In the last codex, everyone pretty much maxed out their Elites slot with Crisis Suit Squads. This codex there is a bit more selection. Here's the breakdown:
XV8 Crisis Suits:
Pros: Come with Multi Tracker and Blacksun included. 3pts less per model compared to last codex. Much more flexible weapons options: you can have up to 3 weapons, 1 TL and one regular, or 2 single versions of the same weapon. Good armour save. Decent toughness. Jump shoot jump makes them rather mobile. Can deep strike. Are a good heavy infantry, monstrous creature, light vehicle killer. Can be equipped with Interceptor and/or skyfire. Has Supporting Fire rule.
Cons: Can still be insta killed by Str8 weapons (though you can take iridium armour to boost Toughness). Compete with Riptides now in Elite slot. Still not good in close combat.
Notes/Tactics: In the last codex Crisis Suits were pretty much your only choice in the Elites slot. This time they have some serious competition in the Riptide (stealth suits, not so much). I think they pretty much go head to head with Riptides in the fact that they can field more firepower in terms of shot numbers.
You have A LOT more flexibility in how you arm your suits now. If you want, you can run 2 single versions of the same weapon, making 2x missile pods or 2x plasma rifles quite a nice option. They are still great at killing light vehicles, heavy infantry and monstrous creatures.
You can equip them with burst cannons and flamers to take on hordes, but honestly you never want your Crisis Suits that close to your enemy AND you have plenty of other S5 Ap5 options in this army. Also, while fusion blasters have been improved to 18" and are great at taking on heavy vehicles, again that means you need to get relatively close to the enemy which is generally not a good idea with this army.
I think the best builds for Crisis Suits are the Fireknife (Missile Pod/Plasma Rifle), Dual Missile Pods, Dual Plasma Rifles and the Helios (Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle: great for Farsight bombing). Overall the unit gets a solid A.
Pros: Only Monstrous Creature for Tau. Ion Accelerator has great pie plate weapons profile and decent against fliers as a single shot. AP2 close combat attacks. Toughness 6 so can't be insta killed because of Double Strength weapons. Has 5 Wounds. Has Supporting Fire rule. 2+ Armour and 5+ Invul. Nova Charges give you plenty of options. Can have both Skyfire AND Interceptor. Nova Charged Heavy Burst Cannon has 12 shots and Rending... uber Assault Cannon! Can Deep Strike.
Cons: Shielded Missile Drones are pricey and can cause Ld tests if lost. Big model can make it difficult to hide and maneuver. Nova charging can sometimes damage a Riptide better than your enemy can. Heavy Burst Cannon Nova charge shot can be deadly... to your Riptide!
Notes/Tactics: The Riptide is a VERY welcome addition to the Tau. And while it can unleash plenty of firepower, I think its greatest strength is its Toughness. Crisis Suits can still be instakilled by high power pie plate shooting, but a Riptide cannot. Plus with 2+ armour and the ability to have a 3+ invul save, the Riptide is arguably the Tau's most resilient unit.
Nova charging is an interesting new game mechanic as well. You can get a 3+ invul save, a 4d6 jump shoot jump move, fire your secondary weapons twice or shoot an Uber version of your Ion Accelerator or Heavy Burst Cannon.
Honestly though, the best offensive option for the Riptide is an Overcharged (not Nova Charged) Ion Accelerator shot. It can liquify power armour and terminator armour threats and is just as good versus horde armies because it is still a Large Blast template. If you are facing heavy vehicle armies you can Nova charge it for Str9 AP2 Large Blast that also has Ordnance (2d6 penetration rolls). And if you give the Riptide Skyfire and Interceptor, you can help take on flyers or deep strikers (especially with the Ion Accelerator's 72" range) The Heavy Burst Cannon CAN be nice... if you get Rending shots and don't Gets Hot! any of those 12x shots (Ion Accelerator only rolls 1x Gets Hot! roll). Plus, it just isn't anywhere near as versatile as the Ion Accelerator.
As I hinted to earlier, my ideal build for the Riptide is with the Ion Accelerator, TL Plasma Rifle, Early Warning Override (Interceptor) and Velocity Tracker (Skyfire) with no drones. I generally like to run an Aegis Defense Line with my army so the Skyfire on the Riptide is more a contigency option against flyers. But if you dont feel you need the Skyfire, the Stimulant Injector is a nice option too, because remember, a Feel No Pain save doesn't count as an actual save, so its usable for failed Nova Charge rolls.
Overall I think the Riptide is a great addition to the Tau army, I give it an A.
Stealth Suit Team:
Pros: Have Stealth AND Shrouded. Can Deep Strike. Can jump-shoot-jump. 3+ armour save. Have Infiltrate special rule. If Shadowsun joins them, they can auto-Look Out Sir! for her. Have Supporting Fire rule. Each model can use a Support System. Shas'vre can get Homing Beacon and/or Markerlight and Target Lock. Can take drones. Have Multitracker (why?) and Blacksun Filter.
Cons: Limited weapon loadouts with limited ranges... Burst Cannon (which we have plenty of S5 AP5 shots already) and Fusion Blaster which is great but only 18" range. Only Toughness 3 and 1 Wound.
Notes/Tactics: Oh Stealth Teams, your models are so cool looking. I so wish I had a compelling reason to run you in my army. Its not that you're bad, your Stealth and Shrouded abilities are quite nice actually. But unfortunately you fall short offensively and you aren't terribly cheap. I can get Str5 AP5 with better range elsewhere with my Firewarriors. And I really dont want you close enough to my enemy for you to use Fusion Blasters.
I can put you with Shadowsun for a nice Look out Sir boost, but honestly Shadowsun joining Crisis Suits is more awesome. Sigh.
As far as being an option for Marker lights and drones, its true, you can do that. But your BS is only 3 so using a Crisis Suit Commander or a Sniper Drone Team will get me better marker lights.
Hmm, Stealth Teams, not bad but no where near as good as Crisis Suits or Riptides... again. You guys get a C+. Again, sigh.
Overall the Elites section is improved over the last edition. You do technically have more viable choices to play in the Crisis Suits and Riptide, plus the Stealth teams aren't bad. More options is always better, right?
So was I off on any of my opinions? Have you found a fun combo for Stealth Teams that propell them to compete with our other Elite choices? Let me know in the comments below.