Tau Codex Review: HQs: Aun’va

Today we look at the last of the non-Commander characters, Aun’va. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.


Aun’va comes with a statline fairly similar to that of other Ethereals, although with some significant differences as well. He has the normal 6″ movement but only weapon skill 6+. He does have ballistic skill 4+, but has no weapons to use it with. Strength two and one attack is a downgrade from a generic variant, but his toughness of three is at least standard. Six wounds is actually a notable upgrade, and leadership of nine and 5+ save are both standard.

The most unusual thing about Aun’va is that he comes as a unit with two Ethereal Guards. The Guards have a slightly-upgraded statline for a generic Tau model- weapon skill 3+, two wounds, and three attacks each. Aun’va and his companions clock in at 85pts, and can only be included in an army once.

Special Rules and Wargear

Aun’va comes with a number of special rules, some of which are unique and some of which are common to all Ethereals. His Failure is Not an Option allows units within 6″ to use his leadership, and Supreme Loyalty further allows any Tau unit on the battlefield to reroll failed morale checks.

Like all Ethereals, Aun’va can use Invocation of the Elements but due to his rank he can activate two different abilities each time rather than one-though the abilities themselves are standard.

Lastly, he has the Paradox of Duality, which inverts the AP of all shooting attacks directed at him- so an AP-3 weapon would add +3 to his save (netting an effective 2+), etc.

Each of the two Ethereal Guards are armed with an Honor Blade (S+2 AP0 Dmg1).


Aun’va, although he is significantly more expensive than a regular Ethereal, does come with a number of upgrades. Most noticably is in terms of survivability; with the unit having an extra six wounds over the standard version and also the Paradox’s ability to improve their armor (which does stack with Light Cover), Aun’va can be surprisingly hard to remove even when no models are nearby to protect him. The trio of models also allows you to spread the aura further, extending all of Aun’va’s effects out to a larger distance.

Given that the effects of of the Invocations are typically not all that impressive, it is much more likely that he will be useful for an army that is looking to shore up morale, as the combination of the leadership aura and rerolls for all units is potentially a fairly big deal in terms of ensuring squads don’t run. This is especially true since most units have the Bonding Knife rule and will automatically pass any check on a result of 6, giving you very good odds of keeping around regardless of the number of losses you take.

Whether or not Aun’va is worth the price tag (and potential loss of the opportunity for a Commander) is whether you are running a lot of large squads. However, do note that Aun’va is locked into the Tau Sept, which will limit his usefulness in a lot of armies unless you are willing to commit to that particular subfaction.

Final Thoughts

While the basic Ethereal is a pretty poor choice in Tau, Aun’va has some potential in armies that are able to make use of him. He is arguably one of the best of the named characters in the Tau codex, although honestly that isn’t a terribly high bar to measure to, even with Shadowsun’s upgrades. He is a somewhat niche character, but his price is low enough now that it is possible that you may find yourself interested in filling that niche, and overall that’s not a bad place to be.

As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day 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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