9E Tau Empire Codex Review: Fast Attack: Y’varha Battlesuit

Today we look at the Riptide’s speedy cousin, the Y’varha. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.


The Y’varha is built off roughly the same chassis as the Riptide, sharing many of its characteristics, albeit also with some changes. Chief among them is movement 18″, although this degrades as the model is wounded. Strength six and toughness seven, however, are what you would expect, as are weapon skill 5+ and ballistic skill 4+. Fourteen wounds, four attacks, and a 2+ save round out the profile. At 300pts, the Y’varha is quite expensive and will rarely make the cut in Tau armies.

Special Rules and Wargear

Like most Tau models, the Y’varha comes with the For the Greater Good rule, allowing it to fire overwatch for nearby units. Thanks to the automatic hits from its flamer this is extremely dangerous, although not as much so as it was before. It also comes with a 5+ invulnerable save thanks to its Y’varha Shield Generator.

Like the Riptide, the Y’varha also has a Nova Reactor that it can activate by taking one mortal wound in your command phase. When you do so, you can select one of three options: improve the invulnerable save to 4+, add 12″ to movement and allow it to fall back and shoot, or use the Nova profile of the weapons.

The Y’varha is equipped with several weapons that can benefit from the latter effect. The Phased Plasma-Flamer is the most notable one (12″ S6 AP-2 Dmg1 Heavy 2d6 hits automatically). Nova Charging adds an additional d6 shots with the Flamer. The Ionic Discharge Cannon is the other (24″ S8 AP-1 Dmg2 Heavy 6); when charged up, it increases its strength and damage by one, but any 1s to hit will cause a mortal wound to the Y’varha. The Y’varha also comes with a Flechette Pod (12″ S3 AP0 Dmg1 Assault 5) as a hold-out weapon.

A Y’varha can take up to two support systems from the normal list; the Advanced Targeting System is generally going to be an auto-take thanks to the middling AP on its weapons, with others depending on the role you give it. It can also be accompanied by two Shielded Missile Drones for 15pts each.


The Y’varha took a big hit with the shift to the new edition of Imperial Armor; although it did come down in price quite a bit, the nerf of its gun from damage 3 to damage 1 was a huge blow to its ability to threaten various kinds of Marines as well as heavy vehicles of all sorts. Compounding that is its reduction to BS4+ (where previously it was BS3+) and the loss of the “haywire” effect on its other gun left it without the other tool it used to effectively threaten most vehicles.

This double blow to the unit, even in light of the reduction in price, has left it without a clear role in the army. With a cost point comparable to a Riptide, it lacks the firepower that its codex cousin possesses and while it can threaten some pretty dangerous overwatch, for most of the close-in brawler units it can expect to encounter (e.g. Deathshroud Terminators) this isn’t even fractionally enough to deter them from an assault.

300-350pts is simply a lot to ask from a player for a unit that is going to struggle to do the damage it needs to clear objectives, to defend itself, or to accomplish any other role in a game. The Y’varha lacks the Riptide’s reach and stratagem support- most notably, it cannot Nova Charge for two effects at once the way a Riptide can, and it lacks the ability to get a 3++ when Nova Charging entirely. Although it does look a little bit better in a world full of Drukhari and Orks, both of which are at perfect breakpoints for its S6 flamer to cause absolute havoc, I still don’t feel this is nearly enough to really pull its weight in a list, especially since you have better tools to deal with these armies. You could, for example, buy a 9man Crisis team equipped with all Flamers for about the same price, which would put down an absolutely withering amount of overwatch while also being easier to hide.

Final Thoughts

While the updated Imperial Armor did do us the favor of removing all of the weird, wacky, and self-contradictory rules for Forge World units, they unfortunately erred pretty heavily on the side of making sure that those units would not be in any position to cause potential problems on the competitive scene. This is understandable given some of the early debacles of 8E, but it does shut down one of Tau’s few avenues of being able to pull of something interesting, and since these units are unlikely to change soon (or possibly ever), I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping for an update.

As always, you can get your wargaming products at great discounts every day on 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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