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T'au 500 point Starter Army, Heroes of The Greater Good

I'm revamping and re-tooling my T'au army. Although I'm certain the list I've come up with is both competitive and easy to use, I don't think I'll be continuing collecting T'au.

Whilst I'll never stop believing in mecha and the sheer coolness of robots, with Crisis Suits now solidly priced as an elite unit I can't form the Crisis Suit Wings that I love from 7th Edition. Firewarriors and Breacher teams are fantastic as Troop choices, and you really can't go wrong fielding them en masse. But I'm here for the Crisis Suits, and infuriatingly I can't fit nearly as many as I can in an army as the old days.

But enough of the old bitter veteran moaning, let's see what disgusting fire power we lay upon the enemy!

t'au tau starter army start collecting 500 points school league warhammer 40k
This is not the whole army, but a good chunk of it... weapon choices are all wrong though.
The army I had planned started as a Farsight Enclave list, to fit my Mu'gulath Bay Avengers (the poor homeless blue chaps above). However, the list works for every single Sept Tenet, and I'll explain after the list. Here we go!

Heroes of the Greater Good

Patrol Detachment (T'au Empire)

Sept Tenet: Farsight Enclaves (Re-roll to Wounds of 1 at 6-inches range or less)


Cadre Fireblade: Pulse Rifle, Marker Light, Marker Drone
[52 pts]

Commander in XV86 Coldstar Battlesuit: 2 Fusion Blasters, High Output Burst Canon, Shield Generator
Warlord: Fusion Blades, Master of the Mont'ka
[160 pts]


Strike Team: 9 Fire Warriors, 1 Shas'ui, all armed with Pulse Rifles
[70 pts]


XV8 Crisis Suit Team: 1 Shas'vre, 2 Shas'ui, all armed with 2 Plasma Rifles and Shield Generator
[216 pts]

Total: [498 points]

I could say that School League lists are my shtick, and it would be fair to say that my local meta is actually the School Club I run. With that in mind, these are the following changes to bring the list up to 650 points School League Standard:

  • Add 2 more Fire Warrior units (Strike Teams or Breachers. I recommend one more Strike Team and a unit of Breachers)
  • Add one more marker drone
Standard advice for T'au right now is to spam drone as hard as you can, but I don't find them as compelling as others. Personal choice in this case, as I did drone spam in 7th Edition when I had my beloved Crisis Suit armies.

The following follows my standard advice for list building, as detailed in my Patrol Detachment List Building Guide.


Fireblades could almost be modelled on the same base as Strike Teams, so integral to what makes the T'au gun line a thing to be feared. I recommend just leaving him buried inside the Strike Team, using his high-accuracy marker light to get a re-roll of 1s on targets, and letting the Fire Warriors shoot out 3 shots a piece at 15-inches. He takes a Marker drone as an ablative wound, and also an extra pot shot at getting a marker light hit.

The Commander is where you break with static T'au Gunline tradition, and heave the enemy terrified for his tanks!

Exemplar of the Mont'ka as a warlord trait allows this terror to fly 40-inches in the movement phase and still unload his weaponry at BS 2+! You can blast apart a light tank at turn one, or if you're lucky enough to see a tank or monster out front, simply move 20-inches and charge, getting off Fusion gun shots and charging with the Fusion Blades!

The High Output Burst Canon is more of an option, chosen by me to menace horde Infantry or squishy character units placed poorly. It's easily swapped out for a third Fusion Blaster (for a whole extra point!), if you want a dedicated anti-tank hunter.

At toughness 5 and 6 wounds the T'au Commander is reasonably tough already, but the Shield Generator ensures that it deflects half the incoming damage it certainly will receive.

Also... swinging around an energy blade with a shield whilst flying around the battlefield taking out key targets? Pure Gundam.

t'au tau starter army start collecting 500 points school league warhammer 40k

One more point to make is about the Commanders auras; Mont'ka and Kauy'on.

Mont'ka allows your models to advance a little more quickly. Use the Cold Stars high speed to park it near Advancing units, and you can get them shooting to their full potential.

Equally, if your Firewarriors or Crisis Suits are sitting on objectives or choke points (see later), you can fly him over to let them re-roll their shooting attacks.

This guy is your Hero of the Empire, and you should treat him as such. Just try not to cry too much when he catches 10 lascannon shots as the enemy desperately brings him down.


Fire Warriors. Do the maths on these warriors (only beaten in shortness by Grots), and you will not be disappointed. Well, maybe.

Shooting wise, these are excellent little fighters. Able to inflict an average of near 4 wounds on Marine Equivalent troops, that's enough to cripple an equivalently pointed Tactical Marine squad. Move them to Objectives, and blast the enemy from what's rightfully yours.

Don't expect them to perform miracles though... that outcome is a best case scenario with Volley Fire and a marker light hit giving them re-rolls of 1. And whilst that will cripple Tactical Marine combat squads, Intercessors will simply shrug it off and punch you to death in combat.

Speaking of combat; Don't do it.

You're Toughness 3 and miss more than half the time. You also have no way of moving away from combat as effectively as FLY units, Ultramarines or even regular Guardsmen. You will need to make sure that anything you close to Volley Fire range will not be able to charge you in return, either because they're dead, or you've used something that no other Codex has.

Read below.

Fire Support

There's actually no dedicated Fire Support unit in this list. Nearly every unit has a little more punch than their counterparts in other armies, and it all builds up. The most powerful unit will be your Commander, and it'll be up to him to go tank/monster hunting.


This is where I get controversial, and divert strongly from standard thinking.

Crisis Suits are T'au tackle units.

Now for a unit priced as they are, you'd expect them to dish out some serious firepower. An Equivalent priced Space Marine unit would be Hellblasters, and at this point you must have seen tanks and dreadnoughts evaporate under their hail of sun-bolts.

Crisis Suits... can't do that. Cyclic Ion Blasters have the strength, but not the AP. Fusion blasters have both, but cost a bomb and you'll be missing half the time. Plasma rifles have the AP, but at 1 damage and Strength 6 are underwhelming.

What they do have is quite high Toughness, quite a few wounds, and slightly more speed than other units. They can Deep Strike. They can also equip Shield Generators.

Which means they are a really good unit for soaking up fire power.

High alpha strikes are usually the most exciting things Elites choices can do, and there are many advocates of plasma Deep Strikers. I'm one of them, but your Crisis Suits aren't quite damaging enough to do it.

So my solution to using them is to give them reasonably damaging weaponry (Dual plasma rifles), and a shield generator. Here's why:
  • They threaten MEQ troops
  • They take a large amount of fire to kill
  • They can FLY out of combat if charged

This makes them great as a blocking unit or a shield for Troops and the Commander. Deep Strike in front of a high fire power unit. Don't waste time shooting at it, instead go for any MEQ Troops or Elites in range. Be aggressive with them, and dare the enemy to charge them. If they do, they are effectively tied up in combat, and you can just float out in your own time. 

Also... you can charge the enemy. Yeah, T'au assault. Daft idea right? Well not really. Even Marines will have trouble bringing your battlesuits down, and if you do it against a tank or shooting unit, they're pretty much stuck. 

These might not be the Commander in terms of heroism, but these Crisis Suits are heroes of the Empire in their own right. They put themselves willingly into the line of fire to defend their fellow T'au in the Hunter Cadre.

Don't forget Drop-zone is clear. It'll make your plasma-suits hit surprisingly hard when they drop in.

Also... Gundam... beam rifles and shields are standard weaponry:

t'au tau starter army start collecting 500 points school league warhammer 40k

Sept Tenet

You can swap out tenets if the Farsight Enclaves aren;t your cup of team:

T'au: Overwatch is better, so just keep your units closer to support each other. The relic suit is good for jump-shoot-jump shenanigans on your Commander. Whilst the T'au unique warlord trait is great for survivability, I'd still stick with the Exemplar of the Mont'ka. The unique stratagem is good for hurting very high toughness targets, but it will clean out all of your options.

Bork'an: 6-inch range on Rapid Fire weapons means everything but the commander gets better range. That's just great! You can swap out the Commanders High Output Burst Canon for the Bork'an plasma rifle. The Warlord trait seems great, but again, you're better off staying as an Exemplar of the Mont'ka, to get the most of the Cold Star speed.

Dal'yth: Great trait for static lines, but in an army this small staying still isn't a great idea. Their stratagem allows you to jump-shoot-jump with your Commander or crisis suits, but you won't be able to use it that much with only 3 command points.

Vior'la: Good, in that it allows you to choose other Warlord Traits for your commander (I recommend Precision of the Hunter for tank-hunting duties). Everything else in your army can move a bit quicker too, and the unique Stratagem is really good for blasting the enemy. 

Sa'cea: Better Leadership is handy here, since you're not taking an Ethereal. You also get to re-roll a failed hit-roll, which saves embarrassment from your commander.More Marker light hits from their Stratagem can certainly help out in the right circumstances.

Wrapping it up...

This army is possible to make out of the Start Collecting kit and one commander kit. Converting a Fireblade from your Ethreal isn't too difficult, as you just need a spare set of legs and somewhere to stick a pulse rifle. For ideas, check out my own Fireblade conversion.

You'll get a good feel for how the T'au operate, and the list is flexible enough to try out all the Septs before you settle on one you like.

A good little list, and expands easily with more Troops or any other unit you want to add. Personally I add another Strike Team and a Breacher squad (moving up into a Brigade detachment), and then adding a Riptide. It's not exactly point optimal, but I really like the idea of a Farsight Enclave Riptide going point blank with the enemy to unload its Heavy Burst Canon!

But, as I said at the beginning, I'm not super inspired by the T'au as I was in 7th Edition. I really miss Troop Crisis Suits, and it doesn't satisfy my mecha anime itch as it used to. I'll be leaving the T'au at 500 points (plus Riptide) and moving on to other armies.

At least until Crisis Suits get a point drop!

Until next time.

Thanks for reading.

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