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Warhammer 40K: There’s Always a Bigger (T’au) Gun

5 Minute Read
Jan 18
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GW recently previewed the new Railgun rules. The internet had some opinions. THEN the Pulse Blastcannon showed up.

Just a few days back, GW previewed the rules for the Pulse Blastcannon, one of the two main weapon options available to the T’au Stormsurge. It’s probably fair to say that the internet again had some opinions.

I’m going to discuss the new rules, but I also want to talk more broadly about the faction. Many of you will be aware that we have seen an avalanche of new rules revealed on the T’au Empire subreddit. I don’t want to discuss the specifics, but I do want to acknowledge a couple of themes that I think are interesting to the faction as a whole.

Pulse Blastcannon

First, the Pulse Blastcannon. It’s pretty bonkers.

This weapon comes with two profiles. The first, the Focused Shot, offers two shots at Strength 16, AP-4, Damage 12, with a range of 24”. The second, the Dispersed Shot, offers six shots at Strength 12, AP-2, Damage 4, with a range of 48”.

Both of these profiles are excellent, but the Focused Shot is where the money is. Strength 16 and Damage 12 are absurdly good. A Strength 16 weapon will, of course, score a wound on a Toughness 8 target with a 2+. Almost all of the Stormsurge’s targets will be Toughness 7 or 8.

But the Damage is real power here. The Blastcannon can potentially deal 24 points of Damage to its target with one weapon, and it’s got plenty more weapons. The GW article doesn’t mention the Cluster Rocket System or the Destroyer Missiles, both of which will be able to do some damage to most big targets.

A Stormsurge equipped with a Pulse Blastcannon, then, is a massive threat. Any big target without an invulnerable save is going to be in serious trouble, and any big target with an invulnerable save is going to be in pretty hot water as well. With two shots, there’s a pretty good chance that at least one invulnerable save will be failed.

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While T’au players will almost always choose the Focused Shot if the weapon is in range, the Dispersed Shot is hardly a poor option. Strength 12 and Damage 4 will do some serious work against most targets.

And, as with the Hammerhead, the Stormsurge has the tools to make these shots count. Stabilising Anchors is an action that, when performed in the Movement phase, grants the model rerolls to hit. In order to complete the action, the Stormsurge must forego Movement, but, for the ability to reroll all hit rolls, this is a small price to pay.

Indeed, this is an exceptional ability, and it will really make the Stormsurge sing. Rerolling the two Blastcannon shots will, of course, be the main event, but making the model’s Cluster Rockets and Smart Missiles more accurate will give it yet more utility, threatening a wide variety of the opponent’s units.

Counterfire Defense System

Finally, the article revealed the new Counterfire Defence System stratagem, which looks to make the Stormsurge very durable, something that I want to come onto in a moment.

This stratagem, for the cost of one or two CP — two CP for a model with 14 Wounds or more and one for a model with fewer — reduces the Damage of an incoming attack to 1. For a model that is going to be under significant pressure from the beginning of most games, this is a very handy ability to have.

Two CP, what’s more, seems about right, and those two CP will be well-spent if they allow another round of shooting from the Stormsurge. Of course, canny opponent’s will try and bait the T’au player to use this stratagem before bringing the serious weapons to bear, but that will be something that strong T’au players will have to deal with.

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T’au Durability

And this brings me to the issue of durability. Throughout 8th edition, the T’au were a hyper durable faction. Riptides supported by dozens and dozens of Shield Drones were very difficult to destroy. Needless to say, a lot of players found this playstyle to be quite frustrating to play against, and I can certainly see their point.

In 9th, some of the durability is still there, but Drone spam isn’t really an option anymore. And with the new codex, it looks as though Drones will be part of the unit in which they are purchased, meaning that no longer will T’au players be able to rely on the Saviour Protocols rule to keep their key assets alive.

The Counterfire Defence Stratagem will, of course, go some way to mitigate this, but I think that we’re going to be looking at a completely different faction when it comes to durability.

And this is understandable. Factions change. The game changes. The new codex was always going to do something new with the army.

We know, for example, that Battlesuits will be able to shoot in combat, which, all things considered, should be a great addition to those models and an interesting new aspect of play for T’au players.

But, in order to shoot in combat, the Battlesuits will have to have survived the previous turn’s Fight phase. Without those precious Saviour Protocols, I’m a little sceptical that our Battlesuits will be able to put up much of a fight against even middle-of-the-road combat threats.

Scrying the T’au Future

Of course, only time will tell.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in the T’au leaks, and while I’m not going to discuss anything concrete here, I will say that some of the changes that I’ve seen make a little on the nervous side.

However, I think that I would’ve felt that regardless of the content of the leaks. I’ve played only T’au for three of four years now, and any big change is going to take some getting used to.

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But there’s no alternative. The faction must change.

 The T’au Empire codex needed a huge rewrite and, by the sounds of things, its certainly got one.

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