We take a look at O’Shovah, one of the few melee characters in a usually melee-free codex. Click below to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more information and reviews.
Commander Farsight mostly has the same statline as the usual Tau Commander, but with a few big bumps- S5 T4 from being in a battlesuit is respectable, though it leaves him extremely vulnerable to being killed by a Power Fist or Lascannon. BS5 is great (and would be better if he had more ranged weapons) and WS5 is shockingly good for a Tau model, not to even mention his unheard-of I5 value. Four each in attacks and wounds are both fairly standard for a named character of his status. 3+ armor is on the weak side of things overall, if not completely terrible- it’s essentially the minimum value where your armor save can consistently be considered relevant, but don’t expect him to be tanking for the rest of the squad or you’ll quickly find yourself short a character.
He also comes with a singular Plasma Rifle (decent, but not amazing armament for a battlesuit) as well as a Shield Generator (giving him a 4++ to try and stave off the worst in a close combat, though it quite often is not enough.) Sadly, that is it for his basic gear; compared to most characters, Farsight is definitely on the anemic side when it comes to equipment.
Special Rules and Wargear
This is where O’Shovah starts to show his worth- though none of his rules are exceptionally special, they are all fairly unique within the Tau army and bring abilities that can be very useful. The most important thing about him is the Dawn Blade, one of the only melee weapons in the Tau arsenal- and with AP2 and Armorbane (along with Farsight’s naturally-high combat stats) it can do some real work on things. However, keep in mind that this is all relative- compared to a Space Marine HQ, he has only a middling profile and gear. Farsight can do well at shredding basic infantry and light-to-medium vehicles, but will struggle against tougher opponents because of his weak invulnerable save and mediocre Toughness value.
However, the other major factor for Farsight- and the reason he is most often taken- is his fixed warlord trait, Through Boldness, Victory. This means that when he and his unit Deep Strike, they do not scatter (though unlike a Webway Portal it does not grant the ability to Deep Strike to units that would not otherwise have it)- note that he has this warlord trait even in a Farsight Enclaves army, where it would not normally be on the chart they can roll on.
Farsight also comes with Preferred Enemy (Orks), which can give some additional mileage to a unit shooting at them with Burst Cannons or whatnot. It isn’t a huge deal, but it’s nice to have and can provide a surprisingly-large boost to the damage output when it is relevant. Note that this is different from the Preferred Enemy that all models in a Farsight detachment benefit from, as that version works only in close combat whereas O’Shovah’s version applies to all attacks, both ranged and melee.
How It Works
Farsight’s basic gear loadout isn’t that impressive and his cost is certainly nontrivial (especially compared to what you can get off of a generic Commander for the same price), so if you’re taking him you really have to have a specific purpose in mind for him. This means you need to be able to make strong use of either his warlord trait, his melee abilities, or (preferably) both.
His warlord trait is easy to focus on because it’s so simple- his unit doesn’t scatter when it arrives. This can be nice just as insurance to make sure an expensive unit doesn’t touch down in the wrong place or suffer a Mishap, but what you really want to be doing is bringing a unit that is clutch when brought down at a specific point, such as guns with very specific ranges such as Flamers or Fusion Blasters. Farsight overcomes the primary failure point for such a unit (the Deep Strike roll) but taking him generally means you won’t be able to bring along a Commander with many of the helpful pieces of support gear that can make such a unit really clutch. However, being able to land exactly where you want him and then scoot away using your Thrust move is a very powerful tool; perfect accuracy allows you to do tricks like splitting the squad across a Knight’s different Ion Shield facings (preventing them from gaining the bonus against the whole squad) or to place yourself in risky-but-possible gaps in the enemy’s defenses to hit them where you can maximize damage. While you have Farsight and his cohorts in reserve, no place on the battlefield is safe for the enemy- you can clear (and claim) objectives with impunity in most cases and only monstrously-resilient units can expect to survive their arrival.
On the other hand, once Farsight is on the ground he is far from useless- indeed, he can be quite important to your ongoing strategy. Most Tau units will fold up to melee combat pretty easily and even just a handful of Marines or such can tie them down and eventually Sweep them, which is no fun at all for the Tau. Farsight acts as a powerful deterrent to this- though he can’t go toe-to-toe with most other armies’ HQs, he is more than sufficient to kill off basic squads of most any kind and so provides a kind of insurance against casual assaults on his unit; most people will think twice about charging their squad into you when they not only have to eat a hail of overwatch shots but then also soak casualties from an AP2 melee weapon in addition to the punches from the rest of your unit. Where such enemy threats are absent (or irrelevant) he can also be used on his own to hunt small squads that are causing problems (such as those holding distant objectives), units with excessive anti-shooting protection (like Ravenwing bikers), or stray vehicles that need to be brought down- his weapon is exceptionally effective against light tanks due to its statline and number of attacks.
However, it bears reminding that Farsight is not a top-tier combat character and he has very, very low durability. 3+ armor means that even generic idiots like Chaplains and Librarians will be able to push damage through on him pretty easily if they are alive to swing, as will units that rely on weight of attacks in preference to high Strength or the like. More importantly, his 4+ invulnerable save means that he will find most special melee weapons cutting him to pieces and any kind of S8+ weapon has a very high probability of taking him out- do NOT count on throwing him up against a Power Fist character unless they are sitting on their final wound.
The strongest thing about Commander Farsight is that he does something that no one in the rest of the Tau codex can do. By working him into a list, you can expand the potential of an army to include a largely-unique dimension, a very useful strength when used right.
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