The Vespid are a unique race of insect-like aliens who are members of the Tau Empire. In the Tau Lexicon, they are called "Mal'kor". This derives from the Tau words for insect, "Mal," and air, "Kor." The Vespids' homeworld is a gas giant also called Vespid, three light years to the galactic south of the Tau's D'yanoi Sept.
When the Tau first encountered the Vespids, they saw a species of great potential value to the Greater Good and came to greatly covet their crystal-based technologies. Although the species had developed a reasonably stable planetary government and was able to utilise its advanced technology for a wide variety of uses, it had not yet achieved space flight. Tau Water Caste cadres established contact, yet were unable at first to communicate with the species. This was not a mundane matter of vocalisation or the understanding of language, for the Vespids have an utterly alien mindset
This post is going to be short (rather unlike my last few), and deal with the best way to use Vespids in a Tau Army.
My solution is simple: don't.
I've tried, and they either are never able do anything substantial to justify their points, or they assault what appears to be an adequately softened infantry target and either all die horribly or some die horribly and the rest run away.
Making them even harder to use is the fact that they compete with pathfinders, piranhas, tetras, and other cool units for the fast attack slots...
So I don't really use them much.
But seriously, there are uses for them, and we will discuss them in an upcoming tactica, but for now, and for the context of this article, I just want to use them as part of my allies list in which they proxy an Eldar unit. I have the actual Eldar units, but I love the fluff and modeling aspects of our hobby, and actually being able to use these models pleases me. I love the way my all Tau Empire army looks on the tabletop.
Please don't get me wrong, I love my Vespids, I have two complete squads (22). I have converted some of the metal ones to look more like they are flying (carved out their bases and between their toes, then bent their legs backwards slightly and drilled holes in their bellies for the flight bases --more on that another time). But GW didn't do them any favors by making them cost more point-wise, or by declining to give them usefully better stats, rules, or characteristics.
So how does one use the models he loves so dearly only to watch them die tragically?
My answer is, make them a "counts as" element in an allied supplement. I run a full Tau Cadre. My fast attack slots are all typically filled with two squads of pathfinders and a platoon of tetras (that's markerlight skeet, skeet, skeet, baby). But when I double my FOC I tend to beef out all three additional slots with either more pathfinders or hazard suits, a few piranhas, and a flyer. There never seems to be any room for my Bugmen.
Short of a double FOC, sometimes I take a small allied contingent of Eldar, but sometimes there are no actual Eldar in that detachment. Everything in my Eldar contingent is a "counts as" unit of aliens from Tau fluff.
Vespids make excellent counts as Swooping Hawks. Think about it, let it settle in, knock on the sky a little, and there you have it. Did you feel that?
Then you can add in some of the other units from my upcoming alien posts that I think will knock you on your socks. Some are GW, some are not. I would not recommend taking these to any sort of tournament (though many would still be legal because they are GW products and bits)... Just wait till you see my jet bike conversion.
In one army list, I used an all-Tau main army, a converted Kroot Master Shaper and Shamans for my Farseer and Warlocks, Kroot Carnivores for Striking Scorpions, and Vespids for Swooping Hawks. I had a few other units in there including Gue'vesa, naga, and Shea'shi (from Tael on ATT), but I will get to those unit conversions another time.
I have come up with something for just about every unit in the Eldar Codex, though I haven't modeled them all, and they're not all 100% GW bits.
Just be patient, and remember to breathe.
I play Tau.