So once again the Tau march across gaming boards around the globe for the greater good of the galaxy. And, as ever, the Fire Caste are at its vanguard, blazing a path through those that will not join in the Tau’s noble undertaking. At its heart are the Fire Warriors, the front line troopers of every Tau military action in its history of expansion.
I thought rather than review the Fire Warriors I would more reflect on them as it’s tough to review a box of toys that’s 13 – I shit thee not – years old and that I owned 4 boxes of. All those many years ago when I was a Games Workshop member of staff during, what I refer to as, the Golden Age.
I can remember first opening up a box and pulling out the sprues which are, by today’s standards, very sparsely laid out. At the time they were so far removed from anything the Games Workshop had done before it was a very exciting time to be in the hobby, let alone for an 18-year-old member of staff who could get it all at a discount.
Compared to the multipart plastic Space Marines that had been released 2 years before they were actually less sophisticated with arguably less variety. But what they were was different. And sci-fi. They were the first models in the 40k Universe that felt near future and more in line with the future path that I would argue humanity is on rather than the grim darkness of the grim dark Imperium of the grim dark future. Grim. Dark. Whereas the Imperial Guard weren’t much more than the army 30 years ago with sci-fi guns, the segmented armour over fatigues of the Tau is far closer to the armour worn by soldiers the world over and the future armour currently being developed.
The Tau also won fame for their unintentional Pokeball style grenades and scanners that looked suspiciously like the ones from Ghostbusters. But I like to think that it was a homage along with the obvious 90’s Manga influences that inspired the Crisis Suits.
I think for many, the appeal of the Tau has been their weaponry; not just in game terms but their aesthetic. They feel a little bit Star Trek: lots of interlocking panels that look like they’re held together with magnets and the rail guns aren’t too far away from the technology being developed in the present.
The sculpting is now a tad dated. The laziness of the detailing on the legs around armour plates is by recent standards quite poor but I suppose one must consider their age in the same way that most Space Marine players forgive the corners cut on the multipart Space Marine legs.
In game terms the Fire Warriors are one of the best troop choices in the game. If not one of the best units overall in the game.
Aside from benefitting from armour that ignores the AP of every basic weapon in the game, they also get a 30 inch range, strength 5, AP 5 basic weapon of their own. In 6th edition this spells untold misery for any army with low armoured vehicles but it actually makes them as good as Space Marines as they gain on the wound roll what they lose on the to hit roll. And all for 9 points each.
Granted that 4+ armour save isn’t as good but the option of taking a couple of shield drones at 12 points each affords the unit a 2 4+ invulnerables at a spread out cost of an extra 2 points per model for a full unit. So 11 points a model, which is still 5 less than a Space Marine. And a Fire Warrior will get the first volley off which will include crippling the Rhinos Space Marine players will take to try to keep their blokes alive for longer.
Although the Tau army only gives you two choices for troops, as choices go it’s a bloody good one. Yes the helmets and legs look a little tired compared to other models in the range – even ones as old – but they’re still pretty cool. And at 9 points a model for a model that can comfortably put a dent in an armour 10 vehicle it really doesn’t get much better.
Tau Fire Warriors are available from Firestorm Games priced £19.80.