|From Epic Duck Studios|
Again, let's start with the characteristics of the unit so we know what we're talking about. Each suit is piloted by a shas'ui and shares much of the stat lin with the fire warrior shas'ui. The exception to this rule is that the stealth shas'ui has different wargear and gains +1 strength and power armor from his battle suit. The stealth armor allows the shas'ui to carry a burst cannon, makes his/her unit type jump jet infantry, and allows the team to infiltrate. The smaller battlesuit cannot sustain various weapons, so the suits have the option for one in three to exchange their burst cannon for a fusion blaster for a couple of points. As a team the suits may take a support system, but if one does all must, though they need not all take the same system. A team leader or shas'vre may access the armory and take hardwired support systems without forcing his comrades to upgrade.
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Now the stealth field generator has changed dramatically; now it grants both Stealth and Shrouded. So that means the model, and all other models in the same unit, have a 4+ cover save while standing in the open and a bonus of three to any cover save they receive. This means that they can negate 50% of any shots that do not ignore cover saves and are armor penetration three at any range. If the team takes cover from another unit or in 5+ (or better) terrain, then this probability jumps to 83.33%. While this means that the stealth suits can now be hit at any range rather than only when within 36", stealth suits usually operate at short range due to their weapons' range. The increased durability at short range is a worthwhile trade-off for the vulnerability at longer range. There is a case where stealth suits will operate at long range, but that requires support systems and a very long range.
The comparison between the two comes down to how much you value mobility and durability. Pathfinders are shas'la that carry heavy weapon markerlights. Stealth marker teams are massively more durable, relentless and bring burst cannons to utilize their networked markerlight hits. Marker drones are just as accurate as pathfinders, so they provide the same number of hits per shot. The only downside the stealth marker team comes from their points cost.
Each drone costs the same as it's controller, while each pathfinder costs two more points than a fire warrior. The cost of the mobility and durability the drones get from their stealth rules costs them 150% more than a pathfinder for each model. The cost of the minimum three stealth suits is roughly equivalent to the cost of the devilfish pathfinders are obligated to purchase. In light of the reduced role of crisis suits in a Tau army, crisis suits no longer need to be as good to compete for an elites slot while the pathfinders must now compete against the newly resilient piranha for its fast attack slot.
Stealth suits can try to compete with crisis suits as deep striking melta teams, but simply cannot bring the firepower for nearly the same cost. This role is no longer a suicide mission because the suits can now use their thrust move on the turn they deep strike. Stealth suits can bring equivalent firepower to fire warriors if they look to be anti-infantry specialists. They gain durability at the cost of being able to hold an objective. In most missions, this is a trade-off that gives me pause. Their ability to specialize makes them a unit that fills a niche, and the niche must exist for them to be a good choice.
Next time I'm going to look at a unit that began as a niche unit in Apocalpyse then transitioned to standard games where it's niche did not exist. That niche, anti-aircraft defense, has since come into standard games warhammer, but the skyray has not been able to reclaim its niche.
I'm Underground Heretic and I get to live with that every day!