- Tau (Warhammer 40,000)
In the universe of Games Workshop's table-top wargame Warhammer 40,000, the Tau Empire is an alien race, inhabiting a small but dense region of space on the eastern edge of the Galaxy, roughly 300 light years in diameter. The Tau were first introduced to Warhammer 40,000 in late 2001, the result of Games Workshop's plan to introduce a new race to the game.
The Tau have advanced rapidly since their first encounter with the Imperium of Man in the 35th millennium, rising from a savanna dwelling hunter-gatherer level of technology to a starfaring race in less than six thousand years. Tau society has also advanced rapidly, from warring tribes to a unified caste system working towards common goals, known by the Tau as Tau'va, The Greater Good.
As well as the five castes of the Tau, multiple alien species are incorporated into the Tau Empire; the most significant of these being the Kroot and Vespid although many other races, including the space faring Nicassar and the mercenary Tarellian Dog Soldiers are members. In addition, human auxiliaries (Gue'vesa in the Tau language) are sometimes seen to be aiding the Tau as well.
The Tau were the fourth army to receive a Codex updated for Fourth Edition rules (Codex: Tau Empire - Hoare, 2006). Additional rules for the Tau appear in a Forge World Imperial Armour rules supplement (Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign - Kinrade, 2005).
The Tau, though a decade old, are a relatively new race to the Warhammer 40,000 game, having been first released in October 2001. Unlike most of the races in Warhammer 40,000, which were developed from a comparable race in Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the Tau, along with the Tyranids, are the only playable races that do not possess an analogue in the Fantasy fictional universe, although most of the combat doctrines are based on the Wood Elves or Dwarfs. The Tau ideology focuses on ranged combat, generally perceiving close-range, physical combat as crude and unnecessary. However this does not mean that they have no chance in close combat, Kroot mercenaries are available to give some melee strength to any Tau battle company. In addition, one the Tau's unique commanders (O'Shova, or, "Commander Farsight") is more than equipped for close combat. However, the Tau's absolute dominant strength lies in their ranged firepower. Most Tau weaponry has an exceptionally long range, and as a result they are able to fire at and cripple an enemy army even before the opposition has a chance to return fire. One of the Tau's signature weapons remains the railgun, an incredibly powerful and long range heavy weapon that is more than capable of punching through even heavy armor at extreme ranges.
The primary weapon for Fire warrior teams are the Pulse Rifle, which has high fire power and a range greater than most troops weapons, and the Pulse Carbine, which is short ranged but is equipped with an underslung photon grenade launcher that can pin enemy infantry. The Rail gun is the most iconographic, and feared, of Tau weapons, which can be found on the hammerhead tank and broadside heavy support unit the rail gun has extreme range and is immensely powerful, being one of the best weapons in the standard warhammer 40,000 game.
The Warhammer 40,000 Design Team selected the Tau as one of three new race ideas from hundreds of possible concepts. The Kroot were one of the others, and these two were eventually combined into the one fictional organisation; the Kroot were later given their own army list written by Andy Hoare in the Chapter Approved 2002 publication. This list permitted the Kroot to be used as mercenary forces for a selection of other races or as a stand alone army.
According to Andy Chambers, the chief designer at the time, the Tau were intended "to be altruistic and idealistic, believing heartily in unification as the way forward." Graham McNeill was responsible for much of the background material produced for the Tau, developing what Andy Chambers described as "...their proud, quiet but determined character [developed] to the point where they actually became a rather likeable, if slightly naive addition to the cosmos."
Influence of the Eye of Terror campaign
Since the setting of the Eye of Terror Worldwide Campaign was on the opposite side of the galaxy from the Tau Empire, and published materials had previously established that the Tau have limited faster-than-light capability, a separate 'mini-campaign' was held specifically for Tau players. Codex: Tau Empire (Hoare, 2006) was the first publication to incorporate the impact of this game event on the 40k universe. In the new background material published with the Codex, it is explained that Imperial forces were drawn away from Tau space to defend against Abaddon's Thirteenth Black Crusade. This left a power vacuum that prompted the Tau to initiate their Third Sphere Expansion.
In the campaign, registered games involving the Tau contributed to the expansion or contraction of Tau-controlled space. Over eight weeks of gaming, the Tau Empire grew by nearly a third due to victories.
Tau miniatures were designed to display the high-tech science fiction and robotic concepts that had resulted in the choosing of the Tau as the new army-race. The reflection of the Tau's high-technology status was reflected by the lack of cabling and links modeled onto the weapons; instead it was decided that these components were internally integrated. The Tau Infantry models, according to sculptor Jes Goodwin, were designed to have subtle influences taken from Chinese foot soldiers and Japanese samurai. The Battlesuits and vehicles drew from anime style exo-suits. and were designed to slightly resemble a faster and more lightweight version of the Space Marine Dreadnought. While the Tau vehicles are 'skimmers', the design brief specified that the Tau Tanks have an impression of being heavier and more solid than the Eldar Grav-tanks while nowhere near as solid as some of the more heavily armed vehicles like those owned by the Orks or the Chaos Space Marines.
- Kroot: close-combat troops
- Vespids: flying, insect-like humanoids
- Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior - a first-person shooter played from the perspective of a Tau Fire Warrior, there is also a book based on the game.
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
- ^ a b c Chambers, Andy (October 2001). "Chapter Approved - Tau Designers Notes". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (262). ISSN 0265-8712.
- ^ Chambers, Andy (November 2003). "Death By A Thousand Cuts". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (287). ISSN 0265-8712.
- ^ McNeill, Graham; Adcock, Tim (October 2001). "Making The Devilfish". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (262). ISSN 0265-8712.
- ^ THQ press release (Jan 30, 2006)
- Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete, and McNeill, Graham (2001). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Tau. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-098-6.
- Hoare, Andy (2006). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Tau Empire. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-712-3.
- Hoare, Andy (2002). Warhammer 40,000 Chapter Approved. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-317-9.
- Mitchell, Sandy (2003). For The Emperor: A Ciaphas Cain Novel. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84416-050-5.
- Spurrier, Simon (2003). Fire Warrior. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84416-010-6.
- Thorpe, Gav (2001). Kill Team. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 0-7434-1175-7.
- Imperial Armour – Volume III: The Taros Campaign. Nottingham: Games Workshop. 2005. ISBN 1-84154-708-5.
- "Various articles from". White Dwarf: Australian Edition (262). October 2001. ISSN 0265-8712.
- author, Simon Spurrier (2005). Xenology. BL Publishing. ISBN 1-84416-282-6.
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