T’au Codex Review – Elite: XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit

Charlie here from 40kDiceRolls, here again to discuss the stealthiest of stealth suits, the Ghostkeel. As always, for more tactics articles, check out the Tactics Corner!

Some of the most effective terror weapon in the galaxy, Ghostkeel battlesuits are piloted into the fray by former XV25 Stealth Team veterans. Because these pilots spend so much time in isolation, many form bonds with their battlesuits, preferring their company to the company of their own race. Uses for these battlesuits are varied, as they are not only equipped with a wide array of weaponry and high-tech electronics but also possess “state of the art” stealth systems that allow them to outflank and outmaneuver as needed.

 

On the tabletop, Ghostkeels consist of a single model Elite choice unit (Ghostkeel Shas’vre), mandatorily accompanied by two MV5 Stealth Drones.

XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit

M WS BS S T W A Ld Sv
*” 5+ *+ 6 6 10 * 8 3+

 

Remaining W M BS A
6 to 10 12″ 4+ 3
3 to 5 8″ 5+ 2
1 to 2 4″ 5+ 1

MV5 Stealth Drones

M WS BS S T W A Ld Sv
12″ 5+ 5+ 4 4 1 1 6 4+

 

Wargear

Each Ghostkeel is equipped with a fusion collider (18″ Assault 1 S8 AP-4 D[D6], roll 2 dice and take highest for damage when at less than half range) and two flamers (8″ Assault D6 S4 AP0 D1). It can replace its fusion collider with a cyclic ion raker (24″ Heavy 6 S7 AP-1 D1 or 24″ Heavy 6 S8 AP-1 D[D3] but it takes a mortal wound on one or more To-Hit rolls of 1). It can replace both its flamers for either two burst cannons (18″ Assault 4 S5 AP0 D1) or two fusion blasters (18″ Assault 1 S8 AP-4 D[D6]). It can also take up to two Support Systems.

The Stealth Drones don’t have any wargear.

Special Rules

Ghostkeel

  • For the Greater Good
    • Allows units within 6″ of a charged unit to fire overwatch as if they were the target of the charge, at the cost of not being able to fire overwatch again that turn.
  • Ghostkeel Electrowarfare Suite
    • Your opponent must subtract 1 from To-Hit rolls for models attacking this model from more than 6″ away
  • Infiltrator
    • During deployment, the Ghostkeel and any accompanying drones can be set up anywhere on the battlefield that is neither in your opponent’s deployment zone or within 12″ of an enemy unit

Stealth Drone

  • For the Greater Good
    • Allows units within 6″ of a charged unit to fire overwatch as if they were the target of the charge, at the cost of not being able to fire overwatch again that turn.
  • Savior Protocols
    • If within 3″ of a T’au sept <Infantry> or <Battlesuit> unit when that unit is wounded by an enemy attack, roll a D6. On a 2+ that wound is transferred to the unit of Drones and the damage is changed to a single mortal wound instead of the normal damage.
  • Drone Support
    • These drones are deployed along with the Ghostkeel. After deployed, they count and act as a separate unit.
  • Stealth Field
    • Models shooting at a Stealth Drone or any <XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit> within 3″ of a Stealth Drone must subtract 1 from their To-Hit rolls. This stacks with the Ghostkeel Electrowarfare Suite -1 To-Hit modifier.

Tactics

By and large, the Ghostkeel is in about the middle of the pack compared to other T’au units. It’s BS4+ and the fact that it has just enough wounds for it to have a degrading statline means that without the typical T’au synergies and support from Markerlights, it won’t be able to put a big enough dent in your opponent’s forces. Typical loadouts usually involve gearing up for either taking out infantry or vehicles. When wanting to threaten infantry, the loadout of Cyclic Ion Raker and 2 Burst Cannons is best, while when vehicles are your target you’ll want to take the Fusion Collider and 2 Fusion Blasters. You could mix and match but I think it’s probably better to focus on a single roll for a given Ghostkeel (and with all units in general). Both anti-infantry and anti-vehicle loadouts are not as point efficient as other T’au units with that same role, but they can help deepen your ranks in a desired role if you feel like you need it. Due to the fact that the range of the Flamers puts the Ghostkeel very near to losing part of its resiliency, I don’t see the value in them most of the time.

The real appeal and case for the Ghostkeel lies in the fact that it can be at -2 To-Hit, which when you factor that into the Ghostkeel’s T6 and Sv3+, you end up with a target that’s difficult for your opponent to remove. Combine all THAT with the fact that the Ghostkeel can infiltrate and you have the recipe for a wrench in whatever plans your opponent has. The Ghostkeel can either prematurely deploy very close to your opponent’s deployment zone as an obvious target or can deploy reactively to try and harass key units like artillery, tanks without <Fly>, etc. In this respect, the Ghostkeel is a glorified speed bump that is harder to hit and higher toughness than regular Stealth Suits. The Ghostkeel is able to tank somewhat serious firepower and get to where your opponent doesn’t want it to be, thanks to the Infiltrator rule, <Fly> keyword, and the 12″ movement. Whether this is on your opponent’s first turn or during your opponent’s overwatch from your first turn, this will require your opponent to dedicate significant resources to keep it from being a disruption. By being hyper aggressive with a Ghostkeel, you can demand that either your opponent focuses the Ghostkeel (which won’t inherently won’t be super lethal on its own) or you can disrupt their plans by charging their units to make them fall back/getting in their face.

Some finesse is required to keep the Ghostkeel the optimum range from its enemies, which is typically between 18″ and 6″. The Ghostkeel is not made of paper, but it’s no brick house either. It will fold under dedicated  focused fire and assault units, or else quickly degrade beyond usefulness. But in order to take advantage of all the Ghostkeel’s armament, a minimum of 18″ distance must be achieved, ideally 9″ if you’re running the Fusionkeel. Even at 18″, that is close enough for many quick units to move and then make a medium/short charge. As a result, knowing exactly what your opponent’s units can and can’t do is vital in order to tread this line of aggression safely.

Another important consideration when running Ghostkeels is how to protect the Stealth Drones. Since they make up half of the Ghostkeel’s resiliency, it’s important to try and protect them as long as possible. Once deployed, the Ghostkeel and Stealth Drones become separate units, but should be kept near each other in order to benefit the Ghostkeel. The Stealth Drones don’t need line of sight for anything themselves, so it’s almost always the best option to just keep them tucked away inside of or behind a building – out of sight from your opponent but still within 3″ of a Ghostkeel. This will require that your opponent either shoot at your Ghostkeel with a presumed -2 To-Hit or will require your opponent to designate some of their indirect fire weapons (if they have them) to clearing out the -1 To-Hit Stealth Drones. Regardless, this will take pressure off your other, potentially more efficient units like Riptides, Hammerheads, etc.

A note about the drones, you definitely want to preserve them for as long as possible and a major benefit of taking multiple Ghostkeels is that you’ll get multiple sets of Stealth Drones. Since you can potentially make it very difficult for your opponent to remove a single set of Stealth Drones, having two or three could be nearly impossible for your opponent to remove all at once. As each Ghostkeel, wargear, support systems, and drones are close to 200 points, taking multiples is an investment that requires careful consideration. Still,  even two Ghostkeels can be a solid “anvil” to your “hammer” in the right list. And while it may be obvious to some, it’s worth mentioning that you should almost never sacrifice a Stealth Drone via Saviour Protocols. The -1 To-Hit they give is usually worth tanking some damage on the Ghostkeel for.

As for Support Systems, while pricey (18 points) Advanced Targeting Systems (-1AP to all weapons) is worth consideration as it definitely gives the Cyclic Ion Raker some added versatility to its dual profiles. The Target Lock (no penalty to moving and firing Heavy weapons or for Advancing and firing Assault weapons) is also valuable to the Ghostkeel due to how much mobility is at the heart of its role and its mixture of Heavy and Assault weapons. If you concede the notion that it will be effective at killing things and want it to just be a distraction, a Shield Generator (4++) will ensure that even high AP weapons fail to make too large a dent in it, plus it’s cheap at 8 points.

As far as which septs best enhance the abilities and action the Ghostkeel will be engaged in, I lean towards T’au or potentially Dal’yth. The T’au sept just has a lot going for it and being a part of that sept mean it’ll be able to take advantage of things like a T’au sept Commander’s Mont’ka’s, Kauyon’s, Savior Protocols, and Focused Fire stratagem. Plus, since you already know you’ll be within charge distance most of the time, having the improved overwatch is great. The Dal’yth sept gives the Ghostkeel a bit more mobility and resiliency. Normally you’ll struggle to claim a bonus to save from cover for the Ghostkeel, since it’s not <Infantry> and is not small. But with Dal’yth sept, you can guarantee you’ll get cover at least the first turn and not have to pay 2CP for Prepared Positions. The Strike and Fade Dal’yth stratagem (2CP, shoot and then move up to 6″) can also help you flirt with danger a bit more aggressively. Also, as a <Battlesuit>, you’d be remiss to forget about all the stratagems the T’au army have related to those: Automated Repair Systems (2CP, heal D3 Wounds), Fail-Safe Detonator (1CP mortal wound chance after being charged), Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite (1CP, units can’t claim cover saves against one of your <Battlesuit> units), etc. etc.

Counters

With the clarification that came with the Big FAQ2 to the T’au Codex, it’s clear that T’au Drones cannot use Savior Protocols to intercept damage from Psychic Powers. As such, things like Smite will give the Ghostkeel pause. Does the T’au player place the Ghostkeel or the Stealth Drones nearest? A single powerful Smite could take out both drones and thus the Ghostkeel would lose one of its -1 To-Hit. On the other hand, placing the Ghostkeel nearest would ensure that the Drones survive the Smite (or other similar Mortal Wound generating Psychic power), but with just 10 wounds, the Ghostkeel can’t be tanking a ton of damage from this. As such, Psychers can give you a bad time.

Yes, all T’au units suck in close combat. But the Ghostkeel might end up being the nearest T’au unit to your enemy, so you’ll see firsthand their lack of hand-to-hand combat proficiency. With a T’au standard WS5+, the Ghostkeel will struggle to hit anything at all. Should it get lucky, any decent save at all will most likely stop successful wounds (the S6 is actually not bad). Even if you roll really terribly though, it’s just D1 so it won’t threaten anything significant. Mitigating this is the only rationale for taking the aforementioned flamers, but even still, they aren’t likely to stop a dedicated close combat unit so I don’t bother.

Killing the drones, even at -1 To-Hit, isn’t terribly hard since they’re just a single wound at T4, with a Sv4+. The trick is being able to see them or not needing to. Any tournament-going army should have answers to line of sight blocking questions. As such, Stealth Drones should probably be high on your list of things you take out with indirect-firing weapons. A mortar team or two and you won’t need to worry.

Summary

Ghostkeel’s are cool. They are one of three infiltrating units that T’au has and since the changes to Deep Strike Reserves in FAQ2, that’s all the more important. Even though they won’t be bringing down Guilliman single-handed, they can provide value to the right kind of T’au army. With attention to detail, knowledge of your enemy, and the right cast of supporting units, Ghostkeel’s can provide distraction and buy time for the core of your firebase. They won’t win games by themselves though, so knowing that, you can isolate and remove them or even just ignore them in some situations and depending on your army.

How often do you use Ghostkeels?

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

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About Charlie A.

Mathhammer is best hammer. Follow Charlie on twitter @40kDiceRolls for mathhamer, painting pictures, and a generally good time.

12 Responses to “T’au Codex Review – Elite: XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit”

  1. Kevin Lantz October 15, 2018 4:44 am #

    If only this guy cost less…

    • Charlie A. October 15, 2018 6:08 am #

      Or the mandatory drones weren’t as expensive. He’s the only thing that can take them and can only take two so they could skew the cost of them to help it out. It’s a giant distraction that costs too much for me to want to take over regular stealth suits 🙁 But a cool model!

  2. Dakkath October 15, 2018 6:41 am #

    I’m rebuilding my 3 ghostkeels into triple fusion because darn it I want to use the ghostkeel wing I spent so long saving up for. The Sa’cea reroll helps since they’ll only be firing 3-5 shots. Gonna pair them with a buttload of stealth suits to control midfield and leverage -1 to be hit like real armies.

    • abusepuppy October 15, 2018 7:55 am #

      Sa’cea can do a surprisingly good Fusion kit with Ghostkeels and Stealths, yeah. The tricky part is getting the rest of the army to keep up with them.

  3. abusepuppy October 15, 2018 7:54 am #

    I find the Ghostkeel to be an acceptable, if not exciting, unit; its two main weapons are both just a tad too expensive for my tastes (especially the Fusion Collider, which is _very_ unreliable with its small number of random shots on a BS4+ platform.) It also suffers from paying the same price for support systems as the Riptide/Stormsurge, which being vastly less able to take advantage of them than either of those units- a Target Lock and Advanced Targeting will cost it a full 30pts, while it only gets about 1/3 the shots of a Riptide.

    That said, it is a pretty tough little bugger against anything short of a melee attack. Its drones will almost always die straight away, so it’s really only -1 to hit most of the time, but combined with Savior Protocols it can still be pretty tough to get rid of. The problem is, most of that toughness comes from the drones, not the Ghostkeel, so a Riptide is essentially just as tough with triple the firepower for about 50% higher cost.

    I’ve toyed around with a Tau list that uses 3x Ghostkeels and 3x Stealth Suits along with Coldstars, Y’varhas, and other forward elements, but I don’t really think it works out terribly well overall. It’s a neat concept, but just is too vulnerable to too many things.

    • Dakkath October 15, 2018 8:48 am #

      “That said, it is a pretty tough little bugger against anything short of a melee attack. Its drones will almost always die straight away, so it’s really only -1 to hit most of the time”

      I like to think of the ghostkeel as a 10-wound, -1 to hit model that starts with 12 wounds.

      “I’ve toyed around with a Tau list that uses 3x Ghostkeels and 3x Stealth Suits along with Coldstars, Y’varhas, and other forward elements, but I don’t really think it works out terribly well overall.”

      Dang, that’s basically the list I was working on (sacea broadsides instead of yvahras to hold the backfield).

      • abusepuppy October 15, 2018 8:53 am #

        I think I would just use Firesight Marksmen and similar stuff to hold backfield- in theory, the enemy shouldn’t be going back there much because they have to deal with all your forward stuff and avoiding Broadsides puts less of a strain on your Drone numbers to keep more battlesuits alive.

        • Dakkath October 15, 2018 2:21 pm #

          Currently running with
          3x CIB commanders
          3x triple fusion ghostkeels
          3×4 drones
          2x railsides
          3x marksmen
          2×6 stealth suits w/ 2 fusion
          1×4 stealth no fusion

    • BK October 15, 2018 9:33 am #

      I tried a hyper aggressive T’au army with triple ghostkeels, stealth suits, coldstars, flamer crisis suits and a chunk of drones. Fun list that used the fly rule and combat to hug appropriate enemy units and then break away to shoot again. The changes to deep strike, homing beacons and now fly made that niche list fairly unwieldy.

      I love the ghostkeel model though and I am considering busting out the hammerheads, devilfishes, ghosteekls and stealth suits as a heavy mech list.

      I always take the shield gen + one of target lock / velocity tracker. That could be a consequence of my play style as I like to throw the ghostkeels around for jumping on objectives and tying up units.

  4. Dominar Rygel XVI October 15, 2018 11:24 am #

    I play Warhammer with my friends and I make heavy use of Tau Stealthers. My entire flanking/harassing force is a ghostkeel, Shadowsun, 6 XV25s, and a piranha. They excel at minimizing losses and deterring Orks!

  5. Hotsauceman1 October 15, 2018 12:58 pm #

    I used them at BAO and they never let me down, but never wowed me either. I did Cyclic iom and burst cannons and they killed MSU and so forth. They also did good on forcing saves on mass units. I rarely got the -2 to hit though. I think they need some points deductions to make it worth it. Or not require the drones.

    • Dakkath October 15, 2018 2:09 pm #

      I think the best change would let the drones and ghostkeel form a single unit again (like celestine and her backup singers). Then again I think all the drones would benefit from that.

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