Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again, to discuss the renegade T’au Commander Farsight! 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.
Today we’re talking about Puretide’s other star pupil, Renounced Traitor to the Greater Good, Commander Farsight. Bitter rivals with O’Shaserra (Commander Shadowsun) during his tutelage under Puretide, Farsight quickly became a symbol of excellence and victory. Known for his aggressive and precise attacks, Farsight was put in charge of his own expedition to reclaim worlds from previous losses to the Imperium of Man. Soon though, Farsight began to ignore the council of his Ethereal leaders, focusing instead to embark on a decade-long campaign against the green menace of Orks. Farsight’s personal war eventually found him well outside of the reach of T’au worlds and his physical separation from the rest of his Empire was signified by the Ethereal’s marking him as a traitor and criminal. Rumored to still be alive after over 300 years of rebellion and solitude, Farsight may still lead his exemplary forces personally into battle, but none can be sure whether this is true or what might be prolonging his life (spoiler alert: it’s his life-siphoning Dawn Blade).
On the tabletop, Farsight is an HQ choice for Farsight Enclave (FSE) sept armies.
Farsight is a single model equipped with a high-intensity plasma rifle (30″ Rapid Fire 1 S6 AP-4 D2) and the Dawn Blade (Melee S+3 AP-4 D[D3]).
Farsight is a unique model of which only one can be included in your army. Farsight’s special abilities include:
- 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
- T’au sept units within 6″ of Farsight can both advance and shoot as if they have not moved
- For the remainder of the turn, Tau sept units within 6″ of Farsight can reroll failed To-Hit rolls, but cannot move for any reason
- Genius of Mont’ka
- Once per battle, Farsight can declare Mont’ka even if Mont’ka or Kauyon had already been declared, but Mont’ka and Kauyon cannot be declared in the same turn
- Way of the Short Blade
- Reroll hit rolls of 1 for friendly FSE units within 6″ of Farsight in the Fight phase (or any phase if the target is an <Ork> unit)
- Manta Strike
- Standard deep strike ability as long as you come in >9″ from an enemy unit, at the end of your Movement phase
- Shield Generator
- 4++ invulnerable save
Let’s start out with Farsight’s strengths. He came down from 151 to 125 points thanks to Chapter Approved 2018. You’ll notice that he has a WS and BS of 2+ and gets to reroll To-Hit of 1 in the Fight phase (Way of the Short Blade). Rerolling 1’s in the Shooting phase is trivial via markerlights. That results in Farsight hitting about 97% of the time, which is virtually always. That’s good news considering he (at best) has only 2 Shooting attacks and 4 melee attacks. Gotta make ’em count.
Another strength is that all of his attacks will be at AP-4. For things without an invulnerable save, this will usually mean they don’t get a save or will only be able to save on a 6. Furthermore, since you’re likely to hit with his attacks and bypass regular saves, it’s nice that his damage can be significant thanks to D2 on his gun and D[D3] on his sword. Roll really well and you could down a transport/light tank in a single turn.
Being able to use Mont’ka twice is also strong. This allows him and the surrounding units to maintain the aggression and pressure for two turns. Or, if you’d rather, you could Kauyon first and then on a future turn use Mont’ka. While I’m more in favor of Mont’ka first as a sort of reposition on the first turn, followed by a turn two Kauyon (possible with Shadowsun), the reverse could also be useful to first thin the lines of your opponents and then follow up with a devastating reposition and attack turn two.
If this leaves you with the impression that Farsight is a good unit to build a list/detachment around, wait just a minute. Since he’s sept-locked to FSE, that means that the rest of your list/detachment will have to deal with the shortcomings they have. The obvious shortcoming is that FSE can’t take Ethereals. Yes, you can take another detachment with them, but Ethereals cannot be in an FSE detachment. This means that you legally couldn’t take a Brigade and two other detachments that required multiple HQs due to the Rule of Three and the limit to Commanders. This might seem trivial, but it is a valid complaint against FSE.
FSE also encourage the use of Crisis Suits through things like the FSE stratagem Drop Zone Clear, which lets an FSE <Battlesuit> that used its Manta Strike ability this turn add +1 to its To-Hit rolls for a Shooting phase, for 2 CP. Now with the restriction on the first turn, Manta Striking form the Big Spring FAQ, you’ll have to hold off until turn two before bringing them in anywhere other than your own deployment zone. A large unit of Crisis suits with Cyclic Ion Blasters (the best weapon for them in terms of flexibility) is easily a quarter to a half of your points – can you guarantee that you won’t be shot of the board or otherwise ham-stringed your first turn with so many points off the table? Even though we saw Crisis suits come down in points thanks to Chapter Approved 2018 also, which has given them some small breath of life, I still don’t think they can compete with powerhouses of other armies (psychic shenanigans, mortal wounds, 3++ saves, etc.).
I will say that if you do decide to build your list around a turn two crisis death star to take advantage of this stratagem to ultimately have something like 81 S8 AP-1 D[D3] shots hitting on 2’s rerolling 1’s (possible with the FSE stratagem and 5 markerlights) Farsight does make a great Commander to use Command and Control Node on that 9 man Crisis Suit unit for the reroll failed wounds. This may sound absolutely devastating but remember that you’d be putting close to half your points into a turn two gimmick that any skilled player could see coming and screen or otherwise prepare against on the first turn.
We’ve already established that Farsight can be potent in close combat, but the real question is: how do you get him there? Manta Striking him near your enemy will mean he doesn’t come in until turn 2 and he’ll need a 9 on the charge roll. Apart from using the standard reroll stratagem, T’au doesn’t have any other tools to help ensure he makes that charge roll like other armies do so even with that reroll, the odds aren’t great enough, in my opinion, to base a solid strategy around. The alternative is to start him on the table and run him towards your opponent. The problem with this is that you’ll still be waiting until turn two to make your charge rolls. Mont’ka promotes mobility and shooting aggression but it still doesn’t allow you to charge after advancing, so that won’t help to get him into combat. The real kicker is that even if/when you get him into combat, there are virtually no other T’au units that can go in alongside him and hope to support him. The possibility of him charging in headfirst and then being a prime target for your opponent to retaliate against is very real, thus shortening his time of the board and lessening his usability, in my opinion. A 26 point reduction just doesn’t make up for the fundamental shortcomings that FSE and melee-T’au have.
As we have already hit on, good screening and careful positioning can help dictate where Farsight will Manta Strike in. This can control and mitigate the damage he does along with any Manta Striking crisis suits. Farsight will struggle against invulnerable saves since he relies on only a few high AP attacks. Don’t play Orks against him and you should be ok, but even if you do, honestly, he doesn’t represent more than a moderate threat. I feel like a unit of Boyz equal to his points would deal with him well.
Overall, Farsight brings some unique things to a T’au list that you can’t find in other units, namely a proficiency in close combat. However, because he is such an outlier, he finds himself without adequate support to truly excel at what he’s meant to do, what with the rest of the T’au units being so abysmal in close combat. He could be a fun unit against friends or for a T’au player who wants to try out something different, but I don’t think his skillset holds up well against good players who know what to expect from him.
Have you given Farsight (and his enclaves) a chance? What needs to change (apart from points) to make him worthwhile?
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