Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dark Eldar Release

Well the glorious day is finally here, and to say that I am really excited would be an understatement. While I keep a calm face in my normal life on the inside it is all (black, vindictive, and decadent) unicorns and rainbows (created by light passing through the blood of enemies of the dark eldar).

I received my first models on Thursday, and I have been assembling almost non-stop since then. As I work with a feverish determination created by 9 long years of waiting, I have come across a few issues. Firstly, the raiders take an incredible amount of time to put together. I mean it verges on insanity. The first two I put together in the company of my friends, and while I took two breaks for lunch and dinner I worked from around 1pm to 1 am and completed only two raiders. Yeah two raiders in about twelve hours (plus time for chit chat and eating). The second two only took around 2-3 hours each, but that still seems overly time consuming.

The warrior squads (of which I am on the second) put together longer than their craftworld cousins, and they are the only models I have ever put together that have a "butt plate" that you need to glue on.

Even though each an every model takes a lot of time to assemble it really is a joy to see them come together. I must say that all of the figures in the range are really amazing works of art. As my army continues to grow I keep getting more and more impressed by the quality of the miniatures. My old warriors look foolish in comparison with their newer cousins, and while I had initially considered mixing my old raiders in with the new, as they are still decent models, the more I look at the detail work the more I feel I should have nothing but the new kits.

My new codex force won't be entirely made up of the new GW kits, as my converted wyches will still remain. I actually plan to convert at least a few more units like a Voidraven Bomber, some Wracks, and a few Haemonculi. The bomber is on the back seat, as it seemed to really under-perform in it's first outing. The wracks, however, did fairly well, and I can see a place for them in my force.

The Wracks will be a huge endeavor on my part as I plan to put 5 different kits to use, and add copious amounts of green stuff and plasticard. For those of you who don't know Wracks are more or less humanoid creations of a mad scientist. Complete with disproportionate bare chests, hook, various sharp bits, faceless masks/helmets, tattered robes, and wires they are truly an intimidating and horrible opponent to face.
The picture alone had me "hooked" so I quickly brainstormed up some ideas. So far I am going with Empire Flagellant legs and arms, Ungor Torsos, Chaos Warrior and Wych helmets, Dark Elf Corsair Weapons, various extra bits from the Raider and Warrior sprues, and of course plasticard, green stuff and wire. It will be a lot of work, so I will post my progress as I go.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Raider Rush and Jetbikes Revisited.

The new Dark Eldar codex is only a few weeks away, so I figured I would post a basic tactic using and army based around Raiders. For those of you who don't know Raiders are the basic transport for Dark Eldar. While they are very fragile, they are also very good at their job; getting units around quickly. Being open topped not only allows the units inside them to disembark and assault in the same turn, but also allow every model inside to fire. This combination of abilities means that Raider can quite effectively give you the ability to hit your opponent hard before they can hit you. The downside to the raider is that they are extremely fragile, so hitting your opponent first is not only a benefit, but a necessity.

They technique starts in the deployment phase. If you go first (like the game in the example) try to spread your units up into three even sections. On your left and right sides evenly distribute your assault units and shooting units in Raiders. This allows you to maneuver to either side equally well, and makes your intentions harder to read. In the center (if you can) you will place your mobile firebase, either Ravagers in my case, or whatever you prefer. I like disintegrators on Ravagers because they can shoot quite far to support either side of the board. Always place your vehicles in cover, even if you are deploying first, you never know when someone will steal the initiative. If you are going second you have an easier time of deploying, you can see your opponents formations and counter them. Just be sure to deploy out of line of sight where possible.

It is now up to you to assess your situation and decide where to attack. Since you are evenly distributed in your deployment zone you should be able to attack anywhere on their side of the board. In this game I saw that my opponent had a Devastator squad in the building to the left, and I wanted to have cover saves against it as long as possible. I also saw that there was a dreadnought on the other side, and I figured I could easily punch through the armor and leave an opening on that side of the board for my Raiders to safely occupy. The cover was also more advantageous for me to go to the right, as there was a lot in the way of those Devastators. Just look at every unit your opponent has and imagine what I like to call their "threat radius," or how far they can attack. Sometimes you want to head toward the units with the longest range because that means their advantage will be lessened, and sometimes this also leaves the short range units too far away to stop you. Move your Raiders on the side your attacking 12" out, if you think you don't need the extra speed or if you really need to fire the dark lances. The other side should make a full 24" move if possible to try and meet the rest of the army. The center firebase should try and soften up units that either can hurt your Raiders or that your units will be attacking next turn. The idea is that on turn two your entire army hits at the same time. This leaves your opponent with nothing to attack you with in the nearby area, so you are only left with a handful of attacks against your fragile units.

Nightshields gave me great protection this turn, and they have really helped in most of my games with the old codex. Flickerfields are an interesting choice in the new book that gives your vehicles a 5+ invulnerable save, but your should really be using cover to your advantage wherever possible (it's free and a 4+). Notice how the only Raiders that are not using cover are the ones that are facing almost all s4 shooting.

Turn 2 is when almost all your units should be hitting. Move your combat unit transports the full 12" hop out your 3" and get ready. Your Raiders with warriors should try and move only 6" if they can get into rapid-fire range and try and take down small targets or ones with low armor. Fleet and Assault if nessisary for your combat units making sure to pick appropriate targets for each. In this case my Incubi went for the terminators and Captain, while my Wyches attacked a regular tactical squad. My warriors shot down and killed a combat squad with help from a Ravager, and all the raiders combined to finish off the Dreadnought.

After both close combats I tried to consolidate into cover. This is especially important for the Wyches as they only have a 6+ armor save and are real powerhouses as long as you can keep them alive. Some fire will inevitably take down some of your units, but if you are lucky and pulled off the initial move correctly, they should not be much left in range (or in general).

That leaves you turn 3 to either finish up combats or sweep out whatever is left of your opponent. Move your units back into their transports if they are still alive and repeat.

Just be sure that every step of the way to try and keep your Raiders in cover. With only armor 10 they go down even to bolter fire so having that 4+ save helps immensely. Nightshields are your best friend, especially on Ravagers, who can then outshoot heavy bolters safely.

I hope this can get starting Dark Eldar players on their way to victory, as those first few games can sometimes be rough. More advanced tactical guides will follow in the next few days, but despite this being rather basic it works very effectively in most of the games you will probably play. Be sneaky, Dark Eldar don't win by brute strength, always try to outsmart your opponent, and know more about their army then they do. Knowledge is power!

Speaking of knowledge I played a game using the new codex just so I could see how the reworked Reaver Jetbikes perform. After taking them for a spin I am still rather torn. The game was against Tau, and while the swoop attack was great against Kroot who were out in the open because they thought they were far enough away (spearhead deployment) I have a feeling they I won't be facing a squad of Kroot out in the open in every game I play in the future. I ran with a unit of 7, in fact I pretty much just rewrote my old list so the bikes had blasters and a unit leader with an agonizer (no more s5 punisher...). My basic assessment is that they need to be turbo boosting every round to survive. I did everything with them; swooped, shot, and assaulted. Everything was lackluster except for the fly-by swoop attack. I can't see blasters for tank popping being too effective considering the 5+ armor. With blasters being a 1 per 3 jetbike choice it means your unit has to be fairly large to guarantee the vehicle kill, and that becomes cost prohibitive really quickly. In my next game I will try a completely bare 6 man unit with no upgrades whatsoever. Hopefully this will keep their cost down, and make sure they have a set focus of "just being annoying." My plan is to use them to harass small units, soften up targets that I plan to shoot or assault, and to use the 36" turbo-boost to park next to enemy units that are falling back. I can also see them being helpful in a Two-Wave game plan when having all your Raider units hit at once isn't possible.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dark Eldar Spark

Well, Dark Eldar are on the horizon, and to say that I am excited would be a massive understatement.

I have been playing Dark Eldar for about as year and a half now, as a break from my Jetbike Eldar list. I must say that even for an old book, the army is really fun. Dark Eldar was the army that got me into Warhammer 40k, along with the Witch Hunters, so seeing them get a new book is awesome. Way back in the day I only played Fantasy, and I considered 40k to be a "lesser game." That all changed when I read an article in a White Dwarf where someone described the in-depth tactics and strategies on how to play Dark Eldar. I saw much more complexity in this game than I ever knew existed, and I was hooked.

I waited, and I waited for a new book with better models, because I just couldn't shell out the cash for those old hideous units. Last spring I got tired of waiting, so I started converting and working on my own models.

With the advent of a new Dark Eldary era upon us my efforts for converting have waned, because the new models are just spectacular.

All in all my raider-heavy list built for speed hasn't changed much at all except for the strength through pain special rule that will make my wyches and incubi much more resilient. The reworked units (pretty much everything else in the army) seem like they are in general much better and more viable and the new stuff looks cool too so hopefully there will be all sorts of different armies cropping up.

That isn't to say that everything is great, the book is an improvement to be sure, but there are some changes that I really question.

First off dark eldar jetbikes, no longer give +1 strength or a 4+ save, and HQs no longer get the option to be mounted on them. This one is a biggy, there is a HUGE drop in their battle effectiveness for the ability to turbo-boost 36" and do a weak flyby attack. I would expect a larger points drop for what they lost...pretty much the ability to kill things and not die when sneezed on. Turbo boosting that far is cool and all, but a 3+ cover can only get you so far, and I really don't see this unit being able to kill anything in close combat or shooting without dieing instantly.

The splinter rifle is still rapid fire, and warriors are still mediocre. Enough said here really, not a huge problem, as the army has plenty other ways to deal damage, but it would have been nice to give the basic warrior the option to be a light assault unit for fun. I will try new weapon loadouts on my warriors to see if I can get them to be more effective. Overall warriors continue to be pretty sub-par as a core unit compared to everything else in the game.

Hellions can pull independent characters out of units when they hit an run. This rule is pure fun, but I just don't see it being something that I would want to do every game. Since it is used as part of a hit-and-run move it just isn't that tactically sound. All I can see it being used for is to separate characters from a unit that gives them buffs or vice versa (like pulling a Weirdboy to lower his leadership from mob rule so he can't pass psychic tests).

Incubi squads can't have warriors in them anymore. Right now, I wound allocate on my Archon bodyguard like crazy, it really makes them the only unit in the book who can take a beating. Armor ignoring wounds can go to the warriors who have crap armor anyway, keeping those Incubi alive and kicking. Feel no Pain won't help this much, so it seems like Incubi will be less resilient in the new book for against people who really want them dead (which is everybody).'

Those are the big ones that rub me the wrong way, but overall I must say that new is good for the Dark Eldar.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Adepticon 2010

Well, the whole experience was just...Wow. The scale of this convention is just insane, and I must say, that despite my familiarity with other tournaments playing against 440 other people is just daunting. The day for us went really well, my teammates and I secretly decided to go for commander's heads rather than going for winning the tournament overall. The decision was made in part due to the fact that we were playing Speed Freak Orks. With all the mechanized armies (more on that later) we knew we would be hard pressed to deal with vehicles, since Ork really struggle against them. For those of you who don't know commander's heads is killing all your opponents team's HQs, while keeping yours alive. Our list was fast, our HQs were resilient, and we have some great killing power, so it seemed like a natural fit. We did pretty well in our goal, but one team actually got a perfect score. At the end of the day, after a grueling 17 hours of tournament gaming, we ended up in 20th place out of 110 teams. Considering we weren't even going for victories as our primary objective it was shocking to say the least.

Of the armies present at the tournament I would have to say (and this is no exaggeration) that at least half of them were mechanized Imperial Guard. Yes, all the armies from 40k were present, but seeing one army that was so clearly dominant was definitely a turnoff. Of the rest of the armies that were not mech guard, I would have to say that 90% of them were mechanized, and there was not a single army that I saw that had no vehicles at all. Yes, even Tyranid teams made themselves genestealer cults, "'Cause what Tyranids need are more Mech Guard." Having such cookie cutter lists dominate well over half of the armies was surely a turnoff, and I can only hope that it is a passing fad. I feel the whole situation has to do with what GW seems to do when certain units or upgrades are powerful/weak. It what I like to call the "Starcannon syndrome." The starcannon used to be the go-to weapon for eldar players back in 3rd edition, it was cheap and effective with its 3 ap2 shots. When the 4th edition codex came out, however, the starcannon not only lost one of its shots, but when up in points as well. This was a double hit in its effectiveness, and now starcannons are rarely taken. GW has done the reverse with vehicles (and specifically transports) in 5th edition. Not only did all vehicles become tougher, but they are becoming cheaper as well. Chimeras (which are the go-to vehicles right above Vendettas) dropped in 20 points over their 3rd edition counterparts, got tougher, got free upgrades, and became more effective with their fire points...what...the...heck... Seeing team after team with 6 or more chimeras and at least 2 vendettas got old fast.

In the end despite the IG, it was definitely a positive experience. All but one team were great sports and a real blast to play against. I look forward to playing more games in my shop with my own army against people who like to think for themselves.

More coverage on my (and my team's) tournament lists, and some pictures as well. After that I may start working on my Eldar Vampire Hunter.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Where have I been?

Wow, it has been almost a year since I have posted here. It has been way too long. Well I will fix that right now!

I am gearing up for Adepticon with my Orks. Orks? Those sound too unruly and imprecise for your tastes, you might say. Well yes, but I think I will have fun in the team tournament with my friends, and thats what it is all about. I will post pictures of my massive 'Ard Boy conversions, which are took the bulk of my prep time. I will be pressing it close to finish painting in time, but I think I can do it.