I’m not quite sure how to classify this post, as I’m not actively working on or buying up Tau, but I certainly am thinking about it. I know I’m not alone in this. As the Tau are once again the new kids on the block, with their shiny new codex, uber-suits and more missiles than you can missile a missile at, they will be getting an awful lot of attention in the coming months.
So, if Tau weren’t able to capture my interest long enough for an army to come together in 4th/5th edition, what might make things different today?
For starters, it’s the beginning of their codex cycle, so I’d be getting more mileage out of the book and miniatures. In addition, I actually have some ideas for theming up and converting the army so it doesn’t look like every other Tau list out there. A lot of folks out there are disappointed in the lack of depth for the “Empire” part of the Tau Empire. They haven’t added any new races, nor have they really fleshed out the existing ones in terms of new units. Luckily, my plan directly addresses this. How? By hijacking all of the cool alien goodness from something most of us are already familiar with — the Mass Effect universe.
It’s a crazy amount of work, but there’s a lot of material there to work with. Plenty of different races, characters and technologies that can be ported over to Tau fairly easily. Let’s run through some of the main units to see how this could work…
One of the hardest things to figure out initially was the big centerpiece unit, the Riptide. Took forever to figure out what to do with it until all of a sudden I realized it would make a pretty good Geth Prime. Some muscle fibre/ribbed cable type texture, plus a new neck/head, and job’s a good un.
Next up, a core unit. Fire Warriors obviously don’t quite look the part in a Mass Effect themed list, so what else could work? Everybody loves a good Gue’vesa conversion! My plan would be to use Elysian Drop Troopers with those sweet-ass bullpup lasrifles modified to look halfway between a Harrier rifle from ME3 and a Tau pulse rifle. Essentially it’s just a fancy way of saying “barrel swap”. The dual tip look of the pulse rifle is pretty darn close.
For a little variety in Troops, Vorcha make a great Kroot proxy. Swap some spare Dryad heads on there, and good enough! The Varren/Kroot Hounds parallel is also just about perfect. If only it were feasible to sculpt an Elcor for a Krootox… sadly my skills aren’t up to that level.
OK so the ball is rolling with these aliens, let’s keep it going! Pathfinders are pretty clutch for any Tau army, and who better than Salarians to represent these spec ops badasses? The Forge World Air Caste Pilots will make a great starting point for this conversion. A bit of greenstuff and Dremel work to their noggins and that’s 95% of the job done.
And if you want to add some more firepower to the squad, some Turians will be happy to bring some beefy rifles to bear. If you feel the need to do some calibrations, consider making one Garrus/Darkstrider. For a conversion, Mixmaster Longstrike is actually a pretty bang-on approximation of Turian armor. Just repose the left leg and give him Pathfinder plastic arms and you’re home free.
For some cool vehicles, you can actually get a decent variety of ME3 ships from the Bioware online store for about $35. They measure around 6″ or so, which is in the right ballpark for 40k skimmers. Maybe a tad small for planes, but for the price you can’t complain.
Anyway, to wrap this thing up, the HQ are one of the things I haven’t quite figured out yet. Shadowsun as Liara is one of the only things I can come up with, and it’s a bit of a stretch. For Shepard, it’s hard not to go with a Commander with Onager Gauntlet (omni-blade). Just paint the suit with the stripe and an N7 badge somewhere, and don’t fuss about it too much.
Oh, and you simply must have a Battlesuit with Failsafe Detonator named Kaidan. That’s not even an option.