Sammy here and like all tau players I have been just praying that my favorite army would get something in the new rules to help them out. While indeed they did get some help, it was not in the way I expected. As follows I will detail a few of the bonuses that I think may bring back Tau as a playable and possibly more competitive army. I do recognize however that as no local tournaments have been run yet this all just on a observational basis.
Alright the first thing that has been a huge help is the fact that rapid fire is now half range and no longer requires that you stand still in order to get full range. This in turn means that fire warriors don't have to just stand and wait to die in assault. We can maneuver and get into good position and not miss a beat on shooting. This also means we get a bit more utility out of kroot. They die just as easy and can't assault on the outflank, but basically have bolters and can now move and shoot farther. I still won't be taking any but for all the fans of the carnivores out there, they've only gotten better for you.
Next snap fire means that markerlights are even better than before. We can move and fire them which is perfect because as some might recall taking marker lights pretty much meant that were you deployed them, that's were they would stay.
Next up stealth suits, holy crap these got good. They get both shroud and stealth and are jet pack infantry. This means that minimum stealth suits are getting a 4+ cover save (2+ depending on cover) and now they can jet pack 2d6 in the assault phase. Yep these dudes are freaking Allstars.
There are a lot of things that really helped the tau in 6th but oddly enough preferred enemy getting buffed to include shooting is pretty cool. This relates to the ethereal in that if he dies all tau get preferred enemy which means all shooting improves across the army. Let's be honest it's pretty easy to get an ethereal killed when he has no armor save. This is one thing I'm going to explore as a possible strategy in the future.
Standard battle suits are just as good as ever in that all the weapon options make them a very reliable and versatile unit for your particular strategies. Jet pack, deeps strike, acute senses, all good in my opinion. Defiantly check out flamers as a possible choice for these guys now epically since overwatch works the way it does. Perhaps better than the pathfinders+seekers for shooting fliers, the twin-linked missile launcher suit may also be able to shoot at fliers, but for the price of these suits, I'd rather kill the enemy I can deal with on the ground.
Devilish are now auto equipped with a cover save due to jink so the standard of taking disruption pods is likely over which means we are saving more points per vehicle in our list building now .
Rail guns. Well I didn't think these could get any better but I was wrong. Rail guns now receive +2 on the pen chart, so yeah now they kill vehicles even better. Also the submunitions shot gets full strength vs. armor, that's only helpful.
Also take another look at Vespid while still super squishy the extra slam attack as they assault in is helpful. I do acknowledge that they are only strength 3 so take it or leave it. I certainly will be giving those bugs another try.
And last but not least wound allocation means that drones are your new friend. Those drones right out front could save a lot of tau life with the invul save.
Now for some bad: target lock has been axed. Yes target lock has been removed entirely. Which sucks but doesn't mean that we have lost anything vital to the army just a convenience with broadsides really. Also outflanking kroot now can't assault the turn they come in and that blows for sure.
All in all it seems that tau got very few nerfs and a whole lot more decent. I am really excited to see if the fish heads have managed to become a more playable army and possibly a more competitive friendly army as well. I will be hitting the blog up with some battle reports over the next couple weeks. So stay tuned.