Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Tau Empire models are here!

The Tau Empire.  Deep in the hearts of every member of the Lords of Terra lies the festering fear of what might happen should the light of the Tau Empire reflect off their golden doors.    

The only shining light in the grimdark and a hope for a lasting peace among the stars has received its 7th Edition due.  And with their new arsenal, those Lords of Terra fear correctly. 

The Tau Empire has learned from its various enemies and, as they are wont to do, have developed devastating new technologies in relative blinks of the eye.  This collection of scientific discoveries could propel the decisive blows in the Third Sphere Expansion.

As usual the minds of Games Workshop saw infuriatingly fit to force additional purchases on some Tau Generals.  The Codex itself contains everything you need to play the army…  Except…  The rules for the Tidewall Rampart of course.  They put that rule set in the Kauyon Campaign Expansion.  In addition, anything that was new was placed in the Kauyon book and nothing else.  One might think it fine to simply get the Kauyon Campaign and be done with it, except that anything NOT new is not in it!  So the old codex does in fact work with the Kauyon Expansion and the two do form all you need to play Tau.  The new Codex is all you need if you don't wish to use the Tidewall Rampart or Tidewall components in general.

So what's changed?  Well there are really significant changes alright!  Let's start with the Lord of War Gargantuan Creature KV128 Stormsurge.  The model is ridiculously awesome for starters and reminds one immensely of the SDR-04-Mk XII Destroid Phalanx (built on the Spartan chassis) from Robotech with it's two huge missile wracks for arms.  It also has stylings of the Broadside Battlesuit with the KV128's shoulder mounted Pulse Blast Cannon.  What does this thing do?  Well that big cannon fires at Heavy 2 and its beam widens as it projects out going from a single shot Destroyer class weapon within 10" to dispersing to as much as a STR 9 AP 5 large blast at targets within 20-30 inches.  It kills MEQ if they get closer than 20".  This unit will underscore the importance of pre-measuring and agreeing with opponents so there is no argument later, because an inch matters with this weapon!  Don't need the extra D weapon or don't like dealing with the complicated distance changes in profile?  You can switch it out for a Pulse Driver Cannon which is just a large Ordinance blast (str 10 AP 2).  Done.  It's an extra 15 points, and I think it is a tough call.  But I probably favor the Pulse Driver Cannon just because Markerlights means it almost never misses.  It also fires a Twin Linked Smart Missile System, and its signature Cluster Rocket System which is fired up to 48" with a whopping 4D6 missiles at STR 5 AP 5.  Whuuuuuut?  That is a lot of missiles!  Its most devastating missiles are its four 60" Destroyer Missiles.  STR 8, AP 1; and here's where the fun part is:  Markerlights can give them the D characteristic.  Wowa.  This thing is a gun boat.  It lands probability on peoples heads and shatters anything that isn't diving for cover.  It is a horde breaker, Clearly it can help you drop a Wraith Knight as well.  Then there's it's random Twin linked Flamer just because it can (a little Wall of Death action never hurts).  However my guess is people will pay the extra five points to turn it into a Airbursting Fragmentation Projector  which is the old "experimental" weapon the Tau got in 4th Edition.  The Frag Launcher is a barrage and does ignore cover at AP 5 so it's actually a REALLY nice addition to the suits already impressive suite of anti-personnel measures.  So much firepower.  It does its best work against squishier targets but in no way should it be entirely considered anti-personnel. The real kicker though is that when it drops its Stabilizing anchors it doubles the rate of fire in the shooting phase (specifically)…  Yes.  You read that correctly.  Dayam.  4D6 x 2 Cluster Rockets?  It is expensive too, so anyone who though t they might get a little home cooking on the cost is mistaken.  Like all Tau it cannot fight to save its life in close combat, especially if its Stabilization Anchors are down because it cannot stomp when they are down.  So one has to protect it from being silenced by fearless throw away units and the like.  But since the Netlistrs of the universe rarely make use of "subpar" units like those, those same self styled Netlisters may be in for an unpleasant shock.  I anticipate that we may well see these on the field soon.  VERY soon.

GhostKeels which are 130 point Elite choices, have topped a lot of discussion boards.  It's chock full of new toys for sure.  The Battlesuit itself is on the medium oval sized bases, smaller than the Riptides of course.  The multi-tracker and Blacksun filter are handy and pretty standard stuff for the suits of a Tau Empire force.  It's signature weapon, the Fusion Collider fires a small Melta Blast at 18" or you can switch it out for the six shot Cyclic Ion Raker, which also has the same overcharge ability as other Ion weapons to make a large blast at STR 8 out of it which will kill Scouts and Scions alike with equal ease.  The Electrowarfare Suite is silly good though.  It doubles the bonus for having Stealth and Shrouded when being shot from over 12" away… And they have both which means they are 2+ cover saves in the open unless the enemy is really close.  Wow.  More fun is that they can kinda play decoy and draw fire, then when you do fire at them (let's say with an Ignores cover weapon since you were all thinking it?) then the Ghostkeel can, once per game, force those shots to be Snap Fire after being targeted!  So yeah.  To boot they also get the Twin linked Flamer so charging them will be no picnic either if there's a unit of three of them.  Between their cover saves and their Stealth Drones, these tough 5 Battlesuits are really not going to go down easy to anything but a charge.  And that’s if they leave much more than a smoldering boot where you were standing before you try the charge.

Another small but significant change:  the Devilfish is now a Fast Attack slot.  That does open up a couple interesting new possibilities.  For example, kroot have never been able to deploy starting in a Devilfish, but now they can.  Sniper Drone teams can also if their rapid firing Sniper Rifles need to take a less enemy infested position before they get their day going.  So there's that.

Continuing on with the tour of Battle Suits, the BIG change happened with Crisis Bodyguards.  You no longer need Farsight to field the huge number of them.  They now come in a unit of 1-9 Crisis Bodyguards.  Wow.  Now I know some people who would rather not have to take Farsight to get all that and now they can!

But it doesn’t end there.  Normal Crisis Teams can now be nine strong.  Yes really.  The number of suits you can now field is just insane though is that really the way to go is another question altogether.  I don't actually know if it's a good idea at this point but that is just a lot of ablative Drones and filthy firepower.

The last Battlesuit that needs mention is the Commander.  It has another battle armor option, the XV86 Coldstar suit (a High Output Burst Cannon and Missile pod effectively take up two of the Commanders Support Systems when you do this).  The Coldstar Battlesuit gives the suit the Flying Monstrous Creature rules (minus Fear, Smash and Vector Strike) which means really fast and his Drones "disappear" when he Swoops.  Getting your commander to a safer location got a lot easier and of course that makes him difficult to hit.  The special Burst Cannon is assault 6 and twin linked so it's not missing and can get to rear armor and/ or even act as an anti-air unit with a High Output Burst Cannon and Missile Pod both.  Really is a pretty fun option, albeit his toughness of 4 still makes him a bit lonely up there.

Breacher Teams are new.  The Tau Empire now has another troops choice option!  Breachers remind me of the way Japan would carry around or drop in their "woodpecker" field guns in world war II, only in this case they carry around a "Tactical Support Turret" that can be a Missile Pod or a Smart Missile System that sort of disappears when you move.  Reminds me of how Guardian Weapon platforms work except the unit can't move.  They only come in ten man squads which is different but a non issue and are stat-wise like Fire Warriors.  They do however carry a completely different rifle:  the dread Pulse Blaster, plus they carry the Field Amplifier Relay.  Basically what that means is, their weapons are like the StormSurge's weapon, changing Strength( from 6 to 5 to 4) as range increases and the AP changes too (from 3, to 5, to nil respectively).  At 5 inches it is a deadly Assault 2 marine killer.  At 5-10 it's killing Guardsman and at 10-15 it's taking its chances.  the Way I foresee these being used is as shock and awe troops who will rush up in Devilfish's while their compadres blast open the cans from behind them, spilling out all the occupants and then evaporating them in one big deluge of close quarters fire.  Reprisals will no doubt be swift in the coming at that range but then, there may be nothing left.  Enemies will learn to prioritize Devilfish's more if these guys are in the force!  Breachers can pretty much wipe out a Wraithguard squad in one volley (welcome news to many!), for a lot cheaper than some other options and those are the kinds of high value targets the Breacher is designed to deal with.  They aren't more expensive than a Fire Warrior either so that's the good news.  Shorter range and varying effectiveness (getting stranded could mean losing the unit without a peep) may limit how many squads of them you'll really want of course, unless you want an absolutely hyper aggressive Tau force (and that is a fun idea with Ghostkeels around too).  The Field Amplifier they come with can help that ideal, giving them a 5+ invulnerable save as long as they have a Guardian Drone alive with them.  It is a hearty unit as troops go, but they only operate at danger close.  Breachers are economical and effective.  They could also play as line defense.  When the enemy draws near the gun line,  they pop out and fire, forming a protective line in front of more important assets and blazing away.  Darkstrider is allowed to join this unit also which isn't listed in the old codex obviously but is in the new one, yet not in the Kauyon book that I found so that was an oversight.  Someone correct me if I missed it.

Other than Battlesuits, other benefactors of the new codex were the Ethereals.  They can now get Recon Armor for 5 points which is nice and/or a Hover Drone which is a new upgrade that basically is a "get out of terrain free" card.  Its not the most exciting 5 points I ever saw especially since those guys should be in a unit at all times and so even if he has the Drone, no one else does!  I think they missed an opportunity here…

Those are the units that are new but there's also a big addition to the model line as well:  The Tidewall components.  There's a fair number of rules to be aware of!  It actually consists of Tidewall Shieldlines, Tidewall Droneports, and the magnificent Tidewall Gunrigs.  These can be used separately or combined to form a couple of different things called the Tidewall Gunfort and the Tidewall Defense Network.  The Tidewall Rampart is another thing altogether whose rules come in the boxed set.  The obvious ploy here is to get you to buy more components for it even after you purchase the Tidewall Rampart if indeed you did.  Units on the Tidewall Shieldline, the Tidewall Gunrig and on the Tidewall Droneport re-roll 1's to hit!  Those units riding them don’t count as moving when the Tidewall hovers forward (though they cannot themselves move) but it doesn’t like to move over difficult ground, so there's a limitation.  The Tidewall Shieldline isn't just a cool name.  If its riders make a cover save, watch out!  Each successful cover save gets a roll and on a 6, the shot hits the guys shooting at them!  Kinda like the Necron shields you can purchase for their elites.

Tidewall Gunrigs are pretty cool.  They fire an actual Twin linked Railgun! It's the big version and it can put hurt down field.  The added toughness is nice and only Tau can fire it so leaving it behind wont give your enemies a big 88 to fire on you if they overrun your position or more likely, when you tactically reposition.

Combining three of these that must stay within 6" of each other forms a Tidewall Gunfort, and the Gunfort can fire all three guns simultaneously adding 1 to the STR of Submunitions and and Armourbane to the solid shot.
The Tidewall Defense Network is one of the things you can build.  It basically is a square of Shield lines and a Gunrig or Drone port in the middle.  The Defense Network makes you stubborn so if you don't want an ethereal for that duty you can build on of these.  You need four Tidewall Shieldlines to do it though so even if you purchase the Tidewall Rampart, you won't have enough pieces to do it.  Sigh.  More GW price gouging.

So this is a quick rundown on the new lineup of models from the Tau Empire.  More to come!

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