In my article last week, I discussed the problems that the T’au has with the Troops slot. In this article, I’m going to talk about how Games Workshop could improve Fire Warriors in the upcoming 9th edition T’au codex.
Most competitive players are aware of the main problem in this area: the T’au don’t have a reliable way to flip objectives. I’ve written about this issue before, and it often comes up in discussions about the faction.
Improving Fire Warriors doesn’t really solve this issue, however. Even if Fire Warriors became the most lethal Troops units in the game, T’au players would still struggle to flip objectives.
Assault Intercessors are one of the best Troops units in the game for this very reason. They’re tough to significantly damage with anti-infantry firepower. They pack a serious punch in combat. They’re supported with some of the most useful stratagems in the game. But most importantly, Assault Intercessors can be relied upon to do the business in the Charge and Fight phases of the game.
Marines players know that the target at which Assault Marines are pointed is going to take some serious damage. And what’s more, that target is going to be overwhelmed with high-quality obsec models.
However, as I mentioned last week, variety is the spice of life when it comes to the game’s different factions. Most players probably don’t want every faction to have an equivalent of Assault Intercessors. The factions should be as unique as possible.
Where does this leave T’au Fire Warriors? I want to begin by suggesting a simple stratagem that would make Fire Warriors just a little more resilient.
The Guardian Drone grants a 5+ invulnerable save to Breachers and a 6+ invulnerable save to Strike Teams if the unit is within 3″ of the Drone. Increasing this invulnerable save by one for the cost of one Command Point would be a good start.
Of course, this wouldn’t make Fire Warriors much more resilient. It would certainly help, but the Fire Warrior’s stat-line itself is the problem. Increasing the models’ invulnerable save from 6+ to 5+ or from 5+ to 4+ isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference, but it’s a start. And what’s more, it’ll give T’au players an extra arrow in the quiver when it comes to keeping those vital obsec units alive.
Again, a 4++ isn’t going to drastically change the unit, but it does provide a disincentive for opponents to shoot at Fire Warriors if there are a variety of targets available. And it will force opponents to use more firepower than they otherwise would have in order to remove that pesky unit of Fire Warriors.
A few weeks back, I discussed more general updates to the faction that GW could implement with the new codex. I talked about giving T’au players the option to double-shoot certain units under certain circumstances, and I still think that it would be a good option given the overall power of the game at the moment.
However, when discussing Fire Warriors in particular, I think that there is more scope to increase the unit’s output that doesn’t involve a double-shoot mechanic.
To this end, I could see a stratagem that works with the Cadre Fireblade’s Volley Fire ability. At the moment, this aura allows Fire Warriors armed with Pulse Rifles, Pulse Carbines, and Pulse Pistols fire an extra shot when firing at half range.
Volley Fire is very useful, but I think that there is scope to improve it with a a stratagem. We could keep things simple and improve the range of the aura; at the moment, it’s 6″, and increasing it to 9″ or even 12″ would be a good use of a CP.
Or we could significantly improve it by increasing the Damage or AP of the Fire Warriors’ shooting. Again, it would be a simple upgrade, but it would no doubt be effective. Of course, increasing the Damage or AP of a significant amount of guns would probably need to cost more than one CP, but you get the idea.
Furthermore, such a stratagem could be used reactively as well as proactively. T’au players could use it when firing Overwatch, for example. This would be another disincentive for opponents to attempt to get into combat with Fire Warriors. Granted, Overwatch from Fire Warriors only tends to plink a couple or three wounds from a lot of targets, so it wouldn’t be a huge disincentive, but it would certainly be something.
Indeed, the potential for more deadly Overwatch forces opponents to make difficult decisions, which is exactly what a good defensive ability should do. T’au Overwatch shouldn’t be a panacea, but it should be deadly enough to make players think twice.
These two ideas would be simple, effective upgrades to what is at the moment an average infantry unit. There is a lot of scope to do more here, and plenty of different directions to take these upgrades. But such improvements wouldn’t do much good when it comes to the factions’ problems that I mention above.
Indeed, Fire Warriors aren’t going to be able to flip objectives unless the unit is significantly improved or significantly changed.
And they probably shouldn’t be able to, all things considered. Or, to put it more precisely, that shouldn’t be what Fire Warriors are for. Of course, if you want want to rapid fire the stuffing out of something on an objective with your Fire Warriors and then heroically charge whatever remains, more power to you. The rule of cool is the way to play.
But realistically, that strategy isn’t going to do a lot of good a lot of the time.
We’re going to need something else. A couple of weeks ago I talked about a new transport for the T’au, and I still think that would be a great idea. A good few weeks back I discussed how the Vespid could play in the new codex. Simply put, they would be a quick, shooty unit with some play in the Fight phase. Both of these options would take the faction in the right direction.
Moreover, plenty of T’au players talk about a close-combat oriented Battlesuit, which would definitely do the business if it were written properly. I’m not sold on this idea yet. I think that the faction should have a little play in the Fight phase, but it would be more interesting to have, for example, Battlesuits shooting into combat in one form or another rather than an out-and-out close-combat Battlesuit.
That said, something’s gotta give, so perhaps GW will go in this direction for the new codex. This remains to be seen, of course.
Whatever the case, I do want to see Fire Warriors improved in the new codex. There are a lot of different directions to take them, and I think that it would only take a handful of little tweaks to the datasheet to bring them up to speed.
However, these changes would need to be made in the context of a significant update to the faction. Of course, I think it’s fair to say that this is going to happen. If it doesn’t, T’au players will be in real trouble throughout the course of the edition. But I think it’s safe to be at least somewhat optimistic.
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