This article has been updated since its initial publication to reflect Chapter Approved 2018 changes.
Today we’re talking about Fire Warriors that specialize in the ability to dig enemies out of cover and entrenchments, Breacher Teams. Highly aggressive sometimes to the point of being unfit for other roles, Breacher Teams arose out of necessity when the T’au Empire first encountered the Imperium of Man. Unable to deploy battlesuits in the confined space the T’au found themselves fighting in, they developed the concept of the Breacher Team to be able to blast a path to even the most heavily protected enemies – all while being able to weather the returning onslaught thanks to protective drone-generated energy shields.
On the tabletop, the Breacher Teams consist of at least 5 Fire Warrior models armed with short range and potent weapons.
Fire Warrior Shas’ui
DS8 Tactical Support Turret
MV36 Guardian Drone
The unit can be comprised of between 5 and 10 Fire Warriors. You can upgrade one Fire Warrior to a Shas’ui (sergeant) for free. Each Fire Warrior and Shas’ui is armed with a pulse blaster and photon grenades. The unit may be accompanied by either 2 Tactical Drones (p 109 of the T’au Codex) or 1 Tactical Drone and 1 MV36 Guardian Drone.
The Shas’ui may take a markerlight. The Shas’ui may take a pulse pistol or replace their pulse blaster with a pulse pistol. Any Fire Warrior may take a pulse pistol. The unit may take a DS8 Tactical Support Turret equipped with either a missile pod (MP) or smart missile system (SMS).
- Pulse blaster
- Close range – 5″ Assault 2 S6 AP-2 D1
- Medium range – 10″ Assault 2 S5 AP-1 D1
- Long range – 15″ Assault 2 S4 AP0 D1
- Pulse pistol – 12″ Pistol 1 S5 AP0 D1
- Photon grenade – 12″ Grenade D6
- This weapon does not inflict damage. Instead, your opponent must subtract 1 from any hit tolls made for <Infantry> units that have suffered any hits from photon grenades until the end of the turn.
- Missile pod – 36″ Assault 2 S7 AP-1 D[D3]
- Smart missile system – 30″ Heavy 4″ S5 AP0 D1
- No line of sight needed. Units attacked by this weapon don’t get any bonuses to their save for being in cover.
The Breacher’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.
- Bonding Knife Ritual
- Auto-pass moral tests if you roll a 6 on a Morale test.
- DS8 Tactical Support Turret
- The support turret isn’t set up when the rest of the unit is. Instead, it may be set up at the end of any Movement phase. The turret is set up in unit coherency with the rest of the unit and more than 2″ away from any enemy models. The turret can’t move for any reason and is destroyed if the Breacher Team moves out of coherency with it. The destruction of the turret is ignored for the purposes of Morale tests.
The Guardian Drone’s special abilities include:
- For the Greater Good
- Same as above.
- Savior Protocols
- If within 3″ of a T’au sept <Infantry> or <Battlesuit> unit when that unit is wounded by an enemy attack, roll a D6. On a 2+ that wound is transferred to the unit of Drones and the damage is changed to a single mortal wound instead of the normal damage.
- Drone Support
- These drones are deployed along with Shadowsun. After deployed, they count and act as a separate unit.
- Guardian Field
- Guardian drones have a 5++ invuln save. Breacher Teams within 3″ of a friendly Guardian Drone have a 5++ invuln save.
Since the Breacher Team’s main weapon only has a max range of 15″ the obvious tactic is to get close to your enemy in order to use their pulse blaster. This is typically achieved via a Devilfish, which has a carrying capacity of 12 so more than enough to carry either a full Breacher Team and any accompanying drones or a couple of MSU Breacher Teams. This is the most assured way to get them in the face of your opponent. Assuming 24″ deployment separation, the Devilfish will move 12″ plus advance on the first turn, then on the second turn, the Breacher Team will be able to disembark 3″, then get their 6″ normal move to place them within range of their shortest weapon profile.
At two shots each, the Breacher Team can put out some hurt at close range. 20 S6 AP-2 D1 shots will shred light and medium infantry with just a little bit of support from markerlights. However, if you combo them with something more substantial like Darkstrider (who gives a plus 1 to wound) and/or the Breach and Clear! stratagem (pick an enemy unit that is receiving the benefit of cover, the Breacher Team rerolls failed to wound rolls against the enemy unit until the end of the phase, 1CP), they can become absolute monsters and even capable of taking out light tanks on occasion. Not to mention that if you were using the Darkstrider combo, the Breachers would have to be T’au sept too so would benefit from the Focused Fire (+1 wound, 3CP) to potentially gain 2+ to wound, rerolling wounds with a S6 AP-2 D1. I’m not saying you should always be spending 4CP to buff this ~80 point unit, but the option is there should you need it.
Speaking of options, are the Devilfish optional? By including the Devilfish, you’re adding on ~100 extra points to the cost of the Breacher Team, when you could just buy a second unit of Breachers with change. Is there a way to get at least one of those two Breacher Teams from your deployment zone into range without a Devilfish? With their 6″ movement and by Advancing first turn, you will just (on average) get within range of the largest pulse blaster profile (15″) on turn 1. Even at the lackluster profile of the longest range, 20 shots turn one is better than none, but by default, they’ll be hitting on 5’s due to having Advanced. However, if they are Vior’la Breachers, then you’ll be free to use their BS4+ as well as potentially use their Hot-Blooded stratagem (allowing them to shoot twice, 2CP). It doesn’t take a math major to know 40 shots is better than 0, turn 1. However, it will be less likely for the Breachers to be within the 5″ range profile on turn two, for the Breachers that are still alive after your opponent retaliates on their turn. Something to consider.
There are merits to taking a Devilfish as well though. It can block line of sight, it allows greater movement, and it can be used as a flying battering ram, for starters. My main point though is that it doesn’t seem mandatory in all situations. If your goal is to run a cheap Vior’la detachment. just to take a Coldstar and 5CP, you shouldn’t feel too bad filling at least some of your Troop choices with walking Breachers. Should you go out of your way to walk them? Probably not.
Taking the optional drones along with Breacher is typically not recommended. Looking at one unit of 10 Breachers, a Guardian Drone’s 5++ will save 1-2 Breachers from high AP weaponry where they would not normally receive a saving throw. Saving 2 Breachers would save a few more points than the cost of the drone, but only saving 1 would be a net loss. So if your plan is to take multiple large units of Breachers (like 20 or 30), then you might see the Guardian Drone pay for itself and then some. I’m not convinced that taking that many Breachers is even a good idea, just due to how short-ranged all those are, so the general rule of thumb is just to not take the Guardian Drone. As for the support turret, this is even less advises, as it becomes destroyed when you move away from it. As Breachers will naturally need to remain mobile, this is usually going to happen. The expected playstyle of Breachers just doesn’t suit taking the support turret, even though the missile pods came down in points in CA2018. Furthermore, never use Savior Protocols to save a Breacher. The drone is worth more than the Breacher so it’s like giving points away.
If your opponent is running Breacher Teams in Devilfish, then try and focus the Devilfish down to not only slow the Breacher Team WAY down but to also avoid the inevitable charging tactic of the Devilfish. At T7 Sv3+ and W12, this is not hard. Make sure that you’re screening effectively with chaff units that will keep the Breachers from getting within 5″ of your valuable targets. You’ll also want to ensure you don’t leave a space big enough for the Devilfish to charge things like Mortar Teams, etc. Once you’ve taken away the Breacher’s ability to move quickly, you will be able to easily outmaneuver much of their meaningful firepower by staying at least 10″ away if not greater than 15″ away to completely negate them. Lastly, if the Breachers took the optional drones, just shoot them. They become a separate unit once set up and the best way to negate the buffs the Guardian Drone provides is to just kill it.
Overall, Breacher Teams play and feel very different than the other Fire Warrior unit, Strike Teams. Breachers excel when able to get in the face of the enemy to support surgical strikes. This usually requires the support of other units (Devilfish) and a few markerlights never hurt either. Like most T’au units, Breachers can become quite scary when combined with a bit of markerlight support alongside certain unit’s special abilities and stratagems. In some important ways, namely range and the potential number of shots per model, they are outclassed by Strike Teams, so while you may see them on the table from time to time due to their strengths, they won’t be the norm.
Do you run Breacher Teams?
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