Army Review: Codex Riptide Wing


The 40k universe is host to a wide number of alien races threatening to overwhelm the various fractions that live there. The innumerable Orks stand poised to swamp the universe in a green tide, while the Hive Fleets of the Tyranids seek to devour all before them. None has been as insidious as the latest creature to cast their scourge upon the galaxy, the dreaded forces of Codex: Riptide Wing. For more reviews, analyses and battle reports, check out the Tactics Corner.

These army reviews are intended as tongue in cheek looks at popular army builds in 40k. No digs at any playstyles or players are intended, it’s all just a bit of fun!


The XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is an experimental creature created by the Tau. As such a rare experimental design, it is extremely rare to see more than 6-9 on the battlefield at once. Rarely.

Most vehicles in the 40k universe are advanced machines built and then piloted by members of their race. A Riptide is different in that it looks like an advanced machine built and then piloted by a member of the Tau race. This is untrue, if you look closely you can see that each Riptide is a sentient creature with its own dreams, fears, hopes and burning ambitions of being on the stage.

Look at those legs, they were just built for Ballet!

Look at those legs, they were just built for Ballet!

In times past, Riptide eggs were extremely precious. It takes many years to grow a Riptide to full maturity, and each must be carefully nurtured by a member of the Tau Earth Caste. However, in recent years, a mutation in the Riptide genome has led to an explosion in the Riptide population. Riptide eggs have been found and reared in almost every corner of the galaxy. Riptides are also the friendliest of the Tau monstrous creatures and care not who they fight with. As a result, most armies in the 41st Millennium now take to the battlefield with at least one Riptide Wing in the army. Riptide triplets are carefully arranged into a brood known as a Riptide Wing. This special unit is granted many bonuses thanks to their familial bond.


The vast expansion of Riptides into the universe also led to the birth of the KV128 Stormsurge. This creature was born after a Wraithknight made sweet, sweet love to a Riptide and brought misery to non-Tau players everywhere. Most puritanical Tau Commanders will refuse to use the Stormsurge, seeing it as an abomination. As the old Tau saying goes: “It’s Aloh’shas and Elan’nan, not Aloh’shas and Sac’shoa”.

Army Choices:

The core of Codex: Riptide Wing is mostly comprised of Riptide Wings (ironic, isn’t it?). The army has the option to take a number of auxiliary choices and Tau allies. The most popular options are Stormsurges (if you are feeling particularly competitive) or you can always go for a Ta’unar, if you feel like giving your opponent a sporting chance.

You ain't so tough!

You ain’t so tough!

The Riptide Wing is also an ally of convenience with almost any race in the 40k universe, and will be frequently found in most tournament lists. Oh, except Tyranids. Because……… Tyranids. Not that the Hive Mind needs any help. As the pinnacle of evolution, Tyranid monstrous creatures are obviously the best in the game and Nid players do not need to bother with Riptides.

Without a doubt, the best monstrous creature in the game.

Without a doubt, the best monstrous creature in the game.

Special Rules:

  • Co-ordinated Attacks- You get to add +1BS to your Riptide when it shoots at a unit targeted by another of your eight Riptides. This is a decent enough bonus to help mitigate the mediocre ballistic skill of the Riptide, but the big downside is that the enemy unit has to survive being targeted by another Riptide previously in the shooting phase. This is unlikely to happen. This bonus stacks with the others, ensuring that the Riptide Wing has the most BS in the Tau codex.
  • Networked Reactors- You get to re-roll failed Nova Reactor attempts when within 6” of another of your eight Riptides. With the re-roll, this gives you an approximate 90% chance of passing a Nova Charge roll. This is still far too risky to attempt to Nova Charge. Your Riptides only have 5 wounds each and the 10% chance of losing one is too high to contemplate.
  • Riptide Hailfire- Allows you to shoot twice in the shooting phase assuming you do not move and cannot then assault. If used in conjunction with Nova Charging, you can fire each weapon four times. The number of times you can fire is capped at 4. Any more than that would just be patently absurd! This is one of those formation special rules that looks really good on paper, but on the tabletop turns out to be actually highly effective.



As with most monstrous creatures, you want to get the Riptide into combat as quickly as possible. You should take every opportunity to get closer to your opponent. I highly recommend forgoing shooting to run to get into combat quicker. Only in the assault phase will your WS2, I2, 3 attack monstrous creature shine to full potential.


Advanced Tactics:

If for some reason, you are unable to defeat your opponent with your Tau army in combat, there are other options available to you. Fortunately, the Riptide Wing is reasonably decent at shooting.

It looks like a vehicle, but it is not a vehicle, because of reasons!

It looks like a vehicle, but it is not a vehicle, because of reasons!

Stacking all the special rules for the Riptide wing means that each Riptide will put out about thirty S5 and S6 shots in one shooting phase. This is perfectly reasonable for a single, non-superheavy model and players should not feel guilty about using this option as often as possible in every single game. Especially on all three models in the Riptide Wing. Unfortunately, the Hailfire special rule can only be used once per game, so is a little under-powered in the current meta. As a result, the Riptide Wing is not seen as a highly competitive choice for most tournament lists, only appearing in approximately 75% of all tournament armies. Fortunately, the Ripple Fire special rule can be used every turn with the added bonus of being even less of a risk in the Riptide Wing.


The Riptide can be upgraded with a number of signature systems. Like most of the wargear in the Tau codex, players pay an absolute premium for these upgrades and they are simply not worth it. Many rookie players will upgrade the Riptides with overcosted wargear such as Early Warning Systems to give the Riptides Interceptor, but at a whole 5 pts (PER MODEL!?!), it is simply not worth the cost. This is in addition for the Riptide paying a premium for its weapons upgrades too.


The biggest downside of the Riptide Wing in the cost of the Riptide. Coming in just shy of 200 pts each, most players of Codex: Riptide Wing are limited to less than 9 in a standard tournament army. Unfortunately, the high cost of the Riptide means it struggles to compete on the tabletop with similarly expensive units such as the Land Raider or Carnifex, who outclass it in every conceivable way.

So much better than a Riptide.......

So much better than a Riptide…….

The forces of Codex: Riptide Wing have become very popular on the tabletop in recent years. The large number of Riptides now existing in the 40k universe has led to a large range of species diversity, each Riptide Wing as unique as snowflakes. Beautiful, mass-produced snowflakes. Fortunately for many players, the release of Codex: Riptide Wing coincided with the release of Codex: Grav, so everyone is happy!

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

You can also pick up some cheap models in our Second Hand Shop. Some of these gems are quite rare, sometimes they’re fully painted!



About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

9 Responses to “Army Review: Codex Riptide Wing”

  1. Blight October 6, 2016 10:09 am #

    Riptide wings are very skittish so if a unit deepstrikes anywhere on the table it will scare them and they will be forced to obliterate it before it can make too much of a fuss.

  2. Reecius October 6, 2016 10:22 am #

    Love these articles, haha!

  3. Keith October 6, 2016 10:49 am #

    Don’t forget that the Riptide own gun can hurt itself! Gets Hot! is such a terrible rule and makes this model useless.

    • Lysere October 6, 2016 11:17 am #

      This is actually half true as I’ve seen more riptides die to gets hot and the Nova reactor than I’ve seen shot off the table.

      • Keith October 6, 2016 7:55 pm #

        I have had games where I hurt my Riptides more than my opponent does. It’s quite pathetic.

    • Happy_Inquisitor October 9, 2016 8:33 am #

      I have had my riptide Get Hot every time it tried to shoot until some Grav Cents put it out of its misery. In a dice game even good units are sometimes dead weight.

      The article made me laugh out loud. Riptide Wing was obviously broken junk from within 5 seconds of reading the rules; as a Tau player the problem is you can’t shoot the damned things off the table fast enough so by refusing to play one I pretty much cripple myself.

  4. marandamir October 6, 2016 1:00 pm #

    I’d be interested in hearing the cheese combos of an actual riptide wing in action. I hear they get lotso shots but I just don’t see the combos I guess. same with the stormsurge. Players say they shoot armies off the board but at a glance they don’t look much scarier than a wraithknight, especially since players opt not to use the anchors.

    • Keith October 6, 2016 8:00 pm #

      The Riptides and Stormsurge differ from the Wraithknight in that they are better against a wider range of opponents than the Eldar LoW. The double D shots are really good against other MCs, but fail to hurt mobs of msu.

      Also, don’t forget that the Stormsurge could pump out several str d shots at bs 5/ignores cover with marker light support. The alpha/beta strike potential of these units is insane.

  5. Lang Nelson October 6, 2016 3:48 pm #

    I approve of this article and can vouch for it’s truthiness.

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