Has Richard Siegler Made T’au Playable Again?

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.

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



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.

13 Responses to “Has Richard Siegler Made T’au Playable Again?”

  1. Shas’O April 11, 2021 11:59 pm #

    Nobody “made tau playable again”. He didn’t change the rules. You’ve just been complaining instead of trying 🤣

    He’s not the first to do this. One of the last times you complained about tau being unplayable, I put the vanguard tactics link in the comments. Here it is again.


    My point is, folks need to stop the whinging and figure things out!

    • Matt April 12, 2021 8:06 pm #

      Sure, I can say any faction is playable if I cherry-pick a professional 40k player, who’s list relies on spamming a small selection of units, and who may have had some pretty situational or beneficial match-ups in a tournament.

      But saying a very small handful of people have made it work so everyone should just shut up and copy them doesn’t solve any of the numerous and substantial issues the faction has. If people aren’t vocal about the problems, GW isn’t going to figure them out, much less be incentivised to do anything about them.

      And pro players like Richard are not at all indicative of the average 40K community. Experience aside, not many Tau players are going to have 40 FW _and_ eight crisis suits _and_ whatever other unit they need to spam to side-step the systemic issues the faction faces.

      • Shas’O April 14, 2021 10:24 am #

        That’s not what I think anyone is saying here. In fact, going and copying someone is the opposite of my point, since I’m saying people need to try things and think for themselves. Many people are doing badly with armies and ninth because they’re still playing them as if it was eighth. You can’t show up with three riptides and a bunch of drones and win anymore.

        That’s not to say you have to use these exact units. Breachers are good, Broadsides are good, several of the riptide variants are good, stealthsuits are good, ghostkeels are good, I could go on but instead I’d like to point out that most of the town lists doing well are doing the opposite of spamming. Most of them have just 1-2 units of each choice.

        And finally, what tau player doesn’t have a ton of crisis suit they’ve been dying to use!

        • Quothe April 21, 2021 11:21 am #

          Well, people only own what they own and it can be hard to get enough test games in so being slow to adapt is endemic rather than the direct faults of players tbh. There’s no doubt plenty of room for experimentation and improvement but ultimately the problems are with the rules, not the players.

          It doesn’t get coverage but one of the flip sides of the global pandemic is that 40k is being played a hell of a lot online now through tabletop simulator and the like.

          The major benefit of this is that real world issues like collection size, pandemics and hobby time aren’t restricting the lists that see play there. So you can quickly test out innovative lists with piles of expensive Forgeworld, out of print metal units or whatever you’d like really.

          And let me tell you, in this limitless test bed Tau are not doing well at all. I’ve seen dozens of tournaments with multiple tau players piloting vastly different lists and its not working out. Sure they win games but they absolutely do not place well in tournaments.

          To be even more clear:

          Jack Downing (the Vanguard Tactics author from your link) plays online quite a bit and has never even made it to the top 15 with Tau in even a 16 player tournament.

  2. Rob Butcher April 12, 2021 2:32 am #

    It would be worth comparing this list to the Tau list that won the GWGT2019 which also contained transports. If anyone can make tau work it would be Richard, but that doesn’t mean anyone can just pick up the list and win.

    BUT how is a four person meeting even a tournament ? Or worth watching mentioning ?

    And Nick N lost in the first round of the last LVO – then left the tournament to hang out with mates. Why should we be interested ??

  3. Ghosar April 12, 2021 4:35 am #

    I totally Agree with Shas’O, I know three dudes who play in very competitive circles and do very well with Tau (both TTS and regular 40k).

    Complaining instead of trying is exactly how I would put it too. Sure they are not 9th level codex good, but they eat orks, slaneesh demons, harlquins, and a lot of other armies if they are correctly built, and if anyone actually cared to try them out with a bit of faith, and zero 8th edition bias (or “i heard they suck” bias).

    • Ohlmann April 12, 2021 6:04 am #

      Which is probably why they don’t show anywhere in good place in tournament.

      At some point, you have to reconcile your position with the fact that currently, nobody actually do well with them.

    • Reecius April 12, 2021 9:12 am #

      Any army in the game can win in the right hands. You just have to be creative, willing to experiment and to lose games on the path to figuring it out.

      • Shas’O April 12, 2021 3:48 pm #

        Here here!

      • Kevin Lantz April 12, 2021 7:05 pm #

        Tau are still kneecapped imo, this list is similar to what I’m running currently except I ignore riptides now. Any handwaving of “the right person wins with the right list” ignores that person can do immensely better with other factions, and ignores the myriad of ways it fails.

        Our troops are overpriced at the moment imo, suits need higher bs, and rules about vespid/kroot need tweaked.

  4. AnonAmbientLight April 12, 2021 9:34 am #

    Back in 8th (before psychic awakening) there was a guy that won an Australian tournament with Grey Knights.

    It didn’t mean that GK were actually good and that no one was good enough to play them “right”. It just meant that it took an incredibly skilled player, a little bit of luck, and a good tournament run to make them work.

    In general, a good codex should give you options to handle multiple situations and give you the tools to deal with it.

    You shouldn’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to Frankenstein a list so that you can squeeze out a couple of victories here and there.

  5. Kevin Lantz April 13, 2021 1:30 am #

    “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…”

    I think the biggest thing is if a faction can’t make it to the top tables with a great player behind it, that’s for me a definition of playable or not. There’s enough swing in dice that any dog shit list can do well if a player is competent and luck swings with them. Larger tournaments in many aspects remove that swing. If you see stats showing 40% win rates etc, that kind of sums it up for me on playable or not.

    • AngryPanda April 13, 2021 3:50 am #

      “Playable” for me isn’t even absolutely about tournaments. It should be but the lowest meassuring stick is “can I bring this to a friendly game and not feel completly screwed even against a friendly player with a causal list?”. That is not a high bar and yet they miss it surprisingly often. Yes, I am still angry about falling for their Rogue Trader box, it’s in my name 😉

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