A Sting in the Tail in 9th

Today I’m going to continue on the theme of how T’au can improve in 9th edition, but this time I want to take a look at one of the alien auxiliaries to which the faction has access: the Vespid Stingwings.

It will not come as a surprise to anyone who plays 40k competitively that the Vespid don’t see any play whatsoever in competitive T’au lists. Indeed, these models haven’t seen competitive play at all across the span of the faction’s time in the game.

But let’s not write them off just yet. In this article, I want to discuss what makes these models generally unfavorable in the current meta and how we could bring them up to speed.

However, I do want to begin on something of a positive note. I think that the Vespid do have some play in 9th. These insectoid lads have a couple of things going for them: the infantry keyword and their maneuverability.

The infantry keyword unlocks the ability to perform most of the actions from the game’s secondary objectives. A T’au list that goes heavy on Battlesuits and Drones is often light on Fire Warriors, so a few more infantry models on the board can be a useful little investment when it comes to getting those points on secondary objectives.

For example, the Deploy Scramblers secondary must be completed by infantry units — once in your deployment zone, once in the opponent’s deployment zone, and once more than 6″ from either player’s deployment zone.

I think that this is going to be a very popular secondary when we get back to playing tournaments proper, and the Vespid offer a lot of utility to complete it. Fast, mobile infantry that can Deepstrike are just the ticket here; the Vespid exactly fit the bill.

And speaking of their speed: the Vespid have a very respectable 14″ move. I’m a big fan of quick infantry units. The ability to apply pressure across large areas of the board is strong, both in terms of taking and holding objectives and putting down some shooting just where it is required.

These two aspects of the unit give T’au players some much-needed flexibility. Our infantry models don’t really give us a lot of options when it comes to applying pressure across the board. Granted, the 30″ range of a Fire Warrior’s Pulse Rifle is respectable, but we simply don’t have the numbers or the accuracy to properly use that tool at range. Fire Warriors — both Breachers and Strike Teams — become very effective over short distances, but our infantry’s long-range firepower is lackluster.

So what does a squad of Vespid offer in the shooting phase? Each is armed with a Neutron Blaster; at Assault 2, Strength 5, AP-2, Damage 1, with an 18″ range, this is a decent weapon with a variety of applications. Vespid hit on 4s, of course, so in order to get a solid punch from the unit, the T’au player will have to take more models. And each Vespid Stingwing costs 14 points, so it’s not as though we’re talking about super cheap infantry models here.

While a squad of ten Vespid will only kill a couple of Marines, they will do a lot more to lighter infantry. As with any unit in the game, players really need to pick their targets when it comes to the Vespid.

On that note, let’s return to something that I briefly mentioned above. Vespid can Deepstrike. I’m a big fan of this ability, and while the Vespid are quick enough that T’au players generally won’t need to deploy them in reserves, it’s nonetheless a great option to have.

As you can see, the Vespid do have some positives. But they also have couple of drawbacks.

First, they’re not particularly tough. Toughness 4, a 4+ save, and one wound won’t get them very far in the current Marine meta. If your opponent wants to destroy your Vespid, he’ll be able to with relative ease.

Second, Vespid take up a Fast Attack choice. While this won’t necessarily be a drawback for all T’au players, if you want to take two or three squads of Drones, this suddenly becomes something of an issue. Granted, T’au players are taking fewer Drones than in 8th edition, but there is still competition for those Fast Attack slots. With Piranhas coming into vogue as well, Vespid do have a bit of a fight here.

Finally, I want to mention a stratagem that was introduced in the T’au’s Psychic Awakening book, The Greater Good. Rain of Fire allows Vespid to re-roll hit rolls for the cost of one Command Point.

This is a great counter to the point I make above on the average Ballistic Skill of the Vespid. Anything that grants full re-rolls is worth a look, and the cost of one CP is cheap and cheerful in 9th edition.

As I said at the beginning of this article, the Vespid have some play. They’re certainly not world-beaters, but they do have something going for them. With that in mind, what could Games Workshop do to really make the Vespid worth taking? If you read my article on the Ghostkeel a few weeks back, the following suggestions won’t surprise you: I think a couple of stat-line improvements would bring them into contention.

How would an Assault 3 Neutron Blaster sound? This would give five Vespid 15 shots, which would really start to turn these models into a great little harassment unit. But this would also give 10 Vespid 30 shots. Would that be too good?

Whenever I think that a unit might get too much bang for its buck, I always think about Aggressors. These Primaris boys are super good, throwing out a ton of accurate shots, with a host of interesting stratagems and abilities to make them even more deadly.

Ten Vespid kicking out 30 shots would probably be fine.

In fact, it would be pretty tasty. If the T’au player is using the Rain of Fire stratagem, he’ll be looking at roughly 22 hits. This output could really do a number on plenty of infantry units — not to mention light vehicles.

It’s a tricky one. Let’s let it simmer for a little bit.

What else could we do? I actually think that giving the Vespid some threat in the Fight phase could be really interesting. Nothing crazy, mind you, but something like an extra attack on the charge and a weapon that increases Strength and adds a point or two of AP.

Everyone and their Grandmother knows that the T’au fare very poorly in the Fight phase, so giving the faction just a little something to mitigate that could be intriguing.

Vespid with a little bit of punch in the Fight phase aren’t going to go charging elite units off objectives, but they would definitely provide enough threat that the opponent has to think twice about how he plays.

Indeed, the question of T’au having any play whatsoever in the fight phase in the upcoming codex is a tough one. I would really like to see at least something — whether it come from a revamped Vespid squad, a revamped Kroot squad, or something new entirely. It would certainly add a new dimension to an army that has been quite stale for a little while now. That is to say that there are very few competitive T’au builds. Combat ability could certainly shift the army toward a new paradigm.

Both ability in the fight phase and greater output in the shooting phase would make Vespid a very interesting unit. Whatever the case, I’d really like to see GW do something cool with these models. I think there’s a lot of scope here.

But whatever happens, let’s hope that GW updates the model. That finecast sculpt is bad.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

One Response to “A Sting in the Tail in 9th”

  1. Avatar
    Leonix September 7, 2020 5:35 pm #

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Vespid can make use of Markerlight hits too…

    As for melee in the old lore it was said that Vespid had diamond hard claws for burrowing into the floating rocks of their homeworld, so some kinda AP or Damage bonus wouldn’t be a crazy idea.

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