Sunday, October 26, 2014

Civ BE: Quick tips from playing so far

My wife called me a robot this weekend.  Does not compute.

Alright, so here's the low-down.  Let me first say that I'm no Civ expert.  I have never played the Civ series before Civ 5 and I only played that for a couple of hours in preperation for BE.  Truth be told, I'm not really a fan of hex-strategy games where the first 150 turns has almost zero combat.  I come from RTS, and I'm a very aggressive, micro-intensive player so this is as about as different as it gets.

Here's how much I played this weekend:
  • It started on Thursday with the 9pm PST release, I already had it pre-loaded and I ended up playing till 5 in the morning.
  • Woke up last as hell on Friday, called out of work because I was dead tired, but still ended up playing until 1am.
  • Decided to run some errands on Saturday, watched my brother play with Harmony for a bit before jumping on myself and played until 5 in the morning.
  • Woke up early, jumped on and played until right now.  All in all, I played way too much Civ and my wife thinks I might some problems.  I don't deny it.

I spent most of Thursday experimenting with some of the game mechanics, and I spent most of Friday min-maxing what I have learned.  From my playfest, I would like to share with you some of the stuff that I learned, having played and completed all 5 victory conditions on the default difficulty.  My brother's Harmony game was on the next highest difficulty, but I didn't really see that much of a difference.

Here's what I learned about Beyond Earth so far:
  • I've only played with ARC, Pan-Asian Cooperative, Polystralia and Fraco-Iberia so far.  Out of those, I feel that Polystralia and ARC are the strongest.  Fraco can be good, but the technology bonus needs to be timed really well to get the big pay off.  Pan-Asian's worker speed is nice, but not as good as ARC and Polystralia's bonuses.
  • Why?  Because ARC allows you to spy faster and get more intrigue, which allows you to do nastier stuff.  I don't really care about this in particular, what I really care about is the faster operations.  Faster operations means you can steal science faster, which means you get faster research.  This is huge, and very consistent since steal technology gives you random crap.
  • Polystralia sings well to one of the game's assets right now and that's trade.  Trade is absolutely huge in this game and you gotta set that stuff up quick.  Once you get your trade routes established, the money starts to flow and everything is smooth sailing from there.  Energy and research gives you everything you need to jumpstart your game and stay ahead of the other races.
  • If you have a coastal city, sometimes its best to start with the small trading convoys and then upgrade to trading vessels later on.  Water cargo gives you a lot bigger payoffs and allows you to reach out to other continents.  If you're doing well on exploring and you're getting a good amount of energy, feel free to go for vessels immediately on coastal cities.
  • How I like to start off a faction is to pick the faction, go for Artists because of the +2 culture and +1 health in every city, Fusion Reactor for the faster 2nd Explorer, Laboratory so you can immediately start trading and save yourself some research time, and land on a Terran world because you get land, water, and multiple trading areas and playstyles.
  • Once I get in game, I look at the Prosperity tree in Virtue for a large amount of my time.  The +10% growth is great in early game and helps me get more citizens while I go straight for the free Worker and Colonist.  Basically, anything that's free or near-free is extremely good at getting going early game.  It's very much a snowball because if you get a good location with healthy trade routes, expansion opportunities and your shit doesn't get fucked up by the local aliens, then you're good to go.
  • Double Explorer is vital because it allows you to go around the world, scout things out and get research pods.  Pods gives you all kinds of different bonuses, but the culture ones are exceptional because of the free virtues they give you.  If you get a free affinity level, put it into Purity because it makes it so aliens don't attack your explorers.  This is super useful in early game when you're cracking all the expeditions open.  Combine this with Pathfinders from the Prosperity tree and you're rolling in free expeditions.
  • Another reason I go Prosperity is because of the health bonuses.  Sure, grabbing the buildings that give you health is great, but having a virtue that gives you Mind Over Matter for +7 the heath is fucking ridiculous.  When you expand and your cities grow, your health starts to go down and everything slows down if you fall into the red.  The same thing happens with you annex other cities after you kick their ass or turn them into puppet states.  Good health in this game makes you stay on top of the other factions.  Every single game, all of my cities are floating around 20+ and staying in a Utopian society for max +bonuses.  It's just essential if you want to have a good economy and kick ass with your military.
  • Speaking of which, don't build your military up too quickly, and hold off on the Might virtues until you're ready to roll out.  The +50% experience is great, but often times that's enough from that tree.  Once you get into later game and you have a lot of science, the Foresight from the Knowledge tree is also fantastic.  After you're ready to build your late game wincons like Emancipation Gate, go into the Industry tree for faster buildings and wonders.
  • I can't stress the importance of having healthy cities and a good economy before military units.  If the local aliens are giving you a hard time, look into getting the fence from Ecology that keeps them away from your capital buildings.  If they start attacking your convoys, getting the fence will give you the quest option to make your convoys immune to alien attacks.  Always get this if your convoys are getting attacked or else you're just bleeding money and falling behind.
  • When looking around for good expansion spots on the map, you must know what kind of resources plays well with your affinity.  For Supremacy, you want Firaxite nodes, Xenomass if you're going Harmony and Floatstone if you're going Purity.  The only way you're going to find this out is by having a lot of scouting and uncovering as much of the continent that you're on ASAP.  At the end of the day, the map will determine which affinity you will be best for, which kind of sucks if you really enjoy the Supremacy playstyle or whatever.  If the map doesn't have any Firaxite, you're pretty much screwed unless you trade for all these luxury resources.  This can be a huge waste of money in the long run, so its best to let the map determine which affinity you roll with.  This is another reason I like having Pioneering pre-researched, since it allows my guys to go on water via the Planetary Survey research in the same tree.
  • The Spy Agency is pretty important in this game and so is intrigue.  I always try to get as much stolen research as possible to shorten the time I need to research sometime.  It's consistent and gives you a keeps you ahead on the research tree.
  • I'm the kind of player that likes to build 3-4 cities and then keep them as healthy as possible.  I don't think you really need more than that, because if you need more, just build an army, kill other players and get yourself some puppet states.  Don't bother annexing them because it's a serious hit on your overall health.  Hopefully by this stage in the game, the cities you destroy have some kind of trade established and you can just build the vessels/convoys at your cities and send it over to them if you don't have any.  Otherwise, just raze them into the ground.  I believe this particular playstyle of having fewer but more powerful cities is called "tall" for all those civ fans out there.
  • Research small upgrades that gives you boosts to your economy early on.  While rushing to that Spy Agency via Computing might seem like the best thing ever, if I can grab 2-3 research options that will improve my economy first in the early game, I will most likely do that.  It's also smart to go for the luxury materials foundries because you can always work those tiles early.
  • Don't get caught up in building Wonders in early game, but let your cities build what's really important: anything that contributes to your economy.  When I say economy, I mean trade routes, science, health, production, food, energy, because anything that boost the performance of your cities will keep you ahead for the rest of the game.  Wonders will come when you're at 3+ cities and you can dedicate your city with the highest production to building them, which is probably going to be your capital (since it should be the most developed by then).
  • Laying siege to towns is really quick in this game compared to the other Civ games from what I'm told.  My brother has played nearly every civ pretty competitively so he's been one hell of a coach.  What you want to do is get yourself no more than 3 artillery pieces because believe me, that's pretty much all you need to bring a city to its knees.  Your cruisers are also really effective at laying waste of coastal cities, so I always bring some naval units when I'm waging war on the seas.  While you can build a Gunboat to patrol, I wouldn't go near any of the aliens in the water until you get yourself some cruisers to take them down.
  • Speaking of combat, all the races play pretty differently when it comes to warfare.  Purity is a pretty defensive faction with a lot of buffs that target their defensive traits, and most of their stuff can float above the ground thanks to Floatstone technology.  Supremacy is very much about the attack, having good range, damage bonuses to standing next to adjacent units, and can shoot twice on their shootier stuff in later game.  Then comes Harmony, which is about speed, healing and using miasma to improve their units in combat.  You typically want to start your assault with the field covered with miasma because it deals damage to your enemies and give you bonuses.  It's basically scorched earth tactics at that point.

Emancipate them with Angels!

Here's a quick blurp on how to win in this game.  You can find more info here.

Victory Conditions

There is  "flavor text" about each of the victory conditions in their corresponding quest entries, but I will not sport with your intelligence by reposting them here. Below are the gameplay-relevant summaries of each:
  • Domination: conquer the capital cities of all other factions.
  • Contact (Science): discover clues left by the intelligent Precursor aliens who once inhabited this planet, decode "The Signal" and contact them. To start, complete two of these three tasks:
    • Find a fragment of The Signal via an Explorer Expedition on Progenitor Ruins. The chance is slim, but possible.
    • Launch a Deep Space Telescope orbital unit to search for a fragment of The Signal.
    • Research the Transcendental Math technology and solve the Transcendental Equation to derive a Signal fragment.
    • Build the Decode Signal project.
    • Build the (Contact Beacon) Planetary Wonder to attract the attention the aliens.
    • Achieve oneness with Carl Sagan.
  • The Promised Land (Purity): tame the planet in the name of Humanity and make it a home for our Earthbound brethren.
    • Research Orbital Networks and build a Lasercom Satellite to reestablish communication with Earth.
    • Achieve Purity level 13 and build the Exodus Gate planetary wonder.
    • Receive 20 colonists from Earth through the gate and settle them.
    • Profit.
  • Transcendence (Harmony): awaken the planet's sentient superorganism and mind-meld with it.
    • Research Nanorobotics, Transgenics, and Swarm Intelligence to develop the Cognitive Link.
    • Achieve Harmony level 13 and build the Mind Flower planetary wonder.
    • Defend the Mind Flower from the unclean and support it with resources and Mind Stem buildings.
    • Achieve eco-nirvana and become one with the planet's consciousness.
  • Emancipation (Supremacy): annihilate humanity on Earth. Er, I mean, "free" them from their biological bodies.
    • Research Orbital Networks and build a Lasercom Satellite to reestablish communication with Earth.
    • Achieve Supremacy level 13 and build the Emancipation Gate planetary wonder.
    • Send military units through the gate to effect the mass genocide of humanity on Earth. Er, I mean, "liberate" them from their trifling, unenlightened existence.
    • Go directly to Hell. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Just some quick words from me on the above:
  • Emancipation's victory condition is sending 1000 strength worth of units through the gate and you can only send one per turn.  That means you want to send in your biggest dudes like the Angel so you can essentially complete the victory in 10 or so turns.  Don't worry, you get your Firaxite back once the Angel goes through, so you can keep buying more of them to send in.  Ideally, you want to be producing one and buying one so you never slow down a turn.
  • For the Promised Land victory, you might end up wanting to kill yourself because its a huge pain in the ass .  The colonists that come from earth are slow as fuck and have limited movement, and you need to settle 20 of them on the clusterfuck world you're already in.  To make matters worse, the settlers abide by all the standard 3-tiles away bullshit so you need to spread them the fuck out too.  This one took me forever, so fuck earth and these dumbass colonists.  You can tell I'm salty.
  • The Transcendence victory is by far the easiest one to complete IMO.  Just build Mind Stems and wait for the stupid thing to blossom.  Poof, instant hippie victory.
  • For the Contact victory, prepare for some massive RNG because you need to explore a lot and uncover ruins that decodes the signal.  I just lucked out hard with my victory.  Proof below!  Oh, and once you turn on the beacon (30 turn wait), it will use 1000 of your energy immediately and all energy income will stop.  I guess that's what you get when you turn on a giant flashlight and point it into space.
  • Lastly, the Domination victory is when you just go around kicking everyone's ass.  I did it with the Purity affinity and waged war across multiple continents like a badass.  Feelsgoodman.jpg.

Prepare to roll that D6, or D20, or 3xD20, who knows.

Alright, that's all I have for now.  My favorite affinity to play is probably Supremacy with Harmony in second.  I just really like the look of the Supremacy units and I like their aggressive playstyle nad no bullshit logic.  Purity reminds me too much of Terran back in Starcraft and I've been there, done that too many times.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Civ: Beyond Earth

This might put a slight dent in my minis time.

Anyone going to play?  I'm foaming at the mouth right now waiting for it to come online, I already got it pre-loaded.

You can talk strategy with me here!  I'm definitely going to go Supremacy first if I get a good location to do so.  Gotta emancipate those earthlings!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DE: Tactical Battle Report #2

Yeah, I'm a little evil, so what?

I wasn't sure if I was going to post this at first because it was a relatively short game vs. Tau, but I figured why not, some people might learn something.  My opponent Craig brought some new stuff that I haven't seen before, some of which was from FW and I was pretty excited to see what they can bring to the battlefield.

My 1850 Pure DE was the same thing I've been using the last couple of days.

The Kabal of Grey Death.

Right now, I've gotten a lot of games with them both IRL and in Vassal, and while I've lost one vs. a very competitive Mechdar list, I've won all the rest.

The army I'm playing against today had:
Buffmander, twin-linked and ignore cover if he doesn't shoot
3 units of Fire Warriors, with a Fireblade attached to one
FW XV107 R'Varna
FW Knarloc
Riptide, Ion
a unit of Pathfinders with Devilfish
a unit of Broadsides
a big unit of Kroot with hounds and Shaper
I might have missed something, but this should suffice!

This is what deployment looked like.

Deployment was Dawn of War, Night Fighting was on, and I had first turn with the Conqueror of Cities as my roll on the Strategic tree.  The mission itself was The Scourging, with 6 points spread around the table, but this game didn't really go that far for it to play a factor.  I deploy defensively even though I'm going first because one, Seize is a game mechanic and two, I'm playing against Tau. Knowing the range of their weapons is very important because you want to be able to bring most if not all of your weapons to bear while you isolate and destroy pockets of their army.  You do this with your superior speed since everything can move 12" and still do damage.

Turn 1 Dark Eldar - End of movement.

After deployment, most of my units moved 12" so I can play as aggressive as I can to the Tau player.  The reason why you have to play aggressive vs. the blue fishgoats is because your damage is done in advancing layers.  As you move into closer and closer range bands, your damage accelerates dramatically, adding both poisoned shots from your Warriors inside your vehicles and their blasters as well.  For example, in this particular army list, I open up with 36 poisoned shots and 12 lances from 36" away.  At 18", I have 6 more blasters and a good amount of poisoned shooting.  At 12", all of my warriors in gunboats are rapid firing with Splinter Rack re-rolls.  This is exponential damage that gets inflicted as you advance towards the enemy, not to mention my reserves that brings in 6 more lances from the Archon's Blasterborn boat, 4 more from the Razorwings and 4 S6 large blasts.

Turn 1 Dark Eldar - Strategy.

OK, so the strategy here was pretty straight forward.  We gotta kill that ridiculous R'Varna battlesuit because it can do an insane amount of damage to my vehicles with its large templates.  When I asked him what it did, I basically spaced out midway after hearing some insane things and decided yeah, that needs to die ASAP.  Anywho, I am able to be aggressive with the vehicles in the middle, as long as I can shield some of the return fire without having to Jink from the Fire Warriors in the middle grey building on his side of the board, and the far right building marked with the pink star.  While my Ravagers are pretty open, I really needed to get my lances to bear onto his big mech and draw LoS to his Broadsides.  The warrior gunboat on the far left moves aggressively behind cover while drawing a headshot on his R'Varna.

Turn 1 Dark Eldar - Shooting.

All of the Venoms open up and force enough wounds to put the big mech to 1W.  The remaining lances marked in purple was enough to put him down, even though through the cover saves.  This allowed me to re-purpose my Ravagers and other lances into the Broadsides, forcing enough ID wounds through cover to take them out of the game.  This eliminated all sources of Skyfire and Interceptor from his army, while a single lance marked in light blue hit the Knarloc in the face.  The snapfiring warriors inside was able to force a wound onto it after Splinter Rack re-rolls.  A few rolls here and there from the Venoms in the front was able to put some lucky wounds on the Kroot in the middle as well.  Never forget about your Rapid Fire weapons, even if they are forced to snap after moving 12".  You never know what you can roll with Splinter Racks.  Oh, and take note of that back right Ravager shooting through cover and into cover at the Broadsides.  He's getting a 4+ cover either way, so why not?

Turn 2 Dark Eldar - End of movement.

On his reply back, he was only able to put hull point damage on one of the Ravagers and glance a Raider after forcing them to Jink.  None of them died because of the Stealth, and even with the Buffmander giving re-rolls and Ignore Cover on a unit of Fire Warriors, he was unable to do enough damage to down any of my vehicles.

I flat out ignored the Pathfinders last turn for a reason: I knew his return fire would be greatly diminished if I killed the key elements that can break through armor.  What'd you know?  It worked.  Pathfinder bonuses are worthless if there's not enough powerful shooting to retaliate with.

Turn 2 Dark Eldar - Strategy.

On my turn, all my reserves came in and I painted the giant squad of Kroot in the middle with my Razorwings.  The gunboat advanced on the Fire Warriors with cover on the far left, and the rest of my army re-purposed themselves to isolate and destroy the remaining Riptide hiding behind that building marked with the green star.  I don't know if you guys can see from this picture, but the Archon's Blasterborn was behind some Ruins on far right, drawing 18" from an angle onto his Riptide.  Say hello to 6 lances to the dome!

Turn 2 Dark Eldar - Shooting.

The gunboat on the far left did some serious damage to the FW on the left and enough to force a panic after 4 die.  Combined fire from the Razorwings, one of the gunboats and some warriors inside the Venom on the building put down most of the Kroot while the remaining dog is fleeing from the table.  Everything else is freed up at this point to go into the Riptide and my opponent throws up the white flag.  I literally killed everything on the left side of the board while forcing enough poison saves and lances through cover to drop the remaining Riptide.

"I'm done.  Please stop shooting me."

The end of the game looked like this, no mercy for the Tau.  I drag every single one of the goatfishmen people back to be experimented on, after graciously accepting their surrender of course.

Alright, so I'm not sure if I should bring my Dark Eldar to work events any more after this game.  While Craig has played some competitive units, he also took some other units that he wanted like Knarloc.  Let's just say that the Dark Eldar are the zookeepers of the galaxy, and I'm happy to see MCs across the table no matter where I go.  We talked a bit after the game and while R'Varna does serious work, he can still die from combined fire coming from a Dark Eldar army.  The 2W 2+ save on the Broadsides mean absolutely jackshit to lances and if you force enough wounds, they will die from failing cover saves.  I tell Craig that I play "fluffy" too, taking all Kabal elements and not giving a shit about Haemonculi, but I see the game primarily in vectors, percentages and numbers.  I'm basically playing XCOM in real life.

This right here is what Dark Eldar is about:  Hit hard, hit fast, and control the tempo of the game in your favor.  Isolate and destroy as many heavy weapons as possible and the rest of the game is just clean up.  Anyways, next game will be with my shitty ass Tyranids.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DE: Tactical Battle Report #1

Class is back in session!

I'm going to try something different with this BR, and hopefully turn this into a tactica like I did in the past.  For those long-time fans that remember that tournament, that was the first time I used a picture system like this one to capture my thoughts and tactics.

Alright, so what did I have here.  Mission was The Relic (deployed long ways) vs. my buddy Scott at work who was piloting the CSM vs. my pure DE list.  You guys should know what that looks like by now, but if you don't, here's a picture of the army!

The Kabal of Grey Death ready to ravage!

For those of you cringing at the fact that models are not painted, I know, it's pretty shameful.  Or is it?  Because all the time I could be painting, I have dedicated to strategy, tactics and building new models so I can actually apply these strategy and tactics.  All of the time I have for the hobby, I put into improving myself as a player.  Luckily, the places I play at around here do not require painting, and when they do, I forfeit my painting score because I only care about Best General.

The list that my friend was piloting was:
Chaos Sorc using Lore of Slaanesh
in a big unit of Noise Marines in a Rhino with Blastmaster and FNP banner
2x units of min cultists for scoring
a min unit of Noise Marines hiding in the buildings with a Blastmaster
a big unit of Havocs with 4x Autocannons
a MoNurgle Soulgrinder with Skyfire and the large template
a Lv.3 Keeper of Secrets with Telepathy, 2 Greater Gifts (which got Invis, Shrouding, Scream and Terrify)
a Heldrake waiting to eat my face from reserve
and a unit of min Raptors with meltas

Dark Eldar - Turn 1 - After movement.

So here's what the terrain and battlefield looks like on the end of my turn, you can see the Relic starring down both of us while we wait for the battle to unfold.  Even with my re-roll on the Strategic tree, I got 6, which resulted in nothing happening for me.  I can't remember his Warlord trait, but my WWP Archon and his Blasterborn sit in reserve alongside my 2x Razorwings.  First turn goes to me and Night Fighting is on.

Dark Eldar - Turn 1 - Strategy.

I don't know how to name this slide, but I called it "strategy".  The reason why I called it that is because I wanted to talk about the principle strategy behind playing Dark Eldar, which is to: Inflict as much damage as you can while receiving little damage in return.  I'll start with the green star as it shows that the Ravager on top, on the side, and the Venom shooting the door (inside the house) are all pretty much hard covered from the shooting options on the blue and yellow X.  At the same time, the 3 ships on the far left which is marked as the blue star, receives almost complete shooting immunity to the pink min Blastmaster squad while still having firing opportunities at the leftmost infantry, and the Keeper.  This means that the Soul Grinder and the Havocs need to reach long and far at the far left, shooting into cover on far right, or shoot at the middle which is to be expected.  I figured that was a good trade because I needed to range in on his Keeper for the extra shots, and I have the momentum with Night Fighting on.

Dark Eldar - Turn 1 - Shooting.

Scott makes the mistake in leaving his Keeper of Sercrets behind some buildings and my entire army jumps on it like a pack of wild dogs.  What you don't see here is that on the far right, a Venom is shooting out of a doorway that's under the Ravager.  You can see from all the lances and poison shots converging on the Keeper, that the dude did not have a good day.  He drops dead on Turn 1 (far left star) and my last lancer gets a side shot that blows up his Sorc unit's Rhino.

Dark Eldar - Turn 2 - After movement.

His reply back was short and violent as he pops one of the forward Raiders and force 2 Ravagers to Jink.  He also ends up annihilating the 3-man unit of Kabalite Warriors that you see there, which is only reduced to that because of the Raider exploding and killing 7 inside.  On my turn, everything comes on to do their dirty business.

Dark Eldar - Turn 2 - Strategy.

The strategy here is that the placement of the Archon's unit made it so nothing in his army can reply to it except for the Oblits.  The yellow X shows where the Blastmaster is, and while it Ignores Cover, he didn't really get as much damage as he wanted from it.  If he re-positioned to get a shot on the Archon's Raider, he would only be shooting S5.  That was a chance I was willing to take.  I think the results on one of the Raiders in the front was a hull point off after the pen.  If you look carefully on the left and how the Raiders and Venoms are placed, you will know that red X will not be able to do solid damage thanks to the slight occlusion of the ruins, and I'm offering nothing for his blast opportunities because the units are spread out well.  Likewise, his answers to reply on the far right is mediocre at best.  My green star unit and the Venom that's still hiding inside the broken building knows that his answers are limited, so they're feeling pretty safe, especially now since I have the Blasterborn unit floating around in his back lines.

Dark Eldar - Turn 2 - Shooting.

DE shooting was extremely bloody this turn as the Razorwings opens up with missiles and lances onto the top area of Havocs.  They kill everyone but one guy who later runs off like a pansy.  The Ravagers on the right move over to hit the Soul Grinder who is now out of cover, and though one is snapfiring, I still manage to put 2 hull points on the damn thing.  Focus fire into the exposed squad does almost nothing as my opponent makes more armor saves than I have seen in my life playing against Space Marines, and most of my lances miss or fail to wound.  The two gunboats on the left move up and erase a squad of Cultists and continue shooting at some Nurglings who scouted their way into the ruins a turn before.  They literally just sat there and looked cute, and also soaked up fire from my gunboats the previous turn.  Damn you Shrouding and Ruins.

My Archon came in from the back to shoot at the Obliterators who was responsible for killing a Raider, but completely wiffed on his attempt as the entire squad either missed or did no damage.  Out of 6 lances, I put one wound on the unit of 3, which didn't kill because he was T5 thanks to Mark of Nurgle.

Dark Eldar - Turn 3 - After movement.

So his Chaos chicken comes on and doesn't really do anything.  I think it glances a few things here and there but it's nothing important.  His reserves didn't come in and he was kinda bummed about that as well.  By now, things are looking really grim for the CSM as my ships are surrounding the remnants of his army and I'm inflicting horrible losses to him as the turns drag on.  He kills my Archon's boat with the Oblits, but now I'm running around with a few leftover Blasterborn harassing his back lines.

Dark Eldar - Turn 3 - Strategy.

The main thing to take from this picture is that I moved full speed with my Razorwings in hopes that his Heldrake won't be able to hit them.  This way, I'm still able to maximize on my damage potential on the targets in front of me.  At this point, the Soul Grinder is just overwhelmed and I'm on cleanup duty.  My yellow star marks where the Archon and his unit is, basically hiding for their lives until reinforcements can reach them.

Dark Eldar - Turn 3 - Shooting.

Shooting here is as expected.  A ton of shooting goes into the unit in the middle and they just get wiped off the face of the map.  Now that my Venoms are closer, I'm able to shift the majority of my firepower from poison to heavy lances, therefore killing any and everything that's T4 FNP.  Since his Sorc is in the back of the unit, I use poison shots first to strip off what I can before saturating the unit with lances until there's nothing left.  A single shot at the Soul Grinder ends up doing nothing thanks to Shrouded and Cover, and I choose to move max speed with my Razorwings so I can channel the remaining airpower into the Oblits.  With the help of a couple of Venoms and some stray lances, I put them down like a wounded animal.

Alright, so that wasn't the most exciting game, but hopefully the pictures and drawings I made helped you understand Dark Eldar a little bit more.  The army itself is just extremely fragile, but it hits hard enough to threaten a lot of things in the game.  When it comes down to it, the only way Dark Eldar can win at this game is being able to inflict a lot of damage while denying damage in return.  You can apply all kinds of cover mechanics, blocking LoS and utilizing the surrounding terrain, shoot through windows and open doors, and even shooting through cover when you know your opponent will receive the same degree of cover.

At the end of this game, I had a few people ask me if I still think Dark Eldar are bad.  Yes, I do, because while they can play decently at casual levels, I'm unsure about their performance on the competitive plane.  I guess being an Archon for 14 years also helps, since Dark Eldar is not the most noob-friendly of all armies.

Let me know how you feel about this battle report!

DE: Some random helpful tips

Get hit by that Dark Lance.  Feelsgoodman.

I typed a good amount today on the forums, and here is what I had to say about a variety of subjects.  All of which pertains to my idea of a successful Kabal list, since all of these are common elements in my army lists.

On Aethersails..
I would argue that Aethersails are even better in a DS list because you can correct a bad scatter with the extra range.

While AS is not mandatory, they're cheap enough to be spammed on almost all of our vehicles.  I would say they're more useful on back-field captures units like 5-man lancers, and less useful on gunboats because they really want to be moving 6" and rapid-firing every turn.

Either way, if you have the points, buy into them.  At 5 points, I use them as space fillers that give me more strategic value than a single Night Shield.

On Knights or LR spam..
With the loss of reliable mass haywires, the Achilles is literally a hard counter to everything in our book.

If you're going to be playing against that crap, I would really suggest you look into Eldar allies.  Why?  Because they have access to S10 AP2 Distort weapons that don't care about the likes of Achilles and other LR-variants.  Not to mention we have a very solid way to delivering them to areas they will find most displeasing, on the side, rear, in cover, however we want.  With the Autarch in our midst, we can also deliver other popular Eldar weapons in there, and with greater accuracy. Units like Fire Dragons do wonders vs. the standard non-Achilles LR.  These elements are also our best answer to Knights, since you're just as dangerous in melee with Meltabombs.

Now that you said you want pure DE, that, my friend, is going to be really bad for you.  The only thing you can do at this point is load up on lances, blasters, blasterborn, and heat lances.  Forget the Scourges, I seriously think they're utter crap and people are just excited to use them because of their price drop.  At the end of the day, they're still 5 T3 dudes with cover saves that will die to any kind of retaliatory anti-infantry shooting.

We're not concerned at all with LR rush, as we have lances for days and even more once they get within Blaster range.  That's why you slowly push against that kind of list because at best, you can use the terrain to your advantage as you get closer and closer towards them.

For example, this is the pure DE list I play in an mechanized meta:

Updated: 10/14/14
20 KP

Archon, WWP, Blaster, Haywire = 115

5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175

5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/NS = 195

Razorwing, Lances = 140
Razorwing, Lances = 140

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125

Your opening reply is 15 lances and as you reach the 18" range mark, you're adding +6.  Razors coming in gives you +4, the Blasterborn unit itself gives you +6 (Blasterchron and Raider).  By T2, you can have 31 lances at your opponent if nothing dies (tall order, but it exists).  You still have enough anti-infantry via the gunboats to do something, but you can always drop the entire unit down and save 165 points (enough for another Razorwing or a unit of 9x Reavers with Heat Lances if you also cut some sails).

The fact of the matter is:  DE does not care about Land Raiders.  To us, they're overpriced Chimeras because you're essentially shooting at the same thing.  As an Dark Eldar player.. when life throws you lemons, throw back Dark Lances.

I'll quote something I said in another thread:
(see below on Dark Lances)

Which is another reason why I don't like Scourges with HWB. They do absolutely jack crap to a lot of the targets I listed above.

Out of everything your opponents can bring, the one thing that really stands out is the ridiculous Achilles.  That thing was made to reduce everything that we have to paperweight, and I god damn hate the designers for that.  Before, our reply was a quick swift kick in the nuts via Wyches with Haywires, but now we have to rely on Eldar allies to bring in Wraithguard.  The same can apply with Imperial Knights, but because you can pin-point drop the Blasterchron's unit, you can get easy shots from the back.  That and the fact you can use your speed to get around the void shields sometimes.

Eldar just brings so much to the table for us, especially with the Autarch's Fusion Gun and Archon's WWP/Blaster combo.  It allows us to bring in reserves with consistency, gives us Wraithguard, Wraithknights, and Fire Dragons, all of which just reduce mech lists to molten slag.  The Wraithguard are especially effective, as you can take a big unit of 10 of them, run them with a Spiritseer (Iyandnen CAD), attach the WWP/Blasterchron and you're good to go.  Now you're walking around with T6 3+ and a Archon tanking all the hits with Shadowfield from the front, after you've casted Invisibility on yourself, forcing everything to snap shot at you.  It's ridiculous, and can single-handily walk over the entire LR force by itself.

The Wraithknight also allows you to threaten AV14 turn after turn from a distance, can keep pace with the rest of your army, and punch out the Achilles in close combat because of S10 MC and a decent amount of attacks.

If you want to play competitive, play competitive.  Taking a pure DE list is not as competitive as Eldar allies, but it does have answers specifically for the Land Raider.  Vs. the Achilles, you have to look elsewhere.

On Mechdar with 2x Wraithknights..
That list exists soley to punish 2 specific lists in the meta: Mechdar that's not running WK, and pure Tau, as both of these have no solid solution vs. 2x WK.

I agree with Mandor in saying that the Wraithknight is superior.  He just offers so much more to the table not only in durability (vs. most things in the meta as opposed to niche things like Agonizers), threat range and better weapons.  The fact that he's S10 also gives him dominance over T5 mult-wound and just stomps the crap outta any vehicle in close combat.  Being completely immune to bolters, while hilarious, is not as impactful as a meltaguns and lances only wounding on 4s.

On the importance of Dark Lances vs. poison weapons..
Then I would argue he doesn't have enough anti-tank and an over saturation of poison.

S8 AP2 Lance is not just our answer for vehicles btw, it's the answer to everything in life, Terminators, Bikes, Riptides, Dreadknights, Wraithknights that are exposed, basically anything T4 multi-wound (Oblits, Broadsides, Nobz), the list goes on and on.

We have plenty of anti-infantry in our army, and while that can be a good thing, it can be misleading when designing your list. We have to maximize on our lances if we're to make a big impression on targets with 2+ AS because we don't have reliable melee solutions to those. Poison is good, but not enough to punch holes in what we really need to down in most cases.  That's why you must have a healthy amount of lances in your army.

Which is another reason why I don't like Scourges with HWB. They do absolutely jack crap to a lot of the targets I listed above.

On Archon and Shadowfields..
Nah, his entire purpose in life is to guide a unit down and nothing more. Well, besides a BS7 Blaster shot from 18" away! If he dies, he dies, but hopefully he'll make his points back guiding the blasterborn unit down and blowing up whatever he's shooting at.

He failed miserably in my last game when he came down and didn't do jackshit vs. a unit of Oblits, but at least that took some of their attention off of the rest of the army because I now have 6 lances prowling behind the backlines. That's absolutely huge, having essentially 2 Ravagers behind someone's backfield making them cry.

That, in itself, is well worth the 110 points you invest in him. If you do take a Shadowfield, then I suggest him leading a unit of Wraithguard, so he can tank all the shots coming at him from the front. That's the only instance I would take SF on him, not for combat, but so he can tank shots until the end of the phase from more important targets (e.g. Wraithguard, Fire Dragons).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DE: Realspace Raiders Detachment

And the award for worst Warlord Traits goes to...

We've all probably looked at it by now and I know the thought of having 6 FA slots makes some Reaver-happy players foam at the mouth.  However, we must analyze this in an intelligent manner and verify if the FA slot does indeed allow us to be competitive.

First, the Realspace Raiders Detachment and what it offers you:
  • Basically the same army except you have 6 FA slots to play with.
  • Restrictions: All units in this Detachment must have the Dark Eldar Faction (or have no Faction).
  • Benefit - Realspace Raider: If this Detachment is your Primary Detachment, you can re-roll the result when rolling on the Warlord Traits table in the Codex: Dark Eldar.
  • Benefit - Hunter from the Shadows: During the entire first game turn, and during any turn in which the Night Fighting rules are in effect, all Troops units from this Detachment have a 5+ cover save, and all other units from this Detachment have a 6+ cover save.
The first thing I have to ask myself is.. if I buy Raiders as dedicated transports for my troop choices, are they considered to be in 5+ cover?  Not the guys inside, but the Raiders themselves.  I would like to think yes because you're buying them in the troop slot.

It goes without saying that while Hunter from the Shadows can be good, I think we can all agree that it's not entirely game-changing.  All other units having a 6+ cover means absolutely jack shit with all things considered, especially when most buildings/ruins is 4+ and that you'd be stupid not deploying with at least some kind of cover.  No one really shoots in the wide-open field, so I don't think that the cover saves will be entirely useful.  If the 5+ cover also affects Raiders, I can see it being slightly useful as you can decide to not Jink and just take the cover save so you don't need to Snapfire.  Whether or not this is a good idea is also questionable.

As for the whole re-rolling on the DE Warlord Traits, this is a huge flop for anyone not taking a melee-centric Warlord.  In the list that I'm going to post with this detachment in mind, 4 of the 6 traits available to me are absolutely useless.  The only one I'm looking forward to is 2 - Labyrinthine Cunning, since it 's pretty much the best trait in the tree.  The ability to re-roll Seize, Night Fighting and Reserves is just godlike.  Towering Arrogance can be decent in later game when all your shit is getting shot to death, so a bubble of Fearless might not be too bad, but if you get to the later parts of the game to begin with, you will probably already have Fearless from Power from Pain.  Overall, the Warlord Traits presented here is a huge flop, and the designers responsible need to be sent to the Wych pits (so the Wyches can tear them apart for all the unneeded nerfs).

So what does your list look like with 6 FA slots?  A lot of people are thinking about tons of MSU Reavers, but I'm not sure if that's all that great.  Others are thinking 120 point HWB Scourges to go with their Ravagers, but where are they getting the points for all that?  So the question to ask yourself is this:  Is this detachment and the 6 FA slots really worth not having Objsec and re-roll on the Strategic tree?  I would love having almost ALL of the traits from there.

Anyways, here's what my pure DE list can look like under Realspace Raiders:

20 KP

Archon, WWP, Blaster = 110

5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120

5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/NS = 195

Razorwing, Lances/NS = 155
Razorwing, Lances/NS = 155
Venom SC = 65
Venom SC = 65
Venom SC = 65
Venom SC = 65

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125

With this list, you have the MSU playstyle of Warriors in Raiders, giving you 14 lances on the opening salvo, followed by 48 Venom shots coming from your supporting fire.  Is it more effective than my battle-forged pure Dark Eldar list I posted previously?  I personally don't think because I don't think it has the staying power or the objective-capturing flexibility.  The warlord traits alone is enough to deter me from building this style of list, but I'm throwing this out there so people can analyze for themselves.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 13, 2014

DE: Running pure Dark Eldar

Arrogance and cunning.

My approach for pure DE is pretty straight forward, but I have lances on everything that I can and completely skipped melee. My reasoning for that is that any melee options in our codex is just too cliche. There's no glory to be had in this very shooty edition, and the fact that we lost Haywires further limits our use of melee because frankly, our melee options are too slow. Those that are not too slow are either too expensive and not worth the points, or are just flatout subpar.

The direction I want to explore is this:

Updated: 10/14/14
20 KP

Archon, WWP, Blaster, Haywire = 115

5x Warriors, Blaster, Venom SC = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Venom SC = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Venom SC = 120
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175

5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/NS = 195

Razorwing, Lances = 140
Razorwing, Lances = 140

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125

Shoot with lances, maybe swap in some Venoms in your list and keep them in the backfield, WWP Archon delivers a killsquad of lances to someone's ass, while Razorwings do the heavy lifting for anti-infantry.  Ravagers can start off on the board shooting, in combination with the 3x smaller Warrior units.  If you want to apply pressure with all your lances, feel free to do so because you'll have 12-15 to shoot off at the beginning of the round.

Night Shields are a scam.  The 3+ Jink is not worth 1/4th the price of the vehicle.  I see what you're saying about the flyers, but the thing is AV10.  If it's going to get shot by anything worthwhile, you're most likely going to eat enough fire to disappear anyway.  In my experience, the guys who take Skyfire in their lists is going to kill whatever they're shooting at in most cases.

If I had extra points to take on NS, it would be on the Flyers, or Blasterchron's pimp-ride. Think about it this way though, even if you don't take NS on the flyers, just blow your load on an angle that can be reached by a board edge. That way, if you take any damage next turn, hopefully you can just Supersonic off.

Other variants of this list can see:

5x Warriors, Blaster, Venom SC = 120

This is my standard Venom Warrior unit.  I use this to pick at my opponents and offer a long-ranged anti-infantry solution.  This unit should be used as long-ranged support, but also advance up if you need additional lance support from 18" away due to the Blaster.  Never forget that you have guys inside that can also shoot poisoned shots.

Otherwise, I suggest taking at least some gunboats in your list:

10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS/SR = 175

This is my gunboat variant in its current form.  You run it 50 points more expensive, but you get 18 rapid fire poisoned shots from 12" away, in addition to 1 Blaster shot on whatever target that you shoot.  Keep in mind that the Raider's lance is its own unit, so you can pop a transport and then shoot at its contents inside with your warriors.  Being a larger unit also means that it has more staying power than the two above, so the 50 extra points you pay is for more bodies and more anti-infantry.  This one should be best used while close to your opponents, which means DS or steady advancement towards the frontlines.  Also keep in mind that the dudes inside are not subject to Raider's Jink snapfire restrictions, and never forget that Rapid Fire can now shoot from 24", just in case you want to get off a few wounds.

Regardless of setup, all of my vehicles come with Enhanced Aethersails whenever I can afford them.  They allow me to move a consistent +6" more in the TB phase, which means I can correct poor DS or get behind cover to await further opportunities.

And lastly, do remember that all of these are meta-calls.  In a infantry-rich environment like Footcrons, Greentide and Tyranids, Venoms and Gunboats do quite well.  In more Mech, you want 5-man Lance Raiders for the cheaper AT.  No matter what, you still need some kind of anti-infantry somewhere in your list, so it all depends on what the rest of your list looks like as well.  Furthermore, I would not drop the Blasterchron with the WWP. It's seriously one of the best things in the book: Giving you 6 lances where you want it, how you want it.

That's just too good to pass up.  Oh, for Warlord traits, you really want the Strategic tree.  While the 2nd from the DE tree is amazing, you really gotta fish for it, even with the re-roll.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DE: What will your competitive 1850 look like?

Let's go Autarch!

This is a great exercise.  Like I said, the idea would not to be to criticize your list, but present a possible solution to Mechdar and other high competitors.

Here are the restrictions:

You're building for 1850, and the meta will look like this:
  • Mechdar, 2x WK-variant, Autarch variant, Spiritseer/Wraithguard, all of these lists may or may not have Farseers to provided Shrouded.
  • Tau, with possible SM allies, assume your standard gunline with Broadsides, Buffmander, Kroot backfielders and Riptides.  New suit will be allowed at the event.
  • Space Marine-variants, possible Imperial Knight allies (made popular last major), but almost always grav-shooting
  • Imperial Knights
  • Chaos Space Marines, typical Nurgle play + Heldrakes
  • Necrons, big infantry or MSU mech-playstyles with Ghost Arks, Lord in Chariot and Annihilation Barges
  • Demons, typical flying circus
  • Tyranids, while rare, almost always come with dual dakka-Flyrants.

I listed this in the order of most frequently encountered and the hardest matchups for us (IMO).  If I showed up at this event, I would take heavy Eldar support.

20 KP

Archon, WWP, Haywire = 100
Autarch, Fusion Gun = 80*

5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider/AS = 120
5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider/AS = 120
5x Dire Avengers, WS/Holo/SS/Scatter = 210*
5x Dire Avengers, WS/Holo/SS/Scatter = 210*

5x Fire Dragons, WS/Holo/SS/Scatter = 255*

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Night Spinner, Holo/SS = 140*

The playstyle is MSU, Archon is set as WWP bitch for the Fire Dragon's unit so it can come down and hopefully take down 2 units.  The Autarch is also in the same unit with the Fusion Gun, while taking advantage of the +1 reserve rule to bring in for alpha strike, or counter-reserve vs. enemy Eldar forces not using the Autarch.  The Fire Dragons have meltabombs, the Autarch comes with a Haywire and your own Archon has one as well, making them highly dangerous in an assault vs. any armored foe.  The pinpoint WWP drop will also make sure that I can get the jump in on a Knight, and hopefully take it down with a lucky salvo.

The list is constructed to take maximum firepower and ranged dominance for anti-tank, having no less than 13 lance shots at 36", which synergizes with the Wave Serpent's ability to follow suit with Scatter Lasers and Serpent Shields.  The Night Spinner is there to flush out tightly enemy Eldar hiding behind any buildings, since S8 barrage with typically no cover and side armor is actually not bad if going first.

My biggest challenge here will be opposing WS as they can take out my anti-tank elements if I let them, so the key would be reserve manipulation and deepstrike advantage.  My opponent will almost knowingly follow suit, but if he doesn't have an Autarch, I will be able to hold the advantage over him.  In a situation that requires me to negotiate a alpha strike, I will need to hide the Night Spinner on the board and just pray for lucky barrage while jinking for my life next turn if he tries to hunt me down.

I know that there is absolutely no presence of air here and that is fine for me, having seen what twin-linked Ignore Cover WS can do to opposing air units, and them doing little to no damage in return because of Fast Skimmer Jinks.  Due to the fact that I invested heavily in playing vs. Mech, I'm now vulnerable to stuff like Lootas, any kind of meat tides in general, and maybe even Tyranids considering that I don't have the massed Venom shots.  Then again, they don't like a lot of lance shots either, and I do have a healthy amount of S6+ shots myself coming from the WS support.  I feel that with this list, I'll also feel good vs. Tau, seeing how enough powerful shooting will hopefully do heavy damage to Broadsides and other T4 instantly-gibbable units, but that's never a sure thing.  I know for sure Riptides do not like the high volume of Lances, but Shrouded Wraithknights will most likely have a field day with me.  Hopefully, I will be able to negotiate the DS dice-gods into letting me have some Warriors drop down on their face while I concentrate on the lesser amount of WS present in double WK lists.

What will your list look like in 1850 with BAO restrictions in your meta?

Friday, October 10, 2014

DE: Played a bunch of games

Stomping on people's faces.. kinda.

Keep in mind that I always build my lists to be competitive all-comers, none of that tailoring shit.  To sum up my experiences so far..

Game #1 - My Tau vs. solo DE with Venomspam
Huge win. Turkey shoot in my favor, even with him going first and getting stealth.  The pure amount of S7 twin-linked, SMS and my Drone Controlling Commander just blew him out of the water.  I think I killed 2 Ravagers, 4 Venoms and a Raider in my first turn of shooting, while severely crippling other things.  Just look at my list below, it's a pretty standard shooting list with Tau.

Game #2 - My DE/Eldar vs. Mechdar
Lose by 2, even with me deploying mostly everything in reserve and hiding my Night Spinner.  My DE elements got shot to crap and my WS could not outmatch a greater number of WS and Wraithknights.  Razorwings couldn't do anything significant vs. the WKs when they're getting cover + Shrouding from the Telepathy Farseer, and even without AA, he just forced enough twin-linked Ignore Cover shots and killed off my Razorwings without any issues.

Game #3 - My pure DE vs. Tau
Draw. I went first, Ravagers shot into the Broadsides and killed a full unit.  Rest of my shooting was uneventful, and I had 3x Razorwings and 2x Gunboats in  reserve ready to drop in.  I roll like ass for reserves, bringing in 1 Razorwing which gets intercepted and destroyed by the Quad-gun, a single Gunboat comes in and tries to shoot down a half-health Riptide but instead gets Intercepted and exploded, then the rest of my crap blows up because of SMS, Missile Pods, and Ignore Cover MSSS Commander granting it to Crisis Suits.  I end up tying the game with First Blood, Warlord (lance gibbed), Linebreaker, and scratching the bottom of the barrel with like 4 Warriors left holding onto an objective.

Game #4 - My Mechdar vs. pure DE
Huge win.  The game was over on T1 on my turn.  He deploys in front of me under Night Fighting, I had 5x WS, 2x Prisms and a Night Spinner with CHEx on call.  Didn't need to do any counter-reserving since an Autarch was my commander.  First round begins, I destroy 2 Ravagers, a Venom, 2 Raiders, kill an entire Warrior squad, and another gets pinned, while the Trueborn in the Venom are left staggering.  He concedes, even with 2x Haemonculi and 2x Scourges with 4x HWB in reserve.  Why would Mechdar care?

Game #5 - My mixed Eldar vs. pure DE
Huge win.  I think my opponent had some Groteques, which gets gibbed and shot to crap from my Guide/Divination double WK list, and the rest of his army evaporates to 4x WS with Scatters.  This list had more Raiders in there, but it just couldn't do enough damage to my WKs due to BS4, wounding on 4s, cover, and my Farseer was invincible with 2+ cover re-rollable, which the DE player couldn't touch because he's pure DE.

Lists are as follows, all 1850:
Pure DE-
Succubus with 9x Wyches in Raider
3x Gunboats with Warriors in Raiders
2x 5x Warriors in Raiders
All with Blasters, lance on the Raider and Athersails
3x Razorwing with Lances
3x Ravagers

Archon, Autarch
5x Warriors in Raider with Blaster
2x Gunboats with 10x Warriors in Raiders, the works
2x 5x Dire Avengers in Holo WS, Scatter, SC, Stones
2x Razorwing with Lances
3x Ravagers with Lances
1x Night Spinner, Holo, Stones

My Tau-
Buffmander with Drone Controller, MSSS
Fireblade in 12x Fire Warriors
Another 12x Fire Warriors and a smaller 6x Warrior unit
All behind ADL with Quad-gun with Fireblade on the gun
2x XV104 Riptides with Early Warning, SMS and Ion Accel
3x Crisis Suits with TL Missiles, BS Filter and Early Warning
12x Marker Drones chilling with the Buffmander
2x 3x XV88 Broadsides with HY Missiles and Target Lock
1x Hammerhead Gunship with Dpod and Submunitions

My Mechdar-
5x Min Dire Avenger WS, Scatters, Holo, Stones
Crimson Hunter Exarch
2x Fire Prisms, Holo, Stones
1x Night Spinner, Holo, Stones

Another version-
Laughing Seer, Telepathy for Shrouding
Autarch for reserves
4x Min Dire Avenger WS, Scatters, Holo, Stones
Crimson Hunter
2x Wraithknights
1x Night Spinner, Holo, Stones

I'm lucky enough to find some Eldar and Tau players on Vassal because that's pretty much all you find in the competitive scene.  Tau can do some seriously stupid shit to Dark Eldar, pretty much turning them inside out with all the high-volume, high-strength, Ignore Cover bullshit from a million miles away.  At least when I had Night Shields I was able to pick at him from range because I had NS on all my vehicles, now they just don't give a shit.  You match range with their 36" Broadsides and you're forced to shoot into cover because you don't have any Ignore Cover of your own.  From early observations playing with and against, I would place Tau at 85-15 odds vs. pure DE.

As for Mechdar, lol, forget about it.  I don't know how you're supposed to tackle that kind of pressure from Wave Serpents.  They move fast, pretty much kills any one of your vehicles with a push of a button, and takes almost no damage on return fire from your lances.  If you want to play the DS reserve war, their Autarchs does a better job at it.  If you have Scourges, you're screwed because where are you going to drop them that's safe from the Serpents and still do a good job?  The fact that they can just move and receive a +1 cover is huge, compared to the Jink saves DE makes and gets completely ignored.  Wraithknights punch out Grotesques all day, while their natural T8 make them a nightmare to do damage to with lances.  This basically means that you want to take more Venoms naturally, but if you do, you're just going to eat it from Wave Serpents because you really don't have a solid answer.  I think this is one matchup you're just going to eat it if you're not taking some Eldar elements yourself.  It's almost unwinnable:  95-5 vs. pure DE.

Not only do I feel those two matchups are ridiculously difficult for Dark Eldar, but their books are superior in almost every way.  It's all about options, and they got a lot more than we do.  Sorry.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

DE: Utilizing the Eldar warmachine

The runes of fate are unclear for the Dark Kin.

Alright, so by now the secret's out that the Dark Eldar codex can be a little better.  I've said this countless times, but I still think that the DE book benefits Eldar more than it does us.  There is not a single situation where I can say with absolute confidence that we do X stronger than our Craftworld cousins.  This disappoints me to the extreme, but I guess I have to live with this for the next couple of years.

Since I will always be Archon first, let's figure out how to incorporate some of the best Eldar elements into our army book.  First, let me list out some obvious synergies that stick out to me:

  • Autarch - Most of the transports and units in our book that can ride said transports can now DS directly onto the battlefield.  This allows us to appear out of nowhere because 7th Ed. rules can bring back full reserve armies.  Given, you still need to keep some units on the battlefield on T1 so you don't auto-lose, you can play a pretty mean reserve game and the Autarch is the man to do it.  With his awesomely cheap price, you can take a barebones WS with some Dire Avengers and just have him chill in it.  If he wants to come out and play, a simple Fusion gun will be enough.  Personally, I think the Farseer is now out of the picture because the Autarch's reserve manipulation rules synergies with Deep Strike way more than some lame-o psychic abilities.
  • Wave Serpents - The obvious power choice for competitive players will come in the form of the faithful, tried-and-true, tournament-winning transports of doom.  There is no arguing that the Wave Serpent is one of the best units in the entire game and for good reason.  It moves well, shoots well, and is extremely durable to return fire.  This is probably my go-to option in terms of providing scoring troops and a place that my Autarch can ride safely in.  I would be kidding myself if I said that the Autarch would be safe in one of my sailboats, but then again, a Fusion gun DSing in wouldn't be half bad.
  • Windrider Jetbikes/Rangers - A good, decent cheap troop option if you want something to just fill up that requirement.  While I would probably take Windriders every time, the Rangers can be a little more survivable by back-capping and just going to ground every chance they get.  It's really whether or not you want an aggressive objsec unit, or something more survivable.  Regardless, these guys should be in reserve and come on later to preserve their own well-being.
  • Fire Dragons - I can't say enough good things about these guys, except that they just blow our Trueborn out of the water.  You have incredibly strong and accurate shots at Melta and AP1, as well as Melta bombs as stock and 3+ armor.  For a lovely point cost of 110 for a squad of 5, you can take these guys in a Wave Serpent with an WWP Archon and call it a day.  Drop where you want, the WS will shoot the crap out of the rear armor of some vehicle, and then your Fire Dragons are now a permanent threat behind enemy lines or wherever you want top put it.  When you compare the price of 5x Trueborn with 4x Blasters, you get something like 115 DE vs. 110 from the Fire Dragons.  Just looking at that price difference should infuriate you because you get 3+ AS, meltabombs, fusion guns, Battle Focus, Fleet, the ability to take BS5 Exarchs, Fast Shot, and the lovely Wave Serpent.  You can bet your ass that these guys will replace your Trueborn in an mixed Eldar list.
  • Wraithguard - You can either have normal shots or D-Scythes, it all depends on what you want these guys to do.  Put a Archon in there with WWP, equip him with a Shadowfield and he will tank all those shots on a T6 unit with 3+ AS otherwise.  Sure, why not, give them a Wave Serpent as well and they can go around anywhere they want, blowing up infantry and vehicles alike and do a fine good job at it.  This is points well-paid for right here, since they do an incredible amount of damage and is also extremely durable.
  • Swooping Hawks/Warp Spiders - Drop in, do damage, feel good about yourself.  If you can take them, why not?  There's a reason why you see these guys in some Eldar lists, and you will find that they make great anti-infantry supplements to DE Scourges.
  • Crimson Hunter - I think by now, we've all come to realize that DE doesn't have dedicated anti-air.  While the Razorwing is a fair purchase at 140 with lances, for 20 points more you get something that's completely designed to wreck anything in the air.  Enter the Crimson Hunter, one of the most hotly disputed worthwhile units in the Eldar codex.  If you guys know anything about me, this is my favorite unit to exist in 40K to date.  I love the idea of an Eldar fighter ace and I have it with the Crimson Hunter Exarch, since 4x S8 AP2 shots at BS5 that re-rolls pen vs. air targets will shoot anything out of the air.  My biggest gripe with it is that despite being virtually naked defensively, he doesn't have any type of countermeasures defensively.  It is the biggest crime in the whole codex that this air superiority fighter doesn't have Holo-fields when humans have figured that out since the '50s.  Absolutely embarrassing.  Either way, these guys are great for dedicated anti-air, something that Dark Eldar lacks entirely.
  • Vyper Squadron/War Walkers - Does a crazy amount of damage at good range and with good maneuverability.  Comes with a buttload of high-powered S6 shots that you can upgrade to Scatter Laser so you can get that Laser-lock.  Let's just say that in most cases, these guys do a better job at killing vehicles than Ravagers.
  • Wraithknight - The big daddy in the codex has just as much meaning in the Dark Eldar book as it does in the Eldar.  You have something big, something very threatening, and it can cover a lot of ground and maul things in combat.  The two heavy wraithcannons should be the mainstay weapon since it can reach out and touch anything, and maybe even possibly ID'ing something on a roll of a 6.  While not entirely reliable, I've seen Riptides get sucked into the warp by that thing, so it's all good.  Just make sure to stay out of fist fights with Dreadknights and the WK should be able to make its points back with careful play.  Just remember that with the WK on the field, it pulls a lot of fire and attention away from the rest of your flimsy sailboats.  This can be a boon or a vice depending on how you use the rest of your army.  If the only thing on the board is the Wraithknight and the rest of your army is in reserve, it's going to be quite obvious what your enemy is going to shoot at.
  • Night Spinner - I put the Night Spinner in my army lists because it can do something very unique:  Provide Dark Eldar with a high-S Barrage weapon for vehicles hiding behind cover from our lances.  You have Razorwings to shred horde units, but the Night Spinner is there to punish vehicles that like to hide from the possible Alpha Strike.  The torrent weapon on a fast vehicle is also a useful at times, capable of hitting multiple vehicles and/or enemy models.

I'm sure there are other options out there, but here are the ones that stick out to me and I want to see them being used in my Dark Eldar army.

Here is what I'm currently planning to roll with:

18 KP

Archon, Blaster = 75
Autarch, Fusion Gun = 80*

5x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/AS = 120
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/SR = 170
10x Warriors, Blaster, Raider Lance/SR = 170
5x Dire Avengers, Holo/SS/Scatter/SC = 220*
5x Dire Avengers, Holo/SS/Scatter/SC = 220*

Razorwing, Lances = 140
Razorwing, Lances = 140

Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Ravager, Lances = 125
Night Spinner, Holo/SS = 140*

The Archon goes to hang out with the 5x Warriors with the Blaster and comes in from DS.  If I can get a good position in early game, maybe he'll sit back and shoot, or else he'll be more of an opportunist like our friend Autarch over here.  He will be in one of the Wave Serpents, picking off what I can with the Ravagers while the Night Spinner does its thing.  Next turn, I'll be able to bring in some air support with the Razorwings, and if I have any enemy transports popped and their contents exposed, I'll gamble some drop-ins with my Warriors to go hard with their splinter weapons.

Looks decent on paper, but will it be any good?  Time will tell.