CRISIS SUIT CONFIGURATIONS
Without telepathic abilities, communication between septs is slow. Just as the Imperium has discovered, the Tau now realize that central control of a galactic empire is impractical and inefficient. The Tau Ethereals therefore provide local leadership, facilitating greater dynamism within each sept. All septs have a branch of the Shas'ar'tol, the Fire caste's high command. It is responsible to the Ethereal caste for all military intelligence, operational planning and recruitment within that sept. Most Shas'ar'tol maintain a military academy where distinguished Shas'o and Shas'el can pass their experience on to the next generation of Fire caste soldiers. Each Shas'ar'tol's training regime is based on the expertise of its commandants and is therefore unique. There are inevitably a mass of techniques each has in common though. For example, Drone deployment patterns are standardized across all septs in order to utilize the most efficient programs.
The Fire caste are dedicated warriors who make excellent infantry and tank crews but within this professional force there is an elite, the battlesuit pilots. Every Tau warrior aspires to joining a Battlesuit team, and only the finest and most courageous are selected. Despite the Tau's prodigious industrial capacity there are never enough battlesuits to please the Shas'ar'tol. The Ethereal caste is very aware of the trust that is implicit in the issuing of a battlesuit to a warrior. The battlesuit represents considerable power, and in wielding that power, warriors have been known to forget the greater good and become obsessed with their own needs and desires. The example of O'shovah is an extreme one, but milder cases of battlesuit neurosis are more common than is realized. It is for this reason that the Ethereal caste limits the supply of battlesuits to ensure they are only issued to those who have proven themselves worthy.
The special place occupied by battlesuit technology in the Tau military is most clearly evidenced by the rank of Shas'vre. This rank is a prerequisite for any aspiring commander and is only open to veteran battlesuit pilots. Thus every Tau commander has reached his current rank after an extensive period as a battlesuit pilot. These commanders are the teachers at the Tau military academies and their beliefs are passed on to their students. Within each academy there is a slightly different approach to the art of war as it applies to battlesuits.
Tau tactics are based around two techniques called Kauyon and Mont'ka. These are very broad techniques with dozens of different variations based on the type of enemy, the prevalent weather conditions, terrain, available supplies, and so on. The subtleties of Kauyon and Mont'ka are debated at length by the Shas'o masters of all the septs. The Shas'vre however concentrate more on battlesuit team tactics and it is here that greater sept variations occur. Whilst Broadside and Stealth team doctrine varies a little between septs, the greatest differences are witnessed in the equipping of Crisis teams.
THE VIOR'LA APPROACH
Vior'la is a Fire caste world and its warriors have served the Empire in virtually every major campaign. They operate their battlesuits either as Ta'ro'cha which means 'three minds – one purpose' or as Monats which means 'freedom of one'. All teams initially operate the Ta'ro'cha but if casualties are suffered such that one team member is left alone he will be trained as a Monat. Ta'ro'cha are teams of three battlesuit-equipped warriors. Every battlesuit is configured in the same way with the same weapons. These are determined wherever possible based on simulations run in advance. The principle is that for a particular foe there is one ideal choice of weapons and therefore every warrior using that combination serves the Greater Good. Vior'la Monats tend to be Tau with a grudge, often the lone survivor of a team bonded by the Ta'lissera as young Fire Warriors. The Monat has seen his comrades die and has become skilled in the ways of war. They are consequently teams of one, although they make extensive use of drones. While the Ta'ro'cha teams hunt the expected enemy with their carefully selected weaponry the Monat acts to deal with unusual opponents who his comrades might not be prepared for.
When a particular weapons configuration has been proven it is included in Vior'la's Book of War and becomes a part of their method.
The following are three examples of Vior'la Battlesuit teams conforming with the Ta'ro'cha:
VIOR'LA TA'RO'CHA - DEATH RAIN CONFIGURATION
VIOR'LA SYSTEM - ORK INCURSION COUNTER-MEASURES
Three Shas'ui all with twin-linked missile pod, drone controller and 2 gun drones.
The Orks encountered were Speed Freeks. The long-range fire of the Tau missile pods crippled the Ork trukks before they could get close enough to unleash their barbaric passengers. Once the Orks were dismounted they were helpless before the battlesuits, their few heavy weapon strikes being absorbed by the drones. When the time came to press forward, the drones were able to add to the team's formidable firepower with their pulse carbines and photon grenades.
VIOR'LA TA'RO'CHA - SUN FORGE CONFIGURATION
DAL'YTH SYSTEM - BATTLE OF GEL'BRYN
Three Shas'ui all with twin-linked fusion blaster and shield generator.
This configuration was created by the need to fight overwhelming numbers of Gue'la battle tanks. The team is well shielded to give it maximum survivability when opposed by heavy weaponry and the fusion blaster is an excellent tank killer once in range. Whilst successful in action, their 'close-in' tactics cost many Tau lives. After Gel'bryn this team configuration was added to Vior'la's Book of War but is reserved for desperate situations.
VIOR'LA TA'RO'CHA - BURNING EYE CONFIGURATION
KEL'SMAN SYSTEM - THE RENDING OF KE'LSHAN
Shas'vre and two Shas'ui all with twin-linked plasma rifle and target lock.
When Ke'lshan was subjected to a slave raid by the Dark Eldar, the Vior'la cadres responded with battlesuits mounting plasma rifles which were capable of destroying virtually any item in the enemy arsenal. Combined with target locks Crisis teams could engage several targets simultaneously for maximum disruption. The destruction of most of the Eldar's Raider grav-ships stopped the raid in its tracks. This configuration is highly favored amongst the Vior'la Shas'os.
Monat configurations are many and varied, being subject generally to the whim of the pilot. However, doctrine tends to maintain a favored Monat configuration at any given time. This suit is therefore instantly recognizable to the other Tau troops in the cadre. In the absence of Shas'o or Shas'el then a Tau Monat Shas'vre Monat could easily command a small force, his bitter experiences making up for more formal training. For some decades the preferred Vior'la Monat configuration has been as follows.
VIORL'AN MONAT CONFIGURATION
One Shas'vre, bonded, drone controller and two gun drones, burst cannon, fusion blaster, hard-wired multi-tracker.
The Monat has a close range weapon package that is able to engage tanks or infantry as required. The warrior will use all available cover to stalk the most valuable or dangerous prey. The role of lone hunter is one of the most dangerous and the Monat relies heavily on his drones for his survival.
THE SA'CEA APPROACH
Sa'cea is as close to a hive world as it is possible for a Tau civilization to get. Its teeming cities produce large numbers of highly disciplined Fire Warriors. Considering the number of Sa'ceans enlisting as Fire Warriors there are few who attain ranks above Shas'ui. This is not because Sa'ceans lack the instinct for battlesuit operation but because it is Stealth and Broadside armour they specialize in.
There are Crisis teams in the Sa'cea cadres, however there is no clear doctrine on their armament. Warriors in Sa'cea Crisis teams are encouraged in their personal preferences when it comes to weapon fit. This has resulted in Sa'cea producing some of the most illustrious Crisis teams in Tau history. The advantage rests with the fact that whatever enemy they have to confront they will have at least one team member suitably armed. There is an element of finesse to Sa'cea warriors, who disdain multi-trackers and pride themselves in selecting the right weapon from those available to them.
Because of their approach, there is no such thing as a typical Sa'cea team, but the following represents Ke'lshan'Tsua'm'Padroch'Ul'syn (theatre of war – force commander – cadre commander – team leader), all of whose members are now respected Shas'el at the Kais-shi academy.
SA'CEA CONFIGURATION - KE'LSHAN'TSUA'M'PADROCH'UL'SYN
One Shas'vre with hard-wired drone controller and two shield drones, target lock and twin-linked plasma rifle; One Shas'ui with flamer, burst cannon and fusion blaster; One Shas'ui with target lock and twin-linked fusion blaster.
The fighting on Ke'lshan was against Gue'la in the service of a being named Slaanesh. The enemy was well-supplied with unusual sonic weaponry that had not previously been encountered and fought differently to other Gue'la. Some cadres were confused by this and the original plan of battle had to be discarded. Team Leader Ul'syn and his companions stayed close to the enemy flank as it advanced and were able to continually pound them at close range and disengage before any counterblow could be struck. The team fought at close range for two decs until the victory was won.
THE TAU'N APPROACH
Tau'n is a sept in which all castes are represented equally. Its Fire caste warriors are more sophisticated than most and this is reflected in their tactics. Tau'n Crisis teams combine the Sa'cea and Viorl'a methods, using teams with different weaponry but where the overall configuration is defined and each team member can be trained in the job expected of them.
The Tau'n operate both Monat and Ta'ro'cha configurations; they are also alone in using teams of two Tau. This is a recent innovation that came about with the realization that an under-strength Ta'ro'cha could combine the advantages of the two older approaches, being more able to use cover but retaining enough firepower to do a great deal of damage when attacking. These can be constructed by dropping any one warrior from the Ta'ro'cha configurations below.
Tau'n Monats tend to specialize in destroying enemy armour. One battlesuit less in the firing line is unlikely to sway a large battle, but operating ahead of the main force seeking and destroying valuable vehicles they can be very effective. Tau'n Monats do not stick to standard weapons configurations, though, and are equipped based on preference and circumstances.
Tau'n Ta'ro'cha teams are carefully trained teams using one of two principal configurations. These are shown below.
TAU'N TA'RO'CHA - BRIGHTWIND CONFIGURATION
Shas'vre and two Shas'ui. The Shas'vre has burst cannon, plasma rifle, multi-tracker and hard-wired drone controller with two gun drones. One Shas'ui has a target lock, a fusion blaster and a missile pod, the other Shas'ui has a missile pod, a plasma rifle and a multi-tracker.
This configuration is complex but very flexible, it is able to engage virtually any target and can split its fire to where it will do most good. It does not have great survivability, though, and has to maneuver to avoid heavy fire. The gun drones provide some defense but they are unlikely to last for long.
TAU'N TA'RO'CHA - DARKFALL CONFIGURATION
Shas'vre and 2 Shas'ui. The Shas'vre has twin-linked missile pods, a drone controller with two gun drones and a hard-wired black sun filter. One Shas'ui has a shield generator, a flamer and a drone controller with two gun drones, the other has a flamer, a fusion blaster and a drone controller with two shield drones.
This configuration specializes in night fighting. The team leader carries the only long-ranged weaponry but has a black sun filter to ensure it is useful. The team has considerable survivability, essential for the type of close range firefights it is likely to be involved in. When fighting Orks on Fal'shia, Tau'n cadres employing this configuration proved deadly in night attacks against Ork encampments and supplies. The technique involved first eliminating the Ork transports and then ambushing the Orks as they came looking for their tormentors. The combination of flamers mixed with the drones' pulse carbines and their photon flash launchers left few members of the mob to fight back. Without their transports to fall back on, the Orks tended to scatter and could be hunted down at the Crisis team's leisure.
THE T'AU APPROACH
The Tau home world is known for the wisdom and experience of its warriors. Much of their battle doctrine is gleaned from the initial clashes between the Tau and the other denizens of the Eastern Fringes. Although T'au is a haven for each of the castes, it has a strong body of experienced warriors to advise upon the best use of its Fire caste. Many of the battlesuit tactics taught at the Fire caste academy are accepted as standard throughout colonies still to establish individuality.
The T'au Ta'ro'cha teams favor concentration of fire; rather than taking the opportunities afforded by target locks, they will rain death upon one unit until its total annihilation. T'au Monats tend toward introspection, often spending the eve before battle planning their next day's actions in meticulous detail, meditating and making their peace in case they fall in battle.
The T'au are loath to abandon their set configurations. However the senior T'au Shas'vre realize full well that if their enemies know what to expect, they will also be able to adopt effective countermeasures.
T'AU TA'RO'CHA - FIREKNIFE CONFIGURATION
GAR'NYTH SYSTEM - THE ASSAULT ON Y'LETH
One Shas'ui with plasma rifle, multi-tracker, missile pod, hard-wired drone controller with two gun drones, bonded. Two Shas'ui with plasma rifle, multi-tracker, missile pod, bonded.
One of the most illustrious events in Tau military history was the retaking of Y'leth, where a faction of Space Marines had launched a full-scale assault into the defense network. As the Tau fell back, several teams of bonded Crisis battlesuits demolished the enemy's APCs and Dreadnoughts with their missile pods. They then proceeded to sow accurate plasma rifle and pulse carbine fire throughout the oncoming foe as they charged across the battlefield. Maintaining distance enough to prevent the Gue'la from reaching the Tau ranks, the enemy's numbers were whittled down until they were finally led directly into a Kroot ambush. The Fireknife configuration is still favored when a sept faces an assault from the Imperium's elite warriors.
T'AU TA'RO'CHA - BLINDING SPEAR PATTERN
THE KRA'SYLTH LIBERATION
One Shas'vre with plasma rifle, burst cannon, multi-tracker, hard-wired drone controller (two gun drones). Two Shas'ui with plasma rifle, burst cannon, multi-tracker.
When a system of Tau worlds was first threatened by a tendril of Hive Fleet Kraken, many hundreds of Tau and Kroot were slaughtered. Eventually, the Ethereals ordered all battlesuit fire to be concentrated on the alien monarchs and their bodyguard. Despite swarms of clawed beasts descending upon the Tau firebase, the Crisis teams stayed calm, each member of the team synchronizing a devastating fusillade into one creature at a time before choosing another target. They had little to worry about in the way of enemy firepower, and so the larger Tyranids were blown apart one after another. Once the Crisis and Broadside teams had done their work, their drones pinned the smaller, disorganized aliens in place, allowing the Fire Warriors to destroy them with massed firepower.
T'AU MONAT - SOUL CLEANSE CONFIGURATION
One Shas'ui with flamer, fusion blaster, shield generator, hard-wired drone controller.
Occasionally, Tau suffering from battlesuit neurosis become aware of their condition, and as such assume the role of Monat voluntarily. Realizing that they can no longer function effectively within a team, these individuals often adopt the Soul Cleanse configuration. Equipped with a selection of close-range weaponry, the Monat will often operate within enemy lines, sowing confusion and death with his flamer and neutralizing armour and heavy infantry with his fusion blaster. The shield generator mounted on one of the hard points, combined with the defense afforded by the gun drones, protects the Monat from harm long enough for him to make his escape.
Those adopting the Soul Cleanse configuration can buy their companions valuable time, allowing them to fall back or regroup without pursuit. Some consider this close-in tactic akin to courting death. Certainly, it is true that only the bravest and most confident among the Tau assume this pattern.
CRISIS TEAMS - THE WISDOM OF THE AUN
This is by necessity a simple outline of the four major septs and their tactical methods. All Tau commanders tend to be protective of their Crisis teams and see their doctrines as part of that protection. Battlesuits are not for impetuous attacks or heroic last stands. They are the most flexible troops available to the Fire caste and they must be used in concert with a combined arms cadre to be fully effective. Without supporting railgun fire to give enemy tanks pause for thought or Kroot auxiliaries to threaten the enemy with the possibility of being overrun, Crisis teams become far less effective. Always consider the rest of your army first and then decide what Crisis teams you need to cover its weaknesses and augment its strengths. No matter what the Crisis team members might think, it's all for the Greater Good.