Start Competing: T’au Empire Tactics


Are you the type of player that likes to sit back and wait for the enemy to come to you? Do you fantasize about watching your opponent throw wave after wave of their enemies into your gunline, only to fall dead at your feet as they try to charge your lines with primitive weapons? Do you enjoy out-ranging nearly every army in the game with your basic guns? Does the thought of getting into a fistfight make you physically ill? Then welcome to the T’au Empire, the perfect army for aspiring generals such as yourself!

8th edition Warhammer 40,000 has been a rocky time for T’au, full of various ups and downs as the army has vacillated between middling and incredibly strong. However with the recent nerfs to Imperial Knights back in April, the time for T’au has come again. They’ve won two major GT events this year, the NOVA Open and the SoCal Open, and they look to remain competitive even in a meta that has become dominated by Space Marine armies.

As with any strategy document, this article represents a specific time and place. This article was written following the release of the final Space Marine Codex Supplements and prior to the release of Psychic Awakening Book 2 and Chapter Approved 2019.

Tau Army
Tau Army. Credit: Jack Hunter

Table of Contents

Army Strengths

  • Shooting. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an army in Warhammer 40,000 more dedicated to shooting or better at it. T’au have a ton of great, long-range, high-yield weapons that can destroy anything trying to make its way across the table. Some recent additions from the Psychic Awakening really only doubled down on this.
  • Overwatch. Part and parcel to shooting, no one does Overwatch like the T’au. The For the Greater Good special rule can make charging Tau castles a nightmare, particularly when paired with the T’au Sept giving units the ability to hit in Overwatch on a 5+.
  • Drones. Everyone hates drones, and with good reason. Drones allow T’au to tank hits for key units, essentially giving a dozen ablative wounds to their best units. The new FAQ update in September made drones even better, allowing them to even absorb special effects from shooting they intercept and ignore “bonus” wounds like those dealt by snipers.
  • Lots of Good Units. Although T’au tournament lists aren’t incredibly diverse, the T’au army has a lot of solid units that can make their way into competitive builds and multiple Sept options that are competitively viable.

Army Weaknesses

  • Melee Combat. T’au are not good at fighting in melee combat, and you want to avoid being stuck in melee combat if you can help it. Fortunately, you have lots of great shooting and For the Greater Good to prevent that from happening.
  • Reliance on Markerlights. T’au have some of the game’s best guns, but generally have mediocre Ballistic Skill, meaning that in order to get the most out of your amazing guns, you need to rely on Markerlights. This can mean that how well a turn or game goes for you can depend on your ability to hit with a few markerlights early on.
  • Mobility. Ironically, while T’au have the units to be one of the game’s most mobile armies, most everything about their play style and rules encourages castling up, forcing the opponent to come to you while being torn apart by withering hails of gunfire. Rules like For the Greater Good encourage keeping units close together while rules like Kauyon prohibit moving at all in favor of a huge boost to your damage output. The end result is an army that can be very mobile and able to move to capture objectives, but isn’t.
  • Psychic Powers. T’au have no psychic powers whatsoever, and while they make up for much of that deficiency with shooting, it means they have no way to deny incoming powers and are often at the mercy of psychic powers. In particular, T’au need to worry about the Smite power, which will bypass drones’ ability to intercept the incoming wounds, and completely eviscerate forward units like Crisis Suits.


Competitive Rating

Top-Tier / Very Strong

T’au have had access to a limited number of strong lists for a while, still putting up great results in the Marine metagame, and winning both NOVA and the SoCal open last year. Psychic Awakening has made them even better and added some variety, with the new tools from The Greater Good (TGG) unlocking some new builds. The army’s strongest units – Riptides and Broadsides- manage to sneak past many Marine abilities by being neither VEHICLES nor CHARACTERS, and having invulnerable saves good enough to prevent Combat Doctrines from being a massive problem, and just in general their defensive setup can make it very difficult for other shooting armies to win a straight gunfight against them. Even the perennial problem of Tau – that they could be just a bit boring to play with or against – has improved substantially thanks to the new tools. Overall, it’s a great time for the Greater Good.

Special Rules

Drones and Saviour Protocols

While drones don’t have the offensive firepower of a Riptide, they’re one of the most powerful things available to a T’au army for their defensive strength. When an Infantry or Battlesuit unit is shot, after a successful wound roll (but before the saving throw), a 2+ moves that entire shot over to the drone and converts it to a single mortal wound. This turns an entire lascannon shot (potentially 6 damage at high AP) into something that kills a much cheaper drone – unless it’s a shield drone with a 5++ feel no pain. Drones are physically small models that can be relatively easily hidden out of sight, making them extremely painful to get rid of – the anti-infantry fire that kills them doesn’t do much to a riptide. Drones have become increasingly valuable as the new marine codex has made targeting characters and taking down vehicles easier.

Saviour Protocols is conceptually pretty simple but the rules implementation is complex and one of the most repeatedly errated rules in the game. It’s always worth going and looking at the latest version of the Tau FAQ on the Warhammer Community FAQ page before heading to an event. We also had a look at the implications of the latest set of changes in our FAQ roundup.


Many units in the T’au army have access to the markerlight weapon. When a target is hit with a markerlight, it gains a counter that lasts for the remainder of the phase. Markerlights on a unit stack, and when other units in the T’au army fire at a unit with markerlights on it, they get bonuses based on the number of markerlight counters it has:

  1. TAU EMPIRE units shooting at this unit re-roll hit rolls of 1.
  2. Destroyer and Seeker missiles that target the unit roll to hit using the firing model’s Ballistic Skill instead of only hitting on a 6+.
  3. When TAU EMPIRE units shoot at this unit, it receives no bonus to its saving throws for being in cover.
  4. TAU EMPIRE units shooting at this unit ignore the penalties for moving and firing Heavy weapons, or for advancing and firing Assault weapons.
  5. TAU EMPIRE models shooting this unit get +1 to their To Hit rolls.

Given that many T’au units have BS4+ and (though tanks have BS3+ at their highest profiles), your army will live and die by its ability to put markerlights on key targets to ensure that your best shooting will get through. Because markerlights themselves have to be fired using the Ballistic Skill of a model, you’ll typically want to bring several very accurate characters who can easily put 1-2 markerlights on a target (Firesight Marksmen fir this bill perfectly), then use the Uplinked Markerlights stratagem to get you the rest of the way there. Having at least 1 markerlight is a big increase, but 5 is the sweet spot, and you will want to do whatever it takes to get 5 markerlights on a target that you’re planning to focus fire down.

For the Greater Good

When an enemy unit declares a charge, a unit with this ability that is within 6″ of any of the charging unit’s targets my fire overwatch as if they were also targeted. A unit that does so cannot fire overwatch again in this turn. This ability is found on nearly every T’au unit outside their vehicles, and is one of their key strengths. Used by a unit in the T’au Sept this is effectively a second shooting phase, almost assuredly targeting one of the enemy’s key units. Against a melee-heavy opponent care needs to be taken that Overwatching to hit the first charge doesn’t open up further free charges, but many times there will only be the single charging unit. Keep multiple units fairly close to each other to take maximal advantage of this and provide supporting fire to deter charges that might hit your most valuable units. Also, when firing FtGG, make sure to fire any markerlights you want to use first, as adding re-roll 1s makes the rest of your shooting better.

Wings Note: If you happen to be reading this article to learn how to play against Tau understanding how to unpick this ability is very important. Even if you aren’t a melee army charging Tau can help – it stops Broadsides shooting for a turn, and forces their other units to at least move and be unable to Kauyon.

Rather than just planning to charge with one unit, you want to make sure you’ve got lots of expendable chargers lined up in a phase you want one to land. Then, from order of most expendable to least, (unless you have something charging from outside LOS, in which case do them first) declare a charge against the minimum number of units you can to allow your charger to plausibly threaten to pile in to whatever you’re trying to lock if they aren’t repelled.

The goal is to force your opponent to use up FtGG shooting from their better units in order to stop your chaff making it in, reducing the firepower faced by your good units until they can get in either safely or at sufficient strength to do stuff. Don’t forget that a unit firing overwatch “naturally” can do so multiple times, but using FtGG is a one-time deal that also stops further natural overwatch fire. With that in mind, if you can manage to declare a charge on a “weak” unit like some drones next to your actual target, you can force them to FtGG to avoid getting locked, opening them up for a “safe” charge.

Naturally, if your army has any relics or powers that let you switch off overwatch, bring those when you’re facing Tau, as they make this whole process a lot easier!

Additional Wings Note: Some extra points from some reader feedback:

  1. If you are charging a Tau unit that is already in close combat, other units can still fire From the Greater Good at you even if your direct target can’t.
  2. Abilities that say “this unit cannot be overwatched” stop any units firing For the Greater Good at the unit with the ability, but abilities that stop a single unit from firing or specifically only affect the charge target don’t prevent FtGG. Bear this in mind when planning charges!

Master of War

Once per battle, as long as a COMMANDER is alive, that commander can declare either Kauyon or Mont’ka. Either of these are declared at the beginning on your turn, and provide certain benefits to units near them. These will typically used at the beginning of the game to maximize firepower when the first chance to strike a decisive blow becomes available.


On a turn in which you declare Kauyon, at the start of your Movement phase, you can select any friendly <Sept> units that are within 6″ of the Commander. Until the end of the turn, the selected units cannot move for any reason, but you can re-roll failed hit rolls for attacks made by these units. Assuming Riptides, Broadsides, or Hammerheads are in range of good targets, this is a great thing to declare on the first turn to pick up an early kill or two, particularly against anything with a To Hit penalty.


Friendly <Sept> units within 6″ of the Commander can both Advance and shoot as if they hadn’t moved this turn. Useful for a quick reposition without losing firepower, this is harder to get effective use out of than Kauyon and not quite as powerful overall.

Prototype Weapon Systems

Instead of taking a normal relic (including those added with Emergency DIspensation), Tau can instead choose to take a Prototype Weapon System. These are essentially “unit” relics with a much broader set of places they can be assigned than just characters. We’ll cover these in their own section later on.

Warriors of the Greater Good

Tau Commander
Tau Commander. Credit: Jack Hunter


COMMANDERs (by keyword, not by specific datasheet) are limited to one per detachment. Not a horrific penalty; Fire Warriors are inexpensive and effective, and both Cadre Fireblades and Darkstrider are great HQ picks, and even Ethereals can provide enough value to merit inclusion in a tournament list.

Farsight Enclave detachments can instead take two COMMANDERs per detachment. While the rule of three obviously means you can’t just take six of the same type, a mix of Enforcer, Coldstar and Crisis suited one lets you fill this up.

Sept Tenets

Like a lot of factions post-PA, Tau now have two choices for Septs – take one from the main codex, or build a custom one using a set of mix and match traits. There are some extremely good options among the custom traits and current competitive lists are leaning towards them, but there’s still lots of power in some of the original set too, giving Tau players plentry of options. Finally, as well as granting access to the custom options TGG also substantially expanded the Farsight Enclaves, giving them many more unique options than the rest, so we’ll give them a slightly bigger section.

Thanks to cheap HQs and Troop options it’s pretty easy to fill out detachments, so mixed armies using detachments from multiple septs are quite common, with small Sa’cea detachments being the main way this comes up.

Codex Options

  • Sept Tenet – Coordinated Fire Arcs: Hit on a 5+ in For the Greater Good or Overwatch while within 6″ of another friendly unit.
  • Warlord Trait – Strength of Belief: Ignore Mortal Wounds on a 5+.
  • Relic – Vectored Manoeuvring Thrusters: Battlesuit only. The model can move 6″ after attacking in the shooting phase.
  • Stratagem – Focused Fire 3CP: After one of your units attacks in the shooting phase and causes one or more wounds to the target, you can add one to wound rolls against it for your other T’AU units the rest of the phase.

Easily the best original Sept. The tenet, Coordinated Fire Arcs, dovetails very nicely with For the Greater Good to provide even more charge protection and keep your gunline intact, Focused Fire is incredible on units with high rate of fire (wound something with incidental fire and then give +1 to wound against that target with 20 medium strength shots per riptide), and the warlord trait and relic are no slouches, either. As a bonus, the T’au sept has all of the good special characters. Never a mistake choice — almost every competitive T’au Empire list runs at least one T’au Sept detachment, and many run only T’au Sept.

  • Sept Tenet – Strike Fast: When a unit advances, Rapid Fire weapons become Assault till the end of the turn. Also ignore the penalty for advancing and firing assault weapons.
  • Warlord Trait – Academy Luminary: +3″ range on Master of War, Volley Fire or Failure is not an Option and one extra CP.
  • Relic – Thermoneutronic Projector: Relic flamer with S6, AP-1, D2.
  • Stratagem – Hot Blooded 2CP: A VIOR’LA INFANTRY unit can shoot twice as long as it targets the nearest enemy unit.

The Vior’la Sept’s ability favors a more mobile Tau army, one that is continually advancing and firing on the move, and taking advantage of the fact that it isn’t losing anything from doing so. This is an ability that is theoretically very powerful, but in practice just isn’t what a T’au army wants to be doing in most competitive games. Although this allows you to still shoot on the move with Fire Warriors, you’ll seldom want to move then and so you’ll find that this Sept does its best work with Fusion Blasters, Pulse Blasters, and Pulse Carbines. That makes Vior’la a good match for running Fusion Blaster Stealth Suits, Breacher Teams, and Pathfinders, but unfortunately there isn’t a big use for those in the current meta. This might be good enough to consider if it worked on Vespids. The Hot Blooded Stratagem is a strong power to have in your back pocket, able to turn a squad of Breachers into an absolute nightmare if you can run in close enough to fire off 20 S5, AP-1 shots.

Wings Note: Used to see play in Fire Warrior spam lists, but those are deaaaadddd in singles events in Marine meta.

  • Sept Tenet – Adaptive Camouflage: Gain cover in the open. If you move for any reason, lose it till your next movement phase.
  • Warlord Trait – Gunship Diplomat: Gives For the Greater Good to VESPID and KROOT within 12″
  • Relic – Dynamic Mirror Field: Your opponent subtracts one from rolls to hit the bearer.
  • Stratagem – Strike and Fade 1CP: Use at the start of the Shooting phase. One of your Dal’yth units can do their shooting and then move 6″.

The Dal’yth Sept bonus is a strong benefit for T’au gunlines and castles, where the primary strategy emphasizes holding still and forcing the opponent to come to you. Having Hammerheads with a 2+ save can be a good benefit, though it’s generally not worth giving up say, the ability to re-roll a hit. The cover save bonus is, on the whole, nice to have, and the relic is great for adding survivability to a key unit. That downside is substantial, though — although T’au armies tend to castle up in games, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean you never move. Strike and Fade is an incredibly powerful Stratagem, but it has no synergy with the Sept Tenet — using it kills your cover bonus. Dal’yth essentially forces you to sacrifice all your movement and that often won’t be idea, particularly because you can always opt to use the Prepared Positions Stratagem on turn 1 if you lose the roll. It’d be a decent contender with T’au Sept as the defensive choice if taking it didn’t lock you out of the Special Characters. The best use of the Dal’yth Sept is typically going to be on an Auxiliary Super-Heavy Detachment running a Tau’nar, because in a standard game of 40k it’s not going to move anyways and giving it a 2+ save significantly helps its survivability.

  • Sept Tenet – Calm Discipline: Re-roll one To Hit roll each time a unit with this Sept shoots, and units with this Sept get +1 Ld
  • Warlord Trait – Beacon of Honour: Friendly SA’CEA units within 6″ lose one fewer models to morale when they fail a test.
  • Relic – Grav Inhibitor Field: Subtract 2″ from charges against the bearer’s unit.
  • Stratagem – Orbital Marker Distribution Uplink 2CP: Use at the start of your Shooting phase. Pick a unit visible to a SA’CEA CHARACTER. The chosen unit and all other enemy units within 6″ of it gain a markerlight counter.

The second best core Sept, and the one you see popping up most in competitive lists alongside T’au or a custom shooty one. If T’au Sept is the defensive choice, Sa’cea is the offensive one. The ability to re-roll one hit roll each time a unit shoots is incredibly powerful for smoothing the variance curve on high-strength, low-shot weapons and units that have a small number of big guns. Your first reaction might be to think “railguns,” and that’s not a bad idea. But the real value for Sa’Cea is Markerlights. Markerlights are the fuel that powers the T’au engine, and making sure you hit with those one-shot markerlight shots is vital to the army strategy. As an addition to that, the Sept Stratagem is incredibly powerful, and useful for getting things going with your markerlights when you absolutely have to remove a unit from the battlefield. Competitively, a common Sa’Cea build is to take a Vanguard Detachment featuring an Ethereal and three Firesight Marksmen. This gives you both multiple characters to use for Orbital Marker Distribution spotting and also three additional re-rollable markerlights to drop on enemy units. The Ethereal bonuses aren’t <SEPT> locked, so the HQ slot here adds the one you probably want for your castle. Finally, don’t sleep on the +1 Ld bonus — when paired with an Ethereal, you can give nearby units Ld 10, protecting them from morale losses, and the +1 Ld for the Sept Tenet helps protect units from nasty psychic powers that depend on Ld+D6 roll-offs.

  • Sept Tenet – Superior Craftsmanship: Add 6″ to the range of Rapid Fire and Heavy weapons.
  • Warlord Trait – Seeker of Perfection: When your warlord makes a hit roll of 6+, add one to the wound roll.
  • Relic – Plasma Accelerator Rifle: Relic Plasma Rifle with 30″ range, S7, AP-3 and D2.
  • Stratagem – Experimental Weaponry 1CP: Use when you fire a random shot weapon. You can re-roll one of the dice used to determine shot number. Note you have to use this before you roll.

The Bor’kan Sept introduces a powerful capability to the T’au arsenal, essentially allowing them to out-range any army in the game with their basic guns and ensure that they can start not just hitting targets across the table on turn 1, but also choosing them. Note that this ability stacks with Pulse Accelerator Drones, giving nearby pulse rifles a range of 42″. It’s also helpful for extending the range of heavy burst cannons to 42″, and helping Pulse Blastcannons get their best damage output at longer ranges. This is another very powerful Sept Tenet that unfortunately loses out to T’au Sept because it locks you out of access to unique characters and because, well, you usually won’t have any problems reaching an opponent’s units as they try to move within your already considerable range to get shots of their own off, or hide off-table from you until they’re ready to drop. The Experimental Weaponry Stratagem is sadly just not that useful–it would work OK for a full unit (though even then it probably wouldn’t make flamer Crisis Suits worth taking), but as-is, you’ll get the most utility out of it with either Riptide Ion Accelerators or Submunitions shots on Hammerhead Railguns. Of course, if you’re taking Bor’kan Riptides, you’d probably prefer they have Heavy Burst Cannons so you can actually use the extra range.

Wings Note: The combo everyone got very excited about with this out of the gate was giving a Y’vahra’s flamer a 14″ range. Over time, it has proven that this isn’t really worth it, but it can be quite funny. It also changes the short range brackets on one of the big gun options for the Stormsurge.

Farsight Enclaves

Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez
Joe Tau Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

The Greater Good expanded the Enclaves, once one of the weakest Septs, into a much more substantial subfaction with a bunch of extra rules that make them pretty attractive. These pull you in a very different direction to other Tau armies, encouraging you to bring units that want to be up close and personal with the enemy and play a much more aggressive style of game, perhaps backed up by some longer-ranged options (which are still pretty good thanks to general Tau abilities). Their Sept traits and one stratagem do also provide some strong synergies with fliers, and at least one player has had early success with a Farsight air wing.

Detachment Rules
  • Sept Tenet 1 – Devastating Counter Strike: Re-roll 1s to wound with shooting attacks against targets within 6″ of the firing model.
  • Sept Tenet 2 – Aggressive Footing: When making a ranged attack against an enemy unit within 12″, count them as having +1 markerlights on them (even if they have 0, they count as having 1).
  • Army Construction Rule 1: Farsight Enclave Detachments cannot contain Ethereals
  • Army Construction Rule 2: Farsight Enclave Detachments can have two COMMANDERs instead of one

Warriors of the Farsight Enclaves just get two Sept Tenet abilities? Why? Why not! Taken together, they mean that a Farsight unit within 6″ is always re-rolling hits and wounds on shooting, making them appropriately deadly up close and adding some serious attraction to shooting units that want to get in the enemy’s face like Breachers, Stealth Suits and Crisis Teams.

Not being able to bring Ethereals is annoying but easily circumvented when you need one by bringing a detachment from another Sept – Ethereal abilities are not <SEPT> locked and while the Farsight soldiery are all dreadful heretics they’re apparently not above picking up some buffs from the elemental goodness as long as the Ethereal doesn’t try to wear one of their precious red uniforms.

Finally, you get to bring two commanders per detachment. This is cool, and opens up some very skewed builds if you want to try them, but in general there’s enough stuff you need to spend points on to make a Tau army “tick” that it’s more likely to let you sneak in a fourth than go all-in on six!

Warlord Traits

The Enclaves now get four traits to choose from. Sadly, they’re at best OK, with some useful choices but nothing with proper wow factor.

  • Hero of the Enclaves: Your warlord has a 6″ heroic intervention and can also re-roll hit rolls in melee when they charge, are charged or heroically intervene. Pretty decent on Farsight himself, but not great on pretty much anyone else unless they’ve taken The Fusion Blades. C+
  • Blooded Through War: Enclaves units with Bonding Knife Ritual within 12″ of the warlord auto-pass Morale on a 4+ rather than 6+. Cute, and makes your small infantry squads essentially morale immune, but doesn’t really justify the trait slot. C
  • Aggressive Tactician: Gives Mont’ka a 12″ range rather than 6″. This can be pretty handy – it can allow you to fan your units out a bit turn 1 but still catch them all in Mont’ka for a big push on turn 2. B
  • Master of the Killing Blow: Re-roll hits against characters. This is OK, but a little bit underwhelming because of how parasitic it is on other abilities – you’re quite often already re-rolling from a markerlight or the Sept trait. It’s also way less good than The Mirrorcodex,  but has the upside of not competing with Prototype weapons. At its best on a Coldstar who’s going to go hunting, as it allows them to advance and still shoot at near full effectiveness. Can be worth adding with Promising Pupil when you have a suitably equipped model and the enemy has some characters you want to hunt. C+

Once again, three more of these got added in TGG, leaving a total of four. Once again they’re really only OK – there’s one pretty tasty one, but the rest are generally fine on paper but outcompeted by other options.

  • Fusion Blades: Relic replacing two Fusion Blasters. Allows you to make two attacks in melee with the Fusion Blaster’s S8 AP-4 Dd6 profile. Adding a bit of melee threat to a Commander isn’t a bad option, though these now compete with Prototype Weapons which makes them (and to be honest, almost all relics) look a bit less attractive. C+
  • The Mirrorcodex: Re-roll hits within 18″. Another somewhat redundant ability, and a very difficult sell over a prototype. C
  • The Talisman of Arthas Moloch: 5++ and one deny. The most attractive option here, as adding a 5++ without needing to spend a hardpoint on it is cool, and denies are something Tau have almost no way of getting, so picking one up to use in a pinch is helpful in some matchups. B+
  • Seismic Fibrillator Node: Do not gaze to long at this less madness take you. OK, the FAQ made it a bit less mad but it’s still extremely weird. Once per battle, at the start of your opponent’s turn, you activate this and then for the duration of that turn you roll a d6 each time a model starts or ends a move (other than a consolidate or pile-in) within 6″ of the bearer, dealing a MW to the model’s unit on a 6. This is clearly intended as a charge deterrent, but it’s very clunky and quite easy to work around, and no longer has the comedy upside of occasionally allowing you to roll 5 or 6 times per enemy model. D+

This is where the good stuff is for Farsight. Combined with their double sept tenet, these options unlock the use of Crisis teams as a serious competitive option while also providing some great efficiency buffs to other units.

  • Drop Zone Clear 2CP: Use at the start of your shooting phase. A FARSIGHT ENCLAVES BATTLESUIT unit that deep struck using Manta Strike this turn adds +1 to its hit rolls. Commanders don’t always need it, but Crisis teams coming in hot (especially if they’ve brought cyclic ion blasters) love this, helping them get a huge swing in with their big alpha strike. Combines nicely with Veteran Cadre and Aggressive Footing to allow a unit to hit on 2s re-rolling 1s the turn they land with no additional setup. B
  • Veteran Cadre 1/2CP: Use before the battle, once per battle. Make one unit of Crisis Suits BS3+ and WS4+. Costs 1CP for 3 models or 2CP for more. Combined with the other boosts you can layer on them this makes Farsight Crisis Teams a genuinely interesting unit. They are still pretty fragile for their cost (though we’ll see an option for mitigating that in a second) but they can now hit like an absolute goddam monster truck the turn they land. If you want to play with Crisis teams this makes Farsight the overwhelming choice. A
  • Furious Assault 1CP: Use after charging with a JET PACK unit and roll a d6 against a unit within 1″ of each model, dealing a MW on a 3+. A bit weaker than some of what’s here but still not actually terrible – it does need quite careful positioning (since the measurement is after charging, not piling in) but in a pinch a full Crisis team can knock an average of 4W off something, which can be a lifesaver against something like a re-animating Knight. C+
  • Danger Close 1CP: A Strike Team or Breacher Team can re-roll wounds against an enemy unit within 12″. A decent trick for the back pocket, and starts being actively good if you want to run with Breacher Teams in Devilfish, especially with Pulse Onslaught. While that isn’t a top tier build, it’s a very iconic way to play Tau and if that’s what you want to be doing this stratagem helps you a lot! Just remember that you don’t have to use this on a small squad whenever it’s available – make sure to run the maths and check it’s actually likely to make a meaningful difference to the outcomes. B
  • Defence in Numbers 2CP: A Crisis team gets a 5+++ for a phase. Not cheap, and the cost of what you want to do with your Crisis team on the turn they come in really adds up, but this is such a big boost to the survivability, especially when used on a big squad, that it’s worth making sure you have the CP to blow it. Because of the weird way wound reduction maths works, this essentially increases the number of wounds your team has by 50% when your opponent is trying to burst them down, and is also especially good when used against fixed damage weapons such as the dreaded Pulse Laser (about the worst thing for Crisis teams to face). It would be nice if this scaled in cost like Veteran Cadre, but ultimately a big defensive boost to what’s likely one of your key units is a great tool to have B+
  • Focused Fury 1CP: A CHARACTER re-rolls wounds for a shooting phase. Incredibly spicy and useful on almost every plausible build of murder-commander. Fusion Commanders can really struggle against T8 targets, and this makes them way more likely to actually do some damage, while in any other situation it just substantially boosts output. Even a missile pod commander sitting at the back just blasting away loves this. It also lets you be a lot more flexible and cautious with your mobile commanders, as it takes the pressure off of putting them within 6″ of the enemy to get access to wound re-roll. This ability is just great and a big payoff for being Farsight. A
  • Firestorm 1CP: Choose up to three units with the Flyer battlefield role. This costs 1CP more for each chosen (i.e. 2-4 total). Roll a d6 for each enemy unit within 3″ of any of them and deal d3 MW on a 4+. On paper this looks like it might be a dud but then you go and look at recent top Tau lists on 40kstats and what do you see – a Farsight Air Wing. Access to a “good” version of AoE MWs in a pinch is nice to have and the Farsight Sept tenets work extremely well with flyers anyway, so this does actually end up having some use. Bringing Forge World Remora Stealth Drones can also provide a cheap way to throw this ability where it needs to go in a pinch without sacrificing a better unit, and you can use their Deep Strike capability to line them up to use on turns 3+. Overall, this does actually appear to be a real ability that provides an extra angle of attack for Tau lists. B

Custom Septs

Custom faction traits from Psychic Awakening have been pretty hit or miss, with some factions like Craftworlds winning big but many factions ending up sticking to their mainline options.

Surprisingly, despite the substantial power of Tau sept the custom traits in TGG have been a big hit, with the exceptional power of Hardened Warheads backed up by one of two others being enough to actually topple Tau’s dominance, at least for now. This seems to be driven by two factors – the prevalance of armies with strong saves across the board (making Warheads attractive) and the large number of melee armies that bring overwatch suppression tools, making Tau Sept less good. Tau does still have its attractions, bringing a powerful stratagem and access to named characters, so as the metagame shifts over time expect to see people go back and forth between it and these, but the important immediate takeaway is that the best of the bunch here are relevant for high-end competitive play.

The Good Ones
  • Hardened Warheads: Improve the AP of missile pods, high-yield missile pods, seeker missiles and smart missile systems by 1. On paper this sounds good, and we were high on this straight away in our review, but as people have played with it more and more it turns out to be great. All of the weapons this affects sit in a place where adding a single point of AP substantially helps them, with seekers, missile pods and HYMPs getting substantially better at cracking armour while smart missiles (especially boosted with an ATS) get even nastier at scything down infantry and blowing up sneaky objective holders. You can absolutely go “all-in” on this, with recently successful lists in the wild including some packing Sky Rays or maxed out numbers of HYMP Broadsides, but even when it’s just providing an incremental boost to the secondary weapons of your Riptides while also helping a few commanders it’s great. At this point when reading a Tau list this is what I’m expecting to see as the first Sept choice, making it an easy A.
  • Stabilisation Systems: BATTLESUIT units ignore the move/shoot penalty on heavy weapons. Probably the most commonly seen partner in crime for Hardened Warheads, this allows Riptides to operate in a much more mobile fashion without losing accuracy (and without having to pick whether to buy a velocity tracker or target lock) while also permitting Broadsides to reposition themselves to line up shots and gradually push up for some board control. On paper this sounds very niche, but in general in lists packing them Broadsides and Riptides are the best units, and significantly increasing their effectiveness on the move is absolutely worth the slot. Also good with Ghostkeels. A
  • Gifted Pilots: VEHICLE or MONSTER models that remain stationary or move half their move or less re-roll wounds of 1 in the shooting phase. Not complicated, just a great general efficiency boost to affected units. The other frequently used partner for Warheads, this one tending to be seen in the lists packing VEHICLE units to staple a bunch of missiles to instead of Broadsides. Because they’re MONSTERs, Riptides also still benefit from this, as do Ghostkeels, meaning they’re generally happy either way. Currently a “best” choice between this and Stabilisation Systems hasn’t yet emerged – people are succeeding with both – so you should decide what flavour of units you want to win with and pick the one that best supports it! A

In my opinion, if you’re building a Tau list at the moment that isn’t leaning towards some sort of Farsight build then your best place to start is Hardened Warheads + one of these other two, maybe with a Sa’cea detachment for their stratagem.

The Rest
  • Turbo-Jets: JET PACK units get +2″ move and +1 to their advances. There’s maybe a fluffy combo here with Gifted Pilots if you want to go full Gundam, but it’s probably not the best way to build that. C+
  • Dedication to the Cause: +1 Ld. No. F
  • Soldiers in Arms: Greater Good range increases to 9″. You don’t want this over Tau Sept and it doesn’t synergise well with any of the others. C
  • Sophisticated Command Net: VEHICLES re-roll 1s to wound against enemy units with markerlights on them. In the abstract this would be fine for some armies, but Gifted Pilots does this as well in most cases while benefitting Riptides/Ghostkeels as well. C+
  • Hybridised Weapons: +4″ range on Assault/Grenade weapons. Outside of doing silly things with Crisis Suits with flamers (which you’re better running as Farsight anyway) this doesn’t enable enough to be worth it. C
  • Advanced Power Cells: Tactical Drones have a move of 10″. This is just bizarre and terrible, because savior protocols is Sept locked so in order to get a princely 2″ of extra move on your drones you have to sacrifice a trait slot for your actual good units. D
  • Manoevering Thrusters: BATTLESUITS can advance while falling back. Nah – when your Riptides are falling back you want them to start blasting. D
  • Up-Gunned: Burst Cannons have an AP of -1. It’s baffling why this is so limited compared to Hardened Warheads and it makes it much less good. Of the ones outside the “good” list this is probably closest to having a real role, as Burst Cannons are cheap and you can pack a lot, but would it have killed them to make this a wider boost? B



Credit: Charlie A.

Commander Shadowsun

At her peak Shadowsun was potentially in competition for one of the very best units in the game, but she’s come down in power a bit (while still being good) thanks to an updated datasheet and a shift in the metagame away from Tau Sept.

Shadowsun rocks in at 127 points with mandatory accompanying drones and an absurdly lengthy datasheet. She’s basically a buff provider with some decent shooting built in. Her key ability is Genius of Kauyon, allowing her to use Kauyon even if a Commander (including herself) has already used Master of War previously in the battle. That lets you either use Kauyon twice to lay down withering firepower in the first two turns or use Mont’ka to mobilise your forces turn 1 and then Kauyon on turn 2. The latter strategy was very popular in Tau Sept armies with Broadsides when those were the hotness, mitigating the lack of board control such a static army might otherwise struggle with.

Shooting wise Shadowsun gets to pick from two options for her guns – the high-energy fusion blaster (a fusion blaster with 24″ range) or the dispersed fusion blaster (18″, assault 2, S7, AP-4 d3 damage with the melta ability). Both have their attractions – the dispersed guns pack a more useful profile but the extra 6″ of range to let her plink shots out of the castle isn’t bad either. We’d lean towards “more shots good”, especially with the enduring popularity of Primaris Marines, but both options are fine.

Her other useful abilities are mostly tied to the drones that come with her. Annoyingly, these set up as a unit of their own which can be targeted, so you ideally want them behind a wall or something. The Advanced Guardian Drone gives a 6+++ to Tau Empire units within 3″, while the Command-link Drone lets her give one unit within 12″ re-roll 1s to hit each turn. Both of these abilities are fine but are also trivially replicated by a single ethereal (who you probably have), making the mandatory inclusion of the drones (who are a straight up liability in ITC) a major downside of her new datasheet.

Defensively, she has a 5++ and built-in -1 to hit, but will go squish fast if properly targeted, as she’s only T4 with 5W. She can infiltrate, but will very rarely want to – in the Tau castle is the place for her.

Her final ability of note is that as the Supreme Commander of the Tau Empire she can be included in a detachment of any Sept without breaking their Sept Trait. That sounds cool – but Master of War is Sept locked, and since double tapping on that is her main draw there just isn’t much of a reason to take her outside Tau.

Shadowsun is fine in a Tau Sept army but isn’t the near-mandatory pick she once was. Discounts to another popular commander build (fusion Coldstars) and the rise of custom Septs have also hurt her a lot. Her relatively unique ability to pull off a one-two punch of mobility into powered up shooting is still great, and you should consider her when she fits your overall plan, but don’t feel like you have to warp your army towards Tau Sept just to get her.

Commander in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

Tau Commander
Tau Commander. Credit: Jack Hunter

Crisis Suit Commanders are one of the T’au army’s strongest units, capable of carrying four weapons and dishing out a massive amount of firepower as a deep strike threat. The only reason XV8 Crisis Commanders don’t show up more often is because there’s little to recommend them over the Enforcer and Coldstar variants. Their primary differentiator is the ability to upgrade to an XV8-02 Iridium battlesuit for a 2+ Save but with the ability to take Shield Drones, this isn’t nearly as important as having an extra wound or being able to dart across the table.

Commanders can go out hunting, but an undersold benefit of having them is that they lurk in your castle threatening to seriously increase the damage suffered by anything lurking too close. A bunch of fusion or CIB shots at 18″ range can really ruin the day of anything that tries its luck on a close assault. If you do want to build a hunting commander, the Cross-Linked Stabiliser Jets Prototype System can be a great choice, giving you built-in hit and wound re-rolls of 1. While you can replicate those effects with other abilities, having a unit that can just entirely support itself and is a constant nagging threat to your opponent is strong.

There are basically three ways to build Commanders, regardless of the flavor of suit you’re going with:

  • 3 Cyclic Ion Blasters and an Advanced Targeting System – This maxes out your Commander’s shots, giving them 9 shots while helping get the ion blaster’s AP up to a respectable -2 to ensure they at least push your opponent to their invulnerable save. These are your best loadout, and the reason to take Enforcers and XV8 Suits.
  • 4 Fusion Blasters – This turns your Commander into a fireball of damage, though note that any turn you arrive from a Manta you’ll be out of half range distance. This loadout works better on the Coldstar suits, because they can’t take Cyclic Ion Blasters. Also their high Movement characteristic can help them close to 9″ distance and unload a volley of insanely strong shooting at a high-value target. After a reasonable while where this had fallen out of fashion thanks to the prevalence of invulnerable saves, these are back with Marine meta, as popular Marine vehicles and units are fantastic targets for them
  • 4 Missile Pods – The other Coldstar build. This makes the commander more flexible, letting them contribute to weight of fire from within your castle, but still shoot if they need to zip out at speed to try for an assassination or steal an objective. Fallen out of fashion again now the Fusion Coldstar is back.

You also used to see really bare-bones Crisis Commanders used as a platform for Command and Control Node, but now that Shadowsun is ridiculously cheap people just use her for that instead.

Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit

For four points more you get an extra wound over the XV8 Crisis Suit Commander, and that’s just an incredibly good deal for the price. In the long run it’ll also likely pay off more as you’re being shot at. Give your Enforcer an Advanced Targeting System and 3 Cyclic Ion Blasters and drop him and his drones where he can put a hole right in the middle of your opponent’s army.

Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit

A much, much more mobile version of the Crisis battlesuit, the Coldstar Battlesuit trades off the ability to take Cyclic Ion Blasters or Iridium Armor for blazing speed and the ability to take massive leaps around the battlefield. Since they can’t take the Ion Blasters, you’ll want to arm these with 4x Fusion Blasters instead. These guys can drop in where they want on the fringes of the battlefield, take out a priority target, and then dart over to wherever else they’re needed.


Ethereals are cheap HQ options that can help you fill out Battalion Detachments without eating up a COMMANDER keyword slot. They come with two abilities, and neither are Sept-locked, which means that an Ethereal is a good choice to fill out an HQ slot in a Sept other than T’au.

  • Failure Is Not An Option – A 6″ aura that allows an Ethereal to lend its Ld to nearby units for Morale Tests. This is helpful for the +2 Ld boost it offers, but isn’t particularly amazing. It’s best benefit is on helping the Ld 6 drones in your castle avoid losing additional models due to morale.
  • Invocation of the Elements – In the Movement phase, the Ethereal can pick an element, and then all TAU EMPIRE INFANTRY and BATTLESUIT units within 6″ get a benefit. A unit can only benefit from a given element once in a given turn. Calm of Tides lets you subtract 1 from Morale Tests, Zephyr’s Grace gives you re-rolls on your Advance Rolls, Storm of Fire gives you re-rolls of 1 to hit in the Shooting phase for stationary units, and Sense of Stone lets models roll a D6 for each wound they take and ignore the damage on a 6.

Sense of Stone and Storm of Fire are the clear winners here, and which one you want will depend on your strategy – although as of TGG you can just spend 1CP on Wisdom of the Many and have both. Because re-rolling To Hit rolls of 1 is the easiest ability to get for T’au (since it comes off a single markerlight), you’ll often find that it only benefits you when your plan is to go wide and shoot at targets without markerlights. Instead, the ability to give multiple units the 6+ feel no pain save can dramatically extend the longevity of units and make your Riptides that much more of a pain in the ass to take down.

Take one with a couple of shield drones (or a marker drone) and consider the Hover Drone to give it a little more movement flexibility if it has to follow more mobile suits around or get its aura somewhere quick. +2″ doesn’t seem like a lot, but for 5 points and the JET PACK and FLY keywords it’s not a bad deal.

Cadre Fireblade
Cadre Fireblade. Credit: Jack Hunter

Cadre Fireblade

Fireblades are another cheap HQ choice for filling out Battalions that doesn’t eat up a COMMANDER keyword slot. They’ve got two main uses. The first is being a BS2+ Markerlight. Given that you need Markerlights to make the army function, this makes Cadre Fireblades easy to include in most armies as your most reliable way to put the first ML on a unit. This ability alone is enough to make Fireblades worth bringing, but the other ability they bring to the table is also very good. The Volley Fire ability gives friendly SEPT units within 6″ an additional shot when firing with pulse pistols, pulse carbines, and pulse rifles when shooting at a target within half the weapon’s range. This is very good on Pulse Rifles, where half range is 15″, and a Cadre Fireblade can ensure that charging into a line of T’au Sept Fire Warriors is a lethal affair. You don’t need Fire Warriors, Pathfinders, or Gun Drones to make Fireblades worth having, but if you’re bringing both, they make a wonderful team.


Another very good T’au Sept character, Darkstrider is also a BS2+ Markerlight option who buffs nearby T’AU SEPT Infantry, giving them the ability to shoot after Falling Back if they’re within 6″ of him, and using the Structural Analyser ability to give a single infantry unit within 6″ +1 to its wound rolls against that target, ensuring they’ll wound most infantry targets on a 2+. Darkstrider’s another HQ character choice you’d bring just for the cheap 2+ Markerlight, but will give you a huge boost when paired with Fire Warriors or Pathfinders. His Vanguard ability allows him to move up to 7″ after Deployment at the start of the first battle round as long as he isn’t within 9″ of an enemy model, helping quickly reposition him at the start of the game.


An HQ tank choice, Longstrike comes with his own custom Hammerhead tank, which comes with BS2+ at its full profile plus the Tank Ace ability, which gives it +1 to wound rolls against VEHICLE and MONSTER targets, and Fire Caste Exemplar, which gives T’AU SEPT HAMMERHEADS within 6″ +1 to their hit rolls in the Shooting phase. This is incredibly good, making Tau Sept attractive for Hammerheads, though the advent of custom Septs has given them stiff competition. Most of the time you’ll want to replace Longstrike’s Railgun with the Ion Cannon, since the three shots are just a better deal than the single-shot Railgun, and you should consider upgrading the drones to smart missile systems, which have a range closer to that of the tank’s primary gun options and give you the ability to shoot targets out of line-of-sight. You should also strap a couple of seeker missiles to him, since those will benefit from his improved BS as well once you have multiple Markerlights on a target.

Commander Farsight

While it’s a crime that he’s still stuck with a Finecast model while Shadowsun gets a plastic hero rock all of her own, the massive improvement to the Farsight Enclaves suddenly makes Farsight a real contender. Farsight’s a Crisis Suit Commander who can handle himself in melee and he’s got a pretty beefy plasma rifle he’s carrying around (though no other guns). He gives nearby FARSIGHT ENCLAVES units the ability to re-roll to hit rolls of 1 in the Fight phase (any phase if you’re attacking an ORK unit), and has a 4+ invulnerable save, but his key ability is the Genius of Mont’ka, which allows him to activate Mont’ka even if Master of War has already been used once already. This substantially helps you play a very mobile game with a Farsight army, and given that Farsight comes in at an absolute bargain price of 110pts makes him a pretty interesting inclusion if you’re building an Enclaves force.

The Rest

  • Aun’va: A T’au Sept-specific Ethereal who can invoke two elements per turn and has a hilarious ability that allows him to add the AP of incoming weapons to his save rather than subtract them. He also gives re-rolls for Morale tests to all friendly T’AU EMPIRE units on the battlefield. The ability to invoke two elements per turn is neat, but it’s not good enough to overcome the fact that this guy is an expensive version of a unit whose value comes from being a cheap slot filler.
  • Aun’shi: Another special character Ethereal, this time specific to the Vior’la Sept. Aun’shi’s cheaper than Aun’va, only invokes one element, has a 4+ invulnerable save, and is better at fighting, with the ability to give himself either AP-2 or re-rolls for invulnerable saves for the Fight phase every turn. He’s cheaper than Aun’va, but much less useful and also not worth paying the extra points for.


Credit: Charlie A.

Strike Team

Strike Teams are your bread and butter Tau unit, being made up of a group of Tau and their …. 30″ Rapid Fire 1 S5 rifle and 4+ armour save for 7 points??? Strike Teams form a key part of most Tau armies, though often only 15 of them hanging around filling out a Battalion. Breachers do now see actual use, but Strike Teams are still more common. They have a multitude of uses – screening your castle, providing FtGG overwatch fire, taking objectives, popping out bonus markerlight shots – and they’re surprisingly tough with a 3+ save in cover.  They also throw out absolutely withering firepower with the addition of the Volley Fire aura from a Fireblade. Earlier in the edition you tended to see more of them, especially when Tau brigades were more of a thing, but they’re quite vulnerable in Marine meta and you can squeeze more performance out of taking the absolute maximum of Elites and Heavy Support, so they’ve tended to fall down the priority list to merely filling up detachment slots in Battalions.

Breacher Team

Fire Warriors with shotguns. Once the poor second choice to Strike teams these have quietly gained in popularity and have real uses. The key thing that sets them apart is how dangerous they are up close (with their guns reaching S6 AP-2) and the ability to get full benefit from a guardian drone, which gives the unit a 5++. While the drone can, of course, be shot out, it forces the opponent to divert fire to them and if you put a shield drone in the mini-unit as well it can be quite tricky for them to work out how much dakka they need to point at them.

Taking all that together, Breachers are a lot tougher to shift out of some mid-board cover than strike teams, so if what your army needs is something that can push up and control a bit of space these can be an attractive troop choice. They’ve also got some decent stratagem support now, with Pulse Onslaught letting them shoot their best profile at 15″ being particularly notable.

Credit: Charlie A.


Kroot are the other Troops choice which sometimes appears in Tau armies, though they seem to go rapidly in and out of favour. Most people dismissed them for a long time, and then at LVO this year a Tau army did very well and included about 40 of them, and now they’re back out of fashion again (see the lists posted below – all of them are from recent events and the only Kroot which appears in any of them is Dahyak Grekh). Their primary use is to form big blobs of cheap guys and screen, and provide something approximating a melee threat, but Fire Warriors and Drones screen more effectively since they don’t die so easily, and in any case Tau quite often want to be charged since they can then get a bonus shooting phase with FtGG.


Dahyak Grekh (Blackstone Fortress)

Credit: Lupe

A Kroot Tracker added by the Blackstone Fortress game, Dahyak Grekh is very, very good. For only 20 points, you get a BS3+ Sniper who can deep strike onto the battlefield more than 9″ away from an enemy unit, gets +2 to his save in cover, and once per game can activate a booby trap for the chance to do D3 mortal wounds (or D6 if you roll a 6 and the unit has 10+ models) to a unit. He doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but he’ll surprise you with how tough and annoying he can be. He’s more than capable of harassing smaller characters or putting a dent in larger squads of elite 1-wound infantry, and so for 20 points, he’s worth bringing along in a lot of competitive lists.

Firesight Marksman

Ignore the buff to Sniper drones; the Firesight Marksman’s key benefit is to give you a BS3+ Markerlight. And because they’re a cheap way to get extra higher-BS markerlights, it’s worth taking them as part of a Sa’Cea detachment, where they can use the Calm Discipline Sept Tenet to re-roll their Markerlight shots. As mentioned above, the play here is a Sa’Cea Vanguard Detachment with an Ethereal and three Firesight Marksmen to boost your army’s Ld and get high-probability Markerlights. These guys are also must-takes if you take Sniper drones but you shouldn’t take Sniper Drones.

Tau Riptide
Tau Riptide. Credit: Jack Hunter

XV104 Riptide Battlesuit

The Riptide is possibly the best unit in the Tau book and has a strong claim in the “Best Unit in the Game” competition. They’re big, tough, incredibly versatile, they fly, and they put out a lot of shots. Most, if not all competitive T’au lists run at least two and usually three. On top of their basic guns and profile, they have the “Nova Reactor” special rule – for the cost of 1 mortal wound, you can either move 2D6″ in the charge phase, improve the number of shots, or increase their invulnerable save from 5+ to 3+, highly annoying for your opponent when they also have a 2+ armour save and, of course, are surrounded by shield drones. Most of your turns will see the Nova Reactor being used to improve your gun’s output, but the other modes bring a lot of utility to the table. The 1CP Branched Nova Charge stratagem also allows one Riptide per turn to choose two of the above, for when you need to murder something and protect yourself. Arm them with a Heavy Burst Cannon, Smart Missile System, Velocity Tracker, and Advanced Targeting System, and you can’t go far wrong.

While the Heavy Burst Cannon is the “default” option, as of TGG these have access to the Amplified Ion Accelerator prototype gun. This is one of the most prepostorously over statted weapons in the game, trivially blowing most tanks to bits, and is also extremely good at killing Centurions and other heavy infantry. Better yet, it gets its full allocation of shots without being Nova Charged, so you can just always boost the invuln of the one carrying it. You don’t need this gun, and plenty of lists aren’t using it, but bringing a single Riptide with it along with two packing the normal gun is a serious consideration now.

Tau Stealth Suits
Tau Stealth Suits. Yes, we know these are XV15s. Credit: Jack Hunter

XV25 Stealth Battlesuits

While Stealth Battlesuits are held back from being great killers by their relatively poor BS, much like Breacher Teams they’re a very cost effective unit to help you build up a bit of board control, meaning that they do find their way into lists. For 22pts a model you get a T4 2W 3+ body that can scout deploy and has a built-in -1 to hit, helping you push forward into cover and screen out enemy scouts and pre-game moves. Given how prevalent these are in the metagame this is a serious consideration – just being able to stop armies like Raven Guard and Possessed Bomb pulling nasty tricks turn 0 is hugely relevant.

In some configurations they do also start becoming quite dangerous, most notably in Farsight Enclaves where they can benefit heavily from both parts of the Sept trait, and can also headbutt stuff to death with Furious Assault, being by far the cheapest way to get a larg-ish JET PACK unit onto the table.

Overall, while they’re not crazy or anything, there is enough going on here to push these into some builds.

XV8 Crisis Suits

Crisis Suits have long been one of the tragedies of 8th edition, just dying far too easily to anti-tank firepower for their cost and needing a lot support to do damage out of Deep Strike.

That’s finally changed somewhat thanks to TGG. Crisis suits get three big buffs:

  • Access to the Farsight Enclaves tricks discussed earlier.
  • Access to Coordinated Engagement, allowing them to count their targets as having maxed-out markerlights and massively reducing the support they need.
  • Access to several good Prototype Weapon systems.

Taken together, it is now possible to make a Crisis Battlesuit bomb do some real work. It still probably isn’t the best thing Tau can be doing, but the power is there, mostly for the Enclaves.

Part of the problem with Crisis Suits in the edition has been that one of their strengths is meant to be their customisability, but in general 8th rewards specialised units rather than those with mixed capabilities. With that in mind when building out Crisis Teams you want to pick a role for them. Generally the two that seem to best fit them are:

  • Anti-infantry bomb loaded down with burst cannons and the Gatling Burst Cannon upgrade.
  • A more “all-in” unit loaded up with cyclic ion blasters or missile pods, ATSes with a few models specced for defence.

The first loadout tots up to just under 300pts for a full squad and shines in metagames full of horde armies like Orks, whom they will just evaporate. They’re also a nightmare for horde armies to charge, as the Gatling burst cannon extra hits still trigger on overwatch. If you feel you need even more firepower, one model can also take a drone controller and you can bring a bunch of gun drones along as well.

The second option generally involves taking five models armed with two of your chosen gun (either missile pod or CIB) and an ATS to boost the gun and keep the cost down, then (as suggested by Richard Siegler in his review of the book) one model dedicated to defence, taking the Iridium suit upgrade (2+ save), an airbursting frag projector with the Reactive Countermeasures prototype system (ignore AP-1 and -2) and a shield generator. This model makes the squad absurdly more resilient against volume fire, and if you bring some shield drones as well then they can judiciously leap in the way of the very worst stuff too. This set up isn’t cheap (370pts with the CIBs, 340 with missile pods) but gives a unit that can meaningfully engage with almost any target in the game and is non-trivial to kill in response, especially thanks to Defence in Numbers.

Tau have a huge array of good options for killing, and this is very much only one of them, but TGG has finally given long-time Crisis fans a way to actually use them, and especially in the Enclaves either of these two setups should do work in their assigned roles.

XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit

Ghostkeels are actually pretty sweet and the main strike against them is that they’re competing within their slot with Riptides, which are one of the best units pound for pound in the whole game. Their defensive profile isn’t as good – they’re only T6 with W10, a 3+ armour and no invulnerable – but they are -1 to hit from more than 6″ away, and can be followed around by Stealth Drones to be -2 to hit (though of course any thinking opponent will just shoot the drones first). Ghostkeels can also infiltrate, which is handy to have. Gun-wise, they offer either a fusion collider – a d3 shot 18″ range melta, or a cyclic ion raker – a 6 shot 24″ gun which can either be S7 AP-1 D1, or overcharge to be S8 AP-1 Dd3 (and inflicts a mortal wound if you roll any 1s to hit). It also has two flamers, which can trade out for two fusion blasters or two burst cannons. For the fairly cheap cost, Ghostkeels are fun and offer something a little different, and are also huge winners from some of the custom Sept traits.

They can also take a couple of Prototype Weapon options, making them even more attractive. The Advanced EM Scrambler gives them the ability to shut down deep strikes within 12″, which given they’re on a hefty base lets them do some real work controlling space (though losing the initial option to take two with this via the FAQ has made it a bit less good). Meanwhile, if you just want to kill stuff, the Fusion Obliterator is a fixed three shot fusion collider that also gets an extra 6″ of range and S9, which is a spectactular upgrade, and particularly good in a Stabilisation Systems build. All in all, there’s a decent use case for including one of these in some armies now.

The Rest

  • Kroot Shaper: Ostensibly a way to buff nearby Kroot units and add some additional combat support, he’s just not very good in combat — he lacks any kind of AP or 2+ damage weapons, and so just isn’t likely to actually kill much if he has to fight. That means his only real value is to give re-rolls of 1 to wound to nearby Kroot, but if you are taking Kroot, you’re not doing it for their ability to kill things but instead their ability to be a dirt-cheap screen. Their morale boost ability doesn’t really solve the Kroot Carnivore morale problem, either. You can skip these.
  • XV8 Crisis Bodyguards: They’re Crisis Suits which can also act like shield drones. Just take shield drones.
  • Krootox Riders: One of the most hateful models in the game to assemble back in the days of metal, because the two halves didn’t line up, these guys just kind of exist. I can’t recall ever seeing one on a table.

Fast Attack

Tau Pathfinders
Tau Pathfinders. Credit: Jack Hunter

Pathfinder Team

Pathfinders show up reasonably often in Tau lists reasonably often. They can take some funky Drones, but their main uses are twofold – one, they get a 7″ pre-game scout move, and two, they’re a source of mass markerlight fire. They’re also good slot filler in a Tau Brigade, since they take up Fast Attack slots, though so do Tactical Drones (for more on these, see next entry). Pathfinders don’t do anything especially big or clever, but they have a clear purpose that’s costed about right, which in Tau is about as good as you can ask for. Can also now take Networked Markerlights to boost the range and make them assault weapons, which is good but probably risky given how big a target (ironically) it paints on the head of the unit with them.

Tactical Drones

The tiny powerhouse mainstays of the current competitive T’au Empire army, drones primarily serve the purpose of protecting key units in your army from taking damage while your units continue to spew out unreasonable amounts of firepower. While most competitive T’au armies want to take the add-on drones that come with unit selections, there’s also a real need to take multiple additional drone squads to protect and screen key units. Most competitive lists feature multiple squads of drones, usually either taking 6-8 shield drones per squad, or taking a mix of shield drones and marker drones to help provide Markerlight support for the army. Shield drones are ideal here because they’re hard enough to kill that opponents are loathe to shoot at them directly, while still being able to punish players for ignoring them as they tank wound after wound for Riptides.

Tau Piranha
Tau Piranha. Credit: Jack Hunter

TX4 Piranhas

Piranhas were kind of ignored for a long time after T’au Empire first dropped in 8th edition, and then a build started showing up using tons of them. The gimmick is basically this – they’re cheap, fast, and fly, plus they mount a couple of drones on them. They can also take two seeker missiles, and as long as their gun drones are attached they can fire a couple of pulse carbines too. What you do is mount fusion blasters on them all, smash them into midfield where they offer a fair amount of board control, and then unload a pile of seeker missiles and fusion blasters into something vulnerable-looking. Whenever a Piranha dies, it drops off a unit of Gun Drones, which can then continue to hold any objectives it was on, and also of course help to screen characters and generally get in the way. The build hasn’t shown up for a little while – it can be rough in ITC, since the Gun Drones are a great way to give away “kill more” – but as a way to do something different with Tau it’s a fun one and can be surprisingly effective.

These get a boost with the advent of Hardened Warheads which boosts up their seeker missile alpha strike potential and Gifted Pilots, which also helps.

XV109 Y’vahra Battlesuit (Forge World)

The Y’vahra is a bit like a Riptide, but with a bloody great flamer attached to it. It has a slightly different Nova Reactor table, which lets you pull it off the table and re-deploy, or throw a 3+ invulnerable on against melee only. It has two guns, an ionic discharge cannon which is (standard/nova charged) Heavy 3/3d3, S8/10, AP-3, D1/3, and does 1/d3 mortal wounds to vehicles for each wound roll of a 6+, and then also a phased plasma-flamer which is Heavy 2d6/3d6, S6, AP-2, D3. That’s a lot of firepower. The main strike against Y’vahras is that they cost 395pts and they need to get close to offer their maximum output, and at base they can’t redeploy and shoot the flamer. As mentioned previously, there was a fashion for taking these in a Bork’an detachment so that the flamer was 14″ instead of 8″ – which makes it a lot better! – but that didn’t really work out competitively since they’re just so expensive and Riptides offer just as much.

The Rest

  • Vespid Stingwings: These guys would be amazing if they could benefit from any of the Sept Tenets. As-is, they’re just on the wrong side of being playable, with BS4+ preventing them from being a deadly Deep Strike threat against Marines (where otherwise having S5 AP-2 firepower is really good).
  • Kroot Hounds: These guys just sort of exist. They do have one role, which is being cheap slot fodder for a Brigade, but their actual in-game use mostly comes down to “stand on objective” and “hope not to die.” They’re basically the cheapest screening unit you can take in the T’au army, but you should probably be buying drones to do the same thing, only better.

Heavy Support

Tau Broadside Battlesuit with Missiles
Tau Broadside Battlesuit with Missiles. Credit: Jack Hunter

XV88 Broadside Battlesuits

Broadsides are the conceptual opposite of Crisis Suits – they’re not fast, they don’t fly, and they don’t ever want to be too close to anyone. What they offer instead is a 2+ save, 6 wounds, and firepower which is actually costed appropriately. By default they come with a heavy rail rifle and two smart missile systems, which they can swap for two high-yield missile pods or two plasma rifles respectively. You’ll see all four guns in Simon Priddis’ list below, demonstrating that there’s use cases for all of them (though in the case of the plasma rifles I suspect the use case was “being fairly cheap.”) The rail rifle offers 2 shots at enormous range, Strength 8, AP-4, and D6 damage, plus it causes an additional mortal wound on a 6+ to wound. The missile pods are a little more sedate, being only S7 AP-2 and d3 damage, but you get four times as many shots from them. As with Crisis Suits, you can take 2 drones per model in a Broadside unit, and you should do this most (if not all) the time.

TGG gave these a number of boosts – the more popular HYMP build gets even better with Hardened Warheads, but the Rail Rifle build gets an arguably even bigger boost with the Magna Rail Rifle prototype system, which makes their big guns S9, boosts their range and gives them a minimum damage of 3. That’s monstrous on a full squad, and enough to keep both options seriously viable.

TX7 Hammerhead Gunship

Tau Hammerhead Gunship
Tau Hammerhead Gunship. Credit: Jack Hunter

The battle tanks of the T’au Army, Hammerheads can opt for either a Railgun or an Ion Cannon as their primary armament. And while the Railgun looks extremely cool, it’s almost always going to be a worse option than the Ion Cannon, which can put out a greater volume of shots at nearly the same range and has much lower variance, with the ability to Overcharge for D6 S8 3-Damage shots. The main weakness of these is that they’re true VEHICLE models rather than being BATTLESUIT like a lot of the rest of T’au, so they’re vulnerable to things like haywire or the Imperial Fists’ Legacy of Dorn doctrine where things like Riptides aren’t.

Once upon a time these needed Longstrike to have a place, but with the advent of the Hardened Warheads/Gifted Pilots Sept combo there’s now another place for them. Load them with the ion cannon, SMSes and the maximum count of seeker missiles and you have a decently priced engine of death that can engage a lot of targets. A list packing these won the Scottish Takeover recently (which we’ll showcase later on), so if they’ve been gathering dust in your collection now might be the time to get them out!

MV71 Sniper Drones

In sniper meta these have been trialled – Devin Swann ran a list while ago which ran 27 of them – but they haven’t yet wormed their way into the greater consciousness. They’re -1 to hit from more than 12″ away, and each drone has a rapid fire sniper rifle with 48″ range and S5, so they definitely have prospects for wailing on things like Warlocks or Guard Commanders or the various Plaguebearer support characters.

TX78 Sky Ray Gunship

Sky Rays have shown up from time to time as a neat alternative list. What they offer is an absolutely horrendous alpha strike – each Sky Ray can take 6 seeker missiles, which means that each one is potentially unloading 6 krak missiles into something with markerlights on turn 1. Once you’ve done that, you still have their SMSes to blast away, and they can switch gears to being objective grabbers and bully chargers. They’re a weird unit, but do have some roles they can fill. These have also only gotten better with Hardened Warheads/Gifted Pilots, making them even better at blowing your opponent off the board turn one.

Dedicated Transport


Devilfish are the only transport available to Tau, and they’re another iconic part of the faction which just kind of isn’t really there. They have all the same issues as other transports in 8th, they don’t have particularly significant guns in and of themselves, and a lot of what would normally be transported in them is stuff that is better off just standing around in the Tau castle. Devilfish full of Breachers hopping out to murder things would be great if only it wasn’t objectively worse than just plinking away from miles across the battlfield, but it is.


AX39 Sun Shark Bomber

The Sun Shark has a similar role to the Drukhari Voidraven, which is to fly over something and bomb the hell out of it and hope to cause mortal wounds. It’s not quite as good here as it is there, since it gets no bonus against VEHICLE or MONSTER units and only wounds things on a 5+ (4+ against INFANTRY). It also has a missile pod, two seeker missiles, a couple of drones with ion rifles, and also totes a markerlight. Sun Sharks have a definite application zooming over stuff and hoping to drop a ton of mortal wounds on it, and Devin Swann’s list below which uses these plus a pile of Sky Rays for a horrific alpha strike is at least something to think about.

These also benefit a lot from being run as Farsight post-TGG – the new Sept ability is great with them, and the Firestorm stratagem is sometimes worth going in on. With their four Ion Rifles (when the drones are attached) they’re also one of the best users of the Modulated Weaponry stratagem, guaranteeing them 12 shots (though there’s a big risk of obliterating your drones when doing it unless you’ve maxed out on markerlights).

Credit: Charlie A.

Tiger Shark (Forge World)

There was a brief moment where Tiger Sharks were a hot meta pick, because they had the same guns as Riptides and when the Codex updated those, these got a stealth buff for no extra cost. Giant planes which could pour out sickening firepower are good for reasons we probably don’t have to explain. About a week after Simon Priddis won Battlefield Birmingham with them, someone at GW finally noticed that this had happened, and they were immediately FAQed to use the index version of their gun which was considerably less good – thus ending their reign. No-one was sad to see them go (except possibly Simon).

AX3 Razorshark Strike Fighter

The Razorshark sure is a unit which exists in the book. Their gun is pretty ok, and they have seeker missiles as well (though the seekers will be hitting on 5s since they’re heavy weapons and the Razorshark has to move), but they’re fairly flimsy and the gun isn’t good enough to justify the cost.

Remora Stealth Drones

These have turned up in a successful list as exactly and only a delivery mechanism for the Farsight Enclaves Firestorm stratagem.


Tidewall Shieldline, Tidewall Gunrig, Tidewall Droneport

Every so often someone gets the clever idea to take a Tidewall Shieldline and use it to scoot stuff about the table in a hilarious way. That is the entire use of Tidewall fortifications. Thanks for checking.

Lord of War

Tau Stormsurge
Tau Stormsurge. Credit: Jack Hunter

KV128 Stormsurge

The only VEHICLE in the T’au Battlesuit fleet, the Stormsurge is kind of an odd beast. It’s not a Battlesuit, and so doesn’t benefit from any of those bonuses, but it has the ability to plant its feet for an additional +1 to its To Hit rolls when shooting as long as it remains stationary. That’s helpful because with BS4+ base, it really needs the help to get the most out of its shooting. The sad truth is that Stormsurges just don’t quite “get there” in a competitive setting. They can’t be protected with Drones’ Saviour Protocols rule and you can’t use any of the BATTLESUIT Stratagems on them, and while they can put out a lot of firepower, it’s not quite enough to make up for the fact that they cost significantly more than a Riptide. And while they come with more wounds and the ability to take a Shield Generator for a 4+ invulnerable save, losing out on the drone protections means they’re ultimately more vulnerable than Riptides.

If you do run a Stormsurge, you should swap out the flamers for Burst Cannons to give it a boost and give it more output at longer ranges and stick to the Pulse Blastcannon, which costs less and has greater wound output potential. 72″ range is nice but it’s not it if it means you’re paying more for a S10 Lascannon shot. The Destroyer Missiles that come with the Stormsurge can absolutely ruin someone’s week if you get the Markerlights in place to get them hitting on a re-rollable 2+. You only get four, but that should be more than enough to do some real damage. You also need to slam a Shield Generator on this bad boy because it’s imminently targetable and needs the 4+ invulnerable save to survive as long as it can without drone protection.

As of TGG these can also pack the Annihilation Warheads prototype system, which do an automatic 3MWs on a hit, which is hilarious, and are big beneficiaries of Gifted Pilots/Hardened Warheads.

Credit: Ethan “Firehead” Case

KX139 Ta’unar Supremacy Armour

This thing is a BATTLESUIT, and as such benefits from Saviour Protocols. Unlike most titan scale units from FW this thing is actually usable, and we hate it. Lots of firepower, relatively easy to kill if there are no drones, but there are always drones. Suffers from the same weak ankles of all T’au battlesuits, which can cause catastrophe mid-game. Otherwise, the Tau’nar is capable of putting out obscene amounts of firepower and doing so at crazy ranges. It still suffers from being a “putting all your eggs in one basket”-type strategy, and if your opponent has the firepower to bring it down in a turn through your drones you’re going to wish you’d diversified. Still, back down to its original points cost, the thing is practically a steal, and it can put out a silly amount of shots. It’s not quite a strong enough for Tau’nar lists to be a regularly viable strategy, but Tau’nar lists have top-4’d at smaller events. If you take one, the best move is probably to take it as Dal’yth Sept, since it’ll rarely move and bringing it up to a 2+ save is a significant bonus when you’re talking about that many wounds and only a 5+ invulnerable save.

The Eight


Extremely Gunum voice Ok but just hear me out


Stratagems, Traits and Relics



  • Multi Spectrum Sensor Suite – 1CP: Use when a BATTLESUIT unit fires. Enemy units can’t claim cover against it this phase. This is a lot more useful than it used to be, now that the meta is lousy with both Raven Guard and Successor Chapters that use the Stealthy Successor Trait to gain a cover bonus when more than 12″ away. Cover was already much easier for Tau to deal with than -1 to hit, and this helps close the rest of the gap. B+
  • Fail Safe Detonator – 1CP: When a BATTLESUIT unit is destroyed in the fight phase, inflict a MW on each unit within 3″ on a 4+ (rolled per unit). A neat little spiteful ability that can be helpful for punishing Berserkers and other low-wound elite melee units, but incredibly situational. C
  • Automated Repair System – 2CP: Use at the start of any turn, once per turn. Heal a VEHICLE or BATTLESUIT for d3 wounds. Very helpful for pushing a Riptide back over a damage threshold on its profile. A
  • Neuroweb System Jammer – 2CP: Use at the start of the enemy shooting phase. Pick an enemy unit within 18″ of a BATTLESUIT COMMANDER and give it -1 to hit. Potentially helpful but expensive and the range implies you’re going to be venturing out of your castle to use it. C
  • Repulsor Impact Field – 1CP: Use after a BATTLESUIT unit is charged. Roll a d6 for each model from the charging unit within 3″ of your unit and deal a MW on a 6. This doesn’t deal nearly enough wounds to be worth it and you’re going to get more damage shooting in Overwatch most of the time. C
  • Command and Control Node – 1CP: Use at the start of the shooting phase. Pick a <SEPT> BATTLESUIT unit within 6″ of a <SEPT> COMMANDER. The commander can’t shoot, but the other unit can re-rolls failed wounds for the phase. This is a very powerful ability and useful for helping your Riptides live their best lives. A
  • EMP Grenade – 1CP: Use when a unit throws a photon grenade at a VEHICLE. Make a single hit roll and inflict d3 mortals on a hit. It’s rare that vehicles will be getting this close to you unless they’re knights, in which case getting in a few mortals isn’t so bad if you’ve got the markerlights in place to ensure the grenade will hit. As Redditor Matora pointed out, this can be particularly nasty in the hands of a Cadre Fireblade, who can lob it at a Knight or other large vehicle with BS2+ and then use the wounds caused to activate the Focused Fire Stratagem for the T’au Sept, allowing you to do some real damage to something that’s gotten close enough to regret it, but hasn’t yet charged, or something you’ve fallen back from and now need to clear out of your space. B
  • Hunting Hounds – 1CP: Use after a Kroot Hound unit charges. You can re-roll charges for other KROOT units within 12″ of those Kroot Hounds. Would be more useful if Kroot were worth taking or could do much in melee. C
  • Uplinked Markerlight – 1CP: Use after hitting with a markerlight fired by a model from your army. Add an extra d3 markerlight counters. This is the army’s go-to Stratagem, and you’re going to find yourself using it almost every turn to help get key targets to 5+ Markerlights. Use a Cadre Fireblade or Marksman to drop the first Markerlight or two, then used Uplinked Markerlights to make it an additional D3. A+
  • Branched Nova Charge – 1CP: Get two Nova Charge effects instead of one on a Riptide. This is fantastic, and you’re going to use it a lot in the games where you’re bringing multiple Riptides. Which is almost all of them. Use it to protect your Riptides with a 3+ invulnerable save while continuing to pour out higher damage output. A
  • Support Turret Replacement – 1CP: Respawn a dead support turret at the end of your movement phase. C
  • Point Defence Targeting Relay – 1CP: A VEHICLE firing Overwatch can hit on 5s. Helpful for Hammerheads, but really made with the Stormsurge in mind. Neat in a pinch, but if your Stormsurge is getting charged we suspect that hings have gone horribly, terribly wrong. B-
  • Emergency Dispensation – 1/3CP: The standard Stratagem for generating extra relics. Absurdly good now it gives access to Prototype Weapons. A
  • Orbital Ion Beam – 3CP: Once per battle in your shooting phase, a stationary commander can draw a 2D6″ line on the battlefield. Then you deal d3 MWs on a 4+ (5+ for CHARACTERS) to anything it crosses. A little too expensive for its variable length. C
  • Breach and Clear – 1CP: A Breacher Team re-rolls failed wounds against an enemy unit in cover until the end of the phase. This would theoretically be more useful now that so many space marine armies are bringing the Stealthy trait to get the benefit of cover, but that only applies when you’re more than 12″ away and Breacher Teams want to be well within 12″ when they start shooting, so as-is its primary uses are when you’re rushing enemies, which just won’t happen in most competitive games. C
  • Recon Sweep – 1CP: Use at the start of your shooting phase. A Pathfinder unit can move 2d6″ but cannot shoot or charge. Another ability that gives T’au mobility that they don’t really use, but can be handy for making a last-ditch push for an objective if you’re bringing Pathfinders. C
  • Wall of Mirrors – 1CP: Use at the start of your movement phase. Redeploy a Stealth Battlesuit unit that was within 6″ of a Ghostkeel unit anywhere that is within 12″ of that Ghostkeel and more than 9″ from the enemy. A really useful ability for shifting Stealth Suits around, but hampered by the fact that Stealth Suits are bad. B
  • Stimulant Injector – 1CP: A BATTLESUIT unit with 10+ wounds can use its top profile for the turn regardless of how many wounds it has left. Very useful for making sure your Riptides can continue to operate at full efficiency after they’ve taken a few shots. A

Credit: Charlie A.

The Greater Good

  • Sworn Bodyguard – 1CP: Use in the fight phase when a Crisis Bodyguard is chosen to fight with. Until the end of the phase, when resolving an attack made with a melee weapon by a model in that unit whist a friendly <sept> character is within 3” of that model’s unit, you can re-roll hit and wounds. Ehhh with three attacks each a full unit of Crisis Bodyguards, especially with ATSes (which do actually work in melee) this does throw a decent punch, but I’m not convinced that makes this worth paying the extra points for them over the regular flavour. C
  • Aerial Targeting – 1CP: Use this in your shooting phase. Select one enemy unit. Until the end of the phase, count the unit as having one more markerlight on it. This, on the other hand, totally whips. One of the absolute disasters that can befall a Tau army is trying to put five markers on something and whiffing and only getting four, and this just lets you say “nah, I totally did it” for 1CP. The fact that this works for your whole army in that scenario is fantastic. It’s also got several other users – if you need a single markerlight on something just for the re-rolls then this lets you just do it with no risk (and it probably means fewer people will bring Sa’cea detachments for their strat), and it also lets you put a markerlight on something out of sight that you’re planning to blow away with smart missiles. Just a fantastic stratagem all around. A
  • Deadly Aim – 2CP: Use this in the shooting phase when you pick a MV71 Sniper Drones unit. Until the end of the phase, improve longshot pulse rifle’s AP by 1. In addition if you are within half range of the the weapon’s attack, improve its AP by a further 1. Sniper drones have seen occasional fringe use and this does make them quite a bit scarier, but putting a full unit on the table is expensive and I feel like at the point you’ve committed to that this could have cost 1CP. As it is, if you like Sniper Drones it helps, but it doesn’t make them massively more attractive. C+
  • Wisdom of the Many – 1CP: Use in the movement phase. Select one Ethereal unit from your army. Until the end of the phase you can invoke one additional elemental power. Note that you can’t double up on powers. I mean, yup – you frequently want both Storm of Fire and Strength of Stone and now you don’t have to choose. Yay. That’s it. This isn’t complicated. A
  • Pulse Onslaught – 1CP: Use in the shooting phase when a breacher team is picked to shoot. Until the end of the phase the range of close and medium range profiles on their pulse blasters is increased to 15”. This is nifty and lets a Breacher squad throw a hefty punch at mid range. The main thing holding it back is that most armies want Breachers in small units while this draws you towards a full squad. If you do have a big squad, perhaps flying around in a Devilfish, this is really powerful, elsewhere it’s just a nice occasional boost. B
  • Modulated Weaponry – 1CP: Use in the shooting phase when a <sept> VEHICLE, RIPTIDE or GHOSTKEEL (no titanic models though) is picked to shoot. Until the end of the phase, you do max shots with their Heavy weapons. I.e Heavy D6 does 6 shots. After they briefly forgot that the Y’havara exists this was swiftly FAQed to mostly only affect units with a single variable-shot Heavy weapon (Sun Sharks with their Ion Drones still attached being the main exception), which makes this mostly only OK. If you’re firing a d6 shot gun at something you want dead then definitely go for it if you can spare the CP, but it’s not mandatory. B
  • Rain of Fire – 1CP: Use in the shooting phase when a Vespid Stingwing unit is chosen to shoot with, Until the end of the phase, if you used the Plunge from the sky ability that turn, you can re-roll the hit roll. This doesn’t come anywhere close to giving Vespid a job they’re the best tool for. If you have them it makes them better, but it doesn’t make you want them. D+
  • Coordinated Engagement – 2CP: When a Crisis unit shoots, you count all their targets as having 5 markerlight counters on them. Yum. If you’re bringing Crisis Teams this is part of why. We’ve basically covered how to use Crisis Teams already – if you’re taking them, use this. A
  • Ambushing Predators – 1CP: A KROOT unit can perform a heroic intervention as if they were a CHARACTER, and move up to 6″ while doing so. This is OK – Kroot occasionally turn up as screening units and this lets them pull a nasty surprise, but they are basically just a bit naff in combat and this is strictly an interference tool rather than one for killing stuff. The other relevant use of it is with Dahyak Grekh – if he’s in your castle then jumping him 6″ out is a way to potentially mess with your opponent’s pile-in plans when they’re trying to play round FTGG.
  • Seasoned Sniper 1CP: A Firesight Marksman can character snipe till the end of the phase. This is weird – Firesights don’t have a gun that kills stuff, so what this does is gives you a chance to gamble on landing a Markerlight on someone. If you’ve swung a Commander round and are planning to try and assassinate someone that can help, but you could also just use Aerial Targeting or bring Cross-Linked Stabiliser JetsC
  • Hidden Hunters – 1CP:  Use at the start of your opponent’s shooting phase. A KROOT unit from your army gets an extra +1 to their saves in cover for the phase, and your opponent gets -1 to hit them. This doesn’t do nearly enough most of the time, and it’s hard to get the benefit on a full squad. This is a hefty boost, but it won’t get there a lot of the time. C
  • Pack Alpha – 1CP: Upgrade a Kroot Shaper with an aura where KROOT within 6″ roll an extra dice when advancing or charging and discarding the lowest. Like, if you’re a complete madaman who’s running a Kroot Army then this is fantastic for you, and if you look at the next strat and decide you desperately want to slam people with Kroot fists then sure, go for it, but most armies don’t need this. C
  • Raging Beasts – 1CP: A Krootox Rider unit gets +2A and +2AP on their fists for a combat phase. This does actually make Kroot riders hilariously nasty in a fight, and it’s kind of a shame the units cap out at 3 models as with 6 this could do some work. As is, it’s another nice boost for people who want to use Kroot, but not enough to make them properly competitive. C
  • Point-Blank Volley – 1CP: A unit can count their pulse carbines, blasters or rilfes as pistol 2 in your shooting phase. This is probably best for Breachers – if your opponent has wrapped an outlying unit being able to blast them at point-blank to strip a few of the enemy out is pretty funny. Won’t come up super often, but remember you have it. B
  • Promising Pupil – 1CP: Give a character in your army a warlord trait. You can’t give a model more than one, and each warlord trait must be unique. It says a lot about how weak Tau Warlord traits generally are that I only noticed that they forgot to make this “once per battle” on this new pass. This is OK, being able to boost up a commander with one of the more murderous traits as well as keeping Through Unity Devastation is nice, but there really aren’t many standouts, and in many cases the best thing you can say about them is that some of them are worth it now you can’t take multiple Cross-Linked Stabiliser Jets. B

Warlord Traits

Tau Warlords typically fall into two categories: Crisis Suit Commanders and Cadre Fireblades. Which Warlord Trait you’ll want will depend mostly on which you’re making your warlord and what will benefit them and your army the most.

  • Precision of the Hunter: The Warlord re-rolls 1s to wound against VEHICLES and MONSTERS. This is a decent ability, and worth considering if your commander is going to be a triple- or quad-fusion Coldstar Commander. At which point having this will help you maximize your output. It’s no Through Unity, Devastation, though. B
  • Through Unity, Devastation: Pick a unit visible to your warlord in the shooting phase. Friendly <SEPT> units within 6″ get an extra -1 AP when they roll a 6+ to wound when shooting the selected unit. This is a really strong ability and essentially the default Warlord Trait you’re going to choose for a competitive Tau army. It pairs very well with units that have a high shot output like say, Burst Cannon Riptides and Missile Pod Broadsides. Great on a Cadre Fireblade Warlord A
  • A Ghost Walks Among Us: Your warlord always advances 6″, do not roll the dice. There isn’t really a Warlord in the T’au army that wants this ability. If you want a Warlord that can really move, take a Coldstar and then you’ve got +20″ when you Advance. C
  • Through Boldness, Victory: If your unit starts the shooting phase within 12″ of an enemy unit, they can re-roll failed hit rolls for the rest of the phase. A useful ability, but one that’s going to take too long to become active. Better to focus on things that will help you wipe as much off the battlefield on turn 1 as possible. C
  • Exemplar of the Kau’yon: Your warlord can re-roll failed hits as long as they haven’t moved for any reason this turn. This is OK but typically if you have a Crisis Commander Warlord, you’re likely to be dropping in from a Manta and moving, and if you’re a Cadre Fireblade Warlord, the only weapon you’re going to be operating is a Markerlight. This is OK for that, but not worth using a Warlord Trait on. C
  • Exemplar of the Mont’ka: When your warlord advances, they can shoot as if they didn’t. Another Trait for mobile Warlords (and mobile armies generally). Might be more useful if there was a compelling reason to play mobile T’au but right now, the strategy is to let them come to you. Still, useful on a Coldstar Commander that needs to be able to close a 40″ gap and then shred something with fusion blasters. B


  • Puretide Engram Neurochip: When either player uses a stratagem, roll a D6. On a roll of a 6, gain 1 CP. In addition, get a once per battle re-roll for a hit, wound or damage roll for a <SEPT> unit within 6″ of the bearer (including themselves). This is probably the best relic T’au have, and the one that shows up in most competitive lists. Because they tend to sit back, if you take an Ethereal, it’s a good idea to give them this relic. A
  • Onager Gauntlet: Gives a BATTLESUIT COMMANDER a single attack at S10 AP-4 Dd6 each time they fight. This is neat, given that Tau don’t really get close combat weapons like Thunder Hammers but you don’t really want your commander fighting. You want them firing off 3 fusion blasters or 3 cyclic ion blasters. C-
  • Multi-Sensory Discouragement Array: Enemy units within 6″ get -1 to their Ld. Laughably bad, just like almost every relic or ability that lowers enemy Ld. F
  • Solid Image Projection Unit: An Ethereal on a Hover Drone can move 3″ when declared as a charge target (once per phase). Helps your Ethereal stay out of combat, but you should already be screening them to keep them safe so you can clear up the space for a different relic. C+
  • Seismic Destabiliser: At the start of each shooting phase, pick either a BUILDING or an enemy INFANTRY unit claiming cover within 12″ of the bearer. A BUILDING suffers d3 MWs, for INFANTRY you roll a dice for each model and deal a MW on a 6. The building part of this is worthless, and the Infantry part is only useful if you are pressing toward an enemy position where they are in cover, which won’t happen often. D
  • Supernova Launcher: Relic airbursting frag projector. Assault d6, 18″ range, S6, AP-2, D2, and doesn’t need LOS. An interesting relic weapon. Potentially funny on a Coldstar Commander running this and 3 Airbursting Frag Projectors, where the ability to spit out 4D6 shots per shooting round at a target out of LOS is potentially a very scary threat. B+


Credit: Ethan “Firehead” Case

Prototype Weapon Systems

What if you love cool guns, but none of the Tau Relics are doing it for you? Luckily, TGG came with an answer – Prototype Weapons System. For each relic your army would have (i.e. including any added with Emergency Dispensation) you can take one of these instead for a unit in your army. Each has a set of units it can be chosen for (often various kinds of Battlesuit) and just like with relics some replace weapons, which you still have to pay for. Where you do replace a weapon, every instance of that weapon in the unit is replaced, so some of these get very potent on full sized units.

As of the FAQ, a given unit can only have a single prototype system, and each can only be taken once per army. They also can’t be given to Named Characters (sorry Longstrike).

  • Reactive Countermeasures: Battlesuit with airbursting fragmentation projector. Models with this ignore AP-1 and AP-2 when shot at with ranged weapons. This is a potent tool to add on to one or two Iridium-suited models in a larger Crisis team, giving a powerful ablative shield against anti-infantry firepower. B+
  • Fusion Obliterator: Replaces a Ghostkeel’s Fusion Collider. Range 24” Heavy 3 S9 AP -4 D6, with the standard melta rule. A powerful upgrade on their gun, and especially good if you’re taking Stabilisation SystemsB
  • Advanced EM Scrambler: XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit model only. Reinforcements cannot be set up within 12” of this model. This effect is useful, though this one got hurt a lot by the FAQ preventing you taking duplicates. With two Ghostkeels equipped with this you could carve off a very big no-drop zone. As is, it does mess with your opponent’s plans a bit, but is a lot harder to use. B
  • High-Capacitance Railgun: TX7 Hammerhead Gunship. Replaces the railgun with a cooler and gooder one. Solid Shot mode is Range 60” Heavy 2 S10 AP-4 D6, Submunitions are 60” Heavy 4d3 S6 AP-1 D1. When using the solid profile, wound rolls of 6+ inflicts D3 mortals in addition to any other damage. It says a lot about the sad state of the railgun that even making one twice as good doesn’t really make it a very compelling choice over the Ion Cannon. Obviously if you are taking a Hammerhead with a railgun take this, but Ionheads are still the preference. C+
  • Gatling Burst Cannon: Commander, XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, XV8 Crisis Bodyguards or XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuits only. Replaces burst cannons. Range 18” Assault 4 S5 AP0 D1, causes an additional hit on an unmodified 6 to hit. This is 100% aimed at big Crisis teams going heavy on burst cannons, and lets you build a nasty anti-infantry bomb as we covered earlier. B+
  • Networked Markerlights: Pathfinder Team only. Replaces the teams markerlights with a 36” assault 1 markerlight. Does make a squad way better at their job, but also ensures they are immediately dunked from orbit by whatever small proportion of the guns your opponent needs to point at them to melt them. C+
  • Annihilation Warheads: KV128 Stormsurge model only. When using the destroyer missiles, if you hit with them, don’t roll for mortals, just dish out 3 of them. No matter how hard I try no one will go out and test triple stormsurges for me, and a single one tends to get fairly swiftly murdered, so this probably doesn’t come up that often, but if you’re using a Stormsurge please take this, it’s very funny. B (Actually a C but fight me, yes you that one guy on Reddit, I saw what you said).
  • Accelerated-Photon Grenades: Unit with photon grenades. Replaces the units photon grenades with a boosted version that when they hit (12″, d6 shots) the affected unit cannot advance and halve their charges till your next turn, and also substract 1 from melee hit rolls. In theory these are cool, but in practice with them only applying to a single unit it’s ridiculously hard to get them in the right place, and your opponent can just kill them. This legit could apply to every unit with grenades in a detachment when taken and would probably then be balanced about right. D+
  • Cross-Linked Stabiliser Jets: Commander, XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, XV8 Crsis Bodyguards. When resolving ranged attacks with this unit, reroll hit rolls of a 1 and wound rolls of a 1. This is just absurdly good on commanders of all stripes, making them way more reliable both when blasting away from your castle and going out hunting. Removing the need to support them with markerlights is hugely helpful, and this is a very powerful tool that most armies just want for efficiency. A
  • Magna Rail Rifle: XV88 Broadside Battlesuits. Replace heavy rail rifles with Range 60” Heavy 2 S9 AP-4 D6. Wound Roll of 6+ inflicts a mortal in addition to other damage. In addition, damage rolls of 1 or 2 count as 3. See this is how you do a relic rail weapon, hot damn. This makes a squad of rail rifle Broadsides a super scary inclusion in lists, and because they’re a pain to shoot out past drones present a real problem for opponents relying on armoured elements. A very powerful weapon. A
  • Amplified Ion Accelerator: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit. Replace the Ion Accelerator with: Standard 72” Heavy 6, S8 AP-4 D3, Overcharge 72” Heavy 6 S9 AP-4 3+D3. Cop a mortal on yourself if you roll a 1 on an overcharged shot. This gun is just utterly prepostorous in how dangerous it is, and it says a lot about how powerful Tau already were that this hasn’t just become an auto-include in lists. About the only bad thing you can say about it is that in metagames that are horde heavy losing the rate of fire of a heavy burst cannon sucks, but in any sort of tank-heavy metagame this is absolutely premium. A
  • High-powered Incinerator: Battlesuit only. Replaces each flamer in the unit with the following profile. Range 8” Assault D6 S4 AP0 D1, hits automatically and has +1S under half range. This is extremely tepid, and needed way more of an upside to be worth taking. D

Prototype Weapons have some wildly potent choices among them, with the Magna Rail Rifles and Stabiliser Jets really standing out. Take these and laugh at pathetic, weaker opponents still stuck with just the relics their codex gave them.

Army Lists

Brian Pullen’s Triptide List

This list, piloted by Brian Pullen to a 6-0 1st-place finish at the SoCal Open in October. The big change to Brian’s list from older Tau lists is a heavier reliance on drones. A combination of the new rules for drones absorbing wounds and the ease with which Space Marines can wipe out characters means that T’au lists need to heavy up on drones as a way of mitigating the damage that marine armies, especially Iron Hands, Raven Guard, and Imperial Fists, are able to put out in the game’s first two turns.

Brian Pullen's SoCal Open List - Click to Expand

++ Outrider Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [25 PL, 465pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV85 Enforcer Battlesuit [7 PL, 135pts]: Drone controller, 3x Fusion blaster

FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone
FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone
FA: Tactical Drones [6 PL, 110pts] – 8x Shield Drone, 3x Marker Drone

++ Vanguard Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [51 PL, 1,022pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 182pts]: 4x Fusion blaster . 2x MV4 Shield Drone

Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock
Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit [14 PL, 280pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Advanced targeting system, Heavy burst cannon, Target lock

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T’au Empire) [28 PL, 511pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: T’au Sept

HQ: Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [9 PL, 182pts]: 4x Fusion blaster, 2x Shield Drone
HQ: Ethereal [4 PL, 70pts]: 2. Through Unity, Devastation, Honour blade, Hover drone, Warlord, 2x MV4 Shield Drone, Puretide engram neurochip

Troops: Strike Team [3 PL, 58pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x MV4 Shield Drone
Troops: Strike Team [3 PL, 58pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x MV4 Shield Drone
Troops: Strike Team [3 PL, 55pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Pulse rifle, 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle, 2x MV4 Shield Drone

FA: Pathfinder Team [6 PL, 88pts]: MV31 Pulse Accelerator Drone, MV33 Grav-inhibitor Drone, Recon Drone, 2x Shield Drone, 5x Pathfinder: 5x Markerlight

++ Total: [104 PL, 1,998pts] ++


Simon Priddis’ Twisted Onslaught List

Tau Piranha
Tau Piranha. Credit: Jack Hunter

This list, piloted by Simon Priddis to a 5-0 1st-place finish at Twisted Onslaught in early September, dials back on the Riptides in favor of running Broadsides, Piranhas, and Shadowsun. While successful, it represents a pre-supplement build for Tau, most notably pre-Raven Guard. While Tau have less to fear from Raven Guard than most armies thanks to being able to take a ton of drones, this particular army is light on drones. If you were to run it today, you might be better-served finding a way to fit in a squad or two of drones in order to protect Shadowsun and the army’s other characters. Priddis’ list also incorporates 6 Seeker Missiles on the Broadsides, set up to eliminate any target that the army’s Marksmen drop Markerlights on turn 1.

Simon Priddis' Twisted Onslaught List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5 CP (T’au Empire) T’au Sept [109PL, 1870pts] ++

HQ: Cadre Fireblade (39), Markerlight (3), 2 Shield Drones (20) Puretide Engram Neurochip (0) [3PL][62pts] WARLORD (Through Unity Devastation)

HQ: Commander Shadowsun (110), MV52 Shield Drone (11), Command Link Drone (6) [10PL] [127pts]

Troops: 5 Strike Team (35), Upgrade to Shas’ui (0), Markerlight (Shas’ui, 3), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) [3PL][58pts]

Troops: 5 Strike Team (35), Upgrade to Shas’ui (0), Markerlight (Shas’ui, 3), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) [3PL][58pts]

Troops: 5 Strike Team (35), Upgrade to Shas’ui (0), Markerlight (Shas’ui, 3), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) [3PL][58pts]

Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit (185), Heavy Burst Cannon (35), 2x Smart Missile System (30), Advanced Targeting System (18), Velocity Tracker (10) [14PL][278pts]

Elites: XV104 Riptide Battlesuit (185), Heavy Burst Cannon (35), 2x Smart Missile System (30), Advanced Targeting System (18), Velocity Tracker (10) [14PL][278pts]

FA: 3 TX4 Piranhas (90), 3x Burst Cannon (24), 3x 2 Seeker Missiles (30), 3x 2 Gun Drones (60) [12PL][204pts]

HS: 3 XV88 Broadside Battlesuits (105), 3x 2 High Yield Missile Pods (150), 3x 2 Smart Missile Systems (90), 3x Seeker Missile (15), 3x Advanced Targeting System (18), Upgrade to Shas’vre (0), 5 Shield Drones (50) [24PL][428pts]

HS: 3 XV88 Broadside Battlesuits (105), 3x Heavy Rail Rifle (105), 3x 2 Plasma Rifles (48), 3x Seeker Missile (15), 3x Velocity Tracker (6), Upgrade to Shas’vre (0), 4 Shield Drones (40) [23PL] [319pts]

++ Vanguard Detachment +1 CP (T’au Empire) Sa’cea Sept [8PL, 130pts] ++

HQ: 1 Ethereal (45), Honour Blade (0), Hover Drone (5), Marker Drone (10) [4PL][60pts]

Elites: Dahyak Grekh (20) [2PL][20pts]

Elites: 1 Firesight Marksman (21), Markerlight (3), Pulse Pistol (1) [1PL][25pts]

Elites: 1 Firesight Marksman (21), Markerlight (3), Pulse Pistol (1) [1PL][25pts]


Devin Swann’s Sword and Brush List

Devin Swann’s list, which he piloted to a 4-1 2nd-place finish at the 32-man Sword and Brush event in early September, is primarily here for variety’s sake: It’s an example of a successful T’au Empire list that doesn’t take three Riptides, instead employing Hammerheads and Skyrays for its long-range heavy firepower. One of the biggest challenges with this list post-Marines is that it’s going to struggle against Imperial Fists, who can very quickly knock out its tanks from 30″ away.

Devin Swan's Sword and Brush List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T’au Empire) [10 PL, 198pts] ++
HQ: Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight
HQ: Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight

Troops: Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Troops: Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Troops: Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts], Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle . 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [67 PL, 1,302pts] ++
HQ: Longstrike [10 PL, 212pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile

HS: TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile
HS: TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile
HS: TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile

HS: TX7 Heavy Bombardment Hammerhead Gunship [10 PL, 190pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Seeker missile
HS: TX7 Heavy Bombardment Hammerhead Gunship [10 PL, 190pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Seeker missile
HS: TX7 Heavy Bombardment Hammerhead Gunship [10 PL, 190pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x High-yield missile pod, 2x Seeker missile

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [28 PL, 500pts] ++
HQ: Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight

Elites: Dahyak Grekh [2 PL, 20pts]
HS: TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile
HS: TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile
HS: TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile
++ Total: [105 PL, 2,000pts] ++


John Hickton’s Greater Good Spectacular

Tau players got some opportunity to try out some of the new TGG toys between the book landing and the world going in to lockdown, and easily the most interesting successful list to have come out of it was the one Twisted Dice‘s John Hickton used to win the Scottish Takeover. This list leans on the power of Hardened Warheads and Gifted Pilots to turbo-charge a bunch of vehicles loaded to the brim with smart and seeker missiles, backed up by a Farsight Enclave Air Wing to squeeze value out of Firestorm and their sept traits. This list presents a tonne of firepower that can go after both volume and heavy targets, while also having mortal wound output from the planes, and while it doesn’t get to lean on drones for defence also doesn’t have to spend a few hundred points on them, letting the list focus on more guns!

You can see John talk about his list in a video Twisted Dice put up on their channel.

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T’au Empire) [36 PL, 656pts] ++

T’au Empire Sept Choice
. Custom Sept: Gifted Pilots, Hardened Warheads

+ HQ +
Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight
Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight

+ Troops +
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle

. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
+ Elites +
Dahyak Grekh [2 PL, 20pts]

+ Heavy Support +
TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile
TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile
TX78 Sky Ray Gunship [8 PL, 146pts]: 2x Smart missile system, 2x Markerlight, 6x Seeker missile

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (T’au Empire) [43 PL, 831pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice
. Custom Sept: Gifted Pilots, Hardened Warheads

+ HQ +
Cadre Fireblade [2 PL, 42pts]: Markerlight
Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit [8 PL, 150pts]: 4x Missile pod

+ Troops +
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle
Strike Team [2 PL, 38pts]
. Fire Warrior Shas’ui: Markerlight, Pulse rifle
. 4x Fire Warrior w/ Pulse Rifle

+ Heavy Support +
TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile
TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile
TX7 Hammerhead Gunship [9 PL, 175pts]: 2x Smart missile system, Ion cannon, 2x Seeker missile

++ Air Wing Detachment +1CP (T’au Empire) [33 PL, 512pts] ++
T’au Empire Sept Choice: Farsight Enclaves
AX39 Sun Shark Bomber [9 PL, 128pts]: Markerlight, Missile pod, 2x MV17 Interceptor Drone, 2x Seeker missile
AX39 Sun Shark Bomber [9 PL, 128pts]: Markerlight, Missile pod, 2x MV17 Interceptor Drone, 2x Seeker missile
AX39 Sun Shark Bomber [9 PL, 128pts]: Markerlight, Missile pod, 2x MV17 Interceptor Drone, 2x Seeker missile
DX6 Remora Stealth Drone Squadron [3 PL, 64pts]
. DX6 ‘Remora’ Stealth Drone w/ 2x Seeker missile: 2x Long-barelled burst cannon, 2x Seeker missile
DX6 Remora Stealth Drone Squadron [3 PL, 64pts]
. DX6 ‘Remora’ Stealth Drone w/ 2x Seeker missile: 2x Long-barelled burst cannon, 2x Seeker missile

++ Total: [112 PL, 1,999pts] ++

Feliks Bartkiewicz’s Farsight Enclaves

As a final entry, since we know they have lots of fans, we have Feliks’ Farsight list. This makes use of the Crisis burst cannon bomb we discussed, backed up by an appaling number of drones and a clique of commanders, to control the board, while blasting from the back with Magna Rail Rifle armed Broadsides. The roving nightmare that the forward elements of this list presents will keep many opponents on the back foot, and like a lot of Farsight armies it’s way less vulnerable to getting pinned down in its deployment zone than the average Tau list. This army went 4-1 at the North East Open, a UK major we did some coverage on earlier this year.

Army List - Click to Expand

FREE RELIC: Gatling Burst Cannon

Battalion Detachment, Tau Empire: Farsight Enclaves [48pl, 771pts] +5CP
HQ: Commander in Enforcer Battlesuit (76), Advanced Targeting System (6), 3x Cyclic Ion Blaster (54), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) (8pl, 156pts)
HQ: Commander in Coldstar Battlesuit (90), Drone Controller (5), 3x Fusion Blaster (42), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) (9pl, 157pts)
TR: Kroot Carnivores: 10x Kroot w/Kroot Rifle (3pl, 40pts)
TR: Strike Team: 5x Fire Warrior w/Pulse Rifle & Photon grenades (2pl, 35pts)
TR: Strike Team: 5x Fire Warrior w/Pulse Rifle & Photon grenades (2pl, 35pts)
HS: Broadside Battlesuits: 3x Broadsides (105), 6x Smart-Missile-System (90), 3x Heavy Rail Rifle (75), 3x Advanced Targeting System (18), 6x MV4 Shield Drone (60) [-1CP extra relic: Magna Rail Rifles] (24pl, 348pts) 

Battalion Detachment, Tau Empire: Farsight Enclaves [53pl, 807pts] +5CP
HQ: Commander in Enforcer Battlesuit (76), Advanced Targeting System (6), 3x Missile Pod (45), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) (8pl, 147pts)
HQ: Commander in Coldstar Battlesuit (90), 4x Fusion Blaster (56), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) (9pl, 166pts)
TR: Strike Team: 5x Fire Warrior w/Pulse Rifle & Photon grenades (2pl, 35pts)
TR: Strike Team: 5x Fire Warrior w/Pulse Rifle & Photon grenades (2pl, 35pts)
TR: Strike Team: 4x Fire Warrior w/Pulse Carbine & Photon Grenades, 1x Shas’Ui w/Markerlight (3) (2pl, 38pts)
EL: Crisis Battlesuits: 5x Shas’ui (120), 1x Shas’vre (27), 6x Advanced Targeting System (36), 12x Burst Cannon (96), 11x MV1 Gun Drone (110) (30pl, 386pts) [Free relic: Gatling Burst Cannons] [-2CP: Veteran Cadre]

Outrider Detachment, Tau Empire: Farsight Enclaves [8pl, 422pts] +1CP
HQ: Cadre Fireblade (39), Markerlight (3), 2x MV4 Shield Drone (20) (2pl, 62pts) WARLORD
FA: Tactical Drones: 8x MV4 Shield Drone (80), 4x MV7 Marker Drone (40) (2pl, 120pts)
FA: Tactical Drones: 8x MV4 Shield Drone (80), 4x MV7 Marker Drone (40) (2pl, 120pts)
FA: Tactical Drones: 8x MV4 Shield Drone (80), 4x MV7 Marker Drone (40) (2pl, 120pts)

(12 MDrone, 11 GDrone, 40 SDrone) 

Wrap Up

And that’s enough about gun-toting fishmen. By now you hopefully have everything you need to get going on your T’au Empire army (hot tip: start with Riptides and Drones) and start crushing your opponents. Personally I can’t wait for Tau to show up in Psychic Awakening and randomly buff Riptides without helping the rest of the army, forcing us to come back in and make that recommendation even stronger. As ever, if you have any questions or comments, drop us a line in the comments below or shoot us an email at Otherwise, go forth and continue to threaten a fairly minor region of space!