Well, that was worth waiting for, wasn’t it? I’ve had a brief look through and I can’t see a single sodding difference between the Void Raven and Razorwing entries in the Death from the Skies book and those in the codex. Bugger all nothing other than the standard redefinition of special rules and hull points. I was hoping for increased manoeuvrability: nope. More speed to set them apart from every other bloody flyer in the game? Uh-uh. To know that not only can’t they outrun a Stromraven as they could in 5th, but now (thanks to lacking a hover function) they can actually be outmanoeuvred by one is just flat out galling. I do have to wonder why all these flyer entries are in the book is most of them are pretty much identical. I suppose it’s in case you just want to play pure flyer games with dogfighting rules and such, which I can see the appeal of certainly, but it seems like a very strange choice of have this whole book produced with so little in it that isn’t just pre-chewed meat. As I already own Crusade of Fire, which has all the funky dogfighting rules in it anyway, the only reason for me to get this book is for the flyer missions, and that’s not enough to justify purchase for me. I’m glad I just borrowed it from a friend. Anyway, enough of me bellyaching, on with the Dark Eldar flyer review!
Unfortunately there’s not too much to say to round off this review of the Dark Eldar in 6th edition, as the Flyer section only has two entries and I’ve already addressed a lot of the flyer-based changes way back in the early posts in this series. The rules change for flyers in the new edition has hurt and helped these two units, sacrificing weaponry effectiveness for survivability of the new flying rules. Overall, I would say that the Void Raven has probably benefited more than the Razorwing mainly because of the Armour Value of 11 that it’s packing. Just the one additional point of armour is a major plus for the vehicle, as the flyer armour range is only from 10 to 12 and an armour value of 11 protects it from bolter-grade sidearms; which is one of the main threats to face AV10 flying units. That said, it is still vulnerable in the rear (no jokes, please), but with decent positioning and manoeuvring this shouldn’t really pose much of a problem. The Razorwing doesn’t have such an advantage though, which still makes it fairly easy to shoot down, even without Skyfire enabled weapons.
Another strike against the DE flyers is the weapon firing limits. I know from when I used Razorwing Jetfighters in 5th, my preferred move was to have them turn up from reserve and then just absolutely lay waste to an enemy unit with it. It could move on 12” and pile out six splinter shots, 2 dark lances and then 4 S6 large blasts at whatever it chose. I would tend to use it to rid myself of a backfield infantry unit that could get annoying. Lootas were a speciality for that one. Now, however, it’s not to be. A hard limit of 4 weapons fired a turn and an additional encumbrance of only being able to fire 2 missiles at once really hurts the Razorwing’s effectiveness in this regard, and the chances of it surviving long enough to get the second lot of missiles off are iffy to say the least. Not to mention the standard positioning problems of flyer movement. Which brings me to a small complaint about both the Dark Eldar fighters: They’re no faster or manoeuvrable than anyone else’s planes. Back in 5th they were exceptionally nippy, outspeeding pretty much everything else in the game, but then every flyer moved as fast under the new rules, and the units that were, in description anyway, ultra-fast and hyper-manoeuvrable became the same as the unwieldy crates of Imperial Guard. Oh well. Maybe that will change in potentially forthcoming update. EDIT: Guess not!
The main debate going on in my head when it comes to the question of which flyer is better used to be decided by one thing: missiles. The two flyers on offer were the same cost, with the Void Raven packing more armour and a heavier anti-vehicle loadout of S9 Void Lances and the S9 Void Mine. The Razorwing would tout a lighter but still effective arsenal of two Dark Lances and a twin-linked Splinter Rifle, but would also carry a full complement of missiles as part of its basic cost. It was always the missiles that swung it for me. I never upgraded them either. The plane was already expensive enough after the Splinter Cannon upgrade and some Flickerfields. The basic Monoscythe was a comfortable middle ground for troop killing; enough to wound Marines on a 2+, so the additional points to make it poisoned 2+ or S7, just weren’t worth it as far as I saw. It couldn’t get Implosion missiles, but those missiles always seemed scarier in theory than in practice. Admittedly, 50/50 chance to instantly kill a Wraithlord is fun, but when you pack as many poisoned weapons as the DE do, it just costs too much when a handful of basic troops could do the same job.
However, with some of the chances in the new edition, the missiles deserve a new look. One missile in particular warrants reappraisal: the Shatterfield. S7, AP- with rerolls of any failed wounds. This makes it (by and large) a bit better at killing heavy infantry, although against lightly-armoured horde, the lack of and AP value could cancel out the wound reroll, which is going to wound on 2+ most of the time anyway. Where this option does get a lot better is with vehicles. With blasts striking at full strength all the time and AP- not negatively affecting the damage chart, these missiles really add a bonus to light anti-armour, even en masse. You’ve got lances for the heavier stuff anyway. I think if I were to run a Razorwing or two, I’d not bother with the cannon upgrade and spend the points upgrading some, if not all of the missiles to Shatterfield for the versatility. Night shields might be a better choice for defensive wargear to cut out some of that pesky bolter-fire.
That said; my view now is that a Void Raven might be a better call. AV11 will render it immune to most small arms, the lack of a rifle or cannon in the nose isn’t much of a detriment and the void mine is a very nice anti-armour punch on a bombing run. Spend the points to give it a couple of Shattershields and you might be in business. Neither option is cheap though, and if your opponent is packing any interceptors worth a damn, then it might be a few points too many. Both the defensive options are useful, and the 5+ Invulnerable from the Flickerfields means that you never have to sacrifice firing effectiveness by Evading for the cover.
So, that’s that. End of the Dark Eldar run-though. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for your patience with some of the delays. I enjoyed writing it and was nicely surprised with how much I could churn out about the subject. As always, if you disagree with some of the points or have anything else to add, the comments section is below, so feel free! Next up, I think I’ll unwind with something non-40k just to cleanse my palette a little. I think I’ll talk about some old computer games that I really enjoyed from years back. May seem like an odd choice, but humour me on this one!
So long, guys.