Stand and Shoot

Since the release of 9th edition, I’ve been writing about how the T’au need to change in order to be competitive in the new meta.

In fact, that isn’t quite true. When the new edition was released, I was actually fairly optimistic about the faction’s chances. I turned out to be very wrong indeed.

While the faction itself didn’t change much at all with the new rules, the game changed significantly around the faction. And it wasn’t all bad. Some rules really helped in areas that the T’au really needed help. I remember reading about the changes to hit modifiers, for example, and thinking how good a change it was going to be.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s now very rare that a Riptide goes below 5s to hit, and this has been a great improvement. Hitting on 6s with such an expensive model was not fun.

But, all things considered, the change to the hit modifier rules haven’t made a huge difference to the T’au. We have much bigger fish to fry.

And let’s not forget the changes to the Vehicle and Monster keywords. Our Riptides can now shoot in combat. Again, I thought that this was pretty great news when I first read the article on the Warhammer Community page. Indeed, it sounded pretty cool. It was new. It was something different.

The reality, however, hasn’t really gone the way that I would’ve liked. Sure, shooting into combat is great. Every now and then there is a great opportunity for a Riptide or a Ghostkeel to do the business at Engagement Range, and that is always a cool moment, but the cost has been much too high.

Losing the ability to Fall Back and shoot has been, I would argue, the most damaging change to the faction.

Again, I was optimistic when the change was announced. I advised caution. We shouldn’t judge the new edition of a game without knowing all of the changes. We lost this cool ability, but we might gain that cool ability.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

Every faction has its day in the sun. And, conversely, every faction has its day near the bottom of the pile. This is a normal part of playing a game — any game — that features periodic updates.

How, then, will Games Workshop remedy this situation? If you would like specific examples of how GW could update the faction, read any of my articles about the T’au from when 9th edition was released.

But for the rest of this article, I want to briefly discuss a couple of broad themes. I want to discuss firepower and objectives.

The first of these two items is pretty simple: the T’au need more firepower.

In the 9th edition meta, I would argue that the T’au simply do not do enough work in the Shooting phase. Of course, the T’au only have the Shooting phase in which to do serious damage, and it is this lack of power in this area that makes T’au so troublesome to play at the moment — well, one of the things that makes them so troublesome to play at the moment.

Look, I’m not arguing that the T’au don’t have units that can do the business. The Commander can still do some serious work when armed with Cyclic Ion Blasters; three Broadsides armed with Smart Missile Systems and High-Yield Missile Pods can still put some heat downfield.

But I would argue that, for the points that T’au players spend on it, the Riptide should do more damage. And I would say that the Ghostkeel should be a far more threatening presence on the board than it is at the moment.

And there are plenty more examples from the codex. Indeed, the T’au codex has been quiet a shallow affair for a little while now. Throughout most of 8th edition, there was really only one competitive list. Granted, it was a very powerful list, but there wasn’t a lot else in the book.

Here’s my comparison: the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Admech has some absolute heinous shooting. The Kastelan Robots, for example, put out some of the most deadly firepower in the game. It’s powerful, accurate, and there’s a hell of a lot of it. I won’t go into any more detail right now — it makes me very jealous — but I think that most readers know just how strong these models are.

Should the T’au be able to shoot as well as the Admech? I would argue that, if not as well, then the T’au should be able to get pretty close to Admech levels of output. I say this because the T’au has other interesting aspects that could be improved in order to make the faction competitive.

I’ve said it handful of times: each faction should be as unique as it can be. Of course, there’s always going to be crossover to one extent or another, but, broadly speaking, the factions should be distinct.

If, for example, Crisis Suits could do 80 percent of the damage that Robots do but had access to a couple of interesting new abilities, that would be a good outcome. Simply increasing the firepower of Crisis Suits would be fine, but I think that there is more to this classic unit than just shooting.

That’s firepower. What about objectives? Again, my point is going to be very simple: we need a way to take and hold objectives.

To be fair, I have touched on this issue a couple of times over the past two or three months, but, as it’s such an important part of the game, I think that it bears repeating.

And I’m not particularly concerned about how it gets done. New infantry would be cool. Adding the obsec rule to current units would work fine. A way to move in the Charge phase without getting into a fist fight would be great.

Whatever the case, we need something. We need a way to stand on objectives and not immediately be bullied off.

Here’s another comparison to make my point: any good army in the game. What do I mean by this? Simply put, a strong faction can flip objectives. That’s it. Harlequins, Space Marines, Admech — take a look at any faction at the top and you’ll find some tools to deal with the problem of objectives in 9th edition.

And that’s pretty much it. We need to be able to stand and we need to be able to shoot. At the moment, we can shoot to a decent degree but we certainly can’t stand. If the faction is going to be competitive in 2021, GW could do a lot worse than starting with these two themes.

I’m looking forward to 40k this year. As I mentioned last week, we’re going to get back to normal at some point during 2021, and I absolutely cannot wait to get playing again. Even if the T’au are one of the last few factions to be updated, there’s still plenty to look forward to this year.

As I mentioned earlier, each faction has its day in the sun. We had a great run throughout 8th edition. But for a chunk of 9th edition we’re going to have to make the best of it. Things will get better.

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



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

4 Responses to “Stand and Shoot”

  1. Avatar
    Rob Butcher January 4, 2021 8:26 am #

    TBH most of us wrote off the start of the new edition for any serious gaming due to Covid-19 and i doubt if we’re getting back to normal for at least six months. Seems strange to think that the Bournemouth Bash was eleven months ago and the last serious competition !

    Now Tau won Nova 2019 and GW GT 2019 with two different lists. I for one am slightly less worried about playing them now… but drone spam is so boring to play against !!!

    GW said they intended to release 12 Codex/Codex Supplements in 2021 … then Covid-19 and the stoppages due to Brexit led to further shut-downs. I can see that limited aim slipping even further. After all the DG Codex is safely stored in several shipping containers around the world … just not at a location GW can ship from.

    • Avatar
      Ohlmann January 5, 2021 12:50 am #

      As usual, you’re a liar. Bournemouth bash wasn’t the last serious competition by a lot. There have been like 20+ serious tournaments since then.

  2. Avatar
    karla11 January 5, 2021 5:58 am #

    Great article, love it

  3. Avatar
    Urbi January 5, 2021 6:02 am #

    Only got to play a few games with my tau in 9th (guess why? )

    Basically whatever list I run, the work is always done by my missletides, commander(s) , riptide (in that order)

    Everything else on the board is hardly doing any work.
    I also notice, I start with the idea, ” I’m not castling up” but in the around the second turn, my army is trying to snuggle together around the Shadowsun/Commander and the broadsides.

    Because of the castle, we don’t move or move slow, and our board presence is not enough to shift more than one objective.

    In my opinion the markerlights are currently another problem, but could be the solution.

    A new and improved markerlight table could fix a lot of issues. Something like this:

    1 – reroll 1’s
    2 – fire the seeker missles
    3 – +1 to hit.
    4 – fallback or advance and shoot can still be done on this target without penalty
    5 – unlock weapons overload.
    6 – remove all negative to hit modifiers

    Pretty strait forward. But what’s the weapon overload?

    These are just ideas’s

    for suits and vehicles:

    Flamers could get -1 AP
    Burst cannons could get 2 extra shots (or one..)
    Fusion gets the melta rule at full range.
    All missles don’t need line of sight
    Railguns do a mortal wound on any successful hit or wound
    Plasma rifles do flat 2 dmg

    For infantry.
    Get one more shot in rapid fire or get the best profile at full range (depending on unit)

    Drop the rule that if a markerlight is fired you cannot fire another weapon. It just has to be the same target as at least one other weapon. (to keep the fluff in check)

    and give the option to add a markerlight to suits as a support system.

    so a stealthsuits, ghostkeels, crisis suits and commanders can shoot markerlights
    (if you want to offer up a support slot for that. )

    Then some extra’s so we don’t have to castle up.

    Aura’s are for marines and guard that can only shout 6″, T’au don’t need to be next to each other to communicate.

    So change the aura’s, to for example
    use once board wide ethereal abilities
    pick x units for the master of war ability from a commanders
    drop the volley from fireblade, just give him a extra markerlight shot (or D3 shots).

    for the greater good. the last of reasons to build a castle.
    maybe just alter it to, all units within 12″ of the charging unit, can fire overwatch as if they where …

    So now that we don’t need to stand next to each other add some movement to all the jet pack stuff,
    to compensate the fallback and shoot loss. 2 inch extra movement (inline with marine equivalents) and auto 6 advance sounds fair?
    then strat to do a 2D6 move in charge phase with all ‘jet pack’ stuff, and where good to go.

    Maybe its a bit to much or maybe not.
    so what would you say? to much? or fingers crossed for the new codex?

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