Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to give a first reading review on the lovely little thing we call the new Tau Codex and to announce the end of an era. Flyers, your days are numbered!
I can’t say how or why or from whom, but a little birdie delivered a copy of the shiny new dex to my eager little hands and I had a chance to read through it. I am a big anime/manga/mehca fan, and have always wanted to collect Tau but have waited for the new book. Turns out it was a good call!
First off, the units largely have the same stats and abilities which will make it an easy transition for most players. Some things changed like Disruption Pods not being so ridiculous (but who didn’t see that coming?) and some things got better (Burst Cannons are now assault 4, Ion weapons can all overcharge, cheaper drones, general points decrease) but the veteran Tau player will largely pick this up and get a feel for it right away.
Second of all, it appears GW made some more errors in this Dex similar to Dark Angels. Perhaps I am missing it, but did anyone see the multi-trackers in the wargear list? It doesn’t seem that you can purchase it for units (no points given) but it is defined in the wargear section. Edit: They are included with every suit! Also, as most of you have read by now, GW totally screwed up this release in the USA. It appears that they really underestimated the popularity of Tau and either didn’t produce enough product, didn’t stockpile enough, or something similar because they are totally sold out here. It is bizarre as Tau were red hot back in 3rd and 4th ed (I was told they were the second best selling army behind Space Marines). A lot of retailers (including actual GW stores) are getting very limited, if any, Tau for the release date. However on the plus side, it appears that the Australian prices aren’t so asinine now as they were in the past: much closer to the rest of us. Good for our Aussie gaming cousins!
However, unprofessional mistakes aside, I really, really like the Tau book on my first read-through!
Sound familiar? It should be because I also loved Dark Angels and Chaos Daemons, too! Chaos Space Marines are very powerful, but I still feel like they just dropped the ball on that book. Could have been so much cooler, but hey, batting 3 of 4 so far in 6th is not bad at all. These recent books really resonated with me for several reasons. They have multiple, fluff oriented, viable builds. They have really fun, cheap troops. They have synergistic elements that allow for a great deal of depth of play and combos to be found which to a grizzled old grognard like me, is where the real fun of 40K lies.
They are very well rounded in my eyes, even without having assault or counter assault units. Why do I say that? Because they have REALLY good non-traditional counter assault elements to the army that compensate for their lack of actual choppy units. Let me mention for the first time what will be a recurring theme in this article: Marker Lights.
Marker Lights went Captain Insano good. Why? They improve BS by one point per marker light hit spent as they did before. Cool. They give a unit Ignores Cover against the marked unit with 2 marker light hits spent. Really good. They allow Seeker Missiles to hit on BS 5 with Ignores Cover against a marked unit (and Seeker Missiles don’t need a Marker Light to shoot anymore). Super good! They improve the BS of units against the marked unit by one point per marker light hit for snap fire and overwatch….holy $#!%!!
Jumpin Jehosephat, Batman! That is bananas! They can shoot assaulting units and flyers at potentially BS 5! And, a plethora of Tau units have the Supporting Fire special rule (including the Sun Shark Bomber and Suits) that allows a unit within 6″ to fire its overwatch (still only once per turn) at a unit charging a friendly unit. That makes it potentially devastating to charge Tau, which ties into my earlier point that they can compensate for their lack of assault power. Any Tau unit that gets touched in combat will still most likely die a terrible death, but at least this way the Tau get their licks in before being turned inside out!
Compound that with a series of force multipliers in the book and a smart player can really dig so much power out of their units by using them in concert with one another that I see this Dex being a blast to play! For example, the Cadre Fireblade (Fire Warrior HQ) allows any unit he joins to fire an additional shot with their Pulse Rifles and Carbines so long as they didn’t move! W00t! I just love units like this that on their own may appear to be a bit flat, but in concert with other units become really powerful. On top of that obvious boost, he has Split Fire and a Marker Light. At a measly points cost (on par with a Chaos Sorcerer with no gear) he is a great HQ unit and allows you to build a Fire Warrior themed army, which is super cool.
In a similar vein, the Ethereal is also very cool! He (She? It? Shim?) grants a 12″ LD10 bubble, gives his unit Stubborn and every turn grants 1 of 4 additional powers. I really enjoy game mechanics like this where you have an “either/or” choice. It really creates tactical depth in a simple way. He can grant every Tau unit in his bubble Stubborn, Pulse Weapons +1 shot at half range (combos GREAT with Sniper Drone teams which now have a sniper Pulse Weapon, or with the Cadre Fireblade to get 4 shots at rapid fire range!), FnP 6+ (bleh, only useful if you plan on going to ground), or the ability to run and then Snap Fire (cool!). The Ethereal special characters are pretty coo, too. One is decent in assault and even Space Pope, the worst HQ in the game previously, is pretty solid now able to grant two of the above powers in his aura.
Further, Darkstrider (Pathfinder special Character) is pretty cool. He weighs in at the cost of a Space Marine Captain, and gives some super cool abilities. He can only join Fire Warriors or Pathfinders, but gives them Outflank, Scout, Night Vision, a Marker Light, -1 Toughness to their target unit and the ability to Snap Fire and then move D6″ which is so cool! Makes them slippery as hell.
The suit Commander is going to be VERY popular. He can become beastly. Iridium Armor became auto-include, IMO. Not only does it give you a 2+ but it makes the model +1 toughness, which is SO good. It means the suits (whose stats are pretty much the same as last edition) that can take it no longer worry about ID from Krak Missiles, Las Cannons, etc. NICE! It’s like a bike for a Chaos character: almost a given because they make your character so more durable for a low points investment. Oh, and this duder with a Drone Controller (grant any Drones in his unit his BS) and a Drone Squadron…wow. That unit puts out 24 twin linked, assault, str 5, ap5, pinning shots on Jet Pack frames. Hahaha, I don’t know if that was intentional but I think we will see it in a LOT of these combos in competitive lists.
Shadowsun and Farsight are both still awesome, Farsight particularly is a beast. He and his unit Deep Strike without scattering! Plus he can take a host of USRs and still beats booty in assault. I foresee a lot of lists with Frasight at the head. Shadowsun (or any suit IC with drones) can join a unit now which is awesome as the drones just join the unit along with the character.
Also, a great deal of units (any suits for example, including the awesome Riptde) can take the Velocity Tracker upgrade which is a little pricey, but allows them to choose to have skyrifre! That alone changes the meta. That one, single upgrade puts an end to sooooo many builds that I personally found not very fun to play against. With the almost certain popularity of Tau and just the threat of facing an army with a few of these upgrades one or more times at a tournament, many folks will decide to not bring an air force army to an event.
Cron Air particularly is gong to suffer from this with their low AV and high AP vehicles. When you have twin linked Plasma and Fusion weapons, not to mention Rail weapons, with skyfire, an AV11 vehicle that doesn’t stand much odds of killing the target before it fires (due to the Tau units being mobile to get in cover and out of LoS, with multiple wounds and a good save) is as good as dead. Hell Turkies, the most OP flyer in the game right now IMHO, will still do OK as they have a 5++, It Will Not Die, Daemonic Possession and a low points cost, but this helps to mitigate them a great deal. Units like the Riptide and Broadsides with a 2+ will be largely immune to its attacks and then counter with some serious firepower.
That will make many players rethink taking an army based around them. Good riddance, I say. I seriously didn’t like those type of armies anyway although I know a lot of people will be upset that their build is invalidated which is a fair beef. Now just to be clear, I’m not saying these armies are dead by any means, just not remotely as dominating as they were. It will actually be somewhat of a risk to play them, which is the trade-off you should be willing to accept if you choose to play any extreme list. A proper Tau list will be the hard counter to Flyer Nation in a big way.