Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Ravager's Revenge

The Ravager is very much the workhorse of the Dark Eldar Heavy Support section.  A very tight, points-efficient bundle of lance-based death that was a go-to choice for most players wanting to take on tanks.  It is impossible to get so much lance is such a manoeuvrable package anywhere else in the Codex.  Trueborn get close, but need transport to gain the reach necessary and that bumps their cost up to the point where they’re only taken when the HS slots are full (most of the time).

With flyers on the up and up and vehicles in general becoming more scrappable, is there still a place for them in the new edition?  Well, yes, although it would be a lie to say that it hasn’t been weakened a bit.  The durability of the unit (what little there was) has taken a hit as have most vehicles, but the Jink save helps.  Now you don’t need Flickerfields to give a save.  Apart from the durability tweaks and such, the Ravager has been more or less kept the same in terms of effectiveness.  Pick a high-value target and kill it, then move on to the next one until you die.  Aethersails can give you a boost of movement to get side and rear arcs if necessary, which is a handy upgrade and Flickerfields can either be abandoned for 10 points to spend elsewhere or replaced by Night Shields which are definitely a vehicle upgrade that will become more popular now, I think.

The same tactics should be in effect for the Ravager, as mentioned above.  Keep moving for your jink, stay away from enemies as much as possible and concentrate on one target until it’s dead.  With more terminator-heavy lists coming out and a greater reliance on foot units, you may see more Disintegrators on these things.  The disintegrator setup also makes them halfway decent anti-air unit against the lighter aircraft.  Only halfway decent, mind you.

Anyway, that’s that for the Ravager.  Still a very solid choice overall and good value for points. A short one, I know, but to be honest, not much has changed to warrant a higher word count. Next time I’ll deal with the Monstrous Creatures, and then the Flyers.  And then this project will be complete!  Yeesh, this one spiralled out of control a little!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Spreading Your Wings... And Your Claws

Right, let’s finish this section!  Beastmasters are a unit that I always thought were really cool, but to my detriment, I was never able to get them to work properly on the battlefield.  They kept losing combat due to mediocre leadership values (and that was when the squad leaders were alive) or kept running away when the Beastmasters got killed.  They not bad though, I just couldn’t use them right.  I’ve seen people use them to decent effect, but they’ve always been an odd unit and very easy to take apart unless the unit composition was well done.  And that was the real trick with Beastmasters as a whole; getting the composition right.  You had three monster types to choose from and you were fairly able to mix and match in a large number of ways.  You had the big lumbering creatures with T5 and a propensity to get even more violent when wounded.  You had small, cheap creatures with invulnerable save and a decent number of medium strength attacks.  You also had bird swarms with a lot of wounds and a lot of low quality attacks but with rending.  All were nice and interesting and came with their own strengths and weaknesses which made for a cool unit that was very easy to use wrong, as I found out several times.  The main core of the Beastmasters tended to be the Razorwing flocks, the huge number of wounds and the rending attacks providing an effective and durable unit against bog-standard infantry and light vehicles.  However, any S6 weapons would tear through them like nobody’s business, so quite often other animals were deployed, either the Khymerae for the INV saves or the Clawed Fiends for wound absorption.  That was how the Razorwings survived long enough to get where they needed to go to do their damage.  Unfortunately that tactic does not work as easily any more due to the wound allocation changes.  This is a slight detriment to the unit as it really relies on very solid positional play with a unit that is already very hit and miss.  Manoeuvrability is slightly increased in the new edition and moving through cover is less of a concern, so the situation for Beastmasters is very much ‘swings and roundabouts’ really.  I think that the loss of their wound allocation tricks outweighs the movement increase though, so they’ve probably got it worse overall.  Take them if you like the idea, but they’ll be hard to get the most out of, and I’m certainly not the guy to help you do that!
And the last on the fast attack list are the Scourges.  Out of all the new (at the time anyway)release wave of Dark Eldar, these guys were definitely the prettiest and really captured a dark fairy-tale feel in their design, but I sadly never really used them (although make no mistake; I own a few).  I didn’t really use them, not for any tactical or list-building reason, but purely because they were a last release in the wave, and I had already settled into a very solid Hellion-groove by that point.  Hellions basically filled their role for anti-infantry, and my Ravagers and Trueborn did their job with anti-tank.  Doesn’t stop me liking the unit though.  It definitely had value then, but does that value remain the new edition?
I think it does.  In fact, I think it increases.  Like the Reaver Jetbikes, I believe they have benefited from the new edition rules.  The more reliable reserve rolls and the more forgiving mishap table are real plus points, allowing the player to field Scourges in tighter spots to deal with more specific targets and to make the most of their first round of shooting and believe me, Scourges can shoot.  Your standard Scourge comes equipped with an Assault 3 Poisoned gun with a respectable 18” range, which can pack a hefty amount of anti-infantry even on the basic squad.  This is just as well, because the basic model is expensive.  At 22 points a pop, they need to be used correctly, because unlike Reavers or Incubi (both at the same price tag) they are not very durable, certainly not in the range of the other two.  They have 4+ Armour and 6+ Invulnerable saves, but that does not equate particularly well to long-term survival.  I feel that Scourges are precision weapons and you build the squad at the list stage for a specific target.
Fortunately, you have a wide variety of weapon options to aid in the hunt.  Indeed, there are six choices (although I favour just two of them) and you can equip two out of every five scourges with a special weapon which is second only to Trueborn in sheer payload.  The Shredder is the cheapest option, and was definitely a poor-man’s choice in the old edition.  It’s improved a little but now though, as vehicles are more likely to be damaged by blast weapons, but they’re far from ideal in this role.  Nevertheless, against tightly packed enemies, a S6 blast is a very handy tool, just not one I would equip.  It also hurts that blast weapons can’t be fired in overwatch, so that’s another mark against them.  The other anti-personnel weapon you have is the splinter cannon, which has many virtues such as a long range, a nice Assault mode and the ability to rip enemy units to shreds when stationary.  I really like the Splinter Cannon and Shardcarbine setup for squad as fairly points effective for the sheer amount of Horde putdown you have in the unit.  A 5-strong squad on the move with cannons can fire 20 poisoned shots and only cost 140 points, making them very good harassment units, possibly better than the Venom for the points cost.  And the amount that the cannon can bring to overwatch is not to be underestimated.  A full scourge unit can be a very worrying unit to assault if you’re only 6 or 7” away from them.  A full squad of cannon-Scourges can throw out 42 shots stationary, and that’s going to make even Hormagaunts a little reluctant!
If you want to use them more for tank hunting, then they have tools for that, in four flavours, no less.  Blasters and Dark Lances are well known, although Dark Lances are not a good fit for the unit as they are heavy weapons and Scourges are meant to be mobile.  Bad mix.  Heat Lances are useful if you can get with 9” of a vehicle, especially if you can get a vulnerable facing.  The Haywire blaster is an oddity.  A 24” Assault 1 weapon with a strength and AP of 4, it’s major strength is that it packs haywire onto each hit, which is nice because you are almost guaranteed a glance or better regardless of armour value.  However, its use as a vehicle suppressing weapon has been undermined by the vehicle damage rules.  They can be handy to finish off or weaken a vehicle now, but they can’t stop one from shooting back unless they kill it.  With that in mind, in would probably be better to field one of the other anti-tank weapons nowadays.
I don’t see too much benefit in picked a squad leader.  I mean, there’s the leadership bonus and the standard raft of DE close combat weapons, but this is a very shooty unit and I feel the points would be better spent elsewhere.  Nevertheless, tooling a Scourge out as a leader can look bloody awesome, so don’t let me stand in the way of that!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Drive-By Slice & Dice

Well, I’ve had a couple of days off to visit a friend in Bristol and the weather was less than thoroughly inviting.  I think I had to wrestle a bear on the way there.  But regardless, I’m back again and there’s more of the Dark Eldar Codex to get through, so here’s a brief (there’s that word again) sum-up of the next unit in Fast Attack; Reaver Jetbikes.

Whilst my ruminations on Hellions was a fairly negative note, I though it would be best to follow up with a positive one.  Reavers are definitely on the up-and-up in 6th.  There are many rules changes that work in their favour and expand their use and versatility.  Using the bladevanes was tricky in 5th.  You basically turbo-boosted over an enemy unit and hit them, which seemed simple enough, but the problem was that the rules for bladevanes only work in a straight line.  Regardless of the route you took with the turbo-boost, you drew a straight line from the where the Reavers started and where they finished and hit a unit under that line.  This was a problem, as with a 36” turbo-boost you could rarely managed to hit a unit and still stay out of assault range.  You couldn’t turn around so were stuck going deep into enemy lines.  To an extent, the same happens in 6th, but with one major exception.  Now, the turbo-boost happens in the shooting phase, which means you get a full 12” regular jetbike move to line up you shot, increasing the chance that you’ll turbo-boost somewhere safe(ish).  This is a big improvement, especially as the turbo-boost is still 36”.  Eldar and Dark Eldar jetbikes are ridiculously fast in the new rules, and can get (width-wise) from one side of the board to the other in a single turn.  No enemy is beyond your reach.  Whilst on the subject of bladevanes; the wounds caused by the drive-bys are now randomly allocated, which may or may not be your preference.  But it’s certainly better than the opponent choosing which models get hit.

The upgrade to skilled rider is a bonus, as you do not have to worry about dangerous terrain tests at all any more.  Admittedly the odds were very good that it wouldn’t matter anyway (35 in 36 chance that you’d be fine), but if you can avoid a test then so much the better.  The jink save mechanic is a valuable tool to take advantage of, as you gain a 5+ cover save whenever you move.  This combined with the skilled rider means that the unit should always have a 4+ cover save when not in an assault (or during the first turn if you’re unlucky).  This means that as a tank-hunting unit they have improved, not having to anchor themselves to cover to grab a save.  The changes to Feel No Pain actually do work to the unit’s advantage this time round, as the Toughness increase to 4 from the bike does carry over to Instant Death values (another big tick in favour of the unit).

So how can they be used now?  Well, they’re equally good as tank hunters or as infantry harassment (particular backfield heavy weapon squads), so they can be kit out nicely to do either (or both if you like).  However they aren’t decent close combat participants for their point costs, so you need to be very careful about where you position them and who you target with them.  In terms of special weapons, Blaster versus Heat Lance is a matter of personal preference.  I prefer heat lances myself, but a good case can be made for either.  If you want to do the drive-bys then cluster caltrops are definitely your go-to upgrade for damage.  I don’t really see the point it the grav-claws myself.  Pinning just isn’t reliable enough for it to be worthwhile for my tastes.  Also, I wouldn’t go for an Arena Champion unless you really want the extra leadership.  As I said earlier, they aren’t good enough at assault to justify their 22 point price tag, so a Champion is just loading more points onto weak aspect of the unit and I prefer the Reaver squads to be more-or-less disposable.  Also, as a parting note, the turbo-boosting can be used to excellent effect for last turn contestation of objectives.  If you’re going second and you have a squad of these guys alive, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t be foiling the enemy’s plans in the most annoying way possible: Eldar-style!

So long everyone, I’ll be back later with talk on Beastmasters and Scourges.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Oh, Hell(ion) No!

And so comes the big one.  The one that I knew I would eventually have to put into words.  I’m sure most of you know what could possibly be in the Fast Attack section that would warrant an entire post on its own.  For those who don’t know (and I can’t imagine why anyone who hasn’t listened to the podcast would ever be reading this site), in the last edition, I was a big Dark Eldar player and, after a variety of lists all following a hodgepodge style of construction, I started putting together a tournament list and happened upon one unit that I favoured above nearly all others.  It became the core of most of the lists I would run for the rest of my DE playing time.  Hellions.  I ran a lot of Hellions.  I would come across lists that would run a big squad of them led by the Baron, but I was the only guy I knew who would run three.  My 2,000pts tournament list centred round running nearly fifty Hellions led by the Baron, and I had a great deal of success with them.  They were a very versatile unit, survivable when you knew the right tricks and one the most manoeuvrable units in the game.  They could shoot well, fight well, horde-style and get out of any fight they couldn’t win, provided their nerve held.  They grew to be my favourite unit in the codex, and probably my favourite unit in the game.  I was The Hellion Guy.  It was weird.
So, how have they held up in the new edition?  Well, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for them, albeit a bag mainly full of drawing pins and glass shards.  Okay, I’m overstating, but the edition switchup has not been kind to my favourite unit.  But before the negativity, let’s go over some things that have improved for them.  The change to morale and regrouping is a major, major plus for them.  Running Hellions in the squad sizes I would favour (I would never go less than 15 in a squad) meant that if they broke at an inopportune moment, a massive chunk of points would go straight down the bog.  Not necessarily from them being run down (it’s kind of hard to do that at Initiative 6), but through simply shepherding them off the board or, even worse, reducing them to just under 50% and making them impossible to rally.  Really infuriating.  Now though, the shepherding mechanic has pretty much been done away with and the 50% restriction has been reduced to 25% (and even then there’s a chance they can get back into the fight).  This change has been a real boost.  Any other pluses?
Well, one or two, but nowhere in the league of the regrouping.  Hammer of Wrath is nice, but as the models are only S3 on their profiles, the resulting attacks are pretty underwhelming, so realistically, it will not make much of a difference.  You can take armour saves and Feel No Pain against dangerous terrain tests.  That’s very handy, especially if you cover hugged with them like I did.  Not that their saves are any good, but it’s something to hold out for when the 1s do eventually come.  Their charge move is not slowed down by difficult terrain if they jump pack towards the target, although you still need to test for dangerous.  So that’s a nice couple of tweaks.  Their ability to use Overwatch combined with the defensive grenades you should be giving them makes them a very intimidating target for the assault, especially due to their cover-hugging nature (when I use them at least).  Their shooting is utterly undiminished in the new rules and their shooting is awesome. Unfortunately, as far as I can see they’re the only rules changes that have really worked in favour of the unit.  And now; on to the unpleasantness…
Overwatch really hurts the Hellion.  You’re dealing with a Toughness 3 model with a 5+ save that costs as much as a Codex Marine.  Those one or two Overwatch wounds before joining combat really hurt, especially when the unit relies on seriously outnumbering the opposition.  The wound allocation system and more (ahem) realistic cover save system mean that the squad will have to be cramped and close packed in area terrain to protect them as much as possible, rather than the 50% rule.  It certainly makes more sense this way and I’m not arguing against it, but it nevertheless hurts the unit significantly.  There’s the standard gripe about the changes to FNP so I don’t need to go into that further other than to say it’s not advantageous to them.

We also have a couple of more ambiguous points where things have got different rather than strictly better or worse. On the movement side, it’s hard to say precisely whether they’re faster.  What with fleet doing what it does now and the charge ranges changing, the probabilities get a bit more complicated.  On average they can move about the same than in fifth, but the 24” high end was much easier to achieve back then and the minimum in 6th is quite a bit shorter.  That got complicated.  I’ll illustrate.  In 5th, it was 12” move, D6” run and 6” assault, so the range was 19-24” with an average of 21-22”.  In 6th, you can have a 12” move and 2D6” assault, with rerolls on one or more of the dice, resulting in a 14”-24” range with an average of 21-22”.  SO I would say, on balance that this is a minor net loss for unit
Similarly, the challenge rules can get a little strange.  Now, you can take what I mentioned about challenges in earlier posts at face value.  A naturally high Initiative and ability to target important models in the unit can be very handy when equipped with a power weapon.  But anyone who knows of my Hellion Habit knows that I never run the squad leader with a power weapon.  I run Stunclaws.  The ability to steal enemy independent characters out of a combat and mob them next round is very useful and a relatively easy way to isolate otherwise hard-to-target characters and get a Pain Token from them after the mass beatdown.  However, in the Dark Eldar FAQs it states that you cannot steal a character who is in a challenge.  This would apply even if the character was in a challenge against the Hellion squad leader.  This does not work to our advantage, especially as the squad leaders do not hit especially hard.  The stunclaw does not have an AP; they’re unlikely to be able to play the beatdown game on their own with that armament.  This could lead to more cunning players issuing challenges to isolate you squad leader and prevent IC theft.  It is therefore in your best interest to refuse a challenge whenever one is issued.  You don’t fight fair, you’re Dark Eldar!  This is especially important as it is your Helliarch who has the Phantasm Grenade Launcher, which means that if you lose him, then the entire squad loses their grenade capacity.  This is not a good thing.  The downside to refusing the challenge is that your Helliarch can’t contribute his attacks to the combat, and as the unit relies on a veritable rain of blows to get the job done, this does not work out to their advantage, but it’s better than the alternative.
So there you have it.  The unit has undeniably got a lot worse in the edition shift.  They’re by no means unplayable, and I do mean to get out my Hellion lists and give them a couple of games to see if I can get them to work.  I believe they can, but they are not the awesomeness they were in fifth, and that makes me a sad panda.
N.B.  Just realised; Hit and Run can carry over to the entire squad.  This allows you to have an archon in the squad and still play the hit and run game whilst having a hardcore character killer in the unit, even if he does slow the unit (although nowhere near as much as in the past).  Conversely, this also means that the Baron can convey this ability to any squad he joins, which opens up a host of nice combos, especially when combined with his Stealth.  So it’s not all bad, it’s just a matter of finding a new way of ruining other people’s day…

Thursday, 17 January 2013

FAQ You and Your Updates!

The next ‘Dark Eldar in 6th’ post is being worked on, but to tide you over until then, I thought I’d just give a very brief (legitimately brief this time) rundown of the DE FAQ changes since the last update barely a day ago.  The reason for this uncharacteristic is that there isn’t much new in it, much to my relief.  I would be most put out if half of my posts thus far were to be rendered invalid so soon after I bloody wrote them.

Anyway, the only real additions that I can spot (don’t be fooled by the Magenta, some of those ones actually haven’t changed a bit!) are as follows. 

Pain Tokens:  The effects of Paint Tokens only apply at the end of the phase in which you gained them instead of immediately.  Bit of a bummer, but only in a minor league of irritation.

Reaver Drive-Bys: The wounds caused by these are allocated among the target unit randomly, which makes sense.  Mind you, it would also make sense to allocate them as shooting, but this one avoids any confusion that could be cause by the change in starting/ending position by the Reavers.  Fair enough, no biggie.

Veil of Tears in a Transport:  Harlequins barely ever get into transports, but it’s now been ruled that if the do, the transport doesn't receive Stealth & Shrouded.  Perfectly understandable as the Veil of Tears ability only affects the Shadowseer and everyone in his/her squad, which the vehicle clearly isn’t.  Good common sense ruling.

Aethersails:  I didn’t address these in my Raider/Venom post, so may as well now.  They are used in the movement phase to add 2D6” to the vehicle’s movement and you can turboboost afterwards.  Handy.

Implosion Missiles:  These have no effect on characters with Eternal Warrior.  I can’t remember if this was on the last FAQ update, but eh, whatever, either way.

Klaivex IC Hunting:  This doesn’t apply to the rest of the squad.  A bit of a niche ruling, as there’s no real way to direct attacks at an IC without being in a challenge, where the rest of the squad can’t attack it anyway.  If the entire squad is just against one IC it would have been cool though, but c’est la vie.

And I think that’s that.  If you’ve spotted any proper changes that I’ve missed, let me know.  If not, then I see you (metaphorically) next post!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Apologies and Procrastinations

Hi guys.  No new Dark Eldar post for today, unfortunately. It was club night yesterday and so I haven't has the time to do prep work for the Fast Attack posts.  You should be seeing a mournful op-ed piece on the poor, poor Hellions either tomorrow or Friday and then usual service should resume next week, finishing off the Fast Attacks and then moving on to Heavy Support.  In the meantime if you have any idea for future posts, let me know or if you have anything to add to my opinion pieces, feel free to challenge my didactic authority in the comments thread!

So long.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: From Point A to Point B

A couple of days ago, I realised that I had missed something out in analysis.  I had covered HQs, Troops, most of the Elites and done an army overview.  And I planned to break Fast Attack and Heavy Support down into a couple of sections and put them out.  But I was missing something: Dedicated Transports.
Admittedly, as the Dark Eldar only have two to choose from and I’ve looked a little into them in the army overview and during the sections on individual units, but I think they’re worth their own section.  After all, many DE armies consist of more of these vehicles than Troop choices and the new edition has forced a number of changes onto them which may tip the balance of power in the Venom vs Raider stakes.  In 5th, there was little contest between the two.  You tended to see far more Venoms.  The came with a free invulnerable save and a scary amount of anti-personnel shooting (potentially; Venom shooting nearly always looks more scary than it actually is unless you’re a Mostrous Creature) and the only drawback was a small transport capacity.  But seeing as you never needed big units to get your anti-tank in, this was rarely that big a deal.  Raiders had double the capacity and couple be packing either a Dark Lance or a Disintegrator, so you could run the other way round, with your vehicles doing the anti-tank stuff and their riders dealing with foot troops.  However, as the game was balance more in favour of the Multiple Small Unit (MSU) style of play, the infamous ‘Venom-spam’ became far more popular.  Which is why you never really hear of Raider-spam.  That said, there’s nothing that says you can’t use MSUs in Raiders instead of Venoms as they had broadly similar points costs, but 12 poisoned shots a turn at 36” tends to be too tempting to pass up.
Now, however, there has been a bit of a sea change.  The difference between the two vehicles now is more than just loadout and vehicle footprint.  There are two big changes to consider in this battle for spiky supremacy.  First is that the Raider is now officially more durable than the Venom as it has three Hull points to the Venom’s two.  Now admittedly at AV10 on all sides, both vehicles are going to get penned fairly easily, but in an army where manoeuvrability is key, the ability to shrug off two hits a get where you’re going is a major point in the Raider’s favour.  Make no mistake, they’re both going to die (twas ever thus), but the Raider has significantly more chance of doing its job before that happens.  The other change that distinguishes them is the Jink save.  Most of the time, this is going to provide exactly same amount of protection as the previously ubiquitous Flickerfields, provided you keep moving.  So you could realistically save yourself a few points by taking Flicker-less raiders and still have similar, if not better survival chances as the Venom.  And while we’re talking upgrades, I’ll go through a few noteworthy ones now.
Due to the change in vehicle movement (with movement phase and shooting phase manoeuvring) some upgrades have become marked less useful.  Chain snares, for example.  These could inflict hits if you moved over an enemy unit in the movement phase, which was good when you could go 24”.  Now you can only go 12” making them much harder to use.  Not that many people used them anyway, but I feel the point is illustrative and the movement change nonetheless.  With Flickerfields on the decline (a little) and the Jink save being everywhere, Night shields may well come into their own.  Weapon range reductions are a big deal, especially against small arms.  Every little helps, after all.  Grisly Trophies are still very much a highly useful addition to the vehicle (you can never have enough rerolls, although it’s not quite as vital as it used to be in 5th as it is easier to rally now).  Tank shock has changed to only being an option in the movement phase, meaning the shock prows (which allowed Raiders to ram and tank shock, along with +D3 to front armour) will see less use as you can’t really build up enough speed any more (the most you can get is S7 for the Raider or S8 for the Ravager).  With a bit more emphasis on shooting, Splinter Racks (they allow ‘to hit’ rerolls for splinter rifles and pistols) could make for a nice anti-personnel boat is you so chose.  I would also be remiss if I did not mention Torment Grenade Launchers.  Their role is the same (they reduce enemy leadership by 1 within 6”, nice), but with the added bonus of needing to take a Ld test before assaulting the vehicle , but possibly allowing for a bit of pre-emptive Overwatching before finding out they can’t charge t anyway!  As an additional point, Fearless guys still need to take it.  It’s not a Morale test, just a flat Ld test.  Most of the other upgrades have basically remained the same, so you probably won’t see them!
So that’s the rough rundown.  Venoms have been weakened a bit, but that has been counterbalanced by the game becoming a bit more infantry based.  I would say the two vehicles re now on an even keel, with the big debate being the anti-personnel firepower of the Venom versus the increased transport capacity of the Raider.  A bit inconclusive, but there you go.  Take your pick between the two, just bear in mind; they’ll both likely die before turn 3!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Cream of the Crop and Bottom of the Barrel

I should really just stop starting out my various blog posts by extolling my desire for brevity.  Much like my declarations that I’ll keep to a regular schedule or post up some fiction, it never seems to work.  Well, sit back and install your reading eyes, because I’m back for more verbosity!

To finish of the Elites section we have three choices; one of them unique and the other two the upgrade or ‘veteran’ versions of the two troops choices.  Hekatrix Bloodbrides are an upgrade to the normal wyches and I may as well start with them.  They’re very similar to wyches but with a bit of price bump.  For an extra three points apiece they grab an extra attack and an extra leadership, both very useful traits for a close combat unit.  They also get a higher incidence of special weapons in the squad, allowed one in three rather than one in five for the regular wyches.  Other than that, they’re basically the same.  I didn’t go into the wych weapons much in the earlier runthrough, so I may as well address them here. All of them count as two close combat weapons and replace the model’s splinter pistol, so remember that during the pre-assault shooting, if you’re the type to ever do that!  Razorflails allow the user to reroll hits and wounds, which is pretty handy against fodder-type enemies who rely on numbers like Imperial Guard or Gaunts.  It’ll certainly help against the heavier combatants, but I feel it’s a better tool to sort the chaff, as most wounds will get saved by a regular Marine anyway.  The next one is the Hydra Gauntlets which grant +D6 attacks rather than +1.  This can lead to a bit of confusion, as I’ve seen many people forget that they shouldn’t count the model’s two close combat weapon bonus in the final tally i.e. a non-charging wych with 1 attack on her profile will have 1+D6 attacks using the gauntlets, not 2+D6.  A minor point, but an easy one to get wrong, so I think it’s worth mentioning.  I’m fond of the Hydra Gauntlets as they give the opportunity roll an obscene number of dice during any given combat and allow the unit to punch above its weight through sheer quantity.  When I have room in a squad for more than one special weapon, I normally go for one of these to add potential to the otherwise mediocre combat potential of the wyches.  The final choice are the Shardnet and Impaler, which is hands down the most tactically useful of the options and one that I am rarely without in any given wych or bloodbride squad.  I’ve talked about them on the Wych articles, so you should probably head back to that one if you want a bit more info about them.  Suffice to say, the opportunity to reduce the attacks of enemy models is well worth it, putting challenges unfairly in your favour and even bogging down Dreadnoughts and Monstrous creatures, making one of the ultimate close combat tarpits even tarpittier.  Spellcheck tells me that is not a word.  I chose to reject that analysis.  Anyway, why am I talking so much about the weapons other than the unit?  Mainly because almost everything I said about the wyches applies to these guys too.  They do exactly the same job, but in a more condensed and expensive package.  I’ve rarely (if ever) used them though.  Their squad size is reduced to 10 rather than 15, which is fine for transports, but I can’t help it, I really like having unit above ten when I can, and these guys could be truly horrific in big squads!  Oh well.  The main reason I don’t use them is that the casualties hurt the unit more.  They have an extra attack each, sure, but regular wyches can match that by simply adding more wyches to the tally.  Admittedly they cost more, but individual wounds don’t hurt the unit as much and they are scoring units.  Trust me when I say that wych remnants have won me many games.  Anyway, if you’re going transport heavy, they are a good way of packing a lot of close combat punch in a Raider It should also be borne in mind that this unit (like so many others in the Elites section) makes for a good bodyguard unit for an archon or succubus, especially as you can drop a model from the unit and not lose one of the special weapon slots.  Very handy, especially if you’re going monster hunting with a huskblade and a bunch of shardnets.  Seriously, charge that unit into a Hive Tyrant, challenge it with the archon and you’ll not only have tyrant who can only strike with one or two attacks and your archon can reroll some shadowfield saves if there enough in the unit.  You only need five!  Anyway, that’s the bloodbrides.  Not much that they can do that wyches can’t but not bad by any stretch.  Just not my thing.
Kabalite Trueborn are a different matter however.  Again, you pay an extra three points for an extra leadership and attack, but on what is primarily a shooting unit which is far less useful and upgrade.  However, they get some very juicy weapon upgrade options that are worth taking advantage of, especially seeing as none of them are limited by unit size.  This was the reason so many Tureborn were drifting about in fifth as, aside from the Ravager, they were the most points-effective way of getting more lance weapons into your army.  They usual setup was to have three or four of them, all with Blasters in a Venom, making a compact unit that could put out a lot of anti-vehicle and anti-personnel shots whilst still being very mobile.  However with the new edition, I can see this load out becoming less and less popular.  Vehicles are easier to kill, so the necessity for a honkin’ great quantity of darklight is reduced and the changes to the vehicle movement and passenger movement rules do mean that the mobility of the unit is cut down a fair bit.  The decrease of vehicle resilience is a double-edged sword, especially for Venom load out, as they were brittle enough to begin with, but now it only takes two glancing hits to total them, and Venoms aren’t cheap.  Once the Trueborn are kicked out of their transport they are a very small and easy unit to kill and the relatively short range of their tankbusting guns will be fairly easy to avoid with your high priority targets.  A shame, but what else can you do with them?  You’ve got Shredders, which are small blast S6, which will be handy for anti-personnel and close-packed hordes and can also take down light vehicles at a pinch.  Not a bad call, as they are cheaply purchased at 5 points each and you can buy up to four of them.  However, they will suffer a similar problem to the blasters in that they are fairly short ranged and the unit is brittle.  You could load them out splinter-style though, and this is a tempting option.  They can go for two splinter cannons in a squad and everyone else can be upgraded to have shard carbines, replacing their Rapid Fire 24” guns with Assault 3 18” ones.  Very scary for infantry, especially if you team the unit up with Duke Sliscus for the 3+ poison boost.  Overall though, I think these guys have suffered in the new edition, just because their big popular niche has declined and your points could be more productively spent elsewhere.
And finally, we have Mandrakes  Isn’t it horrible when bad things happen to good models?  These guys are gorgeous models, but I cannot for the life of me find a role for these guys.  It’s not even that they can’t do anything different.  Mandrakes can Infiltrate/Outflank, which is something that nothing else in the codex is capable of (bar one or two of the rolls on the Warlord chart).  However, once they infiltrate or outflank, it doesn’t seem like they can actually do anything with any real competence.  They’ve got a fairly standard DE statline, but with a number of perks such as a natural strength of 4 and 2 attacks and even come with a 5+ Invulnerable save.  However, they can’t capitalise on these things easily.  They only have a single close combat weapon, and no access to a second, so that decreases the value of the extra attack.  The have no access to any special close combat weapons, so any opponent with a decent armour save will most likely laugh them off.  They have no grenades, so charging through cover will make them strike last, which is especially damning when they only have T3 so can’t even pull off the Necron trick of surviving to land the punches. They do a have a fairly good ranged attack in Baleblast (18” Assault 2 S4 AP4), but that relies on them have a Pain token first.  Add in the rule change that you can’t charge on turn 1 and can’t assault off an Outflank and you have a unit that has no real purpose other than combat, at which it is distinctly mediocre, and that it can’t easily get to.  You could try to give them a pain token early on, but that would negate their Infiltrate and they can’t be given any Transports unless you do the first turn shuffle, which seems like far too much effort for such an unremarkable unit.  If they could start off with a pain token and still infiltrate, or if they could deploy like Ymgarl genestelaers (which they should do, they materialise out of the shadows in the fluff) then they could be decent, if not outstanding.  But they don’t, so they’re not. You could use them for taking on backfield units, but under 6th, they’d just get shot even more before reaching them.
And a closing point.  I really want to be proved wrong on my analysis of Mandrakes.  I like the models, but the unit is one of the very few black marks against the codex game-wise.  If any of you readers disagree with my view on them or have found a way to use them where they’re effective please let me know.  It would be most enlightening…

Friday, 11 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Evil or Chaotic?

And now, time for more stabby-stabby, just on the less chaotic side of evil in the Incubi and the less evil side of chaotic in the Harlequins.

The Incubi were one of those units that everyone was really hyped about with the new release.  The models looked thoroughly awesome, they could fleet in power armour and they could hack up marines like nobody’s business in assault.  However, as they had absolutely zero anti-vehicle capacity and a fairly high price tag they fell out of use.  Is that likely to change in sixth?  Quite simply, it is.  They still have the same problems and the same units will breeze through them like a wind made of knives.  However, as previously mentioned, the emphasis of 6th is more squarely on the side of boots on the ground.  The vehicle heyday of 5th is over with and you will (if you haven’t already) encounter fewer vehicles for the most part.  Tanks are easier to dispatch, transports aren’t indomitable fortresses and dreadnoughts can be dealt with in an assault without resorting to a power fist.  This gives a larger quantity of targets for the Incubi to get their klaives into.  As per usual with the DE, challenges provide a wealth of close combat opportunities for the unit if you invest in a squad leader.  High initiative is very much your friend and the main threat to the unit is usually the character with a power weapon scything through them.  At least with a klaivex, you reduce the amount of wounds that the character can inflict to a manageable one, while the rest of the unit sets about carving the bog-standards into fleshy cubes.  Their niche is very clear.  They dealt with power armour and (joyously) they are one of the few units that have not suffered at all from the widespread power weapon debuffing in 6th, as the klaives are equally good at hacking through 2+ saves as well, making them go-to guys for dealing with any non-storm shielded Terminators.  They will suffer against enemies more numerous than they are, and some dedicated combat units will still give them a hard time.  Stay the hell away from dreadnoughts!  They deal fairly well with overwatch, due to their armour, so that’s not a concern, and marks them as one of the few DE units that don’t need to worry about it.  As for squad upgrades, they are a matter of taste I guess.  Personally, I wouldn’t invest in anything other than a squad leader for challenges.  The demiklaives are very nice, as is the Preferred Enemy against ICs, the chance to cause bonus attacks and so on but I can’t help but look at the points they all cost and think that I could just add another Incubus to the unit instead.  Now to the second major problem of the unit (the first was the lack of anti-vehicle, if you can't remember that far back) which is the lack of assault grenades.  With a unit that relies so much on Initiative to deal its damage, this is a major flaw.  It requires a great deal of manoeuvring and you have to target a unit out of cover to get most death dealt.  Or you can use them as an Archon bodyguard.  Phantasm Grenade Launchers (Archon wargear) will allow them to assault though terrain unhindered and hurt things like they were meant to!  I rate these guys highly as Archon bodyguard, but bear in mind they still have a lot of threat factor associated with them, so they will take a lot of fire.  You should prepare accordingly!

Speaking of terrain; here’s a unit that really doesn't worry about it!  The Harlequins are a strange unit; an odd mix of resilient and brittle.  Your basic Harlequin is basically a Wych plus; just as fast, better WS, more attacks and with Furious Charge for a stronger punch on the charge.  Their Invulnerable save is a little worse, but applies all the time rather than just in combat.  Their price tag reflects this raft of improvements and one Harlequin costs almost as much as two Wyches.  If it was just the stat boost, they would be a very debatable unit, but there are a few tweaks that push them into the ‘good’ field.  The first is the ability to give them Rending, for the cost of 4 points per model.  This is an expensive choice, but you will be hard pressed to find someone who uses Harlies without forking out a little extra to give them this rule.  Rending still cuts through terminators and Monstrous Creatures (most of whom have no access to an Invulnerable save) and gives you a few unavoidable wounds for the Marine-types.  Personally I would recommend giving it to a few squad members and save yourself some pointage, using the bog-standard troops to have wounds allocated to them first.  The second advantage is that they ignore cover.  There is no movement penalty for difficult terrain, which you can definitely use to your advantage if you’re smart enough.  This makes them natural lurkers, a role which is only improved by the addition of one of their more unique squad members.  It is borderline impossible to find a Harlequin squad without a Shadowseer in it and it’s not hard to see why.  In the old rules the seer used to limit the sight range of targeting units, but now the rule operates differently, giving the unit both Stealth and Shrouded.  As both of these abilities stack, this gives them a mighty +3 to their cover saves.  Even bog-standard area terrain (5+) will net these guys a 2+ cover save, making them exceptionally hard to shift without specific cover-denial weaponry.  As an added bonus, the seer also effectively gives the squad assault grenades, a definite boost seeing as they would strike last when charging through cover, even though their move distances aren’t altered.  It’s very hard to argue against this guy, especially in 6th, even though at 30 points it’s not cheap.  The other squad member upgrades are the Death Jester, who packs a Shrieker cannon.  It’s a handy upgrade, with 3 24” S6 shots a turn for 10 points.  It’s very much a personal choice though.  You can only get one per squad.  Believe me, if you could pack two or three, I would heartily recommend them.  The last guy is the Troupe Master, who gets an additional attack, a free weapon upgrade (Harlequin’s kiss or a power weapon: I’d choose the power sword myself as it’s more reliable) and a boost of Leadership to 10.  He costs 20 points and if you’ve got a large squad, I would say he’s a solid purchase.  This is a frightening squad and very hard to dislodge with conventional shooting, but when they get into combat, things can get a little dicey.  They are very brittle there, with only a 5+ Inv save and T3 to protect them.  They’re best placed to take on elite units where their weight of Rending attacks can stack up and do the work.  Massed attacks from a larger number of enemies can and will inflict significant casualties and at their points costs, you will feel them.  The challenge system can buy them some time and (if you’ve included the Troupe Master) perform some targeted squad leader takedown.  Just like the Incubi, they make a good bodyguard unit to accompany an Archon or Succubus.  They also work well to deny a patch of area terrain to the opponent and a lot of the time they won’t want to get near it!  Whilst I remember: Overwatch.  Here is the tactic for Overwatch.  Charge out of cover.  If your Shadowseer is still alive, they will all get a 2+ cover save against any snap shots that somehow reach them.  The only exceptions are flamer weapons.  You’ll definitely need to weigh up your risk/reward on that one.

So there you go: two close combat based bodyguard units.  Both of them kick arse against elite and well-armoured enemy units and suffer and hordes and are horribly expensive.  I really like both of them and I don’t think that either of them has suffered in the turnover to 6th.  In fact, you may well find more of them as people rediscover them in the near future!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Wrack 'em up

There are tonnes of choices for the canny DE player in the Elites section of the book.  You’ve got stuff that looks really cool, but also a lot of stuff that has a real niche or specialisation that they focus on.  This is not the place for your all-round units.  Even the most versatile of these options (the Trueborn in my opinion) will be focussed on performing just one task throughout the game, but then again, you could say that of most units, in any codex.  But here I feel it’s thrown into starker relief.  As such, you need to bear certain roles in mind for each of your choices here.  The DE are a stabbing weapon.  If you try to hack and slash with them, they’ll break.  Anyway, enough of the longwinded banter, we need to get to the brief analysis.  Or at least briefer than last time. 

Wracks:  I mentioned this in the Troops section and the overwhelming majority of the time that’s where you’ll find them.  They can be bought in a small unit size and cost only 30 points for a scoring unit at minimum.  In order to unlock them, you’ll need an HQ choice that, let’s face it, you’ll probably have taken anyway, so these guys are going to be everywhere in a Dark Eldar army.  They were in 5th and nothing has changed to decrease that prevalence in 6th.  Using them as anything but a deckchair unit is where things get a bit iffy.  They were fair to decent assault units in 5th, brought down by a lack of grenades and close combat weapons that ignore armour and which the new edition being brought into a line slightly in opposition to assault is a strike against them.  They’re not good now against most things.  But one niche has actually opened up: Monstrous Creatures.  They are far better at dealing with MCs than they used to be.  Poisoned weapons work they same way the always had, which was always a boon vs high Toughness enemies, but the main shift in their favour is FNP still being applied to AP2 attacks.  Now, most monstrous creatures (average strength of six or maybe seven) are not going to deny their FNP, meaning that it would be relatively easily to swamp the standard MC with poisoned attacks and bring them down in a turn or two.  A third of the wounds caused will be ignored by the Wracks, and that will increase the odds of them staying in the combat for longer and getting more poisoned attacks in.  For anything else, I wouldn’t recommend them though.  Wyches are on an even keel survival wise, but when they get their first pain token, that shifts radically, so wyches tend to last longer, even if the majority of them may not punch as hard as the wracks can.  Wyches also have more versatility against different types of targets at roughly the same cost, so unless you’re going for theme, they’re not the best troop/assault choice.  Still excellent deckchairs and can have decent assault potential though.

Grotesques:  I’ve dug out my DE a few times since starting my Necron binge and every time I do, I use Grotesques.  I’m proud of the cut’n’shut conversions I’ve done for them and they’re a very fun, very durable hammer unit for my Archon.  Will that change in 6th?  I’m doubtful.  You’ve got the standard changes in FNP to worry about, but this is one of the few units this is actually overall helpful for, as many opponents fire big guns at them to make them go away and, although a Lascannon couldn’t instant kill them in 5th, now they get 5+ against it (plus cover).  The only weapons they’re scared of a Strength 10.  When they get into assault, that’s all so much better, as very few opponents get S10 close combat weapons, although you should still be worried about fighting MCs with them, as a Smash attack will still ruin their day.  The challenge system works nicely for them, as the choice of whether to use the viciously powerful Aberration or the powerfully vicious Archon is one that I doubt many people will get bored of.  Both stand in very good stead against a squad commander with a power fist.  With enough strength to take down light to medium vehicle and relatively easy access to furious charge they make an excellent hammer unit.  Just remember to keep a character with them at all times!  Nothing’s more irritating than seeing a unit like this go on an unwarranted murderously rampage and then explode.  My normal set up is four-strong with an aberration with scissorhands and one of the squad with a liquefier gun (although with wound allocation being what it is now, you probably don’t really need to spend the 10 points if you don’t want to).  That’s 12 T5 Wounds and 19 S5 attacks on the charge.  All that only costs 175pts.  Even in the realm of Chaos Spawn, I still think that’s a good deal.

Next up: even more Elites!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: The Bread and Butter... of PAIN!

And now I’ll talk about the Troops.  Yes, the troops are next, not Elites.  I’ve never understood why Elites get their own little branch on the Force Organisation Chart, when the troops are so much more important in the grand scheme of things.  This section has the potential to be quite short, as there are only two choices listed there in the Codex, but I may as well include Wracks as well.  Because that’s what the majority of you DE playing buggers’ll be taking them as most of the time.

Anyway, Kabalites are our first stop in this spiky expedition.  Back in 5th, they really had two roles.  The first was that of a small tank-hunting squad in a transport, as a blaster can be bought for the minimum-sized squad and they have a respectable BS of 4.  Not terrifically effective on their own, but decent in quantity and a good supplement to the usual vehicle killers.  The second use was that of deckchair.  Their small minimum squad size and (relatively) low point cost made them useful as an inoffensive scoring unit that may well be ignored until too late in the game.  The alternative was to increase the squad size and use them as a more substantial firebase, although the only decent anti-vehicle options were Blasters and Dark Lances.  Blasters were capped at one regardless of squad size and Dark Lances were not only expensive, but limited to one per ten squad members, making it a poor anti-vehicle option from an efficiency point of view.  They could be easily tooled up to be a scary anti-personnel unit with a tonne of poisoned shots and splinter cannons at their disposal, but given that they can’t even scratch a vehicle and the preponderance of mechanised armies in that edition, this wasn’t a common choice unless you anticipated ’Nids.  Now the situation has changed, and troops on the ground are making a bit of a comeback.  The mobility of Rapid Fire weaponry has increased markedly, so I see the splinter-heavy squad gaining some ground in this edition.  The roving tank-hunters are less useful than they were in my opinion, due to the relative ease they can be taken down now.  Unlike most of the DE in this edition, Overwatch has been kind to the Kabalite and their stake has definitely improved.  However, the same can definitely also be said for the next unit.

Wyches are awesome in this edition.  Or at least; they have the capacity to be.  They were a very solid choice in the previous edition down to their abilities at vehicle-killing (for when you didn’t want more darklight) and their use as a tarpit (4+ Inv and 4+ FNP).  Has much changed for them in the new edition?  Well, yes, in ways both good and bad.  The reduction in effectiveness of Feel No Pain hurts this unit a lot, as it was a major contributor to their survivability, having no saving throw worth talking about until they get into combat.  This is the major downgrade for the unit as a whole, but as mentioned before, it’s annoyingly prevalent among almost the entire army, it’s just that Wyches rely on it even more than the Kabalites and are more expensive to boot.  The lack of a first turn assault is also a strike against them, as they were one of the few units who could manage this with a decent roll (with a run of 6”, they could manage 26” charge on turn one) as is the inability to assault straight out of a webway portal.  However these are kind of niche tactics anyway.  I didn’t know many webway armies in 5th, and I’ve no reason to believe that they will make a resurgence in this edition.  All the negatives out of the way, I’m going to focus on the positives.  The major positive change for this unit is the vehicle assault rules.  Simply put, these guy and girls are now unparalleled in assault vehicle takedown due to three major factors.  The first is that vehicles are now far easier to hit in combat (3+ against moving vehicles, straight WS vs WS for walkers).  No need to explain why that’s better.  Next up is the ability of glancing hits to total vehicles.  With a glancing hit or better occurring on 2+ regardless of AV,  That makes these wyches impossibly good at bringing down anything with an armour value.  HP4 tanks and walkers may be able to survive a round against a small squad of them.  Beyond that, I don’t anticipate an armoured target lasting more than a round unless you’re very unlucky.  The third is a subtle one, one that I didn’t even think of until recently.  Vehicle explosions are far less likely now.  In the old edition, you killed a vehicle by wrecking it on a pen (or a modified glance) or by stripping every one of its guns off it and then double immobilising.  The risk of blowing the vehicle up was nearly always as great if not greater than killing the vehicle safely.  I have lost a great number of Wyches to vehicle explosions, which is particularly galling versus walkers, as they tend to kill more when they blow up than they can when actually putting their minds to it.  Cheap bastards.  All three of these changes stacked together make one hell of a good vehicle takedown unit.  They have pretty much no option against flyers though.  Maybe a blast pistol.  Another bonus in favour of the Wyches is the challenges rules.  I won’t say much about their IC takedown (not proper, multi-wound ones at any rate), but when kitted with an Agoniser, the squad leaders are going to be able to deal with regular non-ICs very efficiently, especially on the charge.  Your standard marine squad leader will be hit first, hit twice on the charge and wounded once with a weapon that allows him no save.  If they want to back out of that challenge and save themselves, fine.  They won’t be hitting back at all.  Suffice  to say, the odds are good.  What they can’t easily kill, they can tie up as, and even with the reduction in FNP effectiveness, their odds of survival (against non-instant death weaponry) is about 66%, which is nothing to sniff at.  In fact, it’s far better than it used to be against power weapons.  Big plus on their behalf!

Wow, I’ve written longer than I expected.  No Wrack write-ups for you today, reader.  Unless you’re reading this in the future and skip to the next post.  Elites will be a two porter, I think.  There’s a lot to get through, and only so much of my lunchtime (and yours) I can waste doing it!

So long.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Meet the New Boss...

First stop, as always is the HQ section.  I won’t be going into the special characters, as I only ever used the Baron, and I’ll discuss his fate when I reach Hellions, which may well end up being an entire post on its own.  I can’t imagine why…

That leaves us with three choices: Haemonculus, Succubus and Archon.

Haemonculus:  In my experience, Haemonculi are purchased for two reasons: To provide a pain token to any unit at the start of the game and to unlock Wracks as a Troops choice.  Neither of these roles will be affected much by the edition change.  Feel No Pain may have been downgraded as far as the DE are concerned, but it’s still a very useful addition for a unit to have and I don’t anticipate people refusing to use that mechanic now.  The main reason people want Wracks is as a scoring deckchair unit, so no change there either.  Haemonculi have never been particularly useful in close combat, given the lack of defensive wargear and mediocre statline and don’t function that well at range, due to a lack of options and an unspectacular BS.  I used to use mine as a bit of a wound soak for some units, but that role is far less effective due to wound allocation being on a positional basis.  I don’t think the Haemonculus has got any better or worse in the new edition really, and is still a very solid, cheap HQ choice.  Onwards!

Succubus:  the Succubus has had a bit of a jump forward, I think.  The lack of any defensive wargear is still a problem, as is the lack of any save outside of combat.  However she is now harder to kill in an assault due to the new assault wound allocations (Independent Characters can no longer be singled out for attacks).  She’ll be fine with most challenges, although using her as an IC hunter is not really recommended with the harder targets and she’ll suffer against 2+ saves due to the Agonizer being a relatively paltry AP3.  One (slightly nasty) trick to use with her in a challenge would be to make sure you have a couple of Shardnets handy and next to the challenged character.  You may not get bonus hits against them, but the way I see it, those attack penalties will still apply.  Overall, she hasn’t changed too much though.  Still a good assault HQ when your points are stretched too tight for an Archon.

Archon:  Still an excellent choice in my opinion.  This guy can be a monster even at a low point cost.  My usual cost for my archon is about 150pts and he can kill most characters in assault provided they don’t have Eternal stinkin’ Warrior.  In fact, the new rules give him a marked improvement due to the challenge rules.  You used to have to put a bit of effort into putting him in base contact with an IC to punk it, but now you can just challenge and Soul Trap the character when he dies.  Admittedly they can say no or throw a squad leader in the way, but that’s only delaying the inevitable.  The strength of this character has always been the equipment (oh, alright: and the statline) and a couple of wargear options have taken on a new light with the new edition.  The main alteration has been the clone field.  Challenges are what this item was made for.  You’ll deny about 2 attacks each turn with this doohicky, and the opposing character will most likely only hit twice a turn (given the usual 4 attacks of the bog standard martial IC).  Admittedly, when hits do get through, they’ll hurt you as you can’t get better than a 4+ save, but the character should be dead by then.    Naturally, the lack of save could also bite you versus shooting.  You’ll need to be very careful placing this guy in a unit, always providing him with the ablative wounds granted by expendable squadmates.  Not having your archon shot to death is always the trick and it was in the last edition, so no change there.

In fact, in terms of overall effectiveness, I don’t think there has been much change among the non-special HQ choices in this ‘dex.  Yeah, bit of an anti-climax, that.  Sorry to have made you trawl through so many words before reaching that conclusion.  The roles of the three choices remain about the same as does their effectiveness.  It’s admittedly a bit trickier for the Succubus and the Archon to get into combat due to the new wound allocation rules, but that’s balanced out (more or less) by the boost that challenges give to said combat effectiveness, provided you know what you’re doing with them.

This is one area of codex that I think has managed to be pretty consistent.  Almost as if they knew what was coming…

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Second Swing

One of the unique aspects to the Dark Eldar was the Pain Token mechanic and with all three of the special rules it can grant being tweaked, this has obviously undergone a bit of a change.  First up: Feel No Pain.  Simultaneously better and worse, as it can be used against power weapons now (its effects are only nullified by Instant Death wounds), but only provides a 1 in 3 chance of survival rather than 1 in 2.  Hey-ho.  It’s actually a net boost for the Marine Equivalents out there who can now have a chance of survival versus plasma weapons and power weapon attacks for a relatively low reduction in general effectiveness versus small arms.  For the Dark Eldar, not so much.  For a lot of the army, durability relied on a combination of cover saves and Feel No Pain.  A focus in army construction and actual play was the creation and shuffling of pain token to grant FNP to as much of your army as possible.  When you moved to Blaster spam and mechanised this focus was much reduced, but speaking from the perspective of how I used to play, this was a key mechanic.  But now, FNP is reduced in its effectiveness for the army.  The main buff the rule received was that it can be taken against AP2 and AP1 hits, but most AP2 and AP1 ranged weapons go past the instant death threshold for Toughness 3 models, meaning that the trade-off for general reduced effectiveness is not good enough for them. You can use it against some power weapons, sure, but it’s not hard for a lot of armies to pack high-strength power weapon that will ignore it anyway.  Combined with the fact that cover is hard to use and exploit (not 50% of a unit, just a model-by-model basis) and often provides less of a save; you see why this is detrimental.  My poor Hellions used to ignore 75% of all bolter wounds in cover.  Now it’s only 5 in 9.  Big reduction.

Furious charge, the prize for two pain tokens has been reduced in effect a little, no longer providing an Initiative boost.  Overall, this doesn’t make a difference to us, the DE rock an impressive I5 or I6 in most cases.  The only real contender for first strike in an assault was Genestealers, who could be upgraded with Furious charge anyway.  So, slight reduction, but I’m not weeping blood over it.  When you hit three pain tokens though is when we see a boost to the table.  Fearless has received a massive upgrade with the abolition of Fearless wounds in close combat and Dark Eldar assault units are well placed to take advantage of this.  A definite gain in my opinion, but one that’s hard to take advantage of without some serious work being put in. 

Challenges work in our favour for most of the time, what with pain tokens and the Soul Trap being in effect and most DE characters being in a prime position to strike first to take out the sergeants in other squads, or at least limit how much damage that Ork Warboss will deal to your Wyches.  The abolition of most of the restrictions on fleeing units rallying is another huge advantage for the assault DE, as (speaking from experience), having a 7-man squad of Hellions or Wyches irrevocably break and flee just because their starting squad size was 15 was a major pain in the arse.  On the flip side, the reduction in general power weapon effectiveness can hurt, but a lot of the specialised close combat weapons the dark elder can bring either didn’t wipe out armour saves anyway or, in the case of Husk Blades and Incubus Klaives, can still do that job just as well as they ever could.  The changes to the Fleet rule can hurt a bit, but in reality, average charge distance from movement to assault is about the same (15-16” in both cases).  Assault from vehicles is a couple of inches less effective, but that’s it really.  Nothing that major.  It also means that if your get that feckin’ useless running combat drug (God, I hate Hypex) then you are almost guaranteed a 6” run.  Woot, etc.

Finally, we have flyers.  I feel that a ball may have been dropped on behalf of the Dark Eldar here, as their vehicles are no faster or any more agile than any other, which is obviously counter to pretty much everything established by the army.  Razorwings and Void Ravens are okay at taking down other flyers, but are usually best positioned to take on ground forces, certainly if you gave them missiles.  That said, they’re one of the only anti-air defences you’ve got.  Unless you’re going for a more static style of army and have brought some Fortifications with you.  Nothing wrong with that, but the Dark Eldar are meant to be swift piratical raiders and Fortifications just don’t feel right to me in that aspect.  But to each his own.  There’s no reason they wouldn’t commandeer buildings as a base of operations for raids planetside or anything.  I just would tend not to use them.  Your only other anti-air choice are Ravagers and with anti-air shooting being what it is, these guys are far better placed to deal with ground targets.  Man, they should have Skyfire.  The have (had, anyway) a rule called aerial assault; they should be able to shot at planes with more accuracy than a blind Jokaero with a lasgun up its arse.

Anyway, that’s the general overview I have for the army in sixth.  Next time, let’s go through the codex, as there’s a lot more still to talk about!