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Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica
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Old 24 Jun 2006, 08:24   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

[size=15pt]Crisis Command - Tau's 1+ HQ[/size]

The last few weeks the boards have been flooded with Commander questions, and I felt that an in depth article might help those who aren't sure about their HQ suit. I know this won't stop the threads, but at least we can direct people somewhere.

[size=13pt]Commanders - Shas'O or 'El[/size]

At first glance you an 'O will get you one more, WS, BS, wound, attack, and leadership for 25p. Both suits have access to Special Issue systems, can be accompanied by bodyguards, and of course have XV8 suits.

Initially one might think that the Shas'O is a steal for the overall improved stats. In fact, compared to other armies HQ 'upgrades' he is (Marines spend 15 points on a wound and leadership 10), but in a Tau army many of the stats are unimportant. With a Targetting Array, the all important BS 5 is already reached and Ld 9 is still pretty good. The WS, Attack, and even wounds should not be that important if you use your commander carefully.

First off WS and Attacks are important if an only if you think there will be a chance your commander will be caught up in close combat. Wounds can make the difference in victory points (a small one I guess) but if your commander is open enough to even be targetted then a lascannon is probably already being aimed at him.

Honestly the extra CC stats are only very important if you plan on using your Commander as a Ninja'O by equipping him with Vectored Thrusters. The stats are allowing him an increased chance of being able to survive close combat, and eventually disengage still intact. (This type of Command unit will be covered later.)

If you don't plan to use your commander in the above Ninja configuration than an 'El is a better choice because you potentially save 15 points for stats you don't need (albeit sacrificing a hardpoint).

[size=13pt]It's Not The Size Of The Gun...It's How You Use It[/size]

There are definitely a great amount of options weapon wise for your HQ suits. The topic of which weapons to choose is a common one. I'll quickly go over the weapons and the functions that they should serve, and their place on a Commander.

Airbursting Fragmentation Projector - Honestly this has no place on a Commander. This is a pie plate sized, strength 4 barrage weapon. It can work with command suits that independently try to engage large groups of infantry but typically it is a waste of a Commanders superior BS.

Burst Cannon - Used against anything with toughness that doesn't require a 4+ wound dice roll. With enough shots even MEQs will fail the save. With a commanders superior BS then hits are generally guaranteed, and wounds are hard to get if a good target is chosen. Many feel that these weapons should be reserved to Stealth suits, but a Crisis with good BS can really make the most of the multiple shots. It is frequently use in conjunction with a Cyclic Ion Blaster because of the combined high rate of fire. (From here on BC)

Cyclic Ion Blaster - On a command suits there is a great number of guaranteed hits which is good because the strength is terrible. Against lightly armoured, and low toughness opponents it works wonderfully, but it also holds its own against MEQs. With it's high rate of fire, it can generally get two wounds which can or can't be AP 1. It is in many ways just as effective against MEQs as a burst cannon, but has the added chance to bypass their armor. (From here on CIB)

Flamer - This is another weapon with no place on a commander. It auto hits and wastes the BS 4(5) and leaves the suit open to a terrible assault. It isn't even strong enough to get a few assured causalities which might make the CC survivable. Most players realize this weapon is completely wasting a hardpoint on a command suit (unless they just want a cheap HQ)

Fusion Blaster - It only has one shot but with BS 5 it's probably going to hit. With strength 8 it's probably going to wound, with AP 1 it's probably going to pierce save invulnerables (get it? ), and with melta it's got a great chance of penetrating. It does however warrent that the HQ moves with 12" and in the opponents turn he/she will easily be able to move and rapid fire and with luck will be able to target it. (From Here on FB)

Missile Pod - Great mid strength weapon with good range. Allows a Commander to bounce around in a static army supporting units and engage incoming units. With the great BS it will normally hit it's target, and can be done without bringing the suit too close to the enemy. (From here on MP)

Plasma Rifle - Everyones favorite weapon, the plasma rifle has great MEQ killing ability and can rapid fire. The high BS will normally get two hits and with strength 6 will generally wound. It is also flexible range wise, as there is a better chance of the single shot connecting so the rapid fire ability isn't a must. A commander can constantly bounce 24" away from an opponent and constantly pick off high armored units. (From here on PR)


OK so everyone probably has a good idea of the support systems but I'll quickly go over the important ones which relate to weapon effectiveness/operation/usage/etc.

Advanced Stabilisation System- Simply a poor choice. A command suit would never need it. (By the way, the Forge World suits do not have the option to take it so I'm guessing this list doesn't override the one in IA3. If it does, the markerlight and SMS suits could use the A.S.S.)

Blacksun Filter - Cheap way to get around Nightfight, best if hard-wired. (From here on BF)

Multi-tracker - Most Commanders will use this to some effect. Allows two weapons to be fired, which is awesome with the good BS a commander offers. Used in a large number of the popular configurations, normally Hard-wired. (From here on MT)

Target Lock - Allows the suit to fire at a different target then the unit it is in or joined. Again normally Hardwired. (From here on TL)

Targeting Array - Upgrades the 'Els BS to 5. Basically useless on an 'O. Very useful as it guarantees a high number of hits. Normally a great choice for an 'El, it's price can be a bit of a bother, but it is generally points efficient. (From here on TA)

(Hardwired systems will from here on be HW plus the system. Example Hard-wired Multi-tracker: HWMT)


All of these options can be combined to create all the many suits that excel in specific roles or are flexable and able to adapt to targets. Some popular weapon and support set ups include:

Helios - PR, FB, HWMT, (TA on an 'El) one open slot on an 'O

Dakka - CIB, BC, HWMT, (TA on an 'El) one open slot on an 'O

'Better' Dakka - CIB, PR, HWMT, (TA on an 'El) one open slot on an 'O

Fireknife - PR, MP, HWMT, (TA on an 'El) one open slot on an 'O

Actual Command - MP, Command & Control Node (and/or Positional Array)

Tank - TWFB (or really any two weapons and HWMT if needed), Vectored Retro-Thrusters, HW Drone Controller with 2 Shield Drones, Iridium Armour, Stimulant Injectors

Of course these are just a few choices, and options like HWTLs and HWBFs can be Incorporated. Also I placed a TA on every 'El suit but this is by no means a required option. Many players would rather leave that open for cool gizmos.

[size=13pt]Commander Gizmos That Use Hardpoints[/size]

The following five systems are great ways to give a commander some non-offensive capabilities. They have the potential to help the commander or the rest of the army, and can be easily be incorporated into the above (popular) configurations.

Shield Generator - Gives the suit a 4+ invulnerable. Simple as that. It's pricey and takes up a hardpoint. Many feel that IC status might be a better survival tool.

Command & Control Node - Great for a suit with mid-long ranged weapons and a static fireline. Failed priority checks hurt and this can help allow units with lacking mobility target enemy tanks, fast units, and transports.

Positional Array - Great for precision (turn wise) deep striking. Also allows a staggered arrival of units, without leaving much to chance. Great for armies with a high number of deep-striking units. A bit of a waste of points with only one unit.

Vectored retro-thrusters - Allows for a commander to Hit & Run. Best if used with an 'O because of the increased CC stats, and the better chance for survival. Is used by many with an aggressive suit, which charges an enemy unit, removes itself as a target, slows a squad, and stops their fire. Then after the opponents assault phase the suit disengages so the Tau army can fire at them. A suit with this system is frequently referred to as a Ninja.

Drone Controller - I felt this item should be mention for the shear fact that the shield drone has become so much better. Adding drones to a single command suit is generally a poor idea unless you know it's going to see a high amount of incoming fire, especially if it's operating close to enemy lines. Two drones and Iridium Armour assure that your suit will at least last a turn or two.


Tau have a relatively small number of wargear selections when compared to other armies. Most of the wargear isn't all that important and most units can operate at peak efficiency without them (not including HW systems, which essentially do count as wargear). However, some choices are pretty cool and widely used. (I'm not going to cover the Ejection System, Failsafe Detonator, and Drones)

Bonding Knife - Now that this is wargear rather than a squad upgrade a single member must have the knife. There isn't much use for it on a single commander (unless drones are being used and even then its a bit silly), but I can work very well with a support style command suit. If a static squad below 50% is beginning to flee then the commander can join them and allow them to regroup. This works for Fire Warriors, Broadsides, and other static squads that are generally held back and at danger to fall off the table edge or simply continue fleeing. (Correct me if this is not the case. I believe that because the commander has it any unit he joins benefits form the knife, even though they aren't a "bonded team".)

Iridium Armour
- Grants a 2+ save but removes some maneuverability. If the commander is intended to be a 'Tank Suit' (Stims, with two shield drones) then it doesn't matter that much. He should be able to survive a bunch of fire and even enemy assault. Because Vectored Retro-Thrusters are not effected by the Armour, one can still have a rock hard Ninja suit that is ridiculously hard to hurt in CC.

Stimulant Injector - Grants Feel No Pain. It is great against small arms fire lucky enough to have passed the armor (and even pierced it) but against strength 8 shots and power weapons it is useless. Again in conjunction with Iridium Armour a commander can be very tough. The Stimulant Injectors can also be useful on Ninja suits ensuring that a wound will be harder to get in CC (as long as there are no power fists/weapons).


OK so all of the big equipment has been pretty much laid out. This equipment dictates how a Commander should be used (or rather not should, but would be most efficiently used).

[size=13pt]'Doctrines of Command'[/size]

Crisis Suit commanders can be used in several different ways.

Aggressive - Suits with short ranged weapons that generally always stay within 12"-18" away from an enemy unit. Any further away they become dramatically less efficient. Ninja suits are typically aggressive as are Tank suits. IC status is sometimes easily negated by the opponent and a suit must protect itself with cover, or if none available, it's wargear. PR and FB mounted suits are generally always aggressive so they can make the most of the 12" FB shot and the rapid firing PR.

Flexible/Mid Range Fire Support Suit - This suit is generally always 18"-24" away from the enemy. It still has enough range to escape rapid fire, and in many cases cannot be targeted due to IC. They are able to quickly move to support units as they generally positioned in the center of an advancing flank or mobile army. In a static army they are still useful pouring shots into approaching squads while slowly backing into a firing line. Sometimes used as a lure. A good example is a Fireknife or Dakka suit.

Support Command - Generally equipped with missile pods and a Command & Control Node, these suits are rarely targeted but are still a threat. They, in many ways, provide an anchor for a static army. They target transports, help targeting rolls for nearby squads and increase Ld for troops in danger of breaking. Can be equipped with a Bonding Knife to regroup 'fleeing & lost' squads.


I hope this overview is at least helpful for someone, especially new players. In every other race the commander is hero of the army, and I see no reason why Tau suits cannot be heros. They're just heros with a crazy amount of weapons, and don't like CC.

P.S. - Incase anyone was wondering my commander is a:

Shas'O - CIB, BC, Positional Relay, HWMT
soon to be
Shas'O - CIB, BC, Vectored Retro-Thrusters, Stimulant Injectors, HWMT

edit: If there are a bunch of grammatical errors PM me and I'll fix it...I wrote this way to late
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Old 24 Jun 2006, 08:54   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

I have to disagree on bring an El over an O. If you bring an El with a targetting array, then you're at 60pts. So you're essentially paying 15 points for a hard-point, which is a steal in many people's cases. There are too many cases when you are going to want the hard-point. If you find yourself in a situation where you already have enuogh hard-points, then a downgrade to an El with targetting array would be a good idea, but I think a Shas'o is going to be the better choice 90% of the time.
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Old 24 Jun 2006, 09:33   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

With a single Shas'El or Shas'O, I'm not sure the burst cannon should ever be on there... seems a waste of points when you could just buy one more stealth suit or 3 more warriors. the Ionknife makes mincemeat of ALL infantry and even has a slim chance against vehicles with the plasma.

Its the best MEQ you'll get in our army at 12", the best MEQ you'll get at 18". Unfortunately, it pretty much ends there, but that's 18 and 24" with JSJ!

As for the El vs. O:
Shas'El with targetting array is a pure gunner suit. you don't want this guy in melee except in emergencies (ie; THEY got to HIM). You save only 15 points but I feel this also makes people a bit more careful: we don't have big nasty CC squads that can jump in and help: even kroot aren't exactly spectacular. The Shas'O on the other hand would be an EXCELLENT melee unit.... if he could equip power-weapons.

Nevertheless, between the jetpack, vectored thrusters, and other wargear, he'll be a little slow on the initiative, but able to pump some real damage with his loadout just before rushing in: Most other commanders can use power-weapons or even better, but none, to my knowledge, can fire off a barrage like ours just before charging in.

If your enemies tend to get a hold of your commander, the VRT Shas'O may be for you. If you only use one commander, especially: might as well let him be a little more powerful, with better leadership and melee skills.

If this tends not to happen and your commanders usually die from an earthshaker round or scattered battlecannon like mine tend to, you'll probably be happier with a Shas'El... that 15 difference can go a long way into fine-tuning a few other units when you're grasping for points, and 4 wounds mean nothing to an artillery round (I'll admit that a shield generator, however, just might!)
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Old 24 Jun 2006, 15:02   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

I think the choice between El and O is this. Do you want cheap, effective firepower? Then take the El. Do you want a leader to make the rest of the army better or do fancy tricks? Then take the O.

That being said I love the 97pt "wondersuit" Shas'El (Plasma, Missile, TA, HWMT)
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Old 24 Jun 2006, 17:59   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

that Shas'El fireknife IS extremely nice, especially as a 2nd commander suit. give it the BSF if you want a flat 100 pointer, or have 3 points to spare somewhere

If you have the points and models, one plasma/CIB El or O, and that 'wondersuit' as you called it. You can't get much more versatile than that
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Old 25 Jun 2006, 08:09   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

Originally Posted by Fish Ead
I think the choice between El and O is this. Do you want cheap, effective firepower? Then take the El. Do you want a leader to make the rest of the army better or do fancy tricks? Then take the O.

That being said I love the 97pt "wondersuit" Shas'El (Plasma, Missile, TA, HWMT)
I use the same. Works great for me. Cheap effective firepower is exactly what you get.
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Old 25 Jun 2006, 10:37   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

I am of the quantity vs quality.

More is better, so I go cheap, 'el with TA upgrade and what ever weapons I feel like using that day.

I play my Tau as a Shooty mobile army. Shoot move and shoot some more, so I don't pay for any extras, so that leaves plenty more points for more troop and other suits.

I play a lot of 1000 point games, so points are tight, which means I don't have 200 points to throw on one HQ, so cheap and effective is good for me. 200 points, heck I can get two HQs for that price.

So the more dice I roll, the better the chances for me. My favorite it Shas'el with Fireknife or Fireknife with TA.


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Old 25 Jun 2006, 15:18   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

You should also take into account the Forge World suits. I have the book and the XV-84 is VERY nice for your "Support Command" type of command suit. A BS 5 markerlight is VERY nasty.

Also, the shield generator is almost a must on all my command suits because I don't like the idea of losing my suit to a lucky scattering of a Earthshaker cannon shell that happens to splatter my Commander.
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Old 25 Jun 2006, 21:54   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

Your commander should be in cover so such a thing doesn't happen :P
Originally Posted by King Winter
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Old 25 Jun 2006, 22:11   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lending a Hand to Bland Commanders - HQ Crisis Tactica

Originally Posted by Alcibiates
Your commander should be in cover so such a thing doesn't happen :P
remember, a 5+ save isnt always that good...
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