Take a close look at the T’au Empire Breacher Team and how you can use them to your advantage.
Breachers are the shorter-ranged version of the Tau basic troop. They move 6″, which is standard for an infantry unit, and have weapon skill 5+ and ballistic skill 4+, both common to virtually all Tau units. Strength and toughness three are both on the low end of the scale, but 4+ armor compensates somewhat for the latter. One attack and leadership six-round out their statline. One member of the squad can be upgraded to a Shas’ui, gaining an additional attack and leadership at no cost. Squads can be from five to ten models strong, and cost 9pts per model.
Special Rules and Wargear
Breachers come with the standard set of rules for Tau infantry units; For the Greater Good allows them to fire overwatch for nearby units, while Bonding Knife Ritual means they automatically pass any morale check on a roll of ‘6’.
Each member of the squad is armed with a Photon Grenades (d6 shots, any hit causes -1 to hit until end of turn) and a Pulse Blaster. The Pulse Blaster has three profiles, with ranges of 5″, 10″, and 15″; it always is an Assault 2 Dmg1 weapon, but the other parts of the statline scale up depending on the profile. The closest-range version is S6 AP-2, the second one is S5 AP-1, and the third is S4 AP0.
Any member of the squad can take a Pulse Pistol (12″ S5 AP0 Pistol 1) for free, and the Shas’ui can select a Markerlight for 5pts. The unit can be accompanied by up to two drones, one of which may be a Guardian Drone that grants a 5+ invulnerable save to members of the squad while within 3″ of it.
The unit can also purchase a Support Turret, armed with either a Missile Pod (36″ S7 AP1 DmgD3 Assault 2) or Smart Missile System (30″ S5 AP0 Heavy 4 ignores cover/LOS). Unlike other models in the squad, the turret is not deployed with them but can be called down at the end of any movement phase and arrive in coherency, being destroyed if the unit ever leaves coherency with it. It is otherwise treated as a normal model in the squad and has the same profile as them, albeit with no ability to move.
Although Teams are by no means an exceptional unit, they are the preferred choice to fill Tau troop slots these days due to a number of factors. With the game being much more heavily focused on close-range firefights and clearing objectives, Breachers are a natural fit in that regard, albeit one that is still far from an ideal solution. Still, it is the best Tau can do, so it is the troop squad of choice overall.
The close-range profile ends up being a pretty good tool for clearing objectives, especially if you can also get a decent number of Markerlights on the target- BS4+ is obviously still a limiter, but 1CP can get you the Sweep and Clear strat to reroll wounds, and at that point, you should do a reasonable job against most things that don’t have 1+ saves or hit penalties of some kind.
The Guardian Drone is another surprise factor in the effectiveness of Breachers; a 5+ invulnerable save is nothing to sneeze at and can really frustrate your opponent’s math on killing them off, since it functions against both melee and shooting. Do not, however, mistake them for having actual survivability, because they are still toughness 3 with a save that fails half or more the time- but you do have a reasonable chance of living through high-AP weapons that would otherwise evaporate the squad instantly.
This also plays into another strength, their ability to continue functioning while locked in close combat. Most Tau units are rendered almost instantly worthless by being touched in combat, and even their monsters/vehicles lose out heavily due to the -1 hit penalty from Big Guns Never Tire combined with many profiles having the Blast keyword, but Breachers are largely unique in that they are able to shoot effectively while in a fight. Not without cost, mind you- you’ll need to be sinking 1CP to pop their strat and turn their weapons into Pistols, but considering the dearth of other powerful Tau strats this is probably fine.
Note also that you are allowed to shoot all of the pistol weapons you have at once, meaning that Breachers can get three shots apiece (two from their Pulse Blaster and one from their Pulse Pistol) in this situation, which is not a trivial number even when you aren’t benefitting from Markerlights.
All of this is contingent on your Breachers being left alive, however, and given the class of melee threat walking around these days, this isn’t really a trivial issue. Breachers can hold an objective against the enemy, but doing so is going to require some work. They need a transport (meaning sinking points into a Devilfish, not an attractive idea) and drone accompaniment, as well as strategic use of terrain to limit the firepower that can be focused on them. However, since Tau lack other options, your choice is either to run Breachers and deal with their limitations or to concede objectives entirely and lose the game, so it isn’t really much of a choice at all.
Breachers may not be the troop choice Tau want to use, but it’s what they have and the one that is likely to continue being their main option as the edition proceeds; even if a new codex is released (something that looks to be a year or more off at this point), Breachers will still almost certainly be the most effective close-range brawler from the troop choices, which means they will keep their place. If you haven’t already invested in a couple of boxes it would probably be wise to do so, as Breachers are looking to be here to stay.
For the Greater Good!
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