Tau Codex Review: HQs: Aun’Shi

“The second-fightiest Tau character in print” is not exactly a high title to aspire to. Aun’shi… does not aim very high. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and info.


Aun’shi is what happens when someone who keeps relentlessly buying the shitty melee weapon upgrades for their Ethereal somehow creeps into GW’s development room and sneaks some text into the book. He’s not good or useful in really any way at all, but no one can deny that he is a character with a point cost that you are legally allowed to include in a Tau army.

The Basics

Aun’shi has a surprisingly good statline for a Tau- Weapon Skill and Initiative 5 both make him a lot better than you might expect in combat and with four base Attacks he can actually throw down a lot of swings. He also comes with a bonus Wound compared to a normal Ethereal (for a total of three.) However, limiting all of this is the rest of his statline; with Strength and Toughness 3 he is ill-equipped to fight most sorts of opponents and can easily be punked out by any S6 weapon (of which there are plenty in the game.)

He also comes with the usual Ethereal equipment and rules; Stubborn and Failure Is Not an Option mean he boosts morale (but can cost you a VP) and Invocation of the Elements can grant various bonuses to your surrounding Tau units. His Honor Blade gives him +2 Str in melee combat, making him at least passable there- and pretty hilarious when it comes to punching vehicles, oddly. He also comes with a Shield Generator (for a 4++ save), something other Ethereals have no access to at all, as well as EMP and Defensive grenades.

Special Rules

Alright, so Aun’shi clocks in at 110pts- more than double the cost of a stock Ethereal. He probably gets some other stuff, right?


Well, technically he does. Or one thing, at least. His only unique special rule is Blademaster, which lets him pick one of two stances in a challenge- either Rending for his melee attacks or reroll failed saves. Neither of these are bad, but considering how fragile and weak he is to start (and how unreliable Rending is), they aren’t really selling the whole “combat Ethereal” concept as a whole. He can take on stuff like normal squad sergeants and stuff with a reasonable degree of reliability, but anything beyond that is going to be big trouble for him- a simple Chaplain is quite likely to smush his brains in pretty badly, for example, to say nothing of a kitted Chapter Master or Overlord.


How To Use Him


I, uh…

I got nothin’.

No, seriously. Aun’shi isn’t the worst character in the game, not by a long shot, but he suffers badly from being in the wrong faction in addition to having mediocre abilities. A Lucius or Lilith might not be the best at what they do, but at least what they do can be fit into the army they are a part of and other parts of that army designed so as to support them. Aun’shi does not have this luxury; there are no good Tau melee units that you can stick him with to support him (or for him to support) and his unique role in the army is not strong enough to generally justify his inclusion-a  Riptide or Ghostkeel will bring far more melee support for not all that different of a price.

However, if you’re desperate to throw him in he’s not the worst thing in the world. He does everything that a normal Ethereal does just as well- he keeps your army’s morale more solid, he passes out a variety of bonuses, etc. He does also have a small buff to survivability compared to a normal one of his kind; the extra wound and 4++ won’t always matter (sometimes you’re just getting popped by S6 shots or artillery), but it can make it that marginal bit more difficult to claim the easy VP off of him, which is at least something.

Also, while I have pooh-poohed his combat stats here a number of times, it’s worth noting that he is at least able to cut down weaker foes with a decent amount of skill- S5 I5 WS5 attacks will do work on dudes without a good armor save pretty quickly, so throwing him into a unit of Guardsmen or the like will make short work of them. As noted earlier, he should also be able to take down most squad-level characters pretty easily, and a rerollable 4++ save can actually let him tank wounds decently well against guys with small numbers of powerful attacks or other S3 characters. Be wary, however, of fights where you can’t challenge or the opponent will refuse it- in a normal fight, Aun’shi is little more than meat for a blender.


Aun’shi isn’t very good- if I haven’t made this clear so far, let’s go ahead and restate it one more time. However, he’s also not very bad, so if you’re willing to throw 60pts in the garbage with your list entirely for fluff reasons, then hell, go ahead and use him- he at least is doing something. And hey, if you can’t be efficient with points at least be efficient with money by picking up your Tau (or any other GW model) at up to 25% off  at Frontline Gaming.



About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

16 Responses to “Tau Codex Review: HQs: Aun’Shi”

  1. Happy_Inquisitor June 29, 2016 10:50 am #

    I have to admit I’m struggling to think of which named character is worse than Aun’Shi by “a long shot”. Take a rather questionable generic HQ for competitive play – more than double their cost for no worthwhile benefit and there you have him.

    Purely for narrative games.

    • westrider June 29, 2016 4:12 pm #

      Sgt. Harker. 55 Point upgrade for a Veteran Squad’s Sergeant. Effectively, all he is is a Relentless Heavy Bolter.

      Colour Sgt. Kell is down there, too. 75 Points for a bunch of CC gear he won’t survive to use, a couple of Special Rules that will get him killed even faster, and another Special Rule that does nothing unless you’ve also shelled out 80 Points for Creed.

      Old One-Eye. 100 Points more than a stock CC Fex, for no benefit that will matter against any Player worth their salt, since he dies just as easily if you bring him down in one Turn, which is pretty easy these days.

    • abusepuppy June 29, 2016 4:12 pm #

      Trazyn the Infinite is even more expensive than Aun’shi and lacks even the good graces to come with the generic abilities of a unit of his kind.

      Old One-Eye is double the price of a standard ‘Fex for +1Str and is an HQ without Synapse.

      The Sanguinor pays 40pts for _losing_ the Independent Character rule.

      And there are plenty more. GW just absolutely loves, loves, LOVES printing awful named characters.

    • Laserfrog June 29, 2016 9:06 pm #

      Captain Tycho, a character specifically designed for close combat who doesn’t even get a CCW. Gets a bonus point for having two equally awful datasheets.

      Prince Yriel, who is what happens when you take all the really bad options for an Autarch with none of the Aspect Warrior gear, double the points cost, and give him a really janky ranged attack with a listed range of “base contact”.

      Iron Hand Straken, who got his name because he used to be an Iron Hands Chaplain, but he got on the wrong transport to the warzone and woke up in the shooting-heavy Imperial Guard.

      Castellan “Why Am I Even In This Book?” Crowe.

      Any Tyranid character that isn’t named “Swarmlord”.

      • abusepuppy June 30, 2016 4:02 pm #

        Hey now, Yriel not only comes with reserve manipulation and a decent warlord trait, he has a strong melee weapon (wounds Wraithknights on 2s and ignores their armor!) and his Eye of Twighlight is actually pretty devastating when you trigger it. I mean, yeah, he’s a dork stuck on foot, but at least he _does_ something.

  2. Heldericht June 29, 2016 1:35 pm #

    Maybe GW is setting up to give Tau a melee unit!

    Seriously though, Ethereals are just terrible, especially because of the extra +1VP when they die.

    • Bryan June 29, 2016 1:50 pm #

      I like(d) ethereal, for a very cheap entry point, they buff Tau around them, helping with the armies LD issues and dishing out a poor mans FNP or boosting fire warriors at rapid fire range.

      The no aura abilities outside of a transport hurts though! The new FAQ gave the ethereal and devilfish a kicking.

      • abusepuppy June 30, 2016 5:55 am #

        Doubly so because Jinking with your Devilfish turns all of the Fire Warriors inside stupid now. 🙁

        • Bryan June 30, 2016 11:21 am #

          Yeah, such a shame! I love some fish of fury action, Tau tanks and fire Warriors aesthetic attracted me to Tau back in the day.

          The ghostkeel wing seemed to have added something to the mix and alongside the ethereal made taking some breachers/fire warriors in devilfishes as attractive. But then GW fickle as they be, peed on that dream.

          • abusepuppy June 30, 2016 4:04 pm

            Breachers are a real godsend to Fish of Fury- the firepower they put out at close ranges is absolutely brutal. It’s a lot more risky than using Strike Teams to do it, but if you’re committing to that disembarkment, they will brutalize most anything except Terminators.

    • abusepuppy June 29, 2016 4:07 pm #

      Ethereals are actually pretty decent, presuming you aren’t using the draft FAQ- sitting inside of a Devilfish handing out Ld10 and FNP6+ is very solid, and making Strike Teams or Breachers put out three shots in a pinch can be pretty brutal. Yes, they do often give up a VP, but Tau tend to play for the tabling anyways, so that’s not always all that relevant.

  3. Reecius June 29, 2016 1:50 pm #

    I’ve never seen Aun’Shi on the table, and I have played a LOT of 40k, lol

    • Grimjuc June 30, 2016 7:51 am #

      Aun’Shi was last seen in 3rd ED. He was able to reduce his attack profile by X and subtract attacks from all enemy models in base to base contact with him to a minimum of 1. He also could be given a retinue to grant plus 1 attack to fire warriors for no additional cost per model! Back when models not in base could only “throw stones” and they did not have as many close combat monsters. Often back in 3rd players would charge him and fire warriors in combat to tie up a close combat unit for 2 assault phases so the army could continue to shoot at them.

      When the Tau codex was updated in 4th/5th ed he was removed from the codex presumptively for early retirement. GW then made an announcement about his triumphant return to 6th/7th ED. But like any prize fighter past his prime, his speed and abilities were lost in the current meta. Now he is only a character of legend where his once above averageness is only heard in whispers in the dark basements of your FLGS.

      RIP Aun’Shi, may your spirit rise from the ashes of the phoenix and you will be reborn a decent HQ choice.

  4. David Alastair Hayden June 29, 2016 10:40 pm #

    When I got back into 40k, my wife started a Tau army. She liked Aun’Shi’s backstory, the model, and the idea a lot. Then she learned the rules and abandoned him. If he was 65 points, then you could reasonably take him for fluff reasons, maybe even at 75, maybe. Otherwise, I can only see him being used for fluff reasons in an apocalypse-sized game.

  5. Clifton J July 1, 2016 7:21 am #

    I’ve toyed with the idea of using Aun’Shi as a counts as Kroot Shaman and sticking him in a 15-20 man blob to outflank with; it could be worth a chuckle or two. But yeah, Ol ‘Shi could use a quarter or so off his cost if nothing else.

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