Want To Start Tau Army

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 Step 1: Intro to Warhammer 40k Step 2: Codex Step 3: What to buy Step 4: Assembly Step 5: Painting What Next? Sample Army Lists Conclusion

This article should be read in conjunction with this guide (From Games Workshop) and precedes " Starting a Tau army".Obviously you've decided to start playing Warhammer 40k, but where do you go after that?

Step 1: Intro to Warhammer 40k

Go to your local Games Workshop store and tell them you want to get into the hobby, and that you're interested in doing a painting tutorial (Free I hope). You should get taught how to assemble and paint the models. If possible maybe see if they can get you a Fire warrior instead of a Space marine for the painting tutorial. (Note: Here in Australia it's free to do this initial course, and you get to keep the model!)Even if the Tau aren't for you, keep reading and you might get some useful hints for whatever army you're planning on starting.Also take a look at the Warhammer 40k Section of the GW website and the rulebook, so you have an idea of what you're getting into.Ask your local Games Workshop if you can have a go at playing with Tau (Or another army) before you buy; this way you have fun right from the start, and don't get bored by the assembly/painting sections.

Step 2: Codex

The first thing you'll need is the Tau Codex. A rulebook at this stage is suggested as it will help you understand the stats, but it is not necessary. Read through it a bit, see what you're interested in, and get inspiration for a paint scheme. If you have any questions, start a thread on the forums. Be sure to read the know yourself tactic on what other members think of every unit/weapon/piece of equipment in the codex (Except for Commander Farsight and Aun'shi)

Step 3: What to buy

My suggestion is to get a Tau Battleforce, as it has everything you need for a basic army. Although it appears to be expensive, it is only approximately 3/4 of the cost of buying each component separately, a massive saving when it comes to this hobby. You'll also need:
  • Access to some sort of side cutters (Doesn't have to be official citadel ones, side/flush cutters from electrical stores will do)
  • To buy plastic glue from your local GW
  • To buy paints. A basic paint set should be fine, and maybe a few extra paints depending on the colour scheme that you have in mind

Step 4: Assembly

Have a look at the assembly guide that came with the battleforce. Then read the rest of this guide.

Fire Warriors

References: Guide to Assembling Plastic Models - Tau Fire Warriors are assembled in pretty much the same way.
  • A) First thing to do is to get a Fire warrior sprue. Each sprue makes 4 fire warriors. Note that the weapons and arms come in matched pairs.Gallery image
    Cut out the pairs of arms, place them aside in groups. Cut out everything else and place them in a pile.
  • B) Ever used a file before? You should have if you did the introduction painting course. But if not, go to your local GW Definition: Games Workshopstore and borrow theres and just ask the staff if you need any help. Note: don't over do filing, or else you'll end up with legless Fire warriors, and that can't be good!
  • C) Now onto assembly. Hopefully with reference to the included assembly guide with the battle force, you can work out which parts are what. In case you can't, I've included pictures:
Gallery image
Back-pack and body
[gal_img]1592[/gal_img]Helmeted Head (Top Left)Tau Head (Bottom Left)Shoulder Pad (Right)
[gal_img]1594[/gal_img]Pulse rifle
[gal_img]1595[/gal_img]Pulse carbine
[gal_img]1596[/gal_img]Arms:Top: SensorBottom: Grenade
[gal_img]1597[/gal_img]Top: Bonding KnifeBottom: Photon Grenade
[gal_img]1598[/gal_img]Various Aerials
Now, it's best to assemble the fire warriors in parts, namely:
  • Backpack and body - These are the same for every model, and are easy to put together
  • Legs/Base - Choose one leg not to use, glue the rest onto the bases
  • Helmets and Aerials
Once you've done this, place them together, but don't glue them yet. Hopefully you can decide for yourself which arm goes where, but basically the ones which have the gun pointed horizontally would be best with the legs with the model taking a step forward or crouched on the ground, whereas the arms with the gun in the air and the arm bent, go with the legs with the model running forward.When you're satisfied with the placement of the weapons, glue the body section onto the legs, then glue the arms on, and finally the head. Grenades can also be attached around the belt area as can the bonding knife (This could go on the backpack.)


Pretty much similar to Fire warrior construction, so I won't go into that here. Each sprue again makes 4 models; however each sprue only has 4 legs, so there's no deciding on which one to use. A few things to note: there is only one way the body section can attach onto the legs, and if one doesn't fit with the other, try another one. Keep in mind that the quills on the back of the head restrict head positioning on some models and lastly, don't put too much on the front chest of the Kroot, as it can get a bit hard to paint.

Crisis Suits

Use this guide as a graphical guide to constructing battlesuits. One Point to keep in mind:Do not glue in the weapons! The reason for this is that you are not stuck with a certain weapon configuration, and at this stage that could prove a big disadvantage in future games without gaming experience. It also allows you to switch weapons to have different configurations depending on what army you're going against. This animation covers a few configurations, but just looking at the codex you can tell there are loads more.

Gun Drones

Pretty simple: construct in parts. I.e. Glue the aerial to the top dome, glue the two carbines onto the middle thingy, and once both sections are dry, glue them together. The only decision you have to make is what angle to have the guns and which side to put the aerial on.

Step 5: Painting

This is where this guide comes to an end, what you do here is really up to you. Undercoat your models with either chaos black or skull white, depending on whether the colour scheme you plan to use is dark or bright respectively.After that, let your colourful imagination run wild and have fun gaming! Oh yeah, and it would be good to base your models, do this by painting the base a colour that suits your army's background/battle environment and apply sand/flock and paint that with the appropriate colours.

So you've build and assembled a small army from the battleforce - But what do you do next?

At this point, you should try and decide a playing style you want to follow. If you're not sure about this, play some games, and work out what type of army you want. Whether it is a highly mobile army, one with a lot of fire power, or one in-between, with a mix of both. Your play style is important in determining what you have in your army and how you build it.Typically you'd want an army that is mobile and hard hitting, although this isn't always possible. Once you've decided on a style, you just have to pick the units you want. Other members here have kindly provided some sample army lists, for different point games - see the end of this post for those links.

A brief look at the different play styles and their associated armies.

In general there are two play styles: Static and Mechanized.
  • Static Tau focuses on large amounts of firepower, and efficiency. This generally means large amounts of fire warriors, and many broadsides, with crisis suits fitted with long range firepower. This army plays on the concept that you just sit back and shoot, hope the enemy doesn't reach you, and in the process, stop them from reaching objectives and eventually going for the objectives yourself.
  • Mechanized (Mech) follows the concept that everything in the army can potentially move 12" each turn, through the use of transports for the fire warriors or jetpacks for its elite infantry. As a result, Hammerhead gun ships are taken instead of broadsides, for the sole reason of mobility. This army focuses on mobility, and a large amount of armour. The high mobility comes into use with evading enemy forces, and gaining control of objectives.
  • Hybrid Hybrid Tau is a mix of Static and Mechanized Tau, effectively getting the "best of both worlds". Most of the time, it's a Mechanized army with a Static element, in the form of broadsides and/or kroot. It is more or less a combination of high mobility and high firepower elements, that work together to achieve goals. With the large range of armour around, the static element usually doesn't receive too much attention, and so is free to pick off units and enemy tanks.
Each of these armies have their own associated tactics, a lot of which can be found under the 'Tactic Threads' section of the Important Topics on the message boards. For further reading on the Mechanized Tau style, see The Guide to Mech Tau, put together by the Mechanized Tau Tactica group.In a Tau Army, there are 3 main elements:
  • Vehicles: Tanks; Hammerheads in particular
  • Jump Infantry: Anything with a jetpack; drones, crisis suits, stealthsuits
  • Infantry: Everything else; Fire Warriors, Kroot, Broadsides etc
Note: See the 'Existing Unit Types' page in the 4th ed rulebook for the full list. This table shows each unit and their associated play style(s):
HammerheadxxMobile Hard-Hitting firepower, Anti-everything
Devilfish-xxUsed mainly to transport Fire Warriors
Crisis Suitsxxx
Stealth Suitsxxx
Fire Warriorsxxx
Krootxx*(All kinds of kroot) * Depending on mech sub-style. Kroot are sometimes used, but in styles such as purist mech, they're not because they're not mobile.
BroadsidesxxTwin-Linked Railguns are good, but broadsides tend to get left behind, and can't move and shoot.
EtherealxxGets left behind in Mech
In my opinion, Crisis/Stealth suits, Drones, and Fire Warriors have a place in every Tau army, as they should. In every style, varying amounts of each are used, but they are used in a fairly similar manner, albeit defensively vs aggressively.

Static Army

General Characteristics - A large amount of broadsides, and usually a lot of fire warriors too, along with some crisis suits for fire support.General Tactics - Sit back and shoot, jetpack equipped units go and take objectives etc.

Mech Army

General Characteristics - Devilfish mounted Fire warriors, everything can either infiltrate or potentially move 12" each turn.General Tactics - FoF,Definition: Fish of Fury Railgun sniping, Devilfishes either float around in the background, or dismount firewarriors for support/anti infantry fire.

Hybrid Army

General Characteristics - Mech army with a static element, usually in the form of kroot and/or broadside(s).General Tactics - All of the above, Broadside sits and shoots, Kroot infiltrate or support the broadside, the rest of the army works as the Mech army above.

Sample Army Lists

Due to 42 for organising all these - Taken straight from the forum's Sample Army Lists:


Hopefully this guide has been useful to someone, and if you're reading this, join the forums if you haven't already. A few suggestions: with the Fire warriors, it might be better to equip them all with pulse rifles and no grenades (Unless you intend the squad to be mobile). The reason for this is that you get the full range of the best standard troop weapon in the whole game, with relatively low cost (Take Advantage of this!!), and the option to rapid fire, if the need comes, rather then have the range of some models limited and the inability to rapid fire- after all, it's best for the Tau to kill an enemy before they reach your lines, and if that happens, photon grenades will prove pretty useless.There is also a Tactica Tau Page from the Games Workshop Website; might be useful in thinking about what to get next. On that note, I suggest the following (Rather, I myself want the following!):

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