Wednesday, April 11, 2018

DE: Archon bubbles and vehicle deployment

School's in session.  Listen or die!

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

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

It doesn't have to be this extreme.

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

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

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

Taste the salt.

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

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

Now you see me..

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

Now you don't.

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

Look at that range!

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

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

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

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

Look at everything in the army that gets Living Muse!

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

Real game example.

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

Counter-deploy against cheeky assaults.

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

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

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