Farsight's Commander Team: The Eight

December 8, 2014 ·

This is not a full blown tactica article, it is more of my own musings on the uses of The Eight. I think that their usefulness has lessened since the arrival of 7th edition, and due to some oversights in the Farsight supplement itself. Let's take a look at these guys and see what they can do for us on the tabletop!

The Eight

EYIG has mentioned these boys in his REVIEW of the Farisight Enclaves Supplement, but this will go a bit more in depth. For those who do not know, The Eight are commander Farsight's top commanders. In an FSE detachment that includes Farsight, they can take the place of his regular 7-man bodyguard team. Most of them are your standard Tau Commander with very specific wargear, then you have a Broadside and a Riptide. Let's break down each member:

Farsight

If you want to have any of the commander team, you have to take Farsight. For some playstyles, this is a drawback, but for many FSE players he fits nicely. Even in an un-tailored list, Farsight will have his uses. He has boosted combat stats, a plasma rifle, shield generator, and the Dawn Blade. The Dawn Blade makes Farsight a fantastic tank hunter, and makes him at least somewhat effective at engaging 3+ and 2+ armour save models. Farsight also automatically has the Through Boldness, Victory warlord trait, which is usually unavailable to FSE warlords and is incredibly potent.

Brightsword

A tau commander with an Advanced Targeting System, Fusion Blades, Stims, and 1 Shield Drone (Warscaper). Technically, nothing about this character is unavailable to a regular FSE commander. In general, if you want Fusion Blades or a Warscaper Drone, just take a regular commander so that you can outfit him exactly as you'd like. He can be even better than Farsight at hunting vehicles, and is a bit deadlier against elite infantry thanks to his S8 close combat weapon. 

Arra'kon

A commander with Plasma Rifle, Airburst Frag Projector, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Counterfire Defense System, Repulsor Impact Field, and 2 Gun Drones. Nothing special here except for the Repulsor Impact Field. This signature system is underwhelming so the only reason to include him would be to add more wounds to your group at a very high premium. Of all the 8, he is the least interesting to me, since his equipment won't affect your Overwatch that much, and it won't be enough to deter your opponent from charging you.

Bravestorm

A commander with Plasma Rifle, Flamer, Shield Gen, Onager Gauntlet, Stims, Iridium Armour, and 2 Gun Drones. Now we are talking! He has the O'mortal setup, which is pretty popular and is very effective for soaking up damage that would otherwise obliterate your crisis suits. Whenever I consider the Eight, Bravestorm is usually the second member I add into the list. A tanky commander like this will always be useful in Farsight Armies, due to their low model count. 

Sha'vastos

Commander with Plasma Rifle, Flamer, Shield Gen, Vectored Retro-thrusters, Puretide Engram Neurochip, and 2 Gun Drones. He is the only way to include the amazing PEN in an FSE detachment. His equipment makes him suitable as a contributing member of a larger unit, like a Farsight Bomb, but you wouldn't normally want him for anything else. The PEN is great, but often players want to have the PEN, CCN, and M3S all on the same model to streamline things. Besides, the Commander Team will likely break into multiple units during the game, reducing the effectiveness of the PEN.

Torchstar

Commander with 2 Flamers, Drone Controller, Target Lock, Neuroweb System Jammer, Multi-spectrum Sensor Suite, and 2 Marker Drones. The M3S is another of the signature systems usually unavailable to FSE, however it isn't all that great in the Commander Bomb. Many of the commanders carry a weapon that Ignores Cover already, so this equipment is only benefiting the one other weapon for the group. She'll likely just shoot her Flamers instead. The marker drones will likely be wasting marker hits, but the Drone Controller benefits the gun drones accompanying the other commanders. The NSJ is a nice addition as well, since it can help protect any Tau unit against large quantities of shooting from a single target, provided Torchstar is nearby as well.

O'vesa

A Riptide with Ion Accelerator, TL Fusion Blaster, Stims, Early Warning Override, Earth Case Pilot Array, and 2 Shielded Missile Drones. Here is where it gets interesting: he is an Independent Character! He is also well equipped for his role, without unnecessary equipment. Like Bravestorm, he can act as an incredible Tank for his unit, with the added bonus that any unit he joins that has 3 members or less will be considered Toughness 6! O'vesa is probably my second character pick, as he brings something truly unique to the army. This is also a way to get 4 Riptides into an army. The only drawback is that now he can't be joined by Kingfishers or other independent Characters. Like Bravestorm, a tanky model that can protect your few crisis suits can be invaluable in an FSE detachment. 

Ob'lotai 9-0

A Broadside Shas'vre with TL High Yield Missile Pod, TL Smart Missile System, Seeker Missile, Velocity Tracker, and 2 Missile Drones. Like O'vesa, this guy (who is actually an AI imprinted from the original Ob'lotai) can join units he normally would not be able to. His lack of mobility limits his realistic options to other Broadsides and dismounted infantry units. While not spectacular, he can be a fun way to bolster your existing XV88's with an IC to help with Look Out Sir rolls. An interesting combination is if you place him with a unit of Firewarriors and a Cadre Fireblade, in cover. Both need to stay put in order to shoot effectively, and the Fireblade's Split Fire special rule acts like a Target Lock on Ob'lotai 9-0. So, he can tank wounds for the Firewarriors with his 2+ armour save, Look Out Sir other wounds way, and all while being able to fire on other targets, like Flyers.

The Eight vary in cost, and the entire team costs just under 1500 points. Yowza!

How to Field Them

There are two main ways that you can include The Eight in your army: as a Farsight Commander Bomb or as support characters for the rest of your army.

Farsight Bomb

A Commander Bomb is going to work differently than a regular Farsight Bomb. First, it is hella expensive. Second, it will need to split into different groups after arrival. So, you'll be playing this deathstar in larger games, and you'll be making lots of quick decisions about who goes with who to accomplish what task and how. This is more difficult to master than a regular Deathstar, where you only have to decide where to move it (the crisis bodyguard weapon loadouts basically choose their targets for you) and how you can deny your opponent points.
A Commander Bomb is going to run a bit over 1050 points to start. From there you have some options. You can add Shadowsun and some bodyguards (over 400 points), another FSE commander, an Allied  Support'O/Kingfisher, or even a Stealth Suit team. The cheapest, most efficient option would be to add a regular Troop crisis team with your choice of equipment and drones.
Your opponent will likely be trying to play to the mission, hoping you wont be able to kill enough units with your one big unit (the usual approach against a Deathstar). So in order to win with this unit you need to be able to score various objectives each turn. Luckily, you can adapt your unit size at will, splitting or merging members together to accomplish various tasks at any given time. As a whole, the unit is nigh unkillable and basically impossible to tarpit, but it can only be in one place at a time and kill only one unit at a time (maybe 2 if the unit they attach to has target locks). When it breaks into smaller groups your opponent will have to choose what poses the greatest threat, while your various units bound around doing their thing. Even reduced to 3 separate groups, each mini-star is formidable (these are commanders we are talking about).
Let's play "Which squad will I put Farsight in next!"
The only thing that keeps this maneuvre from being broken and OP, is that you cannot join IC's to a unit unless it is the movement phase. Otherwise they could hop around blasting stuff, then just hop right back together into a huge unkillable, uncatchable deathstar. Next edition baby...

Commanders in Squads

The second way to field them is by selection and in pieces. For example, you could take Bravestorm and O'vesa to tank for a couple of your Crisis teams, while Farsight uses Deep Strike to deliver a mini-bomb of regular crisis suits. Or you could put Farsight and Brightsword together to act as an assault deterrent in your deployment zone, while O'blotai and O'vesa tank for your Broadsides. Some players like to use Torchstar with their Deathrains.
This has a smaller point impact on your list and is usually for FSE lists that aren't going to be using a large Farsight Bomb anyways. Even so, these characters aren't cheap so you won't be using any of the commander team in low-to-mid point levels.

Summary

Keep in mind that while dropping all these characters as a single Commander Bomb is an option, you can't approach it like a regular Deathstar. If you do you will get outmaneuvered and lose. The key here is where these commanders go after they drop. They'll almost certainly have to break into different groups to get their jobs done. Like all units, they are expendable, so sometimes they will need to make the ultimate sacrifice for the Greater Good. 6+ independent characters running amok in your opponent's backfield should cause quite a bit of mayhem. The question is whether it can cause enough mayhem to win you the game.
If you want to play an actual Deathstar, it is better to take a regular 7-man bodyguard for Farsight. It can operate as a single unit while targeting multiple threats and staying hard to kill. A regular Farsight bomb runs around 800 points before you add in Shadowsun or an FSE commander.


Thanks for reading!
So what do you think of the Eight? Would you field them all together, even just for fun? Would you take them piecemeal? Would you take them at all? I know that I am eager to try out O'vesa tanking for my Deathrains, and a deathstar of IC's sounds like fun for a casual game.

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