T’au Updates: the Change to Mont’ka

Games Workshop released a variety of FAQ and errata documents this week, and while there are many significant changes to game to discuss, in this article I’m going to focus on the updates to the T’au Empire.

Here’s the long and short of it: these updates have improved the faction. Indeed, of all of the factions that were updated, the T’au have gained the most.

Granted, that isn’t saying much. Everyone knows that T’au were really struggling in 9th edition, and, all things considered, T’au are still going to have a very tough time of it. But the faction has definitely been improved.

What has changed? Let’s begin with what is, in my view, the biggest change to the faction. Mont’ka now grants Fall Back and shoot. Here’s the text:

“Mont’ka: In a turn in which a <Sept> Commander unit from your army declared Mont’ka, at the start of your Movement phase you can select any friendly <Sept> units within 6″ of that unit. Until the end of that turn, the selected units can shoot as if they did not move this turn.”

I’m going to put to one side the on-going discussion in the T’au community regarding whether this new rewrite of the rule actually does grant the ability to Fall Back and shoot. If you’d like to get into the minutia of that debate, more power to you, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to presume that we can indeed Fall Back and shoot.

Why is this the biggest change to the faction? Back in 8th edition, T’au units with the Fly keyword could jump into and out of combat with impunity. Not being able to tie up Commanders and Riptides in combat was one of the things that made those two units so powerful. As I’ve written many times before, the removal of this ability did serious damage to the faction.

And with this new update, GW has gone some of the way to fixing this problem.

Interestingly, this new version of Mont’ka actually allows more units to disengage from combat and shoot than the Fly keyword did back in 8th edition. Any Sept units that are in range of the Commander at the beginning of the Movement phase may Fall Back and shoot. In 8th, only units with the Fly keyword could Fall Back and shoot.

Of course, this new rule isn’t as powerful as the 8th edition Fly keyword, but it’s a solid upgrade to an army that was in dire need of good news.

Some of our most powerful units now have a way to escape the bad touch. For example, I could see backfield Broadsides supported by a Commander armed with Missile Pods become a popular choice. Indeed, one of the best ways to deal with Broadsides was to tag them in combat, but now we have a way around that. Granted, it isn’t always going to be the best use of a valuable Mont’ka, but it’s certainly a solid option.

This new rule allows T’au players to play the game with much more freedom than we did previously. We can now play far more aggressively with our key units, safe in the knowledge that, for one turn at least, we can mitigate the effects of combat on our shooting output.

Indeed, coupled with our built-in Overwatch ability, we can now play ball in the midfield with much more confidence. Situations in which we would have had to be much more conservative with our tactics now look much more appealing.

The faction is going to play much more dynamically. We’re going to see Riptides and Ghostkeels be much more aggressive, surging into the centre of the board supported by a handful of Drones and a Commander or two. This moving castle will have a fearsome Overwatch capability and, for one turn at least, will be impervious to enemy assault units.

Okay, “impervious” is probably a bit of a stretch, but you know what I’m getting at. The change to the Fly keyword really did a number on aggressive T’au tactics, and now we’re going to see them make something of a comeback.

In my view, this is the biggest change to the faction from these updates. The Mont’ka ability has now become significantly more valuable, which means that one named character in particular has also become significantly more valuable.

Commander Farsight can declare Mont’ka twice per game. He is the only model in the codex who can do so. For clarity’s sake, let’s briefly go into how this works.

T’au Commanders have the Master of War ability. This ability allows them to declare Kauyon or Mont’ka once per game. If a Commander declares Kauyon, he may no longer use the Master of War ability. Ditto if the Commander declares Mont’ka.

However, Commanders Shadowsun and Farsight may declare Kauyon or Mont’ka twice per game. Specifically, Shadowsun may declare Kauyon twice and Farsight may declare Mont’ka twice.

In terms of output, Farsight really isn’t much to write home about. His combat ability, while interesting on occasion, isn’t particularly threatening to most high-value targets, and his shooting ability actually quite poor compared to a standard Commander.

But with this new update Commander Farsight has become one of the most important units in the codex. Taking Farsight increases the number of times that your models can Fall Back and shoot by 100 percent, which is certainly nothing to sniff at.

Of course, most T’au players would prefer the ability to Fall Back and shoot on their key units for the entirety of the game, but two thirds of the game is a lot better than what we had a few days ago.

And what’s more, the Farsight Enclaves was strongest Sept choice before the update — taking two Commanders per detachment was too good to pass up for many T’au players — and these new rules make the Enclaves an even more attractive choice. I myself was never particularly keen on taking Farsight. As I mention above, his shooting output is poor, and he takes up a valuable Commander slot, meaning that the opportunity cost was simply too high in my opinion.

But now I’m going to have to seriously reconsider that decision. Fall Back and shoot twice per game is easily more valuable than the shooting output from another Commander.

There’s much more to go into with these new updates, and I’m going to discuss other updates to the faction, as well as the changes to the game in general, in coming articles, but to wrap up I want to again highlight an area that needs to be improved: GW’s editorial quality.

I’ll note that, generally speaking, I think that GW does an excellent job with this game, but we should offer constructive criticism when appropriate, and I would argue that it is certainly appropriate to do so now.

Above, I mention that the T’au community isn’t in agreement on this issue. Some players, quite rightly, disagree with the reading of the new Mont’ka rule that grants Fall Back and shoot. As I said above, I’m not going to get involved in that debate here.

But I will point that GW should have caught this issue before the FAQs and errata were released. It would have taken very little time and effort to add a line confirming that Mont’ka does or does not grant Fall Back and shoot.

I’m not in the business of GW-bashing. I want my articles to be positive. Goodness knows it’s easy to find people in the community who are very critical of GW. That’s not the tone that I’m going for.

But I think that’s it’s reasonable to point out that this issue — and, to be fair, quite a few others — should have been caught before these documents were released.

That said, I’ll finish on a positive note. For T’au players, 9th edition has become slightly less difficult, and, I would hazard a guess, slightly more enjoyable. Let’s hope for more of the same when the codex is released.

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



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

35 Responses to “T’au Updates: the Change to Mont’ka”

  1. Avatar
    Zweischneid January 11, 2021 2:26 am #

    Yeah, No.

    People tried that non-sense with Salamander’s Relentless Determination strat and it got shut down. It’ll be shut down here.

    This is once again a fine example of WAAC-people trying win 40K games through hairsplitting and rules-lawyering instead of sportsmanship and skill.

    Competitive 40K set back some 10 years once again. Great job.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy January 11, 2021 8:38 am #

      Yes, because lord knows that people who want to win games of 40K are definitely playing Tau right now.

      • Avatar
        Zweischneid January 11, 2021 9:47 am #

        Tau still steamroll GSC, Ynnari, etc..

        Just because they aren’t quite Harlequins-levels of broken doesn’t mean they aren’t a good army.

        • Avatar
          Torukazu January 11, 2021 10:58 am #

          Can I see the data behind this? Because the data I’m seeing is that Tau are the only army in the game that managed to get a negeative winrate when they go first, which is astounding in this edition, and still manages to pull horrendous winrates against every single mainstay faction in the game.

          Steamrolling GSC and Ynnari are hardly accomplishments. Ect.? What other armies do they steamroll? I am genuinely curious.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy January 11, 2021 12:09 pm #

          Ynnari can just build Harlequins and win. GSC have actually placed highly in some tournaments as of late, if you hadn’t noticed. And even if neither of those things were true, being the third-worst army in the game still does not make them even slightly attractive as a candidate for someone who is _actually_ a WAAC player.

          Tau is not a good army. They are very, very bad right now.

    • Avatar
      Duandeags January 13, 2021 1:48 pm #

      Spotted the salty space marine gamer

  2. Avatar
    ThePants999 January 11, 2021 3:29 am #

    Worth highlighting that there’s still dispute among rules lawyers as to whether the new rule DOES actually let you fall back and shoot. There’s a Tyranid stratagem for an Exocrine that says “that unit is treated as not having moved in your Movement phase”, and GW released a FAQ for it that clarifies that that doesn’t let you Advance and shoot because it effectively treats you as having Advanced 0″; the corollary is that the new Mont’ka would treat you as having Fallen Back 0″, which obviously still doesn’t let you shoot.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy January 11, 2021 8:40 am #

      Yeah, I think there’s a strong set of precedents for similar abilities not letting you shoot after falling back, and I don’t see a good reason to work here other than optimism.

  3. Avatar
    Ghosar January 11, 2021 5:13 am #

    I totally agree with Zweischneid, could not have said it better.

  4. Reecius
    Reecius January 11, 2021 9:16 am #

    It’s not clear how this rule is meant to be read yet, but from what I am gathering it is generally a yes at this time that you can leave combat and shoot.

    We will see what the inevitable FAQ (for the FAQ, lol) says but I would agree with the author’s reading at this time.

  5. Avatar
    Yarium January 11, 2021 9:52 am #

    It would have really nice if GW used the wording they published in their own rules as a way of getting around this. They need to get used to using the terms “Remained Stationary”, “Normal Move”, etc. If they said “Until the end of that turn, the selected units can shoot as if they had Remained Stationary this turn”, then it’d be open and shut that they are not treated as having fallen back. If they wanted to be clear that it didn’t ignore Fall Back then they’d say “Until the end of that turn, any unit that made a Normal Move or Advance is treated as if they had Remained Stationary instead this turn” would CLEARLY show that it doesn’t ignore Fall Back.

    C’mon GW, you gave yourself such BETTER TOOLS this edition! Get to using them!

  6. Avatar
    kaixaukyr January 11, 2021 10:38 am #

    The new rule allows Falling Back and shooting with Mont’ka, no question. The FAQ frequently cited in opposition is meant to specify that “move normally” phrasing refers to Normal Move actions. The new Mont’ka rule never uses “move normally” in its text. It only states that units may fire [from their new position] as if they had not moved. Any Fall Back moves are ignored in this case. If they are out of Engagement Range, they may be selected to fire.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy January 11, 2021 12:11 pm #

      The fact that a lot of other players, including many of the ones with strong understanding of the rules, are disagreeing on the matter does seem to indicate that there is, in fact, some question about the matter.

      • Avatar
        kaixaukyr January 11, 2021 3:15 pm #

        there’s no question in my mind. i can’t control what other people think

    • Avatar
      Desfore January 11, 2021 11:51 pm #

      If you look at the Blood of Baal errata’s, the Tyranid Exocrine has a stratagem called “Symbiotic Devastation” that allows you to move, then be considered having not moved in the shooting phase. HOWEVER, they FAQ’d this that, if you advanced your Exocrine, they still suffer penalties to shooting, as they’re considered “Having advanced 0 inches.” The moment you declare a unit is performing an action like advancing or falling back, it counts as performing that action, regardless of the distance you move (unless there’s a rule that subverts that specifically). When you declare an advance roll, you can still choose to move within your standard movement range (or even 0 inches), but since you declared yourself advancing, you would suffer the penalties. I assume this will be further FAQ’d to explain, Falling back after declaring a Mont’ka, your models will be treated as having “Fallen Back 0 inches” for the purposes of movement; but you still can’t Fall Back and then shoot. Or include text specifically listing “Units are not treated as having Fallen Back when shooting” if this is their intention.

      • Avatar
        kaixaukyr January 12, 2021 8:39 am #

        The Symbiotic Devastation-inflected read would also mean that the new Mont’ka does not allow units to Advance and fire Rapid Fire and Heavy weapons, or remove the -1 penalty from Assault weapons, because they would have been selected to Advance 0″. In other words, the new Mont’ka does nothing at all.

        • Avatar
          desfore January 12, 2021 9:06 am #

          As of right now, the way I read it, all it’s good for is avoiding the Heavy Weapon penalty for moving, or if there’s some T’au stratagem that requires them to be stationary.

          • Avatar
            kaixaukyr January 12, 2021 9:35 am

            Right. The problem then is that one would always declare Kauyon and never Mont’ka and the new Mont’ka rule would be almost worthless. The two big rules that require Tau to remain stationary are:
            – Kauyon, which is obviously exclusive with Mont’ka, and
            – the Ethereal Fire buff that grants reroll 1s to hit, but we can’t use that with FSE

            And the only Heavy weapon we worry about moving with is our infantry markerlights, which are a serious contender for most out of meta choice in the game at the moment.

            That read of the rules does logically hang together, but it leaves new Mont’ka as almost a no-op. I don’t like to parse RAI closely, but I do think that rules are intended to do something, and I don’t think they intended to destroy the old Mont’ka effect. So I remain confident in my read, that Advance and Fall Back are both allowed under the new wording.

            In this case I think the original Symbiotic Devastation FAQ dates to 8e and should be considered as intending to remove the -1 penalty for firing the Exocrine’s Heavy weapons after moving in 8e.

    • Avatar
      Zweischneid January 14, 2021 3:22 am #

      New rulebook FAQ also states that any “generic” mention of “move/moving is treated as Normal move.

      IMO, the new Mont’ka doesn’t work on falling back. It also no longer works with advance (similar to how Harlequins can no longer advance with Twilight Pathways, etc..), as all non-specific mentions of “move” have explicitly been FAQed to mean “normal move”.

      • Avatar
        kaixaukyr January 14, 2021 5:49 am #

        Please state the specific FAQ you are referring to. If you mean:

        “Page 366 – Rules Term Glossary
        Add the following:
        “Move normally: Rules that refer to move/moves/moving normally are the same thing as making a Normal Move, e.g. a rule that states ‘instead of moving this unit normally’ means ‘instead of making a Normal Move with this unit’. If a rule simply tells you to make a move as if it were the Movement phase, but does not specify what kind of move is being made, it is a Normal Move.”

        This FAQ refers only to instances of “Move normally” and being instructed to make a move. Neither occurs in Mont’ka. If you mean another FAQ please direct me.

      • Avatar
        Zweischneid January 14, 2021 6:11 am #

        It’s an addition to the rules terms glossary, going between the definition of “Mortal Wounds” and “Nearest”.

        It applies to rules referring to “move”.

        Mont’ka refers to move, when it gives units permission to shoot as if they hadn’t.

        There is no provision in that newly added glossary definition that says it only refers to some of the rules in the rulebook, such as those “instructing you to move”, just like the definition of mortal wounds in the glossary does not only refer to mortal wounds in the psychic phase, say.

        • Avatar
          kaixaukyr January 14, 2021 6:52 am #

          Yes, I have written the specific FAQ from the glossary out for clarity. It is irrelevant, as it applies only to the term “move normally” that is highlighted at the start of the glossary entry. If you disagree I just don’t think we see eye to eye on how to read the rules. If I’m referring to the wrong FAQ please give me the text that I’m missing.

          • Avatar
            Zweischneid January 14, 2021 7:07 am

            Glossary entry is, quote:

            “Rules that refer to move/(..)”

            Mont’ka is a rule (last I checked) and has the following reference to move, quote:

            “(…) the selected units can shoot as if they did not
            move this turn.”

            It’s a perfect match. Thus the “move” reference in Mont’ka falls under the glossary definition, irrespective of other rules that also fall under it.

          • Avatar
            kaixaukyr January 14, 2021 7:13 am

            You are selectively quoting from the full rule FAQ posted above.

          • Avatar
            Zweischneid January 14, 2021 7:16 am

            I am highlighting the exact, 100% match of a 4-letter word that is relevant here.

            You have the full quote above, I can post it again if you like. Doesn’t change that Mont’ka is a rule that references “move”, which is the first of several conditions the new addition glossary coves.

            Thus RAW, the move-reference in Mont’ka refers to a Normal Move and Mont’ka has no effect on units that advanced or fell back (or remained stationary).

          • Avatar
            kaixaukyr January 14, 2021 7:22 am

            This is not a movie review. Sentence fragments out of context are not convincing to me. If you choose to interpret the rules this way there is nothing I can do.

          • Avatar
            Zweischneid January 14, 2021 7:29 am

            There is no interpretation.

            It literally comes down to a match of a 4-letter word spelled “m o v e”.

            It’s possibly the clearest rules-interaction in 40K at the moment, lol.

            : Rules that refer to move/moves/moving
            normally are the same thing as making a Normal Move

            : Until the end of that turn, the selected units can shoot as if they did not move this turn


            : Until the end of that turn, the selected units can shoot as if they did not (insert as per glossary) – make a Normal move (end of insertion) – this turn.

  7. Avatar
    Dakkath January 11, 2021 3:23 pm #

    Yeah, this is one of those things that seems too good to be true. I’m gonna assume it is as such until it gets cleared up in the next round of faqs.

  8. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr January 12, 2021 1:26 am #

    Yeah, that interpretation seems like wishful thinking to me.

  9. Avatar
    Rob Butcher January 12, 2021 8:29 am #

    clutching at straws … where does it say move = fall back ?

    There’s a big reason why fall back and shot was not included in this edition… GW wouldn’t have just hidden any significant change to that, in an unannounced FAQ.

    • Avatar
      Ohlmann January 13, 2021 12:21 am #

      Strongest argument yet that it indeed allow for fall back and shoot.

  10. Avatar
    AnonAmbientLight January 12, 2021 9:39 pm #

    Always two ways to look at these things.

    1) RAW strictly. This is an OK approach. It takes the foot off the gas and just says you have to abide by what the rule says. Simple. That’s a way to play this game and not a problem in general. Just make sure if this is the way you play, you keep that approach consistent.

    2) RAI is the other way, and it’s also OK. This one is more tricky because you have to assume designer intent, and base that off of knowledge of the game, both past and present. You essentially “build your case” as to why you think a rule should work one way or the other.

    Arguing about it online is pointless. Luckily it’s not really the “wild west” of rules discussion anymore now that GW actually updates their FAQ (more or less). It’ll get FAQd in a couple of weeks.

    Ultimately, you don’t need to get any kind of consensus on the way a rule should be decided. Just ask your opponent, if they disagree, then don’t play the match. Problem solved.

    • Avatar
      Jace January 12, 2021 11:16 pm #

      Or you’ve both got reasonable stances roll off!
      I’d play even less if disagreements resulted in cancellation 😀

      • Avatar
        AnonAmbientLight January 13, 2021 1:03 pm #

        Yea, that works too. People can figure it out.

        I would edit that last section, but I can’t. 🙁

        I’ve just come to realize that people like to argue about shit on the internet until the cows come home. It’s a waste of time.

  11. Avatar
    Ghosar January 13, 2021 9:11 am #

    Next tuesday I will let my Tau opponent fall back and shoot with montka against my orks, because apparently the WTC (I live in France) is giving it the green light.

    But outside of Europe, what will everyone do ? 🙂

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