Hi everyone! Charlie here with a new article about the T’au. Since the release of the T’au codex in March of this year, I’ve seen a lot of misconception and just plain wrong information about the T’au, their units, and their abilities. Whether you play T’au or play against them, it’s important to understand exactly what they can and can’t do. Through this article (and potentially others), we’ll give you the important details and some quick references to help make sure you’re “in the know.”
General information about T’au
Space commies, fish bros, try-hards, and drinkers of tears – T’au are known by many names. T’au are everyone’s favorite caste system-based fledgling empire who believe in the “Greater good”, a doctrine of putting the good of their empire above themselves completely. Throughout their existence on the tabletop, T’au have been privy to several of the games more annoying tactics like the Fish of Fury and Riptide Wing. Now with 8th edition, T’au (no longer “Tau”, check your un-approstrophied privileged at the door) have a whole new bag of tricks, relying mainly on their synergy and overwhelming firepower.
First up, though, let’s discuss the fact that T’au have Strength 5 (S5) weaponry literally everywhere. On their HQ, Troop, Elite, Fast Attack, Heavy Support, Fliers, and Lord of War – T’au has at least one S5 (or higher) option at every slot. In fact, it’s rare, as a T’au player, that I’m not wounding on at least 3’s. It makes a difference that T’au can wound everything below T10 (which is not often seen) fairly easily. Often overlooked, the fact that S5 is so prevalent is not something to ignore.
If it looks like a robot or vehicle (with a few exceptions) it has the <Fly> keyword, which comes in pretty handy in most strong T’au lists. Since the T’au are so middling in the fight phase and excel so much in the shooting phase, this is a key point. Against another shooty army like Astra Militarum, you can assault key units to either tie them up in combat or force them to fall back and forgo a round of shooting. Because so many of the T’au’s units have <Fly> however, this means that strategy won’t largely work. What are the exceptions? Broadsides and Stormsurges are both “robot-esque” yet neither have <Fly>. The Stormsurge, however, can still fall back and shoot, thanks to its Walking Battleship special ability.
While it may come a a surprise to some, T’au are widely a BS4+ army. This might seem a bit counterintuitive to have an army that focuses on shooting only hit 50% of the time, however there’s more to the story than meets the eye. T’au is all about finding the best synergies between units to get out every last ounce of benefit. While T’au naturally only hit on 4’s, they have tools to let them reroll 1’s, add 1 to hit, add 1 to wound, ignore cover, ignore the penalty to hit when moving a firing a heavy weapon or when advancing and firing an assault weapon, etc. etc. T’au have MANY tools at their disposal and really do have an answer for almost anything. Don’t let their BS4+ fool you.
Master of War is an ability that all T’au Commanders have and is normally usable only once a game. Everything within 6″ of the Commander that activates this ability is affected with one of two special effects: Mont’ka or Kauyon. Mont’ka allows the units to advance and shoot as if they had not moved, while Kauyon restricts all movement within the area of effect, but lets those units reroll all to-hit rolls. My favorite use of Mont’ka involves using it within 6″ of a Tigershark Bomber so that it can fire all its Heavy weapons ignoring the penalty to hit due to moving, while Kauyon is just about seeing how many Riptides, Firewarriors, and Broadsides you can get within 6″ of a Commander for all those juicy rerolls.
Saviour Protocols will be called OP by those who don’t understand it and very strong by those who do. It’s effectively a method of shielding <Battlesuits> and <Infantry> from damage by passing wounds to nearby drones and is depicted in the flow chart below.
Here’s an example: let’s say that our enemy is shooting a las cannon at one of our Riptides with a group of drones within 3″ of the Riptide (a necessary condition to use Savior Protocols). The las cannon would have to roll to hit and the roll to wound against the toughness of the Riptide (T7). If the las cannon passed both those rolls, then we would have to roll a 2 or higher in order to be able to use Savior Protocols. If that roll is failed, then our Riptide would have to roll to save as normal, and so on and so forth. However, if we passed the Savior Protocol roll with a 2 or higher, then that wound gets instantly transferred to the nearby drone unit. No damage is rolled (even though the las cannon does D6 damage) because a byproduct of using Savior Protocols is that it is converted to a single mortal wound. Lucky for the T’au, Shield Drones have a 5+++ “feel no pain” that lets them ignore even this mortal wound on a 5 or higher. What this means is that a las cannon that normally hits on 3’s that shoots at a Riptide with nearby drones will only manage to successfully wound the Riptide a little less than 5% of the time.
Remember when we talked about how melee is one of the T’au’s biggest shortcomings? Luckily (or unluckily, depending on which side of the table you are), T’au have a couple of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to mitigating this weakness. The first being an ability on nearly all of the T’au units called “For the Greater Good”. This allows all units with this ability and within 6″ of the target of the declared charge to fire overwatch as if they were the target of the charge . The caveat is that if a unit uses this ability, they will be unable to fire overwatch at all for the remainder of the phase. This combined with certain abilities that let overwatch hit on 5’s instead of 6’s or in some case even reroll missed overwatch hits can provide what is essentially a second shooting phase. Another tool at the T’au players disposal is Photon Grenades, which are carried by many infantry units (coincidentally that don’t have <Fly>). A D6 grenade that if it hits an Infantry unit during overwatch, will cause that unit to suffer a -1 to hit in the ensuing fight phase – not groundbreaking but definitely helpful.
T’au armies have answers to just about every situation that an enemy army can put them in. They excel in utilizing synergy to make average units good and require more finesse in 8th edition than compared to previous editions (I’m looking at you: Riptide Wing and Jump, Shoot, Jump), which I think makes for a great and fun challenge. If you’re just starting to get into T’au (or someone else in your gaming group is, so you need to know what you’ll be up against), I hope this gave you a very general feel for what T’au can do. Make sure all these points factor into your strategy and tactics whether you fight for the T’au’va or against it.
If this interested you, make sure to check back often for more T’au content and information. Also check out 40kDiceRolls.blog for a more mathematical look into the T’au.
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