Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DE: Dreaming about Dark Eldar design

It's been a long time my friend.

Now bear with me folks.  This might be a tough pill to swallow, but honest to God I haven't touched my DE for almost a year now.  In fact, I haven't done much 40K in general.  This isn't because I don't like the game, or the setting, it's just because I have been doing other hobbies and time is finite.  The complete and utter destruction of WHFB also made me deeply depressed from a hobby perspective.

I think every time I look at someone else's homebrew, or want to put on my designer hat on, I know that I'll be disappointed that no matter what down the road.  GW will just disappoint again.  Not to sound completely down, but it's been that way for the 14 or so years I've played this army and it's not going to change.  As a more positive spin on things, seeing CW Eldar and Corsairs in 7th actually give me quite a bit of hope for Dark Eldar in the next book.  There is quite a bit of changes in there in terms of prices and new mechanics that makes me think the next DE book might turn out OK.

The biggest, and I mean absolute biggest riddle, is that GW can't really solve how to convey the notion that DE is supposed to be lightning fast (when there's tons of armies that move as fast), hit extremely hard (they don't really hit that hard), and die to a swift breeze (this they got right) onto the table-top.  I went to bed thinking about this last night and thought about something I might try for fun.  Keep in mind that I do have quite a bit of professional design experience, so I thought why not, what's the harm of thinking about this a little bit more?

Too bad that most of the thinking hit me at 1am in the morning while I'm lying in bed, thinking about where my DE army actually is.  As in physically, it's somewhere in the garage.  About an hour later, I decided that if I was going to do anything I was going to start from the beginning.  I wanted to capture the glass cannon army that DE actually is without changing any of the units just yet.  For me, the first couple of rules that an army book presents sets the tone for the rest of the book.  That's why the first three must define the overall character, feel and justification for having such an army in the first place.

Three special rules, that's all I'm going to talk about for now.  I want it to be consistent with GW design, but at the same time, clearly define what Dark Eldar is supposed to resemble on the table top.  This is the biggest challenge that GW has, and continuously over the  years, I have yet to see them capture this to my liking.  These three special rules are supposed to represent what the Dark Eldar are from a fantasy perspective.  By that, I mean how you envision the army in your imagination while closing your eyes, and the difficult part of this is how would you actually write rules for it on the tabletop.  These rules would represent how the army is supposed to fight, how it behaves, and how it interacts with the other army across the table.  Truth be told:  This upcoming part is a total out of body experience.  I need you to imagine what I'm seeing in my head on your minis table.  Hopefully, the next couple of hastily written paragraphs will get you there.

The first of these rules is: Power from Pain

The fantasy:  Dark Eldar are tyrannical, ruthless killers who literally feed on the souls of their victims.  As Phil Kelly presented in the 5th Ed. book, they literally become imbued with supernatural might and resilience, eventually turning into uncontrollable killing machines.  As the carnage intensifies, so does the Dark Eldar's barbarity and vitality.

The design: Battle in this game is waged through game turns.  It not only represents the flow of time, but the course the battle as well.  The GW design team has already showcased that with a chart in the current book.  I've decided to keep the current system while increasing the effects on the first and last turn.  My reasoning for this is that the game starts on Turn 1, where the bullets start flying and men start dying.  This should already be a very arousing time for most Dark City inhabitants.

T1 - FNP (6+)
T2 - FNP
T3 - FNP, Furious Charge
T4 - FNP, Furious Charge, Fearless,
T5 - FNP, Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage
T6 - FNP (4+), Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage

The second army USR is: Aerial Assault (Name WIP)

The fantasy:  The Dark Eldar value speed above all else.  They are extremely fast, opportunistic and unfair to the lesser species in the galaxy.  Dark Eldar will strike fast, strike hard, and strike from the most unseen places to inflict the maximum amount of terror and death before the harvest can begin.

The design: Vehicles can shoot one more weapon than normally allowed before or after moving flat out.  Essentially, this allows the army to always move and shoot; solving the Ravager issue completely while subtly increasing the overall power of the entire army.  All of a sudden you can DS to fire for full, flat out and shoot at the same time, giving you maximum value out of a single Lance on a Raider, or attacking from an angle that would be impossible from any other race.  This increases the value of all of our heavy weapons without actually buffing them directly.  This is purposely designed this way so that Dark Eldar will never have to trade offense with defense.

The last USR is: Soul Harvest (name WIP)

The fantasy: Dark Eldar are unlike any of their Eldar brethen in terms of battlefield tactics.  CW Eldar are disciplined and flexible, Corsairs are selfish and aloof, and Dark Eldar are a mix of these traits.  The forces of the Dark Eldar desire pain and suffering from their foes above all else, and whatever means to that end is tactically appropriate.

The design: Battle Focus but with a catch:  You can run-shoot, or shoot-run, but you have to move closer to the enemy.  This plays off the bloodthirsty nature that is Dark Eldar design.  It mixes design elements of CW Eldar and Corsairs to make something meaningful for Dark Eldar.  This ability plays nicely for bringing your close combat elements closer to the enemy, as well as allowing your Rapid Fire weapons to do the most work.  The design purposely benefits both the close-ranged nature of the army, as well as the various close-combat components of the army book.

So there you have it.

It's missing the technical jargon that will form the three into actual rules, but this is where I would start.  This would make me pretty happy as a player of the army as it fulfills my criteria in having the glass cannon army transition appropriately from fantasy to table-top.  I think it would also all of the current archetypes of the army very happy, since it will benefit Kabal/Haemonculi and mixed army players equally.

UPDATE! 1/22/16
Follow the thread here.

OK.  Here's what I have as my first run-through with the Codex tonight.  Keep in mind that this is designed to play with my PfP, Aerial Assault and Soul Harvest army-wide USRs.

Once again, those rules are:
Power from Pain:
T1 - FNP (6+)
T2 - FNP
T3 - FNP, Furious Charge
T4 - FNP, Furious Charge, Fearless,
T5 - FNP, Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage
T6 - FNP (4+), Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage

Aerial Assault (UPDATED) - DE units may fire even after moving Flat Out.  In addition, they treat vehicles moving Flat Out as Cruising Speed, and moving at Cruising Speed as Combat Speed.  This allows the Ravager to move 12" and shoot all three lances, or a Raider to flat out and then shoot a lance, or a unit of Warriors from the inside shoot with full effect after the Raider moves 12".

Soul Harvest (UPDATED) - DE units can Run and then Shoot, and/or Run and then Assault.  This increases the threat range of virtually all Dark Eldar units.

If the unit is not mentioned or called out in some way in the changelog, then it remained the same.  The + represents additions whereas the arrows represent change.

>Combat Drugs aligned with Eldar Corsairs
>Disallow Court to be taken without the Archon.

Agonizer: Decereased to 20 pts
Blaster: Decreased to 10 pts
Dark Lance: Decreased to 15 pts
Webway Portal: Changed to IA11 2015, Decreased to 25 pts
Shadowfield: Decreased to 25 pts
Agonizer: Decreased to 20 pts
Blast Pistol: Decreased to 10 pts
Huskblade: +Rending
Archite Glaive: Double-handed, +2S, Single-handed, +1S
Venom Blade: +Lethal Dose
Implosion Missile: +Instant Death
Necrotoxin: +Pinning
Ossefactor: Assault D3
Phantom Grenade Launcher: +Offensive/Defensive grenades
Void Lance: S9 AP2 Lance --> S9 AP1 Lance
Void Mine: S9 AP2 Lance --> Strength D
Cruicible of Malediction: Psykers immediately suffer a Perils instead of S6
Night Shields: A vehicle with Night Shields has the Stealth special rule.  Enemy units beyond 24" counts the vehicle as Shrouded instead.

Increased to 70 pts
+Clone Field
+Labynthine Cunning: The Dark Eldar player can re-roll the dice when they attempt to Seize the Initaitive, determine if the Night Fighting rules are in effect, and when they make Reserve Rolls.
+Hellion Skyboard: +10 pts
+Reaver Jetbike: +15 pts

Increased to 80 pts
+Quicksilver Dodge: Fight sub-phase --> Assault Phase
+Hellion Skyboard: +10 pts
+Reaver Jetbike: +15 pts

Decreased to 140 pts
A League Apart: Re-rolls all hits and wounds

Bloodbride: WS4 --> WS5
Dodge: Fight sub-phase --> Assault Phase

54 pts, 18ppm

36 pts, 12ppm

Decreased to 50 pts
Replace Dark Lance: Free

Decreased to 50 pts

May include up to 9 --> 6 additional Reavers (9 total)
Every three --> Every model may replace

Decreased to 60 pts, 12ppm

+Strafing Run
+Vector Dancer
Replace Dark Lances: Free

Wounds: 3 --> 4

Wounds: 3 --> 4

Unit Composition: 1-3
Replace Dark Lances: Free
+Special Rule: Shadow Hunters
If a Ravager squadron contains three models, all mdoels in the squadron gain the Tank Hunters special rule.

Voidraven Bomber:
+Strafing Run
+Vector Dancer
+Special Rule: Chasing Shadows
The opposing player cannot use the Interceptor special rule when the Voidraven Bomber enters the battlefield.

I have not touched the majority of these garbage Artefacts of Cruelty yet, as most books tend to suck pretty bad so it's consistent.

Overall, there are some very minor point adjustments (to align them with CWE and Corsairs), but just more teeth throughout the entire army.  I've basically taken the DE design direction that GW have already set out, but just made the army more lethal while increasing their threat range, presence and devilry (Rending and Instant Death).

The "big" changes:
>More prominent heavy weapons and AP2 throughout the entire army
>Every Archon now has Labyrinthine Cunning, so let that soak in for a second
>PGL to give back Offensive and Defensive Grenades on top of Soulfright
>Void Lance is now S9 AP1, Void Mine is now Strength D
>A few new special rules added for Voidraven Bomber, Ravagers and the Archon
>Wyches now do Rending, Bloodbrides WS5, Dodge in Assault Phase
>Reavers can now be upgraded with heavy weapons on every model, unit comp changed
>Night Shields have Stealth, but provide Shrouded if enemy is more than 24" away

I plan on showing off some formations tomorrow, but a taste of what to come is a re-vamped Realspace Raiders formation (not detachment).  This formation will allow you to play the army exactly as you imagine it does in the fluff.

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