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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tau Codex Review: Commanders, Farsight & Shadowsun

Onto the beloved (and required) Commander. The Commander is essentially a 'super' Crisis suit which will be reviewed later. What the Commander therefore offers the Tau army is a leader who can equip himself with all manner of ranged weaponry to compliment his army (much like Crisis suits) but is terrible at combat (much like Tau). Whilst there are a lot of options such as Iridium Armor and the escape pod thing, most of the upgrades really aren't worth bothering with as a bare bones commander with appropriate weapons is simply a more expensive but better statlined Crisis suit who, as we will discuss later, are fine as they are. The main point of this post therefore is to look at the special characters Shadowsun and Farsight. We'll take a peek at Farsight first...

Farsight is the special commander character of Tau, using the same 'concept' of a normal commander for his role, statline and abilities. He however, has drunk too much kool-aid and thinks an awesome chaos weapon sword thing makes him rock at combat. It doesn't, so that is an unforuntate waste of a weapons slot! 4+ invul is kinda nice for a character but I'm sure you pay the 20pts for it in his price...and normally Tau are fine without invuls seeing as they can get cover with JSJ and shouldn't be in combat anyway. This also makes you pause at why he gives Tau units preferred enemy against Orks...I mean really. He also limits the number of quite a few important units which you can take. Namely, Pathfinders, Hammerheads, Broadsides and Piranhas to 0-1. Oh and no kroot. Ouch. So what does he actually do for the army? Well all your units lead by a team leader+ get a bonding knife for free! Mini-ATSKNF isn't that bad but is no where near overcoming all the setbacks Farsight brings to the army. He also comes with a bigger bodyguard than usual, up to 7 suits. This is pretty cool except they are all paying Shas'vre prices (i.e. an extra 10pts for next to no reason). This unit becomes expensive fast and is terrible in combat and is often better done by simply taking 2-3 Crisis squads who can be protected by Kroot and backed up by multiple Piranhas, Pathfinders, Broadsides & Hammerheads. Unfortunately Farsight simply guts the Tau core by limiting those units and really is a poor choice as he stands.

Shadowsun next before we see if we can fix these guys. I'm going to skip to the command-link drone because this is what Ethereals should kind of be like (or Aun'Va at least). Improving Tau leadership of reliability is good. Tick for Shadowsun there. She packs 2 fusion blasters which can be targeted at seperate units (tick for that) but no long ranged weaponry. This again isn't fitting with the Tau army of "shoot from far away until dead." Combined with her stealth generator and you wonder why they would give her such short-ranged weaponry... though 2 shield drones + a 4++ invul is nice. If she was a bit cheaper she'd be usable just for her morale improvement but without a long-ranged weapon she is essentially apoint sink for the Tau army.

So, Commanders will be 'fixed' in the Crisis review (i.e. dumbed down maybe?) but let's take a look at Farsight and Shadowsun and see if there are any patches we can do to make these characters more usable. Firstly, point drop. Tau characters/leaders shouldn't be expensive otherwise more generic leaders will be picked by players. Shadowsun @ 125pts or maybe 140 with 2 missile pods would be a much more appropriate buy. However, I think these special characters should focus on changing the FoC chart and leave leadership advantages to the Ethereals (you've then got a clear list of advantages and disadvantages). Farsight also needs to knock off the army restriction crap. Crisis suits as Troops is obvioulsy overpowered to the max and if we assume XV-9's will come into play, making Crisis suits Elites & FA with Farsight may not be the best idea [though if XV-9's are more close range shooting oriented, it's plausible). Unless Crisis suits are dumbed down a lot then, they should really stay where they are so I can't see much FoC swapping with Farsight whilst remaining balanced. Perhaps all suit squads (inc. Stealth, XV-9, XV-88 and XV8 + any new variants) are allowed access to the armory even without a team leader? And keep the improved bodyguard numbers but make Shas'vre less points or not have them as Shas'vre.

For Shadowsun, unless a new suit is introduced with the codex (i.e. the XV22) she should make Stealth suits count as Troops. With the changes potentially discussed in the Stealth suit review, these units wouldn't be completely useless but if FW are changed appropriately, could be a very popular choice in Troops (remember they can't ride transports) for a full suit army. The main change needed to Shadowsun though is making her a more offensive threat. Her stealth field should be 2x2D6 minimum and longer ranged fusion blasters would compliment the average range of her stealth field adequetly.

In summary, both of the commander SCs are currently too big of a point sink in a Tau army and completely at odds in how one should operate a Tau army. Whilst Shadowsun has an excellent ability in improving Tau morale, she is essentially an expensive paperweight with the rest of her outfit. The proposed changes attempt to streamline the SCs into much cheaper versions of what they currently are whilst changing the make-up of the Tau army and leaving the morale buffing to Ethereals (i.e. suit-centric). What are your thoughts? Should Commanders stay pro-offensive and FoC changing or do they need a complete re-think from their basic concepts?

19 pinkments:

Ishamael said...

First off, smexy picture.

While more Gundams is always a good thing, to see them become Troops in any Tau army is liable to be ridiculously broken. Maybe if Farsight made one count as Troops, much like a Nob squad. And if Farsight didn't gimp the army (have to explain constantly why he's bad).

While I have a soft spot for stealth suits, until they get an overhaul that allows them to take one suit weapon upgrade, id est missile pod, or gain veil of tears, they're sitting around being useless. Shadowsun giving them Troop status wouldn't be too bad. Hell, I'd at least consider an army with 6 stealth suit squads.

Cheers Kirb

VT2 said...

If we listen to the internet, and scrubs everywhere, battlesuits are bad, and the real power lies in firewarriors, so they'd just laugh if we were permitted to take more of them.

Once warseer reads this, there will be a million and one threads about how 'awesome good' Farsight is.
"You don't understand. The only way to win with tau is to use Farsight and his 900 point unit!"

Heretic said...

@ VT2: I happen to have a soft spot for the fire warrior and would like to point out that while they aren't the best, fire warriors aren't horrible. I would have to say the problem with them isn't so much that they are bad or cost too many points, but paying points for them costs you points that you could spend elsewhere.

@Kirby: I think having Farsight, Shadowsun and any new character giving Tau more troops choices or, like Pedro Kantor, scoring would give tau more flexibility in objective base missions. In Annihilation missions, we don't need more flexibility, but in objectives it seems that Tau have two units that can take point in different ways. If the objective is in the open drive a devilfish with fire warriors onto it. If it's in cover try to outflank or march kroot to it and hit the dirt. I may be wrong, but that's my 2 cents.

AbusePuppy said...

Fire Warriors are mediocre. Their weakness is the expense of their transport combined with the need to bring the strongest possible firepower in the rest of the Tau list.

If Shadowsun was 140 with a pair of independent Missile Pods I would field her in a heartbeat. Long range, stealth field, buffs a large zone, invulnerable save? Sign me up for that shit!

Farsight giving Crisis as troops would be interesting, but I don't think it would be broken- you run into the same problem that you do with the other "elites as troops" armies where you have these fantastic killy units that actually aren't all that tough and when you try and put them on objectives, they just die. Also, having such a small number of models in your army leaves you potentially very weak.

Chumbalaya said...

Best name for a Farsight Crisis suit army:

The Gundamwing.

Meister_Kai said...

^Dude hell no its Fartech Robosight.

I just wanted to commend you on this awesome article series you've been putting out Kirby, honestly this stuff is the bee's knees.

Not only does this help me understand Tau better but it helps many people at my LGS. About 3-4 years ago at my LGS when everyone (but me) started playing 40K we had about 3-4 Tau players that either changed armies or left the game because they would be given bad army advice by the mainly Marine oriented crowd. However, I have been spreading news about this article series around and I hope to see it do some good for them (or actually I think its just him now...).

Also, how do I go about getting a snazzy picture like everyone else :(

VT2 said...

The person who got me into tau told me to buy 6 boxes of firewarriors, because they were so very cheap and killy, despite being troops.

No, I'm sorry - firewarriors are horrible, and only exist so you can have the pleasure of running a tiny squad of them, that make your pathfinders' transports scoring.

Bad stats, expensive transports, lack of killyness, lack of durability, high cost, lack of options, need for expensive support, and the fact that they're a static element in an army that relies on mobility, all combine to make them one of the worst units in the game.

Kirby said...

@VT2; because we care what Warseer thinks :P. Link it please, I want to lol @ the rage.

@Heretic; Tau play the same game every game basically: wipe your opponent out. Objectives are a given weakness of their army (another reason they drop to 2nd on my rankings) as their primary Troops (kroot) is a defensive unit.

@Puppy; I think Farsight giving Crisis suit Troops is just too good to pass up. You'd have issues with LoS but assuming prices go down you could easily fit in a couple Devilfish here and there + your basic Hammerheads. I guess it comes down to Crisis Suits being dumbed down or not and what the rest of the options are. Totally agree with Shadowsun and 2x MP :P but still think Ethereals need to have a niche role and improving Tau Ld fits their fluff which GW generally tries to do...

@Kai; open a google account for pictures ^^. Glad you and your group are gaining from these articles, too! I think discussing how to 'improve' or fix units really helps with people's understanding of the game, too. And points out how hard it is to balance a game of this magnitude.

Meister_Kai said...

Testing that profile now...

Also Germany wins World Cup I called it I called it I called it I called bwahahahahaa

Oh yeah Tau stuff.

Heretic said...

@ Abuse Puppy: I'll definitely agree that the devilfish is almost prohibitively expensive, but I find they are worth taking.

@ VT2: I've actually been getting better results running 48 fire warriors than I did when I was running two squads of six. Admittedly, six boxes is a lot and I'm sorry they aren't working out for you, but they are currently a strength in my army. If they are on foot, they will fail to kill what they need to. I keep them in devilfish and attempt to bring all of their shots to bear on one target. With or without markerlight support it has worked for me, admittedly with support works better.

@ Kirby: I absolutely agree Tau play similarly in every game, which is why I'm building marines as well. While I play Ishmael, who uses Stelek's list, and he always gives me a good game. I find that, terrain permitting, my four fire warrior devilfish can kill even some harder units midfield.

Our personal experience will differ based on our local groups, but that's how it's been working for me. However, I will acknowledge that Stelek's list works well and is probably a better list with better ideas. I just don't like kroot, mercenary scum that deserve to be meat shields. Scratch that, sacrifice themselves for the Greater Good, there that sounds much better.

The_King_Elessar said...

@Meister_Kai - Yeah. Good call. ;)

Farsight sucks BoLS. Seriously poor character.

pucists: Those who indulge in acts of emesis.

AbusePuppy said...

Oh, they are indeed very worth taking, to the point where I pretty much won't field FWs without one. (Or more accurately without stealing one from some Pathfinders, but...)

They're a necessary unit, but that doesn't make them good. Considering that you pay 140+ pts for the whole deal and aren't nearly as resilient as some of the newer books' troops, you just have to struggle by with what you have. Price aside, though, the Devilfish is a pretty nice chassis and is tougher than just about any other transport and can also mount some semi-reasonable firepower.

The Wolf's Lunch said...

'Farsight sucks BoLS.'
LOL! Actually laughed at that

VT2 said...

It happened before I was using the internet, or even knew that there existed places online where grown men told each other bad units are somehow very good.

I lost so hard during 3rd edition and early 4th, but stuck to it, and formed my own opinions.
That guy who pushed firewarriors on me shelved his army after I destroyed him with my mass of battlesuits and real tanks.

These days, every time someone thinks it's funny to tell new players they should invest in firewarriors, drones, or sniper teams, I enter rage mode.

Can't link to warseer, I'm afraid, or even enter without a proxy. I got permabanned for 'being mean,' and claiming that tri monoliths is just a n00bhammer. Oh, and giving out critical advice in the armylist section didn't help, either, I bet.

The Wolf's Lunch said...

Just scrolling back through the latest blog posts (firefox with autopager <3) and I came up with another way that GW could sell more Shadowsuns. All they have to do is make the model look like the picture you have up there =D

Raptor1313 said...

I'd think about Shadowsun if taking her didn't cost me a Crisis Suit team, more or less.

Fire 50 points gets me ten guardsmen that for a reduction in firepower (S5 to 3 is a bit of deal, yes...) can take real weapons and more guys.

Sure, fire warriors can put out a nasty rapid-fire volley, but you're paying something like 250 points to hopefully deliver 20 S5, BS3 (unless you boost w/ markerlights) shots, and then you're at risk of having your transport melta'ed/troops assaulted etc, and it's not like you have durable troops.

If stealth suits could get missile pods or an otherwise-more-useful ranged weapon, I'd be HAPPY to take them as troops.

Still, the downside of taking suits as troops is that you potentially rob yourself of moving LOS-blockers in your tanks. Between chopping down your model count and losing cover, I think it's a net loss for the army.

Frankly, I'll be happy if they drop the costs for troops and devlifish, and find a way to make the troops useful.

chris.bibliophile said...


Actually, that pic is just concept art for a truly awesome conversion someone did awhile back.

Kirby said...

Gamers and that picture *eyeroll.*

If Shadowsun was much more reasonable cost she'd be worth it or even if she had long ranged weapons but as she stands, she's too expensive for she does and takes away too many guns.

AbusePuppy said...


It was originally just some concept art to "anime-ize" Shadowsun (ShadowTsundere!), but someone actually went out and did the conversion. It looks... okay. Not great, but okay.

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