Tau Codex Review: Formations: Firebase Support Cadre

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. Once the scourge of tournaments across the land, now little more than a footnote in the codex. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.



The Firebase Support Cadre- not to be confused with the Cadre Fireblade, or Blade of Cautering Fire, or Cod’s Fire Blade of the Dre- is a fairly basic formation option available to Tau. Its original incarnation was one of the first formations introduced to the game back in 6th edition and was exceedingly powerful in its day due to letting you break the limits of the Force Organization Chart as well as possessing an extremely powerful set of rules combined with the best units from the codex. Nowadays it’s not nearly so absurd, but that is equal parts because of the scaling of power levels in the game as well as changes to the formation itself.

The formation consists of two units of XV88 Broadside suits and one unit of XV104 Riptide suits; they can be equipped however one likes and there are no special limitations on unit sizes.


Special Rules and Options

The Firebase Support Cadre doesn’t gain any static rules benefits, but does have an additional shooting option: all of the units in the formation can choose to combine their shooting into a single attack in a similar fashion to the one available through the use of the Coordinated Firepower ability. (Note, however, that these two abilities are different and you cannot take advantage of them both at the same time- you must choose which set of benefits you are getting.) All units in formation must participate and must all shoot at the same target as though they were a single unit, including for purposes of benefiting from Markerlights. If they do so, they gain the Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter rules for the duration of the attack, allowing them to reroll failed penetrations and wounds, respectively.



Even just taken on its constituent units, the Firebase Support Cadre is a pretty decent formation- Broadsides and Riptides are both good-to-excellent units and with absolutely no limitations on how you set them up the formation is extremely flexible and not too unreasonable in terms of the entry price. The Coordinated Firestorm ability is decent, although the limitation of shooting the whole formation at a single unit can be a bit problematic due to the amount of shots you’re putting into that single unit- unless it’s something really big like a Wraithknight or an Imperial Knight, you’re probably gonna end up wasting quite a bit of firepower in doing so. Still, it’s an option you don’t have to use and it can be handy if you absolutely must kill some hard target.

If you’re looking to make much use of Coordinated Firestorm you probably want to minimize the size of the units in the formation; a single Riptide, accompanied by two solo Broadsides with a pair of Missile Drones each is a very solid setup. The Broadsides will want High-Yield Missile Pods, natch, but the Riptide can feasibly be equipped with either Ion (for hunting MCs) or Burst (for taking out vehicles), depending on your needs.

Beyond simply being taken as a stand-alone formation, the Firebase Cadre is also available as a choice in both the Hunter Contingent and Dawn Blade Cadre, the two Tau meta-formations. Both of them are potentially very solid options in their own right, but also have access to Riptides and Broadsides outside of the context of the Firebase, so we need to look at the relative merits of these inclusions in different places.

The Hunter Contingent has the Coordinated Firepower benefit, as already mentioned, which does not stack with the Firebase’s ability to combine shots. As a result, you will have to decide if you would rather get +1BS or rerolls when shooting with the unit as a whole- or fire them all separately, of course. The +1BS can still be useful if firing at a big blob of enemy models (deathstar, horde unit, etc) that you want to maximize damage against, but keep in mind you can always just spend Markerlights for the same benefit, so you’re not getting anything truly unique there. Moreover, the core formation of the Hunter Contingent allows you to take both Riptides and Broadsides on their own, which will then benefit from that formation’s ability to extend Supporting Fire and Run before shooting- both pretty significant. It can also take the auxiliary formation Retaliation Cadre, which again includes both a Riptide and Broadside unit- albeit just one of each. As a result, the Firebase isn’t bad in a Hunter Contingent, it’s mostly just unnecessary; you have tons of other ways to access those units.

A Dawn Blade Cadre is a bit more interesting of a case; it has the same Hunter as a core option as well as the Retaliation Cadre, giving it lots of ways to access both units again. However, the Dawn Blade is usually best taken with the Retaliation core, meaning that it could easily end up wanting to include some additional units of Broadsides and/or Riptides, which is where the Firebase becomes useful. Moreover, the Dawn Blade’s command benefit is actually quite beneficial to the Firebase- it gives you rerolls to wound/penetrate against a single unit each turn, which is generally a lot better than having to commit all your shots in a single go the way the Firebase forces you to do. Since it essentially replicates the “old” Firebase when used in this way, I think that the Dawn Blade is a very solid choice for including the formation into an army- or, indeed, just making use of the Dawn Blade’s abilities in the more general sense.

One interesting thing to remember with the Firebase Cadre is that the usefulness of the Coordinated Firestorm actually goes up as the units in the formation are killed off, which is a bit counterintuitive. It mandates that all models in the formation must participate in the attack, but doesn’t specify any minimum number for this to be possible or to gain the benefits- so even if all you have is a single drone model from the formation left, it can “coordinate” with itself and gain the Tank/Monster Hunter rules when shooting.  When you have the full three units of firepower-heavy squads, putting them all into a single target isn’t an exciting proposition; most likely you’ll waste a lot of shots, as discussed earlier. However, once you start losing models (or units), odds are you’ll be a lot more likely to have a target that is worth firing the entire formation at once at- and if you get down to a single Riptide or whatever, you may as well activate it every turn unless you’re planning to combine attacks with something else. Do remember, however, that you can only use Coordinated Firestorm during your shooting phase, not during Overwatch or Interceptor attacks.

One other option that was more common in the previous incarnation of the formation is to include the Firebase Support Cadre in a non-Tau army, allying it in to something else like CSM, Eldar, or Necrons. Again, this option isn’t as exciting as it once was because the meta has shifted a lot and the Firebase itself isn’t as strong of a standalone option, but it’s still there for armies that find they need to put a lot of anti-vehicle or medium/high-Strength shots into their army. As stated, Broadsides and Riptides are both very solid inclusions in any army, even with no bonuses at all, so you could do a lot worse than bring it in as a support element to something else- worse case, you gain a whole bunch of shots to rain down on the enemy at ~30″ range.


Final Thoughts

The Firebase Support Cadre doesn’t fundamentally change the way you want to use any of the units in it; it doesn’t open up any new capacities or even really introduce any game-changing abilities to the units contained inside. It offers a mildly-useful benefit that scales up over the course of the game, but probably isn’t going to be a game-winner most of the time. Still, rerolls are rerolls and there certainly exist targets in the game that warrant the kind of high-end response that the formation excels at- if you see a lot of gargantuan and superheavy targets in your meta, the Firebase Cadre can be a solution (or part of a solution) to such problems in a Tau list.

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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: Formations: Firebase Support Cadre”

  1. Dakkath January 24, 2017 6:57 am #

    I hated the old Firebase Support Cadre for making tau the splashable cheese and making so many people complain that the whole codex is overpowered. Nowadays the new version isn’t so bad, and has been supplanted by the Riptide Wing.

    • abusepuppy January 24, 2017 9:06 am #

      Yeah, the old version was way, WAY too good. Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy together made it into an absolute monster.

  2. Val Heffelfinger January 24, 2017 8:25 am #

    Hidee ho.

    I think this may be a bit too much of a write off –

    Especially within the dawnblade, we’re talking about giving re-rolls to wound/pen on two separate targets… Considering that both formations contain riptides that’s nothing to sneeze at.

    Also with regards to the “overkill” issue, broadsides can carry target locks – so as long as they are with a drone or two they can split off if need be.

    Same goes for the riptide. If you have three of them they gain a native BS buff, and are able to split off when necessary.

    Consider that hailfire has no rerolls, and forces you to stay still a turn and you can see some serious potential forming here. Due to pressure, the need to intercept, or cap an objective I think most players might recognize not getting the most out of a hailfire.

    Whereas in this case – they’re getting a near statistical equivalent of a hailfire each turn on two targets… With increased markerlight efficiency to boot.

    The biggest downside I see vs ripwing is the loss of rerollable novas…. And that is really the bridge too far in my eyes… But I wouldn’t be giving this formation a blanket panning outright.

    • abusepuppy January 24, 2017 9:09 am #

      >Also with regards to the “overkill” issue, broadsides can carry target locks – so as long as they are with a drone or two they can split off if need be.

      Doesn’t work, sadly- the whole formation has to shoot at the same target for the Firestorm to work. If you don’t shoot the whole formation, you don’t get the Firestorm. Barring an FAQ on the subject somewhere, I can’t see any kind of decent argument for that working.

      Now, if it did, then the formation becomes a totally different animal- you slap Target Locks on every member of the team and run around with Tank/Monster Hunter the whole game long and fuck up Battle Companies like there’s no tomorrow. However, I am skeptical that any tournaments would rule it that way.

      I don’t think the Firebase is a _bad_ formation even as I interpret it, but I don’t think it’s good enough to compare with the existing formations for the two units and it doesn’t have any particular synergy with either of the Tau milti-detachments.

      • Val Heffelfinger January 24, 2017 11:02 am #

        Hey man – well call me coreected- thought it was just like coordinated fire power. This is more specific as it’s all models rather than units!

        Nvm then. Erroneous comments on my part.

        As always ol Heff loses on a point of procedure.

  3. Val Heffelfinger January 24, 2017 11:07 am #

    Also in my fantasy land I wasn’t suggesting they could all keep the buff – but that they could shoot elsewhere… Which would be sweet as broadsides are already one of the more efficient shooting units unbuffed that Tau has.

    • abusepuppy January 24, 2017 4:53 pm #

      It’s an interesting one, as Tank/Monster Hunter echo to the whole unit if a single model has them, so arguably if you _could_ split up while doing the attack, even the models that didn’t get the rule would still benefit from it. Alas, however, it doesn’t work.

      And yeah, there are some very small differences in wording between Coordinated Firestorm and Coordinated Firepower. As always, the devil is in the details.

  4. Rathstar January 24, 2017 1:56 pm #

    Good review as always. The Riptide Wing has definitely replaced the Firebase Support Cadre as the splash Tau that is added to other armies.

    I run a Hunter Cadre, so the reason I like the Firebase Support Cadre is that it’s another source of Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter. It really helps with tough AV13 (Knights & Defilers) and Wraithknights/Stormsurges.

    Your point about the risk of overkill is very valid (especially against targets that are not Imperial Knights, Wraithknights or Stormsurges), so I only use units of 2 broadsides with 4 missile drones in the formation (whereas I used to use full units in its previous incantation).

    If a player wants the toughest list a Riptide Wing is the no-brainer first choice, followed by Stormsurges and Optimsed Stealth Cadres, but if you want something different the Firebase isn’t too bad.


    • abusepuppy January 24, 2017 4:57 pm #

      The Riptide Wing is very good, obviously, but I actually disagree that it’s a no-brainer for Tau- at TSHFT this past weekend the top three Tau players (Paul Mckelvy, myself, and Jeremy Veyssire) all had very different lists and while Jeremy and I both ran the Riptide Wing, I’m looking to drop it from the next iteration of my army.

      There are a lot of underappreciated Tau formations that can do some serious work in a list if you give them a shot. I wouldn’t throw the Riptide Wing in the garbage, but its inability to be part of a Dawn Blade/Hunter Contingent is actually a pretty big deal.

      • Dakkath January 24, 2017 9:40 pm #

        I can’t find those lists anywhere, any help you can give in that regard?

        • abusepuppy January 24, 2017 10:48 pm #

          Dawn Blade Cadre
          Retaliation Cadre
          -Support Commander (joins Broadsides, I believe)
          -3×1 Crisis with Fusion
          -full-szie Broadside unit with Missiles/Plasma
          -HBC Riptide with ECA
          Ranged Support Cadre
          -three Broadside units with Missiles, max drones
          -three small Pathfinder units
          Piranha Firestream Wing
          -target acquisition team
          -squads of one, two, and three Piranhas with Seeker Missiles
          Farsight Combined Arms
          -two Crisis
          -three Tetras

          My list (which, as noted, will be changing significantly thanks to the new FAQ):
          Farsight Combined Arms
          -Commander with Missiles and DC
          -solo Crisis
          -ten Kroot
          -minimum Marker Drone unit
          -two units of two Tetras
          -pair of Stormsurges with Blastcannons, one Velocity Tracker
          Riptide Wing
          -three HBC/SMS Riptides

          Jeremy’s list:
          Farsight Combined Arms
          -Commander Shadowsun
          -Crisis Bomb with mix of Plasma and Fusion
          -four-ish Tetras
          Riptide Wing
          -4x Riptides leaning towards Burst and Plasma

          I’m sure there’s more on Jeremy’s that I’m forgetting, but I didn’t actually see his army list this time around so I’m not 100% certain what.

          • Dakkath January 25, 2017 1:45 am

            Thanks, AP. What faq in particular is making you change your list, and what would be the change?

          • abusepuppy January 25, 2017 3:29 am

            Two big things: the reversion of the ITC’s alterations to the Firestream Wing (allowing it to get back destroyed members again) and Servo-Skulls being able to “push back” Cult Ambush models. The latter is important because it means that I’m not just losing turn 1 if the GSC player goes first, the former allows me to use my favorite unit as part of an attrition/area denial strategy.

            I’m basically looking to drop the Riptide Wing entirely in favor of the Firestream Wing and take a minimal Servo-Skull caddy; it makes me more resistant to Grav, better off against deathstars, and still keeps the anti-superheavy and melee component of the Stormsurges. I’m not 100% fixed on my list yet, but I think overall it will be a significant improvement.

          • Shas'Itsa Mari'o January 26, 2017 12:44 pm

            It’s good to see a lot of players running pure Tau and doing well. Too many “Tau” lists seem to just incorporate the Riptide Wing (old Firebase Cadre before it) and claim it’s a Tau list.

            Congrats to you guys!

  5. Craig Douglas January 25, 2017 7:00 am #

    AP, why do you have a DC on your commander with no drones? was that missing from your list?

    • abusepuppy January 25, 2017 9:33 am #

      The Commander’s loadout is(was) 2x Missile Pods, Drone Controller, and Target Lock. Oh, also I think I forgot to add there is a unit of four Marker Drones alongside the Tetras- missed that on the first pass.

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