I thought it would be beneficial to come up with some background where GW leaves gaps. I have noticed over the years the wealth of information that people have added to other races, for instance, the Eldar on these boards. I thought it would be interesting to talk about how the Tau go about starting a new colony on a world, and the process that goes through. How do they assess new worlds, who are the first colonists, do they show up in mass with thousands, or is it a slow build up. Do they instantly protect a world with the Kor'vattra, or is it slowly brought under protection. What are the first industries that are created, how much what each castes show up. What unknown technology do they use. When does an ethereal show up on the colony to lead it?
I will propose some of my own ideas first. I look forward to any ideas.
The farthest travelers in the Tau empire presently are the Niccassar, the psionic space farers. By now, I would think that the Tau, after each of the Phases, prepares immediately for the next. At the moment, while the Tau are conducting the Third Phase Colonization, the Fourth Phase is being worked on as well. The Tau strike me as planners, if anything at all.
For this purpose it will be necessary to send out ships to assess new systems. While it may be possible to tradw tih Gue'la traders, their reports cannot be trusted. Even if they trade honestly, their information can be hundres if not thousands of years old.
It makes since then that the Tau would send out something to each additional world that is nearby that may be habitable for them. Throught long range telescopes they would be able to determin possible likely planets from a great deal away. After they had assessed all possible nearby planets, what is their next action.
I would sudgest they would send a very complex probe, as opposed to sending a ship. While a whip would be a sure way to get the anwers, it also is a serious use of resources, that in the Empire is very important. Even messenger ships are to valuable.
My guess would be that the probe would therefore be a much more advanced drone then. Perhaps even looking like a normal drone, but the size of a Devilfish, or even larger if necessary, perhaps a Tigershark. It would make heavy use of the Tau gravitronic technology. It would probably have heat shielding on the top of it for reintry purposes, and have fairly extensive communications equipment to that it would contact the local waypoints to convey information to the Earth Caste that built it. The underside however would have saws, torches and other tools. They would test the water, perform experiments on the ground, report animal life, test the rock surface. In addition most likely it would be very lightly armored. Just enough to protect it from most preditors, but not enough to stop a serious assault. It's primary purpose is to assess the vegitation, soil samples and send them back to the Por'ar'tol that sent it.
I would sudgest the statistics would be something like this.
ZV-10 "Probe" Drone - 25 pts
WS BS S T W I A LD Sv
2 2 5 5 3 3 3 7 4+(4+I)
The ZV-10 comes equipped with a Burst Cannon but can be upgraded to a Fusion Blaster for +10 pts or a Plasma rifle for +14pts. It also has two other hardpoints that can be taken from the Crisis Suit Support Equipment List.