Tau Tactica: Guide To Tau Greater Good

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 The weapons that will cause your opponents hell!

A Unit-by-Unit Guide

(HQ) Ethereal

Firstly, 0-1 in an army... Just take note of that before you stick two in there! In my opinion there is little risk in taking an ethereal and a big reward to be gained from taking one. With 4th edition rules (To shoot at units which aren't the closest, you must pass a leadership test) passing those tests is even more important, especially for a Tau army where its greatest asset being firepower and relying on being able to reach any part of the battlefield.
Also, these guys cannot be shot at if they're not the closest target to the shooter, stick them behind some cover/scenery and put them right at the back, reaping the rewards. 50 points well spent in my opinion. Despite this, because its 50 pts less troops, firepower etc, I only recommend these in battles of over 1500pts, and it goes without saying no honour blade, if the Ethereal is in close combat then you have lost, are a bad commander or mad. (Although an honour blade does look nice on a model it has to be said!)

(HQ) Commander Shas'o and Shas'el

Personally, I value the Shas'o's high BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skilland many wounds over the Shas'el and will take it anytime, although under about 800 points I could see reasons to swap. I usually like to spend lots of points on these guys and keep them safe with the IC rules, missile pod, fusion blaster, plasma rifle, hard wired multitracker, hard-wired drone controller and gun drones only if I have the points (So rarely!)
I also never let these guys join squads, maybe hang around near them but not join them. I want my commander to be able to fire at anything he wants and evade return fire, also I may want him for a daring or specific purpose that only he alone could fulfill. If you are going to attach him to a squad, attach him to a resilient one with jetpacks (Either Crisis suits or Stealth suits), but I wouldn't anyway.

(Elite) Crisis Suits

Don't get too hyped up about these guys and think that they are the only thing in the Tau army that matters, they are important but I only take two of these and a Commander in a 1500 pt army and it works just fine. Customize it to suit your opponent: Fireknife is the most popular choice, and very wise to. It can negate any normal save and take out small vehicles/tanks too.
Unfortunately, Crisis suits go down far too easily to massed light weapons fire and cost a fair bit, so this is why they shouldn't be maxed out on. They should be kitted out to take out specific things in your opponent's army that you should identify before the battle. Crisis suits should have a purpose and stick to it, be able to take out anything that your firebase cannot, and not the other way round. I prefer lone suits because I don't need a target lock, the enemy has to split his fire, they are easier to hide totally in cover and you can upgrade to a Shas'vre for an extra hard point. It goes without saying to hug these guys in cover and pop out to shoot when at all possible.

(Elite) Stealth Suits

These guys are very valuable in frustrating the enemy and work especially well against horde armies. They can pump out 3, strength 5 shots and then hop back 6" to make sure the opponent has a more than decent chance of missing them if he decides to shoot at them. A nice squad of 6 in most size armies is great at harassing flanks and taking out small vehicles if needs be. I tend to add two gun drones to the squad team leader and a drone controller to add some numbers, a bit more volume or fire, and the risk of pinning.

(Troop) Fire Warriors

The heart and sole of any Tau army, at least half should be mounted in devilfish to protect them (It isnot the Tau philosophy to stand, shoot and hope your enemy isn't strong enough to clobber you when he is in close combat) and to make best use of their excellent strength 5, rapid fire armament. Dropping those Fire warriors 12" from a squad then firing a withering salvo of rapid fire shots will damage any squad, and if Fire warriors are deployed behind the fish, even if they don't wipe out the squad, they are safe from charge from normal troops.
Pulse Carbines or rifles? That's a different topic so I'll be quick. I take all rifles. 4th edition rules means rifles are a better choice, you make your mind up. Always max out Fire warrior squads to make sure you have better volume and numbers. Take a Shas'ui for better leadership but take into account if you have an Ethereal this may not be necessary anyway. As for markerlights and target locks, only take them for static squads, and even then only if you don't have any pathfinders. A shas'ui fire warrior cost a hefty 37 points! In my opinion not worth it but that's just me.

(Troop) Kroot

Useful in holding up foes in close combat for a while, need to be taken in squads of 16+ to be effective. Seeing as they have no armour save, the shaper isn't worth it. He's not really much better in close combat and costs a ridiculous number of points. When you decide to take a squad of Kroot (One will probably be enough) don't get too attached to it, their purpose is to die, hold up things and cause a bit of hassle in the end with their fairly nice weapons, but ultimately die in the cause. They might be better in close combat if they had better initiative seeing as they have 3 attacks on the charge but as it stands they don't!

(Troop) Devilfish

Very useful transporter. It has a high capacity, low cost, decent armour, useful upgrades (Decoy launchers will keep it alive, that's the only upgrade I'd recommend to keep points down), always mount at least half of your Fire warriors in one. Also it goes without saying to move it at least 6" a turn to make use of the only glancing hits rule.

(Fast Attack) Pathfinders

Either you love them or you don't. Rail rifles are basically snipers when guided by markerlights, this is a great use for pathfinders (And the only one in my opinion) seeing as they can't be used where other fast attack units could (I mean they don't have any speed, especially as they all have heavy weapons!) I lay down two-6 man squads and one unit guides another railrifle onto a target.
Make use of the rifles, only aim at targets with 3+ saves (General rule). Markerlights could be used to guide railguns, but broadside ones are twin-linked and a Hammerhead hits on a 3+ so no thanks. As for upgrades, the only one I recommend (Strongly) is to upgrade one to a team leader for the leadership and for a hard wired drone controller, adding to the numbers as these squads are often small, and also adding to the fire power, all of which can pin the enemy. (Nice!)

(Fast Attack) Kroot Hounds

No different to Kroot. 1 less point, tiny bit better in combat, no weapon, takes up a fast attack choice unnecessarily in my opinion. I value kroot rifles on Kroot, so don't take these. They rarely get to use their special rules seeing as Kroot rarely win combat (In my experience at least) only buy them if you really have no better use for points and you have a fast attack slot free.

(Fast Attack) Gun Drones

Only take 8, because when they drop below 4 they become almost useless. For 2 points more than a fire warrior they have a slightly better BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill(Higher BS,Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skill but twin-linked weapon), shorter range and a pinning weapon with fancier movement, good to deep-strike as they are cheap enough not to mind if they get wiped out and can also cause their enemy great annoyance, being able to snipe rear armour of vehicles (Best use for these guys) and pin stuff (Second best use) as with all jetpacks use the assault phase move to get in cover if possible.
This is another unit I don't expect to be alive at the end of the battle, but don't waste them, lay down fire into weak squads of troops to try and pin them in place. As they have small numbers and not great staying power only take 1 squad and probably not in battles of 700 points or less (But that's really up to you)

(Heavy Support) Hammerhead

Great tank fullstop. Nice front armour, always equip with Rail guns if you only have 1, if you have 2 take an ion cannon. They're great at taking out the enemies elite troops. I always take burst cannon because I rarely fire my secondary weapon anyway (Out of range and I don't bother with target lock often) however if I do get within 18" of an enemy then 6 high strength shots hitting on a 3+ becomes helpful and combined with a railgun submunitions blast can rip through an entire squad.
Decoy launchers are essential, never go without them. Also move 6" a turn, 12" with a multi-tracker (It's worth it to give the Hammerhead the ability to move far enough each turn to stay out of trouble and make sure a target is clearly in its sights.

(Heavy Support) Broadsides

One of my favorite units! Lone suits work great here as there's no need for a target lock. Always make sure if you have a squad of 2 or 3 that each suit can fire at different things. The one downside is that these can eat points, therefore I never take plasma rifles, they're nice but expensive, and I also rarely have multitrackers. I pay 70 points for the railguns, I'm not too bothered about the missiles, seeing as the railguns and the missiles are rarely going to be used at the same unit. (Railguns are for big things!)
Stick broadsides in cover and leave them there. Move them and lose a turn of railgun fire, for survivability these are the only suits I'd recommend either getting shield drones or shield generators in order to keep them alive, they will attract a lot of fire because of their bristling weaponry, so sticking them in cover and giving them shield protection does pay off on these suits.

(Heavy Support) Krootox

Simple entry this one. They take up a heavy support choice, are instantly killed very easily and have a too high points cost.

The weapons that will cause your opponents hell!

Pulse Rifle

The fire warrirors standard weapon, in fact they are the only unit which can carry these! Easily the best standard weapon in the game; outranges most normal troops weapons so with pulse rifles you will always get an advantage if you just let your fire warriors sit back and shoot! (Don't use all of them this way though!) With the 4th edition rules on rapid fire benefiting mechanised fire warrior units (24 shots jumping out of a devilfiish, even marines have to fail some save..!) these weapons really come into play. Totally awesome, loving them!

Pulse Carbine

The standard weapon of the pathfinder and a fire warrior upgrade as well. Basically the same as a rifle yet less range and pinning test. Since in a fire warrior squad and pathfinder squads the number of actual casualties caused by this weapon is going to be few then I do not really rate the fact that it can pin, furthermore I would rather my enemy ran off the table and broke rather then stood still! In third ed rules these would be excellent for mounted fire warrior squads but as already detailed, have no use anymore in static (loss of range) or mobile (loss of volume of shots) fire warrior squads.

Burst Cannon

A weapon not to be underestimated, can be carried by both vehicle and battlesuits and will causes damage based on its high volume of fire, in my opinion works best with stealth teams, understandably deadly against foes with 5+ armour saves or worse but even against power armour the volume of shots means marines have to fail saves.....have to...! The reduced 18" range isn't too much of a problem because most of the carriers can move back after shooting and are fast enough to stay out of assault. Finally, for the price can be a great cheap weapon to take which can cause problems to even power armour wearers.

Rail Rifle

The sniper rifle of the Tau, an awesome weapon on its own and should only be used on troops with 3+ armour saves, anything more or less is a waste on this weapon. The range is such that you should not need to move to get into position, which suits the fact it is heavy and used in conjunction with another heavy weapon (marker light). Take as many of these as you can and set out a particular unit to target with markerlights and rifle shots before the battle (if possible), these will not let you down if used right.


Don't use these for railguns, broadsides are twin linked and HH's hit on a 3+ so its a bit of a waste, either use seeker missiles from markerlights to reach obscure targets/light tanks or use them to guide the rail rifles from another squad (making them effectively snipers), if used with the rail rifles this works best with two squads, one markerlighting for the other. Markerlight and Rail rifle simply go together like magnet and steel (max and paddy anyone!)

Fusion Blaster

Many people will turn these weapons down due to their small range and only one shot. On normal crisis suits I agree, points and hardpoints are better spent, but for a commander I always take one of these. Not for tanks, railguns are MADE for that duty, but to take out characters, a high BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skillon a commander will ensure a hit most of the time and then the strength of the weapon is usually double toughness, (at least for most space marine characters!) so that's instant death for a scary, overpriced and upgraded chaplain and force commander, all for just 12 pts? Worth it on a commander only.

Plasma Rifle

Ahh, I could just take these home and cuddle them all day (I won't, don't worry I'm not that weird!), negating all saves (Termies, obliterators) in particular. Try to use these against troops with 3+ or 2+ saves to get the best out of the weapon, and also go 12" to the enemy, unleash some nasty rapid fire shooting, then pop back again with crisis suits. If you're going to depend on these with Crisis suits they should be twin linked and are absolutely deadly in rapid fire range, (3 crisis suits with twin-linked plasma rifles = 6 termie killing shots!). Always equip crisis suits with these where possible and youwill be rewarded. Praise tau technology!

Missile Pod

I find these excellent aspect warrior killers myself, a decent rate of fire means i will never twin link these guys. My anti armour weapons come from railguns so missile pods go to high toughness troops, although the AP isn't great against marines, it just works fine against Eldar banshees, fire dragons etc. With a very good range they can touch most things in your enemy's army and you will be pleased with their effect if the enemy's army is right (most are!) Also these work great with lightly armoured vehicles that your railguns would just be overkill on and better saved for bigger target. They make excellent rhino poppers and land speeders/vypers etc.


Good in city fight. I never use this myself as I fear for my crisis suit being charged and I don't play many lightly armoured troops anyway. Too common a weapon to go on a crisis weapon for my liking, but if you play Orks/Guard/'Nids then you might find this useful to you, however in my opinion its no surprise why these are the least commonly used crisis weapon!

Railgun (Solid shot)

In one word-and-a-bit words: anti-armour. All tanks beware the railgun is made for ripping through armour of any tank. Its range will reach anyone, and all glancing hits will become penetrating also! Used best on broadsides in my opinion, could be 3 tanks dead per turn! (Most of my opponents aren't stupid enough to field many tanks against a Tau army!)

Railgun (Submunitions aka pie plate)

When all armoured targets are gone the hammerhead should be using this every go. It will kill more marines than an ion cannon per turn and will tear up anything not in power armour or better. It also doesn't suffer from scattering as other ordinance weapons do so in my opinion, these are an awesome weapon to cause havoc with.

Ion Cannon

Great marines killer obviously but also great against any army, almost every army will have some form of elite troop with 3+ saves that will just be knocked out with this baby, will work well with a markerlight too to ensure (almost), 2-3 dead marines/wraithgaurd/bikes per turn, if you have more than one hammerhead than this is worth a go.

Other hammerhead turret options

To keep it simple: the best option here is plasma rifles, take them over ion cannons but not railguns.

Smart Missiles

Good like burst cannons for the volume of fire, a better range and needing no LOS is just a bonus! Only used when stationary (except on a tank that is), if you have the points to buy a multi-tracker for sides or the SMS for a hammerhead you will notice the difference but to be honest 10pts less for 2 burst cannon on a hammerhead is almost as good, these weapons are nice, but their are cheaper options which do almost as good.

Kroot Rifle

This will give most troops their save except gaunts but for a 7pt troop this is a very nice gun; decent strength, decent range, and in rapid fire that's 40 shots on 1 squad? Then it also doubles up as an additional close combat weapon? Not bad at all for a 7pt troop.

Kroot Gun

Look at the profile and points cost of a krootox and you will understand why no-one uses this. The weapon is basically a missile pod with a worse rate of fire and because it's not an assault weapon doesn't work well on a unit which I see as an assault unit. This weapon doesn't merit much of an entry.

Seeker Missile

If your rail rifle gunners want to take a break and you have 10pts free than these are greater strength railrifles, use them on tanks which you cannot see or troops which you can instant kill (use high toughness weapons to the best of their ability), also because this is 1 shot, use it on 3+ armour save troops (or tanks) and nothing else, anything else would be a waste of points for what you bought it.

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