Arguably the most crowded of the Tau FOC choices, the Fast Attack slot obviously gives you plenty of choices. But which are the best? Here's the breakdown:
Pros: Cheap source for marker lights. No longer HAVE to take a Devilfish. Some nice heavy weapons options with Ion Rifle and Rail Rifle. Interesting new Drone types, not sure how useful they are just yet. Have Scout and Supporting Fire special rules.
Cons: Armour downgraded to 5+. Still can't move and shoot marker lights. Low Leadership. Only BS3. Low Initiative and Weapon Skill.
Notes/Tactics: Pathfinders were pretty much the best source of markerlights in the last codex. Now they are even cheaper. You no longer need to take a devilfish with them (THANK GOD!). And while they may not necessarily be the best source of markerlights (that subject will get its own codex breakdown), they still are pretty much the most cost efficient way. You will definitely still be seeing them in most Tau army lists.
The addition of some heavy weapons options is pretty nice too, especially the Ion Rifle. But with no ability to split fire, you may not want to waste that gun on the unit you are marker lighting. The new drones they have aren't too bad but nothing game breaking. The grav inhibitor drone combined with Darkstrider's Fighting Retreat rule can make for a hard unit to charge. But 9 times out of 10 you will be mostly using your pathfinders as cheap markerlights and there is nothing wrong with that. Pathfinders get a solid B.
Pros: Jump Pack infantry makes them fast. Improved range on Power armour killing guns. Stealth in Ruins is much more useful than Stealth in Woods on most tabletops (we're looking at you Kroot!). Decent 4+ save. Hit and Run combined with Initiative 6 is VERY nice. Toughness 4 is better than most Tau infantry units. Also have Fleet and Move thru Cover.
Cons: Expensive. Base units have a silly Ld 6, making Strain Leaders a must have upgrade. This unit is stuck in a very crowded Fast Attack slot, Stingwings would have made a great, balanced 3rd troop type.
Notes/Tactics: Vespid Stingwings were the laughing stock of 40k in the last codex and have been greatly improved in this codex. But unfortunately they're stuck in an overcrowded FOC slot now.
These guys are very mobile with the Fleet and Move through cover too which ties in nicely with their Stealth in Ruins ability. Vespid make a good "mop up crew" type of unit. Let your Firewarriors and others weaken advancing infantry and then have your Vespid jump in and finish them off.
It’s a shame that Vespid are still a Fast Attack option. With this FOC slot so crowded and the slim choices you have in the Troops slot, I think they would have made a great Troop choice. I think their expense would have balanced them nicely versus firewarriors and kroot. Plus their abilities would greatly complement those two units too.
But unfortunately you probably won't be seeing many Vespid units on the battlefield. Most tau players will most likely be filling their Fast Attack slot with Pathfinders and either flyer or Piranha squads. Its a shame too because Vespid are a good unit. I give them a B.
Pros: All drones are the same price and not too expensive. Gun Drones have twice as many shots at before. Marker drones are A LOT cheaper.
Cons: Only BS 2. Still count towards 25% models lost in unit. Missile Drones only available to Broadsides and do not benefit from Drone Controller. Using Fast Attack slot isn't most efficient way to get drones in general, its better to add them to various units that can take them.
Notes/Tactics: Drones have got a mild boost in this edition. They all are now the same price and Marker drones are MUCH cheaper than they were. You'll probably rarely be taking them in the Fast Attack slot however. As a Fast Attack unit they can only join Independent Characters, thus disallowing those Independent Characters from join OTHER units.
The best way to get drones is to buy them with your various units, ie. Crisis Suits, Broadsides, Firewarriors etc. One of the best combos so far is taking a Crisis Suit Commander with a Drone Controller and giving him BS5 Marker Drones. This is also very good in helping you free up a Fast Attack slot for something other than Pathfinders.
Overall Drone Squadron gets a C- but taking Drones with other units is the way to go, I guess I'd give them a B if taken that way.
Pros: Only Fast Skimmer that Tau have. MUCH cheaper than before. With Burst Cannon and Drones you can get a lot of anti infantry firepower in a 5 model squadron. Give it Sensor Spines and Disruption Pod to let it Move Thru Cover and get nice Cover bonus.
Cons: Pretty weak armour. In a crowded Fast Attack Slot. Can no longer use targetting array to boost BS to 4. Only two main weapon choices: burst cannon or fusion blaster
Notes/Tactics: Piranhas have gotten some boosts in this edition. They are a bit cheaper now and they can be taken in greater numbers than before. With 6th edition and the focus away from mechanized armies, the burst cannon/gun drone option seems to be the more desirable of the two main weapons.
With their speed and cheapness they can make a good harrassment unit. And if you play in a group with a lot of vehicles you can use the improved fusion blasters to take them out. Piranhas are a decent choice in a crowded Fast Attack slot, I give them a B-.
Sun Shark Bomber
Pros: Networked Markerlight with Skyfire. At 18" move you can drop 2 blast templates (overcharge ion rifles) and 1 large blast template (pulse bomb). Interceptor drones can be dropped during movement phas. Interceptor drones have skyfire and interceptor. Can be equipped with Twin Linked Missile Pod that is a 360 degree turret. Comes with 2 seeker missiles.
Cons: Weak Armour. BS3 so it needs markerlight support. Interceptor Drones are only BS2 (though twinlinked).
Notes/Tactics: Both of the new Tau Flyers at first seem to be nothing special. But fortunately they are much better than the Dark Angels Nephalim Failure, I mean, Fighter. I'm personally fond of the Sun Shark Bomber because its a great source of blast templates versus infantry heavy armies. Plus it does have some anti air options: fly behind a flyer and use your missile pod turret or interceptor drones.
Overall I'd give the Sun Shark Bomber a B-.
Razorshark Strike Fighter
Pros: Quad Ion Turret is 360 degree arc with 4 Str7 shots, fly past enemy flyers and shoot them on their rear armour. Turret can overcharge a Str 8 Large Blast. Comes with 2 seeker missiles. Burst Cannon can be upgraded to Missile Pod. Very cheap flyer.
Cons: No Markerlight. Weak armour. BS3.
Notes/Tactics: While I do tend to prefer the Sun Shark Bomber for my army needs, I can see why some would prefer the Razorshark, especially those who use Tau as an ally contigent. Its a very inexpensive flyer that, if used correctly, can be effective at taking out enemy flyers. The key is taking advantage of its 360 degree Quad Ion Turret. Going full speed and flying past enemy flyers lets you fire at their rear armour. This makes a huge difference most of the time (except for Stormravens).
The Razorshark does also have some versatility in that it can take out ground infantry rather well with its Str8 AP4 Large Blast Quad Ion Turret Overcharge. At Str8 you'll have no problem wounding any infantry and you may be able to instakill units like Grey Knight Paladins.
I give the Razorshark Strike Fighter a C+.
So what do YOU think? Do you make room for Vespids in your army list? How about the flyers? Which has brought you the most success? Leave a comment below and let me know!