So, Forge World has brought out a new Tau kit, the XV107 R'Varna battlesuit. It's a resin upgrade kit for the Riptide model, with a wide array of chest pieces, back, front and top, two new guns, shoulder pads and shin pieces. Here are front and back shots of the model, to show off just how much has been added to it; more can be seen at Forge World's page for it, here.
Aesthetically, I don't mind it, though I do have some qualms. The vanes on the gun don't look particularly Tau-ish, and the 'pulse submunition cannons' don't share any real design details with any Tau pulse weapons. Or any official Tau weapons, for that matter; more than anything, they resemble O'Ralai's pulse submunition rifle, perhaps mated with the XV9's phased ion gun. But both of those weapons broke away from the established Tau aesthetic in their own way, and the pulse submunition cannons just take those baby steps and turn them into a full-fledged sprint. Forge World has been constructing its own distinct Tau look for some time, best exemplified in the XV9 with its bulbous knee joints and winged jump packs, and the XV107 is perhaps the ultimate extension of that to date. It does sort of bother me, because as nice as at hose models are, they don't entirely look like they fit with the parent line.
I'm not a huge fan of the optical piece, either; I know a lot of people have complained about the Riptide having a pinhead look, but it's already a huge model. Giving it a 'head' in scale with the rest of its massive frame just makes for an even more absurdly unwieldy model, not to mention making it dangerously top-heavy, and from an in-universe perspective it's hard to imagine that a fixed-forward camera system was an improvement over the existing swivel-mounted hardware.
But the XV107 isn't just a model kit, it's got rules. Experimental rules. And I think we all know what Forge World's experimental rules mean.
It's broken as hell.
The high points; it's 260 points, gets T7/W6 and LD9, +1 to its 5+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks, and loses its jump pack. In exchange, it gets a pair of 60" S6 AP3 large blast weapons with a unique scaling rule; normal infantry take under the blast take 1 hit, bikes, jetbikes, beasts and cavalry take 2 hits with +1 strength, and Extremely Bulky models, artillery, (F)MCs and vehicles take 3 hits with +2 strength. Since it has no secondary weapons and no jump pack its Nova reactor was reworked, so now it gives a 3+ invulnerable, a 6" from the base S2 AP5 haywire blast, Fleet and rolling 2D6 to run and picking the highest, or firing the main weapons twice. Oh, and it also has flechette dischargers built in.
Like I said, this thing is broken as hell. Its weapons don't have that new signature Gets Hot cost Tau pay for AP3 large blasts, giving you two guaranteed shots every turn, anywhere on the board. This thing will basically erase any non-2+ unit you point its guns at, whether or not they're in cover, and even Terminator squads might balk at suddenly finding themselves taking 20 wounds-on-2's hits from a S6 weapon if you run the Nova charge. It has amazing synergy with the early warning override system, since if you pull off the Nova charge you can drop two blasts on any incoming unit in your opponent's turn, then fire off the other arm in your own turn afterwards. A 4+ against shooting attacks, on a T7 body, means it will be pretty safely able to shrug off all but the heaviest of weapons, most of which don't come in anything like the volume necessary to deal with it before, say, Turn 3. And with its flechette dischargers, which put an automatic S4 hit on every model in base contact at the I10 step in every assault phase, the XV107 doesn't even need to worry about close combat with anything but the nastiest and most dedicated of CC units, and fellow MCs. You could quite simply just march this thing across the board, Titan-still, and be almost guaranteed it would claim you Linebreaker every time.
Oh, and it's Heavy Support, so it doesn't even eat into your existing Riptide slots.
The synergy within the existing Tau codex just makes this thing even more monstrous. Yes, there are markerlights, but that's small potatoes. The real killer combination is the XV107 plus the Support Commander; Command and Control Node, Multi-Spectrum Sensor System, and Puretide Engram Neurochip. Two to four twin-linked large blasts that ignore cover and have either tank or monster hunter? Or heck, don't even use the CCN, and just let those blasts scatter all over your enemy's army for maximum devastation across the widest possible front. A single blast with tank hunter should reliably penetrate AV12, perhaps even AV13, while putting the next best thing to a guaranteed three wounds per hit onto any MC caught under one of its blasts. The XV107 could murder a Wraithknight single-handed in a single turn of shooting. And of course, any non-Terminator infantry squad will simply evaporate under its onslaught, at a pretty reliable rate of one wiped out per turn, minimum. Given that it can begin firing at any point visible on the board from Turn 1, that's the next best thing to a Win Button.
I can see where Forge World was going with this; they wanted to take the Riptide, which is a sort of all-arounder MC, and create a truly Tau unit built entirely to destroy at range. And they succeeded. Boy howdy, did they succeed! But these rules are, frankly, a little grotesque, and I can't imagine either party being okay with fielding the XV107 in a friendly game more than once; the beaten party will object to something that obliterates his army with contemptuous ease, and the Tau player will feel dirty about putting down such a horribly imbalanced piece to slaughter his friend without mercy. If you put this thing down on the table across from someone, you're pretty much announcing that don't care about them having fun.