Rapidfire Review Summary – Tau

So I’d like to start a quick series of rapid fire reviews. This is not a full, in-depth look at each unit. We don’t have enough tabletime for that yet but one of the hardest things to do with an edition reset is everything has changed at once. Many of you were likely around for the 2nd to 3rd edition changes – many of you were not and are used to what has happened in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th where the main rules change but the army books remain valid and then get updated slowly throughout the edition.

Not so for 8th. Press reset on what you know and prepare to have that challenged.

One of the biggest difficulties currently is what are you likely going to see at tables across from you in games. We can build lists until we are blue in the face but only pitting the armies against each other regularly will really show what we need to be building to accommodate. One imagines you need to manage mass infantry and mass high toughness / high wounds and anywhere in between. What ratios… who knows.

With that in mind, I’m going to start with Tau. There are no gradings here, just general initial impressions though I will identify if I believe if units are usable (green is definitely usable, orange is situational or needs more playtesting and red is not).

Commander – best way to use your Crisis models – add some bling!. Initially I was turned off by the Commander’s high cost but as we dug into the math more, his ability to take four weapons at BS2+ and not experience the high cost of each Crisis Suit won out. Throw in his once a game special ability (Master of War; FAQ’d to only be usable once) and you have a model which can put out a lot of firepower, is pretty much immune to enemy retaliation being a character and comes in at a nice package of around 120-160 points. With the FAQ taking multiples of these guys loses some value unfortunately but they are still probably the best shooting HQ in the game by a fair margin. Take your weapon of choice and add four.

Coldstar Commander – Being forced to take the super burst cannon and a missile pod is frustrating though a 20” move is anything but. An extra 14 points for that is a bit pricey but not terrible, particularly when you start looking at how reduced maximum movement options are across the game. The high yield burst cannon is essentially two Burst Cannons glued together so the Coldstar is essentially running three weapons. If it could take two other weapons rather than just support systems, it would be something to consider. Otherwise you’re running into the same issues that Farsight does below – lack of firepower compared to a standard Commander (plus not necessarily the weapons you want). 20″ move is great (20″ Advance is awesome) but for two Burst Cannons and a Missile Pod? Eh.

Farsight – no. Getting one of the special Master of War options twice per game is cute. He has one weapon. A Plasma Rifle. And then a sword. Unlike before he’s not turning a key cog of the Tau army into a Troops option or providing super accurate deep strikes. He’s as expensive as a normal Commander and at best, has 1/4th the firepower. He helps against Orks but that’s too situational. The recent FAQ on Commanders does mean Farsight (and Shadowsun’s) ability to have two Commander bonuses in a game is great but the loss of firepower here is just too much to consider.

Shadowsun – I love Shadowsun but just cannot see any justification here to take her anymore. She’s lost her buffing of a unit with super cover saves and lets you use, what is arguably, the lesser of the Master of War buffs twice (good players will definitively have use for it though, it’s not a bad ability just not as easy to apply as re-rolls). Her drones are nice but not hard to kill though you can hide them as well. In the end though, same issues as Farsight – not enough firepower for what you can get in a normal Commander and not enough army bonuses to minimise this loss. Shadowsun does at least have two Fusion Blasters over just one weapon and is a little cheaper over Farsight but I’m still leaning the other way.

Fireblade – My new favorite HQ for Tau. He’s a BS2+ Markerlight that buffs all the Pulse weapons (Carbines and Rifles) in a bubble around him and he’s cheap. He can move and still fire that Markerlight at BS3+. He’s a great model to start a Markerlight chain (see Pathfinders) and he’s cheap. Cheap cheap cheap.

Darkstrider – Possibly my second closest favorite HQ for Tau even though his bonuses only apply to infantry. He is also a BS2+ Markerlight but instead of buffing Pulse weapons, makes a target even easier to screw around with an Infantry unit. Breachers with their potentially S6 guns are a prime target here but even standard Pulse Rifles will enjoy wounding T3 models on 2’s and T6 models on 4’s. Throw in the ability for an infantry unit to Fall Back and shoot and you can keep your infantry line closer to your bubble-wrap line. And he’s basically the same cost as a Fireblade.

Ethereal – The little underachiever has kept a lot of their flavour from 6th/7th edition and while toned down, there are no drawbacks anymore for taking one. Overshadowed by the improvements in the just as cheap Fireblade and a downgrade in some of its abilities. Anyway. Ld9 6″ bubble is good – Tau Ld has improved with all the free Shas upgrades and Drones not causing everyone else to PANIC. Their elemental options are loosely related to what they had before with a FNP (6+) option (great for your NOVA charging Riptides or Saviour Protocol Drones), re-roll 1s if you were stationary, -1 to Morale rolls and re-roll dice when Advancing. All of these are solid additions but not something you’ll be reaching for straight away. Needing to be stationary for the shooting is frustrating as you are minimising the impact of the phase you have the most control over. Re-rolling Advances is great in conjunction with Markerlights / Master of War effects.

Aun’Va – Slightly more expensive than an Ethereal and infinitely more durable against low Ap weapons (but pretty much the same against small arms), Aun’Va gives the whole army re-rolls for Leadership. If you’re worried about Morale, Aun’Va is the best option for Tau. If you’re not, take a standard Ethereal. Not much else to say about this guy – needing to take the two Honour Guard is annoying but they are effective at such a cheap cost for Tau in combat (i.e. you don’t want them but you’re not taking Aun’Va just because of their extra cost). Edit: Did not realise Aun’Va gets two Elemental Invocations – I’d take him over a normal Ethereal every day in light of this if I had the points. 45 points compared to 75 gets you double the bonuses plus re-rolling Morale.

Aun’Shi – This is the only Ethereal model I own so I  have a soft spot for this guy. Over a regular Ethereal you get halfway decent combat ability and a 4++. Aun’shi can be quite annoying with a re-rollable 4++ in combat but he’s not going to hold up dedicated assault units for long and with character status, his 4++ is mostly wasted. He can put some damage into opposing enemy units in combat but with Fall Back and the majority of the important Tau units having Fly, why bother? I want to love him but save those extra 20ish points and buy more Drones.

Crisis Suits – These are what got me into Tau all the way back on their release day. Their cool design, gundam feel, etc. They have been a staple in Tau lists for over a decade. Now we may finally see them fade into the background. This is one of my main concerns for Tau currently as Crisis Suits often solved the problem of the missing firepower link (normally mid-strength weapons). Crisis Suits start expensive and go from there – they are more durable than before, particularly to small arms firepower with increase toughness and wounds, but pay through their nose for it.  A detailed analysis of weapons can be found in the first paragraphs of this article and while they are certainly usable, no longer do you start your army with a handful of Crisis models and run. Making a minimum unit start at 3 models really hampers army design for Tau as well – one model Crisis Suits would have been a lot easier to fit into armies but instead that will fall to Commanders.

Firesight Marksmen – An example of the reason Elite FoC slots have increased. No longer attached directly to Sniper Drones, these guys are durable little characters that can hide in some cover and provide a BS3+ Markerlight and buff Sniper Drones. If you’re not taking Sniper Drones, at 24 points they still provide a useful Markerlight source if you’re struggling but there are lots of other locations for Markerlights at 3 points a pop.

Riptide – The boogaboo of Tau from 6th edition. With both the HBC and IA, this guy does damage. Lots of damage – for about double the points of editions past and that’s problematic. The HBC being S6 really hinders it against vehicles (mostly T7+) and Tau have no issues deleting infantry in general. It keeps him cheaper but not significantly so compared to other options in the Tau army. The IA is high strength with multiple shots and multiple damage but is also unreliable with those extra rolls and needs to be NOVA charged to really get its maximum damage potential. At 14W and 2+ save along with Drone saviour protocols, the Riptide is as durable as ever (though the NOVA now automatically does a mortal wound) and does as much damage as ever but with his increase in cost, he is not as efficient or useful a choice.

Ghostkeel – On the flipside of the big robots we have the Ghostkeel. About half the points and half the output, the Ghostkeel still is not the highlight of efficiency; however, is certainly cheaper and with its drone buddies and own defences, is able to withstand a lot of firepower with negative to hit modifiers on opposing units. It’s still not cheap at around 200 points for the whole package but if you’re looking for a mobile stompy robot, this seems the best bet for Tau currently.

Stealth Suits – They have certainly improved with added durability, specific modifiers to opponent’s shooting and not changing much in terms of points but I still do not seem them being used often or regularly. Burst Cannons are great except when I have Gun Drones or Fire Warriors who are far more efficient. If the whole squad could take Fusion Blasters though… Otherwise, a good Drone Controller caddie if you did not want to waste a slot somewhere else.

Krootox Rider – They are certainly cheap and durable for their costs with T5/W3 and do not need to pay an arm and a leg for their weapon. That being said, they aren’t that tough and you need to be within 30″ to get two autocannon shots. With Crisis Suits paying a premium on those types of shots I am curious if Krootox Riders are worth it. They still benefit from Markerlights and being rapid fire, they can move and shoot without impacting on their ballistic skill.

Kroot Shaper – Kroot armies are not really viable options so spending five Kroot worth of points on a single model to up their Leadership by 1 is a waste of points. The ritual blade is a great concept but 3 S3 attacks to try and kill a Marine and gain the benefit aren’t great (even against a GEQ you’re looking at less than a dead model on average) and you have to be in combat. Just take another squad of Kroot / Hounds instead.

Kroot – Speed bumps and bubble-wrap are so important in this edition it’s not funny and this makes Kroot great but not necessarily the only option. We’ve already spoken about the cheaper Kroot Hound units but even just biting the bullet and taking Fire Warriors with more shooting firepower or Gun Drones with more shooting power and mobility for a couple of points each better is not a bad option. That being said, Kroot are still cheaper and have on huge thing going for them – a Scout move. Moving up 7″ at the beginning of the game is 7″ extra worth of breathing room – even Hormagaunts aren’t going to be piling in around that wall. A unit in every army I think is mandatory just for that.

Fire Warriors – Fire Warriors are finally in a place they can comfortably call… useful? No never that! With the changes to the impact standard weapons have on the game and Fire Warriors being unique with S5 and S6 options for basic guns, they are packing quite a punch. They are also one of the few units that benefit from Darkstrider’s -1T ability. Fish of Fury is certainly back with Breachers and as we talk about below, Devilfish, while expensive and not great offensive output, are great annoying tarpits. Outside of this though, simply stacking Pulse bonuses (Accelerator Drone and Fireblade) and Markerlight hits does a surprising amount of damage with mass S5 weapons. Anything that gets within 24″ (6″ move) of Fire warriors with those buffs can look to actually be concerned. Remember as well, Pulse Blasters are Assault so can Advance and shoot. Oh look, Markerlights help with that… *combines with Darkstrider for effective S7 guns en masse on a Troop unit*.

Devilfish – The Devilfish is pricey but has a surprising amount of firepower with 12 S5 shots – those Gun Drones really do work now and can be buffed by a Pulse Accelerator or Fireblade. You’re not taking the Devilfish for shooting though but rather moving some infantry around – best bet here is of course Fire Warriors in the Breacher format which will reduce their short range issues. Even just starting them in the Devilfish gets them an extra 3”+base in the first turn. Devilfish are otherwise great, great roadblocks. They are a lot larger than a Rhino (you can hide Crisis Suits and drones behind them but not Broadsides+) and take up more space, they can fly over units and are slightly more durable with two extra wounds. Using Devilfish as active roadblocks to block up charging lanes, charge opponents, lock units in combat, etc. is ridiculously annoying, particularly from such a non-aggressive army like Tau. Overall, expensive but does a lot of utility work.

Kroot Hounds – If you have the models, they are the cheapest screen you can get for Tau and although they max out at 12 models per unit, 48 points for a 12 model screen is nothing to sneeze at. They will be bowled over in combat by anything that charges them but if they give your army another turn of shooting without being in combat, well wroth it. The question is, are they worth it over normal Fire Warriors, Kroot or Gun Drones for their cheaper price?

Pathfinders – Are you taking three squads? WHY NOT??? Marker Drones are a fantastic source of markerlights which we will talk about below and its a lot easier to get markerlights throughout your army but Pathfinders are still the quintessential choice. 8 points for markerlight and pulse carbine is great. They are weak infantry so need to be protected (hence having markerlights scattered throughout the army) but their Scout move allows them to maximise their start of game placement and the changes to moving with heavy weapons means they can start the game out of LoS if needed (then start a markerlight chain with a Fireblade for example). They are cheap, do damage and light up units. They are also the only place to get some of the more exotic drones which are quite useful for 8 points – Accelerator drones help all the pulse weapons out (extra range is not to be sneezed at) and grav drones hiding in LoS blocking terrain or behind vehicles are annoying. Not OMG MUST HAVE but worth trying to squeeze out some points just in case. Worst case – they are just saviour protocol targets.

Piranha – Man I love Piranhas and I’ve always wanted them to be as good as they were in 5th when they were cheap, abused the 3++ table and could block like a fish fucker. They have progressively gotten weaker and more expensive and I of course missed out on the formation of *fly off table and get everything back* days of 7th. These days, they are still everything they always were with more firepower thanks to the Gun Drone improvements but… they are not cheap and do not bring enough firepower to back it up (unlike say a Vyper or Land Speeder).

Tactical Drones – Where do we even start? Gun Drones all by themselves are just plain scary and probably one of the most efficient units in the game right now, even without a Drone Controller. 8 points nets you 4 S5 shots. 18″ with an 8″ move and 5+ to hit sure but 4 S5 shots. Count them. Through in a Fireblade, Pulse Accelerator and Drone Controller and now you are at 6 S5 shots at 9″ and 4 S5 shots at 18″ plus an 8″ move and 4+ to hit to boot. We’ere stacking the points here but you get the picture. Where the real shine comes is saviour protocols. Despite the FAQ this is still a really strong option for anything you remotely want to keep alive (Broadsides and Pathfinders are probably the key ones here) and makes some of the more inefficient options such as Riptides and Crisis Suits have interestingly high durability all things considered. The FAQ did say no to Shield Drones but this just reinforces the mantra “more guns pls”. Marker Drones are also effective – not only providing more markerlights but palming off wounds. While taking Drone units may not always be high on the priority list, adding drones through all the unit options you are taking is very, very wise. Drone army pls.

Vespid – They do not suck! 15 points and able to benefit from markerlights is a decent place to be in though their S5 makes them compete with pretty much the entire army. I’d much rather two gun drones or Fire Warriors over the one Vespid despite the -2Ap on their shots. Getting close but still no cigar. That said, if you wanted to use them to blast a backfield Marine unit et al with their deep strike or faster move – certainly not a terrible option.

Sun Shark Bomber – I initially fell in love with the Bomber and while that has waned a bit, it’s still a fantastic piece (as most of the bombers who can drop a mortal wounding bomb regularly are). It’s a way to control hordes and high invul save infantry (TH/SS termies for example – it might only kill one model but that’s a good target in an otherwise MSU Marine list) and has some decent utility with the Markerlight, Ion Drones and Missile Pod. Certainly not a must have but if you’re lacking in your Gun Drones / Fire Warriors, a decent way to manage some larger units out there and has some not too shabby firepower about it. Plan your moves right as well and you will have a unit on far objectives late game. .

Razorshark Strike Fighter – The Quad Ion Turret basically competes directly with the bomb and Ion Drones of the Bomber and frankly, fails. The Bomb has so much better utility against infantry units and while the Quad Ion Turret had more damage potential against a single tougher target (i.e. vehicle), the Ion Drones are pretty close to matching it. It’s not terrible but for all intents and purposes, is generally the lesser of the two flyers for Tau.

Hammerhead – Don’t take Hammerheads unless you’re taking Longstrike. They are good but Longstrike makes them really good (but not great). Both the Railhead and Ionhead variants are good with the Railhead just being a bit better by being cheaper. Like all Tau vehicles, great option for free Gun Drones to augment that already impressive anti-infantry firepower. Edit: Since someone took me literally when I said free. You’re already buying them with the vehicle and you’re taking the vehicle – they can detach and do things as per normal Drones but also do not need to if you just want to keep them pewpewing away with a Hammerhead / Devilfish / whatever BS. 

Longstrike – If you’re taking Hammerheads, take Longstrike. If you’re not taking Hammerheads, you can still take Longstrike as a decent HQ option. He makes himself and all Hammerheads really reliable and gets the railhead option of making extra mortal wounds happen even more likely. Moving your Hammerheads with Longstrike around is a lot less onerous as well and his +1 against vehicles makes Gun Drones / SMS often wound like they are S7.

Skyray – Markerlights are so easy to get now and flyers much less an issue that the Skyray just is not needed. It’s expensive for having six Seeker Missiles (which are certainly not bad but also not worth paying through the nose for six shots) and then your standard front guns. Slightly more durable than a Devilfish but give me a Devilfish any day of the week over this these days.

Sniper Drones – I really want to like these guys and keep building them up in my head and then I re-read a rule and they fall down again. They aren’t bad, they still put some decent damage into general infantry units but because of the wording on Pulse Accelerator Drones and the Fireblade, they do not get extra shots or range from these buffs which makes them generally inefficient (a unit of nine dropping 27 shots at 27” on the other hand…). They need a Firesight Marksman and Drone Controller caddie to be decent so there are hidden costs (to be fair this does take them to BS3+) and they are durable as far as drones go (plus still have saviour protocols to help out your army). Their damage output just is not going to scare the tougher characters. Your Marine Commanders, Ork Meks / Warbosses, Chaos Lords, Necron Overlords, etc. Even Farseers on a Bike. Your basic Tau Fireblade still takes 2-3 rounds to drop on average. A Librarian? All game. It is certainly useful to put wounds on characters and there are smaller and squishier characters who are game changing (*stares really pointedly at Imperial Guard*) so they do have a role and they aren’t hugely expensive – they are still more than twice the cost of other drones though.  Remember as well, you will often not get Markerlight bonuses for these guys when shooting at Characters.

Broadside – One of the other iconic units of Tau from the beginning of Tautime, the Broadside has seen a massive change in terms of its statline and points. At T5/W6, it has more than trebled in durability and is subsequently much more durable against small arms firepower and harder hitting weapons (far less likely to be insta killed by a Lascannon for example). Then of course there is Saviour Protocols. It comes at a really steep price though with a single Broadside netting somewhere in the 180-210 points bracket. Its firepower has doubled as well thankfully due to the changes in twin-linked weapons but with a price more than doubled and their primary targets, vehicles, durability having nearly tripled, on paper they do not seem to be in as good a place. Still, both of their weapon options are effective, surprisingly so with the Heavy Rail Rifle, and they cover a strength range not often seen in the rest of Tau slots. In short, they do good damage, are more efficient than Crisis Suits, are more durable but they are expensive.

Stormsurge – One of the most efficient models I’ve found to date in the game. For Tau, it’s the new Riptide though you’re unlikely to “need” two. Both of its main weapons are solid, though I’d rather the Blastcannon (keeps you close to the battle but less random and still hits like a truck at all ranges). What makes it really sing though is the Cluster Rocket System – throw in an ATS and you have a lot of anti-infantry firepower (plus the SMS) that can be thrown at anything. Now add a Shield Generator to make sure this beastie always has a 4++ against all the Lascannons coming its way and then add a final Support System of your choice – EWO to help against deep strikes, Drone Controller to be the caddie or Velocity Tracker to drop some flyers.

Tidewall (Droneport / Shieldline / Gunring) – The Droneport at 70 points plus Drones is a really sneaky way of getting some strong markerlights with a Bs2+ character hanging out and four marker drones. Otherwise a way to protect a Fire Warriors unit – it’s not super tough by 8th edition vehicle standards and can be shot to pieces pretty quickly but if you’re looking for something to attract firepower that is cheap, the Droneport is not a bad option. The Shieldline / Defense platform is the same price with the option to reflect shots – cute but nothing really to consider or work around. Same with the Gunrig – unlike the Droneport, the Gunrig does not get to increase it’s shooting by having an embarked unit, just who it gets to shoot at. Leave its expensive buttocks at home.



So there you have it – not even a month into 8th and some opinions on Tau’s units in isolation. I feel Tau are in a decent place but definitely not at the top of the curve anymore. Their expensive weapons / unit options in that mid-range area have hurt them overall but are still an army with lots of options, plenty of shooting and lots of ways to mitigate the improved threat / speed of combat.


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108 responses to Rapidfire Review Summary – Tau

Heh, Aun'shi is also the only Ethereal model I own. He was so badass back when. At least he's still cheap.

I'm also loving the Fireblade (still painting mine, I replaced the stupid knife hand with a photon grenade, much better), and yeah, "starting a markerlight chain" is a good way to put it. I've been putting mine in a dronerig for 5 BS2+ ML shots. Then he jumps out when the enemy is closer, everybody shoots 3 times. Pathfinders go in there too, it's nice not to have to count on their weak save.

Hi! Can you fill me in on what a dronerig is? I'd very much also like to have my drones shooting at BS2+ but I can't seem to figure it out haha. Thanks!

Tidewall Droneport. It's in the index, one of the forfications. It comes with 4 drones, when detached they can use the BS of one of the occupants of the droneport, so if it's a cadre fireblade, that's BS2+. I recommend markerdrones. that's 5 BS 2+ markerlights

Vespids are just a premier MEQ killer….which y'know, is a very common thing that is barely ever not useful.

They Fly! They're still Infantry(cover)! They can deep strike, get the first shot, but stay at s range that they're not under much threat themselves!

Still ugly, tho.

Kirby brings up a good point though. Two drones with their 8 shots are point-for-point more efficient by a decent margin at killing MEQ than a single Vespid with his 2 shots – even with no drone controller.

So this leads me to think that you really have to use the deep strike option for Vespid to be worth it. I can see them being far more useful as backfield harassers, with their better move, leadership, no targeting restrictions, etc. While drones are better as the screening troops/flank harassers, gunning down chaff and putting heavy firepower into assault units.

2 Gun Drones vs MEQ, 8 shots,BS5+, str 5, AP 0, : 8*((1/3)*(2/3)*(1/3))= 0.59 wounds.

1 Vespid vs MEQ, 2 shots,BS4+, str 5, AP -2, : 2*((1/2)*(2/3)*(2/3))= 0.44 wounds.

So that's true. But the Vespid is tougher (because infantry, it gets cover saves way more often), WAY faster, can deepstrike, and has a much better Ld (8).

Vespids are actually better against terminators (each vespid doing .33 wounds to .296 for 2 gun drones).

I'm not saying vespids are a must take, but they have a well defined niche they are clearly good at.

You said they're a premier MEQ-killer, and then you just showed that they aren't. Seems like not really a niche.

That will only be the case once you have outlined an actual niche for them to fit into. As it stands, you're claiming that they're better at shooting MEQs (which, by your own math, they aren't) and are tougher (which, again, they aren't because two T4/4+ wounds is better than one T4/3+ wound, even if we're assuming they always have cover 100% of the time.)

But sure, keep on arguing with the dictionary.

Put those Marines in cover, and hey presto – the Vespid is more efficient. (0.30 vs 0.33 wounds)

In any case, the argument wasn't that Vespids were the most efficient damage vs MEQ. The reasoning presented was that they could also guarantee the first strike, survive longer, and get into advantageous positions much more easily. All of those are important considerations.

Mathhammer in moderation. Don't lose sight of the fact there are many other variables that affect the outcome of a game, or the role of a unit.

Sure, there are also other things to think about- but that's true for the Drones as well as the Vespid. Drones benefit from more abilities (notably Drone Controller and Cadre Fireblade) than Vespid do and Savior Protocols is a pretty clutch rule for a lot of units.

I don't think Vespid are worthless, but they still don't seem to have much of a job to do. Other units have better general-use firepower, and all of their advantages can be replicated by units elsewhere in the codex. Deep Striking isn't anything special for our codex- lots of units have it, including much better units than them.

To be honest I'm just flabbergasted that Vespid aren't total garbage. "No matter what happens, Vespid will suck" has been the rock of stability that we've been able to lash our expectations to since the beginning of time. Now, nothing is certain. What the fuck, GW?

No no no no. No matter what happens, the Pyrovore will never, ever sell.

*8th edition*

Ok it's not shit now but I'm not spending that much money for a 23 point overglorified Heavy Flamer. Wait… 23 points!?

If your opponent lets five Vespid spend a whole turn with the Relic and does nothing about it, they deserve to lose.

Maybe use more than 5? I'm not sure what your point is. Keep in mind that vespid can dump wounds to drones just like anything else. Chain that shit.

Not particularly. Just pointing out that your comment of "but the enemy will shoot them!" was not actually helpful.

One thing you could do would be to chain the vespid unit back to your drones (which typically should be advancing). Grabbing the relic first matters. Usually determines who wins the game.

Since pushing a unit forward basically guarantees that the enemy will have an easy charge on you, and most armies are more willing to get into CC than Tau are, it seems pretty unlikely that it would get you anything but killed. You can stack Bolter wounds onto those Drones if you feel like not taking saves, but it's not gonna save you.

Their deep strike and movement option is certainly worth considering and they aren't bad, I'd just rather spend 75 points on something else probably.

If you want to play a hyper-mobile style then Vespid fit in really nicely. If you are playing static gunlines then not so much. Although even in a more static list a unit to clear out the enemy backfield and force them to send units back to hold home objectives and try to deny Linebreaker is valuable.

They are not the clear best thing in-faction but I would say that they are the best at doing what they do – which is harassing infantry units that your opponent would rather keep unmolested and is trying not to leave exposed to attack. When it comes to clearing an annoying Devastator/Havoc squad off an objective they really are a very good tool for the job.

I am finding I am struggling with objectives with this current iteration of Tau – lack of JSJ on the Suits and not taking Riptide like models is huge (and 500 points in a Stormsurge).

I have about 120-150 points left and might see what some Vespid or Stealth Suits do in that slot.

I am testing a three-man stealth squad, has a leader w/ fusion and drone controller. It's 106 points, 6 wounds, +1 to hit them with the 3+ save – quite durable. This will also help bubble wrap against deep strikers since they can deploy ahead of your lines. They can advance ahead of your army to support other deep strikers (Vespid?) midfield and move with drones to have a nice 18" str 5 threat range while granting them the +1 to hit. The fusion is a nice one-off, I expect it to miss but if it does something then great. A nice tactically flexible unit for just over 100 points.

Fusion is the part I've gone back and forth on with mine. Fusion is a really good gun, but you're definitely paying for it, and that BS4+ does it no favors. When it works, though, stripping that four or six wounds off a big target is pretty brutal, and it makes them a "must-kill" unit for a fair number of armies.

I think you underrated both ghostkeels and stealths. The value to stealths has always been their disruption — a far forward unit that the enemy can't ignore. It's never really been about their dmg output. (though a couple editions, they did more dmg per point than FW). They're also a great, far forward place to put drone controllers.

Ghostkeel's dmg output is pretty great, I think. Personally I'm running one with the Ion Raker and Burst cannons, with ATS for anti-infantry purposes (I have enough fusion other places), but thinking of getting a second. The fact that it sucks to shoot at it is just icing. (but y'know, smart people shoot the drones)

Oh, and apparently Stealth Suits are BOTH infantry and battlesuits. SO that's nice for relic missions, means they can get extra cover.

And don't forget homing beacons.

I like the ghostkeel definitely – stealths less so. I agree re being a cheaper Drone Caddie but I'm never a fan of waterfall unit interactions where you require one unit to do something to enable something else, etc. Characters fine as they are always able to be hidden in some way.

Coldstar I have, ironically, warmed up to a bit- the quick movement is a nice trick, and you can use him to put a Drone Controller wherever it's needed most. I commonly find that I am pressed to find a place I want to stick my DC at because every other suit has multiple support system it wants/needs to run, but on the Coldstar thanks to having a virtual five hardpoints, you can run ATS + DC and not feel bad about it.

I think I rate the Ethereal a bit higher than you do- while he only affects infantry and battlesuits, that's a pretty big swathe of our models and we have a fair number of things that want to sit on the backline and shoot, a job at which he provides excellent support. Using one to anchor some Broadsides, Pathfinders, etc, is a solid plan, and he also keeps our Drone squads in line.

Ghostkeel is definitely better than situational; mine are typically ~175 or so (Ion, two Flamers, ATS, DC or TLock) and they usually do quite a bit of work. Coming with a pair of drones to pawn wounds on is keen, and the to-hit penalty makes him tougher than he seems even with no drones around. He's good at chewing up infantry and light vehicles without breaking the bank, albeit at a fairly short range.

Devilfish are very clutch. Being able to assault into something to lock it up and then use Fly to get out on your next turn with no penalty is absolutely brutal a lot of the time- it's even great against enemy transports, preventing the other player from using them to soak your overwatch.

I wish you were wrong about Piranhas, but you aren't. 🙁 80+pts for the weak chassis and mediocre shooting just doesn't do the job.

I will definitely need to try one out, I just baulk at the need of having two burst cannons on him essentially. ATS + Drone Controller though does seem a decent option but his movement is where it shines.

Agree – nothing wrong with Ethereals, and they are cheap. They can be a great start to a markerlight chain as well giving the Pathfinders re-rolls of 1s etc.

I am really liking the Coldstar but it is hard to really explain why without resorting to Chess analogies. The Coldstar is a real late-game piece, it is decisive once the number of models on the table starts to drop and there are more spaces for it to exploit – like a Rook in chess. In the end-game of shooting opponents off objectives, gaining Linebreaker or picking off Character models only partially screened by a few remaining dudes the Coldstar comes into its own and is quite a dominant unit. Where it is less optimal is during the first couple of turns when the space to operate is limited and its outright firepower is less than the more conventional Commander options.

That’s a good analogy and a great explanation. All really good points and for those reasons it may be a good idea to keep the cold star off the table until turn 3, just to make sure he lasts the game.

I definitely don't disagree and that's one of the big issues I have had with Tau so far re mobility. If I could just take another Missile Pod I would be happy…

The main problem I’ve found with the DC is that you often want him jumping around the board and drones simply can’t keep up. Unless you’re running some Remoras with him.

I highly recommend the shield generator as it makes him surprisingly durable.

Pulse accelerator drones only buff the listed pulse weapons on t'au empire infantry, btw.

If taking a slow, if not stationary, battlesuit like the Stormsurge, R'Varna or even Broadside(s); is it worth bringing a tech drone unit?
I have never used them, but potentially healing D3 wounds could keep some of those back-field suits in the fight or at least bump them up to better fighting stats if they have already taken wounds.

I forget if it matters for Tech drones, but Stormsurges are not a battlesuit. They're a vehicle. If they work on vehicles, I'd take them for hammerheads, actually.

Unfortunately they can only heal battlesuits, which doesn't include the Stormsurge (but does include the Tau'nar.)

I've always found it really weird that Tau, of all races, have no way to repair vehicles.

The Tau lack of repair makes perfect sense! All of their toys are like iPhones, always improving, rapidly developing, aesthetically stylish and almost instantly obsolete.

Replace, don't Repair. They probably can't even access their own battery compartments 😀


I have to disagree on the fortifications, The Tidewall specifically, for the following reasons:

A) they act like transports. For a 70 point shield line you can put a 1-2 groups of pathfinders in them to make them t7 3?4?+ save that reflects mortal wounds on a 6

B) They’re open topped, which means the pathfinders/characters can still fire while being protected. Striker teams love this too due to not being able to die easily the next turn

C) they can still move 6″ so you’re not even losing much mobility. With the new line of sight rules only one part of the tidewall has to have los to shoot the entire unit.

For 70 points, making your pathfinders super tough seems pretty cheap. Now i will agree the automated weapons do kinda suck due to 5+ bs on the others.

T7/4+ just isn't that tough at the end of the day, unfortunately. And while they can shoot out the top, when the fortification inevitably gets wrecked, fully half of the models inside will die- that is pretty devastating. I would rather have a transport, or even just be on foot, at that point.

"Fully half the models inside will die"

You're making the mistake of thinking just because it fills the fortification slot, it works like a Bastion, Fortress, etc. There's nothing that saves that it does, all those models have their owns specific rule that says occupants die on 1,2,3. Doneports and such do not.

It's essentially a rhino (slightly less armored, slower, but I wouldn't move it much) that you get to shoot out of. That's awesome, particularly considering how delicate pathfinders are.

Huh, I thought that was part of the generic building rules, but apparently not. Makes it a lot more usable, then.

T7/4+ as Puppy says is not super durable. The Droneport definitely has use I feel to get some Markerlights going and protects some Pathfinders or Fire Warriors but then it's also target number 1.

The Shield Wall – eh, I'd rather another squad of Fire Warriors / Pathfinders.

True, t6/4+ isn’t hugely tough against the multitude of anti vehicle weapons being brought nowadays.

I preder look at it as more an upgrade for two Pathfinder units which would make it 35 points for each unit in the pair of 5 man units to go from t3/5+ to t6/4+ with no effect to mobility and effectively 10 albative wounds before you even start losing guys. That’s a pretty significant increase to survivability to the unit who can’t be easily taken down by heavy bolters or small arms fire anymore. Given all the other targets your opponent may not be willing to devote the shots to them if there are more pressing threats.

This is why I come to 3++ for tactics. This is hands down the most honest and accurate assessment of Tau in 8th I’ve seen so far. Great bit of concise and informative writing Kirby.

And so, so much better than anything from that fuckwit Reece at FLG, mindlessly parroting “everything is awesome” at the top of his lungs.

Fuck off. If that idiot is going to play test stuff for GW he needs to do his job properly and be realistic about which units are good and which aren’t.

He also needs to stop talking smack about factions he doesn’t understand.

Being nice to everyone is a great strategy for making friends, but it's a terrible way to conduct playtesting or put forward meaningful criticism and commentary.

I don't have anything against Reece as a person, but his puff articles do come off as insipid.

+1 to this. I’d have absolutely no problem with Reece if he wasn’t a play tester. He can have whatever opinions he wants. But if he has any influence over the balance of this game whatsoever, then he needs to be honest and realistic. He is currently neither of those.

You do realize that he signed a contract and probably can't talk too much shit or the inquisition will take him to Nottingham for further Questioning 😀

"How dare that man make money at his job! What about the artistic integrity of playing with little plastic spacemen, has he no respect for that?!?"

Yeah, that's selling out. In this case indicating his advice has less value because he is beloden to interests than actually giving good advice.

Also, y'know, more importantly, he just doesn't know crap about Tau.

"Not being familiar with an army" is a very unusual definition of selling out, but okay.

100% agree with Prom. If part of your job is to review units and rules but you can’t say anything bad, then you’re not a reviewer, you’re a sycophant.

Plus Reece and the entire FLG team have very obvious biases and seem to think that if a faction or unit works in the way they like to use it, then there’s nothing wrong with it.

Reece also has a nasty habit of asking for feedback and criticism then completely ignoring anything he disagrees with because “you just haven’t played enough games yet” or “you just can’t see how awesome it is”

His job isn't to review units and rules. That's not his job at all, that's his hobby. His job is to run Frontline Gaming the company and sell models, sell tickets to LVO, and grow the hobby as a whole.

Reece isn't a great player, but it's not like he's changed his tone since FLG started pairing with GW- he's always been over-optimistic about how good some units are and prefers to run "wacky" builds that go against conventional wisdom. It's one of the reasons Frankie is easily the better player of the two, he just doesn't talk as much.

Reece reviews units and rules on FLG through written posts and podcasts, which helps attract viewers to the site, therefore it is a part of his job. And if he’s overly optimistic and a bad player (I agree with you on both accounts) then he’s the wrong person to be play testing rules.

Oh come on Nazka. Yes this is much more useful and frank than anything Reece posted but he is still a good guy and doesn’t deserve to be called names like that on a public board that is open to the world/

His personality and what he deserves is irrelevant. If he is going to play test and influence the balance of this game then he needs to be serious and realistic. All the problems with him I’ve mentioned still stand.

Reece makes jokes about his 'everything is great' schtick.. You can say what you want but when most of you ran away from 7th, at least FLG and the ITC tried to rein the shit in and make it playable. I would much rather have them, Nova, etc playtesting this shit than Jervis and that band of merry idiots. Sell out my ass..what the fuck have you clowns done for the hobby lately? The big 'experts' are back in the house eh? When one of you wins or runs a major..let us know. Puppy is exempt..he stuck around.

We’ve done no less for this hobby than you Quinn. And for some bizarre reason some of us actually have jobs unrelated to this hobby, but still appreciate it when that hobby isn’t fucked with by people who’s jobs are in the hobby. Reece and Co may be better at balance than Jervis etc but they’re still not great. And none of that excuses the atmosphere of denial at FLG regarding the flaws of 8th.

I am not on here bitching about FLG or anyone else that tried to help with 8th. If you have actually listened then you would know that they absolutely don't agree with everything GW put into the final product, no one does. There will be ITC changes, guarantee it. I'm sure the next thing will be 'ITC?..what is that?' Or, we are not in the US so could care less..however GW apparently cared. ITC kept this game alive on the tournament level in the US. Talking shit now about 'selling out' is complete bs.. None of those organizers are stupid, do you honestly think they would try to sell some shyt rules to serious players? Besides the fact that they had little idea what the final ruleset or indexes would look like. They played games, gave input and waited for GW to make the final call. Go back, watch the podcasts, battle reports, etc..almost everything they said was screwed up came up in the FAQ. Except the 'go first' and 'you can take 1 dude to fill a slot' garbage which they have repeatedly stated will not be happening in ITC tournaments. I don't work with those guys, I don't drink beer with them but you are not being fair.

Obviously I’m reading their posts and listening to their podcasts otherwise I wouldn’t be bringing any of this up. Yes, Reece and FLG have done a lot of good for 40k as a whole. BUT. That does NOT make them immune to criticism.

Now I can’t speak for the factions I don’t play. But for Tau anyway Reece is definitely trying to sell shyt rules and units, and in utter denial about the very real issues with the faction.

I really, REALLY wish there was a good setup for crisis suits. Most attractive I've thought up is 3 suits, 8 plasma rifles, 1 DC, and 6 gun drones for a deep strike bomb. Pros: 24x str 5shots plus 16x str6ap-3 shots, gives extra deployment option for the gun drones, the crisis team is basically immune to morale (if my math and understanding of the new morale rules are right). Cons: only really good vs infantry, not so much vs vehicles or monsters; costs 267pts and doesn't feel like it would pull its weight.

I initially considered mass flamers, but for only 2 points per gun more, the plasma rifle gives the flexibility of not needing a setup unit. Granted going burst cannons would be a mere 1ppg over the flamers, I'll have to go double check the numbers in the analysis article posted here.

Flamers give overall better numbers against a lot of targets, though they do admittedly need the Homing Beacon (or start on the table + advance) in order to do their thing. I think Crisis are alright, but not exceptional, at most jobs- they're no longer one of our top-tier units, but they do pretty passably well at a lot of things.

If you're going Burst Cannons on suits, you are far better off taking XV9 Monats with DBCs, a DC, and a quartet of Gun Drones. Far more efficient for the points.

He said XV9 Monat. They come in squads 1-3. It’s a Forgeworld thing so I wouldn’t expect you to know about them.

I think you got Shadowsun and Farsight mixed up; Shadowsun is the rerolls and costs more.

Good reading. I'd love to see Forge World entries added to this, particularly Hazard Suits and Y'Vahra

Solid round up.

Only unit I disagree with is stealth suits.

What’s nice about stealth suits is that if you take a big unit and string them out as a first deployment you have basically screwed any sort of first turn deepstrike attacks and Scout moves.

Hell, line up on their deployment zone edge.

You have also taken away an entire turn of movement from your enemy from any noon skiing unit.

They are basically 8th Ed servo skills.

This is far superior to kroot which move forward after things are deployed.

Only a couple units in the game have this type of deployment and it’s hugely powerful.

So think about it. What would you pay to take a movent phase away from you enemy turn 1?

A big unit is expensive – 10 models is 300 points.

I'm going to give one of the disrupter, fast moving units a go and they certainly are not bad but I'm not sure they are something I want to be reaching for right away (300 points to stop a single movement is great but can I realistically with 10 models?).

Well. I mean they are basically 2″ bases and 2″ apart plus the 1″ to the end guys is 40″ of movement blocking…

Not quite the whole table, but you get the idea.

You March a unit of kroot up behind them to take away drops in no man’s land.

I’ve been doing the same thing with scouts attached to my IG army, so that my conscripts will have center board dominance.

It also works well with pox walkers and nurglings.

They aren't 2" bases, they're 32mm ones (which is about 1.2" or s, quite a bit smaller.) You certainly can cover a fair bit of ground with them but as Kirby points out that unit is _expensive_ at 300pts. Kroot will do most of the same job for ~90pts or so, pushing back enemy assaults on the first turn as well as Deep Strikes while also filling a troop slot.

Stealth Suits certainly have lots of uses, but trying to preemptively "contain" the enemy like that doesn't feel like a strong option overall- there's enough shooting armies, and armies with Fly, and other things that won't really care that you are investing too many points into a tactic that won't work often enough.

Path finders can also do similar if absolutely required. It's probably not the best use of them but they're 8 points each with carbines and a 7 inch "scout move".

Yeah, I've sacrificed a unit of pathfinders to push back some deep strikes more than a few times already.

Never posted but have lurked for a while. Couple of thoughts on your rankings:

I think Shadowsun is more useful than that. With Tau having virtual 4+ to hit across the board, things that buff now come at a premium. Kau'yon is super powerful if used well and her -1 to hit makes up for some of the durability you lose with a vanilla commander.

Disagree about darkstrider. In an edition where strength matters less, his unique ability is simply less important, and will often end up not making a difference at all.

Great review. Looking forward to following this site again.

Darkstrider's ability to lower the enemy's toughness has two big things going for it this time around. First off, it works on vehicles now- dropping that Rhino to T6 or a Trukk to T5 can be a big swing if you're set up for it. Second, Pathfinders (and their special rifles) are no longer complete trash this edition, which means you can actually take advantage of it more easily.

That said, I usually end up using him more for the Markerlight and ability to fall back more than anything else, but he's a solid choice even then. He's also the perfect companion to a unit of Breachers, who don't benefit at all from an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade most of the time.

Yeah I’ve found him most useful with Beachers since their range virtually always results in them being assaulted next turn, and having breachers fall back and still shoot is very nasty.

I like Darkstrider near some rail rifles. Makes them effectively str7 plus wounding t4 on 2s.

If you can get him to buff some Rail Rifles shooting a vehicle you're in a pretty good place, yeah.

Heavy weapons pathfinders still scare me. The gun is great, but it makes them what, 40 something points? Maybe it's a 7th edition mindset but yeesh. I'd at least make sure an ethereal is roaming around by them so I don't lose one to leadership.

That's a good point. I've softened my stance on him. I'm not sure what 2+ market light is worth on it's own, but when he's only 45 pts, you don't need much gravy to make the numbers work.

Just as a theoretical exercise, would it be viable to run an “All Kroot” army?

Well, nearly all Kroot anyway. Obviously they cannot fill certain FOC requirements, but one could always get creative with the conversions and make a Kroot Fireblade or whatever. But I mean a list that uses as much of the Kroot as possible and avoids taking Tau units unless absolutely necessary.

I'm honestly kind of digging the idea of a single Piranha. It's decent filler for 71 points, puts out 12 S5 shots, and can move 16" a turn. Decent for some late-game objective grabbing. I don't know that it's the first thing I'd reach for if I have points left over, but if you don't need anymore Markerlights and you want something with some speed on it, I think it could be a fair last entry in a list.

Not something I'd ever run multiples of, though…

Great review, my 0,02$
Riptide is unusable atm, does not do nearly enough for all the points. Just pales in comparision to the stormsurge.
Kroot Hounds are very good. Incredibly cheap, very fast. 48 points give you 24 attacks hitting on 3+. Take initiative with charging, who cares if they die afterwards. Sadly, no one has the models…
Vespid shouldn't be compared with gun drones (really nothing should or the whole list would be orange/red except them). Compare them to commanders and see how great they are.