The winner of the Atlantic City Open will come as no surprise: the excellent Brad Chester, playing the deadly Drukhari, took the top spot. What’s more, he did it in style, winning all nine of his games.
While this tournament used the pre-nerf Drukhari rules and points, Chester nonetheless deserves credit for winning such a big event without dropping a game.
But I’m not here to talk about the Murder Elves.
Richard Siegler, the Supreme Fire Caste Commander himself, finished fourth, winning seven games and losing one.
This is a particularly impressive showing for two reasons. First, Siegler won seven games in a field dominated by Drukhari. The Dark Kin have plenty of tools to deal with the T’au quickly and decisively, but this fact didn’t stop Siegler from playing his way to the top four. Second, Siegler managed to defeat most of his opponents with a severely underpowered 8th edition codex.
Let’s take a moment here. I’ve written plenty of articles over the past few months in which I discuss the problems that the T’au has in 9th edition. And yet, good players have managed to put in very respectable performances with the faction. What’s going on? Put simply, I think that it took the community a little while to find the best T’au build for 9th edition, but now that we’ve found it, strong T’au players have the tools to go deep into tournaments and reach the top tables.
And I think that the emphasis here should be on strong T’au players. This list takes a fair bit of practice to get right, and many T’au players wouldn’t have the skill to make it work. And I would put myself firmly in that category. I’m a decent 40k player, but I couldn’t take this list to the top tables and a big tournament. I haven’t put the reps in.
Siegler, however, certainly has. And it shows.
Indeed, Siegler will have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the faction on the tabletop. Our man has been playing T’au for at least three years and two editions — possibly more — and it’s this dedication to the game and the faction that holds him in such good stead now.
There are a number of important elements that strong T’au players need to keep in mind in order to play the army well, and while this was true in 8th edition, it’s even more relevant in 9th edition. Aura ranges, stratagem use, and target priority to name a few — mistakes here can be particularly costly for T’au players, and it takes practice and dedication to get these elements of the game correct every time.
But let’s take a look at the list. The models that Siegler took aren’t particularly surprising; the T’au only has one competitive build at the moment. But I do want to talk about weapon options. We’ll come to that in a moment. Check out this Bell of Lost Souls article to see exactly what Siegler played.
The main event is, of course, the Crisis Bodyguard unit with the Veteran Cadre upgrade. These boys will do the business, but there are quite a few other units in the list that will play the missions — both Primary and Secondary — well. Breachers, Pathfinders, Vespid, and Remoras, all taken in small squads, provide utility to the list. These units give Siegler options to play Engage, Stranglehold, and Retrieve Octarius Data (in ROD we trust), as well as a couple of mission-specific Secondaries, and to play them with confidence.
We also find a couple of Devilfish transports to shuttle those Breachers to objectives, the ever-popular Amplified Ion Accelerator Riptide, and Commander Farsight and a Coldstar Commander making up the HQ slots.
The Crisis Bodyguard unit is the real powerhouse in the list. With the exception of the obligatory model with an Airbursting Fragmentation Projector, Siegler equips each model in the unit with two Missile Pods and an Advanced Targeting System.
This loadout makes the unit absolutely deadly. Each Suit throws out four Strength 7, AP -2, Damage D3 shots at 36″. With a total of 32 shots coming from the unit, this deathstar can do work against most targets in the game.
The unit starts the game at BS 3, thanks to the Veteran Cadre stratagem, and for the cost of two Command Points, Siegler can put a full stack of Markerlights on the unit’s target, allowing the unit to hit on 2s and reroll 1s. In anyone’s book, that’s some solid output.
And it gets better. For the cost of one CP and a Commander’s shooting phase, the unit may reroll all Wound rolls. Indeed, Siegler will use Commander Farsight to do this every turn of the game.
In terms of pure output, this is the pinnacle of the T’au codex, but it’s very unlikely that this unit in its current form will make it into the 9th edition codex. What’s more, the ability to reroll Wounds for one CP is also very unlikely to remain.
But for the time being, T’au players have access to a very competitive unit. Not only is its offensive output very strong, but it is also virtually impossible to tie up in combat, with Farsight’s ability to use Mont’ka twice per game.
I’ve covered the above abilities in far greater detail in previous articles, so I won’t do so again here. Indeed, the real element that makes this list sing is Siegler himself. There’s no doubt that Siegler is one of the best 40k players in the world at the moment, and this latest result is further proof of that.
That said, I don’t want to at all imply that success with this list is out of the reach of most players. It takes practice, but T’au players who are looking to play competitively with the codex that we have right now could do a lot worse than taking this list for a spin. It’ll take some doing, and, as always, there are two or three factions that will prove to be particularly troublesome matches, but there’s a lot of value to be found here.
As I mentioned above, I very much doubt that this list — the Crisis Bodyguard unit in particular — will make it into the 9th edition codex. As we know, the faction needs a serious rewrite to be a proper contender in the current meta. Outside of this list, the codex doesn’t offer anything competitive at the moment.
This list, then, is unlikely to survive such a significant change. And don’t get me wrong: we need an entirely new T’au codex. The faction needs a rewrite.
But for now it’s great to see players like Richard Siegler doing the business with the tools we have to hand.
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!