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 How to make Mandrakes playable?

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Gobsmakked
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PostSubject: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 02 2014, 07:47


I would like to do a quick survey and get Commorragh's opinions on what/how you think Mandrakes are lacking in their current profile.

So, please state what is the ONE thing you think Mandrakes need to make them an acceptable, everyday choice in our army. It could be a new rule or piece of wargear, or a change to an existing one. But just one suggestion per denizen, with a brief explanation.

Thank you very much.
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 02 2014, 08:51

Allowing ICs to Infiltrate (with them). Pretty self explanatory really :-)

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The_Burning_Eye
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 02 2014, 08:52

Some kind of save against template weapons. Infiltrating them as per their fluff is fine but if the opponent can then just flush them out with flamers they're first blood waiting to happen

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Dragontree
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 02 2014, 09:40

A once a game special move to move between pieces of terrain within a certain (fairly large) radius or just terrain in los.

This wouldn't make them better damage wise but would certainly represent the fluff well and also mean your opponent could never discount them even if deployed far from their lines due to this mobility.

And once a game isn't stupidly OP.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 02 2014, 13:18

I would, sadly, want to list three things.
The three things are based on the idea they are supposed to be an assault unit.

As a shooting unit I think, as they stand, they are 'okay'.
The ONE shooting unit change I would offer is just make the baleblast at least 24" range (preferably 36") - at that point they can at least operate as snipers which appears to be their current purpose whether or not it is as intended - and would also easily put them in line with Pathfinders or SM Scouts or other sniper units and they would be fine.

For assault I have THREE thoughts;
1. Assault grenades (or an assault grenade-like effect) to allow strikes at Init value through cover.
2. Access to wargear for the sarge - so that they can deal with power armor (c'mon, let me take an Aggie or venom blade or something)
3. A save in close combat (I honestly lean towards just giving them the daemon rule, but even just a 5+ armor save would be wonderful)

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Laughingcarp
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 03 2014, 02:46

5+ invulnerable save, 'cause they're made of shadows.

Though I'm already reasonably happy playing them as-is.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 03 2014, 09:51

i think they are fully playable. I used them with extreme success: 2 units of 5 (a total of 120 pts) infiltrated one beside the other, right after an orkish trukk line. They wrecked a truk and forced the nobz inside to deal with them, and also caused damage to a boyz unit. They are a diversion unit, a way to pin the enemy in a zone, and can be only dealt with in cc (unless enemy is shooting with ignore cover..), basically forcing a couple of awkward moves, if well positioned. Also, do not underestimate them in cc. against light troops, they can be devastating, thanks to fear. If you are not going to use Trueborns, i'd suggest 3 units of 5. They will be a pestering nuisance for your opponent and all togheter they can backstab many units. (also, will cost less than a blasterborn unit in avenom!)
A single unit of 3 mandrakes cost a penny and can contest objectives, lurking in cover. Not so many armies have a way to deal with them without overkilling and thus wasting a precious turn of shooting.

bak on topic: what do they lack? a couple of useful upgrades. Say, a template weapon for the champion, a psy champion (they are not DE after all...), 1 attack more on their profile or maybe rending. But those things should be purchasable, not inbuilt, imo.
My two cents.
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Squidmaster
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 03 2014, 11:26

I'm very happy with them as is to be honest.
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@miral
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 03 2014, 20:07

I played them with great success in a small tournament and friendly games. They are super cheap, can infiltrate or outflank, get 2+ in any terrain, S4 shooting and cc... they made backfield lootaz run, opened a pre-damaged rhino, hold markers, did win cc against Bikes, killed hundreds of scouts... i play one 4 man and a 5 man unit in my current list. very flexible unit!
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 03 2014, 23:40

Everyone will boo me out of here for this but the only way I'd use mandrakes regularly?

Give them long range sniper weapons. No it's not fluffly, but that can always be changed. As an assault unit they're incredibly meh and would take too many changes to make good. And assault in 7th is bad anyway. Shrouded, stealth, infiltrate, and long range sniper weapons? That's the only change that would make me look at them over trueborn or grots.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Thu Dec 04 2014, 10:22

I forgot to mention that I use the Grotesquerie. That is why I have two slots for mandrakes. I only use one unit of Blasterborn. If you can get multiple detachtments or formations for your elite (but that is what that is made for anyways) you can always get them in.
The range was never a problem in my games. I played about eight games with mandrakes and they always could move in range of a good target in turn one - if they do not make a point by reaching a marker. Only in one of eight games they were not that effective. But still far away form useless.
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honethedroll
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Thu Dec 04 2014, 21:16

@Thor665 wrote:
I would, sadly, want to list three things.
The three things are based on the idea they are supposed to be an assault unit.

As a shooting unit I think, as they stand, they are 'okay'.
The ONE shooting unit change I would offer is just make the baleblast at least 24" range (preferably 36") - at that point they can at least operate as snipers which appears to be their current purpose whether or not it is as intended - and would also easily put them in line with Pathfinders or SM Scouts or other sniper units and they would be fine.

For assault I have THREE thoughts;
1. Assault grenades (or an assault grenade-like effect) to allow strikes at Init value through cover.
2. Access to wargear for the sarge - so that they can deal with power armor (c'mon, let me take an Aggie or venom blade or something)
3. A save in close combat (I honestly lean towards just giving them the daemon rule, but even just a 5+ armor save would be wonderful)

Every last piece of this, I'd even be happy with a Dodge(6+)

Since everyone's pretty much named all the thoughts I had previously, time for a new one that just occurred to me. Bring back big K as a Arjac-style upgrade character who allows 2 min. units to take up no force org.

Edit: I changed my mind. I have a better idea.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Thu Dec 04 2014, 22:07

Put them in the troops slot that way they only fight with one other option

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Fri Dec 05 2014, 18:06

Quite happy with them as they are, I think. They are pretty cheap after all.

Difficult to choose just one thing I would want them to have though... I really like the idea of them as troops, for example. Assault grenades would be great too.

I guess assault grenades would be the thing they would "need" the most. So maybe that, but I would feel like they could be a point or two more expensive with them.

But to keep saying more things I will say that my final suggestion is actually that they would ignore overwatch (and no point-increase).
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Fri Dec 05 2014, 23:30

To be slightly facetious: glue to base, place on tabletop. Paint optional. I reckon they're already playable, and a very solid choice in a null-deploy list as our only infiltrators.

One suggestion to improve them: give them the Daemon special rule. Fluffy, and solves the cover-ignoring issue. Clean, simple and efficient.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Sat Dec 06 2014, 08:03

My local DE players swears by them.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Sat Dec 06 2014, 08:32

I don't see much need for the Deaemon-rule. Both because it is difficult to see them as "actual daemons" and also because of FnP which is going to give them an equivalent save already.

5+ invul could help with Ignores Cover (especially since they could get shot up by them first turn when they wouldn't have any other save) but I don't see it necessary.
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Sat Dec 06 2014, 13:18

Make them in plastic, and sell them at stores rather than direct only.

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The Shredder
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Sat Dec 06 2014, 14:26

My problem with Mandrakes is that I have no idea what they're supposed to do.

Ok, they're a melee unit, fine. So, why would I take them over Incubi, Wracks, Grotesques, Beasts, Reavers etc.?

Is it their pitiful, short-range shooting attack? The one that, if it does anything at all, will probably just end up putting them out of charge-range? Because, I can get good guns on my troops - *and* they also have dedicated transports *and* they're 2/3 of the cost of a Mandrake. If it was S5 or S6, I could maybe see some utility against vehicles, but S4 is just pitiful. it basically limits it to anti-infantry, which our army already has in abundance.

Is it their S4? Because, whoop, S4 attacks with naff-all special effects are just soooo useful. Well, why wouldn't I use Incubi - who have S4 AP2 attacks? Grotesques have S5 attacks that can cause instant death, Reavers get multiple S4 HoW hits, Beast Packs can put out S4 and S5 attacks, and even Hellions have S4 in combat. So, it's fair to say S4 isn't exactly setting them apart.

Is it Move Through Cover? I doubt it, because most of our other units just ignore cover by flying over it (either with transports, or on jetbikes/jetboards), and Beast Packs also have MTC.

Is it Stealth + Shrouded and/or Infiltrate? I have to assume so, because they have naff-all else to set them apart. I'll grant that stealth + shrouded is pretty nice, but they're not really set up to take advantage of it. If they are moving through cover to get the 2+ cover save, then they'll also be striking last in combat. And, even a guardsman squad can do some serious damage to T3 guys with no saves. And, it's not like they have the range or firepower to let them just sit in cover. Plus, Ignores Cover weapons are becoming more and more common - and it really won't take much to wipe out the squad. Even overwatch flamers are a real concern.

Infiltrate would be nice... on a better unit. As above, cover can easily hurt them as much as it helps them. And, with such mediocre combat stats (S4, no AP on their weapons, no Rending or other special rules, T3 with no save etc.), it's not like they're even a serious concern.

I just don't see the point of them. If you want a melee unit, it just seems that we have a ton of options that will do a better job. They're in dire need of something to make them more of a threat, but all they've got is S4 shooting and more S4 in combat.

@Expletive Deleted wrote:
Everyone will boo me out of here for this but the only way I'd use mandrakes regularly?

Give them long range sniper weapons. No it's not fluffly, but that can always be changed. As an assault unit they're incredibly meh and would take too many changes to make good. And assault in 7th is bad anyway. Shrouded, stealth, infiltrate, and long range sniper weapons? That's the only change that would make me look at them over trueborn or grots.

That's an interesting idea, though I'd suggest something a little different. Sniper weapons seem a bit pointless in our army (most of our shooting already wounds on 4+).

So, instead, I'd suggest focussing on their Baneblasts. There was a very vague idea in the last book of them using stolen energy/torment to fuel it, but it was underdeveloped and didn't really work (mainly because they didn't start with it).

So, here's my suggestion - give Baneblast a longer range (probably 24"), and remove PfP. Instead, let their Baneblast get stronger the more models they kill. e.g. have the squad gain 1 Pain Token for each model it kills. Then, when shooting, they can spend one pain token to increase the strength of their Baneblast by 1 or decrease it's AP by 1 (multiple tokens can be spent this way, and their effects are cumulative).

It's something that would require playtesting, to set both the initial stats of Baneblast and also any limits (e.g. Strength can't be increased beyond 7, or somesuch). However, I think it would be pretty fluffy and could be quite effective (and would give DE players a use for their currently-obsolete Pain Tokens Wink ). Any thoughts?
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Gobsmakked
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Mon Dec 08 2014, 22:00

@The Shredder wrote:
...... So, here's my suggestion - give Baneblast a longer range (probably 24"), and remove PfP. Instead, let their Baneblast get stronger the more models they kill. e.g. have the squad gain 1 Pain Token for each model it kills. Then, when shooting, they can spend one pain token to increase the strength of their Baneblast by 1 or decrease it's AP by 1 (multiple tokens can be spent this way, and their effects are cumulative).

It's something that would require playtesting, to set both the initial stats of Baneblast and also any limits (e.g. Strength can't be increased beyond 7, or somesuch). However, I think it would be pretty fluffy and could be quite effective (and would give DE players a use for their currently-obsolete Pain Tokens  Wink ). Any thoughts?

How about a variable AP, like the Liquifier?

Thank you very much everyone. All very good suggestions so far, with some very considered points. I had already pondered quite a few of them, but there's some very good new ones here. Much food for thought for a project I am considering.

Cheers.
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The Strange Dark One
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Mon Dec 08 2014, 23:17

I'm not an experienced player but I don't really see them as main attack units, however they could offer support/debuff and bring things normal DE don't have access to.

And to keep them fluffy, I would look for a buff that resolves around the "shadow move" abilities of Mandrakes.

This could be expressed in many ways, like Mandrakes covering everything into darkness with when they are on the move. They could "cloak" allied units in shadows (cover save) or move to an enemy and cover them in pitch black shadows so they have decreased BS and/or make a pinning test.

IIRC they come from a different dimension, so I could imagine them (or their champion) having powers. But rather than getting power from the Warp, they can channel power from their own dimension.

However, I think the easiets and straight forward way would be to give them good and individual wargear like Archon Rixec has mentioned it before.

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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Tue Dec 09 2014, 03:38

I used Mandrakes the other day, and although the unit itself did next ro nothing. They were a great for drawing attention. My opponent sent most of his army towards them which opened up the backfield for 2nd turn deep strike. With the movablilty of dark eldar I was able to surround my opponent 2nd turn and have every objective within reach.
Although they cost me first blood I still went on to win the game, but they had use.
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 10 2014, 21:41

Aside from being a distraction (which experienced players tend not to fall for), Mandrakes turned out to deal more damage shooting than in close combat. At least, in the couple of test games I used them in. Their Baleblasts are as strong as Frag Missiles, but at less than half the range. Soulblaze... can't say I've ever seen it do anything significant.

To make Mandrakes better at what they do best right now, which is annoying short-ranged shooting, I would make them jet pack infantry. Sounds silly, but I suppose they could teleport, kinda like Warp Spiders.

To make them the stealthy close combat monsters they are supposed to be though, I would - at the very least - make their blades AP 4, increase their number of attacks by one, and add a special rule that gives them an invul safe equal to their cover safe in close combat.


Last edited by Rokuro on Thu Dec 11 2014, 00:35; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Frag Missile, not Krak Missile!)
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 10 2014, 22:46

@Gobsmakked wrote:

How about a variable AP, like the Liquifier?

Any particular reason?

I'm not objecting - just curious.

@Rokuro wrote:
Aside from being a distraction (which experienced players tend not to fall for), Mandrakes turned out to deal more damage shooting than in close combat. At least, in the couple of test games I used them in. Their Baleblasts are as strong as Krak Missiles, but at less than half the range. Soulblaze... can't say I've ever seen it do anything significant.

Wait... strong as Krak missiles? Could you elaborate on that? Neutral

@Rokuro wrote:
To make them the stealthy close combat monsters they are supposed to be though, I would - at the very least - make their blades AP 4, increase their number of attacks by one, and add a special rule that gives them an invul safe equal to their cover safe in close combat.

I'd suggest Shred over AP4. AP4 is far too limited for my tastes, whilst Shred will always be useful.

Some sort of teleportation ability would be interesting, and would fit their fluff. Maybe if the entire unit begins its turn within 2" of cover, they can teleport up to 12", but must end their move within 2" of cover (or inside it). This is meant to represent them being able to move from shadow to shadow. Also, if the Night Fighting rules are in effect, they may ignore these restrictions.

Though, I suspect this ability would be considered 'too complicated', considering GW seems to be simplifying everything and replacing flavourful abilities (Meld the Flesh, Night Shields, Mindphase Gauntlet) with generic ones (IWND, Stealth, Concussive etc.).
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PostSubject: Re: How to make Mandrakes playable?   Wed Dec 10 2014, 23:22

@The Shredder wrote:


Some sort of teleportation ability would be interesting, and would fit their fluff. Maybe if the entire unit begins its turn within 2" of cover, they can teleport up to 12", but must end their move within 2" of cover (or inside it). This is meant to represent them being able to move from shadow to shadow. Also, if the Night Fighting rules are in effect, they may ignore these restrictions.


I was reading the Dark Elf Army Book, and came across the assassin entry. Would be cool if mandrakes could somehow mimic that ability. Just pop out of nowhere. Like right in the middle of a bunch of pathfinders.

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