Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stealth Teams in 6th Edition

Moving about unseen and unscathed, the lone wolves of Tau Empire stalk their prey. When the trap is set, the enemy sees only dark shadows and the whirling death of burst cannon rounds.

It's fair to say Stealth Suits got a lot better in 6th Edition. And you all seem to have noticed. Back from the shelves of Tau collectors, Stealth teams are popping up here and there spinning out pulse rounds like the sudden rainstorms on Tau'n. Here's what's changed for them in 6th Edition Warhammer 40k..

1) Shrouding and Stealth USRs,
Together these URS give the suits +3 to their cover save. In the open, they have a 4+ cover save and in any other form of cover (including cover provided by intercepting drone units) a 2+.

2) Jet Pack rules
In addition to allowing an assault move after deep-strike, they now move 2d6 inches, which can be rather random at times, but overall good.

3) Infiltrate combined with Acute Senses
These two rules make them better at outflanking as you re-roll the dice roll for board edge. Good thing they can come with Fusion Blasters!

4) Improved shooting rules
Focus fire, overwatch and other new shooting rules make their weapons better.

5) Rapid Fire Rules
One change, you may not have noticed is that the changes to rapid fire rules means that Kroot guns, mounted on Kroot Ox, can now fire twice up to 24 inches. This gives you another source of that valuable S7 shooting you could only get on Crisis Suits during 5th Edition. This means if you really want stealth suits, you can make up for the loss in S7 armed Crisis Suits with your Kroot Oxen...sort of.
Side note: In some respects, what we might be seeing is a chance to break from the Tau monobuild...even without including allies. 

Clearly, the 6th Edition rules have made them better, but the question is, are they now better than taking Crisis Suits?

The inherent problems are Stealth Suits are still there.

1) Their guns are incredibly short ranged and put them in danger of being assaulted. 
Pre-measuring has mitigated this significantly, but 6th has also introduced incredibly fast cavalry, beasts, bikes and jet bikes. If you main targets are accompanied by any of these units, you'll have trouble getting to use those burst cannons without being assaulted in the next turn.

2) Expensive. 
Ask yourself a question. Are 5 stealth suits with burst cannons as good as 15 fire warriors? I suppose that is a bad comparison as the two unit are different categories (elites vs. troops) and perhaps filling different roles.
However, consider 5 stealth suits at 150 points versus 150 points of Crisis Suits. You could get 3 Crisis Suits with twin-linked missile pods and blacksun filters and still have some points left over. The latter unit would likely last longer because it's got longer range and can stay out of harms way.
In the end you have to decide what units are worthy of your valuable points and elite slots. If you want Stealth Suits, you'll probably be able to find the points for them.

3) Fragile
Even with an improved cover save, Stealth Suits only have 1 wound and a toughness of 3. This means most basic weapons - bolters, shootas, even lasguns - will cause tons of wounds that even a 2+ save can't save you from. And given their tendency to operating close to the enemy, they'll catch a ton of fire like this.

I'm not particularly psyched about Stealth Suits in 6th Edition but I certainly think they are better than they used to be. Careful placement and liberal use of pre-measuring will keep them alive a lot longer than ever. For safety's sake, be sure that you are exactly 18 inches away on each model when using your burst cannons so that even a whiffed roll on your assault move puts you out of harm's way.

Oh and don't forget to keep your drones out in front so that enemy shooting goes to them first.

Happy hunting!


BoxerSaint said...

I agree with your stealth suit assessment.

Would you consider them being more useful as a marker light unit? Running Three suits, a team leader with marker light, two marker drones and two gun drones puts you at 185 points I believe. Not nearly as point efficient as pathfinders (per light), but more mobile, and with a 2+ cover save and gun drones out front, your opponent is less likely to throw shots into them I would think, thus allowing them to stick around for some late game markers.

Anonymous said...

Marker-stealths really aren't a very effective use. It's too big an investment for too shallow a return. One thing I have been doing to help out stealth survivability is adding gun drones. because of the whole allocate to nearest thing, you can surround your team with their drones and protect the more important members. The other thing to consider is suits count as being in cover when assaulted - meaning the enemy would lose their charging bonus! and last but not least they are actually a pretty good assault unit - 3A each on the charge (plus I4 drones!?!) yes please.

Muskie said...

I've always thought Stealth Suits were cool. That's enough for me. ;-)

Tim said...

@Muskie, as it should be! I suppose my post was for squeezing out the most from each unit. And don't get me wrong, 6th edition has made stealth suits better - that's for sure!

Rathstar said...

I think their biggest weakness is their short range.

Adding drones can help against their fragility, but getting the whole unit within 18" normally means that the closest models are more like 15/16" away from the enemy. A poor assault phase move could leave them very exposed either to short ranged fire in the open or being well within the assault range of bikes/cav/jumpers.

Stealths got better, but the speed of the game has made burst cannons harder use to well. My missile/burst suits are changing to deathrains, and my hammerheads are considering SMS with target locks rather than my usual 2 burst cannons.


Craig Dolan said...

Great to see the Blog up and running again. Consider running 3 stealth suits with a Shas'El/O Battlesuit with 2 sheild drones, this setup gives the commander shrouded and stealth while retaining the tougness of 4 due to the 50/50 toughness of 4 to 3.

The role of the unit can be determined by the loadout of the commander with the stealth suits providing much needed durability and horde protection.

Kiblams said...

Have you considered running a Stealth Suit Team with a Crisis Suit Commander and 2 Sheild Drones?

The Commander and his Drones benefit from the 2+ cover save in behind and in area Terrain and the Stealth Suits get the Toughness of 4 from the Commander and Drones.

The unit has a good level of durability with having fair horde defence and as I am sure you can see tell; it can have many roles depending on Commander loadout. A match made in heaven...

Xyhelm said...

Great post!

I like outflanking with Stealthsuits with the hopes that they can get near an enemy infantry unit with heavy weapons.

Jeremy Hunt said...

I have always loved stealth suits, and I am happy they are more effective now!

Brett Whalen said...

Something to consider: they may cost the same as three fire warriors, while putting out only three shots each (potentially only half the fire power of FW, if they rapid fire), the 2+ save does something more important than keep them alive a little longer: it wastes enemy firepower. Having a cost of only 3/4 a terminator, with the same save, which cannot be reduced by low ap weapons, they will soak up more small arms fire than your enemy is willing to waste, and will simply laugh at low RoF heavy weapons like lascannons. The only weapons in the game that are REALLY problems are those S6 AP3 flamers you sometimes see Space Marines use, and The Avenger, though it is a fairly rare power to see on the TT.

Rathstar said...

Definitely a factor that makes them good, I'm just worried about the first time that they roll a poor assault phase jump.

I see they game moving more towards the units with increased movement, ie. bikes, jumpers, cav, beasts. These units may be able to reach the stealths suits if they make a bad assault move role, and an stealth squad is combat is normally a dead one :(

You may be right in that the stealths can be hard to get rid of from shooting so they may be perfect on flanks working their way round to slower units in the opponents backfield. I'm just not sure they will work as part of the mainline firepower. I see crisis suits, fire warriors and kroot better in this role with their longer ranged guns.


Shay O'Shea said...

Loving your Tau. Would you mind if I share some of your work on my blog if I post links?

Tim said...

Yeah sure, just link over here please.

Shay O'Shea said...

I will do. Thank you.