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Themed Army Ideas
Tau War Journal
 Part 1 <> Part 2 <> Part 3

Tau War Journal: Part One by Patrick Eibel
There has been a lot of talk around the Internet recently about how Games Workshop sells a lot of miniatures to people that never play the game.  These collectors pick up models they like, but might never assemble a playable army.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are players that build one army and only buy new figures when there is a change in their army codex.

I have been playing Warhammer 40k a very long time, and I fall somewhere in between the two.  My favorite aspect of the hobby is assembling an interesting army and tinkering with it as changes come out.  Currently, I have six armies:

  • Space Wolves (owned continuously since 1995);
  • Orks (owned since 1994, sold off at some point, bought back, and then rebooted with mostly new figures in 2010);
  • Eldar (originally my wife’s army, which she started back in the early ‘90’s);
  • Astra Militarum (my attempt at a Star Wars-themed army);
  • Dusk Raiders (a Nurgle-based Chaos army); and,
  • Tyranids (bought off a friend a few years ago). 

Over the years, I have sold off nearly as many armies as I have now: Squats, Orks (only to buy them back), Grey Knights, Sisters of Battle, and Tau Empire. 

This year, I decided that I wanted to unload my Tyranid army and build a new Tau army to coincide with the newest codex release.  We could go into the psychoanalysis of why I would do such a thing, but that is not for this series.  Instead, I will chronicle my efforts to build the army from scratch, including planning, buying and painting all of the figures.  Clearly, I will have a lot of work to do, so let’s go to it.

Getting Started
Normally when you set out to build a new army, you buy the codex first.  Since a new Tau Empire book is due sometime in October, I was not about to go out an plunk $50 on the current one.  Fortunately, it is easy enough to find a pdf of the current codex online, and, while it may not have all of the new changes, it will give me a place to start.  I also began looking at the information in White Dwarf about the new units. 

I am still unsure what to make of the Stormsurge or Ghostkeel (I need to see the Formations and other rules), but I am excited by the changes I’ve seen to Fire Warriors.  The Breacher variant that makes their guns AP 3 within 5" will make the “Fish of Fury” model viable again.

Here is a potential list of Tau units I want to include:

  • Crisis Suit Commander.  The last codex did improve many of the other HQ options, but the Commander is still nigh essential.  Any other choice will have to wait to see what changes may come.
  • Riptide.  I know I want at least one, if not two, of the bad boys.  Even with the new big kits about to be released, a Riptide with an ion accelerator is a must.  If I do a second one, I might go with the heavy burst to put out tons of shots. 
  • Crisis Suits.  I want one unit of plasma rifles and missile pods, and one unit of flamers and fusion blasters.  I think these are some pretty flexible and potent combos.  The new Crisis Suits may have been improved, but if I can pick up old ones cheap, I will.
  • Fire Warriors in a Devilfish.  Mobility is key to grabbing objectives, and the new gun rules look like they will make these guys actually effective.
  • Kroot and Kroot Hounds.   I nominally want to call my army “Kroots and Suits.”  Really, I just like the models.  I need to see the Formation requirements to see where to spend points.
  • Pathfinders.  The current box is not being changed, so they are a good bet to stay the same.  They offer some neat options with the funky drones, markerlights, and rail rifles.  I’ll pick some up after I see how I want to configure them in the new rules.
  • Piranha.  I am on the fence on these, as I think they are pricey.  I like the model and I know it is not being changed, so may add a unit if there are points available.
  • Drone Squads.  I like the idea of a unit of marker drones lighting up the enemy to help out the rest of the army.  Since drone bodies are easy to come by in other kits, it will be pretty easy to add a unit.
  • Broadsides.  The updated kit is far superior to the old one with metal bits (top-heavy models with tiny ankles? Nice design, GW).  I like the high yield missile pods for volume of fire.

I think that is a pretty good core to work from to get started, and the codex should be out before I get too far down any wrong path.

Coming Up With a Theme and a Shopping List
Now that I have some idea of what I want, I’ll get a few models to work on while I wait for the codex to be released.  I also still had to come up with a guiding theme.  Since I am building this army from the ground up, I really wanted to invest some time in making it really interesting and different than my other armies. 

Inspiration can come from anywhere, so when I saw an ad for Halo someone ported to my Facebook page, an idea started to form.  The Halo armor is very similar to Fire Warrior armor, and there is even some creature that looks very Kroot-like.  The Piranha looks like a Scarab vehicle, and the suits can just be painted in the same color scheme to blend in.  A quick search of the Internet found some suitable conversion heads from Pig Iron Productions, a European miniatures company.  Fortunately, the ever-reliable WarStore carried the desired heads, so I ordered forty to cover any Fire Warriors and Pathfinders I might get. 

The Halo game has a variety of color schemes to go with different units and versions of the game.  The head conversions will go a long way to making the army look right, so I just had to pick a paint scheme that was easy to paint and evoked the game. 

Most Halo dudes wear a black suit with armor pieces over it, so I decided to go with black for the cloth uniform on a Fire Warrior.  I’ll use Dheneb Stone (which is now Rakarth Flesh) for the base armor color, as it will contrast nicely with the black.  Since this black and off-white scheme is not too exciting, I chose Dark Angels Green (now Caliban Green) and Ice Blue (now Lothern Blue).  I have listed the colors by their old names because, while I may be buying a bunch of new models, I will still be using my old paints.

In the next installment, I will talk about the first purchases and start tracking how much all of this is gonna cost.

Tau War Journal
 Part 1 <> Part 2 <> Part 3

Posted November 2015 


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle