Tau Broadside – A Review

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As a nice contrast, having reviewed the Tau Pathfinders, I thought I’d take a look at a heavy hitter and a staple of every Tau army from its original release – the Broadside.Broadside

The first thing you’ll notice about the Broadside is that they’re not a top-heavy, lumbering, plastic and metal turds of misery that crumble beneath their own weight. The other thing you’ll notice is that look nails! More to the point, they actually look like the heavy chassis battle suit that they were always meant to be as lets not forget that the full size rail cannon has to be mounted on a tank.

In the box, as with the Pathfinders, you have two sprues. And unlike the Pathfinders it’s not crammed with bits. It’s crammed with big bits. Notable, lovely big armour plates that reflect the design aesthetic that we should have with the crisis suits but have to go to Forge World to get.

It was absolutely the right decision for Games Workshop to turn these kits plastic. I had 3 of the originals back in the day and I had to repair them before every game and at least once during. And in the end there was so much dried super glue on the weapon mounts it stopped working all together. By the time I sold the army I had given up repairing them and fielded them in broken heaps. A drinks coaster would have been as much use on the board.

I’m also so pleased that the design has been refined. Although shoulder mounted railguns were cool it never struck me as terribly practical as any projectile leaving a weapons surely creates recoil through the displacement of air and the heat that generates. And seeing as the rail weapons companies like General Atomics are developing can hit mach 5, and the railguns on broadsides were strength 10 back in the day I could see the Broadsides flat on their backs, flailing about like a retarded tortoise. The new kit is also massive. Well, compared to the old one so you get quite a pit of bloke for your buck.

There’s other touches too – like the plasma rifles and missile pods have slight design improvements which is good but will overshadow weapons on crisis suits. But, I’ll take it. Especially as the version of the kit holding the heavy railrifle is awesome. It’s s rather Gundam but it’s not a bad jumping off point. The missiles also kinda remind me of Starscream from the Transformers movies. Again, not a bad thing but interesting to see where they’re getting their ideas from.

The kit is rather involved compared to some. Compared to most actually. It’s just as well the Broadside comes with an instruction manual because staring at the sprues without it just made me not want to bother. But I suppose it’s a sign that the designers are pushing the technology hard to get the best kits. So hats off there.

In game terms the Broadside has the potential to dish out some pain but with the reduced strength of 8 compared to the good old days. It can glance armour 14 but it’ll be a token inconvenience compared to other weapons in the game. The single shot means that the heavy railrifle is at its best taking out APCs to force the enemy to walk through the fire poser you send their way or making life unpleasant for Dreadnoughts. And for 65 points, it’s a cheap way of making life unpleasant. Just bear in mind that the Heavy 1 on a BS of 3 means you’ll be relying heavily on the fact it’s twin-linked. But I suppose for 65 points with that kind of stopping power (plus the missile pods/plasma rifles) it’s be a bit much to make it BS4.

The plasma rifles are a welcome addition to the unit upgrade list as it adds just that little bit of umph to its anti-tank capabilities. Again you’re only looking at thwarting smaller vehicles but the edge it gives against medium infantry is invaluable. Especially if you take a unit of them. Although as Broadsides are now relegated to very hard to kill snipers with (extremely) high velocity rifles I’m not sure if a unit is the way to go. I’m tempted to take a couple as separate heavy support choices, stick em in a lovely, thick-walled, building and use them to harass everything with armour value 13 or less whilst a hammerhead blows up the big shit. And for a relatively small outlay of points I think it’d work rather well.

It could explain why the Broadside is strength 5 and it has no shortage of attacks. It rather suggests one should be expecting to have fisticuffs whilst it operates alone. Although with armies in 40k getting faster it’s reasonable to assume that someone will, at some point, try it on. However, with only toughness 4 so it’ll take wounds. It should save most of them but to be honest, if you’ve let your Broadside get into combat then you deserve everything you get. Between plasma rifles and the sexy new missile drones it should be safe from all but the most concerted efforts.

It’s a brilliant kit, if a little fussy to build. It’s a huge improvement on the previous version and it’s kind funny to see the graduation from over-the shoulder to hand-held weapons in the same way as Space Marine devastators. It’s as it should be, it’s a logical evolution. And it looks awesome. More to the point, it looks like a bloody great mech lugging a bloody great gun capable of blowing bloody great holes in things. Used correctly it’ll be an utterly devastating unit in any Tau army.

Tau Broadsides are available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

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