Garrulous greetings from the webway today, Ibushi here to talk about my favourite pointy-eared pirates troop choice: the Corsair Ghostwalker Band. These guys are the B-team to the Craftwolrd Eldar Rangers, aka Outcasts who have ‘made it’ in Eldar society; but where Ghostwalkers lack hard skills, they make up for it in bang-bang! Read on to find out what useful things Ghostwalkers can do.
Be sure to check out the Tactics Corner for all the many more review and tactics articles here at Frontline Gaming too!
With catlike stealth, Iznira weaved through shadows in the undergrowth, shuriken pistols at the ready. Ahead, lit in a pool of dank light, stood the hapless sentry, struggling to stimulate his feeble mind with foul-smelling Mon Keigh beverage. Even at this range it overpowered Iznira’s nostrils.
Spying on hapless, disgusting aliens was Iznira’s job, and she loved cashing those cheques, but the true satisfaction was in that stare of surprise in a sentry’s eyes as a storm of screaming shuriken from out of the darkness rends him into living streamers.
Today was no different, as with a shower of spinning blades and a few well-tossed shadowwave grenades, Iznira paved the way for Baron Scythax’s orbital raiding force to approach unopposed for a few more precious seconds.
Most people are familiar with Eldar Rangers, those robed sniper models that have been around since the 1980s, although these days you rarely see a sniper weapon do much. Mostly those guys are used for their Shrouded and ObSec rules, hiding in some corner for as long as possible to score a few points. Corsair Ghostwalkers are a similar army role, acting as scouts and saboteurs ahead of the main force, picking off sentries and officers with sniper rifles, or generally lurking around to hold the an objective, using their stealth skills to stay alive rather than clunky armour. The big difference is that Ghostwalkers embody the saboteur role much more accurately on the tabletop than Rangers do, while the flipside is that they are somewhat less stealthy. Let’s take a look at their stats:
Corsair Ghostwalker Band:
Unit: 5-10 models at 12pts each
Wargear: lasblaster, plasma grenades, shadowwave grenades
- Brace of pistols (free) or Eldar Longrifle +1pt/model
- Corsair Jetpack +5pts
- 1 per 5 may take: Flamer/Shredder/Fusion Gun/Blaster
- Unit may take Haywire and/or Tanglefield grenades for an exorbitant amount of points
- Reckless Abandon
- Dancing on the Blade’s Edge
- But do not have Move Through Cover or Shrouded, sadface
While Eldar Rangers have a pistol, sniper rifles and Shrouded, Ghostwalkers just have Stealth but get grenades and a bit more shooting in the form of lasblasters or brace of pistols (always brace of pistols in my books). If you like they can get sniper rifles too, but then they cost more than Rangers and are not Shrouded = not so great. Grenades make a surprising difference in my experience, as the targets Rangers or Ghostwalkers go after are usually pretty weak, like gaunts or scouts, and a solid s4 ap4 blast hit can do a decent amount of damage, while charging through cover and getting 3 punches each with Brace of Pistols at initiative 5 can actually scare some weak models to death before they punch back. One time I had a unit of 5 Ghostwalkers punch out 2 units of grots and a unit of Lootas after Outflanking into the Ork backfield, they really went on a murder spree. They do only have 5+ armour, so Ghostwalkers cannot take much of a hit in combat usually though.
Most importantly, Ghostwalkers can pick up a special weapon which makes all the difference. One fusion shot is not entirely reliable, but it is certainly nothing to sniff at especially on a unit with Scout. In this instance a Blaster is also a pretty good choice for that 18″ range — Infiltrate up front, Scout forwards, blast away and Reckless Abandon out of LOS, rinse and repeat. If you can disable that enemy transport in turn 1 thanks to these guys, that will pay huge dividends later.
The most tooled-up option is to take 5 Ghostwalkers with jetpacks and a fusion gun, giving them the ability to Infiltrate 18″ away from the enemy, Scout forwards 12″, move 6″, then shoot the fusion gun from within melta range. Quite pricey for 1 fusion shot, but if you have 2-3 units all pulling this trick (assuming you don’t get Seized on), you have a solid shot at taking out armour early. Then the units all Reckless + jetpack Thrust move 3D6+6″ away in classic Corsair fashion, so they are pretty slippery. What hurts in this setup is not having Move Through Cover — failing a DT on a 1 wound 4+ armour model can quickly cause casualties… Also if you really want to, you can attach a Baron with Divination to the unit for 50pts, bumping them up to Ld9 and giving them a chance at Prescience to ensure the fusion shot hits home. This is something I would recommend in a small points campaign or something like that, full of heroes and gloriously over-upgraded units, or for a really fun themed list, but not for the top tables of ITC tournaments.
At the end of the day, every army has to take its troops and Eldar or Corsairs can just take Scatbikes — why bother with Ghostwalkers? Admittedly I did take 2 units of 5 to a tournament this year, and that was a mistake — they are not that good. But the case for a unit of 5 with a flamer in the current meta is pretty good, if at the very least for two reasons: 1) Infiltrate screening, 2) Assault screening. (A soft 3 would be for Linebreaker. Yes scatbikes are great at getting Linebreaker, but if you already have Ghostwalkers getting it, then you free up some bikes to double down on objectives.)
Infiltrate screening is just that — plop the 60pt unit down in a line as far up as possible to stop infiltrators getting too close. Rangers are good for this too, but then they get charged and die pretty consistently, whereas Ghostwalkers are able to Scout backwards to relative safety, then keep shimmying backwards or sideways with Corsair shenanigans to stay alive and score objectives later. Even if the unit dies, you sacrifice them to keep your Scatbikes and Warp Hunters shooting for one more turn, which is often all it takes.
Assault screening is basically the same idea, using the scouts to bubblewrap important units from charges, but is where Ghostwalkers are particularly useful thanks to flamers and Overwatch. The flamer for 5pts is the cheapest special weapon option and pairs really well with Reckless Abandon for causing Wall of Death hits on Overwatch then scooting away 6″ straight backwards. From one inch away those Skyhammer marines still need 7-9″ depending on terrain and casualties, usually leaving them out in the cold. Again the Ghostwalkers will almost always die by the end of the game, but delaying that charge for one turn is often what Corsairs need to push through enough damage on the enemy.
“We just want a hug!”
In fact a unit of 10 Ghostwalkers with 2 flamers is only 130pts, and would be a great screen to protect scatbikes against charges in turn 1. Seems like a good option to think about against Genestealer Cult, and since Ghosties infiltrate you can put them in place as a nice screen after deployment, then use the Scout move to cover those angles. Reavers can do the flamer thing better (60pts for 5 Reavers with 2 flamers), but having infiltrate and scout on the ghosts is just so useful.
Against assault-based armies the Ghostwalkers can be great little objective-holders too, as you infiltrate, outflank, or just walk onto the objective, then thanks to Reckless Abandon it becomes quite tricky to catch them in assault. A particular favourite is deploying them in front of an objective at the 3″ mark, so when they get charged you move backwards to 3″ away on the other side (6″ total). After Overwatch you are still holding the point and the enemy is not able to move closer. Of course if they do roll a long charge you’re pretty much dead, but that’s true with most Corsairs, they are a fragile army.
Now against shooty armies (so… most opponents) Ghostwalkers are still useful, but they suffer from not having Shrouded. Man shrouded is just so key in this game, coming with Stealth stock is just not very good by comparison as Night Fight or Conqueror of Cities provide no benefit. Saying that, hopping in ruins for a 3+ cover save is no joke, and definitely go to ground for the 2+ with these pirates — if you take 2 casualties and fail a morale check then they drop to Leadership 5 and pretty much always run off the table.
As a rule, the biggest defence Ghostwalkers have against enemy shooting is that they are not perceived as much of a threat, and compared to Scatbikes and Warp Hunters this is true. This is also why assault is often the larger threat to Ghostwalkers, as shooting is better directed at jetbikes.
If you do go for the fusion gun ghosts, they become a threat and will be blown away pretty quick in my experience. Shuriken pistol ghostwalkers, maybe with a flamer, are a pretty crappy unit that can get away with hiding in corners and scoring points fairly well. In this regard Stealth does help, and is certainly nothing to sniff at, while the rule that really keeps them alive and in the game is Outflank — just avoid being shot at altogether! Almost the entire Corsairs army can Outflank or Deep Strike, it is a lot of fun, so really use this to your advantage to delay engaging with the enemy until you can do so on favourable terms. For Corsairs this looks like placing objectives in the absolute corners of the board, hopefully out of LOS, then outflanking Ghostwalkers onto one and keeping out of the way until the game ends — then count up the points and declare victory!
Overall, Ghostwalkers are not a high damage-output unit, but they are cheap and cheerful little Corsair swiss army knives to be applied tactically. With some good positioning they will win you games by preventing important assaults or by holding out-of-the-way objectives. For people playing against Corsairs, just shoot them with Drop Pods and all those low quality shots that don’t usually do much, or charge them with a squad of troops and force them to take 5+ saves. They are just a unit of guardians with Stealth, hoping one day to grow up into their big boy pants and get Shrouded and a sniper rifle with the true Outcasts — until then, they’re a bunch of grenade throwing, pistol whipping punks that trip over rocks, and I really enjoy them for it.
Sentries eliminated and air defences down, Baron Scythax’s Vampire Raider burned down from orbit unopposed. The compound was breached and the prisoner was quickly taken, but the enemy was also alerted and came rushing in far superior numbers – now the real job began: escaping with her 300-year old hide… Iznira dodged from building to building with her squad, laying a path of billowing purple shadowwave grenades to cover their retreat.
A furious group of guardsmen came charging through the smoke and destruction, bayonets fixed and rage in their eyes — Iznira let out a piercing whistle and the red shirt stepped up, flamer poised. The first three guardsmen keeled over in flames, writhing and screaming sweet Mon Keigh death cries, transforming the charging squad’s rage into fear. In that split second the Ghostwalkers dropped another fistful of grenades with a flash, turned on their heel and ran into the darkness once more.
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