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 Freakshow Tactica part 2

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Jimsolo
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PostSubject: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Apr 24 2015, 01:14

Freakshow Tactica part 2: Psychic Powers, Primary Detachments, and Warlords

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend; come inside, come inside.


Introduction
We've already covered the units and upgrades that benefit Freakshow lists the most. However, as a commander, you've got lots of other decisions in front of you, some of which might not be as clear-cut as which units to take.

Core Army
Let's talk about core armies for a moment. Now, this isn't the same thing as Primary Detachment (we'll talk about that in a moment). Your Primary Detachment is just the home of your Warlord (although it does put a restriction on your Allied Detachments). When I say core army, I mean the army which makes up the bulk of your forces. Each of the Eldar options is viable (although some are going to be easier than others!), so let's talk about them for a moment. You don't need to feel compelled to stack up the majority of your points into one army or another, by the way. A balanced approach is perfectly acceptable, and is in fact my preference.

Dark Eldar
With their massed Poison shots and cheap, fast infantry, Dark Eldar tend to fare well against infantry. With the ability to field a surprising number of meat devils (high Strength, high Toughness, multiple wounds), they can take on a variety of enemies by themselves. Ironically, with strengths that include a lot of Leadership-based attacks and poison weapons, coupled with their extremely low Leadership, the thing Dark Eldar fight best against seems to be other Dark Eldar.

Still, for sheer number of Attack Type tools (see the first article if you've forgotten), the Dark Eldar can't be beat. Every Raider, every Ravager, and every character can be equipped with a Soulfright weapon. In addition, their Realspace Raider detachment opens up six slots for the transport vehicles that can be used by your allies. Since they are the only army that can field these non-dedicated, Open Topped transports, you will frequently find lists that would benefit from a larger codex DE presence.

Unfortunately, they lack Attack Tools that can hurt Space Marines and Fearless enemies. They also lack strong anti-vehicle or anti-flyer capacity, and psykers. Some Eldar or Harlequin support is virtually required. Still, with gunboats paying your troop tax, a Dark Eldar-primary list is one of the stronger contenders. With monstrous creatures and larger meat devils on the rise in armies across the board, you may want to buy stock in poison weapons, as their value doesn't seem to have a ceiling in the near future.


Haemonculus Covens
While I said I prefer a balanced approach, in reality most of my lists wind up with Haemonculus Covens as their core force. With easily chunked formations, it's a snap to look at points gaps and know which formations (or combinations of them) you can squeeze in. And with four of their six formations being power players, you can expect big things from a list with a great deal of Covens support.

Trading a lower initiative and armor score (as well as most ranged capacity) for troops that are Fearless on turn 2 (and often turn 1), boast Fear in an army that makes such a rule much more useful, and universally possess Feel No Pain, the Covens supplement is a great core for any Freakshow, and was actually the genesis for the concept.

The same problems DE have are repeated here. Soulfright weapons on your vehicles (but not characters), plus the overlapping Freakish Spectacle bubbles, make for a good bedrock for the army, but more potent attack forms are needed to really capitalize on it. The resilience of the Covens forces means those bubbles stick around for a lot longer, but you still need Attack Tools to take advantage of that fact. With even less anti-armor capacity and absolutely zero anti-flyer capacity, the Covens virtually require outside support to sustain a Freakshow list in an environment that is even moderately competitive.

Just remember they share the same faction as Dark Eldar. What this means is that if one of these armies is your Primary Detachment (where your Warlord lives), then you cannot take an Allied Detachment FOC from the other. (But you can still take a new Combined Arms detachment, a formation, or any other damn thing you please.)


Corsairs
With a price tag in the cosmos, and a codex that is over a decade out of date, the Corsairs are just a poor choice for your core army. If you want a challenge, then you may find some small solace in the fact that most opponents will be very unfamiliar with your army. If you rely heavily on its gimmicks that other Eldar don't have, you might be able to leverage those with the Freakshow component to pull out some wins.


Harlequins
Harlequins are the only army I'd even consider trying a Freakshow list with on their own. With potent Attack and Penalty Type tools, they are a true force to be reckoned with. With invulnerable saves on everyone, the Harlequins can just laugh at the high-AP firepower of Tau or Dark Angels.

Still, there are downsides. They cost a pretty penny, and it's unlikely you already own most of the models, since they're fairly new. They are extremely hard to compose lists for, since in a Battle Forged army they are so restricted they give new and poignant meaning to the colloquial term 'bound list.' And as far as points costs go, they are pretty expensive, which translates to a less forgiving army. Cheap Dark Eldar or Haemonculus Covens bodies can mitigate this weakness quite a bit. High-priority Eldar targets can also be a good way to keep the focus off of your Harlequins until it's too late and your enemy is drowning in touchy-feely melee combat filled with Kisses, Caresses, and Embraces.


Craftworld Eldar
Craftworld Eldar are fittingly a mirror of their dark cousins. With more psychic Attack Type tools than any other force, and better non-Freakshow specific support, they can make a great core. You're not going to go wrong there, that's for sure. The one area the craftworlders come up short in is Penalty Type tools. You'll definitely need Harlequins or Covens for backup.

There are a couple of downsides. Eldar are generalists. Each of their units excels at a specific role, but there doesn't tend to be a ton of overlap. I'm a big fan of repetitive armies, so this is an unattractive quality for me. If you are comfortable with it though, then Khainespeed to you. Secondly, given the power of the new book, you're going to see a lot more Eldar armies going forward. It's popularity is one of it's weaknesses, though. You can bet that any serious contender in a competitive environment is going to assume he'll face Eldar and plan accordingly. Most competitive players will have seen conventional Eldar strategies before, and at least have thought ahead to how they will deal with Wraithknights, Windriders, and the like.

On that note, there is another potential problem with Eldar (really, two). Quite a few players have stated their intent on the forums to refuse games against craftworld Eldar players. If you have a cluster of such people in your area, you may have a hard time finding games. On a more sinister note, there will almost certainly be Tournament Organizers who will attempt to hamstring Eldar players in a misguided attempt to 'balance the game.' Hopefully, the legal options they ban or restrict won't negate your ability to run a successful Freakshow, but you should still check ahead to make sure you won't be showing up on tourney day with a list you can't use.

Iyanden
More of the same, really.


Warlord
Warlords are funny things. Some people bury them, some use them to lead from the front. Personally, I'm a big fan of efficiency and waste reduction. Your Warlord Trait is a free bonus, if you don't use it, you're wasting it. With that being said, I know other people don't agree, and the opposing line of reasoning says that if you didn't pay points for it, it isn't a waste. So when talking about who your Warlord is, I'm almost exclusively going to focus on Warlord traits, since very few other considerations matter, to my mind. (Although denying your opponent a victory point is certainly one.)

Dark Eldar
With a host of Warlord traits that are mediocre at best, I think there's definitely merit to rolling Command instead, if you take one of the True Kin as your Warlord. Few of the traits there are useless, and the Dust of a Thousand Worlds trait is immensely awesome, as are both Presence traits. Unless your Warlord is Urien Rakarth, I'd go with Command.

Haemonculus Covens
Where possible, I always take my Warlord from this book. First off, with the exception of the Grotesquerie, all other formations with a Haemonculus give you a guaranteed Warlord trait, and controlled selection is almost always preferable to randomness. Furthermore, most of these traits are useful. Master Epicurean is a little counter-intuitive (think of it as a life insurance policy for your Warlord), but most of the others are just awesome. Master Artisan, Regenesist, and Master of Apotheosis are all specific to a unit type (but two of them come guaranteed on Haemonculi that come with the necessary unit as part of their formation), but with the exception of Master Artisan, all of them apply to the Warlord himself, so even if you roll Master Regenesist in an army with no Grotesques, you'll still get at least some benefit. Still, a Dark Artisan or Scarlet Epicurean formation is a perfect place for a Warlord, in my opinion.

Couple of notes. First off, my personal preference is to take my Warlord in the Grotesquerie, since I'm gambling on getting Master Regenesist. If you ever read a battle report of mine, know that it's a poor strategy, and I don't actually recommend it in competitive settings. Second off, Urien Rakarth is a poor choice for your Warlord in a Covens list, since his Warlord trait confers a rule that the whole force gets on turn 3 anyway (and turn 2 if he's around!).

Corsairs
With their unique companions, a Corsair Warlord might not be a terrible choice, especially if you go with the Command table. A mobile buff-generating Warlord is a perfectly reasonable use of this resource.

Harlequins
While the enhanced survivability of the Shadowseer or Death Jester might recommend them over Troupe Masters, the expanded Warlord Trait table Troupe Masters get is worth it. The Dark table, in particular, is nothing short of solid gold. If I were you, that's where I would live. You may be forced to take a Death Jester or Shadowseer as your Warlord in some lists (usually if you're running Dark Eldar and Haemonculus Covens and the Dark Eldar need to be in an Allied Detachment), which is no big deal. I think the Command table might be preferable to their more limited options, however.


Eldar
Despite having more than three times the number of Special Characters as Dark Eldar (but I'm not bitter...really), the Eldar don't have a single one whose fixed Warlord trait is the one Eldar Warlord Trait that really benefits a Freakshow. If your Warlord is an Eldar, you should probably go Command.


Iyanden
Although they have better Warlord traits than the Eldar, the Iyanden list still doesn't add more to a Freakshow than the Command table. In addition, the less mobile and less resilient HQs of this supplement don't make for very survivable Warlords.



Psychic Powers
Finally we get to the meat of the article. Psychic powers are wonderful. In my experience, the psykers do the lion's share of the work in a Freakshow list. Power selection tends to run a little counter-intuitively to the way many people do it, so I thought we'd take a look for a moment. Since each of your individual psykers has a table that only they can roll on, we'll talk about them when we get there, rather than doing a write up for each psyker and each psychic discipline.

Telepathy
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Telepathy is your most useful psychic discipline, by far. Home to the crowd pleasing Shrouding and Invisibility powers, it also contains one of the most damaging powers a Freakshow has access to, and as the syrup on our paincake, it's the Primaris Power! Since you can also get 2-4 more powers depending on who your psyker is, the Telepathy table also contains 3 more offensive powers with Leadership dependent effects. Finally, if you have Dark Eldar allies, Mental Fortitude is always a nice backstop. There's really no bad options. The only time I think not rolling all your powers on Telepathy is recommended is if you have two or more psykers with access to it in the same unit, since the unit can't drop the same power more than once per turn.

Divination
Although Divination is a table with lots of tasty biscuits on it, you'll have to resist the temptation. With only Farseers having access to it, Divination in a Freakshow is like a well used pencil, since it's pointless. Most of the Divination powers crop up again in some form in the Runes of Fate discipline, and usually a better form. What's more, Runes of Fate gives you access to additional powers you'll want more than Divination.

Daemonology (Sanctic)
No. Just no. The only reason you might try Daemonology is if you know, for a fact, that your next opponent is going to be bringing Daemons of Chaos, and even then only if the psyker in question is in a unit with another psyker who already rolled on Telepathy. And probably not even then.

Runes of Fate
Oof. Hard decision. Although Runes of Fate is undeniably good, for a Freakshow, Telepathy is better, since you can guarantee yourself the Leadership-dependent Witchfire power. The support powers are great, but Mind War is awesome. (And Eldritch Storm is no slouch, either.) Nonetheless, if you do wind up with the non-Freakshow powers, I don't think you'll have cause to regret it.

Still, I think I'd go with Telepathy first. If you have two or more Farseers in a unit, then Telepathy with one and Runes of Fate with the other seems very reasonable. If you really want to, I could see taking one Telepathy power (and sacrificing it for Shriek, unless you roll Terrify, in which case you take a second to dump for Shriek), and then fishing for the Witchfires in Runes of Fate.

Runes of Battle
Well, Horrify is the only goodie here that benefits a Freakshow, but damn what a tasty biscuit! It may not happen to me, but someone, somewhere, is going to Horrify a Wraithknight only to have a Shadowseer come in from the side with Terrify and Mirror of Minds (or Psychic Shriek), and deliver a serious beatdown. Beyond that, the Runes of Battle have support powers galore, and while none of them are top tier, in my opinion, there's none of them I wouldn't want around.

For Spiritseers, Telepathy remains the choice of champions. If you brought Iyanden Spiritseers, or for some reason have two in a unit, then Runes of Battle might be a good second pick (although I would probably just go Telepathy again).

Warlocks have only one good option, and it's this. With no ability to re-roll failed dice or to protect themselves from Perils, Daemonology isn't even an option. Since they bring so many extra dice to the table, you might even have enough dice left over after your Mind Wars, Psychic Shrieks, Terrifys, and Mind Mirrors to actually use some of these powers! To be honest, a knot of Warlocks zipping around the battlefield, buffing, debuffing, healing, and staying alive through self-buffs and judicious Jink/Turbo-boost, doesn't sound like a terrible idea, especially given the egregious numbers of psychic dice they'll be feeding the Farseers and Shadowseers in the army.

Phantasmancy
See Runes of Fate. It's tasty, but not so tasty as to abandon Telepathy. Still, you've got some excellent stuff here. The two Leadership-based Witchfires are both pretty great: Laugh of Sorrows is your group power, and Mirror of Minds is your character-killer.

I recommend running your Shadowseers on Telepathy unless you bring two or more, especially if they are mounted in an open topped vehicle. If you have two in a unit, the second should absolutely take his rolls on Phantasmancy. If you have only one, or if you mount your Shadowseers in open-topped transports (such as a Venom), then you would also have good results if you took one Telepathy roll and dropped it for Shriek, then skipped over to Phantasmancy to see what you could get; since a mounted psyker can't buff or debuff anyone, lots of the additional Telepathy powers aren't as useful as some more shooting might be, and two-thirds of Phantasmancy is shooting powers.

Discipline of Excess
Wait, what? While they aren't Battle Brothers, and so didn't make the first article, Daemons of Chaos (specifically Slaaneshi psykers) are loaded with Freakshow potential. With half their powers falling into the Attack Type, daemons of Slaanesh could potentially offer some brutal support to a Freakshow list. The Cacophonic Choir can reliably inflict wounds on several units around them, while the Pavane of Slaanesh can easily wipe an entire unit off the board if there's enough Penalties applied to them. You would have to watch out for the One Eye Open rule, but with such mobile forces that shouldn't be a huge problem.

Although I've made a solid 'no more models until all these are painted and built' commitment, afterwards Slaanesh demons are going to be my next go-to, in an attempt to branch out into non-Battle Brother allies.

Conclusion
Well, that brings us to a close. Once again, any questions, comments, or concerns will be fielded as soon as I'm capable. If anyone has suggestions for further topics, let me know. The next topic in my rotation will be "When it all goes wrong: weaknesses of the Freakshow and how to compensate for them." Until next time, stay freaky!
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PainReaver
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Apr 24 2015, 04:39

Well a Freakshow list could scare a Wraithknight to death.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Apr 24 2015, 04:56

Lol, it sure could! I imagine it'll fix Windriders pretty good as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Apr 24 2015, 18:49

The use of slaanesh daemons is intriguing. Which HQ choice would you recommend in order to maximize damage?
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Jimsolo
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Apr 24 2015, 22:54

Oof. Tough call, since they are all SOOOO expensive. Probably Daemon Prince to get a flying Psychic jerk on my side. The keeper has some good qualities too. If I was going cheap as possible, a Herald in a Chariot would be my pick.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 00:38

2-4 nounted Herald in 1 mounted seekers? Extremely fast, a lot of Thelepaty (Invisibility), good CC (with Loci).
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 01:39

If I'm going Slaanesh, I'd prefer Excess to Telepathy, actually. ESPECIALLY if I can get a ML 3 caster and thus guarantee every power. In a Freakshow list, Pavane of Slaanesh is just brutal. Absent Invulnerable saves, it only stops when the test is passed or the unit is wiped. I mean, if you can stack that right, it's just heinous.

Furthermore, if you can throw Cacophonic Choir in there, you can potentially keep several units pinned in place while you just hammer away at them.

Only the high point cost and the level of alliance give me pause.
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The PayneTrayn
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 03:26

I'd almost want to go with either a Keeper of Secrets in order to pull in a daemon prince. Two chances at the cacophony. Bit pricy though...
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 09:11

Main drawback with Cacophonic Choir is that, as a nova power, you need to position your units incredibly carefully in order to get the Ld penalties in place without also hitting them with the Choir.

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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 09:52

One help with be a unit of Seekers with Icon, and a unit of Daemonettes with Herald/Keeper of Secrets in DS.
No scatter by 6" of the Icon
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 12:34

Both very true. The complexities of this are why I left it out of the original--it deserves its own article, I'd think.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sat Apr 25 2015, 20:19

Slaanesh being advocated as eldar allies.... Fore-shame Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sun Sep 20 2015, 18:57

Curious why you are so keem on the command trait over strategic one? Just curious as maybe I am missing something awesome?

Great article by the way.
I appreciate you taking the time to write these up

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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Sun Sep 20 2015, 21:47

Interesting question. There are several traits on there that are immensely helpful. Dust of a Thousand Worlds makes DS lists safer (since anyone DSing close enough to the Warlord or the vehicle he's in can ignore Dangerous Terrain checks, allowing them to drop into cover), Inspiring Presence helps the )save for Harlequins) woefully Ld deficient Eldar forces, and Intimidating Presence can be absolutely crippling depending on A) what Freakshow elements you're using and B) how your group decides mixed LD units resolve Psychic Shriek.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Mon Sep 21 2015, 21:25

A point on powers. Divination can be extremely useful for DE Primary MSU as can Runes of Fate. DE have a lot of high strength, high attacks mobile models (Grots, Beasts) for a premium cost. With Misfortune a small unit of Grots can one shot an Imperial Knight, with Doom MSU Reavers will do the same (for a fraction the points of a Knight) and Misfortune makes splinter weapons a viable threat to the WraithKnight. Fortune makes the Archon with Shadowfield a tank. Forwarning mitigates the only weakness of Grots and Reavers (Ignores Cover). Guide and Prescience help everywhere, more than Eldar due to the saturation of twin-linked weapons in their codex. Fearless from Asuryan's Will is a massive boon to Beasts and Grots. Mind War naturally fits in a Freakshow list as mentioned. Similarly with Runes of Battle, DE have one of the highest porportions of AP3 weapons in the game; with Jinx they just became AP2. Telepathy offers a lot to a Deathstar type list, but against some enemies Divination and Runes of Fate will be superior, especially if you are running MSU and your opponent has an AV. The best option is IMO to mix the discplines, rather than rolling on just Telepathy unless your playing specific opponents where that will help mitigate shooting (Tau/Eldar). I run a Farseer and a Hemlock as allies in my main DE list, with that I open up all the disciplines.

Peace Out.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Mon Sep 21 2015, 22:45

Honestly, I disagree.  Unless you're running a Seer Council, where you can't double up on Psyker powers, I think you'll be better off with Telepathy.  If someone is dead set on Fate, then sacking one power to guarantee Psychic Shriek might be the best way to do it.  

If you've got the de buffs done right, Shriek is going to be a real workhorse in the army, and I'd hate to miss out on it.

That being said, I don't think you're going to go wrong if you take a second Farseer for Fate.
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PostSubject: Re: Freakshow Tactica part 2   Fri Sep 25 2015, 21:52

In the final analysis I agree that Telepathy is probably the best discipline. In a recent game with a Freak/Fusion list I used invis and shrouding to get some units into place for a turn 2 charge on Iknights, rather than null deploying which would have been my preference. When my DS stuff came in I was able to assault and shoot them into the ground. In retrospect, had I used a different discipline (fishing for Doom or Misfortune) my offensive output would still not have been as high because I would have been shot off the board turn 1 and if I had null-deployed I would have missed out on the charge on turn 2. The main reason for using Divination is to get some Misfortune going for ap2, but against a lot of targets Shriek can do that for you. What do you think the best caster for Telepathy is? Farseer, Spiritseer or Hemlock?
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