Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Going Above and Beyond - Dark Eldar in Planetstrike

by Anonymous Foodie


Planetstrike is both interesting and entertaining... at least, I think it is. In my (granted somewhat limited) experience, the battles tend to be quick, dirty, and bloody. But hey, what can you expect when the attacker gets a bombardment that IG would be jealous of at the beginning of the game?

While this can sometimes be demoralizing (watching your entrenched forces dissipate in a hailstorm of death and shrapnel can be difficult), it tends to allow for larger games, in terms of points, to be played in a smaller time frame... something that can potentially be an important factor when it comes to balancing hobbies against real life.



So, what does all of this mean for Dark Eldar? Interesting scenarios, more strategems, and a rebirth of a fluffy but outdated rule; Piratical Raiders. In any game where there is a definite attacker and defender (including a lot of the 3rd and even 4th ed missions, as well as every planetstrike game you'll ever play), the Dark Eldar are the attacker. We're just cool like that.

Essentially this helps in list building - as you know you'll be attacking, you can build a list geared toward it. Of course, Planetstrike being the 'all for funsies' style that it is, the Defender is likely to know what's going on anyway... but it's always nice to be able to point to one of my three army rules and say "I get to use it! Ha!". The other two, in case you were wondering, are Fleet (for most things), and taking slaves... which despite only giving me now-usually-worthless Victory Points, I still have a list of everything I've taken.

That leaves the special rules of Planetstrike itself.

Reserves

Not only will your army be coming in from reserves in its entirety, but it comes on much sooner than would typically be expected. Dark Eldar gravitate toward this playstyle already, so increasing its potential only helps matters. Combined with overall speed, it's a very effective tactic for the army in general, and only moreso in this situation.

Bastion Busting

While not a special rule, per se, the Defender gets to litter his (or her) area with as much nasty terrain and fortified bunker-fortresses as he (or she) sees fit. While this will no doubt come into play, the skimmercentric nature of the army renders most traditional defenses useless (so long as our floating coffins stay alive, that is). A single turn of movement can often put you past any barriers your opponent may have erected.

Then, of course, the Bastions themselves. Armed with a slew of extra automated weapons and AV14 buildings, the defender has quite the arsenal at their disposal (it is, afterall, a planetary defense fortress). What do I say to this? Dark Lances.

While my dice prove to me over and over that this is not fool proof, it's certainly better than, say, an army full of autocannons. As an army, we're about as well equipped as you can possibly be to bypass these defenses. Of course, this still leaves the fact that you have to be on the objectives to hold them, but at least that smouldering crater that used to be your main planetary defense building still gives me a 4+ cover save.

Strategems

While the army-specific Strategems are few (even for the Imperial folks - about time things were evened up), they are a little bit amazing. And we even got a new one in a White Dwarf update... who says Dark Eldar get no love?

Hellish Cacophony

Want to start off with a -1 to your Leadership? Want it to get worse every turn? Then play against a Dark Eldar army with this Strategem in place. A bit on the pricey side, as far as Strategems go, but well worth it. With the slew of Pinning Tests (usually with horrid modifiers already) that Dark Eldar can pump out, your only hope is a Fearless army (much rarer these days, actually) or a Sisters army loaded with Books of St Lucius.

Very fitting to the army, and pretty harsh with the amount of close combat goodness that can be brought. Slaves aplenty with this Strategem on your side.

Night Without End

Similar to another Night Fight based strategem, just... better. Each turn you get to pick whether or not you want the Night Fight rules to be in place. There is a very slight chance that it will backfire on you, but you could easily go the entire game happily pillaging the darkness (or sunlight, if you prefer).

Again, a very fluffy and potentially powerful strategem (and a bit cheaper to boot). And again, as the strategem above makes taking slaves a cakewalk (okay, so you still have to beat people down, but that's half the fun!), this one breathes new life into a much discussed and oft-shunned piece of wargear - the Night Shield.

Cutting the average range to about 15", as well as counting toward Rapidfire/Melta range (not that you really need that extra D6 against Raiders), it can be a big boon if you feel like surviving outside of complete cover.

All told, a very fun expansion to the game, and one that adds a lot of flavor. Not to mention the prospects for a good narrative campaign... one of these days I'll convince enough people to play through a proper invasion of a planet. Maybe if I can get enough Imperials to join forces, they could try to hold off against the various enemies of state... not that I'd be an active aggressor, so much as an opportune raider myself, but I'm really hoping to take some good slaves before the new codex... gotta keep those bragging rights!

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