T’au Codex Review – HQ: Longstrike

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again, to discuss The Gunship Ace, The Titan-Slayer, Longstrike! 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 another hero of the Fire Caste, Shas’la T’au Sha’ng. Because that’s such a mouthful, you probably know him as Longstrike. Known to be the “Hammerhead pilot that cannot miss” Longstrike has made a name for himself by eliminating many Imperial threats to the T’au Empire in a dramatic and accurate fashion. His own excellent skill is enhanced by his XV08 Pilot Battlesuit which “blends advanced neural interface technology with a network of sub-dermal implants and adrenal stimulators” to enhance his reaction time and abilities.

Longstrike is famous for his Railgun use.

On the tabletop, Longstrike is a T’au sept HQ choice with several special rules that amplify the strengths of nearby Hammerheads. Longstrike is a single model that may be added onto a Hammerhead model, much like many other tank commanders.


* 6+ * 6 7 13 * 8 3+


Remaining W M BS A
7 to 13 12″ 2+ 3
4 to 6 6″ 3+ D3
1 to 3 3″ 4+ 1


Longstrike’s gunship is a single model equipped with a railgun. It is accompanied by two MV1 Gun Drones, each equipped with two pulse carbines. May replace its railgun with an ion cannon. May take up to two seeker missiles. May replace the Gun Drones with two burst cannons or two smart missile systems.


  • Solid shot – 72″ Heavy 1 S10 AP-4 D[D6], D3 mortal wounds on a To-Wound roll of 6+
  • Submunitions – 72″ Heavy D6 S6 AP-1 D1

Ion Cannon

  • Standard – 60″ Heavy 3 S7 AP-2 D2
  • Overcharge – 60″ Heavy D6 S8 AP-2 D3, bearer suffers a mortal wound if a To-Hit of 1 is rolled

Seeker Missile

  • 72″ Heavy 1 S8 AP-2 D[D6]

MV1 Gun Drone Pulse Carbine

  • 18″ Assault 2 S5 AP0 D1

Burst Cannons

  • 18″ Assault 4 S5 AP0 D1

Smart Missile Systems

  • 30″ Heavy 4 S5 AP0 D1, no line of sight needed, units attacked by this weapon don’t gain any bonus to saving throws for being in cover.

Special Rules

Longstrike is a unique model of which only one can be included in your army. Longstrike’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.
  • Attached Drones
    • If accompanied by drones, they are considered to be embarked when Longstrike is set up. Whilst embarked, Longstrike is considered to be equipped with their weapons in addition to his own.
  • Tank Ace
    • Add 1 for To-Wound rolls for Longstrike when he shoots at <Vehicles> or <Monsters>.
  • Hover Tank
    • Basically, measure (for the purposes of range and whatnot) from his hull instead of any base he might be on.
  • XV02 Battlesuit
    • If Longstrike shoots at something with a markerlight, treat the number of markerlights as one higher than it is for purposes of determining bonuses from the markerlight table.
  • Explodes
    • Explodes on a 6 for D3 mortal wounds within 6″.
  • Fire Caste Exemplar
    • Add +1 for To-Hit rolls for T’au sept <Hammerheads> within 6″ of Longstrike.


Longstrike is very reliable and all around great named character. Thanks to the fact that he adds +1 on To-Wound rolls against <Vehicles> and <Monsters> and adds 1 on To-Hit rolls for all nearby <Hammerheads> (himself included) he can reliably hit and, with a railgun get D3 mortal wounds on a 5+. Add that to the Focused Fire stratagem and you could get mortal wounds on 4’s. His +1 To-Hit counters the innate -1 To-Hit that you’ll find in competitive scenes (fliers, chapter tactics, etc.) to further help his reliability.

Should you find him in a tough spot, keep in mind that Longstrike is T’au sept and has For the Greater Good, which would allow him to fire overwatch (via a charge to himself or another unit within 6″) and hit on 5’s. Hopefully, your Longstrike isn’t charged often, but good to remember. Should that charge still make it in and Longstrike takes damage, also don’t forget about the Automated Repair systems stratagem to heal him back up D3 wounds. The icing on the proverbial cake is that he has <Fly> so even should all this happen, you can back him out of combat and fire point blank into your opponent’s charged unit (should Longstrike still be alive, that is).

As you can see, Longstrike can be quite self-sufficient as well as benefit from several notable stratagems, but that’s not all! Longstrike also brings a critical +1 To-Hit to other nearby <Hammerheads>. Why is this so important, you ask? Hammerheads are decent and reliable. Their Ion Cannon’s bring a versatile strength weapon to the table with flat 2 and 3 damage, depending on profiles – both with decent AP. They also have BS3+. For T’au, a widely BS4+ army, this is a very welcome outlier. Plus, at 13 wounds a piece and T7 with a Sv3+, they just might stick around for a turn or two. All this to say that Longstrike takes that solidly decent unit and makes it even better. Add Longstrike plus any single markerlight of your choosing and those Hammerheads will be hitting on 2+ rerolling 1’s with AP-2 D2 or D3. Nice!

Ion Cannon Hammerhead

What’s the best way to equip Longstrike? Ion Cannon and SMS. But don’t I want the mortal wounds on 4’s or 5’s? While that’s nice, it’s gimmicky. You’d be potentially spending 3CP to have a 50% chance at potentially 1 mortal wound. It’s not worth it. Plus, the railgun is inferior to the ion cannon thanks to the railgun’s D[D6]. I’ll take consistent 2 and 3 damage wounds over the variability a D6 brings. SMS is not technically as point efficient as the attached drones are (detached drones are BS5+, yuck), but the range is 30″ compared to 18″ and the SMS ignores cover bonuses while not needing line of sight. Even though the drones can detach and go score objective, I’m sticking with SMS for the reasons mentioned. The point reductions to Gun Drones and the Railgun from CA2018 do make alternative loadouts for Longstrike tempting, I’ll admit. If points are tight, you shouldn’t feel too bad about taking the drones, though on a table with appropriate LoS-blocking terrain, you will assuredly miss the indirect fire from the SMS. The Railgun’s nearly 25% point reduction in CA2018, while nice, just don’t seem to make up for the random damage with no way to reroll damage apart from spending 1CP.

As great as all this is, Longstrike does have some disadvantages. You’ll never want to make him your warlord because, although he’s a <Character>, he’s over the wound threshold to be untargetable. As a result, your opponent will probably take him out first thing if they’re even remotely aware of all the great things he can do. His warlord trait lets him roll a D6 every time he suffers a mortal wound and on a 5+, that mortal wound is ignored and has no effect. That only triggers on a mortal wound versus any type of wound, so it’s really not that good. As such, he might be great to take, but terrible to make your warlord. Don’t do it.


As mentioned above, he gains no protection from being a <Character> so kill him and kill him fast. T’au lists typically have more drops than others, so if you can get the first turn and destroy him before he can buff the inevitable nearby hammerheads, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. He’ll have them all within 6″ of Longstrike so if you get lucky and he blows up, you’ll be doing mortal wounds to a lot of nearby tough stuff. “Tough” is used loosely here as he’s only T7 which is really not all that tough compared to a Knight or Leman Russ. There’s also no invulnerable save so anything that’s high AP is just going to pass right through as damage. If he wants to be in range to use the SMS, he’s going to have to be within 30″, which honestly isn’t that far away for some armies. If he chooses to hang back and just use his Ion Cannon, he becomes less efficient himself. “Killing them” is obviously always a good counter, but in this case, because Longstrike not only buffs those around him but he also is a valid threat on his own, it’s best to take him out. Luckily, that’s far from difficult for most armies.

In an age where the Castellan rules all, it completely invalidates the Hammerhead chassis. If you were already taking a Castellan, worry not, as you’ll be able to reliably remove T’au vehicles consistently turn after turn. Even if you aren’t, the humble lascannon can do serious damage to Longstrike and those are found nearly everywhere.


Overall, Longstrike brings a lot of good things to a solid T’au list. He’ll buff nearby Hammerheads and be a real surprise to uninformed opponents. Luckily for them, he’s far from unkillable and as a result, should never be made into the T’au’s warlord. I’m currently playing around with a list of Longstrike and three Hammerheads, all with Ion and SMS as a good fire base for my overall list. I’ve seen other T’au players run this and I think the main draw is the consistency that it brings to the list, compared with the normal BS4+ that is so common to T’au. Longstrike is the perfect accompaniment to this and a solid pick overall. Just don’t expect to keep him on the board for more than 2 turns.

Would you ever take Longstrike given how popular a Castellan is nowadays?

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.

16 Responses to “T’au Codex Review – HQ: Longstrike”

  1. Kevin Lantz August 10, 2018 2:27 am #

    Don’t forget he also buffs the almighty tx7 hammerhead, both versions (see errata). Now the question is how to make that model. I think an awesome list would be two fire support hammer heads or three, long strike, some other hammer heads and then a boat load of firewarriors.

    • abusepuppy August 10, 2018 3:53 am #

      The FW variant Hammerheads are neat, but have some significant problems- namely, cost. The Heavy Bombardment (i.e. missile) version is quite expensive, coming in at noticably over 200pts, but is only marginally more effective than a Ion Hammerhead against most T7/3+ targets. (It does, admittedly, have a big advantage against Praetor Jetbikes and some other targets.) The Fire Support version has two weapons that are absolute garbage (Plasma, Fusion) and one that is _almost_ good (the Heavy Burst Cannon.) Sadly, as the weapon carried by that variant is the Twin Heavy Burst Cannon and is thus named differently from the HBC carried by the Riptide, it does not benefit from the profile updates that give the Tiger Shark so much help- if FW or GW ever get around to fixing that, you will likely see some Burst Hammerheads on the table, as they can spit out a lot of shots.

    • Charlie A. August 10, 2018 5:45 am #

      Good point! If you’re bound and determined to take hammerheads, I think you can get by decently with the Fire Support with the Twin Heavy Burst Cannon. That was one of the best anti-chaff vehicles we had prior to the Codex. Now, that’s outshone by a HBC Riptide not only in terms of lethality but also survivability (thank you Saviour Protocols!).

      To AbusePuppy’s point, if they ever do get a point update, I think they deserve to drop a bit like the Codex hammerhead versions and thus you’d see them a lot more.

      That list sounds like a lot of fun to play.

  2. abusepuppy August 10, 2018 3:58 am #

    Longstrike is a good buy, but he does suffer from the same problem that the basic Hammerhead has- namely, that he just isn’t very hard to kill. For a 200pt investment, he has no special defenses of any kind and goes down almost laughably easy to the anti-Knight weapons that most armies are toting these days. Since Longstrike is fairly necessary to make the rest of his Hammerhead friends worth their while, this is a major problem- especially since Tau lists tend to have very high drop counts, meaning they won’t typically be getting the first turn.

    The article also kinda glosses over a major strength of Longstrike, namely that he buffs himself (being a Tau Sept Hammerhead, after all.) So while his profile says 2+/3+/4+ for his degrade chart, it’s actually more like 1+/2+/3+, allowing him to “absorb” a point of penalty without effect while at the top end. It also means that he (and any Hammerheads near him) can overcharge their Ion safely so long as there are no other penalties in play- any 1s rolled on the dice will be transformed into 2s and thus won’t trigger the Ion overcharge rule. As per the core rules they will of course still miss, but they at least won’t damage the vehicle.

    • Charlie A. August 10, 2018 5:46 am #

      Yep! Longstrike is not hard to kill and I think that will be the key point in keeping hammerhead parking lot lists off top tables.

      That’s a good point to drive home.

  3. Reecius August 10, 2018 6:41 am #

    Longstrike is the man. IMO, he’s one of the best options T’au have at this time. Ionheads+ Longstrike = win.

    • Charlie A. August 10, 2018 7:54 am #

      I’ve gotta ask, how do you overcome their fragility compared to Riptides, who do a similar job but are a lot more resilient? If you’re taking Longstrike and he’s living into turn two, your opponent just doesn’t know to kill him first haha

      • Reecius August 10, 2018 8:26 am #

        Riptides are great, too. Take both! haha

        But Ionheads are a great value for the points. Their firepower is fantastic and they have the almighty Fly keyword to avoid getting tagged in combat which holds back so many other battle tanks.

        I mean, your experiences may differ for sure but in my games with and against them they do tend to die (as does everything in 8th) but they do massive damage before eating it.

        Plus, you see them in T’au lists that are winning very frequently, too.

      • happy_inquisitor August 10, 2018 2:02 pm #

        Ionheads are cheaper than riptides, quite a lot cheaper. Riptides are only really more durable if you have drones, which makes the points difference between them and Ionheads even steeper.

        Both are really good. A lot of lists are going to be taking both.

  4. Oscar Cole August 10, 2018 9:36 am #

    One wrinkle defensively that people seem to forget is that the XV8 bodyguards rule states simply ‘character’ for their intercepting shots so they can save some hits from longstrike if needed. With the index that could then be sent to drones, unsure about the new wording for the codex. Unfortunately they, like all XV8s this edition are horrendously overcosted but if that charges it will be a useful strat.

  5. NinetyNineNo August 10, 2018 9:43 am #

    The tragedy of the railgun strikes again. Seriously, Longstrike is absolutely made for it and it’s still not a good option on him. Really disappointed in those.

    • Reecius August 10, 2018 9:52 am #

      Yeah, wish the Railgun could shoot twice like a Russ, or something along those lines to make it a solid choice.

      • Charlie A. August 13, 2018 7:21 am #

        I was honestly a bit confused why Hammerheads didn’t get a Grinding Advance type of rule in the Codex. Seems like it would really help out the Railgun in particular.

  6. Hotsauceman1 August 10, 2018 11:59 pm #

    He actually isnt and upgrade, but his own datasheet so you can bring him and 3 hammerheads.
    He honestly is very good. I tend to take alot of distractors in my list, ghostkeels, ytide and so forth, so people don’t kill him that much.

    • Charlie A. August 13, 2018 7:20 am #

      I meant his model was an upgrade to a Hammerhead model, but you’re quite correct in the distinction of data slates. Thanks for being specific!

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