As discussed in yesterday's post I'm looking for alternatives to the standard 3x ravager loadout for my Dark Eldar. Mainly because I don't think they fit in with my webway list but also because frankly dark lances just aren't that good!
Now, the obvious alternatives are razorwings and voidravens but they have a lot of the same problems. They're harder to kill (as they're not open topped) but the razorwing is more of an anti-troop/horde choice with its large blast missiles. The voidraven has S9 void lances which are better than dark lances but still suffer from the same issues on the damage table. This is forgetting that both vehicles are 40pts more than a ravager and that's before you've spent money buying/upgrading the missiles on them. Therefore we need to look in other FOC slots for our alternative.
Fast Attack offers two great alternatives, scourges and reavers. Both have access to anti-tank weaponry and both have the speed to get into range quickly. Interestingly both are the same cost at 22pts per model. They both have an advantage over the ravagers in that they can charge the occupants of a vehicle too. Let's have a closer look at them and then figure out which one fits into my army best.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that scourges are jump infantry thanks to their ostentatious wings. We're taking them as an anti-mech unit so let's forget about the solarite upgrade for now. Anti-tank weaponry comes in the form of blasters, heat lances, dark lances and haywire blasters. We can take any combination of two of these per 5 members. Let's discount the dark lances straight away because we can't move and fire them and in a webway list that's a turn of shooting wasted. The blaster suffers the same problems as the dark lance and frankly trueborn are better for blasters since we can have 4 men all with blasters. This leaves the haywire blaster and the heat lance.
The haywire blaster will get us a penetrating hit 1/6 times but as I've found with haywire grenades, you need a good number of hits to glance something to death. Even with the chance of double glancing against AV10 I still don't rate them. So, heat lances it is. At 12 points per gun we'll get a squad of five scourges with two heat lances for 134pts.
So aside from the anti-tank shooting what do scourges offer? In terms of survivability they're only toughness 3 and have a 4+/6++ save. This means that any massed fire power will hurt a lot but at least they'll get a save against bolter fire. On the charge they'll be getting just 2 attacks each which means very little damage. Initiative 5 will help but probably won't be enough to keep them alive long. They do benefit from Fleet though meaning if they aren't firing they should make the charge. Mind you they'd probably be better off firing. They've got plasma grenades which gives them the option of charging a vehicle but they'll be lucky to glance it with just 5 of them.
When they've got no vehicular targets they've got 3 shardcarbines in addition to their heat lances. This means at 18" they'll put out 9 poisoned 4+ AP5 shots and two S6 AP1 shots. Not bad.
The most obvious advantage of these guys over scourges is their bladevanes attack when they turbo boost. However, we'll come back to this as at the moment we're worried about anti-mech. For every 3 models we can take a heat lance (discounting the blaster for the same reason). This means we'll need to buy 6 reaves to get the two heat lances the scourges give us meaning 156pts.
However, these guys are toughness 4 which gives them a slightly better chance of survival but with just a 5+ save, bolter fire will really hurt. The option of turbo-boosting (upto 36") for a 3++ save is there though. This not only makes them more durable but allows them to redeploy quickly to find new targets. As they do this they can get a bladevanes attack off giving them 6D3 S4 hits on an intervening unit. Cluster caltrops are nice but at 20pts each they're a bit pricey for a unit that should be trying to shoot something.
On the charge they're initiative 6 and have two CC weapons meaning 3 attacks each. They also benefit from taking combat drugs which could mean better combat ability (anything but a 1 will be good). They don't have any grenades though meaning assualting vehicles is out of the question unless they get S4 from their drugs.
They're anti-infantry potential is decent with the two heat lances being joined by 4 rapid firing splinter rifles. That means the 6-man reaver squad has slightly less fire power than the 5-man scourge unit but they make up for it in other areas.
Last but not least the reavers get skilled rider and are eldar jetbikes. This means they can re-roll failed dangerous terrain (making it easier to leave them in cover for a save) and also can move 6" in the assault phase once they're fire their weapons. This could allow you to get them into cover or move them out of assault range once you've blown up a vehicle.
It seems to me there's a clear winner here in the reavers. Essentially they're 22pts more than the scourges but you get a lot more for your money. They're much more versatile and it should be easier to keep them alive. If anything I think scourges would be better as an anti troop choice in a larger unit with a Solarite. Mind you anti-troop isn't a problem for DE anyway.
In terms of my webway list both units fulfil a useful role. If my opponent attempts to surround one of my portals they'll still be able to come out of it and hopefully deal with the unit encircling the webway. Hellions are similarly useful for this.
Well what about reavers as a replacement for ravagers? Well our 12 reavers cost 312pts which is the same as three vanilla ravagers. Obviously 3 ravagers means 3 targets instead of 2 but the reavers can't be stopped from firing as easily. The same firepower that is shooting at your reavers isn't hitting your wyches which has to be a good thing. I could write a lot more but I feel that reavers are just a better fit for my webway list than ravagers.
The main drawback of both these options in a webway list is that you might not get them until after all your troops are on the board meaning their de-meching ability is wasted. The other problem is that by their nature you need to get them in close to be effective. This means that your opponent is unlikely to ignore them. Ravagers on the back lines are often out of range of some of your opponent's shooting but this won't be the case for our fast attack units. I'll have to see how things go in playtests.