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 Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack

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Plastikente
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PostSubject: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sat Jan 12 2013, 11:17

Right, below is the first draft of Part 4. Despite being the smallest section so far, I have found it the trickiest to write, because I've never been very successful with this area of the Force Org. This article has drawn heavily on discussions on these forums and at 40konline, and that will be reflected in the acknowledgements.

So, having read so much about these units, and attempted to distill the wisdom out of online discussions, have I got it right? Let me know what you think Smile
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Plastikente’s Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 – Fast Attack [6th Ed]

FAST ATTACK
Dark Eldar are arguably the fastest and most manoeuvrable army in the game, and this section is where they show it. Hit your opponent hard and fast, and leave him reeling in the dust of your departure!

HELLIONS
Strengths: Jump Infantry. Decent assault weapon shooting. Reasonable hitting power in assault. Can be troops if you take a certain special character.
Weaknesses: Fragile, both to shooting and in assault.
Upgrades: The Helliarch is a standard character upgrade, with access to a few toys:

  • Phantasm Grenade Launcher. Essential if you plan on assaulting units in cover, and useful for a little bit of protection against overwatch.
  • Venom Blade. This upgrade is free, and improves your chance to wound any opponent with T>2. All you lose is the ability to hurt vehicles, but at your S you weren’t going to do much anyway.
  • Stun Claw. Allows you to try to snatch an independent character out of a unit to bully without backup. The drawback is, Hellions don’t make great bullies. You can make a tactic from snatching a character into range of a more intimidating unit (like Incubi), who then wade in to finish him off. Beware though, the snatched character can still challenge, meaning that you lose your weight of numbers or one of your characters has to sit out of the fight.
  • Power Weapon/Agoniser. Useful to add a bit of armour-piercing punch to the squad. A general breakdown of these weapons is given in Part 1.

How to use: Small units of Hellions suffer terribly from fragility, so 10+ is generally the way forward to ensure that you are still a threat after a round or two of shooting. Units of any size need to hug cover and require a pain token asap to give them some semblance of survivability.
In an assault they fight slightly better than Wyches (lower A, but higher S), but aren’t as durable because they can’t dodge. However, when you add the effect of their Splinter Pods (an assault weapon) and Hammer of Wrath attacks, they really can hit hard on the turn they charge.
Hit and Run is a real boon for this squad, helping them to leap-frog up the table by assaulting an enemy and then using the disengage move to travel on past them. This is definitely worthwhile in the enemy’s turn (so that you can charge again in your next turn), and can even be useful in your own turn, provided you can get the unit into some cover or out of LOS when you disengage.
Similar to Wracks, Hellions are a so-so choice in their own area of the Force Org, but offer great skills in the Troops section. Add the fact that Baron Sathonyx has a load of other abilities that improve the hitting power and survivability of Hellions and you will find that very few lists take this unit without him.

BEASTMASTERS
Strengths: Fast, and not slowed by difficult terrain. Combat monsters, which can be configured to take on many different opponents. Cheap.
Weaknesses: More anti-infantry for an army that already has plenty of options.
Upgrades: Each beastmaster may be accompanied by a number of beasts of 1 kind. If you take multiple beastmasters, they do not have to each take the same type of beast.

  • Khymerae. Lots of attacks at Smurf strength. Khymerae add durability to the squad due to their invulnerable save, and should therefore be always left at the front to take shooting.
  • Clawed Fiends. High S, and T, but fewer attacks than you get from investing the same points in other types of beast. If you have an equal number of Clawed Fiends to other models in the squad, you get to use his toughness as the majority value. However, as soon as they are outnumbered, the enemy can roll to wound them at T3, negating one of their big advantages.
  • Razorwing Flocks. Lots of attacks at DE strength, but they are rending – take these to deal with armoured infantry. Beware S6+ weapons though, which will insta-kill your flock.

Beastmasters are characters, although their stats just match a standard Wych without combat drugs. The judicious use of challenges can protect your beasts from a killer character, allowing them to set about his squad in peace. Beware using your last beastmaster this way though, as beasts’ leadership is very poor without them. One beastmaster may also take an improved cc weapon. This is far from essential, as most of the combat effect comes from the beasts themselves, nevertheless, a power weapon or Agoniser can provide the AP that your other attacks are missing.
How to use: Beasts are fairly simple to use – select which type you want, point them at the enemy and move as fast as you can towards them until you can assault. The Beastmasters themselves and Razorwing Flocks are fairly fragile, but these can be protected with Clawed Fiends to raise the majority T (for CF only squads) or Khymerae to take shooting on their invulnerable save. Never mix Clawed Fiends with other beasts in one unit, because they will lose the benefit of their toughness. Khymerae and Razorwing Flocks, on the other hand, do make a good pairing. Beasts should always make maximum use of cover, as they are not slowed by it. Nevertheless, they do suffer the standard initiative penalty for charging through difficult terrain.
Many people like to pair beasts with Baron Sathonyx so that they can benefit from his special rules, particularly Stealth, Hit and Run and his PGL.
Suggested builds for Beastmaster units:

  • 3 Beastmasters, 5 Khymerae, 4 Razorwing Flocks [156]. For a comparable price to a medium squad of Wyches in a Raider, you can get these. On the charge they throw out 50 attacks, 24 of which are rending. Ouch.
  • 3 Beastmasters, 3 Clawed Fiends [156]. For the same price, you could get these. On the charge they throw 15 high strength attacks, plus a few from the beastmasters, but they still have plenty of wounds, a nice high T for survivability, and they get more dangerous as they take damage.



SCOURGES
Strengths:Mobile. Carry lots of special/heavy weaponry. Can be customised for AI or AV. May deploy by deep strike.
Weaknesses: Expensive, still fragile
Upgrades:
Solarite. A standard character upgrade, with leadership buff and access to cc weapons. The blast pistol is expensive and has a tiny range and Scourges have no business being in an assault, so this character is probably best left with his shardcarbine if you want to take him.
While Scourges can’t achieve quite the same density of special weapons as Trueborn can, they are a respectable second, and offer the mobility of jump infantry. Their weapon options can be loosely divide into :
Ant-Infantry. These options complement the Scourges’ basic weapons loadout well, but DE lists have access to plenty of AI, so they are hardly essential in this configuration.

  • Shredder. A bit of a buff for AI shooting. Not much better than a shardcarbine (depending how many you can hit with the blast), but not that expensive either.
  • Splinter Cannon. Apart from the range, this also doesn’t add much over a shardcarbine (assuming you want to move). But it gives you a lot of shots if you are having to snap-fire anyway.

Anti-Vehicle. If you take these options, Scourges become one of the limited number of AV choices available to you. As always though, they must be chosen in the context of your whole list.

  • Dark Lance. Almost pointless. You take Scourges for their mobility, but if they move, the DL can only snap fire. You may as well have a Blaster for the same points – on a Scourge it has almost the same effective range as a stationary Dark Lance.
  • Heat Lance/Blaster. The relative merits of Heat Lances and Blasters were discussed in Part 1. In short, Blasters offer good effect at a longer range, and have the strength to also worry MCs. Lances give you a greater probability of a vehicle kill, provided you get right in close to benefit from the melta rule. Getting close enough to use a Heat Lance is pretty suicidal for Scourges. If you choose to go that way, Deep Strike is pretty risky, as you could easily scatter out of melta range. A well-placed WWP is a much more reliable way of getting them into the kill zone to take out a vehicle.
  • Haywire Blaster. Again, this weapon was discussed in Part 1. The advantage with taking it on Scourges is that it lets them keep a greater distance from threats, whilst reliably stripping 1-2 hull points off any vehicle each turn. It’s not likely to stop anything in its tracks, but suffers no problems from Blessed Hulls, Ceramite Armour, Quantum Shielding or any other tricks out there (as yet...). If you take this loadout, make sure you wait to fire your Scourges last, and then pick on a vehicle that has already taken a bit of a beating in the hope of finishing it off.

How to use: Scourges cost as much as Reavers, but aren’t as tough, aren’t as manoeuvrable and don’t get a jink save. What they can do is deploy by deep strike, take slightly more special weapons (and a greater variety) and have a slightly better basic save with a pitiful invulnerable one tacked on too. Scourges are best fielded in squads of 5 or 10, in order to maximise the number of special/heavy weapons you can bring with them. Max out on one of the weapon upgrades discussed above (mixing usually isn’t optimal as everything has slightly different ranges/optimal targets) and then pick on your target of choice.


REAVERS
Strengths: Oh so fast! 4++ cover save which can be improved to 3++ if you move flat out. Can be configured for AI or AV role. Can attack even at max speed (bladevanes). Ability to move-shoot-move.
Weaknesses: Expensive, poor armour, vulnerable to attacks which ignore cover.
Upgrades:
  • Arena Champion A standard character upgrade, who can choose from the usual selection of Venom Blade, Power Weapon or Agoniser. Take him if you want the leadership buff, and/or a little more punch if you like to assault with your Reavers.
  • Heat Lance/Blaster You can tool up a proportion of you bikes for an anti-vehicle role. The relative merits of Heat Lances and Blasters were discussed in Part 1 and the Scourges entry. Unlike Scourges, Reavers can make use of their jetbike move in the assault phase to try and get and back off a bit after getting in close to get the most of a Heat Lance.
  • Cluster Caltrops For slightly less cost than another bike, you can upgrade some to have bladevanes which are slightly more than twice as effective. The subtle trap with this upgrade is that once you have taken it, you will want to make a bladevane attack every turn in order to get your money’s worth. Doing that puts you at risk of making a foolish move which will leave your bikes in the open to be gunned down or (worse) assaulted.
  • Grav Talon Makes your bladevane attacks (only from the upgraded bike) pinning. Worth the investment against lightly armoured targets, but against MEQ you need 3 Grav Talons on average to get 1 unsaved wound and force a pinning check.

How to use:

  • Remember Skilled Rider. Check it out! (BDB p.41) A bonus to jink saves and you don’t need to worry about dangerous terrain. These are a real boost to your survivability. This also leads on to 2 things you need to remember to extend your Reavers’ life:
    1. Keep moving. Without your jink save, your armour is no better than a Kabalite Warrior.
    2. Avoid templates. Anything that ignores cover will be the death of you.

  • Bladevanes vs. Splinter. I have mathhammered the expected damage for one round of shooting/bladevaning against my standard targets below.
    Weapon vs MEQ vs TEQ vs GEQ vs MC
    Splinter Rifle (Rapid Fire)0.2220.1110.6670.222
    Bladevane0.3330.1670.8890.111
    Cluster Caltrops0.9720.4861.9440.389
    Note. These numbers were worked out for the averaged number of bladevane and caltrop strikes (2 and 3.5 respectively), and assuming that the splinter rifles were in rapid fire range.
    This shows that you will get more kills on average by bladevaning pretty much any target that isn’t a monstrous creature, and cluster caltrops rock! However, you can only bladevane when turbo-boosting, and thereby sacrificing your assault phase Eldar Jetbike move. Also, to bladevane a unit you have to physically pass over it – this requires some careful thought to ensure you don’t leave yourself exposed to shooting or an assault at the end of your move.
  • Consider assault. Reavers are relentless, meaning that they can still assault after firing their splinter rifles. They carry a pistol and ccw for the extra attack, take combat drugs, and have a T buff compared to your standard DE. And they get a free Hammer of Wrath attack – it’s only S3, but it automatically hits. So, despite the fact that I just “proved” that bladevanes were better than your guns, you might want to shoot anyway, and then swoop in for the assault.
  • Avoid being assaulted. Reavers have an ok T, and a poor save. They don’t want to be on the receiving end of a charge. Moreover, without Hit and Run, once they are caught in an assault your opponent has pinned them in one place, disabling their main advantages – manoeuvrability and speed.
  • Move-shoot-move. As Eldar jetbikes, Reavers can make an extra move in the assault phase. Use this to get them out of line-of-sight, into cover, or even just to rearrange so that the models closest to danger (first casualties) aren’t your special weapons or champion.
  • Endgame objective denial. Although they are not scoring (except in the Scouring mission), Reavers are a denial unit, and their massive speed allows them to wait until turn 5 before swooping to contest an objective or claim linebreaker.
  • Screening. If the enemy has to shoot through your Reavers to hit something, then the target unit gets a cover save. This can be used to give a little more protection to a unit caught in the open whilst your flat out Reavers still get a decent jink.

Standard Builds: 6 or 9 Reavers w/ max Heat Lances/Blasters [156-243]. Add an Arena Champion with weapon if it suits your style. Min unit sizes are too fragile to be of much use.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sat Jan 12 2013, 11:50

Couple of notes for you...

Hellions have the same Humber of attacks as wyches, you note they have less but with a higher S.

Beasts - clawed fiends make great LOS sponges for attached characters and in turn fight better as they get hurt! Their high T value means they can generally not be ID killed either. A great way to protect the baron! I will also point out that while you may loose the majority T when adding them to other types, they still have a good S value, get more attacks as they are wounded (unlike an equal points value of khymera who get less as the take wounds) and give some reliable armour busting value to the unit.

Scourges, I think look good. I would point out that as they have grenades they can in a real bind, threaten AV10 for an assault and with a 4+ save be an extra volume of attacks if yo need them on the charge which may actually survive.

Reavers - let's wait for mush! Seriously though, I think the champ is almost mandatory for the LD boost as they are so fragile. I think that taking caltrops is a waste unless at max size as the cost is the same as another reaver! Another unit you can use to tip an assault in you favour bu I think they are best used shooting or blade vaneing things

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 13 2013, 08:35

I don't own any beasts, so I can't speak for them. Hellions are my favorite models and have done well for me, as long as they are accompanied by the Baron. I own 12 of the old figs but have 2 new boxes of hellions on order. I like the scourge figs too, but have only used them in 1 of my 4 games as a unit of 10 w/4 haywire blasters. I think this is their best use as per your guidelines above. There are too many other good AI choices to use them that way. AV at a distance with HWB is where they shine. At S4/AP4 they can still engage enemy infantry along with other shardcarbine guys. Reavers, likeable figs but not my favorite figs compared to Hellions or scourges (appearance personal preference), BUT they have consistently been my very best unit EVERY GAME. I won't leave home without them. I own 9 of the old plastics/metal riders and 3 new plastics. I'm content with that.
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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 13 2013, 11:07

Massaen wrote:

Hellions have the same Humber of attacks as wyches, you note they have less but with a higher S.
Oops, I overlooked the fact that a Helglaive gives you +1 attack. Thanks for the rest of the feedback.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 13 2013, 13:01

Plastikente wrote:
[*]Cluster Caltrops For slightly less cost than another bike, you can upgrade some to have bladevanes which are slightly more than twice as effective. The subtle trap with this upgrade is that once you have taken it, you will want to make a bladevane attack every turn in order to get your money’s worth. Doing that puts you at risk of making a foolish move which will leave your bikes in the open to be gunned down or (worse) assaulted.

Another well written & fair assessment, this time of our fast attack units.

Regarding the cluster caltrops, I have heard people say this about them before and thought it a little unfair. Just because you have bought an upgrade does not mean you should use it every turn. People buy weapon upgrades all the time that may only get the chance to shoot once or twice e.g. heat lances, meltaguns and so forth.
Because of the distance RJBs can turboboost, cluster caltrops are an upgrade you can feasibly use every turn, but you just need to exercise some restraint & use them when they really count! You have shown their effectiveness compared to splinter rifles & normal bladevane attacks (almost 3 times as effective), so I think they are a perfectly viable option to take, not a trap and also ok to take instead of an extra reaver.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 13 2013, 13:54

I agree on the caltrops. Perhaps 'trap' is the wrong word then. I just want to warn people not to get overexcited and thus endanger their unit.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 13 2013, 14:26

Great write up as usual. I'm only going to comment on your reaver part as that's what I know. It's a good summary for starters, a few points though:

I think it's worth pointing out reavers don't have plasma grenades, so strike at I1 when charging into cover.

Plastikente wrote:
This shows that you will get more kills on average by bladevaning pretty much any target that isn’t a monstrous creature,

However it doesn't take into account blaster/heatlances, this is important to consider against MEQ.

Average casualties caused by 3 reavers with 1 blaster/heatlance shooting MEQ (rapid fire): 1
Average casualties caused by 3 reavers bladevaning MEQ: 1

Average casualties caused by 6 reavers with 1 blaster/heatlance shooting MEQ (rapid fire): 2
Average casualties caused by 6 reavers bladevaning MEQ: 2

Average casualties caused by 9 reavers with 1 blaster/heatlance shooting MEQ (rapid fire): 3
Average casualties caused by 9 reavers bladevaning MEQ: 3

Like you said sometimes shooting is the safer option, and the decision is a lot easier when you take into account they have the same output (against MEQ), though cover does affect the results.

Squierboy wrote:
so I think they are a perfectly viable option to take, not a trap and also ok to take instead of an extra reaver.

My problem with caltrops is not that they aren't good, it's that for 2pts more an extra reavers is almost always more useful and once the squad get's up to 9, then adding caltrops just makes it too expensive.

Average casualties caused by 6 reavers with 2 caltrops against MEQ: 3.27
Average casualties caused by 9 reavers against MEQ: 3

Still they do offer fantastic killing power, there is no denying that, I just feel reavers are expensive enough as is. But that's just my personal preference. Smile

On another note I think my latest battle report showed how reavers can be used effectively in a conventional DE force, if anyone is interested (pictures as usual):

BR17: The Black Buzzards VS Space Wolves - 1500pts

Hope that helps. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Mon Jan 14 2013, 00:50

my fav unit in the world is my beast pack with the baron.
I either take 5hounds and 6 flocks or 8hounds and 6 flocks. I do like the 156point unit a lot as well.

this unit has a ton a staying power and always does it's job well. if ppl don't kill the unit they are in for a lot of trouble. if they ignore it they are in more trouble. this unit generally takes shooting away from the rest of my forces. which is always a good thing.


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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Mon Jan 14 2013, 08:56

Just a note on the beasts... Razorwings can be used to attack infantary aswell...
S3 + Rending (9) + D3 = 10 to 12. So playing against most foes you can actually do damange against veichles. I have done so alot.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Mon Jan 14 2013, 09:37

colinsherlow wrote:
my fav unit in the world is my beast pack with the baron.
I either take 5hounds and 6 flocks or 8hounds and 6 flocks. I do like the 156point unit a lot as well.

this unit has a ton a staying power and always does it's job well. if ppl don't kill the unit they are in for a lot of trouble. if they ignore it they are in more trouble. this unit generally takes shooting away from the rest of my forces. which is always a good thing.

I have to agree. In fact I'm currently expanding my Beasts pack to 10 Khymerae and 6 Razorwing Flocks. I use the Khymerae as a screen and ablative wounds to protect the Razorwings from any instant death attacks. Even at 270 points plus the Baron it's a massive threat that cannot be ignored but is capable of absorbing a lot of enemy firepower and still arriving in combat with a fearsome number of rending attacks. Plus the Beastmasters can absorb challenges for the Baron.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Mon Jan 14 2013, 13:10

Count Adhemar wrote:
Plus the Beastmasters can absorb challenges for the Baron.


One of the most underrated abilities of the unit

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Mon Jan 14 2013, 21:28

I usually put a few beast masters near the front as well before charging as well. Because if they take a wound I try to look out sir so that I don't lose any inches on the charge. Even when advancing I'll sometimes put 2-3 up front to look out sir on the hounds also to not lose distance.


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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Sun Jan 20 2013, 11:02

This topic seems to have gone quiet now. I have incorporated the feedback here into the article, and I will get that uploaded to the master thread in a couple of days. If anyone has any more burning issues of flashes of insight, post them quick or you'll miss your chance Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Tue Jan 22 2013, 21:22

This is now up in the Master Thread. Now I have to find the time to write the Heavy Support section.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Wed Jan 23 2013, 00:22

Maybe make a note that if the baron joins the beast pack that if/when they charge and are charging through cover that the beast pack will have to roll for difficult terrain. So sometimes it might be a good idea to detatch the baron before assault. Unless I am wrong about this. But I a think that it works this way

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Wed Jan 23 2013, 07:58

colinsherlow wrote:
Maybe make a note that if the baron joins the beast pack that if/when they charge and are charging through cover that the beast pack will have to roll for difficult terrain. So sometimes it might be a good idea to detatch the baron before assault. Unless I am wrong about this. But I a think that it works this way

Depends on whether he used his jump pack in the movement phase. If he didn't he can use it in the assault phase and can ignore terrain (he gets an awesome hammer of wrath hit too!). However if he used it in the movement phase he can't use it in the assault phase and will have to make do with fleet an no hammer of wrath hits.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 4 - Fast Attack   Wed Jan 23 2013, 14:17

Just wanted to say, thanks for posting all of these, Plastikente. For someone new to DE, this series has been extremely informative and I really appreciate the effort you've gone through.

Looking forward to the heavy support section!
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