6 May 2013

Tau Tactica - Codex Summary

Hey all, I'm Learn2Eel and today I want to give my final impressions on the new Tau Empire codex. I hope you find it an entertaining and insightful read!

I must sincerely apologise both for the relatively short length of this article and the extended time in which it was not published. I have been dealing with a number of illnesses - some of them very serious - for the past few months, and have been unable to commit to these articles as much as I would like. For what it is worth, I will be doing my best to get these articles out to you as quickly as I can, and maintaining the highest standard of quality I can. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

Final Thoughts on the Codex

The Tau Empire are one of the more unique armies in Warhammer 40000, both aesthetically and in how they function during gameplay; with a distinctive, almost anime visual style, mixed with hit and run tactics intrinsic to their army doctrine, they are quite distinct. Tau have established themselves as a strong ranged army that favours mobile, reliable and powerful firepower over a more static and quantifiable approach. Their innate mobility, flexibility of choice and sheer power of their weaponry make them devastating at almost any range, but particularly up close; as the pioneers and masters of the "jump shoot jump" tactic, they can destroy valuable targets and flee out of range with alarming precision. They have a lot of methods of avoiding and exploiting melee encounters, given that many units within the codex prevent enemies from gaining offensive benefits for charging; some of their characters and upgrades allow units to "consolidate" before charge ranges are rolled for, or provide boosted Overwatch. The army wide special rule "Supporting Fire" is very strong if the Tau player is smart with their deployment and positioning, and helps to dissuade potential assaults - the Tau's age old bane.

The army has also found a lot of use in its special characters, a rare trait indeed for the Tau. Farsight and Darkstrider work very well with specific units - often riskier choices owing to their functionality - whilst Shadowsun and Aun'va provide magnificent boosts to any unit they join or are in proximity to. Aun'shi's return, whilst perhaps not the best choice competitively, is still a nice throwback to the glory days of the Tau's initial release - bringing back fond memories of over ten years ago when I first laid my eyes on the blue fish men from the stars. This is where I feel the codex truly shines; it rewards many different styles of play and provides a diverse selection of units that are heavily customizable and adaptable. For fluff and competitive gamers alike, it represents a strong step in the right direction for Warhammer 40000, and is hopefully a beacon to which all may bow before the....I mean, for all future codices to be held against, something truly unusual for a Xenos force. They have an extensive array of deployment options and as much mobility as could be found in many other codices, with strong shooting and an incredible array of defensive mechanisms to protect them from their hated battleground. In short, the Tau Empire are an army for those who can use smart and adaptable tactics to grab the game by its neck and twist it around at any given moment. 

Allies - Given that Tau can ally with almost any army in the game, there is an extensive breadth of options available, and a range of specific and nasty combos to exploit. That they are Battle Brothers with both Space Marines and Eldar means you can use those armies and their powerful psykers - particularly those of the latter - to provide bonuses to your already efficient units, such as re-rolls to hit or ignores cover. Psyker defence is also an important cog to a competitive army list, as many popular armies heavily feature psykers - the Tyranid Psychic Choir is the most prominent example. Space Marines provide tough, reliable infantry and elite melee units to an army that typically lacks either. Eldar work best as the supporting cast, providing boosts to your forces and attempting to exploit weaknesses in enemy formations. The Tau can also ally with a range of other armies, from the Necrons to Chaos Space Marines and more; what army you choose to ally with should strictly be based on what you need, or a fluffy combination. The Tau lack heavy infantry in their Troops slot, as well as elite melee units; Chaos Space Marines, Necrons, Loyalist Marines and the like all provide such units in ample doses. As far as actually allying with a Tau force, the Tau are obviously best used to provide some incredibly high strength firepower at long ranges, but it must be said that the sheer availability of skyfire in their force means they can be used as incredibly effective anti-air forces in a small detachment. Broadside Battlesuits with Velocity Trackers are perfect in this role, regardless of what weapon options they are given, and in addition to a Fire Warrior squad led by a Cadre Fireblade, who mans a Quad Gun behind an Aegis Defence Line, aircraft should not be a problem at all. Crisis Teams and the like can be used to provide incredibly hard hitting firepower that is very mobile; think of a kind of unit that your army struggles with, such as Land Raiders for example, and kit out a Crisis Team to take that unit down - and they will do it, don't you worry. Tau make excellent Allies, whether as the Primary or the Allied detachment, as the sheer diversity of their units means they can be tailor made to deal with almost any threat.

Other Codices and the Meta -Though the Tau are a strong ranged army overall, their value in the overall meta can often be attributed to the sheer quantity of anti-air and cover-ignoring weaponry they can field; no other codex can even come close to comparing to their potential in these areas. Given that they can ally with almost any army, the strength of the Tau in the meta is immense, and they are likely to have far-reaching effects on aircraft and flying monstrous creatures for much of this edition. As it stands, few other armies are as well equipped to deal with such units like the Tau; certainly none of the other hardbacks. Their cheap and solid infantry provide above average fire support against enemies of a similar vein, whilst durable and mobile skimmers provide fire support from close or afar. They have access to some of the most diverse units in the game - the Crisis Battlesuit Teams in particular - and their arsenal in terms of battlesuits has only expanded, with Broadsides finding new joy with the sheer torrent of missiles they can unload, as well as the mighty and rightly feared Riptide; a unit that can feasibly shut down all non-flyer reserves play for an enemy. The theme throughout the codex is overwhelming firepower, and in an edition that favours shooting above all else, the Tau do it much better than any of the other 6th Edition hardback codices. Whilst this doesn't necessarily mean they are the strongest of the new codices solely for that reason, it is nonetheless a defining and powerful trait; keeping away from them is unwise at long range, and with their host of defensive boosts at close range, charging them can be a pain as well! In short, they are an army designed to stay out of combat at all costs, and wreak havoc as they do so. From cheap and powerful Skyfire options available in multiple slots, the effectiveness and potential of Markerlight support, and their host of reliable and versatile units, I feel that the Tau Empire codex is definitely the strongest of the new releases so far, and they will set the standard for all future codices to be judged against in terms of competitiveness. That isn't to say the army is without flaws though; match them in combat and they will fail miserably, and it takes a skilled general to truly use them - a mere gunline does not suit the Tau, who need to be constantly mobile and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances to survive and maximise their damage. In short, the army plays exactly like their fluff depicts; a fast, hard-hitting tactical strike that vanishes back out of range and employs clever hit and run tactics to slowly rob the enemy of any advantage - numerical or otherwise - they had.

In Closing

I would like to thank all of our viewers, friends and family for their support in this difficult journey. It has not been easy, with many a bump in the road to disrupt required progress; however, with the support I have received, and the patience of you all, I am happy to report that I am over-coming these issues and am ready to move on to the next review series. Analysing the Tau codex has been a fun affair full of reminiscing and exuberance; they were the second army I collected after their rival green skins, and I would gladly write of them again. Thanks, I hope you enjoyed this series!

For the Greater Good!


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  2. Hi. I found your blog not too long after the tau codex came out, and I have added it to one of my daily sites to check.

    Your tactica articles are very well written, with an easy writing style and a balanced view they have been a massive asset to me in getting to grips with a new army.

    Too many attempt this style of article and drift in meta-rage or my-fave-unit-is the best mode. You do not and your articles are the better for it.

    Please keep them up, you add value to our hobby.

    & get well soon

    1. Thank you very much :) I try to be as fair and balanced as possible with my articles; no one wants to see "don't field that" on their favourite unit, after all. Thanks again!

      I'll certainly try to get well soon :) Cheers mate.