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 Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets

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PostSubject: Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets   Fri Jan 10 2014, 16:57

Pull up a chair there, young bloods, It’s time to draw some Hydra Knives to duel my Razorsnare and Falchion combo, and welcome back to Old Archon Discusses… wherein I reminisce about the mysteries of the Dark Eldar because so few of you are old enough to remember us from back in our ancient birth in...3rd edition.

Tonight Old Archon is going to discuss...the balance of starter sets!


Old Archon was plugging around these so-called “Webs” which are of such inferiority to our “Webways” and while he was in a forum he heard some young pup complaining about the “balance” of the Dark Vengeance Starter Set. Apparently this player, and others, felt that the Space Marine Force was a bit stronger than the Chaos side. You see, in a fight, apparently the Space Marines have more AP2 which the Chaos side lacks, making the Termies hard to kill, while the Marines have multiple models that can kill most of the Chaos force.

This brought up discussion of the Assault on Black Reach box, wherein it was discussed that the Dreadnaught was unfair, as the Orks only had 2 units that could harm it, the Warboss and the Deffcoptas…never mind that the Warboss plus some boyz would pretty much stomp that Dread to death in a few moments while all the Dread managed was cracking a few 6pt boyz headz – but there was outrage about the lack of balance!

Balance I say! People say this is all because GW wants to sell…the Sphess Mehreenz!

But, hold up a second here guys, I’m looking at these sets and I see them looking pretty balanced, really. I mean, what’s the issue? Both of these starter sets have the armies mismatched by around 100 points or so each, and have a few units that are hard for one enemy army to kill as they only really have a chance to kill it with 2 or so units.

Not models. Units.

What was that?
Why would I bring up models?
Oh…well…did you realize that, back in the day, the Dark Eldar were part of a starter set?

Yeah! I mean, sure it featured Sphess Mehreenz too, but the 3rd edition starter box also had, as the dread opponents of the Marines, the mightiest and best race in the galaxy, the Dark Eldar! That makes us, the Nids, the Orks (x2), and Chaos (and 5x Sphess Mehreenz) the only armies ever featured in a starter set!

Also, for those who whine about point imbalance, have no fear, back in 3rd edition the designers knew what the hell they were doing, the two armies only had a 39 point difference to them (well, it *could* go up to a 54 point difference, but that’s still *way* better than 100+)! Yeeeeeah, pretty swanky and well balanced.

On top of that it came with the *full sized* BBB (Big Black Book) which also included the rules for every army in the game, meaning you were good to go, codex free! (albeit the codices gave you better rules and pricing, but hey…)

You also got some solid terrain, the ol’ jungle trees that all Catachan armies know and love/loathe, as well as the iconic corner ruin pieces, which are one of the coolest bits of terrain GW ever produced in my opinion.

But…game balance…? Let’s consider if there was better game balance then…

GW prides itself on game balance after all

Yeah…well…about that.

Let’s see if I can run this down right;

DE Army
2x 10 man squad of Warriors (Ld 8)w. Sybarite (functionally a downgrade they paid for) and a Splinter Cannon

That’s it.

SM Army

10 Man Tactical Squad (you may combat squad) w. Sarge, Missile Launcher and Flamer.

…oh, yeah, and a LANDSPEEDER.

So allow me to break down the basic battle for you.
The Space Marine player would sit back, firing missiles at you until you moved up at least into range with your splinter cannons (forget about your rifles, you weren’t getting anywhere near range with them yet)

Each missile, barring shocking scatter, was going to kill about 2 Deldar per hit. No armor save.

Once you got your S. Cannons in range (Turn 2, more than likely) you could fire 4 shots, at S4 BS 4 versus his 3+ save. So, 8 shots all told = Odds are, between both Cannons, you would kill 1 Space Marine.

At this stage he could glide up his Landspeeder to fire its heavy bolter at you in reply (he could also still shoot missiles at you, and depending how aggressive you had been he could also manage some bolter shots now – your rifles still would not have managed to fire) The Landspeeder’s H.Bolter is probably killing 1-2 Deldar, add in the additional 2 from the missile and you’ll be lucky if that squad passes its morale this turn.

Let’s presume you hit a miracle and both of your squads are still alive, not running, and both still have the S.Cannon. You now get you chance to harm the Landspeeder. 8 shots, you need a 6 to glance it. Next round the Space Marines will basically bolter and missile whatever you still have left standing to death.

You can’t try to sit back and make them come to you either, because the Landspeeder is always faster and thus outranges you, and the Missile Launcher, likewise, can always outrange you – so the Space Marines are either just fighting your S. Cannons, or will always get to shoot their bolters at you before you can fire your splinter rifles.

You also wound them on 5+ with them having a 3+ save versus the s.rifles. They wound you on 3+ and no armor save is allowed. The flamer and missile launcher pretty much kill you outright. To put this in perspective, remember people complaining about the Dark Vengeance box and killing the Termies? Basically now imagine all the Dark Angels are Termies. Oh, and remember how Black Reach was unbalanced because only two units could harm the Dread? Make the Dread faster and able to outrange anything that can harm it, and drop it from two units to two *models*, if those models become dead then it becomes invincible for the rest of the game and can win by itself as the other Sphess Mehreens grunt, flex their muscles, and look manly for the little kiddies.

In the grim future the last hope for mankind is poorly balanced battles

Remember when the Space Marines were the last desperate thin line and just died heroically trying to hold back the alien tides? I do…but it wasn’t like that in 3rd edition.

Balance and our very own starter set.
Old Archon remembers...


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PostSubject: Re: Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets   Sat Jan 11 2014, 09:31

I started my DE with that box. Balanced indeed.
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PostSubject: Re: Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets   Sat Jan 11 2014, 10:08

I remember that box, and it's also where my army started. I remember most games my friends and I played with it, we'd just lose the Land Speeder and the Marines would still lend me a kicking.
Still, with the terrain in the box as well it was a decent value starter set. I'd only recently gotten into the game before this edition was released, and it helped hook me in.
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PostSubject: Re: Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets   Sat Jan 11 2014, 15:37

I do agree about the value of the box. The terrain bitz were excellent (and I still use them to this day, plus some additionals I've nabbed) the BBB was awesome to get and really helped suck you into the hobby, and...well...at least the landspeeder was crazy hard to assemble neatly, so at least you paid an emotional penance when using it.

I do agree that, even without the Landspeeder, the Marines were kind of favored in dealing with the DE. Never tried it, but I'm not surprised it would end poorly for them.


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PostSubject: Re: Old Archon Discusses...Starter Sets   Sun Jan 12 2014, 03:46

Ah I remember that box...its actually how I started my destiny into 40k and space marines. I have no idea what happenned to those DE...i occasionally find a random bit at home...recently a head with a knife i had glued into it for some random decoration bit way way back. Little did I know I would one day actually start a DE army! Smile

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