Friday, 8 April 2016

40k unit review - Tau Stealth Teams



Battlefield Role Designation


Elites

Actual Battlefield Role

Infiltrators and difficult-to-shift small fire teams with anti-tank options

Mobility Assessment

Innate - they are jet pack infantry after all.

Tactical Flexibility

The basic stealth team is equipped to take out light infantry, with each model coming with a 4-shot burst cannon boasting S5 and AP5. Guardsmen will weep at this massed firepower, but that’s not why you take stealth teams. One model per 3 can be upgraded to carry a fusion blaster, which is the longer ranged Tau version of the meltagun. Ordinarily this would be a bad idea since the two targets are very different, however the stealth suit can be equipped with a target lock allowing the fusion blaster to fire at a different target to the unit. On that basis alone, the unit is highly flexible.

Cost

Minimum unit cost is 90 for 3 suits, though a 6-man unit can run to 395pts if you equip them all with shield generators, drone etc.

Actual cost

Realistically the above cost is way beyond what you would spend. When I take stealth suits I keep them to 3-man teams and I’ll usually spend 100-120pts on them, including a fusion blaster, usually a target lock and often a homing beacon.

Synergy

Very much so - the stealth suits have infiltrate, and come stock with stealth and shrouded so can be incredibly useful for denying space for enemy infiltrators, keeping the foe at arms length, which is exactly where the Tau want their opponents. The ability to take a homing beacon is also invaluable, as this allows you to bring reinforcements via deep strike without scattering, whilst their 3+ armour and insanely good cover saves unless they’re in the open mean they’re very difficult to shift early enough to stop those accurate deep strikes. Taking a fusion blaster and infiltrating can also often mean you’re taking out enemy armour early and forcing transported units to foot slog towards you, giving your weapons every opportunity to do their work.

Essential, desirable or whimsical?

Prior to the advent of formations, you very rarely saw stealth suits in an army, but thanks largely to the introduction of the optimised stealth cadre, you now see few lists that don’t have them. I wouldn’t say they’re essential but the formation benefits, allowing them to get a boosted BS, ignore cover and hit vehicles on the rear armour if they’re close to the ghostkeel means they are highly desirable. It’s perfectly possible for a unit of three guys to take down 3HP vehicles on turn 1 with these rules.

How many dice will you need?

Modest really, generally you’re looking in the 8-12 range, though if you do max out the unit then 24 is your max requirement.

Failure likelihood

High fire rate of the burst cannon means they’re pretty reliable, though you need to account for their standard BS3. Formation benefits can really boost this up to 5 without the need for marker lights, and the only really susceptible weapon is the 1-shot fusion blaster since there’s no option for twin linking it.

Cheese level

Probably a Stilton if taken with the OSC formation noted above, or cheddar outside it.

Conclusions

I love a stealth team, and whilst they weren't the best under the old codex, the formations in the new book, particularly the optimised stealth cadre, bring sufficient bonuses to them to make them extremely viable these days. The unit itself wasn't bad under the old rules, just overpriced for what it did. The advantage of the OSC therefore it that it makes the stealth teams do more for their cost, thus making them more worth taking.

The way I build my tau lists, these guys really do provide the glue that holds everything together and greases the wheels of the power units. Fusion blasters pop the occasional tank exposing the soft innards whilst the burst cannons can wreck others. The stealth teams also bring homing beacons to bring in the big guns exactly there they will do the most damage.

All these niggly little effects would be nothing to your opponents except for one thing - they’re also incredibly hard to kill, despite their average toughness. 3+ armour and stealth+shrouded means not much is actually getting through to their squishy insides.



All in all, a highly useful unit that causes more trouble than it’s worth to get rid of and makes everything else in your army work just that little bit better.