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Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack [6th Ed]

Submitted By: Plastikente Date: January 22, 2013, 04:31:30 PM Views: 942
Summary: An article discussing tactica for DE Elites in 6th Edition. This is part 4 of my unit guide, which will cover the following: 1. General Tactica 2. Core Units 3. Elites 4. Fast Attack 5. Heavy Support 6. Special Characters

Plastikente’s Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 – Fast Attack

FAST ATTACK
Dark Eldar are arguably the fastest and most manoeuvrable army in the game, and this section is where they show it.  Hit your opponent hard and fast, and leave him reeling in the dust of your departure!


HELLIONS
Strengths: Jump Infantry.  Decent assault weapon shooting.  Reasonable hitting power in assault.  Can be troops if you take a certain special character.
Weaknesses: Fragile, both to shooting and in assault.
Upgrades:  The Helliarch is a standard character upgrade, with access to a few toys:
  • Phantasm Grenade Launcher:  Essential if you plan on assaulting units in cover, and useful for a little bit of protection against overwatch.
  • Venom Blade:  This upgrade is free, and improves your chance to wound any opponent with T>2.  All you lose is the ability to hurt vehicles, but with such low strength Hellions were not going to achieve much anyway.
  • Stun Claw:  This allows you to try to snatch an independent character out of a unit to bully without backup.  The drawback is that Hellions do not make great bullies.  You can make a tactic from snatching a character into range of a more intimidating unit (like Incubi), who then wade in to finish him off.  Beware though, the snatched character can still challenge, meaning that you lose your weight of numbers or one of your characters has to sit out of the fight.
  • Power Weapon/Agoniser:  Useful to add a bit of armour piercing punch to the squad.  A general breakdown of these weapons is given in Part 1.
How to use: Small units of Hellions suffer terribly from fragility, so ten or more models is generally the way forward to ensure that they are still a threat after a round or two of shooting.  Units of any size need to hug cover and require a pain token asap to give them some semblance of survivability.

In an assault they fight slightly more effectively than Wyches (they have fewer attacks, but have a higher strength), but they are not as durable because they cannot dodge.   However, when you add the effect of their Splinter Pods (an assault weapon) and Hammer of Wrath attacks, they really can hit hard on the turn they charge.

Hit and Run is a real boon for this squad, helping them to leapfrog up the table by assaulting an enemy and then using the disengage move to travel on past them.  This is definitely worthwhile in the enemy’s turn (so that you can charge again in your next turn), and can even be useful in your own turn, provided you can get the unit into some cover or out of line of sight when you disengage.

In much the same way as Wracks, Hellions are a so-so choice in their own area of the Force Organisation Chart, but offer great skills in the Troops section.  Add the fact that Baron Sathonyx has a load of other abilities that improve the hitting power and survivability of Hellions, and you will find that very few lists take this unit without him.

BEASTMASTERS
Strengths:  Fast and not slowed by difficult terrain.  Combat monsters which can be configured to take on many different opponents.  Cheap.
Weaknesses:  More anti-infantry for an army that already has plenty of options.
Upgrades:  Each Beastmaster may be accompanied by a number of beasts of one type.  If you take multiple Beastmasters, they do not have to each take the same type of beast.
  • Khymerae:  Lots of attacks at Space Marine strength.  Khymerae add durability to the squad owing to their invulnerable save, and should, therefore, be always left at the front to take shooting.
  • Clawed Fiends:  High strength, and tougheness, but fewer attacks than you get from investing the same points in other types of beast.  If you have an equal number of Clawed Fiends to other models in the squad, you get to use his toughness as the majority value.  However, as soon as they are outnumbered, the enemy can roll to wound them at toughness three, negating one of their big advantages.  Clawed Fiends are great for taking line of sight rolls to protect attached independent characters, because there is very little which will instant kill them, and they get more dangerous as they are damaged.
  • Razorwing Flocks:  Lots of attacks at Dark Eldar strength, but they are rending, so take these to deal with armoured infantry.  They can even threaten vehicles up to AV 12.  Beware strength six or higher weapons though, which will instant kill your flock.

Beastmasters are characters, although their stats just match a standard Wych without combat drugs.  The judicious use of challenges can protect your beasts from a killer character, allowing them to set about his squad in peace.  Equally, they can absorb challenges aimed at any attached independent character with the squad.  Beware using your last Beastmaster in this way though, as beasts’ leadership is very poor without them. One beastmaster may also take an improved close combat weapon.  This is far from essential, as most of the combat effect comes from the beasts themselves, nevertheless, a power weapon or Agoniser can provide the AP that your other attacks are missing.

How to use:  Beasts are fairly simple to use.  Select which type you want, point them at the enemy and move as fast as you can towards them until you can assault.  The Beastmasters themselves and Razorwing Flocks are fairly fragile, but these can be protected with Clawed Fiends to raise the majority toughness, or Khymerae to take shooting on their invulnerable save.  Never mix Clawed Fiends with other beasts in one unit, because they will lose the benefit of their toughness.  Khymerae and Razorwing Flocks, on the other hand, do make a good pairing.  Beasts should always make maximum use of cover, as they are not slowed by it.  Nevertheless, they do suffer the standard initiative penalty for charging through difficult terrain.

Many people like to pair beasts with Baron Sathonyx so that they can benefit from his special rules.  Suggested builds for Beastmaster units:
  • 3 Beastmasters, 5 Khymerae, 4 Razorwing Flocks [156].  For a comparable price to a medium squad of Wyches in a Raider, you can get these.  On the charge they throw out 50 attacks, 24 of which are rending.  Ouch.
  • 3 Beastmasters, 3 Clawed Fiends [156].  For the same price, you could get these.  On the charge they throw 15 high strength attacks, plus a few from the Beastmasters, but they still have plenty of wounds, a nice high toughness for survivability, and they get more dangerous as they take damage.


SCOURGES
Strengths:Mobile.  Carry lots of special/heavy weaponry.  Can be customised for anti-infantry or anti-tank.  May deploy by deep strike.
Weaknesses:  Expensive and still fragile
Upgrades:
Solarite:  A standard character upgrade, with leadership buff and access to close combat weapons.  The blast pistol is expensive and has a tiny range and Scourges have no business being in an assault, so this character is probably best left with his shardcarbine if you want to take him.
While Scourges can’t achieve quite the same density of special weapons as Trueborn can, they are a respectable second, and offer the mobility of jump infantry.  Their weapon options can be loosely divide into:
Ant-Infantry:  These options complement the Scourges’ basic weapon loadout well, but Dark Eldar lists have access to plenty of anti-infantry arms, so they are hardly essential in this configuration.
  • Shredder.  A bit of a buff for anti-infantry shooting.  Not much better than a shardcarbine (depending how many you can hit with the blast), but not that expensive either.
  • Splinter Cannon.  Apart from the range, this also does not add much over a shardcarbine (assuming you want to move).  It does give them a lot of shots if you are having to snap-fire though.
Anti-Vehicle.  If you take these options, Scourges become one of the limited number of anti-tank choices available to you.  As always though, they must be chosen in the context of your whole list.
  • Dark Lance.  Almost pointless.  You take Scourges for their mobility, but if they move, the Dark Lance can only snap fire.  You may as well have a Blaster for the same points – it has almost the same effective range as a stationary Dark Lance.
  • Heat Lance/Blaster.  The relative merits of Heat Lances and Blasters were discussed in Part 1.  In short, Blasters offer good effect at a longer range, and have the strength to also worry Monstrous Creatures.  Heat Lances give you a greater probability of destroying a vehicle, provided you get right in close to benefit from the melta rule.  Getting close enough to use a Heat Lance is pretty suicidal for Scourges.  If you choose to go that way, deep strike is risky, as you could easily scatter out of melta range.  A well-placed Webway Portal is a much more reliable method of getting them into the kill zone to take out a vehicle.
  • Haywire Blaster.  Again, this weapon was discussed in Part 1.  The advantage with taking it on Scourges is that it lets them keep a greater distance from threats, whilst reliably stripping 1-2 hull points off any vehicle each turn.  It is not likely to stop anything in its tracks, but suffers no problems from Blessed Hulls, Ceramite Armour, Quantum Shielding or any other tricks out there (as yet...).  If you take this loadout, make sure you wait to fire your Scourges last, and then pick on a vehicle that has already taken a bit of a beating in the hope of finishing it off.

How to use:  Scourges cost as much as Reavers, but are neither as tough nor as manoeuvrable, and they do not get a jink save.  What they can do is deploy by deep strike, take slightly more special weapons (and a greater variety) and have a slightly better basic save with a pitiful invulnerable one tacked on too.  Scourges are best fielded in squads of five or ten, in order to maximise the number of special/heavy weapons you can bring with them.  Maximise one of the weapon upgrades discussed above (mixing usually is not optimal, as everything has slightly different ranges/optimal targets), and then pick on your target of choice.  Scourges have plasma grenades, and although they have almost no business assaulting, they could be used to overwhelm a stray survivor or two, or to have a desperate pop at an AV10 vehicle if all else fails.


REAVERS
Strengths:  Oh so fast! Good jink save, which can be improved if you move flat out.  Can be configured for an anti-infantry or anti-tank role.  Can attack even at maximum speed (bladevanes).  Ability to move-shoot-move.
Weaknesses:  Expensive, poor armour, vulnerable to attacks which ignore cover.
Upgrades:
  • Arena Champion:  A standard character upgrade, who can choose from the usual selection of Venom Blade, Power Weapon, or Agoniser.  Take him if you want the leadership buff, and/or a little more punch if you like to assault with your Reavers.
  • Heat Lance/Blaster:  You can tool up a proportion of you bikes for an anti-vehicle role.  The relative merits of Heat Lances and Blasters were discussed in Part 1 and the Scourges entry.  Unlike Scourges, Reavers can make use of their Jetbike move in the assault phase to try to back off a bit after getting in close to get the most out of a Heat Lance.
  • Cluster Caltrops:  For slightly less cost than another bike, you can upgrade some to have bladevanes which are slightly more than twice as effective.  The trick with this upgrade is resisting the temptation to make a bladevane attack every turn in order to get your money’s worth.   Doing that puts you at risk of making a foolish move which will leave your bikes in the open to be gunned down or, even worse, assaulted.
  • Grav Talon:  Worth the investment against lightly armoured targets, but against MEQs you need three Grav Talons on average to get one unsaved wound and force a pinning check.

How to use:
  • Remember Skilled Rider:  Check it out!  A bonus to jink saves and you do not need to worry about dangerous terrain.  This is a real boost to your survivability.  It also leads on to two things that you need to remember to extend your Reavers’ life:
    • Keep moving:  Without your jink save, your armour is no better than that of a Kabalite Warrior.
    • Avoid templates:  Anything that ignores cover will be the death of you.
  • Bladevanes vs. Splinter:  I have mathhammered the expected damage for one round of shooting/bladevaning against my standard targets below:
    Weapon  vs MEQ   vs TEQ   vs GEQ   vs MC
    Splinter Rifle (Rapid Fire)0.2220.1110.6670.222
    Bladevane0.3330.1670.8890.111
    Cluster Caltrops0.9720.4861.9440.389
    Note:  These numbers were worked out for the averaged number of bladevane and caltrop strikes (2 and 3.5 respectively), and assuming that the splinter rifles were in rapid fire range.
    This shows that you will get more kills on average by bladevaning pretty much any target that is not a Monstrous Creature, and cluster caltrops rock!  This does not, however, take any Heat Lances/Blasters in the unit into account.  With one in three equipped with these, shooting becomes equally as effective, provided the enemy is not in cover.  Bear in mind that you can only bladevane when turbo-boosting, and thereby sacrificing your assault phase Eldar Jetbike move.  Also, to bladevane a unit you have to physically pass over it.  This requires some careful thought to ensure that you do not leave yourself exposed to shooting or an assault at the end of your move.
  • Consider assault:  Jetbikes are relentless, they carry a pistol and close combat weapon, can take combat drugs, and have a better toughness compared to your standard DE.  They also get a free Hammer of Wrath attack.  So, despite the fact that I just 'proved' that bladevanes were better than your guns, you might want to shoot anyway, and then swoop in for the assault.
  • Avoid being assaulted:  Reavers have an okay toughness, and a poor save.  They do not want to be on the receiving end of a charge.  Moreover, without hit and run, once they are caught in an assault your opponent has pinned them in one place, disabling their main advantages of manoeuvrability and speed.
  • Move-shoot-move:  Use this to get them out of line of sight into cover, or even just to rearrange, so that the models closest to danger (first casualties) are not your special weapons or champion.
  • Endgame objective denial:  Although they are not scoring (except in the Scouring mission), Reavers are a denial unit, and their massive speed allows them to wait until turn five before swooping to contest an objective or claim line breaker.
  • Screening:  If the enemy has to shoot through your Reavers to hit something, then the target unit gets a cover save.  This can be used to give a little more protection to a unit caught in the open whilst your flat out Reavers still get a decent jink.
Standard Builds: Six or nine Reavers armed with the maximum number of Heat Lances/Blasters [156-243]. Add an Arena Champion with weapon if it suits your style.  Minimum unit sizes are too fragile to be of much use.


Acknowledgements:
Many thanks to the large number of people whose posts and feedback helped to inform this article: Revener, Nawari, Atnas, Khain Mor, Immelman, Skari, Mushkilla, foeofnight, Orthien, Super Dave, Thor665, Massaen, Grumpy Kwi, squierboy, Shadows Revenge and Cavash.

Plastikente
May 2014

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