Greetings! I’m Stormcrow and today I would like to discuss Commander Farsight and his uses in the new Tau Codex.
Specifically, I will be discussing how to use him and his bodyguards (or “Saz’nami” in the Tau language), sometimes known colloquially as the “Farsight Bomb.” While he is usually a situational pick, I believe Farsight and bodyguards can be a devastating tool if used correctly and can shore up several weaknesses in a list.
There are several methods floating around the internet of how to load out Farsight and his bodyguards. Some ideas include outfitting his Saz’nami with lots of missile pods. Some include lots of flamers, while others simply have plasma. Before we dive into the different loadout options, let me go over what I perceive to be the main weaknesses of a Farsight “bomb.”
One weakness is that they are only toughness four with a 3+ save, including Farsight. Ergo, anything with S8 is going to give you a hard time, not to mention any AP3 or below. Another weakness is that the footprint of this unit is quite large, so you may wind up having to deep strike them somewhere less than advantageous. Yet another weakness is that you must give up a Warlord trait to obtain his “no scatter” one. If you use your Etherial as your Warlord, you are guaranteed three very useful ones (as you can reroll half of them with an Etherial), so you’ll be giving up something like “skyfire for the unit”. Finally, you can only shoot so many targets at once with this unit and the game WILL end before you can kill their whole army with his Goon Squad.
So what are the different ideas for loaouts? Before I begin discussing different possibilities I would like to run down what I believe to be the three basic Metagames you may encounter in your area.
In my opinion, there are essentially three basic Metagames you will probably encounter in your local areas (which can be expanded upon to fit specifics). One such meta is an infantry-dominated one, such as lots of Imperial Guard blobs, lots of Space Marine bodies, and lots of Orks in addition to the occasional Eldar footlist. This meta can be further broken down into lots of MEQ power armor saves or a lot of xenos footlists.
Another meta is vehicle heavy. This usually includes lists lots of Annihilation Barges and Ghost Arks with Night Scythes, Chimeras alongside Battletanks/artillery/Vendettas, or Land Raiders, and other tanks. I have seen an interesting bell curve of this meta in 6th edition; lots of tanks went by the wayside soon after 6th hit but now vehicle-heavy lists are finding their niche due to more strength 7 existing and less melta guns being taken. Finally, the third basic meta is a healthy mix of both, with battle tanks shoring up weaknesses as needed. This is a rough summary of different types of lists you are going to be gearing up against.
My point is that I will be writing this article on the assumption that each region often has a different meta than another (sometimes I will see totally different types of lists when driving to a tournament mere hours away), and so taking one loadout over another based on what some stranger on the internet tells you is not always the best idea; it really depends on your local meta (unless you travel often to tournaments). Think about what your region plays and plan from there if you are lost as to what to do, in my opinion.
Anyway, on to Farsight!
Farsight and his bodyguards are very versatile, due to being able to take anywhere from zero to seven suits. This allows you to center a list around him, use him to bring some much needed meltas or plasma guns, or bring some of everything. It’s really only limited by what you can imagine. I have played quite a few games with different lists of the new Tau codex, and so far have had great success with using Farsight and his bodyguards. I personally do not feel that Farsight and his thugs should be the focus of any list. What I mean is that I feel that it is an error to base your strategy around letting him do the dirty work and putting all your eggs in one basket. The nice thing about the new Tau codex is that there are so many options available that you can use him almost as an afterthought.
Take a look at this older thread by Dakka Dakka user Cottonjaw detailing the math behind different suit loadouts. Keep in mind that with the new FAQ, you may take two of one weapon on a suit, but the basic math here holds true.
The first thing I want to point out is that each bodyguard may take any amount of “Signature Systems.” This allows for you to make one suit weaponless but an electronic warfare nightmare. I personally believe including one in every Farsight Bodyguard list is a great idea. Here’s an example of a basic “core loadout” to start each of these:
Puretide Neurochip (or PNC for short)
Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite (MSS)
Command and Control Node (CCNode)
This will run you 50 points for the gear alone. However, since you don’t have any guns on this one dude he won’t fire and will allow his unit to ignore cover and re-roll all misses during that shooting phase. Plus, you can get tank hunter or re-rolls against those Monstrous Creatures that are popping up everywhere.
Let me throw out some interesting ideas for running him and his saz’namis.
One option I have seen is to outfit his squad as an “Anti-Vehicle” tool. This option includes taking double missile pods on your bodyguards. A possible variant to this is two to three taking double fusion blasters. You can drop this behind their lines and get some side/rear armor shots on the missiles and pop some tanks. Perhaps throw in some interceptor or skyfire for an interesting mix. Consider this:
Suit One: Missile Pod x2 (30 Points)
Suit Two: Missile Pod x2 (30 Points)
Suit Three: Missile Pod x2 (30 Points)
Suit Four: Missile Pod x2 (30 Points)
Suit Five: Fusion Blaster x2, Target Lock (35 Points)
Suit Six: Fusion Blaster x2, Target Lock (35 Points)
Suit Seven: PNC, MSS, CCNode
This is all 464 points, including points for the bodyguards themselves. This option allows you to deep strike somewhere and unload on some vehicles. You can also use the pods to put 16 Strength 7 twin-linked shots on a unit. Plus four Strength 8 AP 1. Furthermore, if you give yourself Tank Hunter or MC Hunter it transfers to the unit and you will be re-rolling those wounds or failed penetrate/glancing results. Not bad at all.
Another variant is loading them out into “Anti-Infantry” suits. Consider this:
Suit One: Burst Cannon x2 (20 points)
Suit Two: Burst Cannon x2 (20 points)
Suit Three: Burst Cannon x2 (20 points)
Suit Four: Flamer x2, Target Lock (15 points)
Suit Five: Flamer x2, Target Lock (15 points)
Suit Six: Flamer x2, Target Lock (15 points)
Suit Seven: MSS, CCNode
This will run you 364 points. You’ll be erasing horde armies and non-MEQ blobs with ease. This is not nearly as potent at killing MEQ armies, but against horde xenos armies, or those pesky guard blobs (sans Azreal or however it’s spelled), this is a great choice. And it’s cheap!
Here’s another option for some “Anti-MEQ:”
Suit One: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Two: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Three: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Four: Plasma Rifle x2, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Five: Plasma Rifle x2, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Six: Plasma Rifle x2, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Seven: MSS, CCNode, PNC
This is going to cost 419 points. If you split fire into two squads of marines you’ll be putting out 14 S6 AP2 onto one squad (Farsight’s Plasma) and 12 onto another. These are all twin-linked and ignore cover, allowing you to blast apart those pesky marines with ease. A different approach is to give three of them one plasma and one burst cannon, which will allow you to still put the hurt on marines but give you some more volume of fire against lists with a mix of bodies, such as Guard Blobs with marine allies, or visa-versa. Finally, putting Fusion Blasters on three suits will allow you to potentially double out some Paladins or T4 characters. Or wraiths.
These are three basic frameworks for different roles. Each of these are relatively inexpensive (compared to how much you can actually load onto these guys). You can give each one different (or more) gear depending on what you want. Some schools of thought postulate taking advantage of “always pass look out sir rolls” and giving a few Iridium Armor and even an invuln save to soak those wounds. This is not a bad idea as it makes your squad very resilient. Another idea is to give everyone Iridium Armor. You can even equip your suits with Early Warning Overrides or Skyfire to rule a table quarter or the skies.
I believe spending too much on this squad is a mistake for the aforementioned reasons, but if you are looking for a theme then this will certainly be interesting. As you can see you can use Farsight’s bodyguards to fill in areas of your Tau army that are weak, such as AP 1-3, reliable ways to eliminate vehicles over 36 inches away, or roasting a small unit hiding behind LOS and scoring their home base objective.
Here is something I have been finding great success with:
Suit One: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Two: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Three: Plasma Rifle x2 (30 points)
Suit Four: Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Five: Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Six: Plasma Rifle, Fusion Blaster, Target Lock (35 points)
Suit Seven: MSS, CCNode, PNC, Positional Relay, Vectored Retro-Thrusters.
All of this costs 479 points. This has allowed me to take out nasty tanks while still putting the hurt on marines. That much plasma still puts pain on horde armies as well. This unit also has hit and run, so you can’t really tie this unit down in assault. Finally, the Positional relay is a nice trick. You can come down within 6 inches of their edge and let your outflanking Kroot come on his back edge, like wolf scouts. I have essentially swapped bases using this method. This may be FAQ’d in the future, as one could argue that you must declare where each unit is arriving before they actually are put down on the table, but I haven’t encountered a problem. This is also more of a gimmick and not truly a reliable tactic.
Another few ideas are to only give him a few bodyguards, such as 3-4, and use those to eliminate something of your choice relatively easily. This is a more moderate approach, but I feel that you might as well take three regular suits and take another Etherial, a Drone Commander, or something else, honestly.
So how do we actually use Farsight and his bodyguards? I believe that he is more of a final puzzle piece to an overall solid list. Instead of relying on him to do most of the dirty work, allow him to surgically accomplish tasks in an almost guaranteed manner. Need to wipe out a few tanks and a marine squad/scout squad/Necron Warrior unit hiding in the rear in a table quarter on an objective? Send him in to eliminate that squad. Or a grouping of devastators and a tank or two. Need to wipe out a few marine squads that are threatening your flank? Send him in and let him go to work. He is great at area denial.
You can also use him to shore up weakness in your battle lines. Perhaps you are about to be run over by some Demons with hounds or seekers who have eaten up your Kroot? Drop him somewhere close to eliminate a squad, or at least neuter it. Or, drop him near your advancing Riptides to help them storm the enemy lines/objectives; when he comes down your opponent will have to decide to fight him or run away. If they choose to fight, they’ll have to commit some serious firepower or assault elements to take him down. If they ignore you, however, then you can really put the hurt on him. Remember, however, that you can only realistically target one to two squads effectively at a time (provided you have some Target Locks). You must also be careful where you deep strike him, as a few melta guns/plasma guns/missile launchers will ruin your day.
However, the great thing about this unit is that you can still thrust move, so if you drop off in a table quarter to eliminate some scary or pesky units, you can still thrust move to threaten another table quarter. Don’t forget to thrust move in the assault phase after deep striking so you spread out!
Another issue is other Tau players with Ion Accelerator Riptides with Interceptor. This will really mess you up. Ergo, be careful where you deploy. What about the Comms Relay you ask? This is an issue that I am unsure on. I have had two games where, even with re-rolls, he doesn’t come in when I need him to. This is incredibly annoying. Ergo, give it a try and see how many times that re-roll works. This gear gets more useful if you have outflanking kroot or more units in reserve. I would say if you are only using Farsight in reserve then this may not be worth it; let him come on when he can. Later in the game isn’t so bad as your opponent will have lost some units and moved up/out and you can then decimate his back lines if needed.
Remember that Farsight is an Independent character, too. You can break him off (I haven’t seen a rule forcing him to stick with the unit once they arrive, but I could be wrong) and take on MSU MEQ units easily. He isn’t too bad at all in assault. Oh; don’t forget he has Armourbane.
This also leads me to another thing: this unit is not so bad in the assault phase. You have a bevy of overwatch shooting, and each bodyguard has three attacks at Strength 5. While not amazing, you will be throwing out 21 strength 5 hits plus Farsight’s AP 2 weapon. While getting assaulted is rarely advised for Tau, it is not the end of the world for this unit to get assaulted.
Finally, remember that it really comes down to what kind of armies you fight on a regular basis. Don’t let someone tell you that “their way is the way to equip these suits” because you may wind up wondering why you spent over 500 points on a unit that only kills 15 or 16 orks a turn because you took lots of plasma, or gets blasted away by Leman Russes or Vendettas if you aren’t careful.
Farsight also has a multitude of uses alongside allies or with other characters such as Shadowsun, but that’s another discussion for another day.
So there you have it. My math may be slightly off and I apologize if it is, but I doubt it. Whatever the issues may be, using Farsight is just plain fun! Oh, and he looks awesome, too. There are plenty of ways to play Farsight and I’m sure certain loadouts will be generally more successful than others, but I hope I have given you some starting points and have generated some ideas for my fellow Tau players.