Tau is finally here. After a long, long wait. After virtually disappearing from the battlefield in 5th. After a small resurgence due to the changes in 6th. After nearly a decade. Tau are back.
There are a lot of things to like in the book, and a lot of things that they changed/nerfed that didn't need to be..at all.
First two things that stick out at me is the tanks no longer have access to multi-trakers, which means no more shooting as fast vehicles. This makes them much, much more static then they were before and is a huge nerf. Devilfish, for example, gained 3 extra shots due to the changes in burst cannons and pulse carbines. However it can't use them (with their 18" range) unless it stays still...and it didn't drop in price at all. This is a serious WTF in my opinion.
The second thing is the changes to the Kroot..who lost an attack, a point of strength but gained AP5 in close combat. Completely, totally nerfed the unit as a close combat threat. It was just..silly.
The biggest impression I got is that GW wants the Tau to return to 4th edition static gun line all bunched up together ..hence the supporting fire rule. While it seems the army has the firepower to pull this off..it really does not. Most everything in the book is BS3 with no way to change it (even the targeting array is gone). A one-use warlord trait and a one-per-army wargear item can give you some re-rolls but that hardly fixes anything.
Now what got really good. First is the Smart Missile system. It gained range, does not require LoS and just flat-out ignores cover. Free upgrade on the heavy support tanks. The decoy launcher is a must-take on the pretty decent Razorshark fighter. For the price of a grot you get an 4+ invul against shots with the interceptor rule. The fighter sports 6 S7 shots and has a darn good chance to survive against the quad-gun.
The sniper drone teams also got a nice bump. Some people are complaining about losing the rail rifle, but to be sure they more then made up for it. Cheaper, and they get to fire the longer range sniper shot at BS5 as long as one of the marker dudes is alive. BS5 means there is a great chance as some rends. That reminds me, the rail rifle is also very, very nice. Not only going to Ap1 but goes from heavy to rapid fire..*amazing*. Wish more models could take it.
Speaking of markerlights, they are plentiful, easy to use and breaks many rules including being able to bump BS on overwatch and snap shots. Pluck down a couple maker shots from the Skyray (which includes skyfire) on a flyer then open up on it at BS3. Or pull 2 marker shots to ignore cover completely. There is quite a bit of ap3 and ap2 blasts in the book, and even more ap4/5 blasts which means the squishy troops behind an aegis are in trouble.
The riptide is going to be a definite wait-and-see unit. It sounds good on paper but gets spendy fast (not hard to push 300pts) and despite containing the most experienced, best warriors the Tau can field..are still WS2 and BS3..sigh. But it does pack a lot of firepower and is very, very mobile.
Piranhas got much better. Nearly half the price and gained 3 shots. Add in disruption pod for a +1 cover save (I should note the disruption pod does NOT give stealth..but a +1 cover save. Which means it would stack with stealth!!) so they always get a 4+ just for moving and you have a cheap, fast unit pumping out a lot of S5 firepower.
That is what has me puzzled. The Tau have 2 kinds of units..ones that move fast and ones that sit back and don't. I'm not sure how to mix those two things up in a single list, or if you even want to try.
This is the first list I want to try, pure Tau for now.
HQ (50): Ethereal
-A buff monster with a re-roll bubble for almost nothing.
HQ (84): Cadre Fireblade, 2x Marker Drone
-A great, cheap HQ choice buffs the unit hes in and has BS5 with split fire for the quad gun
Troop (142): 12 Firewarriors, Shas'ui, 2x Marker Drone
-Sits behind the Aegis with the Fireblade
Troop (244): 10 Firewarriors, Shas'ui, Marker Light, 2x Marker Drone
-Devilfish with SMS, Disruption Pod
-This is my advancing troop choice, moves up and sets up a position to put out some marker lights mid-game
Troop (140): 20 Kroot, sniper shots
-Cheap unit that can infiltrate. Only 24" range so not sure how good they will be.
Elite (196): 3x XV8 Crisis Suits
Shas'vre with Puretide Engram Chip, Drone controller, Burst cannon, 2x marker drones
2x Shas'ui with TL Burst cannon, plasma rifle
-Mobile unit capable of dealing with different kinds of units.
Fast (168): 3x Piranha, disruption pods, blacksun filters
-Fast, 4+ cover, 24 S5 shots..
Fast (168): Razorshark fighter, disruption pod, decoy launcher, missile pod
-lots of firepower
Fast (133): 10x Pathfinders, Shas'ui, 1x marker drone
-Markerlights! Sure to be the first unit targeted.
Heavy (194): 2x XV88 Broadside, 2x Velocity Tracker
Heavy (131): Skyray, SMS, blacksun filter, disruption pod
Fortification (100): Aegis, Quad-gun.