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Like many issues that come up with a Guard list there are pluses and minuses when considering an item, and Sponsons is one of them.

Unlike Stella, I don't like the look of a Russ without sponsons, or track guards for that matter, so all of my long ranged (weapons-wise) ones have them modelled on, while the shorter ranged ones don't.

Mobility is important on the shorter ranged Tanks as they need to be up close to the enemy to do its job, the longer ranged ones not so much.

There's nothing wrong with having a firebase - type Russ that puts out a ton of firepower, or using it as an area-denial - type unit that will make an opponent think twice about moving something up that flank.

I think that there isn't a single answer and both builds have their benefits.
 
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