T’au Tactics: Markerlight Mash-Up
It’s Smatt here with a brand new series for you! We are taking a deep dive into the Warhammer 40,000 universe to discuss T’au tactics. Today we are going to review how the Imperium and more specifically the Space Marine meta have drastically changed an imperative to T’au strategy: markerlight allocation.
With the arrival of 8th edition Warhammer 40k, some of its more flavorful T’au units have gone to the wayside, while others rise to ascendance. Markerlight drones were replaced with Pathfinders, but eventually the community cracked the code by discovering the finesse of the Greater Good in providing quality ballistic lights via relatively cheap characters. This norm has allowed T’au players to invest a small portion of their points on characters with markerlights and have them protected by their keyword character designation and the target priority rule.
A handful of updates and new units changed the T’au game and caused concern for this strategy. Not too long ago, snipers were few and far between. Now with the Vanguard Primaris line widely available, Space Marine players bring to the table Eliminators, capable of shooting characters and not needing line of sight. Pray that they aren’t Ravenguard, able to utilize the Surgical Strike ability to deliver a much harsher reality. In the Imperium, Vindicare Assassins were all the rage before the command point adjustment, allowing them to be taken for 85 points and one command point, while capable of killing two characters a turn without needing to change magazines. Vindicare Assassins are the sole reason I adjusted from being heavily reliant on solely characters with markerlights (via a Sa’cea Sept Vanguard Detachment with a Cadre Fireblade and triple Firesight Marksmen).
If you haven’t heard, T’au are sweeping the big tables lately with victories at SoCal and Nova, among others. We can learn quite a bit from both their lists as they show us markerlight innovation at its finest.
Recent 2019 SoCal Winner Brian Pullen uses mixed units of Shield and Markerlights Drones, Fire Warrior Shas’ui, Pathfinders, and an Ethereal for markerlights counters or similar aura effects. Let’s take a look at his list below:
His Markerlight Drones are able to move and shoot without penalty, adding better maneuverability for late game grabs and they are more cost effective on points in their role versus investing on a single character to get one markerlight. He buffs them by dedicating one of his Commanders wuth Drone Controller so they are able to Hit on 4+. The added protection of the Shield Drones allows him to allocate wounds if running low on markerlights or the Markerlight Drones can be used for Savior Protocols for other vulnerable units. Fire Warrior Shas’ui are cheap, hidden markerlights that will usually hang back in your castle. They will always be your last Fire Warrior to fall. Pathfinders can act as aggressive screens with their free pregame Vanguard move and have more staying power with drones. Each Pathfinder is armed with a pulse carbine or markerlight, adding to their versatility late game. Ethereals are able to use their ability to enact Storm of Fire, allowing reroll of 1’s to hit for stationary units within 6” as a backup for your diminished supply of markerlights.
Richard Siegler, winner of the Nova Open 2019 uses small accessory units of Shield Drones with Markerlight Characters (Cadre Fireblades, Darkstrider), units of Pathfinders, and an Ethereal to earn his markerlight buffs.
The main difference between Brian and Richard’s list is Richard relies on characters for quality markerlights hitting on premium BS and pairs it with Pathfinders and an Ethereal. He protects his characters by utilizing their drone options to have two shield drones accompany each applicable character and normally hides those drones out of sight. These small teams end up becoming tactically flexible for the T’au player and ceaselessly annoying for their opponent to kill.
With the game constantly unveiling new and better units and rules, T’au have proven that they have plenty of options for Markerlight counters, but just one won’t work. No matter where your markerlights are allocated, just make sure you have them well protected and your markerlights are not all in one Devilfish.
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