Up for review: the Space marine Stalker tank! Check the Tactics Corner for more great review.
Of all the units in the Space Marine Codex, one of the best “Bang-for-your-buck” vehicles (aside from a free one, of course) has got to be the Space Marine Stalker. All things considered, a rather new addition to the Space Marine codex – only being included in the 6th and 7th editions of the books. Today, I am going to walk you through what the vehicle has, does, and why I think it is a fantastic choice for you to include in your next game!
The Rolling Storm
So, what is the big deal about the Space Marine Stalker? Isn’t it just a Rhino with a couple Auto-Cannons up-top? Close. But no. I think the best way to understand the Stalker and how you use it on the table-top is to break down it’s Wargear and other options and then talk about a few core strategies for how you can play this pesky little devil. If I were to give the rookie players reading this article any advice, it would be to not take a simple Dataslate like the Stalker’s for granted, it doesn’t need a ton of special rules or advanced option to be effective – most times, simplicity is key.
- Icarus Stormcannon Array (Good): The Icarus Stormcannon Array is a fantastic and verstile weapon, it is a Heavy 3 weapon with a 48″ Range and it resolves at Strength 7, AP 4. Additionally, the gun may be fired Twin Linked at a single target or once at two different targets; the ability to split up its fire power I have found incredibly useful, being able to target multiple units can be very useful, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a saturation of targets. Since the weapon has both the Skyfire and Interceptor Special Rules, it is clear what the vehicle’s battle field role is, anti-air.
- Searchlight/Smoke Launchers (Good): Most Space Marine Vehicles come with these rather simple upgrades, so I won’t go in to how you use them… however, it is a really good idea to NEVER FORGET that you actually have them! So many times I see Space Marine players not use the special rules that these items give you and it is a damn shame.
- Skystorm (Just Okay): At first glance, this rule seems incredibly good… however, I am putting it in the “Just Okay” category because it is, in all honesty, a bit of a trap. When a squadron of Stalkers consists of three models, their Stormcannons have the Ignores Cover Special Rule… However, the cost of having three Stalkers joined together as a unit makes them more a liability than an asset. In most cases, I would always rather have three separate Stalkers that are able to babysit multiple objectives and shoot at separate units, etc…
- May include additional Stalkers -up to a squadron of three- (Just Okay): As I’ve stated above, the additional Stalkers pile points onto a squadron that is not always going to be worth it, they are powerful enough on their own to be run solo.
- Space Marine Upgrades (Just Okay): All-in-all, most of these upgrades are pretty forgettable. There are some notable ones, of course (Dozer Blades, mostly)… but none of these are really worth is on the Stalker; keep him cheap and you’ll be happy.
So, why do I really like the Stalker? Well, mostly because a team mate of mine plays Dark Eldar and it pisses him off to no end; though not just for that reason. In comparision to the players out there who have been playing Space Marines since the very beginning, I have been playing Space Marines for a rather short time (6th edition), so the first Space Marine codex I ever purchased had this model within its pages… and right from the get-go I bought one. I think my first purchase of Space Marines included the Codex, the old Space Marine Battle Force, a Chaplain, and a Stalker – so before I ever cracked open a box, I knew I wanted to play one of these guys and it’s for the same reasons I play them all of the time today.
- They’re Really Cheap: One Stalker with no upgrades comes to the low, low price of 75 points!!! Whoa!! That’s new off the lot too, no second hand dealerships for you! Additionally, this is no Rhino you’re buying, this is a heavily armored son-of-a-bitch. With a Front and Side AV of 12, this guy is worth every point. Even if your opponent isn’t running Flyers or Skimmers, they are going to need some heavy shooting or close combat to bring this guy down.
- They’re Really Annoying: Because they are so tough (having an armor value of 12 on the front and side), they make the perfect objective babysitters. Most of the time, you are going to need your marines to go and fight the good fight, which means they can’t always look after those precious objectives, well… these are perfect. What makes them so annoying in this particular battlefield role is that, in almost all cases, your opponent will need to dedicate anti-vehicle weapons to try and destroy one, even the dreaded Scatterlasers don’t reliably kill a stalker. Your opponent is now faced with a rather agitating choice… do I shoot at the marines… or do I try and kill that armor 12 vehicle holding an objective in the middle of the table? It’s surprising how annoying a choice like that really is. Additionally, if the Stalker doesn’t have viable air targets, be incredibly aggressive with it; the Stalker has to Snap Fire anyways, so you may as well move it 12″ every turn! Start Tank Shocking everything in side and Snap Firing at whatever you feel is best. Playing the Stalker that aggressively is the best way to get it’s worth in a game where your opponent doesn’t have any flyers.
Anti-Air Defense Farce
The Anti-Air Defense Force is an awesome formation that consists of two units of Stalkers and one unit of Hunters, the great thing about this formation is that it is mighty cheap for three AV 12 vehicles and is an Auxiliary choice for the Gladius Strike Force – If you aren’t in to the 10th Company Scout Formation, this is a great way to unlock the Company Support special rule (Free Transports) at a minimal point cost. However, this formation does dedicate 220 of your points to vehicles that can only fire full BS at Flyers/FMCs/Skimmers… might be a little bit of an overkill, however I have seen this formation used incredibly well and it all depends on personal style and how you use them. It is also worth mentioning that local meta can dictate this formations use, if your meta is filling with FMCs, Eldar, Dark Eldar, etc… then perhaps including the Anti-Air Defense Force is the best choice all of the time.
But… Nobody Plays Flyers…
That’s okay… it is true that most army lists that you come across don’t necessarily have anything that will be attacking you from the sky. Any unit that does one thing is never usually the most valuable, Skyfire is a rather limiting Special Rule to have on such an awesome weapon, but it something that you have to just accept. It is also a little disappointing that you can’t change the weapon out for something that has a higher strength value or a lower AP value – Autocannons aren’t always the most impressive, considering most flyers that you will see on a regular basis are going to have AV 12. All of this just means that you need to use the Stalker in a way that your opponent won’t really expect – Tank Shocking with is all of the time is on example. Additionally, it is a really good way to spook your opponent into Jinking, if a flyer Jinks (even though you may not destroy it) you have effectively “Shaken” them for a turn, taking their efficacy away from the game. Be bold with the multi-targeting aspect of the weapon, if you can force two flyers/skimmers to Jink, all the better.
I Love My Stalker
I play a Stalker every chance I get, it has rarely been useless in any game that I have included it in – if you play them aggressively and really get up in your opponent’s face with them, you can make your opponent dedicate far too many points of their own army just to try and down your ultra-cheap vehicle. It was part of my very first Space Marine purchase and I urge you all to try them out, they rarely disappoint. If you do want to try it out, Frontline Gaming can get you an awesome deal on one, I hear they sell their GW product up to 25% off!
Scuba Steve, Signing Out