The Future of the Tau Empire – Addressing the Kludges
Biological evolution produces kludges in a species' DNA. Every animal on the planet contains large amounts of DNA which no longer serve a purpose, are deactivated, or even harm the animal. In 40K terms, if you think of a codex and as an animal's DNA, the evolution from game edition to game edition can create similar kludges in an army's rules. The most recent Tau Empire Codex was released back in April 2006. Since then, the evolution of 40K from 4th to 5th edition has created a little bit of mess for Tau players. If GW follows the standard upgrade pattern, then within the next year, we will probably see a new Tau Codex. I would expect the following messy items to be cleaned up:
The first issue extends back to the day the codex was released. While both the suit Multi-Tracker and the vehicle Multi-Tracker are awesome pieces of equipment, they do two different things. Just to make everyone's life easier, one of the two systems should have its name changed.
The Command and Control Node
Back in fourth edition there was a rule called “Target Priority Tests”. This piece of equipment could potentially help with this particular rule. The problem is that “Target Priority Tests” no longer exist in 5th edition, so the Command and Control Node is completely useless. One could completely ignore this piece except for that it still comes with the Battlesuit Commander figure.
The Rules of the Crisis Suits and Stealth Suits
In 5th edition, all jet pack units(Crisis Suits, Drones, and Stealth Suits) gained the relentless universal special rule. Unfortunately in the codex, Crisis Suits and Stealth Suits have a different set of rules which only provide some of the relentless special ability rules. While the 5th edition takes precedent because it is newer, these conflicting sections cause confusion.
Marker Light Bonuses
Most of the bonuses provided by Marker Lights are still awesome and effective. One, which pertains to “Target Priority Tests” no longer has an effect because as mentioned above, the “Target Priority Test” no longer exists.
The way drones have worked for morale purposes has always been annoying. Drones are the small robot buddies which follow around the Tau units. Some type drones, specifically shield drones, are designed to take hits and be destroyed. However, under current rules, Drone losses count for various panic condition checks. If a single Crisis Suit loses both of his drones and runs away, he cannot regroup because the unit has less then ˝ the models it started with. I hope this is fixed to turn Drones into what they are meant to be: Expendable floating gun platforms.
Gun Drones on Vehicles
Several of the Tau vehicles can carry two Gun Drones as turrets. Under 5th edition rules, one of the standard missions introduced the idea of kill points. Every other non-Tau vehicle counts as one kill point when destroyed. The problem is that the codex considers the Gun Drones to be passengers. Therefore eliminating the vehicle causes the Gun Drones to dismount and become a new unit. Destroying this new Gun Drone unit then scores the opponent another kill point. As a result any Tau vehicle carrying Gun Drones could possibly be worth two kill points. This needs to be clarified to state that Gun Drones are destroyed when the vehicle is destroyed and they only form a new unit when they voluntarily disembark.
To be fair, there is nothing wrong with the Kroot. Any issues with their rules in 5th edition have been clarified. Since the codex is 4 years old, it does not reflect these changes though.
Under 4th edition rules, if a skimmer lost its engines, really bad things can happen – like a crash. While that still can happen under 5th edition, it is much rarer. Decoy Launchers were designed to protect engines and while they served a purpose in 4th edition, they have spent most of their time on shelf on 5th edition.
Not all kludges are bad ones. The obscured vehicles got a lot better under 5th edition. As a result, Disruption Pods, which cause Tau vehicles to become obscured targets have gotten a lot better. Now, this piece of equipment is pretty much standard on all Tau Vehicles.