Friday, May 29, 2009

Tau Schemes, Part 2

I've been brainstorming paint schemes for my upcoming Tau army, though admittedly army expansion is waiting on more trades/me getting a job. Not having an income inconvenience, to sya the least. That aside, here's some of what I pulled from Soulstorm's army painter. It is a bit limited in that it's got a very set pattern, but it does let me get quick and easy shots of a paint scheme.

The Bork'an scheme doesn't look too hard to pull off. Prime, slap the black cloth with some codex gray drybrushing, then do the white armor (drybrushing, maybe a thin black wash?) and then paint light blue squad markings. It looks a bit parade to me, or suggests I do some snow/urban basing.

I have to admit I'm a bit drawn to the D'yanoi scheme. It has a slight concession to parade colors, but the brown and white looks like a badlands scheme to me.

I think the other one out of here that catches me is the Sa'cea scheme. The military blue-gray looks tidy, though I'm not entirely sure what locale it would actually fit into. An ice world, maybe?

The Tau'n scheme also looks sharp, but the white's bothering me in that it looks more parade than anything else.

The Vior'la scheme looks like a very pale green with red and gray trimming. It looks a bit military, but that kind of pale gray makes me think more of an airborne type of unit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Farseer Primer

The Farseer is one of the emblematic Eldar units. If you're fighting Eldar, then you're probably dealing with at least one Farseer. This post is aimed at familiarizing readers with Farseers, their use, and their tricks.
The Role of the Farseer
In some armies, the HQ unit is a wrecking ball like a greater daemon, or daemon prince. In other armies, the HQ changes the flavor, like Vulkan He'Stan in a marine army. The Farseer falls under the support role, like a Company Commander.
Farseer Equipment
Farseers comes with a handful of neat pieces of equipment, and may purchase some other pieces.
Rune Armor
The Farseer has a 4+ invulnerable save.
When the Farseer suffers perils of the warp, the helm prevents it on a 3+.
Wytch Blade, Shuriken Pistol
The farseer wounds opponents on 2+, hits vehicles at strength 9, and has base 1 attack +1 for two melee weapons. A Farseer may take a Singing Spear for 3 points, which costs a melee attack but gives it an S9, AP6 shooting attack out to 12".
Runes of Warding
This is an upgrade that forces the enemy to take all psychic tests on 3d6, and if the sum is 12+, then the enemy is subject to Perils of the Warp. It is highly recommended, as this is the only Eldar psychic protection outside of killing the other psykers. The average roll on 3d6 is 10.5, or about 11, so it's about as effective as a Ld10 psychic hood save that it tends to feed someone Perils of the Warp.
Runes of Witnessing
This is an upgrade that lets the Farseer roll 3d6 for psychic tests, and take the lowest. This does mean double 1's is still a perils of the warp test. In short, it can help you cast better, but is not as much a requirement.
Runes of Warding vs. Runes of Witnessing
Suppose two Eldar Farseers are on the table; both have the two sets of runes. What happens? The Eldar FAQ states that it works about like this....
-Farseer rolls 3d6 for psychic powers.
-Are the lowest two below the leadership? Then the psychic power goes off.
-Is the total on 3d6 above 12? Then the Farseer eats a Perils of the Warp.
Spirit Stones
The Farseer may use a second psychic power in a turn. This is the emblematic Farseer upgrade, as it's suddenly double the psychic fun. This means a Farseer must take a second psychic power to get the mileage, since you can't cast the same psychic power twice.
Farseer Psychic Powers
The Eldar codex has five psychic powers, and a Farseer must have 1-4 powers. Three of the powers are 'support' powers and must be cast at the beginning of the turn, and two are offensive shooting powers.
Doom is by far the most fun psychic power to cast, as the manual states that you must adopt a booming voice, point menacingly at the target of the power, and call out 'Dooooom!' in a deep voice.
Joking aside, Doom has a 24" range, requires line of sight, and means that until the beginning of the next player turn, anyone that wounds the target unit gets to re-roll failed wounds. In short, this is your called shot; this means you are going to nuke that infantry unit or monstrous creature until it's slag.
Guide has a 6" range, and allows the unit to re-roll missed shots. Guide is basically your remedy to the Eldar propensity to BS3. Guide does nothing for twin-linked weapons, since you can only ever take one re-roll.
Guide basically helps you hit when you need to hit. Falcons, Vypers, and War Walkers are all examples of units that have BS3 and could benefit from a friendly twin-linking boost. A BS3 unit that gets re-rolls has a 75% chance of scoring a hit with each shot, and a BS4 unit with twin-linking love has an 88% chance of hitting a shot.
Fortune is by far one of the most annoying abilities to deal with. Fortune has a 6" range from the Farseer, and allows the target unit to re-roll any failed saves.
Fortune is a defensive buff, pure and simple. It's a pain on units with good saves, high toughness, or both. Imagine trying to dislodge Wraithguard in cover (Toughness 6, 3+ armor save, 4+ cover save) with Fortune on them. It's not exactly easy.
Fortune, though, is only worth taking when you have a unit that benefits from it. Eldar infantry are not exactly durable, and the Farseer needs to keep pace with them. The short list of things that love Fortune includes:
-Seer Councils
-Rangers/Pathfinders in cover
Eldritch Storm
The Storm is a shooting power with an 18" range. It places a large blast template on the target, and everyone under it takes a Strength 3, AP - hit. Infantry models deal with Pinning, and there are two bonuses for vehicles.
The first bonus against armored targets is that the Storm rolls 2d6+3 for penetration. That's not really a bonus, but it means that in a pinch you might hurt one. The real bonus is that when it hits a vehicle, you roll a scatter dice, and the vehicle faces that way. On a 'hit' on the scatter dice, you pick which way it goes.
The short, dirty trick with Eldritch Storm on vehicles is that you can expose a weaker armor facing, and then splatter it with shots that might have barely glanced its front.
Mind War
Mind War has a special place in my black little heart for the morale effect. Mind War is a scalpel. It is a shooting attack with an 18" range. Pick a model within 18" and in line of sight. Roll d6, add leadership. The other guy rolls d6 + model's leadership. If you beat them, they take the difference in wounds
IE: I mind-war a Chaos Space Marine Aspiring Champion with a Powerfist. I roll a 6, he rolls a 3. I'm ld 10, he's ld 10. I'm 10+6 = 16; he's 10+3 = 13. The chump takes three wounds; no armor saves allowed. He DOES get cover saves and invulnerable saves.
Basically, Mind War snipes a model out of a unit. This is handy when the unit has a heavy weapon, special weapon, or something else like a commander that you'd like to kill.
Equipping the Farseer
There are effectively three ways to run a Farseer: mounted in a transport, riding a jetbike, and footslogging.
Farseer Basics
The Farseer costs 55 points base, but you have to buy at least one psychic power. I suggest you buy Spirit Stones for that second power, and Runes of Warding in case you deal with other psychic powers. This brings the Farseer's base cost up to 90 points. I also suggest no more than 2 psychic powers, as they can get expensive. Three would be the upper limit, and four is a waste and you should look into Eldrad at that point. More on him later.
The Mounted Farseer
The mechanized farseer will probably be riding in a Wave Serpent, sharing space with Dire Avengers. The safest thing for him to do is never get out, because if he's not out then he can't be killed. This also means you best stick to support powers, since they can be cast from the safety of your Wave Serpent.
You probably don't have a unit worth casting Fortune on, and if you did the Farseer would probably be in that unit as protection. As such, I suggest Guide and Doom. In lieu of Guide, I suggest Eldritch storm.
Thus, the mounted Farseer probably costs 135, and brings Guide, Doom, Spirit Stones, and Runes of Warding. Singing Spear to taste since it gives you a little more shooty power, assuming you're not using Eldritch Storm.
The Jetbike Farseer
The Jetbike Farseer should be leading a Seer Council. I will cover the vagaries of the Seer Council in a later post, but the short version is that it's a heap of flying, flaming death for your enemies. The Seer Council is a unit of T4, 3+/4+ save units. Between this and their innate killyness, Fortune is pretty much a must-buy. Doom is the second power, as the average Seer Council's power comes from massed heavy-flamer stand-ins.
Thus, the Jetbike Farseer at the head of a Seer Council costs 175, and brings Runes of Warding, a Jetbike, Doom, and Fortune.
The Walking Farseer
The Walking Farseer should be in with a durable unit, such as Wraithguard. As such, Fortune is a solid choice because it keeps the Farseer's bodyguard alive. The second power depends on the rest of your army: did you bring lots of BS3 shooty, like War Walkers or Vypers? In that case, Guide is a solid choice. Do you have accurate firepower? Consider Doom.
Note, though, that the Walking Farseer competes with Eldrad. A Walking Farseer with guide/fortune costs 140; Eldrad costs 210 but I'll discuss later why you should consider the extra 70 points.
Using the Psychic Powers
Your unit-buffing powers have a 6" range, and Doom has a 24" range. They must also be cast at the beginning of the turn. What does this mean to you?
You're going to have to do some thinking ahead when using a Farseer. You need to be within 6" to buff a unit. With Fortune, that's not such a big deal since the Farseer is usually attached to the unit you want Fortuned. Guide? Think about what you want shooting, and keep it close. This also means it's rare that you'll be Guiding mechanized units, since you can't see them.
Doom? Think ahead about your target. Where are you going? Do you have a Doom target? Against mostly mechanized enemies, you may not use Doom every turn. However, with Doom, you also want to drop enough firepower into the target to make sure it dies.
Mind War and Eldritch Storm? If the Farseer's attached to a shooting unit, then they're going to be shooting at the same target that gets the Farseer's shooting attacks. Sometimes, this isn't a bad thing. Consider a Doom/Eldritch Storm farseer with a unit of Dire Avengers: they work together. Farseer Dooms a unit, the squad gets out and cranks 20 S4 shots into it. The Farseer then slaps a volley of S3 hits into it.
The Farseer in Melee
The Farseer doesn't really want to be in melee. They have an amazing WS5, I5, and 1 base attack to go with that 4+ save. I suggest keeping the wytch blade, since it wounds on 2+ and hits at S9 against vehicles. Plus, the wytch blade and pistol give you a second attack. The only other melee upgrade a Farseer can take is a Singing Spear, which trades an attack off for a 12", S9, AP6 shooting attack. It only costs 3 points, but if you are running close to melee, you're either in a Seer Council and going to crank out a bunch of attacks, or you're going to be risking losing the Seer.
Bottom line? Avoid a fistfight unless you're Eldrad.
The dreaded Eldrad Ulthwuan, Farseer of Ulthwe
The long story short? Eldrad is OLD. He appears in the Horus Heresy series and actually has a brief talk with Fulgrim. Eldrad's been around a while, and is plenty powerful. He's also 210 points, which is no small sum. So, what does Eldrad have?
Eldrad comes with both sets of Runes, all five Farseer powers, and two unique bits of kit: the Staff of Ulthamar, and the special ability Divination. Eldrad is also more durable; he's T4 and his Rune Armor saves on a 3+.
The Staff of Ulthamar
The Staff does two things for Eldrad. If Eldrad is not in assault, he may cast a third psychic power, and it can be a duplicate of another power. This means you can get two Guides, two Dooms, or two fortunes. The shooting powers? No such luck, since there's nothing about 'Can Shoot Twice' in Eldrad's rules.
The second perk of the Staff is that it wounds on 2+ in melee and ignores armor saves. Given Eldrad's pistol and base one attack, it means he's not BAD in melee, but not great either.
Before scout moves and the battle begins, Eldrad may reposition D3+1 units in the Eldar army, so long as they don't move out of the scenario's DZ.
Divination lets you do some stupid tricks if you find out the enemy seized the initiative, or react to the enemy deployment. However, you should expect to be able to reposition only two units, and act accordingly.
Divination can be useful, but it's still not a substitute for good deployment. You can use it to set a couple units out if you go first, let the enemy react to them, and then potentially move them away.
Using Eldrad
So far, I've had the most mileage out of Eldrad in the Hybrid Eldar list I've been running recently. The main perk Eldrad allows me is two uses of Fortune; I can keep the Wraithguard fortuned, and the nearby Avatar fortuned.
Eldrad also works well with Wraithguard, as his 18" shooting powers can reach out and touch someone without necessarily costing you Wraithguard shooting, since they've got a 12" range. If this intrigues you, I suggest looking at Wraithguard in more depth. Eldrad can still work well with mounted Dire Avengers, and he can still double-guide.
Double-doom, though, seems a bit of a waste to me. You won't always have the firepower to really make it work, though I suppose a second Doom could ensure a mop-op operation finishes up when you want it finished up. Double-fortune is fairly self-explanatory, but requires two units worth Fortuning. Double-guide similarly requires two units worth Guiding.
Eldrad in Summary
In short, Eldrad's a step up in utility over a Farseer. He always has the right power at the right time, but make sure you could really use that third psychic power before you drop him into the army.
Running Multiple Farseers
Is it possible? Yes. First, ask yourself if you need four psychic powers a turn. Do you need two guides, two fortunes, two dooms? Do you want duplicate powers? How often will you actually use those powers I suggest running Eldrad before you invest in two Farseers. It gives you a measure of redundancy in getting psychic powers off, but it eats your second HQ slot. You might want that second HQ slot for an Autarch or an Avatar.
I can say I haven't tried that yet, as a mechanized army benefits from the options an Autarch offers, and the footslogging-Farseer list usually wants an Avatar for melee support.
Stopping Farseers
There are a few ways to stop a Farseer from casting their powers.
1: Kill the Farseer
Dead psykers take no psychic tests.
2: Psychic Hood
A ld 10 hood should cancel a ld10 Farseer power about 41% of the time. (Thanks to dverning again on the numbers. Been too long since I had to do 2d6 odds; I'm just good at d6 now...)
3: Alter the paramaters of the psychic test
I can think of two things that muddle psychic tests. There's the aforementioned Runes of Warding, which can really hamper a Seer. The Tyranids also have The Shadow in the Warp, their only psychic defense. It means you take psychic tests on 3d6, and discard the lowest, and disregard perils of the warp. If you have Runes of Witnessing, then the powers nullify each other. (Thanks to dverning for pointing this out; I'd missed it)
4: Alter the Farseer's Leadership
Pariahs and the Culexus Assassin can lower leadership to 7, but must get close and are not exactly common choices. Any way you cut it, if you can do something to lower the leadership, you cut their odds of success.
5: Pinning the Farseer
A footslogging Farseer with a Fearless unit or a Seer Council's Farseer can't be pinned, but the point is that pinned isn't getting off the shooting powers. It's not the best, especially since the pinning test comes in at Ld10 if it comes, but it's something.
Farseers in Summary
Farseers are a support HQ. Their support powers are short-ranged buffs to your units that give you re-rolls to saves or shots, and they can give you re-rolls to wound. They crank out double psychic tests and have an offensive defense (Runes of Warding) against enemy psykers. They are somewhat nasty to stop, but if you can engage them in hand-to-hand, you might be able to take them unless it's a Seer Council.
However, they don't have any game-breaking powers; nothing as outright offensive as the Lash of Submission or an Imperial Battle Psyker Choir. However, they're still worth taking, and still worth taking out.

The Autarch and Deployment Options

I admit that I've been back and forth on the inclusion of an Autarch in my Eldar army. However, my regular sparring partner, Jon, has recently gone to Guard. I have learned, to my detriment a couple times now, that if you cannot hide enough of your army against Guard, they are very capable of nuking you to death on turn one. If Guard doesn't kill you with the opening volley, Guard can certainly cripple your force.

However, this isn't just about fighting off the armored horde that is the Imperial Guard. This is about what the Autarch brings you. The bulk of it is one little special rule, called...

Master Strategist
The Autarch (including Prince Yriel of Iyanden, the hero autarch) grants you +1 to reserve rolls. Why is this important? Eldar don't have nasty units like drop-podding Dreadnoughts, Terminators, Soul Grinders, or something else that deep-strikes in later in the game and brings you ladles of pain.

One of the common strategies in a smaller, mobile armor involves is the 'refused flank.' To wit, the enemy deploys spread out, and you refuse to engage him on one flank and focus your forces on the other flank. The Autarch lets you go a step further, and refuse to deploy. Instead, you can opt place everything in reserve.

What kind of army benefits from this strategy?
If you're moving in from reserve, it means moving in from your own long board edge. As such, you want your army to be reasonably swift. In other words, you want most of your army to be mechanized, or you want to be able to hide the army.

I wouldn't suggest this with a predominantly foot-slogging army; but then again I wouldn't really suggest running a predominantly footslogging army period. However, Wraithguard in particular don't much like having to start out walking on from the board edge. Basic Guardian squads aren't fond of it either, and Rangers should usually find a hiding spot or just find cover and go to ground.

The other note with placing stuff in reserve is that you don't get Fortune/Guide/Doom the turn you come in, as the Farseer MUST cast these at the beginning of the turn, and he/she is not actually on the board at the beginning of the turn. As such, something like a jetbike Seer Council is best hidden on the board so that the Farseer can cast Fortune on them. Believe me, if the enemy can get a turn of shooting on the Seer Council without Fortune, they're going to do their level best to nuke your super-unit.

Why would I want to place everything in reserve?
You don't always want to place your full army in reserve. There are several scenarios where I would suggest such a strategy.

1: Going Second vs a Shooty Army
If you don't have enough cover, and the other guy has a good chance to bring down a lot of your mobile units. If you lose your mobility advantage, you can be in for a world of pain; those Fire Dragons tend NOT to advance far on foot. In general in 5th, infantry out in the open aren't likely to last long, especially not T3 with a 4+ armor save. Guard are one such matchup.

2: Playing against Daemons
The MAJOR perk daemons have going for them is choice deployment. Half of the daemon army MUST deep-strike into play on the first turn. If the daemon player wins the choice of first turn, they're going to make you go first. This time? You say "Sure, I'll go first," as you don't care. You're actually getting the initiative on him.

Considering that daemons also generally need to assault you, this strategy is simply brutal versus daemons.

3: Versus Drop pod marines
The drop pod assault rules in the Space Marine Codex (not the Black Templar and the Angel codices, mind you) require 1/2 of the pods, rounded up, to arrive on turn one. Like daemons, the advantage is to immediately set you on your back foot. Suddenly there's a Dreadnought or two, or combi-melta-wielding Sternguard in your face. He gets the first shot.

You get the first shot if you come in on your board edge; he just gets choice deployment.

4: Armies with other hit-you-fast strategies
This is a bit of a catch-call category. Some armies will have tricks that let them get shots on you very fast. One such example is the scouting Valkyrie with melta-vets: it can scout-move 24", move 12", and drop off vets. Since Eldar vehicles are AV12, three BS4 meltaguns are likely to pen or glance you at least once, even if they're not in melta range.

Other examples include turbo-boosting Raven Guard and Eversor Assassins, but in general it's worth noting that losing an Eldar tank or two right off the bat is hard to come back from.

Basically, if the other guy has some neat-o 'I go first and blow something of yours up' trick, you want to think about reserving in.

How can this strategy go wrong?
1: Reserve Dice
You need a 3+ to arrive on turn two, and a 2+ on turn 3, and auto-arrive on turn 4 or later. There is always the risk that you will not see enough of your army on turn two. You can negate this further by taking a second autarch, but you must then sacrifice your psychic support. To be honest, I'd rather make the reserve strategy an option, as opposed to my army's sole focus.

2: Guard Advisors
The Imperial guard company command squad can take an Officer of the Fleet, which means you have -1 to reserve rolls.

Your mileage may vary on how often you see this. Most guard armies should be able to nuke daemons, and most other armies (other than drop-pod armies) aren't exactly fazed by this option. However, if you see an Office of the Fleet in the enemy's list, be advised that your reserve trick is now only 'normal'.

How do I use that Autarch?
Let's assume I've sold you on bringing an Autarch for +1 to reserves and the reserve-my-whole-army trick. How do you get something out of the Autarch on the field?

Autarch Statline
The autarch is WS6, BS6, S3, T3, W3, I6, 3 attacks, Ld10, and has a 3+ armor save and 4+ invulnerable. What's that tell us? He's accurate with whatever gun we give him, and he's got solid I and WS. His basic kit includes plasma grenades, at the least. He is also Fleet of Foot, matching him with most of the rest of the Eldar armor (save for Dark Reapers, Warp Spiders and Striking Scorpions.)

Autarch Gear
Basic kit includes a pistol, plasma grenades, and haywire grenades. This means he can get a bonus melee attack, goes at initiative, and can try to slap grenades on a vehicle. The Haywire glances on 2-5, and pens a vehicle on a 6. Not really THAT effective, but it's something. So, how can we kit out the Autarch?

-Mobility Options.
If, for some reason, you feel like running Warp Spiders or Swooping Hawks, the Autarch can take a Warp Jump Generator or Swooping Hawk Wings and pace that unit. If you have jetbikes, he can mount up and go with them, too. You pay 20-30 points for those options.

-Melee Options
There are two sets of melee kit you can bring: the head-mounted one, and the hand-mounted one. A Banshee Mask costs 3 and lets you go at I10 at the onset of any combat, or for 10 points you can get a Mandiblaster, which translates to +1 attack.

For melee weapons, you can pick a power weapon, a scorpion chainsword, or the bike-autarch can take a laser lance. The chainsword gives you +1S, meaning you wound most guys on a 4+. I'd still favor the power weapon, just so any wounds you do get stick. If you're on a jetbike, go ahead and take a laser lance, I suppose. It's an S6 Lance shot before being an S6 power weapon on the turn you charge.

-Guns, guns, and guns
The Autarch can take a variety of firearms: Avenger Shuriken Catapult, Death Spinner, Fusion Gun, Lasblaster, or Reaper Launcher. In other words, he can hang with most units and contribute an identical gun. But, is that what you want to do? For the most part, I'd think about a Fusion Gun, since any unit he's with can benefit from a BS6 meltagun equivalent.

Autarch Buildouts
-Rides-with-fire-dragons (90 points)
Power weapon, fusion gun.
Fairly straight-forward. He can mop up a couple of guys, or add his fusion gun shot to whatever. To be honest, this is kind of a solid utility build.

-Rides-with-the-Seer-Council (120 points)
Jetbike, Mandiblasters, Laser Lance
Also straight-forward. IF you want, you can trade the laser lance for a power weapon and fusion gun. He throws out five S6 power weapon attacks on the charge at WS6 (WS7, I7 if there's an Enhance-equipped warlock in the seer council). It's a way to incorporate the autarch into a seer council, but beware as it means the council's worth 3 kill points now.

My personal favorite for the standard Autarch is the power weapon/fusion gun; it's just an economical build and meshes well with mounted Fire Dragons.

Prince Yriel of Iyanden (155 points)
Yriel is the hero autarch. He has the 'master strategist' rule, but is also significantly nastier than a standard Autarch. Given his price, I would hope so. He does keep the standard 3+ armor save and 4+ force shield invulnerable save.

-Yriel in melee
Yriel is actually a bit of a loner in melee. This is because of the Eye of Wrath. Once a game, in lieu of making his attacks, he may place the large blast template over himself. All models, save Yriel, take an S6, AP3 hit. In other words, you can drop Yriel out of a transport or split him off; he then walks up to a unit, makes them pile in, and proceeds to blow them all to pieces. He's a pirate and that's one awesome eyepatch.

But, it gets worse. Or, better, if you're using him. Yriel has four base attacks at WS6, I7 with the Spear of Twilight. The Spear of Twilight is a singing spear that ignores armor saves, so in practical terms Yriel gets five attacks on the charge that hit at WS6, I7 and wound on 2+ with no armor saves allowed. If Yriel is tackling vehicles, the Spear of Twilight (which is a singing spear, which is a variant of a wytchblade, which is in the main rule book) hits at S9.

-Yriel at range
The Spear of Twilight is a singing spear; so Yriel fires one S9, AP6 attack out to 12" with BS6

-Yriel's cons
The Spear of Twilight means that Yriel is 'doomed,' since it's kind of trying to eat him and he can't put it down. In game terms, at the end of the game Yriel takes a wound from the Spear of Twilight and gets his 4+ invulnerable save. It could bite you in a KP game, but Autarchs aren't THAT hard to put down. He's still T3, which means S6+ wounds insta-kill him.

Autarch Options Summary
I suggest keeping him cheap and running him with fire dragons or another mechanized squad. 90 points for a fusion gun and power weapon; mandiblaster or banshee mask as points filler. Yriel can mount up with a forward-moving squad, and be split off to go tackle something with the Eye of Wrath or Spear of Twilight.

Autarch Summary
Autarchs add +1 to your reserve rolls, and can grant you the ability to keep the drop on enemies that might otherwise cripple you if you gave them the first shot. The Autarch as a unit is best kept cheap, or you can bring Yriel with his abject nastiness in melee.
Disclaimer: ...that's not my autarch. It's way too nice. It's a GW pic.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mech Eldar V2s; Contemplating Changes

I've tweaked the layout a bit; if you're a regular (...I have those? A few, perhaps) then you're not actually going nuts.

I've been kicking around a change of pace for the Mech Eldar build. Mostly, I'm seeing that the Seer Council is a major cost, and while it's killy it folds under lots of fire.

As such, I'm kicking around other options. Dropping the Seer Council and the Farseer's jetbike nets me 360 points.

Then, the question is...what capabilities do I lose, and what capabilities should I add?

The army is now minus its one meaningful melee unit. No one else is going to take an assault; it's as simple as that. The army also loses its sledgehammer. I also lose my massed flamer templates, and in the Eldar army? We're kind of low on those.

Also, I'm out my psychic support. Then again, a Farseer in a Wave Serpent is potentially more survivable than a mounted one, since S6+ weapons can nuke them to death if they breach fortune.

So, ultimately, I lost my melee support and a beating stick. I gain 360 points to play with.

Capabilities and Units
Obviously, I'm going to keep a Farseer in the list. However, without a Seer Council, there's not really a point in Fortune. Still, there's also no point in taking a Farseer with a single power. I'm going to keep Runes of Warding, Spirit Stones, and Doom, of course. Now, the psychic powers I've got access to are Eldritch Storm, Mind War, and Guide.

Eldritch Storm and Mind War mean the Farseer has to dismount from the transport. I can take Guide, and use Guide on the Falcons, the Serpent-mounted Cannons, the Fire Prism....or, I can slap dismounted troops with it, such as they are.

Guide also is more difficult to use on tanks, as the Fire Prism is best served by sitting back at extreme range and popping off Prism Shots (or, in that one game, acting as a guided missile and ramming). The Falcons hang with the tanks until there's a reason to split them off and deliver Fire Dragons, and the Falcons are the big ones worth Guiding, since it's more S8 hits.

However, Doom + Storm in a dismounted squad means a lot of firepower in the unit. With Doom, assuming 6 hits on T4 enemies, that's another 2-3 wounds potentially. It's something, at least.

I think that I'll try Guide for starters, which means the Farseer runs me 135. At this points level, I can get Eldritch Storm or Mind War without changing the price.

Another HQ?
-Farseer #2
A second Farseer lets me buff a second tank, or doom a second unit. I'm a little dubious about the value of a second Doom cast. However, a second Farseer does give me some redundancy, since there happen to be psychic hoods out there and people who might kill a Farseer. (Funny story, people who play me start seeing the value of psychic hoods.)

-Prince Yriel of Iyanden
For 155, he's not a bad choice at all. Autarchs are normally 70 points, and really will never be that special in melee (4-5 S3 power weapon attacks. Woo. Big freakin' deal.). The real reason to bring any Autarch is for the +1 to reserves via Master Strategist.

Yriel has two major melee threats. There's the Spear of Twilight; a singing spear that ignores armor saves. In other words, Yriel has 4 base attacks at WS6, I7 that wound on 2+ and ignore armor saves. He also brings out the Eye of Wrath, which places the large blast template over him and all those under it eat an S6, AP3 blast.

This means Yriel can detach and go tackle a number of melee threats; he can probably beat down a monster that's been weakened, or detonate the Eye of Wrath and take out a squad of just about anything other than Terminators or Nob Bikers. He'd roll with some of the Avengers, likely.

-Phoenix Lord Fuegan
205 points. However, he's T4, 2+ armor, 3 wounds, and has Feel No Pain, so unless you brought power weapons he's in good shape. He has a BS7 Fire Pike (18" meltagun), and hits at S5 with the Fire Axe, rolling 2d6 for armor penetration. He also has Fleet of Foot.

I would attach him to one of the Fire Dragon units, naturally. He can drop out and nuke something by himself, or he can try to wade into a squad. If it's not a melee-oriented squad, Fuegan can probably beat 'em down.

I can drop an objective-sitting squad into the army. 8 of them run 152 points, and free up a mechanized squad to advance and fire. That's also about half of what I've freed up, and it's not very killy at all.

-Warp Spiders
In part, I'm sitting on a set of Warp Spiders and I'd like a chance to use them. The Spiders have the speed to generally keep up with the transports, and can screen behind them. Each spider cranks out a pair of S6, AP- shots. They can glance up vehicles, or drop a heap of wounds on lots of targets.

With an Exarch, the price goes up (Exarch + Power Blades + Dual Death Spinners + Withdraw = 42pt upgrade). However, the capabilities improve a bit. They can go into melee against non-melee units, and either polish them off, or hide for a turn and then use Withdraw to get out of there.

A 7-man squad with upgrades is 196.

A Vyper with scatter laser is 60 points. It's no Land Speeder, but I could bring a few squads for extra shooting power at range.

Mech Eldar v2, Option 1: Plus Rangers, Warp Spiders
Runes of Warding, Guide, Doom, Spirit Stones

6 Fire Dragons

6 Fire Dragons

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

8 Rangers

Fast Attack
8 Warp Spiders
Exarch w/ Powerblades, Dual Death Spinners, Withdraw

Heavy Support
Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon

Total: 1845

Mech Eldar V2, Option 2: Yriel, Warp Spiders
Runes of Warding, Guide, Doom, Spirit Stones

Prince Yriel of Iyanden

6 Fire Dragons

6 Fire Dragons

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

Fast Attack
8 Warp Spiders
Exarch w/ Powerblades, Dual Death Spinners, Withdraw

Heavy Support
Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon

Total: 1848

Mech Eldar v2, Option 3: Vypers
Runes of Warding, Spirit Stones, Doom, Guide

Prince Yriel of Iyanden

6 Fire Dragons

6 Fire Dragons

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ twin-linked Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

Fast Attack
Vyper Squadron
2 Vypers w/ Scatter Lasers

Vyper Squadron
2 Vypers w/ Scatter Lasers

Heavy Support
Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Falcon w/ Eldar Missile Launcher

Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon

Total: 1846
As a note, I could free up 20 points and give all the Vypers Shuriken Cannons as well.

Anyone got thoughts, feedback, notes on which seems the worst to face?

The common theme is that there's more S6 dakka. There's less melee support, but I'm thinking about Yriel more and more, and liking the idea.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tau Schemes

I've decided to finally give in to my urge and start a Tau army, and to that end...well, I've taken a hint from Stelek's take on hybrid Tau. I'm also not a fan of the basic parade-scheme Tau, so it's out.

The army will include Kroot, Fire Warriors, tanks, and Crisis Suits. As such, I need to check out good ways to paint 'em.

I want to do some conversion work on my Tau, just to personalize them a little bit. What can I say? I'm a fan of doing at least some conversion work.

I've seen some sweet olive drab-ish Tau over at Warhammer Tau. I'm also fond of his conversions. I like the bulked-up torso, and the head-mods. I can't say I'm that fond of the bog-standard head.

I like the head conversions that Stelek's got on his Tau army, as well. The white and blue is sharp, but it's a bit bright for me.

If I do go a parade scheme, I admit I'm a bit attracted to the new-school Jade Falcon stuff Wizkids released a bit ago. Primarily black, green accents, and some gold here and there. If I go conversions, I can see if I've got wings to cast, and use the beaky heads as well. I just have to get someone to cast 'em, or cast 'em myself...

Admittedly, I aslo kind of want to do a bit of a camo-scheme as well. I'd want to do something simpler. I came across this sample of just a gently-striped gray. Simple two-toned scheme.

The other vague inspiration is salt-weathering. Jon's Vendettas (I could call 'em Valks, but I think I'll see 'em more as a triple-las threat...) are proof that it can turn out sharp, though I wonder how that'll look on Crisis Suits. I'd combine this with one of the more 'practical' schemes, to make it look like a Hunter Cadre that's been on the field for a time.

On Wraithguard

I've been running these fellows for the last several weeks, and I think I have a good sense of how they operate, how to use them, and how to get them killed. Mind you, getting these guys killed is a bit of a task, though...

Wraithguard are T6, have a 3+ armor save, and can always carry a 5+ cover save courtesy of the spiritseer.

-Powerful Guns
The Wraithcannon is, pound for pound, one of the nastiest guns in the game. It is AP2, wounds on a fixed 2+ (instant death on a '6', for all the good that does). Against vehicles, each hit rolls a d6; 3-4 glances and 5-6 penetrates regardless of armor value. Each gun fires a single shot.

A 10-man squad with a Spiritseer (an upgraded Warlock) counts as a troops selection, and thus may hold objectives.
-The Spiritseer
A spiritseer is an upgraded Warlock. You will be taking a Spiritseer to get around the Wraithsight special rules. This also means you can add a Warlock power to the unit. Warlock powers include:
Destructor: warlock effectively has a heavy flamer; it's an S5, AP4 template weapon
Embolden: re-roll leadership tests
Conceal: unit benefits from 5+ cover save at all times
Enhance: unit gains +1WS, +1I
Obviously, a fearless unit has little use for Embolden. Given the range of the Wraithguard, if they go into troops a Destructor could be handy, but is generally irrelevant when shooting vehicles to death. Enhance helps their melee prowess out a little; generally it means they go first and hit on 3's instead of going simultaneously with marines and hitting on 4's. In practical terms, it means a unit of 10 hits with 6-7 attacks instead of 5.
I prefer Conceal, as it allows Wraithguard to always have a cover save, and accentuates their durability. I do not think that Enhance helps their melee skills out enough, and they should keep some backup.

Wraithguard are costly in terms of both time and money. A 10-man unit with attendent spiritseer and Conceal costs 396 points. Wraithguard models are best e-Bayed, as they are $15 in the blister.

Wraithcannon have a 12" range. They are fully capable of wreaking havoc on vehicles, monstrous creatures, and smaller infantry units IF they can shoot at them.

-Melee 'skill'
Wraithguard are not exactly nasty melee units. They have a single attack at WS4, S5, I4, and the spiritseer swings a witchblade at WS4, I4 and 2 attacks base (pistol/CCW + base attack). However, the Wraithcannon is an assault weapon, at least.

10 Wraithguard + Spiritseer cannot fit into a vehicle. They are walking. If you bring 5 and the spiritseer you can fit them into a Wave Serpent.
If there is not a psyker within 6", the Wraithguard must test for Wraithsight. On a 6, they do nothing for the turn, and are auto-hit in melee. This can be mitigated by taking a Warlock with the unit, and a Spiritseer (warlock upgrade) merely has to be within 12" of the Wraithguard. This is a problem mostly if the enemy can nuke the Spiritseer while there are Wraithguard still alive.

So, what can you do with Wraithguard? Their primary skill is taking up space, to be perfectly honest. It takes a lot of firepower to shift them. With Fortune and access to cover saves, Wraithguard are capable of soaking up plenty of firepower. It takes something like Imperial Guard to crank out massed battle cannon shots to really harm them. T6 means you HAVE to go hunting for them with S7+ fire, or bring massed powerfists.

On the other hand, with Wraithcannon, they are fully capable of nuking monstrous creatures (hit on 3's, wound on 2's, ignore armor...a full unit is fully capable of nuking at least one MC). They can hunt vehicles as well, in a pinch. Against regular infantry, a charge is liable to beat up a non-melee-oriented troop, or a depleted enemy melee choice.

Wraithguard obviously require support. They are not melee troops, and at best there might be a Farseer with them for another Wytchblade. They are fully capable of holding down anything short of a unit full of powerfists/thunder hammers, but if you want them free, they need bailing out. The Avatar and Harlequins are choice units for this.

Employing Wraithguard
5 Wraithguard with spiritseer in a Wave Serpent is probably not an optimal choice. Their mission is to bring the Wraithcannon to bear, and annihilate the target. On average, such a unit should hit 3-4 times. This should be 3-4 wounds on a Monstrous Creatures, so it should be able to do the trick.

However, against vehicles? This might be a single penetrating hit, and a single glance. Fire Dragons are superior vehicle hunters with the meltaguns, should you deliver them within 6" of the target.

Fire Dragons are also much cheaper, but much less durable (T3, 4+ versus T6, 3+).

On Foot
Bringing Wraithguard dictates a major portion of your build, mind you. They're about 400 points of your army, and troops. Expect them to draw LOTS of fire, and they'll take just about anything short of massed high-strength, AP2 fire (See Battle Cannons, Leman Russ Executioners, Plasma Cannons for the REAL threats).

On foot, Wraithguard are an excellent pad-unit for a Farseer. It's hard to force enough wounds to make the Farseer take one on a majority-toughness 6 unit. Wraithguard also benefit from Fortune, since it makes them an unholy terror to kill without massed Wraithguard-killing weapons. Obviously, they also benefit from slogging through regular cover.

Additionally, you want to bring some kind melee support. The Avatar is one choice, though benefits from Fortune as well. Eldrad + Avatar + Wraithguard forms a solid core to the army, and the Avatar is adept at bailing out out the squad. The Avatar is also a relatively inexpensive 'assistant,' with a 155 pricetag.

Harlequins do not take up an HQ squad, but are likely to be more expensive. They will need Doom more than the Avatar, since they are S4 on the charge and benefit from Doom's re-rolls doubly so (chance to wound, chance to rend on the re-rolls to wound).

The ideal way to run Wraithguard is on foot. Footslogging Wraithguard are a hell of a durable troops choice. Running them with nearby melee support costs 550-600ish, though. Throw the Farseer in there (assume 150ish) and it's a 750pt choice; more than a third of the army. Additionally, it is not a swift core, and it is short-ranged. This leaves you with a couple of ways to run the rest of your army.

Slow and Durable
-bring Wraithlords, Rangers, and Harlequins to maxmize the difficulty of killing anything in your army. Harlequins on foot with Shadowseers are difficult to spot outside of 12"; everyone else is T6+.
-This army is painfully slow. You WILL be cursing and playing for a tie in objective missions with bad objective placement.
-You'll have to bring Bright Lances on the Wraithlords, or settle for scatter lasers/missile launchers and give the Harlies Fusion Pistols to hunt armor with.

-Mounted troops make the army much more mobile, obviously. Wave Serpents can bring cannons and lances to the party.
-To be honest, I've found this variant to be preferable to the full-foot 'Elfzilla' version. It is more flexible by nature.
-Mounted also brings you more flexibility in troops choices.

If you like a slow, relentless advance, look into Wraithguard. They're nasty, they're durable, but you need to take some consideration with support since they determine your army build. I suppose you could always bring TWO units, but that's something like 800 points, and Wraithguard are sadly not THAT killy. You'd be hard-pressed to really pull it off well, but I suppose you're welcome to it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pain and Batreps

Today, I actually got a triple-header in with my Hybridized Eldar against Jon's Imperial Guard.

His list was something like...
Command Squad w/ Autocannon in HB/Multi-laser Chimera
2 Vet Squads w/ camo cloaks, 3x sniper rifles, and heavy weapon (one las, one missile)
2-3 Vet Squads w/ Melta in Chimeras w/ Grenadiers
Leman Russ
Leman Russ
Leman Russ Squad
>Executioner w/ Plasma Cannon Sponsons, Knight-Commander Pask
>Ablative-tank Leman Russ w/ Lascannon

Game one...lasts one turn. He scouts up the Vendetta, nukes a Wave Serpent with the meltaguns and nuke a Fire Prism with the lascannons. The Wraithguard...get nuked to the last Guard on turn one.

We agree that it's pretty much over at that point.

Round two...much closer. I got a technical win because I had one Wraithguard left on my objective. Objective two had a last lucky Dire Avenger on it surrounded by vets; they'd made a run to it since we went into turn 7. The far objective had my Rangers...well, run off it after repeated tank shocks, but there was a bleeding turretless RUSS near it on the ground floor, so....there you go. I should've bit it, lost a turn of shooting, and moved everyone onto the second floor and AWAY from tank-shocks.

The game was just plain bloody, though a lot of tanks survived. However...

Pask in an Executioner is nasty. Pask lets you get +1 to armor penetration rolls, and re-roll wounds on MCs. The Executioner is thus a bit more accurate, but it can nail light armor, MCs, and ANY infantry. I mean, you're looking at a hella expensive tank, and taking an ablative tank helps since most volleys outside of a Fire Dragon round of shooting won't actually do enough damage to pen multiple shots, so you get to pawn off hits to the other russ. Plus, with camo netting and other crap? Disgusting, since then 1/2 the unit's in cover if you do it right and getting saves.

I expect to see this one again from Jon, since it's just plain nasty.

Still, technical win from luck, a bit.

Next, Sean's Orks. It's a departure from the normal...
Warboss on Bike w/ Claw, Cybork Body
5 Nob Bikers (vanilla)
10 Warbikers w/ PK
3 Trukk mobs w/ PK (one shoota, one slugga, one 'ard boyz)
1 Battlewagon w/ half-dozen Mega-Armor Nobz, ZZap! Gun
Looted Wagon
20-strong Shoota Mob w/ Rokkits on home objective
3 Killa Kanz
1 Deff Dread

The short version? Capture the flag, table quarters, I go first.


Warbikers drive up the middle with a Trukk behind; the Battlewagon and a Trukk take a flank, and two trukks move on the other flanks with the Kans/Dread moving up behind 'em as a 'finisher' of sorts.

He advances up the flank, and there's just too much to handle. I Mind War the warboss to death with Eldrad (and deal a severe morale blow to the Ork player in the process). One Wave Serpent moves in to block off the Nob Bikerz with shots from Dire Avengers hoping to stop the doomed Bikers. No avail.

So, I fight off wave one with some losses...Avatar, on my left flank, will KO the bikers, then a mob of Orks, and finally succumb to the second trukk mob that comes his way. He'll get the Warbikers into assault with the Wraithguard in the middle, and just short of a Trukk mob. I'll beat down the few bikers in there, then the Wraithguard get slammed by the Mega-Nobz that nuked one Fire Prism. Things will go downhill from there, as eventually he brings the remnants of a Boyz squad and the remnants of his Mega-Nobz (as the exploding fire prism KILLED on, amazingly, and the Wraithguard...shoot down a couple of them.).

Other highlights toward the end include...
-The Rangers actually killed a Deff Dread via immobilizing it, and blew the arm off another. Go little guys, go.
-Eldrad survived a couple assault phases with a Nob and Meganob, and then schooled the Deff Dread that got in there.
-The Wraithlord...flamed several Boyz, then couldn't kill off the 3 left before the PK nob killed it.
-I can do everything BUT kill the #$*(@#ing Battlewagon, but that's what I get for just having regular pens and not AP1 (though he didn't much like the Wraithguard guns...)

In the end...I lost; contested objective on my end by a Trukk that the Rangers couldn't stop. I have them, an immobilized Fire Prism, Eldrad, and a Wave Serpent full of Avengers.

He has a couple empty trukks, a couple Kill Kanz, and his 20-mob.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Veteran Squads, Doctrines, Platoons

As a lot of folks are figuring out, the vet guard squads are a hell of a troops choice. You can kit 'em out in a variety of ways, and there are the doctrines as well. At least the 'doctrines' are a nod to the old codex.

Forward Sentries
Squad gets camo cloaks and defensive grenades. If the squad's going to sit and shoot, they might as well take this and be a pain in the ass. Throw them a heavy weapon, and perhaps a special or two, and you've got a squad that'll be a pain to dislodge unless you ignore cover with your shots. A BS4 Lascannon in a squad, and a plasma gun or two at best is kind of disgusting.

Everyone in the squad gets meltabombs, and someone gets a demolition charge. At this point you've kind of decided that you don't want the squad to live. You've probably given them meltaguns, or flamers, because you want short-ranged weapons to get the demo charge off. I mean, you're going to try to out-and-out obliterate something with the demo charge, and a couple of flamers will help it out and keep the squad cheap.

However, the meltabombs...not as useful. You already have frags and kraks. Meltabombs are more of a consolation prize. If you're going to make the squad use 'em, they're on an anti-armor mission. So, you're hopefully bringing those meltaguns. Thing is, you're firing meltaguns at a target. If that doesn't nuke it, you're shooting meltaguns at it again. Then, you have to assault the target to slap meltabombs to it. Well, believe me when I say it's hard to get assault support in there outside of non-open-topped, non-Land-Raider vehicles. You have to roll up, and wait a turn before you pile out and assault it. Now, if you've got meltaguns, you want to roll up and shoot those. It's just not going to work out well.

Everyone gets a carapace armor, and thus a 4+ save. It's annoying, to be sure. It makes a squad more liable to survive their Chimera going Kaboom, but it DOES add 30 points to the price tag. It's almost half again the cost of the squad; the guys go from ~7 a head to 10 a head. I think the biggest benefit is that your enemy must devote more shooting to the squad. Most troops carry AP5 guns, and suddenly the average tactical squad or dire avenger unit can't just evaporate a squad caught in the open.

Doctrines Summary
Camo cloaks for staying in place and getting a BS4 heavy weapon.
Demolitions...only if you really want that demo charge, and to REALLY write off that squad.
Grenadiers...perhaps if mechanized. Perhaps.

The role of the vets
If mechanized, vets serve best as a meltagun delivery system. 100 points for three BS4 meltaguns? Yes, please. I think we've all covered just how nasty and versatile a triple-melta vet squad is in a Chimera with multi-laser/heavy flamer. That's also a bit why you probably won't see so many 2 flamer/heavy flamer vets. The Chimeras can bring the heavy flamers, and you ARE kind of wasting BS4 on template weapons.

If standing still? Forward Scouts and a heavy weapon, perhaps plasma weapons to taste. Or, maybe take a flamer or two since they're cheap and it gives you a little counter-push. 120 gets you 10 vets, camo cloaks, an autocannon, and two flamers.

On Platoons
Platoons will get you heavy weapons cheaper. You must take a single command squad at 30 points (and perhaps a Chimera or heavy weapon). There's really no point in kitting out the 5 guys in the command squad with much, since there aren't many bodies to soak wounds or guard that heavy weapon team, and it's ld8 unless you've got a Commissar.

The Platoon Command Squad (1)
Cheap. 30 points for 5 guys; one gives orders. The Platoon Commander has a 6" command radius, and three orders (and it can give one a turn).

'First Rank Fire! Second Rank, FIRE!' gets lasguns another shot. Most useful if you're dealing with combined squads. Move up, flame something and crank a lotta shots; hope you kill it.

INCOMING! lets you go to ground immediately for +2 to the cover save instead of +1. Squad is now annoyingly durable, and...not shooting. Situational at best. If you can combine it with a commander's 'Get Back in the Fight!' then it helps a bit.

'Move! Move! Move!' is a run move that lets you take the highest off 3d6. This one's useful for grabbing objectives.

So, with these orders in've got to keep the command squad close to the platoons if you want to use them much at all. However, these orders are neat, but not THAT essential. They're all pretty situational, and it really means you can hide the command squad if you want. They'll get you a Chimera you can use to add fire and counter-attack with a flamer.

The Infantry Squad (2-5)
They're BS3 pads for heavy weapons. You have to bring two of them in a platoon minimum, but can get up to 5 per troops slot. Their job is to bring a heavy weapon, and with BS3, you have to keep in mind that volume of shots is your friend. Autocannons and heavy bolters are 10 points a head, so you can crank out shots and have a few stick. I'd take the autocannon for the range and its ability to engage just about anything shy of AV14. That means that Infantry Squads cost 60; 65 if you want a flamer in there as a 'just in case' thing.

Infantry squads can also mount up in Chimeras, and fire the heavy weapon out of the top. This is 115 for a multi-laser and autocannon, or move up and fire a heavy flamer. However, a 'stunned' result means neither the APC nor the squad get to shoot, but it lets you spam armor and score with it.

Infantry squads may also use the 'Combined Squad' special rule, which means you can throw any number of platoons together as a single unit. The pro? 'Bring it down' is more efficient; one order can twin-link multiple heavy weapons. The con? The enemy has fewer targets, and a successful assault can nail a LOT of guard in place. However, 35 gets them a commissar (and Ld9 Stubborn). If you could give that Commissar a powerfist, this would be more disgusting, but his potential S3 power weapon is......yeah, impressive. Sure.

The Heavy Weapon Squad (0-5)
In short? Skip it. 60 points for three models with 2 wounds, T3, and a 5+ save. This means in cover against handy-dandy S6+ weapons, there's a 50-50 shot you'll lose a heavy weapon. 90 points gets you 3 autocannons that are fragile. OR, 120 gets you two well-protected autocannons.

Special Weapon Squad (0-2)
35 points for 6 guys; three get special weapons. The job's simple: deliver special weapons. They can get flamers, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, meltaguns, plasma guns, or demo charges. Some uses that take their BS3 into consideration involve....

-50 points for 3 flamers
-65 for 3 meltaguns
-95 for 3 demo charges

Now, the special weapons squad can't take a transport, but the infantry squads CAN. However...these guys are vying for the job Vets have. Vets deliver more accurate meltaguns for 35 points more. Demo Charges might not hurt the chimera, but you MUST bring that Chimera in very close to the target. Flamers can be brought in Chiemras as well, but a squad of these in an infantry platoon can make a counter-push, I suppose. However, it's not hard to break this squad, since it's 3 guys with Ld7.

Conscripts (0-1)
80 points for 20 WS2, BS2, Ld5 guys. Can go up to 50; each person is 4pts. For 50 points you can slap Chenkov into a Platoon Command Squad, and then drop 75 to give your conscripts 'Send In the Next Wave!' where you can sack the squad and bring in a new one. Per the entry, the conscripts move on from the controller's board edge, which probably precludes a bunch of crazy shit like giving them outflank with Creed.

Unless they're close enough to Chenkov to get Stubborn AND pass Ld5 tests for losing combat, conscripts are just a speed bump.

The Use of the Infantry Platoon
A minimal platoon costs 130, with two infantry squads and the command squad. This can net you three Chimera, or two heavy weapons in the squad. For my part? I don't think that much aside from the Infantry Squad are worth it, as they're small, vulnerable, or not that effective. I suppose if you really wanted to deal with the fragility and space, you could spam heavy weapon teams with autocannons, but you best be prepared to watch them run off the board in short order. Or, slap them in Chimeras and hope you don't see a lot of 'shaken' results.

On Guard Fast Attack

Now that I've faced more Imperial Guard stuff, I've had more time to reflect on the units.

The Hellhounds
In essence, the guard can get stuff that's roughly equivalent to the Space Marine's Multi-melta/Heavy Flamer landspeeder. Now, why is the speeder actually something we want? The marine speeder mounts one of the best anti-tank weapons (the multi-melta) and a superb anti-infantry weapon (the heavy flamer).

Additionally, the landspeeder can use its speed to get into position. It can move 12" and fire one of the guns. Now, immoblizing a speeder hurts because the flamer's all but useless. Still, the melta's an issue.

So, after some, the Hellhound family CAN get this. It's also on a 12/12/10 chassis that, admittedly, doesn't get the simmer bonus of hopping over things.

So, we've got three types of guns on the chassis.

The Hellhound: the big advantage here is that the flamer can project. It's effectively a heavy flamer that can reach out a bit. It can also take a hull-mounted multi-melta. Now, an immobilized result is inconvenient, but the Hound at least creates a death-zone around it with the flamer for infantry.

The Devil Dog: At first glance, the melta cannon looks a bit 'eh'. It's a multi-melta blast, which means "Oh, I rolled a '12' on the scatter' and wasted the shot. When you get down to it, it hits on the 'hit' 33% of the time, and will probably hit around 50% of the time anyway when you deal with scattering.

However, if you fire it at something OTHER than a's basically an S8 plasma cannon. It nukes armored infantry; power armor is no protection. It'll insta-gib T4 folks as a bonus. It'll never Get Hot. However, there's still the cover save to deal with.

Then, you can compliment it with a heavy flamer, and you've a more expensive, but still disgustingly capable tank.

The Banewolf: S1, AP3, wound-on-2+ flamer? It's the death of expensive units like marines, terminators, and Wraithguard. The real question you have to ask with the Banewolf is whether or not you want that extra punch over the heavy flamer.

It's a tough choice among the three. The Hellhound has the most range of the group, so suffers the least from an immobilized result. The Devil Dog has the most disgusting ranged weapon and the best range on it, since its melta cannon pulls extra duty as a plasma-cannon stand-in. The Banewolf packs the most deadly flamer, but you only get that extra oomph against certain targets. It burns regular infantry just as well, but only really makes its points back against marines and terminators.

Ultimately, some of it will come down to the overall army composition.

The Valkyrie family
More, the Vendetta. A Vendetta with heavy bolters is going to scare anything on the field, and for 10 more points, the heavy bolters aren't that bad. They ARE wasted against most armor, but if you're hunting AV10/11 (like Rhinos, Predator flanks, Chimera flanks, and so on...) it's more pain to bring.

The Vendetta, though, really seems to shine as a hunter of monstrous creatures. Given the height and angle of the Vendetta's guns, there's really nowhere to hide. A single Vendetta should get 2-3 hits a turn, and since those'll wound on a 2+ most of the time, well...that's 2-3 wounds off an MC. Soften it up and finish it with a Vendetta, or put two on one and watch it die. Add in the heavy bolters and they might knock off a wound more.

For 140 points, it's not a bad transport. I'm somewhat tempted to do a Guard list with inquisitorial allies to justify running Vendettas and Valks.

I haven't seen a Valkyrie in action as much. At best they'll be swift infantry hunters, with a milti-laser and pair of the S4, AP6 large blast missile pods. They get to move 12", crank all their shots off, AND carry a squad.

Then again, the Guard can get a LOT of capabilities in their slots, and versatility Even a short look says we can get infantry hunting, tank-hunting, or both in any given fast attack slot.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hybridized Vs Mech Guard

...or, the dice do some terrible things to Jon.

I played the Hybridized Eldar v1 .

His list looked about like...

Command Squad
>Grenade launcher or two
>Carapace Armor
Chimera w/ multi-laser, heavy flamer

DH Inquisitor, Psychic Hood, 3 Mystics

10 vets w/ camo cloaks, 3x sniper rifles
10 vets w/ camo cloaks, 3x sniper rifles
10 vets w/ 3x meltaguns, carapace armor (I think), multilaser/heavy flamer chimera
10 vets w/ 3x meltaguns, carapace armor (I think), multilaser/heavy flamer chimera
10 vets w/ 3x meltaguns, meltabombs, demo charge
Vendetta w/ Heavy Bolter Sponsons
Banewolf w/ Multi-melta
Leman Russ
Leman Russ w/ Lascannon

I believe that was it for 1850.

Game's table quarters, seize ground. Objective in my quadrant near middle, objective in his quadrant, objective in middle, objective in an adjacent quadrant.

His plan starts out with the vet snipers on the table, the inquisitor in a building out of LOS*, and everything in reserve. In part, this is because I've got a LOT of anti-tank and he has crap for cover, and I've got first turn.

*I'll later make an ass out of myself, pick up the terrain, and tip the forge-world conversion inquisitor out onto the table, thinking 'oh, there's just maybe a sniper in there.' Go me...

I kill...maybe one, two guys? Freaking camo-cloaks. I'm given a lesson of what it's like to try to dislodge Rangers with gunfire. Just doesn't fly well. In addition, Eldrad gets psychic powers on turn one.

Then his dice proceed to flip him the bird. Turn two...I've seen this song. He gets...a Russ, and a Banewolf, and a Chimera in. My wraithguard take one look at the wolf, and decide it has to die. It gets 12" in, and turns into a burning cover save for a Russ.

Past that...well, I somehow managed to blow apart any vehicle I scored a penetrating hit on (aside from the Vendetta hauling vets; I blew off a lascannon and stunned it, so it flew up and threatened my army. Wraithguard got Guide, and blew it to hell.). It had to be gakking demoralizing...Vendetta shows up, and bags the one Fire Prism I lost for the game. The other Vendetta showed up and nuked the Wraithlord to death, since Mr. Big 'n' Tall can't really hide for shit against a Valk.

In the end, I won when it should've been a tie, as Jon brain-farted and didn't last-minute contest with the command squad. Wraithguard firmly controlled both of my objectives (as my Rangers managed to break and pretty much run straight off the table, even though they had more than half the squad left). Avatar's doing a pretty convincing job of contesting his non-home objective, and he's got snipers I've yet to dislodge.

-Sometimes when the dice say 'BOHICA' there's not a lot you can do. I'm just kind of waiting for my turn on the other end, but when one guy has hot dice and the other has cold dice, there's only so much you can do

-Creed in a mech list isn't BAD, but probably not worth his points. The command radius was nice, but I think it's something that could've been achieved cheaper

-"For the honor of Cadia!" CAN be used to hold something in place, like an Avatar. 10 fearless bodies against someone that isn't cranking out a lot of attacks means he's going nowhere. Could buy you time.

-Camo-cloak troops are a PAIN IN THE ASS. In retrospect, though, I think bringing a heavy weapon to compliment the sniper rifles (or in place of) would've worked out better.

-Vendettas are MURDER on monstrous creatures. I'm not sure there's really ANY kind of way to get a save against lascannons firing on you from 10-12" above the board, especially with Wraithlords.

-I think if I'm going with massed outflanking, I'd probably just go double command squad and double astropath JUST to be sure, though that doesn't prevent a horde of 1's on turn 2

-Vendettas/Valks are immune to the above, since their speed (and RANGE on the Vendetta...) mean it can always engage, and get troops there.

-If the enemy has something worth hitting with a Banewolf (IE, Terminators, Wraithguard...anything like that) either multiples come, or it all gets nuked. I think I'd've worried about it more if it'd been a Russ, since a Banewolf with a multi-melta is just on-par with a Russ in terms of points

-The Russ is still capable against lots of things...I think the Vanilla Russ, with perhaps heavy bolter sponsons, is capable of engaging AV10-12/13 vehicles, infantry, AND monstrous creatures alike. (Other than Wraithlords, but come on, T8 makes them the exception to so much...)

Thoughts on Jon's Army
I would worry more...

-If Kell got dumped for more breathing room...I mean, the guy's almost a vet squad in and of himself. He could put a Vet Squad over in the other Vendetta.

-Heavy weapons in the camo-cloak vets. BS4 autocannons or lascannons would be a bitch to dislodge.

-A third Russ (in lieu of the Banewolf) would be nasty. I think Banewolves need to come in multiples or not at all. I think that goes for the Hellhound spot in general. They're just too potentially nasty to really leave alive.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hybridized Eldar Vs New Guard

I brought my Hybrid Eldar v1 list to fight my buddy's growing Imperial Guard army.

Hybrid Eldar v1
10 Wraithguard, Spiritseer w/ Conceal
10 Avengers in Shuricannon/Bright Lance wave serpent
10 Avengers in Shuricannon/Bright Lance wave serpent
8 Rangers
Wraithlord w/ Bright Lance, missile launcher
2 Fire Prisms w/ Shuriken Cannons

His looked something like...
Command Squad w/ Lascannon, Astropath
Allied DH Inquisitor lord w/ Hood, 2 Mystics, Several Warriors w/ flamers and a grenade launcher, some Acolytes?
Full Psyker Battle Squad in Multilaser/Heavy Flamer Chimera
3 Vet Squads w/ 3 meltaguns, Multilaser/Heavy Flamer Chimera
Vet squad w/ 3 meltaguns
Devil Dog
Vendetta w/ Heavy Bolter 'sponsons' (really the side doors, but who's counting? It's a damn cool model)
2-strong Gryphon Mortar Battery
Leman Russ w/ Heavy Bolter Sponsons, Lascannon
Leman Russ Demolisher w/ Lascannon, heavy bolter sponsons

Lots of armor...and it's a bit of a 'what he had completed.'

I'll start off by saying the dice played quite a role in this one...

I went first in Pitched Battle/Seize Ground. He had an objective in the middle of his DZ in cover; there was one about 6' out of my DZ towards the middle, and one just out of my DZ on my left flank.

End of the game looked like:
Avatar w/ 1 wound remaining; presiding over Dead Russ
Avengers on middle objective
Depleted Wraithguard on his 'home' objective.
Mortars and Inquisitor hiding out in far corner
Serpent w/ Guys in it
Serpent blocking Dire Avengers on middle objective.
Vet Squad on objective on my flank

Highlights include...
His ability to pass two psychic tests with Runes of Warding
His ability to land a lot of stuff on-target and my inability to pass Fortuned 3+ saves and 5+ saves...
His utter inability to make a psychic hood test...out of ~13 psychic powers that went off, he

Lessons on the guard?

Devil Dog
Devil Dog = not that useful, but the underbelly had 'Hellhound of suck' on it, so that's probably a hint that he bought a cursed unit. The Devil Dog, as he suspected, just isn't that hot. It got one shot off, got stunned, tank-shocked, then got immobilized. It DID help run my Pathfinders off the board.

PAIN. Three twin-linked lascannons on the flank is pretty nasty, as is the squad. Might've hurt more if I hadn't been Eldar skimmers with 12/12/10. Either way, it came on and nuked a Fire Prism. The Wraithlord shot it down (well, immobilized it) and it did some harm...well, ok, his dice deserted the hell out of him and he managed to kill a Dire Avenger with a lascannon, and that's it. Still took me some time to kill it.

Accurate...though against a mechanized build, they don't do much. Early on, I was over-correcting my mistake yesterday with Eldrad and had the Wraithguard (w/ Eldrad), Avatar and Wraithlord all slammed together, and this cost me. Still, past that...they were negilgible. They were annoying, they sat over in the side, and they shelled me. They ALSO accounted for a good number of Wraithguard, but mostly because of my inability to pass 3+ re-rollable armor saves.

Cover also totally harms them, and in truth, a squad of them is unlikely to actually do as much damage to smaller units because they barrage OFF the first shot, and with the might bracket the whole squad. It runs into the problem of barraging Battle Cannon shots into stuff. You're likely to overkill.

Vet Squads
About what I expected out of them...though he split 'em up. I figure together, they're nasty tank-smashers, though maybe I'll have to re-think my whole stance about relying on Chimeras for Heavy Flamers, since dead chimeras don't torch much. Or, get the infantry-gibbing from somewhere else.

Psyker Battle Squad
Damn if they aren't annoying. Weaken Resolve...doesn't do much against a Mech army. Surprise, surprise. The Blast Template....pain in the ass. He hid them on turn one, and got about two or three good Soulstorms off. S9, BS3, APd6 large blast shots are kind of frightening, even on vehicles, and they accounted for some Wraithguards and some wounds off the Avatar on some high-AP shots.

I think that a squad of 9 in a chimera is a solid build-out. Granted, Perils tests can totaly screw them, but that's not something to rely on. They managed to get 2-3 shots off even with Runes of Warding up...5, 2, 2,. Two turns in a row. HIGHLY ANNOYING, but then his luck turned and by the time I blew 'em out of the Chimera, there was an Overseer and a Battle Squad. They actually got closed to getting the tie; pulled folks off the objective with an assault, but they managed to consolidate back onto it.

Guard can get some nasty precise outflanks with the Valkyries.

Normally, I'm not much of a believer in outflanking. There's a 66% chance you'll come in on the side you want, and the enemy has to be on the right side to be effective. However, Valks and Astropaths can negate some of this. First, the fething Valks are Fast Skimmers. That there is a pretty decent range; they can break out a 12" move and normally kick out troops, or up to 24" and shove troops out the back.

Astropaths, though...+1 to reserves, and re-rolls on outflanking, so suddenly it's a 76% chance of getting in on the right side in a hurry. This works out a little better with the Valk since it's on a bloody 5" tall stand. Now, you can do some cool stuff to the base (Check out Jon's blog at The Valk will get there sooner or later.)

Beyond that, the dice had a crap-ton to do with it, but sometimes them's the breaks. I was just on the right side of it this time around.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hybridized Eldar v1

I had a chance to get in a fun round with a change of pace for me: no Seer Council.

The list looked like:
10 Wraithguard; Spiritseer w/ Conceal
10 Dire Avengers w/ Bright Lance/Shurikannon Serpent
10 Dire Avengers w/ Bright Lance/Shurikannon Serpent
8 Rangers
Fire Prism w/underslung Shuriken Cannon
Fire Prism w/underslung Shuriken Cannon
Wraith Lord w/ Bright Lance, Missile Launcher
Just under 1850

Opponent: Xardian's Chaos Space Marines
Sorcerer w/ Wings, Warp Time, Meltabomb
4 Terminators; 3 combi-plasma, one heavy flamer/powerfist
4 Terminators; 3 combi-plasma, one heavy flamer/powerfist
Large squad of Khorne-marked marines with powerfist, two flamers
Large squad of Chaos Glory marines w/ powerfist, two meltaguns
Smaller squad of Plague Marines w/ personal Icon
Small unit of summoned lesser daemons
10-man babysitter squad w/ powerfist, lascannon
8 Havocs w/ 2 autocannon, 2 missile launchers, icon of chaos glory (carried by an autocannon)

On the outset...he had some sad dice rolls.

He did get first turn for table quarters w/ 5 objectives. Two were on his side; one near ruins and one in the far corner. Babysitter squad hunkered down on the far objective in his side, and the plague marines deployed a move away from the near-middile objective.

On my side? One objective near cover in the middle; just inside the middle no-man's-land. One in cover just outside my zone, and one on my left flank.

I deploy Wraithguard, attach Eldrad to them, and put the Avatar behind them. Wraithlord hides behind Avatar. Fire Prisms hide behind LARGE cover in my DZ, and my Rangers infiltrate onto the objective just outside my DZ.

Game opens...
He advances, and his Havocs immobilize my right-flank Wave Serpent, and KO the Bright Lance. Everything else advances, save for the babysitter squad.

Turn one? The dice start it. I focus fire into the snipers, and blow away four havocs, including a missile launcher. His Havocs proceed to fail their morale check and run away from their nice sniper perch.

This ability to fail morale checks persist...I give some ground, and buy another turn of shooting.

The Khorne squad takes 50% casualties, breaks, and runs.

Turn 2 sees a single Terminator squad land in my back corridor. Xardian...forgets to fire them. Like me, he seems to take lessons better when he pays for them like that. For the hell of it, he rolls the dice and the plasma would've done nothing.

It becomes moot later because both Fire Prisms move, and one nukes everyone but the flamer/fist fellow. That guy will later move in, assault the fire prism, and glance it. Then, he gets nuked by some Dire Avengers who were falling back.

The other terminators try to land and nuke the Rangers, but deviate, fail to do much, and get nuked off the board by a Fire Prism.

And guess what happened to the Chaos Glory squad? Quarter-inch short of assault, hail of gunfire...he PASSES the morale check, then gets assaulted by the Avatar (which promptly kills all but two, then sweeps them).

The Daemons? Came in on turn 3, and alllmost got into a double-assault with the Chaos Glory squad. Chaos Glory squad was about a quarter-inch short of assault, which resulted in them getting blown to hell and back. The Daemons...claimed a single Wraithguard before the Guard and Eldrad beat the hell out of them. Wraithguard need 4's and 3's; Daemons need 4's and 6's...Doesn't work out well for them.

Game Concession casualties?
He has his Plague Marines and Babysitter squad left.
I've lost a few dire avengers, a ranger, and had a Serpent immobilized.

The Dice had a HELL of a lot to do with it...and the just-short assault. He failed a few Ld checks at critical moments, and had some crappy shooting and scattering on the deep strike. The ballsy one landed and flubbed (or would have, had he remembered to shoot), and the other one scattered a full foot away.

Thoughts on Xard's build
I think Chaos Glory in the big squads is a better idea. Barring that, I'd go for Cult troops for Fearless, since Chaos needs all the bodies it can get.

We discussed it, and I agree with going to a second Havoc squad. If I can slam a lot of gunfire into them, then I can force saves on heavy weapons. Still, dropping the Icon of Chaos Glory in them makes them a bit more likely to pass things. Re-rolling Ld9 checks SHOULD keep a squad solid most of the time.

Thoughts on Hybridized Eldar v1
Eldrad takes some getting used to. Divination could be useful if I go first. Moreover, it's using a lot of psychic powers I'm not accustomed to. The Eldar psychic buffs are very short-ranged; it's generally a 6" deal for Fortune and Guide. Mind War and Eldritch Storm have an 18" range, and Doom has 24". Plus, getting doubles of one power is handy...though in assault, it's only two powers.

The Avatar and Wraith-troops form a very nasty block. The Avengers are mobile reserves, and the Wraith Lord and Serpents are anti-tank. Fire Prisms are anti-tank and anti-troop, though I find that the S9, AP2 template is also fun for hunting Terminators. Had the game gone on longer, I would've been slapping those on the Plague Marines, along with Wraithguard shots. Then, the Avatar smashes them in melee...and then maybe the Babysitter Squad if time permits.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mech Eldar v1.3

This is the third iteration of the mech-dar list I've worked at.

Spirit Stones
Runes of Warding

Seer Council
6 Warlocks on Jetbikes
4 Destructor

6 Fire Dragons

6 Fire Dragons

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked bright lance, shuriken cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked bright lance, shuriken cannon

9 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ Twin-linked bright lance, shuriken cannon

Heavy Support
Eldar Missile Launcher

Eldar Missile Launcher

Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon

Total: 1845

Tweaks: dropped the Dire Avenger exarchs. There are too many times I've wished I had another volley after a bladestorm. 8 guys w/ Exarch crank out 14 BS4 and 4 BS5, or Storm for 21 BS4 and 5 BS5. Or, I can just crank out 20 shots two turns in a row, and once you look at it over multiple turns, I'd rather just slam two squads into the target.

Dropping the exarchs netted me ~50-60 points. I bumped two Avenger squads up to ten, the third to nine, and went to six Fire Dragons.

I'm still five under, after dumping 5 points into Embolden. Schmucklock is a Schmuck no longer, but he's still going to be the first one to bite it if my enemy is WS4 or better. If it's not, then Enhancelock is superflous, since his main role in life is to make me go first and hit on 3's.

On Fire Dragons...
For a dying species, they sure as hell crank out a LOT of Fire Dragons. I know that any time they get out of the transport (and they usually DO, because there's stuff I need nuked here and now...) they die. Simple as that.

They die at point-blank range, though there was one time they managed to pack it back in and would've bagged a Russ if the game had gone on...but still. I mean, come on, dying species, suicide troops? WTF, guys?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guard Conversion Thoughts

Like so many folks, I'm kicking around the whole Imperial Guard thing.

Though, I'm more into making it a modeling project. Now, one of the issues with Guard is that there are a LOT of Guardsmen. I'm looking at running predominantly mech, so I'm looking at 50-60 guardsmen. (at least 3 chimera-mounted vet squads, and a platoon or two).

One of the major modelling issues, then, would be how to diferentiate the guard? I'm thinking more in terms of head-swaps. Thankfully, Pig Iron (by way of the Warstore) sells like 20 heads for about $5. So, modding the squads won't put me back that much.

So, here are some of the ideas...

The Replica Army
From F.E.A.R, this theme lets me get some mech in there. Head-swaps galore. I'm thinking of the guy in the lower middle. It's a bunch of drones with guns, semi-workable ballistic skill, and so on and so forth.

I've also got options for Sentinels and heavy weapon folks. The Replica Heavy can serve as a one-man, two-wound heavy weapon guy, and the REV battle armor (if I could ever find a way to do it) would be a good Sentinel.

In keeping with game fluff, I'd be leading it with a Primaris Psyker, because Paxton Fettel rolls like that. Plus, I'd probably roll with Combat Psykers just to simulate the effects of all the lovely phantasmagoria the game's a trademark of.

The Helghast
The infamous space-nazis of the Killzone series are a good Guard stand-in. I'd need gas masks, but the real modding issue would be the vehicles. Most Helghast stuff is hover-tech; we see big hovertanks and hover APCs. I'd be doing a lot of modding, but the foot soldiers have lots of versatility.

Examples of the infantry:


The Combine
If we're talking about hordes of drones and nutters, the Combine out of Half-Life 2 is a solid contender. Hordes of re-programmed trans-humans with crappy aim, light arms, and armor support.


The real cons come with doing any vehicles. ALL of the vehicles outside of the APC and the Hunter helo are pretty damn alien. There's not a good analog to the Russ; the Strider is a fourty-foot-tall tripod with a chin-mounted gatling gun and a disintegration ray. The real question would be finding the correct GW components to do it.

It would look damn cool if I could pull it off.

The Strider:
The Hunter: (little Striders...almost sentinel-sized)

NOTE: I'll come back and try to slap the pics in.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Hammer of the Emperor

Like so many other people, I now have a copy of the brand new Imperial Guard Codex. It's a nice piece of work and all that, as the latest codices have been.

I'm going to start by sharing thoughts on the newer, shinier units that are getting a lot of press.

Psyker Battle Squad
I think a lot of folks are seeing this one and drooling. The ability I've seen the most drool over is 'Weaken Resolve', where one squad within 36" and LOS gets their leadership reduced by the number of psykers in the squad, to a minimum of 2. This lasts until the end of the turn.

The other ability is Soulstorm, an S = to psykers in the unit, AP d6, Large Blast single-shot attack. Also nasty, but not likely to kill more than a few folks under the template. However, at BS3 with a large squad, it can possibly damage vehicles.

So, what're the cons of this unit?

Well, 'Weaken Resolve' doesn't do a lot to a vehicle. Second, you pretty much have to max out the squad, which means it really costs 110 points. Not bad...Then add 55 points to that for a Chimera. Make it a Chimera with a turret multilaser and hull heavy bolter, because it's not going to move at all.

Leadership 9 is a sliiight balancing factor, as it means they're not the top psykers. Really, though, if you're mechanized the unit's that THAT big of a deal.

Considering the elites section, though, it's about the only thing worth pulling in from it. Bottom line? Psyker Battle Squad is nasty on troops, but not so much on vehicles. If and when you do spill them out, they're as durable as the average guardsman. They also fall prey to all the other 'screw with psyker' abilities, like psychic hoods.

The Valkyrie
It's a damned fine kit.

Too bad the tabletop performance won't match it. It's an AV12/12/10 vehicle on a 5" stand, aloft. It's NOT going to hide.

Basic loadout is a multi-laser and a couple of one-shot krak missiles that get the Ordnance special rule. It can pick up heavy bolters for 10 points, and then you get a vehicle that can move 6" and crank out a good 9 BS3 anti-infantry shots.

The real unique offering that the Valk has is the 'Grav Chute Insertion.' It can move flat-out and drop troops at any point during that move. They roll 2d6 + Scatter, and if it's not a hit, they scatter and take dangerous terrain tests.

What does this mean? You can pay 100+ points to give any squad the provisional ability to deep strike, with the extra risk that you might lose the transport and that they'll take dangerous terrain tests.

The weapons that benefit from such 'precision' insertion are by nature short-ranged, like meltaguns, flamers and plasma weapons. For 100 points, you can get a vet squad with triple meltaguns, triple flamers, or 2 flamers/heavy flamer. It's cheap enough that you won't miss it, and it's got some firepower.

Anything else in a Valk is really not worth it, considering that a Chimera is half the price, much easier to hide, and so on. And, out of the box, the Chimera can actually crank out more shots. The best way to actually get FIREPOWER out of a Valk is to get sponson heavy bolters, and the Hellfire missiles are just icing on the cake. Or, you ca really try to turn the Valk into an infantry hunter by paying another 30 points for a pair of multiple rocket pods, that fire at S4, AP6, large blast.

Then you're paying 140 points for a transport that can hunt infantry. I mean, I freely admit that it's cool, but I'm not so sure about its utility.

The Vendetta is neat, as it turns the Valk into a tank-buster. Three twin-linked BS3 lascannons on a skimmer for 130 is fairly nasty, but doesn't solve any of the durability issues.

Understand I'm hitting the 'durability' issue from the POV of someone who's run a half-dozen grav tanks in a good number of games in the past couple of months. AV12 does not last. Even the Energy Field special rule for Wave Serpents isn't going to keep you alive.

The Leman Russes
Damn if we're not spoiled for choices, here. We can get:
-The good ol' Battlecannon
-Heavy 4 twin-linked autocannon
-Vanquisher rounds (S8, AP2, 72" shot, roll 2d6 for penetration)
-Nova Cannon (S6, AP4, Large Blast, No Cover SaveS)
-Demolisher Cannon (24", S10, AP2 Ordnance)
-Punisher (Heavy 20, S5, AP-)
-Executioner Plasma Cannon (3 plasma cannon shots)

And for sponsons? We can get heavy bolters, heavy flamers, multi-meltas, OR plasma cannons.

We can also seriously jack up the price for a Russ to 200 easy. The base is 150 for 14/13/10, though the Demolisher, punisher and Executioner go up to AV11 rears.

What's the real moral of the story? The Russ wants to be at range. It will die in assault.

The Russ is also slow. Lumbering Behemoth means it can move 6" and pop the turret and one other main weapon, but it also means that 'cruising' speed is 6+d6 instead of 12". With that, there's pretty much no reason to ever really want to move a Russ, but if you do, move it 6" and fire a couple of guns.

Out of the guns, a couple catch my eye...
The Battle Cannon is a good, cheap (...comparatively) general-purpose gun. Given that there's lots of cover out there and that vehicles are plentiful, I'd think about just tacking heavy bolters onto it for a price tag of 170.

Similarly, if I took the Exterminator, I'd go with heavy bolters. Sit there, crank out a lot of anti-infantry shots, hunt light armor in a pinch. Still, the Exterminator makes you look at Hydras (AV12/10/10, but a pair of twin-linked 72" autocannons for 75...), and if you really want to nuke infantry, you look at Hellhounds.

The interesting. It's a nasty way to get long-range anti-tank fire out there. Most I'd do to it is probably slap a lascannon on the front and let it cost 170. S8, AP2, 2d6 penetration is pretty nasty, and the only thing that'd make it better is AP1. Still, it's something worth mentioning.

The Eradicator is purely anti-infantry. Nova Cannon, sponson heavy bolters, and a 180pt price tag mean you can make unmounted infantry qual in fear. Of course, you do spit to vehicles, but it can kill the infantry.

The Demolisher...demolishes things. It's the short-ranged Russ, or the keep-away-from-me Russ. It falls down against cover, but nukes vehicles and anything out in the open. It IS a bit short-ranged, though. It means the Demolisher wants to move, but wait...moving is not the Russ' strong point. The only defensive weapon a Russ can get is a pintle heavy stubber. (Technically it can get a storm bolter for the same price, but S4, AP5, 2 shots to 24" vs. S4, AP6, three shots to 36"? Not a choice at all). The Demolisher gets to trundle forth, fire some anti-infantry shots, and hope it gets a shot off with the big gun. And, like the other Russes, it CRIES if it gets a 'weapon destroyed' result.

The Punisher gets a cookie for looking badass, but not necessarily being badass. 180 base. Everyone drools over Heavy 20, but S5 is only so-so and AP- means it's unsuited for taking out vehicles. The Big Gun is also only effective to 24", which means again that it might have to close in. Add in the requisite heavy bolters and heavy stubber and the tank costs about 210.

Then again, are you willing to pay 210 to drop 32 dice off one vehicle? It's dead sexay against smaller, more elite folks relying on armor saves (because the 16 hits and ~10 wounds means more when it kills 3-5 space marines) than sheer numbers. Though if it gets people in the open...yes, laugh like a maniac.

The Executioner LOOKS the coolest, but also costs 230 to kit out with 5 plasma cannons. I suspect I'm going to try taking a couple of these in a larger force, but it's more of a 'cool' factor than effective, but if you were relying on FNP or a good T5-6, well, sorry. Sucked to be you. Ultimately I think the cost will be a killer for the Executioner.

Camo Net Tricks
For 20 points and Chimeras, you can get your Russ's AV14 ass a 3+ cover save. Is it bullshit? Yes. Will people still do it? Yes. What do you do? Pop the Chimeras or meltagun his ass.

Russ Summary
Gut says that the vanilla Russ is a solid choice for cost. The basic battle cannon is decent against armor, MCs and troops alike. The Heavy Bolters it can pack are more firepower, and for 170? Not bad. I'm not sure about the real utility of pintle heavy flamers or multi-meltas. Flamers REALLY need a move to get into position, and you get to fire one. Multi-meltas are neat, but short-ranged and very dedicated in their role. Plasma Cannons are cool, but at 40 a pop, well...don't expect to see them too often.

Deathstrike Missile Launcher
Why are you taking an ICBM launcher in a regular game? It is exceedingly cool if it goes off, but for the points, you could have a REAL threat that has to be dealt with.

Hydra Flak Tank
I kinda like these guys. 72" range, two twin-linked autocannons, and a middle finger to cover saves? Solid anti-light-tank/skimmer, and 75 a head? Keep your flanks covered and it's all good.

Ordnance Battery
Immediately add 15 to the price you see, because all of these are open-topped. Or, alternatively, commit to Camo Netting + Chimeras for cover saves.

On to the guns...

Basilisk? 36-240 inch range. That's a fairly hefty minimum. I'll have to check the rules, but if the Ordnance Barrage rules don't let me shoot in that minimum directly, then the Basilisk stays at home. Otherwise, it's an S9, AP3 ordnance shot. More effective at KOing vehicles, but at least it makes even power armor folk grab cover.

Medusa? 36", S10, AP2 ordnance shot. Nothing subtle there; it's a lighter alternative to a Demolisher russ. At 135, though, you're trading a lot of armor for the points. Also gets access to 48", S10 AP1 2d6 penetration small blast. With BS3, that's a lot iffier.

Colossus? Damn near the price of a russ. 24-240 range, but it's S6, AP3, Large Blast, middle finger to cover. In other words, if you're in the open and you're infantry, it'll pulp you.

Griffon? The accurate one of the bunch. Can't fire directly, but it's a 12-48" shot. The accuracy comes from the ability to re-roll the scatter dice. The shot itself is only S6, AP4.

On Vehicle Squads
I'm going to have to read over the 'firing a shit-ton of ordnance from the same unit' to see how that works, but I believe the gist of the rules involves the first shot hitting, then the second and/or third shots scatter off it.

The other note? Yes, you CAN get 9 Russes in an army (at a cost of 1350 minimum, assuming no sponsons and only the basic 150pt model). BUT, they can only engage 3 targets a turn. Additionally, with smaller targets and the like? You might not get the hits you really want. Against vehicles, it's going to be difficult to get more than one direct ordnance hit.

Against infantry? Smaller units will only eat one ordnance hit.

Honestly, I'm thinking in terms of 3 Russes being plenty for an army anyway, since with sponsons it's a good 500-600 points.

With other choices, a vehicle squad isn't necessarily so firepower-inefficient. 3 sentinels? That's 3 multi-lasers or 3 autocannons at a target, all BS3. Not so terrible, since you're looking at 3 autocannon hits or 4-5 multi-laser hits. Hellhounds? Still not bad, since you still have to wound 'em. Might get dicy for the Banehounds, but that's life.