Tactica: Cadre Fireblade

October 21, 2014 ·

I am going to break away from the vehicles and units to focus on the new HQ option: The Cadre Fireblade. This is the Sergeant Johnson of all Firewarriors and he brings some cool synergy to Tau lists.


The Cadre Fireblade is a Firewarrior veteran that has declined battlesuit advancement and stays with his infantry buddies. He is a master of the gunline and it shows in his special rules.
He is a cheap HQ option for those that don't want to field an extra VP in the form of an Ethereal. He costs 10 points more than an Ethereal and similarly has very few equipment options. Indeed, his only option is how many drones to take, if any.
He carries a Firewarrior's standard equipment, with the addition of a Markerlight. His statline is similar to a Firewarrior Shas'ui, but he has more wounds and a Ballistic Skill of 5! He also has improved close combat ability, but it is still abysmal.
His special rules are what make him worth taking. He has the "Split Fire" ability and "Volley Fire" (more on those later) which make him a pretty decent support character.

Battlefield Role

As stated above, the Cadre Fireblade is taken to support your army. He will most always be accompanying a large Firewarrior squad equipped with Pulse Rifles. This doesn't mean he cannot support other units, it just means that his comfort zone is with his Firewarrior buds. At the end of the day, if you aren't taking him for Volley Fire, then you aren't using him correctly.

While accompanying this FW squad, and granting it Volley Fire, he is free to do other things.
  • He can contribute his own BS5 firepower to the group's
  • He can Split Fire and shoot his Markerlight (or Rifle) at another target. This works for emplacement weapons as well
  • He can Split Fire and have someone in the squad throw a Photon Grenade at some other target (Imperial Knight maybe?)


The Fireblade has a fixed set of wargear and no options to change it. When you think of him in terms of an special character upgrade for a Firewarrior squad, he actually seems pretty cheap. A FW Shas'ui, carrying a Target Lock (Split Fire) and a Markerlight is over half the cost of a Fireblade, so you are really paying just over 25 points to grant "Volley Fire" to a squad of Firewarriors.
Since Drones don't often mesh well with Firewarriors, the Fireblade won't be bringing them. Some players subscribe to the Markerlight Cascade method which would normally require spreading Marker Drones throughout your infantry squads, but this squad should really be the last one to fire, so it won't be needing those drones.


A simple support HQ like this makes for straightforward uses. Place him in a Firewarrior Squad to increase their damage potential. There are a few things to note about maximizing his use though:
  • The more Firewarriors in the squad, the better. Bring 12 if you can
  • Use Pulse Rifles. His ability requires the squad to stay put, so you'll need the range if you want to hit stuff before it is too late. A full salvo of 26 shots at 30" is a great alpha strike tool against enemy infantry.
  • Don't forget Split Fire. He can fire his BS5 Marker Light at a different target. Perfect for marking a tank or heavy infantry when you don't want to shoot Pulse Rifles at them
  • Plant him on an objective, in cover, somewhere safe. He cannot move if you want that extra shot, so if he is already on a defensible objective, then he has no reason to move anyways
  • Don't be afraid to move. Objectives can be fleeting and sometimes it's better to keep your distance and live, then to fire an extra shot and be dead the next turn in assault. 3 shots each at 15" though...
  • His ability does not work during Overwatch, so don't count on it.

Synergies, Lists, & Combos

Obviously, he is meant to accompany Pulse Rifle Firewarriors. Gunlines benefit more from an Ethereal, but the Cadre Fireblade performs well in smaller firebase groups. Below is an example of a small firebase led by a Fireblade.

  • Aegis Defense Line with QuadCannon
  • Cadre Fireblade (mans QuadCannon)
  • 12 Firewarriors
  • 3 Broadsides
This group works well together. The Broadsides can engage enemy transports and lighter vehicles, as well as provide Twin-Linked Overwatch fire when the enemy closes in. The Firewarriors clear out dismounted enemy infantry or blobs. The Fireblade can engage enemy aircraft or Skimmers with his excellent Ballistic Skill and Split Fire ability, or use his Markerlight to help out the Broadsides. The whole group costs around 500 points, so it is pretty cheap too.

He makes an excellent HQ option for games up to 1000 points, where it can be hard to make room for all the fun toys you want on an XV8 Commander. Unlike other budget HQ's, that are essentially placeholders, the Cadre Fireblade brings a lot of support to your army.


The Cadre Fireblade is one of the "budget" HQ's of the Tau codex, with Ethereals being the other. He has a focused skillset and turns a single FW squad into a powerful firebase. He is easy to fit into lists and will almost always end up being worth it. The only list that he should never be included in, is a fully mechanized cadre.
When compared to the budget HQ's of other codices, he stands above the rest as a powerful support character that brings an excellent ability to the table. This ability is useful no matter what size of game you are playing.

Thanks for reading! Post your greatest Cadre Fireblade moments below!


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