9E Tau Codex Review, HQs: Commander in Coldstar Armor

Today we look at the Coldstar variant of the Commander chassis. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Coldstar Commander is essentially a variant on the more common Enforcer/Crisis versions, having a nearly identical statline to the Enforcer but with a slight tweak- namely, movement 20″ rather than the standard 8″. Apart from that they have the same offensive (WS3+, BS2+, S5) and defensive (T5, W6, 3+) stats as the standard version. A Coldstar comes at a base price of 120pts before adding wargear.

Special Rules and Wargear

A Coldstar Commander comes with the same basic rules as an Enforcer does, with For the Greater Good giving the ability to support nearby units with overwatch and Master of War giving a once-per-game aura that they can trigger. Manta Strike also allows the unit to go into reserve for free if desired.

The Coldstar’s only unique rule is Coldstar, which allows the unit to advance 20″ rather than rolling a die for the distance.

A Coldstar has most of the same wargear options as an Enforcer, with four “hardpoints” that each allow the mounting of one weapon or support system. However, it does have two differences- Coldstars cannot take Cyclic Ion Blasters at all, and if a Coldstar takes at least one Missile Pod it can select a High-Output Burst Cannon (18″ S5 AP0 Dmg1 Assault 6) for one, and only one, of its weapon systems.

Uses

While the Coldstar is largely identical to the Enforcer and Crisis, its inability to take the most common weapon system can be regarded as the most significant difference- though if you weren’t looking to bring those it’s really just a 20pt upgrade that gives you a bunch of extra movement. However, given the extra price and the need for high-RoF firepower in a Tau army it probably is no longer the default option that it once was.

With its higher movement rate the Coldstar can better take advantage of some of the shorter-ranged weapon systems in the Tau arsenal, in particular the Fusion Blaster. This, combined with its excellent base accuracy, makes the unit pretty good at dashing about the field and blasting units as needed, or supporting other forces in the area. If heavy AT isn’t desired, running Flamers can be an interesting option for eliminating light infantry. Burst Cannons serve a similar role and have more reach, albeit at the cost of not being as effective on overwatch.

Beyond its role as a firepower platform, the Coldstar’s movement can be useful in getting around the field for other reasons as well. It makes sitting still for a turn in order to activate Kauyon less painful, as the distance can easily be made up by advancing on a following turn, and it means the Coldstar can easily bounce around to stay within 3″ of things in order to keep itself protected. The Coldstar can also easily move in range of an objective or past terrain to shoot at the enemy as needed, although one should be careful of sending it off to fight on its own- the mediocre defensive profile and lack of ObSec mean that it is not well-suited to handling situations without any support.

A Coldstar’s excellent speed also allow it to keep up with units the rest of the army cannot reach, whether this means a squad arriving from reserves deep in enemy territory (such as Drones or Strike Teams) or a fast-moving unit such as aircraft. In fact, a Coldstar is one of the few units in the game capable of keeping up with friendly aircraft and can thus use them for protection if needed- the Remora Drone is particularly useful in this case, as it is reasonably resilient itself and greatly likes having a Drone Controller nearby to boost its hit rolls. While escorting some flyers around is not necessarily a top-tier strategy, it is an option that can be kept in mind- a nearby flyer or two can protect a Commander from shooting while the Commander takes an objective that the flyers help clear off.

Final Thoughts

The Coldstar Commander is fairly expensive by HQ standards and though it may be one of the better choices in the codex, it still suffers from many of the same problems other Tau units do. Still, as a unit with a unique role in both the army and the game at large it is definitely worth thinking about, especially if you are looking for heavy tank-busting weapons where the Coldstar can excel.

As always, remember 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.

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