Those that read my review of Codex Tau Empire back in April will know that I was rather taken with the grey skinned bastards. So much so that I’m doing a little 1,000 point allies force to go with my two companies of Ultramarines. And those that read my review will also remember that I was rather taken with the Pathfinders. So it’s really little wonder then that I’ve got hold of a box and giving them the once over. For the greater good you understand…
Even before I read the Codex I was pleased when I heard that Pathfinders were going to be plastic as even when the Tau were first released the Pathfinders were a useful unit to have on the board, but the fact that they were metal and came in blisters of 3 and units of 6 meant that those that didn’t buy the big army box rather missed out. It was doubly true over the years metal models became increasingly expensive and the use of Pathfinders, especially with the introduction of railrifles, became more important.
The third iteration of the Codex has made at least one unit of Pathfinders a compulsory choice in all but name because they’re so damn good. Their options, especially the pulse accelerator drone (which increase pulse weapon range by 6″) means that although vulnerable in the open, they are a heavy hitting unit that can take on medium infantry as standard and then bring the pain on Terminators and the like with the handy addition of the aforementioned railrifles. To be fair the plastic models aren’t any cheaper than the metal ones were but you do get variety and lots of drones including the fooking massive recon drone. But more on that later.
So what’s in the box? Well two – which seems to be the norm these days – sprues that are crammed full of components.
I do have to hand it to the Games Workshop, although they’ve been pissing gamers off left, right and centre these last few months, they have really upped their game with getting the most out of the plastic. This arguably should make the models cheaper, but as I said – they piss people off. But I digress. The sprues are crammed with bits including some dudey pulse pistols, some pretty decent bare heads – at long bastard last – some spare pulse clips, bonding knives that don’t look lame and some other gubbins. Most importantly, you have enough bits to make a ten Tau squad armed with pulse carbines with bits enough to swap out three with railrifles or ionrifles or a combination of the two. So plenty of ptew ptew for your buck.
Although the fatigues on the legs are a little thin on detail and feel a bit more baggy than a recon unit would probably wear – and the poses are a bit shifty – the rest of the components are ace. The helmets have been refined and have improved comm aerials – just be careful trimming them free. All the weapons are crisp and the separate markerlights allows for the a degree of choice in how you build them. My small force doesn’t have them so the option of not sticking them on is good news for me. Although I suppose if you can be bothered and find magnets small enough you can make them removable.
Truth be told, the quality of the casting of the Pathfinders or the fidelity of the helmet antenna – especially compared to the Fire Warriors – or the quality of the weapons or the cool accessories, or the staggering lack of mould lines don’t steal the show. It’s the drones. They’re awesome. I mean. Awe. Some. The tits. The business. The dog hairy gonads. The recon drone is huge and may as well be Thunderbird 2 for all its whistles and bells including the pokeball grenade dispensers, a burst cannon and some nice detail. Plus the fact that you can mount it on a Devilfish is way cool.
But, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an after thought like accessories and ‘bonus’ often do. The only bummer is that, aside from the recon drone there’s only enough drone domes to make two drones. But if you’re not bothered about giving your fire warriors drones then you can make the set which does give your Pathfinders a pleasant amount of versatility.
The Pathfinder kit is one of the strongest unit boxes Games Workshop have done in a while. The arm poses coupled with enough accessories means that you’re knocking on the door of variety that the Space Marine tactical squad offers. Not quite mind you, but pretty close. But the sheer volume of cool shit makes up for it. And having the railrifles cast in lovely crisp plastic rather than metal just makes them as cool looking as the boltgun.
Throw in the fact that Pathfinders are frigging nails in the game and it’s pretty much an essential purchase if you’re collecting Tau. Unless you take a butt load of flyers, but that’s a story for another day.
Tau Pathfinders are available from Firestorm Games priced £18.