I've got a 1000-point tournament on May 18th at our local store, so I think it'll be a good opportunity to take the new Tau codex out for a spin. I'm wanting to do something a bit different than my older Tau lists, so I'm thinking about going Crisis Suit-less. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do with the new book. I also want to make sure I have plenty of Markerlight support and a fair amount of anti-infantry firepower while still being able to handle vehicles should they appear. Right now, this is what I'm toying around with:
HQ (110 pts)
- Cadre Fireblade (60 pts)
- Ethereal (50 pts)
Elites (380 pts)
- 3x Stealthsuits [2x Burst Cannon, Fusion Blaster] (95 pts)
- 3x Stealthsuits [2x Burst Cannon, Fusion Blaster] (95 pts)
- XV104 Riptide [Ion Accelerator, Twin-linked Smart Missile System, Early warning override] (190 pts)
- 10x Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles (90 pts)
- 10x Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles (90 pts)
- Kroot Carnivore Squad [10x Kroot, 1 Kroot Hound, Sniper Rounds] (75 pts)
Fast Attack (110pts)
- 5x Pathfinders (55 pts)
- 5x Pathfinders (55 pts)
Heavy Support (145 pts)
- Hammerhead Gunship [Railgun, Submunition Rounds, Twin-linked Smart Missile System, Disruption pod] (145 pts)
Total: 1000 pts
The Fireblade and Ethereal support the Firewarrior gunline that's holding the backfield (or moving up, as necessary), the Pathfinders mark targets as needed and stay nearby as well, and the more mobile elements - the stealth teams, Riptide, and Hammerhead - go where needed and put as much fire out as necessary. The Kroot serve either as infiltrating snipers or outflanking objective grabbers, depending on the mission and board layout.
I'm still kicking around ideas and tweaks, though. I'm not sure about 2 HQs in a 1000-point game, but considering how inexpensive these are and how much they support the rest of the force, I think they're worthwhile. Still, I could maybe drop either the Fireblade or the Ethereal and use the points savings elsewhere. For example, I could a drop the Fireblade, a Pathfinder from each team, and one Stealthsuit (merging the two squads into one) and use the points to drop in a Skyray for some Skyfire capability. Or, even better, just drop the Fireblade and Stealthsuit and put in a single Broadside with Missile Pods, a Velocity Tracker, and a Seeker missile. I'd trade off the Fireblade's Volley Fire, but It'd trade it for much stronger, more versatile firepower overall.
Anyway, still tossing around ideas. Meanwhile, I have a halfway-built Riptide sitting on my hobby table (waiting for some magnets) and a couple of new Broadside boxes on my hobby shelves waiting to be assembled, along with some plastic Pathfinders. I just need to track down an Ethereal, and I should be golden. I've never actually owned one - there was no point before the new codex!
I'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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!