9E Tau Codex Review, HQs: Cadre Fireblade

Today we look at the cheapest of the HQ options for the Tau Empire codex. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.


The Cadre Fireblade is something of a “baseline” HQ for the Tau codex, giving a good measure against which to compare other units that are available. It comes with a reasonable statline, moving 6″ like most Tau models, and having solid offensive capabilities thanks to weapon skill 3+ and ballistic skill 2+. Strength and toughness three are unimpressive but standard, while five wounds is about average for an HQ character. Three attacks, leadership eight, and a 4+ armor save round out its profile. At 45pts they are the cheapest of Tau HQ options, and compare favorably to the low-end choices from most other books.

Wargear and Special Rules

A Cadre Fireblade has the For the Greater Good rule, like nearly all Tau units, and thus can fire overwatch in support of other nearby units. It also has Volley Fire, a rule unique to the Fireblade which gives Tau units within 6″ an extra shot with Pulse Rifles and Pulse Carbines when within half their maximum range. Note that this does not function for other pulse weapons, such as the Pulse Blasters carried by Breacher Teams.

A Cadre Fireblade is equipped with a Pulse Rifle of their own, which will benefit from their aura, as well as a Markerlight and Photon Grenades.


A Cadre Fireblade is a fairly unexciting character, but they serve their role in the army well enough to not be disappointing. With a reasonable amount of survivability from their armor and wounds values, they aren’t easily picked off by the enemy and their ability to bring a high-accuracy Markerlight to the table is very valuable, since the rest of the army has few other ways to get rerolls.

The aura, while useful in previous editions, is unfortunately very lackluster in 9E. Pulse weapons simply do not have the statline to be effective against most targets these days; strength 5 is a tad better than what some other factions see, but since it deals only one damage and has no AP, it is blatantly inferior to the basic guns wielded by Space Marines, Necrons, and other armies- you simply aren’t going to do any meaningful damage to Intercessors or god forbid Bladeguard who are sitting in cover. And since the ability cannot buff the most common Tau troop choice (Breachers), the Fireblade ends up being little more than a mandatory slot-filler for anyone foolish enough to not be taking Farsight Enclaves.

Final Thoughts

Although not an abysmal choice, the Cadre Fireblade is not an impressive one, either. Since 9E penalizes you for taking multiple detachments, rather than rewarding you like 8E did, their stock has gone down significantly and they are now merely an acceptable option for when you can’t or don’t want to take a Commander of some variety.

As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.


About abusepuppy

I was there, reader- I was there three editions ago. When Games Workshop released the Ynnari. When the strength of men failed.
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1 year ago

i’d be even harsher on them. beyond the aura’s badness in 9e, the CHARACTER targeting changes have reduced their value as a reliable markerlight, and the army’s HQ options intersect with the detachment, sept, and commander rules in such a way as to make them nearly unpickable.

if you’re playing FSE, you take 2x Commanders in every detachment HQ, and you don’t take Fireblades

if you’re not, you do 1x Commander Patrols, or you do a Commander and an Ethereal (and/or Darkstrider if you’re trying that out) in a Battalion and then you add Patrols for more Commanders, and you don’t take Fireblades

then there’s the whole thing about giving up Assassinate points! it’s just a mess! i used to have some ideas about taking Hybridized Weapons and trying to do Gun Drone drops that Volley Fired at 11″ but now Gun Drones in Tac Drone units are double price for no reason whatsoever so there goes that plan

1 year ago

So in summary – “fine”. Which is nearly a complement for T’au units these days. Same bracket as stealth suits, Devilfish and strikes in my book. “Fine” in 9th and in the context of the codex alright options.

I think having one around for a reliable marker light and boosting pulse weapons for 45pts is reasonable for your return on points.

1 year ago

The Fireblade is another one of those cool lore characters that also has a neat place on the tabletop, but its rules just never quite made it something good on the battlefield.

It was regulated to a marker light platform, since it can hide well enough and had BS2 marker lights.

But I’d like to see it turn into more of an infantry support unit like it was always meant to be (similar to the ethereal).

Perhaps the volley fire rule should just add an extra shot at any range to your pulse weapons. Heck maybe even an extra shot with pulse blasters too.

Or go bold and give fireblades something that can be customized. That is, a fireblade that gets to choose which art of war they like to focus on for the duration of the battle (no changing mid battle).

Are they more mont’ka fighters? Then they get something like “all infantry within 6” reroll 1s to wound.”

Are they more kayoun fighters? Then they get something like, “all infantry within 6” get an extra shot”.

Or give them stratagems that they can use to help turn the tide of the battle. Just small changes I think would make this model really shine rather than just being known as the cheapest HQ you can field so you can get other stuff. :/

1 year ago

An important question I think when discussing the Fire blade is the value of marker lights in 9th ed.

1 year ago

“VERDICT: Worth less than the electrons used to display this sentence” – AbusePuppy, 2012

1 year ago

Anyone else caught off guard when the article just ended? I get it, it said most of the important stuff quickly and concisely, but that may be the shorted review article in the history of this series.

No mention of the usefulness as an EMP Grenade platform, or Fish of Fury with a metric ton of Gun Drones in an Devilfish and Fireblade (though, as kaixaukyr said, 20 points per drone? no thanks). But again, really got to the important stuff and called it good, so I agree. I’m just again depressed by a Tau unit review.

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