Warhammer 40K: Tau HQs: Using Commander Farsight
Today we look at how to use the leader of the Tau Empire’s Farsight Enclaves, Commander Farsight.
Commander Farsight is a unique character in the Tau Empire codex, coming with a mostly-standard statline. 8″ movement is common to many HQs, as is ballistic skill 2+, but his one major improvement is in his weapon skill of 2+, the best that can be found in the book. Strength and toughness five are standard for the chassis, as is six wounds and four attacks. 3+ armor rounds out the defensive profile. At 130pts Farsight is actually rather cheap for what he does and comes with, typically costing less than a generic battlesuit Commander. Only one of him can be included in an army, and he is locked into Farsight Enclaves alignment.
Special Rules and Wargear
Farsight comes with the usual set of rules associated with a Commander- For the Greater Good lets him fire overwatch in support of nearby units, Manta Strike lets him deploy into reserves, and Master of War gives him a once-per-game aura he can activate.
Farsight also has two unique abilities of his own. Genius of Mont’ka means that Farsight can use his Master of War ability one extra time per game, but only to declare Mont’ka. Way of the Short Blade lets units within 6″ of him reroll 1s to hit in melee combat as well as 1s to hit against Orks with any attack.
Farsight’s equipment is more limited than that of other Commanders and is fixed, offering no options. A High-Intensity Plasma Rifle (24″ S6 AP-3 Dmg2 Rapid Fire 1) serves as his only ranged weapon, though it does have a slightly improved profile compared to the normal version. A Shield Generator gives him a 4+ invulnerable save, which is otherwise lacking on most Tau characters. Finally, his signature weapon the Dawn Blade (S+3 AP-4 DmgD3) offers a very strong melee option for him to use.
If Commander Farsight is made the warlord of your army, he always has the Hero of the Enclaves trait, which gives him a 6″ heroic intervention distance.
Commander Farsight offers two main things to a Tau army- his melee utility and his extra Mont’ka activation. Ideally, an army that is bringing him makes use of both, as otherwise, Farsight takes up a valuable Commander slot while bringing very limited firepower to the table.
As a melee character, Farsight does something that very few other Tau units can- namely, offer a way to hurt enemies outside of the shooting phase. Even the best other options (such as powered-up Bodyguards or a Commander with Fusion Blades) generally are quite unreliable at this role, but Farsight actually ends up being a solid option in this regard even compared to choices from other codices thanks to his statline. Hitting on 2s and rerolling 1s, he is almost always going to land four attacks and with strength 8 he is typically going to wound with three or more of them against anything smaller than a Knight. His random damage does make chopping down multi-wound targets such as Primais somewhat unreliable, but being able to kill 1-2 with shooting and then 2-3 more with melee means he is far from the worst option in that regard.
More importantly, however, he can provide a deterrent to enemy charges against nearby units. Normally a foe can expect that if they get into close combat with one of your units that simply shuts it down, especially something such as a Crisis bomb; with Farsight in the area, though, this can be a lot more risky as a strategy, since one or two models getting through the overwatch is no longer enough to ensure the unit is “turned off” for a turn. It is by no means a perfect defense against such tactics, but it helps and his large reach with heroic interventions allows him to protect a significant portion of your army in this way.
The ability to activate an additional Mont’ka is also very valuable, as it brings a level of mobility to the army that can otherwise be lacking. Being able to start units hiding behind terrain where they can’t be seen or are out of range of the enemy’s attacks is hugely valuable and gives Tau much better options for deployment than they might otherwise have. Of course, any Tau army with a Commander has these options already, but Farsight makes them more of an ongoing concern, since you can pop the ability off for two out of the game’s five turns.
However, all of this needs to be balanced against Farsight’s failings- his firepower output compared to a normal Commander is absolutely pathetic, and he cannot bring any of the usual support systems to help out the army. The Plasma Rifle is arguably the worst of the Tau weapon systems, and though the improved statline does help it out, in most cases he will be setting a single S6 shot at the enemy, which is not what you want when you’re paying 130pts.
Even in combat, Farsight can be very underwhelming; yes, he does have a Power Fist, but against anything with T5+, Disgustingly Resilient, or an invuln save (or god forbid all of them at once) he simply isn’t going to be consistently landing much damage. The sort of melee units that are popular in 9E such as Deathwing, Wyches, Bladeguard, etc, simply are not worried about a handful of attacks that don’t cut through invulns and aren’t going to be slowed down by them at all. And once he’s in combat, he has no good way to get out other than killing things- which, as we’ve noted, he’s not all that great at. He’ll stop random squads of Intercessors from tying down your units easily, but don’t expect a lot more than that from him. Considering he clocks in at double the price of, say, the Drukhari HQs, that makes him a very unfortunate-looking option and one that really doesn’t impress overall.
Commander Farsight is far from the worst choice in the Tau HQ slot, but he also is by no means the best. While he does add an interesting option to the army and is very thematic, he simply isn’t a great buy for his points in most cases and you’re generally better served by taking a generic Commander instead, as they will be able to help you all turns of the game with their firepower rather than only contributing melee on a handful of turns.
As always, remember you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.