T’au Codex Review – HQ: Cadre Fireblades

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again, to discuss the most grizzled and seasoned Fire Warriors around, the Cadre Fireblades! As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

This article has been updated since its initial publication to reflect Chapter Approved 2018 changes.

Imagine turning down the opportunity to pilot an advanced battlesuit like the Riptide or Broadside because you’re too much of a badass for one robot to contain? That’s exactly what you have with the case of a Cadre Fireblade (CFB). Forgoing prestige and any hope of further advancement, CFB’s are valued as experienced veterans and force multipliers in the fluff. Lucky for all the T’au players out there they certainly live up to that role on the tabletop as well. The CFB is an affordable HQ choice and one that you’ll find yourself taking multiples of.


6″ 3+ 2+ 3 3 5 3 8 3+


Cadre Fireblades come stock with a markerlight (36″ Heavy 1), pulse rifle (30″ Rapid Fire 1 S5 AP0 D1) and photon grenades (12″ Grenade D6). I can take up to two Tactical Drones (Markerlight, Shield, or Gun Drones).

Special Rules

Special abilities include For the Greater Good (FtGG) and Volley Fire. We have mentioned FtGG before and will often. It 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. Volley Fire allows <Sept> models within 6″ of the CFB to fire an extra shot with pulse pistols, pulse carbines, and pulse rifles if their target is within half range. Each model receives one additional shot no matter the number of applicable weapons it is equipped with.


Cadre Fireblades are excellent all-around. While it saw no change in CA2018, it didn’t need it and you’ll still take them just as often. They will reinforce the backbone of your army (presumably Firewarriors) through the dedicated, reliable markerlight support as well as through the Volley Fire ability. Any CFB will be hitting their markerlight on 2’s providing he doesn’t move but put him in the Sa’cea sept and he’ll be hitting 97% of the time thanks to the Sa’cea reroll. Want a more mobile gun line? Have the CFB move forward with your Strike team that will still result in it hitting its markerlight 88% of the time while each member of your Pulse Rifle wielding Strike Team is firing 3 shots a model while at half range (18″ with Bork’an sept). Should you go with the aforementioned Sa’cea sept for the CFB, you’ll be able to utilize the 2CP Orbital Marker Distribution Uplink stratagem to automatically place markerlights on any unit the CFB has line of sight one.

You’re hearing me throw out several ideas for what septs benefit the CFB most, which is all well and good – but remember that the CFB has to be in the same <sept> to benefit the surrounding units, i.e. Strike Team. Most of the notable T’au abilities are “sept-locked” and Volley Fire is no exception. When running multiple-sept lists, always 1) have your different septs clearly marked for both your and your opponent’s benefit and 2) make sure the sept-locked abilities are well tracked.

The <Infantry> keyword helps give the T3 model some much-needed beefiness thanks to easily benefitting from cover (thus saving on a 3+ to AP0 attacks) while the <Character> keyword and proper positioning ensure that it will be unshootable most of the time. If you’re really concerned, take a couple of Shield Drones to help pawn off any sniper wounds to the drones via Savior Protocols.

Should you find yourself more in danger of being assaulted, remember that the CFB has photon grenades as is the perfect candidate to use them through FtGG rule. Versus the prospects of having to hit and then successfully wound with the two shots from the pulse rifle or hit with the single markerlight, choosing to throw the D6 Grenade can often time make more tactical sense, given that it confers a -1 To-Hit for the remainder of the turn if the charging unit is <Infantry>. This combined with the fact that Volley Fire ability works even in overwatch, and you can potentially kill off some charging forces and then survive to the next turn against some lighter assault forces.

One other point to mention is that the CFB makes for an excellent candidate for the Puretide Engram Chip relic, which lets you roll a D6 each time a stratagem is used and, on a 6, you gain a CP. It’s not quite as good as some of the other options out that *cough cough* Astra Militarum, but it still a good tool and a relic that you’ll end up taking most games. Since several of the other relics require the <Battlesuit> keyword directly or indirectly by requiring a weapon on they can take, any Commanders you have will usually already be spoken for relic-wise. That leaves the CFB a prime candidate to hold one.


The best way to counter a Cadre Fireblade is to kill it and if you can get into close combat against one, you won’t find much resistance. It does have five wounds and a 4+ save, a slight improvement on the Ethereal, but offers no melee competency for retaliation. A Cadre Fireblade will be quite happy to stand still in cover next to an objective for the entire game, so don’t give it that opportunity. Toughness 3 also results in a very real threat to dying to moderate Sniper fire, so if you can peel back the shell of inevitable Fire Warriors, drones, etc., or deep strike something into the backfield turn two, you could disrupt the backfield camper. Lastly, negative To-Hit modifiers will make a T’au cry and despite the BS2+, the CFB is no exception. There are definitely ways that a T’au player can mitigate against this, but they are usually costly and not over-aching. By deploying the main targets out of his line of sight, the Cadre Fireblade will have to move to target them and thusly reduce his chance to hit with the <Heavy> weapon.


The T’au Cadre Fireblade is a reliable, affordable HQ choice that can both excel at backfield objective-holding as well as supporting mid-field advances. Left uncontested, it drastically increases the efficiency of nearby troops that can lead to an ungodly amount of dice rolling by the T’au player. A high priority should be given to both protecting or eliminating the CFB, depending on which side of the table you’re on. The optional Tactical Drones that it can take can be helpful at providing a few more drone units on the field without violating the Rule of 3 but do make the T’au player more susceptible to excessive kill points. All in all, the CFB is good enough as what it does to justify its presence in just about every list. Your question, normally, will not be “if” but “how many?”

Will you be running multiple Cadre Fireblades?

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.

17 Responses to “T’au Codex Review – HQ: Cadre Fireblades”

  1. abusepuppy July 7, 2018 2:00 pm #

    The Fireblade, alongside the Enforcer and Coldstar Commanders, is one of the strongest HQs in the Tau codex because it comes so incredibly cheaply and has several powerful features. It’s easy to forget, but they come with a full five wounds, making them very nearly as tough as most Space Marine or other, higher-priced leaders, and with a 4+ save they can shrug a surprising amount of damage despite lacking any invuln or other protections.

    Their BS2+ obviously makes them a great Markerlight platform, as the article mentions, but it’s also worth remember that it also makes them one of the better ways to get that one ML hit on a flyer or Alaitoc unit. It also makes them a prime choice for the EMP Grenade stratagem, which can do d3 mortal wounds to a vehicle if you manage a hit with your Photon Grenade- Tau have so few ways to do mortal wounds that it is doubly important to remember this ability.

    The main benefit, though, is buffing your Strike Teams to three shots per guy, which makes them one of the most efficient anti-infantry shooting units in the game. Able to wound most things on 3s and every model on at least 5s, large blocks of guys with Pulse Rifles is the mainstay of most Tau armies these days and the Fireblade is what enables this. Taking at least one, and often two or three is pretty much mandatory for any Tau army, just as much as bringing Commanders is.

    • Charlie A. July 8, 2018 10:37 am #

      I had never thought about using the Photon Grenades from a CFB with that mortal wound stratagem – good idea!

      • happy_inquisitor July 9, 2018 2:56 am #

        You will love it when you try it – especially when using T’au Sept and your Cadre Fireblade EMP grenade begins the Focused Fire fun against an Imperial Knight.

        That one got me through a very tough game the first time I played pure Knights after their Codex drop, I did not have enough true anti-tank but having such a reliable way to start the stratagem off creates a genuine counter-play for infantry-heavy T’au lists.

        • abusepuppy July 9, 2018 8:08 am #

          Yeah it is golden for starting up your Focus Fire, since it’s such a reliable way to do so. And with the 12″ range on Photon Grenades, it’s actually not that hard to get off a lot of the time.

    • Reecius July 8, 2018 10:41 am #

      Yeah, agreed. I LOVE the Fireblade, he’s so damn good. Buffs your awesome troops, has an accurate and safe marker light, and is cheap. So damn good.

      • abusepuppy July 8, 2018 12:58 pm #

        Yeah, he pretty easily takes the #2 slot in most every Tau detachment I bring, ’cause he’s so cheap and flexible. And he turns Tau infantry from solid performers into holy terrors.

        • Reecius July 8, 2018 4:27 pm #

          Yeah, totally agree. Firewarriors are so good and he (obviously) makes them better. I actually like to take a few of them often just to get more coverage and more, accurate marker lights.

  2. Michael Corr July 9, 2018 2:32 am #

    I’ve always been impressed with the Fireblade when I’ve played against him.

    One of my strongest memories is when a unit of Black Knights charged the Fireblade. They couldn’t kill him in 4 rounds of combat, and the Fireblade actually took down two of them in combat. So much for Tau being rubbish in assault 😉

    • WestRider July 9, 2018 2:55 pm #

      They do manage to do that now and then. I lost a Librarian and Command Squad to 4 Fire Warriors in CC once, back in the day.

  3. Rob Butcher February 20, 2019 1:28 am #

    I stopped reading at the stat line
    This is a GW game that you are playing – you have no permission to print that!! It’s intellectual property that you can’t use like that!!

    • Charlie A. February 20, 2019 4:46 am #

      “We meet again…”

      We do have permission to post this. Please stop.

      • Charlie A. February 20, 2019 4:47 am #

        At this point, this should be a drinking game.

        • Dakkath February 20, 2019 6:20 am #

          I dunno man, I don’t think anyone’s liver could take that punishment.

        • Reecius February 21, 2019 4:38 pm #


    • Jace February 20, 2019 4:46 am #

      Are you serious or trolling? I genuinely can’t tell.

      • Reecius February 21, 2019 4:37 pm #

        At this point, he’s either the most subtle troll or chooses to ignore the multitude of posts we’ve made stating we have explicit permission to do so, lol.

  4. Rathstar February 20, 2019 9:14 am #

    Good review, the cadre fireblade is an excellent choice for Tau armies. The accurate markerlight helps counter the negative to hit armies that can sometimes ruin Tau armies, plus the volley fire brings fire warriors up to great units when used in mass.

    A quick correction on volley fire is that it affects units not models within 6″.

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