Well, I’ve had a couple of days off to visit a friend in
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. Bristol
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.