It is a little known fact that after writing the Elite and Heavy Support sections of the Tau codex, Games Workshop outsourced the writing of rest of the codex to Nepal.
I have been thinking about the Tau, a lot, recently and I could not recall what their fast attack options were. Once I cracked open their dusty tome, I discovered that the Tau fast attack FOC is missing something…oh yeah, the fast attack part!
First, the options available now and then some speculation and wishlisting...
Let’s have a look, shall we….
Gun Drones – Jump infantry (Jet Pack) @ 12 points each. Let’s see…jet packs are not truly “fast” in any instance. A 6” “jump” during the movement phase with the option of making another 6” “jump” during the Assault phase. 6” + 6” = 12”….
Space Marines (all varieties) get “jump” packs and make a 12” “jump” during the Movement phase with the option of a 6” “charge” during the Assault phase. Hmmmm…12” + 6” = 18”
Is this the best that a technologically advanced civilization can do again a bunch of Luddites (i.e. Humanity)?
To sum up; Gun Drones = NOT fast. Couple this with a lousy stat line and a relatively shorted ranged weapon that will only hit its target 2/3rds of the time (no weapon upgrades either!) and you have a weak and slow fast attack choice that is a bit pricey.
Pathfinder Team – standard, albeit pricier Fire Warriors (Shas’la) that MUST take a Devilfish (80 points).
The markerlight, which is the Pathfinder’s stock in trade, is a Heavy 1. The Devilfish is a Tank and a Skimmer and has zero firing ports.
So, let me get this straight…must take a transport that happens to NOT be a fast skimmer, a non-fast skimmer that CANNOT be fired from, and once disembarked they cannot even fire their trademark weapon (the only reason for taking them in the first place) because disembarking counts as moving. Well, hell I can do that in a Land Raider!
In the end Pathfinders are only capable of moving as fast as their transport. The same exact transport available to the rest of the army. A transport that moves as fast as any other vehicle in the game…Nope! Definitely not fast attack.
Piranha Light Skimmer Team – more expensive than a SM landspeeder but at least tries, as it is a fast skimmer.
Not a bad choice overall and with the option to field up to 15 of them (900 points, no upgrades) you at least have some redundancy. Vehicle upgrades are long in capability and short on weapon options.
Hopefully, the lack of weapon options on all Tau vehicles will be addressed in the new codex (whenever that is). This will make them more versatile. Points should be lowered to compensate for the “open-topped” drawback. SM landspeeders are 10 points cheaper and are NOT “open-topped”.
To sum up; Piranhas = fast attack. A bit pricy for what you get but can get around the board quite fast.
Vespid Stingwings – a flaccid statline for the same cost as a Space Marine; fleet, skilled flyer, and move as jump infantry (the real kind, not uh, the “jet pack” kind). A nice weapon is provided but, no other options are available.
Their statline means you should stay out of close combat but the short range of their Neutron blasters means that you mostly will not be able to avoid being assaulted.
In short; Vespids cost as much as Space Marines but are not nearly as capable. They are armed with a powerful (yet criminally short ranged) weapon. They do, however, move as “real” jump infantry and therefore fully earn their fast attack assignment in the FOC.
Roughly half of the Tau fast attack options are neither “fast” nor “attacky”.
How can this be fixed?
I feel that adding in some new blood will be the answer. Move the Gun Drones and Pathfinders to where they really belong, the Troop FOC.
I think that Tau jetbikes have epic potential. It would give them a much need boost to their Toughness and truly illustrate their technological mastery over gravity. Plus, if more weapon options are available they could be custom tailored for specific missions.
So, gentle readers…
What do you think?
What should be the fourth option in the fast attack FOC?