Today we look at the first of the battlesuits from the Elites slot, the Stealth Team. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The lightest of the battlesuits (discounting the XV15 Stealth Suit, which is now discontinued) for the Tau Empire, Stealth Suits sit in an odd place in terms of their stats and rules. They come with the normal 8″ movement that most suits possess, as well as the common values of weapon skill 5+ and ballistic skill 4+. Their strength and toughness are both on the low end at four each, but they do still possess two wounds each and thus are tougher than most other infantry models that Tau can field. Two attacks and leadership seven are also fairly standard, while a 3+ armor save is probably above what might otherwise be expected. Stealth Suits cost 26pts per model with the standard loadout and can be taken in units of three to six members, one of which can be upgraded to a Shas’vre with an extra point in attacks and leadership.
Special Rules and Wargear
Stealth Suits, as one might expect, come with the For the Greater Good rule, allowing them to fire overwatch in support of nearby units if they so choose. Like other battlesuit units they also have Bonding Knife Ritual, allowing them to automatically pass any morale test on a roll of ‘6’.
In addition, they have the Camouflage Field rule, which forces the enemy to subtract one from all hit rolls against them (including in melee combat) and the Infiltrator rule, allowing them to deploy onto the field anywhere that is outside of the enemy deployment zone and more than 12″ from enemy models.
Each model in the squad comes equipped with a Burst Cannon (18″ S5 AP0 Dmg1 Assault 4) as standard; one model in three can upgrade to having a Fusion Blaster (24″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Assault 1), which can include the Shas’vre. The Shas’vre can also take a Target Lock and Markerlight in addition to their other gear if they wish, although firing the Markerlight prevents them from using any other weapons.
All members of the squad can also take one support system of their choice off the list; since they are costed for Crisis suits this is not always terribly attractive, but there are some options there. The Shield Generator is the most popular choice, giving the model a 4+ invulnerable save. Even at “only” 5pts this isn’t necessarily the most efficient option, but it does provide good protection without bloating the price to an unreasonable degree and can help against a lot of the weapons being fielded these days (e.g. Multimeltas and Dark Lances.) Advanced Targeting System is also sometimes taken, although unlike the Shield Generator it is not as easily defendable- the increase in firepower per point just doesn’t measure up all that well overall, even if you discount taking any Fusion Blasters. The Drone Controller is the other one I think can sometimes have a place; it can be a one-of inclusion, limiting the cost, and being able to have the +1 to hit bonus deployed forward is sometimes a helpful option to have.
A Stealth Suit team can also take a Homing Beacon for 20pts, which they can deploy once during the game at the start of a movement phase. A Crisis team arriving from reserves can drop in within 6″ of the Beacon, as long as no enemy model has moved within 9″ of it since then. Although an interesting option, the Homing Beacon generally isn’t very attractive with the current game setup, as it requires jumping through too many hoops for too little effect.
Stealth Suits are a rather unusual unit in the Tau codex; they do not bring particularly impressive firepower to the table, but they still can serve a useful role in their own right, and in fact one that Tau often need. This largely boils down to their special deployment rules combined with their keywords and resilience, creating a package that is reasonably-attractive in terms of fulfilling missions while not being too expensive.
Their keywords are one of the things that many people will miss- although they are Battlesuits, obviously, they are unique in also being Infantry because… reasons? Regardless of the rationale, what this means in the game is that they are not only able to move through and benefit from terrain more effectively, but more importantly they can take actions in order to complete the various secondary objectives. With Tau being so weak in secondary play most of the time, this can be extremely valuable to have.
Of course, there are other Infantry units in the Tau codex as well, and even Objective Secured ones like their various flavors of troops. However, Stealth Suits have a significant advantage in the fact that you can expect their squad to stay alive for more than a turn once the game begins. With an extra pip in toughness, wounds, and armor save they are significantly more resilient than most infantry, and then add in the -1 hit penalty the unit enjoys and you are looking at a squad that can be quite annoying to remove- especially if they also have Shield Generators to frustrate high-AP firepower coming their way. They are certainly not invulnerable- any of the mortal wound stratagems/weapons, or volumes of AP-2 multidamage firepower, or a variety of other things will still give them a bad time. But for the Tau Empire codex they are fairly difficult to get rid of and smart play can keep them out of harm’s way so that your opponent’s chances to take them out are minimized.
The third factor in their usefulness is, of course, their ability to deploy virtually anywhere onto the field. This can be a double-edged sword in many cases, as it’s very easy to be too aggressive with them and deploy them in such a way that they are put in extreme danger (like getting charged on the first turn, etc.) However, if one avoids this pitfall it is very easy for a cheap little 78pt squad of Stealth Suits to spend the whole game hunkered down on an objective somewhere, all but immune to enemy firepower and able to get you your mission points with ease. In a best case this is generally how they will be used, but obviously very few opponents will make it this easy for you.
This is where the problems with Stealth Suits come in- if the enemy can contest the objective, they very quickly find themselves in trouble. Their firepower is pretty underwhelming for a unit that is as expensive as they are, and doubly so against “tough” units like MEQs in cover. A Fusion Blaster in the squad can help to provide a little bit of threat, but even this falls well short of being a realistic danger to most units thanks to BS4+ across the squad. Lacking Objective Secured as well, it is pretty likely that if the enemy can simply shove a unit of troops in their face, the Stealth Suits will have to either retreat or face a slow, grinding war that they can’t win (and with the opposing player controlling the objective all the meanwhile.)
If you are considering Stealth Suits for your army, also consider bringing some units that can support them, as left on their own they are very vulnerable. There are some obvious candidates here- Shadowsun and the Ghostkeel are both natural fits, being able to deploy forward with them and use their own firepower to aid them. However, Crisis suits and Tactical Drones are also good in this regard, as they can arrive from reserve wherever is needed, as are Remora Drones and Coldstar Commanders that can simply move across the field to assist a unit in danger. Do note that the Ghostkeel even has a stratagem that interacts with Stealth Suits (Wall of Mirrors) and allows a limited redeploy to escape combat or pull other shenanigans, although the requirements are stringent enough that it generally won’t get a lot of use.
Stealth Suits are definitely a unit that is worth some consideration for inclusion in your army, depending on the terrain layouts you expect, but they are by no means an auto-take; you will have to consider whether the objective utility they buy you are worth the price and whether a unit operating on its own deep in the middle of the table is likely to be able to pull off much, or whether the enemy will simply use them as a convenient springboard.
As always, remember you can buy your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.