The Tau Empire has only expanded into space during the last thousand years. Despite this they have made remarkable progress in developing both civilian and military starships, and have now reached a level where their ships can be compared to Imperial designs.
The development of the Tau fleet (known as the Kor’vattra in Tau) has been given the highest priority by the Ethereal Caste. Without the Kor’vattra the manifest destiny of the Tau could never be realised and as a species their existence would be at the mercy of celestial phenomena such as meteors or supernova.
Once unified by the Ethereal Caste the Tau made incredible technological progress. By M39 they had spread through the T’au system and ringed their homeworld with orbital research and manufacturing facilities. Further expansion required a drive system capable of spanning interstellar distances however and this proved to be a formidable barrier.
Tau vessels already used a form of gravitic drive.This projected a sheath of gravitic energy ahead of and around the vessel which was continually re-projected further ahead, drawing the ship behind it rather like an archaic sail. For two hundred tau’cyr the Water Caste grappled with the problem only for the breakthrough to be handed to them.
On the innermost of T’au seven’s moons a routine geological survey discovered the remains of an alien vessel. The significance of the find did not disrupt Tau society as much as might have been expected. Tau theorists had long reasoned that other life forms existed and the verification helped confirm the belief that there was a greater destiny awaiting them. No Tau commented on the sheer good fortune of finding the technology that they so desperately needed on their doorstep just when they needed it.
The Tau were able to duplicate the warp drive of the alien ship but the initial test flights were disastrous. Achieving transition to the Warp required more than technology, it required psychically attuned minds and the Tau race boasted no psykers. Without them to guide the transition no amount of power could breach the dimensional barriers. The best the Tau could do was make a partial transition, forcing themselves into the void that separated Warpspace and real space before they were hurled out again like a ball held under water then released.
Data gathered at great cost during the test flights was studied closely. The Water caste scientists made the observation that the boundary between real space and warp space was not a neat line. It was closer to being a turbulent ocean fomented by the tempestuous warp tides below. By carefully angling their descent toward the Warp and extending the field generated by the gravitic drive into a wing, shaped to hold the vessel down a Tau vessel could extend the duration of the dive considerably. The speeds achieved in the ascent back to real space were staggering and this coupled with the effect of the Warp on time and space ensured that the real distance covered by the dive was immense. Early tests lost several drone ships because they inadvertently passed far beyond the sensor range of their recovery vessels.
The details were soon resolved. There was still a major constraint, only the most powerful (and bulky) drives could sustain the gravitic wing throughout the dive and the power drain meant that considerable recharge time was needed between dives. Also by comparison to actually navigating the warp the pace was still very slow. Taking typical Imperial Warp speeds the Tau drive was slower by a factor of five. The speed was consistent though, did not expose the Tau to the perils of the Warp and enabled the Tau to expand beyond their home star for the first time.
The first major class of Starships built were the ponderous Gal’leath (trans. Explorer). These leviathans laid the foundations for the Tau Empire and formed the basis of the Kor’vattra for its first wars with the Orks and the Niccassar. The Niccassar were less advanced than the Tau and after their speedy defeat were one of the first other races absorbed into the Empire. The Orks however posed a major problem. Their ships were faster, better shielded and more heavily armed. Against such a dangerous enemy the Gal’leath class was simply too expensive a resource to risk. Fortunately new, more compact gravitic drives led to the introduction of the smaller Il’fannor (trans. Merchant) class. To counter the numerous Ork escorts the Tau developed their own Kass’l (trans. Orca) gunships. The Tau were slow to build a gravitc drive with sufficient power for Warp dives small enough to create an independent escort so the Kass’l would travel inside a larger vessels gravitic sheath over long distances, disengaging when back in normal space. This combined with the introduction of super-heavy ion cannons and barracuda fighters helped restore the balance, but it was the power and efficiency of the Tau shipyards that prevented the Empire from being devastated.
最初建造的星舰主要是笨重的探险家级（Gal’leath ），这些庞然大物建立了Tau帝国的基础，同时构成了Tau舰队在它最初针对Ork和Niccassar战争中的主要力量。Niccassar不如Tau发达，很快被击败并成为了第一个被吸纳进帝国的其他种族。然而Ork成为了主要问题，他们的船更快、防护更好、火力更强（……，针对Niccassar or Tau？）对于如此危险的敌人，探险家级太过保贵以至于不能冒险。幸好更新、更紧凑的重力引擎带来了更小的商人级（Il’fannor）。为了对抗众多的Ork护航舰Tau发展了他们的虎鲨级炮舰。由于Tau在建造能提供足够能量进行亚空间潜航、同时小得足以装备一艘独立的护航舰的重力引擎方面进展缓慢，虎鲨级在进行长距离航行时需进入大型船只的重力护罩中，而在进入常规空间后分离。这与超重型离子炮和梭鱼机相结合，一同恢复了战力的平衡。Tau船坞的能力和效率使得他们的帝国免于崩溃。
Tau weapons use the following special rules:
Tau turrets are extremely sophisticated combining a range of weapon types with overlapping fire zones. Note the Tracking Systems special rules.
Ion cannon shots vaporise the object struck magnifying the energy discharge. Armour is of no value against them. They function as lances in all respects.
Railguns of the size mounted on warships require massive amounts of energy to fire despite Tau superconductors. Because of this, power is routed to a single barrel at a time. The sequence is timed to ensure the first barrel is reloaded before it is charged again. Railguns function as standard weapons batteries.
Gravitic launchers are massive railguns where mass drivers trigger the initial acceleration before the ships gravitic field is pulsed to squeeze the missiles toward the enemy at enormous speed. The missiles are dronecontrolled and exceptionally dangerous. See the ordnance section for more details.
Gravitic Hooks are large, suspensory arms which create a gravitic sheath in which a small vessel can be transported by a larger one. However, gravitic hooks have no effect in game terms – ships do not start a game attached to their parent ship, and can never be docked during a game. Likewise, the number of gravitic hooks is unimportant when calculating victory points (your opponent does not get VPs for surviving escorts just because there aren’t enough gravitic hooks to notionally transport them to safety).
Tau systems use the following special rules:
Tau shields are formed by shaping the gravitic field to repel incoming fire. They function as normal shields in every respect.
The deflector is a specialised shield generally mounted on the prow of the latest Tau ships. It turns the gravitic sheath around the vessel into a dense wedge, which is far more effective against incoming fire. If fired at from the front the deflector augments the passive armour which counts as armour 6. Deflectors are always mounted on the prow and will be disabled if the ship suffers a prow weapons damaged critical. Deflectors are NOT shields and do not count as such for the purpose of boarding, blast markers or other effects which apply to shields.
Tau Messengers boast highly advanced data storage and processing facilities to cope with the vast amounts of information they carry. When linked to ship sensors though this processing power can be used to provide a direct feed to the ships turrets. In fleet actions Messengers can route this data to nearby Tau vessels. Any Tau vessel within 10cm of a ship with tracking systems may re-roll misses when using turrets, and ignores the column shift when firing batteries at ranges above 30cm. Tracking systems continue to function even if a ship is braced for impact.
Unless noted otherwise, Tau vessels follow all the normal rules from the Battlefleet Gothic rulebooks. A few salient notes follow to avoid any confusion and outline a few exceptions.
Tau ships use the standard critical hit table.
Tau ships roll leadership normally.
Tau ships may not conduct teleport hit and run attacks.
Boarding strength is half normal for the size of ship.
A Note on Tau Weapon Configurations
Tau rail gun and lance batteries are extremely sophisticated with advanced targeting systems that allow several individual weapons to engage each designated target regardless of their relative positions on the Tau ship. Where individual turrets and batteries may be relatively weak, combining firezones in this manner make Tau railguns and ion cannons fearsome prospects, especially in forward firing arc, where turrets from all over the vessel can combine against a single enemy vessel or squadron.
GAL’LEATH (EXPLORER) CLASS STARSHIP 230 points
The Explorer was the breakthrough for Tau science that made the empire possible. Its massive reactor was capable of sustaining the gravitic drive over lengthy dives. Based on average speeds using full warp travel, not that the average means a great deal, the drive was slower by a factor of five. It was adequate though and the Explorer could also boast massive cargo capacity, extensive research facilities and most importantly the ability to serve as a mobile dock for semi-independent ships. Its cargo bays were large enough to carry modular orbital units, waystations and even (more recently)message boats. It was the galleon of the Tau Empire and for nearly a hundred tau’cyr it was the only class of ship continually in production. During this time it moved from mark I to XXIII benefiting from a succession of improvements and special adaptations. Conflict with the Orks was the class’ death knell. It was not a specialist warship and its weaponry was incapable of keeping Terrorships and Killkroozers at a distance. Work on the Merchant class was accelerated. When it was complete production of the Explorer dropped 85%. Refits have proceeded though and the profiles represent the most common variant in service and the most recent upgrade.
Tau族探险家级是Tau在科技上的重大突破，使得Tau帝国成为可能。它的重型反应堆可以支持长距离潜航所需的重力引擎。相较于亚空间航行的平均速度，这种方法的速度只有五分之一，但对于Tau来说这速度还算适当。探险家级具有携带大量货物的能力，拥有广大的研究设施，最重要的是具有作为半独立船只移动船坞的能力。她的货舱大的足以容纳下标准化轨道单元、中间站甚至信使舰。她是Tau帝国的大帆船，在几乎100Tau星年里她是唯一在建的船型。在这期间，得益于持续的改进，她从Mark 1型发展到Mark 23型，同时还有许多适应性改型。与Ork的冲突敲响了此型船只的丧钟。她不是特别设计的战舰，她的武器不足以在一定距离外阻止Terrorships（航空重巡）和Killkroozers（大堆短程炮的重巡），商人级的进度因此被大大加快，当她完成时探险家级的产量立刻下降了85%。但探险家级的改装仍在继续，轮廓显示出最近的升级和任务变化。
FAMOUS SHIPS: DAL’YTH GAL’LEATH KESSAN
This vessel may be the last of the Explorer class starships to be built on Dal’yth. Explorer construction is now being wound down and most work involves converting the older Mk XXIII’s to the Mk XXIV design developed by the Water Caste of Bor’kan. Kor’O Kessan is a veteran captain of this class of ship and together with the bulk of his crew was assigned his new vessel after surviving an attack by Ork pirates on the edge of the Damocles Gulf. The Dal’yth Gal’leath Kessan has been outfitted with Mantas and is to be the flagship for a major expedition into the Farsight Enclave under the overall direction of Aun’shi himself and including a scientific team lead by the venerated biologist Por’O Jess’l. Much of the Explorer’s cavernous hold has been converted to laboratories prior to the mission.
这条船可能是最后一艘在Dal’yth建造的探险家级星舰。探险家级的建造现在已经降温，多数工作都是致力于将老式的23型转换为由Bor’kan的水氏族开发的24型。Kor’O Kessan是一名在此型船上富有经验的船长，从达摩克勒斯湾边缘一次Ork海盗攻击中幸存后，和他多数船员一样被分配到这艘新船上。Dal’yth Gal’leath Kessan号配备了曼塔机群，作为一支派往远见殖民地的远征队的旗舰，该远征队由Aun’shi全面负责，包括由受人尊敬的生物学家Por’O Jess’l带领的一支科学家队伍。在此次任务中，探险家级的许多舱室被改建为实验室。
IL’FANNOR (MERCHANT) CLASS STARSHIP 105 pts
The Merchant class was originally developed to be the new workhorse of the empire. Its reactors were a fraction of the size of the Explorer’s power plant but were capable of reaching a third of average warp speed, essential to bind together the emergent Tau empire. Conflict with the Orks caused significant revision of the design with field modifications that allowed virtually all the cargo space to be converted to weapons systems if needed. The continued requirements of the fleet ensured that the Merchant class remained predominantly a warship until the Hero class was laid down.
TAU’N IL’FANNOR UR’AKYM DRIMMA
Built in the popular Ke’lshan configuration this Merchant vessel has been trading in Imperial space for almost two centuries under a succession of commanders. Operating a network of rogue trader contacts and deep space meeting points Tau goods are exchanged for Imperial technology and the services of Imperial citizens. On three separate occasions the Tau’n Il’fannor Ur’akym Drimma has been closely pursued by Imperial frigates and on each occasion it has managed to fight them off although during the last encounter its Orcas were lost luring an Imperial Cobra squadron to fight within an asteroid belt.
在不同的指挥官下，以受欢迎的Ke’lshan配置建造的这艘商人级星舰已经在帝国领域内从事贸易达几乎两个世纪之久。通过一张基于深空会合点、与流浪商人（行商？）接触的网络，Tau的商品被用于交换帝国技术和帝国公民的服务。有三次，Tau’n Il’fannor Ur’akym Drimma被帝国海军护卫舰队紧紧追赶，但每次她都能击退这些护卫舰，在最后一次遭遇战中，她的虎鲨护航舰在引诱一中队帝国Cobra级（貌似是驱逐舰，帝国海军中驱逐舰定级比护卫舰更低）进入小行星带的过程中失踪。
LAR’SHI (HERO) CLASS STARSHIP 180 pts
The pinnacle of Tau technology, the Hero class was the product of Tau experience during the Damocles Gulf Crusade. The Tau were determined that they should have a ship that could match the Imperial Lunar class. As it became evident, they failed but they did succeed in producing a credible ship of the line.
FAMOUS SHIPS: SA’CEA LAR’SHI KHAS’A’TAH
With its weapon systems crewed largely by Fire Caste warriors the Khas’a’tah has quickly developed a formidable reputation in battle. From its baptism of fire when it hunted down and destroyed no less than three Ork Onslaughts with a single salvo of missiles to its most recent encounter with the Dauntless class cruiser Jarrall’s Bane when its Mantas got inside the Imperial vessels shields and set it ablaze the Khas’a’tah has enjoyed unrivalled success. The principal reason for this is Kor’O Khas’a’tah himself, who, though a member of the air caste was raised in an orbital above Sa’cea and is therefore very familiar with the Fire Caste and their ways. His crew is an excellent example of the two castes working together for the greater good.
带着她那被火氏族称赞的武器系统，Khas’a’tah很快在战场上获得了可怕的名声。从最初的战火洗礼中她追上并以仅仅一次导弹齐射击毁至少三艘Ork Onslaught（护航舰级别的小玩意）到她最近与不惧级轻巡洋舰Jarrall’s Bane的遭遇战中她的曼塔机队进入帝国战舰的护盾内并使之起火，Jarrall’s Bane获得了毋庸置疑的胜利。（胜利的）主要原因是Kor’O Khas’a’tah本身，作为气氏族一员的他被提升进入一个在Sa’cea上空的太空站，因此十分熟悉火氏族的战斗之道。他的乘员组便是两个氏族为了河蟹宇宙共同合作的一个绝佳例子。
KIR’QATH (DEFENDER) CLASS STARSHIP
Just as the Lar’shi is the Tau response to the Imperial Lunar class the Kir’Qath is their answer to the Imperial Sword class. The Kir’Qath is the only true escort in the Tau fleet and is used in squadrons to provide close support for the larger vessels. Its main weakness is the lengthy recharge time for its drives. It can make up to half a dozen warp dives in succession but will then be unable to do any more for at least a rot’aa. This means it is not suitable for scouting as it either travels slowly across interstellar space or risks being unable to retreat when it arrives. This can make it a liability in rapid fleet manoeuvres consequently squadrons are spread through Tau space where heavier units can call upon them for support if required.
SKETHER’QAN (MESSENGER) CLASS STARSHIP
The Messenger is the smallest self-sufficient Tau vessel. It mostly comprises a gravitic drive and a hold but it is occasionally used as a fleet scout as it is quite manoeuvrable and has unmatched data handling and communications facilities. These systems were soon adapted for combat applications.The Messenger’s weaponry is purely intended to deter pursuit so in fleet actions it tends to stay close to a capital ship, helping against attack craft in return for protection against true warships.
KASS’L (ORCA) GUNSHIP
The Orca was designed to provide the Tau fleet with an escort. Unable to build a drive light enough to produce a normal escort the Orca is transported within a capital ships gravitic sheath. Once unleashed however it is a powerful gunship able to contend with any Imperial or Ork class.
"I trust you find our vessel to your tastes, Admiral." The Kor’o gestured broadly with his open hands as the visibly uncomfortable Gue’la Admiral strode alongside him. "It lacks some of the… history, heritage you might say, of our own vessels, but indeed, I am impressed by your standards here. I cannot imagine such a plain vessel finding a place in His own glorious fleet, but it will serve for our confidence."
"As you wish Admiral." Continued the Kor’O without the slightest hint of offence "if a man chooses to be blind, you cannot always force him to see." The two men, the two races indeed, stared at one another for a moment, the Kor’O cool and confident, the Admiral nervous and agitated, uncertain as to how to respond. His companion allowed him to sweat in his discomfort for a moment longer before gleefully, turning away in a swift, sweeping stride and continuing down the corridor.
"Come," beckoned the Kor’O, "you must meet our leader."
* * * * *
The Tau captain pushed open a wide set of oval doors, and ushered Admiral Rada through. Rada stepped in, expecting the Kor’O to follow, but instead heard a dull click as the doors were pushed shut behind him. Instead, a second, wizened Tau emerged from behind a row of curtains at the far end of the room in which Rada now found himself.
"Greetings," said the newcomer, "I am Aun’O Tau Kelith, and I bid you welcome Admiral Rada. I trust you do not object to the presence of my companions, but I am aged and sometimes find their assistance necessary." At this, two Fire Warriors stepped forward from their unseen positions either side of the door. Rada’s increasing uncertainly and discomfort remained writ large across his scarred features. The two Fire Warriors nodded calmly at the Admiral before stepping back to stand discreetly beside the door. The Admiral remained silent. "I understand that a number of your own companions are in our care, Admiral Rada, are they not?" The Tau’s previously serene expression suddenly became intensely quizzical, just as his posture suddenly became more stooped. "A number of my sailors were taken prisoner, Tau, yes." Rada was clearly annoyed at the Tau’s turn of phrase, and his tone did little to hide his anger.
“你好，”新来者说道，“我是Aun’O Tau Kelith，欢迎你的到来，Rada上将。我相信你不会反对我同事的在场，但我已经上了年纪，不时需要他们的协助。”这时，两名火战士从他们在门两侧不可见的位置走出来。Rada的不安和不适继续在脸上扩大。两名火战士冷静地向上将点头，然后退回门边。上将保持着。“我明白许多你的人现在在我们的照顾之下，不是么，上将？”随着身体突然曲起，Tau先前冷静的声调突然变为嘲讽，“是的，Tau，我的许多船员被你们俘虏了。”Rada显然对Tau人的短语变化感到苦恼，他的语调没有掩饰他的愤怒。
"I regret that one of these men was rather badly injured after our struggle and we had not the means to treat him. Perhaps if you would be so kind as to share a little medical information about your race with us, we can avoid such needless losses in future, Admiral." Rada just grunted in disapproval at the Tau’s latest suggestion. "Well, perhaps another time, Admiral." The Tau shuffled away a little, towards the distant curtains at the end of the hall. "I am glad at least you have been able to visit us here to discuss the future of your comrades."
Rada stepped forward confidently, seeing a chance to seize control of the conversation. "And I, Tau, am glad at least that you have finally decided to offer your surrender to His most benevolent self, and to I as His honoured representative." Rada paused for a second, hoping to see the Tau squirm as he himself had squirmed moments before. The alien seemed implacable, however, and Rada simply gave a snort of derision before returning to the matter at hand. "Since an armistice is now in force, I have also been instructed to offer you and your race safe passage away from this world. I require only the release of those prisoners you have taken."
"Oh no, Admiral, you misunderstand. We have invited you here at the behest of your crew. They think very highly of you, Admiral Rada, and they have asked that we extend you that same respect. You see, your crew wish for you to join them here…"
The words barely registered with Rada, though his face had begun to turn to consternation as the aged Tau drew open the curtains around the balcony at the farthest edge of the room. Rada was incredulous, fuming with rage and ready to strike down the Aun’O, but as he approached the alien his pace slowed, his face turned to utter shock and he froze in disbelief. From where he now stood, Rada could see over the balcony and into the atrium beneath. Hundreds of his own men, once loyal men of the Imperial Navy, were gathered, milling about with equal crowds of Tau, shedding their uniforms and taking up robes offered to them by the Tau, exchanging gifts and embracing heartily. Beyond this atrium, through a vast starpane, Rada could see his own vessel now surrounded by a cloud of shuttles and boats, Tau and human alike, ferrying crews between the two vessels. Atop Rada’s own bridge, the ancient Aquila’s were gone, replaced with row upon row of alien icons, the same icons he could see now pinned upon the breasts of some of his finest officers.
"…within our Empire," concluded the Aun’O.
Once a supremely rare sight, the gigantic stately commerce vessels of the Demiurg have been seen with increasing regularity in the Ultima Segmentum over recent centuries. Although known in legend among many indigenous races through the region, Demiurg vessels avoid Imperium-claimed space scrupulously unless specifically invited in. Unfortunately, less than scrupulous planetary governors have been known to employ Demiurg forces to bolster their own positions, inviting Inquisitorial censure for their truck with aliens. Fleet strategists have postulated a link between the ships and the expansion of the Tau Empire on the Eastern Fringe, citing three confirmed sightings of Tau/Demiurg or Kroot/Demiurg fleets in the region of the Damocles Gulf. Others have suggested that the nomadic movement of the mysterious Demiurg demonstrates only an opportunistic desire to capitalise on the disruption caused by the Tyranid hivefleets.
DEMIURG SPECIAL RULES
Demiurg stronghold and Bastion class vessels use the following the special rules:
The curious shielding arrangement of Demiurg vessels dissipates the effects of ionised gases and repels larger obstacles in its path. As a result, any Blast marker which a Stronghold moves over is removed immediately – this includes any in base contact with the stronghold at the beginning of its turn. Blast markers have no effect on the movement of the Demiurg ship. Keep markers ‘hoovered up’ like this to one side so they can be used to fire a cutting beam from the prow in the shooting phase. Note that Blast markers moved over must be removed, the Demiurg player can’t choose to remove some markers and leave others in place.
Demiurg ships are totally unaffected by solar flares, gas and dust clouds and radiation bursts. Do not place blast markers in contact with them for celestial phenomena of any kind.
Deployment and Scenarios
Aside from the Tau, who appear to have the strongest known connection with the Demiurg, a number of races have on occassion been reported as having made contact with these aliens. Any fleet except Orks, Tyranids and Necrons can use Demiurg Bastion class vessels; they are purchased as cruisers but do not contribute to the number of ships required to gain access to battleships, grand cruisers, etc. Demiurg ships can never carry fleet commanders, use fleet commander re-rolls or be placed in squadrons with non-Demiurg vessels. Tau fleets (and other races whose fleet list specifically include the Demiurg) ignore these restrictions and should instead select Demiurg vessels using the entries given in their fleet list.
Unless the fleet is entirely composed of Demiurg ships they are considered to be mercenaries and will not continue to fight if crippled. Crippled Demiurg ships will attempt to disengage every turn and run for the nearest point on the nearest table edge if they fail. However, if the Demiurg ship is part of a fleet fighting against Orks it will only disengage if first reduced to only having 1 or 2 Damage points remaining.
Demiurg Stronghold and Bastion class vessels use the following the special rules:
The cutting beam is a short ranged but devastating ionisation beam usually employed for gouging out recalcitrant moonlets. The cutting beam counts as a single lance but each Blast marker picked up by the Bastion in the Movement phase gives the beam the equivalent of one extra lance shot (up to a maximum of 8). Blast markers cannot be held from turn to turn in order to power the cutting beam, any unused ones are lost.
Demiurg ordnance is reconfigured from its automated mining machines within the cavernous dorsal launch bays. Some Demiurg ships are equipped with launch bays which are also permitted to fire torpedoes. If this is the case this will be noted n the ‘Range/Speed’ column of the launch bays profile. Such launch bays can be used to release either attack craft or torpedoes, but not both in the same turn. Note that Demiurg torpedoes and attack craft are not always interchangeable, so Demiurg torpedo tubes cannot be used to launch attack craft, and launch bays may only fire torpedoes if noted in the ship profile.