A looming force of Chaos Marines stomp their way across the battlefield. You've tried diplomatic relations with these brutes, but they wouldn't even open a comms channel to begin negotiations. As much as it pains you to admit, there's little chance these creatures will join into and become functioning members of the T'au Empire. Well, nothing left to do but unleash the technological might of your army and blow them to smithereens! This week, Games Workshop provided us with the T'au Empire Codex and Combat Patrol, as well as a few additional T'au units. Let's take a look at what's inside.
Who Are The T'au Empire?
One of the youngest of all races in the galaxy, the T'au Empire are a Xenos (aka Alien) race of thinkers, diplomats, soldiers, and craftsmen all dedicated to the pursuit of "The Greater Good." And while they haven't been around as long as older forces in the galaxy, and their control of planetary space is tiny compared to the Imperium, they're an ambitious upstart with noble goals toward (their particular brand of) equity and justice. With gleaming, sleek-looking armor and mech battle suits, the T'au are a devastating force at long range, and adept at sneaking around the battlefield, securing objectives, and eliminating their enemies with precise strikes.
What Units Are Included In The T'au Empire Combat Patrol?
The T'au Empire Combat Patrol includes a variety of units for your Warhammer 40,000 T'au army, serving as either a value-priced boost to your current regiment, or an easy point of entry into building a brand new T'au Empire army. This T'au Empire Combat Patrol contains the sprues needed to create 23 miniatures, including:
- 1x Ethereal on Hover Drone
- 1x Cadre Fireblade
- 1x Unit of Stealth Battlesuits (set of 3 models) with Homing Beacon and Battle Drone
- 1x Strike Team or 1x Breacher Team (set of 10 models) with Support Turret and Battle Drones
- 1x Ghostskeel Battlesuit with Support Drones
Each of these models comes unassembled and unpainted, but on the whole this is a relatively approachable set to put together. Let's take a look at each of these units a bit more closely.
The T'au Ethereal on Hover Drone leads the forces of this Combat Patrol with a calm assurance that all this fighting is for the greater good. Outfitted riding atop a Hover Drone, the Ethereal has a fantastic move speed of 10" (as opposed to its average 6" move speed without the Hover Drone) and gains the Fly keyword. This added mobility is crucial as The Ethereal generally needs to be within 6" of friendly units for its Invocations (powerful battlefield effects performed during the Command Phase) to take effect.
The Cadre Fireblade fights alongside the infantry on the battlefield, and while he attacks decently with his Fireblade pulse rifle, he really shines by inspiring other forces around him, allowing nearby units with pulse weapons to score additional hits and re-roll hit rolls of 1.
The Stealth Battlesuits, along with looking like adorable little bubble robots, are a truly versatile force in your T'au army. With a strong burst cannon, and the ability to upgrade one model in your unit with the devastating fusion blaster (Look at these stats: Range 18", Assault 1, Strength of 8, -4 armor penetration, D6 damage or D6+2 at half range!), these little strikers can zip in and really make a difference on the battlefield. Also, thanks to their cloaking technology, they're harder to hit in both melee and ranged combat. My favorite aspect of the Stealth Battlesuits is their "Infiltrator" ability, which says during deployment "when you set up this unit, it can be set up anywhere on the battlefield that is more than 9" away from the enemy deployment zone and any enemy models." Perfect for scoring objectives or just, generally, starting the game where they shouldn't be allowed to start.
Here you'll see we've modeled these miniatures as a Strike Team, but they can also be assembled in the box as a Breacher Team. No matter how you build them, these are the foot soldiers of your T'au army. The Fire Team is better at shooting from a distance, while the Breacher Team gets in close with their short range Pulse Blaster to get the job done. Both units can come with a Support Turret, which blasts enemies with its missile pods.
Finally, let's take a look at the big beauty of this set, the Ghostkeel Battlesuit. This giant mech robot was a true pleasure to put together, and about as close to Gunpla as I'll ever get. With posable arms and a faceplate that opens to reveal a little T'au pilot inside, this is a truly visually striking model. It's also a complete beast on the battlefield, with the "Infiltrator" ability mentioned above, 12 Wounds, and extreme damage output with its Tau Flamers, Burst Cannon, and more. If you're looking to get into the fray and start seriously laying waste to your foes.
Along with all of these models, almost every detachment comes with drones that can be added to the unit for additional support in the form of defense, firepower, and more.
All in all, this is a fantastic Combat Patrol box with a range of models that all want to play the game slightly differently from one another. But instead of clashing on the battlefield, the mixture of leadership, stealth, and firepower on display here compliment each other nicely.
What Is Included In The T'au Empire Codex?
The T'au Empire Codex is broken up into two major sections: lore and rules. The first 39 pages of this 136 page Codex features an in-depth look at the lore, culture, history, and present actions of the T'au empire. From talking about the early days of the Empire with sections about First Contact, and moving into explaining the Caste System. T'au society is largely broken up into five major castes, each of which has "strictly delineated responsibilities to the empire and the other castes." The Fire Caste are the warriors of the T'au, the Earth Caste are the artisans, crafters, and builders, the Water Caste are the diplomats, and the Air Caste are the pilots. Finally, there's the Ethereal Caste, which stands above and guides the T'au empire as a whole. The lore section of the Codex also speaks of the Battlesuits employed by the T'au, the different Septs (groupings of T'au who specialize in different areas of expertise), and the rebellious Farsight Enclaves.
Following this lore is a robust set of Showcase pictures, showing the models finely detailed amidst exciting tabletop settings. And then we get into the rules. This is where the various Septs of the T'au shine, as they essentially serve as mini factions within the Empire. Choosing to have all of your forces on the table belong to one Sept grants additional abilities and bonuses based on the Sept you choose. For instance, my favorite Sept, the Technologically advanced Borkan Sept, grants a 4" bonus to the range characteristic of Ranged Weapons, makes Warlord units attack more lethally, and comes with the Stratagem "Experimental Weaponry" allowing one unit in my army to ignore Invulnerable Saving Throws (a potent power for an army that relies on Armor Penetration like the T'au).
There are pages and pages of Stratagems to choose from for the T'au, including Stratagems for Battlesuits, Drones, Kroot, and everyone in between. And they vary from upping the chance to hit with your army, to securing objectives, and even an interesting Stratagem called "Promising Pupil," giving a non-warlord unit in your army a powerful Warlord Trait.
Another important aspect of the Rules section of the T'au Empire Codex is the inclusion of Prototype Systems. These special additions can be attached to Commander models, Crisis Shas'vre models, Crisis Bodyguard Shas'vre models, and Ghostskeel Shas'vre models. One such prototype system, the Alternating Fusion Blaster, has already been detailed (and reacted to) by Games Workshop, but there are other extremely interesting options as well, including Resonator Warheads which slow the movement of enemies after firing, Stimm Injectors which help negate wounds, and more.
There are also Warlord Traits, Relics, and Ethereal Invocations, Crusade Rules, and even rules for generating new star systems to explore and bring into the light of the T'au'va. Also included are datasheets covering every T'au model currently available, and updated point values. From its in-depth treatment of the lore of the T'au to its new rules and ways to play the game, the T'au Empire Codex promises tons of depth and rich avenues to explore for the current or aspiring T'au player.
How Does The T'au Empire Darkstrider Model Play?
Darkstrider is a wholly new miniature with impressive abilities to help himself and his allies get in, strike fast, and get out, and we're going to dive in to his model deeper here. Along with the Combat Patrol and Codex, we also received individual miniatures in blister packs of the T'au Ethereal on Hover Drone and Darkstrider. The Ethereal we've already covered a bit above, with its single-model packaging handy for players who want to add this mobile general, but don't want to buy the entire Combat Patrol to get it. Darkstrider, with his named assault rifle Shade (Range 24", Assault 2, Strength 5, AP -2, Damage 2), has abilities that let him add wounds to his allies' attacks, allow his allies to attack after they fall back, and he gets a bit of extra movement at the start of the game. All in all he's a wily character on the battlefield, and while he might not hit for all that much damage, paired with a unit of Pathfinders or even a Strike Team, and he's bound to cause a bit of improvised chaos that helps you and hinders your foes.
That wraps up our coverage of the newest releases for the T'au Empire, which should be available for preorder at the time of publication. What do you think of the T'au Empire's newest rules, models, and kits? Let us know in the comments or on social!
The T'au Empire individual models, Combat Patrol, and T'au Codex used in the creation of this preview were provided by Games Workshop.