We’ve heard a lot of talk on the new Sept tenets and the new stratagems – a handful of which are strong, many are mediocre – but I want to focus on what is I think the most interesting aspect of the T’au updates in The Greater Good: the Farsight Enclaves.
There are two principal changes that have the potential to make the Enclaves a fearsome competitive choice: the ability to take two Commanders per detachment and the single-unit upgrade to Crisis Suit WS and BS.
Furthermore, the Farsight Enclaves section of this supplement rewrites the Master of War: Kauyon rule. But we’ll come to that later.
Here’s the big picture as I see it: these changes go a significant way to solving the issue of average army-wide BS.
Enclaves will now be able to take 100 per cent more Commanders then their loyalist brethren. This means 100 per more character-keyword BS2 platforms roaming around the battlefield. We already know that the Commander is one of the best units in the codex – the update doesn’t change this one way or another – and Enclaves players can now lean even more heavily on the strongest aspects of the codex.
Let’s dig in to the technical aspects of this. Doesn’t the matched play rule-of-three rule override the ability to take six Commanders? It doesn’t. The Enforcer Commander and the Coldstar Commander are two separate datasheets. While they are both T’au Empire Commanders with access to a Commander’s buffs and abilities, these are two different Battlesuits with slightly different rules.
This prompts the following question: will Games Workshop FAQ this in a month or so’s time? Some players might recall that at the beginning of eighth edition, way back when most of us were using index rules, that T’au players could take as many Commanders as they wanted. Predictably, this lead to a lot of Tau armies featuring many, many Commanders. This needed to be nerfed, and the eighth edition T’au codex did just that. Commanders were limited to one per detachment.
What stops such a situation from happening again? In this case, it certainly won’t be as bad. We’ll have fewer Commanders jumping around the board than we did at the beginning of eighth. The restriction to two per detachment and the rule-of-three should see to that. But we could quite feasibly see six Commanders in a 2,000-point game.
Will this be a problem? I don’t think so. The reason is simple: we live in the Space Marines meta. Three Enforcer Commanders and three Coldstar Commanders is going to be very strong, but it’s not going to be at the level of the Iron Hands. It’s not going to be at the level of Imperial Fists. It’s going to be good, but it’s not going to be that good.
I mention above that this update allows the Enclaves to simply take more of that which is best in the T’au codex. This is an effective way of buffing a faction. It’s so simple. It doesn’t involve vast rewrites of sub-par units. Indeed, nothing big needs to change. Enclaves armies can now double down on the good stuff.
The character keyword can be very powerful in this edition. One of the main tactics that T’au players have come to rely on over the past couple of years has been a big, durable unit — the Riptide — with significant defensive capabilities — Shield Drones — screening a far less durable unit — the Commander — from almost all attacks. Once this tag team gets into range, it becomes very strong and very tough to deal with. Indeed, as Richard Siegler has discussed on a handful of occasions, this style of T’au army really gets going in the mid- to late-game, once the alpha units get into range.
Now that Riptide won’t just be shielding two or three Commanders; it’ll be shielding four or five.
What’s next? The Enclaves have access to an excellent new stratagem, Veteran Cadre. This has a pretty good claim to be the strongest T’au Empire stratagem in the book. Used before the start of the game and for the cost of one CP for a three-man squad and two CP for a four-to-nine-man squad, one XV8 Crisis unit or XV8 Crisis Bodyguard unit can add +1 WS and +1 BS for the whole game.
This stratagem solves the problem of Crisis Suits’ unreliable BS. For the cost of two CP, Enclaves players now have access to a very reliable unit. And it gets better. T’au players have access to the Coordinated Engagement stratagem. As I mentioned in my previous article, this stratagem puts a full stack of Markerlights on one enemy unit, but only one XV8 Crisis unit can benefit from them. Now we’re hitting on 2s, and we’re re-rolling 1s. Considering the weapons that Crisis units can be armed with, this has the potential to be very strong indeed. Let’s take a look at a brief example.
Six Crisis Suits armed with two Cyclic Ion Blasters and an Advanced Targeting System each will put out 36 shots at 18″. If we’re hitting on 2s and re-rolling 1s, we could feasibly be looking at only two or three misses. If we presume that we’re overcharging the CIBs — and if we’re re-rolling 1s, this is pretty good bet — we then have roughly 33 strength 8, AP-2, damage d3 hits on a target. There isn’t much in the game that can survive such punishing firepower. This would be, however, an expensive unit: these six models would cost 396 points. This would be four points shy of 20 per cent of a 2,000-point army.
No doubt, this is a serious amount of points. But I’m quickly coming round to the opinion that this might actually be a pretty good investment. As a deep-striking unit, it has the potential to do devastating damage to an opponent’s alpha unit. And what’s more, it’s very difficult to avoid. With an 18″ range on the CIB, it’ll be tough to screen out effectively.
And let’s not forget an old classic: the Command-and-Control Node stratagem allows a Battlesuit unit to re-roll wound rolls at the expense of a Commander’s shooting for the cost of one command point. If the Enclaves player really needed something to die, this would be the way to go about it.
We’ve discussed Commanders and we’ve discussed Crisis Suits. And in the introduction to this article, I mention that The Greater Good rewrites the Master of War: Kauyon rule. Simply put, it’s better, but it’s better only for Enclaves units.
I think that this oversight is a handy illustration that GW is cranking out content quicker than their editors can effectively check for quality. Indeed, Dark Angels players will recall that the Ritual of the Damned supplement didn’t include Lazarus’ points cost. Eagle-eyed readers have already spotted that The Greater Good doesn’t include Shadowsun’s points cost. Put simply, the studio is making mistakes. Relatively minor mistakes, yes, but mistakes nonetheless.
And the Kauyon rewrite comes under this category. For those who don’t know, in the current T’au codex, the Kauyon ability allows units within 6″ of a Commander to re-roll failed hit rolls if they do not move. In The Greater Good, this rule has been updated slightly: it now states that all hit rolls may be re-rolled, not only failed hit rolls. This is, of course, much better.
And as I mention above, the rule doesn’t update the ability as a whole, for all T’au Empire units. Rather, it does so only for Farsight Enclaves units. I’m sure that GW will update the rule in the main codex soon enough. T’au players have noticed, and GW will respond.
Mistakes happen. We’re all human. But this oversight doesn’t change the fact that Farsight Enclaves have some very interesting choices now. It’ll take a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, but I think that we’ll start to see Enclaves armies do well at tournaments. And not only will this be good for T’au players, but it’ll be great for the game as well.
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