9E Tau Codex Review: HQs- Commander Shadowsun

Today we look at the last of the commander models from the Tau codex, the supreme commander of the Tau military. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

Commander Shadowsun is a unique model, both literally so as well as in terms of what she represents. Her statline is less different than it was in previous editions- movement 10″ is shared with other battlesuits, and weapon skill 3+ and ballistic skill 2+ are common to all commanders. Strength and toughness five, although shared with others of her type, are actually a significant step up from her previous version, as is seven wounds. Four attacks, leadership ten, and a 3+ save are all likewise pretty much standard. Coming in at 150pts with her two drones, Shadowsun is an absolute steal for what she does and should be strongly considered in any Tau sept army.

Special Rules and Wargear

Shadowsun comes with quite a packed text box, some of which is unique to her and others of which she shares with similar models. She starts out, of course, with the usual rules for battlesuits, allowing her to fire while in combat as well as to go into reserve freely. She also has Master of War (giving an aura of reroll 1s) and Infiltrator (allowing her to deploy outside your zone) that are common to other types of suits.

She expands on these with a number of other powerful rules, not the least of which being Defender of the Greater Good, which lets her pick a Core or Character within 6″ of her during your command phase and reroll all misses with them. Note that this can affect any Tau Empire unit, not simply Tau sept ones, giving her a powerful utility even when included in other detachments (which she can be thanks to rules elsewhere.)

Beyond that, she has Camouflage Fields (giving the enemy -1 to shoot her) and her Stalker Battlesuit (giving a 5+ invulnerable save) for defensive abilities, as well as her two drones- the Advanced Guardian Drone has a 4++ of its own and makes her impossible to shoot as long as another unit is closer, while the Command-link Drone expands the reach of all of her abilities by 3″, which is cumulative with the Tau Sept benefit.

Shadowsun is also equipped with a wide array of weapons, especially compared to earlier versions; she carries two Fusion, which can be either High-Energy (24″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Assault 1, +2dmg in half range) or Dispersed (18″ S7 AP-4 Dmg2 Assault 2, +1dmg in half range). She also has a Light Missile Pod (24″ S7 AP-1 Dmg2 Assault 2) and a Flechette Blaster (18″ S3 AP0 Dmg1 Assault 5). Finally, just in case you are truly stupid and want to waste your time, she has a Pulse Pistol (12″ S5 AP0 Dmg1 Pistol 1). Aside from swapping between the two types of Fusion, Shadowsun does not have any options and if included in an army must be the army’s warlord- however, since she comes with the excellent Exemplar of Kauyon trait, this is not really a disadvantage.

Uses

Although she may not be quite as flashy as some of the other units in the army, Shadowsun is arguably one of the most powerful choices from the Tau codex and I think that tournament results have borne this argument out- we have seen pure Tau sept armies fielding her since the day the book dropped, to great success, and even non-Tau armies sometimes bring her in the mix because she is just that good.

Now, the obvious reason for this is her ability to grant full rerolls to any one unit- and this ability is incredibly good, no doubt. Full rerolls are very, very strong, and any time you see a way to get access to them, armies use it. Tau are no different- and, in fact, since they are so dependent on their offensive shooting output, if anything they are more dependent than most armies on getting access to good rerolls. Although she can no longer give it to Broadsides the way she used to, Crisis suits are still a valid target and are still an immensely powerful one- getting rerolls to hit from Shadowsun and rerolls to wound from Exemplar of the Mont’ka can quickly spell the doom of almost anything you choose to shoot at, even if it isn’t a full five-man Crisis team.

However, Shadowsun’s utility goes far, far beyond simply “buff big unit, big unit kill”; she brings a ton to the table that mustn’t be overlooked if you are to understand why it is she’s so powerful, so let’s spend some time there as well. There is, of course, her aura of rerolling 1s- with her drone active and the Tau sept trait it is a full 12″ radius, or in other words covering a pretty significant fraction of the entire battlefield. While Farsight Enclaves armies may have the advantage in raw number of Commanders, Shadowsun can do the job of at least two Commanders by herself, and very often more than that. She can continuously ensure that essentially every unit in your army is going to get its rerolls, and she frees up any other Commanders you might take to maneuver as desired or needed, helping to cover more distant parts of the battlefield or bring their guns to bear on an alternative target.

But a big part of the reason that Shadowsun can cover so much of the field is that she is immensely hard to kill for most armies- she essentially has 8E character protection, being untargetable as long as anything else is closer, and for anyone who remembers just how frustrating that was… yeah, it still is. She will very often just stand out in the open somewhere, sitting on an objective, and be completely immune to firepower while still throwing back a decent number of shots herself- she may not have quite the hitting power of a standard Commander, but she absolutely is no slouch and her wide array of guns mean she is suited to engage a lot of different types of targets, including ones that some Tau armies may not have great tools against.

Although it’s easy to forget, she is also a Supreme Commander, which is a bit of a thing all in itself. The keyword means she is qualified to be in a Supreme Command detachment, essentially allowing her to bring her as a bonus Commander in addition to whatever other detachment you might be taking- no small deal when Commanders are so useful in Tau armies. And although she is required to be your warlord, with either one or three redeploys (depending on if you chose Kauyon or not) is not a small thing to have access to and can catch a lot of opponents off guard- deploying a Crisis bomb or Stormsurge aggressively and then moving it somewhere else can still really change the pace of a game, to say nothing of even more tricksy shenanigans.

Final Thoughts

Although Shadowsun isn’t an absolutely mandatory inclusion in a Tau sept army, she is one of the strongest reasons to choose that sept, so really you’re rather hard-pressed not to include her as the game stands now. For a mere 150pts she brings nine wounds to the table along with five guns, three layers of fantastic defense, and two separate reroll abilities that are both fantastic on their own. The sheer value you get out of the Shadowsun package is amazing, and it’s pretty clear that GW decided to push her a bit to go with her new model, as she had been rather lackluster for a long time.

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.

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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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