"Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed."
- – Jack Churchill, or "Mad Jack", British Army officer during WWII
Shas'O Vior'la Shovah Kais Mont'yr, better known as Commander Farsight or Da Red Comet, is owner of the longest name in the galaxy (and that's without his redundant civilian designations), as well as the closest thing the Tau have to a stone-cold badass. This is largely due to being the only known Tau to opt for a bloody great sword and shield over the clinical sub-atomic-pulse-plasma-ion-rail-blaster-rifle-cannons his race are famed for. His fearsome reputation is most widespread among the Orks.
He is also a clone of the Gundam character Char.
Farsight most resembles some sort of hybrid of Char Aznable (Red Battlesuit, separatist philosophies, arch-rivalry with a White Battlesuited ace pilot) Oda Nobunaga (Ruthlesss pragmatism, scorched earth tactics, close range firearms tactics), Hojo Tokimune (Rallying the troops against an unstoppable horde of barbarians) and Kambei Shimada (Get it? The Eight? Seven Samurai?).
Once upon a time, there lived a Tau who literally had the word "hot-blooded" in his very name...
From the beginning, Farsight was a fiercely independent thinker and tactical genius who managed to get three years ahead of his fellow pupils with nothing but determination and planning; in fact, he was such a bright spark he ended up embarrassing his instructors, which led to a lot of them getting replaced. Though this led to some bad blood, Farsight moved past it, becoming a famed commander in his own right. However, Farsight's personal gut instincts and a desire for close, aggressive combat put him at odds with the Empire's battle doctrine. Farsight sucked it up and continued on as best he could, and finally was promoted to a battlesuit piloting role that he took to with gusto.
Back during the halcyon days of the major conquests of the Tau Empire, the majority of the army's victories could be attributed to a single commander: Puretide. Puretide was a legendary genius who wrote the book on Fire Caste tactics, and shaped the military for years to come. He was basically Sun Tzu 40k to the point where O'R'myr actually quotes Sun Tzu in the Taros Campaign book and it is attributed to Puretide. Puretide's many pupils were all famous warriors in their own right, and Puretide himself was so valuable that before he died of old age, the Earth Caste actually scanned his brain and encoded portions of his brilliance into what they called Puretide engram neurochips in order to help train future commanders. Farsight trained directly under Puretide, learning even more about battlefield tactics and strategy, and became one of his top pupils along with Commander Shadowsun and Shas'o Kais (who may or not be the same Kais from Fire Warrior and/or Dawn of War). After studying with Papa Puretide himself, Farsight was made the leader of a massive Tau fleet and sent out to do the Empire's bidding. In his first deployment as mission commander, he performed amazingly, trouncing the Orks singlehandedly with skill and cunning. As he fought, the young Tau realized that aggressive, up-close combat was the key to defeating the Orks, and as a result became more comfortable with the idea of close quarters combat. Though he was unhappily reassigned to another battle zone before defeating the Orks completely, Farsight met with the Ethereal Aun'Shi, off of whom he modeled a style of close-combat battlesuit fighting which he applied for years afterwards.
Farsight's next big deployment was at Dal'yth during the Damocles Crusade. A branch of the Imperium's forces had launched a steamroller attack on the sept world, knocking over colonies, shelling planets and smashing fleets to get there. Though the attack was clumsy, the sheer grit and numbers of the Imperial Guard meant that the Tau were completely on the back foot, and only Farsight and Shadowsun's combined tactics managed to hold Dal'yth together. During this battle Farsight became aware of the unsettling power of human psyker and warp technology as well as their incredible fanaticism, and began to recognize an element of the latter in his own doctrines. In addition, some of his fellow commanders were implanted with Puretide engram neurochips by the Ethereals to make them as tactically capable as Puretide; however, Farsight found this horrifying when it turned his soldiers into robots with no will of their own and made them completely useless when psykers were involved (since Puretide had never encountered them). Finally, after a long and bloody war, the Imperium of Man had to pull out when the Tyranid Hive Fleet Behemoth reared its grotesque head in the Eastern Fringe and headed straight for Ultramar. While the rest of the Tau Empire was celebrating, Farsight was the only one who noticed that the Imperium would have won the war of attrition, and wondered if something else had cause them to pull out. After the war, Farsight discovered to his additional alarm that when the engram chips were removed, they left the commanders brain-dead. You can probably see where this is going.
However, the neurochip business was not enough for the Ethereals, who decided that some of Puretide's students should be cryogenically frozen so that they could be useful far beyond their meager lifespans. Puretide's three top pupils (Farsight, Shadowsun and Kais), all aggressive commanders with a bitter rivalry between them, were chosen for this. It was decided that the three would work in decades-long rotations, with one awake and two asleep at all times, kind of like the three vampire lords in Underworld were supposed to preside over the coven in turns. Of the three, Farsight was chosen to remain active first while Shadowsun and Kais were frozen to be brought back into service in the future, making him, for a time, the sole military hero of the Empire.
Emerging Minor Power
|Head of State||
|Head of Government||
Commander Farsight, The Eight
Libertarian Stratocratic Federal War Council
Modified version of the Tau'va
Tau Forces, The Eight
After the Damocles Crusade, Farsight was tasked with rebuilding a series of lost colonies that had been overrun by Chaos forces. So Farsight set out with another huge fleet and a trio of Ethereals to repair the damage and take back planets. He set up a series of worlds that would become known as the Farsight Enclaves. Along the way he was attacked by Space Marines, who he managed to defeat by climbing in a Coldstar suit, and at the direction of a Daemon-possessed Water Caste member, flew towards and boarded the Space Marine ship (yes, only one) with the intention of disabling their Gellar Fields. Luckily the Space Marines forgot to deploy their fighters for no reason and Farsight was able to accomplish his mission, but gets briefly knocked out in doing so and has a few visions of the future. Luckily he's still able to come to and leave when the ship begins getting overrun with Daemons, as for some reason the ship never fully left the warp when it began its attack on the Tau. We also learn the Tau have drones the size of thumbs that are powerful enough to vaporize large daemons in a single shot (don't think about it too much, they never show up again). On the way back to the Tau he's attacked by a Heldrake and is nearly killed, only to be saved by the Imperials fleeing their doomed ship as they blow it up in a way that doesn't destroy the suit it's ripping apart. From there he decides it's best to just never speak of 'those weird xenos' that showed up out of nowhere and vanished into smoke just as quickly, good thing not warning anyone else about this sort of thing never comes back to bite anyone in the ass later.
Shortly after that however, his new territories became overrun by a huge WAAAAAGH of Orks. Against such overwhelming odds, the
Tau Orks never stood a fucking chance. Farsight proceeded to enact what could only be described as Ork genocide, the likes of which would make Yarrick proud. This WAAAGH was eventually stopped when Farsight killed their warboss. This must be the reason why Orks fear him, since this prompted them to scatter and run away. Though they were running scared away from the Enclaves, Farsight refused to let them escape alive, and set about hunting down the remaining Orks which conflicted with the Ethereals' primary objective of capturing more worlds and created tension between them and Farsight. During this drawn-out campaign against the Orks, Farsight and his Ethereal advisors ended up on the dead planet of Arthas Moloch, where a swarm of daemons was summoned after blood was spilled on a strange altar. In this costly battle Farsight discovered an ancient sword called the Dawn Blade, as well as statues bearing medallions that somehow repelled entities of Chaos. Farsight used these to shut the warp portal. During the fight, however, the daemons singled out and killed his Ethereals, but not before they revealed to Farsight that they had known about the ancient evil of Chaos, but lied to the Tau public about its existence for the sake of the Greater Good, kind of like what the Emperor did in the Great Crusade. This is similar to the Empra's plan although it is equally (if not more) stupid, since the Tau are able to be possessed by Daemons and do not have the ability to detect this possession themselves. The existence of daemons, though, could negate a lot of their highly secular teachings.
Gotta Go Your Own Way
After the events on Arthas Moloch, Farsight understood the terrifying menace of the Immaterium and Chaos, which to him explained a great deal of what he had seen during his exploits. As he continued to ponder, it became obvious to the Commander that the T'au Empire's leadership was not benign, or at the very least woefully ignorant or in denial regarding the true perils of the galaxy. The Farsight Enclaves thereafter severed their ties with the T'au Empire and began to govern themselves. Farsight quietly left his battlesuit in a museum and went to be a hermit, fearing that a second Mon'tau would occur if what he learned ever reached the Empire.
The Dawn Blade
The Dawn Blade is made of chronophagic (Greek for "time eating") alloys, so whenever Farsight kills something with it his life is extended as the blade steals the life force of its victim and adds it to the wielder's. Considering he killed a lot of Orks (who are biologically immortal) and daemons (who are truly immortal) with it, it's safe to say Shovah is practically immortal right now. Farsight does not know this, but he has his suspicions, and if he were to find out that his suspicions are correct he would most likely kill himself upon realizing that he's been unwittingly sucking the life out of his enemies. He also found multiple six sided medallions with anti-Warp properties in the same place he found the Dawn Blade. Trazyn probably lost some of his collection or something. But seriously, based on its age and eldritch abilities, the Dawn Blade is most likely a C'tan artifact or leftover technology of the Old Ones.
|Governments, Empires, Nations and Astropolitical Powers of the Galaxy|
|Imperial Powers:||Imperium of Man (Adeptus Mechanicus - Ultramar)|
|Chaos Powers:||Blood Pact - Scourge Stars - Sortiarian Occupation (Prospero/Sortiarius)|
|Eldar Powers:|| Commorragh - Craftworlds (Alaitoc - Biel-tan - Iyanden |
Saim-Hann - Ulthwé)
|Necron Powers:|| Charnovokh Dynasty - Maynarkh Dynasty - Mephrit Dynasty |
Nekthyst Dynasty - Nephrekh Dynasty - Nihilakh Dynasty
Novokh Dynasty - Ogdobekh Dynasty - Sautekh Dynasty
|Ork Powers:|| Ork Empire of Charadon - Ork Empire of Octarius - Ork Empire of Bork |
Ork Empire of Dregruk - Ork Empire of Calverna - Ork Empire of Jagga
|Tau Powers:||Tau Empire - Farsight Enclaves|
|Other Powers:||Q'Orl Swarmhood - Fra'al|
163 years later
"The life of a soldier is the only one I know. That's why I can never settle down."
- – Char Aznable
The Tau Empire, having lost contact with the Farsight Enclaves, believed Farsight himself to be long dead and the Enclaves lost. One day, though, a probe discovered that the Enclaves were still there and flourishing, and had changed their sept markings and become Ethereal-free. Learning this, the Tau Empire branded Farsight a traitor and renamed the Enclaves the "Forbidden Zone", smashing all his statues throughout the Empire and trying to wipe him from public memory. This didn't sit well with everyone, especially members of the Fire Caste, and contacts within the Empire soon began secretly supplying the Enclaves with new weapons and hardware.
Over a hundred years later, the Enclaves came under threat from a Tyranid splinter fleet. Unsure of what to do, the leadership of the Enclaves suddenly got a message from a museum where an aged Farsight had suddenly shown up out of nowhere to demand his old battlesuit be removed from its display case and returned to him. Donning his armor once again, the Commander took over the defense, and thanks to some smart Earth Caste bio-engineering, managed to hold off the Great Devourer long enough to poison the fleet (Yeah, seriously, leave it to the Tau to poison a fleet that literally lives on toxins) which ended up destroying it in its entirety, making the Tau better at creating viruses than Nurgle's daemons as they tried and were unable to do this. Meanwhile Shadowsun, Farsight's old rival, was awakened from her cryogenic stasis in the Empire and sent back to war, and Farsight assembled a new team of elite battlesuit pilots, The Eight, to defend the Enclaves and stand opposed to the mysterious power the Ethereals held over their brethren. They would later reinforce the T'au Empire in the last campaign of the Third Sphere of Expansion.
At some point in the early 42nd Millennium, Farsight made a journey back to Arthas Moloch alone. He stays there for 30 days before returning to the Empire to summon a war council. And...that's all we've heard from the Enclaves in 8th Edition. Considering the dangers that the Death Guard's assault on the Tau Empire represents, it's very possible that Farsight is preparing a relief force to deal with Nurgle's armies. Also, the reaction of the Ethereals after being rescued by a renegade would be really interesting to see, maybe putting their credibility on the line, or just trying to cover everything up, angering many in the Tau army. Maybe this is the last straw for the Tau Empire to enter a full civil war between Farsight and the Ethereal Caste...
- Sub-Commander Torchstar, a Tau Empire deserter and the youngest member of the team, this volatile pyromaniac female Tau has flame tattoos on her body and pilots a XV-8 Crisis suit. She even fights with dual flamers and a couple of marker drones. Hot enough for ya?
- Shas'vre Ob'lotai 9-0, an AI-controlled XV88 Broadside battlesuit armed to the teeth with twin-linked smart missile systems, twin-linked, high-yield missile pods, two missile drones, and a seeker missile. Based on the brain of Farsight's long-dead superior Ob'lotai. Is killed twice, the first is when he flies directly through a battle barge's void shields at over 200 kph, isn't picked up by Imperial sensors or shot down (either by the ship or its fighter craft), flies directly into the barrel of a battle-barge's cannon and then shoots the warhead inside to blow up the entire battle barge. This also ends up wiping out an entire Space Marine chapter. Funnily enough too the novel that this happens in establishes well before this point that all of this would be impossible, and that if anyone were to try doing exactly what he did they would have the same result as a fly hitting a windshield (and doing this also kills the electronics that don't get crushed, which would have destroyed him as well). The second time he gets destroyed was in the events of Mont'ka, but being an AI they just slapped his engram in a new XV88 body. Also gains the ability to wirelessly transmit himself from one battlesuit to another in Farsight: Crisis of Faith, presumably because Phil Kelly forgot that he needed his chip to be plugged into a suit to control them and that he couldn't survive without his chip.
- Commander Sha'vastos, an old comrade of Farsight and one of the commanders who was forcefully equipped with a Puretide engram neurochip. It was a prototype, however, and rapidly began to degrade, damaging Sha'vastos' mind, so Farsight put him in stasis and smuggled him out of the Empire. Years later his scientists finally managed to remove it safely, and in gratitude Sha'vastos fights alongside his friend and leader in his XV8 Crisis battlesuit outfitted with a plasma rifle, a flamer, and two gun drones.
- Farsight, leader of the Enclaves. Has very dark and cracked skin thanks to exposure to heat and flames, as well as a mechanical replacement leg. He pilots an XV8 Crisis battlesuit equipped with his trademark Dawn Blade, a high-intensity plasma rifle, and a shield generator mounted on one arm. Before finding the blade he used to mount a twin-linked fusion gun. Farsight's battlesuit is notably an archaic design, as it is over a hundred years old, but constant upgrades and crafty Earth-Caste maintenance keep the suit on par with current sleeker battlesuit designs of the rest of the Tau Empire.
- Honor-Shas'vre O'Vesa, less of a Fire Caste warrior and more of an old Earth Caste mad scientist kept alive by microdrones, given the honorary title of "Shas" to denote his position as a warrior. Pilots a massive Riptide with excellent targeting arrays, an ion accelerator, a twin-linked fusion blaster, and a pair of shielded missile drones.
- Commander Bravestorm, a very old Tau who has been burned and scarred á la Darth Vader and cannot leave his iridium-plated (2+ Save) XV8-02 Crisis battlesuit after taking down dozens of Imperial tanks with an experimental weapon. This gets changed to "can leave his suit after all, but pretends he can't" in Farsight: Crisis of Faith. Incredibly brave (duh) and fights with the last remaining Tau power fist-equivalent, the Onager Gauntlet. Too bad we don't actually know what it looks like and his official image doesn't depict it... Also uses a plasma rifle, a flamer, and a pair of gun drones. (Re)Built to last, he also has a shield and stims injectors. His life support seems to have given him extended life, as he saves Farsight in Mont'Ka. At one point he's nearly killed by Space Marines as they tear his battlesuit apart, but he tricks them by not moving and pretending he's dead after they rip his suit open but before they attack him. It's just as retarded as it sounds.
- Commander Brightsword, supposedly a generational pilot who inherited the title from the previous Brightsword, but actually a clone of him. Possesses a scarred and pock-marked XV8 Crisis battlesuit that was also passed down, and fights with two fusion blades, which are melta swords that can also be twin-linked fusion blasters, and a shield drone.
- Commander Arra'kon, a Tau born in the Enclaves who served as supreme military commander during Farsight's hermetic absence. An expert strategist, and damned good in a fight, especially against infantry. He pilots an XV8-05 Enforcer battlesuit armed with a plasma rifle, a cyclic ion blaster, an airbursting fragmentation projector, and two gun drones.
Phil Kelly's Farsight novels have been revealing quite a lot of details about the Tau empire, including this rather...odd implication. In previous lore, his name came about due to him studying Ork psychology to an extreme degree, to the point where he could predict their psychological reactions to everything. This then carried over to the Imperium when he studied the Codex Astartes and was able to predict Imperial strategy because of it. However in the Kelly books, Farsight's demonstrated multiple instances where he literally sees the future and what his opponent will do. Yes by the way this shows up before he found the Dawn Blade. Implying that he might be the first Tau psyker, a "New type" of Tau if you will. This is...confusing to say the least. On the one hand, it explains why he's immune to Ethereal influence, on the other hand prior to obtaining the Dawn Blade there's no precedence for this. The Tau are a race with very little warp presence, how in the hell do they suddenly jump from that to "manipulate the very warp itself with mere thought"?! To make matters worse, this only appears in the books, he has no psychic abilities on the tabletop, and nothing seems to have come out of it.
"Learn to shorten your reach! If your foe can come close enough to negate your striking power, all stratagem is lost, and when all stratagem is lost, the battle is lost."
- – Codex: Tau (3rd Edition)
"Each must find their own way. If those in our heartland had witnessed the savageries of the void as have we, they would know this. The hand of each of the great starfarers is turned against the other; none will join their strength together just to see their ancient enemies prosper. Neither should we."
- – Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition)
"I've seen things you wouldn't believe — entire worlds in flames, chains of supernovas on the edge of nothingness, the great hole in space. I am changed, an outcast now..."
- – Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition). Farsight IS Roy Batty now. Cranky old man voice much?
While popular fluff-wise even among non-Tau players for his badassery and generally cool backstory, Commander Farsight wasn't actually all that useful on the tabletop at first because he came with a shit ton of limitations, like no auxilaries, 0-1 tanks or Pathfinders and so on, and his massive bodyguard blob was too expensive and risky. The limitations got removed as of the 6th edition codex, however, and Farsight can now even bring Ethereals with him (even though fluff-wise Aun'Shi is the only Ethereal he'd associate with). On top of that, Farsight, along with his retinue of samurai—uh, I mean battlesuit aces, is now a beatstick. He can bring a unit of
seven NINE (It's 7th ed Shas'la) non-scattering bodyguards with him and give them all meltas, plasma rifles and target locks to allow the squad to fire at several tanks with meltas or blast the enemy MEQs and TEQs on turn 2. Moreover, Farsight can now be taken in a game of any size. Although with 7th ed he isn't needed for a massive blob of mechas to rain from the sky, he merely provides the means of entry, and beacons can do the same already.
Farsight is one of very few Tau units who you actually want to be in an assault as opposed to shooting. So few everyone else will be hard pressed to keep up with him. His Tau-standard plasma rifle and BS5 are merely supplements meant to soften the enemy up before he charges in (or, rather, jetpacks in) to get to slicing and dicing with the Dawnblade, which is pretty easy with WS5, S5, I5 and 4 attacks. He's also pretty durable; basically a Space Marine captain with an extra wound: T4, W4, 3+ Save and a 4++ Invulnerable with his shield generator. Surprisingly, despite having a sword that eats souls and adds their would-be lifespan to Farsight's, he doesn't have eternal warrior, leading to him getting his face smashed in by anything with Str 8. He's not meant to be a one-man (or one-Tau) badassery show, though; have him work together effectively with his elite battlesuit brethren for best results.
Additionally, the Tau Empire has a whole Farsight Enclaves Supplement now, where you can take battlesuits as Troops AND his own crazy retinue of special characters! Surprisingly, Farsight himself is rarely taken in Enclaves armies, mostly because his giant Crysis deathstar really benefits from the standard Tau
Welcome to the future! With the latest codex a Farsight Enclave army can actually take the standard Tau systems together with their own!
He's the only unit so far with the FARSIGHT ENCLAVES keyword (no sign of the rest of the Eight, although of course you can pick Farsight Enclaves as your wildcard Sept for most other units), and buffs the melee abilities (and, if they're targeting ORKS, shooting too) of all nearby Farsight Enclaves units. He's also still a beast in melee, although he's not much good against larger targets - his sword may be AP-4, but he's only got
5 Strength to swing it with. Strength 8 now! His incredible accuracy (WS2+ with reroll 1s) and decent number of attacks will see him happily carving up lower-Toughness units whether they're armoured or not though, and if he gets in over his head he's always got the ability to Fall Back while shooting thanks to being able to FLY. Limitations on Commanders, no ethereals, and lack of units that can keep up with Farsight drag his sept down in comparison to others though. No one said going your own way was easy. Are you nuts? Coldstar Commanders with Fusion Blades in melee with him can wreck some serious havok against characters and vehicles. Rerollable 1's to wound with an Y'vahra and Breacher Teams are nothing to sneeze at, and a stratagem that actually makes Crisis Suits accurate (with or without markerlights) really helps you get the most mileage out of them. Sure you have to play them as a high risk high reward Deep Strike heavy army that likes to get up close and personal... but chances are you were going to do that anyways if you play FSE.
|Heroes of the Greater Good|
|Ethereals:||Aun'Shi - Aun'Va|
|Fire Caste:|| Commander Farsight - Commander Puretide |
Commander Shadowsun - El'Myamoto
|Dawn of War:||Shas'O Or'es'Ka - Shas'O Kais|