9E Tau Codex Review: HQs- Commander Farsight

Today we look at the leader of the Farsight Enclaves, Commander Farsight. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

Commander Farsight is a named character version of the Crisis Commander, and has a statline to match, albeit with a few of the increases one might expect. Movement 10″ is standard and still makes Farsight fairly mobile, and ballistic skill 2+ is also standard; on the other hand, weapon skill 2+ represents a notable boost from the standard version, especially given his focus. Strength and toughness five are both expected, as is leadership ten and 3+ save. However, both Farsight’s wounds (at seven) and attacks (at five) are one better than the standard, further reinforcing his status as a melee combatant. Coming in at 130pts, Farsight is an extremely good bargain for what you get, though he is exclusively locked into his own subfaction.

Special Rules and Wargear

Commander Farsight comes with all of the usual rules of a Crisis Commander, not the least of which being the battlesuit special rules and Manta Strike to give him the option for reserving. Like a standard Commander he also comes with Master of War to grant rerolls to nearby units and Tactical Acumen to allow one unit of Crisis to fall back while acting normally and ignore penalties to their hit rolls. Given that this is an extremely good starting place, the fact that Farsight gets even more bonuses on top of it can only speak in his favor.

Way of the Short Blade is the main bonus he gives, letting you pick one Core unit to give +1 to hit in melee- considering Tau’s miserable weapon skill on most units, this is a pretty big upgrade and can make a unit of Crisis (the main recipient) into a somewhat legit threat in melee thanks to their significant number of attacks and good strength. It also stacks with his Master of War aura, making him a real force multiplier in the assault phase.

Like most other named leader characters, Farsight’s Enclave Commander rule forces him to be the warlord if you include him; since his fixed trait is Exemplar of Mont’ka and Tau have access to extra warlord trait strats, this really isn’t much of a disadvantage at all. Do note that unlike Shadowsun he is not a supreme commander and thus can’t go in his own detachment.

In terms of equipment Farsight is a bit on the lighter side, although not as much so as previous editions as he functionally has four hardpoints worth of equipment just like a standard Commander, albeit in an unconventional fashion. His ranged weapons are limited to his High-Intensity Plasma Rifle (36″ S8 AP-4 Dmg3 Assault 2), which is pretty much just two regular Plasmas stapled together. Given that Plasma is one of the premiere options for suits these days, this can only be considered a good thing. He also comes with the Dawn Blade, his unique melee option; it has two attack modes, either Strike (Sx2 AP-3 Dmg3) or Sweep (S+1 AP-2 Dmg1 double attacks). Rounding out his armament is a Shield Generator, giving Farsight a 4+ invulnerable save against all attacks.

Commander Farsight cannot take any drones or other options.

Uses

While Commander Farsight gives up a lot of the strengths of a normal Crisis Commander- namely, powerful and protected ranged firepower- he makes up for it in some other significant ways. He is not an absolute given in any Farsight army, but I do think that he is well worth consideration as he brings some fairly unique abilities to the table.

The big thing, obviously, is Farsight’s melee capability, something that Tau tend to be lacking. The options for Onager Gauntlet and Thermoneutronic Projector make Farsight’s presence less of an oddity at this point, of course, but even those are fairly unreliable when it comes to actual attacks- the Projector is low strength and will struggle against Knights and other hard targets as well as anything that ignores rerolls, and while the Onager has great stats it is limited by the middling weapon skill of its wielder. So in terms of being an actual melee threat to things, Farsight is significantly superior to both against the “hard” targets that are going to be able to weather Tau shooting and actually get stuck in.

Of course, the even better use case is not Farsight replacing a melee Commander but supplementing one, allowing you to have two loci of protection on the table warding enemies away. With the Farsight Enclaves ability to take multiple Commanders per detachment, you lose essentially nothing but taking a pair of Commanders (such as Farsight himself and a friend) and it isn’t at all hard to fit three or more- at which point you have some serious area coverage. And unlike in previous editions, you aren’t actually giving up a lot by taking Farsight instead of one of the others- you do have somewhat less shooting, to be sure, but not nearly so much as before and having 2-3 guns and a Shield Generator is actually a pretty common setup for Commanders in a number of armies, and that is more or less what you are buying here.

But above and beyond that, the real limiter on many named characters is their lack of options- you can’t give them relics and they have a fixed warlord trait, which can be a real problem. In that sense Farsight also makes out pretty well, since his Dawn Blade is just an upgraded version of the Onager Gauntlet being carried by a better platform, and his fixed trait (Exemplar of the Mont’ka) is something that most lists are already taking, even if it is a bit worse than before the nerf.

Now, do you need to take Farsight in an Enclaves army? No, of course not. Although he certainly rewards a highly-aggressive playstyle that gets in the enemy’s face and isn’t afraid to get assaulted now and then (or launch assaults of its own), he is by no means mandatory. You might want to be looking to a Coldstar for better mobility or an Enforcer for better resilience, or you might look to any of the variants for a full four-gun loadout to increase firepower to the point where you hopefully don’t need as much melee presence. Farsight is a very useful tool to have in your toolbox when you are building Enclaves armies, but you should not consider him an automatic selection- he is good, but not that good.

Final Thoughts

Although his model is weirdly a bit dated-looking next to the newer, larger Commanders, Farsight is still an excellent inclusion from a subfaction that has a very real presence in the meta still. Tau armies aren’t stomping the gas pedal quite as hard anymore, but Mont’ka is still the preferred choice in most battles and Farsight is a big upgrade to that sort of army in many cases. Plus, hey, what have Ethereals ever done for anyone, right? Buncha lying on skinsacks, you can’t trust ’em.

As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies at the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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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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