We’ve gone a little long the last couple weeks, so this time I’ll keep things short and sweet: I’m a filthy, dirty bandwagon-jumper and I’m starting a T’au army because the codex is coming out.

Alright, job done, column over. Fabio can I have my check now




I’ve hit that stage every wargamer hits, where I’m starting to look at a second army. I love my Tyranids—outracing Stormraven gunships on foot will always be a blast—but I need to stretch my wings and find something that plays very differently from my beloved apocalypse of soulless galactic space locusts.

So I figured I’d talk through that process with you guys, and maybe help out people who are picking out their own new armies.

First things first: you have to decide what’s important to you in an army. Cool models, different playstyle—find what motivates you. Then break down the factions that fit that criteria and go from there.

Here’s what’s important to me:

  • Not Imperial
  • Big decision trees
  • Codex present or incoming
  • As well, this time in particular I’m looking for a strong ranged army.

I’ll break it all down in a moment, but we should talk about what’s not there: competitiveness.

Don’t try and beat your local meta with an army choice. A Warhammer army is a much bigger labour of love than a Magic deck, and you can’t move money into or out of armies as easily. If you spend hundreds of dollars and long, long hours building a meta-buster, not only do you risk your investment being invalidated by a FAQ change or a new beta rule, you’re depriving yourself of the joy of making something you love.

I should know—I still play Magic. There’s like 60% of my soul and at least one limb from my first-born child invested in cardboard. And I enjoy it. But the big difference is, if I decide I’m not happy with a deck—or if I have key cards banned and my list’s strategy invalidated, which has happened—I can walk into Hidden City and turn it into store credit right away. And if I use it to buy singles for a new deck, I can start playing it immediately. I don’t have to prime and paint the cards.

So trust me. It’s important to pick something you’ll like playing for the sake of it, not because you think it’ll beat Nick Nanavati’s LVO list in a vacuum. I would hate to have my passion for a whole Warhammer army completely go away just because Games Workshop posted a FAQ.

Now let’s break down those criteria.





You ever like a band, but hate their fans? That’s me with the Imperium.

Specifically, I think the immortal, omnipotent Corpse-Emperor on a Golden Throne is a brilliant concept for the leader of a faction. One of the best things about 40K. But his fanboys—both inside the game and out—turn me off completely.

No, I don’t want to play one of 300 different flavours of religious zealot. No, I don’t want to field the same stuff as 50%+ of the game’s players. No, I don’t want to refer to everything as “Xenos scum” and “Purge the Heretics!” No, I don’t want to have discussions on which Primarch would be the best roommate.

Seriously, the stuff is so pervasive that there’s Imperial propaganda at the bottom of every page of the Core Rulebook. The game’s CORE rulebook. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

It’s fine if you like playing Spehssmreens, but it’s not for me. #xenos4life, for life.





Sid Meier designed the Civilization games, and he has this quote that I love: “A game is a series of interesting choices”.

I always try and evaluate the games I play—or in the case of sufficiently deep games like Warhammer, the strategies I use—by the amount of choices I get to make and how interesting they are. If I’m making a bunch of choices that each branch off of other decisions, all of which are important, that makes a “decision tree”. How much I like a given game or strategy depends on how complex and interesting its decision tree is.

For example—one time, I played against an Imperial Guard player. He fielded five tanks and some light infantry screens, and hugged his deployment zone like it was a childhood security blanket. His strategy was to rain down torrents of gunfire and table me before I could establish board presence. Fair play—this is what the Guard are built for, and they’re extremely good at it.

But that decision tree is very small. The only choices he actually made involved playing odds in Mathhammer. He barely moved his models—which closed off huge branches of decisions involving positioning, objectives, and board control.

In that same game, I fielded my usual Swarmlord + Trygon Prime + Genestealers combo, a couple of Hive Tyrants, and a bunch of Hormagaunts. I had tons of decisions to make—where to take cover and how, which tanks to tarpit in melee with Hormas and which to send my Swarmlord at, can I take out Pask with my Genestealers, how much do I leave in the backfield for objectives and which ones do I get, should I Fall Back here and charge the Leman Russ over there (thank you Hive Fleet Kraken!), on and on and on. Plenty of positioning and objective choices, on top of the targeting choices my opponent was making. A nice, complex decision tree.

So if I’m going to pick a second army, clearly I can’t pick one that just sits in one spot and rolls dice all day. I need one with a big decision tree. I need to find a ranged Xenos army that lets me play a positioning game.





This is pretty straightforward, I think, although it comes close to betraying the principle I laid out above of not picking your army for competitiveness.

As of this writing, there is a clear and evident separation in the game between armies that have received a codex and ones that have not. Codex armies have point costs, sub-faction abilities, relics, stratagems, and pskyer powers that are in line with Games Workshop’s vision for 8th Edition. Index armies do not. They’ll get there—it’s just the unfortunate logistical reality of having to crank out 3,200+ pages of rules with only a small team in Nottingham.

Now that we’re somewhere around the halfway point of those codices coming out, I’m going to be picky. I’ll wait to buy into armies until I know their codex is arriving, so I can play 8th Edition the way Games Workshop envisions. I have seen the struggles of players (Fabio) with index armies (also Fabio). I have heard their lamentations echo from the rafters at Hidden City and PVP, and I have no interest in adding my voice to the choir.

In short, I believe there is a grey area between “picking your army for competitiveness” and “picking an army just because the models are cool”, and that grey area is where I’m going to sit.

Am I a selfish, needy millenial for not putting up with an Index army, even though I just told you competitiveness doesn’t matter? Yes. Yes I am. And if you have any more industries you’d like me to kill, I’m taking commissions.





So, to recap: I’m looking for a Xenos army with a strong ranged-attack presence and good positioning that lets me make tons of decisions throughout the game, and preferably has a codex coming out or out already.

Ynarri are decent at range, and they have by far the biggest decision tree in the game with Soul Burst, even in its nerfed state. And they have a codex out. (Kind of.) So that’s a strong choice. But… elves. I have almost as much of a distaste for playing elf-analogues as I do for playing Imperial factions. They’re out.

Genestealer Cults have a wonderful positioning game with Ambush, great artillery choices with those hated Leman Russ tanks, and they synergize quite well with my Tyranids. But the lack of a codex, present or announced, puts them out of the running.

T’au are the definitive ranged-artillery Xenos. Seeing the Fly keyword on goddamn near everything has me drooling, and the possibility of Jump-Shoot-Jump coming back is just as exciting. And they have a codex coming out in a few weeks. And their models are sweet.

So T’au it is. I have a couple of Ghostkeel battlesuits and Piranhas already, I’m picking out my colour scheme (don’t worry, no iPod T’au or Tron T’au), and I’ve got a few more models on the way.

See you on the other side of the Fifth Sphere Expansion, gue’la!

Producer Josh can be found behind the scenes of the Dusty Auspex Podcast, Thursdays at 7 PM CT on Twitch and FB. VOX BLAST is his weekly column about 40K and anything else nerdy.