9E Tau Codex Review: HQs- XV-86 Coldstar Commander

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


The Coldstar, like the other Commander variants, comes with an excellent statline that is mostly shared between them, although it does have some unique features. Movement 14″ is the biggest feature of note and it really defines the Coldstar’s niche, although it is worth noting that this is reduced from earlier versions of the unit. Weapon skill 3+ and ballistic skill 2+ are standard for high-end HQ units, while strength and toughness five are common to the XV8 chassis (but can be considered above-average in the context of the overall game.) Seven wounds is another standout, allowing the Coldstar to survive at least a couple hits from virtually any weapon in the game and putting it notably above the Crisis version. Four attacks, leadership ten, and a 3+ save can all be counted as standard. Coming in at 100pts base, the Coldstar rides the middle line between the other two variants, but is still a very efficient unit none the less.

Special Rules and Wargear

The Coldstar comes with a strong block of special rules, starting with the basic ones you would expect from any battlesuit, namely the ability to shoot in combat and deep strike. Beyond that, it shares the Master of War aura with other Commanders, allowing you to reroll 1s on nearby Core units- a pretty standard ability, but still a very good one.

The Coldstar’s two unique abilities both reinforce its mobility theme- High-Altitude Maneuvers gives you a once-per-game choice to either put the Coldstar into reserves or set it up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9″ from the enemy; sometimes a single move just isn’t enough to get you where you need to be, and this is a great tool to both redeploy and also keep yourself safe. Aggressive Tactics lets you pick a Crisis unit and give them an automatic 8″ advance, which can really enable some speedy starts when you use it- though you’ll need to pair it with Mont’ka or another ability if you want to ignore the advance penalty.

As with other Commanders, a Coldstar comes with four hardpoints that it can fit weapons and wargear to; however, unlike them it has a few unique options and restrictions to deal with, as well as a bonus Target Lock included in the mix without needing to give anything else up. Coldstars cannot take the Cyclic Ion Blaster, which is unfortunate given that it is basically the perfect weapon for them, nor do they have an option for Iridium Armor, but they otherwise have access to all of the normal Commander wargear options, including the Positional Relay. They also have a unique weapon system, the High-Output Burst Cannon (18″ S5 AP-1 Dmg1 Assault 10), a souped-up version of the normal gun that is practically on par with some of the relic versions- while it is a bit more expensive, the firepower it brings is well worth consideration if you are running a Coldstar.

As with most battlesuits, a Coldstar can take up to two drones in any combination.


The Coldstar is perhaps my preferred variant of the three Commanders, and for reasons not entirely based around nostalgia. 40K has always been a game of maneuver, and 9E is especially so with all of the obscuring terrain around and focus on objectives- for all that the other two variants bring to the table, if you can’t get them to the right position then none of their strengths matter. And the Coldstar is all but guaranteed to be able to get where it needs to, as it can move 15-20″ every turn as well as having the option to redeploy once per game.

The redeploy is really very key, because it allows you to do some pretty incredible shenanigans late in the game. If you can keep your Coldstar alive until turn 4 or 5, when the board is lightly populated, it can just sort of teleport to anywhere you want and pick off some stragglers or take an empty objective and give you an easy 4-8pt swing, which can be absolutely backbreaking in many circumstances. Its Crisis buff is a little less impressive, as it can be replicated by a stratagem for the most part, but with Tau being so CP-hungry already saving a CP is not a trivial thing and there is a lot to be said for that guaranteed 18″ move on your Crisis teams; that stops being “a fast jump pack” speed and starts being “Eldar go wherever they want” kind of movement, able to dodge past essentially any terrain you want and bounce liberally from objective to objective pretty much regardless of the deployment or mission.

Above and beyond all of that, though, the real reason I appreciate the Coldstar and prefer them over the other variants is because of their ability to respond to a developing battlefield. It is pretty common that the flow a battle will shift in ways you may not expect, with the enemy bringing in reinforcements in places you aren’t deployed to counter or make an unexpected move that you need to deal with, and a Coldstar is perfectly suited for this. When you need a reroll aura or additional firepower shifted right away, the Coldstar has your back and can get over there as soon as you desire. Even more importantly, when equipped with a Thermoneutronic Projector and/or Onager Gauntlet, the Coldstar can project a tremendously-large bubble of melee protection for your army, threatening a deadly counterassault on anything within a radius of 22″ or more pretty easily. For opponents who are used to being able to just wander a squad of vaguely-competent models into combat with Tau and hang there, this can drastically shift the math on things.

Similarly, giving the Coldstar either the Hunter’s Plate or Solid-Image Projector can make up a lot for its otherwise-middling durability, and combined with its exceptional maneuverability this can make for a nasty late-game objective stealer. You can even hybridize the two strategies, giving it the Thermoneutronic for offensive punch and one of the relics for defense, a setup that also works well given that the Coldstar tends to work best when equipping a variety of high rate-of-fire weapons with middling strength/AP, perfect for clearing off light objective-holder units.

Final Thoughts

Although the Coldstar Commander is something of a specialist compared to the other two, the usefulness of its specialty is undeniable and can serve well in almost any kind of list. I think it ranks as probably the best of the three Commanders, although that opinion is certainly up for debate, but regardless of how you rank them all three are certainly excellent units.

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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26 days ago

Is running multiple units of Crisis Suits viable now, or is it still “bomb or nothing”?

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