Virtual Toy Chest's
Warhammer 40K
Tau Archive


Army Overview
The Tau specialize in ranged combat. Their basic troops are moderately priced and have long range, high strength weapons. These are supported by powerful tanks and elite mechs. Their weaknesses include their lack of assault units, and their low leadership.

Many people have been lamenting the fate of the Tau in 5th edition. It is true that it is harder to hide Crisis Suits, and enemy troops will reach your lines more quickly. However, it is also harder for enemy troops to hide. Also, do not forget that Fire Warriors are some of the best troops in the game.

Tau Force Overview

HQ
Every Tau force must be led by a Shas'O or Shas'El.
Shas'O
The Shas'O is the elite commander of a Tau force. Most people prefer the Shas'El, as he is a better value for the points. However, the Shas'O has higher leadership which can come in handy when you are in a tight spot.

Shas'El
Most people outfit the Shas'El with a Missile Pod and Plasma Rifle. The reason for this is that these are the longest range weapons that are available. The Missile Pod can potentially hurt vehicles, and the Plasma Rifle is a real threat to Terminators. For mass killing power consider the Airbursting Fragmentation Projector or Cyclic Ion Cannon. However, these are medium range weapons, putting your commander at substantial risk. In general you want to keep him as far awar from the enemy as possible, as he does not do well in hand to hand combat. It is not worth giving him short range weapons like Flamers and Fusion guns unless you want to send him on a suicide mission to kill tanks. One of the more useful non-weapon upgrades is the Positional Relay. It allows you to bring in one unit from reserve on a 2+. This has two advantages. First, you have a good chance of getting the unit you want. Second, you can delay the arrival of most of your force until late in the game. This allows you to bring in loads of unscathed Fire Warriors or Kroot on turn 5. In general your opponent will not be able to kill them all. A second useful non-weapon upgrade is a drone controller. Gun Drones are great ablative wounds. They can save your commander from being instakilled by a lascannon shot.

O'Shovah Commander Farsight
Commander Farsight is expensive. His main attraction is that he lets you field a large unit of bodyguards. This uber unit can be very hard to kill and can deal out tons of damage. However, it can cost upwards of 750 points. Such a unit fits well into armies that are trying to deny your opponent kill points. They also do not have the problem that most large units have, namely that they can only fire at one target. Farsight also supplies bonding knives, and helps troops in combat against orks. He is a better than average close combat fighter, but lacks an invulnerable save.

O'Shaserra Commander Shadowsun
Commander Shadowsun is expensive. However, she can blast tanks to bits with her Fusion guns. She also has leadership abilties and an invulnerable save. Her ability to confer leadership on nearby troops is very useful. However, in that capacity, she usually does not get to shoot anything with her guns.

Ethereal
Few people will suggest taking an Ethereal. His upsides are that he can take a squad of super Fire Warriors, he has super leadership and helps units pass leadership tests, and if he is killed your troops get bloodthirsty. One of the weaknesses of Tau is that their troops are not sturdy and this makes it difficult to hold objectives. An Ethereal makes a unit of Fire Warriors that he joins Fearless, which really helps in this regard.

Aun'Va
Aun'Va is the uber Ethereal. He and his bodyguard are also super expensive. He makes Tau troops stubborn and if he is killed the troops become much better in hand to hand combat (although they are still only mediocre by the standard of most other armies)

XV8 Bodyguard
The Bodyguard are very much like regular Crisis Suits with slightly better hand to hand statistics. They will still get murdered in close combat, so you may as well just use regular Crisis Suits.



Elites
XV8 Crisis Team
Most people outfit Crisis Suits with Missle Pods. They can be twin linked, or another weapon such as a Plasma Rifle can be chosen. A weapon combination that is growing in popularity is twin linked flamers. Point for point they are one of the most cost effective means of killing troops. However, they must be used at close range. This can be a problem, as Crisis Suits are, at best, average close combat troops. A third option is to give the suits twin linked Fusion Blasters and send them on suicide missions killing tanks. At first this may not sound ideal, but XV8's are one of the few units in the Tau army that can harm vehicles. (The other popular ones are XV88s and Hammerheads. Other options are Piranhas and Firewarriors with EMP grenades.)

Stealth Team
The Stealth Team puts out alot of firepower. In fact they are basically on par with Fire Warriors, except that they do not have the range. To make up for this, they are very mobile and harder to spot. However, they are expensive so you can't field too many of them. I do not recommend upgrading a unit with a Fusion Blaster, as one such gun is just not that useful. It dilutes the effectiveness of the unit, and makes it close with the enemy which is a very bad thing. I have found that the real reason to take Stealth Suits is that they can Deep Strike. This allows you to surprise your opponent by suddenly putting tons of firepower in a concentrated location.



Troops
Fire Warriors
These are some of the best troops in the game. Take plenty of squads of them. I like to field squads of 12 with a Shas'ui. The latter boosts their leadership. I usually give them pulse rifles and sit them back and shoot. Otherwise I mount them in a Devilfish, bring them into rapid fire range, jump out, and shoot. This is known as the fish of fury. Some people like to take squads of 12 with 2 gun drones and give them pulse carbines. The reason to take the carbines is that they can cause pinning and are assault weapons. If you fail to pin the enemy (remember to use markerlights to lower the enemy's leadership), then you can assault them. The size of their squad makes them somewhat effective as close combat troops.

Kroot
Kroot can deal out a lot of hand to hand pain. However, they are also liable to be cut to shreds with their low toughness and lack of armor. To help win combat resolution max out on Kroot Hounds, as they will strike before most other troops. Also don't forget that Kroot can also shoot. In fact, they are deadlier than Fire Warriors in this regard! In certain circumstances, such as when they disembark from a Devilfish, shooting is just the thing do to with them. I have found Kroot to be most effective when they are infiltrated and placed in terrain away from the center of the board. They remain in position, harassing enemy units with gunfire. I like to take squads of 12 to 16.



Fast Attack
Gun Drones
Like Fire Warriors Gun Dones can put out a whole lot of firepower. They are also very mobile. Markerlights make them very deadly indeed, as they have twin linked weapons. Although they are poor fighters, they can be used to assault small crippled units, as they have high initiative. Their high strength guns stand a good chance of glancing the rear armor of lightly armored vehicles. I view them as filling a role simiar to Stealth Suits.

Pathfinder Team
Pathfinder Teams play an important role in the Tau Army. They can reduce cover saves and increase the ballistic skill of Tau troops. Most armies field at least one unit of 8. The marker lights are more useful than the rifles, so most people do not upgrade any warriors with them. Their Devilfish transport allows any Tau unit that Deep Strikes in line of sight to re-roll the scatter die. This makes Deep Striking much less risky.

Piranha Team
Piranha look great. They are fast moving, and can pack a punch, but are liable to get shot up. Watch out for Heavy Bolters, Autocannons, and Scatter Lasers. In large numbers Piranha may be able to overwhelm the enemy's anti-armor weapons.

Vespid Stingwings
Vespid Stingwings specialize in killing armored troops. They are also fast moving and tough. Unfortunately, their weapons are short ranged and their low strength is a problem in hand to hand combat. I have found them to be most effective when fielded in squads of 10. This way they can expect to kill about 4 space marines in the shooting phase. If the enemy squad is reduced to 3 or fewer models, then the Vespids can assault and try to finish them off.



Heavy Support
XV88 Broadside Team
Few units in the Tau army can hurt vehicles. Broadsides are one of them, and are a good points value. Their only downside is that they are vulnerable to being instakilled by lascannons and other large guns.

Sniper Drone Team
On the surface Sniper Drones look good. They have a markerlight, and powerful rifles that can cause panic in troops. However, most units have high leadership or are immune to panic. The drones are also fairly static, as they cannot move and shoot. Another downside is that they must retain unit coherency. Lastly, there are only four members in the squad, and they will take a moral test if they take a single casualty. Their big upside is that they have stealth fields, which makes it difficult for most things to spot them. They are also an inexpensive unit, so if your opponent sends a large squad after them, he is wasting his points.

Hammerhead
The Hammerhead can take out heavy tanks and masses of troops with ease. However, it still only has one shot from its big gun per turn. For this reason many people prefer XV88s. The main advantages of the Hammerhead are the protection that its armor provides, and its blast round that can kill lots of troops.

SkyRay
The SkyRay is a great tank. It is highly mobile and has several markerlights. Being defensive weapons, the SkyRay can move its full distance and still fire the markerlights. This mobility helps keep the SkyRay from being assaulted, and puts it in position to target the side armor of other vehicles. It is one of the only Tau units that can be upgraded to BS4 and take markerlights, making it one of the most reliable markerlight platforms.

The SkyRay's primary weapon system is its Seeker Missiles, which are triggered by markerlights and thus can be fired regardless of its speed. These do not have the punch of the Hammerhead's Railgun, but are still a threat to most armored vehicles. One advantage they have over the Railgun is that several missiles can potentially be fired each turn. Thus, with the support of other markerlights you could alpha strike and fire all six missiles and upto six different targets.



Sample 1500 point Army Lists


This list surprises the enemy with the equivalent of 7 troop choices. It is weak in hand to hand combat, but boasts tons of firepower. Also, the Skyray and Devilfish are the only options to take out other tanks. With the large number of troops it is vulnerable to blast weapons.


This list has loads of troops. Further the Kroot are not deployed at the start of the game, so they are not succeptible to being shot up on the first turn. This leaves your opponent with very little time to deal with their large numbers later in the game.






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