The Problem With Tau

Tau have been one of the most divisive factions in the game over the years, with many people either loving or hating them. Can we find a root cause for why, and why GW has struggled to balance them? Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

My fellow author Rhys Jenkins recently published a good article about Tau diving into what he saw as some of the issues with the faction. I, obviously, had thoughts of my own on the subject but the more I considered it, the more I realized that they probably needed an article of their own to spell everything out, so that’s what I’m doing here. If you want a look at a more solution-oriented and game-oriented look at the faction (or you just want to know what the inception of the discussion is), I suggest you read Rhys’s article; mine is going to be approaching it from a somewhat broader perspective.

Begin At the Very Beginning

From the start, Tau have been a faction that has caused a lot of waves in the player base. I don’t think you can say they are the most disliked faction, because that has varied greatly over the years, but they certainly are one that is often complained about. I think that issue stems from the very conception of the faction as a whole, and some of the problems that they suffer from are inherent to that conception- and thus, in order to fix them Games Workshop needs to approach them from a slightly different angle.

(Note: I am not talking here about the whole “they are space anime communists” bit that gets repeated a lot. For one, 40K has always had a strong influence from anime and Japanese culture because of its creation in the late 80s when such things were incredibly prevalent. And for two, they aren’t even communist in the least, they’re collectivists, but given that most people have no idea what communism is it’s not surprising to see that mistake repeated.)

The core idea for Tau, if we break them down, is that they are a mobile, shooting-exclusive army that uses a variety of specialist units to support its troops. This is the faction’s identity at its most fundamental level, and it’s supported by the fluff for the Tau race. None of these features are an insurmountable problem- indeed, we can see each of them present individually in other factions to varying degrees. However, the designers made some unfortunate choices that box in many of their options and cause problems, so I think it’s worth it to pick apart these choices and limitations one by one- as well as some of the escapes we have from them- and look at what they mean.

Focus Fire

The first and most obvious feature of Tau is their focus on shooting. This is part of the most core identity that the faction has; whereas the other armies are mostly supposed to have various amounts of retro-tech flair to them, the Tau are explicitly futuristic and explicitly progressive, which stands in opposition to the Medievalist appearance and themes of many of the others. They are very specifically a shooting-only army- not simply shooting-primary like Imperial Guard, but completely lacking in any melee capability by design.

This is the first point where I think Games Workshop’s choices make a wrong turn. Melee is, by design, a major part of the game. In choosing not to give Tau access to it, you limit your design space a lot- which is not, in itself, an impossible problem but it runs into issues with many of the other choices they make. It becomes even more problematic when you factor in the Tau’s lack of psykers, denying them access to an entire other facet of the game. That means, right out of the gate, Tau simply do not play in 50% of the phases and may as well skip right over them.

This is the most fundamental problem for the army, I feel, and the source of their balance issues. When a faction’s entire identity is invested into basically one phase (we’ll talk about the movement phase in a second), it becomes a very precarious situation because you are attempting to balance on a knife’s edge with regard to that single attribute; just a hair too far in one direction and they will utterly dominate, blasting all opponents to pieces before they have a chance to close the distance. Too far in the other direction and they are useless, as they don’t have the firepower to eliminate the enemy before being destroyed. All armies have to play this balancing act, of course, but it is especially treacherous for Tau because it is their only real point of balance- with other factions you can adjust the combination of shooting, melee, and other abilities to try and achieve a stable point, but in many ways Tau really have only a single slider to adjust.

Gettin’ Around Town

The second major feature of the Tau faction, at least in the fluff, is their mobility. Tau are supposed to be masters of mobile warfare, and while the Aeldari factions presumably are even better at this the Tau are intended to come in a close second thanks to their preponderance of flying units as well as fast-moving tanks and battlesuits. They are even said to specifically eschew any kind of static defenses, preferring instead to give ground in exchange for causing casualties on the enemy side.

The actual implementation of this, however, has varied a lot- and in 8th edition in particular took a big hit when they removed the “jump-shoot-jump” ability of battlesuits. (For those not familiar, this allowed Tau suits to make an assault movement even when not assaulting, effectively splitting their movement into two “halves” rather than having the single, longer movement distance that other jump units got.) This was an understandable choice, as having the Tau player move a bunch of units twice in a turn ended up wasting a lot of time, but it also took away a major strategic tool.

The issue here stems from the previous one- since Tau have no melee capacity, they never want to be within charge range. With the limited size of the board, this means they need to be fast enough to escape, but not so fast that they can always escape. This is especially problematic in the context of 9th Edition, where most armies want to be moving to the center of the board, but I feel it is a less insurmountable problem than some of the others- stratagems and unit special abilities provide a lot of room for giving the Tau tricksy tricks that make it viable to move into dangerous places.

Another Crack In the Wall

When you combine these two issues you can start to see why Tau are often disliked- you have an army that dominates one phase of the game and refuses to play in the others, and especially with 40K’s “I-go-U-go” system this can create some extremely noninteractive situations.

By design Tau have to be better at shooting than other armies- it’s built right into their DNA as a faction. They have no access to melee, and so their shooting is stronger as compensation- so when you are facing off with an enemy shooting army where neither of you can usefully leverage melee as a tool, the Tau are just advantaged. This is exacerbated by the existence of Savior Protocols, an incredibly broken tool that replaced the other presence of Drones in squads an essentially consumed the entirety of the Tau codex, relegating all units to either “can be Savior’d and thus useful” and “cannot be Savior’d and thus useless,” in much the same way that the existence of Ynnari completely upset the internal balancing of the Craftworlds book.

Now add in their ability to either avoid (in earlier editions) or escape from (in the last edition) melee combat and you are adding yet another layer of noninteraction with the opponent; by hiding, moving out of range, or otherwise avoiding the enemy Tau can simply choose not to play the game with them, which can be even more frustrating when they refuse to play “fair.” This was at its absolute worst back in 4th edition, where games were decided almost entirely based on the points value of models slain and terrain was abstracted much like in the current edition, so it wasn’t uncommon for a Tau army to kill one or two squads and then simply avoid the enemy for the rest of the game, essentially winning on a technicality. However, the problem still exists even now and is still a negative play experience, albeit a somewhat less pressing one.

Can We Fix It?

So, what needs to be done about all of this? I think the best and easiest route forward is actually for Games Workshop to rethink their conception of Tau somewhat in ways that open up more design space for them to balance the faction. To whit, there are three major points.

First, let Tau play in every phase of the game. Note that this doesn’t mean they have to be good in every phase, but let them be a part of every phase. Give them some allied units that can function as middling countercharge units or psychic defenses. Give them stratagems, wargear, or relics that allow them to interact with those phases- for example, an electrostatic field that deals mortal wounds to enemies in melee combat (much like the Flechette Dispensers of old) or a Sisters of Battle-style limited denial roll for their units. Being bad in a phase of the game is flavorful- it shows that each faction has weaknesses as well as strengths and can help teach players that one-for-one comparisons across codices are not always insightful. But lacking any participation in a phase is boring- it simply removes an option from the toolbox and limits what you can do as designers. Let Tau keep their shitty weapon skill values, but give them battlesuit-sized beam sabers to defend themselves with- it emphasizes the things people like about the faction without detracting from their weaknesses.

Second, make the battlesuit units more distinct from each other. Since they mostly all share the same guns (with the Riptide and Stormsurge being basically the only exceptions), the special rules of each unit need to define their rolls in an army- and some of the battlesuits basically have no special rules. (I’m looking at you, Crisis suits.) Make sure each of the battlesuits can do something the others can’t. And heck, while we’re at it, do that for the other units as well. Kroot and Hammerheads in particular are stuck in a very weird place as legacy units, with stats and wargear profiles that do not in any way reflect what they are supposed to be able to do. Kroot are supposed to be the first line of screening and defenses for a Tau army but they have an absolutely miserable profile that makes an Imperial Guardsman look spectacular, especially for their cost, and they are completely worthless at their stated job of providing melee pressure.

Third, expand the list of allied races. I know this is a bit of an investment for Games Workshop because plastic kits are expensive, but the Tau are supposed to be a coalition force, making use of allies to shore up their weaknesses. This is a fantastic modeling and conversion idea, and while they have moved away from D.I.Y. unit inclusions, it wouldn’t be that unreasonable to expect a box with five each of four different alien races to make some units out of. And if they aren’t interested in doing this and want to focus on the Tau themselves for the faction- do that instead. Get rid of the whole allies thing and make it all Tau all the time, but give them units that can still fill those roles (much in the way Necrons get “psychic nullifiers” and similar technological solutions.)

Closing Thoughts

I love the Tau as a faction, I truly do; their clean lines, futuristic technology, and optimistic mindset I think have a lot going for them in the setting of Warhammer 40K and make them very distinct amongst the races. However, as they stand they are a very problematic inclusion of the game and often tip wildly in power from one end of the scale to the other, and that’s not good for anyone, Tau player or not.

Conceptually, I think they need some tweaks or outright overhauls of many of the concepts behind them, because the game has come a long ways since 3rd edition and many things have changed. In the face of a dynamic and active game, the designers also have to be dynamic and active, always considering their past assumptions and what they mean for the player base, and I think Tau are perhaps the most in need of such a reconsideration at this point. There are a lot of people who love the faction, but also a lot that strongly dislike playing against it- and I think in some ways that’s not unwarranted because of their design. As much as possible we want to avoid negative play experiences and make sure that all armies are able to be functional in the game, and I think right now Tau are really struggling with that in a way that needs some serious attention.

As always, remember you can buy your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

26 Responses to “The Problem With Tau”

  1. Avatar
    Earl August 26, 2020 6:17 am #

    For the psychic phase, I feel like they should be the dwarf equivalent. They can deny, but can’t cast. They have no psychic presence in the fluff, so represent it. Whether that’s a stratagem, give ethereals deny, or give all Tau units a bonus (say a negative to target them). Or all three.

    For melee, they don’t need to win combats. They just need to not be wiped out so easily. Especially since 9th seems to have alot of midboard control.

    I agree with your second and third points. In the fluff, they’re pretty comfortable using allies as bait, then gunning down their exposed enemy. That’s not really represented.

    That the only competitive build appears to be riptides and drones, for several editions, shows the book needs a complete rework.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy August 26, 2020 8:18 am #

      That would definitely fit. The Tau even employ some psykers in their ranks (like the Nicassar), so it’s entirely plausible for them to have a weak or defense-oriented psychic presence.

      Yeah, what I would like to see is for Tau to have a limited (but functional) access to melee units, sort of in the same way that Imperial Guard do. Most of the Guard codex is garbage in close combat- but they have a handful of units, like Bullgryn, that can do the job. I think that model is potentially workable for Tau as well- although I think Tau would be better-served by having a more offensive rather than defensive style of unit. Beam sabers!

  2. Avatar
    Draaen August 26, 2020 6:43 am #

    I was looking for your comments in the last article. I am happy to see such a whole army concept assessment rather then focusing on markerlights or something like that.

    I do hope we get more auxiliaries. I just sort of feel though that the Tau army was released GW then released the “dreaded” marine killing vespid which were ugly and bad at their job so they sat on shelves. Seems to me the coalition idea effectively died there, with GW figuring there was no interest, which is really unfortunate.

    Are Tau really the kings of efficient shooting though? Armies like guard seem to have more efficient point for point shooting. Tau I always felt like though had more resiliency. The reason triptide works is because they just never die right?

    I thought that the rules set for last edition had an interesting concept, poorly executed, of durable Tau which can get attacked in combat then fall back and shoot. So you can do your thing then I can do my thing and we have a punching match. It was never made to be effective because our mid range suits like crisis suits, stealth suits and ghost keels just paled in comparison to the riptide and 40 shield drones and were not quite durable enough on their own. If crisis suits and stealth suits had like a built in daemon save, modified by shield drones to 4++ or something, obsec and had a way to continue to operate if tagged I think that could be a good way to make us work in the midfield scrum in 9th.

    I am a bit hesitant on Tau getting more in the other phases since it is not my mindset. But your arguments are strong I would be really curious on how they would execute it and make it feel right with Tau. Although to be honest I would not really argue much against anything that brings in new models. Especially auxilliaries. I mean kroot combat suits seem like they would be really really cool and I would buy them to paint even if they sucked.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy August 26, 2020 8:25 am #

      >Are Tau really the kings of efficient shooting though?

      It depends a lot on how you define efficiency, the assumptions you make, and the time period in particular you’re talking about. Broadly speaking, the Guard have more raw firepower, but Tau guns are more specialized and effective. For example, a Guard army can put an immense number of guns on the table, but the Tau army is more able to maneuver and place their guns effectively as well as to hit reliably and punch through saves (thanks to Markerlights.) Of course, this is not an absolute- there have been plenty of times when Guard have been able to outgun Tau, or some other faction, but speaking in the general case I think Tau are usually one of if not the most shooty armies in the game.

      I think there are a lot of ways to let Tau play in other phases of the game; it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the traditional manner, the key is to let them do _something_ during those phases. What if Tau had an Ethereal ability that let one unit shoot in the psychic phase because they were inspired? What if they got a special ability to use a shooting weapon profile for their melee attacks, in the style of Fusion Blades? What if they had the ability to ‘retaliate’ against spells by moving a unit or shooting at the caster? Etc. The takeaway, I feel, is not that Tau need to have psykers or assault- although those are one way to solve the problem- but that they need to be able to participate in that phase of the game in some way rather than it simply being completely dead for them.

      • Avatar
        Matt August 26, 2020 12:54 pm #

        I like the idea of seeker missiles being the Tau’s source of MW rather than mind-bullets. This will never happen, but it could be kinda cool if the Tau brought a variety of missiles or off-map artillery that fired in the psychic phase. Some missiles deal MW, others might slow the enemy or stun vehicles etc.

        If I had to bet on something though, I’d bet on GWs changing the lore to say “ethereals were secretly psykers all along, lol” because that seems like exactly the sort of tone-deaf move they keep making with Tau.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy August 26, 2020 6:09 pm #

          That was actually what Seeker Missiles originally did in 8E, before they got changed. I don’t hate the idea, but the original version (a single mortal wound that had to roll to hit) was definitely too weak.

      • Avatar
        zarlus August 31, 2020 10:35 am #

        Agreed in that I don’t want psykers and really I don’t want to be good in melee. I just want to participate. A fantastic mechanic that GW doesn’t really implement in the game is enemy model displacement. Tau could utilize this as a psychic or melee replacement.
        Examples include a seismic fibrillator node, or drone mines (that already exist in lore).

  3. Avatar
    kaixaukyr August 26, 2020 6:57 am #

    great article! you pretty much hit the nail on the head. my thoughts are something like

    1. Deepen interaction in Psychic and Combat phases of the game via wargear and auxiliaries
    2. Redesign Crisis and Stealth for 9e close range fighting, taking cues from Primaris Gravis units and Infiltrators
    3. Move drones to a minor role in the army and drop the Savior Protocols mechanic, but
    4. Give drones more autonomy when they are independent units
    5. Redesign the army’s defenses around mobility, encouraging maximum movement
    6. Redesign the army’s offenses around coordinated fire, encouraging planned concerted action
    7. Flatten the markerlight mechanic to one hit
    8. Provide generic versions of the Tau Sept characters, and
    9. Avoid giving better Overwatch as a Sept bonus
    10. Keep weapons on par with Primaris
    11. Nerf the invuln save mechanic on the Riptide or extend it to other suits
    12. Allow mixed Deathwatch-like infantry squads
    13. Diversify HQ options with auxiliaries and other castes
    14. Flesh out Kroot and make them more of a light offensive threat

  4. Avatar
    AngryPanda August 26, 2020 7:08 am #

    I remember the stunnung amount of people who started Tau as they released as they were actualy hungry for a sci fi army. If they had been a renegade human faciton I still think they’d outsell space marines. But yes, the hyperfocus on one thing has always hamstrung them, hard. And as we have seen by the complete reinvention of the Necron fluff that does not have to stay a problem. They are dudes in space samurai armor with mini gundams. There is absolutely no reason they have to be bad in close combat. As for allied races, they might be a decent solutions but I don’t think people are screaming for them. Suits with anime swords on the other hand would sell like hotcakes I think.

  5. Avatar
    Ytook August 26, 2020 7:34 am #

    Great article as ever AP.

    I’d love to see them really push the mobile firepower aspect of the Tau that drew me to them in the first instance. A return of movement tricks and bonuses for being close to the target when shooting or the like.

    I’m glad that the game doesn’t really have room for castling anymore personally as I found it dull to play and play against, so maybe they’ll push this more, but it would require a big redesign I’m unsure we can realistically expect.

  6. Avatar
    GoblinsRiddle August 26, 2020 8:48 am #

    The Nicassar are long standing T’au allies with strong psychic abilities. It always irked me that they couldn’t at least offer some basic defense in the psychic phase with deny rolls. One or two zen pandas in defensive bubbles making deny checks would be better than nothing and somewhat fitting if a bit odd looking.

    • Reecius
      Reecius August 26, 2020 8:51 am #

      Yeah, I agree. Not participating in phases of the game is just kind of lame. Every army should do something in every phase, IMO. I get that they try to be different but when it comes down to rolling dice and playing 40k just being a passive observer in certain phases isn’t usually very fun. Some psychic allies, even an anti-psyker style drone to have some defense would be cool.

      Also, I always wanted a melee suit option, even a Kroot Suit to give them some actual melee options which would be fun, and thematic.

      • Avatar
        GoblinsRiddle August 26, 2020 9:16 am #

        Gue’vesa as guardsmen pressed (or talked) into service, complete with their astra militarium stats could also form a fair melee defense line. Just straight guard units in among t’au units, or even humans in t’au equipment (strike teams) but with guardsmen stats would be fun and lore friendly, in my opinion.

        • Reecius
          Reecius August 26, 2020 11:14 am #

          Yeah, something to fill the gaps without breaking the T’au lore wouldn’t be too hard to do.

  7. Avatar
    D3viat0r August 26, 2020 10:46 am #

    Are they the most efficient or “best” shooting? Absolutely not. And that’s literally the only thing they actually do.
    Guard, sisters, eldar, space marines, ad mech, and maybe even necrons outshoot T’au (DDA, doom scythe, and even general tesla shots are no joke).
    I’ve used this comparison across different platforms so other people get it.
    Take 3 riptides with nova- charged hbc and shoot them at unbuffed IH intercessors with an apothecary. Their designed/preferred target. 54 shots = 27 hits = 18 wounds = 12 get past standard armor. With the FNP rolls, you likely don’t even kill a single squad of 10. But more likely, you want to nova charge the invuln, so you get just 42 shots (giving 1 branched nova charge). That’s 42 shots = 21 hits = 14 wounds = 10 get past armor (favorably). With the FNP 5+, you definitely don’t kill the squad. How 3 riptides shooting the preferred target can’t even down a squad? They can’t charge or do anything else. So half your army points couldn’t drop a single infantry unit. That’s a serious balance issue.
    How do you fix it? Not with markerlights, they are garbage right now. Too easy to remove with a stiff breeze. More shots? Please don’t make me throw 30 more dice just to get a couple extra wounds. That’s a shitty fix. Give a signature system to increase BS or just make them have a better BS. That’s it. Don’t beat around the bush or try these convoluted plans of if you don’t move (in an edition that is completely about movement) and are within 6″ of a model you can re-roll hits once per game (kauyon) or shooting 100-200 points of markerlights to get 5 on a single target to just get essentially a re-roll 1s and +1 to hit. Other armies don’t need to invest that much to do a similar function (looking at chapter masters, which also are generally good in combat).
    You touched on how garbage hammerheads are, but 1 s10 d6 dmg shot? Are you kidding me? Predators, pbc, leman russ are all wayyyy better at the same cost. Nothing about being “T’au faction” is better than the rules they get. Plague burst crawler (pbc) can re-roll 1s to hit with a character near, re-roll all wounds for entropy cannons (with min dmg 3) with the archcontaminator/accelerated entropy. Their side sponsons are better than the main gun for the hammerhead! Then they also get the mortar. And a 4+ invuln with poxmongers relic, 5+fnp… are we paying attention yet? T’au need a serious update and complete overhaul. I’m hoping that someone at GW is seeing what we’ve been seeing and addresses these issues soon. Or all you’ll see is drone/ infantry spam with infiltrating stealth suits (as they are infantry and can perform actions). That’s really the best way to get the most wounds and obsec to try to win or not die quickly. You negate the anti-tank weapons. Burst cannons and pulse blasters can keep you on points by killing enemy obsec maybe.

    Psychic phase help? Give it to the ethereals. They can influence the minds of the T’au already. Give them a deny? Won’t make them OP.

    Melee? Give crisis suits melee weapon options. 2 burst cannons and a hammer on a crisis suit? Yes please!

    Suit buffs? Inherent invulns on crisis suits and ghostkeels, additional suit upgrades, make the suit upgrades not take up a slot, 4-5 wound crisis suits, 12 wound ghostkeels, t6 broadsides or give them innate invulns? (Although to be fair, I don’t enjoy giving EVERYTHING invulns. A hyper-advanced race though should maybe have them?), 16 wound riptides, 24 wound stormsurge with innate invuln and improved main guns, hammerhead railgun str 16, 3+d6 dmg, d3 shots, ignore invulns strat for it?

    Drop saviour protocols, I hate it as a t’au player. Maybe if there are drones between the shooting model and the target, -1 to hit (the drones buzzing around decreases accuracy?) Or if 4+ drones are around a battlesuit it gets a rule like look-out-sir where you just can’t target it (drones eating dmg for suit). This way if you focus fire drones (which you need to do now anyways) you can open up on the suits without fear that they will pass off wounds. Or snipers can hit the suit and it has to eat the dmg. Remove these effects in melee (a riptide shouldn’t be safe from a thunderhammer by a drone flying in front of a melee weapon, that’s silly)

    • Avatar
      GoblinsRiddle August 26, 2020 12:29 pm #

      Maybe make the drones an invulnerable save? You use the save at the cost of a drone attached to that squad.

  8. Avatar
    Ximander August 26, 2020 12:14 pm #

    Make kroot WS 3+ S5 AP-1 D1 in melee, keeping other stats and points the same. Suddenly they will have a purpose. Keeping them squishy will retain tactical flavour.

    Make kroot hounds the same in melee but much faster, no guns. Lose the gun on the krootox and make it something like an ogryn in combat.

  9. Avatar
    Matt August 26, 2020 12:49 pm #

    Fantastic article AP, really hits the nail on the head regarding the faction issues.

    I hated savior protocols before that was cool – drones functioned better when they were part of the same unit as the suits. Then an opponent would know exactly how many drones he’d have to kill to get through to the suits, and it was always only two drones per battlesuit.

    I’m also going to continue advocating for JSJ as a solution to the Tau’s assault problems. It really didn’t add much time at all and it allows Tau to still participate in the assault phase. The trade-off is that when your opponent does catch your unit, that unit is screwed. So it adds a high risk/reward element for both players. Fly and overwatch were/still are terrible game mechanics which remove the consequences of assault for Tau and penalize your opponent for even trying to launch an assault.

  10. Avatar
    revengespc August 26, 2020 6:39 pm #

    The appeal for me is way more that they’re an alternative “protagonist” faction to the Imperium. I think this is even more central to their identity than the samurai/gundam thing. They’re just as much generic-near-future-SF as they are specifically anime (if not more so, I’ve never felt that grafting gunpla bits onto battlesuits aesthetically works). They’re DARPA just as much as they are anime, and their optimistic naiveté maps directly onto that of the new 40k hobbyist who’s just now learning about daemons, drukhari, and Blackstone Fortresses.

    So I’d be very much against giving battlesuits samurai swords, outside of FSE stuff, and much more in favor of beefing up Kroot, maybe a reimagined Vespid dual-build with CC and neutron blaster options, bringing back JSJ and flechette blasters.

    I’d also be a fan of them just making Ethereals psykers. It’d be much less irritating than the “are they or is it something even more mysterious! oooOOOOOooooo!” thing they currently have going on, some kind of psionics is common in generic white-paneled scifi, it’d be cool to see a “civilized” spin on the psychic phase. Kind of surprised, honestly, that with nine Psychic Awakening books, we didn’t actually see a single psychic awakening.

    I agree with other commenters that the Overwatch stuff really doesn’t work for me, particularly how they’re doing it in 9th. I’d rather have a powerful anti-melee tool that I have to weigh carefully instead of spending half the game constantly fishing for 6’s (or even 5’s and 6’s).

  11. Avatar
    revengespc August 26, 2020 6:42 pm #

    Also, I feel like Kroot Mercenaries should just get their own codex. Bring us the Krootdex!

  12. Avatar
    happy_inquisitor August 27, 2020 1:23 am #

    It is quite hard to come up with ways to make a faction very distinctive and yet fit well within a game system. I can see why the designers have struggled where you have a faction as single-purpose as the T’au; even so there are ideas they have tried before and elsewhere.

    The implementation of drones in Apocalypse is a lot cleaner than it is in 40K, for the most part they are just unit upgrades which hand a bonus to the unit. Anything beyond that should be restricted to stratagems or character models – a Saviour Protocols stratagem to sacrifice drones from a unit to take incoming hits would retain all the fluff without being as back-breaking a mechanism as the current one.

    With a couple of stratagems they almost made Krootox a viable counter-assault unit. I really think this is the way to go, with Auxiliaries to fill that vacant Fight Phase for the T’au Empire. Then give Shapers a non-trash role to boost them and you might have a decent option.

  13. Avatar
    Adam August 27, 2020 11:20 am #

    It would be cool to see T’au have special short range guns that they shot in the combat phase at their BS. It would still only hit on 4+, but could be cool for alternative load-outs for crisis, stealth, maybe breachers or a 3rd version of the troops choice. Then you could shoot and soften people up and actually charge and maybe kill a unit. Keep the weapon assault or rapid fire, but add a melee profile of the same stats and say that if you use this you use BS instead of WS and ignore the models attacks characteristics or something.
    I’d sacrifice overwatch if there were some dedicated melee units available.

  14. Avatar
    Matt August 27, 2020 8:28 pm #

    Some units already kind-of have that. The Y’vahra has Flechette Pods, which are a pistol weapon that as of 8th edition, you can fire in assault. One of the FW commanders that no-one ever uses also has something like this IIRC.

    It’s a cool idea, but I’m not sure how you’d balance it – most Tau players would probably rather fall back and then shoot their normal weapons.

    • Avatar
      zarlus August 31, 2020 11:05 am #

      Unfortunately, 8th made you choose between a pistol profile or other weapons. If the y’vahra shot it’s pistols it couldn’t shoot any other weapons. It was better to fall back and shoot than to use the pistol. Additionally, with S6 of the y’vahra, it was more likely to wound over a S4 weapon, (unless it was a weak toughness swarm), [which wouldn’t be the target of the y’vahra].
      If they choose to make it a unit ability, like it was before 8th, then it would have triggered on an assault move

      This mechanic would be a way to promote assaults with Tau. Give Xv8 and higher built in flechette pods that trigger when they assault an enemy unit.
      The commander is/was Forgeword – Shas’o R’myr.

      • Avatar
        Matt August 31, 2020 2:51 pm #

        Shas’o R’myr, that’s right. I actually own this model but only ever used it a handful of times back in… 6th edition I think?

        jeez FW rules are useless 90% of the time. RIP my remoras.

  15. Avatar
    elhombredelgas August 28, 2020 3:10 am #

    Great article, AP!!!! Completely agree with your points

    I hope GWS will realize how much Tau need to interact in melee and psychic phase. PA has give us a path forward in the way that there are strats and relics that, at least, let Tau do something relevant in both phases, but the revamp should be deeper and bring some army wide tools about both melee and psychic.

    It can bring much more fun on the table both for Tau player and foes

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