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An XV104 Riptide Battlesuit of the Vior'la Sept supporting Tau Fire Warriors during the conquest of Mu'gulath Bay

The XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is one of the latest Tau Earth Caste innovations, designed to combat the most dangerous enemies of the Tau Empire. Powered by an experimental Dark Matter Nova Reactor and equipped with an arsenal of weapons, the XV104 Riptide is the pinnacle of Tau Battlesuit technology. Standing twice the height of an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, the XV104 is the epitome of Tau ingenuity and technology. Its long, back-jointed legs hold up a heavily armoured torso that houses the Riptide’s Dark Matter Nova Reactor -- an experimental power generator that can be activated should the Shas’vre pilot require extra power to sustain his heavy rate of fire. The XV104 carries a sleek Riptide Shield Generator on one arm and a Heavy Burst Cannon, which can be exchanged for an Ion Accelerator, on the other. To provide manoeuvrability, the XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is also equipped with a large Jetpack that juts out from its shoulder blades.

A wonder of Earth Caste engineering, the XV104 Riptide may tower over the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, but its movements are more like those of its smaller cousins than the mechanical stiffness displayed by Imperial walkers with their crude servo-motors. While the Riptide is huge and bears a number of weapon and support systems, it is still a Battlesuit -- worn and controlled by a lone Tau warrior. Production of the Riptide has proven slow -- the materials for the dense nanocrystaline alloy armour are difficult to obtain and the sheer volume required ensures that the XV104 is a rare commodity. The honour of wearing such a mighty Battlesuit is only given to those who have nobly served their Tau Commanders as Crisis Battlesuit Bodyguards. To assist its wearer, the Riptide bears a sophisticated Artificial Intelligence system, complete with a Multi-Tracker and numerous comm-links to keep the pilot patched in to the Cadre's Commander. The Riptide is often supported by a pair of Shielded Missile Drones, a new Tau Drone configuration, each equipped with a Missile Pod and Shield Generator.

XV104 Riptides are designed to fulfil the same roles and missions as XV8 Crisis Battlesuits. A Riptide’s pilot is an elite Shas’vre -- chosen to don the mightiest Battlesuit and fight for his Cadre mates; he is an exemplar amongst his peers. On the battlefield, a Riptide can jet quickly to plug gaps in Tau lines and give covering fire for its colleagues whilst shielding its allies with its armoured bulk. The Riptide's pilot, in other words, uses his Battlesuit to serve those who fight beside him. The pilot can also willingly risk using the Riptide's Nova Reactor -- even though exposure to its radiation may kill him -- so that he can better serve his comrades and ensure a perfected reactor is developed for future generations. Such self-sacrifice highlights the nobility of the Greater Good and the heroic natures of XV104 Riptide Battlesuit pilots.


An XV104 Riptide Battlesuit armed with a Heavy Burst Cannon and underslung twin-linked Plasma Rifles, and accompanied by two Shielded Missile Drones

Since the start of the Third Sphere Expansion, rumours of a new, heavy class of Tau Battlesuit had spread throughout the ranks of the Fire Caste. There was initially no appearance of this long-awaited latest prototype, but that changed during the expansion's first big showdown with the Imperium of Mankind on the Imperial world of Agrellan. The human armies had amassed and dug in to protect their Hive World; a situation that would normally call for the Tau to concentrate their forces on other, less fortified worlds. However, as the gateway planet to the whole of the coveted Dovar System, Agrellan was a keystone no invader could afford to bypass -- its orbit blocked the best route through the largely impassable Damocles Gulf, and so it had to be taken.

The Imperial defensive positions surrounding each hive city were formidable -- heavy walls topped at regular intervals with ferro-concrete bunkers overlooked the open wastelands. These killing fields were strewn with impenetrable tank traps and gravity-mines. Should the Tau force their way through these perimeters, or simply airdrop within the fortified rings, they would find themselves within the claustrophobic and twisting streets of the great hive city itself. There, specially prepared blockades and defensive citadels awaited the unwary, with infantry and armour garrisoned within to launch counterattacks. It was a planet entirely given over to defending itself -- its whole population geared either for war, or for war production.

To crack this formidable planet and open up the more vulnerable systems beyond, Commander Shadowsun herself planned and launched the assault. Twenty Hunter Cadres would simultaneously strike key hive nodes, and at the vanguard of each strode the cutting edge of Earth Caste weapons technology, and the pinnacle of their Battlesuit development -- the XV104 Riptide. At long last, the largest Tau Battlesuit prototype yet created by the Earth Caste was unleashed. The ground assaults began, perfectly coinciding with entire shoals of Sun Shark bombers streaking overhead and numerous distracting attacks launched by forward-positioned Stealthsuit and Pathfinder Teams. As massed Hammerheads and skyborne Mantas rained fire on the enemy line, the XV104 Riptides at the fore came under attack. Enemy shells exploded harmlessly off their armour as each Riptide brought its arsenal to bear upon the defenders.

Heavy Burst Cannons, the Riptide's standard main armament, raked the walls, stitching patterns of death that cut Imperial Guardsmen in two. Missiles, from the Riptide's secondary weapon systems and from its accompanying Shielded Missile Drones, blazed outwards, leaving contrails as they streaked into the enemy's ranks. To the rear, those Riptides outfitted with the Ion Accelerator showed off the range and hitting power of their prototype weapons -- destroying battle tanks and blowing chunks out of the reinforced bunkers. Amidst the rain of incoming ordnance and the blossoming of explosions, the distinctive thrumming sound of the Riptides overcharging their Nova Reactors could be heard. The very air crackled with electrical pulses due to the sheer energy generated by these indomitable power-packs. The massed guns of the Imperial Guard quickly targeted the giant Battlesuits, but to little avail. Near the gates of the prime hive, a battery of incoming Deathstrike Missiles momentarily lit the battlefield as they crashed into Tau lines. For a long moment it seemed as if both sides paused; only an XV104 Riptide, protected by its Nova Shield, emerged from the flaming crater, black scorch marks marring its armour, all it had to show for its brush with destruction.

Upon reaching the walls, the Riptides either engaged their Jetpacks to hurdle the impediment, or stepped through the breaches made by repeated blasts from their Ion Accelerators. With Fire Warriors advancing at their feet, the streets of every hive on Agrellan soon ran red with blood. Their defence and spirit broken, Guardsmen fled their posts in a complete rout. Only the lenient surrender terms offered by the Water Caste saved an all-out massacre. Before the sun set, except for a few desperate pockets that would soon be wiped out, the planet belonged to the Tau, who would rename the planet Mu'gulath Bay. Later, it would serve as the foundation of a new Tau Sept. So began the auspicious debut of the highly anticipated XV104 Riptide.

The start of the heavy Battlesuit development initiative can be traced back to the massive Ork invasion of Vior'la. The Fire Caste had long issued requests for a heavier class of Battlesuit; one more capable of standing up to the increasingly powerful enemy weaponry they were facing. Although crudely designed and built, the Tau could not help but be impressed with the amount of firepower that the primitive Ork Stompas and mountainous Gargants could produce. During the battles in the Damocles Gulf, the Fire Caste faced the fully deployed might of the Imperium of Mankind, pitting their own weaponry against super-heavy tanks and Imperial Titans for the first time. For a race used to holding technical superiority, the sheer power of these aliens was eye-opening.

The Tau way of war stresses mobility over mass attacks and hit-and-run tactics over entrenched positions. A wise Tau Commander is not daunted by foes that outnumber his own troops many times over, nor is he dismayed by the sheer size of the crude war machines their foes might deploy. Coordinated tactics, tight discipline and a well enacted battle plan can overcome such minor advantages. However, even Commander Puretide, the ultimate master of the balanced attack, freely admitted that the creation of a heavier class of Battlesuits, with upgraded size and armour, would better enable Hunter Cadres to withstand the prodigious firepower that was regularly directed at them. Yet despite such worthy requests, all Earth Caste attempts resulted in failure. Earlier prototypes were ponderous machines, not fit to enact the tactics of the Code of Fire, or they subjected their wearer (or the planet on which he stood) to risks beyond measure. What finally made the XV104 possible was the development of the Nova Reactor, an experimental power-pack that fuses dark matter, producing energy on scales closer to that of small stars than conventional engines.

Such devices have been used to empower the mighty fleets of the Air Caste, but until recently, could not be reduced to a suitable size. Although still in the prototype stage, the Nova Reactor has proven largely stable, despite some problems in safely releasing the vast energies it produces. The Riptide's higher functions can draw upon this almost unlimited source of power, but not without some risk. While attempting to utilise its Riptide Shield Generator, boost its Jetpack or charge any of its weapons, the XV104 Riptide can suffer dangerous power vents capable of wounding or even killing its pilot. That a pilot willingly risks using the Riptide’s Nova Reactor -- even through the radiation may kill him -- highlights his heroic self-sacrifice and the nobility of the Greater Good.

Tactical Role

An XV104 Riptide Battlesuit armed with an Ion Accelerator and twin-linked Fusion Blasters

A wonder of Earth Caste engineering, the XV104 stands well over twice as tall as the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, though its movements are more like those of its smaller cousins than the mechanical stiffness displayed by Imperial walkers with their crude servo-motors. While the Riptide is huge and bears a number of weapon and support systems, it is still a Tau Battlesuit -- worn and controlled by a lone warrior. As with all Tau Fire Caste warriors, the Fire Caste doctrine laid down in the Code of Fire instructs all warriors to fight closely together, with each member of a team doing his utmost to protect not just his comrades, but also nearby teams in his Cadre. With this training, Tau units can use overlapping fields of fire to provide all teams with mutual support on the battlefield in the case of enemy assaults.

The XV104 Riptide Battlesuit’s greatest strengths, much like the smaller XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, lies in mobility and ranged firepower -- it is designed to fulfil the same roles and deal with the same types of missions as its smaller cousin. XV104s are extremely versatile in that they can be equipped with a selection of weapons and combat support systems to best suit their intended role or upcoming missions. This allows the Battlesuit to effectively engage almost any type of enemy it encounters, whether they be heavy or light, infantry or vehicle; the XV104 is capable of tackling any enemy units that other Tau infantry and Battlesuit teams cannot handle. The XV104 is also capable of operating in almost any tactical environment, including extreme low-light conditions where their advanced sensor arrays can be combined with a Blacksun Filter to allow for the accurate identification and targeting of enemies.

XV104 Riptide Battlesuits will often be found in combat where the fighting is thickest and will take the brunt of any enemy attack so that the rest of a Tau Hunter Cadre can advance or retreat. XV104s are usually deployed from  theTau transport aircraft called Mantas, where their Jetpacks allow them to descend from high altitudes safely. Their Jetpacks also allow them to quickly plug gaps in Tau lines and provide covering fire for their colleagues whilst shielding their allies with their armoured bulk. In essence, XV104 pilots use their Battlesuits to serve those who fight beside them. XV104 Riptide Battlesuits are potent forces to be reckoned with, and are commonly used as part of a powerful reserve held by a Tau Commander, to counter-attack against advancing foes or to deliver the final hammer blow to break the opposition once and for all.

However, despite the XV104 Riptide’s obvious power, production of the new Battlesuit has proven slow -- the materials for its dense nano-crystalline alloy armour, called Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon, are difficult to obtain and the sheer volume required ensures that the XV104 is a rare commodity in the Fire Caste. The honour of wearing such a mighty Battlesuit is only given to those who have nobly served their Commanders as Crisis Battlesuit Bodyguards, and these Fire Warriros are always of the honoured veteran rank of Shas’vre. XV104 Riptide pilots are chosen to don the greatest of Tau Battlesuits and fight for their Cadre mates; they are exemplar "sword saints" amongst their peers.

Notable Formations

  • Riptide Wing – The XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is the apex of Tau Battlesuit technology. The prototype has proven to be so successful that the Earth Caste cannot manufacture them quickly enough to meet demand. Although normally deployed singly at a Hunter Cadre level, it was Commander Shadowsun that first ordered the formation of a Riptide Wing -- a formidable trio of XV104s working in conjunction. This tightly knit formation benefits from the ability to network together the Riptides, harmonising their reactor frequencies when in close proximity with each other to greatly reduce the chance of dangerous radiation emissions, as well as allowing the Riptide pilots to carefully coordinate their attacks and targeting systems to achieve maximum effectiveness.
  • Rapid Insertion Force - It is not the Tau way of war to fight protracted, static battles. Aggressive use of mobility and firepower are key to the success of Fire Warriors. A large part of this success is dependent upon the activities of a cadre's Stealthsuit Teams -- their role is to find the enemy, create diversions and launch surprise attacks, while acting as a rear guard should things go poorly. A Rapid Insertion Force is a specialised formation that strikes suddenly against key enemy units or establishes a perimeter to hold ground until other Fire Caste units arrive, delivering the Mont’ka, or the killing blow, to the foe. In this force, a single Stealth Team leads the way for a more heavily armed force of several Crisis Battlesuit teams (usually three to five). The entire force trains together before a battle, so that they can deliver a swift and effective attack that stuns the enemy, allowing further Tau forces to move forward unmolested. A Rapid Insertion Force will often await deployment in a sub-orbital Manta, whilst the Stealthsuit Team moves in and infiltrates the battlefield, selecting critical targets before triggering their homing beacon. Once the Stealthsuits are in position, the Battlesuits of the Rapid Insertion Force airdrop from altitude and use their Jetpacks to zone in on the Stealthsuit team’s coordinates. Marker Lights will stream around them from the streaking Tau air fleet above, lighting up targets even as the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits descend from the skies -- their impressive arsenal of weapons already blazing away in unison at the greatest threat. Once on the ground, the whole formation then works together with the element of surprise to pin the enemy down and secure the area. Occasionally, an XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is assigned to a Rapid Insertion Force, adding its own tremendous firepower to the sudden Battlesuit onslaught.


Tau Battlesuit Size Comparison, from left to right: Fire Warrior in Combat Armour, XV25 Stealthsuit, XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit, XV88 Broadside Battlesuit, XV104 Riptide Battlesuit, and XV02 Pilot Battlesuit

XV104 Riptide Battlesuits strike a perfect balance between offensive capability, armoured protection, manoeuvrability, and utility. They are towering in size; easily many times the size of the Fire Warrior who wears it. To many Tau, they are the epitome of Earth Caste engineering, ingenuity and technology. XV104s go into battle heavily armed with potent weapon systems and combat support systems that allow them to fight more effectively. However, no matter the Battlesuit configuration or weapons load-out, all XV104 Riptide Battlesuits share some common features. These include the advanced sensors built into the primary sensor cluster that serves as the Battlesuit’s "head." These sensors, which consist of a number of variable spectrum passive sensors and active scanners, allow the Battlesuit to detect hidden enemy units and their movement; this tactical data can then be transmitted back to Tau command units. All XV104 Riptide Battlesuits are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system that enhances and magnifies a warrior's low-light vision whilst simultaneously filtering bright flares of light that could blind him in battle, and a Multi-Tracker; a sophisticated fire control system that is mounted in a sensor node that assists Battlesuit pilots in engaging enemy threats by using multiple armaments at once, making them formidable opponents in a wide variety of battle conditions.

As with all Tau Battlesuits, XV104s are protected by a very thick, dense nano-crystalline alloy armour named Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon. This advanced alloy has an impact and energy resistant structure that is also sealed against assaults by toxins and corrosives, making it extremely resilient in the face of combat damage. Even the armour’s shape helps deflect solid projectiles, while a reflective liquid metal coating is effective at reflecting medium-grade laser fire. Due to the Riptide’s large size and significant potential as a target, additional nano-layers were also added during its development to upgrade the armour's thickness. When it comes to deflecting and withstanding damage, the XV104's armour is comparable to the Tactical Dreadnought Armour used by the Imperium's Terminator Space Marines. The material is also lightweight, which keeps the Battlesuit’s own weight down and reinforces its ground-based manoeuvrability. This reduced weight allows the XV104 to operate effectively using the Tau Jetpack that juts out of its shoulderblades, to provide enhanced mobility.

By firing off the jets to slow a descent, an XV104 Crisis Battlesuit can even drop into combat zones from transport aircraft like the Manta. The Jetpack, which is another common feature of most Tau Battlesuits, combines anti-gravitic and repulsor aero-jet technology to make the Battlesuit extremely agile for its size. Its powerful thrusters allow an XV104 to vault battlefield obstacles and to make bounding leaps to gain advantageous firing positions, or to avoid incoming shots. All XV104 Riptide Battlesuits also greatly augment the natural physical strength of its pilot, and grant the warrior within the Battlesuit the ability to crush even heavily armoured vehicles in close combat, if necessary. XV104 Battlesuits also feature retractable fingers built into their forearms for use in more delicate -- and often non-combat -- tasks. The Riptide is outfitted with a sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) system, complete with advanced combat systems and numerous comm-links to keep the pilot patched in to its Cadre's Tau Commander.

All XV104 Riptide Battlesuits feature a single arm-mounted primary weapon system, a sleek Riptide Shield Generator on its other arm, and a secondary weapon system. All Tau Battlesuit weapon systems are fully integrated and supplied by continuous, high yield power relays and ammunition hoppers. XV104 Riptide Battlesuits are also designed with advanced recoil absorption technology, meaning that they can fire their weapons at maximum capacity and with maximum accuracy, even when on the move. XV104 Riptide Battlesuits can also be equipped with up to two different Tau Battlesuit Support systems, which are listed below. The XV104 primary weapon can be either of the following:

  • Heavy Burst Cannon – A Heavy Burst Cannon makes use of Burst Weapon technology that finds use across the Tau military, though it is more often found mounted on Tau Battlesuits and vehicles. Utilising a similar plasma induction technology as that found in Tau Pulse Weapons, Heavy Burst Cannons are immense, 6-barrelled weapons that are far larger than a normal Burst Cannon. They are able to sustain devastatingly higher rates of fire than their smaller cousins with more power per shot, and can be nova-charged to further increase the rate of fire and give the weapon a variable armour penetration effect.
  • Ion Accelerator – Ion Accelerators fire high-energy streams of charged particles that react destructively with their target, vaporising flesh and metal with equal ease. As with all Tau Ion Weapons, Ion Accelerators can be overcharged to generate a more devastating blast that affects a wide area, by allowing its Mor’tonium power source to be exposed to the air.  However, doing so makes the weapon run the risk of overheating its primary power cells. An Ion Accelerator can also be nova-charged by the Riptide’s Nova Reactor to produce an even more devastatingly wide blast that can destroy virtually anything but the most heavily armoured of vehicles and bunkers.

All XV104 Riptide Battlesuits have one of the following secondary weapon systems, which can be mounted either underneath a Heavy Burst Cannon, on top of the Battlesuit’s shoulder blades, or on the sides of the Battlesuit’s forearms:

  • Twin-linked Smart Missile Systems – Smart Missile Systems are weapon systems that fire off barrages of guided missiles at any target within sensor range, including those targets in cover or hidden out of sight. They are most effective when used against stubborn enemy infantry hunkered down in cover.
  • Twin-linked Fusion Blasters – Fusion Blasters are anti-tank Melta Weapons that can reduce the reinforced armour of heavily armoured vehicles and bunkers to molten slag in a blink of an eye.
  • Twin-linked Plasma RiflesPlasma Weapons technology is used by many xenos races. Despite its highly unstable nature, the Tau favour a form of plasma technology in their Plasma Rifles that forgoes stopping power for an increased level of safety for the operator. Plasma Rifles are weapons best employed against heavily armoured infantry and light vehicles.

Riptide Shield Generators are part of the standard armament of all XV104 Riptides, and are specifically designed to protect such large constructs. Within a Riptide's ablative armour is housed a small energy field projector capable of generating cohesive gravitic energy fields around the Battlesuit that can deflect weapons fire and melee blows that would otherwise severely damage the Battlesuit, whether they be shots from heavy ordnance or anti-tank weapons fire. The shield’s potency can be further boosted by diverting power from the XV104’s Nova Reactor.

The experimental Dark Matter Nova Reactor prototype itself is an essential component of the XV104 Riptide's design. Once the XV104 pilot deems it necessary, the reactor can be activated to supply near limitless amounts of energy. The resulting energies unleashed can be harnessed to either nova-charge the Riptide's primary weapon system so it becomes truly devastating, boost the Riptide's Jetpack so that it can propel itself over large distances with immense thrust power, ripple fire its secondary weapon systems at a rate of fire roughly double what would otherwise be possible, or nova-charge the Riptide Shield Generator to make it an all but impenetrable energy field that deflects virtually all incoming fire. When viewed from the front, an XV104 Riptide’s Nova Reactor can be seen as the larger box on the left side of the torso, whilst the standard and more reliable fusion reactor normally used by the Battlesuit is on the right.

Due to the experimental nature of the XV104 Riptide Battlesuit, it is often supported by a pair of prototype Shielded Missile Drones, which are a new Tau Drone configuration equipped with a Missile Pod and Shield Generator. These Drones will often provide additional heavy fire support, and use their cohesive energy fields to absorb incoming shots, allowing the Riptide to acquire and destroy enemy targets with less fear of enemy fire.

Available XV104 Battlesuit Combat Support Systems

Below is a list of the most common available combat support systems that an XV104 Riptide Battlesuit can be equipped with:

  • Advanced Targeting System – An Advanced Targeting System is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the Battlesuit pilot to automatically identify and pick out priority targets in the midst of combat.
  • Counterfire Defence System – A Counterfire Defence System is a valuable AI sensor suite first designed to counter the threat of charging Ork hordes. It incorporates logic circuits to ensure that assaulting enemies are met with a withering curtain of unerringly accurate Battlesuit firepower.
  • Drone Controller - A Drone Controller acts as a hub for communications and interface between an operator and the AI battle programs of a number of Tau Drones. It gives the owner the ability to relay additional targeting data to the Drones, thus directing their fire more accurately towards the target.
  • Early Warning Override – An Early Warning Override sensor suite is calibrated to detect the electronic signatures of teleport beams and orbital-entry jump systems, and jolt the Battlesuit's weapon systems to lock-on status before the target has a chance to react.
  • Positional Relay - A Positional Relay digitally records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight encrypted radio burst to Tau assets in orbit and squads held in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the incoming units to make a better decision on where to deploy onto the battlefield and coordinate their actions as part of the overall strategy.
  • Stimulant Injector - A Battlesuit with Stimulant Injectors is fitted with advanced life support systems that are able to flood the Battlesuit pilot's body with painkillers, analgesic drugs, and other life-sustaining stimulants should he become badly wounded in combat.
  • Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the user to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
  • Targetting Array - The Targetting Array is a relatively new application of the Target Lock technology used in vehicles. It provides assistance to aiming at targets.
  • Velocity Tracker – The advanced motion detecting and heat seeking sensor systems built into a Velocity Tracker allows Battlesuit pilots to track the movements of airborne targets, and effectively engage them with the Battlesuit’s weapons.

Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications

The Ordo Xenos has not determined the technical specifications of this new addition to the Tau Battlesuit armoury at this time.


  • Apocalypse (6th Edition), pp. 181-182
  • Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 44-45, 65-66, 68-71, 95, 100
  • White Dwarf 400 (AUS), "Battlesuits – The Riptide Unleashed", pg. 86