Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again to discuss one of the T’au Empire’s leader battlesuits, the XV85 Enforcer. 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 the battlesuit on the front of the Codex, the Enforcer Commander. Commanders strive for years serving their caste and the Greater Good before being able to attain the rank of Commander, choosing the type of suit that best suits their strategic style and philosophy. The Enforcer battlesuit is known for its rugged strength and the commanders that choose it may prefer the unambiguous allure of its firepower.
On the tabletop, the Enforcer Commander is an incredibly versatile and lethal single model unit.
The Enforcer Commander is equipped with a burst cannon and missile pod. It may replace these two weapons with choices from the Ranged Weapon and/or Support Systems lists. It may also take two additional items from the Ranged Weapon and/or Support Systems lists. Further, it may be accompanied by up to 2 Tactical Drones (p.109)
Ranged Weapon list (p.89 of the T’au Empire Codex)
- Airbursting fragmentation projector (AFP)
- 18″ Assault D6 S4 AP0 D1
- This weapon can target units not visible to the bearer
- Burst cannon (BC)
- 18″ Assault 4 S5 AP0 D1
- Cyclic Ion Blaster (CIB)
- 18″ Assault 3 S7 AP-1 D1
- 18″ Assault 3 S8 SP01 D[D3], mortal wound on any To-Hit rolls of 1
- Flamer (reduced in points slightly in CA2018)
- 9″ Assault D6 S4 AP0 D1
- Fusion blaster (FB) (reduced in points slightly in CA2018)
- 18″ Assault 1 S8 AP-4 D[D6]
- If within half range, roll two dice for damage and discard lower
- Missile pod (MP) (reduced in points slightly in CA2018)
- 36″ Assault 2 S7 AP-1 D[D3]
- Plasma rifle (PR) (reduced in points slightly in CA2018)
- 24″ Rapid Fire 1 S6 AP-3 D1
Support Systems list (p.89 of the T’au Empire Codex)
- Advanced targeting systems (ATS) (reduced in points slightly in CA2018)
- For all the bearer’s weapons (included the “unarmed weapon” used in close combat), make the AP one better (e.g. an AP0 of a weapon becomes AP-1)
- Counterfire defense systems (CFDS)
- Reroll failed hit rolls when firing overwatch
- Drone controller (DC)
- Add 1 for To-Hit rolls for any <Sept> Drones within 6″ of the bearer
- Early warning override (EWO)
- If any enemy units are set up with 12″ of the bearer as a result of an ability that allows them to arrive mid-battle (i.e. teleporting to the battlefield), then at the end of that phase, the bearer may immediately shoot at one of those units as if it was your shooting phase, but subtract 1 from To-Hit rolls.
- Multi-tracker (MT)
- Reroll To-Hit rolls of 1 in the Shooting phase for the bearer if it fires all its weapons at the same target and that target contains 5 or more models.
- Shield generator (SG)
- 4++ invulnerable save
- Target lock (TL)
- The bearer doesn’t suffer the penalty for moving and firing a Heavy weapon or for Advancing and firing an Assault weapon. The model may also Advance and fire Rapid Fire weapons, but must subtract 1 from To-Hit rolls.
- Velocity tracker (VT)
- Add 1 for To-Hit rolls when the bearer shoots at something with the <Fly> keyword.
The Enforcer Commander’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
- For the remainder of the turn, Tau sept units within 6″ of the Commander can reroll failed To-Hit rolls, but cannot move for any reason
- T’au sept units within 6″ of the Commander can both advance and shoot as if they have not moved
- Manta Strike
- Standard deep strike ability as long as you come in >9″ from an enemy unit, at the end of your Movement phase
Overall, CA2018 didn’t really affect the Enforcer. Yes, actually, it changed the points for nearly all his available weapon choices and some of his support systems, but it didn’t change its relative use compared to the Coldstar or the Crisis Commander. You’ll save a small handful of points if you choose to equip them with fusion, missiles, plasma (HA!), flamers (get out), or ATS but these point changes aren’t going to rock the boat for the Enforcer T’au Commander. If you took one previously, you’ll probably still take one. The reductions, especially because they also affect the other Commanders too, aren’t going to persuade you to take one post-CA2018.
The Enforcer Commander is extremely customizable. He can be made to do practically anything you want him to do, but the most obvious is a direct source of firepower. CIB’s are the best option due to their flexibility against just about any sort of target. The dual profiles and a large number of shots simply make this one of the best weapons to take and the Enforcer, with its BS2+, is an excellent platform to take them on. You can easily obtain a single markerlight to virtually ensure that you won’t take damage from the improved profile and hit with all your shots. For the most part, you don’t want to mix weapons – take more of a great thing by taking 4 CIB’s. Should you have a more defined role in mind for your Enforcer Commander, you could consider dropping one of the CIB’s for something like a Shield Generator or Advanced Targeting System, though ATS, in particular, is somewhat situational due to the fact that you’re going to have fewer shots that are slightly more efficient. Point changes in CA2018 don’t change this.
Whether you start him on the board or decide to use his Manta Strike ability will be completely up to you, though with the restrictions that come with Manta Striking, my personal preference is to start them on the board. This allows you to set up for a turn-one Mont’ka or Kauyon. Furthermore, Manta Striking will place you outside of the 9″ distance required to roll for better damage on fusion blasters, so apart from tearing into your opponent’s flank (valuable in its own right), there’s not a huge advantage to Manta Striking him in most cases.
I think 4 CIB’s is the way to go about 90% of the time for the Enforcer because it plays into T’au’s strengths of “shooting, shooting, and more shooting” while having variable stats and lots of shots. Other loadouts are sometimes feasible thanks to some decent Signature Systems (relics) and depend on the role you want your Commander to take on. The Supernova Launcher takes the place of an AFP and changes its stats to 18″ Assault D6 S6 AP-2 and D2. It might pair well with other AFP’s, BC’s or an SG to result in a Commander who can get close to the enemy but hide behind terrain or tank enemy fire with invulnerable saves. Overall, I’m not too impressed with the S4 of AFP’s so if you were going to take the Supernova Launcher, I’d suggest pairing with CIB’s or BC’s if you didn’t have the points to spare (but you really should make the points for them).
If your Commander is from the Vior’la sept, you could replace a flamer with a Thermoneutronic Projector which is 8″ Assault D6 S6 AP-1 D2, auto hits. Clearly a better stat line than the normal flamer but it completely disregards the Commander’s SB2+, which is unfortunate. BS2+ is rare for T’au so to not take advantage of it seems like a waste. If you are determined to take it though, consider an SG in one of your other three slots because you’ll have to be close enough to take retaliatory fire. I personally believe the Enforcer Commander is not the best Commander to use for this type of role, that the Coldstar could do it better, but we’ll touch on that more in the Coldstar article.
If you’re feeling more of a long-range Commander (comparatively), and running Bork’an sept, the Plasma Accelerator Rifle (which takes place of the standard Plasma Rifle) might be more your jam at 30″ Rapid Fire 1 S7 AP-3 D2. Staying just inside it’s 15″ rapid fire range and screening with units in between seems like the way to go with this. Other weapons that would work well with this would, of course, be CIB’s, but even an ATS could be considered for the flat 2 damage and to give most regular tanks no save (thanks to the resultant AP-4). A backfield dakka-commander with 4xMissile Pods whose job is just to activate stratagems and Kauyon isn’t terribly out of the question now, thanks to the much more reasonably-priced MP’s, though by no means are they a steal or even highly-advised.
If you’re a “Johnny”, like I am, you might also look into Fusion Blades. These are specific to Farsight Enclaves and replace two fusion blasters. They give you a shooting (18″ Assault 2 S8 AP-4 D[D6], exact same as two fusion blasters) and melee (melee S8 AP-4 D[D6], can only make two attacks with this weapon each time it fights) profile. Commanders can use their WS3+ to somewhat take advantage of this, but against a T8 target, they will hit with 1 of their 2 attacks (remember Fusion Blades limits your melee attacks to 2), and then only wound half the time. In order to take this, you’d also have to take an FSE detachment, which is somewhat questionable already. If you were really committed to this type of strategy, you’d probably also want Farsight, but due to the Commander restrictions to only one per detachment, you’d now be signing up for two FSE detachments. This seems far less than ideal. I’m all for trying new things, but Fusion Blades seems like something different for different’s sake instead of an alternative and valid strategy.
Other notable Signature Systems for Enforcer Commanders include the T’au sept only Vectored Maneuvering Thrusters and the Dal’yth sept only Dynamic Mirror Field. The thrusters allow the bearer to move up to 6″ after attacking in the Shooting phase. It’s reminiscent of the old T’au tactic Jump-Shoot-Jump and if your Enforcer Commander were positioned well enough, could keep the enemy from returning fire. The Mirror Field requires enemy units to subtract 1 from all To-Hit rolls that target the bearer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to count on the <Character> keyword from reducing/eliminating shots against your Enforcer though, of course, that’s not always possible.
Enforcer Commanders are not just useful for their lethality, they’re also useful to take advantage of several stratagems. Some of the below stratagems require a commander to utilize and others are beneficial to the Enforcer Commander due to the fact that they are also <Battlesuits>.
- Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite (1CP)
- Use this before a <Battlesuit> unit shoots, the target of the attacks cannot claim cover bonuses to their save for this phase.
- Fail-safe Detonator (1CP)
- Use when a <Battlesuit> unit is destroyed in the Fight phase but before removing the last unit. Roll a D6 for each unit (friend and foe) within 3″ of that model and on a 4+ it takes a mortal wound.
- Automated Repair System (2CP)
- Use at the start of any turn. A <Battlesuit> or <Vehicle> can regain D3 lost wounds.
- Neuroweb System Jammer (2CP)
- Use this at the start of the enemy Shooting phase. Pick an enemy unit within 18″ of a <Battlesuit> <Commander> in your army. Your opponent must subtract 1 from hit rolls made for that unit this phase.
- Repulsor Impact Field (1CP)
- Use after an enemy successfully charges a <Battlesuit> unit. Roll a dice for each model in the enemy unit within 3″ of your unit. On a 6 that model suffers a mortal wound.
- Command-and-control Node (1CP)
- Use this stratagem at the start of your Shooting phase. Pick a <Sept> <Commander> form your army. That Commander may not shoot, but one <Sept> <Battlesuit> unit form your army that is within 6″ of that Commander may reroll failed wound rolls this phase.
- Emergency Dispensation
- Your standard “pay 1CP for an extra relic, pay 3CP for two extra relics” stratagem.
- Orbital Ion Beam
- Use in your Shooting phase if a <T’au Empire> <Commander> from your army did not move or use their Manta Strike ability in the preceding Movement phase. Pick two points on the battlefield 2D6″ apart. Draw a 1mm imaginary line between the two points and roll a die for any unit (friend or foe) under this line. On a 4+ that unit being rolled for suffers D3 mortal wound. Once per game stratagem.
The few of these that I find myself regularly using are Neuroweb System Jammer (NSJ) and Command-an-control Node (CnCN). It’s not impossible to be within 18″ of a major source of your opponent’s firepower either on your opponent’s first Shooting phase (if you went first) or their second (if they went first). It’d be such a shame if that big, bad Knight was -1 on all his To-Hit rolls, wouldn’t it? Did your opponent heal something just enough to raise it up a damage tier in preparation of some clutch shooting? Sorry, friend, here’s a -1 To-Hit. NSJ is a vital tool at your disposal to be able to keep something at bay until you can kill it. CnCN is another excellent stratagem as it allows a <Battlesuit> unit to reroll wounds. Take something like a Nova Charged Riptide with a Heavy Burst Cannon, which would normally wound a T8 Knight on 5’s – about 33% of the time. But, by using CnCN on it, your average wounds jump up to about 55%. Since each of those shots are D2, getting more successful To-Wound rolls means you’ll be getting a more damage through which is always a good thing.
The other stratagems are either obvious as to when/how you’d use them or are a bit gimmicky, like the Orbital Ion Beam. It’s expensive to start, at 3CP. It also requires you to not have moved, which can flow well from a Kauyon. However, the fact that the distance is variable, the change of wounding is variable, and then the damage is variable all add up to too much variability. If I’m spending that many CP, I want a sure thing from it (like a 22% increase is successful To-Wound rolls…) and the Orbital Ion Beam is not a sure thing.
The last thing to cover regarding the Enforcer Commander would be warlord traits, should you decide to make one of yours your warlord. If you’re playing your Enforcer Commander with 4 CIB’s, surrounded by your other units, then Through Unity, Devastation is probably the best take, as it allows you to choose one enemy unit visible to your Warlord and friendly units within 6″ of your warlord that shoot at and wound on a 6 increase their AP by 1 (e.g. AP0 becomes AP-1). This pairs well with nearby Riptides, Firewarriors, and any other T’au unit with a high volume of fire.
If you’re playing more into a frontline commander who will utilize more close fighting, Exemplar of the Mont’ka (can Advance and fire as if he had not Advanced) and Precision of the Hunter (re-roll wound rolls of 1’s against <Vehicle> and <Monster>) may prove useful, though the effect of Exemplar of the Mont’ka could also be obtained through the Vior’la Sept. Precision of the Hunter would be useful for a Commander specifically tasked with taking out high toughness targets, like the currently-so-popular T8 Knights.
Other warlord traits could be worth taking, occasionally such as Academy Luminary (increases the range of Master of War to 9″ and if your army is Battleforged, gain 1 additional CP) or Seeker of Perfection (for each To-Hit roll of 6+ made by your warlord, add 1 to the To-Wound roll for that attack), but don’t quite bring the same amount of synergy as Through Unity, Devastation. These are, personally, more for friendly games than top table lists.
To start with, Enforcer Commanders come with a built-in “counter” in that you can only take 1 <Commander> unit per detachment. Not only can you not take more than three of the same Commander, you’d have to take three detachments in order to be able to take three <Commanders>. Speaking of Enforcer Commander in particular, with their 8″ movement, they’re not exactly able to zip across the board to harass an enemy unit. If they are trying to get within 9″ of something to fully utilize Fusion Blasters, they may be given a hard time of it if their target is fast. Most of the time they’re going to be hanging out around the outer limits of their range (18″ in most cases) so certainly within the range of a charge for fast units.
Unless they specifically take one, and like I stated before the most common loadout you’ll see for an Enforcer Commander is probably 4 CIB’s so they won’t have one, Enforcers don’t have an invulnerable save. That means that anything AP-4 or better will just pass through as damage. A good T’au player will make sure to keep drones (probably Shield Drones with a 4++/5+++) nearby to offload wounds via Savior Protocols, so take that into account by preferably taking out the drones first or by overwhelming the Enforcer with the weight of fire.
Enforcer Commanders are far from untouchable, though they are shielded from direct fire via the <Character> keyword, unless of course, they’re the closest. If you’re not able to shoot it directly (this will most likely be the case), kill what’s in front of it or charge it. Like most T’au units, the Enforcer Commander will crumple under any sort of dedicated close combat aggression. It will have to be within 18″ to do a lot of what it will want to do, so if you can close that distance, use it to your advantage.
If the T’au player does choose to Manta Strike it, make sure to try and control the areas which it can come down by using screening units and general unit placement to block off key areas. The last thing you want happening is an Enforcer Commander Manta Striking near some key piece of artillery that you didn’t adequately protect. Don’t under estimate the frustration a Turn 2 or 3 Enforcer can give you by Manta Striking in your backfield (supported by two shield drones that are placed behind a building, not in your LoS) that can not only direct a lot of firepower at something key but also not be shot at directly because of the supporting out-of-sight drones. A good T’au player will also understand that charging something like a Basilisk or Wyvern with his Enforcer can also make sense tactically sometimes. Don’t get caught off guard.
Overall, the Enforcer Commander is a great swiss army knife. It can be nearly whatever you want it to be, though if you play against enough T’au players, you’ll start to see similar builds reoccurring (4xCIB for example). The Enforcer Commander is one of the T’au’s strongest units at the moment due to the direct firepower and point efficiency they bring but also the synergy with other units and stratagems. It would be a rare list indeed to not have any T’au Commanders within it, though there are notable substitutions to the Enforcer that we will get to in future articles. Enforcer Commanders are not impossible to deal with however and understanding what they’re good at and what the T’au player will want to do with them is the first step towards adequately combatting them.
What are you loading out your Enforcer Commanders with? What’s their specific role?
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