The Fire Caste is the most aggressive, hardiest and toughest Tau that the Empire can muster. Yet even the best physical statue in the Empire is weak compared to the might of a Space Marine, Ork or Tyranid. Whereas the aliens may rely on their physique, the Fire Caste must rely on technology to eliminate the enemy. Each Fire Warrior is issued pulse rifle as standard, and in certain instances where close quarter fighting and agility are necessary, a pared down pulse carbine is employed. Both weapons have sufficient stopping power to knock an Ork from his boots at 20 paces, yet lack the armor penetrating to inflict any real damage to power armored targets and armored fighting vehicles. The Ethereals have little interest in integrating specialist weapons into Fire Team and have thus set the Fio’la to work on improving pulse technology.
Ok, fluff over. Let’s talk gaming. These days, if you’re still playing Tau Empire armies, it’s likely that you playing with the minimum required Fire Warriors. The entry in your list probably looks like this. 6 Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles, mounted in a Devilfish with Disruption Pod and my guess is this group doesn’t see much of the action. I’m rolling with 16 Fire Warriors, on foot, but I think that is rare and would generally be scoffed at by most players.
Fire Warriors are fragile, their expensive transports are not effective fighting vehicles, and to top that off, their pulse rifles are only effective against foot troops. In short, the unit is easy to kill, and lacks any kind of duality (ability to threaten both vehicles and infantry). Oh, and the current rules for EMP grenades do not count.
Unfortunately, Tau fluff has made improvements difficult. Without integrated special weapons, Fire Warriors are limited to pulse weapons. So GW has a challenge ahead of them; improving Fire Warriors without altering the fluff. The Tau rumors online have been silent on Fire Warriors. We’ve seen snippets about Kroot, where they are given Stealth and Infiltrate and new a plastic kit; Kroot Beasts. But nothing on Fire Warriors. So I want to hear what you expect and what you would like to see.
How do Fire Warriors will change in the next codex? How would you design them?
Of course, this challenge must have it parameters. So let’s start with the basic assumptions:
Assumption 1: The Fire Warrior stat-line will remain the same. BS3, 4+ save. That’s not what I like but what I expect.
Assumption 2: The sprue will not change. I have no substantiated information to confirm this, but given recent trends, I am not expecting the basic Fire Warrior sprue to be re-done. It already looks great, provides the option of rifles vs. carbines and I see no reason for the manufacturer to spend the money to change it. This means you cannot give drones or Fire Warriors special weapons.
In my view you'd have to start with looking at pulse weapons. You'd need to make them something more than S5, Ap5 weapons. I'm thinking rending would be appropriate, or even borrowing poison rules from fantasy (all to-hit rolls of 6, automatically cause a wound, armor saves allowed).
Now tell me how you would design them to take on both vehicles and infantry.
Would you make them cheaper? Would you give them any USRs? What about their pulse weapons? Post a comment and let me know.