This page describes the wargear and weapons wielded by the Fire Caste of the Tau Empire. The Tau are an intelligent, humanoid alien race, first discovered by the Imperium of Man in the late 35th Millennium. They were at a hunter-gatherer stage of development at this time, and were earmarked for cleansing to open their homeworld of T'au up for human settlement. The combination of intense Warp Storms in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy where the Tau homeworld was located and the outbreak of the Age of Apostasy within the Imperium in the 36th Millennium prevented this from occurring, and during the next six millennia of isolation the Tau were able to evolve, unite, and develop an extremely advanced level of technology and interstellar civilisation. Also during this time, the Tau have incorporated numerous alien species into their fledgling Tau Empire, the most significant of these being the Kroot and the Vespid. This page will describe the various weapon types and common equipment used by the Tau Fire Caste and their Kroot, Vespid and even human allies.
The Tau Empire uses a variety of advanced weaponry developed by the Earth Caste that are often technologically superior to those of other races. Technologies such as Pulse and Rail technology are such examples, and can be seen as 'trademark' weapons of the Tau. However, the Tau Empire also has developed weapons for allied races such as the Kroot and Vespid. Another feature of Tau technology is that it constantly being adapted and developed to meet the ever-changing needs of the battlefield. As such, there are several pieces of Tau weaponry and wargear that have been designated as experimental for various reasons. As such, they are special issue and only given to experienced commanders who can field-test the weaponry.
Airbursting Fragmentation ProjectorThe Airbursting Fragmetation Projector is an experimental weapon used by the Tau Empire which fires scatterings of fragmentation bomblets over a wide area. These bomblets are fired at a height calculated by a simple AI within each warhead to cause optimum damage. It functions in a similar way to traditional artillery in that the munitions are hit the target from above and line-of-sight to the target is not needed. However, the Airbursting Fragmentation Projector has a far shorter range than normal artillery but is able to be used on the go more easily. Because of the indirect arcing nature of the weapon, the warheads will often explode above a target and thus ignore any cover that enemy units were hiding behind. This weapon is especially effective against hordes of lightly armoured troops such as Tyranid Gaunts, Ork Boyz and Imperial Guardsmen.
Burst CannonMulti-barreled weapons capable of sustaining high rates of fire, Burst Cannons are an offshoot of Tau Pulse Weapon technology. They are usually mounted on Tau Battlesuits and vehicles, providing heavy anti-infantry support. They are similar to present-day miniguns and are able to maintain a high rate of fire without overheating. They usually have 4 barrels and are short-ranged, like Pulse Carbines, but this is usually offset by the maneuverability of the units commonly armed with them. XV9 Hazard Battlesuits can be armed a Twin-Linked Burst Cannon on each arm. Drone Sentry Turrets can also be equipped with Twin-Linked Burst Cannons. In the Dawn of War - Dark Crusade, Shas'O Kais is equipped with a Burst Cannon by default.
Long-Barrelled Burst Cannons are a variant of the standard Burst Cannon that has up to double the range due to the extra length of the barrelling and increased force used in firing. Remora Drone Fighters and Hammerhead gunships can be armed with twin-linked Long-Barrelled Burst Cannons, and many Tau aircraft such as the Manta and Barracuda are armed with them.
FlamerTau Flamers are very similar to the Flamers used by Space Marines and Imperial Guardsmen in role and use, but differs slightly in construction because of the use of more stable Tau technology. Flamers can be mounted on XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and are commonly used to engage massed hordes of lightly armoured enemies. Flamers are also lethal weapons when used by Crisis Battlesuits fighting in dense terrain.
Ion technology was originally given to the Tau Empire by the Demiurg. Since then, the technology has been adapted to be used in various weapons. Ion weapons generate streams of high-energy particles which are fired at nearly the speed of light by the manipulation of an electromagnetic field. The particles react explosively with targets as a result of the direct energy transmission at an atomic level, and can go through all armour easily if the ionisation effect is good.
- Cyclic Ion Blaster - Cyclic Ion Blaster are four-barrelled, weapons with extreme rate of fires. They employ fragile Ion technology that can cut through any armor if it scores a well-placed hit. While the rate of fire is stable, the ionisation effect remains unpredictable, which is why the weapon is still classified as experimental.
- Ion Cannon - An alternate turret-mounted weapon for the Hammerhead Gunship and also appearing on Tau fighter aircraft and starships, Ion Cannons are the most common adaptation of Ion technology. Although the firepower of Ion Cannons are significantly less than the Railgun, they have a high rate of fire that is very effective against heavily-armoured infantry such as Space Marines, and lightly-armoured vehicles.
- Phased Ion Gun - Phased Ion Guns are experimental weapons which seek to develop the rapid-firing technology of the Cyclic Ion Blaster and the vehicle mounted Ion Cannon into a stable Battlesuit weapon system. The long accelerators of the Phased Ion Gun allow the pilot to engage the enemy at range with a storm of projectiles that react explosively on an atomic level, decimating heavily armoured infantry and vehicles. While the rate of fire is stable, the ionisation effect remains unpredictable, which is why the weapon is still classified as experimental. It differs from the Cyclic Ion Blaster in that it sacrifices some of the firing rate for extra force per shot. Currently, they can only be mounted on the experimental XV9 Hazard Battlesuit.
Before the Kroot race was found by the Tau Empire, their ranged weaponry consisted primarily of primitive slug throwers that relied on the use of chemical propellants, solid ammunition, and the transfer of kinetic force. Once the Kroot had been absorbed into the Tau Empire, their weapons were upgraded to utilise the charged pulse rounds that are favoured by the Tau. This granted far greater stopping power and penetration.
- Kroot Rifle - Kroot Carnivores often favour the use of "Kroot Rifles" which can be seen as their standard weapon. Kroot Rifles are commonly fitted with blades near the barrel and stock, which are a throwback to early traditional Kroot fighting staves. Combined with the incredible hand speed that Kroot possess, Kroot Rifle are not only effective ranged weapons, but also effective assault weapons as well.
- Kroot Gun - Kroot Gun are larger calibre versions of the Kroot Rifle. These heavy weapons have the equivalent range and firepower to Autocannons used by the Imperial Guard, and are primarily used to engage light vehicles. Kroot Guns are significantly heavier than the Kroot Rifle, and thus must be mounted on the back of a lumbering Krootox. They can also be mounted on Great Knarlocs.
- Kroot Bolt Launcher - Kroot Bolt Launchers are primitive and effective weapons that have been used by the Kroot long before they met the Tau Empire. As with Kroot Rifles and Kroot Guns, the Tau have aided the Kroot by replacing the original basic sharpened bolts that were originally used as the ammunition with impact-infused explosive tips, which are smaller versions of the warheads used in Tau Missile Pods. This made the weapon far more dangerous and they now have a significant area of effect. The actual bolt-thrower is operated by an ingenious hand-crank system which drops the bolts from the magazine into position before quickly drawing the bow-string. This system allows the weapon to keep up a high firing rate with little effort from the crew. The Kroot Bolt Launcher is only found mounted on Great Knarlocs.
Tau Fusion weapons are similar in effect and the technology employed to Imperial Melta Weaponsinthatthey use small fusion reactors to produce blasts of intense heat. They usually have short ranges, but are more dangerous the closer they are used to the target.
- Fusion Blaster - A Fusion Blaster is primarily an anti-vehicle weapon, and is most commonly employed by XV8 Crisis Battlesuits. Many Battlesuit pilots have become adept at stalking and hunting down enemy armour, using their high mobility gained from their Jetpacks to outflank the enemy and attack the more vulnerable rear and side armour. Fusion Blasters can also be used to eliminate heavy armoured enemy infantry though, as the sheer heat from them will melt all kinds of armour and often the wearer inside too. They are the equivalent of Imperial Meltaguns, and can also be mounted as twin-linked weapons on Drone Sentry Turrets and the TX-42 variant of Piranhas.
- Fusion Cannon - A Fusion Cannon is a larger versions of the Battlesuit-mounted Fusion Blaster, and fire blasts of Melta energy that can melt through vehicles or heavy infantry. Currently, they can only be mounted as a variant turret for Hammerhead gunships, and were first encountered during the Taros Campaign, where it is believed to have first been field-tested. They have an extended range compared to the Fusion Blaster, and also have a blast radius that allows them to destroy closely packed groups of enemy vehicles and heavy infantry.
- Fusion Cascade - A Fusion Cascade is an experimental, cutting-edge Fusion Blaster variant that can be integrated with the systems of the XV9 Hazard Battlesuit. A Fusion Cascade engulfs its target with powerful Melta energy, and fires in bursts. This means that despite each charge being less powerful than an equivalent Imperial Melta Weapon of similar size, the Fusion Cascade can overwhelm its target through sheer weight of fire.
The Marker Light is one of the most advanced technologies of the Tau Empire, and adds to the Tau military's already great flexibility in battle. During the Damocles Gulf Crusade, the Marker Light was also dubbed the "Valkyrie's Mark", due to those marked with it were soon numbered amongst the dead. Essentially an advanced laser range finder that greatly increases the accuracy of Tau ranged weapons systems, the Marker Light allows Tau Fire Warriors and vehicles to:
- Fire more accurately upon targets
- Be able to see and target enemies in darkness clearly
- Call in Seeker Missiles on the target, either from Skyrays or missiles mounted on other Tau vehicles
- Pin enemy units under fire from Tau troops more easily
- Allow shots to strike more accurately at targets who take cover
The Tau Empire uses a range of Missiles, often in very different roles from the Imperium. These Missiles tend to range more in role and also commonly have drone intelligences built into them.
- Missile Pod - A Missile Pod is a small silo of missiles which are primarily mounted on XV8 Crisis Battlesuits and act as medium to long-range mobile fire support weapons. They are commonly shoulder or arm mounted and function using a relatively simple multiple missile delivery system. The missiles housed in these pods are fired in straight lines from the firer to the target. These missiles can carry enough punch to destroy lightly armoured vehicles, and well-placed shots can even bring down heavier tanks. They are similar in power and role to Imperial Autocannons. Hammerhead mounted Missile Pods fire barrages of the same missiles used in Tau Battlesuit]-mounted Missile Pods and are far larger in size. They serve a similar role to Ion Cannons, but sacrifice effectiveness against armoured infantry for a chance to hit more targets at a time due to the blast radius caused by the number of missiles being fired at one location. Drone Sentry Turrets and the TX-42 variant of Piranhas can also be armed with twin-linked Missile Pods
- Smart Missile System - A Tau Smart Missile System can be carried by XV88 Broadside Battlesuits and Tau vehicles based off of the Devilfish chassis. Smart Missile systems fire swarms of small missiles, each with a built-in low level drone intelligence. These AI allows the missiles to actively seek out or 'home in' on enemy targets that have been designated by the user, and will often bypass any intervening terrain, whether by going over or around it. Smart Missiles are smaller than the Missiles used in Missile Pods, and as a result have a shorter range and less power. However, they make up for this though the number of missiles that can be fired at once, making them effective in an anti-infantry role.
- Seeker Missile - Seeker Missiles are Tau weapon systems that consist of a single high strength Missile which strikes a target that has been designated using a Marker Light. Seeker Missiles are commonly used in place of artillery as Tau battle doctrine dictates that all forces should always remain mobile. The Tau Fire Caste generally does not rely on static defensive positions unless absolutely necessary.
Plasma WeaponryAs with many other major races in the Milky Way Galaxy, the Tau have developed Plasma technology that is extremely potent against heavily armoured infantry. However, Tau Plasma weapons don't suffer the drawback of occasionally fatally over-heating, unlike the Imperium's more unstable Plasma weapons. Instead, the Tau favour a form of technology that forgoes a degree of stopping power for increased safety levels for the operator, similar to the Eldar.
- Plasma Rifle - Plasma Rifles are the Tau equivalent of Imperial Plasma Guns, albeit sacrificing power for safety. They are portable weapons that are often used to kill heavily armoured infantry such as Terminators. They are most commonly wielded by XV8 Crisis Battlesuits, but can also sometimes be found as twin-linked weapons on Drone Sentry Turrets and the TX-42 variant of Piranhas. Shas'o R'myr wields an experimental Double-Barrelled Plasma Rifle. As can be deduced from the name, it has two barrels which give it a faster firing rate at long range.
- Plasma Cannon - So far, Tau Plasma Cannons are only mounted as a variant turret on Hammerhead gunships and were first identified by the Imperium during the Taros Campaign, where it is believed they were being field-tested. They use the same Plasma technology in Plasma Rifles, but are far larger in size. Because of this, they are more powerful and also fire faster. However, they sacrifice some of their armour penetrating power for this, making them similar to Ion Cannons.
Pulse weapons can be seen as the 'signature' weapon of the Tau Empire, and are the standard infantry weapons of Tau Fire Warriors. Pulse Weapons use electromagnetic induction fields to convert subatomic particles to a plasma state as they are propelled out the barrel of the weapon. There are several different types of Pulse weapons in use by Tau forces:
- Pulse Rifle - The Pulse Rifle carried by Fire Warrior Teams is superior to the Bolters used by Imperial forces. The effective range and hitting power of a Pulse Rifle is one of the greatest of any standard-issue weapon used by any force in the galaxy, and often outranges the heavy weapons of other races. Pulse Rifles are reliable weapons that suit the Tau doctrine and allow Fire Warriors to perform their duty to the Tau Empire effectively on the battlefield by maintaining a reasonably high rate of fire with large amounts of power, even when on the move.
- Pulse Carbine - Pulse Carbines are similar to Pulse Rifles in strength, but are smaller, trading range and rate of fire for portability and an underslung Photon Grenade Launcher which can fire Photon Grenades which can dazzle and disorientate targets so as to pin them down. Pathfinders are armed with Pulse Carbines as standard, while Fire Warriors can take Pulse Carbines instead of the longer ranged Pulse Rifle. Tau Gun Drones also mount Twin-Linked Pulse Carbines to give them some offensive firepower.
- Pulse Pistol - Pulse Pistols are small hold-out weapons issued to Tau Battlesuit pilots and the Fire Warrior controllers of Sniper Drones. They have an extremely short range compared to other Pulse weapons but retain the same amount of power. They often only come into play when a Sniper Drone Team is under close range threat or when a Battlesuit pilot has used an Ejection System to escape the destruction of his Battlesuit.
A Neutron Blaster is a weapon unique to the Vespid race. They are made using a hybrid of Vespid and Tau technology. Mounted at the end of the barrel of each weapon is a highly energetic and unstable crystal that has been harvested from the deepest layers of the world of Vespid's cloud seas. This is combined with an efficient neutron projection system created by the Tau Earth Caste to produce a weapon capable of bypassing all but the most effective armour. The weapon emits short ranged streams of neutron radiation when firing and can reduce biological matter and machine components to cinders. Neutron blasters can only be used by members of the Vespid race, such as Vespid Stingwings. This is mainly because Neutron Blasters constantly emit radiation that only the Vespid can handle, whereas the radiation will prove ultimately lethal to other races. It has also been theorised that Vespid wing membranes emit a constant harmonic ultrasonic tone that is required to modulate or aid the containment of the crystals used in the weapons.
Tau Rail weaponry are fearsome weapons and are characterised by their long range, extreme power and excellent armour penetration capabilities. Rail weapons use linear accelerator technology which functions using standing wave acceleration along a number of superconductive electrodes that surround the barrel. This form of firing mechanism can accelerate projectiles to hyper-velocities which give them their great accuracy over long ranges. This is due to the extreme speed almost negating any drift due to wind and bullet drop off.
- Railgun - Railguns are the standard application of Tau Rail technology and are commonly used in an anti-vehicle role due to being extremely effective at penetrating enemy armour. Railguns usually fire single solid projectiles and rely on the projectiles speed to penetrate armour, even at long ranges. However, when used against infantry, they can have a devastating effect where the round will simply vaporise the target. Those near the travelling path of the projectile will also find the breath sucked out of their lungs, such is its speed. Railguns have an iconic 'whip-crack' sound when they fire, but this is merely the sound that is made as a Railgun round breaks the sound barrier. Nevertheless, such is the Railgun's destructive power that its reputation spreads fear amongst the tank crews of the enemies of the Tau Empire. Railguns are commonly mounted as twin-linked weapons on XV88 Broadside Battlesuits which are specialised for the tank hunting role, and as a weapon turret on Hammerhead gunships. Hammerhead railguns, however, have the capability to fire sophisticated bundles of submunitions that are effective at suppressive area fire due to a large area of effect, and is commonly employed against 'soft targets' where the submunition rounds will often pass straight through.
- Heavy Railgun - Heavy Railguns are larger versions of the standard Railguns and are only mounted on the Manta and Tiger Shark A-X-10 variant of the Tiger Shark aircraft. Heavy Railguns fire larger rounds at higher speeds, and the projectiles are fin-stabilised for extra lift, and therefore extra range, whilst in an atmosphere. The Heavy Railgun's submunition shell is equipped with a drone processor that is programmed to direct the shell accurately towards its target. This is mostly used during space combat to find weak points in the armour of enemy ships as submunition rounds lack the penetrating power of the standard round. They are also useful in ground combat, however, as the shell can saturate a extremely large area with its submunitions and deny cover more effectively due to being fired from the air.
- Rail Rifle - Rail Rifles are a recent development of Rail technology that is man-portable while retaining power, range and armour penetration capabilities that surpasses the weapons of many other races. To use a Rail Rifle, the bearer must be equipped with a hard-wired targeting device. During trials, one of the main flaws of the Rail Rifle was that the massive energy requirements needed to power the electromagnetic linear accelerator within could overload the targeting device, causing feedback in the hard-wired interface which in turn could kill the rifle's bearer (the current required to accelerate the projectile to a practical speed takes up an enormous amount of power). This flaw has been fixed through constant field-testing, and has since been authorised for use by frontline Pathfinder teams just prior to the declaration of the Third Sphere Expansion. Rail Rifles are also utilized by Sniper Drones which are stable platforms for firing. Rail Rifles are effective in the sniper role due to the being accurate over long ranges, being able to pin enemy units down, and also retaining sufficient power to bypass all but the toughest of armour.
While Heavy Railguns are the largest known application of Rail technology in ground warfare, the technology has been scaled up to create truly massive Railcannon batteries that are mounted on Tau starships, where they are effective at bombarding enemy ships with powerful extreme-velocity rounds.
Tau Battlesuits can take a variety of different weapon and support systems, as well as Battlesuit wargear. The standard XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can mount any combination of three weapon and support systems, while both the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit and XV25 Stealthsuit can take one Battlesuit support system with their standard armanent. Certain squad or team leaders can then also take a limited amount of Battlesuit wargear. It is of note that some Battlesuit support systems can be hard-wired. These systems are cybenetic in nature and are either entirely contained within the Battlesuit or are implanted as warrior jewellery. Hard-wired systems can also be taken as Battlesuit wargear and therefore free up space for other support systems. Special issue items unique systems undergoing field-testing prior to becoming widely available. As such, their distribution is usually limited to one per Hunter Cadre.
Available for XV8 Battlesuits:
- Airbursting Fragmentation Projector (Special Issue)
- Burst Cannon
- Cyclic Ion Blaster (Special Issue)
- Fusion Blaster
- Missile Pod
- Plasma Rifle
It is possible for a Battlesuit to take a Twin-Linked variant of any weapon that isn't special issue. This means that the weapon will count as taking up two hard-points.
All Stealthsuits can are armed with a Burst Cannon as standard. However, one in three in a squad of XV25 Stealthsuits can be equipped with a Fusion Blaster to give them a close range anti-vehicle role.
XV88 Broadside Battlesuits are armed with a Twin-Linked Railgun and a Smart Missile System as standard. One member of the squad can also replace their Smart Missile System with Twin-Linked Plasma Rifles
- Advanced Stabilisation System - All Tau Battlesuit weapon systems are equipped with stabilising gyroscopes that enable them to bring their weapons to bear at speed. An Advanced Stabilisation System is a more advanced version of these gyroscopes that allow even heavy weapons to be fired on the move. XV88 Broadside Battlesuits commonly make use of this Support System.
- Blacksun Filter - Blacksun Filters are advanced optical filters that allow a Battlesuit to see better in darkness and low light conditions.
- Command and Control Node (Special Issue) - A Command and Control Node is a sophisticated Ai-assisted transmission system used by a commander to communicate more effectively with other Fire Caste warriors around him and also boost their morale.
- Drone Controller - A Drone Controller acts as a hub for communications between an operator and a number of Drones. They give the owner the ability to make use of up to two Drones per Drone Controller.
- Multi-Tracker - A Multi-Tracker is a sophisticated fire control system that mounted in a sensor node, often on a Battlesuits shoulder where it enables the Battlesuit to coordinate its fire with more than one weapon.
- Positional Relay (Special Issue) - A Positional Relay records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight band of, encrypted burst to a single unit operating in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the unit to make a better decision on when to deploy onto the battlefield.
- Shield Generator - Battlesuit Shield Generators project cohesive energy fields around the Battlesuit that can deflect blasts and blows that would otherwise outright destroy the battlesuit.
- Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the bearer to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
- Targetting Array - The Targetting Array is a relatively new application of the same technology used in vehicles. It provides assistance to aiming at targets.
- Vectored Retro-Thrusters (Special Issue) - A Battlesuit with Vectored Retro-Thrusters is equipped with additional thruster nozzles, giving a degree of additional manoeuvrability that is useful when escaping from combat.
- Bonding Knife - A Bonding Knife is a ceromonial knife that is not intended for combat, but is carried by the leader of Tau Fire Warrior teams who have performed the Ta'lissera ritual and bonded as a group. Battlesuit wearers many not actually carry a Bonding Knife but instead have a knife design painted onto their armour.
- Ejection System (Special Issue) - A Ejection System provides the pilot of a Battlesuit a chance to escape catastrophic damage by ranged fire to his Battlesuit by ejecting the pilot at the last second. The pilot then has to fend for himself on foot.
- Failsafe Detonator - Failsafe Detonators are intended to be the ultimate expression of the doctrine of the Greater Good, as is used only in the most dire of circumstances. The Failsafe Detonator is a powerful explosive that can be detonated by a Battlesuit pilot in order to allow his squad members to escape from close combat, although the pilot himself is killed.
- Drones - Gun Drones, Shield Drones and Marker Light Drones can accompany Battlesuit squads providing that at least one Battlesuit has a Drone Controller.
- Iridium Armour - Battlesuits can be fitted with additional armour protection in the form of Iridium Amour plates across the surface of the Battlesuit. However, the extra weight of the armour greatly reduces the range of the Battlesuit's Jetpack.
- Hard-Wired Blacksun Filter - See Support Systems
- Hard-wired Drone Controller - See Support Systems
- Hard-Wired Multi Tracker - See Support Systems
- Hard-Wired Target Lock - See Support Systems
- Stimulant Ejector (Special Issue) - A Battlesuit with Stimulant Ejectors is fitted with advanced life support systems that are able to flood the Battlesuit pilot's body with stimulants should he become wounded.
Certain Tau infantry such as squad and team leaders can utilise wargear items that are usually only available to Battlesuit pilots.
- Bonding Knife - See Battlesuit Armoury
- EMP Grenades - EMP grenades emit brief electromagnetic pulses that can overload circuitry, causing fires, meltdowns and other criticial malfunctions in enemy vehicles. All Tau Fire Warriors can be equipped with EMP grenades.
- Honour Blade (Ethereals Only) - A Honour Blade is a long, broad-bladed spear mounted on a lightweight metallic shaft. Honour Blades are used by Ethereals to settle disputes between Ethereal Caste members in stylised and bloodless duels where they are used in elegant sweeping movements where the blade becomes virtually invisible.
- Drones - See Battlesuit Armoury
- Hard-Wired Blacksun Filter - See Battlesuit Armoury
- Hard-Wired Drone Controller - See Battlesuit Armoury
- Hard-Wired Multi Tracker - See Battlesuit Armoury
- Hard-Wired Target Lock - See Battlesuit Armoury
- Photon Grenade - Photon Grenades are defensive grenades that blind and disorient attackers with flashes of multi-spectral light and sonic bursts. All Tau Fire Warriors can be equipped with Photon Grenades.
Tau Drones are independent, artificially-intelligent robots usually installed with an anti-gravtiic propulsion system which are used for a variety of civil and military functions by the Tau Empire. They normally require regular instructions from a Tau to function, although if four or more drones are networked to operate in unison, they become capable of operating independently of their Tau controllers. Drones that are linked to a control device cease to function if the controlling Tau is killed, or if the drones move more than a set distance from the controller.
Drones are designed to fulfill a set role. The most common drone designs are:
- Gun Drone - Gun Drones are armed with a pair of pulse carbines and are the most common drone type used by the Tau Fire Caste. They can accompany any Tau possessing a control device, whether he be in a battlesuit or leading an infantry team. In addition, gun drones are often used as weapons systems for the Devilfish APC and Piranha skimmer]].
- Shield Drone - Shield Drones are assigned to protect elite commanders, along with members of the Ethereal caste. They are equipped with powerful energy shields and are programmed to block weapons fire intended for their controller with their shields. If necessary, the drone will physically intercept the incoming fire.
- Marker Drone - Marker Drones are equipped with an advanced Marker Light system, and through the use of the control device can improve the accuracy of the operator and anyone else in the operator's team.
- Sniper Drone - Sniper Drones are a recent development for the Third Sphere Expansion. A single Tau equipped with an advanced control and targeting system can utilise up to three sniper drones to provide accurate anti-personnel fire. The drones themselves are armed with a Rail Rifle, and project a distortion field that makes the drones and their operator difficult to hit.
- Heavy Gun Drone - Heavy Gun Drones are larger, more powerful drones armed with a pair of Burst Cannons. Heavy gun drones also have the option of replacing one of their Burst Cannons with a Marker Light.
- Drone Sentry Turret - Drone Sentry Turrets are air-droppable turrets often used to hold areas ahead of the main Tau advance. They are armed with a variety of Battlesuit weapons, such as Missile Pods and Plasma Rifles.
- DX-4 Technical Drone DX-4 Technical Drones are used as a standard utility drone but are often employed on battlefields as mechanics or medics. Used in cityfights as the combat engineers strategem.
- Remora Drone - Remora Drones are unmanned Tau stealth fighters used to attack vulnerable ground targets and which are protected by sophisticated stealth and jamming technology.
Tau Battlesuits are issued to the more experienced warriors of the Fire Caste. They are exoskeletal suits that give the wearer extra strength, better sensors, and more protection, as well as the ability to carry heavier weapons into battle. The advanced technology of the Tau allows weapons of incredible power to be mounted on comparatively small chassis – the Battlesuit is no exception. A single Fire Caste pilot is seated inside an armoured cockpit, controlling an swift and agile suit of the same rough size as a Space Marine Dreadnought. Devastating plasma rifles, missile pods and fusion blasters as well as infantry-shredding burst cannons and anti-tank railguns are among the loadouts available to the Battlesuit, and many variants have been developed by the Tau scientists of the Earth Caste. All Battlesuits of the same type are given a designation: XV, followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the mass class of the suit: "1" being a complete exoskeletal version of standard Tau body armour, while "8" represents the heaviest available Battlesuits. The second digit indicates the role or status of the particular suit design: "2" marking an experimental design, "5" representing stealth capability, and "8" being heavy fire support. Variations of a suit may be given other numbers as well.
It can be surmised that the following role numbers exist:
- 1 - Special Systems (modified Battlesuit to include arms such as the Smart Missile System)
- 4 - Spotter armed with a Marker Light
- 9 - Heavy Armour (Note - this maybe a mistake as the Tau use a base-9 numerical system, therefore they do not have a numerical designation for the number 9. It most likely should be marked as XV87, not XV89)
The XV15 Stealthsuit and the XV25 Stealthsuit are equipped with Burst Cannons and holographic camouflage, and are capable of equipping a Fusion Blaster in place of the Burst Cannon. Teams of up to six Stealthsuits operate independently of a main Tau force, and are given broad parameters within which to operate. Most Stealth Teams are not normally factored into Tau battle plans, and the appearance of a Stealthsuit-equipped Team can be a surprise to both forces. Stealth Team members are perceived to be eccentric, and are said to delight in employing new and unpredictable tactics.
XV8 Crisis Battlesuit
The mainstay of the Tau's Battlesuit forces, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are worn by Fire Caste commanders and Fire Warriors who have proven themselves veterans in battle. Each Crisis suit is capable of mounting up to three powerful weapons, and can be equipped with a variety of support systems, including drone controllers, fire control and targeting systems, or a shield generator. Some of these support systems are built into the suits, some are attached on the outside.
Variants of the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit include:
- XV-81, which has a Smart Missile System mounted on its back;
- XV-84, which carries a markerlight;
- XV-89, which comes equipped with heavier armor.
Crisis Suits are typically deployed in either a team of three, called a Ta'ro'cha by the Tau, or a single suit, called a Monat. As Crisis Suits can be outfitted with a number of different weapons, code names for certain successful configurations have come into use by the Tau (and adopted by Tau players) to quickly describe the configuration of their Crisis teams.
- Vior'la Crisis Suit Configurations
- Death Rain - Three Shas'ui all with twin-linked missile pod, drone controller and 2 gun drones.
- Sun Forge - Three Shas'ui all with twin-linked fusion blaster and shield generator.
- Burning Eye - Shas'vre and two Shas'ui, all with twin-linked plasma rifle and target lock.
- Vior'la Monat - Shas'vre, bonded, drone controller and two gun drones, burst cannon, fusion blaster, hard-wired multi-tracker.
- Fire Spiker - Three Shas'ui all with a fusion blaster, missile pod and target lock.
- Tau'n Crisis Suit Configurations
- Brightwind - Shas'vre with burst cannon, plasma rifle, multi-tracker and hard-wired drone controller with two gun drones. One Shas'ui with target lock, fusion blaster and missile pod, one Shas'ui with missile pod, plasma rifle and multi-tracker.
- Darkfall - Shas'vre with twin-linked missile pods, drone controller with two gun drones and hard-wired blacksun filter. One Shas'ui with shield generator, flamer and drone controller with two gun drones, One Shas'ui with flamer, fusion blaster and drone controller with two shield drones.
- T'au Crisis Suit Configurations
- Fireknife - Shas'ui (Team Leader) with plasma rifle, multi-tracker, missile pod, hard-wired drone controller with two gun drones, bonded. Two Shas'ui with plasma rifle, multi-tracker, missile pod, bonded.
- Blinding Spear - Shas'vre with plasma rifle, burst cannon, multi-tracker, hard-wired drone controller (two gun drones). Two Shas'ui with plasma rifle, burst cannon, multi-tracker.
- Soul Cleanse(Monat) - One Shas'ui with flamer, fusion blaster, shield generator, hard-wired drone controller with two gun drones.
One special Crisis suit is used by the renegade Tau Fire Caste Commander Farsight. In addition to the Shield Generator and Plasma Rifle it also sports the fabled Dawn Blade, making Farsight both devastating in range and close quarter combat (in fact, he is almost as devastating in close combat as a Daemon Prince), which is highly unusual for a Tau unit which normally concentrates on ranged combat at the expense of close quarters effectiveness. The Farsight Enclaves are also known to command more Crisis Battlesuits than any other Tau force (although at the cost of a reduced number of Broadsides).
The most heavily armed Tau warriors on the battlefield, pilots of the XV-88 Broadside Battlesuit have access to a twin-linked railgun system mounted on the suit's back,and a smart missile system or twin-linked plasma rifles on the arms.
- A variant of the Broadside, the XV-88-2, has a different weapons mounting, moving the railguns further downward to lower the suit's center of gravity, and mounting the secondary weapons on the suit's upper back, over the shoulders. It also has a different styling of its armour, making it look more distinct than the Crisis Suit. The XV-88-2 is available as a miniature from Forge World.