9th Edition Faction Focus: T’au Empire

9th edition is out in the wild, and with it a whole raft of changes to the factions of Warhammer 40,000. Today we are finishing off the series we started a few weeks ago by looking at the T’au Empire and how they fare in 9th edition.

A special thanks to theArtofWar40k’s Richard Siegler for helping write this Faction Focus.

8th Edition was up and down for the T’au empire, but it was more a question of how good they were rather than them ever being weak. They had a bit of a lull early on when they ping-ponging from Commander spam lists in Indexhammer to the being stuck on the dreaded TRIPTIDE (Triple Riptides) lists out of their codex, but some aggressive point changes in CA2018 lead to 2019 being a great year for them with several valid builds. After a brief dip in play during Marine winter, they’d started on a major resurgence following the release of Psychic Awakening: The Greater Good, but this was cut brutally short by the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to competitive play.

With 9th edition, it’s an entirely new game and many of the game’s core systems and rules have changed, some in ways that are beneficial to Tau, others not. In our faction focus today, we’re diving into these changes, how they affect T’au, and what T’au lists look like moving forward.

The Rules

9th Edition introduced a number of new rules that significantly changed the game for T’au. Let’s talk about some of the most important ones and what they mean for the army:

  • Changes to Overwatch. Overwatch is now a Stratagem, which normally would mean it can only be used once per phase. The good news for T’au is that they got a major update to the For the Greater Good rule in an FAQ shortly after 9th released. All T’au units with this ability can fire Overwatch when charged for free, and it mostly keeps its previous effect as well, with the only mild downgrade is that for you to fire overwatch when one of your nearby friendly units is charged, the charge target has to have the ability as well (so you can’t use this if your opponent charges a Kroot screen).
  • Changes to Melee Combat. A number of big changes have been made to melee combat that T’au players should be aware of. Generally speaking, it’s now much harder to charge multiple units, since the rules require that a charging unit reach every unit it declares a charge against, though piling in to those units is still very possible (and not something your opponents are likely to fear). Additionally, trapping units in combat is much more difficult, thanks to the Desperate Breakout Stratagem, which will let a unit fall back even if it has to move through enemy units.
  • Big Guns Never Tire. The rules for heavy weapons and Vehicle/Monster shooting have changed substantially. For one, the -1 to hit after moving modifier now only applies to INFANTRY, which means that non-INFANTRY BATTLESUIT units like Broadsides and Riptides are no longer affected by the rule, making them much more mobile, and Vehicles like the Hammerhead get the same boost. In addition, Vehicles and Monsters can now shoot in combat, though they can only target units they’re locked in combat with and they take a -1 penalty to hit when shooting with Heavy weapons. This makes Riptides much more dangerous when stuck in combat, since they can now just shoot their way out. That’s good because…
  • Units with Fly can’t shoot after falling back. This one really hurts – if your Crisis Suits or commanders get tagged in melee combat, you’re going to lose a full turn of shooting with them. Same for your Riptide, unless you choose to shoot the unit you’re trapped in combat with. This means that avoiding melee combat is priority #1 for your Battlesuits. Though you do have one trick to escape trouble…
  • Changes to Movement. Fall Back moves are now a real movement mode for units that start the Movement phase within Engagement range of an enemy unit, meaning that a Commander that falls back can now activate Mont’ka to allow units within 6″ to shoot as if they had not moved, allowing Commanders and nearby units to, once per game (or twice with the help of Commander Farsight), fall back and shoot. This can get you out of some real nasty spots, though it may be unintentional – it certainly works with Rules as Written, but it might be removed via a future FAQ.
  • Changes to Coherency. Units are now required to keep two models within 2″ if they are 6 or more models, meaning that long strings of drones to protect units are a thing of the past.
  • Caps on Modifiers. Something that benefits T’au significantly is a cap on modifiers to Hit and Wound, which now means that a hit roll can’t be modified by more than +/-1. This is mostly good news for the T’au, who previously might have struggled to get past some of the more heinous hit modifier stacks that Eldar and Alpha Legion armies could set up. It does hurt some options though – no more stacking multiple positive modifiers on drones and riptides.
a shameful Tau

Tau Commander, tank-ish. Credit: Greg Chiasson

The FAQs

Most of the T’au changes introduced in the FAQs aside from the adjustment to For the Greater Good that we mentioned above involved Tidewall fortifications, though there were a few notable exceptions:

  • The Target Lock support system is now “Advance and fire Assault weapons without a -1 penalty to hit, and Advance and fire heavy/rapid fire weapons with a -1 penalty to hit.” This is better than it would have been, because the old version wouldn’t have done anything for Heavy weapons in 9th, and it doesn’t change for the other gun types.
  • The Ghostkeel’s stacking -1s to hit were confirmed not to do anything special, other than be able to balance out a +1 to still be a -1.
  • For The Greater Good was codified in the FAQs as It’s Free Overwatch, which is a big help to the army that lets them continue to punish the absolute crap out of charging units.
  • Saviour Protocols remained unchanged, which made a lot of people (who can die mad about it) angry, but the changes to Shield Drones’ costs mitigate this a lot.
  • Several changes changed language on rules and weapons to bring them in line with 9th edition terminology, changing 1″ ranges to Engagement Range and targeting characters to ignoring Look Out Sir. The latter has a minor impact with regard to ignoring other rules that prevent character targeting like Conceal or Cloud of Flies.

The Units

9th edition introduced new points values for almost every unit in the game, increasing the points costs of most units and T’au were no exception. Overall, Tau got hit worse than some armies, and players are going to have to change things a bit, but still have tools to work with after the increases. In addition, the rules changes have an impact on quite a few units.

HQ

Pretty much all variants of commanders went up a bit more than the average, 13 on Crisis Suit Commanders, 14 on Enforcers and a mighty 20 on Coldstars. The better news is that the weapon and equipment options are all essentailly unchanged. Commanders remain exceptionally good, and your main challenge with them now is getting as many as you might want into your lists, since they’re still limited to one per detachment. Expect to see plenty of Farsight patrols out and about so that people can bring the commanders they want. It’s worth saying that while Coldstars caught a hit, their absurd mobility is better than ever on 9th’s smaller boards – there’s genuinely nowhere safe from them, and clutch plays to steal objectives at critical moments are a vital game winning tactic.

Over on the two named commanders, Farsight himself also gets a 20pt increase but has the draw of being pretty decent in 9th. With the focus on mobility, being able to Mont’ka twice is strong, and having a few units that aren’t totally horrible in combat is useful. He further amps up a unit of Crisis bodyguards if you’re going in on that plan too. Shadowsun, conversely, is probably a bit less useful than she was – she’s a force multiplier and you’re going to have less stuff to amp up with her, though her old one-two punch of Mont’ka turn 1 to move the castle up and Kau’yon turn 2 to do damage is strong. Both named Commanders do have the drawback of eating up one of your now-precious Commander slots without mounting the kind of punishment a properly tooled up vanilla one can muster, and it may prove that neither is enough of a draw to make it into lists.

All the various cheapo foot characters don’t get too much in the way of point increases, but do get a lot weaker overall. One of the reasons they were a massive asset to the Tau in 8th was that they made filling cheap battalions each, but they’re now competing for slots with damage dealing characters and will make the cut in far fewer numbers. The Fireblade and Darkstrider suffer particularly badly, as you’re going to have way fewer Fire Warriors around (though a few highly accurate markerlights to set up stratagems remains good). Ethereals are likely to be the filler character of choice though, especially as you can have one pull double duty with the Wisdom of the Many strat, also helping make up for a likely reduction in markerlight coverage.

Finally, a slightly surprising entry – Longstrike gets a fair bit better in 9th. The new terrain rules make them easier to protect against some armies, and against others you can put them in Tactical Reserves. In addition, now that they don’t take any penalties from moving and shooting, they’ll be hitting on 2s on the move even against stuff with hit modifiers thanks to their built in +1. They also provide a hefty hull to screen other CHARACTERs with. They’re still a bit brittle for their cost, but now you can’t as easily spam shield drones, more competitive with Riptides.

Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Troops

All Tau Troop models went up by 2pts (a particular sting on Kroot) and in general you’re going to see fewer of them. We’d expect most armies to be aiming at a Battalion and then one or two patrols to squeeze more commander slots in, and within that you likely run the minimum amount of Troops possible unless you want to fill a Devilfish with a full squad. From the options you have, Breachers are almost certainly the best, given 9th favouring close engagements and the extra resilience the Guardian drone brings, with one or two units of Kroot also being potentially worth a look just because of how good being able to stuff some obsec units into terrain mid-board early on is proving – that pre-game move is going to do some real work for you in missions with close-but-out-of-deployment zone objectives. They are exceedingly squishy, but even at the new price aren’t going to be a huge chunk of your army and really only need to hold you an objective for one turn to be worth it.

Elites

Riptides saw an significant points hike on its base model cost – going up 60 points – but this was offset by decreases to the Heavy Burst Cannon and Ion Accelerator which make its overall increase a more on-rate 25 point increase. That’s not too bad, but it still hurts if you’re trying to fit three into an army, especially as the shield drones that love to swarm around them come at a far higher price as well. A good solution to this is potentially to drop down to two, and equip one with the Amplified Ion Accelerator. Because that doesn’t need you to nova charge your guns to do its thing, and you can Branched Nova Charge the other one, you can bring enough drones to get them through turn one then have both bouncing around on a 3++ for ever after. Once you’re doing that, they’re still really, really good, and their weaponry’s ability to waste elite infantry matches up well against the early metagame.

XV25 Stealth Battlesuit teams take a hit (+4 ppm, to 18, 26 with guns) as scout deploy seems to come at a cost premium across the range. On good tables these do have the potential to provide quite a lot of value, as they’re non-trivial to prise out of any sort of cover, and they’re notable winners from heavy cover now working properly, as they’ll actually stand up to Infiltrators coming to try punch them out of it. They’re more on the “nice to have” end of things than a vital part of the army, but worth considering if you have 80pts left at the end of a list.

Similar to Commanders, while Crisis suits went up 6 points per model for both the standard and bodyguard variants, but with little movement on their weapons, that gives them an increase that’s largely on-rate for 9th edition and keeps them reasonably costed. Farsight Crisis Bodyguard teams, which had picked up steam at the end of 8th, definitely remain one of the viable ways to play Tau, and if anything you’re more motivated to try them now. They’re mobile threats build for close engagement, they can shoot through terrain with frag projectors, and once you buff a larger unit up with Veteran Cadre they can actually muscle weaker stuff off objectives in the fight phase, one of the very few Tau units capable of even that. Given these models aren’t cheap once you’ve factored in the weapon costs, the extra points for a bit more melee punch and the ability to still protect Commanders when the model count drops (via their bodyguard rule) will be worth the point premium over basic Crisis teams most of the time.

Elsewhere in Elites, Ghostkeels take a frustratingly big hit, having been very nearly there prior to the edition shift. They take a point increase that nets out to 28pts once you factor in their drones, and for a unit that traded off being cheap and cheerful and also getting -2 to hit while the drones were up, that’s rough. Scout deploying something that needs real firepower to kill is great in 9th so these can’t be totally ruled out, but our guess is the increase proves just a bit too steep for them to get there – a real shame.
TheChirurgeon: Alternate take – The ability to deploy these onto a midfield objective may make up for the points increase to the point that taking one is viable, as we’ll potentially see in the lists section.

The last battlesuit entrant here is the Forge World Hazard team, who get a pretty generous point change (only 6pts each) and thus come out looking fine. They were never earth-shatteringly great, but they were never bad either, and the main thing that’ll likely hold them back from popping up in Farsight armies is that they can’t benefit from all the juicy Crisis-specific strats.

The rest of this slot comprises the Firesight Marksman, Dahyak Grekh and a bunch of irrelevant Kroot stuff. Both the relevant options here get way worse – Dahyak gets absolutely bodied on points while the Firesight’s various gimmicks of filling out a vanguard and chilling out alone at the back of armies both get vastly worse this edition. You’ll see both of these a lot less, and the rest of the Kroot stuff stays bad.

 

Tau Piranha

Tau Piranha. Credit: Jack Hunter

Fast Attack

The big hits to T’au in the 9th edition points update are shield drones: Shield Drones saw an increase of 50% to 15pts each, which significantly hurts if hiding behind them was your only plan. This is one of the most impactful single-unit changes across the entire range, as despite a wide variety of experimental builds being tried, 8th Edition Tau lists converged back to 30+ shield drones again and again, because Riptides or Broadsides backed up by these was just the ultimate trump card in any shooting match not involving pre-nerf Iron Hands. With the changes here you just can’t do that any more – keeping shields up all game isn’t possible. Instead, if you do want to run Shield Drones we suggest combining them in mixed squads with Marker Drones, who stayed cheap, and focus on the value this gives you for the first few turns rather than the being an all-game resource.

Gun drones stay at 10, which is honestly a real surprise given literally nothing else in their weight class gets through with no increase. This is a big benefit to T’au vehicles that come loaded with a pair, and does make larger squads something plausibly worth considering in a few lists.

Of note are the the TX4 Piranhas, which went up 11 points per model, and the Tetra Scout Speeder from Forge World, which went up 10 points per model. These are a bit steep, but neither increase is enough to deter the clear benefits of each in 9th edition. Piranhas give you multiple fast, cheap, durable models for blocking enemy movement and moving out to capture objectives while Tetras have a similar advantage but with the ability to deep strike and a heavy markerlight that no longer suffers a penalty to hit from moving.

Richard: Piranhas also release two drones when to they die so they offer further play on the mission while also, once again, doubling down on forcing the opponent to split fire inefficiently. Tetras are also fast and cheap as screens meant to fly behind midfield terrain turn one and then start harassing the opponent’s units on objectives and their key shooting elements to prevent them from shooting your key units.  They also provide high intensity markerlights so you can avoid spending most of your cp buffing the hit rolls of crisis suits. In short, they are very fast, reasonably cheap and are meant to move block objectives and tag your opponents critical shooting units each turn.

Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention the Y’vahra, one-time contestant for most hated unit in the game. This has languished for a while thanks to its cost being very high relative to the Riptide, and while that’s true the gap has narrowed, as it stayed the same price. Its particular brand of nonsense is substantially better in 9th, as it’s tough to kill in melee and can now brutally punish anything that tries and fails by flaming them in the face. it’s still hugely expensive, and some armies can just punt it, but with the shorter games and improved performance in the edition, it’s probably more worth a look than it has been for a while.

Heavy Support

The TX7 Hammerhead Gunship saw only a 25-point increase, a little high but still fairly on-rate. The same issues plague them as before, though they’re a little more accurate in 9th edition thanks to Big Guns Never Tire. However, you’re unlikely to want lots of them at their new cost, and if you only want one you’re probably looking at taking Longstrike.

Broadsides kind of win some and lose some. They get a small-ish point change and can now move/shoot without penalty, but they very much encourage a more static style of play that 9th doesn’t favour, and might struggle with sightlines around Obscuring terrain. Still worth your consideration, but probably not as great as they were at their peak.

The rest of the stuff in this slot doesn’t change much in relevance, with the exception of Sniper Drones get notably worse thanks to not being able to stack positive hit/wound modifiers.

Flyer

A surprising hit to the Sun Shark, which had started seeing fringe play at the end of the edition, going up 30pts. The Razorshark does a lot better, only going up ten because its main gun gets folded in, so stays reasonable and paradoxically if you want something to proc the Farsight bombing strat, the Razorshark is probably it.

Your other option for that remains the Remora, which goes up by a pretty small amount. We guess they aren’t totally horrible for a mix of that and a cheap way to secure Engage on All Fronts if that’s your jam.

Finally, the big Forge World fliers, the two Tiger Shark variants. Neither was great before, and neither got any sort of massive discount in their favour to make them good now. Moving on.

Dedicated Transport

The TY7 Devilfish saw an abnormally light touch in the points update, only gaining five points. That’s great news given that transports are due for a resurgence in 9th edition thanks to the emphasis on controlling the middle of the table. At 103 points with a pair of gun drones, Devilfish aren’t abnormally cheap or durable, but they’re fast and give you a strong option on taking and holding an objective thanks to disgorging both the the troops inside and some drones when they die. Expect to see a lot of lists running exactly one to help with securing the primary early on, and maybe some infantry heavy lists trying more.

Lord of War

For reasons that are a bit of a mystery, the Stormsurge was utterly spiked into the dumpster in the points hike, going up by nearly 100 points after you factor in the discount on its guns. Even at its arguably pushed cost post Chapter Approved 2019 it never saw much play so this isn’t the biggest loss but it’s still sad to see, especially given it’s Power Rating just dropped low enough to make it more affordable to place in Strategic Reserves.

After a brief dalliance with a return to its original, lowered points cost, the Ta’unar‘s base cost was increased again to 1,040 points (up from 750). While always more of a hilarious resin bogeyman than a legitimate threat, the Ta’unar remains the only unit in the T’au army that can reliably shoot every turn of the game thanks to the ability to walk out of combat. The best thing that can be said about the Ta’unar’s short time at the 750-point mark was that it was undercosted (or appropriately costed, depending on whether you are talking to someone who owns one) just long enough for Richard Siegler to demolish Nick Nanavati’s Harlequins with it on stream. At 1,040 points it’s more reasonably costed, but given its size and vulnerability and the fact that it only activatees once per Shooting phase it’s likely too expensive to build around and our incredibly silly nightmare of rampant 2-4 double-Ta’unar lists is now over.

Credit: Ethan “Firehead” Case

How They Play

Richard: In 9th edition T’au have switched from a durable, late-game oriented army that focused on whittling down your opponent’s resources and coming back to win the mission to being a cheap, fast, MSU-heavy army that throws many different units at the opponent in order to score points, move block objectives, and tag your opponent’s shooting. In 8th edition the army relied on being able to shoot every turn and in 9th edition that may not always be the case now that units with FLY cannot Fall Back and shoot in the same turn – this is the biggest change (and challenge) to T’au armies in 9th.

Primary Objectives

With 9th edition’s top-of-turn scoring and a lack of kill/kill more objectives, the emphasis in games has shifted from being able to deliver devastating alpha strikes and ongoing damage to controlling the board, particularly the middle of the table, and holding objectives. Armies need to be aggressive about pushing out and while T’au gunlines and castles were never particularly a powerful way to play the army in 8th, they’re even less viable in 9th, where T’au players will have to rely on the army’s mobility to capture objectives and block enemy movement. Instead of relying on savior protocols, the 9th edition T’au army relies on cheap throw away units that are fast enough to close the gap.

If the lack of Fall Back and shoot for units with FLY is the biggest problem for T’au in 9th edition, the 5-turn game and new progressive scoring are the second and third biggest. 5 turns gives slower armies less time to work with to capture objectives and make up points discrepancies, and combined with top-of-turn scoring puts the emphasis on units that can “flip” objectives – clearing and capturing them in the same turn. That typically means melee units, which the T’au simply do not have outside of Commander Farsight. You’ll have to plan ahead to block enemy movement to ensure that you’re able to hold the objectives you clear.

Secondary Objectives

Many of the Secondary Objectives in 9th work well for T’au, and so you have plenty of viable choices. Generally speaking, you want to choose Secondary Objectives that align with your game plan and are possible to max, while avoiding those that your opponent can interfere with.

While We Stand, We Fight is particularly good for Farsight Enclaves lists with lots of Commanders where character protection will naturally make killing all three a nightmare for the opponent. The army’s natural mobility works very well with both Engage on All Fronts and Linebreaker, where you’ll frequently want to move around the table and be in position to score them anyways. Most of the kill secondaries and mission secondaries are decent for T’au, where you have enough ranged stopping power to take out the targets relevant to them in your opponent’s army to score kill secondaries and the mission secondaries tend to reward mobility and the ability to complete actions.

In the Shadow Operations category, Raise the Banners High can be a decent alternative if you are running a good number of breachers, where losing a squad’s shooting for a turn to put a banner on an objective is a fine trade-off.

Because you’ll never have psykers, Abhor the Witch will always be a good option against Grey Knights, Thousand Sons, and Daemons with lots of psykers.

 

Example Lists

Now that we’ve gone through the units and theory, let’s look at some sample lists that put this into practice. Things have changed a lot since 8th edition and it’s likely that the triple Riptide build is dead barring major changes.

Richard: The Riptide build relied on 40-50 drones and after the new points update now you have 20-30. Even with 40-50 shield drones on the table you lost them all by turn 3 in most competitive matches. I just don’t think these lists work now because the way to keep them alive is moving from behind terrain to shoot, then using Nova boost to move back into the ruin in the charge phase. But that means you aren’t on the objectives with 1,000 points of your list, and that’s not something you can afford to do in 9th edition.

Richard Siegler’s Sample Lists

We hope you like Farsight Enclaves because they are going to be showing up a lot in these lists, and for good reason – the ability to take additional Commanders is very strong, and the ability to use Mont’ka to Fall Back and shoot is stupid good, particularly if you can do it twice per game with Farsight. Even if you aren’t, the Farsight Enclaves’ Sept Tenet and the ability to take two Commanders per Detachment gives you access to powerful units that are difficult for opponents to remove. (Note: Richard believes that Mont’ka allowing Tau units to ignore their fall back move that turn is not intended and has sought clarification from the playtesting and rules teams.  Regardless, he believes Farsight Enclaves and its uniquely aggressively playstyle is best suited for the 9th edition GT missions among the T’au Septs).

Farsight Enclaves Battalion Detachment (T’au Empire) [83 PL, -5 CP, 1,380pts]
Emergency Dispensation (2 Relics) [-3CP]
Veteran Cadre (4+ models) [-2CP]

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 169pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Airbursting fragmentation projector, Supernova launcher (replaces 1 airbursting fragmentation projector) . 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator
HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 190pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Advanced targeting system, 3x Missile pod, Warlord . 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator

Troops: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone . 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster . MV4 Shield Drone
Troops: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone . 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster . MV4 Shield Drone
Troops: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone . 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster . MV4 Shield Drone

EL: XV8 Crisis Bodyguards [13 PL, 162pts]

  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector

EL: XV8 Crisis Bodyguards [25 PL, 357pts]: Reactive countermeasures, Veteran Cadre

  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Cyclic ion blaster
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Cyclic ion blaster
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Cyclic ion blaster
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector, XV8-02 Crisis Iridium battlesuit
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, Cyclic ion blaster, Fusion blaster

FA: TX4 Piranhas [4 PL, 63pts] . TX4 Piranha: 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Burst cannon

FA: TX4 Piranhas [4 PL, 63pts] . TX4 Piranha: 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Burst cannon
FA: TX4 Piranhas [4 PL, 63pts] . TX4 Piranha: 2x MV1 Gun Drone, Burst cannon

DT: TY7 Devilfish [6 PL, 103pts]: Burst cannon . 2x MV1 Gun Drone

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment  -2 CP (T’au Empire) [28 PL, -2CP, 619pts] 

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 179pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Cyclic ion blaster, Talisman of Arthas Moloch. 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator
HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 190pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Missile pod . 2x MV4 Shield Drone: 2x Shield generator

HQ: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone . 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster . MV4 Shield Drone
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team [4 PL, 90pts] . 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team [4 PL, 90pts] . 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle

++ Total: [111 PL, 5CP, 1,999pts] ++

This Farsight Enclaves list runs four Commanders with two Crisis Suit teams – one minimum-sized, plus a larger unit of Veterans – plus a bunch of MSU Breacher Teams and a fleet of Piranhas and Tetras. It combines fast movement with lots of cheap units to move aggressively early in the game.

The Five-Commander Version

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment 0 CP (T’au Empire) [21 PL, 12CP, 409pts]

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 159pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Airbursting fragmentation projector, Supernova launcher (replaces 1 airbursting fragmentation projector), 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 180pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Advanced targeting system, 3x Missile pod, Warlord, 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

Troops: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone

  • 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster
  • Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster
  • MV4 Shield Drone

Farsight Enclaves Outrider Detachment -3CP (T’au Empire) [64 PL, -3CP, 1,180pts]

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [7 PL, 149pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Cyclic ion blaster
HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 180pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Missile pod, 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team [4 PL, 90pts] – 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team [4 PL, 90pts] – 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team [4 PL, 90pts] – 2x Tetra Scout Speeder: 2x High intensity markerlight, 4x Pulse rifle
FA: TX4 Piranhas x3 [12 PL, 203pts] – 2x Gun Drone, Fusion Blaster, 1x Gun Drone, Burst Cannon
FA: TX4 Piranhas x3 [12 PL, 203pts] – 3x Gun Drone, Burst Cannon
FA: TX4 Piranhas x3 [12 PL, 203pts] – 3x Gun Drone, Burst Cannon

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment 0CP (T’au Empire) [411 pts]
Emergency Dispensation (1 Relics) [-1 CP]

Veteran Cadre (3 models) [-1 CP]

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 169pts]: Advanced targeting system, 3x Cyclic ion blaster, 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

Troops: Breacher Team [3 PL, 70pts]: MV36 Guardian Drone

  • 4x Fire Warrior: 4x Photon grenades, 4x Pulse blaster
  • Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse blaster
  • MV4 Shield Drone

EL: XV8 Crisis Bodyguards [13 PL, 172pts]: Reactive countermeasures, Veteran Cadre

  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector, XV8-02 Crisis Iridium battlesuit
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector
  • Crisis Bodyguard: Advanced targeting system, 2x Airbursting fragmentation projector

++ Total: [109 PL, 5CP, 2,000pts] ++

This six-commander Farsight Enclaves variant takes advantage of the subfaction’s abiilty to run two Commanders per detachment to maximize value there while running MSUs everywhere else. Again the Piranhas and Tetras can be used to zoom around the board and capture objectives or score Engage on All Fronts, move block objectives with their relatively large hulls, and charge into your opponent’s key shooting elements.

Logan Antonation’s Farsight Enclaves

As Jon Kilcullen mentioned in his “Reports from the Front’ article last week, Logan did very well with Farsight Enclaves after much whining, taking this list to a 3-0 1st-place finish at the Sunday RTT Jon ran.

Farsight Enclaves Battalion Detachment (-3 CP)
Emergency Dispensation (1 Relic) [-1 CP] Veteran Cadre (4+ models) [-2CP]

HQ: Commander Farsight
HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit w/3x Fusion Blaster, Puretide Engram Neurochip, Shield Generator, Warlord: Exemplar of the Mont’ka

Troops: Breacher Team x5 w/Pulse Plaster, Guardian Drone, Marker Drone
Troops: Breacher Team x5 w/Pulse Plaster, Guardian Drone, Marker Drone
Troops: Breacher Team x5 w/Pulse Plaster, Guardian Drone, Marker Drone

Elites: Crisis Suits x9 w/Cross-Linked Stabiliser Jets, Veteran Cadre (-3 CP), 6 w/2x Cyclic Ion Blaster, 3 w/Cyclic Ion Blaster, Iridium Battlesuit, Shield Generator, 2x Shield Drones

Farsight Enclaves Outrider Detachment (-3 CP)

HQ: Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit w/Advanced Targeting System, 3x Cyclic Ion Blaster
HQ: Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit w/Advanced Targeting System, 3x Cyclic Ion Blaster

Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit w/Heavy Burst Cannon, Counterfire Defence System, Advanced Targeting System

FA: Tactical Drones – 4x Shield Drone
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team – 2x Scout speeders w/High Intensity Markerlight, Pulse Rifles
FA: Tetra Scout Speeder Team – 2x Scout speeders w/High Intensity Markerlight, Pulse Rifles

++[2,000 points]++

A lot of this list is similar to what we’ve seen but it trades out some Crisis suits for a Riptide. The Riptide can sit in the middle of the army and use its Counterfire Defence System to re-roll Overwatch and punish chargers who might otherwise be a big issue, as well as screen out characters. The Coldstar Commander does his usual thing, hiding until turns 4/5 and taking shots selectively until it’s time to come out and press the advantage. In addition to being a Mont’ka engine, Commander Farsight is great for running up and punishing injured tanks or small units off an objective and then taking it for himself.  The Tetra Scout Speeders are also very important here, using their 18″ movement to zip around the board, either capturing objectives late in the game or pushing out to score Engage on All Fronts early. Overall it’s another aggressive list that takes advantage of T’au mobility to deliver threats when and where they need to be.

Kroot Kill Team

Credit: That Gobbo

Brian Pullen’s Tau

Brian’s list also leans on Farsight Enclaves for the extra Commanders, but combines them with Strike Teams in Devilfish to give him additional mobility, durability, and board control instead of taking Tetras and Piranhas. The tradeoff is faster delivery of your ObSec units, and you’ll likely keep them in the transports as long as possible.

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment -2CP (T’au Empire) [21 PL, 450pts]

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 170pts]: 4x Fusion blaster . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 170pts]: 4x Fusion blaster . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
Troops: Strike Team [5 PL, 110pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle . 9x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol + Pulse Carbine: 9x Photon grenades, 9x Pulse carbine, 9x Pulse pistol . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment -2CP (T’au Empire) [27 PL, 572pts]

HQ: Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit [8 PL, 177pts]: 4x Cyclic ion blaster . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [8 PL, 182pts]: 4x Cyclic ion blaster . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

Troops: Strike Team [5 PL, 110pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle . 9x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol + Pulse Rifle: 9x Photon grenades, 9x Pulse pistol, 9x Pulse rifle . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
DT: TY7 Devilfish [6 PL, 103pts]: Burst cannon . 2x MV1 Gun Drone

Farsight Enclaves Patrol Detachment -2CP (T’au Empire) [65 PL, 978pts]

HQ: Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit [8 PL, 165pts]: 4x Missile pod . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine
HQ: Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit [8 PL, 165pts]: 4x Missile pod . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

Troops: Strike Team [5 PL, 110pts] . Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle . 9x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Pistol + Pulse Rifle: 9x Photon grenades, 9x Pulse pistol, 9x Pulse rifle . 2x MV1 Gun Drone: 4x Pulse carbine

EL: XV8 Crisis Battlesuits [26 PL, 300pts] . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Burst cannon . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Burst cannon . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Burst cannon . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Burst cannon . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Burst cannon . 3x MV1 Gun Drone: 6x Pulse carbine
EL: XV8 Crisis Battlesuits [12 PL, 135pts] . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Flamer . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Flamer . Crisis Shas’ui: 3x Flamer
DT: TY7 Devilfish [6 PL, 103pts]: Burst cannon . 2x MV1 Gun Drone

++ Total: [113 PL, 2,000pts] ++

Wings’ Token Non-Farsight Tau

By popular demand, we’re adding in a late entrant here – just one list that doesn’t go all in on Farsight Enclaves, using some of the elements that were popular towards the end of 8th and a few new things for 9th.

Custom Sept Battalion – Hardened Warheads/GIfted Pilots

Emergency dispensation -1CP

HQ: Coldstar, 4 missile pods, 2 marker drones, puretide engram chip – 190
HQ: Ethereal on Hover Drone, 1 shield drone, Warlord – through unity devastation – 75

Troop: Breachers x5, markerlight, guardian drone, marker drone – 70
Troop: Breachers x5, markerlight – 50
Troop: Breachers x5, markerlight, guardian drone, marker drone – 70

Elite: Riptide, amplified ion accelerator, 2 SMS, ATS, Velocity Tracker – 320
Elite: 
Riptide, heavy burst cannon, 2 SMS, ATS, Velocity Tracker – 305

Fast Attack: 4 Shield Drones, 6 Marker Drones – 120
Fast Attack: 4 Shield Drones, 6 Marker Drones – 120
Fast Attack: Piranha, 2 gun drones, 2 seeker missiles – 73

Dedicated Transport: Devilfish, 2 SMS, 2 seeker missiles – 123
Dedicated Transport: Devilfish, 2 SMS, 2 seeker missiles – 123

Custom Sept Patrol – Hardened Warheads/GIfted Pilots

HQ: Coldstar, 4 missile pods – 170

Troop: Breachers x5 – 45

Fast Attack: Piranha, 2 gun drones, 2 seeker missiles – 73
Fast Attack: Piranha, 2 gun drones, 2 seeker missiles – 73

2000pts, 9CP

Hardened Warheads is really, really good – so good in fact that experimentation tended to show you didn’t need to be going that hard on it for it to be quite valuable. In 8th it was often combined with Stabilisation Systems to let big suits move/shoot without penalty, but 9th means that’s no longer necessary, so we can squeeze a bit more value for the Riptides, Devilfish and Piranhas out with Gifted Pilots.

Our goal here is to have a list that can put up a pretty dangerous ranged alpha strike in matchups where it’s safe to set up for it, thanks to having 10 AP-3 Seeker missiles to shoot off on top of everything else, but also has a bunch of fairly sticky ways to put something onto an objective. Each Devilfish unit has two breacher squads in it, so the opponent has to go through the rigmarole of targeting enough shots at each one to clear the drones to strip their invulns, then wasting both squads. Meanwhile, the Piranhas can split up and will drop off drones when they die, providing a backup angle on the same thing. In some matchups, you can also chuck them into Tactical Reserves ready to appear wherever they’re needed with a bit of emergency firepower and objective grabbing ability. I’m not 100% certain about these thanks to Bring it Down, and could be persuaded to explore other options, but I think they do a reasonable amount for the list, and the army is well tuned to try and win a gunfight.

The Commanders are pretty self explanatory – missile coldstars are exceptionally powerful, flexible units and there are enough things in this list to screen them to keep them kicking around being a menace till the time is right to swoop in to do something dramatic. The Ethereal is here to hover around providing elemental invocations as needed – this list is light on markers, so you’ll want Storm of Fire a lot.

Finally, Riptides. As covered in Elites, I think two is probably the right number this days (“Diptides”? “Duptides?” “Riptwodes”? Our editorial team couldn’t agree), and you want to stick the Ion on one so that when you run out of drones they can both stomp round on a 3++ without impairing their output. Each has a smaller unit of drones to go with them, enough to shepherd them through most of a first turn onslaught till the shields come up. Once you’re past that, T7 2+ 3++ is a formidible defensive statline and the Riptides are as dangerous as ever.

It’s clear that Farsight is the big winner from 9th, but I think if you like a more traditional flavour of Tau there’s probably something that could be iterated to in this space, and I expect to see people trying it out.

Outlook: It’s An Uphill Battle

T’au came through the 9th edition transition a changed army. There’s still some things that work for the faction, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s more variety to explore in list building or if a very narrow set of dominant strategies will emerge as the meta develops. T’au have been a tough army to play well for some time and while they have the tools to compete in 9th edition, doing so will be difficult.

Richard: Overall T’au were already one of the most difficult armies to play in 8th edition as a precision movement army and now they are even more punishing. They might be bottom 5 armies in the hands of most players.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. And if you want to read more from Richard, check out theArtofWar40k.

 

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