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How to Play T’au Empire in Warhammer 40K

6 Minute Read
Jun 15 2023

Today take a look at some basics of how to play and get started with Warhammer 40k 10th Edition T’au Empire.

The T’au Empire is a powerful coalition of Xenos species in Warhammer 40K. At the heart of this coalition are the T’au themselves, a hyper-technologically advanced species of ungulate from the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. They come to battle in myriad ways and bring allies such as the bloodthirsty Kroot and insect-like Vespid.

So below we will offer some tips on how to play T’au Empire and how to get started with the army.

Who Are The T’au Empire?

The T’au (or Tau) are a young race of technologically-oriented beings from the Eastern Fringe and the dominant species of the Tau Empire. T’au, the Tau home planet, was discovered in 789.M35 by the Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator Fleet ship Land’s Vision. Adeptus Mechanicus records indicate that at that time, the Tau species had mastered the use of simple tools and weapons, as well as fire. Before the planet could be cleansed and colonized by the Imperium, however, a violent Warp-storm erupted around the planet. The outbreak of the wars of the Age of Apostasy shortly thereafter preempted any further Imperial follow-up and the then-minor xenos race was effectively forgotten by humanity outside a few Explorator records.

It would be another six-thousand years before the Imperium had any further contact with the T’au, when an unknown class of alien vessel was encountered by system defense ships at Devlan in the Ultima Segmentum. After failing to respond to naval challenges, the ship was opened fire on and destroyed. Bodies recovered from the wreckage were a close match to the records from the Land’s Vision. The rapid elevation from a primitive species on a single planet to a starfaring power in only six millennia represented a new danger to Imperial interests, especially as some of the human worlds on the fringes of Imperial territory were discovered to already have trade relations with the Tau. Almost a century later, the Damocles Crusade smashed into T’au space, bringing the two powers into war.

Why Play T’au Empire

T'au Empire Longstrike

T’au are a powerful faction of gun-toting Xenos. Their Codex represents not just the T’au in their battlesuits, but also Kroot and Vespids as well. Do you like hard-hitting shooting? Space cow anime? Do you want to blast your opponent from afar? T’au Empire might just be your faction.


Strengths of the T’au Empire Army

  • Shooting! Tau have some of the most powerful ranged weapon profiles in the game.
  • Synergy. Tau units gain great advantages by working in tandem.
  • Mobility. Despite sometimes playing as a gun line, Tau can be a fast and dynamic army capable of completing missions.

Weakness of the T’au Empire Army

  • Close combat. While some of their allies can be decent, the Tau themselves lack any credible combat threat.
  • Psychic power. Since they are not connected to the Warp, Tau do not use Psychic powers.
  • What gun do you pick? With so many tools that do the same job (kill things far away) it can be hard to decide how you want to do it.

T'au Empire Riptide

T’au Empire Army Rule

  • For the Greater Good– Your units can work in conjunction in the Shooting Phase to benefit one another when targeting enemy units.

T’au Empire Detachment Rules- Kauyon

  • Rules: The Kauyon philosophy gives your army powerful benefits in the second half of the battle.
  • Enhancements: Half of these get better in the second half of the battle.
  • Stratagems: While 2CP, Strike and Fade is still incredibly powerful, allowing you to shoot and hide, without fear of reprisal.

T'au Empire Stormsurge

Key T’au Empire Units To Know

Warhammer 40K T’au have a sizable unit roster and knowing what units to take can be tricky. Here are some suggestions to get you off on the right track.



T'au Empire Commander Coldstar Battlesuit
A powerful Sept leader, clad in the advanced technology of a battlesuit. The Commander can be equipped with a plethora of different weapon options to suit any mission. Crisis Suits will greatly benefit by being joined thanks to Crisis Commander.


The Ethereal increases the resilience of the Warriors it leads significantly by giving them Feel No Pain with Failure is Not an Option.



T’au Fire Warriors

T'au Empire Fre Warriors
The backbone of many T’au Empire forces is its Fire Warriors. Their long-ranged shooting weapon, the pulse rifle, is one of the most powerful basic rifles in the game.

Kroot Carnivores

The Kroot are horrific cannibal, mercenary, bird-people. They’re the closest thing Tau have to a combat threat (and they get better after they eat people!)

Breacher Team

Breachers are excellent bread and butter units who excel at clearing objectives thank to the Breach and Clear rule.

Other Units

XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Team

T'au Empire Crisis Battlesuits

Like the Commander, Crisis Suits can be equipped with a variety of powerful weapon options and surrounded by a cloud of friendly Drone markers, buffing them considerably.

Riptide Battlesuits

T'au Empire Riptide Battlesuits
The Riptide is a larger and more powerful suit than the Crisis. They are able to overpower their sometimes experimental weapons with their Nova Charge reactor for extra firepower.

Stormsurge Battlesuit

T'au Empire Stormsurge Platform
The Stormsurge is the largest and (arguably) the most powerful Battlesuit in the Codex.  The Stormsurge lays down oppressive amounts of firepower with its Support System in place.

Vespid Stingwings

One of the lesser Xenos species of the Empire, Vespids are exceptionally fast, and pack neutron blasters – perfect for killing Primaris marines.


Hammerhead Gunship

The Hammerhead is the premier gunship used by the Tau. Its mighty, turret-mounted railgun can take out some truly impressive foes with a single shot.

Ghostkeel Battlesuit

T'au Ghostkeel
The Ghostkeel is especially situationally resilient, thanks to timely sacrifice by its Stealth Drones. Combine this with Infiltration and its fusion collider and it will always have an impact.

Broadside Battlesuits

With Advanced Armour resilience and its Weapon Support System in place, the Broadside is perfectly suited to its role.

T'au Empire battle

Sample Starter Warhammer 40k T’au Empire Army

Army: T’au Empire


Commander in Crisis Battlesuit. One Model. He is equipped with: three fusion blasters


Ethereal. One Model. An Ethereal is equipped with: honour stave.


Fire Warriors. Ten Models. Each model is equipped with: pulse rifle; pulse pistol.

Fire Warriors. Ten Models. Each model is equipped with: pulse rifle; pulse pistol.

Kroot Carnivores. Twenty Models. Every model is equipped with: Kroot rifle; quill grenades.

Other Units

Riptide Battlesuit. One Model. It is equipped with: heavy burst cannon; 2 plasma rifles; Riptide fists.


Riptide Battlesuit. One Model. It is equipped with: heavy burst cannon; 2 plasma rifles; Riptide fists.



How to Play Tau Empire

The name of the game is shooting. Does the name have a subtitle? It is screening. Dynamic, moving screening, and shooting is the key here. Fortunately, T’au have excellent shooting and cheap screens available. It can be easy to go for the ‘castle’ build, but you will quickly find your lack of movement and board control will make it difficult to win missions- you absolutely have to shoot on the fly. Be dynamic!

Author: Allen Campbell
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