Friday, May 14, 2010

Going above and beyond - Dark Eldar Apocalypse

by Anonymous Foodie


Thought I'd take a bit to muse on the various additions to 40k, and how the Dark Eldar army interacts with them. Overall, the addition of Strategems and various other rules are a boon to the army. While we don't have much to our name, what we have fits in as well as I could have hoped for with the style of the army and in general just helps us do what we do best.

Apocalypse

Let's get dug in with the big daddy. Now I'll be honest, there are a couple of things that are actually a hindrance here, but the list is short so I'll hit that first.

-Dark Eldar have no Titans, or even Superheavies available to them.

Personally I think Apoc is more fun without Titans (well, that is unless everyone has equal amounts/points thereof). Superheavies I can work with, though. In any case, in a game where it's all about bringing the biggest, baddest stuff you have... and you just don't have any... well, anyone can see how that may be a bit of a downer. That's not stopping me from designing and building my own superheavy, though.

Now, on to the good stuff (told you it was a short list).

- Set game length
- Objective missions (combined with the above)
- Formations
- Strategems
- Fliers
- Board Size


I'll try to hit these more or less in order.

The first two go hand in hand, and in large part is a throw-back to the 'last turn objective grab' that Eldar of all kinds were so hated for. Some may think this a cheesy tactic, but also remember that Dark Eldar were one of the first codices of 3rd edition, and basically relied on this tactic to ever actually hold an objective.

I say if you leave an AV10, Open-topped Skimmer alive for 5 turns, you kind of deserve it.

Knowing the game length lets you plan more efficiently, which is key with this army. If you don't go in with some semblance of what you're doing, you're kind of asking to get every little piece of yourself handed back to you.

Dark Eldar don't have much in the way of formations or strategems, but what we do get is just so hilariously fun that I wouldn't trade it off for all the Imperial toys in the book. And, get this; it actually synergizes with what we have in the codex. See, it doesn't take much to bring our book up.

Formations

Splinter Raid Force.
Raven Murder Squadron
Ravager Titan Hunter Squadron


Basically the Splinter Raid Force lets you do is take a bunch of Raiders with your Archon and Warriors (and some Jetbikes, if you're feeling frisky), and place them on the table on the first turn.

You may think this is just a suicidal charge-bomb until the other benefits kick in. Well, just one benefit, but it's a big one; during the following turn they are targeted as Fliers.

Hope you brought your Hydra Cannons, because these bad boys are sticking around. Furthermore, you can add Night Shields to all of these Raiders which cuts even more range off of your opponent's weaponry. You get a nice face full of Raiders just ready to wreck your day on turn 2. Surgical strike needed? Done and done.

The Raven Murder Squadron is simply a group of Ravens (the Dark Eldar single-pilot figher-craft) with one special rule; Cutting Edge. All this means is that instead of waiting on Reserves, you get to start on the board. Of course, compared to other fliers which *must* start in reserves, this grants you at least one more turn of shooting, and maybe two, depending on your army.
Granted, I prefer to run mine a different way (more later on that) but it's an interesting option, and probably the cheapest formation available to any army.

The Ravager Titan Hunters are, as you may have guessed, a group of Ravagers bent on blowing up your biggest toys (so while we don't sport any of our own, we know how to take them down). What it boils down to is that if the lead Ravager hits with any of their guns, then the entire formation (3+ Ravagers) gets to ignore your Void Shields and go straight against your armor (and remember, they're packing Lances, so all that fancy AV14 is doing a lot less for you).

I've never used it myself, don't have enough Ravagers, and I'm iffy on just how worthwhile it would be. The fact is, a Ravager is still just a Ravager... it's not known for its durability. Maybe good for a one shot (more like 30), one kill approach... because after that some ungodly large apocalypse blast is likely to find its way on top of the entire thing and wipe them all out. In theory you could strap on Screaming Jets to Deep Strike in at a safe(er) location, but then you only get one shot each, making the Lead shot (which is what you need) a gamble.

But hey, at least we have something to even the score with all those huge monstrocities running around.


Strategems


Lords of Twilight
Webway Assault

Lords of Twilight started the tradition of actually giving us a way to implement our fluff of attacking at night (followed by Planetstrike, but that's another article). While only a single-use power, it's a potent one, and one that once shut down about 10,000 points worth of shooting from a massive Witch Hunter-led Imperial force.

This strategem allows you to pick an enemy shooting phase, and instill Night Fight rules. Furthermore, the opposing side rolls a single pair of dice, and uses that as the range for everything, making rules like Acute Senses null and void.

Powerful alone, but try combining it with the Splinter Raid Force with Night Shields trick. Suddenly your max range became 36", with an average of about 15", and you have to measure an extra 18" to be able to shoot at them at all. Fun times.

The Webway Assault, however, tends to be my Strategem of choice. It grants extra mobility, surprise factor, and more in-your-face goodness.

When using this Strategem, you simply deep strike three standard webway portals (blast-marker sized things) onto the board. Your reserves can now use these as your board edge. But, that's no different than what a regular WWP does (beyond the Deep Strike part)... so what say we can also move in between the portals during the game as well? Need to cross a 6' x 20' table to help your "ally" on turn 4? Cool, let me just jump through my swirly blue circle of awesome. This strategem just brought sexy back. And by sexy, of course, I mean the Webway Portal List.

Fliers

We True Kin only have one flier available to us (though Forge World at least used to have rules for a second, and you can occasionally spot the model, the Razorwing, on eBay and the like), but it is still worth its own section. Well, sort of.

The Raven clocks in at just over 200 points - not bad as far as most fliers go. The downside is that the armament is sorely lacking, for a couple of reasons.

Each Raven totes a twin-linked Lance, and a long-barrelled Splinter Cannon.

The twin-linking on the Lance is the bane of many players, who cry to the heavens to "just give us two already!". Add to this that the Splinter Cannon, while at a better range now, is still just a couple of Storm Bolters, you have a horribly conflicting weapon configuration.

That said, we still reap the benefits of one simple fact. We are Eldar. What does this mean? Two words; Air Superiority.

Our fliers have both the Impossible Maneuvers and Dogfighters special rules, making them some of the most versatile (in terms of movement) craft in the sky, as well as being a severe threat to enemy fliers.

Now, having said that, I make one simple admission - I always run them using the rules for Nightwings.

Essentially this is just the Eldar version of the same boat. A somewhat hefty increase in points (nearing the 300 mark), but a slew of benefits that I find well worth it.

Armament; Two Lances. They're probably closer together on the model, too, but noooo, those pansy Eldar get to claim two separate shots from them... blast it.
Two Shurican Cannons. While at shorter range, this is hardly an issue when your movement distance involves maniacal laughter. More shots and, more importantly, a higher strength allows these ships to be efficient anti-armor platforms (especially when they ignore cover saves and hit your typically-weaker side armor).

And did I mention the Holofield? Yeah, apparently only getting hit on a 6 and only ever being glanced wasn't good enough for them. You want durability? You got it.

And finally, the last point.

Board Size

This is a simple one, and not relegated only to Dark Eldar. In a world where you can finally make use of 120" range guns, a lot of people are smiling extra hard.

I just like the idea that my entire army (unless I go crazy and take Scourges or something silly like that) is capable of moving 24" and getting a cover save for doing so.

Some armies, like Decent'ing Blood Angels and Drop Pod Marines, rely on an early insertion tactic that places all of their maneuverability at the start of the game. If I wanted, I could (at least attempt to) weather their drop, and then be pretty much out of their threat range afterward.

If nothing else, it's giving us space to make full use of our speed. Fancy.

Apocalypse does a lot of good for the Dark Eldar (and, undoubtedly, a lot of other armies as well). I'm just glad that GW really kept up with the True Kin and gave them some fluffy and competitive add-ons with this supplement.

2 comments:

  1. Sweet.

    Now if only anybody around here played Apocalypse I could whip out my Stompa!

    ReplyDelete
  2. that is a very interesting read. I would love to play against Dark Eldar in Apocalypse sometime.

    ReplyDelete

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