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Yaifrog 21 Jul 2007 01:18

Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander

Please note that this is not a tactica on Crisis Suits, but on the actual Commander and how to best kit him out.

Now, as you know, the Crisis Suit Commander is mandatory for all Tau armies and a pain in the neck for static players who only want an Ethereal. Still, this is no reason for you to just toss him to one side and focus on the rest of your list. Properly fitted, he/she can actually be a great asset to any army, be it by being a speed bump for fast assaulters, sitting back and helping your line with target priority or charging straight into the fray. In this tactica I will explore how to suit your commander to your army.

First, I’m going to take you through the equipment that your commander can take, then I’ll explain how you can combine that equipment to suit your style and finally I’ll tell you how about the effect your commander’s model can make on your opponent.

Weapons ;

Missile Pod - This beauty is basically the best all-round weapon. It has good range, good strength, decent AP, two shots and is fairly cheap. It’s excellent against light/heavy infantry, light vehicles and can even do some damage to heavier vehicles. I like to call it the Crisis suit sniper, as it has the longest range.

Plasma Rifle - This is an extremely powerful weapon against all infantry and light vehicles. It tears through armour, has great strength and a decent range. All of this, along with the ability to rapid fire, makes this an extremely devastating weapon at short and mid-range alike.

Burst Cannon - I’m not a big fan of burst cannons on any Crisis suits. You’ve got masses of pulse fire all along the board, so why wouldn’t you want to kit out your big guy with some heavier weapons? You should only go for them if you’re looking for pure dakka, otherwise you’d be better off with Stealth Suits.

Fusion Blaster - The only real crisis suit anti-tank weapon. If you need more anti-tank in your army, then you should definitely go for this weapon. Otherwise, just leave it at home.

Flamer - There are only a few situations where a flamer would come in handy, and I wouldn’t willingly put my commander in any of them. Steer clear of this weapon (unless you like Ninja’O’s).

Cyclic Ion Blaster - Personally, this is my favourite Crisis weapon. It has the ability to deal with any type of infantry, be they Guard or Terminators! The high number of shots with the AP1 rule make this the perfect weapon for any infantry-related situation.

Airbursting Fragmentation Projector - Again, this weapon can hit a devastating number of hostiles. Unfortunately, it lacks the CIB’s armour penetrating powers, but it does ignore those nasty cover saves. The only problem is the guess range. Sure, it can shoot over terrain, but if you miss you’ve just wasted a turn of shooting.

Support Systems ;

Blacksun Filter (Hard-Wired Available) - Let’s you see further in a night fight. I’d only take this if you’ve got a missile pod.

Command and Control Node - A leadership-enhancing device… for target priority tests only. Woop-de-doo. You should only use this if you play static.

Drones: Gun drones are pointless (hooray, two extra pulse shots in exchange for IC), shield drones are only good for drawing fire and marker drones need to be stationary.

Multi-Tracker (Hard-Wired available) - This is a must for any commander with two or three weapons. Without it you can only fire one per turn. Still, you should probably take it hard-wired so as not to waste a hard point.

Positional Relay - This is only useful if you have Deep-Strikers or Reserves in reserve, and they need to come in immediately. Still, it prevents any other unit from arriving and there’s a chance it’ll fail. It’s not the best system, but if you’ve got Deep-Striking Sunforges it’ll come in handy.

Shield Generator - An invulnerable save. Who wouldn’t want that? It can save your expensive assault commander from those nasty insta-kill meltaguns and missile pods, and you don’t have to sacrifice IC status with shield drones. Beauty.

Target Lock (Hard-Wired Available) - Unless you’re commander is going to join a unit or have bodyguards (both big no-nos in my books), then I’d suggest keeping away from this little guy.

Targeting Array - Increased BS. For ‘el’s, this thing is fantastic, but you lose a hard point. For ‘o’s, it’s absolutely useless.

Vectored Retro Thrusters - This thing takes up a hard point and is only useful if you get charged, which, in most cases, isn’t going to happen anyway. It’s only useful on a Ninja’O, which I’ll get to later.

Wargear ;

Bonding Knife - You can only have a squad of three. If you’re under half-strength, you’re down to your commander, and he’s an independent character now! Useless for HQs.

Ejection System - If your commander ejects and there’s no one around him, he’s toast. You can only save his Victory Points if he’s behind your lines, and he can’t get shot at when he’s behind your lines due to IC! Leave this thing behind.

Failsafe Detonator - As far as I can tell, this thing can only be used if your commander is part of a team (I.e. has bodyguards) and even then you would want to put it on one of the bodyguards.

Iridium Armour - Well, if you think you’re going to be shot at a lot, then this might be worth considering. Otherwise, the reduced movement makes it worthless. I would rather not be shot at at all than be shot at with a small chance of it killing me. Still, the extra armour save could help against those nasty missile launchers…

Stimulant Injector - This is a must for all commanders. For only that many points you can ignore half the wounds you take! It is a great investment into keeping your commander’s Victory Points.

Suit Configurations:

By now you most likely will have heard about the different weapon configurations an XV8 can take. Still, I’m just going to run through them.

Fireknife - Plasma rifle, missile pod, multi-tracker.
Deathrain - Twin-linked missile pod.
Helios - Plasma rifle, fusion blaster.
Burning Eye - Twin-linked plasma rifle.
Sunforge - Twin-linked fusion blaster.
Firesurge - Missile pod, fusion blaster.
Firestorm - Missile pod, burst cannon.
Bladestorm - Plasma rifle, burst cannon.
Stormsurge - Burst cannon, fusion blaster.

The Four Types of Commander

Well, really, there are five, but I hate ‘el Cheapo Commanders so much I’m not even going to talk about them. I’m going to focus on the commanders that can actually do something…

Note: Of course, the ‘How to kit out…’ sections are just rough guidelines of the stereotypical types of commander, and are in no way rules. You can equip your commander with whatever you want.

The Assault Commander - This is my favourite type of commander. He’s the guy who can* charge up under the protection of IC status or cover, unleash a hail of bullets and jump back to safety. He can even take quite a few hits if he gets into trouble and can hold his own in assault. He’s a one-man army, the shock troop with the big guns, able to tackle a specific threat or stand his ground against any enemy. He’s the man in the thick of things who would gladly give his life to save his men, acting as a speed bump and buying them some time to get away. The assault commander is the ultimate Fire Warrior and front-line soldier and embodies the Shas Caste like no other unit.

The assault commander only really works with mech or hybrid armies, and basically runs up into the enemy lines with the rest of your army to help them. He is supposed to be able to take down hordes of enemies or tackle heavy vehicles. The Jump-Shoot-Jump ability and his IC status will eventually make him such a pain in your opponent’s D'yi that they’ll forget about attacking your other units and go solely for the commander, who can hopefully get away with superior mobility, allowing his troops to regroup and form another offensive.

How to kit an Assault commander out :

‘el or ‘o? - I find that Shas’o’s work better in the assault role. The higher stats can really make a difference and you can use the Targeting Array’s hard point for a shield generator. Still, if you prefer ‘el’s you can do whatever you want.

Weapons - Anything. The assault commander can be fitted with any configuration you want.

Support Systems - Shield generator. You’re going to want this guy to survive, and he doesn’t have much of a chance against low AP weapons without this thing.* Also, you need a multi-tracker if you want to fire both weapons.

Wargear - Stimulant injector, iridium armour. Things like these really help your boss stay alive, and as I’ve mentioned before, you want that.

Also, you might want to consider giving him some shield drones. With them he loses his IC status, so he can draw fire.

Overview: Charge, shoot, kill, shoot, kill, annoy, distract, run, watch the fireworks as your other units out-maneuver them.

The Sniper Commander - Or ‘Deathrain’. Basically, the sniper commander is a commander with a twin-linked missile pod (occasionally with a plasma rifle), kitted out to tackle enemies at a long range. The idea behind the sniper is that he doesn’t risk himself by charging into the fray like the assault commander, and that he can tackle a fair few enemies without even risking being shot at. Because of this, you don’t need to spend that many points on survival wargear.

How to kit a Sniper commander out :

‘el or ‘o? - It’s really your choice. I do prefer ‘o’s on most occasions, but if you’ve got a twin-linked missile pod then it’s probably best to save points with an ‘el. He’s not likely to need the extra wound and will never get into combat, so why waste points?

Weapons - Missile pod, plasma rifle. Long range. Still, you might want to give them a closer-range weapon in case the enemy get too close.

Support Systems - Blacksun filter, multi-tracker if you have a secondary weapon.

Wargear - Marker drones. If you’re struggling to fit marker lights into anywhere else in your list, you might want to try giving them to your commander. Sure, they have to stay still to fire, but this commander’s in no hurry.

Overview: Stay back and shoot.

The Support Commander - The support commander can only really be useful in static lists. He sits behind your lines, giving orders to your men, calling in reinforcements and basically doing everything except fighting.
A support commander is any commander with either a positional relay, a command and control node, or both.

How to kit a Support commander out :

‘el or ‘o? - Again, it’s your choice. Still, if you’ve got a C&C Node it’s probably best to go with an ‘o for the leadership boost.

Weapons - Missile pod. It’s the only thing that’s going to be in range for most of the game, so you might as well take it.

Support Systems - Positional relay and C&C node. Without at least one, it’s not a support commander.

Wargear - Marker drones. If you’re struggling to fit marker lights into anywhere else in your list, you might want to try giving them to your commander. Sure, they have to stay still to fire, but this commander’s in no hurry.

Overview: Sit back and order your troops around.

The Ninja Commander - A ninja commander is any commander with Vectored Retro Thrusters. He’s normally used as a speed bump, assaulting units and holding them off for a couple of turns, then using the thrusters to run away.

How to kit a Ninja commander out :

‘el or ‘o? - ‘o. No question.

Weapons - Anything (most notably the fusion blaster). This guy’s quite similar to the assault commander, so any weapon system works on him. Still, I’ve made special mention of the fusion blaster as it allows him to tie up infantry units while still being able to pop tanks.

Support Sytems - Vectored Retro Thrusters, obviously.

Wargear - Shield drones, iridium armour, stimulant injector. Basically things to help him stay alive.

Overview: Charge, assault, tie up a unit, run away, repeat.


I won’t spend much time talking about bodyguards. They basically turn your commander into an upgraded XV8 team, and that’s not what this tactica’s about.

Modeling - Your commander’s look can actually really psychologically effect your opponent. For instance, if you model your commander so he looks like he’s in charge, or you put him on a high base to make him seem important, your opponent will believe that he really is important and will try to attack them. This is good for assault and ninja commanders, while it wouldn’t work so well for sniper and support commanders. The point of the latter is to not spend too many points on survival wargear, as they just sit back and do their own thing. For them, it’s probably best to not overdo the model. You want them to lay low and not draw much attention to themselves, thus stay alive longer and protect your VPs.

Summing up :

* Try to suit your commander to your army and play style.
* Choose your equipment carefully and always think about how your Commander can help your other units.
* Use the right tactics with the right commander. For instance, don’t use a sniper at close ranges. Take advantage of the long range and run away if the enemy gets too close.
* Think about the effect your commander’s model will have on the battlefield.

Well, there you have it. I hope this tactica has been helpful.

Nice tactica, +1 ~Lonely~

EOAdonis 21 Jul 2007 02:32

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Wow, I just gotta say it, wow. That was a great tactica on the commander and it pretty much hit all the points you'd be looking for. I'm gonna have to keep this stuff in mind from now on.

Thanks Yaifrog. :)

Yaifrog 21 Jul 2007 07:42

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Thanks, I'm just glad I could help :)

PS. Thanks to LT for the karma :D

DRobot 21 Jul 2007 12:11

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
WOOOOOOOOOOW :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o Ive Read many tactical essays, but none of them as clear and useful as this one :D :D :D :D :D Really thanks, if i was a moderator i would definitely award your karma with 10+ ;D ;D ;D Thanks a lot!!!! :) :D ;D

ForbiddenKnowledge 21 Jul 2007 12:57

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Wow. Thats extremely well written.

I love the section on 4 types of commander - a fantastic look at common commanders, great for new players.

Very well deserved karma.

captain_octavain 21 Jul 2007 15:48

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Thank you :D
I finally know what a ninja'O is :)

Adam Baker 21 Jul 2007 16:03

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Very good tactica!

Nanostorm 21 Jul 2007 17:02

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
This was a very informative and helpful read for me, as I am pretty new to both 40K and the Tau. Thanks for taking the time and effort Yaifrog!


daniel.wilson 21 Jul 2007 18:54

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander
Good advice.

I'm thinking that the positional relay is best used on something like an Elite Deathrain. The commander's hardpoints can often be better utilized.

The shield generator is something I tend to avoid, as it's expensive and IC status generally provides better protection. I have toyed with something like the Assault Commander, equipping a commander with shields, stim, irridium, and shield drones as a "bullet magnet". Against marine bolters, it should take approximately 72 bolter shots per wound to fully kill, but can possibly die from three missiles. Biggest drawback is that most wounds aren't caused by bolters.

I love commanders. I generally play with a support commander (Firestorm and C&C) and a ninja commander (Helios).

I truely lament the lameness of the C&C. That's a lot of points for just a target priority test boost. I'm thinking of adding the stealthsuit commander to my game as a better support commander. I wish she had some weapons options (twin plasma!)

Similarly, the fact that the vectored retro thrusters take up a hardpoint, preventing my commander from lugging a shield generator, and are limited to one to the army, preventing a truely potent assault force from being created, is also lame. If only one could have it all!

T0nkaTruckDriver 22 Jul 2007 03:40

Re: Tactica - How to make the most of your Commander

Originally Posted by daniel.wilson
I'm thinking of adding the stealthsuit commander to my game as a better support commander. I wish she had some weapons options (twin plasma!)

Even as she is, Commander Shadowsun is an amazing deal. I rarely leave home without her these days. She's just that good.

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