Games Workshop won't ever see this, but I had to say it.
The future of the Tau faction is at a turning point for me. While I approve of most of the 8th edition rule changes and overall game improvement, the removal of the Jump-Shoot-Jump Mechanic when Index Xenos 2 was published, and it’s failure to be reinstated with any subsequent FAQ, worries me. While a battle suit heavy army is my preferred playstyle, it worries me that current trends indicate the new added mechanic will simply be a change to 3+ to hit. Easily accessible high accuracy shooting is and has never been the focus of the Tau playstyle.
The guaranteed ability to tactically maneuver was once exquisitely paired with a “possible” chance to enhance shooting. This meant that movement had to be looked at in a different way, as an additional resource unique to the Tau. By removing one element of this complex way of playing, it has made the shooting phase suddenly the most important Tau phase rather than the assault phase, once a beautiful irony for an army that abhors melee. Now it’s just a simple one-two step to strategize, and we’ve officially lost the advantage of movement, and infinitely dumbed down the Tau playstyle. Unless somehow the codex manages to gift us with even more of a nerf from the Index, increased BS seems the more likely inevitable option and this worries me. After all, without a psychic phase, the only fair line of thought would therefore be to strengthen the only strong Tau phase, shooting.
I took a break from Warhammer 40k for a long time, and returned after casually seeing my first 8th edition game while visiting a games/card shop and being excited. It looked faster, more intense and streamlined. By the time I was ready to really hop on board, I noticed the changes the edition brought, and the Index. The JSJ mechanic was gone, and had shown no signs of being FAQ’d back in before the codex release, which would also turn out to be towards the end of the line.
This mechanic was the most exciting aspect of playing Tau. Tau never got exceptional speed all over the army, zero access to the psychic phase, average accuracy without saturated marker light support. But this mechanic allowed me to push and pull the enemy against their will. Draw them into trap and fire zones. The ability to move freely during the assault phase allowed the army to be fluid and rapid, and carefully laid plans and maneuvers multiplied many units into a unified, strong foe. While a competitive meta in 7th edition had many players striving to min/max every variable, most players, enjoyed most the ability to control the battlefield tactically. Tau was the most fun, and most beautiful, when you managed to exploit a movement or deployment mistake, or draw a threat into a well laid ambush. That is what was fun. Not just shooting real 'gud.
That chess like playstyle is gone, and there is no guarantee it will be restored. This may herald another long hiatus from Warhammer, sadly after such a short current personal return. Games Workshop may never see this, and some may disagree with me. However, I simply cannot enjoy becoming, and playing, as another generic move and shoot army.
J’Kaara Nana, the Mirror Blade