40K: The Tau Codex – Hopes And Fears

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The upcoming Tau Codex feels like it’s got a lot of work to do.

If you’ve been following the announcements you’ll know that Dark Eldar are getting their codex next, which means that before too long we’ll know what the one or two good units are that will get taken as part of the Ynnari umbrella, while the rest of the models gather yet more dust as they moulder on the shelves.

But after that, the Tau Codex gets a release. And that Codex is going to have a lot of work to do. The Greater Good is more like the Slightly More Alright these days. So here’s a little of what we hope the upcoming Codex will address.


Markerlights are cool, in theory. But in 8th Edition they end up being too much of an investment for not enough payoff. You need multiple hits for it to worth it, and that up inked markerlight stratagem helps, but if you’re using markerlights, that’s all that unit is doing.

Other armies have characters that give similar buffs, except they don’t have to hit first, and their buffing model is still a character that can do other things–like charging in with an exalted champion or being a Tyranid Warrior Prime. So, less vulnerable, more deadly, and more reliable. Markerlights… let you fire seeker missiles with a better chance to hit?

Seeker Missiles – But Why?

Seeker Missiles are having a hard time in 8th Edition. They originally were there to hit vehicles–which they could either auto hit or, at least have a hope of doing something to. But in 8th Edition, dealing a single mortal wound to a vehicle is hardly worth getting out of bed for.

Consider the Sky Ray, a kit that comes standard with six of these. At best that’s six mortal wounds and then you’re spent. Six mortal wounds doesn’t even knock a rhino down a tier. You can accomplish the same thing with a psyker or three. But then you’ll still have psykers afterwards. Which is great because:

Absolutely No Psychic Defense

The Tau are the only army in the game that has no way of getting psychic defense. Even mono-Khorne has more ways of interfering with psychic stuff than the Tau. Like, sure there are armies out there that don’t have psychic defenses in their codex, but all it takes is an allied detachment to bring in something you need to at least try to stop the enemy from warptiming a unit into your flank.

Allies? What’s that?

This one is going to be interesting. The Tau are going to be the first Codex that will have only what’s in their Codex available to them–as it stands now. Tau, Orks, and Necrons all don’t really have any allied detachments they can call on to shore up their weaknesses. It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with it.

Commander Spam

Commanders are everywhere in a Tau army. Every detachment is an elite command unit, but that’s because Commanders outstrip crisis suits by a lot–normal suits are too expensive for 4 BS and fewer options. It’s Commanders or FW models at the moment, and outside of that, not much else.

Bonus – Drones

There is one thing to look forward to–drones drones and more drones.

For the greater good!

  • Mikoneo

    “The Tau are the only army in the game that has no way of getting psychic defense”

    • Filip Hanell

      Good, as it should be.

      • Neil Burns

        Why is that good? That’s poor game design.

        • Keaton

          Disagree. We should have poor psychic defense. That’s an integral part of the lore and for the vast majority of 40k players, feeling like we’re sort of telling a story on the table is a big part of the fun.

          Just make up for it in other areas. Make their shooting something to be feared like it used to, but try to do it without it feeling oppressive. I’m not sure how you do that, but I’m not a game designer.

          • Neil Burns

            I say Markerlights should be your psychic phase. 3 Marker light hits? Congrats, you got an undeniable smite in the form of a seeker missile. If the Tau cannot deny psychic stuff, then why should people stop their markerlights?

          • Karru

            I mean, Markerlights technically were the Tau Psychic Phase since they first got released.

            The amount of Suits and Fire Warriors hitting me on a 2+ with me getting no Cover was insane during those days and that was what made Tau interesting.

            I am still hoping that they bring back the old Markerlight system where you shoot a markerlight at someone and then can use them to buff your units by choosing from a list.

          • ascalaphe

            markerlight= 1 model, and he don’t make noting. And it’s just on 4+, and you can’t move ( heavy), and you need more markerlight, and missile seeker need touch……… it’s very bad option.

          • Spacefrisian

            The heaviest flashlight ever… Should be assault.

          • Muninwing

            they were move-and-shoot on certain models in prior editions, and that was a bit too much in power…

            they make sense being heavy, since if you’re running around you can’t necessarily keep them aimed where they need to be for long enough to be used by another unit.

          • Neil Burns

            Right now it is. Markerlights shouldn’t be heavy, it’s a laser pointer, and that’s why I like them being a “Psychic Phase”. 10 Path Finders generate on average, 5 hits, and that could translate out to a “Smite”, and +2 to hit on a unit for example. I feel like they’re going to get Reroll auras, and that + 3+ BS might be enough to fix them.

          • Warboss_Stalin

            The very idea of them being a laserpointer is why they should never have stripped cover saves. The marker light should suffer cover save mods like any other weapon…how do you makrerlight a guy who’s hiding behind a brick wall any better than shooting him with a real lasergun? marker lights should simply allow shooters to wound better.

          • Muninwing

            … but having multiple units that use markerlights, ad you wreck face. it’s all about the synergy.

            you can’t be good at everything.

            tau were, in 6th and part of 7th, a solid army that had serious damage potential… and could still contend as other abusive lists came to light.

            best range, best standard sidearm, special abilities that mitigate their weaknesses… that’s more than most get. lack of psychic phase is a small price to pay for dominating the shooting phase and derailing an opponent’s assault phase.

          • Yes great idea

          • euansmith

            They could be linked to a Satellite Orbital Laser, like the targeting pistol in Akira; but then, you have to be careful when picking your targets.


          • NNextremNN

            I believe there was a Formation in 7th that shot seeker missiles from a flyer that was assumed to be there (not really just a fluff justification) if enough markerlights hit.

          • euansmith

            “… a flyer that was assumed to be there (not really just a fluff justification)…” Now that is exactly how 40k should treat flyers; but I guess that GW wanted to sell kits.

          • NNextremNN

            Yeah minimum move distance is hard on some tables especially when they have terrain. In theory the flyer is above all of this but it’s base has to to be placed and stand somewhere. Still there are some great flyer models. Helicopters or similar low flying things are okay but hypersonic aircraft’s don’t “stay” on a battlefield.

          • euansmith

            Or, if they do stay on the battlefield, it is in lots of little pieces. 😉

          • NNextremNN

            I could also seen them as objective terrain like on a landing pad that you have to reach or protect.

          • Neil Burns

            Couldn’t agree enough.

          • Neil Burns

            I think that’s exactly how it should work. Heck, Tau could even have a summoning mechanic for enough markerlight hits, in the form of Air Caste support.

          • Keaton

            That’s a pretty great idea. Seeker missiles can come from orbit or miles away or whatever. The whole point of Tau was “What chance do weak people with realllllly amazing tech have in this universe of horrors?” I’d like to keep them focused that way.

          • ZeeLobby

            The problem is that psychic powers have counters, and psykers in most factions are limited to certain models. Making an army good at just “shooting” covers like the entire tau force. I can’t imagine GW ever balancing tau shooting in some way to offset lack of psychic phase interaction. They’re just way too variable in value.

            I would be fine with psychic defense honestly. Just give them stronger willpower to resist offensive powers. if all they lack is using psychic powers, that’s a weakness they can probably overcome.

          • euansmith

            Maybe a “Deny The Witch” born of their lack of connection to the Warp; like a widespread form of the Pariah Gene?

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean the coolest thing for GW to do would be to add a new race to their collective which had psychic defense. I mean that’s like the best way to add it to their fluff. But they only seem to want to do anime battlesuits. I had always wished tau would have gone further with the allied alien races.

          • euansmith

            To be truly Anime, the Tau need Psychic School Girls; who have Hatred [Miniatures With Tentacles].

          • Keaton

            The lore would need to move. Maybe their hyper evolution continues and they become mini nulls. Not gaps in the warp but, I dunno. realllllly tiny fissures. Maybe tzeentch starts tzeenthing it up. But as it stand, they aren’t resistant to the warp, they’re vulnerable to it.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean the coolest thing for GW to do would be to add a new race to their collective which had psychic defense. I mean that’s like the best way to add it to their fluff. But they only seem to want to do anime battlesuits…

          • Nilok

            The Farsight Enclaves have psyker defenses in the Talismans of Arthas Moloch, and the Tau Empire have the Nicassar, which are psykers who can fly their ships with telekinesis alone.

            GW has just failed the incorporate these into the recent, or any codex respectively.

          • Keaton

            The Nicassar can barely articulate to the Tau what it is that they do, and just about every battle the imperium wins vs tau in the lore swings in their favor when they incorporate pskers. And the Talisman of Arthas Moloch is one thing, literally one talisman.

          • Nilok

            The Tau have generally hidden the Nicassar as they know the Imperium persecutes Psykers, using them only for ship combat and long range scouts due to the Nicassar’s nature, which has been GW’s excuse for why they only show up in Battlefleet Gothic.

            The Farsight Enclave found multiple Talismans hung from robed figures on Arthas Moloch. Farsight himself instructed his cadre to grab as many as they could find as he realized they were able to be used to force back the Daemons, which they kept as they fled the planet.

          • Spacefrisian

            Lore states that T’au advance there tech, and even the Farsight Enclave had figured out anti psychic stuff.

          • Gamecock13

            Lol same thing said for dark eldar. specifically…because they dont practice psychic powers…their weapons are more advance..lol what a joke.

          • euansmith

            In the roleplaying game, Over The Edge, there were psi-dampeners formed from a matrix of electronics and thinly sliced Dolphin brain. I could see the DE doing something similar. Of course, it would need to have a more twisted effect than just denying the witch. Perils on any double could be fun.

            “You plannin’ to use psychic powers? I dare ya, melonfarmer, I double dare ya!”

          • Keaton

            Farsight Enclaves have ONE anti psychker thing, and Tau advance their tech because they continually make strides in understanding the things about the universe you can understand. There is no amount of science that will make sense of the warp to a non psyker species, therefore, no anti psker computers or some such.

    • Gamecock13

      Did I miss what Dakr Eldar’s psychic defense is? Please don’t tell me it is our one-use-per-game Crucible?

      • Will Evans

        I believe the author is counting allied Eldar psykers.

        • Neil Burns

          That isn’t Dark Eldar, but I see how you could say that.

        • Gamecock13

          Thanks for this. You’re most likely correct. So annoying though…

          • ZeeLobby

            sigh. and that’s why i shelved my DE in 6th. I just got tired of everyone saying “well why don’t you take some Eldar…”

          • Gamecock13

            Agreed. I cannot stand playing CWE. Having access isn’t the same as your army having a viable deterant for psykers.

          • euansmith

            “Because… I like to pull the legs off buuuugs…”

  • ellobouk

    poor Tau, no psychic defense… unless of course they add some sort of deny the witch drone, which like most things in the tau army would sound really cool in theory, but then would either be broken and spammed, or terrible and never used

    • Neil Burns

      Or, maybe we could get Nisscar auxiliaries that already exist in the fluff, but that would require making a new non-Imperial model, and maybe they wouldn’t be broken and spammed, or terrible and never used if internal consistency was better in the writing department.

      • Boondox

        The Nicassar are not very mobile and need a special healsphere. I’m sure GW could make them an armored suit that would fit in with a Tau army. There are also other Xenos that work with the Tau that could have psychic powers to fill this gap.

        • BaronVonYoloing

          But I want weird, flat polar bears damnit!

  • Drpx

    I just hope they get a Sept trait that makes them -1 to hit at over 12” away.

    • Karru

      Oh they will give Tau that ability, that can be safely said. GW has seen the booming sales they get whenever an army is given that ability since suddenly everyone wants to play Raven Guard/Alpha Legion/Alaitoc.

      • Spacefrisian

        And its a weak trait to have once you figure it out.

        • John Henry III

          Weak? it provides amazing protection against plasma, against BS 4+ armies it effectively reduces their firepower by a third. 33% of their offensive capabilities just gone. Its amazing.

          • Spacefrisian

            There is no protection when you are within 12″. The fact i have to type it down means you havent figure it out.

            Getting within that 12″is another problem, but that should be that hard to do.

          • Reven

            Yes, once I’m in the enemy rapid fire range they lose their protection! Clearly a victory for the forces of good.

          • John Henry III

            Most BS 4+ shootie armies really don’t want to get that close to the enemy. Its almost like certain armies like tau, or guard are meant to stay at range and thus unless the enemy is stupid enough to let you get that close its 1/3 of your firepower gone for the entire game. (cause I’m not driving my basalisks all the way across the board).

            The fact I have to type it down means you haven’t figured it out.

        • Karru

          How does one “figure” out a way to beat this one I wonder?

          Making a full close combat army that rushed the enemy won’t be much use since if the opponent goes with a balanced shooting army instead of just one of the many doom drops, he can just halt you before you even get the chance to do anything.

          Ranged is out of the question obviously as John Henrik III mentioned as that is exactly what the thing is supposed to counter.

          So what exactly is this thing you figure out against this one?

  • Shendu

    Another problem the Tau have is the fact that all good weapons are so random. it’s all d3 or d6 shots with d3 or d6 damage etc.

  • Jose Delgado

    Seeing the horrible work of balance that gw have done this edition and how those retards of frontlinegaming hates tau i havent faith in the codex.

    I guess gonna be nerf to comander nerf to drones and stop. Nothing of balance only nerf so the marine fanboys of frontline be happy

  • Karru

    Here’s my wishlist for Tau Codex:

    1. Markerlight change. Make Markerlights useful, in other words, bring back the old system.

    2. Drone/Commander balancing. Make it so that Drones can be ignored for checking when a character is the closest target or not. Their only use at that point is to take shots that the Commanders take.

    3. Commander/Battlesuit balancing. Currently there is very little incentive to take Battlesuits over Commanders. Biggest reason being the Character rule Commanders have. Not sure if it would be enough to just remove the Drone’s ability to act as a screen for Commanders but still be able to take the hits to make this one happen.

    4. Balance the Stormsurge. Same problem here as with the Commander/Battlesuit, not much incentive to take anything but the Stormsurge. Offers more survivability and damage output than Riptides for a better price, I’d increase the price of the Stormsurge and lower the price of Riptides myself.

    5. Just generally improve the weapons of Tau. As many pointed out in here, many of the Tau weapons suffer from the 8th edition blanket nerf for Blast weapons that made majority of Blast Weapons obsolete when being compared to fixed shot weapons. Either make them cheaper or remove their random amounts.

    • Muninwing

      1. markerlights have, in the past, been way too OP. wanting them back the old way is… problematic

      2. giving them special rules above what other races have is kinda the definition of imbalance. perhaps it’s in the mindset of what these units are supposed to be doing, rather than what they are better at…?

      3. i’ll sorta agree with this… if it means nerfing your commanders, not buffing the other battlesuits. because a unit that functions well and is taken over others is often an indicator of that unit being beneficially OP, not the other units performing under par

      4. you lost me at “lower the price of riptides” — but that’s because they were so stupid-OP in the past. maybe price them appropriately for their function and ability to clear another army off the table?

      5. yes… the army with so good a shooting phase that they get part of their shooting phase in their opponent’s assault phase to remove their weaknesses to assault… the army with the best stock sidearm… the army with the widest spread of reliable and powerful shooting weaponry with longer ranges than nearly everyone… has… a need to have their weapons… improved?


      and everyone else with the “8th edition blanket nerf” on their weapons… should keep it, but Tau should get special treatment?

      sorry, this doesn’t really work.

      they might need some fixing, and Imperial Soup needs a huge nerf, but this is ridiculous…

      • Ninety

        Riptides sure as hell can’t “clear an army off the table” in 8th, but they’re priced as if they could.

        And I recommend you actually take a look at the index, because what you said about Tau weapons tells me you don’t actually know anythig about them.

        • Muninwing

          they are not as good as they were. but they were way underpriced for so long that i’m not too concerned about a slight overpricing now… especially since they are actually now in line with a number of other armies. not top-tier armies, but other armies.

      • nope none

        Are you trolling us?

      • Karru

        1. The Markerlights can be balanced pretty easily. Limit the amount you can use per to improve BS for example. The current system is just worthless and keeping it won’t help at all. Honestly I can’t see any other option when it comes to these, a Markerlight shouldn’t require a massive investment in order to be at all useful.

        2. I have a feeling you somehow missed what I was saying here. Drones currently have this problem where people take them in droves and have them stand in front of their Commanders who cannot be targeted because of this. On top of that, any Sniper Rounds or the like just go to the Drones so in either case, the drones need to die before you can even scratch the Commander.

        My suggestion is to remove their ability to screen Commanders in large numbers. They will still act as wound takers if they are close to the Commander, but nothing more. You need to use actual units to cover your Commanders.

        3. Nothing to add here.

        4. and 5. are kind part of the same thing in this situation. The reason why the Riptide is much, much worse option than the Stormsurge is thanks to two things.

        Riptide has two main weapon options, the Heavy Burst Cannon and the Ion Accelerator. Bust Cannon does barely anything to anyone since it is only Strength 6 with -1AP and Damage 1 and 8 Shots, with not too great of an improvement when firing Nova-charged.

        Other option is the Ion Accelerator which would be good, but unfortunately it can’t hit the broadside of a barn since it is a 3 shots or D6 shots, which makes it 2 shots hitting on average per shot.

        While the Riptide was broken in the last edition, mostly thanks to the Formation they had and the fact that people spammed the heck out of them, they are now pretty much trash, this in my mind should change.

        And the same goes for ALL weapons in general across all armies. I was just hoping that in the Tau book they would start a new “trend” where instead of making most weapons RNG based shots, they would have more fixed shots instead, which would make the options more difficult instead of instant choices as is the case with many different weapons in the game right now.

        • Muninwing

          1. i’d be willing to see this in action. i think markerlights are a fun tool that was way too overpowered in the past, so i’m hesitant to bring them back to their old level. they went against core game design in 6th-7th, along with other parts of Tau, so they are for me a great representation of bad rules… but i’m willing to admit that they aren’t what they used to be.

          the issue with tau, from what i’ve seen, is that they are an army with advantages and flaws. but some of their advantages compensate for and outweigh their flaws, leading to easy exploitation and imbalances. their shooting should eclipse most other races in power and range, and their added abilities should offset their no psychic phase… because maxxing one phase means minimizing another. but most players want all the good with none of the drawbacks.

          2. i think this is a good explanation of the current system, and perhaps i was exactly opposite of what i really mean. you think it unfair that they have list options that make their HQs unkillable and unaffectable. i’d say that it’s really more a problem with the sloppily-trimmed mess that is 8th edition, but i like that you have a solution to it here.

          3. …
          4-5: i need numbers. you’re complaining about an 8-shot weapon, or a d6 (avg 3.5) weapon that does multiple wounds.
          and 8 more shots with missiles that do d3 wounds (if you take the drones). and it’s got a 2+… meaning it partially makes up for the added wounds of the SS…

          perhaps the Stormsurge should be more points…? maybe switch the prices of the two, since the SS is a tad cheaper? i’d make a minor adjustment… but for what it can do it’s still decent and so is the riptide. my landraiders have comparable stats, and i use them all the time, so perhaps there’s your comparison?

  • stinkoman

    i want to get my hopes up, but after seeing that the demon codex is largely the same as the index (being more a nurgle release than actually updating much in the codex), im not hopeful for tau.

  • Tau is next before Dark Eldar isn’t it?

    • Gamecock13

      Speculative. On the Warhammer40000 FB page, the 40k rep keeps saying “we never said Dalr Eldar are next”

  • Wishlist:
    Fix broken shield drone rules
    Differentiate between Commanders, Enforcers and Crisis suits
    Cheaper Riptide, with two gun option (i.e. use both guns in the kit)
    Human auxiliaries

  • piglette

    Just buff riptides and suits and nerf kroot.

  • Chris Hilliard

    Something between a pulse rifle and a Broadside would be nice. The only options seem to be armed with a Pulse weapon or paired heavy weapons that cost as much as a full squad.

  • Free as a Pass Rusher against

    Tournament near me was won by 5 Commanders, 10 Fire Warriors and 85 drones. I’d like to…not see that be a thing.

    • NNextremNN

      Most Tau Players would like to play something different too it’s just those are the almost only good units in the index.

      • Muninwing

        … and Tau players got so used to fielding the 3-riptide cheez of doom that the idea of fielding anything not optimized feels like a betrayal of their sept…

        • Ninety

          More like we’d like not to have less shooting for more points than other armies, especially IG, and no psychic or melee whatsoever. You really gonna begrudge Tau players using thr onky units that aren’t overcosted? Try looking at the Riptide’s numbers sometime.

        • NNextremNN

          Seriously get over it! Even in 7th the Riptide was just good and there were worse formations then the Riptide wing. But hey feel happy because with the current ruleset you most likely never have to see a Riptide again. You just have to deal with all the super fun and balanced imperial soup armies.


          • Muninwing

            soup is just as lame as riptide wing was. and for many fo the same reasons. not fun to play against.

            so i’m laughing at tau players who want changes to bring them back to top-tier, and don’t understand balance.

            sure, i think you have the right to lament a bygone era when your models were super-cheez, and make fun of anyone who doesn’t want you to ascend to that level of stupid again. sure you have the right to deflect the issue with “but the (wraithknight/soup) are worse, so we’re fine” bs argument… and you have the right to incessantly whine on the internet about your past glories. but that doesn’t mean that the game should change to suit you and you alone.

          • Warrior24_7

            Learn how to play

          • Muninwing

            this is perhaps the most mature, innovative, intellectual thing i’ve ever seen on the internet. you sir win the internet with your daring wit and impressive genital size.

            oh wait…

            i feel dumber for having read your comment.

  • Jack

    I hope all units turn out nice, I dont like playing games where the opponent brings 1 or 2 things and just spam them. I refuse to play and will try to find someone with a more fluffy army list, hopefully Tau get a good solid choice

  • pokemastercube .

    if i remember right the only psychic defence for tau was a relic for the farsight enclaves in the last 2 editions

  • Ulrik

    “which means that before too long we’ll know what the one or two good units are that will get taken as part of the Ynnari umbrella, while the rest of the models gather yet more dust as they moulder on the shelves.” – yeah, because who would play not optimized tournament army…that would be fool, right? Especially when codies shown tendency not to strenghten most of units /s.


  • AB

    “The Greater Good is more like the Slightly More Alright these days”

    As someone that’s been playing Tyranids since 2nd and watched as my poor beautiful bugs got nerfed into the void until recently….yeah my hurt bleeds for the poor, poor Tau players players :).

    In all seriousness hopefully GW actually manages to make them fun, competitive and not over or under powered for Tau players but I can’t see it.

    • Muninwing

      what bothers me is where the bar is set.

      it seems like tau players got easily used to their OP cheez, and now are demanding changes that put them on top again, instead of actually looking for a decent balance.

      if they got half of what tau players claim they need to balance their book, they’re dominant again. all, and nobody should play the game ever again unless they like excessive apostrophes…

  • mark howard

    God I hate Andy Warhol

  • marxlives

    Buy Imperial or Eldar should be the the first words to a Tau codex.

  • Witch Beatrice

    Oh my… Tau allies chart will look like 7th ed Tyranid allies chart… no friends…

    Tyranids 8th get Imperial guard and Genecult allies. Dakka flying Tyrants, Shadowsword, and Cult Ambushing neophytes heck yeah

  • artty

    im ok with the tau not having a psyker power, but I do believe they should get some sort of psychic defense. they have to have the technology for it.

  • Warrior24_7

    The Tau army should work together seamlessly! Markerlights should work as designed and not have stupid or complicated rules in order to use them. Just illuminate the target and fire. The Ethereals should have a few more powers. The Tau should have price reductions for some of their big suits.