The guys over at the Art of War are running a four-man tournament, the King of the Stream House RTT. Each player is running two armies, and one of Richard Siegler’s armies is, of course, the T’au Empire.
Siegler is an expert with the faction, having performed strongly in a number of events throughout the 2019 season, including winning the Nova Open.
In fact, in my first article that I wrote for Frontline, I discussed Siegler’s T’au list that won the 2019 Nova Open. That was back in October 2019. How times have changed.
The army that Siegler takes for the King of the Stream House RTT is a completely different beast.
I’ll not go through the army line-by-line here, but if you’d like to see the exact list, as well as Siegler’s commentary on it, you’ll find it in the description of this Art of War video.
While there are many significant changes from the Nova list to this one, a couple of themes jump out at me immediately.
First, Siegler goes heavy into Breachers and Devilfish. Recall that the Nova list contained very few Fire Warriors. These models were, essentially, a tax, and the Commanders and Riptides did the real work of the list, including going out into the mid-board and taking objectives.
But the Stream House list almost entirely forgoes that old Commander-Riptide combo — and for good reason. It doesn’t work at all well in 9th edition.
Instead we find models that can move out and take objectives early in the game. Those Devilfish are unlikely to survive the first couple of turns, but they don’t need to. These transports are a means to get valuable obsec models on the points.
Fire Warriors — with a Toughness of 3 and a Save of 4+ — won’t survive for too long under any consistent firepower or melee, which is one of the problems that the faction has had throughout 9th edition. But I like that Siegler solves this problem — as much as it can be solved — by simply taking more Fire Warrior models.
Don’t get me wrong: many factions have some way of dealing with, say, 20 Fire Warriors on an objective, but it takes a little bit of doing, and if there are yet more Fire Warriors on another objective, players will have to start thinking carefully about how they distribute their offensive resources.
The core of the list, then, is 40 Breachers and three Devilfish transports, but what else does Siegler bring to supplement this? First, let’s talk about the only Riptide in the list.
Armed with the relic Amplified Ion Accelerator and two Fusion Blasters, we again see the departure from the classic T’au setup. The AIA is a Psychic Awakening relic with a respectable profile: Strength 9, AP -4, and Damage 3 + D3. But one of the problems with this weapon is the number of shots. At Heavy 6, Siegler will average three hits on most targets. However, Siegler also equips the Riptide with a Velocity Tracker, which adds +1 to the hit roll against targets with Fly keyword.
This is the overcharge profile, meaning that the Battlesuit takes Mortal Wounds on hit rolls of 1, but with a single Markerlight allowing Siegler to reroll 1s, this isn’t too much of a concern.
And what’s more, because this Riptide isn’t armed with a Heavy Burst Cannon, Siegler can now use the Riptide’s Nova Charge ability to grant it a 3+ invulnerable save for the cost of a Mortal Wound. Back in 8th, Drones made Riptides virtually unkillable for most of the game, but with Drones significantly over-costed at the moment, this is no longer a viable strategy. A 3++ really goes a long way to solving this problem.
Next, let’s turn to the list’s only Commander, an XV8 armed with two Flamers, an Advanced Targeting System, and a Drone Controller. On the face of it, this model doesn’t offer much in the way of offensive firepower, but can use the ever-useful Command and Control Node stratagem, which, for the cost of a Command Point and the Commander’s shooting, allows a Battlesuit unit with 6″ to reroll all Wound rolls in the shooting phase.
This is a particularly useful stratagem when used with the list’s only squad of Crisis Battlesuits, an eight-man unit, each armed with two Airburst Fragmentation Projectors and an ATS. This setup gives each model in the unit 2D6 shots at 18″ with a Strength of 4 and an AP of -1. While the Strength and AP is a little lacklustre, the volume of shots makes up for it. A full squad will average 56 shots.
And with the Farsight Enclaves Veteran Cadre upgrade, those shots will be hitting on 3s. Of course, with Markerlights or further stratagems, those 3s can become yet more accurate.
What’s more, with two models in the unit taking the Iridium Armour upgrade, granting a 2+ Save, and Siegler taking the Reactive Countermeasures relic, allowing the unit to ignore AP -1 and -2, this squad of XV8s is surprisingly resilient — without even looking at a Drone.
This is really interesting unit that has a lot of play in a lot of different scenarios. I’m usually quite critical of the T’au codex for its lack of depth, but Siegler — and indeed the T’au community as a whole — has discovered a great little option here.
And while Siegler does take a few more units — including Aun-shi for that Leadership bubble and a couple of Remora Stealth Drones — the Crisis suits, the Devilfish, the Breachers, and the Riptide form the core of the list.
Again, for a full breakdown and analysis, do check out the video that I link above. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re interested in how the T’au is doing in 9th edition.
But let me return to the question that I posed in the title of this article. Has Siegler made T’au playable again?
There’s quite a bit of ambiguity in that word, playable. Is this list likely to get to the top tables at a big tournament? Probably not. Could a skilled player do some work with this list in his local meta? Definitely.
And that’s one of the issues. Of course, a skilful player can do a lot even with a poorly-performing faction. There are a handful of aspects to the game that are faction-neutral, and good players can use this to their advantage regardless of the actual models on the table.
Does this Siegler list, then, allow regular players who play with the faction to be more competitive? I think that the short answer is yes, but I don’t think that there is much in it. Siegler is a world-class 40k player. He is also a world-class T’au player. His skill with the game and the faction matters more than this particular list.
At least, that’s how I see it. But, overall, Siegler does make the faction more playable with this list — but it’s still going to take a lot of practice for most players, myself included, to make a dent with it.
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