What's GW been up to lately?
I'm no business or production expert, so I could be way off, but it seems to me that GW's pace is unsustainable. If that is the case, this is a short term trend that is likely intended to clear house and cash in on the investments of yesteryear. So in that context, let's look at the releases and some interesting trends.
From 5th to 6th to 7th
Dark Angels, Space Marines, Imperial Knights all look like the 7th edition is simply the upgrade from 6th edition that makes more sense for the codex anyways.
What could the plan be?
I think that the Imperial Knights were always intended to have several weapon options. I think the Wraithknight was always intended to be a Gargantuan Creature carrying ranged D weapons. I think that 6th edition served the double purpose of getting completed models into the market, while softening the blow of 7th edition. It isn't as crazy as it sounds. Think about it. If someone told you, back in 2012 that GW would release 6th and 7th within 2 years of each other, you might not believe him (the previous record was 4 years). If someone told you there would be fliers, superheavies, gargantuan creatures, fortifications, massive fortifications, basically open Allies, apocalypse formations, warlord traits, characters with challenges, and D-weapons on infantry. You would tell him he was insane. Then, if all of those changes hit at the same time with 6th edition, you would quit the game.
What does that mean for Tau?
So if we look at things that felt weird about 6th edition, then maybe that will give us some clues about what will get changed for 7th!
- Pathfinders. They are pretty bad when you consider how fragile they are. They compete with Fast Attack slots and have no way of becoming Troops. They are also the only ones that get cool drones (not even commanders?) and cool weapons (again, a battlesuit couldn't carry an Ion Rifle?)
Darkstrider seemed custom made for making them Troops, but that didn't happen either. Weird.
- Riptide could suddenly carry more firepower than a Hammerhead Tank, while staying more mobile and tougher to kill. Something is definitely wrong there...
- Broadsides HRR was toned down, despite getting a new model. Very strange, since every other model release usually gets a big buff to help move product. The HYMP was awesome, and in the Firebase Support Cadre they rock, but the HRR still felt really off.
- Farsight's special traits and force org manipulation were not included until the Supplement, which has problems of its own.
- Shadowsun didn't make Stealth Suits troops (maybe not that weird)
- Overall weirdness of a fully mechanized and mobile faction (5th edition and all the fluff) reduced to castling by nerfs to Tau vehicles across the board.
- Pathfinders. There has to be some way to make them Troops, or take them as an auxiliary formation (if we get a weird formation). It is still weird that they have all the access to the cool toys, but that could change even if we don't get a new dual kit release (Firewarrior/Pathfinder).
- The Hammerhead will hopefully get bumped up to D weapon to restore balance.
- Broadsides will hopefully jump back up to S10 weapons to give us an actual reason to put the HRR on the model instead of the HYMP.
- Farsight could get his own formation within the formation, or have some of his rules moved over from the Supplement. If we get the new XV8's as rumoured, Farsight would be perfect for making the codex able to field a ton of them.
- Shadowsun seemed fine I guess. It would be fun for a themed list, which will depend on the formations you can bring. This could be fixed just by reducing Stealth suit cost, since there is no way they are getting a new kit anytime soon.
- They took away some of our best vehicle equipment and gave us some of the worst. They also didn't make the Devilfish any cheaper. Combine that with the Riptide bringing all the better firepower than the Hammerhead and there was almost no reason to take vehicles anymore (Skyray is still an option since it has skyfire markerlights built-in). This could have been a balancing decision that will eventually be offset by Squadrons and D strength
What else struck you as "off" with our 6th edition codex? That could be a hint.