Category Archives: Tactica

Tau Gotchas

fire_warrior_gotchaI’m working on compiling a list of “gotcha” bits from the Tau codex… those easily-overlooked rules bits that could end up screwing you over when you discover that you’ve been playing the army incorrectly at the most inopportune moments. Let’s start, shall we?

  • If taken in an allied detachment, Farsight can still have his 7 Bodyguards, but he doesn’t deep strike without scattering. That’s a Warlord Trait, which he doesn’t get to use if he’s not the Warlord (which he can’t be because he’s not in the primary detachment).
  • Multi-trackers only work in the Shooting Phase. In Overwatch, you’re still limited to your standard number of weapons you can fire (2 for Riptides, 1 for everyone else – and that includes Shadowsun).
  • Longstrike’s Hammerhead is not limited to Str 5 weapons or less when Overwatching, because he doesn’t have a Point Defense System. His armor just grants his tank unlimited Overwatch.
  • Because they aren’t Flyers, Sky Rays aren’t limited to the 2-Missiles-Per-Turn firing limit. It’s just a vehicle with 6 one-shot weapons. Note that on the actual Flyers, the Seekers are counted towards the limit.
  • Beware taking drones on lone suits, like a Riptide. Losing one drone will be enough to force a morale check, which you may just fail.
  • The extra shot from a Cadre Fireblade’s Volley Fire only applies in the Shooting Phase; you do not gain the extra shot in Overwatch. However, an Ethereal’s Storm of Fire buff does work in Overwatch.
  • Using Markerlight hits while firing Snap Shots to raise a unit’s Ballistics Skill does not make the shot no longer a Snap Shot; it just makes the attack a Snap Shot at a higher BS. That means that the unit still can’t fire Blast weapons, such as overcharged ion guns or railgun submunitions. This also applies to the Counterfire Defense System.
  • Signature Systems are one-per-army, not one per detachment. You don’t get to double up on them at 2000+ points. Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors and Cyclic Ion Blasters, on the other hand, are one per detachment.

That’s all I have for now. Keep in mind, any and all of these could be FAQ’d to irrelevancy at any time. If you’ve found a Tau “gotcha”, comment below and let me know!

Tau: A Tale of Three Commanders


While the Commander is no longer a must-take in the Tau army, I think it’s still the single most flexible HQ choice by virtue of its many options. Between weapons, support systems, and signature systems, you can kit out a Commander to serve a variety of different roles. Here’s three Commander builds I’m kicking around, all of which serve completely separate roles in the army.

The Hunter
Commander with Puretide Engram Neurochip, Early Warning Override, Velocity Tracker, Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster – 155 pts

The Hunter’s job is to seek out foes and kill them with superior high-strength/low-AP firepower. He has the Puretide chip to let him switch between Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter, depending on what his opponent has brought to the field. The Early Warning Override allows him to react to new threats on the battlefield, and the Velocity Tracker allows him to take on those threats that come from above. Combine him with a bodyguard team to help keep fire off of him, probably with velocity trackers of their own.

For an alternate build, try swapping out plasma for missiles to have stronger long-range shots available, or the EWO for a Target Lock to allow the Hunter to go after his own targets while staying protected.

The Warrior
Commander with Iridium Battlesuit, Shield Generator, Onager Gauntlet, Vectored Retro-Thrusters, Fusion Blaster – 160 pts

The Warrior eschews the normal Tau strategy of “peace through superior firepower” and instead charges directly into the fray. His suit and shield generator make him far more resilient than most of his peers, the thrusters make him faster, and the Onager Gauntlet makes him able to take out a variety of threats in a single blow. A Fusion Blaster rounds out his kit, allowing him to be equally effective against vehicles at range. He’s not equipped for handling hordes, but rather for making precision strikes against key targets. A bodyguard unit with VRTs is essential for keeping up with him and keeping stray fire off of him. This build is a bit of an oddball, but it could be very effective in the right situations.

The Guide
Commander with Command and Control Node, Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite, Drone Controller, Shield Generator, Twin-Linked Flamer – 163 pts

The Guide does not deal with targets himself, but rather joins another unit and improves their shooting ability. His two signature systems ensure that any unit he joins will be rerolling hits and ignoring cover as long as he does not fire in the Shooting phase; with his twin flamers, his fire is limited to Overwatch purposes. A Shield Generator keeps him alive longer, as do the models in the unit he joins. The Guide is best used joining a unit of Marker Drones to give you BS5 markerlight shots, but joining a unit of Pathfinders or Fire Warriors is also a very valid option.

Consider adding on drones of his own, whether markerlight (to add 2 more shots to the party) or shield (to provide some buffers at the front of the group).

I’m looking forward to trying out these various builds and seeing what an army built around each one would look like!

Tau Codex: Initial Impressions


I’ve had the weekend to go over the new Tau codex a few times, and while I don’t have my brain wrapped around all of the changes and new toys yet, I’m definitely liking what I’m seeing so far. While it’s a similar army to what we had before, it’s definitely been altered enough to change up our game. Some of my initial impressions:

  • HQ Flexibility. After years of having 1+ Crisis Suit Commanders and no real reason to take Ethereals, having multiple viable options in the HQ slot is a breath of fresh air. First of all, Ethereals actually bring useful buffs to the table without being a massive liability. Aun’Va does it even better, and for just under half of his original price – he’s actually worth looking at for an HQ slot. The Cadre Fireblade is also a good inexpensive HQ option, and works very well with the massed fire tactics that are obviously the intent for Tau. Farsight no longer limits your army builds. Shadowsun can actually join other units (and gets especially safe in Stealth Suit units). Aun’Shi is back, even if he’s a bit of an odd duck with his melee talents. I particularly like Darkstrider, who’s going to be very nasty in concert with some of the toys Pathfinders can bring with them. Beyond the actual HQ choices, the Warlord Trait table is fantastic; it’s nigh impossible to get a trait that can’t benefit you in one way – and being able to re-roll unusable traits is awesome. They could stand to errata some of that into the BRB trait tables.
  • Supporting Fire. Overwatch and improved Rapid Fire weapons were nice gifts to the Tau, and this new army rule gives us the hat trick for anti-assault shooting. No unit should ever be running solo when assaulters are on the table; being able to put forth a wall of pulse rifle death is too important to go it alone. The fact that markerlights are usable on Overwatch makes Pathfinders and other markerlight sources even more important in this army. Speaking of markerlights…
  • Revised Markerlights. The new, cleaned up markerlight rules are great. At their heart, they pretty much do what they did before, but the clarifications and updates make it much clearer. No, your opponent can’t try to save against them. The rules for Seeker Missiles are much more clear (thanks, Ignores Cover USR!). Removing cover saves is pretty much the same as before (given that default cover is 5+, it’s the same as using 2 tokens in the previous rules). We lost the pinning bonus, but so few armies are vulnerable to pinning that it doesn’t really matter. More importantly, being able to use markerlights in Overwatch and on Snap Shots lets us do things like let the new Pathfinder weapons move and still shoot at a decent BS, or let a Hammerhead move 12″ and fire like it was still, or try to take on Flyers if our AA weapons aren’t available. There’s also just more and better options for getting markerlights. Pathfinders no longer have to pay the Devilfish tax. Marker Drones can be taken in squads on their own (or with a Commander with a drone controller for BS5 markerlight shenanigans). Also, no more limitations on who can use the tokens. Your Kroot can now snipe to their hearts’ content and use your little red dots to do it.
  • Shift in Kroot’s Role. The Kroot are no longer our assault unit. They were never a great one, but now they’re not equipped for hunting with blades. Instead, they’re hunting with guns. Being able to get 7-point Infiltrating snipers isn’t a bad thing. They still make passable bubble-wrap as well. Sure, they’re likely only a speed bump, but that’s all they ever were in that role. They buy you another round of shooting before the target gets to your line. They’re definitely not must-haves, but it’s worth trying them out in their new role.
  • Best AA Codex Yet? Anti-aircraft fire is available in more varieties in this book than I think I’ve seen in any other codex. Missile Broadsides with velocity trackers. Riptides with VTs and early warning overrides. Sky Rays (finally!). Any other decent-strength weapon with enough markerlight shots. There’s no real reason to take an Aegis Defense Line with this army, because you have more and better options for handling flyers. The weakest anti-flyer option in the book is, oddly enough, our own flyers, although they still have seeker missiles available (which can now be fired without markerlight hits, but are much better with them). The codex paints the new flyers as anti-infantry gunships, though, and I have to agree; that’s what they’re best at, even if they are horribly fragile.
  • Cheaper Everything. Cheaper Fire Warriors. Cheaper Pathfinders. Free photon grenades. Cheaper Crisis Suits. Cheaper plasma rifles. Much cheaper Piranhas and Hammerheads. There’s been a general price drop across most of the units from the previous codex, and while it’s not quite as major as the drop in, say, Daemon Troops, it’s still noticeable. At 1500 points, you’re probably looking at around a 70-100 point difference between the same list made with the old codex and the new. That gives you the flexibility to do things like add an Ethereal, or replace a Crisis Suit squad with a Riptide, or add another unit of Pathfinders (and you’ll get even more points if you drop the Devilfish that you don’t have to take). Your old list will still work, more or less, but you’ll have a bit more room to expand it. In fact, the only thing that didn’t really come down in price much was the Devilfish, which is even less worth taking than it was before.

This just scratches the surface of what’s in this book, but it should give you a good idea of what’s available and in what direction the army is intended to go. I was excited when I found out that my Tau were getting updated. I think what we got was definitely worth the wait.

Fireknife 2.0?



We’re two days out from the new Tau codex, and info and photos of the English codex are starting to pop up everywhere. I’m not going to post any here for legal reasons, but you can easily find them online at this point. There’s enough info now to start figuring out how the new rules change our existing army. One thing I want to start looking at is how the new book affects one of the workhorses of the Tau army, the “Fireknife” suit (or the Missile Pod/Plasma Rifle suit, for those of you who don’t go for Tau fan nomenclature).

Let’s look at an old MP/PR suit:

Crisis Suit, Missile Pod, Plasma Rifle, Multi-Tracker: 62 points

Compare that to a new MP/PR suit:

Crisis Suit, Missile Pod, Plasma Rifle: 52 points

The combo of cheaper plasma and the free multi-tracker included in all battlesuits makes the new version more reasonable. A squad of three is now only 156 points, rather than 186 points from the old book. The new suits also come with free blacksun filters, so they’re even more capable than their predecessors. Most importantly, though, the new suit has one more slot available for weapons or support systems. This gives us some interesting options, such as:

  • Doubling up on either the Missile Pod or Plasma Rifle and twin-linking that weapon for 5 points more
  • Adding a Counterfire Defense System to get BS2 in Overwatch for 5 points
  • Adding an Early Warning Override to get Interceptor for 5 points

With all of these, we’re still cheaper than the old suits. If we don’t mind digging a bit deeper and making the unit more expensive than before, they can get Stimulant Injectors (Feel No Pain), Shield Generators (4++ saves), or Velocity Trackers (Skyfire as needed). The last option will probably end up getting added to Twin-Linked Missile Pod suits rather than MP/PR suits, but there’s still plenty of possibilities. I’m thinking of the Counterfire Defense Systems myself, since the multi-tracker bit can be renamed for a CDS in a pinch, but I’d be lying if the idea of twin-linking that plasma rifle isn’t tempting.

Anyway, just this little glance into what the new book brings with its tweaks and realignments has me excited to see what the rest of the army will look like!

New Chaos Marines Codex: First Impressions for Slaanesh

The new Chaos Space Marine codex is upon us, and while the basics are roughly the same as the last version, there’s been a lot of changes in the specifics. What does this mean for Slaanesh CSM players like me? Let’s take a look at the changes for those followers of the Dark Prince of Excess:

  • Daemon Princes are out as must-takes, Chaos Lords are in: Let’s face it – in the old CSM codex, Daemon Princes were very underpriced for what they offered. They’re now priced a bit more appropriately, and they have an awesome statline and some nice mark-specific benefits to boot. They’re not bad choices by any means. However, as a sole HQ choice for a Slaanesh CSM army, they’re a poor choice because they don’t shift around your FoC at all. To make Noise Marines troops, you have to take either a Slaanesh-marked Chaos Lord or Lucius the Undying. In a larger game, a Daemon Prince isn’t a bad choice for secondary HQ if you have the points to spare.
  • Lucius is awesome now: Speaking of Lucius, he went from kind of lackluster to all kinds of neat. Mostly, he functions similarly to how he did before – his wargear still causes hits if he makes saves, still reduces his foe’s attacks by 1, and still gives him a doom siren – but with the addition of his challenge-specific rules, he’s now better than your average Chaos Lord. Having as many attacks as his opponent’s weapon skill in a challenge gives him a solid opportunity to whittle someone down in a challenge, and at Initiative 6 he’s going to hit before most enemies. Throw in the addition of Shred (making those hits more likely to count), Hatred for Space Marines, and that he moves the FoC like other Slaanesh lords, and you get a nasty package that can cause some real hurt for your opponent’s characters.
  • Marks and Icons are much better: This codex fixes one of my biggest gripes with the previous version – marks are no longer tied to icons. You don’t have have to worry about losing the Initiative bonus from your mark if the icon bearer bites it. It also opens up more units to being marked, which at this point is pretty much anything that’s not a vehicle. On top of that, the Slaanesh-specific Icon of Excess is easily the best one in the book, and makes large squads more resilient than ever. Why should Nurgle get all the Feel No Pain fun? It’s fluffy and fantastic. Combine the Mark, the Icon, and Fabius Bile (also thematically appropriate) on a 20-man CSM squad, and you can get a very nasty scoring close-combat squad that will be all but impossible to dislodge from an objective.
  • No more Lash, but still some good psychic powers:Yes, Lash of Submission is gone, so old-school Slaanesh psychic shenanigans are off the table. Warptime’s gone as well, but it had lost a lot of its bite a couple of FAQs ago. Instead, we get a Slaanesh-specific psychic power selection that, while random, is still solid. We’ve got Hysterical Frenzy, a nice set of random close-combat buffs; Symphony of Pain, a handy debuff that also makes our sonic weapons better; and Ecstatic Seizures, a power that makes the entire enemy unit hit itself. The last one is Warp Charge 2, so your base sorcerers don’t have to worry about accidentally getting it. If you don’t like either of those, or you already have the one you want, the Primaris power isn’t bad either. Having an Str 4/AP 4/Assault 4/Blind/Concussive/Pinning power at 24″ gives you a chance to lock down an enemy unit for a turn. Once you’ve got your required Slaaneshi powers, there’s always Biomancy and Telepathy. Oh, and Pyromancy, but it’s definitely the weakest of our options. If you still want that Lash-like ability, though, you can always try allying in a Herald of Slaanesh with Pavane.
  • Noise Marines are more affordable: Another important change is that Noise Marines got priced closer to where they should be. 17 points each is much more reasonable, and while I’d love to have seen sonic weapons made into a free swap for a bolter, it wasn’t likely to happen. A 3-point charge is much more reasonable, though, getting them kitted out for the price of a stock Noise Marine in the previous codex. Champions aren’t optional, but since they’re thrown into the base unit cost, you barely notice. They’ve also got the option to take the Icon of Excess, so you can get them FNP if you desire.
  • Sonic Weapons are better and worse: While I like the reduced cost of Noise Blasters, I do miss them being Assault weapons. While making them Salvo weapons standardizes their functionality with the ruleset, it does nerf them a little bit by not allowing you to fire them on the charge. Of course, the trade-off is that they gain Ignores Cover, which might actually be worth it; there’s no hiding from these guns. Blastmasters are functionally identical, and they’ve also gained Ignores Cover, but they’re still a bit overpriced at 30 points. Not as horribly overpriced as before, true, but still more than I’d likely want to pay. Doom Sirens, of course, are still awesome and almost a required upgrade. While it’s not technically a weapon, I’ll also throw the Dirge Caster into the mix. Whereas before they were related to tank shock and barely useful, they’re fantastic now, since they prevent Overwatch for enemy units within 6″. Sending a tank with a Dirge Caster ahead of an assaulting unit lets you charge in without taking fire. Defilers can also take them, so if you can get within a 6″ charge range during movement, you can safely charge in with it without having to fear the random melta shot killing it before it arrives.

One thing I will note, however, is that just converting your old list to the new codex won’t work. For example, take an old 1850 list of mine:

HQ: Daemon Prince w/Mark of Slaanesh, Sorcerer, Warptime, Wings (160)
Elites: 5 Terminator Champions w/Lightning Claws, Icon of Slaanesh in a Land Raider (485)
Elites: 6 Chosen w/2 Flamers, 3 Meltaguns, Icon of Slaanesh in a Rhino (203)
Troops: 6 Noise Marines w/Blastmaster, Personal Icon in a Rhino (200)
Troops: 5 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, Noise Champion w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Melta Bombs in a Rhino (230)
Troops: 5 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, Noise Champion w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Melta Bombs in a Rhino (230)
Heavy Support: Predator w/Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons (130)
Heavy Support: Predator w/Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons (130)
Other: 6 Summoned Lesser Daemons (78)

There’s already a few problems with this as is. Summoned Daemons are gone, Noise Marines aren’t troops, Daemon Princes don’t make them troops, my Terminator squad is all wrong (too many champs), and a couple of squads have no champs at all. Trying to make it legal, well, here’s what you end up with.

HQ: Daemon Prince w/Mark of Slaanesh, Psyker Mastery 1, Wings, Armor Save (240)
HQ: Chaos Lord w/ Terminator Armor, Power Weapon, Combi-Melta, Veterans, Mark of Slaanesh (132)
Elite: 3 Terminators, 1 Terminator Champ w/Lightning Claws, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess in Land Raider w/Dirge Caster (457)
Elite: 5 Chosen w/2 Flamers, 3 Meltaguns, 1 Chosen Champ, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, Veterans, Rhino (242)
Troops: 5 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, 1 Noise Champ w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Veterans (163)
Troops: 5 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, 1 Noise Champ w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Veterans (163)
Troops: 5 Noise Marine, 1 Noise Champ w/Power Weapon, Veterans, Rhino w/ Dirge Caster (173)
Heavy Support: Predator w/Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons (115)
Heavy Support: Predator w/Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons (115)
Allies: Chaos Daemons
HQ: Herald of Slaanesh w/Soporific Musk, Transfixing Gaze (70)
Troops: 5 Daemonettes (70)

That’s 1,940 points, and the smaller unit size across the army is going to work against it, especially for assault-only units like the tiny Daemonette squad. I’ve also lost the Blastmaster, since I don’t have 10 Noise Marines in the squad carrying it anymore (although as I noted above, that’s not necessarily a major loss). I also have precious little to work against flyers, larger assault units will eat me alive, and as awesome as the DP is, it doesn’t bring enough to the table for its point cost and slot. What can we do to switch this around, make it a bit nastier, and still keep it nice and fluffy? How about something like this:

HQ: Lucius the Eternal (165)
Elite: 4 Terminators w/2 Lightning Claws, 1 Terminator Champ w/2 Lightning Claws, Veterans, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess (262)
Troops: 9 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, 1 Noise Champ w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Veterans (247)
Troops: 9 Noise Marines w/Sonic Blasters, 1 Noise Champ w/Doom Siren, Power Weapon, Veterans (247)
Troops: 8 Chaos Marines w/Close Combat Weapons (no Bolters), 1 Aspiring Champ, Mark of Slaanesh, Veterans, Icon of Excess, Rhino w/ Dirge Caster (224)
Heavy Support: 4 Havocs w/Missile Launchers (2x Flakk Missiles), 1 Aspiring Champ, Veterans (160)
Heavy Support: Predator w/Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons (115)
Heavy Support: Land Raider w/Dirge Caster (235)
Allies: Chaos Daemons
HQ: Herald of Slaanesh w/Transfixing Gaze (55)
Troops: 10 Daemonettes (140)

This is what a 6th-Edition version of that same list might look like. It’s not necessarily a killer tournament list, and we’ve made a couple of trade-offs here and there, but it’s much more tailored to the newer rules. You’ve got a couple of dedicated shooting units, a couple of dedicated assault units with Feel No Pain (with Lucius the Challenge Machine riding in the Rhino), some anti-air support, and a larger unit of Daemons to work with. We’ve also moved the Land Raider to being a Heavy Support slot so it counts as scoring in Big Guns Never Tire. This list can surely be tinkered with and improved, but it shows a start for where Slaanesh CSM armies could go in this edition. We haven’t even gotten to some of the other toys, like Bikers and Raptors and the Fiends and such…