It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! – Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. – Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! – Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15’s, 6 XV25’s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

A Short Tau Tactica: Fire Warriors

Continuing a look at units of the Tau Empire codex, I’m going to focus on a unit that actually represents the entire army very well, Tau Fire Warriors. They look deceptively simple and underpowered yet have so many synergies with the rest of the army list that it can put out a surprising level of damage.

Just don’t let this happen

First of all, lets discuss what you get for your points. Fire warriors have pretty average stats for 40k (though as so many armies have a Space Marine stat line this actually makes them a little below  average), with a 4+ save and the best gun of any troop choice in the game, the pulse rifle. Range 30″ alone means that you can start popping off shows at an opponent’s units in their deployment zone. Taking a pulse carbine is tempting, but with the high level of Ld most armies have, pinning tends to have little to no effect, so I prefer the range every time.

However, for all the strength of their gun, that’s really all you are buying them for, which makes them hard to use when taking objectives, the most important part of the current game in most scenarios. So that means you need to get aggressive with Fire Warriors (or take Kroot, but I will cover them another time) which where the synergies start to come in.

Tau Fire Cadres add an extra shot to any unit they join using pulse weaponry, which is a very cool special ability. Combine this with an Ethereal’s Elemental power and suddenly Fire Warrior will be advancing upon the enemy hoping to get within rapid fire range!

Combine them with the pulse accelerator drone (which perhaps make it worth taking two pathfinder squads- one to flank and one to support the main line) that pathfinders can take and all of a sudden you have a solid base of Fire warriors with range 36” guns, with one unit putting out 2 shorts (4 at rapid fire range) a turn, plus whatever bonuses your pathfinders can give them from lighting up an opponent’s unit. I’ve seen terminator squads downed this way, even if it was a bit of a desperate tactic.

Tau Fire Warrior by Bozar 88 of Deviant Art

In fact, this may allow players to recreate an old Tau tactic, the ‘Fish of Fury’. This is where Fire Warriors in Devilfish transports move up the battlefield and use Devilfishes to section off parts of the opposing army, before disembarking the Fire Warriors dealing them a devastating blow with short-range pulse rifle shots. At this point though, you run the risk of spending so many points of fire warriors that the army becomes inflexible and very vulnerable if the initial volley doesn’t kill everything.

Now one think I did mention before, albeit jokingly, was that Fire warriors aren’t that good in assault. This is the counterbalance the army faces for having such a powerful gun. It’s not as bad as it used to be, as at least Tau has a chance of causing a leadership test or reducing numbers due to supporting fire, but don’t count on it doing much. Also, try to stop your opponent from launching multiple assaults into your gunline in one turn, as supporting fire becomes pretty useless then.

Though the common adage for any army that relies on shooting is to hang back and try to win the game by shooting the opponent to death. With Tau this can’t work in the long-term. The army is built to be fluid and always on the move and as such whilst I suggest you do invest in a few squads to form a gunline with whatever other static units you have purchased (traditionally Broadsides, though I have a feeling it will be Sniper teams from now on), at least one squad should be advancing up the board in a Devilfish to keep your opponent flat-footed and on the defence.

Even then, when your opponent’s assault units or objective takers move into your half of the table, don’t be afraid to leap your squads forward and abuse that rapid fire range. This edition is a lot more about manoeuvring than prior editions and being timid won’t win you games.

Still, don’t over stretch your mark. Fire warriors are still toughness 3 with a 4+ save so dedicated firepower will bring them down. Keep them protected.

The Tau face a unique challenge this edition. They have to keep up with the big boys and are far more reliant on the army working together as a whole to put them on a competitive edge with the more powerful codices (as it should be!). Through a mixture of caution and bold movement, fire warriors can become a troop choice to be feared and once you master their use, the army will open up its secrets to you and you will become a better player for it too.

See you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.

A Reflection on Tau Fire Warriors

warhammer 40000 logoSo 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.

m490144_99120113001_TauFireWarriorTeamMain_873x627I 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.