Options, Upgrades & Wargear
Strike Teams have 5-12 members who come equipped with Pulse Rifles and Photon Grenades by default. They have access to a Shas'ui upgrade character, who in turn allows the squad to bring two Drones. The squad can also purchase EMP Grenades, a DS8 Support Turret, Bonding Knife Ritual, and exchange their Pulse Rifles for Carbines. Shas'Ui
One member can be upgraded to a Shas'ui, a character with improved leadership. A Strike Team with Shas’ui fail leadership tests significantly less often than a Strike Team without a Shas'ui. The Shas'ui is otherwise identical to the other Fire Warriors, except for one extra close combat attack which is rarely of much consequence. The Shas'Ui can take a Markerlight and Target Lock, potentially serving as an ancillary Markerlight source, although this upgrade comes at a relatively high cost.
Like all characters, the Shas'ui can challenge in combat. Shas'ui challenges may be used to act as a wound-sink, preventing enemy characters from killing other models. The ability to issue challenges can occasionally gain VP in Maelstrom missions although the presence of a character in the squad offers the same opportunity to an opponent.Drones
The Shas'ui also unlocks access to Drones from the standard list. Gun Drones can augment the firepower of the unit at close ranges, particularly during Overwatch due to the twin-linked weapons they carry. Shield Drones or Guardian Drones can offer invulnerable saves which can be useful against weapons that bypass Fire Warrior armor and ignore cover. However Drones are significantly more expensive than a Fire Warrior and adding another Fire Warrior to the team is often a more effective choice. The Marker Drones potentially could be used in a “Cascade” style markerlight chain (see the article on Markerlight philosophy
). The inclusion of any Drone raises squad Initiative to four for the purposes of preventing Sweeping Advances or making Initiative tests, such as against attacks with the Blind special rule.Bonding Knife Ritual
The team can take the Bonding Knife Ritual special rule for a moderate cost, which can be useful in certain situations. Strike Teams operating independently of an Ethereal or Cadre Fireblade can break easily, and being bonded can prevent decimated units from running off the table. This upgrade is less useful for units operating at the back edge of the table, because they often do not have the chance to regroup before they run off the table edge. The Bonding Knife Ritual is mandatory for Strike Teams taken in a Farsight Enclaves detachment or formation.Rifles vs. Carbines
Fire Warriors are typically equipped with Pulse Rifles, since they offer better range than Carbines and equal firepower at 15” or less. Carbines are only superior in a few situations; permitting a charge and firing one more shot than rifles between 18"-15”. Carbines are also Pinning weapons.
Units that are Pinned can be ignored for a turn or destroyed with concentrated firepower as necessary. For the more aggressive minded player, a unit that has Gone to Ground cannot fire Overwatch. Further, units charging a unit that has Gone to Ground ignore the initiative penalty for charging through Difficult Terrain. This makes the Pulse Carbine the Tau equivalent to an assault grenade. Ultimately, the Pinning mechanic is extremely unreliable, so it is best to consider it a lucky bonus when it happens rather than planning tactics around it. Instead, the differences in range and rate of fire of the two pulse weapons should be the primary factors when deciding which weapon to equip your Strike Team with. Photon Grenades
Fire Warriors also carry Photon Grenades, which count as Defensive Grenades. Models charging a unit equipped with Photon Grenades will lose their bonus attack against them. In the Shooting Phase, the grenades can be used to make a short-ranged attack with the Blind rule. These benefits are easy to forget, probably because they are not used in every game, but can be surprisingly useful when they do occur. The Blind rule is particularly effective against enemy units with mediocre or poor Initiative, such as Necrons, as a failed Initiative test will reduce their Weapon and Ballistic Skill to 1 for a turn. The combination of Pulse Carbines and Photon Grenades can make an enemy unit tempting to launch an assault at, but remember, with only a few exceptions the Tau are extremely ineffective in melee, so this should only be done to finish off the scattered survivors of a unit, or in times of the direst emergency. EMP Grenades
EMP Grenades are a relatively expensive anti-vehicle weapon with the Haywire special rule; they offer Strike Teams a weapon able to damage the heaviest of vehicles or buildings. This weapon is severely limited however, due to being extremely short range. However, it also can be used in close combat, giving a Strike Team two chances in a turn to bring it to be bear.
The latest FAQ has clarified that only a single model may attack with a grenade in each phase, thus severely limiting the damage output of EMP Grenades on Strike Teams.DS8 Tactical Support Turret
A Strike Team may take a DS8 Tactical Support Turret armed with either a Smart Missile System (SMS) or a Missile Pod. In either case, the turret adds very cost effective firepower to the team whenever it is not moving. The turret itself is stationary, but it may be placed within 2” of the unit on any turn in which the Strike Team did not move in the Movement Phase and is temporarily removed if the Strike Team move out of coherency with it or an enemy unit moves within 2”. The turret itself cannot be harmed which with careful positioning around Line of Sight blocking terrain can permit it to fire without exposing the Strike Team to return fire.
Costing only very slightly more than a single fire warrior the support turret - in either configuration - adds significant firepower to the squad. The SMS has a similar profile to a pulse rifle but delivers twice as many shots at short range and four times as many beyond 15" - these shots additionally have the Ignores Cover rule and may ignore line of sight. The Missile Pod has the same number of shots as the pulse rifle at close range but again more shots beyond 15" and a greater maximum range. With a significantly higher strength and slightly better armour penetration value this weapon is more damaging than the pulse rifle against a range of targets.TY7 Devilfish
The Devilfish can be taken as a Dedicated Transport for Strike Teams. As a transport, the Devilfish is both fairly expensive and reasonably survivable. A Devilfish gives much greater mobility and survivability and a minor increase in firepower to a Strike Team at a significant increase in the cost of the team.
Relevant resources on ATT:A Guide to Markerlight Philosophy