The release of the new T’au Empire codex has heralded one significant change that T’au players are no doubt talking a lot about by now: sub-faction rules. Just as there are unique rules for Space Marine chapters, Tyranid Hive Fleets and even Adeptus Mechanicus Forge Worlds, there are now rules for T’au Septs– specifically for T’au Prime, Vior’la, Sa’cea, Dal’yth, Bork’an and (even though they’re not a sept) the Farsight Enclaves. For a lot of T’au players, this is great news…if you happen to play any of those septs that is.
Though the septs that GW used in its new book are most of the “original” sept worlds from the First Sphere Expansion, there are still dozens of others– by my count, there are some 37 T’au sept worlds, colonies, and other named planets listed on Lexicanum. True, it is impossible for rules to be made for all of those planets (especially since a large chunk of them don’t even have any background attached), but it does raise a valid question: what is a T’au player to do if his/her army, fluffwise, is from one of those worlds not covered by GW’s list?
The answer, obviously, is aside from making house rules (which is generally difficult to get other people to agree to unless you know them personally), you will need to pick one of the rules for the “official” septs to count as your own. Hence the purpose of this (hopefully) helpful little guide, wherein I will be going over the T’au septs and colony worlds not covered by the new codex, and making suggestions on which septs to use to represent them, along with thematic units that you can use and, if you want to go down that route, possible house rules you can use to further represent your unique sept.
Please note: I am not a T’au player, and my knowledge of the lore can hardly be perfect. This article is just a list of suggestions, not recommendations, to help you decide on how to best represent your own T’au sept. At the end of the day, it’s your army, and ultimately it is your decision to choose whichever sept rules you want, for whichever reasons.
Other T’au Septs:
Au’taal– a beautiful, verdant resort planet where T’au elder heroes live in retirement under heavily armed guard. That’s right, it’s an army that hails from a what is essentially a planet-wide veteran’s hall or retirement home.
Recommended Sept: T’au- Given that the Fire Warriors on Au’taal serve a primary protective role, it makes sense that their fighting style would match that of T’au Prime, with a heavy emphasis on overwatch.
Recommended Units: Not a unit per se, but any character with the Puretide Engram Neurochip would make hilarious sense in an Au’taal army. I can just imagine Puretide’s AI persona commiserating with the retirees about the “good old days” and about how the current generation is getting everything all wrong, while the Au’taal Fire Warriors maintain the same cheerful persona you see in retirement home workers everywhere.
D’yanoi– a sept world that was isolated for the longest time, D’yanoi’s people have a long history of surviving on their own, whether it be in fending off their planet’s dangerous wildlife, or in defeating repeated Ork invasions. Despite this hardiness, the D’yanoi are nonetheless seen as backwards and rustic by their fellow T’au. Interestingly, their closest neighbouring system is the home of the Vespid.
Recommended Sept: Dal’yth, Sa’cea or T’au– Dal’yth could be an interesting stand-in for D’yanoi, as their boosts to cover can be used to represent the D’yanoi’s survival instincts and ability to use natural terrain and cover to their advantage. The fact that the Dal’yth warlord trait gives the For the Greater Good ability to Vespid and Kroot can also be used to represent the D’yanoi’s close proximity to Vespid.
Alternatively, the D’yanoi are described as having fended off the native beasts of their homeworld with a cadre of “disciplined” Fire Warriors. In that respect, Sa’cea or T’au could work well to represent a tough, disciplined army that is used to fighting and surviving on their own with minimal support.
Recommended Units: Given the description of D’yanoi as a formerly isolated world, I imagine that they would have an experienced corps of Pathfinders on hand. And, again, their close proximity to Vespid means that it would make sense for them to have some of these bug friends around as well.
Elys’eir– a sept known for its “poetry, artistry and creativeness,” which regularly produces battlesuits for the Fire Caste and house the main production facilities for the Riptide.
Recommended Sept: Bork’an– Bork’an is for all intents and purposes an Earth Caste development world which, like Elys’eir, is innovative in their creation of new technology, and mass produces weapons and arms for the Empire . Thematically, Bork’an’s rules seem like a natural fit for this sept world.
Alternative House Rule: The Elys’eir appear to specialize in battlesuit production, so one rule you could adopt is one similar to that of the Iyandan Eldar and Valhallan Guard, where large suits like Riptides or Ghostkeels count their remaining wounds as double for the purpose of determining if their characteristics are reduced– although this essentially becomes a permanent, army-wide version of the Stimulant Injector stratagem. Alternatively, you could adopt a rule giving all Elys’eir Battlesuits the ability to ignore wounds on a 6+ to represent their superior construction.
Recommended Units: As the sept world that primarily produces them, Elys’eir army obviously should have at least one Riptide. Really, though, any Battlesuits of any kind would be right at home in an Elys’eir list.
Fal’shia–A world closely aligned with the Earth Caste, the T’au of Fal’shia are known for their artisans and problem-solvers, and their Fire Warriors quite often are given prototype weapons and armour to field-test (despite occasional malfunctions).
Recommended Sept: Bork’an or Sa’cea- Bork’an is, like Elys’eir, a natural fit to represent Fal’shia. Like Fal’shia, Bork’an is known for its close alignment with the Earth Caste and its fine quality weapons, so the Bork’an rules would do well to represent an army arrayed with sophisticated or even experimental weapons. Alternatively, though, if you want to emphasize the fact that the Fal’shians are craftsmen as opposed to engineers, you could give them the Sa’cea rules, as the reroll each unit gets can be used to represent “masterworked weapons” in the same way that the Salamanders’ (very similar) Chapter trait does.
Alternative House Rule: Instead of using Sa’cea, you could
shamelessly steal borrow the Salamanders’ chapter tactic in it’s entirety, allowing one failed to hit roll and to wound roll each turn for each squad.
Recommended Units: While not a unit per se, a Fal’shia army should, ideally, have as many esoteric weapons as possible, whether it be unique weapons for its characters or fancy upgrades for its vehicles and basic squads.
Fi’rios -The site of many early victories during the Third Phase of Expansion, and a legitimate T’au success story, having grown over time from a small colony to a major fortress world. The T’au of Fi’rios are known for their tenacity and their stubborn refusal to admit defeat, and a willingness to sacrifice their lives for the Greater Good.
Recommended Sept: Sa’cea- Sa’cea seems to be a perfect fit for Fi’rios, as the army-wide +1 LD and the buff against morale losses given by their Warlord trait seem to adequately represent the Fi’riosans’ refusal to give ground.
K’si’m’yen –A former human world with a sizeable population of Gue’vesa, K’si’m’yen is a world that was conquered by stealth and by guile, and its T’au are often associated with ” luck, subtlety, and oppourtunistic subterfuge.” This author can also personally attest that its name is an aggravating one to type.
Recommended Sept: Dal’yth or Sa’cea- Dal’yth is by far the “sneakiest” of the T’au sept rules, given its army-wide cover bonuses, so it seems like a natural fit for Ksi…K’sim….Ksisi….aargh. Alternatively, Sa’cea and its rerolls can be used to represent the Sept world’s emphasis on luck.
Recommended Units: Stealth suits, Ghostkeels and Pathfinders are all units that emphasize K’si’m’yen’s reputation for subtlety and sneakiness. Due to the planet’s large human population, you could also try to represent Gue’vesa in some fashion. One way could just be to use them as regular Fire Warriors, and do a bits swap between Fire Warriors and Guardsmen to model them.
Alternative House Rules: The Gue’vesa, and how to model and use them, have been a subject of long discussion within the T’au player community. Though they at one point had rules in Chapter Approved back in the 2000s and, much later, in Imperial Armour Volume Three, both rule sets are horribly outdated and no longer legal. If you go searching for house rules on them, you may find several versions and attempts, ranging from single squads or even entire army lists for them. A simple yet effective house rule may be to allow you to take Astra Militarum Infantry squads as Troops, and/or Veteran squads as Elites, provided you do not have more of them than you have Fire Warriors. Alternatively, just take an Astra Militarum detachment in your list.
Some existing Gue’vesa house rules, either for you to try, or to get ideas from:
Kel’shan– it sucks to live on Kel’shan. This sept world has had the misfortune of being subject to numerous alien raids and attacks throughout it’s history, including a major Tyranid invasion that was immediately followed by an Imperial one. Because of this, the Kel’shan are openly suspicious of (if not outright hostile to) all aliens. The background of the Y’vahra Battlesuit also states that being under “near constant attack by alien forces has bred a stubborn pragmatism and siege mentality” among Kel’shan’s people.
Recommended Sept: Sa’cea, Vior’la, T’au, Farsight Enclaves, Bor’kan– Kel’shan is a sept defined by adversity, being in a state of almost constant war against would-be invaders. Based on this, I figure that any of the more “militant” septs (Ie T’au, Vior’la, Sac’ea, the Farsight Enclaves) could be used to represent them, especially since it stands to reason that, after suffering so many attacks, they would have a fairly large and battle-ready Fire Caste force. Given the number of battlesuits invented at Kel’shan, an argument could be made that Bor’kan could represent the world as well.
Recommended units: Interestingly, Ke’lshan is a hotbed of technological innovation because it is in such constant danger. The Y’vahra, R’varna and Tau’nar suits all had their birthplaces on Kel’shan, and all three of these Forge World suits would be right at home in a Kel’shan list. The same goes, obviously, for Kel’shan’s sole special character, the famed Commander R’alai.
N’dras – a fairly isolated Sept, the world was, for unknown reasons, voluntarily abandoned by its inhabitants. This may be partly due to something wrong with the world itself, as the local Earth Caste report strange readings emanating from the planet. A small outpost of the Earth Caste remain on the planet, alongside a garrison of Fire Warriors, and this small population of N’dras are regarded as being “untrustworthy and are generally of quick temper and of brooding countenance.” Interestingly, the local Earth Caste’s role may have something to do with battlesuit development and/or stealth technology, as it was on an outpost near N’dras that the Ghostkeel was first tested. Indeed, the first Ghostkeel suits were named “the Ghosts of N’dras.”
Recommended Sept: Vior’la, Farsight Enclaves, Dal’yth- There is, unfortunately, not much to go on about N’dras save for its mysterious nature, the Earth Caste work there and the quick-tempered nature of its people. Based on this quick temper alone, though, one of the more aggressive septs like Vior’la or the Farsight Enclaves might work for an N’dras army. Alternatively, given the history of N’dras Ghostkeels doing covert operations, and given that the sept paint scheme appears to be black armour and blue camouflage, Dal’yth could be used for this secretive sept as well.
Alternative House Rules: You could give army-wide stealth fields to all infantry (but not battlesuits) at something like +5 or +10 points per model, or alternatively a rule similar to Alaitoc where enemies firing at long range suffer -1 to hit them.
Recommended Units: Given the above information about the “Ghosts of N’dras,” Ghostkeels and Stealth suits seem liked a natural fit for an N’dras force.
Tash’var– Tash’var is a frontier world that, like Kel’shan, has been subjected to numerous alien raids and attacks, and has repelled each one. Because of this, the people of Tash’var have gained a reputation for “courage, practicality and hardiness.”
Recommended Sept: Sa’cea– Just as with Fi’rious, the Sa’cea rules (and the +1 LD buff they provide) can be used to represent the people of Tash’var’s famed courage and tenacity.
Recommended Units: The article on Tash’var mentions that they have some of the finest Breacher teams and Razorshark pilots in the whole of the T’au Empire. As such, including either such unit would be nice and thematic for a Tash’var army.
T’olku– Not much is known about this Sept, save that it is “home to many large Ethereal temples.”
Recommended Sept: T’au or Sa’cea– If, indeed, the above description means that T’olku is an Ethereal-heavy world, then the Fire Warriors of a world like T’olku would most likely be there to guard the resident Ethereals, and would take such a duty with solemn seriousness. As such, they can be represented by the T’au rules (to represent their defensive nature), or the Sa’cea rules represent their high morale, their disicipline and their unwillingness to retreat while the Ethereals are in danger.
Recommended Units: Obviously, at least one Ethereal would be needed in an army from T’olku.
Vash’ya –This world is closely aligned with the Air Caste, with a large number of pilots and starship crews coming from Vash’ya. It also seems to serve as a major dockyard for the Kor’vattra.
Recommended Sept: Vior’la or Farsight Enclaves- Given how their world is closely aligned with the Air Caste, I would imagine that the T’au of Vash’ya rely a lot on airborne deployment and rapid movement. As such, I think that the advance-and-shoot abilities of the Vior’la would be thematic for them, as would the close-ranged abilities of the Farsight Enclaves– in particular, I see the Enclaves warlord trait as being particularly thematic for air-deployed battlesuits.
Recommended Units: Aircraft, obviously– Razorsharks, Sunsharks, and/or possibly even Forge World units. Things like Manta deployed Battlesuits and Devilfish-mounted Fire Warriors would also be thematic. Essentially, as I see it, a Vash’ya army would have as few models actually walking as possible. There is mention in the current codex also of Vash’ya repelling a Hrud invasion with Drones and remote-controlled Battlesuits as well. Finally, given that the planet seems to be a base for the Kor’vattra, I can see Breacher teams being a thematic choice, given that the Fire Caste of Vash’ya would no doubt be trained in boarding actions and ship to ship combat.
Nem’yar Atoll- The newest addition to the T’au Empire, the Nem’yar Atoll is a fortified region of space settled by the Fourth Sphere Expansion, which sits on a strategic position around the wormhole known as the Startide Nexus. Although the Nem’yar Atoll consists of three Sept worlds, given that their military or culture are barely described, I will be treating the Nem’yar Atoll as a single Sept for the purpose of this entry. Aside from its location near a wormhole, the Nem’yar Atoll is noteworthy for mining dark matter (because apparently you can mine black holes?), having a planet that is worryingly disc-shaped, and currently being under major attack by the Death Guard.
Recommended Sept: Vior’la, Sa’cea, T’au, Farsight Enclaves- What is known about the military of the Nem’yar Atoll is that they are almost under constant assault by aliens, raiders, etc. More worrisome is the back story behind the Fourth Sphere Expanion– of how they were effectively lost in the warp, and of how they escaped with the aid of a “nightmarish entity,” which could be anything from a Daemon Prince to even one of the Chaos Gods. What’s worse is that the T’au of the Fourth Sphere Expansion have a dark reputation for committing atrocities, massacring their own auxiliaries, and having a xenophobic streak a mile wide. I personally think that, like with Kel’shan, any of the more “militant” septs can represent the Fourth Sphere’s brutal nature, but realistically any of the sept rules would do, I think.
Recommended Units: Any T’au units would work well for a Nem’yar Atoll army, but it is worth noting that the world of Kor’tal’s dark matter mining operations are essential for the creation of Nova reactors, so a Riptide would be right at home in such an army. Also, because of the Fourth Sphere Expansion’s unpleasant history with non-T’au, there would have to be a thematic exlusion of Kroot or Vespid.
Alternate House Rules: The Nem’yar Atoll and its inhabitants are a recent addition to the background, and I am sure it will be a subject of much storyline treatment and discussion to come. In particular, there is already some discussion as to whether the survivors of the Fourth Sphere Expansion are, in fact, Chaos T’au. How you choose to interpret this is up to you, but this certainly does potentially open the doors to house-ruling T’au with psychic powers or daemonic allies.
Bonus: Multi-Sept Force– Some T’au players have, for a while now, been fielding their T’au armies as being drawn from a variety of septs instead of just one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and, indeed, the T’au fluff for the longest time has done nothing to discourage that. Now, however, the current T’au codex is more or less expecting T’au players to choose a single sept under whose banner, colours and rules their force will operate.
Recommended Sept: ANY– Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s your choice of which rules you want to use for your army, and for whichever reason. Maybe you will choose a particular sept rule because it fits with your army’s battlefield role in fluff (ie, Dal’yth for a reconnaissance force, T’au for a garrison, Farsight Enclaves for an orbital insertion force, etc). Maybe you will simply choose the sept rule that you find the most competetive. Maybe you will try multiple detachments from multiple septs to represent the multilateral nature of your force. At the end of the day, there really are no limits to what you can choose to do.