"While their repulsive appearance and outdated political views should prove fuel enough for the forges of your fury, it is important not to forget the tech-heresy the T’au practice, releasing new versions of their war-machines helter-skelter, offering nary a prayer to the twisted machine spirits of their vehicles and dabbling in that most vile of the mechanical arts: the creation of Abominable Intelligences."
- – The Regimental Standard, regarding Tau Drones
"Brutality and injustice made us raise our hands towards the sky for years; God didn’t respond us, but drones came to our rescue."
- – M.F. Moonzajer
Drones AKA Kor'vesa ("Faithful Helpers") in Tau Lexicon are small, round, usually hovering robots used by the Tau Empire for various support tasks. Because the Tau have never experienced a robot rebellion (yet) the way that the Imperium of Man did with their Men of Iron, artificial intelligences are not only still permitted but widespread in society. Unlike servitors, drones are capable of autonomous activity. They aren't very bright when they work on their own, but they can interconnect into networks and become more intelligent. Despite being common and mass-producible, drones are not regarded as expendable and are programmed for self preservation. The average player doesn't share this sentiment, and when it comes to saving valuable personnel's lives (like battlesuit pilots or squad leaders), neither do Earth caste engineers as they often program drones to jump at enemy bullets and missiles to save said lives, and some of the drone types are even specifically designed to be used as
meatshields nano-crystalline alloy armored shields. This "saviour protocol" behavior is effectively Asimov's third law of robotics: a drone should self preserve, except in cases where it would have to disobey orders or allow harm to come to humans T'au to do so.
- 1 Command-Link Drone
- 2 Drone Sentry Turret
- 3 Earth Caste Builder Drone
- 4 Escort Drone
- 5 Exploratory Drone
- 6 Grav-Inhibitor Drone
- 7 Gun Drone
- 8 Heavy Gun Drone
- 9 Interceptor Drone
- 10 Marker Drone
- 11 Missile Drone
- 12 Pulse Accelerator Drone
- 13 Recon Drone
- 14 Remora Drone Fighter
- 15 Remote Sensor Tower
- 16 Shield Drone
- 17 Sniper Drone
- 18 Stealth Drone
- 19 Tactical Support Turret
- 20 Technical Drone
- 21 Guardian Drone
- 22 Hover Drone
- 23 Gallery
A Drone specifically built to be as much as a giant floating microphone to boss other Tau around.
These drones allow a commander to better direct the battle by networking them to squad leaders or if their leader is dead, a command over the Fire Warrior teams; thereby making that particular commander have fun in roleplaying as a DM. This capability allows Tau forces to mow down the enemy all the more effectively with relentless volleys of the Greater Good.
It is controlled by a Drone Controller, which is an electronic device that can be used by the Tau to further enhance their connections and control over their robotic companions like killer drone toys. Basically Vidya Games taken to the EXTREME.
A Drone Controller acts as a hub of digital communications between the Drone's operator and any Drones that are nearby the user. It serves as an advanced interface between the operator and the artificial intelligence (AI) combat programs of the Drones, and is often used to direct the Drones’ firepower far more efficiently and with a level of accuracy far greater than would otherwise be possible on the battlefield.
Like most Drones, a Command-Link Drones consist of an advanced processor unit, which individually has only a basic intelligence which can be summed up as "Hey Boy! Shoot that thing!", and moves about by way of a small anti-gravitic generator and a much modified version of a Tau Jetpack so it can float and boop around the battlefield.
Commander Shadowsun uses this particular special drone with extra communication equipment to help direct her soldiers and it always stays within close proximity to her like some weeaboo obsessed robot, and can act as a form of robotic bodyguard if necessary, by getting in the way of incoming enemy fire or close-combat opponents during the course of a battle.
In-game, it used to project an 18" Ld10 bubble, but now it lets a unit re-roll To Hit rolls of 1 by virtue of giving the squad her targeting data and the like (because having Shadowsun shouting in your ear prevents that Heavy Burst Cannon from getting hot, or something [it instead gets another cannon hot if you know what I mean]).
It is by far the tallest mobile Drone due to its really elongated equipment. But it is not the largest. That goes to the Remora.
Drone Sentry Turret
Drone sentry turrets are probably the largest autonomous systems used by the Tau Empire, used to secure perimeters without requiring Fire Warriors to be put in harm's way - this is because the Tau shun the concept of static fights, so they let these drones do it. They are also a bit more reasonable as unlike Imperial Tarantula sentry guns, the drone's intelligence can differentiate between friendly and enemy units effectively, choosing to ignore some targets in favor of others and capable of making independent targeting decisions. Although it calls into question about the Imperial's Tarantula turret more than the effectiveness of the Weeb's family friendly version.
As for why there are new Tau fortifications, that's because GW doesn't seem to communicate with FW, and even then, those fortifications aren't immobile. Back to the topic, these drones mount twin-linked burst cannons, missile pods, fusion blasters, or plasma rifles in a "pop-up" configuration, so that the entire turret stays as enclosed as possible until the moment the guns need to fire. They can also be given a defensive upgrade such as a shield generator to better absorb incoming fire. Being considered vehicles, they also have access to vehicle systems.
Its smaller brother is the Tactical Support Turret.
Earth Caste Builder Drone
Bob the Builder robots in SPESS.
Earth Caste Builders are drones used by the Earth Caste to erect structures and perform repairs on damaged buildings and vehicles. However, they are unarmed, and as such unable to defend themselves against an attack.
Builder Drones consist of an advanced processor unit, which individually has only a basic intelligence (approximately equal to that of a small animal such as a pterasquirrel), and moves about by way of a compact anti-gravitic generator and much modified variant of Tau Jetpack. This allows the Drone to hover over the ground and skim over most obstacles.
They are seen only in Dawn of War and it is the Tau's
main only builder unit. It could have made sense for the Tau to use a Technical Drone, as it is more versatile and have similar functions. Seeing as Relic likes to say "Screw established lore" though, this is what we got.
Despite their function, they are in no way related to the Technical Drones.
But they sound frickin cool, like any robot you would ever want. The Greater Good dictates that how a Kor'vesa sounds is completely unrelated to its description. Prepare for reeducation, Gue'vesa.
Not to be confused with the Tyranid Escort Drone, which is substantially larger.
Escort Drones are a type of small drone that often accompany Tau Water Caste negotiators and incorporate both defensive as well as minor offensive capabilities. They are nimble, compact and thus, smol. Escort Drones make use of small efficient anti-grav units which are similar in design to larger drones. They not only act as protectors for their charge but as tools for trade as they are programmed to record and deliver complex messages.
They are also used to guide prospective clients to the Water Caste negotiator and record every exchange that takes place and hope to hell that it does not suffer a catastrophic mistranslated mishap ala Google Translate. This information is then used for later study and dissection in order to better tailor to the individual in question. To serve them in their role, the escort drone makes use of a simple projector array that displays information on a flat screen. They are also equipped with twin Pulse Pistols which take up a majority of the space in the small drone. The Pulse Pistols are pretty good against the local scum bucket, but don't expect to do much to an angry Smurf, just ask Cato Sicarius and the Water Caste member that got squished in a 'negotiation' (To be fair, she had no Escort Drone and was asking for it. Not as if the Drone mattered in the first place).
DX-11 Exploratory Drones are basically Tau version of C.A.T. units in Space Hulk missions, and fit similar roles of scouting, exportation and locating targets valuable enough to send a Fire Warrior team.
These Drones basically bob around and look for anything interesting or suspicious. Most often than not, Tau Fire Warriors view these as an acceptable sacrifice when the need comes, cause who would want to stick their head inside a mysteriously dark room with blood splatters everywhere? No one I ask you.
They are fitted with limited complementary of weapons and an array of sensory and high-powered communications equipment to relay a consistent link with the Fire Warrior team. If threatened the drone is programmed to conceal itself via cloaking, transmit an emergency alert like a scared kitten, and await further instructions from the higher ups. The drone reserves its limited firepower only for moments of absolute necessity or when operating in direct support or defense of its operator.
If an Exploratory Drone is within close proximity to its master, it can act as a form of robotic bodyguard if necessary by getting in the way of incoming enemy fire or close-combat opponents during the course of a battle.
One of the most annoying Drones ever built.
Grav-Inhibitor drones incorporate a "gravity wave projector" that slows down assaulting units and throws them back a considerable distance through a gravitic push, allowing the
cowardly and weak intelligent Tau to blast the assaulting unit to kingdom come via overwatch. This allows Pathfinder Teams to move out of the way of an enemy assault and take the time to react to the assault in the most efficient manner.
Grav-Inhibitor Drones have to date only been deployed as part of Pathfinder reconnaissance teams during the Third Sphere Expansion. The quintessential troll machine to all assault orientated units.
Of course these little shits think that it is the best thing since sliced bread and may overestimate the drone's own abilities against...lets say....a rampaging Dreadnought. Nevertheless, such tactics usually work unless the particular unit is a persistent bastard and can survive just a little longer in the face of the Emperor's close-combat might.
Anyways, when the going gets tough, such as when the Drone thinks that the battle is deemed as beyond hopeless. These guys are known to get the fuck out of here. Courtesy of the Tau's heretical ideas of strategic retreating and going back to fight another day. On the other hand, certain Tau may take control of the Drone and use it as a moving
meat junk shield. Pffft, motherfucking pussies.
All in all.
Fuck these Drones. The Ethereal caste does not support such atrocious lies against a Kor'vesa of the Tau Empire. All parties creating such libel against Tau military tactics shall be reeducated.
Gun drones are the most common sort of drone encountered on the battlefield, armed with a twin-linked pulse carbine. The basic, floating A.I. driven attachment. These guys are the Swiss army knife of the Weebs, seriously they can be almost everything.
Despite their basic intelligence, the Fishfaces do not treat their Drones as expendable forces, but as another useful weapon in their armory. A strange behavior most Techpriests view as second only to them...for obvious reasons.
Most Tau units are accompanied by at least several Drones to assist in mundane tasks. Gun Drones aiding Tau squads will often provide additional firepower that can pin an enemy down due to the flashbang effect of the Photon Grenades fired by the underslung grenade launcher of their twin-linked Pulse Carbines. Gun Drones will also provide protection for their squads, by way sacrificing themselves to block enemy fire or close combat opponents.
They can be attached to squads of Fire Warriors to add additional pew pews, or fixed onto vehicles as detachable turrets to mow down those pesky infantry at close range (most notably the Devilfish and Piranha), or even operate independently in squads of their own of around 4 to 12 of these
annoying bastards helpful machines. Most other drones are built on the same chassis as the gun drone as expected of GW laziness.
Heavy Gun Drone
The heavy gun drone is, as it sounds, the big brother of the gun drone, and in fact is the second largest model of mobile drone used by the Tau, after the Remora. Basically, a giant looking dustbin along with the likes of the Gun Drone (But then again,
the Tau Games Workshop aren't isn't known for their diversity in drone appearance).
Heavy Gun Drones due to being a further development of the basic Gun Drone are visibly larger with heavier construction than standard Drones. As such, due to their increase size and power, they carry twin-linked burst cannons, and can swap one of them for a markerlight if it will need to call down and range ahead of the main Tau force; quickly pick out targets for destruction from the long-range seeker missiles.
They operate in squadrons of two to six Drones for sextuple the Dakka. In this role, they act as effective robotic artillery spotters. Heavy Gun Drones are relatively new additions to the forces of the Tau and most versions are still undergoing field trials.
Overall, other than carrying around heavier Dakka, their behavior still remained unchanged.
Think of them as mini-Remoras.
Interceptor Drones are most often carried into battle as pairs, one in each of the wing cupolas of a Sun Shark bomber. This benefits both the flyer and the Drones, as the former ensures the Sun Shark survives long enough to deliver its payload on target whilst the latter benefits from the Sun Shark’s speed in deployment.
Each Interceptor drone is armed with powerful twin-linked Ion Rifles, which can be overcharged to fire small blasts of energy at the cost of a chance of dangerous energy overloading. They can fly by themselves individually, but they aren't as fast and thus vulnerable to enemy fire. On the plus side, they are so goddamned small that there is a chance that enemy fliers may completely miss these guys.
Marker drones are modified gun drones that carry markerlights for their squad (why the lazy bums couldn't carry their own markerlights is anyone's guess). They're more expensive than Pathfinders, but they can tag along with whoever is controlling them (which means, if they run with battlesuits, they can
jump-shoot-jump fall back from melee and still shoot as drones are basically independent jet packs).
Unlike most Drones, Marker Drones aren't dumb. This is due to the feat of Earth Caste engineering.
The artificial intelligence of Marker Drones increases when they are networked together into squadrons, greatly increasing their processing speed and capability for independent action. This is to the point where a couple of Marker Drones can literally say, "I'm a strong, independent Drone who don't need no Tau!" and be completely right about it. Seriously. They are also capable of impressive tactical feats, and operating independently for long periods of time without the need for close supervision.
Marker Drones attached to a Tau Stealthsuit Team are always upgraded with stealth field generators, which allows them to operate without compromising the Stealthsuit Team's own ability to remain undetected.
Like the regular Gun Drone, the Marker Drone can be roided up and become even tougher. The Heavy Marker Drones are the same size as Heavy Gun Drones but, replace one of their Burst Cannons for a Markerlight.
Like the Grav-Inhibitor Drone,
fuck these guys too. The Ethereal caste tires of this consistent propaganda on this website. Such Kor'vesa shall not be insulted in this way.
Fun fact for the banal people: There are three variants: The Stealth variant, which has a more complex antenna and simpler markerlight (see above), the Line variant, which you will see in basically every box for T'au, and the Pathfinder variant, which has a slightly larger markerlight. There is no difference in stats otherwise.
Missile drones carry missile pods. Shocking.
What's really shocking is that the Tau only deploy them with Broadside battlesuits (well, Games Workshop ruled that they do). Apparently, swarms of S7 AP4 was too awesome for a xenos army. Nonetheless, if you want a swarm of light shooty artillery and anti-armor, these are the Drones for you.
A Missile Drone can be upgraded to be even tougher. The Shielded Missile Drone was born in a moment of brilliance, when Earth Caste engineers realized that they could stick two systems on a single drone. The brilliance was immediately canceled out when the Ethereals decreed that the new drones would only be used by Riptides and their variants. Bummer.
Kinda strange their missile racks are not vertical and twin-linked. Three missiles isn’t much though nothing to scoff at and it’d make the drones more cost-efficient. But, eh, the difference between realism and miniature wargaming.
Pulse Accelerator Drone
Pulse accelerator drones are drones that carry a pulse accelerator, which accelerates pulse rounds. Redundancy aside, it extends the range of pulse weapons.
How it extends the range of what is basically a plasma gun is unknown. But seeing as how most plasma weapons are fired using a gravitational bubble to envelope the plasma bolt, it could be safe to say that this Drone uses gravity to further strengthen the envelope for a greater maximum distance and lifespan per-bolt.
Pulse Accelerator Drones are one of the more recent Drones to be used by the Tau. They have to date only been deployed as part of Pathfinder reconnaissance teams during the Third Sphere Expansion.
Like most of these specialist Drones, the Pulse Accelerator variety is a very bottom heavy Drone and thus, pretty damn big despite being based on the chassis of a regular Gun Drone. This is due to its specialized equipment which requires more space and power to use.
Unfortunately, despite their specialized equipment, these Drones are still pretty damned dumb. You would think that the Tau would upgrade these specialized Drones carrying pretty expensive equipment around to have a sudden increase in tactical awareness right? But nope, its just a modified Gun Drone with a tinkered programming to behave slightly differently.
Maybe the Tau have perfected the art of 3d printing? No that would just be broken. Bummer.
Only Tau Pathfinders use them. Instead of units that specialize in long-range combat.
Drones specializing in...well...reconnaissance.
Yet another toy for Pathfinders, the Recon Drone takes the bold step of giving squads organic heavy weapons -- well, a burst cannon isn't any more powerful than a pulse carbine, but it puts more shots downrange.
All Recon Drones are somewhat larger than standard mobile Drones in size, and this is primarily due to the specialist equipment they carry.
The Recon Drone also gets commended for its utterly silly way it looks. Seriously, it would have been far more cooler if it just mounted the burst cannon by itself, but the tau just had to add in the weird cylindrical object making it extremely bottom heavy and causing some to say it resembles more like a butt plug.
It comes with some other toys for bringing in reinforcements, like a homing beacon and a positional relay (read: bubble of no-scatter for Deep Strikers) letting Pathfinder units nearby it or a Devilish it is embarked on to ignore cover when shooting, in this way they are still able to use their support technologies whilst being transported during missions.
A Homing Beacon is a multi-spectrum homing device that, when activated, allow the Hunter Cadre's reinforcements to deploy with pinpoint precision, whilst a Positional Relay is a device that records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight-band, encrypted radio burst to Tau assets in orbit, allowing them to better coordinate forces operating in strategic reserve.
But seriously though, please don't actually use it as a butt plug. Unless of course...
Remora Drone Fighter
The DX-6 Remora Drone Fighter is a drone flyer, the main body about the same size as the Heavy Gun Drone, but it has wings, larger engines to enable true flight (so it's the biggest drone), and more weapons, being able to carry a twin-linked long-barreled (36" Heavy 6) Burst cannons, a networked Markerlight, and two Seeker missiles at the same time. They're packed full of stealth technology so it can provide close air support Stealthsuit and Pathfinder teams.
They are very lightly armored, but they don't need to take enemy fire on the way to battle. Instead, they are often carried in large numbers by a Manta or in pairs by a Tiger Shark AX-2-2 (their wings can fold up and over the body like IRL naval aircraft), which will release them from high above the battlefield and control them from afar.
Real-life Remoras are a kind of fish that hangs on to larger fish for transport and protection. Their secret life as artificially intelligent stealth fighters is as of yet unconfirmed, probably because they're stealthy as well.
Remote Sensor Tower
Remote sensor towers take the prize for the tallest drones used by the Tau -- when collapsed, they are twice as tall as a Fire Warrior, and they are twice as tall again when fully extended. They carry twin-linked markerlights and forward targeting data to nearby formations. They are often placed with sentry turrets to act as an autonomous defense line; if heavy anti-vehicle firepower is required, they can summon seeker missile-bearing Piranhas.
The Remote Sensor Tower resembles a smaller version of the Drone Sentry Turret, but instead of weaponry inside, it has a tall aerial which telescopes upwards to give the sensor equipment a high vantage point for scanning. It is constructed of the same nano-crystalline compound used by other Tau vehicles, albeit in far thinner layers. The Tau Empire use Remote Sensor Towers as area denial weapons, making it difficult for enemy units to move without drawing immediate attack. In this way, they act much like a conventional minefield, slowing the enemy advance and making movement dangerous rather than halt an advance on its own.
The tower mounts no weaponry, and as such is considered an expendable asset by the Tau Fire Caste. Of course, it is a static Drone and as such, requires quite the protection if you want your antenna of doom to survive.
Shield drones are Drones that carry shields (duh) and usually accompany commanders and Battlesuits, although they sometimes accompany Fire Warriors and Pathfinders. The Drones carry shield generators for protecting high-value targets (read: 4++ invulnerable save to soak high-Strength and low-AP attacks). They are the most basic defense Drone of the Tau and when someone thinks of one, these are the Drones that usually pop up in their heads.
The latest version is the MV52, which incorporates a 3++ save -- but only for Commander Shadowsun (which get kind of ridiculous in a unit that already has stealth and shrouded) and can be seen, fluff wise as capable of harmlessly blocking shots even from Imperial Battle Cannons.
These things were the bane of literally anyone in 8th, having a 4++/5+++, able to easily absorb damage from enemy guns onto your Riptide on a 2+, turn it into a single wound, and then proceed to ignore said wound. And they were only 10 points. EACH.
Sniper drones are as its name implies. Sniper Drones operate in teams of three to nine, directed by a single Tau spotter equipped with a Pulse Pistol, Markerlight and Drone Controller. For best results, two to three of these teams will work together to provide pinpoint anti-personnel fire.
Most Drones require someone at the back or a computer to control, but these guys takes the cake for being the most 'hands-on' intensive of the Drones. Even though the Sniper Drones are equipped with impressive artificial intelligence. This is explained since despite the increased intelligence, Drones aren't known for their creative talents (Well if you don't count some machines). Most of the work is done by the little Snatch Nose.
It is the Firesight Marksman, who is the brains behind the operation. He is the one who finds a suitable position to hide and fire, he is the one who assists and control what the Drone needs to do. He is the one who can target and fire specific individuals rather than going guns blazing. All the Sniper Drone has to do is
sit float back and shoot.
On tabletop they carry a longshot pulse rifle They are put on a drone which means that the hit on a 5+ unless supported by a firesight marksman or a drone controller from a battlesuit that gives them 3+ BS. Getting marker light on a character is hard but with the Sa'cea sept stratagem you can at least get 1 marker on the target. These units while expensive can also deal with (heavy) infantry quite well due to mortal wounds that they provide on 6+ to wound, and that they are 48" rapid fire pulse rifles helps too.
Known as the MV5 Stealth Drone. As its name implies, these flying robots are an advanced Tau Drone used to generate cloaking fields over both itself and nearby forces. A pair is typically deployed by the XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit for thrice the sneakiness.
The dome of an MV5 Stealth Drone is studded with stealth field generators which match those found on an XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit's armor, and it carries an underslung stealth emitter. This projects a stealth field over itself and its attending XV95 Ghostkeel. A pair of these overlapping fields can make both the Drones and the Battlesuit virtually invisible in open terrain.
While some Drones are seen as expendable assets by the Tau, MV52 Stealth Drone pairs are invaluable to Ghostkeel Battlesuits, who often form an unnaturally strong bond with them while on extended missions behind enemy lines due to how indispensable they are. Seriously, you do not want to lose any of these Drones, they are incredibly useful. If one of these Drones are spotted and destroyed, the Ghostkeel is effectively fucked.
However, the Drone is unarmed, and thus vulnerable to being destroyed if found.
Shame it is exclusive to the Ghostkeel. Imagine how broken it would be if every Tau Fire Warrior got access to these.
Tactical Support Turret
Another variant of a Drone Turret.
The DS8 Tactical Support Turrets are a type of light Drone-operated Turret used by Fire Warrior teams. Basically smaller versions of the normal Drone Turret, the Tactical Support Turret is used when the available space is too small for a regular turret to be deployed or the situation requires a smaller profile to better protect itself from anti-armor weapons.
They are deployed rapidly to the field carrying in racks along the flanks of Orca Dropships and most commonly are armed with a smaller Seeker Missile pod. The Tactical Support Turret is programmed to self-destruct should their sensors register that the enemy could capture or tamper them.
Like their larger brothers, the Tactical Support Turrets aren't as trigger happy as the Imperial Tarantula and would most likely cease firing their missiles if they see a friendly close to its line of fire.
Then again, it wouldn't entirely be the turret's fault if you're dumb enough to enter its weapon's blast radius just to get a face full of plasma and shrapnel in the process. On the other hand, if these chumps are Pathfinders, then it's a-okay because they are expendable!
DX-4 Technical drones are the only drones without rules of their own and are used by Tau commanders and Fire Warrior teams on the battlefield as a mobile engineering unit. In place of weaponry each Technical Drone carries repair and sensor equipment, and can be used to fix damaged or destroyed equipment in the field, sort of like a Imperial Trojan Support Vehicle but smaller.
They will also commonly be found assisting Fire Warrior combat engineer teams, especially during dense urban combat. Some Drone perimeter defense detachments also utilize specially outfitted DX-4 Drones to provide maintenance and support to other static Drone-controlled emplacements, such as Remote Sensor Towers and Drone Sentry Turrets.
They are by far the most rugged and stripped down Drone out there. Because of this, some have taken to giving them the moniker "floating R2-D2s" because they look like one and they behave like one.
DX-4 Technical Drones attached to a Tau Stealthsuit Team are always upgraded with stealth field generators, which allows them to operate without compromising the Stealthsuit Team's own ability to remain undetected.
Forge World suggests using them to represent certain stratagems in Cities of Death games, and there's an Apocalypse formation that uses them to repair drone sentry turrets, but for regular games of Warhammer 40,000, they're really only good for decoration. Maybe they could be used by an Earth Caste who counts as a tech-priest or Techmarine from an allied detachment, or just homebrew a similar Tau unit.
- They have rules in 8e, letting them heal wounds on vehicles and battlesuits.
Also known as the MV36 Guardian Drone. This metal death bin was developed in response to the high number of casualties suffered amongst Fire Warrior Breacher Teams and is able to project a mobile, invisible force-field that forms a dome over the Breacher Team that the drone accompanies. Essentially, this is a mobile bunker for the Tau to use, unlike the more personal Shield Drones.
Because the shield has a large area of effect, it is not as powerful as that of a dedicated Shield Drone. However, footage exists of an MV36 Guardian Drone's shield turning aside shots from an Imperial Lascannon. Of course such statement is taken with a grain of salt knowing how reliable 40k's consistency is. The protective ability of the Guardian Drone is usually further bolstered and increased by the field amplifier relays worn by members of Fire Warrior Breacher Teams.
As most of these specialist Drones, the Guardian Drone is a ridiculously bottom-heavy Drone that makes it look ungainly as hell. This is not supported by the fact that as mentioned before, this shit is expensive. So it is a wonder why the Tau have not yet increased the Drone's intelligence for self-preservation. They already are capable of doing it, so why not these Drones?
On the tabletop, there have been some debates on the merits of choosing either a Guardian Drone or a simple Shield Drone. The most common answer to these conundrums is that, if you want something to protect a group of your special Weeaboos, you take the Guardian Drone as it is the most cost-effective. If you want to have something that protects a specific special character, you take the Shield Drone. The difference can best be highlighted here. With Strike Teams, the Guardian lets you ignore AP over -2. With Breacher Teams, it lets you ignore AP over -1. Both of those uses don't offer ablative wounds. Shield drones let you ignore all AP values but one good hit removes this defense completely.
All in all, its a decent Drone for protecting your gubbinz.
Basically the Tau's more family friendly and safer version of the Tzeentchian Disc of Tzeentch. These machines are basically a Segway that can fly, for those too lazy to even fucking walk a few hundred meters.
Hover Drones are larger units used as anti-gravity transports. They are frequently used by Ethereals so they can fly around to inspire their troops faster 'cause these lazy sleazers can't be bothered to just do something as simple as walking up to a communications device and talking to his troops. Not to mention that there's no way for the pilot to even feasibly balance, much less pilot the thing. I mean seriously, try surfing on a garbage can lid, it's not that easy.
The only device lazier than this is the floating
Prophet's Gravity Throne Space Pope Throne of the biggest and wrinkliest of Ethereals.