Greetings, fellow Dakkanauts.
This is my third project so far. Having gained some experience (and valuable feedback from fellow members) after writing for the Eldar and Space Marines (Black Templars), I have decided to take on the Tau Empire with this next write up. Again, the point of this tactica article is to help any Tau players still having the old codex (or having bought the new one but not having had any games under their belt yet) to familiarize themselves with the changes and additions to their army. And the new Tau codex has indeed brought with it lots of changes. For example, Burst Cannons have been beefed in that they are 1 more shot now than they were in the previous dex. The Smart Missile System has also been buffed in that it has 6 more inches range. The Pulse Carbine is now 1 more shot than it used to be. On the other hand, we lost the Targeting Array upgrade, as well as the Multi Tracker upgrade for our vehicles. So unless you want to snapfire your secondaries, you have to sit still, which is not an option for our disruption podded skimmers. But before I get ahead of myself, let us start examining the codex unit by unit.
We open up this codex review with one of the new HQs
available to us. Just like the old Eldar codex introduced Autarchs as a new HQ
choice, so does the new Tau codex introduce the Cadre Fireblade. An infantry commander who fights on foot rather than in a battlesuit, there is something very down to earth and charming about the Cadre Fireblade. He is the sort of charismatic leader that spurs on his fellow Fire Caste warriors to go once more unto the breach and unleash a withering storm of pulse rifle fire to cripple the enemy advance. Let's take a loot at his stats, shall we?
He is a fair deal cheaper than a battlesuit commander and has 3 wounds (though T3 doesnt really help much in this aspect), a decent 4+ armor save and ballistic skill 5. He has split fire and a markerlight, so he can light something up other than what the rest of his squad is firing at, which is useful as this allows him to light up a tank without wasting the squad's shots. He is LD
9 (so you don't need to bother with a Shas'ui) and can effectively man a quadgun or icarus lascannon (splitfire!) using his BS5 but most importantly he gives each FW
an additional pulse rifle shot if they stand still, so it's best to stick him with a 12 man FW
squad to get the most outta him.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the Cadre Fireblade - it's just that the other HQ
choices (except Darkstrider) are that much more worth their points and thus the reason why this guy falls short. Even in the lowest point games (400 points combat patrol) you can't do wrong taking a JSJ
-ing battlesuit commander with either dual plasma or dual missile pods and a drone controller as well as a couple BS5 marker drones. The Fireblade....while useful for his points cost, feels like a waste of a valuable HQ
slot as he doesnt really add something your army needs. Now the Ethereal on the other hand, is actually very useful if you blob up as a static gunline.
Darkstrider is the new named special character that has been added to the Tau Empire. Now this guy is twice as costly as an Ethereal, and thus even costlier than the base cost of a Commander, so you really need to have a good reason why you are taking him instead. Personally, I can't find one - he is overcosted. He would be worth considering if he were 20 points cheaper or didn't occupy an HQ
slot, but he does, and in this case I'd rather go with a far more flexible Commander or a dirt cheap Ethereal or even the straightforward Cadre Fireblade than this guy.
But basically he brings two abilities to the table - one, being able to scoot back D6
" after firing overwatch (so assaulting his unit becomes pretty hard) and two, reducing the toughness of the enemy target infantry squad by 1. Now while mathhammer says the Cadre Fireblade's additional shot is killier than being able to wound better with the shots you have thanks to Darkstrider, this is still very useful as it can allow for some shenanigans with his squad's Pulse weapons, such as suddenly being able to wound T9 (think Great Unclean One) or insta-kill T3 multi-wound characters (excellent vs swarms!!!!!).
Darkstrider however also has the ability to make one of your Firewarrior squads scout or outflank, so this is useful as you can put them all in a Devilfish and then keep them in reserve so you can bring them into the opponent's deployment zone for some nice Fish of Fury tactics once the Firewarriors disembark and empty their 26 shots into any unfortunate squad (which also wound T4 on a 2+ now). While you can pull the same trick off with Pathfinders in a Devilfish, I think attaching Darkstrider to FWs
is a better deal because Pathfinders should be using their markerlights to help the rest of your army, and not wasting them for regular Pulse Carbine shots.
Ah yes, the Ethereal. Living embodiment of the Tau'Va, the Greater Good. A shining beacon of light in a galaxy ripe with murderous darkness and malevolence. A figurehead, around which you can rally your forces of the Tau Empire and bring the light to the ignorant races you will be facing on the battlefields of the 41st millenium. Okay, I'll stop. But seriously, fluff aside, the Ethereal has changed quite a bit.
For starters, his points cost and stats have remained the same. However, while in the old codex he automatically came with a pair of close combat weapons that gave him +1 attack, this upgrade now costs 10 points, but comes with AP4. Personally, I am not a fan of these, as the Ethereal only fights at strength 3 & initiative 3, and close combat isnt really a place to shine for the Tau to begin with. Paying 10 points now just to make his cc
4 is just. not. worth it.
On the other hand the Honor blade has dropped by 5 points compared to the old dex, and has kept its old stats, i.e. making the Ethereal S5. Thus the Honor blade upgrade has become more lucrative - having 3 S5 attacks instead of 3 S3 attacks can offer a small boost in cc
, as long as you arent doing battle against enemy ICs
who will challenge your Ethereal and roflstomp him before he gets to strike.
The option to take a BS4 Firewarrior Honor Guard is gone, which is sad, but we have to keep up with the times, I guess. This also means Tau armies using 1 Force Org chart can only field a maximum of 72 Firewarriors now instead of 96 as used to be the case in the old dex.
Inspiring Presence has changed. This is both good news and bad news. The good news, is that it affects Kroot, Vespid and Drones as well, now. The bad news is that the range has dropped from "anyone who can draw line of sight to the Ethereal" to just a 12" bubble - which is a HUGE nerf. Another change is that it no longer has the effect of re-rolling morale checks, but allows you to use the Ethereal's LD10 instead. I think this is bad news, as a re-rollable LD7 (or LD8 for crisis suits, FWs
with team leaders, etc.) was better than the non-re-rollable LD10.
However, some additional good news is how in the old dex the Ethereal only affected morale checks, but in the new dex, the Ethereal's LD
can be used within 12" for any unit's LD
tests - not just morale.
But again, we have some bad news: first, if you attach an Ethereal to a unit, that unit is no longer fearless, but stubborn now. And if the Ethereal dies, you give 1VP to your enemy instead of forcing an armywide LD
check and gaining preferred enemy for the rest of the game (this was actually good!).
But again, there is good news: The Ethereal can take a blacksun filter to have the squad he has joined gain the nightfighting USR
(comes in handy for Firewarriors); he can take a homing beacon to allow for precision deep-strikes (which is good if you load him up in a Devilfish) and he can also take 2 Drones.
However, the best news about the new Ethereal is his Invocation of the Elements: he grants not just one, but ANY squad from the Tau Empire codex within 12" one of the following four rules: 6+ FNP
, +1 pulse shot within half range, stubborn or the ability to run and fire snapshots. The first should be your default power until the enemy gets within range, at which point you'll want to use the second to gain more firepower than a Cadre Fireblade could ever hope to give an army. Remember that these additional shots work during overwatch as well, so hooray! Oh and lest I forget, they also work for Kroot! As long as they aren't firing sniper rounds, but pulse rounds, that is. The third is beneficial if it is turn 5 or 6 and the enemy has managed to reach your gunline with his close combat troops and is hoping to quickly delete your scoring units by assaulting them, causing some casualties, causing them to botch morale due to having lost the combat by several members, and then sweep the stragglers. Making all your squads stubborn will result in him being locked in cc
instead. And the last one is somewhat useful if you just have to GET THE HELL OUT from your current position but still give off some shots while doing so.
The biggest use for an Ethereal though is in a Fish of Fury tactic - you load up 12 Firewarriors in a Devilfish, and another 11 + an Ethereal in a 2nd Devilfish and race toward the enemy. Fat chance of the Devilfish blowing up thanks to 7th edition's 3+ cover saves in combination with disruption pods. You disembark - and guess what? Get to blow 69 S5 AP5 shots into the enemy's face. SIXTY NINE. Without markerlights this results in 34.5 hits, 23 wounds against T4 and 7.66 dead Space Marines. You could even kill 3.83 terminators will these two volleys, making roughly 120 points back. Obviously the results will be more devastating against 4+ armor or T3, or both.
So overall, the Ethereal is an excellent pick if you are running a static gunline consisting of several large units, or even several MSUs
, or hell even aboard a mobile cadre. Not having to upgrade multiple FW
squads with Shas'uis to get better LD
can now save you points to buy that Ethereal instead.
Wow. I am glad GW
has decided to bring back a special character that had been done away with in the previous Tau codex. This is really a rare thing for GW
to do, so hats off to them, although I still wish Anghkor Prok had gotten the same treatment. Aun'Shi has largely stayed the same, but has gone up by 5 points and gained all the changes that Ethereals have gained (see above). Blademaster has been somewhat nerfed in that first of all you can no longer use both the offensive and defensive abilities at the same time, and that they only work in challenges now, and that the defensive ability has been nerfed so that it only allows Aun'Shi to re-roll his saves instead of wholly denying multiple attacking enemies x attacks (to a minimum of 1) where x is the number of Aun'Shi's own attacks he gives up. Make of him what you will, personally I think you are better off with a regular Ethereal as Aun'Shi is basically twice as costly and only comes with additional close combat buffs - not worth 50 odd points, in my opinion. Oh and he has also lost the ability to buff a FW
squad's initiative and attacks characteristic, so youre essentially paying +55 points for a shield generator (which you wont need if you stick your regular Ethereal in a squad and deny challenges), +1 attack, +1WS, +2I, +1 wound and making your honor blade rending or being able to re-roll your saves in challenges.
Ethereal Supreme. Purest of the pure. The mortal Emperor of the Tau Empire, so to speak. The one who has been collectively known as the Space Pope since he was introduced in the last codex. And arguably, the worst IC
to ever disgrace the entire 40k
meta due to being stupendously overcosted to the point of almost nobody ever taking him. Until now, that is. The new Tau Empire Codex has slashed his price by a staggering half, but to go with it, did nerf him a bit as well: neither he, nor his two bodyguards have T5 anymore. They also no longer sport 4+ re-rollable cover saves, but have 5+ armor saves now. They also no longer make all Tau units stubborn. They have also lost the counter-attack USR
, and to top it all off, if he dies, your Tau do not get Furious Charge.
However, everything else has stayed the same: the rest of their stats, their equipment (though the Ethereal Guards have gained photon grenades now as well as the bonding ritual) and of course, the Space Pope now sports all the new Ethereal abilities. However, unlike an Ethereal he can invoke 2 powers each turn instead of one, and most importantly of all (the main reason why you take him) is that in addition to the 12" LD10 bubble, his grants Tau units across the entire game board the ability to re-roll failed morale, pinning, fear and regroup tests. This means your outflanking pathfinders, your backfield broadsides, your deepstriking crisis suits and your firewarriors aboard those devilfishes all benefit from this, regardless whether they have line of sight to him of not. This is an immensely valuable strategem for any large games (1500+ points) where as a Tau player you can now almost guarantee that none of your units will run off the board. This might not sound like much on paper, but in practice this can often decide games. In my opinion, Aun'Va is mandatory in 2000+ point games, you really shouldnt leave home without him. The Paradox of Duality has been reworked in that you now get a special FNP
-type of save (taken after their armor saves) whose efficiency depends on the AP
of the weapon they were shot at. So if an AP4 weapon were to wound Aun'Va or his bodyguards, you would normally not get an armor save, but the Paradox of Duality grants you a 4+ save now. And unlike FNP
saves, you still get the save if you are wounded by a weapon with 2x the Strength of your toughness. Example: Say Aun'Va and friends are behind some ruins and get blasted by a Plasma Cannon. The Plasma Cannon wounds all 3 of them, and now they get to take 4+ cover saves for being in the ruin. They pass one, but fail 2. Now you get an additional two 2+ saves and if you pass both, you dont have to remove any model. Aun Va is a strategic trumpcard that boosts your entire Tau army. I think he is really undercosted for the huge defensive boost he grants your entire cadre.
O'Shovah, Commander Farsight
Commander Farsight is 5 points cheaper now and has received +1 BS
. He has lost the target lock and bonding knife, though. The Dawnblade has largely remained the same (unless you were one of those sods who kept insisting it rolls 2D6
+5 in addition to the user's strength for armor penetration) and I'm glad it didn't get nerfed to AP3. This makes Farsight - the main reason why everyone takes him - a very dangerous CC
unit and thus comes in handy for any deepstriking crisis team (also because he gaines precision deepstrike as his warlord trait), although his ranged output is mediocre at best. Even though his inclusion in the Tau Empire codex (and ability to fight alongside Aun'Va or Shadowsun) suggests an earlier period in the timeline before his battles against the Orks and subsequent betrayal, he nevertheless continues to grant Preferred Enemy (Orks) to his unit of crisis suits, but no longer to the entire army. He no longer comes with the Breakaway Faction FoC
limitations, but at the same time your army also no longer gains bonding knives for free. The Farsight bomb is still there, and much more lethal thanks to the new overhauls to the Tau armory (and also arguably the only time when you should be equipping bodyguard suits with signature systems). Unfortunately the awesome artwork of the old codex didnt make it into the new one.
O'Shaserra, Commander Shadowsun
While I have moral quandaries about fielding Farsight, Shadowsun makes for a very decent alternative. A shining hero of the Tau Empire, she is also very decent for her points cost. Her stats have remained the same; the armor save of her drones has gotten worse to a 4+, and she no longer comes with them by default, but her points cost has dropped by a staggering 40 points accordingly. She continues to have BS5, 2 Fusion Blasters, (though now only one of which can be redirected at another target); and best of all, she has Stealth and Shrouded, which means attaching her to a unit of Crisis suits will make all of them profit from 4+ cover saves as well. While not as good as 4+ invulnerable saves (in that they can be removed), equipping 3 Crisis suits with shield generators would cost you SEVENTY FIVE points in the new codex, which you save by taking O'Shaserra. She is only T3 and can thus get insta-killed easily, but this usually won't happen due to the majority toughness rule. So unlike Farsight, avoid challenges at all costs as space marine relic blades can make short work of her, and she only has a 5++ invulnerable save.
If the above mentioned powers werent already great enough, Shadowsun can also take a Command Link Drone (and still continues to count as an IC
), which allows your entire squad (including her) to re-roll any 1s to hit. This is hugely beneficial, as it is almost as good as a C&C node but without the limitation of not allowing the wielder to fire their own weapons. Finally, granting your Crisis suits the outflank ability is also not bad, especially when you are playing on a densely packed board (think cityfight or apocalypse) and you dont want to risk losing everyone from a deepstrike mishap.
The Commander is back, and he is better than ever! Sure, the Commander himself has been nerfed a bit in that you can no longer take him as a Shas'el
with -1WS, -1BS, -1A, -1W and -1LD and the Shas'O went up by 10 points as well, but the real value comes from the overhauled weapon systems as well as access to the chapter relics (signature systems). On top of that he can now select upto four systems, not just three.
The weapon systems have had an overhaul in that they now allow you to take two of the same weapons without them automatically becoming twin-linked. This is a HUGE advantage over the old Tau codex, as you can now field dual Fusion Blaster or dual Plasma Rifle suits and can use an additional hardpoint to make one of these two weapons twin-linked as well. So how about a twin-linked Fusion Blaster and a backup flamer? Yeah, that's quite versatile, isn't it? On top of this, the plasma rifle has gone down by 5 points and while the fusion blaster has gone up by 3 points, its range has increased by a solid 6 inches, and this means its melta range has also increased by 3 inches thaks to 6th edition. Both these weapons - already must-haves in the old codex, have now become worth their points in gold. While dual burst cannons look impressive on paper with their 8 S5 shots per suit, in practice I dont see why you would require them, given that your FWs
and Kroot provide you with ample anti-infantry firepower and you should use your crisis suits for much needed TEQ
/tank hunting duty instead. And dual flamers really do a better job if you really want to fry infantry anyways. The Cyclic Ion Blaster has been changed to bring it more in line with the new Ion Rifle, so sadly this no longer makes for a good anti-infantry combo with the AFP, but it does make for a better close ranged anti-tank weapon than the Missile Pod, but at this range you would anyway want to go with the Fusion Blaster.
The Shield generator (which already too a nerf due to 6th edition's changes to power weapons making 2+ armor saves a competetive upgrade once more) went up by 5 points, making it less lucrative that the Iridium Armor now - which also went up by 5 points, but comes with the massive, massive bonus of giving your Commander Toughness 5 now. Like...whoa. Unlike the Shield Generator, it also does not occupy any hardpoints and unlike the old codex, there is now no points limit as to how many non-hardpoint occupying pieces of wargear you can take. This is incredibly useful, as there are tons of cool things you can keep taking for your commander, such as the ridiculously cheap Neuroweb System Jammer that is a must-have if you deepstrike your Commander with some crisis suits into the heart of the enemy's deployment zone - making all enemy weapons around it suffer from Gets Hot! will make the opponent think twice about pouring everything he has got into your squad. The Onager Gauntlet is cheap and effective to deliver a solid, usually insta-kiling punch if your team gets assaulted, or it also helps finish off a tank that you shot at, in close combat. The failsafe detonator has gotten cheaper, so it is a more lucrative choice now. The Repulsor impact field is too costly for what it does, but the real deal comes in the form of three new pieces of wargear: the command and control node (letting all team members re-roll failed hits), the multi-spectrum sensor suite (allowing the weapons of your team mates to ignore cover) and the puretide engram neurochip (giving the commander and his squad either the tank hunters, counter attack, stubborn, furious charge or monster hunter special rules). Unfortunately, the PEN does not work the turn your units deep strike, as they have to choose the ability at the start of your turn and at that point they arent on the table yet (and there's also a rule in the big rulebook stating that "special abilities" (vague word, I know) that have to be used at the start of the turn cannot be used on the turn a unit comes from reserve). Perhaps this is also the reason why the PEN is so cheap, as otherwise it would be too good to take and simply an auto-include. However, the Ejection System is gone.
Crisis suits have also been improved as they benefit from all the wargear changes as the Commander does, but in addition to that they have gotten a points reduction by 3 points. You also are no longer forced to select 3 systems, but can take up to 3. The multi-tracker also comes built-in now, so technically that's a further points reduction by 5 points, 8 points in total. Actually 9 points, since crisis suits now come equipped with blacksun filters as well, which have also received a 2 point reduction. So a Tau Crisis battlesuit equipped with hard-wired blacksun filter, hard-wired multi-tracker, plasma rifle and fusion blaster now costs 52 points, while in the old codex this same setup costed 65 points! A squad of 3 equipped this way is now almost 40 points cheaper than in the old codex. Crisis suits are definitely better than ever before, and one of the most versatile and no-brained must-haves in every Tau army.
Crisis bodyguards have gotten a stat change. Instead of having +1WS and +1I compared to the crisis suits, they now have +1A and +1LD. Their points cost has remained unchanged, i.e. they are 10 points costlier than the new crisis suits, but allow the Commander to auto-pass Lookout, Sir! tests instead of passing them on a 2+ and have the statline of Shas'Vres with the added bonus of being able to take items from the signature systems list. But because you can only take one of each, and because the Commander has no points limitation in how many items he may take from the list, and because the items do not occupy any hardpoints, I see no reason why you really need the Crisis Bodyguard instead of simply attaching the Commander to a team of 3 suits.
Stealth Suits have been overhauled. At first glance, they look like they took a nerf, for two reasons: First, because the overhaul to the stealth field generators means the chance of an enemy unit not being able to shoot at them at all, is a thing of the past now. Rather, they have a constant 50% cover save in the open now, and this drastically improves if they are behind cover to begin with. Secondly, because in the old codex I used to field a 3 man unit with upto 6 gun drones, using the drones also benefiting from the stealth field as meat shields to soak up wounds while my 3 burst cannons continued to blaze relentlessly. Now that tactic is gone, as the maximum amount of drones you can have is two, but on the other hand two Gun drones net you the fire power that four gun drones used to in the past. On top of that, you have the Burst Cannon buff, so the firepower of my unit has stayed more or less the same.
Upgrading the Stealth Suit team leader to a Shas’vre is now a must. The additional attack is a mere gimmick, the LD9 is neat, but the real reason behind this is it allows your squad to take up to two Drones. The Drones act as additional ablative wounds for the unit, and also benefit from the Stealth and Shrouded special rules. Not only that, but the ‘Vre upgrade also allows your team leader to purchase a Markerlight and Target Lock, as well as a Homing Beacon. Since stealth battlesuits come with built-in multi-trackers, purchasing a markerlight and target lock (bought as one for a mere 5 points) is a must-have as it allows your Shas’vre to shoot his weapon AND the markerlight at a unit, and thanks to the target lock, this unit can be a different one from the one the rest of your stealth suits are shooting at. In combination with the Fusion Blaster this is particularly nasty, as your ‘Vre can fire at a tank and also paint it with his markerlight while his team mates train their Burst Cannons at an infantry squad nearby.
If you give him a Homing beacon, and you are keeping a unit of, say, Fusion-blaster Crisis suits in reserve, they can now deploy without scatter and, thanks to the markerlight on the already damaged tank, can now fire at +1BS with their own Fusion blasters and quickly finish it off. The question of course remains, whether you want to start the game with your stealth suits deployed or whether you want to keep them in reserves as well. If you decide for the latter, the homing beacon will only work on the following turns, as any reserves modifying equipment needs to start the turn on the battlefield for it to modify any reserves on that turn. Finally, because each stealth suit can purchase a Support system, it is a good idea to have one of your other suits take a drone controller so the two drones you purchased have +1BS – especially useful if those drones are going to be marker drones. Note that even if another suit in the team has a drone controller, the two marker drones will still have to fire at the same target as the ‘Vre is, as he purchased them and he has the target lock. The ‘Vre’s support system can be an Advanced Targeting System. Since he is a character, it means his Fusion Blaster gets a +16.66% chance of doing a precision shot, which is not bad at all, given the Fusion Blaster’s high Strength and low AP
– especially since the support system is so cheap. Played wisely, the stealth suits make for a highly annoying, highly mobile unit that isn't as fragile as one might think, and has the potential to tip the scales of battle just ever so slightly in your favor. You can, of course, take a full squadron to maximize the amount of burst cannons paired with that solid 3+/4++ cover save in the open, but I like to operate with a minimum size squad that helps other squads out just when they need them.
The Riptide is probably the coolest model in the entire Tau range, heavily inspired by Gundam and obviously a seller. What’s more, gameplaywise it’s a must-have in almost any tau army too, so this model WILL sell. It is great at dishing out firepower, even better at surviving enemy firepower thanks to its plethora of wounds and excellent armor and invulnerable saves (potentially a 2+/3++) and also great at mobility – it can deep strike, JSJ
and generally be very mobile. In short, the Riptide is the living embodiment of the Tau Empire’s Art of War. Apart from its main armament it has access to upto 2 battlesuit support systems, of which the Stimulant Injector is almost a must buy as keeping your Riptide alive for just one more turn can often turn the tide of battle. Despite being a single model, the Riptide also boasts enough firepower to also make the Velocity Tracker an upgrade worth considering, especially when taken in combination with the Heavy Burst Cannon. On the other hand, the Ion Cannon with twice the range is also worth pairing with the Velocity Tracker so Flyers won’t feel safe anywhere on the battlefield when a Riptide is present. If your local meta doesn’t have flyers, then the Advanced Targeting System or Counterfire Defence System make for great purchases as well, as they dramatically increase the Heavy Burst Cannon’s effectiveness when it comes to forcing wounds on models of your choosing, or inflicting that much more damage during overwatch. The vectored retro-thrusters also give you a 66.66% chance to escape from close combat if your Initiative 4 drones are still alive (otherwise 33.33%). While the Ion Accelerator is the weapon of choice when facing TEQ
armies, there seem to be four reasons for considering the Heavy Burst Cannon in an all-comers setting – first, the Gets Hot! mechanic. If overcharging the Ion Accelerator you end up rolling a 1, you lose the whole pie plate and inflict zero damage onto the enemy, but on the nova-charged Heavy Burst Cannon you only lose those shots that roll 1. Secondly, Monstrous Creatures – against T6, with the nova-charged HBC you will be scoring 3 wounds, 1 of which will be AP2, while with the Ion Accelerator you’re only looking at 1 AP2 wound. Thirdly, markerlights – the HBC benefits a lot more from each markerlight than the Ion Accelerator. And finally, overwatch. You can’t use the Ion Accelerator’s fancy low AP
big blast marker when you’re about to be charged by enemies, but the nova-charged HBC makes for a very good overwatch weapon – 2 hits guaranteed (and markerlights can seriously up these), and 6s are rending so they will result in more dead terminators than the AP2 hits scored by the 3 shot non-overcharged Ion Accelerator snapfiring. If you take the Velocity Tracker upgrade, the Ion Accelerator can strip off 1 HP
at best, while the nova-charged HBC will strip off 3 Hull Points on AV10 guaranteed. In light of all this (and what you will be frequently facing in your local meta), the HBC is just as viable as the Ion Accelerator.
Now while these are some convincing arguments for the HBC, note three things: 1) every time in the paragraph above, I was comparing the regular or overcharged Ion Accelerator with the nova-charged Heavy Burst Cannon. Which means you are putting your suit at high risks – not only are you guaranteed to receive 2 Gets Hot! wounds every time you fire the HBC at this state (with a 16.66% chance of failing each of these two saves), you also have a 33.33% chance of failing the nova-charge to begin with – and you receive a wound with no armor saves allowed for that (though you do have your FNP
save, if purchased), not to mention that your HBC’s firepower is only 66.66% of what it would otherwise get boosted to. The chance of getting an unsaved wound from overcharging (not nova charging!) the Ion Accelerator to get the AP2 large blast marker on the other hand is negligibly low. On top of that, the Ion Accelerator one-ups the nova-charged Burst cannon in terms of infantry-killing firepower when it is overcharged (unless on the rare occasion that your opponent is spacing out his guardsmen 2” from each other) and also enjoys a far greater range. Lastly, it isn’t necessary to nova-charge the Ion Accelerator, so this leaves the nova-charge slot free for other use – like upping your invulnerable save in an environment where a lot of AP2 weapons are pointed at your suit. So in short, the nova-charged HBC is only better than the overcharged Ion Accelerator against MCs
, Flyers, during Overwatch and when both suffer a (or more) Get’s Hot result(s) in terms of still being able to dish out damage, but obviously worse when it comes to survivability and range. If you are playing Farsight Enclaves, consider giving the Earth Case Pilot Array upgrade to any HBC-equipped Riptide.
To Shielded Missile Drone or not to Shielded Missile Drone, that is the question. Their BS
is horrible, and while they do act as additional ablative wounds for the 'Tide, they are appropriately priced. However, note that they are T6, so that's something. Regarding the support system for the 'Tide, something worth mentioning is just how useful EWO
can be - especially when taken in conjunction with an Ion Accelerator. Did those terminators deepstrike and are about to empty everything into your Riptide? Not today. Watch the color drain from your opponent's face as you place your S8 AP2 large blast template directly over the heads of his 225 point unit before it even got a shot off. The Riptide doesnt get to shoot next turn? No problem - you can use it to charge any stragglers. You are a MC
, after all.
Firewarriors decreased by 1 point, come with photon grenades and are no longer a 1+ Troops choice. No complaints from me. The Shas’ui team leader can now purchase a markerlight with target lock, but cannot purchase a multi-tracker to be able to fire both his pulse rifle and markerlight, as used to be the case in the old codex. Apart from that, nothing has changed, except that Pulse carbines now have double the firepower, once again creating the Pulse rifle/Pulse carbine dilemma. So you are looking at – movement included – 1 shot upto 36” and 2 upto 21” from your original starting position vs. 2 pinning shots upto 24” from your starting position. So essentially, the Carbine introduces pinning and increases your dual shot capacity by 3 inches, but subtracts 12” from your max range and grants you the ability to shoot and charge…but since you already have photon grenades and are TAU WITH A CRAP INITIATIVE, this is absolutely pointless – even though you gain a handful more attacks, you actually deny yourself an overwatch and become the victim of the opponent’s overwatch. I think I’ll stick to my Pulse Rifles as pretty much everything has LD8 or more today. Taking Drones has become slightly more useful now, as their Initiative of 4 will essentially allow your entire squad to escape a sweeping advance on a dice roll that is improved by 2 (as long as the drones are alive) compared to a pure Firewarrior squad. It will also help you from becoming the victim of blind tests. Consider taking a single drone as an insurance policy for maxed out Firewarrior squads you do not want to lose if they survive the enemy charge. In all other aspects, I still love my Firewarriors. 6th edition has greatly benefited them, with being able to move and shoot once upto full range, or twice upto half range, which is 15” now. They have overwatch, heck, they even have supporting fire. Firewarriors are the equivalent of space marines in my book.
Kroot dropped by 1 point and gained a 6+ save, but are no longer Strength 4. Not that it matters much to me anyways, as I always used them as a pillbox unit. They gained the Move Through Cover USR
, and thus benefit when moving through non-forest difficult terrain as well. Unfortunately, their Kroot Rifles no longer give them an additional attack during close combat, rendering an already weak CC
unit that got weaker due to the loss of Strength completely, utterly useless in H2H (very unfluffy) but on the other hand, Kroot can now snipe…for a negligible points cost, they can turn their Kroot Rifles into sniper rifles with a Kroot Rifle’s range, forfeiting their rapid-fire capability to be able to improve their long range effectiveness on opponents with T5 or greater and get a 16.66% chance per hit to negate MEQs
and termies’ armor saves, but remember that by doing so they get worse against T3 enemies. Everything else has stayed the same...well the Shaper has goone down to S3 as well, but dropped in points quite a bit, making him an affordable upgrade (adding 2 more wounds to the unit, 2 more attacks and most importantly, upping the Kroot LD
. Since he is a character, he can arguably also protect your Kroot from getting slaughtered by a vicious Independent Character by issuing a challenge and sacrificing himself). Finally, something that shouldn’t be overlooked is that Kroot Rifles are AP5 in close combat now. Hardly relevant, but it does deny certain hordes their 5+ armor saves, including Gaunts or on the rare occasion that you find yourself fighting Guardsmen.
Kroot Hounds and Krootox Riders have been nerfed – the former also losing a Strength value and the latter losing both 1 wound and 1 attack, but their points costs have gone down respectively. Kroot Hounds allow your Kroot squad to re-roll what table edge they are arriving from thanks to Acute Senses, and similar to the Firewarrior squad taking a Drone, the Kroot Hounds allow the Kroot almost guaranteed escape from a sweeping advance by raising the Initiative needed to a solid 5. Kroot Hounds are also Beasts, so if all Kroot Carnivores are killed, they remain a scoring unit that can now move around 12” each turn, but perhaps the more likely and more useful thing about this special rule is that because 6th edition allows you to move up to your maximum range without breaking unit coherency, you can grab an objective that is up to 15” away from a Kroot unit that has at least 3 Kroot Hounds in it by moving the 1st hound 12” and onto (or within 3”) of the uncontested objective, the 2nd one 2” behind the first, the 3rd one 2” behind the second, and then the rest of the Kroot 2” behind the 3rd hound. That way your Kroot will have moved 6”, and your hounds can utilize their maximum movement range, allowing for a look of shock on your opponent’s face when you snatch an objective he previously thought was impossible for a footslogging squad to be able to in 1 turn. And while the Krootox has been nerfed, 6th edition has hugely benefited the Kroot Gun, and it’s probably the most long range rapid-fire weapon out there, so your Kroot squad can surprisingly hurl out six S7 shots for a total of 75 points up to Bolter range or three S7 shots at Lascannon range, making your Kroot squad a light vehicle hunter if you so wish, even capable of hurting Monstrous Creatures that have charged your Kroot in close combat, but I like keeping their costs down and thus don’t take the Oxen. Overall, the Kroot have gotten better at shooting, but are no longer even worth considering for close combat. Note that they do not possess defensive grenades.
The charm of the Kroot squad comes in the fact that you can field huge amounts of them. 20 Kroot and 10 Hounds led by a shaper will cost you 185 points, an LD8 unit with 32 wounds that can infiltrate, move through cover, outflank (re-roll), and claim an objective 15” away as long as enough hounds are present. Add in three Krootox (making it 260 points and 38 wounds in total) and they can take potshots at the side armor of tanks while outflanking as well. When charged at full strength, they can respond with 20 S3 I5, 22 S3 I3 and 6 S6 I3 attacks all at WS4. Of course, their weaknesses are T3, 6+ armor save and BS3, but a single markerlight counter can hugely improve their damage potential.
The Devilfish has stayed the same in terms of points cost, but the "Warfish" option (i.e. upgrading the Devilfish to a SMS
) has become cheaper now: the upgrade only costs half as much, and on top of that, you now get a tl
, not just a SMS
. In addition to this, the Devilfish can take upto 2 seeker missiles now, which can now also fire without a networked markerlight guiding them. The multi-tracker and target lock upgrades are gone, so no BS4 warfishes now that can move 12" and fire at normal BS
, and the disruption pod upgrade is 10 points costlier (well it was too cheap in the old codex anyway), so if the Devilfish has been buffed or nerfed is hard to really say. An old codex warfish could, in 6th edition, move 12" and after firing at BS4, land 4.66 S5 AP5 hits. The new warfish, if stationary, can land 5 S5 AP5 hits, and in addition to this, fire both its seeker missiles. On the move, it can either fire 1 seeker missile, as well as the tl
and burstcannon as snapshots, or fire the burst cannon, and then the tl
as snapshots. Nevertheless, it still remains a solid transport in the 40k
meta - not as overpowered as a Wave Serpent, but not as fragile as a Rhino, Taurox or Chimera, either.
Pathfinders no longer have 4+ saves, but one worse, bringing them more in line with the artwork and lore – they are scouts and recon teams, after all, and not frontline troops. They now come with photon grenades (no real use here – if they get charged, they are dead anyways) and cost 1 point less, and have a lot more options, including no longer being forced to take a Devilfish, so that’s a big plus point right there. However their special marker beacon Devilfish is gone (replaced by a rather expensive Recon Drone that, when you embark a Devilfish, essentially gives the transport its abilities, so the aforementioned is not really gone). The Rail Rifle upgrade no longer comes with target lock, has increased by 5 points AND has lost 6” range, BUT it is now a rapid-fire weapon. So your squad can move and shoot (thanks to 6th), and if it does, it will reach the old range anyway – but the best thing is, while they used to be AP3 in the previous codex, they’re now AP1. This not only makes the Pathfinder squad dangerous to terminators especially when they are in rapid fire range (raise the Pathfinders’ Ballistic Skill up before firing by making use of markerlights e.g. from a nearby Firewarrior squad led by a Shas’ui, and then you are looking at upto 6 shots wounding termies on 2s and watching them struggle to pass their inv
. saves), it also makes them dangerous to light vehicles due to the AP
. S6 means you are glancing Landspeeders on 4+, and since a lot of light vehicles are open-topped, all you need to worry about is achieving a penetrating hit on that Eldar Vyper or Ork Trukk and then the vehicle will explode to smithereens on a 3+. If you’re not facing MEQ
armies or Tyranids, but things like Imperial Guard or Necrons, kit 3 of your Pathfinders out with Ion Rifles…they are also rapid fire and have an easier chance of passing armor penetration (including penetrating AV12 and stripping Hull Points off AV13 vehicles) but don’t get any bonus on the penetration roll. Not sure what to make of the overcharge, though... BS
3 means the blast marker will scatter around a lot, and you also have to worry about Gets Hot, let alone that your weapon is Heavy now. At the end of the day, the question is: do you want to give up your 36” markerlight / 2 S5 18” shot dual profile for one of these weapons? If facing MEQ
, I’d trade them in for the improved Rail rifle, but wouldn’t bother with the Ion Rifle though it might look great at first on paper.
Your pathfinder team can take 3 sorts of Drones to accompany them. The Recon Drone helps units in reserve, the Grav-inhibitor drone only marginally keeps you from being assaulted (waste of points) and the Pulse accelerator drone is useful if you aren’t wielding any special weapons and are fielding a maxed out squad of Pathfinders (for 160 points, you’re looking at a unit led by a Shas’ui and 2 Gun Drones fielding 10 markerlights and moving and firing 24 pinning S5 shots upto 30” away from where you stood…yum). Attach a Fireblade to the unit and you’re looking at 36 pinning S5 shots coming from this unit…now put a markerlight or two from another squad onto the target your unit will be firing at, and I’ll guarantee you not much will be left of it.
Drones have been improved in that they have marine toughness now. I have no idea why GW
implemented this, but there you have it. Not only that, but their Initiative has been upped to 4 as well, so they aren’t as bad in close combat as they used to be. Not that you’d want them to get stuck in one in the first place. The Drone squad, while being 2 points costlier than before, can now also have any number of Shield Drones and/or Marker Drones in it, making for a very versatile unit. In fact, I prefer this unit over Pathfinders to get my fill of Markerlight spam for four reasons: one, their increased Toughness (and Initiative), two, their improved armor save (compared to this edition’s Pathfinders), three, their ability to move and shoot with their markerlights thanks to having the relentless special rule, and lastly, the ability to throw in a couple of shield drones to keep your markerlights protected. Of course, you lose the scout and outflank abilities the Pathfinders bring to the table, have a worse Ballistic Skill (orky!) and also do not benefit from the Pathfinders’ unique wargear options, but for a straightforward markerlight unit that can move and shoot its lights, the drones make for a great and mobile supporting squad. Note that just like crisis suits, drones can JSJ
, meaning sticking a commander with 2 drones and a drone controller to this unit will make all of the drones (we’re talking about up to 14 drones here, people) BS5. Even better, taking 5 Piranhas as a Fast Attack choice (200 points), detaching all 10 drones (they form one unit) and then attaching the Commander with drone controller and 2 drones to them nets you 12 BS5 TL
-Gun Drones (the drones themselves are worth 120 points), and you are left with 5 Burst Cannon fast skimmers having 6 HPs
, 5+ jink saves and spewing out 20 S5 shots on their own for a total of 80 points.
The Markerlight has had some changes made to it. To begin with, the Leadership penalty when making a unit test for pinning is gone, which really sucks. What’s more, the ability to spend a markerlight counter to make a squad ignore Night Fighting is also gone, although with the amount of blacksun filters available to the Tau I doubt anyone will miss that particular markerlight ability. The -1 on Coversaves ability has been redone to now completely negate cover saves by spending 2 markerlight counters, which is certainly an improvement if you are tired of those Shroud/Stealth units hiding all over the place. However, I would have liked for more markerlight abilities to have been made available in this codex and find this spartan rewrite as a wasted opportunity regarding the thing that makes Tau armies so unique from the rest. E.g., I would have wished for a markerlight ability to allow me to add +1 to the vehicle penetration roll (spend before attempting the roll). Would be fair. Or another one to make an enemy unit test for Blinding (shining a markerlight in your face would have that effect, after all) or reduce the Initiative of a unit getting charged by 1. But anyways, that’s that I guess.
With the upgrade to the Pulse Carbine and Burst Cannon’s weapons profile, the Piranha has now become a nasty vehicle. Unfortunately, it is no longer viable as a reliable tank-hunter because the Piranha has lost the chance to upgrade its Ballistic Skill through a Targeting Array…and a BS
3 Fusion Blaster just won’t cut it, especially when you land right next to a tank you want to see gone and you only have 1 die roll, never mind having to pass armor penetration and also roll appropriately well on the vehicle damage table. But on the other hand, as mentioned before, the Piranha now makes for an excellent infantry hunter – With the new Burstcannon and the new twin-linked Pulse Carbines, you are looking at the total firepower output increased from 5 to a staggering 8…that’s right… EIGHT S5 shots, FOUR of which are slightly better than BS3 and cause pinning. With a front AV
11, you can tactically use the Piranha to harass infantry without so much as getting scratched by their weapons in return. And if the opponent wants to hurt you, he’d have to waste his bigger guns on your…what? 40 point skimmer that wards off 33.33% of hits? …rather than targeting your larger tanks and transports? Fine by me. However, note that the Piranha still only has an effective range of 18”, so you have to get into the “uncomfortable zone” to pepper infantry with its S5 fire. Take a squadron of these and you can seriously go to town on a GEQ
hunting spree especially because ALL of them will benefit from a single markerlight counter (we’re talking about 40 S5 shots here and 5 front AV
11 fast skimmers with a total of 10 hull points that withstand small arms fire (when positioned properly) effortlessly and have a 33.33% chance of warding off Lascannon hits) – all 5 of them for the price of a Stormraven is pretty impressive. Even a squadron of three is effective, clocking in at around the points cost of a Hammerhead whose Submunitions can, at best, score anywhere between 0 and 10 hits and a further 3.55 from the TL
compared to the 3 Piranhas’ guaranteed 12.66 using their own unmodified BS
– even against Monstrous Creatures, while the Hammerhead can only dish out 3.55 + 0.66 and the Ionhead 3.55 + 2 against MCs
although unlike the Piranhas the Ionhead has the ability to take out Space Marines. Granted, Piranhas are still viable as tank-hunters if you field a squadron of 3, especially because the Fusion Blaster has gained an additional 6” range now and 3 more inches melta range – slap a couple of seeker missiles on them and use your army’s markerlights to up their Ballistic Skill and you’ve got yourself a dangerously mobile AT
unit (given the demise of Broadsides’ S10 Railguns and the newfound usefulness of the Hammerhead’s Ion Cannon to hunt MEQs
en masse making the Railgun option less lucrative, AT
-Piranhas have become more important than ever before), although in this configuration the firepower of the Gun Drones is wasted. In this case, detach the drones and have them go hunt/annoy something else. Remember that detached drones from vehicles do NOT award victory points, and also are not required to be killed to obtain the vehicle's victory point. Just thinking about it, 2 Gun Drones cost 24 points. If you subtract the cost of the two gun drones from the total cost of a Piranha, what you're left with is an AV11 fast skimmer bearing a Burstcannon for a ridiculously low 16 points. SIXTEEN!!!!! Giving it the Fusion Blaster means you got yourself a BS3 AV11 fast skimmer with a 50% chance of getting dangerous to tanks for 26 points...wow. You want to down that thing? Go right ahead. All in all, the Piranha is a very stylish, and very viable unit in 6th, more useful in squads than alone, especially when combined with markerlights. Bottom line is: YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH OF THESE!
Vespid Stingwings have increased by 2 points per model, and their Strain Leader has increased by 6 points, but they have been buffed. To begin with, all of them are Initiative 6 now. What’s more, they’ve gained the Hit and Run ability. Both improve their chance of making it out of a close combat if they get charged. Alternately, they can now move, shoot, charge and then disengage at the end of the opponent's combat phase to repeat the process during your following turn, though 6th edition's overwatch has made this business less lucrative. The Strain Leader has also gained 1 attack. Their armor save has improved to 4+, which is awesome, as it makes them more survivable on the field than Swooping Hawks, given their increased toughness. Furthermore, they have gained the Stealth (Ruins) special rule, so giving these guys a 3+ cover save is pretty easy to do now – thanks to Move Through Cover and their mobility, you can make sure your Vespids are hard to hit. However, note that they aren’t Jetpack infantry, so you still won’t be able to JSJ
. Now while Vespids don’t really contribute in any way to a Tau army (massed AP3 firepower can be found in other places, such as on Ionheads or Riptides, and Crisis suits can deliver it as well with the same measure of mobility while also being effective against tanks), I think Vespids are cool models that add to the alien covenant theme of the Tau Empire and thus, like fielding them next to my Tau and Kroot, and am happy that they no longer suck as hard as they used to in the previous edition. Oh and to top it all off, their Neutron Blasters have increased range by a further 6”. So all of these changes for a mere 2 points extra per model is worth it. But in light of the fact that pretty much everyone else around them in the Tau codex (and in the 40k
meta in general) has gotten a boost in 6th edition, they are just as useless as before. They add nothing that a Tau player needs. Now Pathfinders, Crisis suits, Ionheads, Riptides, all of those add tremendously to what a Tau player needs. Heck, even Piranhas are useful. Vespids are still only purposeful at killing Marines, and Marines only. And even there they suck due to each Neutron Blaster only being 1 shot and at BS3. Think about it - a 10 man squad costs 190 points, and while it is reasonably mobile (12" movement, deepstrike, move-through-cover) and tough (T4, 4+save, stealth in ruins), its unaided firepower output is ridiculously low - 10 shots, 5 hits, 3.33 wounds - so 3.33 dead Space Marines outside cover, otherwise usually only 1.66 dead (the latter not even enough to force an LD
check on a 10 man Space Marine squad).
Now lets say that Space Marine squad (10 members, armed with a HB
and a PG
, totalling 165 points, i.e. 25 points cheaper than your Vespid squad) strikes back at the Vespids, you have 6 Bolter shots (they have taken 2 casualties, remember?), 3 HB
shots and 1 PG
shot: 2.88 dead Vespid outside cover, otherwise 1.3 dead Vespid if they are in 3+ cover giving ruins. And this doesnt take rapid-fire range into consideration, in which case the Space Marines would fare much better. So as you can see, even if they do the alpha-strike, a full 10 man squad of Vespids can only gradually wear down a tactical squad and their only hope is to shoot, assault, remain in cc
all throughout the opponent's turn (to prevent him from shooting them) and then disengage at the end of his assault phase and repeat the process to get the most out of your Vespids. So let's try that again, shall we? We assume the Vespids shoot once, then get shot at (as demonstrated above), then shoot again and charge in during Tau turn 2. So copy the results from above (let's say the Vespids got lucky and moved into ruins before they got shot at), but now we are in Tau turn 2: 8 Vespids shoot (1.32 dead space marines) and then charge. They receive overwatch (8 bolter shots, 3 HB
and 2 PG
shots (0.937 dead Vespid)) and then the marines get to strike first as the Vespids charged into cover: 7 S4 AP
- hits with WS4 against WS3: 1.16 dead Vespid. The 6 surviving Vespids strike back: 0.72 dead space marines. We'll call this a tie. Come Space Marine turn, the combat continues, this time the Vespids strike first due to I6: 0.72 dead space marines, and the 4 space marines strike back: 0.625 dead vespid. The 5 Vespids disengage. Next Tau turn, they shoot, rinse and repeat. As you can see, this is a very simplistic example where many things were not factored in, such as challenges, morale tests, potential rapid-fire or failed charge, alternate use of Vespid jump pack to gain HoW
attacks etc. and all kills were always rounded up. But you can clearly see how the Vespid struggle to even take down one tactical squad - supposedly their juiciest target. Everything else from terminators to assault marines to light infantry makes them even less worth their points. And as finecast models they’re not cheap either. Verdict – don’t take them unless you like their looks/fluff.
Razorshark Strike Fighter
The Razorshark Strike Fighter is the first of two Tau Flyers completely invented for this codex. Why they didnt include already existing flyers like the Barracuda or Remora is beyond me. There's something about the aesthetic of these flyers that puts me off - I think it's the long bars connecting the wings with the tailfins - why did GW
do this? The flyers would have looked much better if these didn't exist. But even then, the Tau flyers have a very bland look about them that really doesnt entice me into including them in my army.
Anyways, the Razorshark is your standard run-of-the-mill 145 point flyer with relatively paper thin armor (think Piranha, but with 1 more hullpoint) and usual mediocre Tau ballistic skill, but sporting 2 seeker missiles, a burst cannon (can be exchanged for a missile pod for a couple more points) and a Quad Ion turret. The Quad Ion Turret can either give off four S7 AP4 shots or a single S8 AP4 large blast upto 30" away if you overcharge it. The Razorshark has access to the vehicle armory, but I cant seem to find any useful upgrade for this flyer. Except Decoy Launchers. Decoy Launchers are a must for Tau flyers. At 3 points, they are a steal. They protect your craft from being blasted off the skies by Quadguns, HBC Riptides sporting EVOs etc. The disruption pod is pretty much useless, as it only gives it a default 6+ cover save in the open and when forced to evade, allows it to evade on 4+ instead of 5+.
The Razorshark's biggest strength is in its anti infantry role of dropping a high strength, large blast template each turn on unsuspecting infantry. Against flyers, it can move upto 36" and still launch 6 S7 AP4 shots as well as 2 S8 AP3 shots, all at BS3. After that, its anti-flyer firepower will be limited to 6 S7 AP4 shots at BS3.
Sun Shark bomber
The second flyer is a bomber. It is 10 points costlier than a Razorshark having replaced its burst cannon with a missile pod. The Sunshark Bomber also comes with 2 seeker missiles and a missile pod, but for these extra 10 points, the quad ion turret is replaced with the pulse bomb generator that basically drops a large blast S5 AP5 bomb each turn until you roll a 1, and it also comes with 2 interceptor drones each carrying a twin-linked Ion Rifle. These drones can disembark anytime during the Sun Shark's movement, can turbo boost and also have the skyfire special rule. Lastly, the Sun Shark Bomber can upgrade its missile pod to a twin-linked missile pod for very cheap. As if all of this wasn't enough, the Sun Shark Bomber also comes with a networked markerlight. In my opinion, the Sunshark Bomber is more worth its points cost than the Razorshark Strike Fighter, but keep in mind that 7th edition's changes to skyfire mean that the drones are that much less useful than they used to be in 6th. Still, if you are going to take a Tau flyer, take this one, as it has both anti-infantry (of course, not as potent as the overcharged quad ion turret, and it has to fly over the target squad to drop the bomb) as well as anti-flyer weapons - the total firepower output from a Razorshark is the S5 AP5 large blast bomb, 2 seeker missiles, as well as 2 tl
-S7 AP4 shots at BS3 and 2tl-S7 AP4 shots at BS2 (2 from the missile pod, 2 from both ion rifles). 7th edition has rendered overcharging both ion rifles nigh-useless unless it's the rare scenario where you are firing them at a skimmer.
The downside is that the Sun Shark Bomber can only move 18" if it wants to fire with both interceptor drones at normal BS
, while the Razorshark Strike Fighter can move upto 36" and still fire everything at normal BS
The Hammerhead can choose between 2 Gun Drones, a twin-linked Burstcannon or a twin-linked SMS
– I’d take the TL
, as it has the biggest range of the lot. I have no idea why people would take anything other than the TL
… the no-LoS
, 12" additional range (6” more than the SMS
already had over the Burst Cannon in the previous codex) and the fact that it now costs the same as the TL
-Burstcannon, along with its cover save ignoring capability makes the TL
mandatory. What does the TL
-Burstcannon offer? Nothing. At least it’s better than the Gun Drones because it has a better Ballistic Skill. Actually, wait. Gun Drones do have a use. Since Hammerheads no longer have access to multi-trackers in the new codex, the moment they move they can only fire 1 weapon at normal BS
and the other as snapshots. If you take Gun Drones instead of TL
, you fire at the Drones' normal BS
even if you move upto 6" since they count as passengers firing from firing points (even though tau vehicles have none). And since moving is SO important (otherwise no jink save, remember?) Gun Drones are viable. I won't do the math, but I believe when moving, 4 twin-linked pinning shots at BS
2 are better than 4 twin-linked SMS
cover-save ignoring shots at BS1, although admittedly the latter has 12" extra range. To circumvent this, simply detach the drones and have them fool around the battlefield as bait (Kauyon tactics, people! Kauyon tactics!) If the enemy wants to wipe them from the battlefield, he needs to waste the entire firepower of one of his squads for 1 turn. And when they die, they yield 0 VPs
. On the other hand if he keeps them alive, they will continue to fire at him long after the Hammerhead originally bearing them has been destroyed, even going so far as to prevent his units from charging your guys by positioning themselves in their way (remember that during movement, enemies have to stay 1" away from your models).
-Burstcannon on the other hand, very much is useless (well actually, there is one use…you see, unlike the Gun Drones, the TL
-Burstcannon offers a 50% chance to become the target of a weapon destroyed result, sparing your Railgun or Ion Cannon, but it's still worse than the SMS
which can also fulfil this purpose). If the designers had made the TL
-Burstcannon the only option that came for free and the Drones and TL
option cost 10 points, it would have been fair regarding all three loadouts. Now everyone will always kit their Hammerheads out with the TL
or the Drones. Of course, if you remember, TL
-Burstcannons used to be a very good choice in the old codex as they probided the biggest amount of firepower (they used to be 2 Burstcannons back in the day, providing 2x 3 S5 AP5 shots, and with the multi-tracker upgrade your Hammerhead used to be able to move 6" and fire everything at normal BS
) Oh well. Submunitions is also a must for your Railheads…again, I have no idea why they made it a separate option in the first place, given that the points cost for this vital upgrade is ridiculously low – it’s not like taking it will prevent you from using solid shot anyways. See, these are the kind of codex mess-ups I don’t get.
Moving on…the Ion Cannon is now viable again. Although its base profile still is very underwhelming (unless you are facing MCs
), its Overcharge ability can bring the hurt (and insta-kill threat) to large swathes of MEQs
and I’d definitely think twice about taking a Railhead over an Ionhead when facing MEQ
armies from now on. I just wish the Ion Cannon’s regular profile had 1 more shot and -1S so it became more effective against MEQs
without accidentally becoming a light tank hunter (would be overpowered then).
Finally, let’s examine Longstrike. Ah, yes. Longstrike. This guy is a must have in games above 1k as you simply have to make sure you can bring the enemy’s armor down before it causes your army serious damage. And despite having access to the most powerful long range anti-tank weapon in the meta, the Railgun can still miss or not manage to penetrate a Land Raider. This is where Longstrike comes in handy. By upping the BS
of your Hammerhead, Longstrike also grants it the ability to re-roll failed armor penetration rolls. It isn’t as good as receiving an additional D6
for the armor pen roll, but still a lot better than failing your roll and being forced to wait till next turn to have another go. Longstrike also has Preferred Enemy against IG
, which is great, because facing a wall of AV14 Leman Russes is exactly why you’ll want to take this guy. Longstrike also has a few other tricks up his sleeve, including coming with Blacksun filters (read: sun shades) by default because he needs to look cool when blowing up tanks (and see in the dark). He can also have his Hammerhead fire overwatch and supporting fire, and the best thing is, he can fire overwatch more than once. Keep some Firewarrior squads around this guy and the enemy will think twice about charging headlong into them. Finally, the Hammerhead’s ability to purchase two Seeker Missiles becomes a must have if Longstrike is present – with BS5 you really can’t go wrong, and being able to re-roll failed armor pens means those missiles will be deadly. If you’re facing Dark Eldar or Orks, taking the Ion Cannon instead of the Railgun is the better option as you now have 3 shots instead of 1, all of them being able to re-roll failed armor pens. Also remember that against AV10 and AV11, you can fire your secondaries such as the TL
as well, and they also benefit from Longstrike’s tank hunter ability.
While I was hoping that the Skyray would gain an alternate firing mode to its missiles resembling its anti-infantry barrage in Dawn of War (S4 AP3 small blast would have done nicely per Seeker missile), it was not to be so. Instead, it dropped by 10 points and, thanks to the Seeker Missile overhaul, can INDEPENDENTLY fire ALL of its six Seeker Missiles at once if it wishes (though no longer at unlimited range) as long as it remained stationary, making it that much more potent against Monstrous Creatures (while in the previous dex, it could only fire upto 2 on its own due to its 2 networked markerlights). It is also the only vehicle in the Tau armory that comes with the Velocity Tracker upgrade, meaning it uses its normal Ballistic Skill to target flyers. And with 6 seeker missiles it is a must have if multiple Flyers – especially more resilient ones like Stormravens, or MCs
are part of your local meta (although Broadsides will do nicely against the latter as well). It is also the bane of FMCs
. If you play wisely, you can take down up to 2 Flyers with this tank, more than just earning your points back. What’s even better is that with the Velocity Tracker upgrade, it can continue to help bring down Flyers long after its payload is spent by painting them with its markerlights, which can then be spent to up the BS
of a non-skyfire unit firing at said flyers by upto 2 - works great with Broadsides. Because the markerlights are networked, the Skyray can also use it to boost its own BS
before firing its Seekers, or if both hit, deny the Flyer of its evasive maneuver jink save. Whats also funny is that even after the Skyray has fired all its Seekers, if it continues to paint surviving FMCs
with its skyfire markerlights, they'll have to keep taking grounded test. Its markerlights can also be used to launch seekers from Devilfish at the other side of the board, completely out of LoS
, at BS5 toward non-flyer, non-FMC
units (or they'd only be hitting on 6s). It is unfortunate that the Skyray sits in the same section as Hammerheads do, because IMO
you can never have enough Hammerheads, especially given how useful Ionheads have gotten in this codex. At games under 1000 points I would definitely not recommend this tank, as the Hammerhead and Ionhead are too good to pass up.
Broadside Battlesuits got changed…on one hand, the solid shot TL
-Railgun on their backs got nerfed in that it is only a twin-linked Heavy Rail Rifle now (-2S and -12” range) but on the other hand they gained access to a twin-linked high-yield Missile Pod, which is better than the TL
-HRR 7 times out of 10. The other three times when the TL
-HRR still retains its edge is its ability to insta-kill multi-wound T4 and T5 units (think Ogryns, Necron Destroyer Lords and such), its extensive range (+24”), its ability to penetrate AV
13, strip Hull Points off AV
14 and of course, it’s +2 bonus on the penetration damage roll table. Oh and the fact that the HRR holding Battlesuit model looks infinitely cooler than its autistic HYMP
cousin. Also the fact that most people would have to go to the store and buy the new XV-88 line to be able to field a WYSIWYG HYMP
logic…no wonder the HYMP
has been made so enticing – I bet it will get nerfed next edition).
Sniper Drone Team
The Sniper Drones suck. They absolutely, positively suck now. Sure, the drones themselves gained the Jetpack Infantry unit type, and with 6th edition’s unit coherency rules, they can JSJ
while the spotter hides behind LoS
blocking terrain to make for an invulnerable unit (at least until the enemy changes position to get LoS
), but then you can’t shoot the spotter’s markerlight. Because the spotter’s markerlight is BS5 now, and due to his drone controller, the Ballistic Skill of the sniper drones themselves is also BS
5. However, the nerf comes from the fact that they lost their Stealth Field Generators. In the previous codex, these generators allowed enemies to only fire as far away as 2D6x3 when targeting the Sniper Drones, meaning a team at max range (36”) was nigh impossible to shoot at, and even an opponent who was closer was still in a dilemma whether he wants to try shooting at them and potentially waste his unit’s shooting, or fire at someone else, given the average shooting distance at a unit with SFG was only 18”.
At least the Stealth Suits got both the Shrouded and Stealth special rule instead of the stealth field generator, meaning a solid 4+ cover save in the open (2+ in ruins, 3+ in forests) at all times can be considered a worthy tradeoff for the SFG. The sniper drones on the other hand, don’t even have that. They only have stealth, meaning 3+ cover saves behind ruins, or 6+ in the open. And not only this, but their guns were nerfed as well – gone is the 36” S6 AP3 pinning rail rifle. Instead, they fire AP5 sniper weapons at 12” more range now. Granted, they are rapid-fire, but that’s hardly scary at all. Finally, given the boost that most other Heavy Support units got, these guys just cannot compete in the HS
section anymore and will probably be reworked in the next codex, i.e. in 6 years’ time.
Perhaps their saving grace comes in the form of them being relatively cheap (just slightly costlier than an average drone) and, most importantly of all, being able to field up to 9 drones in a single Heavy Support slot. These two combined make for a 9 drone team almost always the only viable option to occupy one of the Tau Empire's extremely valuable HS
slots. Because 9 sniper drones (+3 firesight marksmen) will cost around 174 points, which is roughly the price of a Hammerhead tank with several upgrades. 9 BS5 sniper shots at upto 48" range are a thorn in a tyranid MC
player's side. 18 BS5 sniper shots at 24" are a serious threat to him. And 27 BS5 sniper shots when guided by an Ethereal are his living nightmare. Let's do the math, shall we? At 24", 27 BS5 shots means 22.5 hits, means 11.25 wounds. Arguably, two of those wounds are already AP2. That leaves us with 9 wounds, which on a 3+ armor save, cause a further 3 wounds. So from this volley you're already looking at 5 unsaved wounds caused on average. This can bring down most MCs
(including Wraithknights and Riptides) in a single turn of fire, as they now have 3 markerlights resting on them which can be used by one of your other units to finish them off. Of course, the problem is that sniper drones are a niche unit that works wonders only against a specific enemy (MCs
) and more importantly, few players have 9 sniper drones lying around (which is really the only viable way to field them now...any less would be a waste of a HS
slot) and thus, this once again proves how GW
wants us to go to their stores and empty our wallets even more to keep the stuff we have at home competitive.