A lot of people think the Tau were brought in to bring in anime fans during a darker time in GW's sales and history. They aren't grimdark and tragic like every other faction so that gets a lot of play for being quite athematic as well.
Sure, they are manga-inspired... In stark contrast with space marines and tyranids, that are just such an original, never-seen-before-40K concept. And oh my, space elves and space orcs, those are concepts that only the most hardcore of GW fans can even grasp. You're definitely but a noob for liking Tau :)
As for them not being grimdark enough... they are religious fanatics proficient in setting up extermination camps and using "lesser" species as their shock troops, that's a solid 8 on my grim-dark meter.
The way I imagine the current world of 40K is that with the rift, even more unstable and unreliable inter-stellar communication/travel, and fracturing of the Empire, there is no longer a sense of unity of command/totalitarianism, and more of every man for himself. Not an open civil war, but more like some episodes of Roman Empire (or Middle Ages), where legions were loyal to their commander first and foremost, and the commander himself behaved more like a feudal warlord than a cog of vast military apparatus. Which explains for me why armies look more like warbands, and battles more like skirmishes, and the fact that half of the time I am fighting another Imperial faction.
Actually, as my army is built on the foundations of a SW kill team, I pictured them as a band of survivors of Armageddon wars, that were joined by some AWOL troops, local gangs, and renegade assassins. They salvage whatever equipment they came across, and only take on missions where there's something in it for them. A close analogy is a medieval-like mercenary company for the highest bidder. Also, in the beginning I played several games against Steel Legion, leaded by Commissar Yarrick. The narrative was just so obvious - my dudes are deserters pursued by troops loyal to the empire. In the near future, they are likely to visit Necromunda and fill their ranks with local underhive scum :)
Had a Cadian vs Cadian game (plus I had one detachment of Scions), with new Codex. Some stuff here in order of importance.
Because if their doctrine, Cadians are a perfect fit for trench warfare - turtling and cowardice. You just feel pain and discomfort every time you have to move a unit.
Lascannons and auto-cannons in infantry squads ruled. I fielded a particularly deadly veteran squad with snipers and a lascannon.
On the flip side, regular lasguns saw way less action than before. We both used nacked squads to seize objectives and create bubbles, but that was pretty much it.
Artillery is also devastating and worked much better than tanks, armored vehicles and sentinels. If you're playing against Cadians, you need to find a way take out those Basilisks, Wyverns and mortar teams. But especially Basilisks and Wyverns.
I did not realize that the new Codex not only lowered the Valkyries pts cost, it also gave them +1 to shoot if they are hovering. That is, if your Cadian Valkyrie is stationary, you hit on 3+, re-rolling 1 (as opposed to old 4+ without re-rolls). There's very little reason not to equip it with a lascannon. And now you have to choose whether it enters the combat as an alpha strike transport or a weapon platform. Crazy stuff. But again, if you're facing squads armed with lascannons, that Valkyrie will be lucky to last for more than a turn, hovering or not.
Bullgryns can definitely lock a Leman Russ in a close combat. You will not kill it unless you're very lucky, but it will not kill the Bullgryns either. I sandwiched commander Pask this way and rendered him useless for the game.
There're two awesome, awesome stratagems. Take cover and Overlapping Fields of Fire. My favorite being the first one, because I used it with scions. I dropped a 10-men squad with plasma guns into a cover position. They dispatched a sentinel and a squad of regular troops on their turn. On my opponent's turn, when all guns were aimed at them, I used "Take Cover", which grants +1 to their save roll. Their armor is 4+, 3+ because they are in cover. With this stratagem (which costs only 1 CP), they had a 2+ save for the duration of the shooting phase. Basically, he was targeting 10 terminators.
Because these stratagems are so cool, I recommend taking a Warlord trait that gives a chance to recover spent CPs. And the heirloom that gives a chance to gain CPs when your opponent is spending them.
As for the Assassins, I'm still happy with Eversor/Callidus combo. They are very effective against squads of guardsmen, in particular if you manage to deploy them in such way that they don't draw too much overwatch fire when charging.
The game was a lot of brutal fun, but we both felt Cadians (or any IG army) are now noticeably overpowered compared to other factions. Before the new Codex, I was barely losing any games, now I am afraid that people will start to refuse to play against guard.
Autocannons, really? Huh. I really like all of the HWTs...I might have to pick up another box. But I think that Wyverns easily outclass the mortar now- especially if you post up a Master of Ordnance next to it.
I finally got a Basilisk. Man, that kit sucks. The tried and true Chimera chassis is fine, it's the Basilisk parts that are no good. Like, under the platform, that big void space- WTF.
I built my poor Valkyrie with a lascannon. I'm not sure why you would go with the Multilaser there. Actually, I can't see what the point of the Multilaser is on anything.
Are you running all plasma on your Scions? It seems like EVERYBODY runs plasma on EVERYTHING. It's like, default choice. I kind of hate that. It's effective, but I like having different weapons. I feel like GW knew how stonky plasma was this edition by giving the Primaris a full damn squad of plasma dudes with not one, not two but three different types of plasma guns.
I think my favorite unit right now is in Death Guard...there's a new figure that came out, Foul Blightspawn. At first I was like, eh, another toxic/disease dude. But it turns out he's awesome. The fluff is great. They are Plague Marines that have been specially selected to go to the Plague Planet to learn how to brew diseases. So this guy walks out into the fight with a gigantic keg and pump that are implanted in his body attached to a sprayer hose. He basically trots out and sprays everything with his homebrew diseases. The hose is Assault D6 and the strength is...2D6! And it does -3AP/3 damage! That is outrageous...at least when it works! It's a very Skaven-y sort of thing...it can be STUPIDLY POWERFUL- if Knuffle smiles on you (a lot), you are looking at 6 S12 shots all at -3AP and 3 damage. Nonsensical!
Of course, I've not been that lucky with him...usually he flops because without transport, he's slow and kludgy. But one day, his time to shine will come.
OH, he also STINKS. He has a smelly aura that cancels a charging unit's fight. And he has super powerful Unholy Death's Head grenade, a 2D6 blight grenade carried by a Nurgling.
If they put this thing in Cataphractii armor and gave him Teleport Strike...he would be so overpowered it's ridiculous.
I used to run plasma on scions, I even proxied volley guns as plasma. Not anymore. It is just too expensive with the new Codex.
Think about it. A scion equipped with plasma is now more expensive than adding a lascannon to your troops squad. And that lascannon will re-roll to hit if used properly.
I think it was a right move to nerf plasma by upping its cost, too. Before It was sorta inefficient not to go all plasma. Now I am considering stuff like meltaguns and flamethrowers.
And I think that with storm-trooper doctrine the hot-shot volley guns are pretty awesome. The thing is that you need to get the right balance of anti-heavy armor, anti-medium armor and crowd control weapons. And before plasma guns were kind of good for everything.
Man, I was wondering if that stupid gap on my vintage Basilisk was because the previous owner screwed up the assembly.
As for autocannons, imho they're not worth of another heavy weapons kit acquisition. They were kinda useless before, and now I guess they're better. But not better than lascannons or mortars. By the way, yes, Wyvern outclasses mortars, but they're still cheap and useful. And Master of Ordnance is at the top of most useless units list (unfortunately). He gives a more restricted re-roll to hit than the one Cadians already have with their doctrine.