They can dish out two attacks per base, so up to 12 hounds can deliver 24 hits on anyone that it assaults/gets assaulted by Vanilla Marines. They're a point cheaper, but they have no armour save. Overall, pretty good unit to have in a squad to either chomp up a few marines before they die or a nice meat shield to add. If you go shooty, but plan to outflank instead of infiltrate, take one for acute senses.
- Krootox Riders: At 25 pts., you get a space chicken Silverback with a big Kroot Gun on its back with the rider. Having a S7 rapid fire gun that can shoot up to 48"(24 in rapid fire thanks to the buff with 6th edition) is nice to have, along with two S6 melee attacks up close and two wounds. For the new book, Krootox riders no longer prevent your squad from infiltrating, which means you can now have an absurdly strong gun line infiltrating right where your opponent doesn't want it that can actually hold out in combat!
- Shaper: The boss of the Carnivore Squad. These Kroot have three wounds, +2 attacks more and +1 LD. Oh, and he costs three times more than a Kroot for the upgrade. It's worth taking if you want the six extra S3 hits, which can help a bit. Still not great to take on anything except for Orks, Tyranids, and Daemons, so only take him if you plan on going up against other horde armies.
- Gue'Vesa (Forge World): Shooty Gue'vesa troops, so far the only human auxiliaries you can field in 6th ed. They cost the same as Conscripts and 6 guys, with potential upgrades for another 5 guys, a sarge, and grenades (12 total). They are equipped with Lasguns and Flak, and get their shit kicked in by Guardsman because of the Death To Traitors. They are only allowed in specified Taros Campaign missions, but don't fret. They suck anyway. Just take your fire warriors, especially since these guys have no Supporting Fire.
- Drone Sentry Turret (Forge World): A group of up to four 11/11/11 immobile vehicles with TL burst cannons that can be upgraded to TL missile pods, TL fusion blasters, or TL plasma rifles. They have access to the vehicle battle systems and can be upgraded to have deep strike for 10 points each. Not an exceptional unit, but not a bad choice by any standard (they are cheap at a base cost of only 30 points each). They do not count as a compulsory troop choice, but can still score and even secure objectives, and if placed in heavy cover with dispods, they're going to hold that point like forever.
- Devilfish Troop Carrier:
FISH OF FU-*BLAM* Ignore that Mont'au savage, citizen, for the elimination of That Strategy betters us all, and it has been long enough that we are mostly forgiven. These allow your Fire Warriors to be exactly where you need them to be. With AV12 in the front, the ability to gain a 3+ cover save (2+ if it moves flat-out instead of shooting) through the Disruption Pod wargear, and skimmer speed, think of this as the iron-clad, greased up eggshell that you need to crack to get to the delicious omelette inside. With the new codex, drones that detach from vehicles never count as a kill point. For ten points, you can replace the gun drones with a twin-linked smart missile system, which got a serious buff in 6th Edition from its previous stats, allowing the Devilfish to add some cost-effective (line-of-sight ignoring / cover negating!) fire support. These are almost necessary for a good army although they do cost 80 fucking points!. (note: Devilfish are not allowed to carry models with the bulky special rule, so stealth suits en route to a dispute must shoot-and-scoot and can't commute.)
- XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit: God's First Gift To Tau. These guys are your mainstay. Their weapons are varied and versatile, and are specialized for various situations. They can take any combination of weapons and wargear unless otherwise stated. These guys will fill up your elites slots. The Crisis suits are famous for the Jump-Shoot-Jump - moving out of cover, shooting, and jumping back into cover, denying return fire and annoying the enemy, an excellent tactic. Each suit may take up to three hard-points but it's no longer a requirement that all three slots be filled. Hard-points are made up of Ranged Weapons and Support Systems(see "Tau Armoury" section). Typically a Crisis suit will have two weapons and a support system, but there is no rule against three weapons or even three support systems, or any other ratio you fancy. Obviously some combinations are more effective than others. Note that if a single weapon system is selected twice, it could count as a single twin-linked weapon (filling two hardpoints) at only +5 pts or two separate guns at full cost - though you must state it in your roster and point it to your opponent (it may be a good idea to mount TL pair on one hardpoint to make it more WYSIWYG). Crisis suits (and other large suits) come with Multitracker and blacksun filter pre-installed so you can choose that extra system you've always wanted. If one of your team upgrades to a Shas'vre then he unlocks access from items from signature systems. Probably one of the most past by improvements, yet comforting additions to 6th; Shas'Vre come in at Leadership 9, meaning if you lose a couple of expendable wounds (for instance in the form of bin lids) you don't panic, forget you're in a huge powered gundam wing and run off the board! However, you should be painfully aware that Crisis suits are T4, which means they suffer heavily from rocket sniping. If you value your suits, take at least two drones to absorb the inevitable S8 AP3 shot. Everything in the damn game has some version of a "fuck your crisis suit" weapon (except Tyranids, even the Tyrannofex's Rupture Cannon hits at AP 4, so Crisis Suits are safe), be prepared. As all drones have the same price, consider carefully, what type you want for your Crisis suits:
- Shield drones are just ablative wounds, that are slightly better at being ablative wounds. 4++ could help them to survive twice as long against heavy fire, but against AP5 or higher they would go down as fast as other drone type, as they lost their 3+/2+ mimicked armor save from previous codex, and you cannot allocate only those wounds you want on them. Take them if you expect a lot of S8 or and/or low AP4 shots fired on your Crisis suits.
- Gun drones are not only T4 Sv4+ cold expendable wounds for your Crisis suits, but also TL pulse carbines, which packs considerable firepower in 6e, and may even pin shit if you're got lucky (don't count on it, though). BS2 is not a big problem, as with twinlink they have 55% chance of hitting something (think of it as BS 3.5) without markerlight support. With a suit equipped with a drone controller, they become BS3, and with a Commander with drone controller, BS5.Additionally, being twinlinked they tend to deal more hits on overwatch, or when snapfiring at flyers/fmc's. Definitely worth it when combined with infantry hunting Crisis teams (flamers, burstcannons), and even on more heavily armed teams could be fine if combined with target locks (they are fairly cheap after all). Group of 3-5 gun drones on targetlocked team could reliably blow AV10 vehicles, or those with AV10 on the rear (read: almost all of them) with some smart maneuvering and with some luck could even glance to death AV11. Again, this is even more useful, when Crisis team have target locks and can focus their firepower on something more important. If you're planning to jump around heavy cover or include Shassera to your Crisis team, Gun drones would benefit from 4+ cover (or up to 2+ with Shassera in cover), becoming as survivable as Shield drones, while retaining their firepower.
- Marker drones are tricky ones. BS2 with no twinlink or networking seems useless, but they are designed to CHAIN markerlights when focus firing a target - you're spending 2 markerlight tokens to give your Crisis team awesome BS5, and 2-3 marker drones at BS4 could reliably regain those tokens to be used on the next Crisis team and so on. Aside from it, they could be used as emergency markerlight source if your main markers was destroyed or tied, and of course, as ablative wounds, like all other drones.
- One completely unexpected result of 6th ed was the Rambo Crisis Squads. With Crisis suits now costing 22 points, it's now a perfectly viable option to take your Cheap as Chips naked (or naked plus flamer) Crisis squad and use them for GLORIOUS COMBAT. Why? Because 3 Crisis suits naked costs 66 points! If one was to compare them with Assault Marines, you're looking at higher natural str, more base attacks, double wounds for about the same price and at the expense of lower WS and lack of Hammer of Wrath, which considering that unless you have the misfortune of fighting Grey Knights or Daemons, you're going to hit most things on a 4+ anyway. In effect you have a unreasonably durable tarpit unit on a super budget, best used against assault threats to your fire warriors (needless to say, anything with a large quanity of power weapons is to be avoided, but that marine squad? Fuck yeah). Of course, given the fact that you're expending an entire precious elite choice won't sit well with many, but given 6th Ed Detachment rules and the scary viability of running an Ethereal/Fire Warrior combo army rather than a Crisis suit orientated list, this may prove viable. You might be tempted to whack a Shas'vre in there with a Neurochip for Furious Charge and counter attack shenanigans, but at the end of the day, the main value of this squad is exactly how cheap it is. Don't do it. Do not forget, your Crisis suits have 2 base attacks and S5 - charging AV-10 rear tanks with your Crisises could be a good move. Charging shooty squads with poor melee (Centurions are the prime example, but things like Devastators or, say, Fire Dragons are OK too - just make sure their characters have no power fists) is also an option if you have retro thrusters, as it ties them up AND allows your Crisis suits to escape enemy fire and then jump right out melee at the end of his turn and then vaporize the poor fuckers. Make sure to allocate the few wounds you're taking to the drones.
- Stealth Suits: First, the good bits: they have 3+ armour saves, a burst cannon, stealth, shrouded and they can infiltrate. Now the bad: their BS is average to the rest of the army but their biggest weakness comes in comparison to other entries in the Elites section - they're not as tough or versatile as Crisis or Riptide Suits. Arguably, Kroot do the whole infiltration/sniper thingie better now but Stealth Suits have an ace in the hole: they can take a homing beacon. You're taking a shitload of suits, right? You know they deepstrike, right? Oh sure, pathfinders can take beacons, but they need plural turns to get into position by which time it's already too late and you've lost the advantage. With infiltrating Stealth Suits, you can get your deepstrikers striking deep (see what I did there) into enemy territory, hard and fast. Everything else is just icing on top of the cake, from their fusion blaster per every three models to the marker light/target lock the Shas'vre can take. Build this selection to be a hard point to whether whatever your opponent throws at you (shield generators or stimulant injectors) so it can survive long enough to guide your deep-strikers with ease.
- XV104 Riptide: Devil's gift to Tau. Designed by the Earth Caste, likely to troll the Gey Knights and their stupid bullshit Dreadknights. It's Jetpack monstrous creature with a big statline (S/T6, 5 wounds, 2+/5++) to accompany its big guns, plus it can take another twin-linked battlesuit gun; even with terrible Tau WS and I it still can and would smash tanks in close combat if needed. It's also the only unit that can use Shielded Missile Drones, which are awesome.. Then there's its Nova Reactor, which can give it a special power per turn of your choosing on a 3+, although on 1 or 2 it'll going to lose a wound with no saves allowed (not even FNP anymore). While Nova reactor bonuses are nice and sexy, don't overuse them - 1/3 chance of failure isn't low, and you're gonna need those 5 wounds, as Riptide is the primary target on the board, and quite expensive one. Special powers include:
- 3++ save - ideal when you're in the sight of multiple anti-tank guns with no cover or BLOS to jump behind.
- 4d6" thrust move - grant you the mobility, only matched by flyers, FMCs and teleporting Dreadknights, great for jumping out of melee range. In Maelstrom missions it has proven invaluable for scoring or denying key objectives early in the game.
- firing twice in a turn with its bonus weapons - nice additional dakka, especailly when facing something your secondary gun is designed against - entrenched infantry for SMS, heavy infantry for plasma and vehicles for fusion blaster.
- unlocking alternate main weapon profile:
- Heavy Burst Cannon becomes Heavy 12 and rending - great for one-shoting squads of Sv4+ or worse infanty or medium vehicles. Gets hot may seem dangerous, but it isn't - you have 2+ armor to save against it.
- Ion Accelerator overcharge besomes S9 and ordnance - this is mostly used against heavy armour - S9 with rerollable to-pen have a better chance to pop Land Raider open from safe distance than the railgun do, though it only have +1 for damager results compared to railgun's +2.
- While cool and deadly, Riptides are not without flaws. Both of their main cannons rely heavily on markerlight support - burstcannon really shines when most of its dakka actually hits the target, and ion blasts are mush more effective when they ignore cover and don't scatter much. Like all monstrous creatures, Riptide tend to melt under hail of poisoned shots, so DE and Sternguards would violate it just like they do with Dreadknights, Wraithlords and Tyranid monsters. Anything that can fight back in melee is going to either tarpit Riptide till the end of the game or rip it to shreds, and you cannot take VRTs to jump out of melee.
- Do note, as awesome Riptides are, they are a bit too powerful for their cost. Taking one is OK, taking two might give you a mean look or two, but if you take three or more, you're automatically That guy. Consider yourself warned. This includes FW Riptide variants!
- Drone Squad: Drone Squads have had an overhaul. Your 12 man strong squad can be a combination of Shield, Markerlight or Gun Drones. The choice is yours. A new tactic being to have Markerlight drones with Shield drones protecting. Time will tell if this is viably tactic as at BS2 this could be a costly way of getting marker lights. An option being mentioned is sticking a commander with Drone Controller to accompany them. 15 BS5 markerlights, jumping behind solid cover after each shot is great, but a bit costly. On a side note, markerlights can benefit from other markerlight hits, therefore a large 12 man unit of marker drones can be buffed to a relatively high ballistic skill via the actions of other markerlights in the army (for example firesight marksmen, pathfinders, Shas'o marker drones etc.)
- Another alternative that is being considered is attaching a full squadron of Gun Drones to a Buff Commander. While this sounds counter-productive (As each drone costs 14 points compared to the 9 of Fire Warriors),adding a commander to the squad can give you a Twin-Linked, Ignores Cover BS5 squad of Fire Warriors with the added bonus of being tougher with the same save, and the ability to JSJ. This can be used to great effect against almost any GEQ based army, and can spell the end for light vehicles with 20 Twin-Linked BS5 Ignore Cover shots, especially if they can get behind them. That and the squad is also more effective against assaults due to Twin-Linked and having higher toughness. Troll-worthy, but intriguing. On a side note Gun Drones ALREADY HAVE TWIN-LINKED WEAPONS!!!
- Vespid Stingwings: Once the other bad joke of the codex, Vespids have been buffed. As with the fusion blaster, 6 extra inches on their Neutron blaster will put you at a much more comfortable distance, out of assault distance. With a new 4+ Sv on top of T4, they've become on par with Space Marine scouts for survivability. As they now hove move through cover, stealth in ruins, and hit and run at I6, they can jump out, kill MEQs, and escape in the assault, pretty much becoming the nightmare bugs of anything with power armour. Vespids run around in groups of four to twelve, and one of those MUST be a Strain Leader. Without him they have only Ld 6, but they have Ld 9 with him. Overall, a rather expensive unit, but may work for some and in high point games. If your opponent runs mass Marine lists, couple with dual-plasma Crisis and go to town. No effect vs. TEQs, though, so watch out.
- Pathfinders: One of two good sources for markerlights, and very cost-effective for the number of markerlights you get. These guys put out a large amount of markerlight support every turn, useful for your other guys. Their Recon Drone (if you take it) allows deep strikers within 6" to not roll for scatter. They are also scouts, quite useful to outflank or get into position. Beware though, their armor save is only 5+ (which makes sense since they always had lighter armor and are made for recon rather than gun lines) which means that they are particularly vulnerable to things like bolters, if caught in the open. Camp these guys in cover somewhere safe. They can optionally take Devilfish, but those are no longer compulsory to take with them like they were in earlier editions. They can take rail rifles and new ion rifles, but only ever do this if you have an additional markerlight source. A unit of pathfinders can't go wrong. They have several options:
- Special Drones: These drones can only be taken by Pathfinder squads, only one of each can be taken, and they do not count against the two drone limit for accompanying drones (each is purchased as its own upgrade independent of other things.)
- Recon Drone: Expensive, but it gives the unit a burst cannon, which is always nice, and is what allows the unit to have its homing beacon and position relay functions, so worth taking if you have deep-striking reserves. As a bonus, it does not take up any extra space when being transported by a Devilfish, and can employ its reserve-guiding equipment while embarked.
- Grav-inhibitor Drone: Slows down any charging foe, reducing assault moves by D3. Great for giving the unit a little more time to get the hell out of dodge if your enemy really wants to commit to eliminating them (and let's face it, if they do you have successfully trolled them into doing so from markerlight-related rage.) While it is good on smaller maps and games, anything past 1,250 and they will probably be shot to pieces with large blast templates and ignore cover weapons to kill them ASAP, making this drone a less than stellar selection.
- Pulse Accelerator Drone: This boosts all pulse weapon fire from the unit to extend its range by 6". This effectively means that those pulse carbines your Pathfinders are carrying go from 18" Assault 2 weapons to 24" Assault 2 weapons, potentially out dakkaing line Fire Warriors. Unfortunately, burst cannons are not classified as pulse weapons any longer, so the range on the Recon Drone is not increased. While your Pathfinders should be more about dropping marker tokens than shooting up the enemy, you can really make the enemy pay for trying to take them down with this.
- Team Leader: For another 10 points you can upgrade one member to a Shas'ui. The primary benefit of this is to provide better leaderhip, so your spotters doesn't run away, add a few more equipment options, such as a blacksun filter for one more point that the whole unit can use (which is not as essential as it used to be as Markerlights only have a range of 36" and ignore all saves and hence do not push up against the Night Fighting limits.) He can also bring along two extra drones from the standard drone list, and this is in addition to the special drones Pathfinders can take. Be aware that filling up the entire squad with pathfinders, special drones, and two regular drones will put them above capacity for riding in a Devilfish.
- Special Drones: These drones can only be taken by Pathfinder squads, only one of each can be taken, and they do not count against the two drone limit for accompanying drones (each is purchased as its own upgrade independent of other things.)
- Piranha: Burst cannons basic, can be upgraded with fusion blasters. Low armor means they are fragile, but as fast vehicles they can block paths and provide anti-infantry / anti-armor harassment. These guys are also pretty cheap for what they do. For their price they have 8 S5 AP5 range 18" shots per model. Half is BS3 and half BS2 TL. Keep in mind however that unlike most of the other Tau vehicles, the drones are vulnerable to template weapons due to Open-Topped. Finally Piranhas are the only vehicle in the Tau codex that can be put into squadrons of up to 5, making them very good at denying line of sight and assault from the opposing forces.
- Alt Take A fun thing to note is that the majority of the cost of a Piranha can be made up in the Drones. For 200 points you can get Five Piranhas in a squadron and detach a squad of 10 gun drones. This gives you a 140 point Gun Drone Squad(That don't take up a Fast Attack Slot, or count for kill points) and a 60 point squad of 5 11AV Front skimmers with Burst Cannons. Also you can attach a Drone Controller Commander to gun drones to maximize the point return.
- Razorshark Fighter: One of two new aircraft for Tau, sporting average aircraft stats (11/10/10 3HP) a quad ion gun. Normally, it shoots at S7 AP4 at 30" and is assault 4, but because it's an ion weapon, it can be overcharged (for the price of Gets Hot) turning it into an S8 AP4 Large Blast! Even funnier, the gun is mounted on a turret to the rear, meaning that any deep-striking aircraft that thought they could get the jump on it will be thoroughly surprised, - upgrade the burst cannon to a missile pod for even more 360 degree fire arc fun.
- Sunshark Bomber: The other new aircraft with similar stats to the above, but trades the quad cannon for blowing pulse bubbles (S5 AP5 Large Blast) onto unsuspecting targets below every turn unless you roll a 1, in which case your bomber can no longer produce bombs. It also comes with the networked markerlight for lasing targets and a pair of interceptor drones to fuck up enemy aircraft.
- Comparing the Sunshark to the Razorshark, the Interceptor drones are arguably better than the quad-ion due to being able to detach if necessary, and also if you go ahead and compare the quad-ion and the interceptors as equals (which they are, interceptors might win out due to TL) then the Sunshark is effectively a more tooled up Razorshark for a slightly higher price cost, coming equipped with a pulse bomber unit instead of a burst cannon and a Missile Pod that has the option to twin-link (5 extra points) for only 15 points more. Definitely worth considering.
- Piranha TX-42 (Forge World): Heavier, with an extra point of side armor, but with a higher cost. These start with twin-linked fusion blasters which lets them put some serious hurt on tanks, but can be upgraded with missiles pods, plasma, or rail rifles. These guys can go hunting for different enemies dependent on loadout, though a crisis team may be better in regards of JSJ. 6th edition changes to fusion blasters and rail rifles buffed TX-42 A LOT. New updates show no points bumped, but an extra point of side armor and a twinlinked gun for 20 points on a similarly equipped Piranha. Only take these for the plasma or rail rifles if you really want them.
- Tetras (Forge World): Where Pathfinders are the cudgel of markerlights, these guys are the scalpel. They zip in as fast vehicles, drop an accurate markerlight, and zoom away. Low armor and open-top means that every shot could be their last. Keep them safe, and they will benefit you immensely. When deciding tetras vs pathfinders consider your need to reposition and your desire to bring in extra pathfinder goodies such as drones and heavy weapons. Pathfinders would generally provide much more markerlight tokens per points spent, but Tetras have their mobility to help them stay for longer, and thus earn their price reliably. Make sure you gave every one of them dispods and sensor spines for 3+ cover in ruins/jink, and zoom around hiding from enemy anti-tank fire LoS and bolter/charge range - just like any other marker unit is is a priority target and would attract a lot of fire.
- Barracuda (Forge World): A pants-wettingly terrifying air superiority fighter that packs raw, balls-out, firepower in a maneuverable package. Armed with two Burst Cannons, an Ion Cannon, which can overcharge into essentially a battlecannon, Missile Pods and can take up to four Seeker Missiles, this thing is capable of taking down pretty much any flyer, and what's more? It's got BS4. Sadly, it has a maximum armour value of 11 and a measly 2 hull points. Still, a great way to drop some nasty, high-strength dakka on ground and air targets. Thanks to the update in the second edition of IA:3, the Barracuda is now the best flier available to the Tau, and a strong contender for the deadliest flier in standard 40k, second only to Nightwing and Thunderbolt in a dogfights (though they're both cost more and cannot drop marine-killing pipe plates on the ground). It can take a 4++ against interceptor fire for only 3 points, and has a 3+ jink as standard due to the Agile special rule and if you buy a Disruption Pod (which you should), you're looking at a cheesetastic 2+ jink save! It has absurd firepower that dwarfs the other Tau fliers (and indeed, most other races' fliers too) while remaining cheaper. Don't forget that your burst canons are now auto-targetting, which means that you can tell jet bikes, lightly armored skimmers, and other fliers to suck it.
- DX-6 Remora Drone Fighters (Forge World): Since 6th edition, this souped-up, more accurate, flying Heavy Gun Drone make a squad of Remoras obviate the purpose of a Skyray, a squad of Pathfinders and maybe even a Tetra team! They have a huge advantage over the Barracuda in that they can be taken as a squad of 1-5; come with twin-linked long-barrelled Burst Cannons, a networked Markerlight and two Seeker Missiles; and to top it off, they have a permanent 5+ cover save with 2+ on jink as its stealth field generator give it Shrouded. Want to troll your enemy? 6's to hit and a 2+ cover save just to hit a light AV10 flyer that can take on bigger flyers should cause a lot of rage. Meanwhile, you can drop his flyers out of the sky with a punishing battery of seeker missiles and when he's out of flyers, start markerlighting ground targets to help out your broadsides! Plus with the latest Imperial Armour release of Taros Campaign Second Edition, these babies are now a mere 90 points each! Drop a squad of five for 450 and laugh your ass off as your opponents reag. With the update for long-barreled Burst Cannons also factored in (from 3 shots to 6), they are actually quite mean.
- XV-9 Hazard Team (Forge World): God's Second Gift To Tau. These bruisers contain experimental weaponry on a high toughness frame with vectored retro-thrusters to run away. The downside is that greatness is expensive, and you will feel it. Though that price is arguably a bargain, given that at a base cost of 78 points at the cheapest, they are only 18 more points than an equivalently equipped XV8 would be (if it could take 4 weapons and 2 support systems), and bring unique options for their price. But they look really, really fucking awesome and they make vehicle light armies (dark eldar, tyranids, orks, and chaos daemons) weep. Their weapons include:
- Burst Cannons: Four on one suit means two twin-linked sets. Now that burst cannons have an extra shot, these guys now have the equivalent of miniguns. Two of them in a team will seriously mess up any ground unit out there, from Marines to Tyranids. Being the only twin-linked set of weapons on the suit also gives the suit the unique ability for the team to also run completely or near-completely independent of Markerlights, something that will be greatly appreciated by the other guys who would love to use them. Plus, Burst Cannons are fragging bad-ass. Learn to love them.
- Phased Ion Gun: The phaser is Baby's First Assault Cannon but without the gatling barrel arrangement, with lower strength but decent AP and rending. Previously it was near to only way to get Rending in Tau army, but with new codex you get Riptide and shitton of sniper rifles.
- Fusion Cascade: The Fusion Cascade is the go-to weapon for heavy infantry hunting. A melta weapon with lower strength but multiple shots, these can decimate spess mehreens and light vehicles alike. And best of all, it's not plasma, so you can tell Matt Ward and his plasma siphon to stuff it, which is great because it's one of your best ways to eliminate a threat that would otherwise render three quarters of your weaponry unable to shoot for shit. Generally your best bet as it's effective against everything (though you need a bit of luck to penetrate high AVs even with melta rules.)
- Pulse Submunition Rifle: The shotgun is an excellent anti-horde weapon that ignores cover, with good strength but crap AP. A unit of 3 XV-9s equipped with 2 submunition rifles each can drop 6 pie-plates on the table every turn (and from 24" away), which will absolutely devastate Ork and Tyranid blobs. However, this setup is very expensive at 20 points per rifle, and is not very reliable against MEQs (though you can still force them to throw tons of saves). With the sheer amount of templates available to the Tau army, these are kind of redundant. However, they are more cost-efficient than twin-linked burst cannons if you can average more than 4 models under each template. The only exception is GEQs outside of cover (but seriously, when does that happen?), which require 7 models under each blast template.
- Consider what an Iridium Commander with a command and control node, a multi-spectrum sensor suit or both can do for a team of three XV9's.
- XV-109 Y'vahra Battlesuit (Forge World): Prepare. For. Tears. The Tau just got YET ANOTHER Riptide variant. This one rocks on fragile speedster trope, spotting one fewer Wound, and much less comfortable range for increased mobility and higher accuracy, compared to regular Riptide. It is armed with two-shot S6 AP2 flamer with half-torrent (6" instead of 12") and gets hot (never use the weakened one-shot AP3 variant - you have 2+ to save against gets hot), and 12" S8 AP3 3-shot Iconic discharge cannon with blind and extra haywire srike for each hit dealt. (making land raiders and others heavy vehicles very sad). As you can see, it is designed to seriously fuck things in close quarters, able to mulch any infantry up to and including terminators, and one-shoot any vehicle up to and including land raiders, but only at close range, much like supercharged XV-9. Which means the risk of close combat. But hey, just like Hazard suits it have in-built retro-thrusters, and can use drone Initiative of 4 to reliably activate them. If you're afraid of rapidfiring plasma or melta, don't, because it have 4++ against shots from 12" or less. Ballistic skill 4 and cover-ignoring nature of one of its weapons means it's much less reliant on markerlight support, which is essential, given it's going to work on the front lines where enemy units may hide out of your marker unit reach or LOS. Oh, and this thing can fly like FMC, except without vector strikes and only once per two turns - you can use it to gain better mobility, avoid close combat, or shoot the shit out of enemy flyers. When it flies or deep strikes it can also use fletchette pods to kinda-bomb a unit in 6" with D6 shredding bolter shots - nothing great to talk about, but it doesn't take off your shooting attacks and doesn't affect your targeting. And of course it have its own (mostly inferior to vanilla) version of Nova reactor results which are:
- 3++ in close combat only, which is meh, since you're gonna avoid CC anyway and have a lot of tools tailored exactly for that purpose.
- Extra D3 shots for Ionic cannon, which is brutal against AV13-14 vehicles with your extra haywire strikes
- Escaping to reserves, which is mostly useful for escaping danger in turns you have no flying mode.
- Jink while walking/4+ cover while flying - not really that useful, considering your 5++/4++, and the downsides of jinking.
- Mounted Great Knarloc Herd (Forge World): If you have a fast attack slot open and need a massive distraction, take 3 of these. These are your new distraction carnifex. For 85 points each, you have a WS4, S6, T5, W5, monstrous creature with Stealth (forests) and fleet, but have the downsides of being only I3, Ld7, and a paltry orkish save of 6+. Don't give them guns, they're not there to shoot, they're there to smash stuff.
- Goaded Great Knarlocc (Forge World): A singular version of the Knarloc Herd that has a chance of going crazy and killing its own units. Just skip it, and go for the Herd.
- Knarloc Riders (Forge World): I want to like these guys, I really do, because come on, they're freaking birdmen riding god-fucking-damned dinosaurs! These guys beat Canoptek wraiths, when they charge. They're also able to move 12, re-roll charge distance and then get hammer of wrath, something jump troops cannot do, and are 2 wounds now with T4. They're basically here for a distraction. Problem with Knarlok riders is not that they are bad, but almost any other FA choice is flat-out better. Anything that kills orks (read: everything) will kill these faster, if only because there is less of them, somehow.
- Hammerhead Gunship: God's Third Gift To Tau. The railgun is your best friend, and this one retains its 72" S10 AP1 goodness (arguably the only one now that nothing else in the book mounts the classic Railgun). It's mounted on a durable chassis (only a few standard skimmers with better armour) and comes with a higher BS than your average Tau. Plus with disruption pods you get 4+/3+ cover (unless you're stupid enough to park it in the open) making the Hammerhead much more durable to dedicated anti-tank equipment. Take one. Hell, take two. With its ability to make vehicles its bitch with its bullet-mode, and its ability to mincemeat infantry with its large blast shotgun-mode, a hammerhead will NEVER disappoint...provided you take the railgun option. Its options are as follows:
- Railgun: Yes. Standard mode is a S10 AP1 (it will knock out vehicles on a 5+ if it penetrates, opened-topped go out on a 4+), and can be upgraded with a S6 AP4 blast template just for 5 pts. Powerful, versatile, and rightly referred to by a variety of profane monikers by non-Tau players, it is the most popular Hammerhead primary weapon choice with good reason.
- Ion Cannon: An autocannon with another shot and better AP. It's no railgun, but it does have some new tricks up its sleeve to make it worth it especially against MEQs. Specifically, it's an ion weapon, which means it can be overcharged to a S8 AP3 Large Blast that gets hot; this effectively turns it into a discount Leman Russ, though Markerlight support lets it strip cover from targets.
- La'Sha'ng (Gunner Longstrike): Joining the burgeoning crowd of tank aces started by Antaro Chronus and Knight Commander Pask, and then trolling them silly because he's actually worth it! Shas'la T'au Sha'ng is a nifty upgrade for a Hammerhead gunship, blessing it with BS5, preferred enemy IG, Tank Hunter, a blacksun filter and the ability to overwatch. He can also overwatch multiple times per phase against different eligible charging enemies. Considering that he also has the Supporting Fire special rule like infantry and most battlesuits, that can actually be a whole lot of potential targets, each of which he can Overwatch on behalf of as often as the enemy attacks them. Consider flanking his Hammerhead with infantry to better take advantage of this, offering the protection of his tank fire to them while they keep the melta-bomb bearing enemy troops off of him. Just remember that you cannot Snap Fire anything which has a blast template, so sadly no sub-munitions Overwatching for him. Stick to his secondary weapons for most Overwatch targets, or use the solid railgun shot against a charging monstrous creature (if it even lives long enough to get that close.) Also, consider using him with an ion cannon. He only needs one markerlight to avoid overheating when he overcharges, provides best output for overwatching with 3 S7 AP3 shots along with secondary weapons, and can still wreck the hell out of light armor. Oh, and did we mention he headshotted a titan?
- Forge World brings several new weapons options to the Hammerhead Gunship:
- Please note that as the following are bought as a set of two, how one would fire the system is a matter of debate. Some would find it completely acceptable to count the two weapons as a single weapon system, thus being able to fire both as one weapon system after moving at combat speed, while others may punch the rules and declare they are two unrelated weapons and thus cannot be fired together. The latter will probably be common where your forces are curb-stomping the opponent into submission and they need every out they can get, but as a general house rule it should be completely acceptable to count the two systems as a single system that just fires twice at the same unit.
- 2 Long-Barrelled Burst Cannons: Since the update hit, it's now become a full-blown flak cannon with 12 shots, but weaker strength, shorter range, and the possibility to clip flyers. Post codex, you have Broadsides to do this job now. However, this weapon beats rail sub and ion cannon when it comes to facing down hordes of light infantry; guardsmen, guardians, Kablite warriors and ork boys get wounded on 2s and 3s with no armour saves. With the right support, 10-12 models can die in a single shooting phase. Throw in Longstrike for even more fun!Also consider the Point defence targeting relay. Anyone wishing to charge a unit with this monster nearby will have to suffer 16 shots of overwatch from just this tank. Markerlight the target beforehand to end the assault before it starts.
- 2 TL Missile Pods: Cheaper on Crisis Suits, but will come with a velocity tracker - basically turns your Hammerhead into very expensive and slightly more accurate Hydra flakk tank / Missileside. Just take a Missileside squad instead.
- 2 Fusion Cannons: This option had a bad rap for a while. However, the proliferation of TEQs briefly gave this gun its time in the sun (a twin-linked blast S8 AP1 melta does have its place, especially when facing down lots of deep-striking TEQs, vehicles, etc.). Unfortunately, now you have the Riptide to deal with that kinda shit, so the Fusion Cannon is back to being dubious once again. Also, thanks to the fact that if you move your tank, you can only fire 1 blast weapon, so don't take this. At all.
- 2 Plasma Cannons: A go-to gun for facing down TEQs/MEQs/Mounstrous Creatures and flyers. Now that the new codex is out, you have other options for anti-MEQ and anti-aircraft. Ion Cannon is better against the former and Broadsides are better against the latter. Might still have some use against MCs, although... it does pump out 4 S7 AP2 at 48".
- XV-107 R'Varna: Forge World's most beautiful creation to date. A riptide which exchanges its Jet Pack status for a better statline (+1T +1W) and inbuilt fletchette discharger (so it cannot be tarpitted). It also comes equipped with two Pulse Submunitions Cannons. Worth noting that these weapons are UNAFFECTED by the Ethereal ability Storm of Fire (so not stupidly broken) and do NOT have Rapid Fire. These guns are S6 AP4 Large Blast, with a Cluster Fire special rule. Cluster Fire lets the weapons get a higher strength and inflict more hits when you fire at larger models. This means it can potentially put out 6 (or 12 if you nova-charge) OC'd Ion rifle equivalent hits against an enemy MC per turn. You'll no longer have to worry about fighting MCs and Artillery because of this beautiful son of a bitch (actually, not as effective as it was with the changes of 7E, AP4 renders it about as useful as two hammerheads with Pulse submunitions, albeit hitting more on the blasts... but still only AP4. Gotta love party fouls). Also has a different Nova Reactor with an ability to increase invuln save to 3++, detonate a haywire "bomb", fire the cannons twice(at the cost of not firing next turn!) or give the unit Fleet and a 2D6 run. Can equip with a Positional Relay and Stimulant Injector (which CANNOT be used in a failed Nova Charge), and can purchase Shielded Missile Drones to protect you. Being a FW model, they charge you more than is even remotely reasonable for it i.e. 'only' £70.
- WARNING: Forgeworld has not released any sort of official document or FAQ stating that it cannot be used in the Farsight Enclaves army. Until they do, enjoy your battlesuit extravaganza. However, Considering the old rules are still available online, and until they are published in a copy of IA, nothing is official, you could still potentially be a douche and run the old rules for this brute. If you really want to be that guy, though, never over-charge it. Ever. You prick.
- Broadside Battlesuits: God's Fourth Gift To Tau. Broadsides got taken down a peg in the new codex, with their railgun variant hitting at a decent S8 (still AP1, though) and only at 60".(Making them totally ineffective in their previous role of an AV14 killer) In addition to their old options, they get new options like the ability to skyfire or replace their downgraded railguns with a fucking ton of missiles (including a seeker missile). If you have target locks on the broadsides, you can fire at different targets, possibly giving two different vehicles a serious glance-to-death headache, and turn those scary monstrous creatures into pink (or green) mist. Along with the change in rules, broadsides have a new plastic kit that has them holding their twin-linked heavy railrifle like a rifle, as well as bits for their new twin-linked high-yield missile system (the one that replaces their twin-linked heavy railrifle). Arguably, Broadsides needed this nerfing in order to open up board for the other options in Heavy Support. The main thing to consider when choosing missiles or rail rifles is range. 60" is still pretty much table wide while the missiles are only 36". Missilesides will need to either be deployed farther forward or wait in the rear, but which ever you choose remember that Broadsides are infantry and will only snap-fire if they move.
- Look to the skies! These guys are also excellent AA units and are great as an ally unit for armies that lack reliable AA. Misslesides with VT run through AV11 flyer's (with 1 broadside averaging 2 glancing hits per shooting phase) and they don't do too badly against the AV12's either taking 1 hull point per shooting phase per broadside. Although, if you take the command variant from the Farsight Enclaves and attach him to a darkstrider unit, you suddenly have a nice amount of twinlinked insta-death at your disposal.
- Drone Sniper Team: This entry has seriously been retooled in the latest Codex. They no longer have rail rifles, just beefed up pulse rifles, but these new Longshot Pulse Rifles get Sniper (which includes precision shots and rending on to wound/penetrate of 6) and a 48" range now. Also, their new gun is a pulse weapon so it's effected by Storm of Fire. If the spotter dies, the drones get reduced from BS 5 to BS 2, though in 6th edition you can hide him behind a drone line AND you can now take three spotters per squad! They used to take up a Heavy Support choice that was usually better filled with something else but now they can lay down a devastating salvo of accurate, potentially rending dakka with wounds that you may choose how to allocate. Though, despite being pulse weapon longshots still count as S3 against vehicles like any sniper rifle, so do not expect to threaten tanks with them. Note that the Firesight spotter is BS5 and comes with a markerlight. While they max out at three spotters per team, those three markerlights are nothing to sneer at, as each one of them is almost guaranteed several tokens per shooting phase. Keep in mind that while the spotter is standard infantry, the drones are called out specifically as jet pack infantry, which means that they can use the jump-shoot-jump trick to pop in and out of cover, so long as they end their move in unit cohesion with the spotter they should be fine. If your opponent protests, show them the unit description in the Codex saying that they do just that. That said, they will still be going at the speed of the spotter, so consider using a spare Devilfish to get them where they need to be. Even a max sized sniper team with three spotters and nine drones can still fit inside a Devilfish. A neat little trick is to set a single spotter up on a ledge where he'd probably get insta-gibbed by the opponent and let your XV8-05 commander take over the drones when the spotter bites it, thereby giving your longshots the ability to JSJ while keeping BS5.
- Another tactic: These guys weapons are pulse, meaning they are affected by the Etheral's Storm of fire ability, witha range of 48", this could mean three shots per drone at 24". 9 drones, 2 spotters and an Etheral clock in at just over 200pts and they have a nasty bit of fire power backing them. Why an Ethereal? They're better suited to be in a spot where they can boost the most possible units, use a Fire Blade. While they'll have to move about a lot after the first few turns, position them right and you've got volley fire for 2 shots at 48" well out of the reach of the troop units that these snipers are designed to fuck with, what's not to like?
- Skyray Missile Gunship: At first glance it looks like a Hammerhead with it's gun replaced with six seeker missiles. "Meh", you say, "I can bring my missiles on any vehicle". Point is that those six missiles doesn't matter. Sure, they are useful, but as i said, you can get them without the Skyray. The things that matters are two tiny gizmos on it's hull - a set of two markerlights and velocity tracker. Think of it like 67 pts upgrade that could give any of your units skyfire on BS2 or hopefully BS3, that also have 6 seeker missiles attached to it. The moment you've landed at least one markerlight token on the enemy flyer/FMC in range of your pathfinders or marker drones it's pretty much dead - spotter units would turn those 1-2 markers into 4-7 and then you just finish the poor fucker with whatever seems more appropriate - from railgun slug to the face, to fusion guns on your battlesuits or pirahnas, to just the hail of pulse shots in case it's AV10 flyer. Against one of the AV10/11 flyers you can just boost Skyray's own BS with his markerlights (they're networked BTW), and then swipe it with as many missiles as you feel appropriate - even if you spend all six you still gonna blow enemy unit out of the sky almost guaranteed. And since most flyers cost 100+ pts. your Skyray just payed for himself, and still can keep doing his air spotter duty. Hell, you can even land a few glances or force an FMC to crush with your SMSs. Unfortunately, Skyray have to compete with almighty Broadsides, Hammerheads and R'Varnas, which are much more point-efficient, but if you have free HS slot and points taking one hardly would hurt your army.
- Heavy Gun Drones (Forge World): They're Gun Drone Squads, if slightly more accurate - yet somehow made worse courtesy of them devouring a Heavy Support choice. You don't want to waste one of these all-too-valuable slots on twin-linked fucking burst cannons when your army has dozens of ways to get these onto the table. Their airmobility and markerlight options are still not worth it. Avoid.
- Although you could attach a commander with drone controller to a six drone squad with marker lights and a burst cannon. 6 marker lights at BS5 and 24 strength 5 burst cannon hits at BS5. Sadly, you can't do both in the same turn.
- Also this limits your ability to split your marker light hits between various units. If you decide to take these guys at all go for the TL Burst cannon and make them a bubble wrap unit or a nuisance.
- Manta: The bastard child of a Thunderhawk and a Titan, this small spaceship is just as capable an attack craft as it is a heavy transport. This thing carries an absolutely goofy number of guns and can spew out a retarded amount of dice. Sixteen Long-barrelled Burst Cannons (who now fire 6 shots, meaning this thing fires 96 S5 AP5 36" shots), three Long-barrelled Ion Cannons, two Heavy Railgun (destroyer weapon and AP1 like a standard railgun in slug-mode, so it auto-penetrates/wounds and destroys vehicles 2+, not to mention the submunition mode that throws out large blasts with the strength and AP values of an Ion Cannon, and deviate less than usual by virtue of being drone-controlled), a Missile Pod, a Seeker Missile Battery (10 missiles), and a Networked Markerlight turret ensure that anything it's shooting at will not live to see the next turn. And there's the little benefit that for a Titan equivalent, it's damned fast. Oh, and it can carry a metric fuckton of Tau; 48 Fire Warriors, 8 battlesuits, 2 Devilfish (and any models in them DON'T count towards total models in the Manta's cargo), 2 Hammerheads, 6 Gun Drones, and 1 Ethereal. Just one of these can damned near carry an entire normal 40k game's worth of Tau ground units! Unfortunately, for the price of the Manta model, you could just as easily buy a decent used car. (PROTIP: Buy a Smart Car, paint it ochre, and use it as both a vehicle and a proxy. Or proxy it with your converted army case.) If you can afford one and don't know how to use it, try asking either your butler or the two burly Armenians who just came over to break both your legs. One other drawback: unlike other flying vehicles in Apocalypse, ground attackers without AA or pintle mounts use their normal BS rather than needing a 6 to hit because of how fuck-huge it is (blasts and templates still can't fire at Manta, and needless to say, all titan-weapons are blasts). Though it does have a 4+ invul save due to its energy shield, remember an enemy still needs to deplete its structure points to destroy it like a ground-based super-heavy vehicle. In the most recent update the manta has BS4, 13/12/11 armor, 30HP, a transport capacity of 200 (up to 4 vehicles counting as 30 each, and bulky, very bulky, and extremely bulky as normal) and the ability to spew out more dakka at 2,000 points than most armies.
- Tiger Shark: This thing can shit out fourteen gun drones and carries an impressive armament of a twin-linked Ion Cannon, TL Missile Pod, and two Burst Cannons, making it the death of anything without a 2+ armour save/a lucky invulnerable save/Land Raider-equivalent armour (especially since flyers always hit the side armour of ground vehicles!).
- AX-1-0: A version of the Tiger Shark meant to really bring the hate to super-heavy vehicles, swapping out drone racks and ion cannons for twin-linked Heavy Railguns. Put on a trollface as your opponent realizes just how terrifying Railguns are on a flyer platform (answer? Very, especially since the ones on this Tiger Shark variant are just as capable as those on a Manta).
- As a fluff note, the AX-1-0 was originally made as a counter to Imperial Titans. Titans take decades and lots of resources to build, while the AX-1-0 uses existing parts from the Tiger Shark with weapons normally installed on Mantas, thereby minimizing fabrication time and material cost, giving the Tau an extremely cost-effective anti-titan punch. You know that the Earth Caste engineering team that came up with it said, "Problem, Magos?" Few things are more satisfying than watching the look on your enemy's face when you blow up his Reaver Titan or Heirophant with a fraction of its cost in AX-1-0s, that go on to tear his other super-heavies a new one.
- AX-2-2: A rather weird unit that carries two Remora Stealth Drone fighters that have two long barrelled burst cannons and seeker missiles.
- AX-1-0: A version of the Tiger Shark meant to really bring the hate to super-heavy vehicles, swapping out drone racks and ion cannons for twin-linked Heavy Railguns. Put on a trollface as your opponent realizes just how terrifying Railguns are on a flyer platform (answer? Very, especially since the ones on this Tiger Shark variant are just as capable as those on a Manta).
- Orca Dropship: If you have the money and points to afford a Manta (lucky you!), don't bother with this one. While still a super-heavy flyer, its transport capacity is only a quarter of the Manta's (it can't even carry vehicles), and it is only lightly armed with Seeker Missiles, a Missile Pod and a twin-linked Burst Cannon turret. Needless to say, the Orca dropship doesn't do any justice to its namesake (which is an apex marine predator in real life). It did get +1 front and side armour, +1 BS, a built in disruption pod and blacksun filter, an the ability that allows 4 units to disembark at the same time, and long-barreled burst cannon's new buff to 6 shots greatly helps. Also in big apoc floor matches a very mobile flying cheap transport with a transport captivity of 57 is nothing to sneezed at. Also if you want to be an asshole, remember that you can transport up to 11 broadsides or (more usually) three teams of 3 with drones.
On a side note, this dropship first appeared in the Fire Warrior 40k FPS and Tau vehicle units in Dark Crusade and Soulstorm arrive at vehicle production buildings via Orca.
- Another View
The Orca and the Manta have two entirely different roles on the battlefield. Specifically, the Orca isn't a 2000 point army by itself. The Orca is designed to support an army as a Lord of War, capable of surviving on the battle field while deploying it's cargo of suits/drones/troops. With the advantages of the flyer rules, it's +1 to cover saves and it's damn good armor and hull points, it is remarkably reliable as a transport. The most important facet of this vehicle is that it can transport battlesuits, and more importantly, jet pack infantry. This includes Hazard suits.
- I am sure you are wondering "what difference does that make? I can deep strike my jet pack infantry!"
- Consider this: The greatest weakness of drop-fusion squads is that they tend to get the shit shot out of them. A lot. They can't move after deep striking so you are sacrificing your units in hopes that they destroy their target. You are also risking mishaps if you don't have a homing beacon(bacon? BACON!). With the Orca, you get to move, shoot and thrust move, which pretty much assures you can get your guys into cover before they get shot by the entire enemy army.
- Consider also that the vehicle can move -and- deploy it's cargo without worrying about dangerous terrain checks for the guys inside, Unlike the Valkyrie. You can also load it with a metric fuckton of fire warriors, pathfinders, kroot, broadsides and drones.
- It is a 400 point mini, more if you take other upgrades, and looks a bit like a shoebox, but as things continue to grow in size and scope, this point cost (roughly the same as a knight titan with FAR more versatility and resilience), it becomes a dead-killy option.
Sadly, the 6th Edition Tau codex does not include any fortifications unique to them, like the Forgeworld Tau Sensor Towers. You will have to make do with the Imperial stuff:
- Aegis Defense Line: Can be useful or useless, depending on how you plan to use it. The anti-air emplacements are much less useful to you than most other armies, since you have so much AA already, though it's your only viable anti-air interceptor. That being said, it's still a nice piece of cover for your Fire Warrior gunline and dispoded tanks to cower behind and because you control where it goes it is cover your fire warriors will always have. If you're running a highly-mobile, you'll find it to be actively useless. If you're going to commander-bomb the enemy, for 20 points more, the comms relay will allow you to reroll reserve results, which might save your entire game.
- Vengeance Weapon Battery: If you don't like taking a risk that might end up blowing your tank up with poor rolling, or you just like a sturdy Battle Cannon mounted on a reliable AV14 building chassis, then the Vengeance weapon battery is your go-to fortifications. It's cheap, it's hardy, and it can take either a Punisher Gatling Cannon (20 shots FTW) or it can be armed with a fearsome battle cannon for +10 points, adding another large blast ap3 weapon on your side that doesn't suffer much from the disappointing bs2 the Weapon battery is cursed with due to being a blast weapon. All in all, if you need a little extra kick, the VWB is hard to disappoint.
- Skyshield Landing Pad: Very big and you can probably fit your entire army on top of it. The 4++ it gives units on top (when the sides are up) means you can put your fire warriors and broadsides up there and not have to worry about things that ignore cover *cough*deathstrike missiles*cough*. When the sides are down, you can deep strike units onto it without them scattering - sort of useless given that if you are deep striking you are probably trying to insert a commander bomb behind an enemy tank, In which case you would have Farsight.
- Imperial Bastion: It's big. It has 4 heavy bolters but you cannot really fit much at the top, and even less so when you add a gun emplacement. A decent crows nest for a sniper drone team or rail/ion rifle pathfinder team, but past that, it's an expensive piece of cover.
- Fortress of Redemption: Expensive, expensive, expensive. But like the rest of your army, the range of the weapons is crazy high. (96" missiles). You can also give it a gun with both skyfire and interceptor, but your Broadsides and Riptides should be taking care of that. The building only has one entrance, so be careful about getting it blown apart. On the other hand, it'll give some trouble to your enemies trying to pull you into an assault. You're also going to need about 300 points freed up just bring in a fully kitted out FoR. Imagine the Battle for Helm's Deep, and you're not too far off.
- Void Shield Generator: Let me break it down for you - you have broadsides. Wouldn't it be nice to stick them behind a nice, thick slab of AV12 from which they can still shoot out? 50pts. Scratch-build your own Tau-ish looking one. Troll the world, drink neckbeard tears.
- Remote Sensor Towers (Forge World): After being noticed for the bad-ass auto-take it was, Forgeworld majorly nurfed it. It's now 'Battlefield Debris' with BS2, T6, W2, and a 4+ save, it has a twin-linked markerlight, and allows '(...)a singe friendly unit selected from Codex: Tau Empire that is within 2" of any sensor tower in the unit may re-roll all failed To Hit rolls of a 1 and gain the Night Vision special rule...' Sadly, it's no longer an auto-take, but may get some use to help with a Riptide to stop it from killing itself.
Main point in bringing allied non-Greater Good adherents are distraction, assault beatstick or psyker support. Remember, you only have d6 defence against psykers.
Farsight Enclaves/Tau Empire: Yep, you can actually ally a "standard" Tau Empire list with a Farsight Enclaves list. This means four Riptides (five counting O'vesa). This means nigh-on broken. This means you WILL do this. on 2,000+ point games that's 9 available riptides. Use the Fire Cadre data slate for an extra to bring that number up to 10. Do you count R'varna riptides? That's 6 more. Y'vahra? Another 6. Enjoy throwing
16 22 mechagodzillas down your enemies throat.
Allies of Convenience
Necrons: They are shooty cover campers, that lay waste on vehicles and die in close combat... just like you. Unlike you they have much more survivability in the open (as they are designed for close range firefights, instead of sniping across the board) pie plates of hate, lots and lots of battlefield cheating rules, some of which stacks perfectly with Tau (HOD with Solar Flare for your nightvision army? Yes, please!), and last but not least motherfucking flyer cheese
of scythes croissants. And if you want to screen your gunline with close combat beatstick, they get one too.
- Before allying with Necrons be aware that many of your own models are superior and cheaper.
Firewarriors are better than Warriors in almost every wayHighly debatable. Missilesides will outperform Annihilation Barges (they lack its speed and overall durability however, while the Barge also has the potential to outgun it on enough sixes). Heavy Destroyers? Hammerheads and Railsides. Monolith? Riptide. The best use for Necron allies is a Doom Scythe and Wraithwing.
Eldar: Eldar provides you with psykers and sorely-needed DTW defenses (in form of warp die). Aside from that, Wraithwall armies can be a good, mobile anchor and distraction; jetbikes, hawks, scorpions for fast objective grabber, and the dreaded waveserpents for pushing the gunline forward. Too bad you can't prescience your riptides anymore, but prospect of fighting hammerheads guarded by serpents are still gloomy for your opponents.
Chaos Space Marines: With the right build, Chaos Lords or Princes can occupy that guy's deathstar-HQs or even kill it outright. Nurgle Termies and Heldrake are durable bullet sponges that can perform independently from rest of your armies, and if you're feeling lucky, Thousand Sons. Other than that, skip the shooty parts as you have better options.
Dark Eldar: Dark Eldar do have a couple of upsides - with the right build, they are so mobile that the One Eye Open rule won't be a factor if you play intelligently, and they're very good at dictating when combat occurs, a very good sacrificial defense for your squishy gunlines. On the other hand, a highly mobile Eldar build - such as Samhain - can use this tactic as well.
The Forces of the Imperium:
- Space Marines: With the loss of Battle Brothers, you need to be creative in using Marines. Thankfully all-bikers from both Scars and Ravenwing can still work as they have great mobility and can be left alone for the most part. Assaulty armies like Templars and Sharkies are better as distraction, but don't bring too much as your primary advantage is still shooting. Landspeeders works like a better Piranha, pretty good for dealing with covered blobs if you don't want to commit your suits.
- Imperial Guard: If you want to bring all-suit army, IG's artilleries can be a great boon in dealing with things you'll have difficulty, like MSUs. IG blobs can also screen your gunline, but let them die first or stay away from assaults as you still need to shoot them. IG tanks are best used as distraction that's capable of wreaking havoc if left unchecked.
- Dark Angels: As stated above, go with Ravenwing. Deathwing Knights are also excellent anti-everything deathstar though needs careful deployment and lucky deepstrike. (you'll at best only bring one biker squad to help them, so it will be expensive tax but worth it if you know how to use)
- Space Wolves: Stormwolf. Nuff said.
- Blood Angels:
- Grey Knights: Primary use is psyker defences and Purifiers, though Eldar are better by virtue of being Convenience. Paladins may work if you need tough units.
- Inquisition: Think of Inquisition as a toolbox that capable of filling any holes you need, packed in mobile Chimera or Valks. Though with downgrade to Desperate Allies, pay attention to movement phases.
- Sisters of Battle:
Orks "What ya want us to smash them gits for yas, and you'll give us that nice flash fer it, why don't we just krump you and take the flash instead, and then'll we'll fight 'em gitz anywayz" And that's why Tau and Orkz don't ally well. With a broad deployement range deploy massive hordes of Boyz infront of your Tau gunlines with a couple of Pathfinder squads on the flanks, and you've got an unruly flesh-shield, but let them die before they get into Melee, otherwise you've just negated your main adavantage, and all your accurate shooting is just going to waste now that you can't shoot into a melee combat.
Come The Apocalypse
Chaos Daemons Tzeentch warp-die spam may work and don't need to be close to your units to be effective, and Warpstorm table are non-issue. Needs playtesting though.
Tyranids Nidzilla-list (needs playtesting)
At the moment Farsight Enclaves can not take the following from forgeworld: Any Battlesuit including the R'varna, Tetra, Tigershark AX-1-0, Remora drone fighter.
- This information is from an Email trail between Forgeworld and members of the Advanced Tau Tactica forum. There is currently no official FAQ or Errata that defines these restrictions. The current Farsight Enclaves book defines that the Army List is chosen as presented in Codex: Tau Empire, so expect some people to try and run with loads of Forgeworld, and others to say that there can be NO Forgeworld in a Farsight list.
- Battlesuit Spearhead: The big rule everyone will be talking about, Battlesuit Spearhead allows you to take XV-8 Crisis battlesuits as Troops choices. The only restriction (besides the possibility that you cannot take them as Elites, which needs to be errata'd) is that at least one unit must have three Crisis suits. Because, you know, you really needed the motivation to do that anyways. If you find yourself nodding to this, you're doing it wrong.
- Ork Hunters: Every model in a Farsight Enclaves detachment has Preferred Enemy (Orks), but only in close combat. It's nice in case you do end up in close combat, but don't go rushing there: you're still Tau and you still suck at melee.
- Ta'lissera Bond: Remember the often-pointless Bonding Knife Ritual mentioned above? Yeah, every unit that can take it must take it. As discussed above, it's not all that useful (and is, in fact, absolutely pointless for three-man Crisis suit teams), but that's the price you must pay for battlesuits in Troops.
- Signature Systems: You can't take the Tau Empire signature systems (well, you can, in a roundabout way, but we'll talk about that in a minute). Instead, you can take the Farsight Enclave signature systems, which we'll discuss below. For the most part, this is a bad thing; the Tau Empire signature systems are excellent, whereas the Farsight Enclaves systems are... significantly less so. That being said, your Riptides can also take them, which is good, because the best item is made primarily for them.
- Farsight's Commander Team (The Eight): Instead of taking his seven-man Crisis bodyguard team, you can take Farsight's Commander Team, made up of seven Unique Special Characters. The unit doesn't take up an HQ slot (which is nice) and each model has the Independent Character special rule (meaning they can join other units). However, you must use their wargear as listed, but you don't have to take all of them (which would get very expensive, very fast). They'll be discussed in more detail below.
Note that, due to the extremely confusing wording of the rule, it's not clear whether you need to take Farsight or not. It seems that you can take them without Farsight, but if you do take Farsight and the Eight (well, it's only seven without him), you can't take his special bodyguard unit. But then they don't take up an HQ slot, so you'd need to take another HQ anyway.FAQ'd so that you must have Farsight as your warlord if you want to take any of the remaining Seven. They're purchased as a single unit but all have Independent Character, so it's not clear whether they must be deployed together as a unit or if they can be deployed separately.
- Divergent Destiny: A Farsight Enclaves army can't include Shadowsun or Aun'va, obviously. Whether this is any big loss depends on your preferences, but a Farsight Enclaves army can get along well enough without them. Oddly, you can take Ethereals, fluff-wise only Aun'Shi is still welcome in the Enclave so take him.
- Allies: Farsight Enclaves and Tau Empire are Battle Brothers. Yep, that's a lot of Riptides.
Farsight Enclaves Signature Systems
- Earth Caste Pilot Array: Let the engineers have some action. Drops WS of selected units to 1 (but what are you doing in close combat anyway? oh right farsight list) but you get to re-roll misses of one (works with the Gets Hot) and if used on a Riptide you can re-roll the nova charge if it fails (DO IT).
- This is awesome with a Heavy Burst Cannon on Nova-Charge. What's not to like on a Heavy 12 S6 AP4 Rending weapon that re-rolls those pesky Gets Hot failures? And although the AP isn't great, even a squad of TEQ/MEQ will shit their pants at this as you drop a double-digit number of (rending) wounds on them. And if you can boost their BS up to 5 (only two marker hits) your looking at what is essentially BS10.
- Did you know you can take two of these? Run Farsight and O'Vesa in his Bodyguard and although O'Vesa has one equipped, the Signature Systems limitation of 1 per army doesn't apply to him! Question is, does your opponent only run one Tear Cup in his list?
- Talisman of Arthas Moloch: Anti-daemonic trinket, found in the same site as Dawn Blade. The holder gets a 5++ and all units within 12" to Deny the Witch on a 4+, which is frankly fucking a, as Tau doesn't have anything to help them against psykers, and as the DnW-roll is only made with a single die, this makes stopping those warp-shenanigans that much easier.
- Warscaper Drone: Counts as drone upgrade (retains any other gear and stats), grants Move Through Cover, Outflank and Acute Senses USR to attached unit, and enemy units within 12" outside of their deployment zone treat difficult terrain as dangerous terrain. Combos well with Seismic Fibrillator.
- Seismic Fibrillator Drone: One use only. Roll at beginning of any player's turn, on 2+ open ground within 36" of the drone (NOT the unit attached) becomes difficult terrain and difficult terrain becomes dangerous terrain for one turn, or continues at next turn at 5+.
- The Mirrorcodex: Farsight's pirated Codex Astartes copy, adds 1 to initiative roll. Also at beginning of each turn, roll a d6 and you have the chance to win PE:SM, PE:SM+IG or PE:Everyone for bearer and any unit within 6".
- Fusion Blades: Upgrade for Commander with TL Fusion only. Turns your minigun to plasma shiv with Armourbane, perfect for shanking that Leman Russ that somehow survived your plasma fusillade. Also good to defend yourself against assault units (Commander is WS4 and 4 attacks, Fusion Blades grants Blind) however don't rely on it, as it has chance to disable your TL Fusion from both shooting and stabbing (making it mandatory to purchase another or two weapons).
NOTE: Although the Signature Systems rule states that only one of each Signature System may be taken per army, this rule does not apply to The Eight. Have fun with running two Earth Caste Pilot Arrays on your Double Riptides. Also note that ALL eight are Independent Characters, though it's not clear whether you have to start them as one unit or can second them during deployment to other units.
- Commander Farsight: As Codex:Tau, nothing different in stats. (Only he can take some or all seven samurais, costing exactly 1494 points.)
- Commander Brightsword: The seventh lunatic to bear this title (the first was killed by a squad from the 13th Penal Legion on an assassination mission.) Has a crisis suit with twin linked fusion blasters (with fusion blades), advanced targeting systems, one shield drone with the warscraper upgrade.
- Commander Bravestorm: A charred out husk kept alive by his crisis suit, sound familiar? Has a plasma rifle, flamer, shield generator, stim injector, onager gauntlet, iridium armour, and two gun drones.
- Shas'o Arra'kon: Farsight's would be successor in his absence, canonically the only one in the tall fine cast commander suit. Pilots an enforcer suit with plasma rifle, cyclic ionic blaster, airbursting fragmentation projector, a repulsor impact field, two gun drones, and counter fire defence systems.
- Shas'o Sha'vastos: Had some slight problems adjusting to the prototype engram nanochip, is better now. Has a crisis suit with a plasma rifle, flamer, shield generator, vectored retro thrusters, two gun drones, and said puretide engram chip.
- Sub-commander Torchstar: Tau defector and youngest of the Eight, relieves her unrequited feelings for Farsight with her second love: fire. Pilots a crisis suit with two flamers, target lock, multi-spectrum sensor suite, a neuroweb system jammer, drone controller and two marker drones.
- Broadside Shas'vre Ob'lotai 9-0: A broadside piloted by an AI, nice. It's a broadside with twin-linked high yield missile pods, twin linked smart missile pods, a seeker missile, velocity tracker and two missile drones.
- Honour-Shas'vre O'vesa: An earth-caste scientist in a riptide. Comes with an ion accelerator, twin-linked fusion blasters, shielded missile drones, an earth caste piloting array, early warning override, and stim injector.
Dataslates are Games Workshops new rules supplements, which they've been supplying over Christmas 2013 (one a day as part of an Advent promotion).
A Dataslate contains collections of one or more datasheets. Each datasheet lists a Faction (such as Tau) and either an Army List Entry (rules and points value for a single mode, vehicle or unit) or a Formation (a specific group of models, vehicles or units that enable you to use special rules when you include them in your army).
The crazy thing here is that a Formation is taken as a completely separate Detachment and therefore doesn't take up a Force Organizational Slot. So if you want to run Primary Tau Empire with a Space Marine Allied Detachment, a Secondary Detachment (because you're playing over 2000 pts) and also include a Tau Firebase Support Cadre and an Inquisitor Detachment... Feel free. That's one hell of a lot of slots for Riptides, and a lot of opportunities to stop moving.
- Tau Firebase Support Cadre (Dataslate) - The Tau Firebase Support Cadre is a Formation consisting of one Riptide and two COMPLETE units of Broadsides (3 models per unit). Each member of the formation has the Tank Hunters and Preferred Enemy (Space Marines) special rules. In return, your Space Marine enemies will get Hatred (Tau Firebase Support Cadre). This is fair enough really, and not much of a downside... If you're stupid enough to let Space Marines get into CC with your units, then you probably deserve to lose.
Bear in mind you are free to build the configuration of the formation however you want. You want all High-Yield Missile Pods and Interceptor on your Broadsides, and an Ion Cannon and Early Warning System on your Riptide? You can. You don't want to include Shas'vre in each Broadside team? No problem. You want lashings of Drones with every model? You do that!
At the end of the day, this separate detachment will end up costing however much you decide to spend, just as long as you spend the bare minimum of points (570 by my calculations) so it's not cheap. But it's a hell of a lot of potential firepower that your opponent has to face down the barrel of. Flyer heavy opponents probably shit their pants just thinking about this formation.
Oh, and did we mention these babies don't take up a Force Org slot? And as long as you have the points, you can take as many of these formations as you want? Yeah, in a game using a single Force Org (such as 1999+1 Tournaments) you can take as many of these as you want (most likely 2) to add Broadside and Riptide fluffing to your army while leaving those slots open... for more Broadsides(or Skyrays for missile/markerlight fun) and Riptides, most likely. Only be that guy who bring sin 5 Riptides in a 2000 point single force-org tournament if you know how to party. Beware Insta-dead stuff (like Eldar) because your army is going to look tiny compared to even Gray Knights. Have fun.
- Air Strike Superiority Wing (Apocalypse) - 3-5 Razorsharks. All for killing flyers.
- This is pretty much the Tau's answer for any flyer, as the formation gets +1 to-hit any flyers and can fire d3 markerlights so long as one of them is still up.
- Counterstrike Cadre (Apocalypse) - A Pathfinder team and 2-4 Fire Warrior squads all take Devilfish.
- The main goal in using this is to secure objectives ASAP and keep there, as their Devilfish get Fast the turn they appear (or at the start if they don't go reserves) and they all get to re-roll to hit when they're within 12" of the objective. If you set it up right, they'll be able to give your other troops room to keep fighting without needing to worry about them.
- Kroot Hunting Pack (Apocalypse) - 5 Kroot squads, kitted out however you like.
- This is a fluff formation, plain and simple. They only get Furious Charge and the ability to outflank on any side they wish. Other than that, they're still just Kroot.
- Optimized Stealth Group (Apocalypse) - 3+ Stealth Teams are needed.
- This formation has one nice rule and one meh rule. The nice thing is that their shots ignore cover. The meh thing is that if they infiltrate, they need to halve the distance they can set up from the enemy. Being Tau, the prospect of being closer to the enemy shouldn't be a good idea.
- Rapid Insertion Forces (Apocalypse) - A Stealth Team take along 3-5 3-man Crisis teams and an optional Riptide for all the mechas.
- The Stealth Suits are only there to be a homing beacon, hence their inability to go to reserves. After they find a nice spot, the rest of the formation can then Deep Strike within 18" and never scatter. They also get TL that turn as well, making them the filthy xeno equivalent of the Deathwing.
- Riptide Wing (Apocalypse) - 3-5 Riptides. THAT GUY TEAM COMING UP!!
- Yeah, this is just being unfair. Not only can any Riptide within 6" of another re-roll failed Nova Reactor rolls, but they also get +1 BS when firing at something another Riptide already shot at. Really, who'd want to play this and claim themselves fair?
- Skysweep Missile Defense (Apocalypse) - A Devilfish takes command of 2-4 Skyrays.
- For one thing, Skyrays within 12" of the Devilfish can fire all the missiles they want. Also, every Tau within 60" of the Devilfish while it's still working gets Shrouded against all flyers. You want a more expensive and larger Darkshroud, you pay for it.
- Shadowsun's Firestrike Assault Hunter Cadre (Apocalypse) - Shadowsun takes command of a grand total of: a Crisis Bodyguard team, 2 regular Crisis teams, 6 Fire Warriors with a Fish, 6 without, 2 Pathfinders with Fish, 2 Stealth teams, 2 Riptides, 3 Hammerheads, 3 Skyrays, and 4 Razorsharks.
- Really, this is just a convenient excuse to gather all this wanton firepower together, with a bonus of giving anyone within 24" of the commander Fearless and Preferred Enemy. If you really have that many models together (and you like running stuff like the Tyranids Living Tide) then rock on, you extremely rich GW slave.
- Piranha Fireteam Squadron (Apocalypse) - 5 Piranhas. Only five, no more, no less.
- This is a surprise assault formation, plain and simple. They deploy as a team on the second turn, they can jump into reserves so long as they're all within 6" of a table edge and come back whenever fully restocked and restored. If you thought the Tau had enough cheese, there's this, an instant-revival that can make even Tyranids jelly.
- Ethereal Council (Apocalypse) - So long as you get three Characters, you can choose between Aun'Va, Aun'Shi, and more than one plain Ethereal.
- Grouping this many squishy Tau together boosts their FiNaO range from 12" to 24", but if they're all removed, the enemy gets another VP for killing them all. In addition, they can all use one more elemental power just to coordinate the other side's ruination by control.
- Hunter Cadre (Apocalypse) - In a smaller Shadowsun formation, a single generic Commander gets: a Bodyguard team, 2-6 regular Crisis teams, Broadsides, Piranhas, and Hammerheads, 1-3 Stealth, Pathfinder, regular Drone, and Sniper Drone teams, 1-3 Skyrays, 3+ Fire Warrior teams, and an option to take up to 3 Fireblades, Kroot, and Vespids each.
- This formation gifts a bit more to the team. First off, they grab Acute Senses. Then, they can start from reserves and then get out in the first turn. After that, they all get 12" range for their Supporting Fire, meaning that now it changed charging them from a stupid idea to a phenomenally suicidal idea. All for the Greater Good.
- Drone-net VX1-0 (Apocalypse) - 12+ Gun, Marker, and/or Shield drones can take optional Sniper, Missile, Recon, Grav-inhibitor, and Pulse Accelerator Drones, all in groups of four or more.
- All this dronage grants them a grand total of...+1 to their BS. It's meant to be a distraction, and the Shields help on that, but if you're expecting them to survive, don't.
- Hammerhead Interdiction Cadre (Apocalypse) - 3-5 Hammerheads put together.
- So long as the lead vehicle hasn't been blown to bits, it can give your team d3+1 Markerlights to use for extra killing, because this is Tau.
- Paradox Squadron (Apocalypse) - 3-5 Sunsharks in a team.
- When put in the Arrowhead pattern with 3+ pulse bombs, the lead bomber gets to make a Strength D AP1 Large Blast bombing run, with rolls of 1 on the D table instead restoring lost wounds/hull points. Really, this is more of a gamble than most would want, with a chance of either instantly wiping out an enemy or making them even tougher than before. Run at your peril.
- Ranged Support Cadre (Apocalypse) - 1-3 Pathfinders lead 3-6 Broadsides.
- By joining, the Pathfinders all get Infiltrate and Shrouded. However, if they ever fire something other than markerlights or even move, they lose Shrouded, making placement a priority. In addition, if the Broadsides use the Pathfinders' markerlights, the value of the lights get doubled. Yes, this is about as cheese as everything else, because this gives them the ability to get +2 BS or ignore cover with all of ONE markerlight.
Cities of Death
The tau have a lot of good stuff for cities of death such as fast skimmers, short ranged, high RoF weapons, lots of ignore cover, and other fun stuff. Take a Razorshark with disruption pod and flechette discharger to take out those tough targets and a Skyray to deal with anything else. Darkstider and a ton of pathfinders with rail rifles. They will hide in the buildings and snipe whilst Darkstrider lowers their toughness. Fighting retreat is a good rule here as well. Whilst their assault marines charge they can blast them to pieces. (FW) Drone sentry turrets come into play here as well. Give them deep strike and put them in strategic locations around the board. They serve as blockades if the enemies get to close and if the squad of infiltrators is just out of reach. Use against scouts, looted, eldest rangers, Obliterators and other tau. Stealth suits and Commander Shadowsun get a special mention. Infiltrating and stealth + large buildings = models that just don't want to die. Pulse Carbines are very good for the cramped areas, and 24 18" S5 AP5 pinning shots can wipe out some squads in a single volley. SMSs are great here, and vespids can actually do something in cities of death (12" movement, move through cover and stealth in ruins).
The Tau have access to the Manta Super-heavy Dropship (kind of ridiculous considering it costs as much as an entire army), the Orca Dropship (cheap, but not very useful in most games) , the Tiger Shark Fighter Bomber (not particularly amazing), and the Tiger Shark AX-1-0 (pretty much mandatory against super-heavies) in games of escalation.
More stuff to hide behind. Amazing. I'm so excited.
Building Your Army
The 6th Edition Tau codex is the most recent version, and the Forge World stuff
is still languishing in old rules has been updated to 6th via IA3 2nd ed and IA: Apoc. Be sure to check the latest errata when considering your options.
My recommendation is to:
- Start with a Crisis Commander
- Mount all Fire Warriors in Devilfish. Fish of Fury may be dead, but your Fire Warriors still need the survivability.
- Unfortunately, with "real" railguns now being the sole province of the hammerhead, the Tau's primary anti-tank capacity has shifted to Fusion guns and Ion Accelerator toting Riptides (Large blast ordanance Lascannons with 72" range)
- Riptide, Riptide, Riptide. Buy a Riptide or two or three, or four with enclaves and watch your opponent weep.
- Battlesuits are great. You want battlesuits.(but ESPECIALLY to the point you flood the WHOLE DAMN TABLE with them by playing Commander Farsight)
- Without eating up space for your railguns, MARKERLIGHTS. You love them, take them.
Helpful Hints and Fun Strategies
Here's probably the number 1 tip for the Tau. Do you like seeing squad after squad of Fire Warriors get slapped to death by Conscripts? No? Keep them out of melee combat.
The question often arises on the viability of Burst Cannons Vs. Smart Missiles Vs. Gun Drones for vehicles.While smart missiles are better than burst cannons, both are twin linked and come in at the same number of shots, strength, AP and cost (free); however since the smart missiles have an additional 12" extra range, homing and ignores cover, there is nothing really that makes the burst cannon a superior alternative to smart missiles as a secondary vehicle weapon. The real question is now whether to take Gun Drones or Smart Missile Systems. Pinning, BS2 detachability and passenger firing status vs Homing, Ignores cover and extra range.
Also, Markerlights, we should talk about them. These things are force-multipliers, plain and simple. Without them, you will do at best "alright" but with them (properly used) you will be kicking ass left and right. For all the talk about the Tau being awesome at shooting, the truth is that they are merely "good" at it. They put out a lot less dakka than, say, the Orks or the Imperial Guard. However, what shooting the Tau do have is very powerful when it hits, but it only hits half the time on a typical roll. Markerlights are what allow them to hit almost all the time, marker units lighting up the target and letting another unit slam that target with very specific fire-for-effect. This means that markerlight-heavy units are almost always best used when paired with other units, as the markerlight-wielders need to be able to paint the target, and the other unit needs to be in range to hit them when they do. If that supporting unit is very long range and has good line of sight (like broadsides or a hammerhead) then the markerlight unit can push forward and select targets for destruction from beyond your enemy's ability to retaliate against them. In contrast, if the supporting unit is short ranged (by Tau standards, like crisis suits or fire warriors) than they need to stay near the markerlight unit to take advantage of them. Since most armies will only have one or maybe two good solid sources of markerlight support, it is important to know what it will be best directed against (see target prioritization below,) usually starting with enemy vehicles and then moving on to wiping out infantry, though it will very depending on the foe and their strategy. Markerlights encourage you to focus fire on one target, wipe it out quickly, then move on to the next. Some units will put out more marker tokens than others, and you need to be careful about what you spend them for. Vehicle targets will have them spent boosting to-hit rolls and firing seeker missiles, infantry squads will also have to-hit rolls boosted paired with cover-denial if you can spring for it (the enemy will not be able to hide from the Tau's guns for long.) If your enemy is smart, they will realize all of this and make things hell for your markerlight-wielding units as quickly as possible. If you are smart, you will use this to lure your foe into a Kauyon trap (more on that later.)
One thing that is even more important for Tau armies than it is for others is target prioritization. Indeed, in bygone editions the Tau had special equipment and options for circumventing target priority rules. The rules may have been dropped, but the need to be selective remains. Certain targets need to be dropped at the earliest possible turn, then the rest of the enemy can be defeated in detail after that. One hefty priority is when the enemy hides their infantry in metal boxes, THE COWARDS, THE FOOLS, YOU SHOULD TAKE AWAY THEIR METAL BAWKSES. Preferably with markerlight-boosted railgun hits or the missile massacre on the first turn, if you can manage it. The moment enemy infantry reaches your lines, you lose, and they do that faster in vehicles. The moment enemy infantry is forced to footslog across the tabletop, they lose, as infantry in the open are a turkey-shoot in the face of the Tau's superior firepower. Let Crisis suits take the fight to enemy infantry, whittling down heavy infantry with plasma and missiles or burning blobs to cinders with flamers and burst canons, while the railgun units finish off the remaining enemy vehicles. If they overwhelm you with enough bodies and vehicles to soak up all your dakka and still keep coming, then do not be afraid to give ground and fall back, drawing them further in and giving you a little more time to pour on the fire. Remember, the Tau value mobility and holding the line is secondary to the destruction of the enemy. After all, once the enemy is dead, the terrain is yours to claim without contest.
The Tau Empire codex will describe two central in-lore strategies employed by the Tau, Mont'ka and Kauyon. Mont'ka, "The Death Blow", involves bringing the Tau's full force to bare on a linchpin target which when removed will compromise the enemy's entire strategy. Kauyon, "The Patient Hunter", involves luring the enemy to the Tau, where they can fall into one of the most deadly cross-fires Tau weaponry can produce. Dawn of War would have you believe that these two strategies are mutually exclusive, and the codex itself does little to suggest otherwise. However, the truth is that both strategies are two sides of the same coin, and that one strategy can be flipped over and turned into the other in an instant. The battlefield situation is fluid, and so to should be your strategy. Tau are an army ill-suited to getting stuck-in, so any offensive actions will halt just at the edge of the Tau's maximum range, and the Tau forces will fall back from an enemy counter-attack. In this way, the battle lines get pushed and pulled backward and forward across the course of a match. You might start with a Mont'ka strategy, sending in Crisis suits (possibly with deep strikes) to hit the enemy hard on a critical unit, or push a Hammerhead Gunship ahead of the line to clear its line of sight to a target. Both will do great damage, but such units in turn attract a lot of enemy attention, becoming a lure for Kauyon in the process. Take advantage of the enemy's distraction, and use the rest of your force to hit the enemy in a more vulnerable flank, or just position them to set up a cross fire they cannot escape from in time. Do not treat your units as expendable, but do weigh your risks and do not be afraid to take a risky path if the payoff will lead to victory. Exploit the range of your weapons and your mobility to get the enemy to break ranks in a gambit to reach you, pulling them into the open and cutting them down in equal measure, always ready to adjust your approach as the situation shifts.
Wall of Death Piranhas are fast vehicles, and possess AV 11 in their front armor. While useless against dedicated anti-tank such as lascannons and melta, this makes them impervious to small arms such as lasguns and bolters. One can use Piranhas as a mobile "wall" against squads of foot-slogging infantry. The infantry will be unable to pass through the Piranha squad, and the Piranhas can even fire with essential impunity. For added hilarity, do not forget your flechette launchers. If used properly, piranhas can even block enemy vehicles, by moving in a way said vehicle cannot turn or move without coming within 1" of the piranha. The vehicle would have to move back, turn, and move out, avoiding the 1" proximity, disrupting their entire movement and possibly shooting phase. Just be careful when the vehicle shoots back. Oh what's that? Disruption pods give stealth now? Stick these bad boys on your piranha, and laugh as your opponent tries to get through a 3+ cover save as you flat-out right into his face. Or for even more hilarity, seeker missiles. Get that piranha beside those valuable tanks and let those missiles fly.
Moving Cover Everyone knows crisis suits for the Jump-Shoot-Jump, the ability to jump out of cover, fire, and jump back in, leading to endless annoyance for your opponent. This also works in reverse, with the humble gun drone and a squad of infantry. Have some gun drones (like the ones that come with devilfish) in front of some fire warriors. Move them together, the gun drones leading. When the shooting phase comes, move the gun drones back behind the fire warriors and shoot with impunity. Done firing? In the assault phase, move the gun drones back ahead. Instant cover! Brilliant! This works for Kroot, Fire Warriors, and even Broadsides! Stealth Suits too can do the Jump-shoot-jump tactic almost as well as the Crisis Suit for a lower cost. Bear in mind their weaker statblocks and shorter range, however. Still probably the cheapest way to get jump-capable Fusion Blasters on the table.
Fuck Troops Fire warriors, despite their very sexy pulse weapons, kinda suck (less so in 6th Ed though...) This tactic minimizes their place on the field in place of maximizing the more effective battlesuits. Typically you have bare-bones squads of six fire warriors hiding in devilfish behind terrain. The whole time they sit there while your Crisis, Hazard, Stealth and Broadside suits do all the work until it's time to claim objectives. Ironically, this setup actually favors the Sky Ray over the Hammerhead, as this tactic heavily reduces the number of markerlights in your army, and bs4 laser pointers (not flashlights) on an AV13 platform are invaluable. One particularly effective tactic is to completely remove Crisis suits as well, and stick entirely to Hazard suits, broadsides and stealth suits. This makes for an extremely mobile and trollworthy army bound to make Space Marine armies shit their pants in rage.
- With the arrival of the Farsight Enclaves suppliment, it is now entirely possible to do an army completely devoid of buying those points eating Fire Warriors.
Kroot Konga Line
Now it's history due to reserve limit, but it worth saving just for lulz. It's very situational (as in your opponent being a compete retard), but it is perhaps one of the absolute funniest ways to use the Kroot and twist the rules at the same time. This requires your opponent to have all of his forces in Reinforcements, but not Drop Podding or Deep Striking, and for you to have enough Kroot to form a line along the board. Simply infiltrate your Kroot to their side of the board and form a line that manages to keep in coherency while also covering the entire side. They will be unable to draw any reinforcements, they will count as Destroyed, and you will have won in the Deployment phase. Place a big line of Kroot in front of your firing line, stretching all across the board. This keeps enemy units from assaulting you and you can abuse Supporting Fire by having your whole army overwatch a single unit. Add markerlights and counter fire defense systems to drink your opponents tears. (This works because only the overwatching unit needs Supporting Fire, not the unit being charged.)
British Firing Line If you've seen The Patriot, you'll know what this means. Basically, just push as many warriors out on the field with two pulse rifles Tau up in the front and put all of the carbines in the back. Camp like a bitch in terrain but make sure there is a bit of open ground. Exploit the Supporting Fire special rule ruthlessly. Send your Crisis suits out to kill any and all ordinance carrying people. Have broadside suits camp in the back with a few ordinance rail guns to pound the living shit out of any assaulting units while said assaulting units are being chewed the fuck out of them. Laugh as you see said enemy cry as his precious troopers being chewed to bits by fire. As powerful as this is against an enemy who has to cross the tabletop, this strategy's main vulnerability is from enemies who can bypass the firing line altogether, either through Deep Strikes or Outflank maneuvers. You might want to hold a Crisis team back as a mobile reserve, jumping up and down the line to counter threats as they come up and lend extra fire power to prevent the line from collapsing.
Gun Drone Spam Something that has never really been widely used, this is centered on stuffing as many gun drones as you can into as many Devilfishes as you can field. sneak around cover, flat out to an objective and disembark next turn. Surprise! gun drones in your face without the pesky scatter.
Farsun/Shadowsight Bomb Due to the lack of restriction against it, you can take Farsight and Shadowsun in the same list and attach Shadowsun to your Farsight bomb to bestow stealth and shrouded to the entire unit (which is supremely ironic as Shadowsun absolutely hates Farsight and expects confront him in battle one day.) There is some debate regarding weather to use Farsight or Shadowsun as your actual warlord. The scatter-free deep strike is super useful, but is a one-and-done and could be achieved through beacons, whereas the 3d6 jetpack moves will be useful all game long. Really it all comes down to what the rest of your list looks like, and how you plan on using the bomb unit. Ally with Tigurius and use Infinity Gate (if you managed to roll it) to rinse and repeat. Your opponent won't have enough intercept to hit this otherwise untouchable deathstar.
Out Dakka Anything The new codex reduces the costs of damn near EVERYTHING. This allows you to take more bodies than all the dead Sisters that the Grey Knights killed. In a 2,000 point battle, ten 12 man squads of Firewarriors, 6 FULL squads of suits with Plasma Dakka, the Pope swinging his scepter around saying "Shoot them again!", and then whatever amount of dakka you want to take in whatever amounts allows you to fill something with enough pulse/plasma dakka to ensure it's dead. Be sure to bring your tearcups when facing large amounts of infantry, and even flyers wont be able to stand up to 1,200,000 pulse rifle shots a turn.
Darkstrider and Friends Darkstrider's Structural Analyzer allows you to treat the enemy's toughness as 1 lower when you shoot at them. Essentially, a T4 Spess Mehreen is now T3, and most monstrous creatures are now T4-5. Pathfinders can take cheap rail rifles, three to a squad. Stick Darkstrider with a unit of Rail / Ion Pathfinders, and your opponent will need to wipe the mess off the floor.' Stick Ob'lotai 9-0 in with them for more insta-gibby goodness.
Donkey Punch Delivery System XV8-02 Iridium Armor. Onager Gauntlet. Vectored Retrothrusters. Donkey punching the enemy to death out of nowhere? Priceless.
Drone Babysitter Drone Controllers now have the drones share the BS of the wearer. Sticking a Babysitter commander with a full squad of marker drones means a ton of BS5 markers exactly where you want them. The only problem is it might be a bit overkill. But since when has that been bad? (The answer is when you regularly have 3+ unused markerlight hits. Of course, now that there's no cap on BS from markerlights, I'm sure you can find some way to spend them.)
Multitasking Markers basically 1 Commander with plasma, melta, drone controller, target lock, 2xBodyguards/3xCrisis with plasma, melta, target lock, each, 6 to 8 markerdrones at BS5 thanks to commander target lock means you can mark one unit and shoot the hell out of another one. Better yet, take a unit of Pathfinders as well, and use two of the marker counters generated above to augment their markerlights, which should nearly double the amount of marker counters you get out of them.
The Meatgrinder This one is pretty simple. Equip a maximum squad of crisis suits with dual burst cannons and give them support via a support commander with a healthy number of markerlight drones. 24 str5 shots at BS5 will undoubtedly punch a sizable hole into whatever horde you're shooting at, if not wipe most of the squad out. Two teams of crisis suits equipped this way will pretty much remove the entire squad.
Troll Drones Basically get at least four vehicles that can carry drones, twin HH and twin devilfish are an easy method as well as piranhas You want at least 8 drones, 12 is awesome. Detach all of the drones and put them close to each other and in an area you think that the enemy will be assaulting. When their assaulters get close, (within 15 inches of a FW squad is ideal) you zoom your drones out and surround them in a bubble. Now the enemy has to assault the drones, but here's the good part. Since the drones aren't all one unit then you can only lose at most two drones per assault phase. Now, if your ballsy enough then you did this within 6 inches of a FW squad so they overwatch. But if you couldn't then thats fine because those assaulters will have to eat plasma during your next turn. During that next turn you will close the gap made by he two dead drones with the other drones, and march up a unit of FW to be in overwatch range. For the love of all that's holy don't counter charge with the other drones, your opponent has to be the ones to charge them. Thus, for 12 drones you can keep an enemy occupied for 3 turns before the bubble is too thin to hold the assaulters, that is 6 turns of shooting for you (3 overwatch cycles and 3 normal cycles) at rapid fire range. So between at least one FW squad, and the drones, no assault unit should escape alive. This doesn't work against jump infantry, they'll just laugh at you and hop over the drones. So for the price of ZERO (the drones are free remember?) you can babysit/slaughter a squad of 200+ point terminators for a long time.
- Or, if you're not playing a complete idiot, they'll know to just make a disordered charge against the whole circle, and the drones will be wiped out by the start of their next turn.
Alt Build: Bubble-wrap ze enemy! A particularly hilarious way to also use drones is as a mobile fitting of bubblewrap. Drones aren't cheap, but they aren't exactly expensive, either, if taken in moderation. This build calls for 2-4 squads of 4-8 drones, which could run you under 200 points if used sparingly. Preferably, more smaller-sized squads work better but let me explain why. You see that melee supee-unit your opponent is charging your direction, such as a squad of hard-to-hit Harlequins? Drop in the 4 squads of 4 drones all around the Harlequins and open fire. Chances are that at least one or two of the squads will be in range, if not all if you get good rolls, and not only will the withering rate of fire potentially destroy the targeted squad through unrelenting RoF, but now you've made the four cheep squads high-priority targets, maybe even higher priority than your expensive weeaboos jumping around elsewhere. Now with a jump move, circle the remainder of the squad being trolled with the drones, bubble-wrapping it with bodies. Make sure they are working that less than one inch between them, cordoning off an entire section of the trolled team's movement through bodies. Now when the enemy goes to move the following turn, you just road-blocked that direction off from them, possibly even preventing them from moving at all that turn. Now your enemy has to make a tough choice: Use their ranged weapons to target fucking drones (in which case lolz, you just won) or ignore them and let them stay for the next part (in which case, still lolz cuz you still won). If enough drones survive, then most likely the team being bubble-wrapped will assault them. Not only will they only be assaulting one small squad of drones as opposed to all of the drones together, but you will get one bitchin Overwatch turn, with the sheer amount of TL shots you might get. While the melee squad is occupied, have the drones go troll someone else. Not only did you just keep a melee team away from more important targets for a turn or two more, but you finally have an excuse to spam drones. You're welcome.
- Orrrrrr your opponent will tank shock one of the units (or more, if they're that close together) and force them to move. Or you screw up one of the Deep Strikes and this strategy falls apart. Or you suddenly come to your senses and realize that, to get this to work, you're using 2-4 Fast Attack choices to, at best, hold one unit in place for a turn. This tactic is troll-worthy, but not anything resembling effective.
Another good tactic for troll drones is against melta units. Now before you guys get more pissy then an angry marine at seaworld keep in mind that firing through units nets a 5+ cover to the unit behind them. This has saved many a tyranid from being shot through the horde. Your tanks have D-pods (if you were smart), THUS your hammerhead has a 4+ cover save, literally for free. Or screen shadow sun with them, jump shadowsun ahead, melta the enemy, then either jet thrust her behind the drones, or jet the drones ahead of her. Voila, instant 2+ cover save to her and ANYONE else in her squad.
Farsight Death Squad Get farsight and his full 7-Crisis bodyguard unit. Slap target locks and double plasma/fusion on 6 of them, but the 7-th wouldn't have weapons at all. Instead give him drone controller, rethro-thrusters, CnCnode, MSS Suite and Neuroweb jammer: now all other Crisises in your squad have twin-link and ignore cover on all their guns, can hit and run on Farsight's I5, and make all that bolters and lasguns aimed at them Gets Hot. Since this squad IS a fire magnet, you need a lot of drones - usually gun drones, since they can dish out a lot of hurt, and soak up as many shots as shield drones against AP5 or more. So what you got is an absurdly killy perfectly deepstriking and ridiculously tough unit, which can kill multiple MEQ units per turn even if they are in cover. On the other hand it would cost you 700+pts. If you want your opponent to strangle you to death add Shadowsun to this unit.
Seeker Sniper A nice cheap tactic. All you need is at least some markerlight support and at least two tanks or three broadsides. Since the new codex, seeker missiles can be thrown on tanks in twos or a single one on broadsides for the tiny price of 8 points a pop. A lot of armies (read, ALL OF THEM) like to hide support hq's (ie. synapse warriors) in some kind of cover, whether by using jink saves (Necrons, and jink does equal cover), literal cover (everyone), or bodies (Orks and Nids). What you do is you markerlight these hq's with markerlights. The enemy gets no sort of savs against them. And then you expend the markerlights to fire off the missiles. At S8 AP3 BS5, ignores Los, ignores cover, each missile is almost guaranteed to hit, and since MOST low to mid level hqs have T3 and T4, this means inta death. So for non invulnerable save hqs you want to use a single missile to kill it, for invuln saves, maybe two or three.
Example: Three tyranid warriors hiding behind hormagaunt squads. Eight pathfinder fire 8 markerlights, hitting with four on the three warriors. Four missiles are fired, all four hit. Three missiles wound and one fails to wound. The warriors get no cover saves due to cover ignoring. The seeker missile is AP3 so no armor save, and the missiles are double the warriors toughness so the warriors are insta killed. And now the gaunts panic with no synapse source.
Anti-Air Missile Pod Suits Get 3 Crisis Suits give them 2 Missile pod each and a velocity tracker and pop those flyers out the sky. Their main advantage is that they are cheap than a 3 man anti-air broadside team(they cost 216 points the broadsides cost 255)also the do well against light vehicles and infantry because they put out 12 str7 ap4 shots. Also marker lights help.
Fusion ha take brightsword and a generic commander with fusion blades add a seismic fibrillator node and warscaper drone and attach them to two crisis suit teams (or both on one team) (kit out how you want) then have them bounce around doing silly things like charge into terminator squads (stay the hell away from storm sheilds though) and watch as your oponent who thought you were being silly by charging your tau into combat realises that you just killed an entire terminator squad in close combat (bonus points for way of the broken blade making your warlord weapon skill 5)
The Bruiser Squad Shadowsun with three XV9's, kitted out with whatever gun you want. Got an annoying MC that's SOMEHOW survived a hammerhead/R'Varna combo? An annoying distraction unit? Or maybe a little god squad tucked in the corner. This little unit is like your meched out Don Corleone and his crew.
'Commander Laser Pointer' A fun, and as of writing untested, method of getting decent markerlight hits is to take a Commander w/ Drone controller, 2 missile pods, target lock & 2 marker drones and throw him with a unit of 2 to 3 crisis suits each with 2 missile pods, a target lock & 2 marker drones a piece. This gives 6-8 BS5 markerlights and double the number of S7 AP4 shots to shoot at markerlight range, at another target (or 3 or 4 targets!). It is pricy though so I would not recommend more than one of these babies. If 6 markerlights sounds like too many laser pointers (and why would it) dropping two of them can get you 24 points back, though for the 12 points per BS5 markerlight, it's really a steal already.
- Alternatively you can run crisis suits naked, using them as ablative wounds for marker drones and commander - this way it would be MUCH cheaper, albeit you wouldn't get a hail of missiles, and would feel awkward for using battlesuits for tanking damage instead of drones.
The Gruesome Twosome O'Ra'lai, Shadowsun and her commandlink drone. Float Ms. Tsundere behind Mr Big Bad Angry Tau Grandpa and use her commandlink drone to nominate him. If you thought re-rolling the Riptide's "Gets Hot!" was good, wait until you get a load of giving that gift to O'Ra'lai weapons. Yeah.
Unkillable Commanders Commander with iridium armor and stim in a full drone squadron made entirely from shield drone with 4++ saves is almost unkillable. Add Shadowsun with her stealth, shrouded and two 3++ drones for more fun.
NEW Fish of Fury Devilfish transports make excellent cover for Jetpack jumping Crisis Suits. Drive up the board with your suits immediately behind, jump out with your jetpacks, shoot the crap out of stuff, jump back behind the Devilfish with your Thrust move, stay hidden! Watch your opponent foam at the mouth as he can't see your suits behind your vehicle. Make sure you fit a disruption pod to the Devilfish... That'll probably ensure that they stick around for a while under heavy fire. Also, don't forget to fire the weapons that are on your 'fish.
Tommy Gun Firewarriors Make a single Firewarrior squad vomit more shots than your opponent's army. Works best if you have Farsight allies. Take Cadre Fireblades with two Gun Drones for all of your HQ slots and attach them to one unit of Firewarriors (make sure to take a Shas'ui with a Gun Drone as well) then place them in a fortification or heavy cover. Each Fireblade will add an extra shot to all of your Pulse Rifles and Carbines when they don't move, turning your S5 single shot gun at 30", into 4 shots with only 3 Fireblades. At 15" that single squad will be vomiting 115 S5 AP5 shots a turn, and if you add 1 more Fireblade with drones it spikes up to 156 shots. Throw some backfield artillery and objectives to draw them in and they won't know what hit them when you open your 5th dice box. Just don't expect this to work on round two.
Those Fucking Stealth Suits and Tetras/Pathfinder Devilfish This tactic only really works well with the Farsight Enclaves list, since Crisis suits no longer compete with Stealth Suits for the elite slot. Fill out a full team of six stealth suits in the following way: 5x Burst cannons with Counterfire, 1x Shas'vre (trust me, the LD boost helps) with a fusion blaster, marker light, target lock and VRT, two gun drones (total 270 points). Take a supporting team of Tetras or a Pathfinder squad with the recon drone and devilfish. All of your troop crisis suits and elite hazard suits should be in reserve for deep strike. Combining the Scout move of the Pathfinders/tetra and the Infiltrate of the stealth suits creates several homing beacons that cannot be easily destroyed, so when the enemy finally thinks that they are about to crush your paltry army, in come the reinforcements perfectly placed to dump liquid troll on your enemies army.
Why that particular set up for the Stealth suits, you ask?
Consider this: A full stealth team totes the same firepower as a full squad of fire warriors double-tapping. That is 24 delicious shots of st5 ap5 hell that even TEQ's suffer from due to sheer volume of fire. Adding counterfire to that mix means that being assaulted becomes a troll heaven for you (this will wipe out entire squads expecting half the number of incoming hits). Now, to get some good tank busting power, we add a fusion blaster, a marker light and a target lock. Remember that these bastards are both relentless and have a multi-traker, so the Shas'vre can shoot BOTH the marker light AND the fusion blaster...and all this cheese is BEFORE you add a subsystem. Give him VRT for hit-and-run that effects the whole squad. The gun drones? They replace the lost 4 shots by upgrading your Shas'vre, provide valuable ablative wounds... AND PROVIDE INITIATIVE 4 FOR HIT AND RUN! Combine all of this with Stealth, Shrouded, Deep Strike, Infiltrator, 3+ save majority and the ever important homing beacon. It is a huge amount of EXTREMELY effective special rules crammed into a very viable choice.
This DOES help if your commander rolled "counter-crisis" for his warlord trait too.
Wise Words of Wisdom
There is only one competitive Tau build: Mass Vespid. Your opponent will be confused and will explode in fright when you start dropping squads of Vespid on the table. However, some people believe with reason that Pathfinders trump Vespid. . .
When modeling Tau, it is advised to use glitter powder and faux gemstones on your models. This confuses your opponents, allowing you the tactical high ground.
Tau fight better when they can set up a good cross-fire, so make sure to keep all infantry squads at least 6" away from each other so they can shoot an enemy from multiple directions.Fight better, faster, harder and above all. Stay classy 1d4chan!