Now for the third installment of this series. If anyone would like to see a similar tactica on any other Tau unit, please mention it in your comments. Happy reading!
The Humble Fire Warriors
Fire warriors are your only troops choice if you are playing a Farsight army, and my preferred choice for any Tau army. Unlike the tactical marine squad, the codex even states that fire caste doctrine does not allow for organic (integrated) heavy weapons. This keeps the fire warriors from being as tactically flexible as the tactical squad, but the pulse weaponry’s strength compensates for this.
The fire warrior shas’la is given the option, by model, for either a pulse rifle or pulse carbine. These two weapons are both worth taking, but for different reasons. Both of these have the same damage profile: Strength 5 AP 5. The pulse rifle, with its longer range is better for a team that is stationary. It is a rapid fire weapon so if disembarking from a devilfish or moving your range is reduced to twelve inches, but you get a second shot if you are still in range. The pulse rifle is generally the preferred choice for fire warriors.
The pulse carbine on the other had is an assault one, pinning weapon. Pinning weapons do not generally come into play, especially since I generally play against marines, but used in combination with the markerlight’s ability to drop leadership for pinning tests it can work against any not Stubborn or Fearless unit. Remember though to fire the markerlights first because pinning tests are immediate. The biggest benefit of the carbine is that it has a range of eighteen inches. This gives the team the ability to “kite” an infantry unit or fire from outside of infantry charge range after disembarking from a devilfish. Kiting a unit, for the uninitiated, is when one unit can move in such a way as to “pull” a pursuing unit in whatever direction their quarry is moving. This usually last one or two turns before the kiting unit cannot out distance their foe any longer and generally charges as soon as the enemy closes to within six inches, or twelve in the case of jump infantry or bikes.
There are some grenade options for fire warrior teams, and pathfinder teams, photon and EMP grenades. Photon grenades are defensive grenades, meaning a unit charging a team with photon grenades does not get its bonus attack from charging though all other charging bonuses apply. There are times that it is beneficial for an enemy to win a combat decisively on the charge and that the team charged should die for the greater good, rather than be locked in combat at the beginning of your turn. Photon grenades will not help in these situations, but for a static army that is grouped too closely together to survive longer and give the rest of the army time to reposition.
EMP grenades cause a glancing hit on a four or five and a penetrating hit on a six. These are more expensive than photon grenades, but give a fire warrior team the ability to destroy vehicles in close combat. This can come into play if you are fighting a dreadnought, but it will not have a decent chance. Remember that grenades only it walkers on a six, but without at least one of these grenades a Tau cadre, barring Farsight, is unable to damage a dreadnought in close combat. I view this as a defensive upgrade that should only be given to the shas’ui team leader, if taken at all.
The shas’ui team leader is an upgrade that I take every time, but it is not always necessary. The shas’ui is not any better in most aspects, but they have an extra attack, an extra point of leadership, and access to the infantry armory. The extra attack should never come into play, but usually does. The extra point of leadership is the more important, because it brings the fire warriors up to leadership eight. This means that they have a decent chance of passing any leadership test, even when losing a point of leadership. Access to the armory can be invaluable at times, especially the markerlight and bonding knife.
The bonding knife is an insurance policy for ground pounding fire warriors. Though not the most dangerous units in a cadre, fire warriors are usually the only scoring unit taken and will therefore draw fire in objective based games. Combine that with their vulnerability to heavy bolters and the odds are that a unit sitting on an objective in the open will be shot or assaulted to under half strength. If assaulted, there is very little chance that the unit will escape or even be locked in combat. If they are shot down to under half strength and run, the bonding knife will allow them to test to regroup. While not the surety that ATSKNF is, leadership eight will generally pass a regroup test. This gives you an immediate three-inch move and a run of d6 inches. If the team did not run to outside of one foot from the objective it is possible for them to re-take it. Remember, if you take a bonding knife, the knife only benefits the unit as long as the bearer is alive; protect the shas’ui with allocating as many wounds on the shas’la as you can.
In the small number of standard missions in fifth edition the markerlight on a fire warrior shas’ui now is almost worth taking because it can be used in combination with the hard wired blacksun filter to allow a barrage from the rest of the cadre by allowing a unit to ignore night fighting. While I do not condone throwing a squad of fire warriors on the front line often, in the right situation it can be beneficial. To maximize the range of a markerlight a shas’ui needs to roll a twelve on their night fighting roll, but if they are equipped with the hardwired blacksun filter that becomes a much more accomplishable six. When the rest of the cadre enters play, they are under night fighting unless the markerlight hit is spent. The best combination I can imagine is a markerlight hit is spent on a broadside team with the advanced stabilization system targeting a heavy vehicle, such as the land raider carrying the opponent’s death squad. The ideal situation I can see this being used in is when you choose to go first, set up and have the initiative seized from you. Do not fear, this is advantageous to you my Tau brothers and sisters! This means that your opponent will deploy most of their army before you, allowing you to react and possibly get in the ever-precious first volley.
Among the other pieces of wargear allowed a shas’ui is the drone controller. This can be disadvantageous to a devilfish squad. No squad greater than twelve models may take a devilfish and any model disembarking from a vehicle counts as moving regardless of the vehicle’s prior movement in the turn (or lack thereof). This means that markerlight drones will be useless on the turn their squad disembarks. Gun drones are statistically more accurate than fire warriors and have pulse carbines. The carbines can add pinning punch to a rifle squad or simply be another weapon in a carbine squad. The shield drone, while the only drone I currently use, I do not believe belongs in a fire warrior team. It does add protection and melee prowess, but there are better ways to protect fire warriors such as a devilfish or sticking them in a crater.
The wording on the hardwired multitracker is not helpful as it refers to battlesuit weapon systems, which a fire warrior cannot access, but is generally interpreted as allowing the bearer to fire multiple weapons in the same turn. This comes into play with the hardwired target lock. Just like the battlesuit system, the target lock allows the bearer to fire at a separate target from the rest of the unit (declared before firing). This can be used to allow fire warrior shas’ui to fire a markerlight at a unit to be targeted later by another unit. In this way fire warriors can support each other to a degree with markerlights.
The most important principle to remember is that one should use the right tool for the task at hand. While fire warriors can destroy a dark eldar raider, they are better at killing the warriors who disembark after a crisis team destroys the raider. Fire warriors are anti-horde specialist with few peers. They are the best choice for a scoring unit, barring the odd forest with kroot infesting it, and can be mounted in one of the most survivable transports in the game. They can also provide fire support with strength and range reserved for most armies’ heavy weapons. Depending on their role in the cadre they can work with markerlights to illuminate targets, pin them or with support from other markerlights eradicate them. These warriors for the greater good are not the barbaric brawlers of other species, do not throw their lives away by leaving them exposed or open to assault unless their deaths will preserve the cadre.
How to build a tau army
The Heresy of Tau: The Crisis Suit
by Underground Heretic
The Heresy of Tau: The Devilfish
by Underground Heretic
Forgeworld Tau Crisis suits
Tau tactics for 5th ed
Mathhammer Tactica (or Warhammer Probability 101)
Tactica 101:Thoughts on Appropriate and Reasonable Tactics for Every Situation