Tuesday, 30 April 2013

I have a confession!

I feel a little like I'm confessing to having an affair!

David over on Warhammer Tau put out a call for help. He wanted contributors. Now, Warhammer Tau is a blog ive read regulalry in the past, and its a fantastic resource, so I offered to help, and I'm happy to say tht, despite my ramblings on AA, David agreed!

So expect to see some content over on WT from me from time to time. I'll still be posting here of course, but there might be more Space Marine content here, and a little more Tau content on WT.

However, for completeness I want to finish of my initial thoughts on the Tau codex here as well, so I'll be posting up some of my Warhammer Tau content here, so all my ramblings can be found in one place.

So, next up is a post on Marker Lights and the various ML platforms in the new codex, and then I want to go through my thought process on a couple of lists, to see if I can come up with something that will work in the new 'dex.

Marker Light post soon.


Monday, 22 April 2013

It's all About the Tau. Part 8, Heavy Support (Cont)


I never saw anybody use a Skyray in the old codex. The problem was the way Seeker Missiles worked. It just didn’t make sense to use them when you had Broadsides. However, Seeker Missiles have changed, and made Skyrays much more viable.

The Skyray is a Tank, Skimmer BS4  F13 S12 R10. It comes with 6 Seeker Missiles (SM), 2 Networked Marker Lights and 2 Gun Drones as standard. You can swap the Gun Drones for twin linked Burst Cannons or TL Smart Missiles System for free. And it comes with a Velocity Tracker as standard i.e. it gets Skyfire. All for 115pts.

I guess the key to understanding the Skyray, is understanding how Seeker Missiles work. SMs can be fired in 2 ways – using marker lights, or using the Skyray’s BS. If you fire them using the Skyray’s BS, then the also benefit from the Networked Marker Lights. Unlike standard Marker Lights, the unit that fires the ML can use it. So the first thing that fires is the marker light, and the 2nd thing is the SMs. Given the Skyray is BS4, chances are you will get at least one ML hit, in which case, the Skyray can then fire all its missiles as BS5. That’s quite a barrage! The draw back is that the Skyray will need to have stayed stationary to be able to fire everything in one turn.

The second way to fire the SMs is the “old” way, i.e picking up a marker light token. The benefit of doing that is that the SM doesn’t need LOS, ignores cover and fires as BS5, irrespective of the firing units BS. The unit can also move and fire.

The problem with the Skyray is that it’s a bit of a one trick pony. It can unleash a pretty impressive one turn barrage, and has a good chance of killing any flyer in the game in one turn of shooting, but after that, its role is a bit limited!  The only real benefit it has is its Skyfire Marker light. So you can fire the Skyray’s marker light at a flyer, and then use the hits to boost the snap fire of other units (or indeed other marker lights) to kill the flyer. It’s an interesting option if you want to run Broadsides without Velocity Trackers, but still want to use their fire power against Flyers.
Another use for the Skyrays after the shoot their missiles, is as the catalyst for a marker light chain reaction. I’ll talk about this in more detail when I post about marker lights in general, but the basic idea is that you use one or 2 high BS marker lights, to boost a higher number of low BS marker lights, to increase the total number of marker light hits. So, fire the Skyray’s BS4 marker lights at the death star unit for 2 hits, and then your Marker Drones pick up those 2 marker lights, and fire their marker lights at BS4 for lots more hits. You can also do this with Flyers – so the Skyray fires its Skyfire Marker light at the Stormraven, getting 2 hits, and the Marker Drones then pick up the 2 marker lights and fire their marker lights at BS3, generating enough hits for a Hammerhead to fire at the Stormraven at BS5, and, with luck, also ignore cover/jink saves.

But it’s still a pretty expensive platform for 2 marker lights and an SMS!

Sniper Drones

In the last Codex you never saw Sniper Drones, Broadsides were just so much better. Sniper Drones are better in the new Codex, but I’m still not sure they’re better than other options.

Base the unit comes with one Marksman and 3 Sniper Drones. The Drone’s stats are the same as other Drones, but they come with a Long Shot Pulse Rifle. This is a 48” Rapid Fire, AP5 Sniper Rifle. The Marksman is the same as “Standard” Tau, but he has BS5. He comes with a Maker Light and a Drone Controller. You can get 2 extra Marksmen, and 3 extra Sniper Drones. The unit also has Stealth.

There are 3 points to note – you get a BS5 Marker Light, the Drone Controller makes the Sniper Drones BS5, and the rifles are Rapid Fire Sniper Rifles, not Heavy. So 2 shots at 24”. And one added bonus, if you’re running an Ethereal, that’s 3 shots at 24” using Storm of Fire. Not bad for 58pts!

But, if you really want Sniper Shots you’re probably better off with Sniper Kroot.

The use I can see for them is taking 3 Marksmen for 97pts, and having 3 very accurate Marker Lights. They would then be useful for starting Marker Light Chain Reactions, as described above. But, TBH, for 18pts more I would rather have a Skyray!

Maybe in a Shadowsun Ghost Cadre?

Summary, Heavy Support

Yet again IMO, Broadsides are the stand out performer. Hammerheads are OK, but not great. Skyrays are viable now, and may see some use, and Sniper Drones are interesting, but I’m still not persuaded.

OK, that’s the run down of the units completed. I want to do one more “generic” post on marker lights, and then I’ll start thinking about lists.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

It's all About the Tau. Part 7. Heavy Support.

Ahh….now we’re talking. This was always the strength of the of dex (this and XV8s), and it doesn’t disappoint. There are 4 very viable entries, all of which have their place.


In the old ‘dex Hammerheads were my great unrequited love – they really needed to be better than they were for their points… but they were so cool! Well they are essentially the same, although a bit cheaper.  

For 125pts base you get a BS 4,  Tank, that’s also a skimmer with armour F13  S12  R10 that comes with a S10 AP1 Railgun and 2 gun drones. You can upgrade the main gun with a sub-munitions round for 5pts to give you a S6 AP4 large blast. You can upgrade the Gun Drones to either twin linked Burst Cannons, or TL Smart Missile Systems for free. You can also take all the Vehicle Support options I discussed in the Devilfish Review. Upgrading to the sub-munition round (which was free in the old ‘dex) makes it 20pts cheaper than in the old Codex!

Essential load out IMHO is a D’pd and a Black Sun Filter. In the old ‘dex this came to an additional 10pts. In the new dex it comes to 16pts. So it’s really only 14pts cheaper.

So are they worth it? 

Sadly, I’m really not persuaded they are. The question you need to ask yourself is, what can the Rail Gun toting HH do that other options can’t. The only answer really is dealing with AV13+ at range. The problem is they’re one shot wonders. One third of the time it will miss, and, against AV13, it will fail to do anything one third of the time and against AV14, it will do nothing 50% of the time.  

The sad truth is that a Railhead is pretty rubbish at killing heavy armour at range. That’s why until now, most Tau Players brought Broadsides.

One option to make it better is bring Longstrike, the special character Hammerhead upgrade. He makes the HH BS5 and gives Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy IG. That makes the HH much more reliable at killing heavy armour. However he’s 45pts. So your HH now costs 190pts…… and what if your opponent has no heavy armour!

Sorry, but it’s just not worth it IMHO. Which makes me a sad!

The other option is to take an Ion Cannon. This is S7 AP3 Range 60” Heavy 3. Like all Ion weapons you can Overcharge . An overcharged Ion Cannon is Range 60”,S8 AP3 Large Blast, Gets hot. It’s an interesting option. The down side is that Gets Hot is more dangerous for vehicles (stripping a hull point with no save). Might be an option if you aren’t taking Riptides with Ion Accelerators.


Lots of people complained when Broadsides lost the Rail Gun. While this makes me sad, IMHO the High Yield Missile Pod more than makes up for it.

So stats stay the same as before WS2  BS3  S5  T4  W2  Ld8  Sv2+. Basic cost is 5pts cheaper, but they come with Twin Linked Heavy Rail Rifles (HRR) rather than Rail Guns, so Range 60”  S8  AP1 Heavy 1. Smart Missiles systems are still standard, but they are now twin linked. You can swap the Rail Rifles to High Yield Missile Pods (HYMP) (Range 36” S7  AP4  Heavy 4, Twin Linked) for free, and pay 5pts to upgrade the SMS to TL Plasma Rifles. You can upgrade one to a Shas’vre (importantly brings Ld9), and each of them can take (sadly only) one support system. Finally, each of them can take 2 Drones, and crucially, thanks to the FAQ, Broadsides are the only units that can take Missile Drones.

I’ve seen a lot of debate on HRR versus HYMPs. Of course it depends on what you want the Broadsides to do. If you want to murder light vehicles at extreme range (36”+) HRRs are the way to go. If you want to kill TEQ, then HRRs with Plasma Rifles are probably better (although there are better ways to do this than HRR Broadsides). However, for pretty much everything else they HYMPs are better.

The thing is, Broadsides with HYMPs and SMS are just so much more flexible. For 195pts you get a unit that spits out 12 S7 and 12 S5, Twin Linked missiles per turn. That’s a lot to high strength firepower. But here’s the thing, add in an XV8 Commander with Iridium Armour and a Puretied Engram Chip and you get a 4 wound, T5 model with a 2+ save to tank wounds, and your Broadsides can have Tank Hunter or Monster Hunter every turn…..! On average, that’s 13 wounds on a Tervigon if the SMS is in range, or 5 glances/pens on an AV12 vehicle.

And here’s the thing…give them a Velocity Tracker and that’s 5 glances/pens on a Helldrake, or 13 wounds on a Winged Hive Tyrant…..!

Here’s what I was thinking about for the ultimate anti flyer unit. Three HYMP Broadsides with Velocity Trackers and an attached Commander. Give the Commander 2 Missile Pods, a velocity tracker a Target Lock, 2 Shield Drones, the Puretide Engram Chip and the Multi Spectrum Sensor Suite (ignores cover USR). Put them behind an Aegis, with the Commander on the Quad Gun.

Here’s the scenario. You’re playing guard and you have first turn. On your Turn 1 activate the Puretide Chip and select Tank Hunter – kill 2 tanks (remember the Commander has a target lock). On his turn 1 he will shoot at your Broadsides. However, you can tank a lot of wounds on the Commander (remember he’s T5 so Lazcannons do not double him out), and you can also pass 2 onto your shield Drones. It would take roughly 24 BS3 lascannon shots to kill the Commander. He’s likely to survive.

On your turn 2 activate the chip again, and kill 2 more tanks. The chip remains active until the beginning of your next movement phase. On your opponent’s turn 2, two Vendettas come in. The Commander fires the Quad Gun using interceptor and Tank Hunter. He’s unlikely to down the Vendetta but he’ll probably strip a hull point or 2. The other Vendetta will no doubt shoot at your Broadsides. But again, chances are he’ll survive. In your turn 3 the Broadsides will probably kill the undamaged Vendetta, and the Commander (using his missile pods, not the Quad Gun) will probably finish off the damaged one.

Not many units that can kill 2 AV12 flyers in 1 game turn. Now of course this is an expensive unit – almost 550pts if you include the Aegis. However, it’s not like you’re bringing it just to kill flyers. Chances are you’re bringing the commander anyway, and your probably bringing the Aegis as well. The Broadsides are good at killing other things, not just flyers. The only things you’re bringing specifically to kill flyers are the Quad gun, and 4 velocity trackers …. 130 pts to kill 2 AV12 flyers in one turn! Seems worth it to me….!

The only problem is range. The Vendettas outrange you. In theory it’s possible for them to come onto the board and be out of range. In practice this would be tricky, providing you position your Broadsides sensibly. In addition it would screw up their LOS, and may even force them to hover. All good things!

Finally, missile Drones. If you really want to load up on S7 hits take 6 missile Drones with your Broadsides. You’re only getting 4 hits on average, but for 72pts, its not bad. They also provide ablative wounds for your Broadsides. Note, that missile drones do not benefit from a Drone Controller, so no BS5 missile drones! If you want to make them more accurate, give the Commander a Command and Control Node to make them twin linked! If you do that, for an extra 87pts, you then have a unit that puts out 30 s7 shots (including the commander and the Quad Gun), averaging 21 hits (that can re roll to wound MCs or to penetrate tanks!). If you put target locks on the Broadsides rather than Velocity Trackers, the unit can target 3 separate units (Commander and Quad Gun, one unit, the 3 Broadsides another, and the Drones a third).

Of course it snap fires against flyers now, but with that many twin linked shots it’s still averaging around 7 hits…… with tank hunter….. and ignores cover … and you could take a Skyray!

The downside is of course the cost… around 650pts, if you include the Aegis and the Commander. But it’s not just the points cost, it’s the opportunity cost … is it the best use of a Commander and all the signature systems tied up in the one unit?

Skyray and Sniper Drones next.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

It's all About the Tau. Part 6, Fast Attack

Fast Attack is the jam packed slot in the Tau dex – you can take Pathfinders, Piranhas, Drones Squadrons, the Sun Shark Bomber or the Razor Shark Fighter. With so much choice, the 3 slots will be hotly contested.


Basic stats have stayed the same – with one change, they now have recon armour so have a 5+ save rather than a 4+. However, they’ve dropped a point in price and no longer need to take a Devilfish. They come with Pulse Carbines, a marker light and photon grenades as standard. They have Scout and Outflank, but irritatingly not infiltrate!

They come with some interesting upgrade possibilities. Firstly, 3 of them can take either Rail Rifles or Ion Rifles. Secondly they can take 3 new types of Drone.

Rail Rifles are S6  AP1 Range 30” Rapid Fire. Ion Rifles are S7 AP4 Range 30”, Rapid Fire, but can over charge to become S8  AP4 Range 30” Heavy 1, Blast, Gets Hot.

The Drones are - Recon, which gives you a Homing Beacon a Positional Relay and a Burst Cannon, a Pulse Accelerator Drone, which increases the range of Pulse Weapons by 6 inches, and a Gravity Inhibitor which takes d3” from an opponent’s charge range.

In the old ‘dex Pathfinders were your main provider of marker lights (unless you ran Tetras). However, even although marker lights are awesome, towards the end of 5th I didn’t take pathfinders. They had 3 serious limitations – you needed to take a Devilfish, the marker lights were heavy weapons so could not move and shoot, and they were very fragile.

The new ‘dex has “cured” 1 out of 3. You no longer need to take a Devilfish. However, marker lights remain Heavy, and Pathfinders became even more fragile. So they still have serious limitations. I suspect the key with Pathfinders is to decide whether they are marker light platforms or special weapons platforms.

As a marker light platform I’m doubtful. Even although you don’t need to take the D’fish anymore, they still have all the problems they used to have, in particular they are still really fragile – 10 T3 Sv5+ models will evaporate in a  stiff breeze. And you better be sure that anybody who has played Tau will target them turn one. I don’t know about your meta, but I see lots of Thunder Fire Cannons, which will murder Pathfinders.

It’s their role as special weapons platforms that intrigues me. With marker light support, Rail and Ion Rifles are pretty good. And a lack of marker lights makes them a much lower priority target. In particular I think this would work well in Shadowsun’s Ghost Cadre. Three Rail Rifles (for 89pts!) or 3 Ion Rifles (for 74 points) coming in of a positional relay on your opponent’s board edge might be interesting. Alternatively, using Pathfinders with a Pulse Accelerator Drone (supported by Rail Rifles) as a Fish of Fury unit, allowing their Pulse Carbines to fire 2 shots out to 24”, is an interesting option. Add in Rail Rifles for a heavy weapon kick, and that’s a pretty interesting option.


Drone squadrons start off as Gun Drones, but can be swapped to Marker Drones or Shield Drones for no cost. Units of 4-12 for 14pts per drone. So far so dull…however, what makes them interesting is the ability to use a Drone Controller to boost their BS. If you attach an XV8 Commander with a Drone Controller to a squadron of gun drones they all become BS5. Even more interesting is that if you do the same with Marker Drones, they also become BS5.

So 12 BS5 marker lights that can jump shoot jump…..! Give him a Command and Control Node and they’re twin linked…..! Oh and they are toughness 4 and have a 4+ save….! And ybecasue they are relentless, they can move and shoot…! Still think Pathfinders are great marker light platforms?  

A quick comparison – 10 pathfinder will on average get 5 hits so 22pts per hit. Twelve BS5 Marker Drones will on average get 10 hits, so 14pts per hit. And they are way more mobile and way more survivable than the Pathfinders.

This of course does not take into account the cost of the Commander, not does it take into account that you need to tie up an HQ slot to do it. However, chances are you’ll be taking a Commander anyway…..and the drone controller only costs 8pts.

You would need to think this through carefully, in particular, how would it synergise with the rest of your army (i.e. where else do you need the Commander), but it certainly has potential.


Piranhas were a staple of my 5th edition lists as a blocking unit. Zoom it in front of a Land Raider and pin it in place. However, with the introduction of hull points, the loss of the speeder’s 3+ dodge save, and how easy it is to kill them in assault, they’ve stayed in their case since 6th edition came out. But they might make a come back!

Piranhas are a fast, open topped skimmer (F11 S10 R 10) with 2 hull points. They come in squadrons of up to 5 units and come standard with a burst cannon and 2 Gun Drones. For 40pts…….! You can upgrade them from the Vehicle Support System list and give the 2 Seeker Missiles. They can also get a Fusion Blaster for 5pts.

I have the sneaking suspicion that Piranhas might be pretty good! If you keep the Gun Drones on they get 8 S5 shots each. On average 5 of them will hit! They are also highly mobile – move 6” and shoot everything, or move 12”, shoot the Burst Cannon and snap fire the Drones. That’s a lot of mobile Dakka. Compare them to Fire Warriors. A unit of 5 Piranhas cost 200pts and will on average score 25 hits, 8pts per hit! For Fire Warriors to generate 25 hits at 18” you need 50 Fire Warriors, which works out at 18pts per hit.

This of course doesn’t take into account the longer range of the Pulse rifle, and the fact that Fire Warriors score. However, the point is, if all you want is mass dakka, Piranhas are pretty efficient.

Alternatively, give Piranhas Fusion guns for 5pts, and they are a threat to heavy armour. And unlike Land Speeders you need to shoot them with something more than S4 weapons to bring them down.

And they can still block. A unit of 5 Piranhas has a huge footprint (they’re big models), giving you lots of options for getting in the way and blocking enemy movement. They also have a detachable Drone Squadron for even more blocking and movement control. Detachable Drones are better now as they no longer give up an extra kill point if killed after they detach. You could even detach them and then attach an XV8 Commander with a Drone controller making them BS5!

And finally, for 56pts you can get one with 2 Seeker Missiles. Now normally I wouldn’t take one shot weapons – they are a bit hit or miss for me (see what I did there!). However, if you’re taking a squadron anyway, and can guarantee a bunch of marker light hits (say for example you’re running a squadron of Marker Drones with an XV8 Commander with a Drone Controller), that’s a hell of an alpha strike!

Say you’re playing Tyranids, and like 99% of ‘nid lists he’s running a Tervigon or 2. Use the Drone Squadron to light up a Tervigon. If you’re using an XV8 Commander with Drone Controller in a full squad of Marker Drones, on average you should get 10 hits. Then use those marker hits to fire 10 seeker missiles from the Piranhas … at BS5….ignoring cover ….not needing line of sight… while still moving the Piranhas up to 12” for their jink save. Chances are that’s one dead Tervigon (or Manticore, or what ever).

Not saying you should take this combo specifically to create an alpha strike….. but if you’re taking Piranahs anyway (not a bad choice) …… and you’re taking an XV8 Commander with Drone Controller to buff a squad of marker Drones (again, not a bad choice, in fact a pretty good one), 80 extra points for 10 seeker missiles that will nuke one key unit is OK!

Finally, upgrades. I’ve read some people suggesting taking Disruption Pods on Piranhas. Not a good idea IMHO. Problem is you need to take a D’pod on each of them, almost a 50% increase in their points. You can’t (as I’ve heard some people suggest) take it on one Piranha and put it out front to “tank” wounds on its boosted cover save. You’re opponent will just Focus Fire on the Piranhas with normal saves.

 As for other upgrades Flechette Discharges and the ability to fire Overwatch are interesting, but again IMHO, its too many points invested in a unit that should be “disposable”.

So, for their price Piranhas are pretty good, and bring some interesting tactical options.


I have never seen Vespids on the table and do not expect to now. Pass…!

Sun Shark Bomber

I think GW have finally got the message that the “legacy” flyers (i.e. those that were introduced in 5th edition) are over powered. It seems that new flyers are destined to be lack luster at best (god knows what they were thinking with the Helldrake!), and the Sun Shark is exactly that. With competition so tight in Fast Attack, I just don’t see a place for it in my Cadre. It just doesn’t bring anything to the army I can’t get elsewhere.

It’s F11 S10  R 10, so pretty fragile. It can’t hover, so unlike the Stormtallon can’t sneak on in a corner to avoid Quad Guns. Its Pulse Bomb is just silly.

I suppose it can take a decoy launcher (4++ from interceptor fire), and D’pods (4+ jink save) to make it reasonably resilient. It also has a Skyfire marker light which is helpful (the Skyray has 2 however!). The interceptor Drones are interesting, but not that interesting. In an army that has no problem getting interceptor and skyfire in lots of units, it’s not that big a deal.

And the model is a bit naff!

What am I missing?


Another lack lustre flyer. The 360 degree turret with Quad Ion Rifles is an OK weapon, and you can upgrade the Burst Cannon to a missile pod – but that’s still on average only 3 S7 hits per turn. Vendettas are hardly flying off the board in terror!

Again, what am I missing?


A hotly contested slot. I still think Vespids are silly, and I really can’t see the point in the Flyers, which leaves Pathfinders, Drones and Piranhas. If you want massed marker lights IMHO Marker Drones (with a Commander and Drone Controller) are the best option. If you’re looking for special weapons, then perhaps Pathfinders. Finally, if you’re looking for fast Dakka, or a fast threat to Heavy Armour (e.g. you’re not taking Hammerheads), or board control, or even a devastating Alpha Strike, think about Piranhas. 


Friday, 19 April 2013

It's all About the Tau. Part 5 Elites (Cont)


Firstly, let me say that I built and base coated this model over the weekend. It is an awesome model. It’s so well designed, goes together relatively simply and has lots of options for posing it in really exciting ways. Love the model…..the rules on the other hand…. not (yet) convinced.

Stats are interesting WS2  BS3  S6  T6  W5  I2  A3  Ld9  Sv2+ Jet Pack Monstrous Creature. Has a Heavy Burst Cannon (HBC) as standard (Range 36” S6 AP4 Heavy 8) or for 5pts can take an Ion Accelerator (IA) (Range 72”  S7  AP2  Heavy 3 or Overcharged to become Range 72”  S8  AP2  Heavy 2 Large Blast, gets Hot). It comes with a TL SMS as standard that you can swap for a TL Plasma Rifle, or a TL Fusion Gun for free. It can also take 2 shielded missile drones for 25pts each (essential a missile drone with a 4++), which crucially are also T6. He can take 2 Support Systems.

The funky bit is that the Riptide comes with a Nova Reactor. At the start of the movement phase it can charge the reactor. On a 3+ you can do one of 4 things. On a 1 or a 2, you take a wound with no saves (you get FNP if you take a Stim Injector as one of your support systems). The options are

·         3++
·         Move 4d6 in the assault phase
·         Fire your secondary weapon twice
·         Nova charge your primary weapon. If you do this the HBC becomes Heavy 12, Gets Hot and Rending. The IA becomes S9 AP2 Heavy 1 Large Blast, Ordinance.

But it costs 180pts base.

If you are going to run the Riptide to my mind the Ion Cannon is the stand out weapon. With all it’s modes you can deal with pretty much anything on the board. Hordes - large blast. Monstrous Creatures – standard shot. MEQ or TEQ – Overcharged AP2 Large Blast. Armour – Nova Charged S9 AP2 Ordinance Large Blast. The only thing where the HBC might be better is if you want to give the Riptide an Early Warring Override (for Interceptor) and a Velocity Tracker (for Skyfire), and use it is an AA platform. But I think Skyrays and Broadsides do this better.

One interesting use is taking an Ion Accelerator and giving him an Early Warning Override to deal with Drop Podding Marines, or Deep Striking Terminators.

So, if I were to take him, I would pay 5pts for the IA and take a stim injector and an Early Warning Override. But that’s 225pts….! And it’s still only BS3!

However, setting aside the lacklustre BS and the high points, the real problem I have is that he competes for a slot with XV8’s, and I just can’t help feeling that XV8s are better. For the same points I could get 3 XV8s with plasma rifles and fusion blasters, upgrade one to a Shas’vre, give him a drone controller, take 4 gun drones and still have points left over.

Now of course these units are not comparable in the roles they play on the battle field, and I think that’s the point really. It will depend entirely on what you want your elite slots to do. Do you want a resilient sit back and shoot gun platform to support your Gunline – then the Riptide is the guy for you. Do you want a more flexible unit to go forward and support your D’Fish mounted Firewarriors, then maybe XV8’s are the way to go.

I get the feeling Riptides could be really good, but you would need to build your list around them.

But the great thing is……at least we have choices in the Elite Slots now.

Stealth Team

Stealth Teams are pretty much the same as they were in the old codex, but a few changes have happened round about them that make them a little more interesting.

There base stats and costs have stayed the same (WS2 BS3 S4  T3 W1  A1  Ld8  Sv3+  90pts for 3). You can upgrade to a Shas’vre (importantly giving them Ld9) who can take a marker light, a Homing beacon and 2 Drones. You can add 3 more suits. They come with a Burst Cannon base, and 1 in 3 can take a Fusion Blaster. Their suits give them both Stealth and Shrouding and they can infiltrate. Each of them can take one Support System.

The big deal with these guys is that they have a 2+ save in any cover, and a 4+ out in the open.

Like Shadowsun and Darkstrider, I can’t help thinking there is a clever ways to use Stealth Suits that would justify taking them other XV8s or a Riptide, but I’m not sure I can see it. The only thing I could come up with is giving them a Positional Relay, infiltrating them to a far corner, and bringing in some outflanking Kroot on your opponents board edge. But then what?

Like Riptides, I think you would need to build your whole Cadre around this concept (probably with Shadowsun) – might be interesting!


XV8s are still to my mind the stand out units. They are so flexible, and pack a huge punch for their points. You can see them playing a role in any army.

Riptides and Stealth Suits are less flexible. To make them work I suspect you will needto build your Cadre around them.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

It's all About the Tau: Part 4 - Elites

XV8 Crisis Suits.

These were the stand out performers in the old dex and they just got better! Stats are the same as before but they now come 3pts cheaper, and have Black Sun Filters and Multitrackers built in. These were almost auto picks in the old dex (depending on loadout), so in affect, XV8’s are 11pts cheaper!

Weapons are a little bit more expensive across the board (with the exception of the plasma rifle). The options are

·         Fusion Blaster (now an 18” melta gun),
·         Plasma Rifle (S6 AP2 Rapid Fire),
·         Missile Pod (S7 AP4 Range 36”, Assault 2)
·         Burst Cannon (S5 AP5 Assault 4,  18” range),
·         Flamer (S4 AP5)

You can upgrade the suit with 3 items taken from either the weapons list, or the Support Systems’ list. So you can take up to 3 weapons, and the multi tracker allows you to fire 2 in the shooting phase.

At the moment the big question vexing Tau Geeks is whether you can take two of the same single weapon, or one twin linked weapon, and another single weapon of the same kind (i.e. a twin lined plasma rifle and a single plasma rifle). I favour the view that you can from the wording in the new ‘dex, but accept it is not entirely clear. Expect this to be FAQed.

The support systems are the same as for the XV8 Commander

·      Advanced Targeting system. Characters with the ATS make precision shots on a 5+.
·      Counterfire defence system. Allows the user to fire Overwatch at BS2
·      Early Warning Override. Gives Interceptor
·      Positional Relay. If it’s within 6 inches of a table edge (including your opponents!), any outflanking unit can choose to come in from that edge
·      Target Lock. Can shoot at a different unit than the rest of your unit.
·      Vectored Retro Thrusters. Gives Hit and Run USR.
·      Drone Controller. Allows the user to fire Gun and Marker Drones at the users own BS. It does not work for missile drones.
·      Stimulant Injector. Gives Feel No Pain USR.
·      Velocity Tracker. Gives Skyfire.
·      Shield Generator. Provides a 4+ invulnerable save.

You can take 3 suits in a unit, and can upgrade one of them to be a Shas’vre for 10pts. Interestingly the Shas’vre gets an extra attack, and importantly is Leadership 9…… this is where the Junior Shas’el commander went! That extra point of leadership, on such a crucial unit is golden, and well worth the 10pt upgrade IMHO. However, more interestingly he also gets access to the Signature Systems. However, unlike a Commander, or a Shas’vre bodyguard, the signature systems counts towards his 3 choices.

As a reminder, the systems are;

·      Neuroweb System Jammer. Any unit within 12 inches has the “Gets Hot” rule when shooting
·      Onager Gauntlet. The user swaps all his attacks for one S10 AP1 attack. The thought of an XV8 punching holes in a landraider makes me smile!
·      Failsafe Detonator. If you die you blow up. Bit silly really.
·      Repulsar Impact Field. D6, S4 AP- hits on any unit assaulting the bearer or his unit at I10. Not really worth it IMHO.
·      Command and Control Node. If the bearer does not fire, all models in his unit re roll “to hit” until the end of the current phase.
·      Puretide Engram Neurochip. Can give the bearer Counter Attack, Furious Charge, Monster Hunter, Stubborn or Tank Hunter until the end of his next movement phase. Remember, Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter confer on a unit.
·      Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite. Gives the unit Ignores Cover, if the bearer does not fire that turn..
·      XV8-02 Crisis “Iridium” Battlesuit. Gives the wearer a 2+ save, and T5, with no movement restriction.

Finally, all suits can take 2 Drones – either Gun, Marker or Shield (but note NOT missile drones)

Phew….lots and lots of options.

As before XV8’s are the swiss army knife of the Tau Codex, they can be pretty much kitted out to do what ever you need them to do.

Need to kill MEQ/TEQ  - 3 suits with 2 plasma rifles each, with a Shas’vre toting a Command and Control Node – 12 S6 AP2 BS3 shots, rerolling to hit. Give the Shas’vre a Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite (or 2 marker light hits) and they also ignore cover. Need to kill tanks? Same team but swap out the plasma for Fusion. Want more flexibility - for the same points you can give them a fusion gun and a plasma gun. Need some horde control? Give a 3 man team 2 burst cannons each, 24 S5 shots for 12pts less than a 12 man Fire Warrior team which puts out exactly the same number of shots. Worried about being charged? As well as the plasma and/or fusion gun, fill the 3rd hard point with a flamer. On average, 6 Overwatch hits on anything charging them. For 216pts give a team 2 missile pods each and Velocity Trackers – 12 S7 shots that fire at flyers using BS3. Make one of them a Shas’vre  for 10pts, and give him the Puretide Engram Chip for 15pts, and they all have Tank Hunter….! By my calculations that should kill a Vendetta in one turn of shooting (ignoring jink saves).

And of course there are Drones.  All XV8 Drones (marker, shield and gun) are 12pts each (sadly you can’t take Missile Drones on XV8s, only on Broadsides).

Gun Drones are pretty awesome now – add a Drone Controler to any of the Suits for 8pts, and the Drones use the suits BS, boosting their BS from 2 to 3. Given they are Twin Linked that effectively makes them BS4 (slightly better actually). So for 80pts you get 12 Twin Linked BS3 S5 AP5 shots. On average that’s 9 hits, or 8pts per hit. A 12 man Fire Warrior squad at 18” will only get 6 hits. A 12 man squad costs 108pts – so 18 points per hit…..! So attaching Gun Drones to an XV8 team is more than twice as efficient as a squad of fire warriors….! And that’s ignoring the ablative wounds they give the Suits.

Marker Drones are much cheaper now, but they’re trickier to play. I’ll come back to them when I look at the whole issue of marker light support.

Shield Drones – really not worth it IMHO. Go for Gun Drones all the way.


So, just like before, XV8s are awesome! What I find intriguing is how the improvement in Gun Drones allows you build a very flexible unit.

Take three suits. Upgrade one to a Shas’vre and give him 2 burst cannons and a Drone Controller. Give the other 2 a plasma rifle and a Fusion Blaster, and fill the third hard point with target locks. Add up to 6 Gun Drones. You now have a unit that can fire plasma and fusion blasters at hard targets, and hose down lighter targets with 20 S5 pulse rounds all shooting at BS3, and 12 of them are twin linked!

It’s an expensive unit (around 220pts) but at short range it’s devastating.

They key will be working out exactly which loadout fits in with the rest of your army.




Tuesday, 16 April 2013

It's all About the Tau. Part 3 - Troops.

Troops are the core of any codex, and in the old ‘dex Tau troops were particularly weak (I once read a forum post claiming that Fire Warriors were the best troops in the game, yes really! Arrant nonsense. Fire Warriors were pretty poor, they got better in 6th edition, largely because of the changes to rapid fire weapons, but better isn’t good!).

There are 2 troop choices – Fire Warriors and Kroot. They’ve changed a little, but not by much.

Fire Warriors

Four things have happened in the new Codex that make Fire Warriors better (maybe even verging on good!). Ironically only one of them actually happened to Fire Warriors!

Basic stats stayed the same – WS2 BS3 S3 T3 W1 I2 A1 Ld7 Sv4+. They still come with a Pulse Rifle as standard but now also come with Photon (i.e. defensive) Grenades. They can upgrade to a Pulse Carbine for free and can get EMP grenades (which interestingly now count as Haywire Grenades) for 2pts per model. They can get a Shas’ui for 10pts who can take a target lock and a markerlight for 15pts, and a couple of Drones. Finally they can take a Devilfish transport.

The first thing that makes Fire Warriors better is the points drop to 9pts. I’m not persuaded that Photon Grenades are a boost. If my Fire Warriors get charged I want them to die horribly so their buddies can rapid fire the assaulting unit next turn. EMP grenades are intriguing. Some Tau geeks talk about EMP Commando Squads – fire warrior squads who assault vehicles with EMP grenades. Now that EMP grenades are proper haywire grenades these squads would be better, but the problem remains getting them close enough to assault the vehicle in the first place.

The second  thing that make Fire Warriors better are the buffs to their shooting provided by the Fireblade and the Ethereal’s Storm of Fire power. With these buffs they can push out a horrible number of shots.

The third thing is the change to Pulse Carbines. They increased from Assault 1 to Assault 2. While this doesn't necessarily make them better than Pulse Rifles, they are at least an option now. In particular if you're running a mech Cadre with F’warriors in D’fish, being able to jump out and fire 2 shots up to 18” with the Pulse Carbine, rather than rapid firing 2 shots at 15” with the Pulse Rifle, is something to think about.

And finally, the forth thing is that the Devilfish got slightly better.


One of the major disappointments in the codex is that D’fish didn’t get a price drop. They did get better (marginally) but they should IMHO be 10pts cheaper. The ‘Fish is a Tank, Skimmer, Transport BS3 F12 S11 R10 HP3. It comes with a Burst Cannon (R18” S5 AP5 Assault 4) and 2 Gun Drones as standard. It can take up to 2 seeker missiles for 8pts each and swap out the Gun Drones for a Twin Linked Smart Missile System (SMS) (R30” S5 AP5 Heavy 4 Ignores Cover, Guided (i.e. does not need line of sight)) for 10pts. It also has access to the Vehicle Battle Systems list.

·         Blacksun Filter. Give night vision (for 1pt!)
·         Decoy Launchers. A 4++ from interceptor shots.
·         Automated Repair System. Repairs stuff on a 6+ i.e. pretty pointless.
·         Sensor Spines. Move through cover for 5pts…. Yes please!
·         Flechette Dischargers. At initiative step 10 a unit with at least one model in base to base with the fish takes a S4 AP- hit for each model in base to base.
·         Point Defence System. The vehicle fires overwatch with S5 or less weapons, and has the Supporting Fire rule (i.e. can fire overwatch at any unit assaulting a friendly unit in 6”).
·         Advanced Targeting System. Any to hit roll of a 6+ is a precision shot.
·         Disruption Pod. Now just stealth rather than shrouding and 15pts rather than 5. However, it is no longer cancelled out if the shooter is within 12”.

There are 2 things missing that really irritated me. You can no longer buy a Targeting Array to boost the BS to 4, nor can you buy a Multi Tracker to allow the fish to fire like a Fast Vehicle.

Lets be clear from the outset, taking a Devil Fish is probably a "style" choice. By that I mean it depends on the sort of army you want to play. If you're asking me whether taking one builds the most effective Cadre, I suspect the answer would be "no". Putting Fire Warriors behind an Aegis with an Ethereal and a Cadre Fireblade is probably more effective. Leaving the D'fish behind gives you more points for other stuff. You really only need D'fish if you want to play a mechanised Cadre, pushing F'warriors forward. 

So, with that out of the way why is the fish better? Well because the Burst Cannon is Assault 4 now, rather than assault 3, and because the Pulse Carbines on the Gun Drones are Assault 2 rather than Assault 1. That means the standard fish gets 8 S5 shots rather than 5. In addition, even although you can’t get the Multi Tracker, you can still move 6” and fire both the Burst Cannon and the Drones, because the Drones fire as embarked passengers.

As for the Battle Systems, I think the only one that’s a must have are the Sensor Spines. Being able to ignore terrain is great if you’re moving forward aggressively with your Fire Warriors. The D’pod is not the must buy it used to be, but a 4+ cover save is better than a 5+, particularly now that it's not ignored for firers under 12”. That was a big draw back in the last ‘dex, if you were moving forward aggressively with your D'fish.

The only 2 other systems I might be tempted with are Flechette Dischargers and the Advanced Targeting System. If you’re moving forward with your Fire Warriors, and getting them out to shoot, then you’ll be using the D’fish to support them and block assaults. The Flechette Dischargers and beign able to Overwatch with the ‘Fish might help.

Then again, a ‘Fish with Sensor Spines, D’pod, Dischargers and the ATS would cost 120pts……!

In the past I ran D’fish (when I did run them) with a D’pod and sensor spines. In the old ‘dex  that cost 95pts in the new one 100pts. For those extra points, I get almost twice the fire power, but one point less on my cover save, although I get it all the time, and not just outside 12”.

So like I said, slightly better, but still not good!


Kroot got cheaper by 1 point, but lost an attack and a point of strength. They gained a 6+ armour save (!). Kroot hounds also got a point cheaper and also lost a point of strength. You can add up to 3 Kroot Oxen for 25pts each. The Kroot Ox is S6 and comes with a Kroot Gun (R48” S7 AP4 Rapid Fire). You can upgrade one Kroot to a Shaper (most important thing is that he gives them Ld8, up from Ld7). And finally, for 1pt per model you can make their Kroot Rifles sniper rifles….! Better still, they can choose which round to use every time they fire, so can still move and shoot their Rapid Fire rounds, rather than teh Sniper Rounds which are "heavy". Even better, their standard rounds are "pulse" rounds which means they are affected by the Ethereal's Storm of Fire power.

All Kroot come with Infiltrate, Move Through Cover and Stealth (forests). The Kroot Hounds come with Acute Senses. Squad sizes are 10 – 20 Kroot to which you can add up to 10 Hounds and 3 Oxen. One of the most bamboozling things in the new 'dex is that Kroot Hounds are Beasts....but you can only buy them in squads of Kroot, which are infantry! What's the point in that!

However, the more I think about Kroot the more I like them. They are still good at what they excelled at previously – bubble wrap, blocking and just getting in the way (and they are 1pt cheaper!). They still infiltrate, outflank and score. That’s pretty much all I used them for in the past. Any idea that they were an assault unit was an illusion – on occasion they did extraordinary things (have I mentioned I once killed a Greater Demon with a squad of Kroot!), but their job was to die for the greater good. So, to the extent that they can do everything they did in the past, and are a point cheaper, I’m happy. However, they can now do so much more!

First of all, with only one Hound attached, they can re-roll the side they come in on when they  outflank. One of their key rolls is to come in off a board edge and grab an objective. Being able to more or less choose which side them come in on is pretty good. Next you can now bring along 3 S7 AP4 rapid firing Kroot Guns when you outflank or infiltrate. While you could always take Kroot Oxen in the past, you couldn’t infiltrate or outflank with them. Now you can, and they are 10pts per model cheaper

Lots and lots of possibilities present themselves – infiltrating sniper teams with Kroot Guns picking up marker lights from Sniper Drones, big packs of Kroot (with some hounds) outflanking on pretty much on any side you want. Teaming up with infiltrating stealth suits with a Positional Relay to bring the Kroot in on your opponents board edge. Maybe this is the army to take Shadowsun ….. attach her to a big pack of Kroot to give them a 2+ cover save!

Yet again, Kroot are the ultimate utility players.


IMHO Tau troops got better, but I'm not persuaded (yet) that they're "good". However, they are cheaper and way more flexible than they were before. 

My initial impression is that there will be broadly 3 ways to play them - Fire Warrior gun line, with Fireblades and Ethereals, a Mechanised Cadre, with Fire Warriors loaded in D'fish moving forward aggressively, or a Shadowsun Ghost Cadre, with loads of Kroot, and maybe a couple of squads of F'warriors in the back field. 

Which is better, remains to be seen - but at least we have choices now.