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Friday, 21 November 2014

Army List: Eldar and Dark Eldar Synergistic Mech


I had an interesting discussion today with a Dark Eldar player on how to best integrate Craftworld Eldar into his army lists. It became quickly apparent to me that he was trapped in a 6th Ed mindset that was hindering his 7th Ed list building.

Most of our discussion revolved around combinations of infantry and transports; specifically, should Kabalite Warriors ride Raiders or Venoms, and should Wave Serpents carry Dire Avengers or Guardian Defenders? These are fair questions, but what about all the other available combinations? After all, Avengers can ride Raiders, Dragons can ride Venoms, Kabalites can ride Falcons—when it comes to Battle Brother allies, you need to let go of pre-7th Ed, Codex-based thinking and consider infantry and transports holistically across allied Factions.

Infantry

Eldar:
  • Fire Dragons (Elites)
  • Dire Avengers (Troops)
  • Guardian Defenders (Troops)
Dark Eldar:
  • Kabalite Trueborn (Elites)
  • Kabalite Warriors (Troops)
Dragons and Trueborn (with Blasters) both fulfill an anti-tank role. Five Dragons bring five Fusion Guns for 110 pts and five Trueborn bring four Blasters for 115 pts. Dragons are clearly the better choice here—the only advantage of the Trueborn is the 6" range advantage of Blasters, which is mitigated by the Dragons' Battle Focus and the mobility of Fast Skimmer transports.

Avengers, Guardians and Kabalites all fulfill an anti-personnel role. Avengers and Guardians have pseudo-Rending and Kabalites have Poison; Avengers/Guardians have the advantage against high-Sv targets while Kabalites are better against high-T targets. Both Avengers/Guardians and Kabalites are equally valid choices. Avengers have a 6" range advantage over Guardians and can fit into Venoms, while Guardians are significantly cheaper model-for-model.

Transports

Eldar:
  • Wave Serpent (Elites/Troops)
  • Falcon (Heavy Support)
Dark Eldar:
  • Raider (Elites/Troops/Fast Attack)
  • Venom (Elites/Troops/Fast Attack)
The Serpent and Falcon are similarly resilient and shooty; some may disagree, but remember that the only difference between the two transports is the Pulse Laser versus the Serpent Shield, assuming the Shield is used offensively most turns. While the Serpent Shield is a universally feared weapon, the S8 AP2 Pulse Laser is very useful for killing high-T, high-Sv targets—like Riptides and Wraithknights—against which the Shield can be a less efficient weapon. In a pure Eldar army, I believe it is worthwhile mixing Serpents and Falcons to get a balance of firepower types; however, DE can bring cheaper S8 AP2 weapons so the Serpent is generally a better choice in a mixed Eldar/DE army.

The Raider and Venom are dissimilar vehicles—the Raider is much more resilient while the Venom is much shootier—but both are similar in that they allow infantry to fight mounted, thanks to the Open-Topped rule. I believe that this shared characteristic is more important than the intrinsic shootiness of either transport.

Consider some of the rules that apply to Open-Topped Skimmer Transports like the Raider and Venom:
Jink
...If the unit Jinks, all models in the unit... gain a 4+ cover save... but they can only fire Snap Shots...
Fire Points
...Models firing out of a vehicle that moved at Combat Speed count as having moved... Models firing out of a vehicle that moved at Cruising Speed can only fire Snap Shots...
Open-Topped
...all passengers in an Open-Topped Transport can fire...
Deep Strike
...Vehicles... count as having moved at Combat Speed...

When a Raider or Venom Jinks, it gains a 4++ save (the Raider can improve this to 3++ with Nightshields) and while the transport itself can then only Snap Fire, its passengers can still at their full BS (if the transport does not exceed Combat Speed). Being Open-Topped, all passengers may shoot. And if a Raider or Venom Deep Strikes in, its passengers still shoot at full BS that turn.

Now if a Raider or Venom is often Jinking—and Snap Firing—then the firepower of its passengers is more significant than the intrinsic firepower of the transport. Given that the Raider is more resilient than the Venom—with its extra HP and Nightshields—and that it can carry double the passengers for double the firepower, Raiders are generally a better choice than Venoms in a mixed Eldar/DE army. However, it is still worthwhile to bring a mix of Raiders and Venoms, since in most games you will probably not need to Jink all your transports every turn, and Venoms can contribute useful firepower when not Jinking.

Combinations

Here are some of the best infantry/transport combinations available to an Eldar/DE army:
  • Five Dragons in a Venom
  • Five Avengers in a Venom
  • Ten Avengers in a Raider
  • Ten Guardians in a Raider
  • Five Kabalites in a Falcon
  • Ten Kabalites in a Raider with Splinter Racks
"Where are the Serpents?!?" I hear you cry. Serpents are great but their passengers are mostly irrelevant; you may as well run them as empty gunships. So every time you buy an Avenger, Dragon or Guardian squad you can buy them a dedicated Serpent to run empty, then buy a Fast Attack Raider/Venom in a DE Detachment to transport your Eldar infantry.

Note that small, cheap Kabalite squads with Objective Secured can ride Falcons to effectively give the transport Objective Secured too; but remember that this only works if you are taking DE in a Combined Arms or Allied Detachment, not a Realspace Raiders Detachment.

Example Army List

Combined Arms Detachment

HQ

Farseer with Singing Spear, Jetbike and Mantle of the Laughing God (Warlord)

Elites

5x Fire Dragons in Wave Serpent with Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon and Holofield
5x Fire Dragons in Wave Serpent with Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon and Holofield

Troops

10x Dire Avengers in Wave Serpent with Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon and Holofield
10x Dire Avengers in Wave Serpent with Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon and Holofield

Realspace Raiders Detachment

HQ

Court of the Archon, 1x Lhamean

Troops

5x Kabalite Warriors in Venom with two Splinter Cannons
5x Kabalite Warriors in Venom with two Splinter Cannons

Fast Attack

Raider with Dark Lance and Nightshield
Raider with Dark Lance and Nightshield
Venom with two Splinter Cannons
Venom with two Splinter Cannons

Heavy Support

Ravager with three Dark Lances and Nightshield
Ravager with three Dark Lances and Nightshield

2000 pts

This list would be played as:
  • Four empty Serpents (two with Objective Secured)
  • Four Venoms, carrying two Dragon squads and two Kabalite squads
  • Two Raiders carrying two full-sized Avenger squads
  • Two Ravagers
I would normally start the Serpents and Ravagers on the table and keep the Venoms and Raiders in Deep Strike Reserve; they can drop in and deliver their potent short-ranged firepower wherever its needed most, after the gunships have had a turn or two to soften up the opposition. The Farseer would normally roll on Strategic Traits and three times on Telepathy in the hope of getting Invisibility or Shrouding, plus Shriek. The Lhamean just hides out of LOS and tries not to give up a VP.

Note that this list includes small squads of Kabalites in Venoms instead of big squads in Raiders, which would be a better configuration in isolation. However, the points saved by keeping these units in the cheaper configuration allowed me to include Ravagers, which I think make for a better list overall.

This list really highlights how you can embrace the 7th Ed list building rules to make an interesting and effective army list—stop thinking in the 6th Ed mindset of primary and allied Codexes, and start thinking about Detachments and Factions, and how to blend them for optimal effect.