Tau Ethereal

May 22, 2009 ·

Tau Ethereal -worth taking? Probably not. But a Tau Ethereal is a fantastic finish for any Tau army. Normally I willl never field a Tau Ethereal in a game of Warhammer 40K, unless I'm playing a fun game or have a whacky new idea (more on this in a moment). But when I saw the 1st limited edition Tau Ethereal on eBay at Buy It Now for a tenner, I had to snap it up, then suffer the 5 pounds postage charge (owch), so he cost me 15 overall.

I'm amazed Games Workshop never put this Tau Ethereal on general release. He's a fantastic figure that's very static, but beautifully and quite plainly sculpted, making him a sheer pleasure to paint.

As you can see, I did a little something different with my typical Tau scheme for this chap, swapping the abundance of military green for darker, warmer colours. He is a Tau spiritual leader after all, not the Tau army commander.

Tau Ethereal Tactics

Do Tau Ethereal tactics really exist? Well, no not really. a Tau Ethereal is in fact a massive liability, especially when your jet pack troops fall back 3D6" and are quite likely to flee straight off the board should he be killed and your Elite units fail their Leadership Test, which is horrifically common.

While he may make all units which can draw line of sight to him Fearless, he's simply far too easy to kill and makes for an especially invitiing target, even if you hide him in a unit of Tau Broadsides. Chances are that someone is going to score a hit on him and if you're daft enough to believe he will tip the balance for you in close combat with his Weapon Skill of 4 and 3 Attacks, you're sorely mistaken.

Get Angry!
The best use I've found for an Ethereal is in an army with lots of Tau Battlesuits. Tau Battlesuits are the strongest Tau close combat units in your army, especially a Shas'O joined by some bodyguard.

Obviously, I played this for a laugh, because it's not competitive by any stretch of the imagination. In a 4-way game I took as many Tau Battlesuits as possible and put the Ethereal out in front. I also proxied Shadowsun to pass her Leadership of 10 to all nearby units.

The Tau Ethereal proceeded to run towards the nearest enemy screaming "Shoot meeee!!". While he was a tempting target, everyone knew that on his death my Tau Battlesuit army would flip out at the loss of their spiritual leader, probably pass all their Leadership Tests using Shadowsun's leadership and then get Preffered Enemy for the rest of the game, making them all close combat killing machines!

Eventually the Ethereal got into close combat, was horribly murdered and the Tau Battlesuit army charged into glorious close combat, killing lots, but taking horrendous casualties from Terminators armed with powerfists. Totally silly, but really good fun!

Don't take a Tau Ethereal, he's rubbish!


Anthony Yeates said...
May 22, 2009 at 2:19 AM  

Wonderful paint job Adam, never seen an Etheral done in that style, most often they are done in bright colours, but this scheme is really diffrent. I do agree that it's a great sculpt, the only one I like more is Aun'Shi.

I got an Etheral in a box of bitz I won on ebay a few weeks back, he's the one with the massive cross on his back, but he's missing his staff. Going to build him a banner to hold instead, I'll never game with him, but as you said, it's a nice center peice model.

jabberjabber said...
May 22, 2009 at 3:30 AM  

15 quid? - ouch indeed! Still, you're right - this miniature is a real collectors piece. It must have been great to paint him!

Damon said...
May 22, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

Excellent paint job! Now I have to have one, too, damn you! On a 40mm base, he'd make a great objective marker, at least....

Old Shatter Hands said...
May 22, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Nice job. I've got this model too and I have recently based him but he's on the bench until I paint 13 fire warriors, 1 battle suit and two more tanks, yikes!

The ethereal does a good job of holding your units together. He doesn't grant fearless actually but any units within line of sight can re-roll any morale check---even successful ones. So if you really want your units to fail a combat, flee and leave the enemy unit in the open so the rest of your army can retaliate by shooting the crap out of those assaulters, he is useful for that. Jsut remember to do this in the assault phase of your opponents turn.

Plus he's kind of fun in a unit of fire warrior honor guard...BS4 fire warriors are pretty cool. just be sure to give them a devilfish so they can protect themselves...

I will say, any list that includes an Ethereal shouldn't be taken to a tournament...

Sean said...
May 22, 2009 at 3:18 PM  

A couple things:

Ethereals make the unit they _join_ Fearless; everyone that can see them gets a reroll on Ld checks. With the advent of true LOS, this becomes a little more useful, but...

Secondly, if you're playing a decent-sized game and are willing to dedicate a pair of HQ slots to it, an Ethereal + Shadowsun generates a bubble of Ld10-with-reroll morale that will put a Space Marine to shame. The problem being, of course, the Ethereal's vulnerability and the necessity of your "bubble" remaining fairly stationary...

Anonymous said...
May 22, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

That figure came in the original Tau Army Box from 2003 or so. It is a pretty neat figure.

Mik said...
May 23, 2009 at 6:05 AM  

Great looking paint job! I've tried fielding Ethereals from time to time, ugh, nothing but disapointment, but what's a Tau army without one?

Damon said...
May 26, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

"What's a Tau army without one?" Heh.

IMHO, it's extremely unfluffy to field an Ethereal. I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea that any Ethereal would be allowed to risk him-/herself on the battlefield. The fluff in the book talks about them almost as if they are worshipped. At the very least, they are obviously the Big Strategic Brains of most (all?) military operations, so putting them in harm's way would be counterproductive.

General Eisenhower didn't personally lead the troops at Normandy on D-Day.

Pudge said...
August 13, 2012 at 5:58 AM  

with the advent of 6th ed, i now take an ethereal every time. i sit him and his bs4 warriors behind an aegis defence line and let the ethreal man the lascannon turret!

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