Battlesuits are powered combat exoskeletons used by the forces of the Tau Empire to fill a number of tactical roles on the battlefield. The Tau have developed several different battlesuit models, each equipped with different technologies and weapons pertaining to the suit's purpose in battle. Some are built to be small, stealthy and precise, while others are built to be lumbering battlemechs that ionize everything in their paths while soaking up weapons fire like they're being pelted with spitballs.
Each model's designation is preceded by the letters "XV", which derives from the Tau term "Her'Ex'Vre", meaning "Mantle of the Hero". Note that some sources place a hyphen between the "XV" and the numbers, and others don't. The first (or only) number in designation indicates a weight class of the suit, while the last indicates it's purpose:
- Still in development model
- Undergoing field testing
- Custom-built model
- Command and control-compatible model
- Outfitted with stealth technology
- Suit, designed for a void operations
- Suit, designed for infiltration
- Suit, designed for long range fire support
- Suit, designed for shock assault and close range firefights
Sometimes there's a secondary numerical designation separated from the first with a hyphen. Those are just number assigned to a specific loadout for heavily customizable models. Sometimes they fit with a primary purpose designation (like XV-8-06 being designed for void operations or XV-46-4 being command and control model), and sometimes they don't (XV-8-05 is not even compatible with stealth technology, XV-9-01 is a finished mass-produced model)
- 1 Role on the Battlefield
- 2 Models
- 2.1 XV02 Pilot Battlesuit
- 2.2 XV15 Stealthsuit
- 2.3 XV22 Command Suit
- 2.4 XV25 Stealthsuit
- 2.5 XV46 Vanguard Void Suit
- 2.6 XV8 Crisis Battlesuit
- 2.7 XV88 Broadside Battlesuit
- 2.8 XV9 Hazard Battlesuit
- 2.9 XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit
- 2.10 XV104 Riptide Battlesuit
- 2.11 XV107 R'varna Battlesuit
- 2.12 XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit
- 2.13 KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit
- 2.14 KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour
Role on the Battlefield
Tau battlesuits are not like Imperial power armor in their roles. They serve as command platforms for 'Vre, 'El, and 'O level officers as well as heavy mobile weapons platforms, able to swiftly relocate from firing position to firing position while laying down constant barrages of long range firepower. Most of them are outfitted with jetpacks for this purpose. All battlesuit pilots are veteran soldiers that have at least four years of combat experience and have passed their first trial by fire. Most Fire Warriors accept the honor of piloting these revered machines for the Greater Good, although there are some traditional crazies who shun the use of battlesuits and instead choose to continue to lead their Shas'la as front-line field commanders, and some refuse the option of ranking up to Ui or higher ranks altogether in order to pilot tanks and speeders.
XV02 Pilot Battlesuit
An experimental model made for vehicle pilots (obviously) currently undergoing field testing; although it provides less protection than Fire Warrior armor, it compensates by allowing pilots to interface more effectively with their vehicles, negating the need for multiple crew members. This works in tandem with the vehicle's A.I. by processing the cadre tactical network and incoming data quickly so that the pilot can react extremely rapidly to enemies attacking his vehicle or nearby units.
The only one known to exist is in the possession of Shas'la T'au Sha'ng (a.k.a. Longstrike), who was selected for his reputation as a peerless Hammerhead pilot. The battlesuit also features a multitude of specialised systems, plug sockets, vents, a wrist-mounted control panel and other technobabble shenanigans that all allow Longstrike to pilot his personal tank without the need of those pesky annoyances called people. The battlesuit also incorporates a Blacksun Filter, but nobody cares for that.
Little more than modified Fire Warrior armor, the XV15 was outfitted with stealth systems allowing it to infiltrate, jetpacks for mobility, and burst cannons for firepower. It also carried markerlights. These older units are being phased out in favor of the XV25 series after the Imperium got their hands on an intact helmet from one, and the Tau fear it will be reverse-engineered and countered by the humans. In a surprisingly unlikely move that somehow did not cause the AdMech to lobotomize everyone involved in the project with a siege drill for associating with xeno-tech, the Imperium did actually manage to reverse engineer the suits and learn about the technology, although the Tau were two steps ahead of them by rolling out the more advanced XV25 stealth suits as their new recon platform. The meta reason both these and the XV25's exist is because these were metal kits, and were replaced by the later plastic kits which were designed to look more like a mecha (AKA the shit that makes people buy Tau models) and less like a Fire Warrior with some extra equipment. Crunchwise, they're the same unless you consider the crunch changes between editions to be the difference. Use the models you like and have access to.
XV22 Command Suit
Officially part of the stealthsuit line, this heavier unit is quite expensive to produce; as such, it is limited in use to commanders (like Commander Shadowsun and Shas'o Kais, who as you can see above have different versions of the suit; Shadowsun's has a unique helmet that resemble the later XV95, while Shas'o's resembles a Crisis Suit). With the right equipment and abilities you can make it go three times faster than a normal stealthsuit (red paint optional). This was originally built as a prototype design for a next-generation stealthsuit pattern, but finding ways to mass-produce the required components proved more difficult than anticipated. After the Imperium managed to reverse-engineer some of the XV15 suits (which, for some reason, doesn't cause the Inquisition to foam at the mouth anymore) recovered from the battlefield, the Tau had to compromise by moving forward with the less advanced but easier to manufacture XV25.
Main article: Stealthsuit Team
An improvement over the XV15 which is larger, heavier and better armored while still retaining the maneuverability and subtlety of the XV15 series. Development and deployment of the XV25 was largely due to the fact that the Imperium managed to acquire a functioning sample of the old XV15 stealth suit during the Damocles Crusade, compromising its use as a recon platform. Larger and more powerful reactor allows XV25 to be outfitted with a fusion blaster instead of it's basic burst cannon, and the suit also have one hard point on it's back for an additional support system, although those are usually issued only to squad leaders.
The main wearers of these suits are of course the Stealthsuit Team, whose battleline roles include assasinations, sniping, sabotage and ambushes.
XV46 Vanguard Void Suit
Basically a Tau version of Terminator armor, bigger than the XV2 series, smaller than the XV8 and as heavily armoured as XV88 while still light enough to have jetpacks. It is designed solely for operating in spaceborn situations at (unusually for the Tau) close quarters, which means boarding action and Space Hulk-type investigation missions. The XV46 is highly effective against certain xenos species that are famous for slaughtering Terminators like they are nothing. With a fuckton of burst cannons, flamers and fusion guns on each of the suits, the little buggers would have a hard enough time getting close, but then there are electroshocks, grav-repulsors, and photon grenades to zap any fuckers lucky enough to break through the walls of fire, all triggered automatically. To make the Tau version of Space Hulk even less grimdark, these suits are even equipped with smart ejection systems which are programmed to deliver the pilot back on board his ship if his suit gets wrecked. How this works without warp based tech is a crapshoot. Being both niche equipment and difficult to manufacture critical parts for, XV46s are rarely seen outside of Space Hulk missions. Even rarer is the XV-46-4 Commander variant.
The XV46 doesn't appear in the tabletop wargame; Fantasy Flight Games made it up for the Deathwatch RPG. As a result, there's no images of it. It how ever is used in Battlefleet Gothic Armada, to which the Tau seemingly tie them to bombers before letting them get dropped along with the payload onto enemy ships through their shields. Which suggests that the Tau in some extent would have capabilities to play a serious game of blue gremlin on the wing with other species, this combination is also particularily enraging for eldar who have little to no defense against such an unusually bold action from the Tau. Since GW took forever to get the Deathwatch 7E Codex out. It would be a miracle for other FFG IP to get official rules and a model at all.
XV8 Crisis Battlesuit
Main Article: XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit
XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are the Tau Empire's general-purpose combat battlesuits, capable of being equipped for a variety of combat situations. Due to the large amount of variants they have, check the main article for more information.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit
Main article: XV88 Broadside Battlesuit
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are fire support platforms outfitted with either a large Heavy Rail Rifle or a massive array of missiles to lay waste to the enemies of the Greater Good from afar.
XV9 Hazard Battlesuit
Another Forgeworld blessing. Unlike most Tau battlesuits, the XV9 Hazard model is designed solely for fast and hard close-range engagements rather than having the option of going either close or long, or being cloaked while engaging the enemy up close, which is quite odd since this is a bit of a deviation from traditional Tau combat doctrine, which is all about far away shootiness. Being a dedicated spear-tip suit, Hazard is designed with close combat in mind, with it's frame being more agile than other suits (which is represented by less horrible WS and Initiative on the tabletop), photon grenades to halt enemy charges and vectored retro thrusters to jump out of meat grinder.
XV-9 have three hard points, with two generally being equipped with a matching pair of guns (leaving only one for support systems) compared to Crisis' four, although given it have in-built retro-thrusters and photon grenade launchers it can and usually does have up to 5 systems with enough reactor capacity to power them all, even though weapon options available to Hazard suit are generally more devastating and power-hungry. Since it's main weapons are Twin-linked Burst cannons, which take up two hardpoints on conventional suits and the other options would likely count as two hard points if crisis suits could take them, the Hazard has the equivalent of 7! Crisis suit hard points:
- Twin-linked burst cannons are for mulching down infantry with enough dakka to make Orks jealous.
- Fusion cascades, which are melta miniguns, less powerful than basic fusion blasters and more short-ranged but with a higher rate of fire, so they're more effective against light/medium vehicles, monsters and terminators rather than heavy tanks.
- Phased ion guns which were supposed to be "assault cannons-lite", and are more "well rounded" choice, being decent against both light and heavy infantry or light vehicles, though heavily outclassed by the previous two gun options.
- Pulse Submunition Rifles, commonly referred by a player base as "shotguns", these are the most long ranged and expensive guns available to Hazard. They cover a huge area with a cover-ignoring blasts to root out heavy cover campers.
It should be noted that the number 9 is a significant number to the Tau given that they count in an octal numeral system (there is no 8 or 9; 10 comes immediately after 7), as opposed to humanity's decimal system. This means that to the Tau, the XV9 is literally cranked up to 11.
Shas'o R'alai has his own XV9 equipped with a shield and experimental next-gen PSR that fires in bursts and is loaded with a wide range extra-powerful (but unstable) experimental ammo.
XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit
Ghostkeel is a really big and powerful stealth suit that can and would fight well in a straight fight rather than relying on flanking maneuvers and infiltration to hit vulnerable flanks and retreat out of harms way like your regular Stealth teams. It's the same weight class and size as Hazard, but has extensive armour plating for nearly double the survivability. Unlike the XV15 and XV25, the XV95 doesn't have full stealth system on itself, but rather its parts are spread between the battlesuit and its stealth drones, meaning only with a combination of both can the team becomes nigh-invisible, while separately they appear to be only slightly camouflaged, which, combined with an exceptional tankiness of the Ghostkeel, and mediocre survivability of his drones makes the XV-95 one of the few battlesuits that would take hits for its drones instead of drones shielding him with their cold, expendable, mechanical bodies. But being nigh-invisible is not enough for XV-95 - it carries an electronic warfare equipment in it's left hand like a gun, and use it to fuck up enemy targeting systems even more, unless they are at point-blank range, and can overcharge it to shock-and-awe any opponent trying to gun them down, ensuring it can't hit shit, although it's a one-use trick, as the suit need to recharge for a while to deliver this sensory shock again.
On the offense, Ghostkeel has a set of twin-linked standard battlesuit guns on it's back (sadly, only limited to flamers, burst cannons and fusion blasters), and a single BFG in it's right hand, which could be a fusion collider, which is an extra bigger fusion blaster with extra barrel that shoots small blasts, or an ion raker, which looks and fires like bigger badder cyclic ion blaster with double the normal mode firing rate (for SIX autocannon-grade shots per burst), double overcharge blast size and slightly higher range. On top of that, Ghostkeel also have two extra hard points for supporting system (meaning up to five hard points total) for extra customization options.
Lastly, much like Hazard suits, XV-95 aren't half as terrible in close combat as most other Tau battlesuits. While Ghostkeel may lack the speed, agility, counter-charge systems and vector thrusters of an XV-9, what it have is a sheer brutal strength - your typical five-man space marine demi-squad would quickly find a hard way that a single Ghostkeel is not an easy prey in close combat, as its single punch is enough to turn a marine into a screaming pile of meat paste flavored with broken bones and ceramite shards. Hell its not that hard for a Ghostkeel to kick (quite literally) through a tank's armour or even fortification walls.
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit
A new, extra-large battlesuit (at twice the size of the XV8) that made its first appearance in the 6th edition codex, the Riptide resembles the bastard offspring of a Gundam (specifically the ZZ Gundam, what with its XBAWKS HUEG build, optional missile system and destructive but stupidly risky energy weapon) and a Metal Gear. Arguably more of a vehicle than a suit of armor, the Riptide's primary weapon can be either a heavy burst cannon or an ion accelerator (with twin smart missile systems, fusion blasters or plasma rifles as backup weapons), while its defensive prowess is supplemented by a portable shield generator. All of these can be made significantly more powerful if the prototype Nova reactor built into the suit is used to charge the weapon or shield; however, doing so runs the risk of overloading the generator, releasing deadly radiation that can injure or kill the pilot.
While incredibly powerful, the Riptide's primary drawback (fluff-wise) is that the materials used to manufacture it are rare. Thus, their numbers remain fairly small within the Tau Empire's forces. Not that you'd know since every goddamn Tau list has them flying out of their asses. Then again, every Imperial Guard force on the tabletop is full of elite veterans, heavy tanks and flyers instead of swarms of regular Guardsmen...
An extremely cheesetastic tactic on the tabletop with this fella is to model it to be as low as possible (like crouching forward) and then put it behind a piece of very big cover, like a bastion. It moves out during the movement phase, revs the Nova reactor, blasts nearby enemies into oblivion, then jet boosts back behind the bastion during the assault phase to block enemy LoS.
Then came 8th edition... and the Riptide was nerfed to utter oblivion. It now costs about 400 points to field, and provides very little firepower or durability compared to its cost. It's now so useless that it may be the replacement for the Pyrovore.
XV107 R'varna Battlesuit
Essentially a Riptide (made by Forge World of all folks) that threw mobility away for more armour and two exceedingly huge pulse submunition cannons (think plasma cluster bomb) for the purpose of fucking everything up for the enemy. Its Nova Reactor also grants some unusual properties like a turn with Fleet, an electromagnetic shockwave that hits everyone around it, or double-firing weapons, but is no less risky to use. The fluff behind this involves an Earth Caste engineer from Sept Ke'lshan, called Sho'Aun, who managed to go behind the Ethereals' backs by building something so huge, expensive (even in in-universe terms), and lethal when he was supposed to make more stealthsuits. One Tyranid swarm later, however, he revealed this behemoth and with it helped dumpster all of the 'Nids and save the Sept.
One interesting note of mention is that in the early days of the R'varna's conception, before it was officially announced, there was indeed a rumor floating around that Forgeworld was actually designing a new stealthsuit. This was before 6th Edition Tau were even released, so it makes sense that nobody even knew about the Riptide aside from the weeks preceding the new codex, but what is interesting is that, given the fluff behind the R'varna, it's almost as though Forgeworld chuckled at the rumors and used those as a basis for their fluff, going so far as to craft the rumors of a stealthsuit into the XV107's fundamental history. The more you know! The X7 designation this suit have means it's supposed to be an infiltration unit, which is the exact opposite of what R'Varna actually does - this is likely the result of it being developed as a part of Stealth Suit program.
Unlike plenty of other things in lore, the R'varna, with its big-ass pulse submunitions cannons, is as big a rape machine on the table as it is in the fluff. With the ability to fire two pie plates a turn at AP4 and S6 (and FOUR plates using the Nova Reactor) the thing turns Tyranids to garden mulch, and Orks to fertilizer. The cannons have Cluster Fire, which means that, the bigger the target the more hits it receives and at higher strength. Thus, while anything with Very Bulky, Bike, Jetbike, Cavalry or Beast takes two hits at +1S, MCs Buildings and Vehicles take THREE S8 hits per hit. Kinda feels like this more like this. All in all, the R'varna is considered to be horribly, horribly, horribly broken by non-Tau players, and by Tau players still using it to be the most deliciously cheddar thing since Fish of Fury.
XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit
Hi, it's Sho'Aun with the Y'vahra, you'll be saying "wow" everytime you use this Tau. A regular Riptide doesn't do well too close to an enemy, this one does well at close or medium range. This is for the blobs, the Deathwing, the Armoured Ceramite'd AV14. Made in Ke'lshan Sept by Sho'Aun, you know that guy always makes good stuff. This is a Riptide that embraces its mobility and gets a super-flamer, a mega-haywire gun and has super-jetpacks able to turn it into a flying monstrous creature once each two turns. This one was made with the opposite goal of a Riptide: to jump in close and take the fight to the enemy, fling a burst of flechettes as it lands and then jump back out before it can be overwhelmed. With its S6 Torrent (at 6") Plasma Flamer that goes either AP3 Heavy 1 or AP2 Heavy 2 Gets Hot, and its S8 AP3 Haywire Cannon that also blinds, it can effectively total entire enemy units in one volley, and even more so with the Nova Reactor on (which gives it some more tricks, like the ability to Jink or move back into reserves while in close combat). As a trade off, however, it is a little bit more fragile than Riptide, and it's Nova Reactor options are also weaker, more focused on extra mobility and surviving/escaping close combat rather than blasting shit to death or, you know, the ever frustrating for your opponent 3++ against everything. Combined with extremely uncomfortable range of all of it's weapons Y'Vahra tends to go down much quicker than the Riptide.
KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit
A WEAPON TO SURPASS METAL GEAR The new and improved chicken walkers!
The Tau have decided the Riptide still wasn't big enough and made an even larger battlesuit. The Stormsurge is armed with a one of two giant pulse cannons: the first is much like AdMech eradication beamer in that it gets stronger but loses the blast radius as the target comes closer, except it starts at 30" with S9 AP5 large blast and finishes with the almighty D at almost point-blank range; and the other variant of the cannon is pretty much just a railgun with a large blast. Its hilariously large pair of missile pods, combined with an SMS on its back and a pair of airbursting frag projectors it can get, would vomit out so much anti-infantry firepower across half of the board in one volley you'd probably need to buy double the number of dice you already have to just resolve its shooting: entire armies of GEQs would melt the moment this thing opens fire, and even terminators or monstrous creatures would be hard pressed to survive once they start failing their saves under that hail of wounds. It also houses four Destroyer missiles, which are AP1 Seeker Missiles which become strength D when guided by a marker light, and as all four could be fired simultaneously (if you had scored enough ML tokens), could easily kill four regular vehicles or almost any other superheavy/gargantuan on turn one from across the board. But there's more! The stabilizing rods on its legs aren't just for cool looks: KV128 can stabilize itself, losing ability to move and stomp for firing EVERY FUCKING GUN IT HAS TWICE. This rape train, however, does have brakes, as the Stormsurge is extremely squishy for its size and firepower, basically being as survivable as two Carnifexes; it's pretty much a heavy artillery piece that needs to stay way back and be protected in order to take its points back, and is the one more geared for anti-infantry, so if you're looking for something to deal with Knights and Titans, look below for a proper front line Tau titan. Its squishiness probably has something to do with it being the only Battlesuit so far that has its pilots (or gun operators, looks like it has a couple of these) sitting without any cover over their heads.
KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour
A new super-heavy Overcompensator Class battlesuit, massive enough to claim the title of Tau Titan. After multiple run-ins with Imperial Knights and Tyranid bio-titans, the Ethereals were forced to admit the necessity of Titan-sized static defenses to deal with counter-expansion attempts into their own territory and asked the same Earth Caste nutter who made the R'varna and the Y'varha, Sho'Aun, to make something capable of fending off super-heavy assault forces too strong for their bombers to deal with.
He did not disappoint.
Yes, it lacks jet packs (much like its brother the R'varna), but you won't need one, you gave it to your enemy so they can RUN. FAR. AWAY. The Ta'Unar is armed to the teeth and damn hard to kill with T:9 and 10 wounds. Although it's a Gargantuan Creature like the Wraithknight, it can fire Overwatch at BS2 with its two smart missile systems and two twin-linked burst cannons. Its main guns are no less effective- for arm weapons, it can equip either a Heavy 5 multimelta or an ion cannon that can fire either 6 shots at S7 AP3 or 3 shots at S9 AP2. The back-mounted Pulse Ordnance Multi-Driver can fire either a Strength D Massive Blast with 72" range or a S8 AP3 Apocalyptic Barrage (3) with Pinning and Ignores Cover with a range of 12-120". Defensively, it has a 2+/5++ save that improves to 4++ against shooting attacks, and it can sacrifice the invulnerable save for a turn to cut the number of wounds suffered from a "Deathblow" result on the Destroyer table in half. Its only real flaws are that it's expensive as all hell to field (both points-wise and in real-world costs, being a Forge World exclusive and all).
In the place of the Pulse Ordnance Multi-Driver, it can instead take a Nexus Meteor Missile System or a Heavy Rail Cannon Array for free. The Nexus Meteor Missile System is a Blinding Apocalyptic Mega-Blast with 24-120" range with S 10/7/5 and AP 1/4/5, because fuck that guy and everyone remotely close to him. The latter on the other hand is technically two weapons, which can be fired simultaneously. It incorporates a Cluster Shell Launcher (a 36" range Apocalyptic Barrage (4) weapon with S6 AP4 and pinning meant to lock down anyone in relatively close range) and the Heavy Rail Cannon itself, a 120" ranged monster with the almighty D, AP1, a 3" blast, and the nasty rule "Mass Induction Targeting"- when using it to attack any superheavy or GMC, you roll twice on the Destroyer table and pick the higher result, therefore doubling your chances of getting that 6. Perfect for ruining any Titan's day!
For what you get, 600 points is very cheap, for the 'that guy' out there, ask a beginner for a 600 point game, this will do you nicely ;)
|Forces of the Tau|
|Command:||Cadre Fireblade - Ethereal - Tau Commander|
|Troops:||Drone Squadron - Fire Warrior Team - Pathfinder Team - Stealthsuit Team|
|Auxiliaries:|| Great Knarloc - Gue'vesa - Kroot Carnivore Squad - Kroot Hound |
Krootox - Lesser Knarloc - Nicassar - Vespid Stingwing
|Battlesuits:|| Battlesuits (XV02 Pilot Battlesuit - XV15 Stealthsuit - XV22 Command Suit |
XV25 Stealthsuit - XV46 Vanguard Void Suit - XV-8 Crisis Battlesuit
XV88 Broadside Battlesuit - XV9 Hazard Battlesuit - XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit
XV104 Riptide Battlesuit - XV107 R'varna Battlesuit - XV109 Y'Vahra Battlesuit
KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suit - KX139 Ta'Unar Supremacy Armour)
|Vehicles:||Devilfish - Hammerhead - Piranha - Sky Ray - Tetra|
|Flyers:||Barracuda - Manta - Orca - Razorshark - Remora - Sun Shark - Tiger Shark|