The compulsory choices in any army are HQ and Troops, so I find it fitting to start my Tau unit analysis with these two rule section. I will not likely mention ALL units in each section, just the ones I tend to use or have a reason to comment on them in the new rules.
Commander- a Solid HQ choice just like they always were and likely the goto choice for most Tau armies. They have a one use buff that makes a nearby squad much better in shooting (or moving and shooting) for one turn, unlike other buff provide less value but over the course of the whole game. Not too much else has changed,except they can carry and fire 3 Weapons systems. I’m inclined to make a Commander wielding 3 weapons as I think this would be an impressive amount of firepower with a great accuracy (2+). Given that 8th edition is now in an age where characters often tote combiweapons and can fire 2 guns, this seems like a smart design decision to keep the fire power based tau ahead of the game in the shooting phase.
ColdStar Commander- Like the above, but trades weapon choice for an average weapon loadout but with an outstanding 20” movement characteristic. This in combination of character rules in general, will make this a neat character that can be where you need him when you need him. I used to have a “Proclamation of uselessness” tagged to this unit choice despite how much I loved the idea of a flying battlesuit. I am glad to rescind that proclamation.
Ethereal- they are kinda cool but highly vulnerable to enemy snipers. As long as you don’t make them your warlord, their low point cost make this still a decent choice as long as they last.
Shadowsun- This is the most common HQ I field (Being a proxy model for Shas’O “ColdWind of Destiny” Sha’is Y’he Sas Run’ka) . This unit still continues to play as it did previously.
Aun Shi’- A still modestly cheap, but more durable ethereal that can have a bit of melee punch. This is a common proxy for my Progeny Caste scientist Fio’O Solin Larsus (Cool Mordin Solus figure I have seemed to have lost to the WARP!! L)
Fire Warriors- Pretty much covered in general notes in the last post, I think they will be cooler for me than they have been in the past few editions. I miss the official fluff of EMP grenades (though I can imagine that some of the dame inflicted by pulse rifles is caused by flung EMP grenades). The mobile turret that now comes with Fire Warrior teams can only deploy once, where it used to redeploy every time the unit went stationary…which is a bit of a loss. But given that the turret comes free in narrative play…that is small potatoes and is still cool. I like that the pule pistol option exists on the Team leaders, but with only 1 pistol in the squad and the Tau’s fear of staying in assault, I wonder how much these weapons will ever fire. Against this is still a free option in the Power level game, so that is small potatoes.
I wish the Carbine had some special rule over the pulse rifle. It has a useful statline, but the weapon includes a grenade launcher (which was the thing that caused the pinning tests in the previous incarnations of the game if you didn’t know). This grenade launcher is a prevelant piece of the weapon visually, so I wish it still had some tiny rule benefit. The carbine is still a fine choice though.
Breacher Teams- Breacher teams are a shock troop offshoot of the fire warrior. They play like they did in the previous edition. I think the Pulse blaster is tough, but I have aesthetic problems with it’s design. (Hate the 3 range bracket thing when this doesn’t occur in all weapons and just wish it had a simpler rapid fire base with a shorter range (18”) and a better ap(-1) to the Pulse rifle.) This gives it a space with both the pulse rifle and the carbine without the unnecessary special rules. I do still like the unit and and slowing building 40 of these guys to alternate into the gameplay fold. As long as their Gaurdian drone squads are still alive, this unit gains a 5+ inv save, which is pretty nice.
All Things Kroot- I like the concept that Tau integrates all races into their empire. But so far, I have not found any of the races they’ve included as army units to be particularly engrossing. ( I do often like using their rules as proxy units for droid soliders or other things). They are actually fulfill different ORG sections in the rules, but I want to hammer them to all in one shill blow. In General, ALL kroot are cheap(The highest Kroot unit cost is 6 and that includes 20 models)
The basic Karnivore unit typically is a lowcost troop choice for the tau army. They also have an infiltrate type ability so they are one of the few units in (any of my) armies that I feel comfortable throwing them into a dangerous place as attribution units. Having lost most of their forest type rules, it is even easier for me to think of them as my attrition droid sodliers without having to justify these additional stragne added odd rules.
Krootox riders are Elite choices and make decent mobile heavy weapon batteries who can also melee decently. With 48” Rapid fire big guns, these modeled can lay out 6 str 7 shots inflicting d3 damge per wounding hit.
Kroot hound are very cheap, 12 of them costing 3 Power Level. They are extremely fast (12” move) so they would be a great harassment unit working along side infiltrating karnivore.
The Kroot Shaper is an HQ CHARACTER who is also a cheap choice (2 Power level) and boost near by Kroot Leadership and allows Kroot units to rerolls to wound rolls of 1. The Shaper’s Ritual blade allows nearby kroot units to ignore morale tests. Given that he does NOT infiltrate, I forsee him often having to race across the board to catch up with his Kroot troops (or forcing Kroot troops to not infiltrate)
Kroot, even as proxy units, will rarely have a place in my tau force, but this is almost entirely due to my preference of liking how an all Fire Caste army looks.