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 Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica

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Plastikente
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PostSubject: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 25 2012, 17:37

Those of you who know me from 40ko online will know that I am currently working on a bit of an ambitious project - a guide to every unit in our Codex (in the context of 6th Edition). The master plan is to present this guide in six parts:
  1. General DE Tactica
  2. Core Units (HQ, Troops and Dedicated Transports)
  3. Elites
  4. Fast Attack
  5. Heavy Support
  6. Special Characters

I would love to get feedback from the community here as well, and will be happy to incorporate any valid points into the final article, with credit (and a certain mod has said the final product may well get stickied here Smile )
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EDIT: By popular demand, now with cyan headings!

DARK ELDAR TACTICA

More than any other army in 40k, the Dark Eldar are a glass hammer. You must hit the enemy first, on your own terms, and with overwhelming force, because you are too fragile to last if you don’t.

Power from Pain. One of the unique advantages that the Dark Eldar bring is the Power from Pain special rule. Almost every unit in your list has this rule (only vehicles and non-DE miss out), which allows you to get more powerful as you destroy enemy (non-vehicle) units. It is always worth keeping an eye out for weak enemy to pick off, gaining those vital buffs for your units. Take particular note of the Sharing the Pain rules on p25 of the Codex. This basically allows independent characters to be used to move pain tokens around your army – a great way to make some of your fragile units a little tougher from the beginning.

Fight on Your Own Terms. The Dark Eldar are fast, manoeuvrable, and have a lot of dirty tricks up their sleeves. They are also very fragile. The way to win with DE is to ensure that you only ever fight on your own terms. Block enemy lines of sight, gang up on parts of his line, only let him charge you when you want him to, and never let him shoot at you if you can possibly avoid it (tricky one, I know). To achieve this, there are some key weapons in your arsenal:
  • Night Vision. Almost every unit in your force has Night Vision – make the most of this advantage when Night Fighting is in force by sniping the enemy with no disadvantage whilst your own cover save is improved to 2+ at the right range.
  • Fast Open-topped Transports. These give you the speed and manoeuvrability to relocate your foot-units, applying overwhelming force to limited portions of the enemy’s line.
  • Fleet. Most of your units have Fleet. Linked with the transports, this gives you that bit more reach and reliability when charging the enemy.
  • Two-turn Close Combat. This is the golden target to aim for with your assaults. If you wipe the enemy out with your charge then you will often be left in the open for his shooting to mop up. If you can get just the right balance to overrun him on the second round (in his turn) then you can consolidate ready to redeploy, hide, or (best of all) charge something new.
  • Placing Terrain and Objectives Dark Eldar in the open are dead. Always ensure that there is sufficient terrain on the table to give you a fighting chance, including at least 2-3 sizeable pieces which you can obscure a Raider behind, if not hide it completely. Similarly, be intelligent when placing objectives. If you are planning an all-out rush, place as many objectives as possible in the opponent’s deployment zone. If you’ve got one sit-back-and-shoot squad, give it an objective in ruins to sit on in you deployment zone. [Taken to an extreme, these sort of tactics may be considered cheesy and/or lose you friends. Only you can be the judge of how far you want to push things. As the rules stand, placement of terrain and objectives are a part of the whole tactical experience and you are free to use them to your best advantage. I would expect nothing less of any under-handed, scheming Archon.]
  • Winning Victory Points Dark Eldar don’t really have any units that are well suited to sitting and holding an objective (ie. scoring units which are tough with a good save or numerous enough to take casualties). Instead, you will probably need to play by swooping on objectives during the closing stages of the game. Keep a close eye on Victory Points and how to get more from turn 4 onwards, otherwise you may find yourself dominating most of the board but lacking the only thing which is actually vital to win!

Poisoned shooting. All Dark Eldar small arms used poisoned ammo. This is a real advantage against high toughness enemies. The big disadvantage is that these weapons have no effect on vehicles. Because of this, you need to give some real thought at the army selection phase to ensure that you have enough firepower to take out whatever you come across. Fortunately, the Dark Eldar have access to plenty of weapons which do cause big trouble for vehicles:
  • Darklight. Darklight weapons are awesome anti-vehicle weapons. Due to the lance special rule, every hit will have no worse than a 50% chance of doing something. Dark Lances are the longest-ranged AT weapon available to the Dark Eldar.
  • Haywire For causing at least some damage, haywire is even more reliable than Dark Light. There is less chance of getting a penetrating hit (with that chance of a one-shot kill), but you can reliably stack up glances, and in 6e that means that the enemy vehicle will die eventually.
  • Heat Lances Shorter-ranged than Dark Lances or Haywire Blasters (but not as short as Blast Pistols or Haywire Grenades), heat lances start to get really effective if you are willing to get in close, because under half range the melta effect kicks in, and their AP gives you a decent chance at getting a one-shot kill on your target.

If you want a bit more of a feel for the effectiveness of these options, have a look at the Mathhammer section later in this article.

Don’t Walk. With very few exceptions, footslogging DE have had it. Low T and Sv mean that they can’t last out of cover, and can’t move very fast within it (even with Fleet). As a result, the vast majority of DE lists fall into one of two categories:
  • Raider Rush. In these lists, the majority of units will be embarked in Raiders or Venoms, giving them the speed and manoeuvrability to close with the enemy, where they can either assault or hose them down with rapid firing splinter weapons.
  • Webway Portals (WWP). These lists will involve at least one character carrying a WWP, and a sizeable contingent held in reserve to enter via the portal once deployed. As it is no longer possible to assault out of a WWP in 6th Ed, these lists are no longer as powerful as they used to be, but can still be a viable method of getting nasty units close to the enemy without walking. If this tactic is the major focus of the list, 2 WWPs will reduce risk (otherwise a first turn kill might force all your reserves to arrive at your board edge). The WWP caddy will usually begin the game embarked in a transport to get him as far forward as possible in turn one to drop the portal in an advantageous position (ie one where units deploying from it can get some cover next turn and be ready to assault the turn after). Due to the deployment rules, the best you can manage is 6” move, 6” disembark and drop the portal just over the centreline. If you have 2 portals, the second caddy can wait a further turn to drop his well into the enemy deployment zone.


Don’t buy too many toys. DE have access to a massive range of wargear. Resist the temptation to spend too many of your points on it. Because DE die so easily, 2 bodies with basic attacks are very often better than one body with super attacks; when that 1 person dies, he takes all his toys with him.

BRING OUT THE MATHHAMMER

I’m going to do a bit of number crunching here, which the unit specific posts will refer back to. I’ve looked at the effects of various weapons on different opponents. These are:
  1. A standard Space Marine (MEQ)
  2. A standard Terminator (TEQ)
  3. A bog standard Imperial Guardsman (GEQ)
  4. My representative Monstrous Creature, WS5, T7, Sv3+(MC)

All fractions are given to 3 decimal places.

Shooting at people. The following table shows the chance a Kabalite Warrior has of inflicting a wound with 1 shot from the stated weapon.

Weapon vs MEQ vs TEQ vs GEQ vs MC
Splinter Weapon 0.111 0.056 0.333 0.111
Darklight Weapon 0.556 0.370 0.556 0.444

Shooting at vehicles. The following table shows the chance of getting no effect/glancing hit/penetrating hit with 1 hit from the stated weapon (remember this does not factor in the roll to hit in the first place).

Weapon AV10 AV11 AV12 AV13 AV14
Darklight 0.167/0.167/0.667 0.333/0.167/0.500 0.500/0.167/0.333 0.500/0.167/0.333 0.500/0.167/0.333
Heat Lance (long range) 0.500/0.167/0.333 0.667/0.167/01.67 0.833/0.167/- 0.833/0.167/- 0.833/0.167/-
Heat Lance (melta range) 0.083/0.083/0.833 0.167/0.111/0.722 0.278/0.139/0.583 0.278/0.139/0.583 0.278/0.139/0.583
Haywire 0.167/0.667/0.167 0.167/0.667/0.167 0.167/0.667/0.167 0.167/0.667/0.167 0.167/0.667/0.167
The probability of getting a penetrating hit from any hit on an enemy vehicle is illustrated in the chart below:
Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica 8159431134_dcfdeaf01e_o

If you manage to get a penetrating hit, then your chance of destroying the opposing vehicle is:

Weapon Chance of destroying per penetrating hit
Darkight 0.333
Heat Lance 0.500
Haywire 0.167
Power Weapons. With the advent of 6th Edition, everyone suddenly got access to a range of power weapons, each suited to certain jobs. I have mathhammered the chances of a Sybarite/Hekatrix getting a wound from one attack with each weapon:
Weapon vs MEQ vs TEQ vs GEQ vs MC
Power Sword 0.167 0.028 0.333 -
Power Axe 0.250 0.167 0.444 0.083
Power Maul 0.111 0.056 0.556 0.028
Power Lance (charging) 0.250 0.042 0.444 0.083
Power Lance (subsequent) 0.056 0.028 0.333 -
From this breakdown, a power axe looks like the way forward, however “unwieldy” is a big disadvantage. Dark Eldar live by striking first, because you are too weedy to take much incoming damage. I would avoid axes for this reason.
Power mauls are useful in their place, with an obvious downside when they meet power armour. I avoid them because there is a lot of MEQ in my local meta, but they are a good choice for beating through lightly armoured hordes.
Power Lances have potential, allowing you to strike hard on the charge and punch through power armour. You lose power after that initial hit, but if you judge it right you can maim a squad in round 1, mop up in round 2 and be ready to charge someone new by your turn.
The boring old power sword remains my personal favourite (I need to chop through MEQ every turn). This main disadvantage is your inability to take on T7+ (like my example MC), unless you can find some other way to buff your strength.
As all power weapons cost the same, which one you take really comes down to a personal and modelling preference. Choose the one that suits you and convert your models to match it.

Huskblades, Venom Blades and Agonisers. The usefulness of these weapons is a subject of much debate on the boards, so I thought I would devote a little time to the issue. Once again, here are the wound probabilities for a Sybarite/Hekatrix making 1 attack with the stated weapon:

Weapon vs MEQ vs TEQ vs GEQ vs MC
Huskblade 0.167 0.111 0.333 -
Venom Blade 0.139 0.069 0.370 0.139
Agoniser 0.250 0.042 0.333 0.250
As is fairly obvious from the table, each weapon excels against 1 of my standardised foes. The debate comes because there is a big difference in price for these weapons, and opinions vary on whether the cost is worth the effect. Personally, I use all 3 weapons from time to time, and suggestions for where to use them are made in the unit specific articles which follow.

Combat Drugs. A number of Dark Eldar units use combat drugs, the effects of which you roll for at the beginning of the game (see Dark Eldar Codex, p25). Of those available, 4 buff your combat ability (more on that later), one buffs your survivability (Splintermind), and one makes you a bit faster on foot (Hypex). Sadly, this last result is next to useless in 6e, as you can no longer run and charge, but it might give you that vital sprint to get some cover if there’s nothing to assault. To assess the value of the other drugs, I will make reference to the unit that makes most use of them: Wyches. The following table gives the chances of a Wych getting a wound with 1 attack made with a standard close combat weapon:

Drug vs MEQ vs TEQ vs GEQ vs MC
No drugs 0.056 0.028 0.222 -
Serpentin 0.074 0.037 0.222 -
Grave Lotus 0.083 0.042 0.296 0.028
Painbringer 0.093 0.046 0.333 -
Adrenalight 0.083 0.042 0.333 -
Notes:
  • I have decided to treat this as wounds per attack rather than wounds per Wych in order to allow direct comparison with the other stats I have provided elsewhere. In many ways, wounds per Wych is a more useful figure, and can be obtained by multiplying the results given here (except for Adrenalight –see the drug-specific note which follows).
  • Serpentin doesn’t aid performance against Guardsmen as the Wyches were already at an advantage.
  • Grave Lotus allows Wyches to at least have a chance of hurting T7+. It also gives less bonus to models with poisoned weapons, and none to those with Agonisers.
  • Painbringer has no effect on models armed with Razorflails.
  • Adrenalight adds extra attacks, so I have treated it in this table by adding 50% to the damage caused by a single attack. This represents the case of a standard Wych (not charging), which is when this drug has the greatest effect as a proportion of the attacks the model gets anyway.

So what? Well, if you value all-out killiness over other possible benefits of the combat drugs (such as FnP from that bonus Pain Token), then Painbringer is the result to pray for when you make your sacrifices to the dice gods (or cheat). This knowledge is also useful if you’re using Duke Sliscus (my HQ of choice) with his ability to influence the roll on the drugs table.

I’m going to leave the discussion of the general principals for playing with Dark Eldar there; future articles will take a closer look at specific units.


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Mushkilla
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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 25 2012, 18:57

Great write up, a few suggestions:

-Fleet: also makes DE units great at charging out/into cover (you lose about an 1" average charge range, and are still more reliable at charging than units without fleet in open terrain!). The important part to consider is charging out of cover, as overwatch is resolved before you move the units, this mean if you start your charge in cover you get a nice cover save against overwatch. This ties in really well with PGLs as they grant stealth (+1 to cover saves) within 8". Conveniently the average charge range of a unit with fleet through cover is 8"!

-Power axes are worth considering on Homunculus as they are only initiative 4 and have access to 10pt power weapons (15pts for all other characters). This can give some much needed S4-5 AP2 attacks to wrack and grotesque units.

-This is just a personal opinion I would suggest changing the titles from blue to cyan as it ties in better with the sites theme and background.

Look forward to the next instalment keep up the good work! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 25 2012, 20:47

Mushkilla wrote:

-This is just a personal opinion I would suggest changing the titles from blue to cyan as it tie in better with the sites theme and background.

Look forward to the next instalment keep up the good work! Very Happy

I second both these points. I had to highlight the title with the mouse to read it. And keep up the good work! Looks like it'll be a great read when it's finished.
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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 25 2012, 21:17

mug7703 wrote:
Mushkilla wrote:

-This is just a personal opinion I would suggest changing the titles from blue to cyan as it tie in better with the sites theme and background.

Look forward to the next instalment keep up the good work! Very Happy

I second both these points. I had to highlight the title with the mouse to read it. And keep up the good work! Looks like it'll be a great read when it's finished.

I third the above points, but also I have to point out you've put a Huskblade on a Sybraite/Hekatrix....only Archon's, Ancient Haemonculi and normal Haemonculi can have Huskblades...

Looking forward to seeing more.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 25 2012, 23:00

Mushkilla wrote:
Great write up, a few suggestions:

-Fleet: also makes DE units great and charging out/into cover (you lose about an 1" average charge range, and are still more reliable at charging than units without fleet in open terrain!). The important part to consider is charging out of cover, as overwatch is resolved before you move the units, this mean if you start your charge in cover you get a nice cover save against overwatch. This ties in really well with PGLs as they grant stealth (+1 to cover saves) within 8". Conveniently the average charge range of a unit with fleet through cover is 8"!

-Power axes are worth considering on Homunculus as they are only initiative 4 and have access to 10pt power weapons (15pts for all other characters). This can give some much needed S4-5 AP2 attacks to wrack and grotesque units.

Point taken on both of those. I'll include them in the final version.

KnightSeerValkia wrote:
I third the above points, but also I have to point out you've put a Huskblade on a Sybraite/Hekatrix....only Archon's, Ancient Haemonculi and normal Haemonculi can have Huskblades...
Yeah, I was just trying to point out the WS that the stats were worked out for. I could just as easily make that read "...the wound probabilities for a Haemonculus making 1 attack with the stated weapon".

Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeMon Nov 26 2012, 07:04

Plastikente wrote:

Point taken on both of those. I'll include them in the final version.

They were just suggestions, it's tough with an introduction/general overview as you don't necessarily want to go into too much detail. I was just putting them out there for inclusion at some point in the guide (whether in the introduction, under cult or coven units). Just getting as much information that you might not have considered on the table so that you can pick and choose.

Plastikente wrote:

Yeah, I was just trying to point out the WS that the stats were worked out for. I could just as easily make that read "...the wound probabilities for a Haemonculus making 1 attack with the stated weapon".

I think this is a tough one. I understand what you are trying to do (demonstrate the options are effective against X target), however the inclusion of huskblade leads to a lot of confusion. I would consider a comparison of venom blades and agonisers on our squad leaders, who all have the same stats, and give the husk blade a separate mention. Personally I think this would be more useful as the huskblade is really a duelling weapon. In short I think the huskblade throws this example out of kilt and should be mentioned separately. Something along the lines of:

Huskblade the only I7 AP2 instant death power weapon in the game!

Again just putting options/suggestions out there. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeMon Nov 26 2012, 23:35

So, having considered the points received so far, I'm going to make the following additions/edits to the article:

Additions to the "Fight on your own terms" list:
  • Fleet. Most of your units have Fleet. Linked with the transports, this gives you that bit more reach and reliability when charging the enemy. To get the best results from Fleet (statistically), you should keep 4+s and re-roll anything 1s, 2s and 3s. Doing this gives you an average charge range of 8.5”, falling to 7.318” if you charge through difficult terrain. Non-fleet units charge 7” on average, and only 5.542” through terrain.
  • Strike from Cover. Overwatch hurts. Because your units are so fragile, even a couple of lucky hits will usually knock down one or two of your fighters. Overwatch occurs before any models are moved, so if you are in cover when you charge you will get cover save against it (and stealth, if you are within 8” and have a Phantasm Grenade Launcher). As pointed out above, your Fleet units can still expect to make a 7” charge, even when leaping through the scenery.

Change to comment on power axes:
As a rule, Dark Eldar live by striking first, because you are too weedy to take much incoming damage. That said, Haemonculi are unusual in that they have a bit more staying power (higher T and FnP), and their I isn’t that great anyway. For these characters, it can be well worth trading off the speed (they’ll hit last anyway against any decent CC model) to hit hard when you do hit.

And some more mathhammer, because I love it!
Last off, a little something about being Fleet ... by choosing to re-roll the die if it comes up less than a certain number, you can reduce the probability of getting values equal or below that number, and increase the probability of getting values above that number. I ran the maths for the average D6 result when re-rolling anything below a 6, then below a 5, and so on. The results are illustrated on the table below:
Re-Roll Expectation
No re-roll 3.500
5 or less 3.917
4 or less 4.167
3 or less 4.250
2 or less 4.167
1s 3.917
So any re-roll gives you a better run on average than no re-roll, but to get the best chances (statistically speaking), you should keep 4+s, and re-roll anything else. That’s actually fairly intuitive, but it’s nice to have the maths to back it up.
Using this principle, I then drew a graph to show the probability of getting each distance when rolling to charge, doing so with Fleet, charging through difficult terrain, and doing that with Fleet.
Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica 7584531298_4bfe73e1d6_b
As you can see in each case there is a most likely result (the Modal Average), but there is also an average charge distance (the Mean Average, or Expectation), which is as follows:
Charge7”
Charge through Terrain5.542”
Fleet Charge8.5”
Fleet Charge through Terrain7.318”
I thought over Mush's comment on Venom Blade/Agoniser/Huskblade, and I'm going to leave this bit as it stands. This is only the intro article, and all of those weapons will get a bit more analysis when I look at individual units which can choose them.

Any further feedback is still welcome Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeTue Nov 27 2012, 07:21

Great stuff! Havent checked the fleet maths (too early in the morning) however bellow is the most accurate calculation of it I have seen on the internet so far:

Average Charge Ranges and Rerolls

On another note if you give me your optimal dice re-roll algorithm I can make a brute force mean calculation using java (to double check things).

Also this is the green(#33CC99) the site uses, if you think that would work better for your headers.

Hope that helps. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeTue Nov 27 2012, 12:48

I've posted my methods for the Fleet calculations in another thread, because I thought the detail was a bit off-topic. You can find it here.

That link you posted looks quite interesting too, but I haven't had the opportunity to give it a decent read through yet.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeTue Nov 27 2012, 18:27

Ok... after that extensive read (all of which is amazing btw) I am here to give you my comments.

I know it would mess up your stats completely, but I feel its better to throw in the to hit roll as well. For the simple fact that its completely skewed the numbers due to not having the probability of missing in the equation. Sure, we could just simply say "assume every shot/attack hit" which is what you did, but most of your general reader is going to miss that statement, and take those numbers as law, which distorts the effectiveness of the weapons in question.

This is such a small complaint though, and would require massive amounts of work to accomidate, so dont just do it due to my oppinion, but take it from a mathhamer guy, Its better being thorough than having that small place for error.

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PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeTue Nov 27 2012, 20:10

Thanks for the feedback. The wound stats do all include a roll to hit, although maybe this isn't clear. All rolls to hit were worked out at the WS/BS of a Warrior/Wych/Sybarite/Hekatrix/Haemonculus in order to make all the stats comparable. The place where this may be misleading is probably the huskblade, because generally you will only give one to your Archon, who will be striking at a higher WS. I feel that sort of detail is better discussed in the unit guides which will follow, rather than the general intro bit.

The one exception I made was for vehicles. Because we're not just looking at wounds, but various different types of damaging hit (glance/pen), I left all those as the probability that one hit would cause x result. I'm still not convinced it's worth changing those numbers (which generally just means multiplying by 2/3) unless you really feel strongly about it.

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Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica Empty
PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitimeWed Nov 28 2012, 15:23

oh ok, I thought that the statement regarding the shot against the tank applied to all your stats. maybe underline that in your final draft to make it more clear. Other than that, it looks great. Cant wait till you get to units Very Happy

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Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica Empty
PostSubject: Re: Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica   Plastikente's Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 1 - General Tactica I_icon_minitime

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