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Friday, June 17, 2011

Tau Codex Review: Summary


How long did this take? Several years? New codex comes out soon I bet... There's not much to summarise here. The Tau Codex is showing its age and showed its age long ago. It is essentially left down to a mono-build which the recent FAQ did nothing to fix. There are set units which are good (Crisis Suits, Broadsides, Hammerheads, Piranahas) and units which fulfil necessary roles (Fire Warriors, Devilfish, Pathfinders, Kroot) and then a bunch of not needed units. Across the whole codex you have an outdated style of play (though you can hammer it into an effective mono-build around those listed units) which is overcosted highlighted by the basic cost of a Devilfish.

Luckily this doesn't leave the Tau high and dry thanks to being able to effectively combine the aforementioned good and useful units to create an effective army with some variation. This army has two major weaknesses. There aren't many effective shooting units which hurts you two-fold.

  1. Bad dice = fail turn. Tau are not forgiving. Whether you make a mistake or the dice force you to fail, next turn is going to hurt. 
  2. Whilst your shooting is quite survivable with good statlines, cover and JSJ abilities, it's easy for your opponent to organise target priority and aim to eliminate your effective units. 
Add this with the other major weakness of capturing objectives and whilst the list has a lot of firepower, it's vulnerable to being overwhelmed, poor play/dice and inability to capture and hold midfield. That being said, if you do play well and your dice don't go AWAL, the Tau army can be very fearsome with a lot of defensive units and tactics to delay armies from reaching their battlines (and allowing Tau to eventually move up and hold objectives whilst contesting others) and a ton of firepower. Their major shooting units may be few but they pack quite a punch. This punch is augmented by markerlight support which also detracts firepower from those major units. 

An example of this type of list is seen here though it only has a single broadside unit.

So, what do I think the Tau codex should do in the future? A reminder btw, this isn't wish-listing but what I think needs to be done as a bare minimum. Points reduction across the board is obvious and FoC swapping as well. The obvious ones here are Farsight = Crisis Troops and Shadowsun = Stealth Troops with no other limiting factors. Otherwise some FoC swapping as it stands needs to take place such as Sniper Teams to Elites, a proper tank in Fast Attack and some more unit options overall (XV9s, Tetras, etc.). 

From there every unit which wasn't included in the original list of good or useful, really needs an update. Crisis Suits with two weapons and Broadsides are always going to be good if Games Workshop doesn't screw them up so the other units need to compete with them. Farsight shouldn't be an auto-pick for HQ if he does move Crisis Suits, same with Shadowsun. Everything needs to be viable with related opportunity costs for taking and not taking them with units in other FoC able to somewhat fulfil that role if a unit is not taken.

For example. Not taking Crisis Suits currently leaves the Tau army without any significant middling strength firepower. In an edition where mech and suppression of mech is very important, this is bad and is part of what makes Crisis Suits a must include currently. Same with Broadsides. They are clearly the best anti-tank and not taking them in mechcentric 5th edition is asking to lose. This means there needs to be more middling strength firepower options around the codex and more strong anti-tank options as well (looking at you Fast Attack). All of this is really in accordance to what Ward, Kelly and Cruddance have done to a decent degree with their current 5th edition books and I hope to see this continue. 


When Tau work, they work and they can compete with the best. When the dice aren't kind or you make mistakes however, Tau can roll off the table fairly quickly to even the most failtastic of lists. This is part not being a Marine and part being an old codex (less ability to get redundancy out there). Don't expect a lot of variety in using the codex as it stands currently though and expect 100's of games with Tau to get pretty boring. After you become used to Tau the dice really dictate how games go. You roll well and you're going to be in the thick of it. You roll poorly and get ready to shake your opponent's hand. This can of course be said of any army but is highlighted in the Tau codex as it currently stands

Here's to a new codex in 2012!

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