Welcome back, Troopers! The Black Company is thriving, adding more faces to the ranks of Goonhammer Kill Team Tactica pages. In this article we’re reviewing our Mercenary partners, the Elucidian Starstriders.
Do you want to galavant around the galaxy with a bunch of heroes? Have you always wanted a life of adventure amongst the stars? Do you want the ability to eradicate the enemy with an operative that isn’t even on the table? Then the Elucidian Starstriders might be the team for you. So welcome to this article on the tactics around playing with this band of rogue traders and Imperial explorators.
The Elucidian Starstriders were first introduced in Kill Team 2017 with the Rogue Trader expansion set, an odd kind of narrative expansion for Kill Team. They then promptly received no additional support and were for a long time thought to be a dead faction along with the Gellerpox Infected. Then the 2022 Annual released and both factions got new leases on life.
- Versatility – With the Warrant of trade you can tailor your playstyle to what you need to bring to the table for every matchup. Additionally, all of the team’s ploys favor this versatility.
- An invisible, immortal asset – The private assets (the rules for having your ship shooting from space) have 3 profiles, one with AP2, one with Blast 2, and one with Blast 3. All three are powerful and you can shoot each one once any other turn. The only requirement is that you need LOS from a navy agent or Elucia.
- A bunch of heroes with some extra bodies: Starstrider teams give you five heroes and a good boy mixed with 4 normal guys (One could get a krak and become awesome!), which gives you lots of flexibility to control points with less important operatives and wait with the good ones on the backline.
- A lot of movement flexibility – You can resist, move, or get more APL by spending CPs. This makes the pilot of the team really important since they need to understand the team and what they need at every turn.
- No AP Damage: Other than the ship’s beam and Elucia, Starstriders teams don’t have much in the way of AP, making hard to deal with heavily-armored targets.
- Melee – You only have 2 operatives that can fight toe-to-toe with other melee specialists and if they die you can be in serious trouble.
- Fragile – With 7 or 8 wounds and 4+ or 5+ armor saves, Starstriders are pretty fragile and can be killed by most weapons.
- A lot of different tools on different specialists: Losing a Specialist hurts more here than on other teams – your abilities are spread out across several models and managing their activations is critical to making sure you can use your operatives efficiently.
- Cognitive Load: Starstriders have a lot – and I mean A LOT – of rules to remember and positioning things to keep in mind, which can make playing the team draining for some players.
The Kill Team:
No options here – you get your 10 starstriders ready to roll when you buy the box. This also makes Starstriders one of the cheapest Kill Teams out there.
Starstriders get two faction abilities: Warrant of Trade is all pre-game boosts, and some of these are very nice (extra equipment points to tool up Voidsmen for a start). Privateer Support Assets, which need targets to be visible, are much better on open maps rather than Into the Dark maps, as you’ll be able to get four turns out of them whereas in the close confines of a space hulk, you might not see your opponent on some turns.
Warrant of Trade
Warrant of Trade is an ability that can be used up to three times (though you must choose different options each time). There is a lovely table of options, each of which gives the specific time you can use the ability (and all but one of them are before you begin the first Turning Point).
- Coerce – Re-roll your dice to determine Attacker or Defender.
- Coordinate – Start the game with an extra CP.
- Adaptable Terms – You can select your Tac Ops from two archetypes
- Consideration – You can spend an extra 6EP on equipment
- Explore – Select and resolve an additional scouting option
- Seize – You can reroll the dice to determine initiative
You always pick Coordinate for the extra CP (As this faction is really CP hungry), then on almost every matchup you pick Consideration (To allow you to pick 6EP on armors pretty much), and for the last one if you need a better tac-op you shall take Adaptable terms however if you are happy playing with your tac-ops (probably recon) you can flex between Explore to exploit the new scouting phase or trying to steal the initiative or keep your warrant to ReRoll the initiative once per game (I don’t really like the Rolling ones since you can fail hard).
Credit: Mr. Al
Privateer Support Assets
Remember the Veteran Guard Support options that let you shell your opponent in Veteran Guardsmen teams? Well these are like those but good. You need to have an opponent in Line of Sight from your navy or elucia models. But that ‘s it. You can expend one of your activations to fire the Ship, I keep seeing a lot of doubts with this. You can use it with a conceal model and an activated one. The only restrictions are the two that I had mentioned before.
You can call in three types of strike, and may do so more than once but not on successive turns. This means the most you’ll be able to use any strike is twice. These were a touch too good, and so were adjusted once again in the Q1 2023 dataslate, with only Archaeotech Beam keeping the improved BS. This makes the other two decidedly less devastating on Gallowdark tables.
- Archeotech Beam – 4 dice, 3+ to hit, 6/7 AP2 Barrage – Trying to kill something big and armoured
- Guided Shell – 5 dice, 4+ to hit, 3/5, Barrage Blast 2” – Fairly damaging blast
- Cluster Bomb – 5 dice, 4+ to hit, 2/3, Barrage Blast 3” – A large blast to chip damage a group of enemies
You want to try to use these strikes every turn. It can be tricky to use it on 1st turning point but it may be worth it to risk a model to put in a position where he can get a good shot.
Starstriders are an unusual team as the operatives are fixed: You get 7 heroes – Elucia, The assassin, the lectomaester, the doc, the voidmaster, the gunner (with the rotor cannon), plus the dog. Other than that you get 3 navy troopers.
Your team’s leader is a tough piece of meat for the opponent to chew, with a 4++ invulnerable save to keep her alive. Vhane is one of the best models on the team and the only operative that gets access to P1, plus she has pseudo 3APL since she can shoot or fight for free. While neither of her weapons is particularly impressive, she makes up for it a bit with indirect fire. She is equipped with a P1 Krak profile pistol (4/5) and the ring with a 3” range that do 2MW on a 3+ (Up to a total of 8 wounds maximum), which is pretty good to secure some elite objectives. This weapons gets better with re-rolls. Speaking of which, there’s her Merciless ability, which lets her re-roll one die in shooting or combat if the enemy model has lost at least one wound.
You better learn how to protect her since you need her to score one of the best faction tac-ops that you have (Reputation to maintain). She’ll usually be paired with your medic, but remember that she is vulnerable in melee even with her cane-rapier (3/6 lethal 5+), so she works best at a backfield operative that do some incisive incursions with Move+Shoot+Dash into secure, keeping her alive ‘till TP 3 or 4, when she can charge (Kill) and shoot again.
The second good boy to grace a Kill team, he is more fragile than the Kroothound at 6 Wounds but more mobile since he can ignore the first O (2″) of movement it travels for a climb, drop, or traverse during the action.
Right now the Canid acts as your scoring machine, thanks to the Retrieve Action, which lets him spend 1 AP to perform a free Dash, Fall Back, or Normal Move action, during which he can perform the Pick Up action for free and continue to move. This is very useful for recovering objectives on TP 2. After that you can use him as a Gunner-hunter with his vicious bite (4A, 3/4 damage, Rending), 8” move and pseudo flight from the Canid rule. With Loyal companion: he can also be used to protect other operatives from charges since he has loyal companion (Sadly he need to be on engage to perform that charge).
Death Cult Executioner
Pretty much the best (and really only) melee operative the team has access to. Armed with her power weapon, which deals 4/6 damage with lethal 5+, and hitting at WS 2+ she can deal with almost any enemy. She also has her narcotic darts with lethal 5+ and stun which along with her 3APL can help control some hot spots. Another Spicy play is to shoot the dart and then charge, not allowing your opponent to disengage.
Her Duellist ability lets her resolve one hit as a parry before the attacker, which is a pretty awesome defensive buff for an operative with a relatively meagre save and 8 wounds. With 5 attacks which hit on a 2+ you’ll often be able to parry any enemy attacks that come your way on a charge and avoid getting killed.
While the Death Cult Assassin only has a 6+ save, she benefits from Rapid Reflexes, which gives her a 5++ invulnerable save, plus she has the Zealot ability, which gives her a 6+ roll to ignore lost wounds, making her a bit more survivable in combat than it seems on first blush. The assassin is one of the most killy and durable operatives on your team and with 3 APL she’ll usually be roaming on objectives looking for a chance to charge enemy operatives, kill them, and then go back to Conceal orders.
As with the other heroes of the team, the Lectro gets another pseudo 3APL since he can do mission actions for -1APL (Thanks to his missionary of the Martian creed). Thanks to that he becomes a monster on ITD to open doors and click on objectives markers. He also helps with beacon tac-op. On top of that the most recent dataslate drops the cost of his Voltagheist Field and Charge actions to 0 AP, making them considerably more useful.
The Lectro-Maester comes with a 4/4 pistol which has rending and splash 1, getting 4 attack which hit on a 4+. That said, now that Voltagheist Charge is 0 AP, you’ll often be firing this in its overcharged mode, in which case it gains the Lethal 4+ special rule. This comes at the cost of not using the field, which triggers for 1D6 mortal wounds when an enemy operative ends their move within 2″ of you. Generally the Lethal 4+ is a really nice ability to trigger to get extra critical hits, making it harder to defend against him and forcing through some extra mortal wounds.
This operative is absolutely awesome for killing low wounds models and then capturing or looting a point. He is also great for doing the beacon Tac Op and the going back to security with a dash. Keep in mind he also helps keep your team alive during the first turning point with his Voltagheist Array ability, which lets you re-roll one defence dice for friendly operatives within 4″ of him.
The medic that keeps you alive, and probably the best medic in the game.
Starstriders teams have a lot of relatively fragile operatives to work with so in order to get the best results you need to take advantage of the Rejuvenat. His Normaliser helm gives him a 6” bubble in which friendly operatives ignore the effects of being injured. The Battlefield Surgery ability lets this model revive the first friendly operative incapacitated within 3” of this operative each turning point, provided neither operative is within Engagement range of an enemy operative. The incapacitated operative is healed to three wounds and can perform a free Dash as long as it finishes that move within 1” of the Adept. Both models subtract one from their APL. This keeps an operative from dying and can be done even if the Adept has previously activated. The helm makes him the best Medic in the game, and combined with the flash visor makes him an absolute monster operative.
The unique action Healing Serum (1AP) Heals D3+3 lost wounds of a model within 1” meaning you will never be injured after healing. Armament-wise, he’s pretty terrible, with a pistol and a 3/4 damage melee weapon, so keep him out of combat.
The sergeant character for your Voidsmen, the Voidmaster comes with a super cool shotgun and an upgraded laspistol. This model buffs your nearby Voidsman and has a cool unique action:
Uncompromising Fire (1 AP): This unique action counts as a Shoot action, but lets you fire your Shotgun (close range profile only) and Laspistol as a single action. Normal restrictions for Shoot actions apply. Lethal proximity on the shotgun and Lethal proximity + Balanced on the pistol means most of the time you will hit all your shots. This can kill easily any non-MEQ operatives, making him a deceptively lethal threat within 6″.
The Voidmaster’s Disciplinarian aura gives Friendly Voidmen within 4” the Balanced rule on their weapons. A nice buff given Voidsmen are 4+ to hit. This is a good-to-have skill but most of the time its value is marginal since this operative will be one of the ones you want to activate last on your first Turning Point, moving them and putting them into Engage orders so they can attempt a double shot. The Voidmaster’s Hardy on the other hand is not marginal, and stacks with Undaunted Explorers to make him quite hard to kill. You can and should equip this model with the caparace and the capacitor pack.
Voidsman Gunner with a Rotor Cannon:
Your only long range threat despite the artillery, the Gunner was a murder machine until the most recent dataslate stripped him of the Relentless rule on his rotor cannon. This makes him decidedly less good at chipping damage on Elite models, but he’s still decent at kill weaker models. You can put him on engage on TP1 to threat the enemy or use it on conceal so you can shoot on TP2 and then dash to hide him.
Ah, the brave basic infantry option. Your team will have three of these operatives with lasguns, one of them is gonna be your dedicated grenadier (He will always take a krak). They’re basically guardsman but you can up their SV to 4+ or their weapons to a 3/4 damage profile. These operatives will run point for your team and be the ones you sacrifice early, putting them on points and holding them.
Lethal Proximity – S Re-roll one attack dice in shoot actions as long as the target is within 6”. This is probably your best ploy since almost all of your weapons work at 6”. This makes the Voidmaster, Elucia, the Krak grenade or even the Lectro-Maester a threat to consider.
Stake Claim – D Lets you retain a normal hit as a crit when making a shoot or fight attack against an enemy operative within 3″ of a claim token you place. Most of your triggers are on critical hits, so Lethal Proximity – which works across the entire killzone and not just a 6″ bubble – is going to be the better play.
Undaunted Explorers – A+ Your other bread-and-butter ploy, position well, stay and fight near objectives to take that sweet sweet damage reduction that they desperately need. Post-dataslate, this now has a damage floor of 2, making it ineffective against 2-damage attacks.
New Frontiers – C Gives your non-Canid operatives +1″ per move for a turning point, but you have to use that move to get closer to the enemy DZ. Most of the time you will be looking at other ploys, but this can be really useful to reach some objective points or some doors on ITD during the first turning point.
Combined Arms – C You get Relentless if the enemy operative has been targeted by another operative on your team already this turn. With Lethal proximity you should have enough Re-rolls that you don’t have a ton of need for this.
Survivalist – B Lets you regain 4 wounds for an operative when they activate so long as they’re more than 1″ away from enemy operatives. Circumstantial but really good when you’re in that circumstance. Marvel at the sheer despair in your opponent’s eyes when they see your assassin returning to the fight at full health.
Daring – S Used when you activate a NAVIS operative to give them +1 APL. The best Tactical ploy here, a flex 3rd APL on any navy (Remember the 2 weapons Voidmaster?). Also really good to flip objectives points on secure or to loot on mission A.
Well-Drilled – A Lets you chain an activation with a pair of NAVIS operatives. An impostor GA2, you can activate 2 Navys one after the other. Really good combined with Daring when you need to rush into objectives to steal them. Really good.
Credit: Mr. Al
Remember when looking at this list that you will almost always be working with 16 Equipment points.
- Flash Visor [1EP] – A You can ignore any and all modifiers to APL and you aren’t affected by the Stun critical. This is awesome for your medic and for any of the operatives that you expect will die on the medic reviving ability. For 1point is a great filler.
- Carapace Armour [2EP] – A Upgrading your armor to a 4+? Yes please if you survive you can shoot the artillery or score. Pick as much as you can
- Hot-Shot Capacitor Pack [2EP] – C Circunstancial at best, you are still shooting on a 4+. Most of the time you prefer the armour.
- Concussion Grenade [2EP] – D The standard stun nade. Meh
- Frag Grenade [2EP] – A It’s a frag grenade. As useful as always against hordes.
- Krak Grenade [3EP] –S It’s a krak grenade, one of the only AP sources you have in this team. Pick it always. It benefits from lethal proximity. Yay!
Reputation to maintain: S Probably the best Tac-Op of the 3, you must protect Elucia in order to fulfill it but against non-elite teams it is easily doable. Be careful because as time goes by more and more players are adapting to it and looking to hunt Elucia as fast as they can.
Claim for the house Vhane: A Circumstantial tac-op, works quite well vs elites or in ITD, the big key is that you can get 2 points just by controlling the marked point in TP4.
Investigate motive force: C You need to investigate 3 objectives which means not using your lecto mancer to do anything else than this. Really bad overall.
The strategy with Elucidian Starstrider teams is very complex. The team has many fine mechanics to work with and many of the heroes have abilities of their own that they need to function. First off, try to mitigate your team’s weaknesses. For example: You can mitigate the team’s fragility by equipping carapace armor and skillfully placing it to take advantage of Undaunted Explorers. They don’t have a lot of ap but they have a lot of saturation with a lot of rerolls so take advantage of it. Use your heroes’ abilities to the fullest. The more people the doctor has around him, the better. The visor is very good on him, use it. Place your units in such a way that they can help each other – elucia and the assassin should be on different flanks since they are the only ones with melee capacity. The dog can complete Recover item always and then become the gunner hunter it should be Etc.
Also rely on your “APL 3” models and a wise use of artillery not only as a damage tool but above all as a tool to delay activities and see what the enemy is doing. Elucidian Starstriders are in general a reactive Kill Team where you want the enemy to come to you and engage at times and in locations where you have the advantage. Learn to work with that and enjoy it.
Strategies against each mission/Arqueotype:
First of all with Daring, Well Drilled, and New frontier you are very well equipped to play missions where you must interact with the objective markers such as loot and secure. Additionally, in these missions you have several aces up your sleeve such as the assassin’s dart or the assassin being able to charge and control points as a last activation.
Capture is probably your weakest mission because in the first turns you will not want to leave your operatives out in the open and you don’t have many activations (only 10) to make late use of them, so play carefully and try to survive that first turn.
On the other hand ITD benefits the team quite a bit where their blast artillery gains Lethal 5+ and they have several very strong interactions with the into the dark terrain hatches since you can get flexible +1APL.
Speaking of archetypes in general you are usually very good against mid-range (9-11 models of the opponent), you are usually weaker against shooting hordes since you will not have the last activations in the first turn, and also you don’t have many skills to kill several miniatures in one hit. And finally you suffer a lot against heavy armor since removing the beam you have hardly AP damage and with 10 vs 6 models the game can be unbalanced very quickly.
My favorite team of recent times, it takes a lot of skill to play them at their highest level, has a lot of fun heroes and a completely over the top amount of decisions to make. Highly recommended for all players who want to level up and also to any other player who wants to have a good time watching things explode around them thanks to their artillery.
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