Imperial Armour vol. 3 second edition: a review

Volume 3: The Taros Campaign is a landmark of Imperial Armour series for it was the very book which established current IA book format consisting of both campaign fluff and detailed unit profiles (earlier 4 IA books were focused on descriptions of units only, not events).
This book was released almost immediately after recent Tau Empire codex and contains all (barring few super heavies updated in IA Apoc) the rules for Forgeworld Tau Empire units as well as full army list for Elysian drop regiment.

First one hundred and thirty pages is detailed account of Taros war: unusual alliances and great treachery, but most focus is given to military operations of both sides. The cause of war was trade agreement between Tau Empire and one of eastern fringe mining worlds of the Imperium. Such dealings with xenos species are of course utter heresy and cannot go unpunished. But – surprisingly – Tau offer men of Taros help and pose strong resistance against forces of multiple Imperial Guard regiments supported by Titan Legion and Adeptus Astartes.

Next part is description of fighting forces of Tau on Taros. Here you will find rules for Tetras, sentry turrets, Sash’O R’Myr and Barracuda fighters as well as many others. Not only rules but also detailed descriptions and technical drawings of these fighting machines are included. Unfortunately there are no crossections similar to those found in IA volumes 1 and 2 (containing technical details on Astartes and Astra Militarum vehicles).

Next is Battlefleet Gothic Tau Empire army list containing various capital ships of Tau Empire, as well as Battlefleet Gothic scenarios. What’s missing is Epic army list for Tau empire (one was included in original edition of IA3, but as Epic was discontinued, it lost its relevance.

There is also Elysian Drop Troops army list, heavily altered Imperial Guard army list without heavy armour but with emphasis on airborne infantry and airmobile units as well as flyers. This army list while designed to be used with Elysians models can be used also to represent various other Air Assault regiments such us 314th Prosan (which didn’t even participate in Taros events).

An interesting yet imperfect part of this book is proper “The Taros Campaign” chapter containing 12 battle missions recreating events of most notable battles of this campaign. Unevenly matched but with deep fluff these missions will surely be fun to play, but what is missing is cohesive campaign system to link them. Indeed this book is lacking something like Siege of Vraks Campaign System (found in Vraks trilogy). When I will be organizing Taros Campaign in our local gaming group I will surely be either Planetary Empires supplement or just campaign system from one of later IA books.
A nice addition is “Gue’vesa Auxiliary team” – squad of humans for Tau empire as cheap (albeit useless) troops choice for a fluffy list.

The last chapter contains forces of “Third Sphere of Expansion”. These are rules and descriptions of Tau units added to Forgeworld catalogue after initial IA3 release. Here you will find rules for XV-9 Hazard Mobile Suits as well as Sahs’O R’Alai, TX-42 Piranhas and other units. Unfortunately only one paragraph of description per unit is much below standard expected from Imperial Armour publication (where other vehicles, especially imperial ones, get multiple technical drawings and lengthy fluff description).

+Detailed account of an interesting campaign
+All non-SH Tau choices in one book
+Elysians army list
-Lack of cohesive campaign system
-Elysians army list isn't fully compatible with existing Astra Militarum codex
-Unintuitive layout: intermixing fluff and actual rules (instead of just placing all the rules at the end of the book, like in the codices)
-Unimpressive fluff description of Third Sphere units

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