Space Marines Hunter & Stalker – Worth Taking?

Hunter and Stalker Tank

The new Space Marines Codex doesn’t introduce any new Flyers (though the Codex now includes both the Stormtalon and the Stormraven). Instead, the book introduced two new anti-aircraft tanks: The Stalker and the Hunter (right in the pair painted by Medows Arts above).

Both are awesome models that enhance the time-honoured Rhino-aesthetic very nicely. But are they good enough for players to moth-ball their Defence Line Quad Guns? Let’s have a look!


#1 – The New Space Marines Anti-Aircraft Tanks

A few things are true for both of the new anti-air Space Marine tanks.

  • They both have a Front and Side-Armour of 12, itself a novelty for Rhino-based tanks.
  • They are relatively cheap, being only 5 (Hunter) and 10 (Stalker) points more expensive than the (newly discounted and AV11) Whirlwind.
  • Both carry weapons with the Skyfire rule (not surprising), but do not gain Interceptor.
  • Both take up a Heavy Support slot. Space Marines Heavy Support now has no less than 12 (!) different entries (not counting Sergeant Chronus), including Devastators, Centurions, Storm Raven and the known Space Marine tanks. Talk about competition!

#2 – The Space Marines Hunter

The Hunter brings one big, bad missile: The Skyspear Missile Launcher. As I noted in my first look at the Space Marines Codex, it includes one of the strangest new bits of fluff in that the Skyspear Missiles include a mummified chapter serf along with the missile’s warhead.

The skyspear missile launcher fires pre-blessed savant warheads, each a relic in its own right, housing the entombed remains of a distinguished chapterserf.
The servitor’s mummified brain augments the missile’s auto-targeters, allowing it to second-guess enemy pilots or home in on the heretical emissions of their debased machine spirits.

Technically, they are flying kamikaze one-shot mini-Dreadnoughts!

In the game, it’s one mean one-shot missile: Str. 7, Range 60″, Armourbane. It also comes with a little special rule called Savant Lock, which grants the missile a 1/3 chance of still hitting a flyer in later turns if you missed the first shot.

Is it worth it?

I doubt it. The Hunter is my favourite of the two new Anti-Aircraft tanks as the background goes, but rules-wise I am not overly impressed.

The Savant Lock only works against Flyers, not Skimmers, and the lack of Interceptor means most flyers (arriving by reserves) have a free turn of free before the Hunter even gets to shoot.

If (!) the Hunter survives a Flyer arriving on the table (Vector Strike, hello!), it is still a one-shot weapon, with all the drawbacks that come with that. Savant Lock may sound cool, but by the time it comes into play, enemy flyers will have had 2 turns of doing mayhem minimum.

In short, the Hunter is laser-focused at taking out a flyer with one penetrating kill-shot, but doesn’t seem reliable enough doing just that.


#3 – The Space Marines Stalker

The Stalker is identical to the Hunter, except for the weapon. Instead of the Skyspear Missile Launcher, it comes with an Icarus Stormcannon Array.

The Icarus Stormcannon Array also fires Str. 4 shots, yet instead of a one-shot AP2 with Armourbane, it fires 4 Twin-linked shots at AP4. It also has 12″ less range.

Instead of a Savant Lock, it comes with Servo-tracking, an ability allowing the Stalker to shoot at two targets by forgoing the 4 Twin-linked BS4 shots in favour of 8 (4 at each target) BS2 shots.

I’ve seen a lot of praise for Savant Lock and a lot of disdain for Servo-tracking. 40K players certainly hate switching the certainty of Twin-linked BS4 for a plain BS2.

Nevertheless, I think Servo-tracking is the better ability!

  • Unlike the Savant Lock, works against Skimmers, as well as Flyers (remember Skyfire helps hitting Skimmers too).
  • It’s still Str. 7.
  • 4 shots with a 1/3 chance to hit is still 1.3 hits average (it has Skyfire) on two targets.
  • For fragile flyers and skimmers (Dark Eldar Raiders, Crimson Hunters, etc..), a single Str. 7 hit is often all you need.

Is it a bit risky? Sure. But unlike Savant Lock, which feels like a consolation price for having failed a roll, taking out two Flyers/Skimmers with Servo-tracking is a potential game-changer!

Will it always work? No. But when it has a fair chance of working and, if it does work, a fair chance of wrecking your opponents plans in a big way.

And even if you’re not using the Servo-tracking, glancing Wave Serpents to death with plenty of (single-target) Twin-linked, Skyfire Str. 7 shots is a useful ability to have these day.


#4 – Verdict & Thoughts

Overall, I think a lot of 40K player will stick with their Fortification Quad Guns, mainly for having Interceptor and for not competing in an awfully crowded Heavy Support section (though the many allies options – even within the Space Marines Codex, make this less of a problem these days).

The Hunter strikes me as over-specialized, and not good enough at what it specializes in, to gain much of a fan-following. Against non-flyers, it’s a one-shot Str. 7 gun. Against Flyers, it has no Interceptor, and Savant Lock will only matter a turn or two even after it gets to shoot.

The Stalker – in essence a Space Marines Hydra – looks better as it can also wreck a good number of Skimmers and Light Transports. If it sees the table, I would guess the Stalker will still be fielded in addition to a Quad Gun or a similar Anti-Air defense, not as a replacement for it.

What do you think?

Will you field one of these new tanks? Both?

Have you tried them in a game already?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Z.

Image: Space Marines Hunter & Stalker painted by Medows Arts.
Zweischneid

Zweischneid

I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at www.pinsofwar.net.
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  • Sharpie

    A BS2 Stalker has a 7% chance of instantly destroying even an Av10 flyer.

    Its not going to shoot down two at once, period.

    The Stalker is more than twice as likely to destroy an Av10 flyer (27% chance without servo tracking) than the hunter (less than 10%) and the hunter only has a 5% chance of destroying Av12 compared to 9% for the Stalker.

    Fundamentally, you will not be seeing a lot of Av10 flyers and the job lot of them are capable of ripping your interceptor less tank to pieces with ease.

    Even if you do, bolters can shoot them down, never mind everything else.

    They both suck against Av 12 which is the most common you’ll encounter and the main reason flyers are a threat which you need to deal with in the first place.

  • archied

    i think the stalker looks decent, but a £40 rhino chassis kit? seriously…

    • cjb

      You are able to make both turrets with it and it comes with extra armor for the model. The predators need to be magnetized to be able to swap out weapons where is this one does not. Also if you have an extra rhino or just didn’t glue the back doors on to one you can easily toss the turret on top of it and make both tanks with one kit.

      • archied

        actually, fair point, i honestly hadnt realised predators were now £35. which is also completely ridiculous. shows how long its been since i looked at them. i swear the last one i bought was about £25.

  • ndholeycow

    I like the stalker for sure, but I also feel that the codex is full of anti-aircraft choices now that every squad that can carry a missile launcher can take a flack missiles. In my book I’d much rather take sniper scouts with a missile launcher scout for support, and if you use them rite getting to the flier should be no problem. This is also coming from a person who plays a majority infantry marine army.

  • KellyJ

    And if you take Tigurius (in the Primary or as an Ally) he can give the Stalker Prescience…essentially giving you 4 shots at BS5 TWIN-LINKED at 2 different targets.

    • BMXsurfbum

      wow that sounds like a good idea, but i kind of like taking a devo squad with las connons twin link and then giving them ignore cover.

    • Modi

      I don’t see how your giving the stalker a BS5 twin-linked at 2 differnet targets option. And the gift of prescience does not do this, it affects reserves and nothing to do with shooting. even taking into acount that your looking at the doctrine, their not snap shots so you can re-roll again. Please explain?

      • KellyJ

        Sorry, Should have said BS2 (hitting on 5s). Yes, GIFT of Prescience affects reserves, however what I am reffering to is the Diviniation Primaris power of “Prescience” which Tig can cast onto any unit to let that unit reroll misses (in effect, twin-linking that units guns). I do not recall any FAQs that restrict what was intended as a “unit” (only units with “Infantry” designation or anything; Tanks, Flyers, Bikes, Walkers, etc).

        • Modi

          Righty oh mate. Yeah a ‘Unit’ is anything (Tank included) and only specified later with ‘Types’. With the primaris power I understand where your coming from now. Although I would find better uses for Tiguris than a tank up the back of the field, although I admit it is do-able and could be handy in pinch. But feel that (generally) psykers should be with the meat of the force in order to be effective and kill enough points to be worth taking. Depending on the points limit of a game you can optionally field 2 Stalkers if your points is say 2500 – 3000pts. Using that second primary detachment ( after 2000pts ) in your advantage to stretch out FOCs’ that are cluttered with options. But yes people aren’t all ways playing with that high a points limit, especially in most tournaments. But with friends and so forth its an handy thing that most people forget to maximise in order to swing things to their advantage.

  • cjb

    I like the hunter a lot. I’ve used the quad gun and its never taken a flier out from intercept for me before. The hunter is hard hitting and can by-pass the melta shielding on the storm ravens and storm talons. Granted it will become a target when the fliers come on the table but its also only clocking in at 70 points so it won’t hurt as much if you lose it. Savant lock is a bonus ability not something that should be relied upon. And I’m not to worried about vector strikes taking it out as it should be in the back of your deployment and no flier will be able to reach it to vector strike it, not to mention it has a better side armor than all other rhino chasis vehicles. I expect to have more direct hits than misses as its marine shooting. These vehicles also allow you to play a mobile defense where as the line is static and easily taken out of play by avoiding ranges and blocking line of sights. I will most likely run the hunter for its specialization. Its cheap and should be easy enough to fit in and I will always give it a hunter killer missile so it has something else to shoot, even if its only one shot.

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      Yeah. It’s reasonably priced, so perhaps expecting too much of it is a bad idea.

      Armourbane is nice to have, but it’s still only a single penetration. I can imagine a lot of people going for the “safer” mass-Hull-point-erosion of the Stalker.

      Savant Lock isn’t very powerful as you said, so it would’ve been fun if it works on Skimmers too. Alas.

      • cjb

        Also having a 60″ armor bane shot against necron skimmers can be nice too.

      • Sir Arun

        I’m sorry but stripping ALL hull points via glances is just as bad as aiming for a lucky roll to insta-kill it with a successful pen.

        And managing the penetration isnt hard with 2D6…and +1 on the vehicle damage roll helps you get that boom.

        But most of all the combination of cheaper pointscost + far greater range + utility against monstrous creatures (goes past their usually good armor save) is what seals the deal for me. Also, it is an EXCELLENT weapon to take out Land Raiders and Monoliths

  • NagaBaboon

    Haven’t tried them yet but I feel like if I know I’m playing chaos a hunter is a must! I like the hunter too and against any skimmer heavy army either is gonna be useful. My issue with the stalker is for all it’s firepower it’s gonna struggle to hurt most eldar, necron and Tau skimmers with all that AV12+ so armourbane is a very difficult rule to pass up.

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      Well, those Wave Serpents are going to turn your penetrating hits into glancing anyhow, and it seems to be the most popular skimmer out there atm.

      For the others, you’re right, though the volume of shooting also makes a difference.

      • NagaBaboon

        Yeah that’s a good point to be honest. Blasted wave serpents. Mind you because it has armourbane it may just scare people into not using the ignores cover butt load of S7 shots shield gun for that very reason and that’s probably worth 70 pts on it’s own.

        • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

          Perhaps. I am not saying it doesn’t have it’s uses. But – armourbane or not – it’s just a one-shot Str. 7 in the end.

          It has it’s uses, but I don’t think it would’ve killed GW to make it .. say .. Str. 8 as well.

          • NagaBaboon

            No argument here. I guess as gamers we can’t help but think about how we’re gonna bring down those helldrakes, vendettas and storm ravens but much higher than S7 and suddenly the other flyers which tend to be AV10-11 are screwed. I think flak missiles are a bit over priced personally but it’s because I’m always thinking I have to get 5s and 6s to even start to hurt a helldrake, against the Ork and Tau flyers they’re not so bad

          • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

            Lol. I guess that is the big puzzle after all.

            How to give people a solid counter against a 2/3-Heldrake (Vendetta, et.c.) list, yet at the same time don’t sap the last bit of enthusiasm from .. say .. a Dark Angels or Tau player, who wants to bring a Flyer for the model or whatever…

          • NagaBaboon

            I think flyers are a great idea but I do think they have been badly implemented. Some seem so expensive and fragile and all it takes is a few lucky 6s or a aegis defense line to all but guarantee destruction, and some are just a nightmare to bring down, and sadly it’s usually the ones that are a nightmare that you can’t just decide to ignore.

            Just my opinion obviously but I’ve been arguing with people in my local groups in support of them since 6th came out (I think a little of that was blind faith in GW, maybe there’s a little black templar in me) but I just can’t anymore, I don’t hate them, just prefer games where no one uses them. Where do you stand on them? Yay or nay?

          • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

            Similarly. I like the idea of Flyers, but the execution is poor.

            I like the idea of Flyers “cinematically”, transporters touching down in a cloud of dust and disgorging troops, aa-missiles streaming past them, etc..

            I like the game-play concept of a different class of vehicles, that have different strengths and weaknesses than regular tanks.

            But it very obviously is a bolted-on system to a game that was originally designed without Flyers in mind. It’s not “natural” to the game in ways it is for games created from the ground up to emulate the interaction of flyers and ground-troops (e.g. Dropzone Commander, etc..).

            As you said, Flyers in 40K seem to be either irrelevant or utterly dominating. It’s almost impossible to hit the “sweet spot” in the middle, where they are an interesting addition to the game-play that matters, but isn’t all that matters.

  • Tr_Beowulf_X

    since i play against tao, i like the hunter as a decent middle finger to a constantly annoying riptide or 2….because it works on flying monstrous creatures aswell…..plus i know im going to go up against not only one riptide, but also a helldrake and tao flyers…..plus the demon prince….savant lock from what i understand also doesent go away when the hunter is destroyed or if it misses again on the next turn…so you could stack savant locks if you had to, but they do go away when the model leaves the table, so either successful hit or leave the table is the only escape…seems pretty cool to me, unless they changed it with a FAQ…

    • Sir Arun

      how’s that? The Riptide is a Jump Monstrous Creature, so you are hitting it on 6s

      • Tr_Beowulf_X

        They have sky fire, so doesent it still hit at balistic skil?

        • Sir Arun

          Weapons with skyfire only use their normal Ballistic Skill when firing at Flyers, Skimmers or Flying Monstrous Creatures (FMCs). Jump Monstrous creatures are not FMCs. Hope you havent been cheating.

        • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

          It’s just a really, really big Jump Infantry guy ;)

          I guess it would be fun if Skyfire could shoot normally at Jump Infantry / JMC if (!) they use their jump packs, though it might be too much of a hassle to keep track of that.