Tau Empire Codex : Tactics

Its unit breakdown time!

Part one of the codex review is here

Ok, for part two I’m going to be doing a basic run down of all the units in the new Tau book and my thoughts on them. A small note: I’m not a regular tournament player and I haven’t read the ‘nets views on the book yet, mainly to stop it from influencing my thought process for the time being.

I’m sure after I get a few more games in, I shall revisit the topic with different opinions.

HQ
Commander Farsight – This guy had a lot of problems in the last codex, most namely his cost. Well hes back and far cheaper than before. Hes still got the Dawnblade, which gives him armourbane and makes him a combat beast (for the tau army anyway). His warlord trait means he can deepstrike and being able to take a large bodyguard unit with him means that the potential to create a large deathstar shooting unit is pretty great. Owch at the points cost of the unit though.

Commander Shadowsun – She actually has a place in the army now, where as in the prior codex she felt like a bit of an addition that didn’t mesh well with the rest of the list. Her drones are optional now, so you can keep her costs down if needed. Having stealth, shrouded and infiltrate can be a nasty surprise too. Having her and a unit of stealth suits infiltrating into a forest for a 2+ cover save could be a really strong move and will probably be able to shrug off most an army can throw at it. Keep her mobile, and you’ve got a nifty little tank/monstrous creature/character hunting character.

Aun’Va
King of the Tau and now cheap enough to be worth taking, Aun’va is about twice the cost of a basic Ethereal and he acts as a souped up version of one. The only downside is that he forms a unit of his own with his bodyguard, which can leave his open to being targeted and whittled down for the extra Victory Points and army wide morale tests.

Whilst hes alive he can make the entire army re-roll all leadership based tests and can use Invocation of the Elements twice a turn. Not bad.

Aun’Shi
Aun’Shi! An old favorite of mine that way missing from the last codex, hes clearly not worth the points for what he does (a basic Etherial with some combat prowess, but not enough to actually take on units dedicated to assault), but he will see some use just because the model is great and I quite like his background. Use him for fun or in larger games when you can double the Force Organization chart.

Darkstrider
Though he can go in a Firewarrior unit, its clear Darkstrider is probably better being stuck in with a pathfinder unit that has lots of Ion or Rail rifles. His ability to mark and reduce a units Toughness stat when he and his unit shoot at it seems tailor made for killing units of multi wound T4 units such as the Ork Nobs and Paladins. If he weren’t a HQ choice he would be a mandatory pick. As it is for now, I shall have to see if hes worth the inclusion.

Ethereal
These guys are good now! For 50pts you get a guy who can improve your own units in quite a number of ways and who can provide a nice little bonus to leadership within 12″ of himself. If using on his own or as part of a infantry based force with a Cadre Fireblade, he can be good to create a solid firebase that will draw enemy attention whilst other elements of the army get to work winning you the game. Also, he can take a Blacksun Filter for 5 pts which lets him and his unit ignore Nightfighting, so why not?

The best thing about Ethereals is that their powers affect ALL the units in the Tau Empire book, so if gamers use a bit of sense and count as, its possible to recreate a Kroot Mercenarys force!

Cadre Fireblade
A infantry option for those who want to support their firewarriors and pathfinders, this guy is cheap and cheerful and can add an extra shot to their pulse rifles and carbines along with the Split Fire special rule. Combine this with an Ethereal and there won’t be much left or an enemy unit if they get within 15″ of a unit.

Commander
The basic battlesuit commander. Hes still pretty cheap and does his role. Nothing much more to add other than he has more options than ever, now that BSF and Multi-Trackers come attached to all battlesuits as standard. Its quite easy to make a commander in excess of 150pts, so watch the upgrades spent on him as Tau aren’t an army that tend to rely on single units to win the game, instead using multiple units to slowly whittle down an enemy. Something that does jump out is the Iridium Armour (+1T and a 2+ save, yes please!), but the rest is all down to personal choice. I would probably run him with a plasma rifle and either one of the special weapons or a missle pod, just to keep him cheap and earning his point back. Perhaps strap a fusion blaster on him if you plan to deep strike him, but I always worry if he will be around the next turn if hes getting that close.

XV8 Crisis Bodyguard Team
They are Crisis suits that are slightly better in combat (woo?) but come with a larger selection of armory choices and stop your commander from being picked out by precision fire. I wouldn’t take them unless you plan to take Farsight, who can make the unit larger.

Elites
XV15/25 Stealth Team
I’ve always loved these guys due to the sheer amount of firepower they can put out combined with their resistance to return fire (thanks to shrouded and stealth). Thats only increased in this codex as burst cannons get an extra shot. If you used them for light tank hunting (I never did, but I suppose it can’t hurt) you get an extra 6″ range on them now!

Not an over powered unit, but one I think opponents will underestimate at their peril.

XV8 Crisis Team
The old workhorse unit of the Tau army. Still the same old goodness, but one I figure has more flexibility now. Theres the option to give suits Interceptor and Skyfire, but for the price I’m not sure its worth it.

As the rest of the army tends to lack anti tank and heavy infantry killing power, Crisis suits are probably the best bet for getting that power. Plasma and missile pods are the safe option, though for guaranteed reliability twin linking weapons may be worth it.

Being able to take drones as standard, with drone controller making the BS of the drones the same as your suits, means that if you want to enhance the unit via marketlights or carbines is much cheaper now. Even better, it doesn’t take up a vital support slot like it used to.

XV104 Riptide
The big new unit everyone is talking about. Yeah, its ok and being a monstrous creature is pretty cool, but I’m not really sure what hes bringing to the army that the rest of the army can’t do already, especially when hes going to attract a ton of attention due to his size and ‘new’ status.

The ion gun is probably the best bet for safety reasons. I need to get one of these guys to try them out. Shall see what my hobby budget allows, as at £50, theres not much chance of me wanting to buy one just for ‘play testing’.

Troop
Fire Warrior Team
Good old Fire Warriors. They haven’t really changed in the new book, but they have gotten cheaper and come with grenades too. The squad leader can take a markerlight and target lock which finally solves the problem the unit had in the old codex (waste and entire units shooting for a marker light shot or not).

I probably won’t take the marketlight in the unit anyway (as its about 25 points once you include the unit upgrade), but its a nice effort. Their cheap cost and solid gun means they will probably be the mainstay of the army still.

Kroot Carnivore Squad
These guys have lost some of their combat ability. In return they have become a sort of elite sniper unit thanks to their ability to upgrade their Kroot rifles to sniper riles for a point extra. Kroot Hounds add some combat ability to the unit as do Krootox.

Still, the best use for them will still be they used to be, small squads infiltrating up the table to annoy the enemy and claim objectives, or large blob squads that hang around and hold up enemy units. They just got better at it now and cost less.

Devilfish
The only transport Tau have and its a pretty good one. Sure, its a bit pricey, but for 3 Hull Points and the ability to take cheap Seeker Missiles, a BLF (its 1 point!), along with being able to take disruption pods still means they are good investment if you are willing to tailor your list towards them.

Fast Attack
Pathfinder Team
These guys just got better. Now that markerlights have been figured out properly (and made not too expensive either, which was the main problem with them in the past) its worth having a pathfinder unit of two in an army. Now its not mandatory to have a Devilfish, they are much cheaper.

Its probably best for them to hunker down in cover and support other units by stripping cover or increasing the BS of units in a pinch. They’re a lot more fragile than before due their 5+ save, so making the squad size larger is pretty much mandatory to their survival.

Theres a temptation to take ion or rail riles, but I think it dilutes their purpose. Especially when dealing with BS3 units, you need more than the normal amount of members to esure they are doing whats needed. Having half a unit dedicated to killing things (and only things the marketlight half of the unit shot at anyway) seems a bit of a waste. An expensive waste at that.

So keep then cheap and cheerful is my advise.

Vespid Stingwings
They got better. More durable, cheaper, extra rules and their gun got more range. They’re ok for a marine killing unit, but I still don’t think they are worth it when there are a lot of good units in the rest of the book.

Drone Squadron
Same as always really. They get more flexibility due to being able to take different types of drones. Still, being BS2 is a bit rubbish, even if some of those shots will be twin-linked. Perhaps I’m missing something. Still, they’re good filler units if you have the points. Deep strike them in to distract your opponent for a turn or two.

Piranhas
I never saw the appeal of these units, but some Tau players seem to swear by them. So, I’m not gonna really talk about them. I suppose now that vehicles can fire their own seeker missiles its worth running a few and getting some side shots in on vehicles.

Sun Shark Bomber
Its not bad. It seems to be better at attacking other fliers than the Razorshark is! Its a very mixed role unit certainly. It may even be worth detaching the interceptor drones so the sun shark is free to bomb infantry targets.

Razorshark Strike Fighter
If the Sun Shark seemed like wasted potential, then the Razorshark makes it seem like the best decision in the world! A flyer that is only good against light infantry or vehicles but has little to no idea ability to combat fliers?

Considering just how much the rest of the Tau army has what the Razorshark has in spades, I’m not too sure it will be seeing too much use from me. Darn ugly model too.

Heavy Support

XV88 Broadside Team
Hey, these guys may not be as must take as they used to be now their main armament is S8, but I think there are still plenty of uses for them. These guys are posed to be awesome flyer killers as well and MC hunters. Hell just have a single man unit thats a Shas’vre and give him a advanced targeting system, theres about a 50% chance he can be a potent IC killer.

Hammerhead Gunship
Ooh boy! This unit kicks ass. Cheaper than before, when upgraded to have submunitions a BSF and a disruption pod the vehicles comes to just about the same as the base cost from the past unit. Considering the downgrade Broadsides have undergone, Hammerheads have shot up in usage.

Just take more than one or at least keep him protected, as your opponent is going to be gunning for them from turn 1.

Sky Ray Missile Defense Gunship
It took them a while, but the Sky Ray is now fully capable of killing flyers properly thanks to having a velocity tracker. Sure, it only has 6 seeker missiles, but that should enough to do his job.

Failing that, its a great tank killer.
Sniper Drone Team
These guys got a lot better too. Hide them in cover and just snipe away with with BS5 thanks to the Marksman having drone controller.

So, in general this army got a lot more powerful, but then the army was always not far from it anyway, it just needed a few tweaks to help with army synergy.

Now units support one another well and aid the rest of the army. A tau army is more than just a sum of its parts and will need to work together to eliminate targets.

Its certainly not an army that will be automatically top tier, because there are no easy builds from what I can see. Certainly no ‘auto win’ build that will guarantee victory. Still, they are a very powerful army and more than that, very balanced, which makes choosing a force hard.

If you like the unique play style and want a challenge, the Tau army offers something different. More than that, I think using the army will make you a better player. By not having that autowin or killer unit to fall back upon (most of the army is still T3) you have to play more outside of the box and far more cautiously that if you are used to an army that sports T4 and a 3+ save as standard.

Have fun everyone!

What are your thoughts on the new army? Let me know.

Also, I’ve got great news. For those who may have read my Tabletop Gaming News roundups in the past, I know theres been a bit of a break from my last one. Mainly because, I didn’t want to just make the news be that kickstarters are happening (as thats the big thing in tabletop gaming at the moment). So Tabletop Gaming News is going twice a week. One for just Kickstarters and one for other news.

Stick around. A lots going to happen 🙂

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