Monday, 9 September 2013

IntrAspection - Maugan Ra

And now we have Maugan Ra, in all his 80s glory. Just look at those shoulder pads! Fethin’ ridiculous, but utterly glorious.

Back in 5th, he held the joint top spot for Phoenix Lords in my mind and also held a rarefied distinction of being a decent ranged special character.  Seriously, there are so few of these around, which is strange given that that it’s the bloody future and all, but nearly all special characters come in the ‘force modifier’ or ‘assault monster’ categories.  There are so few that focus extensively on shooting beyond, y’know, just owning a pistol.  We’ve got this guy, Telion, Illic Nightspear, and a smattering of Tau characters.  No, I’m not counting ‘Tank upgrade guys’.  Just because, that’s why.

Anyway, Maugan Ra has the usual Phoenix Lord stats and rules, so it’s a quality statline to build on.  He pack the typical 2+ armour save of his ilk, but wields one of the coolest weapons in the game (as far as I’m concerned), the Maugetar.  This is an upgrade shuriken cannon with a big damn blade attached to the end.  The upshot is that it fires four shots a turn at 36” range at S6, AP 5 and not only Rends, but Pins as well.  In close combat, it allows Maugan to strike at S6, AP3 which makes him a worthy assault opponent was well.

What special rule have we got going for him then?  He has the usual barrage of Phoenix rules (Eternal Warrior, Fleet, Ancient Doom, etc) but also packs Relentless (pointless as his weapon is an Assault one) and Hatred (Chaos Daemons), which kind of renders Ancient Doom pointless as well.  Yay redundancy!  Joking aside, it’s nice when the special rules tie into a characters back story nicely, and Maugan Ra having rescued his home craftworld from the warp is nice justification for that bit of flavour.  I approve.  His compulsory warlord trait give him split fire if he’s your warlord, which is definitely good for a primarily ranged character.

His Exarch powers are where things get synergistic though.  Night Vision is cool, but unremarkable otherwise.  Just a basic utility power in the right place.  The next two are the fun ones.  We have Fast Shot, increasing the Maugetar to five shots a turn and Marksman’s Eye, allowing him to snipe on 5s instead of 6s.  You are quite likely to get two precision hits a turn with this guy and it is here where he shines.  Try not to try to snipe Independent Characters, but aim for upgrade guys in the squad.  Special Weapons, Heavy Weapons, banner bearers, that kind of thing.  Even his overflow shots can be quite effective in suppressing a squad, although it works better against the non-power armour types.

He helps out other dark reapers (obviously) but will bring more benefits to other ranged squads.  His gun is slightly shorter ranged than the DR standard and will probably want to hunt for different targets as (without the heavy shot upgrade) he’s better at dealing with medium vehicles that his disciples.  That said, he can split fire, so that’s not necessarily going to pose much of a problem.  He could also be a bit of an assault deterrent for backfield harrying forces.  I think he is at his best when accompanying a big old Defender squad.  They benefit greatly from his Fearless rule and he’ll benefit from the ablative bodies in the squad whilst firing at whatever is out of range for the rest of the squad.  He will also get a boost from the Warlock powers, if one of them makes it into the squad as well, so I’d say that would be a good fit.  For a laugh you could always stick him in a ranger squad though!  He’ll get benefits from the Stealth rule and he looks for similar targets, so that’s an interesting little combo.

And that’s pretty much it for him.  He’s a simple guy really, but what he does he can do well.  He’s a hyper-accurate assault cannon on legs and I love him for it!

Monday, 2 September 2013

IntrAspection - Dark Reapers

And on with the next target.  Back when I used to play Eldar, Dark Reapers were a common choice for me.  I would usually take a small squad of them and an Exarch.  The regular Reapers were okay for the odd bit of marine hunting and duelling with devastator squads, but the main reason I took them was for the Exarch.  Tempest Launder and Crack Shot was a winning combo against many armies.  The Tempest Launcher wiped out marine armour (two blasts at S4 AP3) and the Crack Shot allowed a reroll on the blast (and with a BS of 5, it wasn’t often needed) and most importantly denied cover saves.  This was fairly brutal, but it often felt like I had to spend too much on regular aspect warriors to gain the benefit of that one combo.  So, have the Dark reapers shifted for the better in the new Codex?

Well, the first thing that jumps out is the pricing, as with so many of these units.  The Reapers have taken a significant 5 point downgrade in price; undeniably useful for such an expensive unit.  They haven’t suffered for their reduction either.  Much of the equipment remains the same, at least in stat line.  The armour is the same.  The special weapons (missile launcher, Tempest Launcher, Shuriken Cannon) are all the same, with the obvious Bladestorm upgrade to the shuriken. The Reaper Launcher is the same, granting you two shots at S5 and AP3 for your marine hunting.  All good.  However, the launchers have an upgrade option.  For +8pts per model, you can give them a S8 AP3 pinning Heavy 1 shot option, allowing them to far more efficiently deal with vehicles.  What also can help in that regard is a new piece of wargear that the squad get gratis: the Reaper Rangefinder.  With this doohickey, Jink saves can no longer be taken against your shots.  True; a lot of the time, that’s not going to amount to a hillock of legumes, but against other Eldar, bike armies or (best of all), the Dark Eldar, this could be an invaluable asset.

When we approach special rules, we find another nice addition.  The Dark Reapers now have Slow and Purposeful.  The bad news is that this cancels out the tactically flexible Battle Focus and eliminates the chance to fire overwatch, but on the plus side, being able to move and shoot at full effect is a great boon to this unit, for those times when the enemy are hanging around just outside that 48” range.  Other than that, they’re about the same in the special rules department.

But what of the old Exarch?  He still exists, naturally, and follows the standard +10pts upgrade pattern.  Weapon wise you can give him a Shuriken Cannon, a Missile Launcher and the Tempest Launcher (the latter two for a few more points).  However, the skills have shifted a little, as in common for all Exarchs.  Night Vision is available for 5pts.  Very useful for the occasional night fighting scenario, especially as it comes cheap at 5pts and (if memory serves) convey on to the rest of the squad as well.  Fast Shot is here as well and at 10pts is also hard to argue with, considering the ordnance at play in the unit.  There’s not really any weapon option that this doesn’t fit nicely with, although it probably ties in nicest with the Tempest Launcher.  And we also have Marksman’s Eye, which allows precision shots on a 5+.  This has its charms to be sure.  The idea of wiping out sergeants and captains with precision S8 will always be appealing.  To me though, the first two have the edge over Marksman’s Eye for general utility, although you could easily argue that Night Vision won’t come into play as often as Marksman.  Still, it’s a very good line-up of power choices and certainly one of the most easily matched out of the Exarch powers in the codex.

So, in all, they’re a touch cheaper and are capable of taking on many different targets, with the exception of the heaviest armour.  They have more mobility than before and, given the number of bike and skimmer armies hanging around, their ability to ignore jinking is hard to argue with.  On the downside, they are still quite expensive, and still quite brittle, even with the 3+ save.  If you’re going to field them (and there are many good arguments to do just that), you’ll need to position something else threatening to take some of the heat off them.  They should be able to stay out of range of the small arms, but will fall as easily to anything else with the big guns.  And my favourite combo is gone.

Final thought: I like ‘em.  Could have just said that and save myself 800 words, really.  Oh well…