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!