I left off last on the war gear of the Tau and how 6th edition changed them and suggestions and insights to how they can be used. Now, I shall cover the units of the Tau, how 6th edition changed them, and some suggestions on how to use some of the units in the codex. Is there a write or a wrong way of playing an army? Not really. These are merely suggestions and a few guidelines for you to consider.
(First half of article can be found here: http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Tau_in_the_6th_Edtion! )
Units of the Tau
You need one for your army, might as well set them up well. Actually, in my honest opinion, the Tau have some of the BEST HQ choices around. I always field two. Not all their HQ choices are good, and you have to be careful how you set some of them up.
Crisis Suit Commander
You MUST take one, so why not make it two? I find these are some of my most powerful units on the field. If I can spare the points, which I normally make the room for, I make them Shas'o. Though a Shas'el is still great to have. Slap on an experimental weapon system on them, some twin missiles (just in case and for fliers), and you have a really big threat. Add in some more from shield drones and they are still mobile, easy to hide behind stuff, and have enough punch to have your opponent hunting them down and despising you. I prefer the Airbursting Fragmentation Projector and Twin Missile pods. With that weapon system set up, I have literally had my opponent's cursing the name of Tau for several turns. The key is to stay on the move, find where all the blocking line of sight terrain is, shoot at them, and then duck behind something they can't shoot at you through and laugh at their frustration.
Do be careful, with the new Jet-pack movement, it's a random 2d6. So move as little as possible to get a shot off, and if you roll high, try to position yourself somewhere else that's safe. I also tend to use my own vehicles to my own advantage for this. Duck behind the Hammerhead at the last moment, I cover it's weak back, and it covers my deadly, and very annoying crisis suit.
Your commanders are great, so don't be afraid to make them great. I always field two of them, as they are one of the few units in the Tau codex that actually has a good BS. Everyone else tends to have a low BS.
Crisis Suit Body Guard
Honestly, I personally find little to no use for these guys. I prefer my Crisis Suits as solo characters. Being singular makes them so much more annoying for my foes, and all the easier to hide them. I'm sure having a large squad of them has its benefits. With the new wounding system, you can't spread out the wounds because they all have different wargear. So, in the end I tend not to take them. But they still aren't bad.
Personally, unless it's a named HQ, don't bother. I find it more enjoyable, watching my opponent try to pin down my hiding suit. Rather than sneak a shot in on one because they all can't hide behind this thin wall/building/vehicle. Can you take them? Sure. They have their uses.
That said, one use for a bodygaurd team, being made up of Shas'vre battlesuits, is to take hardwired multitrackers. This frees up a hardpoint on the suits for target arrays to boost the unit's BS by 1. This is great for players who do not like running markerlights, or even for players who prefer to dedicate their markerlights to reducing cover rather than increasing accuracy.
(Please. If you have suggestions, state them in the comments section. It's there for a reason. Adding in "crisis suit build names" that are abbreviated and no one had any idea on what it is doesn't help. Got it? Things should be explained, not a short hand added in because you know what they are. It's like calling marines with no upgrades vanilla marines. If no one explains the terminology, then no one will know what you mean!)
Seriously, don't even look at him. Look the other way. He isn't worth it at all. He has more penalties to being taken than advantages.
He can make your Tau stubborn, which I don't think has changed. Stubborn only helps in the assault. Don't make me laugh. Tau? Assault? I don't think so. He lets all Tau re-roll failed moral checks when in sight of him. The only advantage I've seen with him is making a squad of Honor Guard at 2 points more a fire warrior and giving them +1 to their BS. Not all that threatening compared to just a normal Fire Warrior Squad.
Now if you didn't have to take a Crisis Suit Commander, than he could be a very cheap HQ giving you more points to flood the field with something else, but he isn't. So, just skip over him. Seriously, if you want a second HQ, take a Crisis Suit commander. He'll cause far more damage. Not to mention if the Ethereal dies, all Tau must make a moral test or start running... and that means your whole army has a chance to run clean off the board if your huddled in your deployment zone...
There is a tactic floating around under the new 6th edition rules for 'preferred enemy' (which now works for rerolling 1s in shooting as well as close combat). By using a suicide ethereal and keeping all of your units inside buildings and vehicles, every Tau model on the field passes the price of failure check and is given preferred enemy. This tactic has not yet been heavily tested, but has been considered by many. (Once more, COMMENTS DUDE! COMMENTS! Don't just add it in! Yes. I've thought of this myself. And your buildings would have to be bunkers and no ruins for this to work. But that is still a lot of risk for very little gain. My suggestion, don't bother, not worth the risk nor the points. And it depends upon your enemy falling into the trap as well by killing said Ethereal. If they don't...)
You have to take at least two of them, as normal. No changes here.
Fire Warriors just got weaker, yet stronger. I'll start with the Strengths. The Pulse Rifles are their best weapons. Strength 5, 30 inch range, and can now shoot full range and still move. This is going to help the Tau stay on the move away from their foes. They got weaker because they lost the target lock option to actually make the Marker Light the team leader can get useful. So, get them out cheap and max out the squads.
Right now, fire warriors are your basic way of getting lots of guns on the field fast and cheap. You wont have anything special or overly powerful with them, but strength 5 guns can still hurt, a lot. Keep them out of assault range if you can, and expect to just lose them if they do get assaulted. It's just how it goes.
I typically fill in my two slots of fire warriors and move on. Is this the best thing? Maybe, maybe not. Could you field more of them? They are useful. There is no right nor wrong way to play, or set up an army. There are things that work, things that don't and things that are just different. Find out what works for you and your playing style.
Target locks are back in. And with them reappearing for the Tau, using your Fire Warriors as Marker Light support teams are back in. I typically field a squad of 6 Fire Warriors with a team leader. The team leader typically has a marker light and a target lock. Have the Marker Light aim for the big fish, and let the Fire Warrior team shoot at what it can hurt. I typically will fire with my Fire Warrior teams first, than the rest of my weaponry. Determine what needs to me marked, and use either a Sky Ray or Hammerhead (or some other big gun) being boosted by the marker light.
My concept normally runs with having a few teams of 80 point Fire Warrior teams, and use them to marker light targets for my Sky Ray. This way, I can have up to 6 seeker missiles shooting off at targets. Normally the Sky Ray is useless on it's own. However, being able to unload it's payload in a single turn can be rather intimidating for my opponents. If one seeker missile fails, launch another. And another. Till something gives. Marker Lights can also work very well with a hunter/killer squad, like a group of Stealth Suits and Gun Drones. Raise thier BS to 5, and watch the wounds pile up.
Laugh. Hard. All set? Good.
These are the Tau "assaulting" unit. Seriously? Yup. They cost more than orks do, have about them state line as orks, but have no armor unlike orks. And you heard right, we pay MORE for them. They can get larger than an ork squad though, gain +1 to cover saves from forests and can infiltrate if they don't have the big guys with them.
However, if you really want to field them, large is the idea. They have the same BS as fire warriors, so they can still shoot. Their guns shoot at 24 inches instead of 30, are rapid fire (so don't shoot if you intend to assault, but other than that), and can get kroot hounds and Krootox Riders. Hounds are fast and have more base attacks, but no range, and the Krootox has a very nice, large gun on them, as well as high strength in the assault.
However, to field them effectively in a large enough squad, is expensive. I could think of many other things I could sink those points into that probably would be more effective. Play them? Maybe. I haven't yet. But if they assaulted someone without being shot to death before hand, even terminators shake at the number of attacks heading their way... no one wants to get close to the kroot blob. Instead, they want to shoot them, and they do. Easily.
Take? Maybe. Worth it? Maybe. Depends upon your playing style. Personally, I've never played them, and I prefer the Fire Warriors. But I have considered them a couple of times already. So maybe one of these days I'll grab them and play with them. They aren't too bad, just expensive for their points and suck like Tau do in the assault for the most part. However, get them into a forest, and then don't suffer any movement penalties, as well as get +1 to their cover save. That means, in a forest, they can have a +3 cover save. So they can be just about 7 point space marines, so long as they stay in a forest and don't get flammered. And now, you also get to place your own terrain on your deployment zone, making getting a forest to walk through a little more likely.
Here is where I have fun, and come into a problem personally. I really love my elites for the Tau. The Crisis Suits are really nice, but I want to field them as squads of one. Then you have the very nice stealth suits. They aren't as nice as they once where, but they are still very nice units. They just.... changed is all. However, there are only those two options, so compared to most codexes, you don't have the options that they do. But the Crisis suits are extremely flexible in their load outs.
Very nice. Like the commanders. However, I tend to field in small squads of one. I might add in some shield or even marker drones, but for the most part I field them specifically as a harasser unit. They pop out of nowhere, shoot, and then hide to avoid damage. I pester, annoy and whittle down my opponent's forces with them.
Their shear flexibility makes them even more useful. I can set them up to take on almost any situation. And it only costs 5 points to make them a team leader and be able to select normal wargear, including those Hard Wired Multi-trackers, drone contollers and sometimes even a Blacksun filter. This leaves the support slot open for a Targeting array.
Only complaint I have is, despite their flexibility, they are expensive and only get a few shots per turn. Most shots I tend to get are four, though I have my exceptions as well. However, in other areas, they are great. I've got a saying where, if for some reason my opponent thinks he's already won, I tend to say "I still have one Crisis Suit on the field, I can still win". And I've done so to before. I've literally have won with only one crisis suit left to my name on the field. They couldn't catch up to it, and I wrecked their entire force with it. It can happen. often? Probably not. But often enough for me to have come up with the expression.
Overall, consider how you set up your crisis suits. A good plasma rifle is great for lower armored vehicles and heavily armored troops. A mass hoard? Not so much. Missile pods are great for vehicles up to AV 13, and threaten everything else at a range of 36 inches. Bust cannons are close range, maybe too close, but do have three shots. A Fusion Blaster could wreck a vehicle and you leave your foe open as you are back into hiding, unable to be shot at in return. Decide what you want the crisis suit to do and make the weapons match. I always pair up a short range weapon with a long range weapon, as then I can at least shoot as they approach.
Some of my common signature load outs for my Crisis Suits:
Hotshot: Twin Plasma rifle, missile pod. Role: Anti-heavy infantry.
Longshot: Twin Missile Pod, plasma rifle. Role: Anti-flier, light vehicles.
Solis: Twin Fusion Blasters, Plasma Rifle. Role: Anti-tank, close range support.
Eclips: Twin Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster. Role: Anti-armor/tank. Mid Range Support.
Commander Nitescar: Air Bursting Frag Projector, Twin Missile. Role: Anti-air, anti-hoard.
Commander Starlite: Cyclic Ion Blaster, Twin Missile. Role: Anti-air, Anti-hoard, anti-heavy infantry.
I don't get many shots, but they are very good at what they are designed to take down. And every weapon is balanced by a longer range weapon, so no one suit is overly specialized to only one task, but can still take on other tasks as needed.
If I do field them in groups, I also have a few formats for that too, though they aren't named yet. I either set up for max fire power, or max accuracy. Right now, I run squads of three with a missile pod, burst cannon and multi-tracker. I still try to hide them, but they can each get up to 5 shots a piece. The other format I use for teams is a single twin-linked weapon system. Normally I use the missile pod for its flexibility and strength. With some cheap support system, such as a black sun filter or flamer. The idea here is get it out cheap, try to hit when it counts, and get as many out as I can. A flamer would be taken to help ward off an assault, and the black sun filter would be to fill in the last system port and to help out in night fighting if a long range weapon is taken.
I've also contemplated deep striking tactics with a crisis suit team, but have never done it yet. If combined with a Pathfinder devilfish, as well as the fact that now deep striking is a lot easier and more forgiving. However, I still prefer to keep everything on the field for the most part. With tau's long range, you normally can still do well even without the surprise of deep strike, not to mention, you are probably out gunned on the other side of the table and could use every gun you have on turn one.
A lot of changes has happened here between 5th and 6th edition. So be careful. If you loved these guys before, you might still like them, or you might hate them now. Read up the changes to their stealth field generators, but the basic is that they get a 4+ cover save, as well as +3 to any cover saves they might have (eg 5+ ruin becomes 2+).
Anyway, they are still good to take. They are like mini-crisis suits, but short ranged and more limited with their weapon options. However, they can form some really nice squad sizes when mixed with Drones. They have infiltrate, outflank and can even deep strike if you needed them to. So they have a lot of nice options. Not to mention one out of every three can upgrade their burst cannon to a fusion blaster for a couple more points. Well worth it to make them able to sneak up on those tanks and pop them.
I find I tend to field these in a few different ways. Either they are specialist hunters, massive fire power, or marker teams. Each has their goods and their bads.
As a specialist hunter team, they have fusion blasters equipped and their goal is simple, kill this target or die in the attempt. If we succeed and then die, all is good. They normally with infiltrate or (now) out flank to get behind, or near the vehicle being targeted soon. From there, they shoot as the target with that fusion blaster and blow it up, or die in the attempt. It's suicidal, but if it works, then it could save more Tau in the long run. These will also be very small teams, so ensure as few points are being wasted if things go wrong. After all, they are 30 points a piece.
Massive fire power is setting up a smallish squad of stealth suits, and then adding in as many gun drones as possible. The idea is to spam as much fire power out as possible, hoping to crush the enemy force with sheer number of guns. They work best when someone else can marker light the target, but they can still do good damage on their own. However, they are expensive to field for what they do. The jet-packs help with mobility, but fire warriors can also do this fairly well, for less but also for less guns per squad.
A marker team has a three man stealth suit team, and either three to six marker light drones in their squad. They select a target, if I am also fielding massive fire power teams, I improve their BS. Either way, I hide this team in cover and take advantage of that new cover save boost. The problem? All those marker lights have to mark the same target. There is no split fire for them. And the stealth suits are being paid for with weapons, and not actively firing them. Plus side, great support and can designate a target for death.
I'll admit, I haven't played with the fast attack options, but a couple of them do look interesting. I'll have to update myself on their rules, but I can give a quick run down of them anyway...
Gun Drone Squadron
Lets face it, these guys look neat, but they don't have much punch. Besides being a choice for other squads to take, it really isn't much of an option on their own. Though now they are Jet-pack infantry, which means the change of 2d6 movement in the assault affects them. Problem is, their BS is 2, with only twin linked Pulse Carbines. Those Pulse Carbines aren't worth it. They only have one shot each and might have a small chance of pinning someone. The best part of these guys is the fact they are twin linked pulse carbines.
Though credit has to be made when due, they can deep strike and are some of the better assaulters in the army. You heard me. Even with weapon skill 2, they can at least stall someone in an assault. They are cheap enough if you need to, you can screen your real fire power with them so people have to assault them first. Otherwise, leave them to squad with someone else, like Stealth Suits...
They are fire warriors with Marker lights. Good, but kinda expensive. They come with Pulse Carbines basic, but can upgrade a few of them to Rail Rifles, which are really nice weapons. The biggest ouch for cost with them is the fact that they must purchase a Devilfish. Devilfish aren't bad, but for a few marker lights, and a couple of rail rifles... it's a tad costly. Though their devilfish has a couple of nice benefits, it doesn't out weight the cost of the squad. If I want marker lights, I'll just bring in an equally expensive stealth team and put them in cover.
They have their uses, and I personally haven't used them yet. I know they can be extremely handy in a pinch, and the models do look really nice, but I don't feel they are worth their points. Once again though, I want to play with them before I could too much more on them. On paper they look decent enough to take. Give them a try and see if it works for you.
Fast. Very fast. They are nice for what they are, and are great at search and destroy missions. Best at aiming for either small squads of infantry, or vehicles designated as needing to be destroyed no matter what. They can't take much for hits, so don't plan on them living for very long, especially with only two hull points. They can take either a burst cannon or a fusion blaster as a primary weapon, and gun drones come standard as their secondary. They don't really cost too much and can quickly close the gap or move where needed within a few turns. They can also take many of the upgrades from the vehicle armory, which can help them survive a little longer.
Personally, I've never played with these guys. They always look so interesting, but I don't see them being overly useful. You have to get so close to your opponents, and once you do, your exposed and vulnerable. I wouldn't mind a few for collection sake, and wouldn't mind fielding a squad sometime, but for now, I'll steer away from them. With two hull points and 10 armor for the most part, it's just going to be wonderful looking smoking heap.
Take them? They can work well. They have their place in the army and can be nice to have. A must have? You don't need them. They aren't a make or break item for a Tau army list.
If you really want assaulting, these are the guys to take. They are jump pack infantry (haven't checked errata on them, but I'm fairly certain of that) with anti-space marine weapons on them, good initiative and a decent weapon skill. Their greatest weakness is their weapons short range. However, if you get them with these guys, it's going to hurt.
Most people I've talked to consider these guys a waste of time and nothing short of a suicide squad. But, I tend to feel differently. I own none of them, and have never played with them, but they can make an intimidating screen for your army, and can actually hold up a marine squad on the charge if they need to. If you can get them where they need to go, and can cover them as they get there, it can lead to a lot of pain on your opponents. However, they don't have much armor...
These guys are fast, are likely not to take wounds when going into terrain and can really cause some damage. Consider, but other options might make for better choices. This one really just depends upon how you play your army and what you want them to do.
The life blood of the Tau. This is where your big guns are, and your best choices for your army. My personal opinion, I tend to fill my elites and heavy support right up, and then flush out higher points with more fire warriors and maybe something else. Now it would be allies... but I'll get into that later...
These are now little gems of a unit. They have great armor, heavy weapons and the best part, they can now move and still shoot those weapons. It might be at a BS of 1, but it's better than before. So now, due to these nice rule changes, these guys are not the heavy lead weights in your army force that they once where.
I tend to play my Tau defensively, on the move and always trying to minimize casualties on my end. These guys use to be a lead weight that couldn't move and ended up either dieing, or taking half my force out trying to protect them. I actually use to drop these guys for Hammerheads, because hammerheads could at least move and still shoot. Even if they where more expensive and only had a single shot of their guns.
However, now I want to take a full squad, each with multi-trackers and plasma rifles. The plasma rifles are in case they need to move as a reliable weapon, and the railguns are the guns I really try to hit them with. Take a few shield drones to flush them out with more defense, put them in a building somewhere and fire away. And if someone gets too close, you can pull back while shooting back here and there. Managed to charge them? They still have twin linked weapons...
These guys are also your new monsters with wings hunters. That twin linked railgun will shoot them out of the air. It might not have sky fire, but the twin linked ability at least gives you the best chance you can without having sky fire.
Essentially, try to take one. They work well. Are they vital? More or less. They wont hurt for you to take them, but you could live without them. I've played a lot of games without them and done fine. Do I want them in my army? Yes. Yes I do.
Sniper Drone Teams
Big changes, same as with the stealth suit teams. Their Stealth fields have changed, and this change really helped them improve a great deal. Put them in cover with their long range rail rifles, and fire away. You have a +2 cover save, and your opponent is dropping like flies. Add in the Networked marker light increasing drones BS to 4 and that really can be some hurt.
Bad parts? They can't really move, unless you want to snap fire those guns. And for the number of shots you get, they are kinda costly. 80 points for three damaging shots. Where as 60 points of fire warriors can have 6-12 shots... good point? It may only be 3 shots, but they are three strength 6 shots at AP 3.<==(Drone controler makes them all BS5..they only have longshot pulserifles..48' strX Ap:5 Rapid,Sniper and no pinning after the book got out in 6th) That could be three marines dead. And they do have pinning too. Wouldn't count on it, but if you can pin a force down, even for a turn, it might be helpful...
A must have? Never had them before, but I think these guys are going to play a larger role in the Tau army than they once did.
Though, they did lose their target locks, which is kinda minor really considering what the stealth fields are now doing for them...
It's a 13 AV front vehicle that can take a few hits, has 3 hull points and can get some of the best weapons in the codex. It's a really nice, but expensive vehicle. However, I think it's still worth it to field at least one in a battle force. That rail gun can still punch through a landraider/monolith with fairly good ease, and being able to launch a large blast template at smaller infantry squads can certainly cause enough damage. Often times, I use this to draw a lot of fire power away from the rest of my force, or even use it as blocking cover for a crisis suit to hide behind.
Watch out for the upgrades. I know it's tempting to bog down this with every upgrade you can get on it, but try not to. Select a couple and go with it. Cheaper might be better for these now than before, as now they have hull points and all it takes are three glancing hits and you've got a pile of wasted points. I suggest
disruption pods and a multi-tracker as a must. Each increases the vehicles survivability rate and makes it far more useful and worth it's points. It's even has the jink rule , I'd rather rely on that 5 point disruption pod.<==(Now the pod adds up +1 cover even to kink) Sensor spines can be good if you are playing a heavily terrained table, but isn't necessary. Seeker missiles depends upon your playing style, but if you have some marker lights in your army, and have a few spare points to toss them in, I'd consider it at least.
Don't forget that the templates being spat out of that rail gun are strength 6, perfect for popping a large number of swarm models, like Tyranid ripper swarms, Necron Scarabs, and the like. Most of them have toughness 3, so the strength 6 is an instant kill, along with it being a template causing double wounds to swarm models. This is the reason I suggest always fielding one.
Final options: Still a good vehicle to take, and still a powerful piece on the field. The new hull point rules makes it less survivable than it once was, but no more than any other vehicle is now. Still expensive, as all Tau vehicles seem to be when compared to the newer codexes, but not so expensive that it isn't worth it. Good as a support or line breaker, but not as a primary, get as many as you can, unit. Its one of your better/best units in the codex for what it can do, but it only gets so many shots, is a large target and can still go pop without too much trouble. So don't flood the field with them.(hammerhead is a mobile way back armour unit waiting to markerlight his target. Until then just fire submunitions =p..His Jinx+Pods will make sure only 50% of the shots connect)
Sky Ray Defense Gunship
The hint here should be in the title. This vehicle is like the Hammerhead, but more defensive. It doesn't have the same fire power, but can survive about as easily as the Hammerhead does. It's thing is it depends upon other units for target acquisition. With a payload of seeker missiles on board, it can cause a lot of damage fast, or none at all. Purely dependent on it's marker lights and the marker light support of other units in the army. This is not a stand alone piece, but instead relies on an army being made around it.
Same warning about upgrades for this one, though I recommend about the same as the Hammerhead upgrades. Careful though, this one doesn't have free reign on what it can take, but can only select from a small list. Don't bother for the most part with Blacksun filters, this vehicle doesn't need line of sight to shoot off it's seeker missiles. Just a marker light hit to launch them off.
These can be nice, or they can be near useless. It all depends upon your army, how you field them, and luck. If you can launch off all six missiles from the Sky ray before it blows, you did good. I'll take the sky ray as a weapons platform, and try to launch all six missiles at important targets on the first or second turn. There is no limit to the number of shots you can launch in a single turn. All it takes is a marker light to hit and you can launch one missile. It's good for fast response and support. And after the missiles are done, you can charge in close with a multi-tracker and burst cannons as some more small fire power and marker support vehicle. Or, even hide it behind large buildings and shoot from cover the whole game with Smart Missile Systems and let everyone else launch it's missiles.
Basically, flexible, viable and can be a lot of fun. But it can also be weak, useless and just not useful if it can't seem to shoot off those missiles, or blows before it can unload it's payload. I might take this in higher point matches, to fill in a gap of points if I needed to, and only after I already have a hammerhead for the most part. If you haven't played with one yet, I'd say give it a try. It isn't up for everyone's style, but it is fun. Actually, I've been known to field this instead of a hammerhead some times and just cause devastation on the first turn with a marker light army. However, there is risk with that kind of an army, and once you're out of missiles, you're out and having to try to press the win with what's left.
I'd say it's worth looking into, but there probably is better out there. Completely dependent on your army roster. Most people are going to want to just field a Hammerhead and call it good. Afterall, Hammerheads can fire their own weapons and don't have a limited ammo... (but do need line of sight and exposed to incoming fire).
Special "Named" HQs
Unlike a lot of the newer codexes, or space marines, or orks... the Tau Special HQs tend to... well... suck. They could have been a lot better, but they are old, suffer from odd penalties and can't be taken unless you field a force of at least 1500 points in size. Basically, they are showing their age like the rest of the codex. For the most part, 6th edition didn't really help them out much, if at all. A few special rules here have changed, a couple of things there have changed. But from what I can tell, it's still all minor.
Aun'va, Master of the Undying Spirit
He's an ethereal. Yup. We got another ethereal. Remember my last comment on them? Still applies. Hes a little better, but for 205 points? I'd rather take a crisis suit commander for less and get more from it... seriously.
He does have some interesting rules though. And I do have to give him credit, he doesn't look too bad in close combat. Well, he SUCKS at it, but his two body guard doesn't seem too bad at it. They have counter attack, is strength 5, 3 attacks base, toughness 5... but still stuffer from Initiative 3. Weapon skill is 4, which is one of the best I've seen so far. They also have a +4 cover save as well. Not too bad...
Here's the killer and stupid part about him... he gives all Tau stuborn. Seriously? Unless it's changed, I haven't read it yet to be honest, it only helps you in the assault. Tau. Assault. Are they joking!? And if he dies, all Tau have to take a test, he is an ethereal after all. Any Tau who takes the test gain favored enemy (like a normal Ethereal) and Furious Charge special rules... wait? Tau? Assault? Was that another joke? No? Great...
I wouldn't personally bother with him other than as a collector's piece. He is cool looking, but useless in the game. I can think of so many other ways to spend 200 points in the army. Seriuosly. And unless you plan to get him killed just so your Tau can just think about engaging into an assault and maybe coming out almost even... don't waste your time with him. He's a waste of a Special HQ, and he's as useless as any other ethereal. Play him for fluff only, not for anything serious. Maybe as a special capture scenario game with a friend for fun, but... keep him home. With your other ethereals... They are only good for their tea parties.
O'shovah, Commander Farsight
No changes from 5th to 6th. Which is kinda surprising. I thought they would at least change his special rules with his unique weapons or something.
As far as special named HQs, he's not a bad choice. For the whole of the Tau army, he's the only one to actually be good at an assault. Ignoring armor saves helps with that, along with good WS and and initiative of 5. He can rip most anyone he comes into contact with apart. He's not bad at shooting. And if he's attacking a vehicle, he still gets the 2d6+5 to penetrate the armor. Overall, not bad. Add in the fact you can flood a body guard (1-7 of them) around him to buffer some wounds here and there. And he comes standard with a +4 invulnerable save too. Only problem with his high assault abilities is, if he is assaulting and has body guard, he's gonna be risking the body guards in the assault. however, that will make him harder to kill at the same time. And, I can see him causing damage in a challenge...
Some bad points, you'll have to take a crisis suit if you want him on your team. If you don't like them, you wont have a choice. It's mandatory. You also limit yourself to only being able to take up to one of certain unit types, like Pathfinders, skyrays and a few others. He changes things up, which isn't bad, but might not be good. Though, he's one of the best named HQs for the Tau. Did I mention Bonding knives are free to any model able to get them? How does that sound... wait. In the new rules, it's only 25% down from max, so that lost a little power. Though not too bad still. It's free for his army...
Overall, not a bad guy to take. He's worth his points and can actually be your assaulting unit in your army. Would I count on throwing him in the assault? Probably not. But he could if he needs to. Will he make your army an assaulting army? He helps, but he isn't going to make it that great at it. Though, you army does have favored enemy Orks, so you might stand a smaller bit better of a chance against orks, but not enough to make me want to rush up into an orks face. Personally, I'd rather keep my options more open and my crisis suits more hidden. Call me someone who just prefers the standard Tau. Would I consider taking him? He'd be the most tempting of the named HQs for the Tau, and I think he's the best one standing right now.
O'Shaserra Commander Shadowsun
She is another nice special HQ choice for the Tau. She can actually be kinda good in the assault, just like Farsight. Kinda an interesting fact. Besides her higher weapon skill (of 4) and higher initiative (of 4), she has nothing else really going for her for an assault. So try not to purposefully bring her into one.
She has her shield drone, which basically give her extra wounds, she has a command drone, which is kinda nice, but she also has a +4 invulnerable save. With toughness 3 though, she is likely to go splat from weak weapons. She does also have the stealth fields as well, but when you already have a +4 invulnerable save, as well as a +3 armor... it probably wont do as much as it once did. She still keeps her target lock though, and can split fire between two units herself, which is an interesting proposal. However considering she has two separate fusion blasters, she doesn't have the range to really take advantage of this. Unless someone kept their vehicles very close together, she's probably going to just shoot those two guns at the same target. She does have one more nice trick, she counts as the +1 forced crisis suit commander you normally have to take. So you don't have to pair her up with another commander if you didn't want to, she is your commander.
My opinion on her, I'd want to give her a test run first. She sounds great on paper, but I have a funny feeling that the 3 toughness is just going to backfire in your face. A single plasma cannon/gun/rifle/pistol and she's gone. She has 3 wounds and a large chance that they all will go in one shot. The extra saves might save her, as well as the extra wounds from her drone "bodyguard", but you get the point. I also see her short ranged weapons might be a problem, but they are powerful weapons. She's kinda a tank hunter/terminator hunter. I know that 6th edition changed the stealth fields, but I don't get why you would need the cover save and the invulnerable save mixed together. Nothing I know of cuts through an invulnerable save, that you could take a cover save for. So, unless she is hiding in a building, which wouldn't be a good idea for her, she isn't really getting any advantage for those stealth fields she has built in. More waste of points due to codex age...
Overall, I'd say you could consider her. But I prefer my normal crisis suits myself. She's good, so don't get me wrong, I just feel shes a tad expensive for what she does is all. And far too close ranged for my tastes. Oh, and she costs a little more than Farsight. If you had to choose between the two, take Farsight. He just seems better for his point costs. Just my thoughts on that.
Basically, compared to other codexes, our Special HQ choices are nice, but not as nice as say, some of the choices from the Blood Angels, Gray Knights, Space Marines, Daemons, Chaos Marines... I think the only codexes left with HQs about the same as the Tau for their power to points cost is the Eldar and Tyranids for the most part. Though I think the Tyranid special HQs got a boost in the new rule set...
Basically, not much changed within the codex, but the play style itself changed in a little more favor for the Tau. The stealth suits and Acute Senses change the most for the Tau, each providing some goods and some bads with those changes. You pay for things that no longer work, effect things, or where removed as wargear but not as built in pieces you already paid for.
The units that felt these changes the most have been the Stealth Suits and Sniper drones. Crisis suits are paying for Acute Senses now, which they can't use.
Skyrays, Sniper Drones and Farsight each pay for built in target locks, which don't exist. As well as a whole bunch of things that just aren't right anymore. But the overall effectiveness hasn't really gone down because of it.
Personally, I like these changes so far. Many of them have helped the Tau stay out of assault, or be able to defend themselves one final time before they get mutilated by close combat. Overwatch and snap fire shots are going to be very helpful, even if the Disruption pods, target locks and a couple other gear took a hit for it. And don't forget the changes to rapid fire weapons! That's the key for the Tau right now.
I suggest nothing specific. There is no real right or wrong way to play Warhammer. There is a better and a worse way, but no one way is wrong. Go with more fire warriors if you want. Go with more crisis suits. Fields a ton of vehicles still. There is no right or wrong way. Each tactic has it's place, and I'd like to say that the game overall has become more balanced due to the new rules. I'd like to believe that people can now play kroot and do better from the new rules. Or play more crisis suits and move out of the way with more ease.
Play according to your style. If you've read this far down, then you have some suggestions, thoughts and opinions about how I look at the Tau, and how you can play them. Take the suggestions to heart, but don't forget to experiment and make the Tau your own. Make your own opinion about your army, pursue it, and see if it works. It might take a few tries before you find that right combo, that perfect tactic that works for you. Took me three army rosters before I found the right Blood Angel army for me to use. And it's okay. Half the fun is making he army. (The other half is modeling.painting, and the last half is playing the game! Wait... isn't that 150%?)