Wednesday, October 15, 2014

7th Edition 40K - New Dark Eldar Codex Review - Heavy Support

With the Razorwing being shifted to the Fast section you'd think the Heavy slots would belong safely in the hands of Ravagers but I don't think it's quite that easy!

Talos/Cronos
There's a lot of excitement about both the Talos and the Cronos in the new book. The main change is that you can now take a squad of up to three engines in a squad for each slot. The problem in the old book was that they were simply too slow and once the webway portals no longer allowed charging in 6th they struggled to make it to the enemy. They may be T7 but they've only got 3 wounds. There's a big difference between their T7 and the T8 of a wraithknight. T7 prevents S3 weapons from doing any harm (looking at you, guardsmen) but S4 can still wound on a 6. That's a big deal as it means the standard weaponry in the game, bolters etc, can still hurt you and marines can still cause wounds in combat. You do of course get FNP though which they'll get to roll most of the time. Anyway let's look at the individual units.

The Talos used to get D6 attacks but has now been fixed at 3. That's not such a bad thing as at least it's reliable. You now also get a second melee weapon included but that still makes the Talos 5pts more than it used to be. You can then swap a melee weapon for chain-flails or ichor injectors. That's either Shred or Fleshbane with ID on a 6. The latter is particularly tempting as it'd make a wraithknight very nervous. You could swap for a liquifier gun but even twin-linked it seems a shame to lose a melee weapon. Ranged weaponry comes in the form of a splinter cannon but even twin-linked with Relentless it's not going to cause many wounds. I personally think the heat lance works well on this platform and is pretty cheap. My loadout would therefore be 135pts each which isn't too bad for an MC.

The Cronos used to throw out pain tokens in my old webway list but I haven't fielded it once in 6th or 7th. With only S5 the Cronos isn't as good as the Talos in combat but the syphon and vortex provide reasonable anti-MEQ. Only reasonable though. The spirit probe on the other hand is very interesting giving a 6" FNP 4+ bubble. That's not bad at all. Problem is keeping everything in range of it since it's slower than a lot of other DE units.

I can see much more use for the Talos than the Cronos then but I'm not really sold on either. You'd want to take 2-3 in a squad and the costs soon add up in what is generally a pretty cheap army. Playtesting my change my opinion though and it's worth remembering that the Covens supplement formations change things somewhat. I'll be talking about that in a separate post though.

Ravager
There's nothing new about the Ravager yet it's seen a points jump by 20pts over the triple-lance build in the old book. Some argue that's reasonable since it's very powerful but frankly I've never found it to be particularly strong. With the changes to the vehicle damage table it really isn't as effective as it once was for destroying even light vehicles. Not only has the cost increased but the option for a Flickerfield has gone too. You could take Night Shields but that's an expensive upgrade that only works when you're Jinking and therefore firing at BS1.

DE have always struggled with anti-tank. This seems surprising to non-DE players who think that the excess of S8 AP2 shots means reliable tank killing. Still, most DE lists will still be including three of them as we need all the anti-tank we can get. They'll still be feared by MCs and low AV vehicles.

Voidraven Bomber
There's no doubt that the model for the Voidraven is one of the nicest vehicles GW has ever produced. The rumours that they've had the thing ready for a long time and haven't released it, if true, make no sense to me at all. Like many, I've bought one just for a aesthetic alone. However, the important question is will I actually want to field it?

The internet was ablaze with complaints about the supposedly land raider priced AV10 flyer. Well it isn't land raider priced unless you really tool it up but it's still a shame they chose to reduce it to AV10. It doesn't make much sense to me either. The Ravager was able to keep AV11 so why not the Voidraven? It's not all bad news though. The void mine is now a large blast which, with bomb accuracy, is a pretty lethal prospect for things like crisis suits and terminators. Not to mention you should be able to hit more than one vehicle with it.

The void lances are still the best ranged anti-tank weapons in the DE arsenal and it's very tempting to include the bomber just for those. The way you've got to think about it is in a comparison with the ravager. The ravager will be on the board from turn one and firing every turn. Trouble is it'll be a priority target and it has very little protection. The bomber may be only AV10 but it's still a flyer so has a decent chance of surviving a couple of turns. The price of the bomber isn't significantly more than a ravager so I'd be tempted to swap a ravager for a bomber just for the options the bomb and void lances give you.

I wouldn't bother with any of the missile pod options. Whilst they're significantly cheaper than they used to be you'll likely only fire one when it arrives (as you'll fire the bomb and the lances) and then you've got 40-60pts extra strapped the your AV10 flyer. Keep it vanilla I'd say, I wouldn't even bother with night shields.

Conclusion
I think the vast majority of players will be sticking with their three ravagers. The Covens supplement might change my opinion on the Talos/Cronos but I think they're still too expensive (in the context of this army) for what they offer.

I really want to field the bomber but I'm pretty sure this is mostly because of the model and not because I think it'll be particularly effective on the table. There'll be games where the void mine makes a massive difference and others where it just scores a hull point on a vehicle.

That's it for the codex then. I'm going to post soon with some ideas for lists but before then I want to cover the supplement. I hope you can see that this codex still offers a lot of potential. I think it's important to judge it against the 7th edition books where I think it's still competitive. The problem is it'll still have to play Eldar/Tau a lot where I don't think the comparison is so favourable. Despite the consensus of opinion online this isn't the death of the army. Like anything else in 40K there's an element of rock/paper/scissors and there'll be some armies out there that would struggle if they were faced with all that poisoned and dark light weaponry.

Monday, October 13, 2014

7th Edition 40K - New Dark Eldar Codex Review - Fast Attack

This was the section that saw the most interest towards the end of 6th edition and early 7th with competitive players adding a beast pack to their Eldar lists as a deathstar. Well things have changed quite a bit for the beasts so will they still be popular? This section has expanded somewhat with the addition of the empty raiders/venoms and the razorwing. Otherwise it's business as usual on the surface but there are some significant changes when you look a little deeper.

Beastmasters
For some strange reason beasts apparently no longer need masters. Strange name for the unit then eh? Well now you can take upto 12 models in any combination. That means no-one will bother with a beastmaster in all likelihood, although they do now all have access to agonisers which is interesting. They're also effectively cheaper Hellions (but Beasts instead of Jump Infantry). The clawed fiend is still a waste of time especially as Bestial Fury is replaced with Rage. Let's face it, most people are interested in what Khymerae and Razorwing Flocks are like now. They're the two units that got a lot of use as part of the deathstar that went alongside many an Eldar list at the top end of tournaments.

Well, Khymerae got cheaper but are now just 5++. It seems to have escaped peoples' notice but they're now T4 which is interesting. Their save might be worse but they should be making less of them with improved toughness. Still, I can't see them being anywhere near as popular with the top flight players. Razorwing flocks have gone up in price significantly and are now WS2 plus they've lost two wounds an attack per base! That's some hit they've taken. I'm very glad I didn't buy any or find a third party alternative.

Whilst I recognise they were powerful I've never seen the appeal of a beast pack and the new book hasn't changed my opinion. Glad I don't need to fork out for the incredibly expensive models. As I say, they're not going to disappear completely but they're far from what they were, which was to be expected really.

Raider & Venom
The basic raider is now cheaper but you pay to upgrade the disintegrator to a dark lance meaning the lance version is the same cost. With nearly all of the vehicle upgrades jumping in price and flickerfields vanishing completely for raiders it's hard to see a reason to upgrade them. The exception is probably splinter racks which now applies to all splinter weapons. That throws in some interesting options for trueborn with cannons, sslyth with shardcarbines or just ten warriors with rifles.

I think I'm going to be taking advantage of the saving and keeping the disintegrator cannon rather than upgrading to a lance. That means that a splinter rack raider is effectively the same cost as it was before. The disintegrator is by now means awful either and compliments the occupants role of anti-infantry well. It'll also prove irritating to MCs etc. There are other, better, ways of getting the dark light weaponry into the list. Not only that but you'll not worry about Jinking if you aren't particularly bothered about losing a lance shot. You could give yourself night shields but personally I think it's too expensive and sometimes useless. Keep the raiders cheap and don't worry about losing them.

Nothing has changed with the venom really. They're the same cost and will still want the upgrade to a second cannon. I'm actually pretty amazed they didn't get more expensive to be honest. Like with the other new books you can now field them empty which is incredibly tempting in the case of venoms. If you wanted to run the faction specific detachment you could be looking at 12 venoms (6 empty, 6 with 5 kabalites) for just over a thousand points. That's a pretty scary thought. Of course it's useless if your opponent is holed up in transports but some armies would melt in the face of that much poisoned firepower.

Finally, both the venom and raider can now Deep Strike by default. Since you used to pay for vectored thrusters this effectively means raiders and venoms are cheaper than before. I'm not totally convinced deep striking is the best idea without having some reserve manipulation but if I lost the roll off I'd strongly consider null deployment. It's nice to have the tactical flexibility if nothing else.

Reavers
I loved reavers in the last book and regularly ran them. They were pretty expensive though so it was difficult to justify them at times. In the new book they've taken a big price cut. This comes at the expense of their bladevane sweep attack antics but they now get rending HoW attacks instead. What this means is a shift in how they're used. In the past I'd run two squads of 6 with no upgrades at all which came to 132pts per unit. Now you could take the same squad of 6 but give them two heat lances or blasters and a set of cluster caltrops for just about the same points. It's worth noting here that you can now run them in units of 12 if you wanted.

To me they're now a source of mobile anti-tank and a decent combat unit (assuming they aren't charging through terrain). Should they get a decent combat drugs roll (thankfully the 3D6 to run has gone) they should be able to pick on weaker combat units without worrying too much. Should they find themselves in hot water they've now got Hit & Run. Unlike some of the other combat units in the army reavers actually have a good chance of getting there. Skilled Rider means they can totally ignore terrain and gives +1 to their Jink saves. Should they get FNP they'll be pretty tough to shift at range and they can cover a lot of ground quickly.

They're a decent anti-tank platform, reasonable combat unit and durable enough to be around at the end of the game for some objective grabbing. It's a shame there's no DE character that can join them on a bike or board.

Hellions
I really really want Hellions to be good as they're awesome models. In the old book you could throw in Baron to give them Stealth plus a helliarch with phantasm to give them grenades. Both of those options are gone now. The phantasm doesn't work the same and Baron is plain deleted. They may be quite a bit cheaper but I can't see me using them. They've got a decent amount of firepower but they don't offer anything you can't get elsewhere. In addition they're flimsy as hell and most of the time won't get to use their I6 with their lack of grenades.

What I also don't understand is why the melee weapons for the helliarch became so expensive? The stunclaw is interesting with S4 and Instant Death in challenges but you're relying too much on a failed save if you actually ever make it into combat to find out. Generally they just can't compete with the other Fast Attack choices so I think they'll be staying on the shelf. One less thing to rush to paint I suppose!

Razorwing Jetfighter
You'd be forgiven for thinking the Razorwing became significantly cheaper. However, you now pay for your lances. You'll be wanting to do that too so that you've got a chance against an enemy flyer. I'd even be tempted by the splinter cannon as you'll cause FMCs some headaches when combined with the lances. With that loadout you're still 5pts cheaper than the equivalent in the old book but we're still looking at 150pts for an AV10 flyer.

I think people are fixating on that too much though (especially with the voidraven but I'll get to that). The ace up the Razorwing's sleeve is the rack of missiles it carries. Having the option to come on and fire four S6 large blasts is a big deal. You could upgrade to Necrotoxins but I like the flexibility of hitting both troops and light vehicles. The shatterfield missiles bump the cost of the flyer up too much for my liking so I reckon I'll leave the monoscythes. I think the night shield is tempting but costs too much. It's a shame to lose the option of flickerfields as you're now forced to Jink for a save which means no missiles next turn. The secret I think is to run 2 or more razorwings and have some redundancy. Don't forget the faction specific detachment allows you to run six if you wanted.

I'm a big fan of the razorwing and it's benefitted a lot from a move to the Fast Attack section since it's no longer competing with ravagers. Expect to see more of them I reckon.

Scourges
I bought a couple of boxes of these a while back but mostly to get the shardcarbines for the trueborn unit I used to stick Duke in. They've sat on their sprues since then but I can assure you they won't be there much longer. For starters they're some of the nicest models GW have ever made (although that's the same for a lot of the DE range) but they've also seen huge improvements in the new book.

Like the reavers they used to be horribly overcosted and, again like the reavers, they've now been significantly reduced in price. The big thing though is that you can now field four special/heavy weapons per squad. In the old book you'd have had to take a full 10 to get the same number of special weapons. That means they're now an awesome choice for anti-tank duties. The choice in this role is between haywire blasters, heat lances (now cheaper) and blasters. Blasters can be found elsewhere in your list though so it's between heat lances and haywire which are the same points. For me the haywire wins on ground of range. Although scourges have a decent save their still T3 and so you'll want to keep them away from other units as much as you can. Having 12" move plus 24" haywire gives the a big threat radius and should keep them out of range of most of the return fire/charges.

With four haywire blasters in a unit you're pretty likely to strip hull points from a vehicle (cover saves permitting). That's probably more useful than the heat lances anyway which might not penetrate anyway and still aren't that likely to blow a vehicle up. Of course they're less useful if your opponent doesn't have vehicles but S4 AP4 isn't too bad as a backup.

Conclusion
Scourges are definitely the stars of the Fast Attack section as far as I'm concerned. For just 120 points you get a unit that's probably more reliable than a ravager against wave serpents which are the bane of DE. I can also see a role for razorwings and reavers too. I personally won't be fielding beasts and I can't see anyone taking hellions. That means scourges, reavers and razorwings have to compete for te slots.

Speaking of which, it's important to talk about the Realspace Raiders detachment here. Having the option of six fast choices will be very tempting but I'm still not convinced it's worth losing objective secured for. Having said that, your opponent isn't likely to have trouble shifting your troops if he needs to and your fast choices could be contesting/grabbing objectives in the end game. Coupled with Night Fighting your units will all have 5+ cover saves turn one as well. Troops will have 4+ of course but they're unlikely to be on the ground turn one (unless they find themselves rudely ejected from their transports.

One section left before I wrap things up and talk about some lists I'm considering. I hope you're finding these posts useful.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

7th Edition 40K - New Dark Eldar Codex Review - Elites

As with elsewhere in the codex there's nothing new in the Elites section. There's a notable absence though in the form of Harlequins. Weirdly their fluff is still included in the codex as if they were a last minute decision. Since there are perfectly good models for them I can only assume that this was because they're getting their own release which will most likely be a dataslate in a similar way to the assassins being removed from the GK book but reappearing in dataslate form. It's also worth noting that wracks can no longer be moved to the Troops section by a haemonculus as they could before.

Incubi
I toyed with Incubi quite a bit with the old codex since they offer some of the only AP2 melee weaponry in the book. Now they've been boosted to Ld9 meaning the Klaivex isn't as useful. They can no longer take a bloodstone or the murderous assault/onslaught upgrade. Instead the Klaivex gets Rampage (GW really like this rule recently).

The difficulty was always getting them into combat with enough models left. Even though they have the best save of any standard infantry in the book they're still just T3 marines. If you could get their venom (or even raider) close enough they'll make a mess of MEQ or even Terminators but the backlash will be pretty fierce. They are cheaper now though so perhaps worth revisiting. Drazhar and a squad of incubi would make quite a powerful unit but they'd be very expensive for so few models.

Kabalite Trueborn
As I mentioned in the Troops post, Trueborn are now somewhat confusingly merged onto the same page as Warriors. Ultimately though they're the same as before with pretty much the same options. Like the wyches they've lost their ability to take haywires though (outside of the Dracon). They've also lost their shardcarbines which I can only assume is because they don't come in the warriors box but instead must be taken from the scourges. It's a bit of a shame but far from devastating.

The other crucial change is that you now have to take a minimum of five models. In the old book people often ran 3-4 trueborn all with blasters in a venom which came to be known as blasterborn (imaginative eh?). This unit is now that little bit more expensive as you have to take along some dead weight. They're still a great way of getting some much needed extra anti-tank into the list though. I think we'll be seeing them zipping around in venoms but I'm not going to be fielding them like I used to since they were an escort for Duke in my old lists.

Finally, you could now potentially field 20 trueborn. Not sure why you would but the option's there!

Hekatrix Bloodbrides
Like the Trueborn they now have a minimum size of 5 models and can now take upto 15 models. As before they're just wyches with an extra attack but in this book they don't even offer you extra wych cult weaponry over the standard wyches which would also have Obj Sec in a CAD. I'd be very surprised to ever see them on the table unless someone really wanted to field Lelith or a fully pimp Succubus. Competitively though they're pretty much a no go.

Mandrakes
Without a doubt Mandrakes were the worst unit in the old codex which was a huge shame since the models are stunning. Things have gotten better for them in the new book though. Not only are the 20% cheaper but they gain Shrouded on top of their Stealth. They sacrifice their 5++ save though so against armies with Ignores Cover they're without a save. One of the other problems in the old book as that they needed a pain token to use their baleblast which was nigh on impossible to get. Now they can always fire it and Pinning has been swapped for Soul Blaze.

They're far from useless then but are they really worth it? I suppose a unit of five is pretty cheap and they could be irritating to shift and annoying for objective grabbers like kroot, guardsmen, cultists, etc. They get the Most Improved Award but I'm still not really sold on them. Flamers make a real mess of them and if they don't kill their opponents first they'll not last long in combat.

Wracks
Typical GW policy is to release a new kit and buff the rules for it to make everyone want to buy it. That just doesn't seem to have happened with wracks. No-one was complaining too much about the Finecast models and the plastic ones are pretty much identical. It's a shame GW chose to spend time on them instead of other much needed models, like a alternate grotesque sculpts for example.

I used to run wracks in 5th edition as FNP 4+ made them a reasonable choice for Troops and by adding a haemonculus you could get them Furious Charge and hence a re-roll with their poisoned weapons. Well in 6th FNP became 5+ and 7th took away the poisoned re-roll when strength equals toughness. That means you're basically talking just slightly better than a 5+ save (6+ then 5+ FNP) and very limited close combat potential. The liquifier gun is still decent despite being limited to S3 and the new ossefactor could be fun. I'm really not sold on wracks though unless I'm missing something amazing?!

Grotesques
Often overlooked in the old book I actually think Grotesques were and still are a decent choice. They've stayed the same price but for three T5 wounds with permanent FNP 5+ they're not bad at all. With S5 they'll be re-rolling to wound with their flesh gauntlets against most targets and potentially getting some ID hits. Once again we get Rampage too which is likely to mean a good pile of attacks. I personally wouldn't bother with any liquifiers so that you're not killing too much off an preventing important charges. Definitely worth a look.

Conclusion
Like Wyches, Bloodbrides are the obvious losers here. Mandrakes are significantly better than before and against the right opponent they could be deadly. Trueborn will still make an appearance to spam special weapons. Incubi and Grotesques make for left-field choices that could come good but I'm really missing the big deal with wracks. Perhaps deep striking them in with a webway haemonculus with a couple of liquefiers?

Generally speaking a decent selection of units but I think Fast Attack (which I'm covering next) will be the go to section once you've filled up your Troops.

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