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 Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica

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Jimsolo
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PostSubject: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Mon Dec 29 2014, 01:36

Introduction
The covens of the haemonculi are one of the three pillars of Commorragh society, and like its peers it is doubtful the Dark City could survive without them.  While cult and kabal forces play very similarly on the tabletop, the armies that owe allegiance to the covens operate somewhat differently.  Their palette of units is somewhat limited, in contrast to the main codex.  Their units are primarily melee focused, in an army that is otherwise balanced in that regard.  And while the bulk of the Dark Eldar are lightning fast attackers that rely on speedy, brutal offense to obviate the need for any real defense, the coven units are much slower, relying on an obscene amount of resilience to keep them survivable.

So we're going to start with the almost-required unit guide.  Given the reliance on them, we'll move on to discuss the formations presented in the supplement, followed by some common tactics and/or pitfalls to keep in mind.  We'll finish up talking about allies you can use the supplement with.

A quick note.  Throughout this tactica, you will find text presented in a different color.  I have endeavored to present all the information here in as detached, objective of a manner as I can manage, but on occasion my opinion slips in.  I recognize that my experience may not be the same as everyone else's, and at the very least the shape of the metagame may vary in your area. These portions are my thoroughly biased opinion, which you may take with as much salt as you deem appropriate.  

Such sights to show you: Warlord Traits
No discussion of the supplement would be complete without talking about the new toys the Covens supplement brought to the Dark Eldar.  With a warlord trait table that offers an almost universally appealing selection of traits, it is interesting that out of the five detachments that haemonculi can be taken in, three of them have set warlord traits.  The only time you'll be rolling is if you've made a Coterie leader your warlord, or if you took a Grotesquerie without Rakarth.

A quick word about Rakarth and warlord traits.  With a leadership identical to the lesser haemonculi, Rakarth is that rare special character who doesn't force you to make him your warlord, and a good thing.  With the prevalence of haemonculi, your entire army is guaranteed to have Fear by turn 3, and will probably have it by turn 2.  This makes his Warlord trait almost entirely worthless.  If you have any other option, take a different warlord.

It's probably best, from a tactical perspective, to put one of your formation leaders in charge of the army.  A set warlord trait gives you a lot to work with in any army, since known quantities are always easier to plan around than random ones.  If you do have to select a Coterie or Grotesquerie haemonculus for your warlord, keep these thoughts in mind.

First, Master Regenesist and Master of Apotheosis both require the haemonculus to be in the unit to confer the benefit.  Master Artisan is more flexible, but still only works within a 12" bubble.   Master Symphoneus requires that your warlord stay alive, while Master Epicurean require that he die to grant any benefit.  With so many of your warlord traits being situational, you have to be flexible with your haemonculi if you expect to be able to use any of them.  (This is why taking a defined warlord trait is probably the better option.)

Rolling warlord traits is something you should never do if you have an option.  It's easy to get backed into a corner and denied a potent force multiplier if you rely on getting something you can use.  Even worse, many players feel like they have to get some use out of their warlord trait, which can lead to bad tactical decision making.  If you brought a character who can take a defined trait, (anywhere in the army!) take it.  The only real exceptions to this I can see are Lelith Hesperax and Urien Rakarth (and even in Rakarth's case, only if you didn't bring a detachment from the main codex).

Tools of the Trade: Diabolical Playthings
Since a list of six relics now seems standard for every codex and supplement, let's talk about what else the Dark Eldar get to play around with.  Before we get started with that, it's worth pointing out that the current rules as written allow a single haemonculus to take multiple Playthings (up to all six if so desired).

Don't count on it.  I've already heard one TO claim that this is "obviously not the intended function" of the Playthings list, and ban multiple selections from his event.  Even in the unlikely event that this isn't FAQ'ed/altered in a future update, the likelihood of a TO making a similar claim means that you probably shouldn't count on taking multiple Playthings in anything other than friendly games.

Syndriq's Sump- Arguably one of the best of the relics.  It's cheap cost is usually only seen on items of limited utility, but the versatility of the Sump make it a pretty good selection, and a damn good gap filler if you have ten points and nowhere you particularly need to spend them. Personally, I like sticking it on the haemonculus in a Grotesquerie.  Having the Sump means he won't necessarily slow his unit down if they roll Fleet on the experiments table.

Vexator Mask- A great equalizer, especially given the changes to challenges in 7th edition.  The Mask is a lovely way to give your haemonculus the edge he might need; there are a plethora of units that can tie his initiative of 5, but this functionally puts him back in the 'speedy attacker' category that most of the Dark Eldar, particularly cult units, fall into.  Most notably however, is the ability for the rest of the haemonculus's unit to still put wounds into the enemy challenger.  Assuming the rest of the bearer's unit can kill any hangers-on with wounds to spare, the piercing gaze of your mask wearer can slow the enemy character down to the point that they will be killed before ever hitting back.  For armies that rely on whole units acting as meat shields for a single beatstick sergeant, such as ork bikers and space marine tactical units, this can be a very good way to circumvent that problem.  Any of the formation haemonculi seem like they could benefit from this item, but the Dark Artisan unit gets potentially the greatest benefit.  With AP 2, they have the greatest potential to clear entire units without fear of character retaliation.

Orbs of Despair- Strength 1 is just too low.  With the terrible range of a grenade, the Orbs just suffer from too many weaknesses to be effective.  Unable to wound anything beyond Toughness 4, they lack the punch to hurt the units you would most like to use Instant Death against.  It's rare I say this, but there seems to be no objective reason to take them.  All in all, a poor choice.  I've heard some people claim that they think the Orbs are misprinted, and that they are either supposed to have Fleshbane or the Soulfright rule.  Given how abysmal they are as currently written, I'd believe it.

Khaïdesi Haemovores- Although they lack any special rules, the additional pile-in move they grant is nothing to sneeze at, especially since your haemonculus is often bearing special weapons you might want to get closer to the heart of the enemy unit.  In units that are vulnerable to hordes of small, weak enemies (such as the Dark Artisan unit or units of grotesques) the Haemovores can help pad out your offense a little bit.

Panacea Perverted- For a leader you want to keep alive, the Panacea can be a good fit.  Although it's a little pricey, it can easily help keep a haemonculus alive much longer than they otherwise might have been.  Haemonculi in a Dark Artisan formation or a unit of Grotesques benefit immensely when utilizing the Three Wound Monte (see below).

Nightmare Doll- After hemming and hawing on this, it seems like this DOES combine with a Cronos engine, and that the combination was probably intended.  For wound tanking, this is the supreme upgrade, and if you're going to risk combining two Playthings, the Doll and the Panacea are probably the two to do it with.  Haemonculi in a Dark Artisan formation probably benefit the most, since they will be receiving the Cronos boost as well.  (A Scarlet Epicurean leader probably would too, but if he's your warlord it's to your benefit to get him killed, and I certainly don't recommend spending points on a unit you deliberately intend to suicide.)

Well, that's it for Part 1.  Stay tuned for Part 2: General Unit Guide.
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Timatron
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 05:23

You can't have two playthings on a single model...
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 05:41

@Timatron wrote:
You can't have two playthings on a single model...

Nowhere in the rules does it say that.

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 05:42

Why not? There are not currently any rules restricting the number of playthings. While I agree with you that one per model is the rule as it is intended, there aren't any rules written anywhere (that I can find) which support that intent.

If you know where they are, please point them out; I'd love nothing more than to pull out any reference to multiple Playthings.
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Calyptra
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 05:49

Instead of having this argument again, here's the previous discussion, in the rules forum, so we can save ourselves the trouble of saying all the same things over again.

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 05:59

Thanks Cal! I appreciate it.
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Timatron
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 06:39

I'm not going to argue with someone who openly acknowleges that they are going against RAI and wants to do it anyway! How can you argue against that?
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 08:08

@Timatron wrote:
I'm not going to argue with someone who openly acknowleges that they are going against RAI and wants to do it anyway! How can you argue against that?

Timatron please don't provoke other members and any further discussion on this subject should move to the other thread that Calyptra linked. Thank you. #modpost

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Tue Dec 30 2014, 23:59

Is this even something people are interested in, or am I just spitting in the ocean?
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Dec 31 2014, 00:19

Hey there!

I just registered to say, 'Yes, someone is interested!'

Spitting in the ocean may or may not be what I am interested in however.
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Dec 31 2014, 02:17

For the record, I wasn't 'provoking' anyone, I was stating my position: not going to try and argue under those circumstances. I think I'm permitted to do that, aren't I?
As it happens, the general thread is pretty good, although I'd prefer to read about some specific in-game examples from first-hand experience. That's what I tried to deliver on my Youtube videos and people seemed to appreciate that I'd actually playtested the Formations before giving my opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Dec 31 2014, 02:33

@Jimsolo wrote:
Is this even something people are interested in, or am I just spitting in the ocean?

I enjoyed what you've written so far. I'd like to see more.

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Dec 31 2014, 04:28

@Timatron wrote:
For the record, I wasn't 'provoking' anyone, I was stating my position: not going to try and argue under those circumstances. I think I'm permitted to do that, aren't I?
As it happens, the general thread is pretty good, although I'd prefer to read about some specific in-game examples from first-hand experience. That's what I tried to deliver on my Youtube videos and people seemed to appreciate that I'd actually playtested the Formations before giving my opinion.

I don't have a problem with you pointing out what you feel is a rules discrepancy, Tim. As I've said, I happen to agree with you. Unfortunately, a tactical article needs to be written from the perspective of the majority opinion on rules interpretation.

I'll try and give more boots-on-the ground examples, if you'd like. I've seen lots of backlash against posters using 'anecdotal' evidence in the past, so I tried to write everything from an objective point of view. At this point I've used all the formations and options from the Covens book, so I'll be more than happy to share firsthand feedback! Very Happy Thanks for the help!
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Dec 31 2014, 10:29

@Jimsolo wrote:
Is this even something people are interested in, or am I just spitting in the ocean?

I've found what you've written so far very interesting and informative, and so would definitely like to see more. I like your idea of keeping it objective, but also noting your personal opinions/experiences in purple. It's quite nice to see both sides, as it were.

I was actually going to complement you on this article yesterday - the only reason I didn't was that I thought you might not like my post (which wouldn't be contributing much) in the middle of your tactica. Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Thu Jan 01 2015, 08:29

Awesome stuff! Looking forward to. The next instalment. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Jan 14 2015, 02:01

This is awesome. As I gear up to start focusing on Dark Eldar again on my youtube channel, I'm finding a lot of the things shared on these message boards extremely helpful and well-written

I'll be linking some of my vids to this forum -- OUTSTANDING!
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Wed Jan 14 2015, 07:07

Thanks for your post Jim! I've actually had my Dark Artisan bogged down in a huge blob of Guardsmen/Recruits last weekend, but I never thought about the Haemovores before. Might pick them up next time, so, your thread has definitely already helped someone!

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Sun Jan 18 2015, 11:19

Hey Jimsolo. Just been reading this in prep for my next game using the haemy supplement. Very informative and well written. I am looking forward to your next installment. Any time limit on when you will be posting? Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Mon Jan 19 2015, 15:13

More of an aside, but I approve of "Such Sights to Show You". Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Mon Jan 19 2015, 15:52

It's definitely an interesting read - I've only used the Dark Artisan and Scalpel Squadrons so far as my DE collection is severely lacking in coven units (don't like proxies) so I'll be keeping an eager eye out for updates on this thread.

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Fri Jan 23 2015, 10:44

Interesting read indeed. However I am a bit confused on the Vexator mask part.
Am I wrong to think that when in a challenge a model can be struck only by a model he is in challenge with?
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Fri Jan 23 2015, 10:55

@Duke Daedric wrote:
Interesting read indeed. However I am a bit confused on the Vexator mask part.
Am I wrong to think that when in a challenge a model can be struck only by a model he is in challenge with?

Not quite, no. As long as there are other enemies engaged in the combat then that is still the case but if all enemies have been killed, remaining wounds now spill into the challenge. So, for example, a Dark Artisan formation is in combat with 3 Chaos Terminators and a Chaos Lord. The Haem accepts the Lord's challenge and the Vexator Mask lowers his Init to 1. The Talos and Cronos cause 6 wounds on the Terminators who promptly fail their invulnerable saves, killing all of them and leaving 3 wounds unaccounted for. As there are no other enemies in the combat, those 3 wounds would spill over onto the Lord and would potentially kill him before he gets to strike the Haemonculus.

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Fri Jan 23 2015, 10:57

Models in a challenge can't have wounds allocated to them, unless there are no other models to allocate those wounds to.

So, if you challenge a character and your unit does enough wounds to kill off his squad, any excess wounds will be allocated to the character in the challenge.

Similarly, if you challenge a MC Character, it doesn't have a squad - so the rest of your unit can just attack it normally (but, you still gain the benefits of the challenge - in this case the Vexator Mask).

EDIT: The ninja strikes again! Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Fri Jan 23 2015, 11:02

Effectively it represents a more realistic approach than 6th ed challenges where the rest of your guy's unit would honourably stand round cheering you on.

Now they just hit the other unit until it's dead, then start hitting the guy in the challenge too.

'In the grim darkness of the far future, don't play fair!'

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PostSubject: Re: Carnival of Pain: Haemonculus Covens tactica   Fri Jan 23 2015, 11:06

Nice. Thanx for the quick response. Wink
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