Friday, May 31, 2013
Winds of change: How we can expect traditional Eldar armies to transition into their new codex
With a new Codex out, everything is up in the air... so how will we build our armies with the new dex? I will start working on a series of posts to cover the different ways Eldar used to be played and how they will likely transition into the new Codex. I will primarily focus on Mech, Foot, Jetbike Eldar and finish off the series discussing hybrid armies that combined a little bit of everything. I'll go over each of these play styles, discuss what has changed and throw down a sample list of what I think might be a good start for that type of army. This first post will discuss Mechdar.
Playing a vehicle heavy Eldar army which primarily includes a lot of Grav Tanks has been affectionately labeled as "Mechdar." This type of list traditionally involved reserving everything then coming on in later turns to shoot the weak points of an opposing army to smithereens while securing key objectives. It was very effective, deadly and a pain to play against because 8-12 AV12 vehicles that were inherently difficult to destroy made for a very good denial list with a decent punch. In 6th Edition, Mechdar took a huge hit since (1) we could no longer hold everything in reserves, so that tactic became less viable; (2) our vehicles became weaker with the introduction of Hull Points and how vehicles are easier to hit in combat; and (3) you could not claim objectives while Embarked on a vehicle nor could vehicles contest objectives anymore. So what does the new Codex bring to this kind of army? I'll go over some general points then discuss the vehicles we can use in this kind of list as well as a sample list to build upon.
Vehicles in general:
To ensure vehicle survivability/longevity in 6th, you must avoid close combat at all costs and minimize losing HPs from incoming damage through limiting enemy Line of Sight and maximizing cover. Luckily, Eldar vehicles are fast enough to out-run any would-be assaulters and by simply moving, we get a 5+ Jink save. Sadly, this is not enough to make our vehicles that survivable so we need a little bit more...That is where our updated Vehicle Upgrdes and rules come into play.
Holofields, now increase our cover save by 1 point as long as we move and can be taken on any vehicle (even the Wave Serpent). Simply moving changes our 5+ Jink to a 4+ which gives us a 50% chance to ignore incoming damage that doesn't ignore cover/Jinks. Moving Flat-out or hiding behind a Ruins gives us a 3+ cover save. Therefore, if you really want to increase your vehicle's survivability by reducing the amount of HPs lost, this is an essential upgrade.
Ghostwalk Matrix is another upgrade that is pretty nifty, though pricy. It gives our vehicles the "Move Through Cover" special rule so you'll never have to worry about being immobilized from entering terrain ever again. It always sucked having to enter that piece of terrain and getting immobilized on your first turn or going Flat-out and wrecking on some terrain thereby destroying the tank and the unit inside. Now you never have to worry about that scenario again which ultimately makes our vehicles that much more survivable as a sitting duck (i.e., immobilized vehicle) is a dead duck.
Spirit Stones now allow us to completely ignore Crew Shaken on a 2+ and Crew Stunned on a 4+. For the points cost, it is a very useful upgrade for vehicles that don't have the Serpent Field (as the Serpent Field will prevent the possibility of any damage result from even being rolled on a 2+). Ultimately, this is a great option for vehicles like Falcons, Fire Prisms and Night Spinners but not so much anything else as the other vehicles (Vypers/War Walkers) are open topped and likely to just be killed by any penetrating hit anyway.
So about the offensive power of our vehicles... In 6th our vehicles can now pump out a lot more firepower since we can move 12" and shoot 2 weapons (or 6" and fire all) because our vehicles are Fast. Also, Glancing hits no longer apply any damage result other than taking away a HP so we can always shoot at full effectiveness from Glancing hits so really it's the Penetrating hits that can mess up your vehicles more than anything. Therefore, as long as a vehicle has not suffered any Penetrating hit result that prevents shooting, our vehicles can always shoot at maximum efficiency whereas before, any glancing hit generally meant your vehicle was going to run and hide next turn until the damage result wore off. With that said, our vehicles still lacked some oomph in the offense department but an upgrade to BS 4 across the board, cheaper weapon options with additional special rules that make our weapons more accurate and hit harder (see Scatter Laser/Shuriken weapon rules), breathed new life into the potential of any Mech list and I'll discuss this in greater detail below.
So with defensive and offensive capabilities in mind, I'll go over and discuss the vehicles we have available to make a solid "Mechdar" list.
In terms of survivability, it comes with a Serpent Field that, when active, reduces any Penetrating hit to a Glancing one on a 2+ (it can also be used as a weapon as discussed below). Now, instead of losing your vehicle completely on a 4+ to one lucky Melta that happens to penetrate your vehicle, you now simply lose a HP and take a glancing hit and go on with your business of blowing your opponent's army mans up. The Wave Serpent can also take any Vehicle upgrades including the Holofield upgrade and Ghostwalk Matrix so this thing can mitigate incoming damage on a 4+ generally and not have to worry about terrain but it will get expensive fast if you lay on the upgrades.
personal thoughts on the change to the Serpent Field: Ultimately, I have mixed feelings about this
change. Do we want it harder to be penetrated like before from S9+ weapons and Melta/Ordinance via the old Shield rules, or do we just want a flat chance to reduce any penetrating hits to Glancing? Indeed, the old Shield did nothing to protect us from S8 or below weapons so it only really worked on Short-range Melta, Ordnance, S9/10 weapons and Rending Assault Cannons. Now, all of those weapons will penetrate our vehicles much easier but we can mitigate that with a better Jink save and by reducing those hits to glancing on a 2+. I kind of like the changes because now we can protect our tanks from penetrating hits from S8 and below in addition to protecting our tanks from damage rolls that would otherwise destroy our vehicle outright. I think the change, coupled with the offensive capability of the Shield makes it a worthwhile change and focuses our vehicles on a more aggressive use/approach.
In terms of offensive capability, Wave Serpents can throw down more shots with greater accuracy than ever before since they now have BS4 and better/cheaper weapon options in addition to the ability to use thier shield as a weapon. Wave Serpents essentially turned into shooty gunboats with a transport capacity. Also, now you can more easily tailor your Serpents to suit any particular need your army may have without breaking the bank. If you need anti-tank, take a Brightlance; if you need anti Terminators, take a Starcannon; if you need anti-horde and/or light vehicles, take a Scatter Laser or Shuriken Cannon with underslung Cannon upgrade; and, if you just want an all around decent weapon, take an Eldar Missile Launcher. The wonderful thing about all of these options is that the turret weapons are all dirt cheap compared to what they used to cost before (except the underslung Cannon upgrade remains the same for every vehicle and Eldar Missile Launchers got more expensive). Therefore, our Serpents end up costing less than they would have before with certain weapon options.
Building the Serpent:
-The first load-out, anti-tank, involves simply just taking a Bright Lance or Eldar Missile Launcher and calling it a day. This type of Serpent will want to hang back and just shoot at vehicles or MCs all day and is ideal for holding a backfield scoring unit like Guardians or Dire Avengers.
-The second load-out, antihorde/light vehicles, involves taking a Scatter Laser turret, underslung Cannon with any other upgrades you might want like a Holofield/Ghostwalk Matrix. This type of load-out allows you to shoot your Scatter Laser first so you start off with 4 twin-linked S6 guns and if you get any hits you then can shoot the underslung Cannon and Serpent Shield as if they were twin-linked as well (since Scatter Lasers have a special rule that they twin-link other weapons on the model/vehicle if they hit). Now you are looking at 7 twin-linked S6 shots and as an added bonus, the Serpent can use it's shield as a weapon to throw down an additional D6+1 S7 Ap- shots that ignore cover and cause pinning up to 60" thereby increasing our damage output to 7+d6+1 twin-linked BS4 shots capable of threatening AV10-12 vehicles and a lot of army mans.
The Serpent Shield deserves special mention because there is so much utility with S7 shots that ignore cover and cause pinning. First of all, this makes hunting any unit/vehicle that relies on cover super effective and second of all, it synergizes very well with the Wraithfighter that causes pinning/morale tests to be re-rolled.
So what will a Wave Serpent cost you generally? Well, it starts out at 115 points (Up from 100, and I say 100 because you had to take at least one weapon which was usually a Shuirken Cannon) which seems like a nerf but really, with how the Serpent Field has changed along with being BS4 and already coming with a Cannon, it's not that bad. Not to mention, all of our Weapon upgrades were GREATLY reduced (except underslung Cannon). Put it all together and you can expect to pay 5-15 points for turret, 10 for underslung and 25 for Holofields/Ghostwalk Matrix totaling a hefty 150 points. That's a Leman Russ! If that price gives you some Sticker Shock, just take a single turret weapon and call it a day and you end up with a Wave Serpent with a load-out that ends up being cheaper than it would have in the previous codex. Basically, if you will be using a serpent aggressively such as by transporting Fire Dragons into the heart of an enemy army, you might want to consider taking Holofields/Ghostwalk Matrix but if you are just wanting a cheap gunboat that will hang back and shoot, these upgrades are a mere luxury and not essential.
In terms of survivability, the Falcon won't be the un-killable tank of doom it was before so now it's more in line with any other Fast Skimmer in that it gets a 5+ Jink from simply moving and benefits from Holofields by increasing this save to a 4+. Anything that ignores cover or gets passed this Jink save means trouble for the Falcon so you don't want to use them very aggressively, whereas the Wave Serpent can be thrown into more dangerous situations by virtue of it's special shield. Therefore, you will want to hang back and shoot targets of opportunity with your Falcons while perhaps carrying a unit you plan on using to secure an objective near your deployment zone or something like that.
In terms of offensive capability, the upgrade to being BS4 is huge as you can now hit more reliably with your weapons and the weapon options being cheaper makes this tank a solid support platform on a sturdy Grav Tank. Ultimately, I see a few uses and load-outs for the Falcon which I'll discuss below.
Building the Falcon:
Seeing as how the Falcon is not as survivable as it once was, you will be using it to maybe hold a Dire
One role is anti-tank which involves taking either a Bright Lance or Eldar Missile Launcher. This way, you get 3 S8 weapons to try and punch armor with that hit at a nice BS4. You could also take a Scatter Laser to try and twin-link the Pulse Laser for even more effective anti-tank. Ultimately, this load-out will give the Falcon a nice amount of shooting that can threaten most vehicles at 36-48".
Another role is anti-horde/light vehicles which involves taking a Scatter Laser and underslung Cannon. This gives you a lot of shooting that becomes more accurate by virtue of BS4 and the Scatter Laser potentially twin-linking the rest of the Falcon's shots. This was my favorite set-up with a Falcon traditionally as it gave me the most number of shots and the tank became an effective infantry and light vehicle hunter.
A Falcon will now generally cost you between 125 (if you don't take any upgrades) to 145 and only goes higher from there if you take any upgrades or more expensive weapons. If you are comfortable with that price tag and think the firepower the Falcon provides is worth it, then this wil be the Heavy Support vehicle for you. Otherwise, if you want something more unique in terms of fire power, you might want to consider the Fire Prism or Night Spinner.
In terms of survivability, the Prism is just as survivable as a Falcon but you want to have this vehicle hang back even more than usual in order to prevent it from losing it's main gun. Once the Prism Cannon is gone, the tank loses a lot of it's usefulness. So other than taking Holofields and whatnot to protect this vehicle, just keeping it back and out of danger and line of sight from the majority of the enemy army is the best way to play this tank.
In terms of offensive capability, you really do get a unique weapon that Eldar don't otherwise have and this weapon has been revamped in this codex. Specifically, in the previous codex, you could combine Fire Prism shots into one more powerful shot that increased the S by 1 and reduced the AP by 1 for each additional Prism. Now, that is no longer an option but to compensate for that we now have a better profile for each mode of firing the Prism. We can shoot the Prism Cannon as a S5 AP3 Large Blast, S7 Ap2 Small Blast or as an added bonus, a S9 Ap1 Lance shot (which can now mean the Prism can Snapshot the Prism Cannon). This last option, the S9 AP1 Lance shot is new and unique and quite a nice option for a Mechdar list as it gives us some nice ranged anti-tank early on that Mechdar didn't really have and it also allows us to deal with hordes or terminators/power armored units with different profiles. Ultimately, a very solid option for any Mech list.
Building the Fire Prism is pretty simple and straight forward as it has a base cost and you get whatever upgrades you want...I recommend just keeping it cheap and simple and not buying anything for it other than maybe Spirit Stones or Ghostwalk Matrix or Holofields if you REALLY want as you'll probably keep this tank back and safe as possible. Smart play will save you points on upgrades on this guy IMO.
In terms of Survivability, this vehicle is just like the Prism/Falcon so if you've read what I had to say there, it's pretty much the same here. One thing I want to point out is that because of the nature of the vehicles weapon, as I'll discuss below, you'll probably want to get some vehicle upgrades such as a Holofield and or Spirit Stones. That is probably why this vehicle did not increase in any points, you'll be using it more aggressively and will need more protection.
In terms of offensive capability, this vehicle comes with a Doomweaver which can be fired in a focused or dispersed mode much like a Fire Prism can. The focused profile is a Template, Monofilament, Torrent weapon at S7 AP6 and the dispersed profile is a 48" Large Blast, Barrage, Monofilament, Pinning weapon at S7 AP6. Put it all together and you have a nasty weapon that can be used to deadly effect against the right target. For starters, it counts as being +1S against any model with I3 or less, so it's effectively S8 against many things (including vehicles I think?) and it becomes AP1 against anything wounded on a 6.
Building the Night Spinner is just as straight forward as the Fire Prism, except this vehicle will probably want some upgrades to increase it's survivability since you might be using it more aggressively to use it's shorter ranged gun/torrent mode of fire. Therefore, Holofields and maybe even Spirit Stones would be a good buy for this guy.
In terms of survivaiblity, it's pretty hard to keep an armor 10, open topped vehicle with only 2 HP alive. Therefore, you can get some upgrades for these guys to try and make them more survivable or you can just keep them cheap and spam them and hope you have enough to do what you want them to do. Holofields on 1 or 2 Vypers might not be a bad investment but otherwise, I'd try to keep them as cheap as possible.
In terms of offensive capability, these guys can now hit pretty hard. They have a lot of good weapon options that became cheaper and seing as how they have been upgraded to BS4, they can be a reliable fire support unit to shore up whatever kind of shooting your Mech army is lacking.
Building the Vyper:
As every standard Eldar weapon is available as a turret option for the Vyper, it really comes down to how you want to use them. My favorite way to build them is in an anti-infantry/light vehicle role but now they can be an effective place to put Bright Lances and Star Cannons.
Anti-horde/light vehicle hunting would involve taking a Scatter Laser turret and Shuriken Cannon underslung. This gives you 4 BS 4 S6 shots that if they hit, twin-link the underslung Canon for a lot of accurate fire. This is how I ran Vypers in the previous codex and was always happy with how much shooting they could put out and now that they are more accurate, this set-up seems like pure win to me.
If you want to run the Vypers in any other way, Brightlances for anti-tank or Star Cannons for anti meq/teqs is an affordable and fun option now too. Ultimately, it just comes down with how you equip the rest of your vehicles and what your particular army needs.
Crimson Hunter fighter:
So as far as survivability goes...Go second against enemy Flyers and make sure the Quad gun is dead before turn 2. Alternatively, taking 2 Autarchs can help with when these guys come on the table so when enemy flyers are out and the Quadgun is dead, you can make them come in on a 2+ otherwise keep them out of the game hoping you don't roll a 5+.
In terms of offensive capability, these guys have a lot of cool options and firepower. It is an effective anti-air Flyer but doubles as having very strong anti-ground options and one unique way to run this guy is to get Star Cannons, upgrade to an Exarch and get the 5+ Precision Shots rule. Then you can go hunting for unit Sgts and Special/Heavy weapon models. I have not played with this model yet so I'll have to get some test games in and see how I feel about these guys.
In terms of survivability, don't get shot. Make sure the Quad gun is dead and hope nobody shoots at it because it won't last long if it starts taking some hits. Nothing different about keeping this guy alive than the Crimson Hunter so not much to say here =).
In terms of offensive capability, this thing is a very unique addition for an Eldar army and especially a Mechdar one. For starters, it has some nice S4 AP2 Blasts that can ID things or auto-pen them on a 6...But the main thing about it is that it has the Terrify power and forces re-rolls on passed Morale/Pinning tests.
-The application of the Terrify power and morale/pinning Ld tests is quite obvious but very potent. You fly this thing into the heart of an enemy formation and blast each unit with pinning weapons galore and watch things get pinned left and right (ideally). Furthermore, if there is a particularly nasty fearless unit like a huge mob of Orks with possibly even Ghaz, Swarmlord, Necron Wraiths or even Swarms, you can Terrify them and hopefully pin them or make them run away. If you happen to have a Warlock with the Horrify, the target unit could be -3 Ld so 10 goes to 7 and anything below that just gets that much more scared...Put it all together and you suddenly have a not so fearless unit about to take a bunch of Ld7 or lower tests or run away/be pinned. I want to especially point out that if you make a unit run away and then charge them, they have to take a Ld testor be wiped out so this is a good way to eliminate otherwise tough to deal with units in a very mean way.
Sample list: 1915
70(base)+10(Fusion gun)+10(Power Weapon)=90
Explanation: Autarch with a Power/weapon and Fusion gun is a decent and cheap buy. Just hide for the rest of the game hoping you never have to use those weapons. You could also try to get a Spirit Seer and roll some Telepathy powers.
-Fire Dragons: 110
Wave Serpent: 130
Explanation: Fire Dragons are tested and true and adding Holofield/Scatter Laser turret will keep their Serpent around longer and offer more firepower as it closes in on a target.
-5xDire Avengers: 325
-Storm Guardians: 130
90(bas)+20(2x Fusion gun)+20(2x power weapon)=130
-3xWave Serpent: 390
115(base)+5(Scatter Laser)+10(underslung Shuriken Cannon)=130
Explanation: a lot of cheap scoring units in Wave Serpents and a kitted out Storm Guardian squad to put the Autarch in. Typical Mechdar army where you hope to destroy enough of the opposing force where your cheapie units won't get wiped out. Feel free to swap out any number of Scatter Lasers for Bright Lances
Heavy Support: 380
Fire Prism: 125
Fire Prism: 125
Night Spinner: 130
Explanation: a lot of unique firepower in the Heavy spots in the form of Prism cannons and the Spinner's weapons. Just something different to throw at the enemy other than the Shooting spam your Serpents will lay down. Plus, it's another place to have some good anti-tank.
This is a typical Mechdar list that you can add 85 points to in order to bring it up to 2000 or shave 65 points off to bring it down to 1850. You have decent anti-tank from the 3 Brightlance Serpents and Fire Prisms not to mention the Night Spinner's weapon is S8 against vehicles and a lot of anti-horde/light vehicles from the rest of the Serpents. Total of 10 Grav Tanks to boot.
Overall, I see how the Wave Serpent was designed to be used as a more aggressive/in-your-face kind of vehicle while still laying down some strong shooting whereas the other vehicles in the army fulfill more of a hang-back and shoot kind of function. Volume of fire directed at any one of our vehicles is sure to bring it down as we start failing Jink saves and so on but Mechdar has a lot of potential with the new Codex thanks to the revamped Serpent Shield and increased firepower/anti-tank Eldar can dish out. Between a potential 14 accurate shots from each Wave Serpent to unique anti-tank options in the form of Fire Prisms/Night Spinner and our reliable Bright Lances, we have a lot to work with. Here's to making many a Jink save and bringing the pain with Mechdar!