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XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

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An XV8 Crisis Battlesuit of the T'au Sept

The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is the mainstay general combat Tau Battlesuit utilised by the warriors of the Fire Caste of the Tau Empire. It mounts a vast array of fearsome ranged weaponry as well as a complement of technologically advanced support systems on a comparatively small and agile frame that offers the Tau pilot within exceptional protection. Of all the weapons systems employed by the Tau, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is easily the most distinctive and recognisable due to its reputation as an efficient and lethal weapon of war.

The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit strikes a perfect balance between offensive capability, armoured protection, speed, manoeuvrability and utility. It is a towering Tau Battlesuit, easily twice the size of the Fire Warrior who wears it. A wonder of Earth Caste engineering, only the Tau could master the secrets of producing the dense nanocrystalline alloy that forms the thick protective armour of the XV8. When it comes to deflecting and withstanding damage, the XV8's armour is comparable to the ceramite used by the Imperium of Man's Space Marines, but weighs substantially less. Agile for its size, the XV8 is extremely manoeuvrable as it mounts a Jetpack with repulsor jet engines -- another unique Earth Caste invention that combines the functionality of a jet with antigravitic technology. These powerful thrusters allow the XV8 to vault battlefield obstacles and to make bounding leaps to gain advantageous firing positions, or to avoid incoming shots. By firing off the jets to slow descent, it is possible for a warrior in a XV8 Crisis Battlesuit to make a combat drop -- arriving to the battlefield suddenly by leaping from an airborne Orca or Manta transport aircraft. While its protective armour and mobility are highly valued by the Tau, it is the ability of the XV8 Battlesuit to carry multiple weapons and support systems that makes them so incredibly dangerous and versatile. Designed to compensate for the recoil of light weapons fire, the XV8's weapon loadout can be easily altered to reflect mission requirements or the pilot's own personal preference. Additional upgrades, from Multi-Tracker fire-control systems, to Homing Beacons or Shield Generators, further enhance the fighting abilities of this impressive Battlesuit.

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XV8 Crisis Battlesuits supporting Fire Warriors against the Space Marines

To the Tau, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is more than just a powerful weapon of war; it is also the foremost symbol of great achievement, honour and reputation. Only those Fire Warriors who prove themselves in battle earn the right to wear it and bear the name of Shas'ui –- the first honoured rank that can pilot a Tau Battlesuit. To do so is a great honour, and means the Fire Warrior has passed his first Trial by Fire. This is the aspiration of every Fire Caste warrior -- recognition of a mastery of the Code of Fire and noble service to the Greater Good.

The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Team is the most widely deployed of any Tau Battlesuit formation, for they are the very epitome of Tau warfare -- mobile, flexible and absolutely bristling with firepower. A XV8 Crisis Battlesuit squad is an elite force and often forms the cutting edge of a Hunter Cadre’s attacks; they can be used as a powerful reserve held by the Tau Commander, to counter-attack against advancing foes or to deliver the final hammer blow that is unleashed to break the opposition once and for all. Trained to operate either alone or, more commonly, in teams of two or three warriors, XV8 Crisis Teams can be equipped to handle a variety of battlefield roles and can operate to maximum effectiveness in many different environments with simple system load-out changes. For instance, to combat vast numbers, a Crisis Team might employ many Burst Cannons, as its high rate of fire is ideal for scything down lightly armoured infantry. Against more powerful or heavily armoured foes, the ceramite-melting blasts fired from Plasma Rifles are preferable, while the close-ranged Fusion Blaster is unrivalled for tank-hunting teams. Different Tau Septs have their own preferred weapon and support system fits in accordance with their proscribed tactics. For example, the Crisis Teams from Vior'la have a predilection for what is called the Sun Forge configuration -- three XV8 Crisis Battlesuits operating together in a formation known as a ta 'ro 'cha - "three minds as one" in the Tau Lexicon. XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are versatile and formidable weapons that the enemies of the Tau Empire have learned to respect, and these weapon systems are a prevalent sight in the military forces of the Tau Empire.

History

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Tau Battlesuits being deployed to repel Imperial Space Marines during the Zeist Campaign

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits have been utilised almost since the start of Tau expansion into the space surrounding their homeworld and the nearby star systems in the Ultima Segmentum. Since then, the XV8 has been fielded in almost every single engagement of the Fire Caste against those who would oppose the Greater Good, from the largest such as the Damocles Gulf Crusade, to smaller instances such as the Kappa Mortis Incident.

The advancement of the battlesuit has mirrored the rate at which the Tau have expanded across the galaxy. The earliest prototypes were field-tested during the early stages of the First Sphere Expansion, and although they were successful, the going was slow. In 576.M39, improvements in anti-gravitic motors were combined with the relatively new Tau Battlesuit technology at the time to form the first T-series Battlesuits, which helped the Fire Caste complete the annexation of the Tash’var Sept. The earliest prototypes were field-tested during the early stages of the First Sphere Expansion, and although they were successful, the going was slow. The original fossil fuel-powered T-series was quickly replaced with the V-series, which used fission reaction, although radiation poisoning was still problematic. It was not until the end of that first period of rapid growth that Battlesuit technology began to regularly appear within the Hunter Cadres. Not surprisingly, it was at these final stages that the Tau won their largest battles, as the elite formations began to refine their tactics to take advantage of what the armoured suits could do.

By the start of the Second Sphere Expansion, great strides had been made in XV8 Crisis Battlesuit design, particularly in the areas of power sources and the increased potency of weapon load-outs. By the end of this period, repulsor jump jet technology came into its own and the Hunter Cadres were conquering new planets in the name of the Tau Empire at a rate never before seen. At present, XV8 Crisis Battlesuits have never been more successful, and continual upgrades, different marks and variants, as well as new prototypes are continually being developed to advance the Greater Good.

The devastating power of XV8 Crisis Battlesuits can be clearly be seen when looking back upon large scale conflicts during the Tau Empire’s three spheres of expansion. During the Damocles Gulf Crusade, the Imperium learned the true power of the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit when their ground advances on Dal’yth Prime were met with timely counter attacks from Tau Battlesuit formations. Night was the worst, as under the cover of darkness, Fire Warriors in XV8 Crisis Battlesuits made swift, hard-hitting strikes. With their superior optics technology, major losses were inflicted upon the Imperial armour, with little damage being suffered in return. Mankind's elite Space Marines attempted to land behind Tau lines and regain the initiative, but were defeated by teams of heavily armed XV8s whose formidable firepower quickly downed their transports.

Tactical Role

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Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuits in action

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XV8 Crisis Battlesuits descending into battle

The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit’s greatest strength lies in mobility and ranged firepower -- it is the XV8's role to get to the right place, at the right time and eliminate the right targets. XV8s are extremely versatile in that they can be equipped with a wide selection of weapons and combat support systems. This allows this Battlesuit to effectively engage almost any type of enemy it encounters, whether they be heavy or light, infantry or vehicle; the XV8 is capable of tackling any enemy units that the normal Fire Warrior Shas'la Teams cannot handle. The XV8 is also capable of operating in almost any tactical environment, including extreme low-light conditions where their advanced sensor arrays can be combined with a Blacksun Filter to allow for the accurate identification and targeting of enemies. With the small modification of replacing the standard Tau Jetpack with marine impellers, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is even capable of operating underwater effectively.

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits will often be found in combat where the fighting is thickest and will take the brunt of any enemy attack so that the rest of the Tau Hunter Cadre can advance or retreat. XV8s are usually deployed from Tau transport aircraft such as the Orca and Manta, where their Jetpacks allow them to descend from high altitudes safely. Their incorporated Jetpacks also allow these Battlesuits to pounce out of cover towards the enemy and strafe them before retreating out of range once again. This makes the XV8 hard to counter and very difficult for the enemy to engage.

The XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Team is the most widely deployed of any Tau Battlesuit formation, for they are the very epitome of Tau warfare -- mobile, flexible and absolutely bristling with firepower. They are an elite force and often form the cutting edge of a Hunter Cadres' attacks; they can be used as a powerful reserve held by the Tau Commander, to counter-attack against advancing foes or to deliver the final hammer blow that is unleashed to break the opposition once and for all. XV8 Crisis Battlesuits can be equipped to handle a variety of battlefield roles. For instance, to combat vast numbers, a XV8 Crisis Team might employ Burst Cannon weapon systems, as their high rate of fire is ideal for scything down lightly armoured infantry. Against more powerful or heavily armoured foes, the ceramite-melting blasts fired from Plasma Rifles are preferable, while the close-ranged Fusion Blaster is unrivalled for tank-hunting teams. The Fire Caste doctrine laid down in the Code of Fire instructs all warriors to fight closely together, with each member of a team doing his utmost to protect not just his comrades, but also nearby teams in his Cadre. With this training, Tau XV8 Crisis Battlesuits can use overlapping fields of fire to provide all nearby teams with mutual support on the battlefield in the case of enemy assaults.

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits commonly operate in teams of three, called Ta'ro'cha in the Tau Lexicon ("three minds as one"), and can be equipped for a variety of different battlefield roles. Many different Fire Warrior Septs have developed their own Battlesuit tactics and their preferred weapon and support system load outs are intended to enhance these proscribed tactics. These techniques are taught in each Sept's military academies, where respected Shas'vre pass on their knowledge. Some examples of these tactical formations include the Vior'la Death Rain and Burning Eye configurations, or the T'au Fireknife and Blinding Spear patterns. For example, the XV8 Crisis Teams from Vior'la have a predilection for what is called the Sun Forge configuration. Each member of the XV8 Crisis Team is armed with a twin-linked Fusion Blaster and Target Lock, a combination that turned an entire Leman Russ tank company into piles of slag during the Tau counter-attacks on Dal'yth Prime. However, there are those XV8 pilots who have lost their team members and operate alone. These embittered Monat pilots often choose to undertake dangerous missions where the risks are extremely high, and will often be deployed to undertake tactically vital missions which they are not likely to survive; such sacrifices are sometimes necessary in pursuit of the Greater Good. In the dense street fights amidst the ruins of Nimbosa, the T'olku Sept employed lone Monat warriors in an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit armed with a Flamer, Burst Cannon and Stimulant Injector (the Lone Hunter configuration) , which proved the most effective means of driving the many Imperial Guard regiments out of their defensive barricades.

Known Formations

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A Tau Commander piloting his XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit against the enemies of the Tau Empire

  • Farstrike Battlesuit Force - The Tau way of war is, in many aspects, very different from that of the Imperium of Man. The starkest difference can be found in the Tau Fire Caste's willingness to make strategic withdrawals, giving ground to the enemy when holding it will prove too costly. Despite this propensity, the Fire Caste acknowledges that sacrifices must be made for the Greater Good. A Farstrike Battlesuit force, also known to the Tau as a Mission Denial Force, is a group of Battlesuit pilots that have volunteered for a mission that they may have little hope of surviving. On the eve of the battle, the warriors go before an Ethereal and make a solemn promise that they will not withdraw until ordered to do so. This simple ceremony seals the pilots into a warrior brotherhood where all are of equal status and rank, unbreakable even unto death. The operations that a Farstrike Battlesuit Force may be dispatched on commonly involve the capturing of a key enemy position prior to the main force of the Tau army breaking through enemy lines. The Tau do not hold ground simply for the sake of it, so the objective will be one of vital importance to their strategic aims. Often the target will be one the Tau need to keep intact. Perhaps the Tau wish to capture an important individual to force the capitulation of a recalcitrant alien race to the Greater Good. Or perhaps they wish to leave a world's infrastructure intact and prevent the enemy from demolishing key sites as they retreat. The deployment of a Mission Denial Force ensures the Tau have the element of surprise. Even though it may cost the Fire Caste the lives of the Farstrike Battlesuit Force's members, the means are justified in the furtherance of the end that is the Greater Good.
  • Rapid Insertion Force - It is not the Tau way of war to fight protracted, static battles. Aggressive use of mobility and firepower are key to the success of Fire Warriors. A large part of this success is dependent upon the activities of a cadre's Stealthsuit Teams -- their role is to find the enemy, create diversions and launch surprise attacks, while acting as a rear guard should things go poorly. A Rapid Insertion Force is a specialised formation that strikes suddenly against key enemy units or establishes a perimeter to hold ground until other Fire Caste units arrive, delivering the Mont’ka, or the killing blow, to the foe. In this force, a single Stealth Team leads the way for a more heavily armed force of several Crisis Battlesuit teams (usually three to five). The entire force trains together before a battle, so that they can deliver a swift and effective attack that stuns the enemy, allowing further Tau forces to move forward unmolested. A Rapid Insertion Force will often await deployment in a sub-orbital Manta, whilst the Stealthsuit Team moves in and infiltrates the battlefield, selecting critical targets before triggering their homing beacon. Once the Stealthsuits are in position, the Battlesuits of the Rapid Insertion Force airdrop from altitude and use their Jetpacks to zone in on the Stealthsuit team’s coordinates. Marker Lights will stream around them from the streaking Tau air fleet above, lighting up targets even as the XV8 Crisis Battlesuits descend from the skies -- their impressive arsenal of weapons already blazing away in unison at the greatest threat. Once on the ground, the whole formation then works together with the element of surprise to pin the enemy down and secure the area. Occasionally, an XV104 Riptide Battlesuit is assigned to a Rapid Insertion Force, adding its own tremendous firepower to the sudden Battlesuit onslaught.
  • XV8 Crisis Bodyguard Teams - It is customary for many Tau Commanders to choose the most experienced warriors from amongst the XV8 Crisis Teams to become their bodyguards -- their saz 'nami, or literally translated their "close protection officers." Only those veteran Fire Warriors with impeccable battle records and have reached the rank of Shas'vre are considered worthy enough to serve their Commander in such a capacity. XV8 Crisis Bodyguard Teams are among the most respected of all Fire Caste warriors, for they embody the philosophy of striving for the Greater Good. It is their duty to protect their Commander at all costs, and will even take incoming shots intended for their leader. Tau battle lore is rife with heroic tales of individuals leaping in front of their Commander to confront a monstrous beast, or in order to save him from a shot from some powerful energy weapon. Should it be necessary, an XV8 Crisis Bodyguard will sacrifice his own life in order to spare his Commander from certain death. It is considered a great disgrace for a Bodyguard to survive whilst his leader is slain; any who suffer such indignity often spend their remaining lifetime atoning for that which can ultimately have no forgiveness. XV8 Crisis Bodyguard Teams can draw upon the latest cutting-edge Battlesuit wargear -- prototypes that are still being tested for standard issue. Commander Dawnstar, of the Dal'yth Sept, keeps his bodyguard outfitted in the rare XV8-02 Crisis Iridium Battlesuits -- a luxury that few other Commanders can arrange. Not surprisingly, the bolder a Commander is, the shorter the lifespan of his XV8 Crisis Bodyguard Team. Those who favour leading from the front, such as serving as the bait in a Kauyon strategy, or as part of the hammer blow in a Mont'ka, greatly increase their own risks. The hot-blooded Commanders of the Vior'la Sept must routinely recruit new bodyguards to replace those lost in battle. In response to this habitually aggressive approach, the master strategist Commander Puretide, who always preached of the importance of balance, would have repeated his oft-quoted remark: "A wise leader must learn when and where to use his every asset to its best capability." This wisdom recognises that a Commander flanked by two elite Shas'vre warriors in Crisis Battlesuit armour is a formidable formation, more than capable of shrugging off enemy shots and dealing out prodigious amounts of firepower. However, the risk of losing such an important unit must always be weighed.

Armament

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An early design of an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

XV8 Crisis Battlesuits strike a perfect balance between offensive capability, armoured protection, manoeuvrability, and utility. They are towering in size; easily twice the size of the Fire Warrior who wears it. To many Tau, they are a wonder and marvel of Earth Caste engineering. XV8s go into battle heavily armed with potent weapons systems that are backed up by combat support systems that allow them to fight more effectively. However, no matter the Battlesuit configuration or weapons load-out, all XV8 Crisis Battlesuits share some common features. These include the advanced sensors built into the primary sensor cluster that serves as the Battlesuit’s "head." These sensors, which consist of a number of variable spectrum passive sensors and active scanners, allow the Battlesuit to detect hidden enemy units and their movement; this is information that can then be transmitted back to Tau command units. All XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are also equipped with a Blacksun Filter, which is an advanced optical system that enhances and magnifies a warrior's low-light vision whilst simultaneously filtering bright flares of light that could blind him in battle, and a Multi-Tracker; a sophisticated fire control system that is mounted in a sensor node that assists Battlesuit pilots in engaging enemy threats by using multiple armaments at once; making them formidable opponents in a wide variety of battle conditions.

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Tau Battlesuit Size Comparison, from left to right: Fire Warrior in Combat Armour, XV25 Stealthsuit, XV8 Crisis Battlesuit, XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit, XV88 Broadside Battlesuit, XV104 Riptide Battlesuit, and XV02 Pilot Battlesuit

As with all Tau Battlesuits, XV8s are protected by a thick, dense nano-crystalline alloy armour named Fio'tak in the Tau Lexicon. This advanced alloy has a highly impact resistance structure, and is malleable and corrosive resistant, thus making it extremely resilient in the face of combat damage. Even the armour’s shape helps deflect solid projectiles, while a reflective liquid metal coating can reflect medium-grade laser fire. When it comes to deflecting and withstanding damage, the XV8's armour is comparable to the ceramite used by the Imperium's Space Marines. The material is also lightweight, which keeps the Battlesuit’s own weight down and reinforces its ground-based manoeuvrability. This reduced weight also means the XV8 can operate effectively using its Tau Jetpack to provide enhanced mobility. By firing off the jets to slow a descent, an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can even drop into combat zones from transport aircraft like the Orca and the Manta. The Jetpack, which is another common feature of most Tau Battlesuits, combines anti-gravitic and repulsor aero-jet technology to make the Battlesuit extremely agile for its size. Its powerful thrusters allow an XV8 to vault battlefield obstacles and to make bounding leaps to gain advantageous firing positions, or to avoid incoming shots. All XV8 Crisis Battlesuits also greatly augment the natural physical strength of their pilot, and grant the warrior within the Battlesuit the ability to smash apart light armoured vehicles in close combat, if necessary. XV8 Crisis Battlesuits also feature retractable fingers built into their forearms for use in more delicate -- and often non-combat -- tasks.

An XV8 Crisis Battlesuit has three hard-points, which means that any combination of up to three weapons and combat support systems can be mounted on the Battlesuit's chassis. All Tau Battlesuit weapon systems are fully integrated and supplied by continuous, high yield power relays and ammunition hoppers. XV8 Crisis Battlesuits are also designed with advanced recoil absorption technology, meaning that they can fire their weapons at maximum capacity and with maximum accuracy, even when on the move. XV8 Crisis Battlesuit pilots of the rank of Shas’vre or higher can also take a limited amount of Battlesuit wargear. Combat support systems listed as hard-wired are cybernetic in nature, and are either entirely contained within the Battlesuit helmet, or are implanted within the Fire Warrior's body as warrior jewellery and cannot be removed without surgery. Special issue items and signature systems are experimental or hard to mass produce, and are currently undergoing field-testing prior to becoming widely available. As such, their distribution is usually limited to one per Hunter Cadre. Signature systems, like Battlesuit wargear, can only be taken by Battlesuit pilots of rank Shas’vre or higher. Any XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can also be accompanied by up to two Tau Drones into battle, such as Gun Drones, Shield Drones and Marker Drones.

Available XV8 Battlesuit Weapon Systems

Below is a list of the most common available weapon systems that an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can be armed with. It is possible for an XV8 to be armed with multiples of the same weapon.

  • Airbursting Fragmentation Projector (Special Issue) – An Airbursting Fragmentation Projector is an experimental Tau weapon that scatters fragmentation bomblets over a wide area, at a height calculated by a simple AI (artificial intelligence) within each bomblet, to cause optimum damage.
  • Burst Cannon – Burst Cannons utilise a similar form of plasma induction technology found in Tau Pulse weapons, and are multi-barrelled weapons capable of sustaining high rates of fire.
  • Cyclic Ion Blaster (Special Issue) – The high-energy streams fired by Cyclic Ion Blasters react explosively with their target, vaporising flesh and metal with equal ease. Like all current Tau Ion Weapons, the experimental Cyclic Ion Blaster can be overcharged to generate a more devastating blast, albeit at a risk of overheating its primary power cells.
  • Flamer – When used to fight massed, lightly armoured opponents, Tau Flamers are lethal weapons. They are most commonly used by Battlesuit teams fighting amongst densely packed terrain.
  • Fusion Blaster – Fusion Blasters are anti-tank Melta Weapons that can reduce reinforced armour to molten slag in a blink of an eye. Many Battlesuit pilots have become adept at stalking enemy armour; using their high mobility to outflank the vehicles and engage their weaker side or rear armour.
  • Missile Pod – A Missile Pod is a simple and effective delivery system for multiple high strength missiles at long range.
  • Plasma Rifle – Plasma Weapons technology is used by many xenos races. Despite its highly unstable nature, the Tau favour a form of Plasma technology in their Plasma Rifles that forgoes stopping power for an increased level of safety for the operator.

Twin-linked Battlesuit weapons systems can be also wielded by XV8 Crisis Battlesuits. In this case, a twin-linked weapon system takes up two hard-points on the Battlesuit's chassis rather than the usual one. Note that weapons considered special issue cannot usually be twin-linked due to their rare availability in the Tau armoury.

Available XV8 Battlesuit Combat Support Systems

Below is a list of the most common available support systems that an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit can be armed with.

  • Advanced Targeting System – An Advanced Targeting System is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the Battlesuit pilot to automatically identify and pick out priority targets in the midst of battle
  • Counterfire Defence System – A Counterfire Defence System is a valuable AI sensor suite first designed to counter the threat of charging Ork hordes. It incorporates logic circuits to ensure that assaulting enemies are met with a withering curtain of unerringly accurate Battlesuit firepower.
  • Drone Controller - A Drone Controller acts as a hub for communications and interface between an operator and the AI battle programs of a number of Tau Drones. It gives the owner the ability to relay additional targeting data to the Drones, thus directing their fire more accurately towards the target.
  • Early Warning Override – An Early Warning Override sensor suite is calibrated to detect the electronic signatures of teleport beams and orbital-entry jump systems, and jolt the Battlesuit's weapon systems to lock-on status before the target has a chance to react.
  • Positional Relay - A Positional Relay digitally records detailed battlefield data and relays it in a tight encrypted radio burst to assets in orbit and squads held in reserve. Information sent usually includes battlefield terrain and status reports to allow the incoming units to make a better decision on where to deploy onto the battlefield and coordinate their actions as part of the overall strategy.
  • Shield Generator - Battlesuit Shield Generators project cohesive energy fields around the Battlesuit that can deflect weapons fire and melee blows that would otherwise outright destroy the Battlesuit, whether they be shots from heavy ordnance or anti-tank weapons fire.
  • Stimulant Injector - A Battlesuit with Stimulant Injectors is fitted with advanced life support systems that are able to flood the Battlesuit pilot's body with painkillers, analgesic drugs, and other life-sustaining stimulants should he become badly wounded in combat.
  • Target Lock - A Target Lock is a specialised target acquisition system that enables the user to engage different targets from the rest of the squad.
  • Targetting Array - The Targetting Array is a relatively new application of the Target Lock technology used in vehicles. It provides assistance to aiming at targets.
  • Vectored Retro-Thrusters - A Battlesuit with Vectored Retro-Thrusters is equipped with additional thruster nozzles, giving a degree of additional manoeuvrability that is useful when escaping from combat.
  • Velocity Tracker – The advanced motion detecting and heat seeking sensor systems built into a Velocity Tracker allows Battlesuit pilots to track the movements of airborne targets, and effectively engage them with the Battlesuit’s weapons.

Battlesuit Wargear

  • Bonding Knife - A Bonding Knife is a ceremonial Tau knife that is not intended for combat, but is carried by the leader of Tau Fire Warrior teams who have performed the Ta'lissera ritual and bonded as a group. Battlesuit pilots may not actually carry a Bonding Knife but instead have a similar knife design painted onto their armour.
  • Ejection System (Special Issue) - An Ejection System provides the pilot of a Battlesuit a chance to escape catastrophic damage by ranged fire to his Battlesuit by ejecting the pilot at the last second. The pilot then has to fend for himself on foot.
  • Hard-wired Drone Controller - A hard-wired version of a Drone Controller.
  • Hard-Wired Multi Tracker - A hard-wired version of a Multi Tracker.
  • Hard-Wired Target Lock - A hard-wired version of a Target Lock sensor system.

Signature Systems

  • Command and Control Node - A Command and Control Node is a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted communications system used by a Tau Commander to communicate more effectively with other Fire Caste warriors around him, and better direct battlefield operations by linking all Tau targeting computers nearby together. Though the sheer amount of information received can seem overwhelming, a Tau Commander who masters the flood of data can better orchestrate the firepower of his forces.
  • Failsafe Detonator – A Failsafe Detonator is intended to be the ultimate expression of the doctrine of the Greater Good, as is used only in the direst of circumstances. A Failsafe Detonator is a powerful explosive that can be detonated by the Battlesuit pilot in order to allow his squad members to escape from close combat.
  • Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite – A Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite represents the pinnacle of Tau sensor technology. Each system is an advanced prototype that can scan all known electromagnetic spectral bands to locate stealth-cloaked enemies, and relay this information back into the targeting computers of the squad members.
  • Onager Gauntlet – Onager Gauntlets were first utilised during the Damocles Gulf Crusade to keep XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Teams effective against Imperial Guard armoured companies in extended operations where ammunition reserves were low. So armed, a warrior could punch a hole through the side of a battle tank, but the casualty rate whilst attempting to get close enough to use them was extremely high. Indeed, of the twelve original Onager Gauntlets, only one remained by the end of the campaign, recovered from Blackthunder Mesa where Commander Bravestorm's critically damaged Battlesuit was surrounded by the smoking wrecks of over a dozen Imperial vehicles.
  • Neuroweb System Jammer - The Tau seek mastery not only over their own technology, but also over that of other intelligent races. To this end, they have created the Neuroweb System Jammer; a device capable of broadcasting a jamming field that interferes with enemy weapon systems, causing critical, and sometimes explosive malfunctions.
  • Puretide Engram NeurochipCommander Puretide was undoubtedly the most gifted Tau Commander of all time. The Tau were unwilling to lose his tactical and strategic brilliance, and upon his death, his mind was scanned and his accumulated memories committed to a massive hologram program on his birth world of Dal'yth Prime. A sliver of that genius has been crafted into several bio-chips. When surgically implanted into the brain of a Fire Caste commander, the bearer can access much of the wisdom of Puretide himself from the Puretide Engram Neurochip; drawing upon a great reservoir of tactical acumen.
  • Repulsor Impact Field - The Tau have attempted to reverse-engineer the tractor beam technology recovered from Ork wrecks for decades, but their attempts to decipher its workings remain largely futile, due in no small part to the complete lack of logical, uniform construction method employed by the Greenskins. So far, the sum total of Tau ingenuity has only managed to produce a small number of functioning Repulsor Impact Field generators, but field testing has proven them to be a devastating weapon capable of emitting a shock wave of energy that smashes into those nearby with immense force.

Battlesuit Pilot Progression

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An XV8 Crisis Battlesuit team supporting Tau Fire Warriors during the Taros Campaign

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A Tau Commander in action with his XV8 Crisis Battlesuit

To the Tau, the XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is more than just a powerful weapon of war; it is also a symbol of great achievement. Being allowed to pilot an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit is considered a high honour by the Tau Fire Caste, and is only granted to those Fire Warriors who have earned the rank and privilege required to be granted this responsibility. Such a privilege can only be attained after several standard years of progressing through the ranks of the Fire Caste as a Fire Warrior. A Fire Warrior will normally follow a standard rate of progression and advancement in the Tau military that is based around an evaluation of their skills called a "Trial by Fire." It is only once a Fire Warrior has proven himself in battle and completed his first Trial by Fire to earn the Fire Caste rank of Shas’ui that he is then given the honour of piloting an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit and becoming a member of the Fire Caste’s elite. This is the aspiration of every Fire caste warrior - recognition of a mastery of the Code of Fire and noble service to the Greater Good.

Becoming an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit pilot is one of the first steps to becoming a Tau officer, and those who take that step are experienced warriors who have fought the deadliest of foes and triumphed. Once a Fire Warrior has proven himself ready for more responsibility in a second Trial by Fire, he will then be promoted to the rank of Shas’vre and lead his own XV8 Crisis Battlesuit Team. If he succeeds at that demanding role, he will go on to be assigned to a Tau Commander's Battlesuit Bodyguard Team, and eventually will become a Tau Commander himself once he attains the rank of Shas'el. Further service and success in this role will then lead to a promotion to the highest Fire Caste rank of Shas'o. Most Fire Warriors who progress through these higher ranks will utilise an XV8 Crisis Battlesuit in battle, although some may choose to use other variants, such as the experimental XV9 Hazard Battlesuit and the XV22 Stealthsuit. Teams of Crisis Battlesuit warriors will have fought together for many years and, in many cases, will have performed the Ta'lissera ritual where the warriors swear oaths of communion and loyalty to one another, placing the welfare of the team ahead of their own personal desires -- and, if necessary, survival.

Battlesuit Operation

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An XV8 Crisis Battlesuit descending into battle from an Orca

An XV8 Crisis Battlesuit pilot sits in a foetal position within the central torso section of the Battlesuit, and pilots the Battlesuit through a neural link that connects the Fire Warrior’s brain to the Battlesuit's control interface through a monofilament needle inserted through the back of the head. This disrupts the nervous system of the pilot and temporarily disconnects the body from the pilot's brain from the neck down. The Battlesuit control system then interprets movement signals from the pilot’s brain as the movements of the Battlesuit’s body, effectively making the Battlesuit the pilot’s new ‘body’.

In theory, damage to the Battlesuit unit, whether it be through the lopping off of limbs, the firing of bullets into the chassis, electrocution, burning, or the "beheading" of the primary optic sensor, will not cause pain or discomfort to the pilot inside. However, veteran Battlesuit pilots have been known to develop ho’or-ata-t’chel, which are sympathetic ghost pains and phantom reactions to external damage. This condition is also known as Battlesuit Neurosis, and can cause serious problems in the lives of Battlesuit pilots outside their Battlesuit. Fire Warriors have been known to be so traumatised at losing their Battlesuit's sensor cluster "head" that they have spent months in a psychosomatic coma. Some Battlesuit veterans at the end of their careers may also develop quirks such as trying to fly without their Battlesuit, or not being able to understand why they walk or move properly in normal life when their Battlesuit was damaged.

Named Sept Battlesuit Team Configurations

T'au Sept

  • Blinding Spear - 1 Shas'vre armed with a Plasma Rifle, Burst Cannon, a hard-wired Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones and a Multi-Tracker support system; 2 Shas'ui armed with Plasma Rifles, Burst Cannons and Multi-Tracker support systems
  • Fireknife - 1 Shas'ui bonded in the Ta'lissera ritual, armed with a Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-Tracker support system and Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones; and 2 Shas'ui bonded in the Ta'lissera ritual, armed with Plasma Rifles, Missile Pods and Multi-Tracker support systems
  • Monat - 1 Shas'ui armed with a Flamer, a Fusion Blaster, a Shield Generator and a hard-wired Drone Controller

Vior'la Sept

  • Burning Eye - A Shas'vre and 2 Shas'ui armed with Twin-linked Plasma Rifles and Target Lock sensor support system
  • Death Rain - 3 Shas'ui armed with Twin-linked Missile Pods, Drone Controllers and 2 Gun Drones
  • Sun Forge - 3 Shas'ui armed with Twin-linked Fusion Blasters and Shield Generators
  • Monat - 1 Shas'vre bonded in the Ta'lissera ritual, armed with a Burst Cannon, a Fusion Blaster and a hard-wired Multi-Tracker support system

Sa'cea Sept

  • Ke'lshan'tsua'm'padroch'ul'syn - 1 Shas'vre armed with Twin-linked Plasma Rifles, a Target Lock sensor support system, a hard-wired Drone Controller and 2 Shield Drones; 1 Shas'ui armed with a Flamer, Fusion Blaster and Burst Cannon;  1 Shas'ui armed with Twin-linked Fusion Blasters and a Target Lock sensor support system

Tau'n Sept

  • Brightwind - 1 Shas'vre armed with a Burst Cannon, Plasma Rifle, Multi-Tracker support system and har-wired Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones; 1 Shas'ui armed with a Fusion Blaster, Missile Pod and a Target Lock sensor support system; 1 Shas'ui armed with a Missile Pod, a Plasma Rifle and a Multi-Tracker support system
  • Darkfall - 1 Shas'vre armed with Twin-linked Missile Pods, a hard-wired Blacksun Filter and a Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones; 1 Shas'ui armed with a Shield Generator, a Flamer, and a Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones; 1 Shas'ui armed with a Flamer, Fusion Blaster and a Drone Controller with 2 Shield Drones
  • Monat - Monat configurations for the Tau'n Sept are determined by the tactical preference of the Tau operating the Battlesuit

Known XV8 Battlesuit Variants

8 XV813

An XV81 Battlesuit in action

Tau commander new

A Tau Commander in his XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit leaping forwards to obliterate numerous Orks

During the Taros Campaign, several variants of the standard XV8 Battlesuit were identified. One of these, the XV88 Broadside Battlesuit, was already well known to the Imperium from its actions during the Damocles Gulf Crusade. Others seemed to be personalised Battlesuits used by Tau Commanders in battle. These were coded by the Imperium as the XV81, the XV84 and XV89, and all incorporate non-standard weapons and combat systems in addition to those seen on the standard variants of the XV8 Battlesuit. The Tau, being a young and dynamic species and faced with growing threats to the borders of their Empire in the Eastern Fringe, were obviously seeking to improve the performance of their battlefield technology. As yet, only the most honoured commanders have access to this latest weaponry and other new technical developments. Recent developments in Tau technology have also yielded further XV8 Crisis Battlesuit variants. All of these are still in prototype stages and have only been issued to experienced Tau Commanders to field test in battle.

  • XV81 Crisis Battlesuit - The XV81 Crisis Battlesuit has a Smart Missile System mounted on its back and is intended to be used as a long-range fire support platform. Note that this Smart Missile System does not make use of a Battlesuit hard-point, allowing the suit to retain its full complement of other weapons and combat support systems.
  • XV84 Crisis Battlesuit - The XV84 Crisis Battlesuit is equipped with a spine-mounted Marker Light and Target Lock sensor support system to enhance its target acquisition capabilities in combat against multiple foes. Together, these additional systems fill up only a single XV8 Battlesuit hard-point.
  • XV89 Crisis Battlesuit - The XV89 Crisis Battlesuit is intended for assaults against heavily-fortifed enemy positions and thus is outfitted with the heavy Iridium Armour modification for enhanced protection compared to the standard XV8 Crisis Battlesuit.
  • XV8-02 Iridium Crisis Battlesuit – The XV8-02 Iridium Crisis Battlesuit was developed following the death of Commander Pridestar to a sniper’s bullet and the subsequent rout of Fire Caste warriors during the Klodate Worlds Suppression. After this tragic event, the Earth Caste developed an experimental iridium alloy that was used to produce enough armour plates to reinforce a small series of Battlesuits. The XV8-02 prototype offers Tau Commanders and their bodyguards optimal protection that is by far superior compared to the armour of the standard XV8 Crisis Battlesuit.
  • XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit – The XV8-05 Enforcer Crisis Battlesuit is a larger and sleeker variant of the standard XV8 Crisis Battlesuit that provides better protection and joint movement for the pilot. It is currently only available for use by Tau Commanders.
  • XV8-06 Coldstar Crisis Battlesuit – The XV8-06 Coldstar Crisis Battlesuit is a rare mark of XV8 Crisis Battlesuit that carries many wholly unique support and weapon systems. Designed for operation in a void environment, each XV8-06 is fitted with integrated interface armour.

Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus Technical Specifications

Serial Number 85673-908158 Main Armament Plasma Rifle
Designation XV8
Vehicle Codename Crisis Secondary Armament Missile Pod
Vehicle Type Battlesuit
Crew 1 Pilot Traverse 120°
Weight 2.5 tonnes Elevation -90° to +90°
Length 1.7 metres Ammunition Variable
Width 1.9 metres Armour Type Nano-Crystalline Alloy; Composition Unknown to Adeptus Mechanicus
Height 2.8 metres
Max Recorded Speed 50 kilometres per hour

Sources

  • Apocalypse (4th Edition), pg. 161
  • Apocalypse (6th Edition), pg. 181
  • Apocalyse Reload, pg. 43
  • Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 171-174, 283
  • Codex: Tau (3rd Edition), pp. 16-17, 22-24
  • Codex: Tau Empire (4th Edition), pp. 25-27, 32, 34, 44
  • Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 7, 12, 15, 19, 28, 34, 40-41, 65-73, 95, 98, 100
  • Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 365-366
  • White Dwarf 263 (US), "Crisis! Tau Battlesuit Teams: A Look at the Strategies of the Tau Batlesuits" by Pete Haines and Phil Kelly
  • Fire Warrior (Novel) by Simon Spurrier
  • Fire & Honor (Graphic Novel)
  • White Dwarf 400 (AUS), "XV8 Battlesuit Commander", pg. 15

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