Specialists at what, exactly?
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, 4X
Developer: Proxy Studios
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: 3 Jun, 2021
With a name as vague as the “Specialist Pack” it should come to no surprise that this DLC has a really eclectic mix of units. What makes them specialists? That’s harder to say, they just seem to be what the developers wanted to add to the game with no real unified theme.
The Specialist Pack is the most expensive of the Gladius unit packs, but it also has the most units in it, as every faction gets one and there are more factions now than when previous unit packs were released. With eight new units there’s a fare amount of new stuff in this DLC.
Astra Militarum gets Rattlings, which are legally distinct from Hobbits due to having a different name (but they still have hairy feet, that’s in the lore). This is a tier 1 sniper unit with a range of three and the ability to move after firing, which make them quite handy in the early game. They’re less durable than even Guardsmen, so they don’t want to see frontline combat, but their long range make them great as a backline unit.
Dark Disciples is the new chaos unit, and these are a new kind of chaos cultists. They’re awful in combat and don’t deal much damage, nor can they take much damage, but they create a defensive aura around them, which helps shield other units from damage. They’re also available very early in the tech tree. Sadly they don’t have the abilities of chaos cultists, they can’t create new cities and they can’t build Noctilith Crowns (the emplacement from the Fortification pack). The fact that they are made in the same structure that makes cultists is a small perk though, as it means that you won’t have to halt construction of your main combat units in order to make these.
Aeldari gets Warlocks, a whole squad of them. These are not hero units, but seem to be a more generalized take on the Seer council found in Dawn of War and a few iterations of the Eldar army in the tabletop version of the game. These have the ability to teleport long distances as an innate ability and hit quite hard when attacking at short range, and they also have the weird ability to refund some energy when they die, though like most Aeldari units they can’t take much punishment, and as a mid-game unit their low durability feels like an even bigger problem for them than for most other Aeldari units.
Canoptek Wraiths are the new Necron unit. This is another mid-game unit that hits pretty hard and can show up where you least expect them. Unlike the Warlocks these don’t teleport though, they just have the nasty combination of being fast and being able to ignore terrain and other units when they move. They are, like the Warlocks, pretty easy to kill though and lack the staying power for frontline combat. Their main use seems to be chasing down any retreating units and dealing with squishy backliners, though they can go toe to toe with most line-infantry units from lower tiers and not do too poorly.
The Kill Bursta is an ork super-heavy tank that resides very close to the end of the tech tree. It’s a huge and very tough tank that’s capable of transporting units. This might make it sound similar to a Land raider, but its armament makes it better at dealing with infantry and worse at dealing with other heavy tanks. Like many other units that show up this late in the tech tree this is one that’s better at breaking stalemates or ending a game than making you win it to begin with.
Devastator Centurions are Space Marines in really really heavy armour. Armour that makes even terminators green with envy. And they have a stupid amount of heavy guns on top of all that, carrying both missile launchers and lascannons. It’s probably a good thing that they’re at the second to last tier of the tech tree then. Just to put their firepower into context, Devastator Centurions one-shot Webway gates and have damage to spare.
Krootox Rider are kroot (who sadly don’t have their own standalone unit in the game) riding big lumbering beasts, with large guns mounted on their backs. They’re a weird unit, they have a range 3 gun that hits decently hard, yet they also have a strong melee attack. So they’re a long range attacker that wants to get up close and personal. To help them with getting close they also have the infiltrate ability which, similar to kroot hounds, lets them ignore overwatch. Somehow these guys can mount the Tidewalls from the Assault pack, as a result of them being counted as infantry.
Venomthrope are, like the Dark Disciples, a unit that helps protect those around it. Somehow their noxious cloud of spores (or something along those lines) is so potent that it can make friendly units hard to hit with ranged weapons. Unlike Dark Disciples these things can actually fight, and have the same toxic cloud attack as Malanthropes. They’re still not among the stronger units though, and their attacks tends to not do much against heavily armoured units, but against light infantry they’re lethal.
The specialist pack is an interesting unit pack that adds a bunch of new units, some of which are quite different from what came before. The highlight of this pack might well be the humble rattlings, who really changes up the early game for Astra Militarum, though the Wraiths and Krootox riders are also contenders for the top spot. There are really no duds among these units though, every single one serves a purpose that’s distinct from anything else in their respective armies. The high price of this unit pack is a bit of a bother though, while what’s in here is good, you are paying a premium for it, but it’s well worth getting if you’re a fan of Gladius.