TaKtiX: Warhammer

News, reviews, events, tactics and reports for Games Workshop's Warhammer & Warhammer 40K series of games and related lines.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tau Empire Codex - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Despite the dubious release date (April 1st), the new Tau Empire codex has finally been released and, as with every new codex, it is a bit of a mixed bag. In comparison to the first codex, this is a vast and welcome improvement that the Tau army so desperately needed.

The Good Bits

Additional Wargear
Under the old codex, it seemed somewhat pointless to tell prospective Tau commanders that they could not put more than one hundred points of additional wargear on a single unit when the maximum amount of wargear you could take stretched to just over fifty points. Commanders in Crisis Suits ended up being equipped the same as regular Crisis Suits and, frankly, it was all a little dull.

With the inclusion of extra wargear - including the very handy Advanced Stabilisation System which gives your Broadsides some mobility - there's a little more variation in the army list. Thank you, Games Workshop!

Marine Killing
The inclusion of Sniper Drones (armed with Rail Rifles, previously only usable by Pathfinders) and the Vespid Stingwings means that a Tau player is no longer relying on fielding a large number of Plasma Rifles to take on Marines. The Vespids do feel a little bit "soft" for their cost but, hopefully, with a little bit of cover on their side, they can inflict some serious casualties on those pesky Marines.

The Sniper Drones are, like the Vespids, fairly expensive in points (and pounds, no doubt, this is still Games Workshop we're talking about here) but are outfitted with stealth fields (like the XV15 Suits) and target locks, enabling each drone to shoot at a different unit. Very handy for picking off the remains of squads, if you ask me.

I have never got particularly excited about Kroot in a Tau army. They're assault troops that don't have much in the way of armour, aren't particularly fast and can be easily beaten back by any other assault unit you care to mention. However, they've tweaked the way Kroot squads are organised now, so fielding Kroot Hounds and Krootox no longer take up Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots respectively. It always seemed rather daft to take a Krootox as a Heavy Support choice, when you could take the almighty Hammerhead tank.

The Bad

The Problem With Ethereals
If you read through the flavour text of the Tau Empire codex (and the Tau codex before that), it states that, when an Ethereal dies, the Fire Warriors go into a fairly carefully controlled shooting frenzy. I do not mind the idea that a Tau unit should take a break test when one of their beloved leaders passes away at the hands of an enemy, but I cannot fathom why the "carefully controlled shooting frenzy" translates into gaining the Preferred Enemy special rule against the people that killed the Ethereal.

Carefully controlled shooting frenzy does not mean "we hit them better in hand to hand combat", does it? I know it makes the rules nice and simple, but it really doesn't reflect the background. Bless Games Workshop, they're not going to let something as trivial as the background get in the way of a game.

The Pathfinder Problem
I am still of the firm belief that, for the sake of our collective wallets, a Pathfinder team should not be required to field a Devilfish transport. Yes, it does make them very useful and lets them get to a good sniping point a little more quickly, but it's bloody expensive. Especially as the rules say that a transport can only carry the unit they're attached to. Essentially, an eight man squad now costs upwards of thirty pounds.

The Ugly

The Kroot, at best, provided a supposedly-pleasant contrast to the neat armour of the Tau. The Vespids, in my opinion, are horrifically ugly. The Tyranids are more attractive. They serve a very useful purpose in the new Tau army but, dear Eris on high, they could have made them look a bit different. Perhaps like those Swooping Hawks the Eldar get.

Commander Farsight
In comparison to the new Tau commander models, and the model for Commander Shadowsun, poor old Farsight looks quite ugly and out of date. Then again, they have changed the rules for him, making him a little bit more interesting. The idea of taking Commander Farsight, and giving him seven bodyguards in tooled up Crisis Suits is amusing in the extreme.

In Conclusion

If you've got a Tau army, well, you're going to be getting this book anyway, right? If you're thinking about starting a new army, now's the time to go for Tau as, well, the newest codex is always the best one. There's enough new things in the book to make the Tau seem interesting again and, luckily, things like the new wargear will not require much in the way of converting models.


At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 11:31:00 pm, Anonymous Tim said...

Lots of scope for over-equipping your battle suits with too many bits and pieces. As an opponent I like that... Though less happy about broadsides wandering around shooting up my tanks, although I think it probably is a good piece of gear to have available.

Sniper drones seem like a good addition. Good demonstration of how "the latest codex is always the best" - 1) they're snipers but they don't actually have sniper rifles (which are a bit silly) and 2) they can fire at multiple targets, thus giving you more of a chance to benefit from pinning (useful because of the low chances of units actually failing ld tests...).

Vespids I'll be concerned about the day I have some AP3 troops in my army... But, even when painted ok, they are damn ugly models.

Pathfinders I agree with you totally. It's costly for anyone who wants to use the unit, and it takes up a big block of your points. And it means to field the unit, you have to field a devilfish whether you like the vehicle and having a transport or not. There's not any other unit type you have to have a transport for is there? Lazy-ass pathfinders refusing to walk anywhere.
Also the devilfish reminds me too much of toadfish from neighbours.

At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 11:39:00 pm, Blogger Mapp said...

"Lots of scope for over-equipping your battle suits with too many bits and pieces."

It's better that the option is there than not having it there, if you ask me. A lot of the items aren't going to be used very often - I don't know if I would spend the points on giving my Commander a 2+ save when I can give him a 4+ Invulnerable save using a Shield Generator.

I would much rather have a codex that gave me lots of options that I choose not to use, rather than a few options which I don't like.

"There's not any other unit type you have to have a transport for is there?"

I cannot think of any other army that has a unit which requires a transport. Actually, wait, isn't there an Imperial Guard unit that requires them to be mounted in a Chimera?

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:10:00 am, Blogger MatGB said...

Armoured Fist squads, they were the only non-platoon troops choice they could have.

Made moe sense for Guard, I don't see why Pathfinders wouldn't dismount and sneak forward. Ah well.

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 2:56:00 pm, Blogger Mapp said...

There are some advantages to putting your Pathfinders in a Devilfish - it means their free move at the start of the game can be a bit more useful.

Ideally, Pathfinders should have the option to take a Devilfish as per the T.E. Codex or spend a few extra points per model, scrap the Devilfish option and give them the Infiltrate ability instead. That way you've got the option to give them the Devilfish, or the option to field them the same way most other scouting units are fielded in the game (ie, they get to frickin' infiltrate)!

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 6:12:00 pm, Anonymous Tim said...

Yeah, Guard have armoured fist, but they're basically no different from a regular infantry squad, so they don't really count.

Not complaining about the wargear options, just hoping I meet some over-excitable Tau players...

I think one of the problems with pathfinders is they come a little too close to stealth teams, both being units that move ahead/away from the main army. Giving them infiltrate gives the Tau two commonly fielded infiltrating units, which changes the nature of the army a little. But I do still think it's a better option than forcing them to take a devilfish.

At Wednesday, April 05, 2006 7:39:00 pm, Blogger MatGB said...

Over excitable players I meet; the Torbay club I go to on occasions. old Codex, 1000pt game, he'd bought both a tooled up ethereal and the special character ethereal (which isn't allowed) on the grounds that "it's the only way I can survive in close combat", despite his tactic being to sit on the baseline.

I pointed out to him that he could spend the same points on two squeads of Kroot who could simply stand in the way. He started winning games soon after that...

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:12:00 am, Blogger Mapp said...

"Giving them infiltrate gives the Tau two commonly fielded infiltrating units, which changes the nature of the army a little."

That'd be three - Kroot can Infiltrate, can't they?

"(...)despite his tactic being to sit on the baseline."

This is, still, one of the major problems I have with the Tau army. Although the Tau are highly mobile, the temptation is still to sit back on the back of the table and get as many shots off as possible before you get assaulted. Although the Tau army can run around the table, there never seems to be enough space to retreat to. Most players seem to deploy in a long straight line and advance forwards, which kind of limits the tactics available for a Tau army.

Next blogger post then - mobility in a Tau army?

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 2:25:00 pm, Anonymous Tim said...

Yeah, I forgot about kroot.

Mobility would be a good topic for a post. I think it's an issue not just for the Tau but for 40k in general... you should try playing guard. It seems that far too often moving comes down to one army trying to close on the other as quickly as possible and the other standing still and shooting them up as much as possible.

Part of the issue is the way ranges and unit speeds have worked out. Say you have a unit of fire warriors with pulse rifles going up against genestealers. The FWs will get exactly the same number of shots whether they retreat or not, since the range of their moving firepower is the same as the 'stealers' charge range.
Of course this is an oversimplified situation, but it helps illustrate some of the issues.

The way the transport and vehicle rules work doesn't help the matter.

I think part of the problem is the way terrain has been devalued. With battlefields too open, the impetus for moving is lost, since one point is pretty much the same as any other, just closer to or further from the enemy. Terrain forces shooty armies to move to get the enemy in their sights, also forces close combat units to pick their routes, unless they want to slog through difficult terrain.

I should mention I came to the conclusion a while ago that I simply don't like the WH40k rules.

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 3:43:00 pm, Blogger Mapp said...

"Terrain forces shooty armies to move to get the enemy in their sights, also forces close combat units to pick their routes, unless they want to slog through difficult terrain."

Difficult terrain has always been a bit of a thorny issue where I'm concerned - most of the games of W40K I've played have had nothing in the way of terrain but hills, which block line of sight, but don't require any kind of difficult terrain roll to get over, so assault-heavy armies get quite a benefit from them.

Right. Time to write about mobility!

At Thursday, April 06, 2006 4:29:00 pm, Anonymous matgb said...

For terrain, we regularly use bits of cloth to represent stuff. Brown for marshes/ swampy ground/plowed fields, green with a few model trees to represent woods, etc.

Works, is easy to set up, and portable.

At Friday, April 21, 2006 11:47:00 pm, Anonymous Tim said...

An idea I've seen to add a bit of variety to your games if you don't have much terrain is to introduce tabletop environmental effects. So you could have fog, which gives a cover save at ranges over 12", long grass giving an across the board 6+ cover save and stuff like that.
May help stop things turning into the same sort of shooting gallery too much.

At Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:05:00 pm, Blogger LordFoamy said...

hmm i was just going to add a few points, notably on the mobility of the tau army.

pathfinders should be able to infil. thatsa moot point.

but with regards to tau infantry just sitting back, its a very common tactic amongst newer players, the same is with guard armies, although more so - due to the presence of heavy weapons.

with tau pulse rifles being rapid fire there is no reason why a cadre should remain stionary popping shots.

mine never do, and they never did

At Wednesday, August 16, 2006 2:03:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok GW isn't always out to get you. What would pathfinders be doing in Fast Attack w/o the devilfish? They wouldn't. They'd just be an undermanned FW squad, so stop whining about it.

At Tuesday, February 27, 2007 11:04:00 pm, Anonymous Shas O Dalyth Montau said...

good point, but...

for a long time I've been trying to think of what could improve pathfinders to what they do, scout, and I am ashamed I didn't think of infiltrate before! well done mapp for the idea -> goes off to write house rules

At Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:25:00 am, Blogger Harry said...

I play tau. I think there COOL! anaway that dude does have a piont about pf's. Theyed be history without devilfish. Anyway, don't you wish the tau had more variety? The bloody sm"s have a bajillion different types of units.

At Saturday, November 29, 2008 1:28:00 pm, Blogger RauĆ°bjorn said...

Ya'll realize that Pathfinders can have markerlights right? Markerlights that can be used to direct the Seeker missiles you paid for when you modded you obligatory Devilfish, right? With half your pathfinders sniping, and the other half dropping markerlights on everything in range, all of a sudden your LRRPs team just became a self defending F/O group that can KILL armor. Combine with deep strike, and you can pretty well wipe an enemy's heavy armor in the first couple of rounds.

As for Kroot, use the 7" shooter rule and the infiltrate rules (when you can) and piss off your opponent with that wonderful "I can shoot you, but you can't shoot me" trick. And Kroot are not really meant to be shock troops, you're supposed to use them to freeze Jump infantry and assault infantry in place with them so your fire teams can rapid fire on them for a round or two (or make good their escape).

At Sunday, January 25, 2009 4:45:00 am, Blogger TauMasada said...

yeah i believe they should do a little more on farsight as if you take him ur army gets perferd agaisnt orcs and every tau unit or model /w/e that has acses to the armory gets a bonding knife and u can get 1-7 bodyguards but if you step back and look at all the downfalls why in heck would you want to get into cc with vertually any amry with tau now the suits arnt bad but they arnt good enuff to cc even if u cc with a crapy troop choice it ties you up and allows him to get a heavy hitting squad in and it makes less shots fly . and if you take him u have 0-1 braodsides 0-1 hammerhads and ect. that i belive makes my desicsion that shadowsun is fare more tacticaly and smart cuz if you take her she is kick ass by her self for only 5 extra points. you get her with 2 fusion blaster at bs 5 and yes her T is lower then farishgts so she will get dinged easer but she comes with a 3+ save and 3 drones two shield and one command-link. thats 3 invols right there for her and if u pass them u can use them again from the drones. so technicaly she has 6 wounds and she had a stealth armor . And her herself has a 4+ invol and any unit thats need a LD check thats within 18inch of her can use her LD whitch is 10 :) tau is an army based on shooting not cc.and she allows you to take 2 braodside choices or hammerheads, i have played tau for about 3 years and i have won every game but one even thoe the one game was friendly against a best friend and i charged him cuz i wanted to show him the rules . i have played in 10 tournamints and not to menchon the friendly games and little tournamints in the area always found my braodsides worth there points when ever i have gotten into a tite position my braodsides always pulled througth. and yes if your played in a tournamint always bring on heammerhead and 6 braodsides if you have the points!. i canot stress enuf on how tau players have been using tau ronge or just not exparemnting and giving up or not using them to there best abilities tau is a shooty army there for shoot. play some games and learn ok thies guys did good il ceep them and thies guys sucked so ill take them out and try a different unit, but for my experince u can bring a really expensive leader or bring on just as good but less points it take some time in experementing and learning the army but once you learn the secreats like me you will never be beaten ( not to brage), you just need to site back and think= #1 try my best to stay out of cc well it wont be that hard because tau have allot of jet packs allowing you to go 6 and then shoot and 6 again in the assault faze even if you dont assault a unit:) perfect for moving out of cover shooting and mocing back into cover:). but #2 how do i stay out of it well you have to see what army your faceing u have to looke say you are faceing eldar you have to looke and say ok he is fast and he will be on top of you in the first turn if he is good and knows what he is doing agaisnt you. So you have to think i have to stop his maneouverabilitie/ his mobiltie that goes the same with any army tau faces you want to crush any unti that will get to you first like if there are fast skimer tanks or opend top tank or assault squads or jump pack/ jet pack squads any unit that is the quickest kill it first , that way u can asses the battle and go from there almost all tau units are fast if played smart ( thus ceeping in mind that he moves after you so move knowing he could move next and assault or shoot), with this new knowledge if u face dark eldare take braodsides in about 1250 of dark eldar he will have about 3 troop transports and a big squad of jetbikes this is based on my last tournamint i was in that a dark eldare player had that i blew away in round 1. i had 6 braodsides and one hammerhead my leader was a normal hq a shas'el upgraded and for my elites i had 6 crisus suits and 6 stealthsuit and troops i had small squads incase i got into cc troops would be the most likly squad to get into cc cuz they can only move 6 unlike all teh suits in the army they can go 12 ( jetpack)so i had small minimum squads of 6 with devil fishes and then i think 3 or 2 bodyguards i belive this was a tournamint of 1250. and i looked at the battle field i roled to go first with was lucky cuz he had a rule that mad it so we could rerole if he failed well he failed both :) ( for the greater good) so i placed my braodsides behind cover werd move but he fell for it and most of my stuff was behind cover so he went into the open but the cool thing was were i was in cover i could see him in cover butt i couldnt if he went into the open so he put it in a way i coudlnt see him but thats why u have to be smart and think if he has first turn he will move and shoot so he didnt allowing me to have the uper hand !. he put his bikes in my face so i put my stealth suits in his bikes face and my troops and devil fish near his bikes to . and then my turn began i moved my devils 12 ( 2 of them) and got out my stealthsuits went towords the jetbikes ( this was risky cuz if i didnt kill them they would assault a unit butt it was okay i had small units so when he would assault he would kill them right away and let him self to be vonerable to shoots my next tern) . then places my braodsides 6 out and hammerheads in site of a transprot and my leader with his bodyguards and my 2 other elite choices aboule to see any unit trying to get out of a exploaded transport :) and thus i exacuted my plan. i frist shoot with my braodsides so i could see if i need my hammerheads solid shot and my first two managed to take 1out of 3 down then my next two shoot a nother and my one other braodside killed the last transport makeing themm all pile out and vonerable to shoots. now i know a unit has to shoot at one squad u can shoot one at a nother and so on and so forth but thats were i equpid my braodsides with target lock and yes i was taking a risk at saying only one would shoot at it and not knowing but i hd my hammerhead behind me to at BS4 so it worked and they all piled out and then next were my troops i think he had a squad of 12 if i remeber correctly but they were gone in one tern . all my 12 firewarriors got 24 shoots ( rapidfire) and then devil fish with its smart missle system so 8 shoots at BS4 and then my stealthsiuts. which had 18 shoots at BS4 cuz of marker light i gave them :)( and yes i had seekermissle on my devilfish) so now with the bikes gone and troops out and exsposed i seased the opertounity and killed themm all with my 6 crisus suits and leader with 2 bodyguards i had given a bodyguard the templait weapon so that saved allot of shoots and almost killed the full squad :) ( i will use that weapon again cuz i tuke it for a test ) and hammerhead used a template shoot that scaterd only 3inch but with the new 5th adition rules u subtract your BS so it didnt scater and thus killing a hole squad , he had a whitch army and laiter found out talking to him that i would have gotten my ass kicked in cc , and i gotten a masacer or majore victory whitch ever one you call it now lol the best win there is :). i had gotten best general that tournamint not best over all cuz of pianting :( lol , but in all my battles looke back and think what did then best and dont be afrade to exparement but looke at my battle i looked at what was the quickest and it was the jetbikes and transports so i iniolated them first and then went from there same with any army space marins i havent fought them since the new codex ( never fought them proerly with them not cheeting ) but i also havent lost against them ,Any army like orcs take away there truks and bikes and there nothing a bunch of walking fragiel plants. take away the mobilite in any army and u have them even mess mentaly with your oponent if you know he is attacked so a unit them smoke it out of the water watch his freak out and possibly tripe up and make a mistake i have seen when i smoked a unit out of the water i seen the guy quit and just let me shoot him and get the best win agaisnt him :) . so not only is it tacticaly but mentaly to . i wouldnt play mental games in tournamints unless your goods but agaisnt poeple you know and you want to win even try it out and master it :). but yeah key to tau shoot them beffor they get to you so key = how to kill them beffor they get to you answer stop the mobility and you have won and remember to MOVE ^ IN THE ASSAULT faze and try not to stay static cuz then your oponent can asses the problem and manouver around you and play your static game agaisnt you!so good luck and i am more than willing to help you and tell more of my knowledge :). take care and FOR THE GREATER GOOD ( sorry about spelling )

At Sunday, January 25, 2009 5:07:00 am, Blogger TauMasada said...

i also would liek to add that in my 3 years of experince 10 tournakints was fast and quick i came into the game noobishly if you will lol i am 16 now and in my town i have never been beaten for 3 years and of course with that title i have had allot of pople challenge me some close games but braodsides always pulled throught :). with the new 5ed rules ap = +1 on damaged result table :) so yeah i also would liek to add i would love to know the the hell GW put a sniper drone team in the heavy choice and why the hell they ceep giving use crapy new weapons and allies really it all sucks kroot wernt bad but not good ither ( depending on what player of tau u are mabey u are based kroot ) but persionaly i think GW needs to stop messign aorund and give uo something usefull . and not any of this crap o heres an allie so we will shut up and o here is a nother allie and some crapy weapons give use soemthing we can use something that isnt sh$ty liek the new spacemarines codex looke at them they pritty much tooke eveyr thing out of evyer codes of the imperium and gave it to them liek what the heck ! i dont know sorry but it pisses me off all thies other amries even necrons can wel be back ( come back ) and GW ceeps giving use SH&ty allies and guns to ceep use quit. if anything i think the tau shout be redone cuz we have suport systems that make it so we dont need priority tests and i bet the reson why our leaders were good but not any more and why they suck is cuz of the new rules they mad target priority test they tuke it right out and almsot all the cool leaders have an abilitie to ignore the priority test so we just lsot points there and they could/should replace that with some cool / better abiltie and now they gave orcs a HQ a normal orc man abouel to carry and shoot a templat weapon capabble of killing evyer thing under the templat no if ands or buts and yet tau are the most technical advanced race and we dont have anything like that and the fact that a normal orc man can carry a template weapon and yet we need battlesuits mechine to help use move and shoot them i find this game starting to deviat from the cool individual armies liek orcs they were cool bye cc and tau were good at shooting and all the armies had there cool identity but now there intraducing shooting to orc and eveyr one is liek ooo Tau are soo good and there a shooting army and they and shoot the crap out of every one watch out BULLSH$t lol man if we could hit anything looke at our BS it is just one better then the orcs lol one of the crapiest armies of shooting and were supossed to be the best shooting armie and were only one better i find that bullcrap we have to pay points to get a better bs and yet space marines some eldar and even dark eldar and almost eveyr other armie other then orcs are better and should be able to out shoot use lol were we are spending points to shoot ( upgrade to shoot better ) they are getting more guys or upgrading to a better weapon :( ( oponent) . i dont know i just find it outrages and messed up how they have it desinged. i think tau should get ride of the crapy alies like vespids and give use something real soemthing we can hit with and use ! . thats my thoughts on that please tell me what your thoughts are on that other tau players:).?

At Sunday, January 25, 2009 5:15:00 am, Blogger TauMasada said...

and about this pathfinder thing yeah they may have marker lights but as soon as you spend the heavy cost in pts to get them and onces you get them into position they are clased as heavy weapons so they have to take a tern then shoot :( so ither u get int site and range and tehy move away or they assault you and to spend points sitting there not shooting i think is a waist. personaly

At Friday, February 27, 2009 5:25:00 pm, Anonymous Tau Empire said...

On the subject of Pathfinders, I never leave home without them. I do find the Devilfish requirement a pain as I find I almost never use it. So we have a unit of supposedly stealthy troops with a huge APC floating beside them, not good fluff.

At Thursday, May 28, 2009 4:25:00 pm, Anonymous Keal said...

Just started a tau army, thanks for all the post found them very interesting.....


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