T’au Empire Tactica – Part 2: T’au Infantry List Tactics

Warhammer 40,000 expert Reecius returns for another invaluable T’au Empire Tactica – this time looking at the offensive side of the army he discussed previously, including the return of a famous tactic from yesteryear…

This article was authored by yours truly and originally published on the Warhammer-Community site. Check them out for more great content! Also, check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles and guides.

We’ve covered our backfield, but what about offence? That’s where we bring in the old Fish of Fury tactics! As mentioned previously, this is an old T’au Empire tactic of shielding your Fire Warriors with their Transports. This job requires a Devilfish – which is quite affordable in matched play – as well as Breacher Teams, an Ethereal (Aun’Va is quite suited to this role) and Darkstrider.

This Detachment will not be Bork’an, but T’au Sept, as not only is that required to use Darkstrider and Aun’va, but also their benefits really play to the Breachers’ strengths. The T’au Sept Tenet improves their Overwatch from 6+ to 5+, making For the Greater Good even more dangerous. This is great for the Breacher Teams, which should be near one another as they press the attack. Their pulse blasters are mean at close range, going up to Strength 6, AP -2 each. With two Devilfish packing 20 of them, they can put out a punishing 40 shots.

This is further enhanced by Darkstrider providing not only an accurate markerlight shot but also his Structural Analyser ability, which gives a unit near him +1 to wound a visible enemy unit. You can additionally combine this with the potent T’au Sept Stratagems ‘Focused Fire’ and/or ‘Breach and Clear!’. The former gives all T’au Sept units +1 to wound when firing on an enemy unit already wounded that phase by another T’au Sept unit, and the latter allows a unit of Breachers to re-roll failed wound rolls against units in cover. Wow! That is some serious punishment.

The Ethereal can boost the defences of surrounding units, reduce the strain of Morale tests or allow them to re-roll while Advancing, which is useful due to both their short range and the fact that they bear Assault weapons. Aun’va is particularly good at this as he can use two Invocations of the Elements and gives re-rolls for morale to other T’au Empire units while on the board.

As stated, those Devilfish not only get these units into place but also help to protect them by screening them from counter-attacks or pre-emptively charging enemy shooting units to prevent them from opening up on your relatively vulnerable Breachers. And, when the going gets tough, Breachers get right back into their Devilfish and run awa…er… make a tactical retrograde advance! If you do manage to get pulled into combat, those Breacher Teams that survive can Fall Back and still shoot if needs be, thanks to Darkstrider’s Fighting Retreat ability.

To further support these aggressive elements, I like to field Vespid Stingwings, as they’ve improved considerably in the new Codex: T’au Empire. At only 14 points per model, they give you a lot, not the least of which is their Plunge from the Sky ability. This lets you set the unit up flying high above the battlefield, allowing them to drop down 9″ away from enemy later in the game. From there, they can go after lightly defended objectives and harass enemy units with the considerable power of their neutron blasters.

The great thing about this army is that it’s relatively unusual, but also durable; while each individual model is somewhat soft, their numbers and layered defensive abilities really add up when applied to this volume of models. You’ve also got a ton of firepower that similarly gets cranked up by layered offensive bonuses. Not to mention the fact that you’ll have a boatload of Command Points for those important re-rolls and to make use of Stratagems as needed. You also have manoeuvrability, Morale test manipulation and excellent board control.

On the downside, you have a veritable truckload of kill points on your list, so that’s something you will have to plan to work around. You also will be a bit vulnerable to armies that can pump out tons of anti-infantry firepower. However, not overly so – see the many stacking defensive bonuses mentioned earlier.

As a side note, I have also had a ton of fun playing this portion of the list as Vior’la Sept. While you lose access to improved Overwatch, Darkstrider and Aun’va, you gain the ability to Advance and shoot without penalty, which is lethal when those Breacher Teams get close to the enemy. It also means you can drop the Devilfish in favour of more Breacher Teams, who are now quite speedy on foot and make up for the increased exposure to enemy fire with greater numbers.

The Vior’la Sept’s Hot-blooded Stratagem is noteworthy as well, allowing a unit to shoot twice in the Shooting phase for a mere 2 Command Points. As this list is swimming in Command Points, you can use this every turn, no problem.

Best of all, this army is fun! If you choose to play it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Thanks, Reece! If you’re eager to kick off your T’au Empire army, your new codex is available to pre-order right now.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

28 Responses to “T’au Empire Tactica – Part 2: T’au Infantry List Tactics”

  1. Kevin r Lantz March 16, 2018 10:52 pm #

    Good point about reminding people about the free kill points, people fret about it too much and sense they declared attached drones their own units after deploy everyone should just give up minimizing that and just worry about max effectiveness. Unless you plan on using hot blooded or structural analyzer to max effect go with min squads to dilute the number of targets and make your opponent waste shots on overkilling a unit

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 17, 2018 5:38 pm #

      Yeah, exactly. I just assume I am going to be shedding KP like crazy. But the benefit of MSU outweighs the downside, IMO, as you noted.

  2. Zool March 16, 2018 11:54 pm #

    The best army is still combination of infantry and suits or tanks, The infantry is still just toughens 3 and 4+ save. They will die very fast if targeted unlike suits.
    Single crisis suit with 3 burst canons has already 12 shots. 5 of them spit out 60 shots, manta strike , fly keyword and 8″ movement.

    • Khyz0r March 17, 2018 2:18 am #

      Good heavens, that’s 360pts for 5 models with 15 wounds. For the same points you can have 5 teams of 10 firewarriors. That’s 50 wounds, and pumps out 100 rapid fire shots at the same 18″ range (150 with a Fireblade)!

      Yes I agree, suits with infantry make a more balanced list. But burst canons on Crisis Suits? Uh-uh, no way. If you want burst canons, go for stealth suits but for small arms fire in the Tau Codex I daresay you will be hard to beat the Bork’an Firewarrior. If you want to mix some suits into the list, give them a different role, like taking out armour with fusions.

      • Zool March 17, 2018 11:21 am #

        If u think about it the 3x burst cannon option is not bad at all with just 8 points for each (and ATS went up to 12 points so i rather take another 4 shots for 8 points). Sometimes the volume of fire is more than AP. And u need to admit they look the best from all combination (u just need to get those burst cannon models 🙂 )

        Now if u want AP the best combination is still 3xplasma rifle, the 21 point fusion blaster is lot better on a commander with 2WS.
        3xBork’an plasma riffle combo is probably the best compromise between all stats(range,number of shots,Strenght,AP and damage) points wise.

        Plasma riffle cool factor just over 100. Burst canon cool factor Over 9000. The winner is clear then :).

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 17, 2018 5:39 pm #

          Sounds like an interesting combo! I think you are likely right that a mixed arms army is the best approach with T’au but as I said in the article, my goal was to do something very different and go all infantry as I’ve never seen it done before with T’au.

        • AbusePuppy March 17, 2018 7:51 pm #

          The Tau Plasma Rifle is just an awful, awful gun. It costs as much as an Imperial Plasmagun, but has lower strength when firing on normal mode, never mind overcharging.

          They really needed to change the stats to S6 AP-3 D1 or S8 AP-3 D1 or something along those lines. Being strictly worse than other factions’ plasma while being just as expensive is not a great place to be.

          • N'cat March 17, 2018 8:36 pm
            #

            From some of the best plasma, to the worst. At least we have Ion in a particularly good state post-codex.

          • Derek McGrath March 17, 2018 8:48 pm
            #

            It’s as expensive as imperial BS3+ plasma guns and more expensive than imperial BS4+ plasma guns…

  3. Cavalier March 17, 2018 7:42 am #

    Great article Reece. I saw this build right off the bat when the dex was unveiled. The infantry are fantastic and serve as the mainstay of the army, while the Crisis Suits are surgical strike team designed to go ferret out threats the infantry can’t reach. I find the dismay of Tau players a little hard to understand…. Crisis Suits are not the end all be all of the force anymore… but everything else is so much better!

    This really reminds me of people’s reaction to the Eldar dex when it dropped… there isn’t anything that screams power like double-tapping Stormsurges… but with Kroot, Firewarriors, Breachers even freaking Vespids all becoming very strong options, you get an army that has variety and strength and thats a combo thats hard to beat

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 17, 2018 5:46 pm #

      Agree. I always like the T’au infantry units, particularly the Fire Warrior with the giant rifles! When I was reading through it thinking about my new army I saw a lot of these combos and it just struck me as really good so the opportunity to make my T’au PDF force came to fruition.

      I think T’au in general are going to be fine, the naysayers I think are jumping to conclusions before getting a chance to play, much as Eldar players did like you noted. I think people look at at their current list/play-style and then react to the new dex from that perspective. What folks need to do though, is approach it as a new book as that is what it is, and judge it with the eyes of the beginner as much as is possible.

      Glad you liked the article!

      • N'cat March 17, 2018 6:38 pm #

        Hey, Just a T’au player who is ‘kinda’ among the naysayers, and felt the need to respond.

        Of course there is the usual salt of full on doom and gloom, but most of the salt I’m seeing has almost nothing to do with the power of the codex. I’m seeing the current codex as upper-midtier and am glad of it.

        The rules in the T’au codex just seem to lack the TLC, or just plain attention to detail, they needed to fulfill the core fantasy of the T’au on the TT. When it comes to our force multipliers, our shenanigans, and our maneuverability it all comes up short of the “fun and annoying” vibe you could pull off in 7th.

        I could go on about this for ages if it didn’t make me feel like I was whining, but long story short: Playing my CSM in 8th fulfills more of the Tau core fantasy than playing the T’au in 8th does.

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 17, 2018 7:17 pm #

          Hey N’cat, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

          I agree, the salt is around the dex not meeting the expectation of some of the T’au players not that it is bad, per se. I don’t know if I would want to have one of any army’s core concepts be “annoying” myself, but I think I understand what you’re saying.

          The issue with 7th is that T’au was essentially a few, not very fun but very effective things like Riptide Wing. That was pretty lame, honestly and I wouldn’t want to go back to something like that, myself. Perhaps this dex didn’t hit the bulls eye for everyone but I think there is a lot of variety in builds in it which is awesome.

          Time will tell of course, but as a player coming to T’au fresh I like what I read in the book. However, as noted, I didn’t come at it with any preconceived notions.

          • N'cat March 17, 2018 8:14 pm
            #

            Perhaps disruptive, or prone to circumvention would be the better way to say it.

            I’m not pining for monster mash, who would? But for everything else the Tau lost in the port to 8th. Again this isn’t really a complaint about what is powerful, but how the Tau work on a basic level this edition. (however, the “nerf commanders by arbitrary limitation, buff the hell out of coldstar commanders” approach seems like a poor way of addressing internal power balance, but I digress)

            I don’t need my favored way of playing Tau to be top-tier, but I want the rules for Tau to reflect the core-fantasy that got me into Tau. I guess this is kind of hard to convey if you never had a fondness for how the Tau played in the past.

            If you don’t mind I’ll quote the Reddit comment I made soon after reading the T’au codex for the first time:
            “T’au player adding my 2 cents:

            Started a second, chaos, army at the tail end of 7th and in 8th they do all the things T’au ought to, but better. Not just talking overall power here, but core fantasy.

            Tau (imo) was all about force multipliers, cheeky plays, and maneuverability.

            The iconic markerlight system was reworked into a bland, barely relevant system with all the agency removed. Whereas my chaos dudes can use dark hereticus, and a ton of useful stratagems.

            T’au’s main cheeky options have either been made standard, removed, or have been nerfed to the point that you feel like an idiot for using them.

            Tau losing jsj, with no proper substitute is just disappointing as hell. I can see how it frustrated people, but it is still a thing in other factions. Even my chaos boys have denizens of the warp and warptime to mess with, in terms of mobility modifiers.

            My issue isn’t with factions that *are* weak but with ones that *feel* weak, or worse yet pointless. The T’au codex just feels uninspired and tacked on, no personality and none of the TLC present in other 8th ed codices.

            Maybe I’m just spoiled from playing chaos, but the T’au codex feels like an exercise in wasting potential.

            (Doesn’t help moral that the rules author says he hadn’t played T’au until 2 weeks before writing began, it just adds to the feeling of disregard)”

            My feelings have mellowed out a bit since writing this, but that was my visceral reaction to the T’au codex, as opposed to the pure hype I felt for the CSM and DG codices (or even the second-hand hype I felt for my friends factions of choice). It just feels like T’au in 8th are just a port of the rules, trying to fix what other people didn’t like about playing against Tau, with little regard for what drew people into the faction flavor-wise.

            I’m still going to get some games in with the new codex, and I’m loving that we have Sept rules for the first time. But it hurts a bit that my favorite faction is shaping up to be my least favorite to play this edition.

          • N'cat March 18, 2018 9:14 am
            #

            Hey, not sure if my reply is stuck in approval hell because it is long, or because you consider it an aggressive contradiction, or whatever else.

            But I just wanted to put it forward in shorter form: 7th’s internal balance, at the end, favored an “unfun” way to play at top tables, but it actually had the tools to play Tau in it.

            In 8th, we do get to use the *full T’au toolbox, but it’s a generic brand toolbox. I’m all for internal balance, and the codex is an improvement on that front, but it seams wholly unfinished in that regard. For example, there is mathematically no reason to bring the iconic railgun on your hammerheads, not even on Loongstrike.

            In my opinion the T’au codex can be characterized rather well by how the “buffmander” build was ported into 8th edition. The iconic, and somewhat hilarious imho, build of having a dedicated support HQ who could neither shoot, nor punch his way past a grot, had the Tau aesthetic nailed on the TT. Selfless, no glory, great force multiplication, and it kinda irked people who reveled in “glory and honor, etc”. It was fun to use, and lead to good banter. As opposed to the current stratagem-based version which, although very useful in a pinch, cannot be used turn to turn, and is rarely a good use of the limited commander slots.

            Don’t mean to be a saltmine about it, but people in relevant positions writing off complaints, and posing false choices rubs me the wrong way. I suppose it’ll be better to just vote with my wallet and not buy any new T’au until some kind of response is had. (should probably hold off on the plastic crack anyways though tbh)

            *as mentioned briefly in the body of the post, plenty of options have been removed, limited, or made impossible to justify in competitive settings.

          • Reecius
            Reecius March 19, 2018 7:01 pm
            #

            Your comment took a while to get approved because I am on vacation, sorry.

            Appreciate the thoughtful commentary and I suppose let’s hope that with some reps you find things you like, I suppose. Until CA there’s not changes inbound I would guess so for now it is a game of looking for what works.

      • Hey Reecius, just forwarding a thing from the Tau subreddit regarding what people don’t like about the Tau codex from first impressions. It seams like the usual complaints about the army being weak, just aren’t what people are concerned with.

        It looks like the lazy-seeming rules writing, and the poor internal balance are the top concerns by a wide margin. With 105 votes for laziness, 78 for internal balance, and only 32 for external balance, so far.

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 19, 2018 6:55 pm #

          105 votes for laziness? I don’t think I’m tracking you.

          And while I 100% appreciate the data it is a bit premature to be saying things like the book lacks internal or external balance, you think? We need to see it in action before we can drawn any actual conclusions.

  4. Shas’O March 17, 2018 12:50 pm #

    I like the new book, but am confused why folks keep talking about how much better vespid are. Didn’t they only go down 1 pt each? Doesn’t seem like enough to nake them competitive.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 17, 2018 5:41 pm #

      I can’t remember how much they went down in price, but they’re just a great unit on their own. For a measly 70pts you get a unit that can deep-strike, have a good gun and are mobile. They’re amazing for winning missions.

  5. Khyz0r March 17, 2018 4:44 pm #

    So what is the actual 2000pt list at the moment Reece?

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 17, 2018 5:42 pm #

      It varies between a Bork’an Brigade + Viro’la Brigade or T’au Battalion. So I have a TON of CP but still haven’t made up my mind which flavor of the list i want to settle on just yet.

      • Kevin Lantz March 19, 2018 3:40 am #

        Make sure you have a saecae detachment for the easy access to markerlights free strat. Also make sure you have at least 100 firewarriors and 30 kroot =D I mean that’s a base of 850 pts… I’m sure it’ll be hard to fill out the rest of the 1250pts.

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 19, 2018 6:56 pm #

          Yeah, I have a LOT of models, lol, it is a horde. And thanks for the suggestions!

      • Marandamir March 19, 2018 10:04 am #

        can you post the lists you are considering? I’d be interested to see how you are filling out 2 brigades and still having a competitive list. What are you doing for harder targets like knights or land raiders? Infantry shooting (even en mass) isn’t gonna get through harder targets. I think you’d still need bigger guns to crack open transports.

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 19, 2018 6:59 pm #

          T’au fill Brigades with ease, actually. Not that that is what I will settle on but it is not hard at all to do. Sniper Drones are amazing and cheap as chips as are Firesight Marksment.

          And the current meta doesn’t have too much in the way of Land Raiders, really. I have not played vs. one in a tournament yet. I don’t really plan for them as there has been no need. If I do find myself facing one I will largely ignore it and charge it with things to stop it from shooting. Breachers can smoke one too, if needs be and with some strat/character support.

          As for regular transports, massed fire will do it just fine. That is how I normally deal with them anyway.

          • Marandamir March 20, 2018 1:24 pm
            #

            How many markerlights do you shot for in a list like this? I dug into the pts and you are right there are a ton of cheap options in all FOC slots. I really like this list as I have always liked tau infantry with their advanced tech (not so much the alien auxillaries though).

            You don’t want to include any heavy weapon types? With the armiger warglaive coming out you may see more knight lists and knights are the hard target type I was referring to. LR don’t seem to be getting the love I thought it would this edition 😛

          • Reecius
            Reecius March 20, 2018 7:26 pm
            #

            Yeah, exactly! Tons of accurate Marker Lights that can’t be shot by anything but snipers. It’s actually really dang good.

            I am not worried about 3+ save or worse vehicles, honestly. I can take them down with weight of fire.

            LR though you are right, would be bad news for this list but as stated, there’s not that many of them around although they are quite good.

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