T’au Unit Review [FW] – HQ: Shas’o R’alai

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, back again to discuss a T’au commander, Shas’O R’alai. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

Hailing from the Ke’lshan, Shas’O R’alai continues the T’au trend of excessive apostrophe usage. He’s known for his aggressive and ruthless tactics concerning Battlesuit use and is credited with contributing towards the implementation of the XV9 Hazard Battlesuits. Experimental and new weapons do not frighten him as he is known to test out experimental weaponry and yet-to-be-released battlesuit technology.


Hazard suits that R’alai helped introduce

Shas’O R’alai

8″ 3+ 2+ 5 6 8 4 9 3+

Blacklight Marker Drones

8″ 3+ 5+ 3 4 1 1 6 4+


R’alai is armed with a drone controller (gives nearby drones +1 To-Hit) and an experimental pulse submunitions rifle that features two profiles: 1) EMP 24″ Rapid Fire 2 S6, AP-1, D1 and if the target is a <Vehicle> roll a D6. On a 3+, the target unit suffers a mortal wound in addition to any other damage. 2) Hyperdensity sabot 36″ Assault 2 S9 AP-2 D2. He has no optional wargear. He is accompanied by two Blacklight Marker drones, each equipped with a markerlight (36″ Heavy 1)

Special Rules

  • For the Greater Good
    • Allows units within 6″ of a charged unit to fire overwatch as if they were the target of the charge, at the cost of not being able to fire overwatch again that turn
  • Master of War, once per battle choose one of the below choices by declaring Mont’ka or Kauyon
    • Kauyon
      • T’au sept units within 6″ of R’alai can both advance and shoot as if they have not moved
    • Mont’ka
      • For the remainder of the turn, Tau sept units within 6″ of R’alai can reroll failed To-Hit rolls, but cannot move for any reason
  • ‘Eclipse’ Shield Generator
    • 4++ but improved to 3++ against attackers more than 12″ away.
  • The Assassin 
    • Shas’o R’alai may reroll all failed To-Hit rolls against enemy <Characters>.
  • Manta Strike
    • Able to deep strike up to > 9″ away from an enemy unit
  • Photon Casters (See Index: Xenos FAQ)
    • If this unit is charged, reduce charge roll by 2

The drones have the following special abilities:

  • Drone Support
    • The drones are set up and deployed when R’alai is set up and deployed, but then they become their own separate unit.
  • Savior Protocols
    • The thing you love to hate (unless you play T’au), this allows the drones to tank successful wounds on nearby <Infantry> and <Battlesuit> units onto themselves with a successful 2+ roll.
  • Stable platforms (See Index: Xenos FAQ)
    • Can move and not suffer -1 To-Hit from Heavy weapons

He’s a unique model so you can only bring one of these in your army.


One of the first things you might have noticed about R’alai is that he has a higher toughness and wound-count than a normal Commander. Compared to the normal T5 and W6, his increased stats are a welcome bump. He’s got the <Character> keyword just like normal Commanders so although you will be able to hide him most of the time, when you cannot and it really matters, the extra stats are nice to have.

His loadout seems to lend itself to a backfield drone babysitter. With his drone controller and sufficiently decent range on his weapon, this is probably the best use of him, not to mention the fact that he gets a 3++ against any attack greater than 12″ away which is pretty great. You could take other regular markerlight drones for him to use his drone controller on for a more-resilient (compared to Pathfinders) markerlight sources. However, you could get an XV8 Commander with 3 missile pods and a drone controller for ~25 fewer points than R’alai. Yes, you’d be trading some of his resiliency for that, but gaining more firepower at a range.

R’alai continues to disappoint the more we compare him to the more-standard Commanders, i.e. Coldstars, Enforcers, and XV8 Commanders. We should never forget that T’au is limited to only one Commander per detachment so any time you consider taking any sort of Commander apart from these stock three, you really need to be able to justify it. As such, his rules and price don’t allow him to compete against these superior choices. By taking him, you’re paying more for less functionality. Bad deal.

To make the case for him even worse, his The Assasin rule seems like it would make R’alai great at targeting characters, except he has no special ability that allows him to outside of the normal circumstances (they’re the nearest, etc.). As such, he’s a pretty poor assassin. True, this still benefits targeting models that have greater than 10 wounds that are characters (some Knights, Magnus, etc.), but this feels like a missed opportunity to me. Almost as if they intended him to be able to target hideable characters, but then just forgot to include the Sniper rule. The IA: Xenos book has received a few iterations of errata but no addition of a Sniper rule has made it in yet.

One other thing to note is that he is Ke’lshan sept on his data slate. Since that sept doesn’t have a tenet, you get to choose whichever sept tenet you want to count as the stand-in Ke’lshan tenant. I’m still not advocating you use R’alai, but if you do, it’s something to note.


Seeing R’alai across the table shouldn’t instill fear or worry. Know that your opponent paid too many points for an under-performing unit. If your opponent has R’alai surrounded with Markerlight Drones, any chaff-clearing weapon (mortars for example) will help thin them down. Markerlight Drones don’t have the invulnerable or FnP save that Shield Drones get so they’re not nearly as resilient. After you clear out the surrounding drones, he stops being a force multiplier and is just flat out over-costed.

If you need to get in close, be wary of his Photon Casters and For the Greater Good special rules as those will make engaging him in close combat more difficult. Once you actually get into close combat with him though, he will fold just as easily as any other T’au commander, offering a modicum of melee prowess amidst an army of close combat ineptitude.

Keep your hideable characters hidden, as you always would. For your bigger characters, the reroll 1’s To-Hit is not game breaking and with psychic powers and stratagems, you can still find ways to protect them.


Shas’O R’alai doesn’t bring anything to the table that is remarkable or largely worth taking. He’s got enough going for him to make me interested in looking at him deeper, but once I do, I see that he’s utterly inferior when compared to more mainstream Commander choices. Besides his lack of Sniper rule or his point cost, that’s really what it comes down to – you have to justify taking him over a regular Commander and there’s just no way you can really do that. He’s not good enough to drop a Cold Fusion Commander or a 4xCIB Commander.

What would it take to convince you to use Shas’O R’alai? Do you think he should have the Sniper rule?

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



About Charlie A.

Mathhammer is best hammer. Follow Charlie on twitter @40kDiceRolls for mathhamer, painting pictures, and a generally good time.

5 Responses to “T’au Unit Review [FW] – HQ: Shas’o R’alai”

  1. Avatar
    Víctor Yanguas February 4, 2019 3:32 am #

    Yeah, i would add to Ra’lai the sniper rule to target characters, an additional mortal wound on 6+ to wound ok his hyperdensity sabor profile, and make his emp profile assault 6

  2. Avatar
    Kevin Lantz February 4, 2019 5:44 am #

    yeah he blows at his job, because if he can hit a character, so can probably anything else, and anything else is more likely to kill it.

  3. Avatar
    Dakkath February 4, 2019 6:43 am #

    Really the thing that would make me consider any of the named commanders is make it so they don’t count against the commander limit. Better idea, change the commander limit to say “XV8, XV81, XV84, XV85, and XV86 commanders all count as the same dataslate when determining how many of a unit you may include in an army” so we’re not forced to take 3 detachments to get them all.

    But yes, O’Rly needs to be able to snipe to make his rules make sense.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy February 4, 2019 8:27 am #

      It’s pretty bizarre that he has a rule called “the Assassin” that doesn’t let him assassinate people. Forge World, ladies and gentlemen!

      • Avatar
        Kevin Lantz February 5, 2019 2:56 am #

        yeah seriously, if he could do it, I’d actually use him (and I think he’s a cool model fluff and visually….

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