Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chaos Daemons: Daemon Prince

I've been breaking out the Daemons, and thinking about how to make them work best. Or, at least, work. Lost to Guard today, but that's no big surprise. They gave a decent accounting of themselves, but in Kill Points, all those Plaguebearers don't have a lot to do.

But, on to the Daemon Prince himself.

The Tzeentch Daemon Prince
The current loadout I've been using is Mark of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze, Bolt of Tzeentch.

To be honest, Daemon Princes are not shabby at shooting. They have BS5, which means you can rely on them to hit their target. However, Daemonic shooting in general is a bit 'eh'.

Gaze is a solid anti-infantry shot, mostly when they're out of cover.

Bolt is as good as it gets when you're hunting tanks at range. S8 AP1 is not GREAT, but it is at least something. The AP1 helps. might as well HIT with the stinking thing, at least.

This is the other issue with the Daemon Prince. Now, naturally, you want to bring in as many monstrous creatures as you can to make the enemy split their fire. Bringing one in is a great way to get one blown away in a turn; most armies can do this and they WILL.

The average daemon prince has four wounds, T5, and a 5+ invulnerable save. There are three options for increasing the durability of the daemon prince.

Iron Hide
Take a 3+ armor save.

Marke of Nurgle
Increase to toughness six.

Mark of Tzeentch
Improve invulnerable save to 4+

Which to take?
The iron hide is a 30 point upgrade. Now, 3+ is the best save you'll get on the Daemon prince, regardless of what you do.

The Marks are mutually exclusive; you can go up to T6 or to the 4+ invulnerable save.

Really, then, you're looking at Mark of Nurgle +Iron Hide, or Mark of Tzeentch.

Nurgle + Iron Hide
T6 with a 3+/5+ is durable to lower-strength, lower-AP fire. Against small arms, most stuff and most melee attacks wound you on 6's, and you save them on 3+. Any given S4 hit has a 5% chance of wounding you.

Basically, then, Nurgle + Iron Hide lets you ignore torrents, and pretty much anything S4. It also is moderately resilient against Psycannons, as they wound you on 4+ and you ignore them on 3+.

Mark of Tzeentch
T5 with a 4+ invulnerable. This is markedly inferior to T6 with a 3+ in terms of resisting small arms; any given S4 hit wounds you on 5-6 and you save it on a 4+, which means any given S4 hit has a 16% chance of wounding you. You're a little more vulnerable to small arms, then.

However, the mark of Tzeentch is more durable versus higher-AP tank-hunting weapons.

Consider the Meltagun (or powerfist, or thunder hammer)...S8, AP1
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 55% chance of landing the wound.
vs. Tzeentch: 41% chance of landing the wound
vs. T5/5+: 55% chance of landing the wound

Consider plasma: S7, AP2
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 44% chance of landing the wound
vs. Mark of Tzeentch: 41% chance of landing the wound
vs. T5/5+: 55% chance of landing the wound

Consider S6 (relic blades, GEQ powerfists?) S6, ignore saves
vs. Nurgle/Armor: 33% of hits stick a wound
vs. Tzeentch: 33% chance of sticking the wound
vs. T5/5+: 44% chance of sticking the wound

Now, mind you, if the weapon is NOT AP3 or better, then a higher-strength weapon will do more damage to the Tzeentch DP than the Nurgle/Armor DP.

Other Configurations
Khorne and Slaanesh marks necessarily combine a T5 and a 5+ save, and should probably get that Iron Hide upgrade. Note that they are more vulnerable to the high-end weapons, but are somewhat more resilient than the Tzeentch DPs against small-arms fire.

Conclusions on Durability
Truthfully, Daemon Princes are going to be a major target, so one best deal with the durability. Obviously, you'd best take a number of them. Target saturation, and all that.

Killing Things
Obviously, the Daemon Prince's other use (beyond taking up space) is KILLING things. So, the question is how to do that trick the best, then?

Daemon Princes boast WS7, S5, and I5. They can buy Unholy Strength to go up to S6. Against vehicles, S5+2d6 is like as not to pound AV10 rears into the ground.

If you're going to go into melee, the upgrade to S6 is worth considering, as it means wounding most things on a 2+ and bypassing their armor.

At any rate, there are two marks to consider. Khorne isn't one of them, as Khorne merely boosts you from 4 attacks to 5. Don't get me wrong; more attacks mean more cahnces to kill things. But, the Daemon Prince has a critical problem...NO GRENADES.

This is why you might consider the mark of Slaanesh or the mark of Nurgle. They may take offensive/defensive grenades as a single upgrade, which let you keep the lovely initiative bonus when you have to charge into cover. Believe me, the enemy's going to make you go into cover if they can.

Wings...yes, no?
Now, the big question is...wings. Wings let you move 12" a turn, but there is also the teensy little fact that wings, oh, y'know, cost you 70 points or so. This is a MAJOR price increase; as a mark + grenades + armor = 200+ points of unit.

Wings make you able to get to the enemy within a turn or so; there's that whole ability to assault the enemy faster.

The problem with assault....
Against a lot of things, a Daemon Prince should win combat, and have a decent chance at running them down. Now, the problem is that if you're winning in a single round, you're out in the open during your opponent's turn and they get to shoot you.

The other problem? A Daemon prince is not THAT badass in melee. You charge, you swsing 5 times, you hit 3-4 times, you wound 3-4 times. Against anything without an invulnerable save, you'll pulp some. They might hit you back, and some will do it hard.

Something like Grey Knights or Grey Knight Terminators probably has a better-than-even shot at beating you down. Something like Thunder Hammer termies will probably beat the pulp out of you (...recall the whole S8 wounding thing, and the part where you'll kill maybe a couple.)

Bottom line? Know that a Daemon Prince is a threat in melee, but don't necessarily throw it at some of the harder-core enemies. Some melee threats will beat your skull in, and use it as an ashtray when done. But, you're more than adequate when it comes to maiming up basic troops. Leave the bigger game for something else.

Well, the DP's stats in general make it solid at melee. You can't boost your WS or I, and WS7 I5 is pretty solid.

It also touts BS5. Sadly, there aren't exactly a lot of neat daemon shooting gifts. Gaze is good at killing troops, and the Bolt of Tzeentch is about all there is to use against armor.

The only other real shooting gift to consider is the happy little flamer template that wounds on 4+ and ignores armor saves. I tend not to be a big fan of it, for two reasons: 1) Cost. 2) If you're close enough to use it, you're looking at melee, and you'll either kill everything there (and there's that whole 'getting shot at next turn' thing) or you'll kill enough to leave yourself out of assault range.)

There's also the 'I Turn You Into a Spawn' power, assuming you're within 6" and the other guy can fail a toughness check. Then you get a spawn, which the other guy will probably promptly gun down, but there's always the chance you'll do something funny like turn a 'fex or a Marine HQ into a Spawn. Good for the stories, at the least.

So, ultimately, I'd keep Gaze and Bolt. Bolt can menace tanks, and Gaze can at least put wounds on infantry. Plus, for the prince, two powers is optimal as monstrous creatures get two ranged attacks.

I feel that the Daemon Prince is a reasonably solid choice. A Tzeentchian DP with Daemonic Gaze and Bolt of Tzeentch is not necessarily an optimum choice, but it IS a solid multi-role unit that can engage at range or in melee. It is not necessarily the BEST at either of those, but you'll be hard-pressed to find optimum multi-role daemon units.

More Painting Love

I intend to put up pictures of 'em, but 32 Kroot have been completed.

That puts the FTW score from 244 to 276. I'll put up pictures of them 'ere long.

Yay, Kroot. I can see why I'm not a fan of horde armies. At this point, the Tau army has some tanks, a couple Piranhas, and a heap of Crisis Suits. I just have to GET the crisis suits.

I also need to put the Warp Spiders and Howling Banshees on E-bay, as they're of no use and I could use the money.

I'll also have pictures up of the Tzeentch Heralds; they're on the modeling block. I've got a neat-looking Herald converted from a Necron Destroyer, when I had a brief bout of insanity and tried to play wth a gimped codex. (...I suppose that playing with daemons is moving from one gimped codex to another, but at least it's fun to model.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Daemons, Deathwing, and Conversions

First order of business...the Daemon vs. Xardian's Footslogging CSM batrep. I didn't bring the camera, so you'll have to rely on my memory and good old MS paint diagrams.

The Battle Report
Scenario: Table Quarters w/ 4 Objectives

Xardian's CSM, the Red Team
Lord w/ Mark of Tzeentch, meltabomb, power weapon, Disc of Tzeentch ('L')
3 Large (15-16 man) squads of CSM; Icon of Chaos Glory, Champ w/ Fist, 2 specials (flamers or a meltagun) ('M')
2 Squads of 4 Terminators Each (3x PW/Combi-plas, one w/ powerfist/heavy flamer) ('T')
2 Havoc Squads (10-man w/ Chaos Glory; one with 4 missiles, one w/ 2 autocannon, 2 missiles)
1 Squad of 8 Lesser Daemons

Chaos Daemons (as inspired by Stelek), the Blue Team
3 Heralds of Tzeentch (Chariot, Master of Sorcery, Bolt of Tzeentch, Soul Devourer) ('H')
3 units of 5 Fiends of Slaanesh ('F')
4 units of 5 Plaguebearers ('P')
2 units of 8 Bloodletters ('B')
3 Daemon Princes (Mark of Tzeentch, Bolt of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze) ('M')

Chosen Half: 2 Heralds, 3 Fiends, 3 DP

The Battlefield
Objectives (the Green X's)
Grey Blobs: rocky area terrain
Black Polygons: 2-story buildings

Turn one?
I win the roll, and let him go first. He sets up with a large squad on both objectives, and a squad headed down towards the bottom. Havocs are in tidy little shooting spots.

I…promptly fail to get the correct half of my army; the Chaos Gods flip me a ‘1’. Plague Bearers come down on two of the objectives, and one squad gets ready to hide some. Bloodletters come down behind the Plaguebeaers, and hope to use them for cover. My Herald comes down without incident, and promptly accounts for 3 marines that are in the open.
Turn 2
The guns come on. He wipes out the Bloodletters on the far flank; they were going to think about end-running and assaulting a squad. The other squad gets cut down to half, and his Lord detaches to go charge the plaguebearers. They promptly tie combat.

I roll a Daemon Prince, a Herald, and all three fiends. One squad of Fiends promptly strikes off the table and dies from the mishap. The Bloodletters find a gap in the chunk of Plaguebearers, and get into melee with the Lord. We tie combat with two wounds.

Turn 3
He promptly one-rounds the Daemon Prince with some Terminators and plasma. Damn if he’s not got a lot of icons and a lot of room to deep-strike stuff. Marines advance and pour fire into a Herald, and get two wounds on it. Marines shuffle, and don’t assault. Can’t say I blame them. Shooting occurs; stuff dies, and then the Bloodletters hack a wound off the Lord and the Plaguebearers finish it off.

The other Herald and a Daemon Prince join the fray. The Prince looks around and picks a spot to pick on Havocs with. He then picks on Havocs. My Fiends and Bloodletters promptly massacre one of his squads; the other Fiends promptly engage the Terminators and beat ‘em up. The Plaguebearers charge the nearby marine squad after the Heralds soften them up; there are two models left when the zombies hit: the Icon and the Champ. Champ falls. The third herald, who just arrived in left field, guns down more marines. Now it's not reflected in the diagrams, but the Summoned Lesser Daemons DO beat down a wounded Herald, and the other one takes two Fearless wounds.

Turn 4
A Daemon prince goes ‘poof.’ Damn, that’s happening with some kind of frightening regularity…his Daemons and last Terminators arrive. He proceeds to LIGHT UP the Bloodletters, and they die. They’d consolidated into cover by the Havocs, gone to ground, and STILL busted out a bunch of 1’s and 2’s. His Daemons tie up the nearby heralds in CC, and the remaining dude in that squad just keeps lasting. He’s made about 7-9 power armor saves by now. My Fiends finish off the Terminators that had KO’ed the prince.

My last Daemon Prince arrives; it and the herald light up the marine squad on the far side and whittle it down to a handful of fellows. The mostly-full Fiends proceed to help eat up the Lesser Daemons, and the remaining Fiend charges into his Terminators, and actually kills one. The Daemon Prince and Herald finish off that last, depleted squad.
Turn 5
His Terminators finish off that last, recalcitrant Fiend. They consolidate towards the nearest Plaguebearer squad. Additionally, I FINALLY finish off that straggling marine. At this point, he thinks it’s looking pretty grim.

In my turn, I lay claim to the other two objectives, and we toy with a turn six. It’s not enough to dislodge me.

Victory: Daemons.
CSM: 3 large CSM squads, Terminator squad, Lord, Daemons
Daemons: 2 Daemon Princes, 2 Bloodletter squads, Fiends x1, Herald x1

All in all, a bloody, brutal, fun throw-down. I'd wanted soemthing other than my dice-damned Eldar, especially after the last weekend. We also completed our trade, so I'm out some more mothballed Marines and up 2 Vypers and a well-converted Wave Serpent. I have plans for them...
Daemon Conversions
I'll eventually put up more pics, but part of the point of starting Daemons was, for me, the conversions. Someone recently chanced across my blog who's doing Daemons for much the same reason; go check out Lady Falcia's conversion blog. Interesting paint scheme and theme, and while I've seen Dryads used as Horrors, I haven't seen them incorporated in that manner.
But, I'm looking for Bloodletters...I ask Xardian, and he suggests good old Sisters Repentia. No one uses the blasted things much any more, and I could probably e-bay them for cheap. Knock a few Eviscorators out, and replace 'em with hammers. I mean, Bloodletters have a big, bad, power weapon, so why not go that route and use someone with a big two-handed weapon? I mean, I'd looked at some of the Fantasy folks with Great Weapons, except they tended to be metal and expensive. Not really what I'm looking for, for starters.
The Chaos-Wing List
I think I figured out what to do with the remainder of the points; I hand the Librarian a combi-weapon and trade out the last Cyclone Missile Launcher for an assault cannon. Then, I don't have to buy a damned thing. The army would then look like...
Librarian w/ Terminator Armor, Combi-weapon (probably melta or flamer)
4x Terminator Squads w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist
1x Terminator Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Apothecary
2x Command Squads w/ 2 meltaguns, Apothecary
Total: 1850, aw yeah.
The command squads give me more apothecaries and make you make me take more saves. Ha.
And, I've got plenty of Terminators, and more than enough bodies. Tiem to think more on the conversion theme, but I'm thinking in terms of robes (to cover up the Imperial iconography) and some head swaps, and probably chaosing-up some Chainfists.
There's also the issue of covering up a whole lotta Crux Terminatus.
On the Painting Front: Tau
...man, assembly-lining 32 kroot is fun. Sure, we'll call that 'fun', but at least after that the Tau army I'm working on is damn near painted. Still 5 Crisis Suits, 2 Broadsides, and a hammerhead down, but it's getting there. Got a Crisis Suit painted up (mostly), and got the Fire Warriors done up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Strainborming, Deathwing?

Now, one of the byproducts of having played marines (and flirted with Deathwing, for a time) is that I've got a lot of Terminators.

Not only that, but the problem is that Terminators aren't really worth a lot in terms of resale value. The whole Black Reach boxed set has seen to that rather well, and people have bitted out Termiantors for very little.

As such, I'm wondering about doing something with them. Now, I like the idea of Chaos, and I could even fall for the codex (somewhat), there's still the issue of running an army.

I'm also hankering a bit for some conversion fun, and until that blankety-blanking job finally calls back and gives me hours, I'm kind of out of money.

So, a thought's emerged, in part from this article from FTW and from seeing a 'First Company' army from the previous RTT.

Of course, brainstorming up Deathwing and working over the lists also means dealing with the art of BUILDING a Deathwing list. Nothing here comes in small blocks. You're stuck with taking Belial to 'unlock' Deathwing squads as troops, and there aren't a ton of options to hand to the Terminators.

Looking at the Deathwing Squad
The average squad comes in at 215 points for 5 fearless terminators; storm bolter and powerfists down the line except for sarge, who got a power weapon (for some reason or another).

Any model can trade their loadout for a pair of lightning claws, or a thunder hammer and storm shield. This is free.

Squad may take one assault cannon or cyclone missile launcher. This is the 'old' cyclone which costs 20 points to the cannon's 30, but only fires a single krak missile. There's also the heavy flamer at 5 points, but we are kind of a short squad, and unless we're taking landraiders we are walking or risking the deep-strike.

Anyone may take a Chainfist for +5 points.

Additionally, one squad can be designated the 'command' squad, and take an Apothecary (one unit w/in certain range can ignore a failed armor save, with some restrictions) and a Standard (that grants +1 attack to everyone).

Squad loadouts
To be honest, I think the special weapon of choice here is the assault cannon. If I could take the updated codex: Space Marines cyclone, I'd do that in a heartbeat to get the range and versatility. As it stands? Assault cannon's as good as it gets. That puts the squad at 245, and everyone's getting themselves a chainfist, just to put it at an even 250 and let them handle the odd AV14 rear thing that comes along.

It also gives me three distinct 'groups' per squad with wound allocation: Sarge, Special Weapon, SB/Powerfist x2, and SB/Chainfist.

Belial (or whatever his name will be)
Belial's a no-brainer; 130 points for a WS5, BS5, I5 3-wound character in terminator armor. I can pick a storm bolter and master-crafted power weapon, a pair of lightning claws, or a thunder hammer/storm shield for him.

I'm leaning towards the lightning claws or bolter/power weapon. The bolter/MC power weapon lets him always contribute, but then again it's just a BS5 storm bolter. A couple more shots, maybe an additional wound. Lightning claws mean 4 attacks base that re-roll wounds. Right now, my old counts-as belial is packing twin lightning claws, which is nasty enough.

The Rest Of the Army
Now, I've got a draft list, but I want to keep all my guys on foot in termiantor armor. The simple answer is that if anyone's wearing just regular old power armor, they're probably going to get shot to death.

The second note is that I'm pretty much doing this as a 'fun' army; it's all terminators but there's a glaring problem with the list: ...we're kinda short on anti-tank. Terminators can punch out tanks without much of a problem, but they're relying on the rend against anything more durable than AV11.

Now, the guy at the tourney brought triple Vindicators, as those help with hords, and S10 ordnance tends to do a number on armor. (Even my happy little Wave Serpents cringe at that...).

Otherwise, there's always the MM/HF speeder, but I'm kind of 'eh' on those since I got rid of all mine, and they're not exactly durable.

Land Raider DW is a totally different build; in part if I'm going to buy Land Raiders again I'm going to do Daemonhunters in LR, but also that's pretty much committing to 15 guys + Belial. NOT exactly a high model count, and if someone can KO Land Raiders, then I pretty much lose.

Draft List, 1850
Belial 130
Twin Lightning Claws

DW Terminator Squad 250
Assault Cannon, Chainfist

DW Terminator Squad 250
Assault Cannon, Chainfist

DW Terminator Squad 250
Assault Cannon, Chainfist

DW Terminator Squad 250
Assault Cannon, Chainfist

DW Terminator Squad 280
Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Apothecary

Vindicator 130
w/ Dozer Blade

Vindicator 130
w/ Dozer Blade

Vindicator 130
w/ Dozer Blade

Total: 1800

Right now, that's 50 points free. I could dump some of that into upgrades, or try to free up some more and slap it into a character or Dreadnought. Dreads are 125 minimum in the 'dex, which could get me a walking multi-melta. I could free up about the same for a Librarian, but to be honest I'd be looking at a Dreadnought for the cost so I can get something like, oh, a multi-melta in there.

There's also the temptation to drop an assault cannon for a cyclone missile launcher, just to designate a squad as the 'babysitter' and give me a few points back. Of course, I'm not sure what I'll do with the extra 10 points back.

EDIT: I'm like as not to just slap Extra Armor on all the Vindicators and call it a day. If I go with a Cyclone, it's probably Storm Bolters on the Vindies all around, for what it's worth.

It occurs that I COULD drop a DW squad for, say, a pair of dreads, but then I'd be cutting into my Troops and the number of scoring units. More importantly, I'd also be cutting any potential Deathwing Assault to two squads instead of 3. Deathwing is half, rounded up, and 1/2 of 5, rounded up, is 3. 1/2 of 4 is 2.

Fluff-wise, and modding
I'm really tempted to finally give in to my Thousand-Sons fandom and do these guys up with one eye each, and do them in red, probably with white piping.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Phoenix Lords?

Well, the Phoenix Lords are expensive Eldar HQs that are effectively hero-level exarch HQs. My question is whether they're worth it or not.

Common Ground
All of them share the same statline, and it's not bad at all.

WS 7, BS 7, S4, T4, 3 wounds, I7, four attacks, and a 2+ armor save.

On top of that, they are Fleet, Fearless, Eternal Warriors that grant that Fearless bonus to their given Aspect Warriors if they're leading them.

He's the Dire Avenger leader. He has the dire sword that the Avengers get, save that his re-rolls misses in close combat. He also has the twin avenger catapults for an Assault 4 S4 AP5 weapon. The neatest thing he's got is the 4+ invulnerable save.

Not that you ever want your Avengers in close combat, but you get Defend, and he comes with Bladestorm as well.

Jain Zar
See Jain. See Jain lead the howling banshees. Pretty much standard Banshee exarch kit; the banshee mask, executioner, and a Triskele with S5. She also benefits from Furious Charge.

For Exarch powers, she gets War Shout and and Acrobatic. (Translation: make the enemy take a ld test to keep their WS in lieu of 1, and Counterassault).

...now, he makes your Swooping Hawks fearless, but that implies you'd want to take Swooping Hawks. He gets the Hawk's Talon and a power weapon, and is pretty much an Exarch past that.

This is the leader of the Striking Scorpions. He gets the Scorpion chainsword, the scorpion powerfist dealie, plasma grenades, and his mandiblasters give him +2 attacks instead of +1.

While he gets the Infiltrate and Move Through Cover special powers, he ALSO gives his squad Stealth, which isn't that bad. Won't necessarily use it a lot since you've got 3+ saves, but still.

This is the psycho that leads the Fire Dragons. He takes a Fire Pike, and a power weapon that hits at S5 and rolls 2d6 for armor penetration. He gets Tank Hunter and Crack Shot (read: +1 to penetration and Ignores Cover Saves), and also Feel No Pain.

He's actually kind of disgustingly adept at killing vehicles.

Maugan Ra
Hey, he's the happy guy that leads the Dark Reapers. He takes an Executioner (so he hits at S6 and ignores armor saves) and has a 36", Assault 4 Pinning, Rending Shuriken Cannon. Not a bad little gun, that. With Exarch Powers, he gets another shot, and ignores cover saves. Big deal on a weapon that's AP5, but it lets him snipe at fast-moving, lightly-armored skimmers?

The Skinny...
The biggest problem I see with these guys is that they're 190-230 points a head. Jain's the cheapest, and Asurmen's the most expensive.

They all grant Fearless to their chosen aspect, and save you the cost of buying exarch powers. (or, more like drop 20-40 points on them...). They DO let you take an Exarch's kit twice; IE: you can get an S6 and S5 Executioner in Banshees, and get an S6 and S8 powerfist in the Scorpions.

This is neat in cases where the Exarch's special kit is actually cool and useful, as opposed to the neat but not-so-spectacular extra guns (a la the Double Shuriken catapult, or double Death Spinner).

I think if we want to look at other stuff that makes any of the Phoenix Lords worth taking, it's the extra features.

Maugan Ra
I think this guy's honestly a favorite, largely for his capabilities. He will always contribute to the fight; long-ranged gun and nasty in CC with four S6 power weapon attacks at Initiative 'I go First.'

He's a bit mono-tasked in terms of what he does in shooting, but he's got some CC prowess with the whole 'Fire Axe' letting him hit at S5 and rolling 2d6 for armor penetration. Feel No Pain helps as well.

Jain and Karandras
Unsurprisingly, these guys are pretty adept at melee. I'd say Jain's got an advantage, especially on the charge since there's that whole 'Furious Charge' thing. S7, I8, 5 attacks?

Baharroth and Asurmen
Baharroth....is...a Swooping Hawk, and that says it all. There's no real need to have him lead Swooping Hawks. Asurmen is bloody expensive for what he does.

I'm not really a big fan of the Phoenix Lords as a whole. They're meant to be killy HQs, as they've no real support abilities (read: no psychic powers and no Master Strategist). However, for all that price? I don't think they contribute enough, and in my opinion they'd benefit from a price adjustment.

What's my logic for this? Look at the marine HQs. For about 200 points, you get someone potent in melee, and an army-wide effect. In part, it's the difference in army styles, but it's also bang for buck. Lysander, for example, costs 200. You get immunity to Instant Death, a nasty set of saves, the ability to whomp ANYTHING in melee, and an army-wide bonus.

As of now, I'd rather drop ~140 on a Farseer as my HQ than a Phoenix Lord. For fun, I'd probably take Maugan Ra, since he's the most capable of any phase of the game.

Flying Bases: the Stable Way

I don't know if I can really justify calling this a step-by-step 'how to', but this stems from getting a lot of comments and looks when I break out the grav tanks. Now, I run about 4-6 of these guys at a time, and one of the first things I learned about GW flying bases is that a bump to the table will spin the tank around. (Or a heavy footfall, a stray thought, or what have you) and I finally hit on a solution.

Now, note how the tank actually looks pretty indistinguishable from other grav tanks. I mean, the one thing that this screw-basing makes mandatory is flocking the base, but is that such a big deal?

Now, here's the magic. You'll need: a nut, and a bolt. Oh, and the flying base, some superglue, and some epoxy. Honestly, it's not that hard and not that precise. I favor JB Stick-Weld, and I grabbed a half-dozen nuts and bolts of the same size since I'd rather not spend time trying to sort out a half-dozen flying bases before each game.

Note the nut superglued to the spot where the flying base would attach. While this pic doesn't cleanly show it, there's actually a mound over the base of the bolt. There's also a wash of black paint over the bolt, to dull the reflectivity some.
I've reversed the flying base to better show the small mound of epoxy. You see there in the middle? That's the bolt, held in place by superglue. Now, notice the grey area? That's a mound of JB Stick Weld holding the bolt in place. Then the third ring? Flocking.
The one way you can break this easily is to screw the bolt in too hard. Then it comes out the top, and pushes the nut away from the grav tank's hull. Then you need superglue to fix it, but it's not like that's a MAJOR fix.
I don't do this on my Seer Council as they're pinned, small, and I can get away with it. When I get around to building up Vypers, I expect I'll be using a thinner bolt, as it'll probably take more effort to hide it.
I also intend to carry this forth on my Tau army, as I like the low hovering look more than the stupid landing gear. They're HOVER tanks. They HOVER.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I've been contemplating ways to make the crisis suits in my upcoming Tau army stand out. The above pic is inspired by the old-school Battletech Battlemaster(s). I'll probably do away with the double-jointed legs, since Crisis suits are more about jumpng, and the double-jointed legs are more about walking effectively.
This is the old-school Battlemaster...

And this is the so-called 'Reseen' Battlemaster, since, ah, y'know, the original Battlemaster was kind of 'borrowed' from Dougram without a whole lot of alteration.
I'm also wondering if I should change the lower legs out. Maybe be a bit bulkier?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20, Games by Gamers 1850 RTT

I need to get a link for Games by Gamers to plug 'em; they're some locals that are throwing up an interweb storefront and this is one of their tournies. I'm a big fan of the local Hobbytown USA; Greg's an awesome guy but the HT store just doesn't have a lot of room inside. We can cram two tables in the back, and that's just not always enough.

Thus, the guys at Games by Gamers threw together an 1850 for us at the local UAH Bevil Center.

I ran Mech Eldar v1.something-or-other.

Autarch w/ Fusion Blaster, Banshee Mask, Power Weapon

Farseer w/ Runes of Warding, Spirit Stones, Guide, Doom, Jetbike
Seer Council; 6 warlocks. 4 Destructor, 1 Enhance, 1 Embolden

2x 5-man Fire Dragon squads in Lance/Shurikannon Wave Serpent

3x 8-man Dire Avenger squads in Bright Lance/Shuricannon Serpents

Fire Prism w/ Shurikcannon

1846 totalish.

Round 1

This was round one's opponent; daemons.
Keeper of Secrets
2x Bloodletter units w/ Icons
2x Horrors w/ Icons, one w/ changeling
Plaguebearers w/ Icons
2x Phlegm-Grinders

Primary: Meat Grinder. One objective in the middle. (8 BP)
Secondary: Head of the Snake (kill highest leadership/most expensive HQ in a tie)
Tertiary: Table Quarters (4 BP)
Fourth: 'Vast Resources, not Endless' (2BP) Kill Points

I opt to hold all in reserve but the Seer Council. Naturally, I get to go first. I fortune the council and move it to the left. He gets 'letters, a Grinder, plaguebearers, and horrors. He forgets the Seer Council has the Destructor spam, and I knock out a Bloodletter squad. However, we've also got Meat Grinder special rules on, which means any dead non-vehicle Troops choice moves in from the table edge next turn.

Seeing that, I figure I'll have a tough time getting the middle, but I figure I have enough lances and melta to take out his two grinders and his MCs.

Nooooot so much.

So, just WTH happened? Well, see that blue soul grinder? He laughed off a crap-ton of Bright Lances. I glanced it a lot, and then penned it about 3-4 times and never got better than a '2' on the pens, and Soul Grinders eat lower-level hits for breakfast. I also slammed the Fire Dragons, Autarch, and several Bright Lances into the Bloodthirster; it ate 8 invulnerable saves and passed 7.

From there, Soul Grinder blue tears down TWO grav tanks, and ends the game eating an Avenger squad. Oh, and the Seer Council? Flubs Fortuned armor saves, gets cut down to two folks, then fails to shoot three horrors to death, then can't consolidate away from them far enough to avoid an assault from Bloodletters nearby in cover.

The opponent was a great guy to play, and ultimately took first.

The dice? ARRRRGH. One of them dice games. I never disembarked by choice (other than the Fire dragons, which DID manage to kill a Soul Grinder) as there'd be a Soul Grinder feeding me pie, or I'd be looking at a charge soon.

End result? See that Wave Serpent in the middle? That's me denying him the primary objective, and not getting anything else for myself. Minor moral victory, and while the game was fun? I could've done without the dice...

Round 2: The Serious Mission...sort of
Deployment: Table Quarters
Primary: Operation Greased Pig (objective markers in each DZ that randomly move d6" each turn, off the table = other guy gets it)
Secondary: Set Weapons to 'War Crimes' (Kill Points)
Third: 'Operation: Kill that man' (kill most expensive HQ)
Fourth: 'Dine 'n' dash' Table Quarters

This opponent? Tyranids.
Hive Tyrant w/ some melee upgrades, Scything talons, venom cannon
2 Warrior Squads (leaping, talons, couple guns he didn't use much)
Rippers (x4, leaping)
8 Genestealers w/ Scuttlers, 4+ saves
6 Stealers w/ Scuttlers, 4+ saves, and scything talons? Dunno.
16 Gaunts w/o Number
16ish Hormagaunts (lots of upgrades; +WS, +I, +S)
2 Melee-fex (T7, extra wound, melee kit, regeneration)
3 Zoanthropes (Synapse critter, warp blast)

He rolls to go first, sets up near the middle. His shooting is largely ineffectual. I have to stop him a couple times to get him to actually measure his runs instead of just hopping the guy forward a few inches on a 2" run. He's also overly confident in his melee-fexes, and confident in general while not being wholly knowledgeable of the rules. He also forgets about his genestealers 'til turn four, which is kind of strange to me, but oh well. No big deal in the long run.

So, what do I do? Backpedal and fire. By turn three, I've nuked one carnifex by shooting, nuked his hive tyrant with Fire Dragons, and the Seer Council just ate the other beat-up fex. They put something like 17 wounds on the guy when he had two left.

You see one genestealer squad having trouble with Avengers, and the other? Epic Fail on the outflank roll. I'm sorry, did you want to participate in the match? Too bad. Note that the Serpents had been moving 12" each; one actually ate a partial charge from Warriors and they did nothing.

It looks about like this at the end, 'cept I beat his warriors down. He had the gaunts left, pretty much, and the stealers that got whittled down. He said I was making a mistake when I got out to shoot the stealers, but it kept 'em off my objective.
...then I had a brain fart and moved the loaded Dire Avengers OFF it in the last turn, though I had the presence of mind to slap a beat-up Serpent on his objective.
End result? Neither of us on primary; I have secondary and third, he gets fourth barely.
Not a difficult match, but the opponent was a bit 'eh' with having to explain crap left and right to him.
Round 3: Space Wolves
Deployment: Pitched Battle
Primary Objective: Hold Objectives (3 in either drop zone)
Secondary: Kill Most Expensive HQ
Third: Control the most terrain features
Fourth: KP

Space Wolves:
Ven Dread (Assault Cannon/Heavy Flamer)
Rune Priest
double-autocannon Dread
Wolf Scouts (x5)
Grey Hunters in Razorback
Grey Hunters in Rhino w/ Battle Leader
Grey Hunters
Land Speeder Squad (2 Speeders; Heavy Bolter/assault cannon)
Land Raider (with Hunters, Rune Priest)
Long Fangs; 2x Missile, 2x Lascannon
He got first.
I'll let the picture do the talking for how the dice luck went. Two Wave Serpents, down on turn one.

Turn 2: move up, lance the raider for nothing. Note the avengers moving for cover. Note the Fire Dragons and Autarch without a ride.

Note the FIRE DRAGONS OF FAIL, whereupon getting 5 melta shots at point blank, they hit 3 times and do no damage.

I'd kind of hoped to assault something else with the Seer Council, but by Khaine, THAT LAND RAIDER WILL DIE. At least it hadn't moved, and we explode it, lose no one in the fireball, and kill two marines. Who promptly stay to fight. At least the Rune Priest blew his brains out trying to keep a 5+ save up against lances, which did save it from a pen.
This is about the final. His scouts come in on the last turn in time to pull me off an objective; I get avengers on to one, and we tie objectives. He kind of gets the rest.
Thus ends a terrible dice day. You also see the Seer Council's last stand over there, but once the 5 Fire Dragons had failed to kill the Raider? Eh. Between that, the first turn, and the way my Grav Tanks dropped to a single pen each? (other than the Fire Dragons of Fail; their ride survived-ish).
Nasty dice day.
Good opponent, though, and enjoyable game.
Oh dear lord the dice hated me today. I mean, I honestly feel like my dice were pretty frigid in games one and three, and the other guy's dice were rolling well. Lost grav tanks rapidly in games one and three; he made good saves in one and three....
In part, it's been a couple months since the Seer Council has come out to play. I think I need to be a bit more aggressive, and not roll lots of 1's and 2's.
Still, I'd do it again and for a $15 entry fee? Not bad at all.
Overall, despite craptastic battle score, I was 6th out of 12, I think. Might've cinched 5th if I'd not fallen off an objective by stupidity in game two. I feel like I should've won game 1 if I'd been able to pass saves worth a damn and get better than a 1 or 2 on a penetrating hit. Game 3? Ugh. When grav tanks drop like that, it's just a bad day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mech Eldar HQs

So, after some time I finally got around to touching up the fusion gun/power weapon autarch, and the jetbike farseer.
I can't take credit for the boob job on the autarch; as I got that from Xardian when he lost his will to be a space-elf and slather himself in 'cheddar.'
I freely admit that the autarch is me giving in to an impulse towards the absurd. I was thinking about '...ok, what do I need to do to communicate thati t's armed with a fusion gun?' I could've just modded up one of my Fire Dragons, but I tend to run a dozen from time to time. Plus, I had the sweet power weapon/shuriken pistol autarch from Xardian. Now, I'm never going to slap the Swooping Hawk wings on it, so those are out...and I just glued the flags on. Xard's freehand, not mine. He's good at painting.
The fusion blaster (combined with a jetbiker's hand and GS to mount it) is me giving in to that impulse for the absurd.
Why? Because the autarch is all about BIG GUNS.
Sorry. Had to do it.
The Farseer's just sliiightly borrowing from the Banshees; she's an Exarch and the remainder of my Seer Council is made of older banshees modified with the legs of jetbikers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


While I thoroughly appreciate the fact that my girlfriend pretty much gave me her old camera...
I think we can conclude that she didn't lose much. But, here we've got some shots of the triplets. The paint job is actually pretty simple. Based white, chainmail, then diluted asurmen blue wash. Head is brown, then shining gold, then devlan mud. Gunbarrels and flamers are black, then chainmail drybrush. Joints washed over in black.
Very simple, very (in my mind) elegant. The guy on the right of the pic with the gun attached to his forearm can trade it out for a Bright Lance.
I am tempted, though, to re-pose them because I see way too many cool conversions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wraithzilla Batreps

Got some abbreviated batreps out of the Elfzilla v2 army, as I got a double-header in against a marine player.

He's still picking 'em up and streamlining the army, and learning, so bear that in mind. His list was:

Librarian w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Epistolary, Null Zone, Gate of Infinity

5 Terminators w/ Cyclone Missile Launcher

10 Sternguard w/ Powerfist, Meltagun, Rhino

Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta, Storm Bolter

10 Tactical Marines w/ Flamer, multi-melta, plasma pistol

10 Tactical Marines w/ Flamer, multi-melta

8 Scouts w/ Missile Launcher, Telion (was 10 scouts w/o Telion in game 1)

2 Land speeders w/ MM/HF (as seperate squads)

HB/AC Predator

Twin-las/HB Predator

Game one was Pitched Battle, KP. I scored a fairly clean win, as he went first and made the mistake of spreading out. I castled up, popped Rhinos, and then managed to slam Fire Dragons into his Terminators. Highlights include my Avatar going into a tactical squad, and flubbing itself to death while his only good dice luck was involved in beating down said Avatar. The Wraithlords and other stuff shot the crap out of him, and by turn 5 I'd wasted the Termies, the Librarian, a Tac Squad, a Rhino, a Predator, and a Land Speeder while he'd KO'ed some Fire Dragons, a Transport, and one other unit. He came in too spread out, and I was able to slam his units one at a time. His dice, it must be noted, were very cold in this game. I managed to keep a Wraithlord alive against a Sternguard squad rapid-firing Hellfire shots into him.

Round two was much closer. Spearhead and Capture the Flag. He held the speeders in reserve this time, along with the Termies and Libby, then set his tanks up to get good lanes of fire down the middle.

He did a much better job of swinging the Rhinos out around terrain, and left the Dread to advance up the middle. I blew the dread to hell with the Wraithlords, and set one DA Serpent out on a long end run that would ultimately bring it behind his scouts and objective.

His Termies and a Speeder showed up promptly on turn two, and his speeder missed. So long, speeder. Thank you, Energy Field. He might've been a bit more aggressive, though there was also the issue of two Serpents full of Fire Dragons nearby, the Avatar, and the Wraithlords. He did pop the Serpent on my far flank, and ended up committing the Sternguard to blowing those dragons away. I then threw two Wraithlords and a lotta guns at those Sternguard, while the Avatar gave the Termies a nasty case of the Beats to make up for his craptastic performance earlier.

The close part was that on turn five, he dumped two Rhinos (one full of 7 tac marines, and the other was the dying Sterngaurd's ride) on my objective, and walled his own objective up with the PRedators that had spectacularly failed to stop that racing Wave Serpent.

Thankfully, we had a turn six, so the Wraithlord had time to finish off the empty Rhino (...as the damn thing got immobilized by a Wraithlord's shooting, only to proceed to NOT die when it promptly kicked the thing several times). I also spilled the last Rhino, and slammed everything into it...only to leave two alive at the end of turn 5. Come turn six? 10 Dire Avengers, the Farseer, a Wraithlord, and some Fire Dragons said 'hello goodbye' to the marines.

He managed to finally knock out the Serpent, and then move his speeder into position on turn seven. He'd mis-happed it when it deep struck in (gotta be ballsy deep-striking the speeders, as they get one shot) and I'd placed it all the way in one of the unoccupied corners.

In retrospect, I should've gotten my Avengers out, let 'em run, and then tried to assault the Scouts and pull 'em off the objective. It would've worked out better that way, since the Serpent spent a turn stunned up and sitting there staring dumbly at a twin-las, missile launcher and multi-melta.

Thoughts on Elfzilla V2
I'm tempted to drop the Rangers, since the Farseer and his squad have to sit back and monitor the Wraithlords. Damned Wraithsight special rule....::grumbles:: I'm a little worried about my counterassault abilities; against marines it's not so bad but if I deal with too many orks at a time? Only so much the twin-linked flamers can do, and the Avatar.

If I dropped the Rangers, I'd probably think in terms of either scatter-laser Vypers or double shuriken cannon vypers. Always the option of Storm Guardians for the flamer love, I suppose.

Any way you look at it, I'm reasonably satisfied with the list's durability. Three Wraithlords, four Wave Serpents, and Rangers in cover is a bit of a pain to dislodge.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elfzilla v2

I've been pondering the whole Elfzilla thing: which is to bring three Wraithlords and an Avatar; it's the Eldar version of an MC list. The previous list looks something like this, and it's got a big issue with mobility. One of the initial thoughts was to split the Rangers in two, but that's that.

So, here's a secondary thought; it guts the immobile core for a slightly more mobile core, and has a better shot of actually killing armor.

Avatar of Khaine

Runes of Warding, Runes of Witnessing, Spirit Stones, Guide, Doom

6 Fire Dragons
Wave Serpent w/ twin Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

6 Fire Dragons
Wave Serpent w/ twin Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ twin Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

10 Dire Avengers
Wave Serpent w/ twin Bright Lance, Shuriken Cannon

8 Dire Avengers

Heavy Support
Wraithlord w/ Bright Lance, Missile Launcher, 2 Flamers

Wraithlord w/ Scatter Laser, Missile Launcher, 2 flamers

Wraithlord w/ Scatter Laser, Missile Launcher, 2 flamers

Total: 1849

Ideally, this keeps us on the theme of 'durable,' and we are by nature shooty. We've 4 twin bright lances, a BS4 bright lance, and a trio of EML at BS4 to hack at armor. For maiming infantry, we have Dire Avengers, Scatter Lasers, and the like. We've also got Fire Dragons for the 'kill it now' button.

If you're looking at it at the get-go, it's AV12 with an energy field, or T8, or sitting in cover with a 3+ (and can go to ground for a 2+).

We take Guide and Doom, as there's not really anything to Fortune explicitly.

The Avatar provides melee support, but I yet wonder if a Seer Council would likely help me out more in that regard.

I admit I'm worried about running up against Psychic Hoods with the council, but it might also be a matter of learning to run the council properly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Falcon Punt

Oh, the Falcon grav tank.

To be honest, I'm seriously beginning to wonder why I run the blasted things.

For 135, I get AV12/12/10, an S8 AP2 2-shot gun, and the Eldar Missile Launcher (S8 AP3, or S4 AP4 Pinning) on a BS3 platform.

For 135, I get a Wave Serpent with the same armor, an S8 AP2 Lance that's twin-linked, and a Shuriken Cannon (for three S6 AP4 shots) on a BS3 platform. I get more seats (Big whoop, as I'm pondering here the Fire Dragon ride, not the Dire Avengers' ride) and I get the almighty Energy Field. (I get good-natured ribbing on that being cheese, but considering all the melta and lascannon and ordnance death I see out there? Eh. I LIKE my cheddar-shield and it would only be REAL cheese if it stopped autocannons. Right, Jon? Fething Hydras...)

I mean, don't get me wrong. I've had some good runs with the falcons (like Falcon Red making 5 cover saves against penetrating hits in a turn, and then Falcon Red just recently dodging the crap out of heavy fire AGAIN, laughing in the face of point-blank meltagun shots...) but I'm really beginning to think that the Falcon's got no real use.

The holo-field? 35 points a head, 45 total to get the extra armor and always move. BUT. But, vs. meltaguns and autocannons, they can produce the quality and quantity of hits needed to just batter through the fields anyway. I mean, back in the 'glory days' of 4th, the holo-field combined with the '6's to hit on melee' and 'moving fast means glances only' nature of the game to make Falcons the (usually not shooting) scourge of the battlefield. (Well, only in the sense of points-denial, and killing something with their cargo).

In all seriousness, though, I'm about to convert one of my falcons to a Wave Serpent (...somehow) and then try to get me another Serpent in a trade. Still gonna keep two of my 3 falcon bodies intact to use as Fire Prisms, but this whole 'falcon' thing is really winding itself down. I'm just not SEEING it any more in a mech list.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keeping Score, FTW style

For the hell of it, if I look at what I've painted over this year...(and DAMN if I've not been busy this year)

30 Dire Avengers (30 points)
12 Fire Dragons (12 points)
10 Wraithguard + Seer (11 points)
Farseer on bike w/ Council (7 bikes; 14 points)
10 Rangers (10 points)
3 Wraithlords (15)
Avatar (5)
6 Grav Tanks (60 points)
Eldar Subtotal: 148

Daemons (at least, I believe I did 'em all this year)
14 'nurglings' (14 points)
21 'plaguebearers' (21 points)
2 Soul Grinders (20 points)
2 Greater Daemons (10 points)
6 Flamers (6 points)
15 Fiend conversions (15 points)
Daemon Subtotal: 76 points

Tau (a current thing..)
12 Fire Warriors (12 points)
8 Pathfinders (8)
Tau subtotal: 20

Year's Total: 244 total

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dealing with Daemons: a primer

In part, this is prompted by the urge to help the 'From the Warp' group get a set of articles on everything. The other part is that I'm amused a lot of people consider daemons 'uber.' In general, though, my aim is to acquaint people with the ins and outs of the Daemon codex, and its problems and possible advantages.

The Daemons have some unique properties in their deployment, a love of invulnerable saves, a distinct bent towards melee combat, and problems in dealing with vehicles.

Daemonic Assault
Most armies set units on the table, and maybe keep a few in reserve for deep strike or outflanking (read: some folks bring Terminators or Summoned Daemons or some such, and some people get cute with Al'Rahem or Valkyries).

Daemons? Daemons are different. Daemonic deployment runs in a few steps...

1) Split the army into two sections
The daemon player takes his army and splits it into two sections that are roughly equal in terms of number of units. IE: a guy brings 2 HQs, 3 elites, 3 troops, and 2 heavy support. That's a total of 10 units, so they may bring it into two sections of 5 units each.

2) Dice off for the 'chosen' section.
Nominate one of the sections. On a 3+, the daemon gets the chosen half. On a 1-2, the daemon get the section they don't want.

3) Deep strike the chosen section
On the Daemon Player's first turn, they deploy the results of the 'chosen' section via deep strike.

4) Reserve in the remainder
On turn two and later, the non-chosen section of the army arrives via deep strike based on reserve rolls.

What does this mean to you?
Daemons deploy in a first-wave punch, and then reserve in based on normal reserve rolls. They're in your face when they want to be.

The Deep Strike, and Icons
All daemon units arrive via deep strike. This means that daemon units are coming in on target 33% of the time, and scattering the rest of the time. There is no good way to predict the direction of the deep strike, and the average result of 2d6 is 7".

Daemons cut down on this by sticking Icons in their units. The Icon permits them to deep strike within 6" of it without scatter.

Generally speaking, the best place to drop an Icon is in a Plaguebearer unit, as they are T5, recieve a 5+ invulnerable, and benefit from Feel No Pain. Any other troop unit is looking at a T3-4 person with a 5+ invulnerable save, so there's a decent chance of just torrenting it out of a given infantry unit.

Invulnerable Saves
All units in the codex benefit from an invulnerable save. Generally it's a 5+, though units of Tzeentc and Greater Daemons benefit from a 4+. The Tzeentchian greater daemon benefits from a 3+.

What are the ramifications of this? First off, deep strikes involve the chance of difficult terrain checks. The big red book does not allow you to take armor or cover saves, but lets you take invulnerable saves. Given that most of them have a 5+? The cover is important.

Their Greater Daemons don't really need cover unless psycannons abound; then the Bloodthirster is unfazed and everyone else cries.

Some khorne units can take a 3+ armor save (namely the Bloodthirster and Bloodcrushers) as can the Daemon Prince.

A slight bent towards melee...
The bulk of the daemon army's damage comes from assault. There are only a few shooty units, and only two anti-tank shots in the daemon army. Most any Tzeentch unit can take a Bolt of Tzeentch (S8, AP1) and the Soul Grinder can take an S10, AP1 shot. (The grinder can also take an S8, AP3 blast that acts like a battle cannon, but importantly does NOT get the 2d6 odnance bonus).

Past that? Pretty much everyone in the army is geared towards beating your face in, one way or another. The gods just have different ways of doing it, is all...and here's a short list of them, for sake of an overview. If you want something more in depth, take a look at Stelek's in-depth review.
Khorne favors WS5, I4, Power Weapons (except for the Flesh hounds, but they're actually fast), and Furious Charge. Khorne does NOT, however, know how to equip anyone with grenades. Khorne also has no idea how to be subtle; he just beats you down with power weapon attacks.

Nurgle is the durability god. High toughness on anything other than Nurglings, and lots of wounds on the nurglings. Additionally, pretty much all Nurgle units are Slow and Purposeful and have Feel No Pain. They also tend to pack poison weapons that wound on 4+, and the bigger ones (mostly the Great Unclean One and the Nurgle-kitted Daemon Prince) can pick up a 'wound on 2+' upgrade. Nurgle ALSO believes in offensive/defensive grenades, but that mostly lets them go ahead of powerfists and not CARE when they get assaulted.

Slaanesh is all about speed killing. Most anything Slaanesh has Fleet, rending, and either hit 'n' run or offensive/defensive grenades to go with high intitiative. What's this mean? Slaanesh needs to crank out a high volume of attacks to get the rend in, as usually they're stuck relying on Rending.

The Glaring Problems of the Daemon Codex, and What To Do About Them
The Daemon codex has a couple of major issues that set it at a disadvantage, and there's not necessarily a lot to be done about it.

Daemons and Vehicles
Daemons have...very little...in the way of shooting vehicles to death. S8 AP1 isn't bad, but the shootiest of Tzeentch armies will have something like 3-4 Bolts at BS3, and maybe four at BS4 assuming they went heavy on the heralds. Any other army? They might take an amazing 3-4 BS4 bolts on Tzeentch Heralds, but it's not enough.

That leaves Daemons trying to beat up vehicles. In general, they're looking at AV10. Now, some daemon units can readily crank out penetrating hits. This list includes Greater Daemons and the Soul Grinder, and these guys can even hack up Land Raiders with some luck.

As for the rest of the army...you are trying to attrition vehicles to death.

Assuming that the AV10-rear vehicle is stationary...
The average Bloodletter should land 0.5 penetrating hits on the charge
Plague Beareres? 0.33
Daemonettes? 0.33
Horrors? N/A
Bloodcrushers? 1
Fiends? 0.83

Note these numbers are against vehicles with AV10 rear that has not moved. Supposing they move, halve each of those numbers. Against vehicles that moved full speed? Divide that by 6.

Now, the average vehicle taking non-AP1 hits has a 33% chance of dying on each penetrating hit. How many pens does it take to kill a vehicle?
1: 33% chance
2: 55% chance
3: 70%
4: 80%
5: 86.3%
6: 91%

So, we also have to catch the target. Something like a fast vehicle will never be charged unless it wants to be.

Dealing with this...the Fiend of Slaanesh.
While the numbers suggest that, outside of the Grinder and Monstrous Creatures, the Bloodcrusher is the most adept at killing vehicles, there's something else to consider. You do NOT want to see the numbers against an AV12 dreadnought. Bloodcrushers? Glance it on 6's on the charge; and then they're on S5.

Fiends, on the other hand, can rend dreadnoughts down. Fiends can ALSO catch it. They move 6", fleet d6, and charge 12" as they are beasts. Fiends can also take down Dreadnoughts, which is more than one can say for anything short of a Greater Daemon (as a Dreadnought strikes at I4, which is before the Soul Grinder).

Bottom line of this lesson? If you are playing daemons, TAKE FIENDS. If you are dealing with daemons? Beware the fiends. They are his big way of taking down your vehicles, dreadnoughts, and they can even glance Land Raiders (S5 + 6 +d3 can be 14) with their rending.

If you're going to load up on fiends, well, good idea. All there is to it. I was not initially a fan of Flesh Hounds of Khorne, but against vehicles they're a pretty tolerable run-in-tandem unit. They can bring a similar volume of S5 (on the charge only) attacks to bear quickly, as they have the same charge range as the Fiend (6" move + d6" run + 12" charge). They lack the rending, though, so they can't really hunt Dreadnoughts or Land Raiders, and the few vehicles out there with an AV11 rear give them fits. You can get Rending on the lead hound, which is honestly worth getting only if you're spamming 3 units of hounds, and one of those units ought to be led by Karanak as well. Against vehicles, I'll trade out the power weapons for speed; if I crack them early I get to the meaty bits inside.

If the other guy isn't bringing fiends? Your transports should have a way of attacking without getting the soldiers out, and if your troops aren't out, he's not assaulting and maiming your troops, and that's what Daemons do best.

Daemon Problem #2: Randomness
This is what really gives the daemon codex its problem.

There is a 33% chance they will NOT get the wave they want. Daemon deployment means that most folks will plan a first wave and a second wave, or go with a diluted mostly-symmetrical army (that, incidentially, is not encouraged by the Force Org chart..we get an odd number of elites and heavy support).

The second problem with randomness? Daemons must also deep strike. In essence, you pick a point and 33% of the time the daemons land on it. 66% of the time, they'll land within 2-12 inches of the target area. This becomes more of a problem in two ways: rolling on the mishap table (always bad, but an outright 33% chance of death and 33% chance of useless placement isn't that great) and landing out of position. Since daemons are assault-oriented for the most part, daemons need to land close and get that assault off. (NOte again that Fiends have the speed to get around this a bit...factor in the run move, and in two turns their charge radius is 18 + 2d6).

Now, daemons will take an icon to try to counter this deep strike randomness, but the icon may or may not land where you need it, may or may not survive, and may or may not have a sacrificial unit moved nearby to cloud the 'ideal' deep-strike spot.

What can you do about the randomness?

Not much, to be honest.

Countering Daemon Deployment
Now, this is a potential weakness of the daemon army, and you can exploit it. Daemons MUST deep strike in on their first turn.

Now, the first way you counter this is by winning the dice-off for first turn. Make the daemon player go first. It's a basic tactic, but if you go first, you get to sit around on turn one.

Second, it's a bit more specific to armies. If you have infiltrators or something else, you can try to dictate their deployment...keep them away from you, basically. If you are mechanized, give yourself some room to move. Don't back yourself into a corner; the daemons are fine if you lose your mobility and they can hem you in.

Daemon Primer Conclusion
Deamons are a nasty army that play significantly different from other armies. They deep strike in as one, then trickle in. They have a lot of outlandish units, and a lot of ways to surprise you if you're not ready for it. However, they have problems in dealing with vehicles, and their very deployment can be a pain (...there is nothign quite like deploying a Soul Grinder, scattering it into difficult terrain, and then rolling a '1' and watching it not move for a game).

I do play some daemons, and they're more of a fun army. They can win, but it's an uphill battle against a 5th-edition-conscious list and player.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tau Conversions: Crisis Suit, Hammerhead

As I said, I'd be converting up the Tau some. I'm not exactly a fan of having to pay major bucks for bits, so I'm experimenting with scratch-building the Missile Pods and Plasma Rifles. Additionally, I'm looking for a more interesting head and dynamic appearance.
Behold, the plasma rifle. Knee pads inspired by the suits over at Warhammer Tau. Probably not going to do those on every suit, but on leader-types...

This is the rear. Surprise. The booster configuration is inspired by White Glint's mech out of Armored Core: For Answer. Sidenote: the Japanese have some wonky naming conventions, as For Answer is the expansion-sequal to Armored Core 4, which is actually the 11th or so game in the Armored Core series. Go figure.

I'll admit that the Hammerhead's 'wings' are a two-part inspiration: 1) I've seen a lot of Valkyrie actio nand they're sweet, and 2) I got this Hammerhead in a trade and it was somewhat converted.

Hey, bonus shot of White Glint the Crisis Suit. Here's a closer shot, and you can see the Smart Missile conversions. Those missile boxes are off of Mechwarrior: Dark Age tanks. You'll see similar bits on the Broadsides.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tau (et al) Progress Report, 6-6-09

So, for the record, I am not idle in my modelling.

Having no job is a biiit of a downer in terms of getting stuff together, but I'm sitting on a Space Marine army that's dwindling as I sell it off, and actually about half the Tau stuff I need for my army. As it is, though, I've settled on my scheme and I've a Crisis Suit conversion drying on the bench and waiting for Primer.

The paint scheme, as an aside, will be the Bork'an scheme (out of the ones I tested out, I liked it the most because it's sharp looking and not hard to replicate, and it gives me room on the vehicles and suits).

The army, at current, looks like....

10 Crisis Suits
Own 5, testing out conversions on one.

6-12 Fire Warriors
12 assembled, primed, and have their gray coat on in front of me now.

32 Kroot
2 assembled/primed for testing purposes. Need to figure out if I'm going to bite it and get the doggy things from Fantasy, or model up Kroot Ninja for the hounds.

8 Pathfinders
All 8 assembled, primed, and gray-coated in front of me.

1-2 Devilfish
Own one, need to strip it and convert it to the Smart Missiles, but I've the bits for that.

2 Hammerheads
Own one, finishing up the conversion work on it. A little putty here and there....

2 Piranhas
Own one; it's partially assembled and in the box it shipped to me in.

Other Armies...
I suppose in fairness (and to get my lazy self painting more) I should mention how they're doing.

Dire Avengers
I need to finish up detailing the masks and basing the last few to get 'em up to 30 total.

Seer Council
I need to finish painting that errant Farseer, slap her on her bike, and touch up the rest.

Grav Tanks
I REALLY should e-bay enough stuff to get magnets to magnetize the Wave Serpent turrets, and remove them in a way that lets me magnetize them.

The Fire Prism/Falcon bodies need to be assessed for whether or not they're going to remain Falcon bodies. Much as I kind of like the Falcons, I'm rapidly questioning the utility of 3 BS3 S8 shots when I can get an energy field and a twin-linked BS3 bright lance for only a little more. Plus, it's roomier inside.


Fire Dragons
Complete, just recently. I should slap up a pic.

Prince Yriel
Figure out how I want to model him. I WILL be running him, much to Xardian's chagrin I'm sure. Except if I use that model, it's Princess Yrielette and the...y'know, the wrath joke in there is in terrible taste, and I'll resist for the time being.

10 complete, 5ish stripped and waiting for me to figure out if I want to do anything with them.

Warp Spiders
In the process of stripping so I can e-bay their worthless selves.

There's actually very little to do here; it's just been forever since I've broken them out. I am fighting the urge to do so again after tweaking 'em, but they will always be a 'fun' army. They just CANNOT kill vehicles reliably enough, even with Fiends.

I'm not satisfied with the current ones. However, they're holding 'til I can raise the $$$ to order Milliput in sufficient quantities to redo 15-18 of the boggarts. That's a decent amount of Milliput, or a few good auctions whenever I get around to setting up a Paypal account.

Daemon Princes
I really want to like my Wraithlords, but I'm not really convinced I'm ever going to field 3. I might yet break down and look for actual DP models, but at the moment I've some stand-ins.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thousand Sons?

Honestly, I really want to like the Thousand Sons. I dig the fluff and the tragic history. It's the whole seeking of knowledge, even if it turned out terribly, terribly wrong. But, I've got two problems with it...the rules for the Thousand Sons, and the chaos codex itself.

The Thousand Sons
So, what perks do they have?

-Mark of Tzeentch
A 4+ invulnerable. These guys don't REALLY care about cover. They bring it with them, effectively.

However, the real question is how often you'll be rolling that 4+. Marines are often killed just by slamming enough wounds on 'em; it's the 3+ you're usualling leaning on.

Hey, when YOU'RE an automaton of the Dark Gods, not a lot fazes you.

-Inferno Bolts
AP3 bolters. Most folks get no saves unless you're in cover. Nail folks unless they've cover, then it's making 'em roll on the 4+. This would be cooler without cover.

-Slow and Purposeful
Shoot them bolters! It's combined with 'The Sorcerer Commands' where if you lose the sorcerer, you only get 1d6 for S 'n' P. Still, you can move up, rapid-fire bolters, and then assault.

Bottom line? Thousand Sons carry their own cover and excel and whipping AP3 bolter shots at infantry.

This is the big one. 23 a head for a Thousand Son, and 60 plus psychic power for the sorcerer. A unit is EXPENSIVE. A minimal unit (4 sons, Sorcerer w/ Doombolt) costs you 162.

This is the other big one. Thousand Sons carry...a bolter. That's it. No pistol, no grenade kit. Do you want a flamer? You have to take Winds of Chaos on the sorcerer. Do you want anti-tank fire? Bolt of Change on the sorcerer. Get into assault? Call for a friend, or take Warp Time on the WS4, S4 Sorcerer with Force Weapon and pistol.

Overall? They're expensive, and one-dimensional.

Use of the Thousand Sons must take into account their shortcomings. Ok, that's a bit of a normal thing, but in the case of the Sons they can't kill vehicles and, well, 5th is in part about nuking vehicles and holding onto objectives. At least K-sons can hold objectives out of cover without really caring about it. They also need melee support.

On the Chaos Codex
Dreadnoughts suck. Same cost for a loyalist (90 + 10 for the multi-melta) and you get the berserk chart. They get a case of the stupid, essentially. It gets comical when a Dread yells and runs up to something like a Seer Council...which promptly beats it down.

Lack of mobile multi-meltas. What I WOULD NOT give for a Land Speeder equivalent. Taking 3 bikes with two meltaguns is NOT the same thing. Nor is taking a small raptor squad with multi-meltas. Nor is a crazy-assed Dreadnought.

So, how do I try to compensate for this?
As I've hit up thus far, Thousand Sons need melee support, and the ability to kill armor. So, here's the first list I've cooked up.

Thousand Sons Draft, 1850
Daemon Prince
Mark of Slaanesh, Wings, Lash of Submission

Daemon Prince
Mark of Slaanesh, Wings, Lash of Submission

4 Chaos Terminators
3 combi-melta, one fellow with heavy flamer/powerfist

4 Chaos Terminators
3 combi-melta, one fellow with heavy flamer/powerfist

6 Thousand Sons
Aspiring Sorcerer w/ Doombolt
Personal Icon

6 Thousand Sons
Aspiring Sorcerer w/ Doombolt
Personal Icon

6 Thousand Sons
Aspiring Sorcerer w/ Doombolt
Personal Icon

Heavy Support



Total: 1849

How does it 'work'?
Well, honestly, it needs the Lash to get the most out of the Inferno Bolts and the Battle Cannons. With that, I can acutally do damage instead of force heaps of cover saves.

The Terminators, Defilers and Daemon Princes are all capable of dumping plenty of pain onto things in hand-to-hand. That covers that.

The Daemon Princes, Terminators, and Defilers all have the potential to pop vehicles, though admittedly the termies are reliant on the K-sons to get into position. The Thousand Sons can fire off a single anti-tank shot, I suppose. At the least a Rhino can cruise 6" and then the Sorcerer can pop out of the top and say "I THROW TZEENTCHY AT YOU!!" and try not to fry his brains.

Why Daemon Princes? A bit for attracting fire, and a bit for the melee potential. A sorcerer is infinitely more survivable hidden in a unit, but it's just a WS5, S4 power weapon that wants Warp Time to be a threat.

As much as I want to like Thousand Sons, I'm more likely to use the models and use the rules for Plague Marines or just regular guys with Icon of Chaos Glory. If supernatural durability is what marks the Thousand Sons, why not T5/FNP? It's a HELL of a lot more durable than T4 3+/4+.

Compared to the K-sons list...

Plagues as the Sons of Magnus
Well, seven Plague Marines w/ the Icon, 2 meltaguns, and a champ w/ fist are 226. 6 Sons, the Sorcerer, Doom Bolt, and an Icon is 228. The plague marines can punch out a vehicle, they can actually FIGHT in hand-to-hand, and they can meltagun stuff to death. Explain to me why I'd want to run the Sons in comparison to that? Plus, when it comes to small-arms fire (or even larger stuff, unless it's S8+ or AP2, the Plague Marines are more durable. They are, though T4(5), which is kind of annoying.

This has a crucial side-effect: I don't need to support them as much in melee. I also can expect them to pop tanks every now and then.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mech Eldar v2 test, and Warp Spiders

I got in a couple more tests of Mech Eldar v2.2. One round was against Jon's Guard, and the other Xardian's foot Chaos.

Vs Guard
Table Quarters, Dawn of War. (Whoops. Braindeath in memories.)

He got first turn, so...I promptly held everything in reserve. Most of it came in on round two; the rest on round three.

He was running a Manticore, a pair of two-Russ squads (one with heavy bolters, one with hull heavy flamers), some melta vets in Chimeras, Bastonne with melta-vets in a Vendetta, objective-sitter vets, and Company Command in a Chimera.

Losing all my bright lances in the space of two turns was a bit of a downer, let me tell you.

At the end of a bloody brawl, I'd thrown Yriel's Wave Serpent at the far objective and cleaned his troops mostly off it, but he'd gotten a couple of dismounted vet squads towards mine and finally slammed enough ordnance onto it, and polished 'em off with an assault.

Had it ended in turn 5, I would've eked out the win. Yriel did EXACTLY what he's meant to do; he hopped out of a Wave Serpent, moved up, drew everyone around him, and promptly detonated the Eye of Wrath. Too bad he missed one, and the Brother-Captain with a hood cut him in half with a Nemesis Force Weapon. I did manage to clear his troops off the objective, and had a Wave Serpent in position to score, except...the Brother-Captain blew it up, and the Avengers promptly pinned themselves when they spilled out the back.

Thoughts on Guard
...I hate the Manticore. It cranks out a LOT of pie. Saving Grace is that it gets four shots.

Immobilized results when Russ squads move through terrain are highly amusing when it's not your tank killing itself.

Hull Heavy Flamers on guard tanks are priceless when you need to defend yourself. My Warp Spiders survived a bit longer because of that. Infantry WILL get to your lines.

Move Move Move! cost me the game, in part, because a couple Vet squads got a guaranteed 6" run off it. Highly annoying.

the Brother-Captain is an interesting choice for the psychic hood. Cheaper, gives you a gun worth shooting and a slight surprise in assault, but is just one wound.

Versus Chaos on Foot
Xardian's army. A sorcerer w/ wings. A 10-man plague marine squad w/ fist and plasma; 3 12-man CSM squads w/ Fist, Chaos Glory (1 w/ 2x flamers, 2 w/ 2x melta). 10-man Fist/Lascannon/GLory babysitters. Daemons, and 2 4-man termie squads (3x combi-plas, one fist/heavy flamer). Havocs w/ 2x autocannons, 2x missile.

Table Quarters, Kill Points.

In the end, I won 3-2. He killed a unit of Fire Dragons and the Warp Spiders; I killed both Termie Squads and one of the units. He immobilized a Wave Serpent and a Falcon, but didn't finish 'em off.

I owe him a cookie, though, for trying a ballzy deep strike and not killing the termies. apparently the cookie strategem. They did immobilize a Wave Seprent, but out of the line of fire of the Havocs.

Yriel and the dead Fire Dragons get the cookie of honor. The Fire Dragons that survived the game hit the nearby termies 6 times...and killed three of them with some fierce 1's on the shooting. Yriel proceeded to move over and stab that last one in the face. Yriel proceeded to wander over to a nearby CSM squad, assault, and kill them all with the Eye of Wrath. Then he dodged lascannon fire.

The other Fire Dragons went down swinging. They claimed 3 termies with shooting, and killed the last one in assault. Apparently one of them got pissed off and slammed a meltabomb into the Termie's face. They then dropped a handful of Plague Marines.

I would've splatted the Plague Marines if they hadn't made so many #$*#ing cover saves. They apparently learned to dodge krak missile, pulse lasers, and bright lances.

Oh, and the Warp Spiders? Came in turn 2, forced a lot of wounds on the Havocs...didn't drop any heavy weapons. They proceeded to get caught in assault by Daemons and the HQ, pass a ld6 test, and then flub their hit 'n' run. Good job, guys.

On Chaos
I think when Xardian moves it over to two havoc squads, it'll be nastier. The problem his army has is range; the Havocs are it and the Termies tend to get splatted after getting one volley off.

On the Warp Spiders
Acetone and E-bay it is. Against infantry, they're not bad. They can dump scads of wounds onto them, and then get into melee.

Against vehicles, though? AP- is a big problem. S6 is decent enough vs. AV10-11, but in two rounds of shooting against the rear of a Chimera they managed to stun and shake it several times, knock off the multi-laser and immobilize it.

They would've died in game 1 had Jon chosen to fire on them much, or advance and torch 'em if he'd had hull heavy flamers on them in lieu of heavy bolters.

I want to like them; I really do. They just don't do enough for me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Thoughts on Mech Eldar

Based on comments from Dverning (Fellow should join our 40k blogging...interesting constructive feedback is always a win) here's a thought on what I guess I could call Mech Eldar v3.

Since we're hitting up on my version numbers, I suppose I'll split up the nomenclature and say it goes something like this...

Based off Stelek's ideas; Seer Council, triple mounted Avengers in Serpents, mounted Fire Dragons, Fire Prism

V1, minus the Seer Council

And, Mech Eldar V3

Fusion Gun, Power Weapon, Banshee Mask
93 points

Doom, Guide, Runes of Warding, Spirit Stones, Jet Bike

Seer Council
6 Warlocks on Jetbikes
4 Destructor

8 Fire Dragons
Exarch w/ Dragon's Breath heavy flamer
Wave Serpent
Twin-linked shuriken cannon
Spirit Stones

8 Fire Dragons
Exarch w/ Dragon's Breath heavy flamer
Wave Serpent
Twin-linked shuriken cannon
Spirit Stones

5 Dire Avengers

5 Dire Avengers

5 Dire Avengers

Heavy Support
Falcon Grav Tank
Pulse Laser, Bright Lance, Spirit Stones, Holo-fields

Falcon Grav Tank
Pulse Laser, Bright Lance, Spirit Stones, Holo-fields

Falcon Grav Tank
Pulse Laser, Bright Lance, Spirit Stones, Holo-fields

Total: 1948

Falcons stay at range and on objectives, and throw S8 fire down the field. They try not to explode.

Dire Avengers ride in the Falcons and make them scoring.

Fire Dragons ride in the stripped-down Wave Serpents, and attempt to blow stuff up. If it's a power armor squad, it's a tough nut to crack, but if it's not? Doom + Heavy Flamers = BBQ on most everything, since against most Xenos or guard-equivalent S5, AP4, No Cover Saves translates to 'dies on a 2.'

Autarch rolls with one of the Fire Dragon squads to add another meltagun, and he gives the army some deployment options based on what I face.

The Seer Council...provides psychic support, and a smashy unit. Failing that, it delivers lots of heavy flamers, or the dice hate me and I lose 500 points without it making much of an impact.

Army Pros
Compared to my previous mech-dar builds, the Fire Dragons are more versatile and deadly.

The Falcons are theoretically much more durable against a smaller volume of fire.

Deployment options via the Autarch.

A Seer Council IS its own pro.

Army Cons
The anti-tank is a bit more limited. Two BS3 bright lances as opposed to three BS3 twin-linked lances. The anti-tank is much more focused into the Fire Dragons.

The Fire Dragons have a lot of weight to pull. They're half of my anti-infantry and the bulk of the anti-tank in the army as it is. The Falcons can contribute some lighter anti-tank fire.

Fewer wave serpents.

More Falcons. Falcons rely heavily on holo-fields to not die.

Troops are heavily reliant on the Falcons not blowing up.

Gut says...
Should be interesting. I need to finally FINISH the Seer Council (the Farseer is getting painted again, finally...) and I just finished the 12 Fire Dragons...if this goes off, it's time to get four more Fire Dragons. Or think about it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eldar Grav Tank Primer

Identifying Eldar Grav Tanks
This post is intended to acquaint you with the vagaries of the Eldar Grav Tank force. There are three types of Eldar Grav tanks: the Falcon (top left), the Wave Serpent (top right), and the Fire Prism (bottom).

Common Features of Eldar Grav Tanks
The grav tanks share some degree of common ground with each other.

Unit Type
All three are Fast Skimmer Tanks. This means they can move 6" and fire everything, or move 12" and fire one main + all defensive weapons. They may move flat-out at 18-24" and gain a 4+ cover save. They may also move over terrain with impunity. Finally, they may tank-shock and ram, as they are tanks.

All three grav tank chassis have an armor profile of 12/12/10.

Basic Chassis
All three kits are built along the same lines; a Wave Serpent chassis is just a falcon/fire prism body with an extended butt, energy field gubbins, and a smaller turret. The chief difference between a fire prism and a falcon is that the prism has a (gasp! Shock!) giant prism stuck on the turret where a Falcon has a slender gun.

Chin Gun Options
All three tanks have a twin-linked shuriken catapult (12", Assault 2, S4 AP5) mounted under the cockpit, and they may spend 10 points to upgrade it to a shuriken cannon (24", Assault 3, S6, AP5).

Obviously, something sets each tank apart in the field. The Wave Serpent is a high-capacity transport with nasty defensive upgrades and the capability to mount accurate weaponry. The Falcon dumps the defensive upgrade and downsizes the carrying capacity in order to mount two heavy weapons. The Fire Prism has no carrying capacity, and instead packs a versatile long-range gun.

The Wave Serpent
The only way to take a Wave Serpent is as a designated transport, though just about any Eldar unit CAN take one unless it's jump infantry or mounted on jetbikes. Of course, you don't have to use the folks that called for it in the thing.

Carrying Capacity
The Wave Serpent can carry 12 models, or 5 Wraithguard + 2 characters. It has a single ramp on the back.

The Energy Field
This is by far the most annoying thing a number of opponents face on the Wave Serpent. The energy field is a nasty, nasty piece of kit. Its 'cheese' is denying your opponent their 'cheese', as it were. The energy field covers the front and sides of the Wave Serpent, and has no effect against melee attacks.

Effects of the energy field:
-All incoming fire is capped at S8; so lascannons, rail guns, and venom cannons are reduced to S8
-No incoming fire ever rolls more than 1d6 penetration; meltaguns within half-range and ordnance still only get Strength + 1d6

As you can see, the energy field hampers a number of anti-armor properties of weapons. However, it's still on an AV12/12/10 tank. Additionally, it does nothing to autocannons; S7 shooting can be had in volumes sufficient to overwhelm the tank (IE: Lootas, massed Guard autocannon, even Havocs if you run into those).

The Wave Serpent must mount a single twin-linked weapon system in the turret, and it may exchange its twin-linked shuriken catapult for a shuriken cannon under the nose. The Wave Serpent is BS3. As such, each shot from the turret has a 75% chance to hit, and if you take the shuriken cannon on the nose, each shot has a 50% chance to hit.

Suggested Loadout
Wave Serpent, twin-linked bright lance, shuriken cannon upgrade = 145
This variant sits back and holds shooty troops.

Wave Serpent, Twin-linked shuriken cannon, Spirit Stones = 110
This model is solely for getting a target to a location. Splurge on a second shuriken cannon if you find the points.

The Logic of the Weapons Loadout
The Wave Serpent and Falcon have a turret hardpoint, and may fill it with a variety of weapons. The question that needs to be answered is why pick a given weapon for the hardpoint? In particular, many of you will note that the bright lance is an expensive piece of kit; it's 45 points.

Shuriken Cannon
10 points for three S6 shots out to 24". It's the cheapest option, but it's also the shortest-ranged option. If you're going for heaps of S6 shots, get a scatter laser.

However, as a chin gun, it means your tank has an extra weapon of consequence. Loss of the turret weapon certainly harms the tank, but if you still have an S6 gun, you can still dump wounds on most anything and you can still threaten lighter vehicles. As such, I find 10 points for the gun a small price to pay to keep my tanks relevant. Additionally, if they move 6", then they get more annoying shots. If your main weapon is anti-tank like a bright lance, you can score some more S6 hits on the tank, or potshot some infantry. For the versatility you get over the amazing twin-linked Shuriken Catapult, it's not a bad buy for 10 points.

Scatter Laser
Four S6 shots out to 36", albeit with a mighty AP of 6. If you had to choose between this and a shuriken cannon, you best find the points for this. It's capable of wounding monstrous creatures and threatening light armor, though of course AV12 and above just kind of laugh at it.

Eldar Missile Launcher
It's a measure of versatility: S8 AP3 krak missile, or S4, AP4 small blast, pinning plasma missile? You pick. The problem is that it's just one shot, and S8 is so-so at taking out tanks. It also has a solid range of 48".

S6, AP2, and two shots. It's got the AP you desire and the ability to negate Feel No Pain. However, there's plenty of cover, and you have fewer shots. Unless you absolutely need to negate FNP, then I'd take a Scatter Laser over this, since it's twice the shots at 36".

Bright Lance
It's invariably the most expensive gun you can slap on your tank, and it's only useful for splatting tanks and monstrous creatures. It's S8, AP2, and most importantly it's a Lance. The 'lance' special rule means that AV13 and AV14 count as AV12 to the Bright Lance, so it is capable of penetrating Predators, Soul Grinders, Land Raiders, and Leman Russes with the same ease it has against AV12, which is to say 50% of the time.

Why the Bright Lance on the Wave Serpent?
It's the most accurate place for a Bright Lance in your army; twin-linked BS3 hits 75% of the time. BS4 bright lances hit 66% of the time, and I suppose you COULD give a Wraithlord a twin-linked bright lance (and he'd also cost 170 points...) but I wouldn't do it. Still, Wraithlords can mount BS4 heavy weapons, but they're another matter in building.

Additionally, at range, it's one of your two ways of really killing heavier tanks with Grav Tanks.. The Fire Prism is the other. Otherwise, your army has to bring Fire Dragons to reliably drop armor, and their fusion guns are considerably shorter-ranged. Note that I equate 'reliable armor killing' with 'AP1 hits' and will always do so.

The Falcon
The Falcon is a mixed-role tank. It has a carrying capacity of six infantry, and cannot carry Wraithlords. It is also solely a Heavy Support choice. The Falcon effectively trades carrying capacity and the energy field for more guns.

Arming the Falcon
The Falcon's 'special' gun is the Pulse Laser. It is an S8, AP2, Heavy 2 gun. It's effectively a two-shot krak missile launcher; technically it's derived from a Bright Lance but they traded the Lance option for an extra shot.

You'll want that extra shot, since the Falcon has an almighty BS of 3. If you've got Guide laying around, the Falcon certainly won't protest.

The Falcon must take a weapon from the same list I've gone over. Basically, the Falcon is more of a gunboat that wants Guide than anything else, though it can pull double-duty hiding a scoring unit with the holo-field.

S8 Gun-Falcon
Falcon w/ Pulse Laser, Eldar Missile Launcher, twin-linked shuriken catapult.
Cost: 135 points.
It sits in the back, gets Guide, and hunts medium-weight armor. It has a better volume of S8 fire than the Serpent, and I've foregone the Shuriken Cannon here to save points. You can always put it back on in order to get another gun, but you've got a 48" standoff. Your call, as points dictate.

Pulse Laser, Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon
Cost: 140
It's the light show. Give it guide, watch stuff eat lead. It can do medium-weight armor (kind of), but will heap wounds on monstrous creatures and infantry. Downgrade the turret scatter laser to a shuriken cannon if you want to, to save yourself some points (...and a shot, and a foot of range.)

Dverning's Defensive Falcon
This is an idea I'm willing to test out, and I'll mention it here so you don't need to sift through comments.

Falcon, Holo-fields, spirit stones, Bright Lance = 190
It sits back, is annoying, and holds Dire Avengers to be scoring. Five Avengers as troops cost 60 points, so the Score-Falcon really costs you 250, a troops slot and a heavy support slot. I suppose it's comparable in tactical role to a standard Land Raider with a troops unit inside.

Pulse laser, scatter laser, shuriken cannon, holo-fields
Cost: 175
It sits in the back, holds a minimal Dire Avenger unit, recieves Guide, and generally tries to shoot things to death. If possible, it grabs cover and Fortune as well.

But wait, you're forgetting defensive options!
It's true, there are other options that the tanks can take. I tend not to take them.

Spirit Stones
10 points to turn 'stunned' results to 'shaken.' I would take this more if there wasn't a 1/6 chance of being 'stunned' on both a glance (shaken on a result of 1-3, thanks to the glance's -2; stunned on a 4) and a penetrating hit (stunned on a '2' only).

You just won't get a lot of mileage out of this upgrade. You'll be annoyed when it happens, but it doesn't happen that often.

Star Engines
The tank may move 12" in the shooting phase in lieu of shooting. They cost 15 points. It's not necessarily a BAD upgrade, but it's more a question of how often you'll need 36" instead of 24". There are some guys who like 'em and use 'em, but I've usually done fine without them.

One use could be last-minute objective grabs, but the problem with last-minute grabs is that you don't always know if it's the last minute or not: random game length means that sometimes, it's safe to run that transport up on an objective near meltagunners (or in the line of fire of some nasty anti-tank) if you had second turn, and sometimes...it'll cost you.

The other option is if you want REALLY rapid re-deployment. I'm not much acquainted with the need for it, but I'll concede that it's possible.

Vectored Engines
If you moved flat-out and would die from an immobilized result, the vehicle instead is immobilized. This is a 20pt upgrade. It will protect you 1/6 of the time against penetrating hits and 1/6 of glances when moving fast. You DO have a 50/50 shot of biting it on a penetrating hit when moving flat-out, as you're immobilized on a 4 (which destroys you in that case) and just plain killed on a 5 or 6.

Bottom line? It benefits you 1/6 of the time in a certain situation. I don't think I'd take it.

This piece of kit LOOKS sick. It's 35 points, but it forces the enemy to roll two dice on the damage table and take the lower one.

To be honest, this kit was a lot cooler back in 4th when Eldar tanks carried Spirit Stones and always moved 12" and could only be glanced; it pretty much guaranteed that any Eldar tank would only ever get glanced. There are horror stories of a Falcon rolling up to an Imperial army gunline, taking all their gunfire, and losing a gun and being shaken. It promptly crapped out Harlequins and ran way while the Harlies proceeded to maul the Imperials.

Now, in 5th? It's not as cool as it used to be. This fellow has a neat little table of 2d6 odds.

On a glance...a 1-3 is shaken, 4 is stunned, 5 is weapon-destroyed, 6 is immobilized.
That's normally a 50% chance to shake, and 16.67% chance of stun/weapon destroy/immobilized.

With the holo-field, glances look like...
75% chance of shaken.
13.8% chance of stun
8.3% chance of weapon loss
2.7% chance of immobilized.

So a holo-field means that most of the time a glance will be a 'shaken' result. If you're inclined to take Spirit Stones, then it means that 88.8% of glances are shaken results. Ok, you kept your tank moving most of the time for 45 points.

Let's say your tank is penetrated and didn't go flat out. There's a 33% chance you'll get killed (5-6 means wrecked or exploded), a 33% chance to get damaged (3-4 = weapon destroyed or immobilized) and a 33% chance to get annoyed (1-2 = shaken or stunned).

What does the holo-field do to that?

30.5% chance of getting shaken.
25% chance of getting stunned
19.4% chance of getting a weapon-destroyed result
13.8% chance of getting immobilized
8.3% chance of wrecking.
2.7% chance of exploding

So, you go from a 33% chance of dying to an 11% chance of dying on a pen. You've a 33.2% chance of getting damaged, and a 55.5% chance of getting annoyed.

Well...partially. Holo-fields are truly nasty against low volume-of-fire, non-AP1 shots. Autocannons can come in enough volume (IE: Lootas) to overwhelm your holo-fields. AP1 on holo-fields means you've got a 25% chance of killing the tank outright rather than 33%. It means there's a 72% chance of maiming up the tank (weapon destroyed/immobilized).

EDIT: I have to say that I've changed my mind on Holo-fields. They have their place on the falcon in some builds.

Final Thoughts on Vehicle Upgrades
The real reason I don't take a lot of the Eldar vehicle upgrades is what they do to the cost of a tank.

Consider the Wave Serpent. At 145 in the aforementioned twin-bright-lance + shuriken cannon build, it's a reasonably survivable tank. I can dump 10 points into Spirit Stones, 20 into vectored engines, and 25 into star engines to have a supremely mobile tank...and make it cost 200 points. Wave Serpents will never be 200 points of cool.

Consider the Falcon...I dump all four vehicle upgrades into it and it suddenly costs 200+ points.

Really...would you rather get a marginal quality increase, or take more vehicles? I'd rather get more vehicles. Spirit Stones and Vectored Engines only come into play 1/6 of the time. Star Engines....take 'em if you really want to sack some shooting and go 12" more, for when 24" a turn just isn't enough.

Take the fewest upgrades you really need. Spirit Stones and Vectored Engines can usually be left off the tank. Turbo Boost + Fortune = durability, and fortune on a seer isn't hard to wrangle. Star Engines...some people swear by them. I am not one of them. Know that you might not use them that often, but some like Fritz swear on them over their firstborn.

So, on to our final happy little tank...

The Fire Prism
You take a Fire Prism for one reason: the prism cannon. The tank can't carry any infantry, and can't take any additional guns, but it CAN take the chin-mounted shuriken cannon.

Amazingly, the Fire Prism is BS4. Someone learned to work the targeting controls, apparently...

The Prism Cannon
60" range, and two modes of fire. There's the Focused Shot, which is S9, AP2 on a small blast template. Then there's the Dispersed Shot, which is S5, AP4 on a large blast template.

The Focused Shot means you can go tank-hunting, though it's not AP1. It also means that if someone drops something like Terminators near you, well...you can drop this on them and make them cry if you hit. It's kind of painful...and amusing.

The Dispersed Shot lets you punish infantry in the open, and make them sweat a bit in cover. It's especially fun if your enemy has failed to spread out infantry, or if you spill them out of a transport into the 'group hug' formation.

Fire Prisms may also buddy up and shoot: they have some wonky contributing-fire rules. Essentially, if one Prism can see another, it can choose not to shoot its prism cannon to increase the strength and AP of a fellow Prism's shot (IE: Focused at S10 AP1, or Dispersed at S6 AP3).

In short, the Prism Canon gives the Fire Prism some solid versatility, and the 60" range means you can sit back and pop shots out of range of a lot of enemy anti-tank fire. Taking one keeps the other guy honest with infantry 'til he takes care of the Prism Cannon; taking two gives you redundancy and the ability to combine fire. Taking three makes you no friends.

Equipping the Fire Prism
There's really not a lot of rocket science to this. I highly recommend going with the underslung Shuriken Cannon so a single weapon-destroyed result doesn't render you irrelevant as a shooting threat, and at BS4 you might hit some shots. It makes the Fire Prism cost 125 points.

It must be noted that you do NOT want Holo-fields on the Fire Prism, since it makes it more likely that you'll lose your Prism Cannon. Ordinarily it's a 1/6 shot, but the 160pt holo-fielded Prism has a 19.4% chance of losing it. Plus, honestly, the strength of the Fire Prism is that it's cheap, long-ranged, and multi-purpose.

Grav Tanks in your builds
I've done a decent amount of tinkering and playing with mechanized Eldar, and found that they're in general a pretty solid build. I have to give a nod to Stelek for piquing my interest in 'em with some of his comments and notes; my original foray into the dreaded mech-dar involved a mutation of one of his lists.

Wave Serpents
You will be able to get Wave Serpents on your troops easily. Anyone but Rangers can be mounted in them. I bring twin-bright-lance serpents (with underslung shuriken cannons) loaded with Dire Avengers. Why?

Wave Serpents can threaten any armor on the field with their Bright Lances. Dire Avengers can do their work at 18", which means I don't have to get my serpents TOO close to the enemy. Furthermore, Wave Serpents can sit near objectives, and can be quite nasty to dislodge.

Additionally, you can screen your non-Serpents with Serpents to grant them cover saves. This doesn't work well against Vendettas or heavy weapons at height, but it is an option to consider vs. tanks and infantry on ground level floors.

Falcons (edit)
Falcons have their place in a full mech army. A Falcon with some gun upgrades, holo-fields and a 5-man Dire Avenger squad (and perhaps even a farseer) can sit in the backfield on/near an objective, absorb some fire, and claim/contest objectives in a pinch.

If you want a Score-Falcon, splurge on durability. Holo-fields are well worth it, and then go with either a missile launcher (if you want guided S8 fire) or Scatter Laser (if you want torrent) and the shuriken cannon. It runs you about 175, but these things can frustrate your opponent with Holo-Fields.

If you want Dakka-Falcons, keep 'em cheaper. A couple shuriken cannons, or a shuriken cannon and scatter laser provide you with plenty of gunfire and cost 130-140. Give 'em guide, and it's basically a Marine Predator with more strength and speed in lieu of BS and armor. (but, better flanks.)

Falcons could theoretically fight with Wave Serpents as Fire Dragon delivery systems. Both should get a fortuned cover save from the Farseer + Turbo Boost move, and then it's a question of AV12 Energy Field vs. AV12 Holo-Field. The Energy Field beats out melta, and I usually expect folks to bring melta. Thus, Falcons for me have become Score-Falcons.

Fire Prisms
Fire prisms are arguably the simplest tanks to use: sit back and slam something with a Prism Cannon. Hide when stunned.

When both weapons are blown off, ram someone. At range, a Fire Prism can easily crank out an S10 ram (+1 for tank, +2 for AV in the front above 10, and +1 for each full 3" you move, and you can easily move 21-24 inches...). It's highly amusing to pull off, but not necessarily what I'd chose to do with my tank. (Unless someone blows off the weapons.)

Eldar Grav Tanks in summary
All Eldar grav tanks are fast skimmers with armor 12/12/10.

Wave Serpents can carry accurate Bright Lances and infantry, and their Energy Field can be highly annoying to deal with.

Falcons can be optimized to hunt lighter armor and infantry. They compete with Wave Serpents as transports, and Wave Serpents beat them for getting close to melta weaponry. Alternatively, Falcons are better holding small troop squads and claiming/contesting objectives.

Fire Prisms can threaten anything on the field from a solid 60" away.

All grav tanks really kind of hate autocannons en masse.

Acknowledgements to Stelek, Dverning and King Elessar, as I must cite them as influences in my Eldar stuff in general. Edits in general