The Tau are an arguably benevolent race fighting for what they call the Greater Good. They claim to be a peaceful race when possible, asking if others will join their cause instead of fighting. However if their peaceful overtures are refused, the Tau may well decide to conquer the planet for the greater good, searing the flesh from the bones of anyone who stands against their benign expansions.

Tau society is divided into a number of castes, each responsible for a specific aspect of society. The Tau ideal is that everyone in the empire will work for the good of everyone.

Tau with kroot

Tau and their Kroot allies, fighting for the Greater Good

The Tau are the central figures of the Tau Empire, which is composed of several species, primarily the Kroot of Pech, the Vespid of Vespid and the nomadic Nicassar, though there are now several human-Tau Septs. The Tau are a relatively young race (6000 years, Imperial Inquisitors first noted of the Tau when they were still experimenting with fire or the wheel), having evolved rapidly over the past few millennia. Not keeping with the trend of young races, the Tau have made remarkable leaps in technology.

Tau Physiology

The Tau's physiology is closely tied to their society, with the Tau of each caste effectively being a subspecies of the Tau race. This was initially a result of adaptation and evolution to suit the environment each group of the proto-Tau species found themselves in, although interbreeding between castes was later forbidden by the Ethereals.

The Tau are humanoid in shape, although they have hoofed feet and four-digit hands (three fingers and one thumb). Their skin is grey-blue (although this can vary in pigmentation between worlds), rough in texture, leathery, and exudes almost no moisture. Their faces are flat, wide around the eyes, with an "I"-shaped slit running from the center of the forehead to where a human's nose would be. Tau vision is considered slightly superior to humans - their visual spectrum extends a little more into the ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. However their pupils do not dilate giving poorer depth perception and slower focusing reflexes than Humans. The olfactory organs are inside the mouth. Physical strength and size varies between castes with the Fire Caste being the strongest of their kind, roughly the size and strength of a well-built man.

Only two female Tau have ever been illustrated. The first, Commander Shadowsun, appeared to have a more human face than male Tau; being smoother and sleeker with larger eyes, a nose-like facial feature and a "Y" shaped facial slit. It is not known, however, whether Shadowsun is representative of all female Tau. The second, the subject of an imperial dissection, had the facial characteristics of a male Tau.

The Tau do not possess psykers (indeed, their minds barely register in the warp at all) and as a result have little knowledge of the Immaterium beyond its existence. This gives them some level of resistance to warp-based powers effecting the mind, but it offers little, if any, protection against physically-manifested offensive powers. They are largely unaware of the perils of the Immaterium and for this reason the Tau have conducted research into the Warp on Medusa V, however, the conclusion was reached that further research was unfeasible, and that "the Warp is no place for the Greater Good and is best left to those foolhardy races who cannot pull back from that terrible realm." Due to their notable absence of psychic ability the Tau have no equivalent to the Navigators of the Imperium, limiting their warp jumps to short-distance "shallow jumps". Their vessels therefore take much longer than Imperial vessels to traverse the vast distances between the stars, having to 'skim' the surface of the Warp rather than making extended, long-distance warp jumps.

Ethereal Caste members also have a diamond shaped bony ridge on their head. It is believed by Imperial scholars that they exert a pheromone-based or latent psychic control over the other castes, but this is mere speculation, and no evidence of this has been found.

Tau Warriors are poorly trained in melee combat(thus being slaughtered by Chaos and Ork, melee oriented races), depending on Kroot Mercenaries to fight in close combat. Though due to sharp eyesight and patience, the Tau have proven themselves extremely accurate sharpshooters.

The Tau tend to look upon other races as backwards or misguided. Before the commencement of hostilities they almost always try to reason with their opponents and establish some kind of agreement. Noted exceptions to this are the Orks and Chaos, with whom the Tau have little to no diplomatic relation. This is due to the fact that the Tau see no way to reason with them, and do not want them in their empire.

Tau Caste System


Aun'va: the leader of the Ethereal caste

The Tau employ a caste-based system that places the good of the many over the good of the few. In Tau society, every person is viewed as an essential part of the whole. Social standing is judged primarily by a beings standing within caste of the Tau, with 'La being the lowest (Shas'la: Fire Warrior, Fio'la: Earth Worker, Por'la: Water Bureaucrat) and 'O being the highest (Shas'O: Fire Commander, Fio'O: Earth Planner, Por'O: Water Ambassador). The castes are as follows:

  • Fire (Shas) -- The Fire Caste compose the bulk of the military for the Tau Empire, and as such are the Tau most often used in the game. They average as tall as or slightly shorter than an average human, and are generally muscular. This comes from the fire caste's origin on the plains of T'au, the Tau home world, where they survived as hunters and warriors. Tau from the world of Vior'la tend to have slightly greater muscle mass.
  • Earth (Fio) -- The Earth Caste is composed not only of laborers and technicians, but also artisans, scientists and engineers. They are usually credited with the significant leaps in technology that the Tau enjoy. The members of the Earth Caste form the foundations upon which the Tau Empire is built. The inhabitants of this caste are generally short and stout of build.
  • Water (Por) -- The Water Caste is primarily composed of merchants and diplomats. They are tasked with seeking and maintaining diplomatic relations with the other species of the Tau Empire, as well as maintaining the ease of communication and cooperation between the other castes. The Water Caste are generally taller and slimmer than other Tau, and favor diplomatic training and social grace over confrontation or combat. They are more capable in communicating with the languages of other races than most other Tau. From the time when the Tau discovered the Imperium, there are several accounts where Water Caste ambassadors were dispatched to Imperial worlds, and those worlds turning over to the Greater Good without a fight.
  • Air (Kor) -- The Air Caste of the Tau function not only as messengers, but also as the bulk of the Tau Navy. The Tau of the Air Caste are even taller and more slender than the Water Caste, with long, skinny appendages and hollow bones. These traits are attributed to their lives lived mostly low to zero gravity ships and space stations. This is exacerbated by Air Caste reluctance, if not outright refusal to land on planets, as their skeletons have atrophied to the point where injury and broken bones are commonplace. In the past, before the time of the Mont'au, the Air Caste had membranes stretching between their limbs, which allowed them to glide on air currents. Tau pilots are recognized as superior to human pilots due to their better fighter craft, though lack a normal Imperial pilot's level of experience.
  • Ethereal (Aun) -- The Ethereals are the leaders of the Tau. They resemble the Fire and Water Castes physically, but are marked by a diamond-shaped ridge of raised bone in the center of their foreheads. Their origins are unknown, and most Tau will never refuse a request by an Ethereal. They are sometimes also found on the battlefield, but whether as leaders or observers remains to be seen.

Ethereal Control

One of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Tau concerns the Ethereals control over other Tau, and how the Ethereals initially managed to unite a fractured, nomadic people constantly at war into a single whole force. The proposed causes of this range from the psychic (As displayed in the Tau novel Fire Warrior) to the biological, that the Ethereals diamond-shaped forehead ridge produces a set of pheromones that make Tau, and to a lesser extent other species, open to suggestion. This was introduced after people complained that the initial Tau codex described the Tau in too much of a positive light, and that they were too "good" for the 40k universe. This also led to the Vespid communion helms, which have a much clearer Orwellian feel that the Vespid are being directly manipulated thanks to the helmets that are supposedly for "communication purposes."

The Greater Good

The Greater Good is the central philosophy that unites all Tau. It says that everyone one is equal and plays an important part of Tau society. It tells them to put away petty squabbles and unnecessary things to unite for the greater good of the rest of the race. As implied in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade, the Tau have no intention to destroy religion or culture. However, while many embrace this ideology (Even some Imperium worlds have willingly joined the Tau Empire) other races fiercely resist the Greater Good, much to the dismay of the Tau.

The Damocles Contingent

The Damocles Contingent was a project undertaken after the Farsight incident. This situation showed to those in control of the empire that there were many dangers yet to be faced in the galaxy and that they would be numerous and unexpected, that if they were left unchecked could prove ruinous for all. It was decided that as the Tau Empire needed some form of internal scrutiny within the military structure. Thus the Damocles Contingent was formed as a strategic force which could be used to ensure the continued stability of the ever growing Empire.

Tau Ranks

The rank of a person in Tau society is second only to the caste they are born into. The Ranks are as follows:[1]

Rank Fire Caste(Shas) Air Caste(Kor) Water Caste(Por) Earth Caste(Fio) Etheral Caste(Aun)
*'Saal Cadet
*'La Warrior Messenger Bureaucrat Worker Prince
*'Ui Veteran Carrier Envoy Senior Prelate
*'Vre Hero Pilot Magister Overseer King
*'El Knight Captain Diplomat Engineer Holy
*'O Commander Admiral Ambassador Planner Highest
  • 'Saal -- Cadet. This rank is typically given to Tau as soon as they enter service.
  • 'La -- The first and lowest true rank. A Shas'la would be a standard Fire Warrior, while a Fio'la would be a manual laborer, and a Kor'la a crewman on a ship.
  • 'Ui -- The Second rank among the Tau. A Shas'ui would be the leader of a squad of fire warriors (equivalent to an Imperial Sergeant), or a battlesuit pilot, while a Por'Ui would be a mid-ranking envoy or diplomat.
  • 'Vre -- The third Tau rank. A Shas'vre is a Battlesuit team leader or bodyguard, a Fio'vre would be the foreman of a Tau factory, and a Kor'vre a fighter pilot.
  • 'El -- The fourth and second highest Tau rank, acknowledged as one of high esteem. Shas'el are Commanders, Kor'el command Tau spacecraft, and a Fio'el would be an engineer.
  • 'O -- The highest Tau rank. Kor'o would be the title of a fleet admiral, while Shas'o would be of the highest levels of command and fearsome warriors (usually placed in command of one or more cadre, and an Aun'o is the highest rank of Ethereal, revered by all Tau.

In times past, the main four castes (fire, earth, water, and air) were constantly vying for power with each other. Suddenly, the strange, mystical Tau of the Ethereal caste began to appear, and united the Tau under the "greater good".

The Tau are the most open and tolerant of the races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They are the only army that prefers to settle their differences peacefully. They are appreciative of Humans, Eldar, and other sentient races, but hold their own values to be superior to those of others.

Their tolerance also extends to themselves, as the Tau recognize even lowly Fio'la workers as being as important to the operation and well-being of the Empire as Shas'vre Battlesuit leaders or even the highest Aun'o.

Tau names are tied closely with their lives within the Empire. A Tau's full name always starts with their caste and their rank, followed by the Sept (Planetary system) of their birth, followed by their personal name, which is often determined/extended by their notable actions or achievements in life. Thus, the Tau named Shas'O Vior'la Shovah Kaius Mont'yr (see below) would be broken down as follows:

  • Shas -- The individual is a member of the Fire Caste...
  • O -- ...Who is a high-ranking Commander and hero...
  • Vior'la -- ...Who comes from the Sept of Vior'la...

...And has a personal name translated as being far-sighted (Shovah), Skilled (Kauis, possible variation of Kais), and having seen many battles (Mont'yr, meaning "blooded").

Tau tactics and warfare

Tau warfare is carried out almost exclusively by the Fire Caste, with support from the Air Caste in the form of transport and air support. The Tau draw their tactics from their ancient methods of hunting. Each force is usually drawn from the same Sept, and is called a Hunter Cadre.

The Tau prefer to carefully plan their assaults, and tend to fight only after coordinating their troops and weapons for the mission at hand. The Tau prefer to fight offensively, concerned more with the quick destruction of the enemy than the taking and holding of ground. If a Tau base is attacked, the Tau will usually evacuate, dismantle all important technology, and return at a later time to retake it.

The two primary Tau tactics are the Mont'ka (Killing Blow) and Kauyon (Patient Hunter). The Mont'ka is a carefully planned attack designed to wipe out critical enemy defenses or units in a single well-placed strike. Once the strongest points of enemy resistance are crushed, the remainder of the force can generally be finished off easily. The Kauyon is essentially an ambush, where the enemy is drawn by use of a "lure" into a carefully prepared killing zone. The Mont'ka is generally known to utilize more mobilzed support and vehicles, whilst Kauyon relies more on advanced infantry tactics and quick attacks.

As Tau forces generally prefer ranged combat they always use auxiliaries like the Kroot for melee support. One Tactic is when a squad of Fire Warriors stands in front of the task force, making use of the superior range of their weapons to soften up enemy formations. A squad of Kroot Carnivores waits behind the Fire Warriors. When enemy units charge to engage the Tau in melee, the Carnivores leap in front of the Fire Warriors to give them time to retreat to a safe firing position.

Tau Weaponry

The Tau, though extremely young compared with that of the Imperium, possess some of the strongest weapons in the galaxy.

The Pulse Rifle

This weapon being the most common amongst the fire warrior caste its range and firepower far surpasses that of the imperial's standard Lasgun. The weapon works well with the Tau way of war as it allows extensive firing grounds to make the kill, making their hunter tactics extremely effective. It works by using an induction field to propel a particle, which reacts by breaking down to create a plasma pulse as it leaves the barrel.

Pulse Carbine

The carbine sacrifices range for portability and so it can have more power then a regular Tau weapon. The weapon works in the same way as its cousin but is a lot more effective when the prey gets too close as it is much easier to get working in tight situations, and the rate at which it can be used usually knocks the charging enemy off balance, forcing them to halt their advance, unless there is too much momentum behind the charge. The pulse carbine is also equipped with an underslung photon grenade launcher (see photon grenades below) for further firepower.

Pulse Pistol

Recently issued to Tau personnel as a hold-out weapon this is only normally used in desperate situations. Again this weapon works the same as its big brothers only on a smaller scale.

Rail Rifle

Where this version is a lot smaller to what is usually used in Tau warfare, the Rail types use electromagnetic linear accelerator technology to project a solid projectile at hypervelocity. So even in its smaller size this weapon can lay down some impressive firepower.

Kroot Rifle

A primitive slug-thrower relying on chemical propellant and the transfer of kinetic energy, after contact with the Tau the weapon has been adapted to fire a pulse round, this gives the weapon much more stopping power. The Kroot themselves have also adapted the weapon to suit them by adding staves at each end of the rifle for deadly effect in close combat.

Kroot Gun

A much larger version of the Kroot Rifle. Being that heavy it must be mounted on a Krootox and a Kroot that is dedicated to its use. Because of its size and calibre it was designed with heavily amoured troops and light vehicles in mind.

Vespid Neutron Blaster

This weapon as its name suggests is for the Vespid Stingwings. It is a hybrid of Vespid and Tau technology, as the Tau devolved the weapon specifically with the Stingwings in mind. As the Stingwings emit a certain frequency that they use for communication, this is used in the weapons trigger system so only the Stingwings may use it. Its ammunition is again specifically designed for the Stingwings as the crystal mounted upon each blaster is grown on Vespid (The planet) these emit a powerful neutron blast that is able to bypass all but the most well shielded armour.


This is commonly used in the Tau's way of war as it allows for the utmost accuracy when targeting the enemy. It projects a simple beam upon a target, and it is used to guide other weapons to it. Normally this will be to guide the seeker missiles to a heavily fortified area, or even to take out the enemy from extremely long range. it is also commonly used in ambush tactics as it is used to mark up the enemy positions so that multiple targets may be destroyed simultaneously causing havoc within the enemy lines.

Photon Grenades

A defensive grenade that blinds and disorients attackers with multi-spectral light and a sonic burst. It is hardly used in offensive situations as Fire warriors do not normally charge enemies into combat and they are too complicated for Kroot hands therefore they are thrown at charging enemies so that the Fire warriors can dispatch them quickly.

EMP grenades

EMP grenades emit a brief electro-magnetic pulse that overloads circuitry, causing fires, meltdowns and other critical malfunctions, sometimes leading to large explosions.

Honour Blade

This is a long, broad-bladed spear mounted on a lightweight metallic shaft. The honour blade is used to settle disputes between Ethereal caste members in stylised bloodless duels. Ethereals often master this sword so well that it becomes almost invisible when wielded making its extremely hard to land a blow, never mind defend yourself.

Bonding Knife

This is a ceremonial knife, not intended for combat, carried by the leader of the Fire caste warrior teams who have performed the Ta'lissera ritual and bonded as a group. Among Fire warrior squads it is considered a making of brotherhoods, they live, fight and die together.

Battle Suit Weapons

Battlesuits are the Taus Primary weapon of warfare. They have greater mobility and firepower than anything else in their arsenal.

Burst Cannon

The Burst Cannon is the bigger cousin of the pulse carbine. It sacrifices its ability to pin for greatly increased rate of fire. This weapon is very common on suits and vehicles.


Used in close quarters and urban enviroments, this weapon is primarily used as a back-up as Tau try to avoid close combat.

Fusion Blaster

Used when hunting Tanks and commanders, the fusion blaster can punch through armor like its nothing and can drop even the heaviest of targets with a well placed shot.

Missile Pod

The missile pod is used as a long range support weapon. Its often used on Heavy infantry and light vehicles. Its rate of fire and long range make it arguably the best weapon for a battlesuit.

Plasma Rifle

Often used in conjunction with Missile pods and fusion blasters, the plasma rifle is capable of penetrating the heaviest infantry armor. It becoes even more dangerous when one gets up close.


Mounted on the broadside and loaded with a solid slug, the railgun has no match when it comes to taking down infantry and vehicles. No armor is too thick, no vehicle to tough. It has more range than any other gun used by the Tau. The only weapons with more range are mounted on vehicles.

SMS (smart missile system)

One of the most unique weapons in the Tau arsenal is the SMS. It fires drone guided missiles that seek out the target and track them down regardless of where they are hiding. Walls and cover do not save you from these missiles. Vehicles can also mount these.

Vehicle only Weapons

The Tau vehicles are easily some of the best. With a wide range of upgrades and weapon choices, combined with speed and armor. The Imperium has learned to watch out for them.

Hammerhead Railgun

The Tau Hammerhead features a Railgun that can fire both solid slugs and submunitions that have a large blast area.

Ion Cannon

The Ion Cannon is used to take down infantry and light vehicles. It fires a focused Ion Burst that reacts explosively on contact.

Tau Units


XV22 Battlesuit

The XV22 Battlesuit is an experimental suit reserved for only the worthiest of commanders. It can be armed with a burst cannon, fusion blaster, pulse rifle and flamer. It is protected by a small shield, generated from a node worn on the left hand. Advanced sensor arrays can detect and identify hostiles even under heavy cloaking. A jetpack and thrusters are mounted on the back of the frame. The battlesuit can be equipped with a mobile stealth-field generator to keep hidden from sight. A marker drone and shield drone are programmed to follow the XV22 and assist in defence and tracking.

XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Commander

The main and essential commander for every Tau army, the Crisis suit Commander can either be a Shas'o or Shas'el. Shas'o being the higher, it costs more points but has higher stat values. Crisis suit Commanders are the highest of the Fire Caste. The Battlesuit holds only one Tau and can be upgraded with a variety of weapons , wargear, and support systems allowing them to be flexible in any role. The Battlesuit plays an important part of any Tau army for they are not only the commander but they can be very deadly themselves. Some Battlesuit Commanders can be equipped to go tank-hunting or to obliterate infantry or they can do both! The highly customizable suit is also very tough and strong making it one of the best units the Tau have. Crisis suit Commanders can bring two Shas'vre bodyguards, and as many Gun Drones, Shield Drones, or Marker Drones as they want.

The Tau have built experimental Crisis Suits for Tau Commanders some of which are custom made for a specific commander, such as; Commander Shas'o R'myr's.

XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'vre Bodyguard

Shas'vre bodyguard are handpicked for the Commander. Normally close friends, the bodyguards wear the same suit as their commander.


The Ethereal Caste brought the other four castes together in the name of the Greater Good. Known to be similar to religious leaders, Ethereals also sometime take part in battle. Their mere presence raises the morale of every Tau unit fighting. But that's not to say they cannot hold their own. Some Ethereals are masters of bladed weapons such as Aun'shi who is famed for his skill with his double-bladed weapon. But having an Ethereal is not without it's downs. If the Ethereal were to die in battle, the entire Tau army would be demoralized. To know that their great leader had fallen can make many of the hardest veterans flee from the battlefield.

Ethereals can be accompanied by an honor guard squad of up to 12 Fire Warriors. These act to protect the Ethereal from harm and are generally more experienced soldiers. As a result, their aim is more steady and accurate than that of standard Fire Warriors. In game terms, it costs 2 points more per model to be an Honor Guard, but they receive +1 to their Ballistic Skill. In addition, this allows the player to allocate wounds to the Honor Guard members in order to prevent the Ethereal from being wounded. Essentially, they can be used as meat shields as any Fire Warrior would give his life to ensure the survival of an Ethereal.


XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

Fire Warriors who work hard enough, can be promoted to Shas'ui. As Shas'ui, they can either lead teams of Fire Warriors or choose to become a Battlesuit pilot. A Battlesuit pilot gains the honor of piloting an XV8 Battlesuit into battle. A Battlesuit is a heavy exoskeleton that can lift heavy loads and protect the pilot from any danger. The suit is able to fire heavy weapons, use a jetpack for mobility(a common 40k tactic known as Jump-Shoot-Jump), and have various systems installed such as a drone controller. They can even be promoted to Shas'vre, not all are bodyguards though, there are also teams of a Shas'vre leader and two Shas'ui. The XV8 Battlesuit Series can be customized and equipped accordingly to threats that the Tau Empire will face this versatility is what makes the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit one of the most useful units in any Tau Army.

XV25 Stealthsuits

XV25 Stealthsuit pilots work alone, independently from the rest of their Cadre. They scout ahead of the rest of the army, taking out key units such as commanders to demoralize the enemy, or ambushing tanks and infantry to cripple them. Stealthsuits use stealth-field generators, which allow them to fight unseen, even when in plain view. Stealthsuits can only take two different weapons, the fusion blaster or Burst Cannon.

This stealth capability allows the Stealthsuit teams to operate ahead of the main Tau force or even behind enemy lines. When deployed, Stealthsuits will always deploy in the last phase of deployment. They also may be deployed outside of the Tau deployment zone, effectively advancing on the enemy even before the main force is fully mobilized. Another option, is for the Stealthsuits to strike deep into enemy territory during the battle. This is almost completely unpredictable for both the Tau forces and the enemy, albeit to a lesser degree for the former. Stealthsuits may arrive at any time during a battle, often positioning themselves directly behind important adversarial units. Even the exact location of their insertion when Deep Striking is not completely within the control of the Tau, representing the independent and unique nature of these teams.

XV15 Stealthsuits

Equipped with the XV15 Stealth Armour these troops are the 'lone wolves' of the Tau army, operating independently of other formations. Stealthsuits use stealth-field generators, which allow them to fight unseen, even when in plain view. Stealth Suit teams go ahead of the main Tau forces. Their role is to pick out the first targets while keeping enemy troops pinned down until the main army moves into position. Stealth Suit teams Use their markerlights to provide targeting information for Seeker Missile strikes. This allows main units to destroy tanks and other large threats before they have a chance to fire their guns.


Fire Warriors

The backbone to any Tau army, the Fire Warriors are the main troop choice for Tau. With the best infantry guns in the game, the Pulse Rifle, the Fire Warriors can take down most enemies from afar. Fire Warriors can also use Pulse Carbines which allows them to move and shoot at a cost of range. Stat-wise, they aren't the best but they make up for it with technology and fire power. Fire Warriors are called Shas'la and can be led by a Shas'ui team leader. The Shas'ui usually carries a Bonding Knife which is a symbol of unity within the group.

Devilfish Transport

The favorite of many Tau armies, the Devilfish is a unique and powerful transport. Being a skimmer, allows units to fire underneath it (this makes for a very interesting tactic which is listed below in "Popular Tactics"). The Devilfish also has decent armor making it resilient to be able to take hits. It can hold a total of 12 models. As a result of 5th edition rules, the Devilfish can now transport Kroot in addition to drones, Fire Warriors or Pathfinders and special characters attached to the squad. There are three doors, one on each side of the skimmer and one in the back. This allows models to be deployed in the back or sides of the vehicle, coincidentally this allows the weaker points of the armor to face away from the enemy at the same time. The Devilfish has access to the Tau Vehicle Armory list which includes useful upgrades making the Devilfish a much stronger and more useful transport.


These are human auxiliaries that have joined the Tau Empire and accepted the Greater Good. They march into battle carrying both their imperial weapons and Tau replacements, as well as Tau armor and equipment. Many of these mercenaries and traitors were left behind after the damocles gulf crusade and then engulfed by the tau empire.


The Kroot come from their homeworld of Pech, a jungle world, which has resulted in the Kroot becoming experts in jungle warfare. The Kroot are an interesting race because they seem to evolve by devouring prey or the remains of their enemies. By eating the remains their digestive system absorbs the dna and then they inherit the traits of their enemies. Since the Tau disdain hand to hand combat they employ the Kroot as melee auxiliaries. These kroot can also be acompanied by Krootox and Kroot Hounds, variations in the Kroot genus where they have become trapped in a genetic deadend.

Fast Attack


Pathfinders are the scouts of the Tau. They spot ahead and "light up" targets with their markerlight for the rest of the army. They are always accompanied by a Devilfish transport, allowing them to swiftly redeploy out of harms way. Pathfinders are armed with Pulse Carbines, but three of them may be exchanged for Rail Rifles so the squad is able to keep a distance from attackers.

Vespid Stingwings

The Vespid are insectile assault troops in the Tau Army. Unlike the mercenary Kroot, the Vespid actually believe in the greater good and have joined the Tau to spread the Greater Good, though it is whispered that the Vespid only joined the Tau after their leaders were presented with crafted communion helms, worn by all Strain Leaders, to "aid in communication." In return, the Tau have made the Vespid their own armour and weapons which are unique to their race. Their main weapon is the neutron blaster, which is created by harvesting crystals that are formed on the Vespid homeworld and mounting them on a neutron containment and projection system, making them not only unique but the most deadly weapon of their kind. The crystals that form the heart of the weapon come from the deepest mines on the largest island on the Vespid homeworld.


The Piranha is a lightly armored vehicle used by the Tau in a range of capacities including rapid response, support of Pathfinder Teams, and even as battlefield transport for high-ranking dignitaries. By upgrading the vehicle to carry a Fusion Blaster or a pair of Seeker Missiles, it becomes an effective tank hunter, particularly when guided to a target by Pathfinder Teams.


The lightest skimmer in the Tau force, Tetras are minimally armed and armoured, and are exclusively scouting vessels, designed to range far ahead of Tau forces and mark targets for long range bombardment.

These units are not part of the standard Codex: Tau Empires but rather part of the Imperial Armour 3: Taros Campaign rules set.

Heavy Support

Sniper Drone Team

A team consisting of a Tau Spotter and three drones armed with rail rifles. The drones are remotely controlled by the spotter using a specially designed interface.

XV88 Broadside Battle Suit

Veteran fire warriors may pilot more heavily armed, but less versatile, Battle Suits. Armed with twin linked Rail guns, its almost guaranteed to hit and destroy any unit. They are also equipped with either twin link smart missiles or twin linked plasma rifles. It can be a very efficient infantry killer as well.

Hammerhead Gunship

The anti-gravity tank of the Tau Empire. It can be armed with two burst cannons or seeker missiles on the drone sponsons while carrying a rail gun, ion cannon, or twin-linked weapons on the primary mount. The Hammerhead is used for major firepower and is fast and mobile.

Sky Ray

A variant of the Hammerhead that is armed with air defense missile platforms. The Sky Ray is an ideal artillery piece except that it is unable to operate at full capacity unsupported. Players should use the Sky Ray with a team of Pathfinders for the utmost accuracy and destruction. Another good thing about the sky ray is that it has the power to bombard the enemy with multiple seeker missiles


In the Warhammer 40,000 game, the Tau are a ranged army. An effective tactic is to engage the enemy at the maximum range of Tau weaponry, which typically has longer ranges and greater firepower than the equivalent weapons of other armies. As such, the Tau have weaker Close Combat ability (CC). Thus, many tactics involve staying at a distance, to wipe out the enemy or redeploying swiftly to further engage the opponent.

A more prevalent tactic amongst Tau veterans is the 'Mecha-Tau' approach, which utilizes the inherent mobility and speed of Tau vehicles and battlesuits to confuse and overwhelm the enemy by engaging them at all levels of the battlefield.

The Tau army is highly specialized, with each element normally having a specific task carried out in the support of the rest of the force. Fire Warriors make up the line troops, while forward scouts known as Pathfinders scout enemy positions, and provide fire support with rail rifles and marker light target designators. The Tau also deploy battlesuits in support roles, such as: providing specialized weapons to deal with any hot spots on the battlefield, providing heavy anti-tank fire, or as stealth warriors, operating independently of the main force.

The Tau also make extensive use of small AI-controlled Drones, typically equipped with guns or shield projectors, these drones can be used to protect teams of Fire Warriors and battlesuits and support vehicles.

The basic weapons of the Fire Caste are Pulse weapons, which propel a particle beam that breaks down into a plasma pulse as it is fired from the gun. This is commonly used as a long-range Pulse rifle or a portable Pulse carbine. A rapid-fire variation of the carbine is also used on vehicles and battlesuits, and is known as the Burst Cannon.

The Tau are known to use Ion Cannons and Railguns on their ships and vehicles, as well as various guided and unguided missiles. They also arm their battlesuits with a variety of weapons, ranging from Burst Cannons and missile pods, to Fusion Blasters, Pulse Rifles, and Flamers.

Popular Table Top Tactics

The Fish of Fury (commonly abbreviated to FoF): This tactic involves the use of the Devilfish troop transport and a full team of Fire Warriors. During the movement phase the Tau commander cuts in front of an opposing unit, presenting one side to the enemy. They then disembark their passengers using the exit on the opposite side of the transport. During the shooting phase the fore-mentioned commander fires under the devilfish (possible because skimmers, such as the Devilfish, don't block Line Of Sight ). This prevents assault units from reaching the Fire Warriors because the enemy would be forced to move around the devilfish. It also has the option of placing the Fire Warriors within rapid fire range, allowing them each to take two shots at the enemy. Although with 5th edition, this tactic no longer works, as skimmers now block Line Of Sight as any other tank.

The Jump, Shoot, Jump (Commonly abbreviated to JSJ): This tactic involves any Tau unit with "XV" in the name. Using the advanced Jetpack special rules a Tau commander will advance a XV suit out of cover during the movement phase via Jumping, Shoot in the shooting phase, and retreat during the assault phase into cover, once again, via Jumping. This tactic is also known in some circles as the 'Tau Bounce'.

Notable characters


Computer games

External links


  1. Codex: Tau (2001). Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete, and McNeill, Graham. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-098-6.

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  • Tau - Culture, Warfare Protocols, Society, Technology, Etc.

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    • This board was created to discuss any Tau related topic of interest, be they be the Etherials, Fire Warriors, Commanders of Note, Tau Lexic...
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  • Has anyone else noticed it?

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