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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Tau Ethereals: Worth it?

Ethereal.... or Jedi? Image is from another of my way too many projects.

Anyway, here in Finland tournaments quite frequently give composition limitations, normally in the form of no duplicate HQs and no three of the same elites, fast attack or heavy support choices. For Tau this means you can only take one hq, because the Ethereal is crap right.... Well these composition limitations have got me thinking.

Forgeting that the Ethereal takes a hq slot, since comps wouldnt let me take that second shas'el anyway, what does the ethereal bring to your army. The answer is leadership.

One of the main problems I've had with my Tau army is my battlesuits running off the board as soon as that shield drone does what it's supposed to do, eats a lascannon. Let's take a look at it from a theory hammer point of view.

The probability of failing a ld 8 check is 0,2777778. If you were to re-roll that check the probability of failing it a second time would be 0,0771605, I'm just trying to seem smart with all these digits, a significant decrease in probability. Is that decrease worth 50 points...

Now then, how do you use this ethereal, he has no armour and is clearly a wannabee fighter, who can't even do that without being first cut down by marines. Well when you are deploying your army, you take a look at your deployment zone and the ruin or other terrain piece that gives you the best field of fire, that is where you were going to deploy the broadsides, right.

Now you deploy those broadsides, but on that very highest peak, that small piece of floor at the top of the ruin, that no model will clearly fit on, that's where you put your ethereal. He's part of the broadside unit, so he has a bunch of 2+ save bodyguards, and he is radiating his reroll to ld-checks all across the battlefield. This way you aren't risking the easy kill point or running the danger of half your army running off the board when your ethereal is killed by an imperial guard sergeant.

The broadsides and ethereal also work in a very good synergy, both want to hang back and stay in cover, both want a good field of fire, and the broadsides aren't jetpack infantry so the ethereal isn't slowing them down. They also support each other, the broadsides give the ethereal ld, and the ethereal makes the broadsides fearless.

So, is the ethereal worth 50 points. Everybody will probably have his or her own opinion on that, but imo 50 points is in no way too much for the extra reliability it gives my battlesuits. That one failed ld might just be fatal, taking into account they will be falling back 3d6.

Over to you.


  1. Meh, I still don't see the ethereal being worth it. In fact, putting him in with Broadsides is probably a bigger risk with wound allocation than placing him with Firewarriors would be due to squad sizes and as soon as he gets popped you have a really scary morale test.

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  3. Good point. I'm not sure if it's such a big issue, if you have 3 broadsides and 2 shield drones, but you aren't safe anywhere from a squadron of eldar warwalkers with scatter lasers :D.

    I do see your point in placing him in a fire warrior squad, but that would have to be a bigger sized squad to give the ethereal enough cover, adn tbh I wouldn't play fire warriors in any other way, than a 6-man squad in a devilfish. I don't think inspiring presence works out of a transport, so that means he has to be on foot. Kroots are a possibilty, you just need to switch him out of the unit as soon as the enemy is within charge range of the squad. You don't wanna get stuck in combat and die.

    The price of failure is truly big, and against shooty armies you will have trouble, but I wouldn't throw away the ethereal model just yet. He needs a little more play-testing.

    Thx for the comment!


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