Now, the humble stealth team has been talked about before but I would like to provide some in - depth tactics on the uses I have found for them. Hopefully these ideas are still new, and will help all who utilize one of the best units at our disposal.
The Stealth Teams in the codex are described as being the "Lone Wolves," ranging ahead of the Tau army to sow disruption in the enemy. This can be done on the table top as well, in various ways. I will detail a few of the most effective uses I have found for stealth teams, since I started playing. Since the update to the new Tau codex, there have been a number of changes, most notably the XV-25's ability to mount alternate weapons, and support systems.
This is the simplest way to use a Stealth team. You usually infiltrate them towards a area of the opponents army containing a threat to your army, e.g. a Devestator Squad with Lascannons (if you are mech) or Heavy Bolters (static).
You opponent will see the team coming and will either ignore them, allowing them to neutralize the target, saving your army, or attack them with some of his men, which will therefore have taken a unit out of battle, while they deal with the resilient Stealths. What? T3 troops are resilient? Well, they can be. Thanks to the Stealth armor, J-S-J, and judicious use of cover, it can be hard to neutralize them, therefore meaning anything sent to deal with them is not touching the rest of your army. Now, our stealth suits have the ability to mount a fusion blaster, at a ratio of 1 in 3. This means, that they now have the ability to hit tanks a lot harder than they could in the past. Picture the scenario - your opponent has a land raider full of terminators. He deploys in the middle of the board, set to crash into your lines in 2 turns and do vast damage to your army. You infiltrate your stealths behind cover, and either wait for it to approach, or move towards it. If he doesn't wipe out your suits, you have now got 2 fusion shots into his big nasty at close range. Outcome - Tank destroyed, terminators pinned, ready for the rest of your army to shoot them.
No, I don't mean send them after JFK, but Stealth Teams mount considerable firepower for a unit so small. Pick a enemy unit that is a threat, be it Devestators, a Leman Russ or an Ork Dreadnaught. Use cover to keep them out of sight and charge, and when the time is right, have them jump into fireing range, against the rear armour, or the Devestators. I won't reprint the maths, as others have done that better than I could, but it is safe to say, against a 5 man Devestator unit they can swiftly damage it, if not kill them all. Against a tank, 18 S5 shots on the rear armour of a russ is not going to leave much left, even if you only stop it from shooting for a turn, they can then repeat it next turn. Again, now we have the ability to mount fusion blasters, we do not have to worry as much about going against the rear armour, as our stealths are able to hit hard against any facing.
Under the new rules, a unit that tries to engage the stealths, and fails the night fight roll, cannot shoot that turn. Try taking a small team of 3, and using them to "bait" the enemy into wasting shots on them. The more shots that try and fail to hit your stealths, the less shots coming in to the rest of your army!
A variation on Distraction, this tactic can mean the death of your Stealths. If the enemy does get close enough to your army to assault you men, making the Stealths a tantalising target will save the men, and by keeping your distances right, the men can then kill the enemy that charged the Stealths next turn. The stealths may even take down some of the enemy, as they count as in cover, and have S4. Or you can charge them, if the situation is desperate enough. What? Charge with Tau? Well yes, actually. I'm not going to lie to you, even Stealths are naff in CC, but with multiple attacks, and an assault weapon, and a S4, they can do some damage. If your fire warriors are already in CC, a charge by a Stealth team may save them. Although, I don't advise this against Terminators.
This is another of the Stealth Teams missions. Thanks to their multiple shot weapon, and the high strength of 5, there is very few transports they can't damage. If, for example, your opponent is sending a Rhino down a flank that you have a Stealth team on, then you can riddle it with burst fire, stopping if not destroying it, and leaving the men inside pinned, and walking for the rest of the game. They can also shoot against a pair of units readying for a combined assault, or by drawing a unit's attention away from your more squishy Fire Warriors.
If you are playing Imperial Guard, or Space Marines, or Orks et al, there is a chance of facing artillery. This ranges from the humble Lobba/Mortar to the devestating Basilisk. Now, most of the time, these will be deployed behind terrain, making it hard to stop the incessant rain of fire. This is where Stealth Teams come in. Thanks to infiltrate and jetpacks, they can get next to the artillery and open fire, usually annihialating them, thus disrupting their artillery. Yet again the use of fusion blasters mounted on the stealths can mean we can hit the transports a lot harder than before. Not many rhino's can withstand the massive hit of 2 fusion blasters into a side, and should, dice gods willing, stop the transport and the men inside, leaving them vulnerable to your other guns.
Take and Hold!
I realised this tactic the other week at our mega battle. On my side of the field, there was an objective halfway up the table that had to be captured. I was able to deploy my Stealth Team out of site, and in turn one, capture the objective, and hold it long enough for the rest of my army to roll up.
This tactic works best with multiple small objectives, as Stealths, good as they are, cannot hold off an entire army. Infiltrate them, preferably in cover, near the objective, and then simply roll up to capture it. With luck and skill, they can hold the objective long enough for you to get more support to them. In our game, in one turn I was able to claim 200 Vp's and hold them til the end thanks to this.
They can also perform a variant on this tactic to take a table quarter. They infiltrate in, and, with the support of some of your army kill every enemy in it then hold it til the end.
New options and the old ones I happened to miss......
Well, the humble XV-25, being a mass class higher than the good â€˜ole 15's, can now mount a number of different support options.
Fusion Blaster: This thing is dirt cheap, and a full squad can take up to two of them. While it detracts from the stealths formidable firepower, if you specifically want your teams to be tank hunters, this can be a useful upgrade, as well as allowing us to instagib most enemy characters. However, some say, my self included, that quantity is better than quality for stealths, so I prefer not to have a fusion blaster. I would suggest, unless you want your stealths to engage tanks as a primary, you leave the fusion blaster back at cadre command.
Targetting Array: This is probably the next most common upgrade used for stealth suits. Increasing the BS, it means more shots on target, so is useful in some situations. However, again, I think it is highly overrated, as you can get the same, and better result by using markerlights, which do not add to the cost of the stealths. Taking the TA increases the base cost of your stealth by 33%, not worth it in my opinion. If you wish your stealth suits to be dedicated Tank hunters, then it might be worth while to ensure those fusion shots are on target.
Drone Controller: The third most common upgrade for stealths, this allows you to equip each suit with up to 2 drone types. Marker drones, I think, are far to expensive a way to take amounts of markerlights, and ruin the stealths ability to J-S-J. Shield drones, are, to be honest pointless. Gun drones allow the deployment of the "super Stealth Team!" Fielding a unit of 18 models, you get 18 burst cannon shots, and 12 pinning pulse carbine shots. The beauty of this is you also get stealth shielded drones! Problem is, this increases the base cost of the stealths by 66%, each! Not worth it in my opinion, as this is too much to be paying for a unit.
Target Lock: Short of having one stealth with fusion, or a Shas'Vre with a markerlight, this is not really worth it, as you will not often have the option of an ideal split fire situation.
Shas'Vre Markerlight: Not a bad upgrade, if you rely on a lot of guided fire, but when it is used it will stop your ability to J-S-J, and a stationary stealth is a dead stealth.
Blacksun filter: Not worth it, with such close range weapons, there is very little need for this.
Just thought I'd add this section as well...
Right, cover for your stealths can mean life or death. With the ability to infiltrate, you don't always have to get as close to the enemy as possible - we're not Kroot you know! Try going up a lightly defended side, and attacking or harrying the flanks.
You should make the best use of cover available. The best, being area terrain. Jump over, open fire, then jump back to your nice untouchable position. Use of cover can also deny the enemy shots at your team, and the less shots coming in, the less chance of breaching the stealth armour and scoring kills. The more suits that survive into range, the more damage you can do to the enemy.
As I said at the start, Stealths are the Lone Wolves of the army. While everything else must work in conjunction to bring about victory, with the Stealth Team you are better assigning a mission (like the examples given above) and allowing them to follow only that mission, with minimal support. Used correctly, they can easily earn their points back, hold a mission objective, or assasinate an enemy squad. Used incorrectly, and they will die quickly. They are an independant element in an army of unity, go on, give them a go and see what they can do for you. They have never let me down, and will always have a place in my army. I run with 2 units on most occasions, overkill I know, but I have found them to be worth their weight in gold. So go on, give our humble 15's and 25's a chance.