Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Play Them, Why?

Recently, I've been looking at new stuff that's been coming out, and/or whether or not I really want to put the time, effort, and money into acquiring the army. As such, I figured I'd share some insights I've had on the process, since we all tend to come to the army decision a little differently.

They Have Cool Fluff
Honestly, the 40k universe (...at least for those of us that are into it, y'know) is a cool place. Granted, I'd not want to live there unless I was working for the Tau, but it's a neat setting. It's old, it's well-developed, and there's lots of room in the fluff for just about anything you might want to do.

Most of the armies have a very characterful background, and sometimes this is what draws a player in. You can have an army full of epic heroes or villains a la the space marines and their chaos step-siblings, all the way to an army of faceless guys just doing the best they can with what they have (IE: IG and Tau). There are monstrous, soulless things that go 'bump' in the night like the Tyranids and Necrons. There are the inscrutable Eldar, the psychotic Eldar, and the fanatical Inquisition troops.

Bottom line? If there's a role you want your army to fill in the grand scheme of the universe, you can probably find one.

Damn, That Unit is Cool!
Sometimes, you thumb through a codex or other info source, and you look at a single unit and think "Man, I'd build an army to field that." For me personally, it's looking at Thunderwolf Cavalry and the Lone Wolves from the new SW codex. Let's face it, some units are simply awesome in terms of theme/looks/what-have-you. Dreadnoughts also do it for me, but it's really a person-to-person thing. Same goes for Grey Knight Termiantors, but I suspect WS5 + S6 power weapons = giddy for most anyone looking to beat someone down in hand-to-hand.

Army Theme(s)
Some codices lend themselves to certain themes. If you want to do an all jump-pack army, for example, you can get away with it in the Blood Angel codex. If you want to do expensive, killy bikers, you can look at the SM, Eldar, or Ork codices.

This also covers the more 'mundane' themes like horde (I don't think you do it with Marines that often) and 'small elite army', or 'mechanized' or 'speedy little boggarts in annoyingly hard to kill transports' (Eldar.). Some of the more 'mundane' ones are also practical concerns; I'd kicked around Guard 'til I realized I'd be painting like 50-100 infantry.

Modeling Opportunities
Some codices have cool models attached to them. It's as legitimate a reason as any to decide you want to be able to build/convert a unit, and ties in with the 'cool unit' or 'army themes.' It also has to do with the codex's abilities; I could very well see someone doing something like a horde of HR Giger's xenomorphs with the 'nid codex, or maybe a Gears of War theme with marines, or a Robotech theme with the Tau, for example.

Codex Play Style(s)
Play style goes a bit with theme. Fact is, armies play different. (surprise, I know) I mean, if you really want a bunch of skimmers, you should probably not play the Chaos Marine codex, and if you like vehicles you really won't get a lot of them out of the Chaos Daemons codex. Each codex has a style or styles, and if you aren't into them, you aren't into the army, pure and simple.

On the other hand, the newer codices tend to have lots of viable options. The IG and vanilla SM codices, for example, have a host of options and most of them are pretty viable. (Marines get slops for Vanguard vets, and the IG kind of hurt for decent elite options outside of the Psyker Battle Squad). You can stay with one codex if it's versatile, and build up a host of models that let you swap playstyles from week to week.

Alternatively, you may get into a new codex simply to try a new style and grow yourself as a player. It's why I moved from SM to Eldar, as they are kind of night and day in terms of codex styles.

Army Power
I expect this one to get the most outcry, but it's as legitimate a reason as any in this hobby. We're in a wargaming hobby; we want our army to be able to kill people and take their land. It's hard to really say which codexes are absolutely powerful, but some codices have more limited effective builds (IE: older ones like Tau, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Daemonhunters and Witch Hunters) and are sometimes simply deficient in some capabilities (Orks, Necrons, and the current Tyranids have issues with killing vehicles, for example).

On the other hand, you have to combine an army's lethality with experience. I mean, I could give a child an AK-47 with an underslug grenade launcher and make them fight a caveman at 20 paces, and while the child's much better armed I think the caveman might still win. You need not only the tools, but the talent. Sometimes this can make crappier armies work against better ones, but then it's the generals in action, and that gets beyond the scope of this article.

At the end of the day...
Most people make their end decision based on multiple factors listed above, and/or some I haven't listed. I'm sure money's always an object, but that's just the game we play. (It's like the joke about playing a well-dressed guy lugging his army in a shoebox: he's playing Grey Knights or Daemonhunters). I'm curious to see what's driven some people to their armies.

On My End...
Space Marines (former)
They're a forgiving army to start with as they're competent all-rounders, but they're also difficult to get right because they're all-rounders. Ultimately, I got sick of painting power armor, as most of their models are guys in power armor with slightly different loadouts.

Tyranids (former)
I may restart them, but again they just had some issues that good players could overcome. I'm a big fan of the theme of aliens (I mean, I saw the movie at like age 6-8, and have a poster of Giger's Alien sitting over my bed...) but they either win big or go home. Plus, I got burnt out painting up all the little ones.

Necrons (former)
I wanted a challenge to play. I didn't realize I'd be committing to buying a crap-ton of Destroyers and such to even have a chance. The heavy metal range also was a turn-off; it drove the cost up for an army that's in dire need of a new codex. Some folks note that "More People Should PLay So You Can Get a New Codex," but I'd in turn challenge them to drop $200-300 on an army that's unreliable and outdated.

Daemons (Currently inactive)
Modeling theme says it all. They've got issues, but their big factor for me is modeling opportunities and...mostly modelling opportunities. Plus, it helps to be able to laugh off the dice killing 500pts of your army before it arrives due to terrible deep strike luck. (Yeah, 12" into my own guys, followed by 'DEATH' on the mishap for fateweaver. Thanks a lot, dice.)

Eldar (active)
Modeling, fluff, and power drew me in. They do flow towards a more limited set of builds, most of which are mechanized. On the other hand, I think the 'dex can hold up well, and the Seer Council is a joy to model.

Tau (active)
Rail guns, battlesuits. Enough said. They're effective when done right, but their codex needs an update to give them variety in their builds.

Space Wolves (prospective)
I like some of the units, but it'll depend on time and money as to whether or not I do them. It'll also depend on whether or not I can execute a theme I like; I've got the itch for an army that's more fluffy and still somewhat effective. Plus, I want to be able to lavish some attention onto the models.

Tyranids (prospective)
If the new codex is decent and the new models are cool, I'd be willing to try to pace myself and do the bugs again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eldar Hall of Shame

Today's topic: units out of the codex that...just, honestly, don't have a lot of use. I'm going to explain why these units don't see a lot of play, and how, if you really want to, you can use them. If all else fails, I found the picture highly amusing and fitting for some of these guys.

The Most Epic of Failures
Swooping Hawks
I want to like these guys, I really do. I have a soft spot for jump infantry. On the face of it, these guys are bloody fast, with jump packs, fleet, and even the ability to hand off a power weapon to your Exarch without compromising shooting options. They even have some duality with the ability to attack tanks with grenades. What's so bad about them?

The Failbirds
Well, your anti-infantry shooting comes in the form of an S3, AP5, 24" Assault 2 gun. Note the basic trooper is 21 points a head. You get the usual aspect warrior WS/BS4, and I5, and 4+ save. You even get plasma grenades, in case you want to assault into terrain with your S3 and I5, which isn't that great with your base 1 attack.

Well, we mentioned duality, so you are also paying for Haywire Grenades. On a hit, you roll a d6, and a 2-5 is a glance ahile a 6 is a penetrating hit. On the bright side, you can get an Exarch and take Intercept (for a total of 17 points; 12 for the Exarch and 5 for the power) so you'll never need worse than a 4+ to hit a vehicle with these grenades. Too bad you really can't do enough damage with grenades; you need 3 glances to get to an actual damage result, so you might be able to take out a stationary vehicle.

The exarch can take some neato-looking guns; one's a few S5 shots and the other's a heap of S3 shots. You can also take Skyleap and combine that with the Grenade Pack, so you can deep strike, slap an S4, AP5 Large Blast that scatters 1d6 66% of the time on infantry. Combine that with an autarch, and you could theoretically hit infantry out of LOS.

What's this out of LOS striking power cost you? Run an autarch, then 4 guys and Skyleap, and you cost 132. You must also be careful to end up on the table at the end of the game, as otherwise you count as destroyed. Bonus.

Otherwise, you can try to fit them out as a torrent of fire unit; take the full 10-man squad, take the Exarch, grab Intercept, and the Sun Rifle, and you run 237. What's that do in terms of damage?

9x2 S3 shots at BS4, 6 shots of S3 pinning at BS5.
That turns into 12 S3 hits, and 5 S3 pinning hits.
Against T3 enemies, that's 6 regular and 2.5 pinning wounds; it's not that impressive.
Vs. T4? about 6 wounds, total. Impressive. You don't even want to think about the T5+ fellows.

Against tanks that move, you get 5 grenade hits, so you should see 3-4 glances, and maybe a penetrating hit. Also not that impressive.

Dire Avengers can get a transport AND more powerful guns for the price.
Warp Spiders are more durable, and whioe shorter-ranged, they're S6, and gneerally more nimble. I'm still not a huge fan, but they're better than these.

You're Just Not That Useful, But Not As Bad As Those Guys
Dark Reapers
35 points a head for a unit of 3-5 folks with T3 and a 3+ save. Standard issue weapon? An S5, AP3 heavy 2 gun with a 48" range. The Exarch can take 36" S4, AP3 Heavy 2 blast weapon, or a regular Eldar Missile Launcher. On the bright side, the Exarch can take an ability to either get an additional shot, or let his shots ignore cover. NEat, but...

Why Not...to take
So, let's say you take a full 5-man squad, an Exarch, and give the Exarch a missile launcher and the ability to double-tap that thing as a nod to killing tanks. You are paying 217. I suppose you could take a 'minimal' squad with the Exarch and the double-tapping BS5 missile launcher, but that still costs you 147 for three guys.

So, they shoot into infantry in cover. Eight S4, AP3 shots. BS4 applies, so 5.3 hits. Let's say the two frag missiles get about 4 hits, just because.
If you shot T3 guys, you get 3.5 wounds from the Reapers and another 2.3 out of the frag. Seriously? This is it? For 217 points of freaking troops?

These guys were meant to be used back in the day when marines were prevalent, and cover saves were generally 5+. At that point? They were neat against marine gunlines. Past that? Not so hot.

Shining Spears
We charge in at WS4, I5, with two S6 power weapon attacks. Our leader gets THREE, but at WS5, or a power weapon. On the bright side, they can get hit 'n' run, and have T4 and a 3+ save on an Eldar Jetbike, which means they don't stop going fast 'til you kill them all. You can also get Skilled Rider, which means going into terrain and killing yourself only happens 1/36 times.

Why Skip this guided missile?
Their big problem is unit size. 3-5 guys in the unit. Also, they forgot Frag Grenades. They're natural MC killers, and if you can fortune them up, ride out a round, and hit 'n' run? Not bad, but if you nuke that unit on the charge, you're 3-5 guys sitting out in front of what's probably an angry army.

They're too much glass hammer; if you want a bike-mounted assault unit just bite the bullet and pay for the Seer Council.

(Dis)Honorable Mention
Regular Guardians
Low morale, and it's basically 80 points plus 5-30 for a BS3 heavy weapon. They'll fold in melee, and if you brought along an Avatar or something else fearless to try to bail them out, you'll learn about the 'joy' that is the No Retreat! rule.

Warp Spiders
Some people swear by them. They're not bad, but they're just not that great. They're mobile, can actually hide in assault with Hit 'n' Run and a guy with power weapons. They only get two shots each at 12", but they're firing S6, AP- shots. Downside? With their ability to go 12" and then another move from the warp generator, you'd think they'd be prime for getting behind vehicles. Too bad you get -1 to vehicle damage results. Past that, an S6 gun is hardly special for Eldar, and they have to be careful what they try to hide in assault with.

I know sometimes folks will value theme over effectiveness, but there are some units in the older codices that just don't need to see the light of day. They do something, and they do it very poorly not only for their codex, but in general. Some units struggle to do stuff, and some just aren't very good at it for their cost. Others can do it well, but are plagued with problems.

Comments and feedback welcome.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guard, For the Hell of It

I've been kicking it around, and I think this is how I'd roll guard if I were going to roll them. This is as much about having fun with them as it is killing stuff, as I think I've made compromises on effectiveness. But, what the hell. This is one of those potential long-term lists that's on a burner somewhere, money and time and inclination pending.

Guard Melee Special Fun Sauce 1850
Company Command Squad [195]
-2x Meltagun
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer [55]

2x Priests w/ Eviscerators [120]

Psyker Battle Squad, 8 Psykers [100]
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer [55]

Psyker Battle Squad, 8 Psykers [100]
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer [55]

Rambo [65]

Platoon 1
'toon command w/ Vox [35]

Squad 1 [120]
-Power Weapon for Sarge
-Commissar w/ Power Weapon

Squad 2 [70]
-Power Weapon

Squad 3 [70]
-Power Weapon

Platoon 2
'toon command w/ Vox [35]

Squad 1 [120]
-Power Weapon for Sarge
-Commissar w/ Power Weapon

Squad 2 [70]
-Power Weapon

Squad 3 [70]
-Power Weapon-Meltagun

Squad 4 [65]

Squad 5 [65]

Fast Attack
Vendetta w/ Heavy Bolter Sponsons [140]

Vendetta w/ Heavy Bolter Sponsons [140]

3 Sentinels w/ Autocannons [105]

Total: 1850

It's a draft. It's mostly a case of "Man, that looks cool to do." So, two melee mobs, meltaguns in 'em, priests, and they go 'front towards enemy'. Two autocannon squads sit in back, likely with a 'toon command. Straken and the other 'toon command can provide order support for the advancing boys.

Psykers, vendettas, sentinels and autocannon boys do their best to knock you out of your transport. And once you're out...say hello to a 32-man guard squad in melee, or if all else fails, that's a crap-ton of dice from 'First Rank Fire, Second Rank Fire'. Maybe Straken WON'T have to do it all himself.

Rambo's in there because I want to model him. Same with Straken. The rest flows from there, and Vendettas and Sentinels are just fun models. I'm almost tempted to cut out the Chimeras for the psykers just to throw in more tanks elsewhere, but at this point I'm looking at troops and such.

The other thought is to trade off the psyker battle squads for a DH Inquisitorial Retinue, and then there's about 143 points to spend. A part of me would throw in an assassin just because it'd complement Rambo (Hey, Callidus means it's a his 'n' hers deal, right? Right.)

Anyway, critique/feedback welcome, but I'm more looking into what would be fun/cool to do, or neat models. I know there are probably more effective ways to roll it, like melta-vets, but...it's GUARD! And ASSAULT! And Ride of the Valkyries in the background! Come on.

Mech Eldar w/ Seer Council Updated

It would technically be v1.something, but it's been a few months since I've touched the Seer Council, so yeah.

1850 Mech Seer Council List
Farseer w/ Bike, Runes of Warding, Fortune, Doom, Spirit Stones [175]

Warlock Unit [420]
8x 'locks on bikes
4x Destructor
1x Enhance
1x Embolden

5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Dire Avengers [60]

5 Dire Avengers [60]

10 Storm Guardians w/ 2x Flamers [92]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

Heavy Support
Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon [125]

Falcon w/ Holofields, Shuriken Cannon, Scatter Laser [175]

Falcon w/ Holofields, Shuriken Cannon, Scatter Laser [175]

Total: 1847/1850

With the three points remaining, I'm tempted to put a Singing Spear into the hands of one of the schmuck-locks, just to give me more distinct units. Or, hand it to a Destructor-lock. Cheers for wound allocation shenanigans, right? Right.

The only element I'm not certain about is the Storm Guardian unit. I feel like the flamers might be overkill, or they might just be backup. I feel like I've got a decent torrent of fire and the anti-tank covered with lances; at this point I figured I'd just get more troops. The Storm Guardians aren't bad, as they've a distinct use.

On the field, it's a half-dozen nasty, durable grav tanks and the Seer Council.

I'm reminded of the burden set on the Seer Council; they have to do a lot of the work. Even more ironic is that in this test game, one Fire Dragon serpent got KO'ed, and the other ended up stunned for about 3 turns straight (....man, talk about long odds) so the Seer Council shanked itself a Russ and sentinel squad, after notching itself two large guardsmen squads.

The short version is that in a Dawn of War match, the other guy fielded...
2x Large Melee Guard Squads (30 men w/ 3x meltagun, 3x power weapons, commissar) though one traded the meltaguns for autocannons. 'toon command with them, of course.
Command Squad w/ Straken
Priest in the meltagun squad
2x Russ w/ Lascannon, HB sponsons
2x Hellhound w/ hull MM, smoke launchers
3-sentinel squad w/ autocannons.

End of the game, what was left?
1 Immobilized Hellhound
1 Hellhouned Hull (needed one more damage result to KILL it)
1 Immobilized Demolisher
Straken and a meltagun in his squad

1/2 the Seer Council
Storm Guardians in immobilized serpent
DAs in a Falcon
Fire Dragons and their Serpent

In part, he got a bit too aggressive with one of the melee squads and ended up only committing half the forces, so...the Seer Council BBQed it down to the power weapons on the first turn, and then moved to assault it without moving through cover.

I also managed to draw off the Demolisher towards the Prism and a Falcon.

Also, 1's did a LOT of damage to the forces. 1's in Dangerous Terrain effected:
1 immobilized Hellhound early one
1 immobilized Demolisher late game
1 DEAD Falcon (flat out + limiting my own movement options + 1 = Dire Avengers out of a wreck, in front of Straken. Guess how that rolled?)

Also, multi-assaults against armor with Witchblades is soooo fun. For me. One assault phase saw off two sentinels (only shot one to death previously) and a Russ.

It also reminds me of the problems with a Seer Council; if it folds you're screwed. It's just a lot of points and a lot of eggs in a basket. At least it was an excuse for me to strip them and re-do the symbols; I think my GS skills are getting better, and using tools helps.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Eldar War Walker

The War Walker is one of the less commonly seen Eldar units out there. In part because you can (and often ought to) take a heap of them; they come in squads of 3 in the heavy support section. Also, unlike the rest of the codex, they're not exactly fast. So, no further ado, let's get into it.

The War Walker Chassis
We're talking about an AV10 all-round walker. You're looking at WS/BS3, S5, I4 and 2 attacks. Obviously, it's not that interested in going boot-to-head in assault, but it'll still take some work to kill in assault if you're just a basic trooper. Yeah, you need those 6's to hit me with grenades...

However, you're still just AV10, which is not exactly that durable. You need numbers on your side in order to last. Additionally, you need clever use of cover. It's a squadron, so if you get more than half the squad in cover, guess what? Cover save.

As a side benefit, you get Scout, which grants you a scout move, or outflank. I'm not really a fan out outflanking, since you should be using range as your defense. The closer you get to the enemy, the more weapons he brings to bear on you, and with AV10 you even have to pay some attention to most troop-borne firearms, since S4 can still cost you your chance to shoot.

Weapon Options
Well, the whole squad can take Spirit Stones, which is basically extra armor. Too bad there's no point in that for the squad. So, we move along to guns. Each War Walker can take two weapons. This means you can either double up, or try to do a same-purpose mix 'n' match. I'd probably go for doubling up, to be honest.

Shuriken Cannon
5 points gets you a 24" S6 gun with 3 shots. It's cheap, nasty, and does the trikc against things S6 hurts, which is anything with an AV lower than 12, and any toughness lower than 8.

Scatter Laser
15 points gets you a fourth S6 shot and a 36" range.

If you really wanted to, you could drop 25 points for an S6, AP2 two-shot gun out to 36". I'd skip it because BS3 and the nature of cover mean we want volume rather than quality.

Eldar Missile Launcher
This is your longest-range gun; it's an S8 AP3 shot or S4, AP4 pinning small blast out to 48". Costs 20 points to get the range.

Bright Lance
Phew. 30 points a head for this lovely little 'threaten any tank or MC' gun. I honestly find it a bit costly for War Walkers; a double-lance War Walker is 90 points solo. You can bet it's a priority target, even if those two lances are only BS3.

Weapons and Mission
If you want to get your Walkers for cheap, 40 points gets you a War Walker that cranks out six S6 shots at 24". The downside is the range, though between scout and most deployments it's not such an issue getting into range unless you're fighting a slipper opponent.

A full suite of 3x3 War Walker Squads is 360 points and your heavy support slots; not a bad start.

My other default is the scatter laser; a double-scatterlaser walker is 60 points, and a full 3x3 compliment is 540.

The downside of taking massed S6 is that you'll need to find ways of dealing with heavier armor, and even AV12 is going to take some work. Assuming you twin-linked a Scatter laser squad via Guide, you'd get 3 glances on average, which isn't bad, but it means you just might do some actual damage.

So, what then? A double-missile walker is 70; a team is 210, and a full compliment is 630. If you Guided a team, it should get 4-5 hits, or 1-2 pens on AV12, which is still not that impressive. A full compliment of missile-walkers (assuming you can twin-link two squads) nets you about a dozen S8 hits in a turn, which, when focused, might kill a single AV12 vehicle. We're not that efficient, are we? We're not.

So, I'd have to go with the shuriken cannons or scatter lasers, and rely on Fire Dragons and serpent-mounted lances to do the heavier lifting. I mean, we WILL hard-core nuke the lighter targets with that much S6.

A Note On Range
The other thing to remember is that range helps to deny mobility, and that range is life for lighter targets. I've got a buddy/current student who plays IG, and at least against Eldar, there's a huge difference between staying at 36" and staying out of it, as his sentinels are only a bit less durable than our guys, and a scatter laser or two can totally nuke such a squad. Then again, a penetrating hit kills a squaded sentinel on a 2+ because they can't take immobilized and they're open-topped.

A squadded War Walker dies 50% of the time, as it simply dies on an immobilized result.

Summary of Mission
I'd stick to the shuriken cannon or the scatter laser, and full squad. You're a torrent of fire unit; roll with it and make it your own.

A Sample War Walker/Torrent of Fire BS List at 1850
Warning: I haven't tested this, and it may not make you any friends. But, here's the basic idea of 'How Much S6 Can I Fit In There?'

Farseer w/ Runes of Warding, Guide [90]

Autarch w/ Fusion Gun [80]

5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Dire Avengers [60]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Dire Avengers [60]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

Fast Attack
3 Vypers w/ Shuriken Cannon [150]

3 Vypers w/ Shuriken Cannon [150]

Heavy Support
3 War Walkers w/ 2x Scatter Laser each [180]

3 War Walkers w/ 2x Scatter Laser each [180]

3 War Walkers w/ 2x Scatter Laser each [180]

Total: 1850

I'd thought about rolling with Shuriken Cannons all around, and if you do, you can go up to a third Vyper Squad, but you lose some range.

The Dire Avengers are there because you need troops, and the Fire Dragons are there because you might face someone with AV12 or better out there, and glancing it to death isn't always fun. The Farseer is in there more for the Runes of Warding, but you might as well get Guide. The Autarch gives you another meltagun, but more importantly lets you deal with going second.

Now, the downsides? Most Eldar players have the Elites, HQ, and Troops listed here. Then, you'll need 6 Vypers and 9 War Walkers, which is a pretty hefty commitment to build, buy, and carry around.

Also, did your enemy bring stuff vulnerable to S6 fire? You can crank out 24 S6 shots per walker squad, and another 9 from each vyper squad. That's 99 shots of S6 at BS3 a turn, though it tends to fall apart. It's a very distinct niche of firepower, but if I could bring two autocannons on my war walkers...aw, yeah. Or pulse lasers.

But yeah. This list cries a bit at Land Raiders until it pops 'em, and if it's vulnerable to S6? Get ready to get punched in the balls.

For an alternative take on trying to make War Walkers workable, here are Elessar's thoughts on the matter. (I tend to cut out the 'king' part mostly because it gets the point across to call him Elessar, though this is assuming it's a 'him' [which seems safe in this hobby, but there ARE exceptions] and if the removal of king is offensive...I'm sure Elessar'll deal. Right? :) Right. )

One More Thing...
I think a squad of 3 War Walkers, kept cheap with 2x Shuriken Cannon each, might be a decent experimental block for armies as well. It'd give me, personally, an excuse to play around with walkers again, as the models are neat. At 120 points for that block, it's a reasonably interchangeable heavy support block, and might mesh well with an Autarch. 'sides, I still have that redonkulous Autarch with an oversized fusion gun that wants itself some use...

Eldar Foot Troop Options

Well, it's been a while since I've done some Eldar articles, though I've dug them out of the box. I'm not satisfied with my Tau's transportation situation (read: no foam) and I'm not willing to subject them to movement 'til I fix that, which ought to be soon. At any rate, I'm going to compare and contrast the Eldar foot troop options: Dire Avengers, Guardians, and Rangers. They all have their own distinct uses.

Note I'm leaving out Guardian jetbikes; for one: they're not foot troops, and two: I don't have a lot of experience with them. I'll go into more depth on them later, I'm certain.

Dire Avengers
Dire Avengers are aspect warriors that specialize in killing it with shuriken fire. They're basic WS/BS 4 guys with T3, I5, Ld9 and a 4+ save. Each come with an Avenger Shuriken Catapult, which is an S4, AP5, Assault 2 18" gun. The range alone should tell you that you want to mount up.

You may take 5-10 per unit, and may upgrade one to be an Exarch. To be honest, I usually skip the Exarch. He costs 12 points to upgrade (which really gets you a second attack, I6, 2 attacks, and a 3+ save) and then must pay for wargear and powers.

Exarch Wargear
Double Shuriken Catapults (Assault 4 regular avenger shuricat) [+5]
Diresword and Pistol (Power weapon that if it wounds you, take a Ld check per wound; if you fail you die automatically regardless of wounds left) [+10]
Power Weapon and Shimmershield (everyone gets a 5+ save) [+15]

Exarch Powers
Defend (15 points for making the enemy at -1 attack when fighting you)
Bladestorm (everyone's gun gets another shot, but no firing next turn. You're reloading)

The wargear is neat...but unessential. No matter how much you want to be, you're not melee troops, so you'll have to pass up that Diresword with your piddly S3. Defend and a Shimmershield won't save you from losing CC, and possibly getting swept.

Bladestorm? Folks are on the fence about it. If you're going to use it, at least pay the 5 points to let your Exarch dual-wield catapults. Over time, per the same cost, you'll get more shots off just firing Avengers two turns.

10 Regular Avengers (20 shots a turn)
7 Avengers + Bladestorm Exarch w/ Dual Cats (14 BS4, 4 BS5 shots a turn, or 21 and 5 with a storm).

26 shots over two turns, or 40. You pick.

Of course, there's always the issue of getting those shots off. You may or may not get two turns to shoot.. Bladestorm simply lets you surge the unit, or fire, advance, bladestorm, assault and try to off the remnants. It's a timing thing; bladestorm is basically the ability for the unit to throw a haymaker (look up the old John Wayne western movies, and then realize that such a looping punch might hurt, but it leaves you way the hell open.) and I mean that in every sense of the word.

In smaller games, they may be able to work on foot. I'm talking like 1,000, maybe 1,500 point upgrades. Or, just spamming them on foot.

Defend + Power weapon/shimmershield + fortune might see them act as a passable tarpit, but it depends heavily on what you want them to tarpit. You're Ld9, so you need to not lose the assault by more than 1-2. I mention it as a 'fair enough' loadout for them. I think there are still things that'll cut through them, like most harder-core melee troops. Should a regular SM squad charge you, that's 12 attacks (Assuming sarge brought a pistol/CCW), down to 6 hits, 4 wounds, 2 without and 1 with fortune. That's somethign you can tie. However, if it's a nastier CC unit, or has power weapons, you might not hold. I feel it's honestly an iffier thing, but it's something to note. I'd expect to hold basic troopers, but not CC specialists.

The other option for Avengers is 5 of them as the 'DAVU' or Dire Avenger Vehicle Upgrade. I believe Dverning coined this term. You shove 5 of them into a Falcon with a holofield and a few guns on it. Not a very spectacular job, but a job nonetheless. Plus, they're likely to survive it.

Bottom Line
I'd suggest either 5 at 60 for the DAVU, or 8-10 as a regular shooty unit. Note that if you're shooting 'em, you want to Doom your target. Definitely 10 if you're going to footslog it, and I'd probably take Bladestorm there just to get some extra oomph there.

Rangers are Eldar that decided they hate their day jobs, so they grabbed camo cloaks, longrifles, boots, and left. I suspect once I get my office job, I'll consider this. Rangers are your camping snipers. They have a sniper rifle, and some neat rules for cover. These include:

The Cool Bits
-To-hit rolls of '6' are AP1
-Stealth, so cover saves are at +1
-Move Through Cover

Basic Stats
BS4 is the only stand-out, past that there's a 5+ save and Ld8. Not terrible for 19 points.

Really hard core rangers cost 5 points more (and you take the whole unit as Pathfinders), and get even more benefits. Of course, they've also flipped society the bird and are permanent exiles. Probably don't take their boots off inside.

-To-hit rolls of 5 or 6 are AP1
-Cover saves improved by +2
-Ignores difficult terrain rolls

Despite the cool bits, these guys are objective-sitters; no more and no less. I think the Pathfinder upgrade is neat, but the biggest benefit of the Pathfinder upgrade is the fact they take a 2+ cover save as a basic bit. I'd consider a unit of 7-8 Pathfinders (at 133-152) a decent objective-sitter. Let them snipe once or twice, and if they do something annoying the enemy might try to plaster them. Then, go to ground.

Now, the question is, is the Pathfinder upgrade worth it? 24 points for a 'finder vs. 19 for a regular ranger. 171 gets me 9 Rangers, and 168 gets me 7 Pathfinders. That's about as good as we'll get for equivalent values, so, basic shooting.

9 BS3 Ranger Shots = 6 ranger hits, 1 AP1.
4+ to wound, so we get 0.5 AP1 wounds, 0.5 rends, and 1.5 wounds for a total of:
1 wound that ignores armor, 1.5 that don't

7 BS3 Pathfinder Shots = 4.6 hits; 1.5 of which are AP1
0.75 AP1 wounds, 0.25 rends and 1.25 regular wounds
1 wound that ignores armor, 1.25 that don't.

At roughly equivalent costs, the damage is about equal. Additionally, the increased chance to ignore armor makes me happy, as it makes them more suited for killing monstrous creatures. Wraithlords don't like snipers in general, but Rangers might very well take one down in two rounds of shooting. You also can relocate more readily with the Pathfinders, so I think I'm going to have to reconsider. Additionally, you always have that 2+ cover save, so yeah.

Stupid Trick
If the enemy is not a CC-specialist, Dverning notes that you can use Rangers to infiltrate and potentially get a first-turn assault off. I think the trick's more psychological than effective, but it can still have an impact on folks. You'll just need to infiltrate out of LOS, and you'll need the Pathfinder upgrade to ignore terrain and make sure you can swing. I wouldn't expect it to work against anything more frightening than Tau or IG, but it's out there.

Don't forget to cry if flamers get nearby; then Rangers go away hardcore. Yeah, even regular flamers make these guys hate life. Then you're out a camping unit.

I think you can kind of justify taking the Pathfinder upgrade. Any way you cut it, the unit's a pretty nasty sniper unit, but I don't think I'd ever really take more than one selection. Dverning's done some math on the subject, and the points-per-kill is about the same. The real difference is the cover save, but you can just go to ground for the same thing. End of the day, you're not losing that much killing power, and you have more wounds.

Guardians come in two flavors: Regular, and Storm. They share the same statline; it's basically a Guard line aside from I4. (which is to say BS3, WS3, S3, T3, 1 attack, and a 5+ 'save'). Both come in sizes of 10-20 per unit at 8 points a head, so they're at least cheap at 80 points before options and/or a Warlock option. Note that if you bring a Warlock, you really have one of several options for them: Destructor (Yay FIRE! S5 AP4 template), Embolden (re-roll leadership), or maybe Enhance if you want to try to mix it up, to get yourself up to WS4, I5.

Note also that if you intend to run Wraithlords, you could get a Spiritseer-upgraded Warlock in a guardian unit.

Regular Guardians
You are required to put two together as weapon crew, and you can take any of the larger Eldar weapons. Even better, it's on a little hover-platform that lets you fire even the heavy weapons on the move. The downside? They're still BS3.

You could theoretically combine them with a fortune'd Avatar and spam heavy weapons, but...if someone gets into assault with you, or they kill the Avatar, your ld8 and meager statline won't save you. (Also, if someone assaults you, and your Avatar counterassaults, watch them hit your Guardians and inflict No Retreat! wounds on your Avatar. Bad Stuff.) You're also looking at 110 for a BS3 bright lance; not exactly the most efficient or effective source of lance fire. I would have to settle on the Scatter Laser, so then you don't have to Guide them to hit stuff. In a pinch, there's the cheaper, shorter-ranged Shuriken Cannon.

95 points gets you 10 Guardians with a Scatter Laser. Yay?

Storm Guardians
They all traded in their dinky 12", Assault 2 S4 AP5 guns for pistols with the same statline, and a CCW. Much scarier, really. However, you do get the option to take two special weapons, so that's either 12 points for two flamers or two BS3 meltaguns. That's at least palatable, but requires a transport.

Importantly, it's one of only four freaking sources of template weaponry in an Eldar army. (Your other sources are Warlocks with Destructor [usually located in a Seer Council], Fire Dragon Exarchs w/ heavy flamers, or Wraithlords with two flamers). Add doom and a Wave Serpent, and you've got a way to delete infantry.

92 points gets you 10 with a pair of regular S4, AP5 flamers.
145 gets you a Wave Serpent w/ TL Bright Lance, and underslung Shuriken Cannon

I would ponder skipping out on the Destructor-lock, as he's another 30ish points attached to a unit that is pretty much either going to live to board the transport, or be shot/assaulted down the next turn. On the other hand, the Warlock w/ Destructor adds a Heavy Flamer equivalent template, which is S5 AP4. Note that if it's not a space marine, a heavy flamer kills stuff on a 2+. You'll still lose the unit, but he'll increase the lethality. It's really a matter of whether or not you can find the points after the 92 for the flamer guys.

To be honest, I kind of like the Storm Guardians more. They're a distinct niche-filler in the Eldar army. Regular Guardians want to be neat little objective campers, but you'd need to take them in greater numbers. Alternatively, you'd want to bring as many squads as possible to get...as many scatter lasers as you can. At least it's hard to silence the heavy weapon? Investing 30 points in an Embolden Warlock gives them a re-roll on leadership, but still...there are better ways to get rate-of-fire in an Eldar army. (IE: Vypers, and they're faster).

Foot Troop Summary
All of your foot troops are basically kitted out to kill troops. Avengers can be had in the smallest squads, but also have the longest-range trooper gun. They're not flashy, but the're reasonably competent at what they do. They're a bit of a generalist choice, but require a transport to get into range. Ld9 is fairly helpful for not running, and if you can get a couple turns of shooting, well, so much the better.

Rangers are campers par excellence. They need less support than regular Guardians, and I feel there are better places to get your heavier weapons.

Storm Guardians fill a certain niche in the Eldar army: FLAMER TEMPLATES. Sorry, it needed emphasis. They're a suicide squad, but at 92 points plus transport? It's not a bad way to go, since they'll burn some stuff up. Also, it's cheap, because you know a bunch of T3, 5+ save guys sitting in the open in front of dead stuff are gonna die for their troubles. Ironically, they'll be deploying in the 'death by flamer' squad out the back of their required transport.

A Note On My Mech Bias With Eldar
I tend to view mechanization as an Eldar strength. In part, it's because it's an army of specialists: You can't even try to grenade down a tank with Dire Avengers, you really DO need Fire Dragons (or the not-so-impressive BS3 meltaguns of a Storm Guardian squad), or an Exarch's missile launcher from Dark Reapers.

So, we need specialists to do the job. If the specialist moves 6" and runs, well...it's not really that hard to figure out where they need to go, and block them. Flamers and meltaguns, and even the Avenger shuriken catapults, do not have the greatest of range, and you would need to move at least a foot to get to an enemy that didn't want to be near you. Additionally, without the protective warmth of an AV12 vehicle around an Eldar, it's a T3 model with a 4+ save, and the foot troops are generally not cheap enough to spam. I mean, the basic Eldar Guardian squad is 80 points plus heavy weapon; you're almost at 20 guardsman in 2 infantry squads by that point. Not really the most favorable comparison, and Guardians are ultimately fairly limited.

I think someone might be able to make an Eldar foot list work (especially if they use Scorpions or Warp Spiders in the front; use that 3+ armor save guy to screen the rest of the army for a 4+ cover save), but it will be anything but forgiving and easy to use. That's me, though. Plus, I'd rather just sit in my annoying-as-hell-to-kill transports until needed, but that's me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deathwing and Ally Thoughts, bit o' news

I'll wrap up my thoughts on the Deathwing's ally options, and make it the third (and probably last) article on the theme.

First, though, good news on my front: employment's finally here. On the bright side, it means I now have a two-way cash flow, and can afford new models. I mean, my opponents know that my Tau battlesuits have looked a whole lot like Eldar jetbikes, for example...

On the downside, combined with grad school this semester it means less time in the hobby, so there might be a little less blog posting. Eh, it's life. On to what you came here for, though: The Deathwing.

Allies Roundup
Now, part of the issue of taking allies is that it's points not spent on the Deathwing. This should be obvious, but it bears mentioning: the more you spend on allies, the less you're spending on Deathwing-only options.

With that in mind, the goal of allies is to bring something you can't get otherwise with Deathwing options. Here are some things you simply cannot take with just Deathwing troops, and/or even Dark Angel Space Marines.

1) 2x Melta in a troops selection, or even readily delivered
-ISTs out of either codex
-Sisters of Battle as troops
-Sister Fast Attack troopers

2) Psychic Defense (a Ld9 hood does NOT cut it, nor does Ezekial
-SoB Inquisitor
-DH Inquisitor
-Grey Knight Hero

3) Better odds at turn one
-DH Inquisitor with Tarot

4) Deep Strike Defense
-DH Inquisitor w/ Mystics

5) More Armor
-Rhinos (either side)
-Immolators (max of 2, from SoB Elite and Fast Attack selections)
-Chimeras (either, if a bit pricy)
(Note all the armor here is like yours with the smoke launchers; glance-only. Aw, Yeah)

6) Power Weapons that strike at initiative
-Grey Knight Terminators. (Mmm, S6 power weapons)

Honest Appraisal of Allies
I have to favor the Daemonhunters codex for allies. You get the same ISTs, but you get an Inquisitor with better options. (Note: I'm talking about the HQ inquisitors, not the piddly elites. However, in a pinch, you can get an elite DH inquisitor with Tarot for 35. Minimal commitment! Maybe spare him 2 points for pistol/ccw for some love...)

The real big thing from the allies is the psychic defense. There are some powers that aren't that frightening, but Lash + Oblits = Dead Terminators, and since we want to make Termiantors effective...yeah. At a minimum, I would think long and hard about dropping the 167 for Hood/Tarot Lord, 3 Heavy Bolters, and 2 sages. It's cheap, and it brings an amazing amount of utility for the cost.

The second consideration would be melta troopers. 128 gets you 5 interpeid, sacrifical storm troopers with meltaguns and a kitted out Rhino. If you want to commit to more AV12, you can get Chimeras, but I would have to test and see whether I feel like more AV12 is worth the cost.

If you check out the sample lists in my other posts, you'll note they include 2 Dreads, 2 Chimeras, and 2 Predators. That way there's four AV12 units, and two AV13 units. All the AV12 can threaten you with melta, and the AV13 can threaten the lighter armor at range. My gut suggests that if the enemy could KO your meltagun transports (and it's not that hard to drop 5 guys with T3 and a 4+). I'd lean towards Rhinos for Sisters, or Chimeras for the guardsmen. The Sisters are a bit more likely to survive on their own, with decent leadership, numbers, and power armor.

At any rate, the main goal is to help your terminators get to the meaty insides, or in a pinch beat down the vehicles that survived. Plus, they'll be durable.

Much more than the basics, and you're cutting into your Troops/Terminator budget. This means unless you're going for Grey Knight Termies with the hood, or a Grand Master, you should probably skip them. Admittedly, a Grand Master with the old-school 'lose all your wounds' Force Weapon can do some serious damage to whatever you point it at, and he gets you the Ld10 hood.

Ally Recommendations
5-man IST teams with 2x melta, probably in a Chimera [155]
10-man, 2-melta Sister team; Sister Superior w/ Book of St. Lucius in a Rhino [207]
OH Lord w/ 3x HB, Chururigeon, Hood [152]
DH Lord w/ 3x HB, 2x Mystics, Tarot, Hood [167]

The basic Deathwing loadout is 630 for Belial, and two DW squads with assault cannons and chainfists. Add in 167 for a DH Inquisitor Lord, and you've got plenty of slots left, and you've spent 797. With the 300-360 on melta allies, you're moving towards an armored build that's around 1,000 points; there's plenty of room to get some backup.

I feel like, overall, it's a reasonably strong build. Is it perfect? No. You're using a marine codex that's been obsoleted by the newer one, and ultimately it's a theme build with Terminators, which has its own problems. However, I think you can get some serious mileage out of the allies. I think it's worth it, and I think I've talked myself into rolling with allies at this point.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deathwing Allies: Daemonhunters

This time around, I'll focus on the Daemonhunters and what they can bring your Deathwing. I've covered the Witch Hunters ally options already. Some of these options are duplicates, and as such I'll gloss over them, especially if they weren't worth mentioning.

Ally Rules

0-1 HQ
0-1 Elites
0-2 Troops
0-1 Fast Attack

That's what you get in total, per the ally rules. We're going to focus on what the allies can bring that actually helps the Deathwing. Let's start it off with the Leaders.

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor Lord
This one's much like the Witch Hunter; the chief difference lies in options available to them. Most of the henchmen are the same, and the unit's role should be to sit back and shoot. However, there are a few notable exceptions.

1) Emperor's Tarot. 15 points to almost always get a +1 to go first. Since there still is a roll to go first, this is a sweet piece of it.

2) The Mystic henchman. Get yourself an anti-deep-strike bubble. Bring two of these guys, and you can hand the shots off to the target most capable of KO'ing the deep striking enemy. If you're playing someone that brought Drop Pods and such, a pair of these henchmen can seriously ruin their plans.

3) The Psycannon. Ok, this is actually the least of what you get, but it means the OM lord himself can bring some shooting to the table. It's three more S6 shots, though these ignore invulnerable saves.

Past that, the main reason to bring one is for the Ld10 unlimited range psychic hood. If you're playing against Daemons, then Sanctuary is a bullshit auto-win psychic power in Capture The Flag, because you can cluster your unit and a troops choices around your objective, and go to town on his. This may get you punched in the balls, though. Past that, there's really no psychic power to hand off to the Lord.

A sample loadout, then, would be:
Lord w/ Hood, Emperor's Tarot
3x Heavy Bolter Servitors
2 Mystics
Total: 167

You get psychics, and a firebase. For another 30 points, you get another gun. You can also get multi-melt and/or a single plasma cannon, but I think it's best to keep the guys cheap, and heavy bolters get you the range you want. If you feel like it, jack the cost up by another 20 to get that plasma cannon, and really discourage deep-striking troops. Yeah, they call it 'cluster' formation only for short...

Grey Knight Hero
He comes in two flavors: 61 points for one wound, or 145 for three wounds and upgrading his weapon to a force weapon. As it stands, these guys have a storm bolter, a WS5, S6 Power weapon, and, oh, Terminator Armor. You also get the neat Grey Knight special powers that annoy daemons and make them tough to see, but you only get those on full Grey Knight units.

The Brother-Captain is 81 points for a cheap Ld10 psychic hood, and if you give him a psycannon and sit him back, he's 111 points for a hood and a 36" sniper. You can take him into melee, sure, but there's still the very real issue of rolling a '1' on your armor save, and that's sad.

If you really want the melee badass, it's 165 to get the Ld10 hood on the Grand Master. Yeah, the Grand Master is uber-hoss in melee, but he's still got the issue of 2+/5+ saves, and he's quite vulnerable to instant death. There's no real fix for that beyond giving him a retinue. With himself, the hood, and a minimal retinue? You're looking at a 300pt outlay. Granted, you have the Shrouding to take advantage of, but that's...still a lot of points in a list that's already points-intensive.

Hammerhand is about the only power I'd ever consider giving these guys, but in truth there's plenty of S8 punching against vehicles.

They can also take a Retinue of Gray Knight Terminators, but we'll discuss these guys in the elites section.

Elite Inquisitor
Remember the WH evaluation? Goes here, too. Skip it, unless you really want to get the Tarot in your army for cheap, in which case he's 35 points, and hoping no one kills him. Mm, juicy KP...

You have the same assassin options as the WH codex. I still have the same opinion of them: not really enough oomph to justify investing in both the assassin AND the requisite Inquisitor Lord; it's just not helping your model count and that's what you really want.

Grey Knight Terminators
One brother captain and 2-9 terminators. Bro-Cap is 61 points; each terminator is 45. What do you get? WS5, I4, S6 power weapons, that's what. Oh, and more BS4 storm bolters with psycannon options, and the Shrouding. (Which, for the record, is that you must roll 3d6 * 3 to 'see' the GKT.) They also have a Psychic Hood against any target that hits them, but only them. You still have to (and really ought to) give the Bro-Cap a hood if you don't have on in the army already.

You could theoretically get two squads of these guys, but to be honest I think I'd draw the line at one. They're nasty, but the main reason you'd want to bring them is to give yourself some at-initative S6 power weapons. They're nasty, but if you really want to take a lot you ought to look into a pure Daemonhunters force.

A basic 5-man team will set you back 241. 261 if you use it for a hood. 291 if you hand 'em a couple psycannons, and 311 if you want the hood and guns.

Grey Knights
Hey, it's more guys with Storm Bolters. To be honest, I see use for one squad of these if you want a camping unit. You take a minimal 5-man squad, hand it two psycannons, and let it camp on an objective that's ideally near the edge of the table. You play shrouding for all it's worth, and hope you don't move. Sure, you CAN fire the Psycannon from the hip, but it's cut to 18" for these blokes.

GKT Campers: 5-man team w/ 2 psycannon comes to 200 points. Yeah, that's right. Same price as your regular terminators, but in power armor. At least the enemy has to check to spot them, and if they're hugging that 36" range, well...it's a little under a 50/50 shot the enemy can spot 'em.

Inquisitorial Storm Troopers
Pretty much the same as the WH version. These are you cheap melta unit. They can get Rhinos or Chimeras, and the choice depends on the utility you want out of the transport. You want a cheap box to put them in, or one that's got a little firepower?

70 points for the minimal 5 w/ 2 meltas.
58 for a Rhino with extra armor and smoke
88 for a Chimera with multi-laser, flamer, and smoke.

Fast Attack
You have one option for fast attack: Grey Knights with a deep strike option. There's no reason to ever take this. The whole point of taking Grey Knights would be to bulk up your body count and/or score, and this option removes their ability to hold objectives.

Summary of DH Allies
There's a little less bounty to be had from making friends with the Daemonhunters. Their troops are not cheap enough to seriously bulk up your body count. You can get ISTs either place, or you could theoretically draw them from BOTH codices if you wanted to have 2-3 Deathwing squads.

A Grey Knight Terminator squad is an option, but runs the risk of stealing your thunder. On the other hand? They're a source of I4 power weapons at S6. Sometimes, you just might WANT to freakin' hit at initiative. They also let you incorporate a psychic hood into your force.

The DH Inquisitor, though, is superior to be honest. Mystics are insanely useful, and can completely change the way an opponent plays. The Emperor's Tarot is also a valuable piece of kit, letting you get the initiative on the other guy.

All in all, the DH have an edge with the Inquisitor, and the same old ISTs. However, they won't really help the body count, but they can get you the melta love you want.

Sample DH Buddy List at 1850
Let's see what the list looks like with the toys in it.

Belial [130]

Lord w/ Hood, Emperor's Tarot
3x Heavy Bolter Servitors
2 Mystics

4 Grey Knight Termies (Including Bro-Cap) 2x Psycannon [246]

Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta [125]

Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta [125]

Deathwing Squad w/ Claws, AC, CF [250]

Deathwing Squad w/ Claws, AC, CF [250]

5 IST w/ 2x Meltagun
Chimera w/ ML, HF, EA

5 IST w/ 2x Meltagun
Chimera w/ ML, HF, EA

Heavy Support
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [130]

Predator w/ Autocannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons [95]

Total: 1828

Note you have some points to play around with; you have some ways to burn 22 spare points, like giving the OM lord a pistol, CCW, and Sanctuary while handing the Dakka-Pred a storm bolter.

Once again, the list is similar to the mix of sisters, though you're down a Terminator squad to bring in the GKT for your assault love. The list is pretty shooty and fairly mechanized; you've got a decent amount of armor on the table with two Dreads, two Preds, and two Chimera. Each terminator squad can crank out a decent number of S6 shots, and the preds can do some damage at range hunting light armor. And, of course, you have some melta love for larger vehicles.

To be honest, I again feel like the list is losing some thunder to the allies, though that's me.

I do think that you can benefit from a more minimal inclusion with just the Inquisitor Lord, or another HQ with a Psychic Hood. A unit of GKT is neat, but does cut down on your troop terminators, and the Shrouding makes the enemy a bit more likely to just shoot other things to death. Past that, the ISTs feel like the meat of the allies, as they can get you the melta love. However, taking ISTs means committing to some more mech, so you can keep all the armor alive.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Deathwing Allies: Witch Hunters

A few comments on the Deathwing List Types breakdown got me thinking more and more about the ally selections open to the Deathwing. First, I'll focus on the Witch Hunters.

Ally Rules
Per the ally rules in the Witch Hunters codex, you may make the following selections to the Deathwing (and other imperial forces)

0-1 HQ
0-1 Elite
0-2 Troops
0-1 Fast Attack

With that in mind, I'm going to look at what the crazy burny sisters can bring to your terminator-armored maniacs. I'm going to assume we're starting with Belial and two 5-man DW squads packing the assault cannon and chain fist, so we're spending 630 off the bat and have two troops.

What Can the Sisters Get Us?
The Sisters can bring cheaper bodies, for one thing. 43 points gets us three Sisters. Sisters have access to melta weaponry, and transports that cost less than 250 points. There are also some specialist options, and I'll run down the list.

HQ Selections
Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Lord
This one is really 65 minimum; it's 45 but you should really pay 20 points for the psychic hood. Psychic defense is one thing the Deathwing lack; the best DW can get is a Ld9 librarian. Believe me, the extra point of leadership is worth it, since the tie goes to the other guy/girl/monster/daemon/thingy.

Past that, you're really best off making this a shooty retinue. You can get up to three Warrior henchmen at 15 a head; and if you want to stand off you can make them BS4 heavy bolters at 25 a head. You can get a 4+ save against hostile psychic powers with a Penitent for 7 points, and for 12 points you can get a Chururigeon, and ignore the first wound a turn as long as it's not power weapons or instant death.

That in mind, a sample OH setup would be:
Lord w/ Hood [65]
3x Heavy Bolter Warriors [75]
Chururigeon [12]
Total: 152

It sits back, it counters psychic powers. Not a bad price. It does compete with the Daemonhunters Inquisitor, who can get a psycannon for himself and increase the amount of fire you put out.

You could, theoretically, get a bunch of acoyltes, bring plasma on the warriors and combi-plasma on the acolytes, and be the plasma-spam-of-death squad, which is also known as the 'dies-next-turn' squad. Not a real use for that one, mind you.

There are two Psychic Powers of note for the guy, as far as I can tell. Scourge of the Witches lets you roll a d6, and your score is the number of psykers that take a Ld check or Perils, starting with the closest. No, you don't get to keep the extra hits. Otherwise, it's Hammerhand, which is a filler power that gives the Inquisitor S6 in melee. Real comforting for him, I'm sure.

Finally, if for some reason you feel the need for a spare Rhino (which costs 50 points, not 35, btw) you can get one here.

Sororitas Heroine
Yay, more fate points. That's all she really is; and you don't really need her in a DW army.

You have no use for these in a DW army; they cannot attach to your squads.

Elite Selections
Elite OH Inquisitor
Skip this one. It has Ld8 and has to buy henchmen to get up to Ld10. You don't need the plasma option, truthfully. Not for what it costs here.

Well, first off, you need a priest. Since priests are not actually part of the force org chart, it might be debatable whether you can even take them. Let's assume, for a moment, that you can, and you can unlock the Arcos. Ok, they're 35 points a head for a T5, 4++ guy with a random number of power weapon attacks. While that's a great fire magnet, it's also a 210 point unit for a full set of 6 that can't ride in vehicles. On the other hand, once you kick off the injectors, they're basically Fleet; they move 6", then move another d6, and may assault; OR you can just get 6+2d6" off them in a turn.

I think they could be nasty, but Deathwing isn't exactly short on high-damage power weapons.

Sisters Repentia
It's a unit full of S6 chainfists. Wherever will we find something like that? Wait. Powerfists are standard issue in a Deathwing army. I think we can safely skip these.

Now we're getting into the nuns with guns. They're basically an elite squad of sisters with more guns. We'd take them after we take the two regular sister squads, just to have three. The downside is that they can only get a single meltagun; the other real option is a heavy flamer or multi-melta:
A sample melta configuration would look like:
5 Celestians [65]
Vet Sister upgrade [10]
Meltagun [10]
Multi-melta [15]
Rhino w/ Extra Armor, Smoke [58]
Total: 158

Or, we could drop 65 more points for a basic Immolator, and from there we get two options: 1) Realize we have a twin-linked heavy flamer we can fire even if we moved 12", or drop another 20 points for a turreted twin-linked multi-melta. Mmm, burning. AND, we still have a fire point. So, we can be a nasty melta-turret, or do nasty drive-by burnings. Hallo, options.

Assassin Operative
Note that you have to take an Inquisitor Lord to unlock these for allies. You get four options for assassins, and I'll detail them briefly. They cost 95-120 points, depending on the type.

-Vindicare Assassin: Man, snipers are cool. But impractical. He just doesn't do a lot of damage. He has some gimmicky special shots he gets to use once each, and he can pick his own targets, but...he just doesn't do enough damage.

-Culexus: I...hate psykers. I...do very little else. Skip me.

-Eversor: infiltrating CC powerhouse that explodes when killed. If you get first turn, this guy can actually do some damage. He gets a 12" assault, and +d6 attacks on the charge. He'll never need more than a 4+ to wound his target with a power weapon, AND he's got a meltabomb just in case. If you can get a good infiltration position on him, he will do unspeakable things. Downside? He's still just one T4 guy with two wounds and a 4+. But MAN, he's fun.

-Callidus: I have two uses. First, I let you reposition one enemy unit 6". Then, I pop up, fire a flamer template that's S8, AP1 vs. their leadership, and assault and ignore saves. Too bad it's limited against vehicles.

I'd have to go with the Eversor or Callidus for real utility, but the bigger problem is that you're looking to get MORE bodies out of allies, not less.

Death Cult Assassins
45 points, take up to three; they infiltrate and have power weapons. Big whoop. They're not that useful, all in all. You get much cooler guys for 43 points a head, they're called 'Terminators.'

Troop Selections
Sisters of Battle
Mmm, 11 points for T3 angry woman in power armor. Better yet, the squad can take two meltaguns, or a flamer and heavy flamer (I mean, if you're low on points, double flamers, but come on. Heavy flamers are LOVE!). Downside is a minimum of 10 per squad. A sample configuration would look like:

10 Sisters [110]
2 Meltaguns [20]
Sister Superior [14, for the fate point]
Rhino w/ Smoke, Extra Armor [58]
Total: 202

The real point is to deliver the meltaguns. in a pinch, they can rapid-fire stuff.

Or, if we really wanted to, we could bring the full 20 sisters and a leader with an eviscerator, and do some ridiculous things with Faith in combat. Oh, and bring the meltaguns. Yeah. I think I'd stick to the mech'ed up sisters first, though.

Inquisitorial Storm Troopers
We get 5-10 guys, and they each get hellguns and frags. Ho, hum. Oh, wait, we can take 2 flamers, 2 plasma guns, or, yes, two meltaguns. 70 points for two meltaguns. Theoretically we could take a combi-melta, but we'd have to pay a total of 25 for sarge and the combi-weapon, and I find that somewhat inefficient.

These guys may also access the Chimera, but their Chimera is 70 base, and must buy its weapons. It would be 85 after the obligatory multi-laser and the might-as-well hull heavy flamer. 88 after smoke, 93 after extra armor. Or, there's the Rhino at 58 after the gubbins.

5 IST [50]
2 Meltaguns [20]
Rhino w/ EA, Smoke [58]
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer [85]
Total: 128 OR 155

The Chimera's a bit more durable if you can keep the front towards the enemy, and it can contribute some middleweight gunfire and such. Plus, you get a heavy flamer you might actually use. Or, you can go for the points savings you get with a Rhino.

The big question here is one of armor saturation; do you want more AV11 or AV12 (front only, naturally). You have fire points enough to shoot your specials out of the top either way.

Fast Attack
Jump troops. Hurrah. They're 'eh' in combat, even if they can get an Eviscerator sarge and have Hit 'n' Run. Their one real benefit to you is that they can deliver a couple of flamers or twin-linked inferno pistols (which means 6" for the regular, and 3" for the +2d6, AND no AP1). You have plenty of CC and bolter fire in the Deathwing as it is, so why bring these? And, you can get melta in other places, and you have better fast attack options, like...

It's more Sisters of Battle. It's Sisters, except FOUR of them get weapon options, to the tune of flamers or meltaguns. Plus, they too can mount an Immolator, or a Rhino. A sample of this might be...

5 Dominions [55]
3 Meltaguns [45]
1 Flamer [6]
Vet Sarge [14]
Rhino w/ EA, Smoke [58]
Total: 178

More if you want the Immolator. 68 or 88, depending on the melta or heavy flamer. The mix of meltaguns and flamers is largely there to let you fire all of them out the top, and still have the joy of a template weapon. Plus, their meltaguns are 15 a head, not 10. Stupid witch hunters...

Option Roundup
So, that's what we get. Note that the Ordo Malleus has the same ISTs and Assassins, and their Inquisitor isn't that different. Out of the options outlined, I'd trim it down to these worth considering:

HQ Inquisitor
Sisters of Battle

The Inquisitor is there SOLELY for psychic defense. The others are in there becaue they can bring you melta love. Assassins are strictly a 'for funsies' proposition. The other real choice you need to make is ISTs or Sisters for your troops buddies. ISTs are suicide units, but can get you Chimeras, which may or may not be useful. The Sisters are more costly, but more durable, and can get the Book of Saint Cheese (Or, Anyone Nearby Gets My Unmodified Ld Value) which is important for keeping them alive. The other benefit of Sisters is getting some Faint Points; the most you should really have is 4, but those Acts of Faith are potentially ludicrously effective.

Sample 1850 Lists
These are by no means a tested or exhaustive list. It's simply a sample after doing this evaluation.

Belial [130]

Lord w/ Hood
3x Heavy Bolter Warriors

5 Celestians
Vet Sister upgrade, Book of Cheese, Meltagun,Multi-melta
Immolator w/ Extra Armor, Smoke

Deathwing Squad [250]
Lightning Claws, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Sarge

Deathwing Squad [250]
Lightning Claws, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Sarge

10 Sisters, 2 Meltaguns, Vet w/ Book of St Lucius
Rhino w/ EA, Smoke

10 Sisters, 2 Meltaguns, Vet w/ Book of St Lucius
Rhino w/ EA, Smoke

Fast Attack
5 Dominions,3 Meltaguns, Flamer, Vet Sarge, Book of Saint Loser
Immolator w/ EA, Smoke

Heavy Support
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [130]

Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons [130]

Total: 1847

Lots more bodies, you have melta weapons, and some usable template weapons. You even have psychic protection.

We kind of relegated the Terminators to a supporting role. We have 10 terminators plus Belial, and we have 30 sister of battle. We're pretty much a Witch Hunter list with terminators and some longer-ranged support from Dreadnoughts.

If you wanted, you could collapse the dreadnoughts into a third Deathwing Squad, but I like the long-ranged firepower.

Allies Lite
Belial [130]

Lord w/ Hood
3x Heavy Bolter Warriors

Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta

Dreadnought w/ Multi-melta

Deathwing Squad [280]
Claws, Assault Cannon, Chainfist, Apothecary

Deathwing Squad [250]
Claws, Assault Cannon, Chainfist

Deathwing Squad [250]
Claws, Assault Cannon, Chainfist

5 IST w/2 Meltaguns
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer

5 IST w/2 Meltaguns
Chimera w/ Multi-laser, hull heavy flamer

Heavy Support
Predator w/ Autocannon, Lascannon Sponsons

Predator w/ Autocannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons, Pintle Storm Bolter

Total: 1850

I feel a little more Deathwing-y now. We have psychic defense, a little bit of ranged love, and we have a decent chunk of melta support. We still have 15 terminators, and we've got some Angelic love.

Man, those Chimera were expensive. However, I feel like spamming more AV12 is a better idea; as it is those Chimeras will draw attention. I feel like the utility of the Chimera and the backup Melta-dreads is a balance, though.

In general, this list feels a little better balanced than the sister-heavy one. If you want symmetry with the predators, lose the Apothecary. As it is, I'm not sure about the predator loadout; that last 230ish points was a little bit of a head-scratcher. I feel like the list would be served by reaching out and touching someone, though, so Predators are pretty much in. This lets me switch the Dreadnoughts to multi-melta models, and advance them with everyone else.

Overall, I'm certain there's more I could do with the list-building. Those two are just examples, but I'm leaning a bit towards the second one. I feel like it still gets the Deathwing flavor in there, but gives me a bit more utility and redundancy. The sister-heavy one makes the Deathwing seem like an afterthought.

The biggest question with the Sisters is 'do I try to get Fate Points?' If so, you're looking at another 10-15 points per unit, and then you might as well get the Book of St. Lucius. The Fate Points are nice, but at some point I think you're diluting the Deathwing a bit much, and you're almost better off trying to slap Allied Grey Knight Terminators in there (if that works; I'm not 100% sure on it, but if the ally rules are similar then yeah, it would work).

To be honest, after this analysis I'm looking into the IST list idea. If nothing else, I feel like there's something to be had there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eldar Update, More Testing

I've made some changes to my Eldar lineup, and gotten a couple rounds in. The 1850 list was as follows:

1850 Mech Test
Eldrad [210]

6 Fire Dragons; one is Exarch w/ DB Flamer and Crack Shot [113]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

6 Fire Dragons; one is Exarch w/ DB Flamer and Crack Shot [113]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

8 Howling Banshees; one is Exarch w/ Executioner, War Shout, Acrobatic [160]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]

5 Dire Avengers [60]

5 Dire Avengers [60]

7 Guardian Jetbikes, 2 Shuriken Cannons, 1 Warlock on Bike w/ Embolden [224]

Heavy Support
Falcon w/ Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon, Holo-Fields [175]

Falcon w/ Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon, Holo-Fields [175]

Fire Prism w/ Shuriken Cannon [125]

1850 Total

Thoughts on the List and units
On the Fire Dragons
I'm sold on the twin-linked heavy flamers in the Fire Dragon squad. It gives them some duality, even if the heavy flamer is a bit to get in there. Crack Shot helps further by alleviating the need to Doom the unit, though Doom helps if there's going to be more fire directed at the unit.

On the Banshees
Well, one game, they kind of got their transport blown up on turn one, so...yeah. They managed to hide for the duration of the game. There's certainly some challenge associated with fielding Banshees and getting them into assault. Once in assault, they need doom, but I'm beginning to still see the utility of having some melee in there. However, they're a bit pricey to use, so...yeah.

I like having some melee support, but I'm not sure Banshees will fit the bill.

On the Guardian Jetbikes
Well, there was that one time that on turn one, I decided to get them into cover from Guard Battlecannons, and they rolled three '1s' and promptly failed the resulting morale test, and ran off the board in Dawn of War. Truthfully, I should've played it a bit different (and maybe even reserved those things, since I'm not sure I would've missed the two Shuriken Cannons for a couple turns...).

I do like that they can't be nailed down, but there's certainly an art to using them. Mostly some intelligence in placement.

Melee Solutions
Well, it's Eldar, so I have one of four options for a real assault unit:
1) Banshees
2) Scorpions
3) Harlequins
4) Seer Council

I categorically refuse to run a foot-based Seer Council, and I'd tweak a Seer-Council based build if I wanted them.

The outright substitute would be some flamer-toting Storm Guardians, but that's a suicide unit that's really only good for nuking light infantry with Doom support. Otherwise, it's Fire Dragons, which also tend to be single-use.

I'd rather have power weapon wounds, so Scorps are out.

If I DID get Scorps, I could get their Exarch w/ Biting Blade, Claw, and then 7 other guys. I fail to be convinced I really want this over the Banshees.

That leaves Harlequins as my substitute. Thing is, they can't take a Designated Transport. Well, that's not a major problem; I can get a Wave Serpent off a Dire Avenger squad, and the Harlies can borrow out. So, what can I get for 160 in Harlies? Or thereabouts.

I can get a Troupe Master and 5 Harlies with Kisses for 148. They pretty much require Doom support, and there's always the issue of the potential need for Fortune, plus the unit's not really that durable.

For the record, the 10 Storm Guardians with double-flamers would be 92. It would open up points, but...yeah. I dunno. It's MUCH less durable support, and no melee ability to speak of. I mean, ok, they have lots of attacks, but no real lethality.

Thoughts from Eldar regulars?

Basic Deathwing Variations

This article's a bit more about fluff and self-imposed army restrictions. I think that you can break down the Deathwing builds into four basic categories: 'Purist', 'Inclusive', 'Double-Wing,' and 'Fields some Deathwing Terminators.' Naturally, these titles are a bit arbitrary, but I'm not sure there are some definitive ones.

Note also that it's perfectly alright to use the Deathwing army list to represent just a first-company formation or first-company-heavy formation. Most chapters have their Terminators in the first company, as you have to be a hard core soldier among hard core soldiers to earn the right to wear it.

Deathwing Purist
The Dark Angels and successors are collectively called 'The Unforgiven', though it's supposed to be a secret, self-inflicted title. In this context, the Deathwing are privvy to the exact reasons behind the unfortunate monicker (Hint: it has something to do with half their chapter siding with Horus, or at least appearing to. Just don't ask them why their floating space station has some planetary crust stuck to the bottom.).

The Deathwing Purist mindset focuses solely on what's in the first company. The list would be:
-Deathwing Terminators
-Land Raiders

This is something of a limited list. I've touched on what you can get your Deathwing Terminators to do (and what they really can't). So, you have Dreadnoughts and Raiders to work with, or you can simply go all footslogging Terminators.

The shorthand version is that this is the most limited list, obviously. Raiders seriously cut down your model count, and if the enemy can kill AV14, you're screwed, pure and simple. Dreadnoughts can provide you with anti-tank firepower and/or long-ranged power, but there's still just not a lot of armor on the field.

Deathwing Purist also has the side effect of being finicky to build: all your points come in large chunks. Termies are 215-250ish a squad, Raiders are 250-65, and Dreads are 125-175. Tweaking a list gets to be a bit of a pain, at times.

Deathwing Inclusive
I'm going to use 'Deathwing Inclusive' to denote armies that run Deathwing Terminators as their sole source of troops, but are willing to run just about any other option. This opens you up to:
-Land Speeders

As you can see, you suddenly got some more options. For the most part, these add some range and/or anti-tank punch to the list. Those that go for triple Vindicators often take the name 'Siegewing', for example, and can boast some actual anti-tank firepower and a fire magnet even greater than the Deathwing Terminator: the Vindicator. Predators can be long-range anti-infantry torrent units, or can be configured to be lascannon/autocannon bunkers. Speeders can mount multi-meltas and heavy flamers, and Dreadnoughts can get you lots of things.

Honestly, I feel that this type of a build grants you some serious flexibility; if you're determined to make Deathwing Terminators work as troops then I think adding in some supporting flavor isn't a bad idea.

AKA 'Death-raven', this refers to building your army exclusively out of Deathwing Terminators and Ravenwing squads. This means committing to either Belial OR Sammael as HQ choices, or both. However, going 'both' is bloody costly; that's upwards of 250-300 on HQ units. Given how costly you guys are on a model-per-model basis, I'd probably roll with an either/or proposition.

The strength of this army is in its deployment flexibility; it can combine the nasty scout move of Ravenwing Bikers with teleport homers and the Deathwing Assault. This translates to 'Man, where the hell did 10-15 terminators come from on turn one?' It's amazing for putting folks on the back foot right from the beginning.

The downside of double-wing is that you're going to have a low model count, and it takes lots of points to work. At least you get fast melta on bikes, though. I'd say, though, that the low model count makes the army hellishly unforgiving, if not highly difficult to work with. Still, its strength lies in a more unusual strategy. However, if folks are used to Demons, they'll have their own deep-strike defenses; you just have fewer guys, different CC, and better saves than they're used to.

Fields Some Deathwing Terminators
This build's minimal consideration is Belial and a couple Deathwing squads. Past that, it'll mix in basic power-armored schmucks, which is really what sets it apart from the other builds. I think this can help bolster the model count that you get with Deathwing, though. I think it might also help to bring in allies like Sisters of Battle and/or melta-bearing Inquisitorial Storm Troopers.

This build is likely the most flexible and wide-open, but it's also the most diluted scheme you can go with.

In Summary
This article's a bit of a departure from my norm; it's more about theme and less about hard math and proof of what can work and what can blow up in your face. It's an interesting change of pace for me, and hopefully some variety in reading for you folks.

I'm curious to get feedback from readers on what they've seen the Deathwing in. This, of course, doesn't take into account various modeling themes, like Ron's Lustwing, or anything else. I mean, my own Deathwing project's a bit of a modeling theme; it's why they're taking so bloody long (and my quest to figure out a cheap way to get some lightning claws...).

Feedback is, of course, welcome.

Deathwing: Analysis of the Basic Building Block

What is the basic element of the Deathwing force? The Terminator squad. As such, it would probably do us well to figure out how to use them. I mean, the whole point of running terminator-heavy out of the Dark Angels codex is to run these guys as troops.

I won't lie; this is a themed build so it's going to accept some limitations. At any rate, on to the building block.

The Deathwing Squad
The Deathwing squad costs 215 points, and gets us 5 fearless terminators.

The Basics
Terminator Armor has a 2+ armor save, a 5+ invulnerable, grants Relentless, and disallows sweeping advances. Terminators carry a BS4 Storm bolter, which is adequate for anti-personnel work with two S4, AP5 shots. In assault, the basic Terminator carries a WS4 powerfist. S8, no armor saves, I1? The only downside is I1. However, Sarge carries a power weapon, so you at least get a couple S4, I4 swings that ignore armor saves.

Ranged Weapon Options
Each Deathwing squad may choose one of the following:
-Heavy Flamer (S5, AP4, Template) [5pts]
-Assault Cannon (S6, AP4, 24", Heavy 4 Rending) [30pts]
-Cyclone Missile Launcher (S8, AP3, 48", Heavy 1) [20pts]

The burnination device and assault cannon replace the storm bolter, whereas the Cyclone sits on the back and lets you fire it and the storm bolter at the same time.

Looking at the list, on foot your best option is pretty much the assault cannon. The Cyclone just doesn't do a ton against armor; a single S8 shot just kind of falls short of being impressive. Alas for the lack of the GOOD Cyclone launcher statline. The heavy flamer is hard to bring to bear if you're walking. If you're going to teleport, well, if you can land on target then the flamer's more of an option. The Assault Cannon's shorter-ranged, but it can consistently wound just about anything with a toughness, it rends, and it can be adequate against light-to-medium armor.

Melee Weapon Options
You have three melee weapon options with a Deathwing Squad
-Replace a powerfist with a chain fist [5pts]
-Trade your ranged kit for a pair of lightning claws
-Trade your ranged kit for a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield

For a mere 5 points, just about every squad should take at least one of these. Five points, the ability to mug higher armor-values? Take it.

The melee weapon options bear a bit more thought. To be honest, the Thunder Hammer and the '4++ only in melee' storm shield fall a bit short of being useful. About the only real reason that comes to mind is for wound-allocation purposes. The Lightning Claws...the benefit is that they're more effective in melee than a power weapon, and they have I4. You do, though, lose the Storm Bolter.

The downside of the melee weapons? If the enemy has power weapons, you're getting a 5+ save. Not so great, considering a given terminator is about 43 points. You have to try to pick your fistfights carefully, and if you run into vanilla-dex TH/SS termies? Not a good day for you, since you fight each other about equally until you make saves. Then his 3+ beats your 5+ hands-down.

The Use of the Deathwing Squad
To be honest, if the strength of your army is Terminators as troops, it's probably a good idea to bring heaps of 'em. Why?

Terminators have one transport option: the Land Raider chassis. It's the same cost as the squad, and it also cuts down the number of troops you have on the table in two ways: 1) fewer points spent on terminators, and 2) one less squad physically walking on the table.

As such, I think walking them is a good idea. A Raider with a squad and heavy flamer + chain fist is almost 500 points, which means that the best you could do is 3 of them and Belial in about 2,000 points, along with maybe some spare change in points.

The other problem with Land Raiders is that if the enemy DOES bring specialist kit to kill them (and a good one will), then you've not got a lot of stuff on the table.

As such, we'll be walking with guns. Assaulting them would be a fine idea, save that you have to get there. I would suggest the following configuration for the basic squad:

Walking Deathwing Squad
Sergeant w/ Power Sword
Lightning Claws
Powerfist/Assault Cannon
Powerfist/Storm Bolter
Chainfist/Storm Bolter

Pro: all distinct models. Hellooo, wound allocation shenanigans. If you want to skip the lightning claws, you can. This little bit's actually fairly comparable to a dakka-pred, save that it can monkey-punch vehicles to death. If you feel the need for a second chainfist, hand it off to the Assault Cannon, so they can't both be outed in one group.

You're capable at shooting, nastier at melee, but must carefully pick your fights and avoid power weapons like the plague. That's just how it is for Deathwing Termiantors.

Riding a Land Raider Crusader
4x Lightning Claw Pairs
1x Chainfist/Heavy Flamer
3x Lightning Claws
1x Chainfist/Heavy Flamer
1x Storm Bolter/Chainfist

If you're rolling out of a crusader, you're going to assault. As I've said before, I'm not so hot on the idea of 3x Crusaders. 2 of them, in higher points, maybe. Still, this is what you'd toss out of them. Use lightning claws, your initiative, and perhaps a chaplain for the re-rolls. Heavy flamer helps you thin the numbers, as even with massed lightning claws you're not THAT killy. (16 swings = 8/12 hits depending on WS, 6-10 wounds) If the enemy doesn't have power weapons, you're fine.

Supporting the Deathwing Squad
Here comes the tougher part, or the part that differentiates the Deathwing army: how do you back the boys in white up? They're adequate for anti-infantry work with guns, and can threaten light armor. They're not exactly long-ranged, though they can reach 30" in a turn with a move and shoot. At 1850-2000, you're probably talking 15-25 terminators, or 3-5 squads.

So, what's that leave you needing?
-Longer ranged power.
-Ranged anti-tank

Oh. And remember: POWER WEAPONS KILL YOU BADLY. If the enemy has a lot of them? Might very well be game for you. It's honestly one of the weaknesses of the army. I mean, Doom + a squad of Howling Banshees is NOT your friend.

We'll cover that another time. Feedback welcomed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Space Marines: Landspeeder vs. Attack Bike

Next up in the comparison series: Space Marine Attack Bikes versus Land Speeders. This applies for the vanilla and Angel codices (and maybe wolf ones? I don't have intel on them at the moment). Unlike the Dread Vs. Speeder, these guys are a bit closer to each other in their roles and capabilities.

I'll start by outlining their capabilities, and then move to contrasting their differences. They compete pretty well for the same role, truth be told.

-Both are fast attack choices
-both are highly mobile weapons platforms
-both have similar costs
-Both come 1-3 per Fast Attack slot
-Neither are the most durable choices in the codex

The Land Speeder
Base Chassis
The Landspeeder is a fast skimmer. As such, it can move 6" and fire everything, move 12" and fire one main/all defensive, or move flat out up to 24" and get a 4+ cover save. The Marine codex's model may also Deep Strike.

Melee against the land speeder depends on its speed, as it's a vehicle. If you catch one stationary, it's an auto-hit; if it unloads everything it's 4+, and any other time it's a 6+.

The Land Speeder has a variety of armaments. The vanilla codex has more options, but they all have the potential to mount two weapons. Selections include:
-Heavy Flamer
-Heavy Bolter
-Typhoon Missile Launcher
-Assault Cannon

The Angel codices are a bit more restricted in their options, whereas the Marine Codex can pretty much mix 'n' match, but it's limited to singles for the assault cannon and Typhoon missile launcher. As you can see, there are plenty of potential combinations. Sadly, you tend to be stuck with two guns S5 or higher, which means you have two primary weapons.

Loadouts and Duality
The strength of the weapons means that the Land Speeder is either moving 6" and firing both, or more likely to move 12" and fire one. As such, you can mix complimentary weapons that don't really need long range, or you can go for versatility.

Multi-melta/Heavy Flamer (70 points)
This model is, of course, made to move 12" and engage any target. It's a short-range loadout, but carries high-end, specialized weapons. It's also one of the few loadouts to readily be able to use the speeder's ability to Deep Strike, since it can gamble on a good scatter, get a shot in, and hopefully not die. That's mostly for the multi-melta, though.

Heavy Bolter/Typhoon Launcher (90 points)
I'd suggest this one only for the 'vanilla' codex. It is capable of staying back at 36-48" and contributing. Against infantry it fires the heavy bolter and two frag missiles (which are defensive weapons as they are S4). Killing armor? Fire two Krak missiles. This is one of the few speeders that actually mounts a defensive weapon. Note, though, that it competes with the Autocannon/Heavy Bolter predator, which is cheaper, and has comparable fire power.

Heavy Bolter/Assault Cannon (90 points)
This one's a bit hamstrung. You're stuck moving 6" to get the most out of your guns, but you crank out a solid quantity of anti-infantry shots. In a pinch, the assault cannon can attempt to engage armor, but it's not so reliable since you want sixes to damage AV11+.

Double MM (70), Double HB (60), Double Heavy Flamer (60)
While you get a backup copy of the weapon, I'm not really a fan of the doubles. Double Heavy Bolter is really the best of the lot, as it has the range to make use of the heavy bolters. It's cheap, but limited in capabilities. Double flamers is nasty, as is double-melta, but...but. They want speed to bring those short-ranged weapons to bear, but getting that 12" move means you only get one weapon.

Loadouts in Summation
I have to say it boils down to two real configs for the Land Speeder: Multi-melta/heavy flamer, and the heavy bolter/typhoon launcher (Unless your codex has 'angel' in the title). In a pinch, I'd endorse the double-heavy-bolter model, but it's a bit 'eh' in overall terms.

The Attack Bike
Basic Chassis
The Attack Bike is technically infantry. It is a bike with T4(5), a 3+ armor save, and basic marine statline outside of two wounds. All marine bikes pack a twin-linked bolter, a heavy weapon, and may fire both. Bikes can move up to 12" and fire both weapons. They may also turbo-boost 18-24" and get a 3+ cover save.

The bike is a WS4 infantry model with 2 attacks at I4. As such, it is vulnerable to melee. Technically they have access to Combat Tactics, but they have to get into assault and lose it to use it. Since they have 2 wounds, well, I'll let you guess how that works out. (Hint: not very well).

Attack bikes have a whopping 2 loadouts:

Heavy Bolter (40pts)
Multi-melta (50pts)

Didn't take long to list those, did it? The heavy bolter bike shouldn't have a problem staying far away. The multi-melta bike should be able to close at will. However, 80 points in bikes gets you two heavy bolters; whereas 85 gets you two heavy bolters, an autocannon, and that on an AV13/11/10 chassis: the Predator. Albeit, it's a heavy support choice, but 40pts for a single heavy bolter isn't that efficient.

The Comparison
This is pretty simple. Bikes carry a single, dedicated weapon system and a piddly anti-personnel gun. Landspeeders can be made to carry two distinct weapon systems.

I have to go with Speeders, here. They have duality, which is something marines simply need. You can get speeders to kill vehicles or infantry; not so much on bikes.

This is a bit of a 'depends' thing. Bikes can get into melee, but really shouldn't. I suppose in a pinch, a biker can try to tie something up in assault. However, it needs to be something relatively weak in melee; T4(5) doesn't stop a lot, and two WS4, S4 attacks just don't do that much.

I feel like this is one of the bigger comparison points. Which is more durable? AV10 on a vehicle, or two wounds to a model at T4(5) with a 3+? You guess it, it's MATH TIME! (Seriously, if you hate math, why are you playing this game?)

Vs S4 shots
Speeder can be glanced. Assuming two weapon systems, you'd need four glances at 5-6 to do enough damage to kill the vehicle. That's more than the 8 S4 hits it takes to torrent down a biker.

Vs S5 Shots
Takes about 12 such hits to kill off a biker. Two of these twelve will penetrate speeder's armor, which means that they'll score 0.66 speeder kills. Speeder wins.

Vs S6
Nine of these kill off the biker. Nine such shots score two penetrating hits, which is again 0.66 speeder kills on average.

Vs S7
Seven shots see the biker dead here. Seven such shots should also just about see the speeder dead too, on penetrating hits.

Vs S8+
Oh, now? Now you're pretty much talking about AP3 weapons that insta-kill the biker. If the biker has no cover? One hit should do it. A speeder gets penned by it 2/3 of the time, so it takes about 3 S8 hits to make sure the speeder goes away. Here's where the AV really starts winning out. The bike should be able to get some cover, but that just means two S8 hits max instead of one.

Going Real Fast
Against smaller arms, the biker doesn't really care about getting a 3+ cover save, because it already has a power armor save. Obviously against S8+ stuff that breaks the armor, this is huge because it gives you durability back. The speeder can get a 4+ save, and benefits much more against the small arms fire, effectively doubling what it needs to get to kill it (aside from that pesky 'immobilization = death' when going flat out...crash and burn INDEED).

Durability Overall
I haveto side a bit with the Speeder here. It worries much less about small arms, and once you get to the heavier stuff the biker starts courting instant death.

Terrain Effects
Speeders get to go over terrain. Bikes can go through it, but take Dangerous Terrain tests for wounds. When going over it, speeders win. However, speeders take dangerous terrain tests for landing in the terrain, so it's a little bit evened up there.

I have to hand the advantage to the speeder, simply because it can often take the most direct route with the least penalty.

Bike wins in terms of sheer points. 50 points will always be equal to or lower than whatever you pay for a speeder. Speeders are 60-90 points, for the most part. However, it's up for debate about the cost-effectiveness: bikes are cheaper, but speeders can be multi-roled. The kits are also similarly priced; I believe it's about $30 for the speeder and $25 for the bike. Feels like more of a rip on the bike, though.

Model Size
The skimmer base and a bike's 60mm round base are about the same. However, the speeder's on a flying stand and the bike...does not fly. As such, it's easier to completely hide the bike behind Rhinos and shorter terrain.

On the other hand, the speeder's a bit different. One weapon is mounted in the passenger's hands in a pintle mount, and the other's on the chin. A Rhino will generally block the chin mount (IE: second heavy bolter, assault cannon, heavy flamer). However, the long-range landspeeder's Typhoon missile launchers are mounted above and behind the cockpit, so there's no gun blockage.

At the end of the day, I have to go for the Speeder. It costs a bit more, but it's a bit more durable. More importantly, the speeder has duality. You can get the same speeder to engage infantry formations or armored vehicles. Sure, you could get a bike squadron to do both, but at 90 points you're always wasting half of it. You might do some tricks, but...I dunno. I'd rather drop 70 on the MM/HF speeder.

I think you can get some stuff out of the bikes with their melee potential, but it's highly situational. I feel like the speeder is going to be more durable and more versatile for the points. Get more bang for your buck; get a speeder.

And if all else fails, the speeder might blow up in melee and kill the people who beat it down. Let's see your bike do that. Sure, 1/6 odds, but it's funny as hell when it happens.