Tau Empire: Heavy Support: XV88 Broadside Battlesuits

Hey everyone, This is Hotsauceman here to tell y’all about what used to be a mainstay in the Tau codex, but seemed to have fallen to the wayside, XV88 Broadside Battlesuits. Let see if we can find out why. But remember if you want more tips, check out the Tactics Corner for more fun stuff.


Broadsides are heavy weapons platform of the Tau Empire. They are the first thing a new Tau pilot is assigned to, so they can learn how pilot the signature suits of the Tau empire. They rain down fire against the enemies of the Tau. They are tougher and more built than the lean and flexible Crisis Suits. The Broadside is very slow, though.


As said, Broadsides seem to have fallen out of favor. The reason for this is their inability to capture objectives in ITC missions and still fire effectively, and being outclassed in the amount of firepower they can put out vs. their points cost…unlike those goddamn Scatbikes!! But I’m not bitter about that.


  • Broadside Battlesuit: 2+ armor save, Night Vision and Multi-Tracker. Standard for Tau.
  • Twin-Linked heavy rail rifle. What used to be the bane of armor is now a sub-par gun, sadly. It is only str 8 with one shot. Yeah, kind of a bummer
  • Twin-Linked Smart Missile System: Still very good, and can still kill troops on a hidden objective. Not bad at all.


  • Twin-Linked High-Yield Missile pod: Oh yeah!!!!!! This is the bread and butter of the Broadsides. It is a free upgrade from the Rifle, and it is an upgrade. Pair this with the SMS and you got a model putting out 8 shots a turn.
  • Twin-Linked Plasma Rifle: PASS, replaces the SMS, don’t take it.
  • Can take any of the drones. But you want the Missile Drone. Extra missile are always fun.
  • Seeker Missiles: Almost forgot these existed. I guess that shows how little I use them. Not really worth it because tau can have better fire-power and it is too expensive.

Special Rules

  • Extremely Bulky: Cant go in transports anyway.
  • Supporting fire: Can share the Overwatching fun, pretty cool, but requires castling, which is now the bane of Tau


  • Bonding Knife Ritual: Mine are always wiped out before they do anything. So I never buy any. They allow you to rally on normal leadership. The problem is that, unless you take drones, this never comes into effect. Max unit size is 3 models.  But for the rule to take effect, you need to be 25% or below max unit size. By the time that happens, they are dead.

  Level 1 Paint Job with Level 2 Basing

Ok, so, Broadsides are a bit tricky to work with. Because barring one formation, they do not move. Expect them to die and be targeted as soon as possible. Their 2+ save is good, but with only two wounds, they die easily. Any type of drones are a requirement for this unit. Access to ignore cover is so easy that cover will not help them except  against small arms fire.   So place them in a ruin and just shoot away, They need Markerlight support as well if you want to be the best out of their shots. Bumping them up to a higher Ballistic Skill is good, but with Twin-linked not too high  is best. Giving their shots Ignores Cover is great when killing skimmers or anything that can re-roll Jink.

Now, onto how to customize these guys. As said, I always take the High Yield Missile Pod. This will improve your damage output immensely. You can ignore the Twin-linked Plasma Rifle except in one specific formation that I will touch upon on just a moment. So with your guns set, what support system should you use? There are several support systems to choose from. Feel No Pain, 4+ invulnerable, firing Overwatch at BS2. But after lots of thinking, the best are among these two. You either want cheap interceptor on all your weapons(One thing to know is interceptor requires Line Of Sight, so Smart Missle Systems are unaffected). The other option is to give your Broadsides Skyfire. I personally would go interceptor on these guys because they are really cheap. Reece hates it and anything Reece hates must be good. In reality, reserves are such a big thing, that countering them is important. Some do it by positioning, Tau do it by blowing reserves off the board. Skyfire is good as-well, but flyers are dead with Death From The Skies, so it’s a risk. Also at 20pts a model, it’s not always worth it. I’m personally a proponent of hyper-efficiency. Don’t mix and match support systems. Make your unit have a role and stick to it.


Now, Onto formations. The Hunter Cadre is a decent one, gives them a longer range on supporting fire. But is also gives them the ability to move and fire. The problem with this though is that it is a run move, meaning you could roll a one, or you end up leaving your cover. It isn’t something I personally would rely on. I went into depth about the Retaliation Cadre in its own review and the Broadsides role in it. But suffice to say having Relentless Broadsides can be REALLY fun. Because they are Deepstriking, you can use the plasma rifles, and to full effect. Because it is also a Core detachment in the Dawn Blade Contingent, it can re-roll failed to wound/armor penetration against certain targets. That is very nice when the squad can put out a lot of firepower. The Firebase Support Cadre was a formation that originally scared the pants off Reece, so they banned all formations. Its weaker now because all Broadsides and all riptides must fire against the same unit in order to get Tank Hunter. I would pass this up because of the amount of models needed to field it and because it isn’t effective. The final one is the Ranged Support Cadre. 3 units of Pathfinders and 3 units of Broadsides. What this does is pretty fun. You double the amount of marker lights fire by the Pathfinders if used by Broadsides. The Broadsides also have infinite range on supporting fire if someone is charging the pathfinders. Pretty nice and decent formation, but I would warn against using it in tournament play because the amount of points invested into it and how static it is.

So, there Ya go. The Broadsides. They really are a one trick pony, being able to kill stuff at range, and being really easy to kill. I would recommend learning your preferred way to play them. But they are not the tank killers they used to be, now they are infantry and small tank killers. Remember to 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.

3 Responses to “Tau Empire: Heavy Support: XV88 Broadside Battlesuits”

  1. Kevin lantz October 3, 2016 10:49 am

    They really needed to have stayed str 10 ap 1

  2. Alex R October 4, 2016 1:11 am

    The poor broadside where in 1 update they were everywhere to another theyre just ok to the rest of stuff inside. I used to fear them now dont care lol

  3. Rathstar October 7, 2016 7:26 am


    I still use broadsides, and I also still use the Firebase Support Cadre (FSC) 🙂

    The FSC got worse in that all the models have to fire at the same target, but it got better in two ways; they gain monster hunter as well as tank hunter, and the broadside units don’t have to be maximum size). The benefits don’t offset losing Preferred Enemy (Space Marines) and being to fire individually and still get tank hunter.

    With so many shots (especially when you include their drones) rerolls allow them to take on AV13 vehicles, and now put a significant number of wounds on monstrous creatures.

    Because I don’t need max units of broadsides in the formation I went down from 2 units of 3 with 6 drones, to 2 units of 2 with 4 drones. I still didn’t completely lose the other 2 broadsides because I included another unit of 2 with 4 drones in the hunter cadre (joined when necessary by my commander with the puretide chip).

    As you said mobility is a weakness, but this can be mitigated by turn 1 aggression. When I still have my markerlights I will move them forward 6″, and either use the Hunter Cadre or Ethereal’s ability to run and fire. 2 markerlights will bring them up to a decent BS, and each of the three units will put out 24 shots. After a 6″ move and run forwards they are normally in a good position with their weapon range to dominate the table. Of course this only works with an army with a decent amount of infantry in front of the broadsides, eg. kroot, fire warriors & sniper drones.

    The broadsides lack of mobility can also be mitigated by the rest of the army. Fast Piranhas and Tetras, deepstriking Crisis suits etc.

    I’ve found that Broadsides aren’t your Double Stormsurge or Riptide Wing good, and quite naturally they will be seen less now Tau have Stormsurges and Ghostkeels, but they are far from a poor unit.