Not every Tau formation is an all-star. Sometimes you gotta have a guy that is a Sunny to another formation’s Cher. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Infiltration Cadre is… unusual. Because from looking at it, you would be forgiven for immediately thinking “Oh, right, a formation of sneaky units with kooky deployment rules,” but that actually isn’t what it is at all. In fact, I’m not really sure what the Infiltration Cadre is supposed to be- GW’s description of it in the codex doesn’t have a lot to do with what the units actually accomplish nor with what its special rules do, so I suppose it will remain a mystery.
The formation is composed of three units of Pathfinders, two units of Stealth Suits, and one unit of Piranhas, all of any size desired. It has no restrictions on how they are equipped or deployed, though naturally the formation’s own rules will incline you towards some setups more than others.
Special Rules and Options
The Infiltration Cadre has two special rules that apply to the units in it, although they will be of varying usefulness to its members. Neutralization Lattice gives you a free Seeker Missile hit anytime you put 3+ Markerlight counters onto a target with the formation’s shooting- S8 AP3 is nothing to sneeze at, but since it doesn’t ignore cover in the usual manner of a Seeker fired by Markerlights and is typically going onto a unit you are about to direct some heavy firepower at anyways (hence why you’re firing Markerlights into it), it’s often a lot less exciting than it could be. Pathfinders will be the obvious choice to trigger the ability and it gives you a good reason to run them in somewhat larger units than usual despite the potential risks, but Stealth Suits are also technically able to do so using the Team Leader’s Markerlight plus those from their Marker Drones- not exactly reliable, but the possibility is there.
The other ability, Intervention Request Beacon, lets you automatically bring in all units from reserves the turn the turn after any unit from the formation is destroyed. No roll is involved, and the ability is optional, so there’s definitely some potential there for the right list; however, as a means of reserve manipulation it’s pretty expensive (since you need to invest something like 400pts into the formation to get access to it.)
So here’s the thing about the Infiltration Cadre: it’s a trap. It looks like one thing, but that’s not what it actually is. The Neutralization Lattice isn’t really very good, because (as already mentioned) it’s not that easy to trigger and even when it does work, you’re often firing it at a target that simply won’t care about one extra Krak hit, since you’re about to dump a bucketload of firepower onto it anyways. Add in the fact that Pathfinders and Stealth Suits (i.e. the ones that can use the Lattice) are somewhat middling units to start with and you have a recipe for mediocrity.
The Intervention Beacon, on the other hand, has some potential. Anything that avoids dice rolls has the potential to be strong, and automatic reserve rolls are a nice trick. Now, add in the fact that the Beacon lets you do something that isn’t normally possible in the form of bringing in reserves first turn, and you have a setup for some very cute shenanigans. (It should be noted that, though there is no official FAQ on the subject yet, the presumption is that this only works for Tau units in reserve, since reserve abilities do not apply to armies other than Battle Brothers.)
With something like a Retaliation Cadre or even just a Farsight CAD with a bunch of Crisis, Riptides, flyers, etc, you can potentially bring in a LOT of models very early with the Beacon, provided your opponent is willing to cooperate. That is the tricky part, though- your opponent can always deny you the use of the Beacon by simply not killing off your dudes and leaving you to hard-roll your reserves in the fashion of a plebian. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world (it still prevents you from being tabled), it is by no means reliable and as a result you really have to have a backup plan for any kind of list that wants to be using the Beacon, some way to keep things functional even if your opponent doesn’t cooperate. This is perhaps the best reason to favor the Retaliation Cadre, since it guarantees arrival on turn 2 when using it. It does not, however, prevent scatter when doing so (nor does the Intervention Beacon), so you are well advised to invest in some Homing Beacons for your list- via a Stealth team, Tetra, or other source.
So the basic strategy with the formation is to do one of two things: if you’re going first, you deploy your army normally and lay down the firepower on the enemy as hard as you can just the way Tau do. In this “mode,” your Pathfinders are probably doing the work for the formation, since Markerlights are always appreciated in any Tau army and they’re certainly no less useful here. Your Stealths and Piranhas likewise are just acting like normal versions of their selves, aiming for vulnerable targets and doing what damage they can. If you’re going second on the other hand, you are trying to put enough units down to bait the enemy into shooting some of them and thus triggering your Beacon- for this reason, it may be desirable to field a somewhat larger unit of Piranhas (2-3?) with Seeker Missiles onboard and/or deploy the Stealth Suits aggressively so as to use their Fusion Blasters on enemy vehicles. Essentially, your goal is to project enough force and threaten sufficient damage to enemy units that they can’t simply ignore you for a turn and take position to be ready for your impending reserves. Opponents who don’t understand what you’re doing with the army (or who are simply not very bright) may spring your trap with minimal effort, of course, but it’s not usually a good idea to count on the enemy to be bad at the game- you should give the enemy opportunities to make mistakes, but don’t just assume they will always fall for them.
The Infiltration Cadre, unfortunately, cannot be taken as part of a Dawn Blade Cadre, which it would be perfect for. It can take a place in a Hunter Contingent, but since this ends up being pretty awkward for those parts of the core detachment that aren’t able to play good reserve strategies (such as Strike Teams, etc) this isn’t a terribly-exciting prospect. In all likelihood if you are running the Infiltration Cadre you are doing it as a standalone formation, possibly alongside a Dawn Blade or CAD to get the units that you want.
The Infiltration Cadre isn’t a great formation. The fact that it can enable some unique strategies prevents it from being complete garbage, but an awkward composition, relatively high entry price, and niche functionality mean it’s not going to see top spots in many tournaments. However, if you’re looking to put together a unique sort of army you might find it interesting and its shenanigans can be fun to play around with in a way that is different from run-of-the-mill Tau armies.
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