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 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!