9E Tau Empire Review: Fast Attack: Vespid Stingwings

Today we look at one of the fast attack choices for the Tau codex, the Vespid Stingwing. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.


Vespid Stingwings are one of the auxiliary units useable by Tau armies. Their statline is rather unusual both in the context of Tau and compared to other armies. They are extremely fast, with a 14″ movement, and have weapon and ballistic skill 4+ for a middling offensive output. More unusually they have strength three but toughness four, implying something of a defensive focus… but one that is not well followed-through on. One wound, one attack, and a miserable leadership of five round out their statline, along with a 4+ armor save standard to the book. One squad member can be replaced by a Strain Leader at no cost, getting one extra attack and three points of leadership. Squads can be from four to twelve models strong, at a cost of 14pts per model.

Special Rules and Wargear

Like other auxiliary units Vespid Stingwings do not benefit from any of the Tau generic rules nor from Sept bonuses, leaving them with only their own innate rules. Of these, the only one they possess is Plunge from the Sky, which is a standard deep strike ability. Note that Plunge is distinct from Manta Strike and abilities that benefit the latter will not affect it.

Each Vespid is armed with a Neutron Blaster (18″ Str 5 AP-2 Dmg1 Assault 2). The squad does not have any upgrade options available.


Although considered an extremely lackluster unit all through 8E, 9th Edition has given Vespid a small- though not unimportant- role in the army. While they are certainly not any kind of powerhouses and are still somewhat overcosted, with a dearth of other options Tau commanders will find themselves relying on Vespid from time to time, as there are few better options.

The reason that Vespid are valuable boils down to two very simple factors- their ability to appear anywhere on the battlefield combined with the Infantry keyword. This allows them to show up wherever they are needed and begin taking an action (such as Retrieve Octarius Data) to score the controller some points, or alternatively to grab an objective and begin doing the same. They are action monkeys, plain and simple- and while they may not be the cheapest such option, their speed at least gives them a reasonable fail case if you need to be doing something else.

There are units that are broadly similar in the book, such as Gun Drones or Breachers, but none of them have the same level of flexibility as Vespid do; the former lack the Infantry keyword for actions and the latter have to pay to go into Strategic Reserves rather than being able to do so innately. Vespid also benefit from a small squad size to help offset their high cost per model, which puts them roughly in the same ballpark as the other options.

As something of an afterthough, Vespid do also have a gun that is theoretically supposed to be good against Marines… but given they all doubled in number of wounds and the Vespid’s output was considered extremely lacking before, I wouldn’t suggest trying anything fancy with it. S5 AP-2 is a fine profile but not really much better than a lot of units have on their basic troops nowadays, so you’re almost certain to lose any engagement you get into. Do not expect Vespid to clear an objective of anything but the absolute weakest of squads- even a unit of Guardsmen presents a significant threat to them by simple weight of numbers. Their unique stratagem allows them to reroll hit rolls on the turn they arrive from reserves, which… well, it will help a little in a pinch I suppose, but again you really shouldn’t be relying on them to do any work on that front. That’s what literally every other part of your army is for, Vespid are your concession to needing to score points, so use them for what they’re good at and not what they’re bad at.

Final Thoughts

Vespid Stingwings exist as something of a stopgap unit in the current book; they are doing a job well enough to not be laughed out of the room as they were previously, but even marginal increases in other units could very quickly put them out of a job- and considering that they are using ancient metal (nee resin) sculpts that are unlikely to last and that most players probably will struggle to even find available for sale, their future in the Tau book as a whole is rather uncertain.

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.


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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11 months ago

Vespid are yet another in the long list of “cool concept, terrible execution, almost surprised they haven’t been squatted” units. Otherwise they’re kind of like bad guardian windriders but with deep strike.

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