Monday, December 20, 2010

Vypers den: Vyper tactics!

Vypers are often overlooked and even maligned by many Eldar players. Heck, I used to dismiss them myself-mainly because they didn't quite fit the playstyle of my army. Having started a Jetbike focused Eldar army, however, has brought Vypers to the top of the list of things I include in my army list these days. 

The key to making Vypers work in an army depends on the following factors:

-The guns they are armed with.
-The number of Vypers in a squadron.
-The number of Vypers you take in your army.
-Your army's composition.
-Utilizing cover and their speed to limit retaliatory shots.

With all of that said, this post will address the issues above and hopefully encourage you to give Vypers a try and maybe help you use them to greater effect.

Putting the fangs on your Vypers:

This is what your Vypers should do to your opponent's face.

The guns you can put on a Vyper are the Scatter Laser, Shiruken Cannon, Eldar Missile Launcher, Star Cannon or Bright Lance. All of these guns have their place in the Eldar army but not all of them are best for placing on a Vyper.  So which guns offer your Vypers the biggest bite? Lets take a look at the guns and why you should or shouldn't place them on Vypers:

Bright Lance: This is a great anti-tank gun if the target you are shooting at has an armor value of 13 or more and it definitely has a place in any Eldar army, just not on Vypers. One Vyper with a Bright Lance costs 90 points and in the end, it is still just one Bright lance shot at BS3.  You would be better off putting your Bright Lances on a Warithlord or Wave Serpent as they have a better chance at hitting as well as staying around. 

Star Cannon: This gun offers a nice source of high strength low ap shots but this gun is only more effective compared to other options if your target has Feel no Pain, is not in cover or has a 2+ save. The high points cost as well as low BS of a Vyper makes this weapon more of a point sink than is worthwhile. Fritz at has some strong feelings for using the Star Cannons on Vypers and while I tried them out for a while, I found that this was really just too expensive for what it offered you. This gun basically limits your anti-tank and your anti-infantry because of the limited number of shots.

Eldar Missile Launcher: This is a better choice than the Bright Lance for anti tank simply for the fact that it has a longer range and cheaper cost which allows your Vypers to stay farther back. Still, though, it is just a single S8 shot that is on a fragile BS3 platform and this will make your Vypers a bigger target. This gun is also best placed on a Wave Serpent or Wraith Lord.

Scatter Laser: This gun offers the most shots and is the most reasonably priced for the Vyper. With that said, this is the gun that I recommend  for the turret option on Vypers. The Eldar are famous for the amount of S6 shots they can spam and Vypers offer you  a great place to max out on your S6 shots. The lower points cost, good range and number of shots really offset the drawbacks of having BS3 and being an open topped AV10 vehicle.

Shiruken Cannon: This is another great option as it is dirt cheap as a turret option and is S6 with three shots. Overall, the longer range and extra shot of the Scatter Laser puts the Scatter Laser above this option as far as turret weapons go. However, this gun is available as an upgrade to the under-slung Shiruken Catapults and can be taken in addition to any of the above options. This should always be taken as the upgrade for your Shiruken Catapults on Vypers and adds a lot of synergy and additional firepower to the Scatter Laser.

To recap, the most efficient and reliable build for a Vyper is hands down the Scatter Laser and Shiruken cannon load out. It gives you enough shots to put a good dent in any AV10-12 and infantry squads where as the other options are quite literally very hit or miss.  Anything else is just a change based on a person's meta-game and personal preference (which is ok mind you).

Strength in numbers-squadon size:

Where one Vyper is a nuisance, a bunch of them is a threat. To put things into perspective:
-1 Vyper armed with a Scatter Laser and Shiruken Cannon puts out 7 S6 shots
-2 similarly armed Vypers put out 14 S6 shots.
-3 squadrons of 2 Vypers will give you have a commendable 42 S6 shots.

You can quickly see how the more Vypers you add to the equation, the more potent the volume of firepower gets and that is exactly why you want your Vypers equipped with a Scatter Laser and Shiruken Cannon. 2 Vypers with this loadout gives you just the right amount of shots for taking out AV10-12 vehicles and all kinds of infantry. I routinely field them in squadrons of 2 and from all of my games this number feels to be the most efficient.

With that said, I definitely recommend at least 2 squadrons of 2 and if you can afford it, 3 squadrons of 2. This gives you a lot of shots per turn to pump into infantry squads or a good number of shots per squadron to do the damage you want to AV10-12 vehicles.

The big picture, army composition and Vyper usage:

So how do Vypers fit in your army? Primarily, if you are making a Jetbike or Mechdar focused army, Vypers are the support choice for you. For these types of armies, you will definitely want some firepower with the mobility to keep up with the rest of your army and other options like War Walkers, Dark Reapers, Wraith Lords or Guardians with Weapons Platforms are too slow to keep up with your main force to be of much use. Also, where one Wave Serpent here or there can impact your shooting phase, Vypers are a concentrated amount of dedicated firepower you can count on in your shooting phase.

Some basic tips on prolinging the life and effectiveness of Vypers include:

-Always have your Vypers behind something that will give them cover.
-Try to have bigger threat/higher target priority units in front of them to distract opponents from Vypers.
-Stay out of range of the bulk of his army, you only need to be in range of whatever you are shooting at.
-Develope a target priority of your own and stick to it (like taking out transports, other vehicles then infantry).
-Don't be afraid to use their turbo boost move to get them out of danger if the enemy gets too close.
-Don't be afraid to forget about shooting for a turn and turbo boost them onto objectives to contest.

Early game, you will want to always make sure that there is something bigger and more threatening in front of the Vypers or at the very least have them behind some terrain that will give them a cover save. This will improve their survivability immensely as they can get really annoying for your opponents to kill. Some units that work well for this are Fire Dragons in Wave Serpents, DAVU Wave Serpents or Falcons, Fire Prisms or even a Seer Council. Another thing you will want to do with them at this point in the game is to be in positions to get side armor, this is easier to achieve if you come on from an extreme flank/corner of the board. This is the part of the game where you try to take out as many transports as possible or, if you can, get some nice side armor shots on things like Predators and other threats to your tanks; Long Fangs and Lootas come to mind.

Mid game, you will want to close in on important targets that are in a position to threaten your objectives if you are playing an objective based mission or continue to pick apart easy targets for more Kill Points. Transports, Speeders, Trucks or just any infantry squads in range that you want killed are good targets. Vypers are great at adding a lot of pressure to your advance and putting wounds on squads you want weakened for an easy kill from any close combat units you may have.

Late game, you will hopefully be in positions to turbo boost up and capture objectives as well as continue applying pressure on units/vehicles that are weakened or easy killpoints.

On the surface, Vypers are AV10 open-topped BS3 flimsy tin cans. Properly using them in the right army, however, will turn them into a deadly force to be reckoned with and can win you games. Their firepower is second to none for a Jetbike or Mechdar army and following these tips should allow you to get a lot of use out of the Vypers and ensure that they survive the whole game unless the enemy focuses on them completely or you are already losing pretty badly.

Feel free to post any comments, questions or experiences with Vypers! And coming up sometime in the future, War Walkers:


  1. This is a bit of an older article, but is still relevant to what I'm planning for the Ard Boyz. The concept of ensuring they get a cover save is huge. For Ard Boyz, I'm running 7 Wave Serpents, so that should suffice to get me cover saves for my 6 Vypers. I've armed them all with EML, so that I should have range on targets as well as be able to sit behind the wall of Wave Serpents for the cover save. I've played them in the past and have gotten them completely wasted, but I didn't utilize WS tanks as mobile cover. I'm hoping this tactic will be helpful.

    Plus, with the addtion of 6 Vypers, I'll be running an Eldar army with 22 vehicles. Kinda crazy how big this army has grown.

  2. Thank you for this tactic thread. I had debated putting EML/SC on mine, but I've decided against it after reading this. Really need the range I'm finding playing Eldar.

    Any thoughts of a tactics thread for Wave Serpents? I'm struggling on keeping it bare boned vs. adding the Bright Lances. As my army pretty much relies on FD to punch high armor...