Tuesday, 12 May 2015

I’m Getting Into Stalking

My alien rams close on their foe
The grating clash of metal on concrete rings sharply as I move up the alley, the shadow cast by the dark alley obscuring me from my chosen victim. As the rain lashes down onto my carapace, I slowly edge forward in anticipation of the kill. Making sure as not to spook my target, I ready myself before preparing to spring. The intense feeling of energy heating inside for my weapons almost causes me to surge forward, and I use all my will to restrain myself. I can see it now; the gleaming metal hull shining resplendent in the dusk, its sheen emphasised by the storm. I realise it doesn't know I am there, and with glee pounce out at my victim internally screaming:


Warning systems blared out at the Odin pilot, and while twisting the hull of her warmech 180 degrees to face the alien she chuckled condescendingly as the impending ‘threat’ emerged from the alley. Hitting the mental trigger she let loose her Railgun into the bulbous body of the Stalker, reducing it to nothing more than a smouldering wreck within seconds.

Such is the life of a Stalker. You spend an age hidden in the dark preparing and scheming and deciding when to pounce, only to bounce off your opponent. It is an un-rewarded, painful existence really. As far as units go, you’re not really anything special, and will very rarely earn any accolades for heroics. You do however, bring something entirely different to the warzone…

Since I first posted on using the Stalker I have at least eight games under my belt with it and feel I have a good understanding off the unit. I have even developed a strong like for the unit, and it is in fact in my current tourney list! So, let’s run through its good and bad points, starting with the bad.

What’s not so great about Stalking?
In a nutshell, it is what you think it will be when looking at the stats. The threat range is quite frankly awful, and due to their short move getting into position is also awkward. This will result in a lot of dropship hopping, which can be dangerous depending on what kind of AA is in front of you. It is the closest a Scourge will ever feel to being PHR! They are also very one dimensional; they kill tanks, and that is it. They are bad at killing infantry, completely impotent against buildings (which is a huge selling point for the Hunter, who are excellent at it), and average versus skimmers.

One larger issue for me, more so than the lack of utility, is their points cost. I would rather have a 40 point unit with 2 DP for one simple role: focal point grabbing. I’ve said it before, but it is so important that I’m going to say it again! A squad costing a mere 81 points sounds great on paper but is inefficient at securing FP’s. This is such an issue because the Scourge need more units to grab FP’s. Outside of Ground Control we have a hard time contesting these objectives, and only a serious amount of planning (and a lick of luck) can give us a chance. Yehyeh, I know that’s a major part of the game, but even PHR are good at this task, and that’s saying something… So what is great about Stalking?

I’ve made a pretty convincing argument as why not to use them, right? Well I have secrets to tell you, whispers and tellings that no one but Scourge players should know… I’m going to assume that
players for all other races have now gone, as we have lovely honest listeners, so let me lean into your ear and tell you my sultry secrets…

What is great about Stalking?
Stalkers are worth taking for every reason that you don’t see on their stat line. Let me lean in a little closer and explain. Stalkers don’t have range and that is a fact. It is a fact that everyone knows, especially your opponent. This means you will typically end up with two situations; the enemy come a little bit closer to the unit, or just ignore them completely. Either of these maneuverers will suit you, assuming that you have set up to take advantage of this. Opponents deploying units close to yours is always beneficial for a Scourge player. Even if your Stalkers are out of range you are likely to have a smorgasbord of nasties knocking about (Reavers, Oppressor, Hunters, etc…) that can take advantage of your enemy being four or five inches closer to you. Because of their weak effective range, the Stalkers can often lure your opponent into a false sense of security which can then be taken advantage off. If however your adversary decides to ignore them they will pay in blood (well, grease and metal). I noted before that Stalkers will only kill tanks, but dear lord do they do it well. This post is being written at Critical Engagement (in a refereeing lull), and whilst I have been typing Mega Mike’s Stalker squad just took out Oppressor in one round of shooting. An Oppressor! That kind of firepower is a UCM’s wet dream!

In addition to all of this they also give the Scourge a bit of a backbone, and if your enemy decides that they do want to get rid of them they have the ability to soak up a fair amount of firepower. To kill three Stalkers your opponent will have to commit at least a couple of squads to it which occupies them from other, perhaps tastier targets.

I am a fan. They work wonders with the Oppressor (I haven’t tried them with a Desolator, but I think Hunters would work better with her) in that they will draw targets away, or can help by laying down the hurt along with it to take out those big targets. In regards to deployment, I would advise parking them within their threat range of your opponents units but behind a building out of LOS. This will make your foe either react or ignore them, and then plans for your future turns can be built around this. The rest of your army will be fast enough to react to however your enemy perceives the threat level of the Ram-Crabs. You will lose them every now and then, but typically it is going to be a worthwhile sacrifice. If you don’t own any pick some up and have a go, they will rarely let you down!

My original post also featured the Slayers, and this post will be coming soon my friends. In the meanwhile if you have any experiences of your own with Stalkers or any questions please comment below!


  1. I'm also a fan of the Stalker, having run two squads of 3 for a while now. I think I like the in your face aspect of them that forces your opponent to deal with them or back off. They also get the awesome Harbinger.

    I've found with the Harbinger's good armour and damage points it can bull its way into the middle of an enemy battlegroup, weather a bit of AA, and drop off its Stalkers (sometimes with the help of a Crazy Pilot card). Perhaps not the best tactic, but I've found it does force the opponent to react or suffer in the Stalkers next activation. I like to think of Stalkers as big Prowlers - put them in a position where your opponent has to make hard choices between committing lots of firepower to make sure they are dead or running away.

    The Harbinger also makes a great support unit once its cargo is down - sniping light dropships with its AA and dealing damage to building with its plasma bombs.

    Also don't discount Stalkers vs buildings - I've clawed a few of those before for a few damage points. Just make sure you don't destroy it completely :)

    As a final thought - I think one of the big advantages a Stalker has over a Hunter is two weapon systems. So if you can get into CC with them a squad of three could kill 6 targets. Or maybe scratch up a building and shoot some tanks?

    1. The CC weapons are a great addition, although unless you are playing them ultra aggressively and drop them on your opponents head you will rarely get to use them. Not to say that is a incorrect tactic, I guess I just don't use them like that!

      Harbingers are great, and excel at hunting down light dropships and even picking off Fast Movers. I am a big fan of them!

  2. I love my Stalkers, I will get some more at UK games expo and another Harbinger. A unit that can wipe an oppressor or Alexander in one volley is awesome

  3. But like where do you place them? With PHR I can understand running to the building just next to their advancing forces (weathering some AA thanks to the Harbinger), but what if you're facing Shaltari. I guess it's pretty much a "activate last" to get into position?

    I want to like them, but I'm addicted to speed.

    1. A wise man once said, "With great power comes great responsibility." It applies for Stalkers too. As you said, place last and activate first for a bumper payday. They can also work as area denial, if you place them out of sight then the opponent won't want to get too close, even if he does he's not guaranteed a kill. Also relentless advance works an absolute treat with Stalkers

    2. Shaltari can be a little more awkward, but typically parking them around a corner out of LOS near a Jaguar will force your opponent to react in some kind of fashion, perhaps leaving holes for your Reavers or Oppressors to exploit.

      One of my favourite things about the Scourge is that the Stalker and Hunter are both viable options, and are so different that they work in completely different ways. Even if you prefer the Hunter, it is worth giving the Stalkers a few games to see another side of Scourge play.

  4. Are you ever going to make a basic unit overview for the scourge? I've started up a small batch of the evil squid critters and I'd like an idea of where to go next. Hopefully before I blow money on something useless.

    1. Yep, at some point. They are very time consuming, and I have very little time to be consumed at the mo sadly. If you have any specific questions on units ask away though!

    2. Oh I'm just getting into DZC and I'm starting with the scourge. UCM will be my followup army but that's a ways down the road. Since I am a complete noob I was wanting an idea of the good, the bad and the ugly. I got a pair of the starter scourge boxes and a desolater nice and cheap off of eBay. So what next? You guys seem to know what you are doing aren't afraid of trying wacky builds either.

    3. I'd recommend picking up some Destroyers, and enough Intruder Alphas to carry all your troops. Invaders are sluggish, and not great tbh.

      From there either Reavers or Prowlers (and Intruder Betas to carry them); they are very similar in points cost, but have different roles in an army.

      Hope that helps!

  5. I like to use my Stalkers in a method that serves a dual purpose. I deploy them very close to the enemy, with my Hunters very close behind. I move up with the Stalkers to smash up the enemy lines. They wreak havoc, and die almost immediately afterwards. But they aerve a purpose besides smashing the enemy's frontlines: they briefly shield the Hunters, who zip up and smash what's left. My posse calls this move of mine the tazer shield.