Compendium T'au in Killteam 2021


Recently we have gotten our hands on the new killteam 2021 rules and compendium and being a t'au player in the past I decided to put together a team and have a few games to see how they do under the new rules set. I've compiled my thoughts on how the faction can do in the new game and where I think they shine (or are similarly lacking) this time around.


Composition


The T'au killteam consists of any two of 6x Fire Warriors, 6x Pathfinders or 3 Stealthsuits with their associated drones. If you don't have a leader in your fireteam you have the option to replace any normal guy with a leader version of the same troop (or include the Shas'Ui an an additional member in the case of pathfinders)  which normally comes with +1 BS and +1 Wound:


Drones



As mentioned below, you can replace a Shas'la operative in a firewarrior or pathfinder fire team with a drone or replace a Stealth Battlesuit Shas'Ui with two drones. The caveat here being that each drone operative can only be taken once in the entire killteam and certain drones can only be taken by certain fireteams; namely recon, pulse accelerator and grav inhibitor drones in pathfinder teams, guardian and support turrets in firewarriors and regular gun, shield and marker drones in any fireteam. I do feel that the one per killteam of all drones is needlessly restrictive. As we will see later there are actually very few drones that I feel are all that worthwhile within the context of the game itself (most notably gun drones and the recon drone for pathfinders) so it is very unlikely that you would want to swap out many of your operatives from the other drone types.


Firewarriors





Firewarriors are your basic guys for a T'au killteam. You can have 6 in a single fireteam armed with either pulse carbines, rifles or blasters. Of the three options, carbines and rifles are essentially the same (and in this case you are probably better off taking pathfinders for their additional markerlights) so I would actually recommend pulse blasters so that you could at least spend the majority of the game concealed and then pop out within 6" for the excellent AP1.


The support turret is probably the real reason why you would bring firewarriors though I personally don't think that it is enough of a reason to do so. You either get a hefty 7 damage on crits with the missile pod or the ability to shoot at units that are out of sight but with the caveat that you only hit on 6s, and with normal hits instead of crits. None of these really make up for the lack of movement of the turret and it becomes very difficult to set up in a position where it would be able to meaningful damage.


The guardian drone gives a 5+ invulnerable save to nearby hunter cadre units but as you are giving up your 4 pulse rifle/carbine/blaster shots, and in my experience weapons that are going to kill your units at range will likely either do it via number of shots (thereby overwhelming the 3 defence dice of whatever is being shot) or by massed chip damage, this means that a 5+ invulnerable save isn't likely to help in any meaningful way.

Pathfinders





Your basic pathfinder has good dice on his pulse carbine as well as markerlights to allow other units to reroll one dice against their target. They are however, made of paper with their 5+ save and lack of combat ability. For the pathfinder heavy gunner I think that the clear winner is the rail rifle. With it's AP1, lethal 5+ and MW2 you can put a good amount of damage onto a target unit especially when combined with the recon drone's analyse ability (see below).



The Recon Drone is probably the real reason why you are taking a pathfinder fireteam. With a tied highest defence stat in the game, solid 12 wounds and a burst cannon, this drone is one of the better fighters in the entire tau roster. It's unique action analyse is the icing on the cake; For 1 AP you can pick an enemy operative visible to the recon drone (which isn't all that hard considering how tall it is) and directly after the drone's activation ends, activate another of your fighters rerolling all shooting dice against the target unit. This is essentially a stronger version of group activation 2 and can make any one unit very accurate.


I am not a fan of the other two drones. As with the firewarrior team, you are giving up your 4 pulse carbine shots for slightly shorter charges against your troops if they are in range of the drone and the grav wave ability, or the ability to retain a dice for pulse weapons within 3" of the accelerator drone. Of the two, the Pulse accelerator drone is the better choice but in reality you are more likely to take either more pathfinders or a standard gun-drone. 

Stealthsuits




Stealthsuits are the real stars of the show. 6 dice on the burst cannon, rerolling 1s means that generally at least a couple of dice will get through your opponents 3 defence dice, and the fusion blaster is a must to take down those harder units (especially good when combined with the pathfinder recon drone to reroll all hits). Add to this the ability to fly and mostly ignore the terrain rules, and the ability to always be in cover and you will find that your stealthsuits will be doing most of the heavy lifting in your games. I would always take the Stealthsuit Shas'Vre as the increased BS only serves to further increase the probability of taking down tougher units in one shooting action. I have found that the Fusillade rule is largely a trap; you are using your 6 attack dice to negate opposing defence dice so splitting your shots among several close units massively reduces the amount of potential damage unless they are very poor troops.

Generic Drones




Of the three generic drones which can be taken by any fireteam, I am of the opinion that the only one worth taking is the basic gun drone. It's better then both a pathfinder and a firewarrior so you should probably be replacing one member of either team. Stealthsuits can only take the three generic drones but considering how essential their burst cannons are I would advise against replacing any Stealthsuits at all.

Equipment and Ploys




For equipment I have been having a good time with either all Target locks on my Stealthsuits allowing a reroll of one dice for your burst cannons (which combined with the innate reroll 1s make for some very accurate shooting) or fusion blasters, or target locks and a Holographic readout on the leader for a small free AP boost once per battle. Markerlights just arent necessary given that pathfinders all come equipped with them and I find that photon grenades a bit hit or miss but can help out in clutch situations; It does have infinite range though and can be used whilst concealed as it's not a shooting attack so I am looking forward to trying this out some more.


Overall I am not too excited by the strategic ploys outside of Camouflage field Engagement (allowing your Stealthsuits to activate, shoot and then become concealed again if they don't need to move from their position). I have found recon sweep to be very difficult to use effectively given how killzone edges work so I mostly store my CP for either rerolls, supporting fire or stand and fire in combat (which is very good with burst cannons but remember it can only be used when the operative is selected as a target so cant be used offensively). Aimed pulse volley rewards your firewarriors for being static on the battlefield which in a game like killteam which revolves around movement and capturing objectives, isn't ideal. Breach and clear also essentially boosts the out of cover rules for pulse blasters by 1" and gives one reroll but I feel like you are so close at that point that your fire warrior is likely to get killed as soon as he makes his attack.

Final thoughts


Overall, I do think that the T'au have some options this time round in killteam. I have found though that they do have the issue of their close combat being so bad that you tend to sit back for the first couple of turns whilst your Stealthsuits get into position to be able to start wiping out dedicated close combat units. Usually this means using their fly movement to get to vantage points on the battlefield thus negating the benefit of opposing concealed tokens. Unfortunately this means that it's difficult to score objectives in the first two turns as you can't really venture out into the open. I think that the clever use of photon grenades could help mitigate this somewhat as movement manipulation is generally quite strong.

In my games I have been using the following to decent success:

Stealthsuit Fireteam


Stealthsuit Shas'Vre
(leader)

Stealthshit Shas'Ui
Target Lock

Stealthshit Shas'Ui
Target Lock, Fusion Gun

Pathfinder Fireteam


Pathfinder Shas'La
Pulse Grenades

Pathfinder Shas'La
Pulse Grenades

Pathfiner Heavy Gunner
Rail Rifle

MV1 Gun Drone

MB3 Recon Drone

It is worth noting that when designing your killteam you would have a roster of 20 operatives to choose from so depending on the opponent you can swap out the Fusion gun and equipment as necessary.

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