The T’au Need a New Transport

As the 9th edition meta continues to evolve, we T’au players have very few reasons to be cheerful. We knew from the beginning of the edition that the T’au were going to have a tough time until the release of the codex, but I don’t know if many player’s would have predicted just how difficult 9th edition is for the faction.

A few days ago, Games Workshop released an article on the Warhammer Community page that discusses the current state of the meta. The chaps from the excellent 40k Stats Centre podcast, Val Heffelfinger and Peter ‘the Falcon’ Colosimo, wrote the piece, and it’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t checked it out already.

That said, it makes grim reading for T’au players.

Unsurprisingly, we’re way down at the bottom of the table when it comes to faction rankings with a win percentage of just below 43 percent. As a comparison, Salamanders and Harlequins, the factions in first and second place in this particular ranking, have win percentages of 59 and 60 percent respectively. The factions on this table are ranked by TiWP — Tournaments in Winning Position — not win percentage, but win percentages still provide a pretty good idea of how the factions are doing, of course.

While I don’t want this article to be a downer, there’s not a whole lot to be cheerful about at the moment.

With that in mind, let’s continue to think about how the faction could change in the coming codex. Last week, I discussed what clues the T’au content in the new Imperial Armour book might hold for the future. I spent quite a bit of time on what new stratagems might look like, as well as how the Sept tenet system could change, but in this article I want to take a look at something more basic.

GW really needs to address the faction’s problem with infantry. And to be fair, it is a tricky one to solve. Not every faction in the game can have access to big, chonky lads in cutting-edge power armour. While I would very much enjoy the T’au equivalent of an Intercessor, or indeed a Heavy Intercessor, we’re unlikely to get anything quite like that in the Troops slot.

Of course, Crisis Suits are broadly comparable to Heavy Intercessors — I’m not saying that they compare favourably, but there are definitely some similarities. But while parts of the stat-line are similar, Crisis Suits perform a fundamentally different role to Heavy Intercessors.

Crisis Suits do not take the obsec rule; Heavy Intercessors do. And the obsec rule is one of the most powerful in the game.

In fact, it’s this fact that makes Stealth Suits far less valuable than Intercessors. Again, the stat-line is broadly similar, but Space Marines players take Intercessors in the Troop slot; T’au players take Stealth Suits in the Elite slot. Again, Stealth Suits don’t have the obsec rule.

We have units with similar stat-lines, then, but where it really counts, our Battlesuits don’t do what we need them to do in the context of a discussion about infantry.

What’s the solution? Could we move Crisis Suits to the Troop slot? It’s not such an unlikely idea. In fact, Farsight Enclaves players could do just that a few years ago. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if GW went back to this idea in the form of a custom Sept tenet. This would mean that the T’au player would have to give up something valuable in order to take Crisis Suits in the Troop slot, but I wouldn’t say that it’s completely out of the picture.

And what about Stealth Suits? Could we move these sneaky Battlesuits into the Troop slot? While this idea is unlikely, it’s not entirely outside the realms of possibility. GW hasn’t done it before, but it would be an interesting option.

However, I think it’s more likely that we get something new. First things first, GW is a company that sells models. Anything that prompts players to purchase new kits will have some play. Of course, we T’au players haven’t had any new units in a good while, so I’m sure we’ll snap up whatever new models and units come with the codex, but I do think that something interesting in the Troops slot might be a yet more lucrative idea.

Here’s what I think would be a cool: a new dedicated transport. Don’t get me wrong. The Devilfish is a classic, a workhorse. But I think we might see something smaller and faster that transports fewer models. I think that we could see the T’au equivalent of the Venom or the Starweaver.

It would be a touch bigger than the Piranha, and with any luck it would have a couple of decent guns on it. It would have a transport capacity of no more than six, and it would have a very respectable Movement characteristic. I think we could do without the Drones — we have enough vehicles with Drone ports. I’d like to see a new design that incorporates the aesthetic of the faction but takes us somewhere new. Of course, we would need to come up with a suitably nautical-style name.

Plenty of T’au players have frustrations with the Devilfish, and I’m certainly one of them. It has its place, but for me the Devilfish doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Granted, most of the army doesn’t quite cut the mustard, but you know what I mean.

Would such a transport solve our issues with taking a holding objectives? Honestly, I think that it would go a long way. Our Fire Warriors would still be fragile, but it would give them ablative Wounds and the ability to get up the board quickly, which is one of our key problems at the moment.

Many players — both T’au players and otherwise — want to see a T’au army that is mobile and quick. I’m not saying that we should be as quick as the Aeldari, but we should at least have a bit of speed. At the moment, the reliably quick units that are worth taking are the bigger Battlesuits, and we know how everyone feels about the Riptide. It’s a great unit, but we would like other T’au units to be worth taking as well.

Are we likely to get a new transport when the codex is released? I have no idea. I have heard absolutely no rumours whatsoever about the 9th edition T’au codex. All that we have is speculation.

There are a couple of kits in the range that desperately need redoing. The Vespid kit is probably the main contender here. That sculpt is not great. And what’s more, it’s a Finecast, which means that working with it is a chore.

I’d really like to see a new Kroot kit as well. The Kroot models themselves aren’t too bad, and the kit is plastic, but there’s lots of scope to do more with the unit, so I would imagine that the Kroot will get a look in.

But all things considered, the range looks decent. With any luck, this means that we’ll get some shiny new kits. A small, zippy little transport with some dakka is, I would argue, just what the doctor ordered.

It goes without saying, of course, that the faction needs a lot more than a cool new transport, but when we’re talking about the T’au problem with objectives in 9th edition, I can’t help but glance enviously at the Drukhari and Harlequins ranges. Both the Venom and the Starweaver are excellent choices — granted, the Venom is a touch too expensive, but let’s put that to one side for now — that give Drukhari and Harlequins players options to which T’au players have very little access. Piranhas are similar, but without any obsec infantry inside, the Piranha isn’t nearly as useful as these vehicles.

Would such an option make T’au too similar to Aeldari armies? I wouldn’t imagine so. We don’t hold a candle to Harlequins at the moment, and one new transports won’t change that, and with the upcoming release of the new Drukhari codex, I’m sure that Archons across the Webway will have all manner of new and interesting skills and abilities.

Let’s have a new transport, then. Nautical-themed names on a postcard.

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



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

13 Responses to “The T’au Need a New Transport”

  1. abusepuppy November 23, 2020 9:04 am #

    The Piranha was, according to some text, originally a transport vehicle before being converted over to a combat one. I’d love to see a Piranha variant that carried five guys.

  2. MorbidtheLost November 23, 2020 11:53 am #

    I think that a good option would be something like “Tidewall Anchor”. It could use a lot of the same parts as the other Tidewall models. It would fit the army fluff of creating walls in the middle of the field that all the Tau utilize to maximize their range advantage. It would be open top with a transport limit of maybe 6? Instead of guns designed for range (72, heavy 2, s10, ap4, d6), it would have shortier, shooter guns (36 or 48, heavy 6, s8, ap2, 2). Maybe reduce the Movement to reflect that it is meant to hold a part of the map, not go all over the field. Finally, give it two abilities, Deep Strike and a new ability that allows embarked units to obsec (Mobile Fortress?). The idea, this drops onto an objective with a small unit of troops and holds it until the rest of the tidewall arrives.

  3. Spera November 23, 2020 4:51 pm #

    Or at least, make devilish viable. Unfortunately, 12 wounds mean they will easily give up secondary points, while not protecting our troops good enough. To add to this fact, tau troops are also mostly bad. So we have meh transport, crying bad units. That doesn’t sound like recipe for success.
    if you want to transport troops, just put them in reserves, as you can fit in 4x5man or 3x(5man+2drones) for just 1 cp. That small investment will give you easily scramblers/engage on all fronts, while not leaking secondaries to enemy.

    No matter how good transport will be, unless it can carry something good and valuable, it will be catching dust on shelf.

    • abusepuppy November 24, 2020 3:10 am #

      The contents are definitely part of the issue. AP0 Dmg1 weapons are really not very scary to most things right now. Tau have always leaned a lot on superior weapon profiles, which they no longer have.

      • Spera November 24, 2020 8:19 am #

        It’s not even about weapons. Breachers do have good weapon. But tau doesn’t need to get on a point with a good weapons. Chances are opponent is already in range of our best weapons. The problem is survival. We don’t have unit that could reclaim objective and establish foothold there. Our obsec bodies are notę enough because they are to fragile, and not as cheap as guardsmen(even cheap kroots are not cheap enough. Nothing that could survive charge from space marines. Teoreticly overwatch should be our defense, but we do know how well it works in practice.

      • Ukelesh November 24, 2020 5:19 pm #

        There are so many creative ways of improving things. The concept of boost a unit’s hardiness that the guardian drone is a good one but the implementation is lacking.

        What if pulse carbines regained some sort of suppression ability again? Perhaps drive a unit back 2″ under certain conditions. That could give an option to drive some units off objectives under some circumstances.

        The guardian drone could add a +1 save to infantry on top of the current 5++ or 6++.

        Of course that means we have to fix drones. What if they counted as characters for targeting?

        Of course that means we have to fix saviour protocols. What if it was a degrading roll? 2+ for the first then 3+ for the second roll in a turn and so on.

        So many changes just to inject a bit of life into Breacher and Strike teams…

        • Spera November 24, 2020 7:21 pm #

          I was thinking about that. I would just let player sacrifice drone for reroll of save. Additionally, shield drones give you +1 to Sv rollif they are nearby. This is much better for graduall defense. Previously drones would be wasted on small arms fire, and superb VS single shot, multi dmg. This system would increase survivability VS 0 or 1 ap, but wouldn’t be as effective vs high strength weapons because of smaller chance of success in first place. It is also much better for uniformity of usefulness. Previously you got much more mileage on suits with 7-8t, because lesser chance that you would be actualy wounded and need to use your drones. This made using drones for crysis suits much less efficient, as they could be dealt with mas fire of anti infantry. weapons. There is much lesser gap between Sv values than T values and wounding mechanic, so targeting this part would spread usefullnes much more evenly.

        • Kevin Lantz November 30, 2020 2:18 am #

          Drones are always a miss for Tau as a unit buffer since they form their own unit and become quite vulnerable to split fire.

  4. Rob Butcher November 24, 2020 11:40 pm #

    Transports aren’t lasting long at the moment – look at the impulsors and razorbacks dying in two shots, the the marines inside getting killed quickly. It’s best to treat Tau as light infantry.

    The two winning Tau armies at Nova and GWGT 2019 didn’t worry about transports. They merely used the best bits of their Codex to maximum advantage.

    I am getting tired of articles that ignore two salent facts –
    (1) what tournaments ? any stats atm are meaningless
    (2) Covid-19 means that many releases aren’t happening (or at best delayed by a quarter). Even Warhammer Tv is down for two days and the main factory is only partially reopened with many of the 800 employees never back on site since March 23rd. That’s a lot of design/production time lost;

    • Spera November 25, 2020 1:17 am #

      Not gonna lie, you had me in the first part xD… But then… Oh, never change dude.
      But, to be meritocratic.
      1) well tournament’s. Happen. There are areas in the world that menaged covid crysis much better than UK and USA(not particularly high bar to be honest) and tournaments were organized with restrictions. While size of provided data is much smaller than last year, there is enough data to gen some level of analisis. I myself have attended three so far.
      There is also bomming TTS community. And tournaments and leagues are organized this way (unfortunately there is probably les raw data gathered from this method which is a bummer.
      2)well, that could mean more marines….there is so much more units to be primarised. I’m for one are getting bit fatigued by that. And even though we don’t have new codexes and supplements yest, data is valid, because it shows what vanila game is like.

    • Dakkath November 25, 2020 1:25 am #

      Hey Rob, check out this article published by GW’s community team on their very own website
      28 major events, almost 6000 pairing results for them to grab all that data from. Or are you going to say that this data from GW doesn’t count?

      Oh, and if you’d stop being butthurt about tau winning in /previous editions of the game/ for 5 seconds, the article (once again, published by the GW community team) shows that a whopping ZERO of all those tournaments had a tau list that could go even 4-0, with the faction scoring an overall win percentage of 43.98%. The only armies doing worse than Tau are Astra Militarum, Thousand Sons, and Deathwatch.

    • abusepuppy November 25, 2020 9:26 am #

      Why are you talking about 8th edition army lists as though they are relevant to 9th edition army-building? We know that major tournaments are in short supply, but contrary to your consistent claims they _are_ happening, because not every country in the world is as much of a disaster fuckup incompetent as the USA is.

      As for “releases not happening,” that’s just patently false and you know it. You can go to the Warhammer main page right now and see releases happening. They released the Space Marine codex, their primary seller and star feature of their product line. If you don’t consider a company’s flagship product to be a real release, what DO you consider to be one?

      Can you go back to incorrectly complaining about copyright law? That one was at least moderately amusing to see each time.

    • Grezzonius November 26, 2020 12:32 am #

      Well, the fact that the only winning armies (ignoring the fact that it was 8th edition) consistently left out whole chunks of the codex just proves the fact that those models need a rework, and this I believe could be said about every faction.

      I personally prefer narrative play because it focuses on having fun over winning at all costs, but I can’t immagine anybody saying that more viable options and more diverse competitive lists are a bad thing…

      I just hope that any change made won’t take the form of stratagems or other “optional” upgrades: if you *always* have to take those options then those are not really options, it’s a false choice and I personally despise that

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