Sunday, May 26, 2024

Anaconda Merc. TAG Squad – Unit Analysis

Don’t Want None Unless…

Yes, the Anaconda is one of the most maligned TAGs in the game. Yes, it’s 4-4 move. Yes, it only has 2 STR. Yes, the pilot isn’t a specialist, hell it isn’t even a pilot. Yes, it was one of the select few TAGs to go UP in cost this season. But is it worth taking?

In StarCo, the answer is absolutely yes. Now before you get up in arms and yell at the screen “No, this thing is complete garbage”, hear me out. StarCo lacks big beefy active turn threats. Their options are a Mobile Brigada HMG (42 points 2 SWC), a Riot Grrl Spitfire (34 points 2 SWC), and the Anaconda (66-68 points depending on if you take the Spitfire or the HMG and 2 SWC) if you want BS 13 (the highest BS in StarCo) and a burst 4 weapon that can reach to at least 24″. So what does the extra 25-30 points for the Anaconda get you that the other two don’t have?

Well, the largest factor is the ARM/BTS of 6, which is twice as much protection as the other two (okay not twice as much ARM as the Brigada, but damn close). The other large factor is the Silhouette size.

“But wait, being a larger silhouette is a bad thing.”

Except it isn’t. Not necessarily.

Granted, this is largely going to be dependent on the terrain that you are playing on, but being larger means you can traverse the table more easily. Vaulting over obstacles that lowly S2 models would have to spend multiple orders either climbing over or going around which can make the 4-4 move a little easier to swallow ( Let me go on the record and say I still think the Anaconda should be 6-4 move though). This can get you to optimal firing positions, in position to score (the Anaconda makes a great Datatracker BTW), or help you back off to a safer spot before your turn ends.

The extra points also net you either a chain colt or a light flamethrower, something that both of the Anaconda’s competitors lack. A DTW makes for a great defensive tool as well as a way to force some bad decisions for your opponent. Coupled with the highest ARM/BTS in StarCO and you are more likely to tank the return fire too. In addition, you get a panzerfaust, which is a great anti armor tool or devastating ARO threat. Lastly is the Fatality lvl1 from being a TAG which means the snake is dishing out the highest damage weapons within the faction as well. Season 11 also brings along an extra order via tactical awareness.

There are some downsides to being a TAG over HI. The elephant in the room being possession. I’m not going to lie, having this thing turned against you isn’t a good thing to be vulnerable to. But the escape system is actually a huge benefit to this. If your Anaconda were to get possessed and you dropped it to 0 STR, the escape system still triggers. That means a cloud of smoke appears and your bs12 Spitfire operator who is worth 66-68 points pops out as is not possessed by your opponent since she is not a TAG. This can be huge for zone control missions or objective domination missions as the operator retains the Datatracker status of the TAG. Other than possession, the TAG is really vulnerable to the exact same stuff that HI is, and its more resilient to it.

“What about link teams?” you ask. “The Brigada and the Grrls can both be in core teams, providing effective BS16 with burst 5!”

While you aren’t wrong, we’re now comparing apples to oranges. Involving fireteams means increased costs (~150+ points vs ~70 points), increased vulnerabilities from fireteam mechanics and footprint, and dedicating more of your list composition to making a gun more effective at shooting. The Anaconda does those things with more cost efficiency, resilience, and more mobility while the only major disadvantage is vulnerability to an additional hacking program.

Now let me be honest with you here. You’re not going to take the Anaconda all the time. You might not even take it outside of Show of Force and that’s okay. But comparing the Anaconda to other TAGs and saying it isn’t good enough or it isn’t worth it’s points just isn’t true. The Anaconda is the most brute force fire support unit available in StarCo. This is why you use it. A resilient, BS13 DAM16 HMG with an extra order for the cost of an elite HI that can still hold a zone or keep providing an order after taking two wounds. That’s a tool that is definitely not useless.