Tuesday, April 24, 2018

DE: Evolution of a competitive list

Double-face Archon is the best Archon.

Man, I am freaking excited to write this article.  There has been a lot of questions floating around lately that I want to address and the more I think about it, the more I can root cause it to this very topic.  I want to talk about the evolution of a competitive list, the aftermath of several games after you've finalized your competitive list.  This is essentially the Part 2 of my rather popular Army Building Guide.

Before I begin in the earnest, let's talk about what kind of questions have been asked in the last couple of days.  Yes, I do get Email and comments both on here and on the Dark City forums.  Some of the topics that have been talked about are:
  • How many Dark Lances vs. Dissies?
  • Take me through your thought process after the Big FAQ?
  • General question asked to all: What does a competitive DE list look like?
  • Warriors or Wyches and why?

While all these questions might seem like they don't connect at first, I assure you they do.  At least to the min-maxy type of player like me who likes to play in a competitive setting, all of these questions are completely valid.  They are valid because I've put this list through a lot of thought, theory and practice questions against a variety of lists and opponents.  Some opponents bring harder lists than others, some not so much.  At the end of the day, a lot of these questions can be answered with "well, that depends" because every playing environment is different, and therefore, every meta is different.  Regardless of whether or not you're playing in a local meta or in a GT, you must go into every environment with a gameplan.  This means knowing the meta, predicting the meta, and taking your list through the gauntlet so you can answer what works best for you (in terms of playstyle) and what will be effective on the battlefield.

So, now that you've read through that guide and have a general idea of how I like to min-max my army lists, let's take a trip down memory lane to the very first army list I posted.

This was before the big FAQ:

1998 - 7 CP
Flayed Skull Battalion - 3 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91

TROOP:
5x Warriors, Blaster = 47
Venom, 2x SC = 75
122

5x Warriors, Blaster = 47
Venom, 2x SC = 75
122

10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, Dark Lance = 114
Raider, Splinter Racks, Dark Lance = 95
209

10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, Dark Lance = 114
Raider, Splinter Racks, Dark Lance = 95
209

10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, Dark Lance = 114
Raider, Splinter Racks, Dark Lance = 95
209

FLYER:
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lances = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lances = 145

+++

Black Heart Spearhead - 1 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Warlord: Labyrinthine Cunning
Artifact: Writ of Living Muse

TROOP:
7x Warriors, Blaster = 59
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
144

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dark Lances = 140
Ravager, 3x Dark Lances = 140
Ravager, 3x Dark Lances = 140

>>>
Firepower Analysis:
20 Dark Lances at BS3+
9 Blasters at BS3+
3 Blasters at BS2+
4 Splinter Cannons at BS3+
21 Splinter Rifles at BS3+ with Flayed Skull + Splinter Racks
19 Splinter Rifles at BS3+ elsewhere
2 Razorwing Missiles at BS3+

Possibly the best DE gif to ever exist.

This is not a bad list, but let me take you through all the thought exercises I put myself through while playing with this list over 12 times now.  Remember, when you take your list through a gauntlet, the objective here is to build knowledge and experience.  Knowledge in the sense that you know what every unit in the list is designed to do and what you purchased it to do (very different things), and experience in the sense that in X matchup on Y battlefield in Z scenario, you know what to do with said units.

Here are the thought exercises that I ran through in 12 games.  There might be more, but these are the highlights.  I will write a short blurb about each:

Balancing Dark Lances with Dissies
I started off with a lot of Darklight, and most importantly, a lot of Dark Lances that have 36" range.  This was because my meta is saturated with competitive builds of Imperials (double SR/Dante, Azrael Hellblaster Deathstars, Guard CP bats/Custodes, AdMech Robots/Guard CP, or just Guard CP Tank Park).  While I thought the results were decent, I was finding myself less effective against MEQ out in the open.  Shooting a Dark Lance at a Marine is always satisfying, but it's not the best use of points because it's typically overkill.  It's pretty much just wasted on Guard and less effective vs. Shield-Captains on Dawneagles.  Therefore, I needed to strike a balance between lances for longer engagements and Dissies for volume and more efficient killing those targets I just named.  I can literally go on with this forever, but what you need to do is do a firepower analysis (or whatever your primary killing method is) and range band everything with respect to what units you're engaging.  The targets depend completely on your meta and your predictions for the meta.  More on this later.  Just remember that lances are better vs. T6/7 3+ targets (so basically Rhinos/Robots) while Dissies are better vs. everything else.

Venoms vs. Raiders
This one was an easier decision for me because I wanted more heavy weapons and transport space for Warriors.  It was either more Dark Lance presence for AT or Dissies for general purpose.  Either way, my meta called for less anti-infantry and more heavy weaponry which only the Raider can deliver.  I also noticed that in my first couple of games, losing Venoms also dropped my SCs which was surprisingly frustrating.  The next point will explain more.

Taking Dark Lances on Warriors
This is just playtesting at work.  I originally thought:  Great!  More lances the better right?  Not really, because I noticed that I tend to move around a lot while engaging, and the new Strategems like Fire and Fade kept my army active at all times.  Investing 20 points into a Dark Lance is good, but having it hit on 4+ after you move is not.  This is pretty much a 50/50 and after several games, I wanted to commit to something more efficient.  This is when I started weighing the importance of having a 10 point SC upgrade on my Warriors vs. 10 point Splinter Racks vs. Flayed Skull and the re-rolls.  I found that the Splinter Racks are good, but math says SCs are point for point much better.  It also stays there after you lose the Raider and further increases in damage with respect to range compared to racks.  Boom, made the switch and I've been liking the results so far.  In some ways, I would say that Warriors carrying SCs is more durable than Venoms because they're less of a fire magnet.

Converting from Flayed Skull to Black Heart
You can find me writing a lot about this, but I wanted to bring more units under Black Heart simply because I can take advantage of the Archon's Living Muse on the Raiders themselves.  The more I played with Black Heart, the more I saw an advantage in keeping my Raiders alive and thus, keeping the bulk of my firepower unharmed and alive as well.  As long as my Warriors are inside and shooting, I felt less pressure on my presence on the board and greater pressure on my opponent once more of his things started dying.  This is what I need because as Dark Eldar, you need to keep pressure and maintain momentum and tempo in a game.  Keeping my units alive was more important to me in that sense, and the more heavy weapons I can put in-range of my Archon, the better results I was having.  There's a follow-up to this below, and that's also because Black Heart transports work better for Obsidian Rose units.

Black Heart Air Wing to unlock AoV
I feel like a genius for discovering this and blogging about it, but not really because it was pretty much a braindead choice.  AoV is great and just having it in the army mindfucks your opponent every time he wants to use a Strategem.  Remember again guys, the more you make your opponents think, the higher your chances are of winning.

Min-maxing different detachments to spread obsession bonuses (Black Rose)
OK, this one I will take credit for because I think it's awesome.  My Kabal of the Black Rose is simply the original pure Kabal list min-maxed as much as possible to suit my playstyle.  Since I was already using Black Heart vehicles for their durability, AoV, re-rolls thanks to Living Muse and Cunning, I knew I needed to compliment that with an Obsession that would fit my particular playstyle.  Flayed Skull was great, I've played it a few times, but it was too much of a glasshammer that encouraged overly aggressive plays.  While I normally like that kind of play because I'm a highly aggressive player, my meta matchups needed something more flexible.  I also noticed that the closer I got to Shield-Captains, the more I subjected myself to losing Raiders.  This is more self-enlightenment more than anything else:  I'm an aggressive player but I needed more threat without exposing myself to painful Space Marine assaults.  I also needed something that I can poke and run because my meta have big scary melee units.  Great, Obsidian Rose it is.  Combine that with Black Heart and I have my Kabal of the Black Rose.  Boom.

Trying min-squad vs. decent squad Wyches in Raiders
This feels like the odd-man out here, but I needed to try Wyches because I have like 50 of them sitting in a bin.  They're great, I love them and I think they definitely will see play, but maybe not in a list like mine because the only thing I'm doing is taking away from my firepower.  This is the list schism that I was talking about in my previous articles on how to build lists, and that's if you start to branch off and try to do different things (especially polarizing things), you water down your ability to be effective.  When I mean polarizing, I mean specifically mixing shooting and melee whereas if you take the Meat Mountain + Wyches, you might get better results because there's more of a particular form of pressure that can overwhelm your opponent if they're not ready for it.  Either way, I see merits in both min-squads vs. the larger 8-9 man squads of Wyches in a Raider.  I still think Raiders are their best method of delivery, especially when you have shenanigans like Enhanced Aethersails and Fire and Fade (with a Dissie-mounted Raider) on T1.  If I wanted to play more casual, I'll mix up my lists some more, but if I wanted to just play the ranged game and shoot with my Black Rose, I will go for more shooting, period.

Switching to Dark Lances on my Razorwings
After a bunch of games, I started noticing one thing:  Once I converge with my Razorwings on that first initial high-five with my Living Muse Archon, they flew off to wherever I needed them to go.  I never saw them within ass-slapping range of my Archon ever again so I knew something had to change.  I knew I still needed Dissies, but just how many of them?  This goes back to the question about balancing Dissies with Darklight, but after even more min-max testing, I decided that Ravagers were enough for now.  Having 9 shots that are always in range of re-roll 1s to Hit and Wound was giving me the right results, whereas I've had more success moving Dark Lances to the Razorwings.  The range threat was still the same, but the big difference for me there was that my lances need 3s to wound most things I wanted dead vs. the 5s that I would need with Dissies.  Without the re-rolls, 3s are much better than 5s when dealing damage for sure.  The other factor for me was that I found my previous firepower analysis was a bit biased towards Dissies:  Having 15 Dissies and less 36" range lances.  My first couple of turns in my meta is more probing and poking, and I definitely needed some added long-range weight before I pounce forward with my superior threat range.  Notice how I'm using my experience in games to guide my decisions with what the list looks like in accordance to my meta and playstyle.

What my lists look like after the big FAQ
Well, the good news is that not much really changed for DE.  I min-maxed some shit here and there but overall, the Black Rose emerged pretty victorious after all the dust settled.  My lists are not overly ridiculous with more Ravagers than a bag can hold, and I typically build for more balanced lists than something completely over the top.  OK, the 20 36" lances were kinda hilarious though.  What I need to pay attention to going forward is not how my lists adapt, but how my competitive meta evolves.  I have initial predictions that I will see more Guard players because I think they came out pretty good with the CP boosts for Bats and Brigades.  Armies that relied heavily on alpha-striking with CC and dropping in the first turn also got hit, which further strengthens the power of gunline-oriented armies.  With that said, I need to think about which armies out there will take advantage of the FAQ the most and prepare my list accordingly.  For now, I think my mix is pretty decent since I just converted more units to carry lances, but only time and more playtesting will tell.

Well, there you have it folks.  The first list I posted was on the last day of March.  After all the experience and games, this is what I landed on today:

An artistic expression for my contempt for bad lists.

Kabal of the Black Rose
1999 // 10 CP

Obsidian Rose Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster, PGL = 94
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster, PGL = 94

TROOP:
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104

+++

Black Heart Spear +1 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Warlord: Cunning, Living Muse

TROOP:
7x Warriors, Blaster, BP = 69

PARTY BUS:
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125

+++

Black Heart Wing +1 CP

FLYER:
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145

>>>
Firepower Analysis:
11 Dark Lances at BS3+
9 Dissies at BS3+
9 Blasters at BS3+
3 Blasters at BS2+
3 Razorwing Missiles at BS3+
4 Splinter Cannons at BS3+
40 Splinter Rifles at BS3+

Is this list perfect?  Hell no.  The big question up in the air right now is what the new competitive meta is going to look like.  However, you bet your ass that I will be actively thinking about all the topics I went over today as we keep on murdering our opponents.  Luckily, I've had enough games with the list above that I'm feeling pretty good, so I'm currently testing other lists to gauge which is more competitive.  That's another story for another time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

DE: Miserable Meat Mountain

Get. Cleaved. Hard.

Today is a special day.  Why?  Because I'm posting about a hypothetical competitive list that I've been working on that features Coven.  The idea of this list came from friends of mine in the competitive 40K circuit that has been actively discussing the validity of Coven.  Personally, I think that Prophets have some of the strongest units in all of the Dark Eldar book.  The 4++ across the entire army is absolutely insane considering all the buffs you can stack.

What you have here is a list that's capable of outputting a dramatic amount of firepower on top of having a huge amount of resilient, melee pressure that can move surprisingly quick across the battlefield.  All Haemonculus units move 7" (Wyches move 8") across the battlefield where Talos can move a surprising 8".  When you consider the fact that Talos can now Fly, you really to question all these massive, resilient meaty things are being thrown into your face in the most ridiculous way possible.

Here's the list, I'll go into detail below:

Miserable Meat Mountain
1993 // 9-11 CP

Black Heart Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Cunning, Living Muse

Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91

TROOP:
5x Warriors, Blaster = 47
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104

PARTY BOATS:
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125

+++

Prophets Spear +1 CP

HQ:
Urien = 90
Diabolical Soothsayer

ELITE:
10x Grotesques = 350

HEAVY:
Talos, 2x Macro, 2x Haywire = 99
Talos, 2x Macro, 2x Haywire = 99
Talos, 2x Macro, 2x Haywire = 99

>>>

So what you do here is take Alliance of Agony to enable the Diabolic Soothsayer on Urien.  This automatically pays for itself and you can possibly get 2 more CP depending on what you roll.  All in all, this makes your CP count 9-11 depending on hot your dice are on this roll.

Urien himself is pretty amazing.  For 90 points, which is 15 points or so more than a regular Haemonculus, you get +1S and Ld. on top of the +1T for all units within 6" of him.  He's fast enough to keep up with the rest of your army, is T6 because his aura also works on himself, and is incredibly difficult to kill because he halves damage coming into him.  However, what makes him work is the rest of the units he brings along with him as part of your army.  With his +1S/T aura, he makes all the Grotesques shielding him T6, 4++, 4W with FNP.  Each of those beasts has 5 S6 AP-2 1D WS3+ attacks and that's going to do some serious damage to whatever they touch.  The Talos is even more deadly because they are now T7, 4++, 7W with FNP with 6 S8 AP-2 2D WS3+ attacks each with an additional 2D3 Haywire Blaster shots.  Sure, these hit on 4s, but it's still nothing to sneeze at, especially if you're a vehicle.

I can see a deployment strategy for these guys as Grots in front, Urien in the middle, Talos all around Urien.  This gives him a Spear of Meat that he can drive directly into the heart of the enemy, making them shit their pants while your Kabal units do their thing.  What makes a list like this work is that you cannot really ignore the cascading mountain of meat running into your lines.  Sooner or later you'll have to deal with them and they're an absolute pain to deal with.  If 10 Grots get into combat, they're going to throw out 50 high-strength attacks that are going to murder pretty much anything they touch.  They're incredibly difficult to kill and they will beat out most things in combat easily due to sheer attrition and unit preservation.  Unlike most fatty units, Grots don't die easily and so the overall damage of the unit will stay intact much longer.

In short, your opponents are left reeling from the damage that your firebase of Living Muse Ravagers and Raiders are inflicting, but they're too distracted to deal with them because of all the Coven units closing in.  If they focus on the vehicles (and you should play the range-game here at first), they're also making a mistake.  Hopefully, you've played smart enough to reduce as much damage as possible and watch your Coven units smash into his lines untarnished.  This is Tough Decisions 101 and Dark Eldar plays this game much better than most.  When it comes to pure pressure, I think Prophets is the way to go if you want to bring a melee force that can threaten anything from MEQ to Imperial Knights

Yes, I'm going to call this list experimentation Miserable Meat Mountain after the competitive Warmahordes Trolls list.  It's a Black Heart Bat and Prophets Spear, so it's relatively easy to construct.  Now, help me out with this grand experiment and field this list if you're capable of fielding this!

Monday, April 16, 2018

DE: New FAQ and updated lists!

New FAQ and updated lists.

Ho ho ho, a day after I blog about competitive play and Dark Eldar's place in the meta, GW drops a huge FAQ that extends to all armies and changes the way we play the game.

You can find all the good jazz right here, but I'll sum up the main highlights of how this changes the way I build my armies going forward.  Funny enough, DE didn't change all that much and it was really those other armies out there that got a big calibration.

Here are the big highlights from the FAQ:
  • Smite spam is now harder to cast
  • Character targeting changed so other characters can't block targeting
  • Battalions and Brigades now generate +5 CPs and +12 CPs!
  • You only get one kind of Ignore save wounds
  • Various point changes (increase to CW units and Dark Reapers)
  • You cannot have more than 3 datasheets in a 2K game except troops and transports
  • Soups got hit so you can't mix as hard, you just have to read it
  • Reserves also changed so first turn alphas are not as devastating

There's a lot of changes here the directly affects competitive play, but my favorite change of all is probably the rule of 3.  Not being able to spam is really awesome of the game's health.  The soup changes also make it so you can't just bring the most powerful units of all different books into a single detachment and that's awesome.  The only one I'm not too sure about is the fact that Battalions and Brigades generate so much CP now.  While I can understand GW's intention here to fix the more elite armies limited CPs, this benefits everyone.  This means that IG CP batteries with their cheap ass Brigades are in season.. even more so than they were before.  Lastly, the changes to Reserves alpha striking is not created equal with all the armies out there.  Some are much more effective than others, but other armies are made better when these kind of assaults are part of their strategic repertoire.

With that said, the only thing I'm really bummed out about is the fact that the Farseer, Warlock, and Spiritseer went up in price.  I was actually in the middle of writing out a list last night, but now that the FAQ has dropped, I'm going to update all the lists I'm using in one go!

Here they are:

Kabal of the Black Rose
1999 // 10 CP

Obsidian Rose Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster, PGL = 94
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster, PGL = 94

TROOP:
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SC = 104

+++

Black Heart Spear +1 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Warlord: Cunning, Living Muse

TROOP:
7x Warriors, Blaster, BP = 69

PARTY BUS:
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125

+++

Black Heart Wing +1 CP

FLYER:
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145

>>>
Firepower:
11 Dark Lances at BS3+
9 Dissies at BS3+
9 Blasters at BS3+
3 Blasters at BS2+
3 Razorwing Missiles at BS3+
4 Splinter Cannons at BS3+
40 Splinter Rifles at BS3+

This my pure DE Kabal list combining the range power that is Obsidian Rose with the resilience of Black Heart.  I call this my Kabal of the Black Rose and it has been undefeated since the Codex came out.  A lot of firepower, a lot of pain.

Alaitoc Black Spear
2000 // 10 CP

Alaitoc Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Farseer Skyrunner = 135
Doom, Mind War

Warlock = 55
Protect/Jinx

TROOP:
5x Rangers = 60
5x Rangers = 60
5x Rangers = 60

+++

Alaitoc Wing +1 CP

FLYER:
Hemlock Wraithfighter = 210
Jinx

Hemlock Wraithfighter = 210
Jinx

Crimson Hunter Exarch, 2x Bright Lance = 175

+++

Black Heart Spear +1 CP

HQ:
Archon, Huskblade, Blaster = 93
Cunning, Living Muse

TROOP:
10x Warriors, 2x Blasters, SC = 104
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
189

10x Warriors, 2x Blasters, SC = 104
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
189

10x Warriors, 2x Blasters, SC = 104
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
189

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125
Ravager, 3x Dissies = 125

>>>

Firepower:
9 Disintegrators at BS3+
3 Dark Lances at BS3+
2 Bright Lances at BS2+
1 Pulse Laser at BS2+
6 Blasters at BS3+
1 Blaster at BS2+
3 Splinter Cannons at BS3+
4 Heavy D-Sycthes at Auto
21 Splinter Rifles at BS3+
15 Ranger Long Rifle at BS3+

This is my current DE + CW list and I think it's actually pretty decent.  I used it once so far and the combination of Doom/Jinx with DE firepower is just insane.  With the loss of so many lances, having the Crimson Hunter in the army actually helps a lot.

Black Skull Strife
2000 // 14 CP

Flayed Skull Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91
Archon, Agonizer, Blaster = 91

PARTY BOATS:
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85
Raider, Dark Lance = 85

TROOP:
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SCannon = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SCannon = 104
10x Warriors, 2x Blaster, SCannon = 104

FLYER:
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145
Razorwing, 2x Dark Lance = 145

+++

Black Heart Spear +1 CP

HQ:
Archon, Huskblade, Blaster = 93
Warlord: Hatred Eternal, Djin Blade

HEAVY:
Ravager, 3x Dinsintegrator = 125
Ravager, 3x Dinsintegrator = 125
Ravager, 3x Dinsintegrator = 125

+++

Strife Bat +5 CP

HQ:
Succubus, Agonizer = 54
Blood Dancer, Whip

Succubus, Agonizer = 54

TROOP:
8x Wyches, Agonizer, Shardnet, BP = 83
8x Wyches, Agonizer, Shardnet, BP = 83
5x Wyches, Agonizer, Shardnet = 49

>>>

Firepower:
9 Disintegrators at BS3+
9 Dark Lances at BS3+
6 Blasters at BS3+
3 Blasters at BS2+
2 Razorwing Missiles at BS3+
3 Splinter Cannons at BS3+
25 Splinter Rifles at BS3+

This is my close-combat list with double Bats and a Black Heart Spear.  This list gives me some great killy units with my Blood Dancer Succubus and Hatred Eternal Archon.  I can also choose to go with more re-rolls with Living Muse and Cunning, but I think I'm going to use this for now because I want to be able to play CC armies occasionally.  I still stand by what I said before in previous posts:  Cults are our best CP battery (especially now with the Bat CP buffs).  Gotta go fast!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

DE: Competitive list predictions

What is competitive and what is not?

As players of all skill levels get more accustomed to the new Dark Eldar codex, one of the questions I see popping up all over the place is "what's competitive?"  Well, first thing's first.  The book has only been out of a couple of days, but I think I have my bearings point in the right direction for what is going to be good in competitive DE play.  However, what I can't see too clearly is just how much much of Dark Eldar is going to be in them.  What I mean by that exactly?  I'm referring to how many Dark Eldar units will make the cut into a GT winning list and roughly what percentage of the army will be from the book itself.

You've all heard about soups, right?  When you hear something like Imperial soup, this is referring to a mixture of detachments taken from different army books to form an army.  Most of the time, this is done for competitive reasons and why there have been countless articles out there complaining about this.  Thinking back towards the earliest days of Allies, it's true:  Not all army books are created equal and if no one allies with anyone else, this would make the imbalance stand out even more.  However, the same could be said about certain armies not being to ally with other armies.  Aeldari soup is nowhere close to having the number of options as Imperial soup, while armies like Necrons are pretty much left to fend for themselves.

Allied armies, in general, have room to be the most competitive.  While mono-faction armies can be good, they normally result in spamming of a key unit that's just outrageously cost-efficient or so good that you would be stupid not to take a lot of them.  An example of this can be the Index Tau Commander or the current Flyrant spam that you're seeing from Tyranid players.  Necrons are reduced to spamming crap like triple C'Tan vaults because they have no one to really ally with.

However, when you look at Imperials, you get crap like Guard CP batteries for dirt cheap and having access to an easy +6 CP from cost-effective battalions.  You can then supplement that with super-effective AdMech Robots and Shield-Captains on Dawneagles.

Some other competitive lists out there:
Ynnari Dark Reapers w/ Saim-Hann Spears
Shining Spears w/ Hemlocks
Magnus w/ Tzaangor herds
Morty Poxbombs
Dark Talon spam
Blood Angels w/ Tallaran Superheavy
Azrael Hellblaster deathstars
..etc

So, the question I've been asking myself over the last couple of days is where Dark Eldar fits in the picture now.  What do we have in our book that is so good that we might see mono-army builds, or what do we have that is incredibly cost-effective to the point that we can replace Dark Reapers or Saim-Hann Spears when it comes to battle prowess?  Above all, what do we have in our book that will make us a competitive pick to the point that WAAC players will take our army over all other options out there in the meta?

Prophet Grots are actually pretty gross.. in a super good way.

These are pretty serious questions to any competitive player and this is one of those things that will spark a lot of controversies.  Just recently, I came back from arguing on the internets about Wych hordes (100+ Wyches) being the next best thing.  The first thing I thought to myself:  ARE YOU GUYS NUTS?  Seriously, Wyches are pretty good, but I wouldn't rank them better to the cost-effectiveness of 6 ppm Warriors, plentiful Dissie/Blasters, or the sheer durability of a 35-point Grot that has 4W, 4++ and FNP with a healthy amount of attacks and great movement.  Truth be told, it boggles my mind when I see people screaming that Wyches are the best thing in the codex.  I'm not sure if they're just outright trolling, or all the dust from their shelved Wyches finally polluted their brains.

Maybe it's something Nick said over on his blog post about the DE book.  Maybe this is why people are going all apeshit over Wyches but yet missing the key ingredients on why a Wych heavy list like Nick's example works in the first place.  I'll tell you the secret:  Whenever you buy Wyches, you give up on shooting and other strong and competitive options there are in the entire Aeldari faction.  In order for Wyches to be effective, the unit composition has to be correct because you need the pressure to be applied correctly and effectively.  This means you need to also buy Reavers or Grots to be part of the attack because they are also high-value targets that threaten the enemy army in a bigger way (Reavers enter combat quickly and Grots just smash).  All this added pressure then takes away from your shooting elements such as a Black Heart Spearhead of 4-5 Ravagers sitting in the backfield raining shit on your opponents.  What this article doesn't mean is that you should go out and buy 100 Wyches to put them on the table.  That's just an expensive and stupid investment.

Now that I'm done ranting, let's get back down to business.  I want this thread to spark controversy but I also want to spark a serious thought experiment.  What do we have in our book that can possibly uproot the other unit combinations from the meta and say that ours is superior?

Here are my picks:
  • Blackheart Spearhead - Archon with Cunning and Living Muse, with a lot of Ravagers armed with Dissies.  Gives you an amazing trait, shooting consistency and access to Agents of Vect.
  • Grot walls or meat mountains - Go Prophets with big Grot walls, WWP them in or run them up the field with T5/6, 4++, FNP and 4W a piece with above average attacks.  The idea here is to combine the effort with Wyches or Reavers to apply maximum pressure.
  • Cursed Blade Wyches, but only in combination with Reavers or Grot Walls - Wyches by themselves are mediocre at best.  Even if you put 100 of them down on the table, I can't see them killing a whole bunch of applying good pressure until you mix them in with Grots or Reavers for added pressure.  Why Cursed Blade?  Because you will need the fearless or else people will shoot your ass to half and watch the rest crumble from morale.
  • T5 Reavers are really good too because they're fast enough to support any area of the battlefield and can supply decent anti-armor as well.

While I didn't call out Kabalite Warriors specifically, I do want to mention that I think we're still in the process of figuring stuff out.  I'm talking specifically about Obsession combinations like my Kabal of the Black Rose (Black Heart + Obsidian Rose) or even Flayed Skull Venom spam.  People are STILL debating what Obsessions to take for the Wych cults, but I think everyone and their mother agrees that Prophets is probably the best Coven.

Regardless of this early impression, I will say that in the next couple of days I'll be thinking heavily about Eldar soup and what that means from a competitive standpoint.  While Ynnari is pretty meh for me right now, I'm still very excited to mix in Alaitoc units with a Black Heart Spearhead.  I'm also excited to start playing around with just pure Aledari and say screw the Obsessions, let's just go for good value units.  Once the new Harlequins book drops, you will see that this endless debate on what's the best competitive DE list will change again.  Then again, we're not even sure we're ever going to see a pure DE list at the top tables.  I personally think Farseers are just so good I'm going out of my way to include them in my more competitive lists.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

DE: Tips and tricks on movement

Archon School is the best School.

I'm going to be traveling on business soon so I want to get this one out to you guys ASAP.  This is a quick article on some tips and tricks when it comes to vehicle-heavy play.  As you can see in a lot of my lists, it has a lot to do with vehicles.  However, in order for DE players to get the most out of their vehicles and the units inside them, you have to be very careful in how you play them.

Dark Eldar vehicles are powerful because they have Fly and great movement, however, they are fragile and if you use them incorrectly, they will die like bitches and so will your dudes.  If you're going to die, you better kill a lot of shit to make your death worthwhile.

Before we begin, here are some useful terms for you to remember:

Falling Back
Units starting the Movement phase
within 1" of an enemy unit can either
remain stationary or Fall Back. If you
choose to Fall Back, the unit must end its
move more than 1" away from all enemy
units. If a unit Falls Back, it cannot
Advance (see below), or charge (pg 182)
later that turn. A unit that Falls Back
also cannot shoot later that turn unless it
can FLY.

Open-topped: Models embarked on this model can attack
in their Shooting phase. Measure the range and draw line
of sight from any point on this model. When they do so,
any restrictions or modifiers that apply to this model also
apply to its passengers; for example, the passengers cannot
shoot if this model has Fallen Back in the same turn,
cannot shoot (except with Pistols) if this model is within
1" of an enemy unit, and so on. Note that the passengers
cannot shoot if this model Falls Back, even though the
Raider itself can.

Hovering: Instead of measuring distance and ranges to and
from this model’s base, measure to and from this model’s
hull or base (whichever is closer).

Airborne: This model cannot charge, can only be
charged by units that can FLY , and can only attack or be
attacked in the Fight phase by units that can FLY.

Look at this threat range man.

OK, now we're ready to begin.  First, I want you to look at this picture for at least 5 minutes.  Look at the measuring tape, and then bask in the glory that is DE movement and threat range.  You get out of the vehicle by measuring from the hull (including the tip of that Shock Prow) for 3".  You move 7" with your Warriors and 8" with your Wyches.  You then have roughly 1" because you measure to the edge of your 25mm base, so you have a total movement hull to edge of base of 11".  You then have a Rapid Fire range of 12", your Blasters reach out to 18", and the rest of your shit that matters literally hits from a mile away.  Just with Rapid Fire Splinters mean you have a total threat of a little over 23" out of a transport when you measure from the base.  This is why Obsidian Rose is so worth it to me, because it extends the threat range of this bullshit even further.

Before we continue, I want to say that if you're playing with Warriors in a gunboat, you want to stay in that gunboat as long as possible.  This is because the Raider is Open-topped and you can get much more mileage out of it with better durability (T5 10W 4+/5++/6+++) than shooting at paper armor Warriors out in the open.  You have much greater threat range inside a Raider as well, since the damn thing can move 14" and you can still Rapid Fire out of it measuring from the hull.  That means you have a threat range of 26" of threat, which is a few inches greater than your Warriors walking on foot.  Yes, you heard that right, your Warriors move almost as fast as your Raiders.  Let it sink it good and long.

So why get out?  Because your Archon's aura doesn't work while you're inside the Raider.  It only works when you're outside which is why it's very worthwhile to sometimes unload all of your shit within 3" of your Raider (so they can quickly jump back in next round), get within 6" of that sweet ass bubble of the Archon, and then unload like crazy.  It's like having Flayed Skull's re-roll 1s for all of your weapons.  If you have Writ of the Living Muse while using Black Heart, here's all those crazy re-roll 1s to Wound as well.  However, if you don't need the re-rolls, just sit in the Raider for as long as possible because even if the Raider is engaged, you can still disembark from it and not count as Fallen Back for your Warriors.  You just have to get out first before your Raider Falls Back.

Get out, get buff, shoot, get scooped.

This is what I mean when I say get out, get the bonus from the Archon, and reap the whirlwind.  You're still within 3" of your Raider so you can taxi back in next movement and your Archon is still in range because 6" from base to base is actually ridiculously long.  The biggest thing I want you to take away from this picture is that I angled the camera downwards deliberately here.  Your Warriors can fire from beneath your Raider because Line of Sight is a real thing (model's point of view).  Sure, they can probably only see something in front of them, but LoS is one of those things I will bring up time and time again with Dark Eldar.  LoS really matters for them because denying damage while doing damage is the key hallmark of the faction.

Another subtle tip from this example is that the Archon has 2 units in front of him before he can be shot at if your opponent doesn't have any flyers of their own.  Be very wary when there are flyers on the map because they can zoom across the battlefield and eat you alive if you're not careful.  Those damn Hemlocks of mine have claimed so many careless generals' lives.

Weapon ranges are important.

There is a lot going on in this picture so I'm going to try to explain piecemeal.  The first thing I want you guys to look at is the range and coherency of the models.  Note that all my units in the front drawing red are in Rapid Fire of that unit of Wraithguard while the most valuable damage weapons, the Blasters, are in the back marked yellow.  The reason why I chose to show this off is that when you pull models, you can pull the extra rifles from the front to possibly deny a charge, and to preserve your longer ranged weapons whenever possible.  As a shooty army, you should preserve as much damage whenever you can, however you can.

The second thing I want to show here is the placement of the Raider in front of the Wraithguard.  Yes, I know they're WG and they shoot like crazy, but pretend they aren't for a second and I'm just using them as models.  The Raider is long, a little over 7" and acts as a perfect defensive obstacle for units that want to charge your paper armor duders in the back.  By putting a Raider in front of them, you form an artificial wall for your opponents to go around.  Therefore, you prolong the charge distance of your enemies and keep your Warriors alive another round (possibly).  Sometimes, this means you have to make sacrifices.  For Dark Eldar, I strongly encourage you to employ such tactics because, for us, it's any means to the end.  It's both fluffy and is perfectly applicable in-game.

Here's where Fly comes in handy.  If you have units inside the Raider, once you Fall Back with the Raider, they cannot shoot.  What you do here instead is:  Disembark your Warriors out of the Raider first and then Fall Back with your Raider so they can both shoot.  You just need to be mindful that you're more than 1" away from the enemy when you get out.  If your Warriors are caught in the open and are now in melee, they can't Fall Back and shoot (not conventionally at least).  Try and avoid this at all costs.  Your Raider, however, has the Fly rule and can Fall Back and shoot.  This is why if they don't kill the Raider, they won't stop it from firing on them.  The same applies to our Ravagers as well.

Now you're in range, now you're not.

Next picture is just more salt to injury.  Let's pretend those WG don't auto-hit the Razorwing and therefore will murder him.  Instead, let's treat them like TH/SS Terminators or something.  They see a juicy target, or rather, multiple juicy targets to charge.  Hmm, that Raider is 9" away, and those Warriors are a little under 12 so it's not impossible.  Oh boy, here comes a flyer 1" away.  Yup, I just increased the charge distance of those Terminators to barely possible on the Raider and not possible at all on the Warriors.  It gets even sadder because if you declare the charge because you're not careful and account for the distance traveled, I can still Overwatch even if you fail.  This is the advantage of the Airborne special rule that flyers have.  Unless that unit has Fly, you should do this and make your opponent really upset.

MSU is wonderful when used correctly.

OK, this little picture shows you the value of having multiple units in a Raider.  The above there is 2 units of 5 Warriors (2x5 config) with Blasters in a single Raider.  Everything is in Rapid Fire range and the Blasters are slightly in the back (like they should be).  Red and blue symbolizes the first movement action I take, then the second, and yellow presents where the Raider goes everyone disembarks so I can scoop up blue squad next round if they're still around.  Always have an exit strategy and a follow-up plan.  Too many times I see players just do what's in the moment and not plan ahead.  This is not how Dark Eldar plays because misplays or stupidity can literally end the game for us.  You have to be methodical, cunning and smart with how you play the game.  Now that my plan is laid out, I lay into my targets with firepower.

MSU is an abbreviation for Multiple Small Units.  This has been around forever and I've played way too many years of DE, High Elves, Dark Elves and other MSU-based armies to understand the value of it.  For Dark Eldar, this has some great uses because it allows you to do shit like the above picture.

Here are some of the other benefits of having 2x5:
  • Can split up squad as and when needed
  • Same number of Blasters as 10-man units
  • Can double up on PGLs or other sergeant weapons
  • Less vulnerable to Ld
  • Can build Brigades fast, but you also fill slots quick

The biggest boon is your ability to split up:  Your opponent has to shoot one squad to death instead of 2 so he can oversaturate fire and potentially waste shots.  This is mainly because when you declare targets, you have to declare where all your shots are going and from which guns before you roll dice.  This means if you really want a squad dead, you have to commit.  Not that it takes a lot to kill off DE infantry units in the open, but being frugal on shots or some lucky 6+++ saves means that a sole Blaster dealing S8 AP-4 D6 damage is going to go around shooting you in the dick.

Likewise, if you spread wide enough, he now has 2 targets to charge instead of 1.  Look at the distance between the two units above.  He's definitely going to commit to one side if he wants a good chance, and even if he charges one squad, that's still another Blaster that's free to shoot and not in Fall Back mode.

It all comes together to make your opponents' life miserable.

We're almost done guys, hang in there.  Look at this example above:  I placed the Archon within buff range of both units while placing two Raiders there to form the Great Wall of bad decisions.  They obviously cannot go around to assault my dudes because that's an impossible charge.  They can't fire on the Archon because there are multiple units in front of him.  The only logical target there is the Raiders, and if they charge into them, Raiders are wide enough (almost 3") to stop any follow-up Consolidation prize in the Warriors in the front.  The only thing they can do is Consolidate into the other Raider, in which case I'll Fly away and shoot him with my entire army next turn.

Now imagine I had about 4 more squads of Warriors in the back there by my Archons ready to go too.  That is a lot of units now ready to follow-up, amplified damage via the Archon's bubble, and ready to lay waste to the units who over-extended and are now in Rapid Fire range of a lot more guns.  This is an instance where charging the enemy is actually bait because it draws them in closer to the kill.  What looks like suicidal Raiders at first are now very worth it because you might have traded an 85-point Raider that is now fodder, with 225 points of key damage dealers.  That is a huge points swing in your favor.

Great, now you're playing like Dark Eldar, or in fact, any Eldar:  There is a reason why you think you're superior to all your enemies and have this outrageous arrogance around you.  You want to force as many decisions for your opponent as possible because the more decision trees you construct, the more paths there are to failure.  Shore this up with baits, feints, LoS, cover, outranging, and movement shenanigans, and you're one step closer to becoming a better Eldar player.

Be mindful of your opponents' most potent weapons and their range.

We're going to take a brief moment here and explore what it means to charge the right way and charge the wrong way.  This is because we have to be constantly reminded me of our opponents' weapon ranges and what that means for our more fragile units.

What I'm going to attempt to do here is to charge my Raider first so I can tie up those units so my lightly armored Wyches can get in there unhindered and do their thing without having to worry about Overwatch.  This is very important for all Dark Eldar players unless you're playing Coven; in which case you probably don't give a fuck because T6 4++ FNP 4W Grots are balanced units.

For example, the Wraithguard up there all have 8" D-Scythes.  They will eat me alive if I charge in there while I'm in range of all their weapons.  Likewise, picture a unit of 10-man Space Marines with Meltaguns in there as well.  This is where your knowledge of weapon ranges come into play.  You know the range of the Meltagun (12", 6" melta range) and you know where the meltas are located.  Great, now don't be within their melta range and position your Raider so that you outrange his greatest chance to hurt you.  Bolters aren't shit compared to a lucky melta shot.

This is how you do it.

Vroom, 14" of movement later, now we're talking:  Look at the position of the Raider here after I relocated.  Now, only ONE of the FIVE Wraithguard with D-Scythes have range onto my Raider.  If I'm feeling extra cheeky, I can be at 8.1" away from him so he can't OW me at all (if you're out of range, you can't declare OW).  But then again, my charge will be a little longer, so there's a risk vs. reward scenario there.  However, I want to mention that my Wyches are positioned the same way, concaved a little because now only 2 of the WG can hit the closest Wyches vs. everyone else who was conveniently placed 8.1" away.  I will pull from the back, of course, allowing my closer Wyches to get the charge and bring the rest of the girls in.  If I'm running a 2x5 squad of Wyches, the principle here still stands.  To min-max, you move the Wyches in a checkerboard formation so both squads have the same chances to get in.  Remember again; measure twice, move once.  That is the Dark Eldar way.

Alright guys, this should be good for now.  Of course, there are a bunch more tricks that I know, but I think these are the main ones that'll help get you stated.  Keep in mind that I'll be more sporadic in the next week when it comes to posting!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

DE: Archon bubbles and vehicle deployment

School's in session.  Listen or die!

Alright, I hope my crappy ass camera with Primsa edit made this a little viewable.  At least the table is the right size so things should be better in scale.

The point of this article is to show off a few tips here and there about deployment and about how to successfully wrap your powerful attack vehicles around your 6" Archon bubbles.  You would be surprised how easy it is to actually get your Archons into a good position so you can start utilizing these massive benefits.  While I completely get the frustration that certain players have that you can't use this aura while inside vehicles, or the fact that our Venoms are still stuck at a 5-man capacity, I'm here to tell you that everything is going to be OK.

It doesn't have to be this extreme.

First, I want to show off this deployment type.  It doesn't have to be exactly like this, and of course, this is a bare naked table with nothing on it, but I want to showcase the long and thin deployment.  Our vehicles are extremely thin and our threat range is extremely long.  Our most powerful weapons such as Dark Lances and Dissies both have 36" range and we have obscene movement on all of our vehicles.  With a 14" move on the Ravager, this gives us a combined threat range of 50" base without any Obsidian Rose or Flayed Skull buffs.

When you deploy, depending on where you set up and where your opponents set up, you will almost always have the ability to nullify a lot of their firepower if you deploy on the board's edge.  In Pitched Battles such as this one, deploying on the edge can give you some serious advantage when it comes to outranging their most powerful weapons.  Remember, the total vertical length of the table is 48", and distances will only increase once we start getting into diagnols.  Whenever I get to a table and look at the terrain, I go full rainman for what my opponent is fielding and where he puts them down so I can deny his every advantage.

Also, please note that the Archon was able to get out of the Raider and move 3"+8" for 11" total movement on the disembark.  Look how far he's able to make it up to the table when a Raider deployed behind the Ravagers in the middle/right of the table.  This is without him Advancing, so you can just imagine how well Dark Eldar can move on foot compared to others.  Learn this, remember this, and don't be afraid to Advance for some extra range just so you can get his bubble into play.  With enough experience, you will be able to move him first after doing a quick measure of your furthest vehicle, so you know that if you move that, everything close will be in range to move towards your Archon's buff.  Don't worry, this will come more natural the more you play.

Taste the salt.

Take a look at this picture here.  My friend is measuring distance for Hellblaster units behind his Land Raider.  The upset look on his face is when he realizes that I parked 37" away from his Plasma Incinerators.  Why does this upset him?  Because even with a 6" move and 30" range, no matter what he does, he will not be able to engage me with those guns.  This right here is what every experienced Dark Eldar player does since the old days of Night Shields (-6" to opponent's range), and why this is an exceptionally important skill for all new generals to learn.  The best form of denying damage is by giving them no chance to deal damage at all.  It sounds almost like a joke at first, but I'm absolutely serious when it comes to understanding your opponents' most lethal weapons, the ones capable of destroying your vehicles, and then countering them with attention to range detail (anti-threat).

Measure twice, move once, that's the rule.  The same could be said about my Razorwings on the opposite sides of the table.  Aside from his Land Raider, there was nothing in his entire army that had the range to reach them.  I absolutely cannot stress this enough:  I don't care if you have to measure every single gun (within reason) from the other guy's army, ask them the weapon ranges (you will learn in time) so you can deny damage while planning to counter-attack on your turn.  This is why movement, weapon range, and thus effective shooting threat range is so important.  It's so you know how you can inflict the maximum amount of damage while taking little to no damage in return (by outranging, by denying LoS, or by gaining cover).  That's pretty much a mini-game in itself for Dark Eldar generals.

Now you see me..

Another deployment trick I like to do is isolate pockets of fire and line of sight.  I purposely pulled some tissues up to block the sail, but I wanted to show you the difference between deploying wider vs. narrow.  It's extremely important for Dark Eldar players to examine the terrain on the table in relation to their greatest threats.  Directly in front of the tissue box (immediate left of the Raider) is a unit of Devastators at ground level behind cover.  In this first picture, the Devastators can draw onto the Prow and the Aft of the Raider, just catching the rear sail.  It's important for you to analyze at all times exactly why you're seeking shelter and from what weapon specifically.  If there were bolters on the other side of this tissue box I might not care as much.

Now you don't.

When you straighten the Raider out, he can no longer see you at all unless he moves, and even then, only a few guns will be able to draw Line of Sight.  This is also hugely important for Dark Eldar players:  Force your opponents to MOVE their heavy weapons.  Unless they have some amazing rule that allows them to stabilize their weapons, they will suffer an aiming penalty.  We can move and fire most of our heaviest weapons for free for a reason, and that is a HUGE boon to our army compared to many others.  Not even our Eldar cousins have this luxury, and this should not be forgotten nor underestimated.

Look at that range!

Ignore the Dark Lance from the Ravager for a second and just look at how long 6" actually is.  For your reference, the Raider above the Archon in the middle is within 6" and so is the Raider on the bottom.  The only thing that is not in range is the Raider on the lower left.  Keep in mind that Raiders and Ravagers have the Hovering rule; which lets you measure the distance to and from the model's hull for the purposes of the bubble.  You don't count the gun (although some people argue against this), you only count the gun when you shoot, but since all of our vehicles are a mile long, you can get quite a bit of range if you fly your vehicles in a certain way.  You can literally fly them backwards if you want because 8th Ed. is designed to be.. immersive and engaging?

If your opponent ever gives you shit about Ravager's gun placement, show him this:

Please turn to Pg. 57 of your Codex for maximum salt.

And yes, I even bookmarked that shit for you (pg.57).  It's from your book and it's fluffy.  In case you're wondering, a Raider is about ~7" long from Prow to Aft depending on if you're counting the rear sail or not.  This allows you to be in bubble range and extend your weapon range out pretty long distances while still getting the benefits from the Archon's re-rolls.  Realistically, you can pull off some pretty ridiculous bubbles such as this one.

Look at everything in the army that gets Living Muse!

I literally fat-stacked my entire army into the range of the bubble except for that one Raider on the bottom left of the screen.  Oh, and that stupid Ravager that's still pointing his gun at the Archon threatening to kill him.

Real game example.

Here is another example of what this looks like in an actual game.  The red circle is the Living Muse and the yellow circle is another Archon.  At this point, all my Dissies are in range of the 6" of the Living Muse and only those two Raiders at the top of the picture are out (but within range of the other Archon).  When you have this much speed and maneuverability, you can pretty much do anything.  For the Razorwings especially, once you make this convergence on the first turn to benefit from Living Muse, they will fly away from the rest of the game pretty much.  That's fine really because the first turn when you converge should be the turn where you inflict the most damage.  This is especially true with flyers because you'll probably never get a second chance.  Your first turn should be your greatest opportunity to inflict a massive Alpha Strike with a shooty list.

Counter-deploy against cheeky assaults.

The last picture I want to show you guys is some flyer hacks and defensive deployment shenanigans used against those pesky alpha assault armies.  Some important numbers in here depending on who you're fighting.  Assuming that we're playing Pitched again (every mission/deployment is different), we're going to turtle up into the corner like this.  The reason for this is to outrange as many of their guns as possible on the opposite side of the table.  Next, we're going to concave our fighters around our ships as much as possible.  You do it just enough so that the distance from your closest Raider is outside max possible charge distance (12.1"), and then you give yourself some more distance with the Razorwings.  This pushes their deployment of 9" out further from your vehicles, making the only targets they can realistically charge the fighters.

If they don't have Fly, like in the case of Genestealers, they're screwed.  Against Flyrants or Blood Angels, you push out your Fighters more so even with pile-in and consolidate (7.1" total), they can't reach your Raiders.  If they do commit, make sure you punish the hell out of them.  What your opponents often don't realize is that closing in on all those Blasters and Poison shots is actually beneficial for you.  Don't forget that in massive counter-attacks against over-extended foes, it's almost always worthwhile to disembark with your Warriors and unload on them with Archon buffs active.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

DE: Powerful builds for your HQ

You know you're in some shit if someone points.

This one is going to be a short one since we're going to be primarily focused on the use of HQs.  One thing's for damn sure:  I feel that we have some fantastic melee HQ options for the price.

Here are some my favorites so far:
  • Archon, Labyrinthine Cunning, Writ of the Living Muse = 72 base
  • Archon, Hatred Eternal, Djin Blade = 76 base
  • Archon, Famed Savagery, Djin Blade = 76 base
  • Succubus, Blood Dancer, Adrenalight, Triptych Whip = 54 base
  • Succubus, Hyper-swift Reflexes, Adrenalight, Blood Glaive = 54 base
  • Succubus, Precision Blows, Adrenalight, Triptych Whip = 54 base
  • Haeomculus, Diabolical Soothsayer, Vexator Mask = 75 base

Let's start with the Archons.  You've all probably seen me take the Archon with Cunning and Writ of the Living Muse in my lists.  That's because it's one of the most powerful Warlords in the game for the points IMO.  Cunning is absolutely fantastic at regenerating CPs whenever a CP is spent for both you and your opponents.  For DE, I find that some of our Strategems are a little costly, especially that Agents of Vect counterspell that costs 3 just by itself.  With Cunning, you can do some really crazy recycling that can help you sustain the longer gameplan:

For example:
  • You don't want a 2-cost Strategem to go off so you throw out Agents of Vect.
  • Before you even put AoV down, you roll 2 dice for his Strategem for Cunning.
  • Next, you AoV and since you just spent 3 CP, you roll 3 more dice to see if you get any back from Cunning.
  • Agents of Vect then takes effect, hopefuly blocking his Strategem.
  • In this example right here, you're probably going to get back a CP from just playing the game regularly.

When you play Black Heart, you almost have to bring Writ of the Living Muse.  It's one of the best buff batteries in the entire game and enhances the damage potential of every single Black Heart unit within 6".  Everything within this distance gets re-roll 1s to Hit and Wound that that is a huge damage amplifier, especially on things like Dark Lances and Disintegrators when you absolutely need to hit with your more expensive damaging weapons.  Living Muse simply gives you consistent damage and that's exactly what you need to turn your very good shooting up a notch to exceptional.

As for melee Archons, I see two main options here:  Both of which have the Djin Blade of course which is just an upscaled Huskblade.  Hatred Eternal gives you more consistent results via re-roll all wounds in melee but the Famed Savagery Archon from Flayed Skull gives you great burst damage.  With Famed Savagery, you have 8 S5 AP-3 D3 attacks that hits on 2s with re-roll 1s.  Personally, if I was to pick one of the two, I would go for more consistent damage with the Hatred Eternal Warlord trait.  There are bonus points in the fact that Hatred Eternal is a generic WL trait and thus doesn't lock you to any particular Obssession.  As for arming the Archons further, always seek out the Blaster first since you have a fantastic BS2+ and Blasters are amazing with their S8 AP-4 D6 damage from 18" (24" for Obsidian Rose).

I whip my hair back and forth.

The Succubus went from one of the most overcosted units in the entire game to arguably the most cost-efficient melee blender in the game.  I'll start off by listing the Blood Dancer variant that comes with 9 attacks hitting on 2s, re-rolling 1s, and each Hit roll of a 6 turns into 3 Hits instead of 1.  On the regular, she can throw out something like 14 attacks with an Agonizer (Poison 4+ AP-2 1D) and that's just obscene.  Against single wound models, she is almost guaranteed to wipe out entire squads by herself.  She just reminds me of the Blenderlord that I ran for Vampire Counts back in the days of Fantasy.  To make things even more exciting, once you hit Turn 3+, you can activate these multiple hits on a 5+ instead of 6 because of the PFP chart.  The only downside here is that she's a Succubus and she just explodes if anyone swings back at her because she only has a 4++/6+++ with T3 and 5 wounds.  Regardless, LO_OK at her points cost!  For 54 points, she's an absolute steal.  I can't help but hear this garbage ass song whenever she enters combat.

Other variants of the Succubus are also really strong; such as the Blood Glaive Succubus with 5 attacks with Adrenalight dealing S6 AP-3 D3 damage attacks.  I've seen this particular variant built two ways really; with either the Red Grief specific WL trait of 3++/5++ vs. shooting or with Stimm Addict with Grave Lotus and Adrenalight.  This gives her 5 attacks at S7 which is now a serious threat to virtually all targets including light vehicles.  Again, 54 points of awesome.

Another variant I want to introduce you to someone who might be our best duelist.  She has 9 attacks with the Whip just like the Blender because she's from Cult of Strife (for +1 attack), however instead of Blood Dancer, she has the Precision Blows WL trait.  When you're hitting with 8-9 attacks every turn, you're going to be looking for 6s that can just do straight mortal wounds in addition to the regular wounds inflicted with an Agonizer.  That's very good.  For all these Succubus, I highly recommend taking a Blast Pistol on the Blood Glaive Succy to take advantage of her superior BS2+.  Funny enough, the Precision Blows Succubus can still do mortal wounds to Vehicles and Titans.

Never trust someone with 5-6, 7? arms.

Lastly, we have the Haemonculus that you will probably see most frequently if you're planning to take Coven units and Alliance of Agony for 1 CP.  This is because Diabolical Soothsayer essentially pays for itself immediately and you can get 2 more CP if you roll well (D3 in total).  Sure, you also get that once a game re-roll for your Warlord, but no one really cares about that because you also gain access to the Vexator Mask.  This thing is actually pretty hilarious.  You can basically take this Haemonculus and just charge into something to tie it up because they cannot use Overwatch on you.  You can then charge your Wyches into them for free without any fear of OW fire.  To make things even more enjoyable, the mask also gives an enemy unit with 6" of the Haemonculus ASL essentially, making them strike last after all other units have gone int the Fight phase.  That's just funny considering the amount of melee boss HQs we have in the Codex.

What are some of your favorite HQs to bring?  I know I've been extra boring with the Black Heart Archon, but hey, it's been working so why not!