Tau Empire: HQ: Darkstrider

Greetings my fellow nerds. This is Hotsauceman here to tell you about the most bad ass Tau character in the entire empire. The man, the myth, the legend: DARKSTRIDER. Remember to check out the Tactics Corner for more fun stuff. Don’t rely too much on my hints and knowledge as with it you’ll still lose to Frankie!

El’Myamoto is a Tau commander that is very unconventional and doesn’t follow orders. He is named after a famous Ronin from our own history. Ronin are Samurais without masters. He has refused promotion several times and wants to stick with his guys on foot. He is only tolerated by the Tau brass because he gets results. He is the loose cannon cop that always finds the perp. He also out-shot Vindicare assassin, killed a Warboss with a single shot, and blew up an entire mining colony of Orks! He is pretty boss.

The thing about him is that he is not a unit that multiplies your force, as much as he multiplies the unit he is traveling with and nothing much else. He makes them a sort of Special Forces unit that is adept at killing.


  • Pulse Carbine: Short ranged assault 2 str5 gun with Pinning. Nothing to write home about by itself, but if ALL your guys had these?
  • Photon Grenades: Can throw a blind grenade and not have to worry about extra assault attacks. Cool.
  • Blacksun filter: Ehhhhhhh, his entire units guns are ap5 (barring Breachers) so unless you are fighting Guardsmen or Orks, not impressive.
  • Markerlight: In case you are ever in trouble and need a missile shot at the Knight Titan near ya.
  • Relic: Structual Analyzer: -1 to toughness, factors into instant death but does not apply to snap-shots

Special rules:

  • Independent Character: You know what this does by now
  • Outflank: Not bad, allows you to outflank that TY7 Devilfish
  • Scout: Scout the Devilfish
  • Supporting Fire: Standard for all tau. Allow you to assist with Overwatch
  • Fight On Foot: Can ONLY join Pathfinders, Breacher or Strike teams. Sorry, your XV88 Broadside battlesuits can have -1 toughness.
  • Fighting Retreat: After Overwatch,but before rolling for charge. You can consolidate D6.

Clocking in at the cost of a single Thunderfire cannon, he is a pretty middling priced HQ. As said earlier, he can only join certain units. If you read my Pathfinder article, you would know not to put him in them because all he is then is an expensive Markerlight. Ok, so Breachers are a good choice? Yup, they are. He makes them quite good if they are in a Devilfish. Like really, really good. Scout up, next turn get out and shoot whatever you can. The problem is that they are a short ranged unit. Thus, you want to kill quickly and bugger out. Strike teams are fun too with their range. Take either Pulse Carbines or Pulse Rifles. These guys become very efficient marine killers, allowing you to wound on 2+. Not bad at all.

One way I used to play him is in a unit that I call the “Hunter-Killer” unit. Put him in a full unit of Fire Warriors, in a Devilfish, and allow it to Outflank. I typically bring it in the backfield and go after something important: units on objectives, tanks that are bombarding my backfield (Str 5 is good against a lot of light tanks) and other units. You also can kill some middling HQs and similar units hiding in the backfield. Heck, even the feared Elder Jet Bikes would hate this unit. Granted they will die after killing one unit, but hey, Greater Good and all that jazz! You can even kill a Stormsurge (maybe) with this unit if you get VERY lucky.

In a previous article, I mentioned Pathfinders should not take other weapons than their stock gun. This guy is the exception. With his -1 toughness, their special weapons become all the more terrifying and Pathfinders become a decent killing force. As stated, they are not the ideal unit for him to go in, but if you want to make a cool, fluffy unit, they can suffice in a pinch. Rail Rifles can now cause Instant Death to anything that is toughness 4. Ion Rifles can kill models models with toughness 5 and lower. he makes them much more efficient.

Now, there are no formations that utilize Darkstrider in any way. Also, with the recent FAQ he cannot benefit from any formation. But those that are in formations can benefit from his abilities. Take for example the Counterstrike Cadre. 3 Strike/Breacher teams and a Pathfinder team all in Devilfish. Not the best formation, but a fun one. All models can re-roll failed to hit rolls versus models within 3” of an objectives. So while he cannot take advantage of the re-rolls, the units can take advantage of -1 toughness. Twin linked firepower vs a target unit with -1 toughness can be very devastating.

Darkstrider is more for casual and narrative games than any other HQ in the book. While his tricks are fun, those points can be spent on specialist units. He is really hamstrung by his inability to join anything but Firewarrior squads. If he could join other units, you would see him more often. Remember so share your comments down below, and as always Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.



About HotSauceMan

HotSauceMan is a mediocre and lower tier player, but he makes up for it in spunk and Jazz. When not writing for Frontline, He can be found huddled away in his dorm watching cartoon, or fighting DareDevil.

18 Responses to “Tau Empire: HQ: Darkstrider”

  1. abusepuppy June 21, 2016 5:57 pm #

    The problem with Darkstrider’s bonuses is that they are almost always strictly worse than the ones you could be getting for the same unit via an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade. He does help a fair bit when shooting a T6 target, but this only brings him on par with either of the above at doubletap range. In fact, one of the few situations where he works out to be better is when firing Rail Rifles (from a Pathfinder squad) at T4 multiwound models- and that requires not only a specific kind of target but also taking Pathfinders with Rail Rifles.

  2. Pascalnz June 21, 2016 6:50 pm #

    Just checking the wording. Des it say he can’t join anyplace other units or that he can’t be part of any other units bar the standard three.

    If its just join, an i c could join him, like shadow sun or a commander… Or two commanders?

    • HotSauceMan June 21, 2016 6:58 pm #

      Yes he can, but that is putting WAY to many points to make a middling unit work

    • abusepuppy June 21, 2016 7:43 pm #

      You would have to take a second CAD to get two Commanders and Darkstrider, which really isn’t worth it. I mean, Darkstrider himself also isn’t worth it, but when you tack on the cost of the two Commanders (150+ each) and the cost of the unit you’re hanging them with and the vulnerabilities it forces (T3 for the unit, can’t JSJ, etc) and you’re looking at something that costs as much as a deathstar and hits as hard as a squad of Scatter Bikes.

  3. AngryPanda June 21, 2016 8:17 pm #

    Darkstriders true power is his 90s emo name, his play of the game screenshots as Reaper and his vintage collection of Spawn Issues 1 to 147.

    • westrider June 21, 2016 9:42 pm #

      It’s posts like this that make me wish there were a “like” function on here 🙂

  4. Happy-inquisitor June 21, 2016 10:03 pm #

    Darkstrider is mostly for fun. One of the neat set-ups for him is on a Gunrig. A twin-linked BS5 rail gun that can insta-kill T6 monsters is no joke. The alternate large blast that insta-kills T4 multi-wound models has some uses too. He is still not points efficient and is still really fragile.

    • Adam June 22, 2016 3:17 am #

      That doesn’t work – he can only join Pathfinders, Breachers or Strike teams. You can’t join any IC to a Hammerhead let alone one that explicitly says “may only join…” due to Fight on Foot.

      • Dakkath June 22, 2016 7:32 am #

        Not a hammerhead, the tidewall gunrig. It has an emplaced railgun (with submunitions option).

      • Happy-inquisitor June 22, 2016 11:49 am #

        It works fine because I said gunrig not hammerhead.

        Any model with the Tau Empire faction on the gunrig may shoot with the rail gun.

    • David June 22, 2016 10:34 pm #

      It’s especially tasty with the formation where you take three Gunrigs. Assuming you’re the kind of person who would buy three Gunrigs.

  5. MidnightSun June 22, 2016 12:08 am #

    Men call me Darkstrider, and I am of the night

  6. Adam June 22, 2016 3:15 am #

    I actually used him with great results in a competitive tourney list in 6th Edition. I was getting tired of running the status quo Tau list and Darkstrider was the kick in the pants I needed to shift my play style. I really enjoyed playing agressive Tau and he really lends himself well to this. I believe I ran something like two min-sized squads of FW in Fish for objectives, and Darkstrider in a 11-man squad of FW who would Outflank, get out of their Fish and basically annihilate one unit per turn. It’s a super fun trick.

    • abusepuppy June 22, 2016 7:45 am #

      >annihilate one unit per turn

      Assuming you are in Rapid Fire range, you have 24 shots, 12 hits, 10 wounds (against anything natively T4 or lower.) That barely clears out a squad of Scatter Bikes, fails to kill even a basic Combat Squad, and does less than one wound to a Riptide.

      Fun? Sure. But “annihilates” seems like a massive overstatement. Heck, even with Markerlights pumping you to BS5 still only killing ~6 MEQs with the unit.

      • Leonix June 22, 2016 7:57 am #

        With Breachers he does, with Strikers he has to work a little harder but is more flexible.

        • abusepuppy June 22, 2016 10:38 pm #

          Breachers need to be within 3″ of the enemy to really be doing a lot of damage. If your opponents routinely sit their units within 9″ of a board edge while you have Breachers in reserve, they are kinda dumb.

          • abusepuppy June 22, 2016 10:39 pm

            Derf. Should be 5″/11″ there.

  7. Leonix June 22, 2016 5:55 am #

    I play a tank tau army so Darkstrider in a Devilfish is my HQ of choice.

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