Tuesday, 20 August 2013

IntrAspection: Warp Spiders

Back in the dark days of fifth edition, there were precious few aspect warriors about with exception of the near ubiquitous Dire Avenger Vehicle upgrade.  Not quite as cheap as the Gretchin upgrade, but close.  However, one aspect was eking out a few showings and growing a bit in popularity in my local area, and that was the Warp Spiders.  The Fast Attack section of the old Eldar codex was not tremendously popular, with most things being less than entirely worth the points, especially as Jetbikes and Wave Serpents were as manoeuvrable as anything else you could find there.

Nevertheless, I would quite often see small Warp Spider strike squads.  They were mainly tasked with cracking light vehicles and taking on small isolated squads on foot.  With the speed and trickery of the jump generators and a wealth of S6 weaponry, they had a fairly versatile tool set, but a significant price tag.  In the new codex, one of those things has now been got rid of.  And it’s not the equipment…

Okay, let’s start with the big obvious point.  Much like with the Swooping hawks, the price of the Spiders has gone down by a bit, although not as much the Hawks.  However, this is counterbalanced by the tweaks to their equipment.  They’re packing the normal 3+ Aspect Warrior armour now, although Fleet of Foot is now an option for them. Yes I know it’s a special rule rather than a piece of equipment, but their lacking of Fleet was so often attributed to their heavy armour, I feel the two are close enough linked to one another to warrant mention.  The Warp Jump Generator has been changed as well.  It used to be just another name for a jump pack with a bonus move in the assault phase (which could result in a squad casualty if a double was rolled).  Now however, it’s just another name for a jet pack with a bonus move in the Movement Phase (which could result in a squad casualty if a double was rolled).  See the difference?

All snark aside, this is actually a major change in movement style, resulting in almost unparalleled movement for infantry.  The jet pack ruling reduces the distance in the movement phase to only 6”, but as a payoff allows a 2D6” free move during the assault.  This assault move is now risk free for the Spiders and combined with the ever-useful and tricksy Battle Focus allows for a lot of hit and run style to the unit.  The big jump in the movement phase allows the squad to shift itself 6+2D6” instead, with the usual risk of losing a random squad member.  Using this you average slightly faster movement speeds when you need to book it and if you pack all the speed tricks together, you get a unit that has the potential to get itself 3 feet down the board in a single turn.  Admittedly, as often as that can happen, you could find yourself only moving 11”, but that’s still not exactly slow compared to most of the other units in the game.  Whether or not you want to risk that guy for the burst of speed is entirely up to you, as that casualty could be your exarch, and that could be a bit of a nad-punch.  But that’s really unlikely to happen, right?

The weaponry, at least in stat line, is pretty much the same, but now we have the Monofilament rule, which is kind of like Bladestorm, but has an AP1 on a 6 to wound instead of AP2 (why?).  At least this adds a point of Strength to the weapon if the target has an Initiative less than 4.  Luckily, this includes vehicles, further ramping up the ability of the Spider to take on the light vehicles, especially as AP- doesn’t negatively inflict on rolls on the vehicle damage table now.  In fact, land behind a heavy Russ, and you’ll probably still bring it down with a decent size squad of guys.  This rule makes them excellent for handling most vehicles (given proper positioning) and elites high armour infantry, also kitting out nicely for a bit of monster hunting.  A lot of versatility and manoeuvrability here.

The exarch gets the usual Spider toys, although the twin spinner is now just twin-linked.  It used to be Assault 4 instead.  Shame.  The Spinneret Rifle has taken a bit of an upgrade, benefitting from the Monofilament rule, but changing from Assault 1 to Rapid Fire.  It’s definitely useful to have a long as you’re guaranteed to bust Terminator armour and get a +2 on vehicle damage, but as to whether you want to pay 15 points for that guarantee, I can’t say.  Powerblades are still there, giving the Exarch some AP3 melee strikes and an extra weapon.  20 points is quite expensive though.  If nothing else, I’d be tempted to get another Spider and hope to ride out the combat better until Hit & Running away at the end of the phase, but I can see the benefit of the extra AP3 punch, certainly.

We have couple of new special rules to bear in mind as well.  For a start, Hit & Run is standard now, rather than an Exarch upgrade.  As even a couple of spiders can cause major problems for vehicles, this is a great rule to bear in mind if the opponent tries to bog them down in assault.  Everything else for them is the usual stuff that nigh on all Eldar have now (Ancient Doom, Battle Focus and Fleet).  Now we get to exarch powers, all of which are ten points apiece.  Fast shot certainly has its place, working to its best when combed with a Spinneret Rifle and making the most of that AP1, but is still nice to have for the regular spinner.  Marksman’s Eye is another useful one (again, best with the spinner) as sniping out sergeants and special weapons is a highly useful trait when used smartly.  Combined with fast shot, you are highly likely to get a precision shot every round of firing.  Handy.  Finally, we have Stalker (the reroll to wound on a successful opposed Initiative test).  Personally, I wouldn’t bother with this one.  You don’t want to be in combat and are ideally equipped to either avoid it or escape it.  I’d think about better spends for those points (like either of the other exarch powers).

So that’s the brief run down.  Again, they are very strong contenders for the Fast Attack slot and the only thing stopping them from seeing more play time is the competition they have in that Force Org slot.