Tonight, I got a chance to test the Stealth Team screening idea suggested by Aloh’Nan’El against my friend Jon’s Space Wolves. I wanted to see if that unit could play defense comparably to a similar line of Kroot, and if its strengths – the stealth field, the increased mobility, and the decent armor saves – would prove to be a benefit. The unit was set up as such:
Stealth Team (215pts)
3 Shas’ui (3 Burst Cannons; 3 Drone Controllers; 6 Gun Drones)
Team Leader (Burst Cannon; Hard-Wired Target Lock; Bonding Knife; Drone Controller; 2 Gun Drones)
The target lock was there because I revised the list somewhat and ended up with a few points to spare. It only came into play once, though, to negligible effect, so it’s hardly a necessary add-on. Normally, I would run without it at 210 points. Without getting into too much detail about the game itself (Sieze Ground/Spearhead, 5 objectives, Jon went first), here’s what worked:
- Stealth Field: On Turn 1, Jon tried using his Long Fangs to punch holes in my defensive line so that one of his 3 Rhinos could plow through. The Long Fangs were perched on a hill in one of the far corners, and the combination of range and my Stealth Field made him waste a turn of fire, even with a reroll from Acute Senses. Everything else in my army had a cover save or was out of LoS, so it was one of the few shots he could take, and he lost it.
- Mobility: After said Rhino was wrecked by a Missile Pod shot from my commander suit, Jon started footslogging towards an objective with the unit, and I was able to move my Stealth wall up take fire at them. I was then able to jump back and keep them out of assault range, leaving his troops out in the open for more firing. On the next turn, I was able to shift them into a shielding position to protect my other troops from assaulting Terminators after taking shots.
- Armor Save: When Jon did get to fire on the Stealth team, they weren’t reliant on cover (and there was little to be had on the table; there was no area terrain, and everything else was LoS-breaking hills or ruins) to survive. Instead, the 4+/3+ saves on the drones and suits allowed them to withstand fire with few casualties.
And here’s what didn’t work:
- Just One Unit: Jon took a risk and tried dropping Logan and a unit of Wolf Guard Terminators into my backfield, and managed to avoid scattering all together. Had I had a second screening unit, I could have filled that space with models and made it difficult/impossible to easily insert deep strikers. As is, I chose to screen off his Rhinos. I ended up losing both a unit of Fire Warriors and a team of Fireknives because of it. The rest of the army shot the unit apart, and the wall locked up the remainder until the bottom of turn 4, but it would have been better to force him to drop ahead of the screen.
- Weak in Assault: The Stealth team ended up locked with the Terminators for 4 rounds of combat, finally getting that last wound in by virtue of numbers. Had I had Kroot with Hounds, rather than Stealth Suits with Drones, I would have had more attacks and better initiative, which might very well have tipped the combat in my favor sooner. Also, against Terminators with power weapons (in this case, Wolf Claws), the Kroot’s lack of an armor save was a moot point; my Stealth Suits would have fared no better.
- Unable to Claim: At the end of turn 5, I managed to have units capturing 1 and contesting 3 other objectives, but ended up less than a half-inch short of contesting the one Jon was holding. The remnants of my Stealth team were sitting happily on the objective in the middle of the field, but as they weren’t troops, it wasn’t enough. We were tied on objectives 1-1, and I won the tiebreaker on Kill Points, but if that Stealth team had been a unit of Kroot (or even Fire Warriors), I would have clearly won 2-1. Now, whether or not they would have survived to the end of the game is debatable, but if even one or two models had survived, it would have been enough.
I won’t call this test a failure, but it’s not a success either. The Stealth Team managed to leverage all their strengths as I’d hoped, and they were relatively effective at blunting my opponent’s advance. Unfortunately, all their weaknesses showed through as well. For the same point cost, I could have run two units of Kroot – one at 10 Kroot/7 Hounds, and the other at 10 Kroot/3 Hounds. The Kroot lack the durability, the mobility, and the stealth tricks that the Stealth Team have, but they would make up for it with numbers and the ability to claim objectives. I love the Stealth Team, but in this instance they fell short where it counted – helping me seal a decisive victory.
If they were cheaper – perhaps 20 points a suit instead of 30 – and if there was a way to make them count as Troops, they’d be fantastic. As it is, I still feel like they fit the mobile theme better than Kroot do. In terms of pure effectiveness, though, I don’t know if they’re worth the cost and the Elite slot. I think that even a mobile list that doesn’t maintain a clearly-defined firebase would benefit from having Kroot to fill in the spaces and act as a distraction.