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BizarreShowbiz
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PostSubject: Mandrake guide   Tue Jul 26 2016, 13:11

Hello fellow Archons. I saw a discussion over wyches vs mandrakes in this section and thought I could chime in explaining how mandrakes are tactically useful and to say how ther aren't comparable to wyches, but It would have been a reply so long and it would have deviated so much from the topic at hand that I preferred to open a new one discussing mandrakes only.

This im about to write below is the translation of an article I wrote in spanish on the blog i used to write in. (Im writing solo in Engalie 40k now, if anyone who knows spanish cares to take a look)

Dark Eldar: Mandrakes and you

Hello friends! Bizarre here with yet another post about Dark Eldar. This time I'm gonna talk about our insidious friends, the mandrakes, and what virtues turn them into an unit fit to being included in any competitive Dark Eldar list.

Yes, you heard me right. Mandrakes, the Dark Eldar unit everybody always laughed about since the very first codex,  are one of the most valuable units we have access to in the current meta. Lets see what they offer us besides being one of the best looking models in the Dark Eldar repertoire.

Infiltrate

Mandrakes are the only Dark Eldar unit with this USR what allows us, besides always deploying them in a good position inside cover, to block scouts.

In this meta, this is very important, as it can be used to block the most famous Battle Company Gladius: White scars with Kor’sarro khan letting them scout with tons of free rhinos with plenty of Grav cannons with grav amp, as you can't scout within 12” of any enemy units. One or two 3-man mandrake units infiltrating 18” from them (or 12” if theres scenery to hide them) should be enough for their grav cannons to not be able to reach the bulk of your army turn 1 (them being salvo 3/5 24”), what avoids us not only a heavy alpha strike, but an entire turn of grav weaponry fire.

This is the most famous example, the same tactic can be used to block Biker Warboss deathstars, huge khorne hound units, ravenwing bikes or bloody Eldar’s warlord trait.

Stealth + Shrouded

Two rules surprisingly absent in the rest of Dark Eldar infantry, an army known fluffwise to attack from the shadows, that allows us to have a 4+ cover save in the open and 2+ on any other type of terrain (except craters).

This is useful for two reasons:

Null deployment

Against some armies, like eldar, is often suicidal to deploy in front of them if they have the initiative, a good army list and an average deployment. We can even argue sometimes is better to choose going second and null-deploying, specially in Eternal War missions, because you are not on the table the first two eldar shooting phases.

This tactic’s problem is that in this edition, if you have nothing left on the table at the end of a game turn, you automatically lose.

The most obvious way of dealing with this is using the scalpel squadron formation of the haemonculus covens supplement. Two venoms full of wracks that drop via DS turn 1 and give you D3 points instead of one if they score first blood. Problem is this option is really expensive. 230p for the possibility of ocassionaly null-deploying?. Meh. If you’re gonna expend that many points is better to build a list around always null-deploying with reserve manipulation tools, webway archons and, in short, a completely different list from the “standard” Dark Eldar army list. (And by standard I mean the kind of lists I mostly use, heavy mechanized allied with Harlequins to cover up Dark Eldar codex weaknesses)

Up until now I have been using a lone Llhamaean hidden behind BLOS scenery, but that tactic has bitten my ass once in the second game of the Shark Games tournament in Málaga, so this is where mandrakes come in. Thy are a small unit, easy to hide, with 2+ cover in case something gets an angle to shoot at you and with infiltrate, what means you are not llimited to your deployment zone to look for that BLOS terrain.

Protection of Independent Characters (Most commonly Shadowseers)

Sometimes you get shroud or invisibility on your shadowseer, and most of the time the psyker wont be targeting its own unit but another one, such as a Corpsethief Claw of an Harlequin unit locked in combat.  As you cannot cast psychic powers other than wytchfires from a transport, if you don’t have mandrakes the shadowseer that steps out of the transport is as good as dead next turn, but if he joins a mandrake unit, it receives stealth, shrouded and 3 extra wounds with FNP to shield him from upcoming fire. Yes, it can be still taken down, but not without a big chunk of the total enemy damage output (that is subsecuently not being received by your more fragile units).

Shield other units from overwatch

Everyone that plays harlequins realize overwatch fire is a bitch, specially assaulting big units.

Playing against a Lion's blade is something I don't wish upon anyone. Think that every harlequin that falls is 4 less attacks, and with a weapon as inconsistent as a harlequin caress, that can be a lot of damage output lost. Everyone knows the trick of letting the troupemaster receive one wound to reduce casualties, but I greatly recommend using another unit as a shield. Mandrakes, specially abord FA venoms, excel at this, as unlike the llhamaean or kabalite warriors can survive most of the time using their 2+ cover save + FNP.

Situational uses

Mandrakes shoot 2 S4 AP4 shots at 18” with soulblaze and in close combat deal 3 S4 attacks on the charge, far superior to the average Dark Eldar and enough to dent de hull of vehicles, specially past turn 4 when they get furious charge.

One of the great thing about mandrakes is that everyone underestimates them and almost never spend resources on them. Baleblasts are useful against 4+ armored troops such as fire chaste or space marine scouts.

To sum up: they are cheap (36p), tactical, disposable unit that even if has no role in a matchup, can still grab a backline objective reliably because of their resilience, rare in the Dark Eldar army.

I hope this post helped put into perspective the mandrake strengths if played correctly. Not every unit has to kill a lot to be useful.


Last edited by BizarreShowbiz on Wed Jul 27 2016, 09:08; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Tue Jul 26 2016, 19:05

It's really nice to see such a constructive guide to a unit. I will definitively be trying them out in the future thanks to this. Especially since i also ally with Harlequins and have had issues keeping my Shadowseer alive. Thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Tue Jul 26 2016, 21:07

Hi, thx for this, really interesting read.

I'm no pro, so maybe a MOD can consider for as Tactica sticky?
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Jimsolo
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 05:40

Maybe some interesting ideas in here, but Mandrakes just aren't good enough for the slot they eat up for me.

It sounds like you might be having some more success with them than I have.
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BizarreShowbiz
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 09:01

Well, Elite isnt precisely the most stacked section of the DE book. I doubt you ever miss an Elite slot considering the only good unit are grotesques and you will always field them in the grotesquerie formation.
Btw, edited the post correcting typos and gramatical mistakes.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 09:26

I enjoyed reading this, well done.
I been thinking mandrakes are a tad underrated. The next time I play tau I want to run a small unit maybe 5. I think they could be quite useful vs the anime fishmen.

They can help with null deploy if deploying T1 = suicide. Often the case with fishmen.
Infiltrate and outflank is interesting.
Will shoot the crap out of pathfinders and marker drones and are no slouches in CC either.
Require more effort to kill than they're worth. If he wants to mark them to bypass 2+ cover great! be my guest.
Can soak overwatch.
Threaten backfield obj campers.

There's some potential there. Suspect


Last edited by Painjunky on Wed Jul 27 2016, 10:15; edited 1 time in total
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Count Adhemar
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 09:42

I've added this to the Dark Eldar Guides thread

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 11:02

36pts for 2+ cover save objective grabbers - yes please! That way my Warriors and Reavers are tending to business elsewhere

Exellent point about the Elite slot option...Grots are better in their Formation and Mandrakes may just do better (game outcome) than other choices.

And I do wonder....those that bag them out, have they really played extensive amount of games and different situations with them? I challenge you to try them in your meta

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 14:04

In addition to the things listed, Another thing you can use them for if the situation allows, is luring people out of cover. You probably have to take more than  3 for them to be annoying enough for your opponent to go after them. But if you position them wisely you can make sure that the unit that charges them have the back of the unit hanging out of cover. No more tears about not having grenades. OK maybe a little tears.

This tactic works for units with flamers as well. Since you can pre-measure everything you might be able to trick you opponent into thinking that running out of cover and placing his special weapon guy at the front of the unit is a great trade off. Be sure to tell him how many points your mandrakes cost you after you snipe his flamer (since it is the closest model) and charge the remainder of the unit that is standing in the open.
Of course for this to work you need to have another CC unit hanging back inconspicuously, ready to pounce, and it is rather situational.  

I have never viewed them as a unit that is likely to make their points back by killing stuff or tanking fire (although they can, given the right circumstances), but more of a unit that can force the opponent to make choices he does not want to make.
That expectation, paired with their low cost has led me to... never directly regret bringing them.

A suiting tag line: Mandrakes - You'll never directly regret bringing them!
Great article though. Thanks for that. study
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 14:11

i tend to think that most players won´t miss the elite slot mandrakes are taking.
The Points however are missed, because u always try to build an army that works well in it´s own design.
Mandrakes never fit in any design.
A min of 36 Points for Unit of 3 with 2+ cover save within cover sounds great, but you could spend those points for more reavers, or some blasters or whatever. Something that adds some Punch to your current design.

Mandrakes are so special, that you mostly waste your points.

That said, i like them and i play them XD
No one bats an eye if they are on the field and they are kind of fun and look great.

But i don´t play in Tournaments, and if i would, i would not use them.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 15:45

I am intrigued by the idea of using them with the Harlequins... this requires playtesting at least!

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BizarreShowbiz
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 16:35

Alvaneron wrote:
i tend to think that most players won´t miss the elite slot mandrakes are taking.
The Points however are missed, because u always try to build an army that works well in it´s own design.
Mandrakes never fit in any design.
A min of 36 Points for Unit of 3 with 2+ cover save within cover sounds great, but you could spend those points for more reavers, or some blasters or whatever. Something that adds some Punch to your current design.

Mandrakes are so special, that you mostly waste your points.

That said, i like them and i play them XD
No one bats an eye if they are on the field and they are kind of fun and look great.

But i don´t play in Tournaments, and if i would, i would not use them.

two blasters on my kabalite warriors wont make any difference on a competitive game. The possibility of null deploying with certain guarantees, blocking scouts and protecting a psyker with invisibility most certainly will.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 17:26

My admittedly limited experience with Mandrakes has shown that players don't like having things infiltrate onto their side of the board. I've had players waste huge amounts of resources trying to take down a 36 point Mandrake unit while the rest of my army got into position. Against certain armies, the baleblast is just worrisome enough to be distracting, particularly if aimed at a unit shielding an IC or heavily upgraded character because of the random wound assignment of soul blaze.

More experienced players would probably know to ignore them, but at the level I play they're a fantastic distraction.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Jul 27 2016, 18:05

Quote :
I am intrigued by the idea of using them with the Harlequins... this requires playtesting at least!
Old tactics in 5th was to use Harlies with Rangers, Harlies cast veil of tiers, Rangers hide behind their back and shoot and enjoy cover save they provide. Harlies do move and run to allow rangers to fire without intervening models.

Mandrakes are kind less suited for this because of shorter range.

But i guess you can make 3 man squad to cover Heroes Path Jester in the open.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Thu Jul 28 2016, 04:42

I'm intrigued by the idea of running Mandrakes as Overwatch soakers, engineering a 2+ cover save or simply engaging the enemy if they hold their fire. With a FA venom I suppose the Mandrakes don't need to be declared as passengers until the infiltrate part of deployment, so if the enemy have scouts/infiltrators of their own that need to be blocked you can assign them to that duty instead...

Thanks for the ideas Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Thu Jul 28 2016, 10:31

You can decide to put them into a.transport as infiltration? Did I get that right?

I think Outflank is the better idea. A 9 or 10 dude squad to come from the side and just mess with the enemies plans. The worst thing to happen in a game is when you are reacting. The enemy must react to your actions.
In this role, mandrake and Reaver are quite similar.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Thu Jul 28 2016, 15:55

You cannot, CptMetal. What he meant is to have the venom around, and decide during deployment if you want to infiltrate or deploy them normally on the venom, depending on the enemy having or not infiltration herself.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Thu Jul 28 2016, 16:41

CptMetal wrote:
You can decide to put them into a.transport as infiltration? Did I get that right?  

We actually play this as a house rule post FAQ, if a unit can infiltrate - it can do so in to any friendly transport.  At least in my game room anyway.  In my renegades and daemons list this means chimeras starting on the table full of 36 wounds worth of nurglings.  Not terribly practical, but it makes me laugh every time.

The thing about mandrakes and most dark eldar forces at this point is - From 6th edition on, it's not just about what else you could field from your codex, but what alternative you could field from your allies to fill a similar role.  In this case Corsair ghostwalkers, eldar rangers, and striking scorpions (at a higher cost) all put mandrakes to shame.

That's before you get to more exotic but perfectly legal allies like nurglings, who do most of what mandrakes do at about the same price point but are troops with 4 wounds and 4 attacks each, defensive grenades, and a 5++.  Depending on how you field them they can also gain FNP, brutal and cheap melee/psyker HQs, a strength and toughness debuff, and... an immunity to overwatch.

True story - the last time I saw someone actually field mandrakes, he left them on the table after the game and told me I could just keep them because he never wanted to see them again.  It's the only reason I have any.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Fri Jul 29 2016, 03:47

stilgar27 wrote:
True story - the last time I saw someone actually field mandrakes, he left them on the table after the game and told me I could just keep them because he never wanted to see them again.  It's the only reason I have any.

lol!

stilgar27 wrote:
The thing about mandrakes and most dark eldar forces at this point is - From 6th edition on, it's not just about what else you could field from your codex, but what alternative you could field from your allies to fill a similar role.

True, but at what point does your army cease to be a Dark Eldar army, and start to be a Corsair, Craftworld, Renegade or whatever army? One allied detachment? Two? More non-Dark Eldar models than Dark Eldar?

If I wanted to take better units then I would take them from whatever Codex best suited my needs. But what I really want to do is play Dark Eldar. Rather than think about how many Allies I can take and still call my army 'Dark Eldar' (the paradox of Sorites at work on the 40k field!), I prefer to just take Dark Eldar.  Wink

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Of course, your mileage mile vary!

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Tue Oct 25 2016, 17:18

Is it advisable to actually CC with Mandrakes?
They have A2 and I5 but no AP and almost no defense except maybe PfP.

Maybe only if you have numbers to confidently wipe the opposing Unit in I5?
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Oct 26 2016, 15:27

In general you don't want to CC with your mandrakes, it may be worth while to tie up a powerful shooting unit such as artillery. Or to soak up overwatch (though you might want to go to ground when they start shooting). And when you need to tie something up to slow it down, but in general you would be sacrificing them.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Oct 26 2016, 16:34

Ya, in previous editions they were CC oriented. They are now shooting units, and do a decent job of MSU harassment/objective grabbing/general annoyance.

A guy was posting how they work great in Kill Team though.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Wed Oct 26 2016, 17:49

I've found mandrakes to be pretty useful in objective games. They can either infiltrate ready to move onto an objective later, or infiltrate directly onto the objective. One thing I have learned is that they should not be set up with the intention of doing some first or second turn shooting damage to a unit, no matter how flimsy the target might be. They have to get too close to make it worth the risk.

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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Sun Jan 15 2017, 20:22

How are you using them to soak Overwatch out of curiousity? I would love to use that idea in conjunction with Wych squads or a Succubus with Incubi assaults.
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PostSubject: Re: Mandrake guide   Sun Jan 15 2017, 21:20

You have the mandarkes charge a unit first then have the wyches follow.
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