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 Tactica - The Kabal

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IASGATG
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PostSubject: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeFri Jul 22 2011, 17:35

IASGATG’s Dark Eldar Tactica: Part 1 - The Kabal

This is the first tactica I have ever written so I imagine this will go through several edits in the course of its existence. Now that disclaimer is out of the way, let's move onto why you’re here.

All of the suggestions made in this guide are projections of my own play experience with the new codex; it is entirely possible that feelers from the old edition will leak in, but I have endeavoured to avoid tactics based on the old codex and focus on the here and now. Since the book's release, I have play-tested a number of "extreme" lists (simply to see how far I can push certain units) as well as a number of more serious/conventional army lists.

I have gone out of my way to reduce each unit definition to its most basic details, and then build it back up again into the complex animal that it is, so without further ado, the tactica.

The units included in this tactica are:
- Archon
- Court of the Archon
- Incubi
- Kabalite Trueborn
- Kabalite Warriors
- Scourges

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Archons

The Archons are overlords of Dark Eldar Kabals, forming the highest echelon of Dark Elder society, reigning through a mixture of cunning and force. While the raids they launch in real-space can be enormous, it is but the tip of the iceberg. A pointy, horribly beweaponed, sadistic iceberg. They are undoubtedly the most important units in an army, and also the most formidable.

The first thing to consider is the Archon's point cost. He begins at a mere 60 points, making him a cheap HQ unit - the second cheapest in the Dark Eldar army. This 60 points can rapidly grow to over 150 as he brings more toys to the party; he is able to equip so much that he can become a one-man army, but it is rarely in your army's best interest to pile so many points onto one man. You have to remember that a single multi-laser can kill him in one round of shooting. Nevertheless, if you have points to dump onto someone, he is your man.

The greatest advantage presented by the Dark Elder is to be found in their physical attributes. They possess WS and BS equal or superior to that of Space Marines. Their initiative is as high or higher as that of their conventional Eldar cousins. Their enjoyment of, or indifference to, pain makes their leadership a solid resolve. The Archon, being a master of everything, has all but the highest scores in each of these attributes. He can personally destroy squads of battle hardened Space Marines without breaking a sweat, but an entourage is always required to absorb the fatal blows for him, which will be comprised by a number of individuals willing to die for his safety, from members of his own personal court all the way to Wyches and Warriors.

What toys does the Lord want to bring to his show? This depends on what his role is in the play. From my experience, I would suggest that the Dark Eldar have the highest number of instant-death weapons in any army. It is always tempting to bring out the big guns and show off, but rarely will you be fighting the Emperor of man. Think wisely, plan ten steps ahead - your retinue might be perfectly suited to handling most situations using the power weapons carried by Incubi, for example, so saving points might be a better bet. Alternatively, you may have a meat-shield of warriors surrounding him, making it wiser to equip him with an agonizer or husk-blade. Moreover, you might be fighting a horde of orks, where getting the greatest amount of attacks out of him would be of paramount importance. Be as flexible as a succubus.

As I mentioned before, the Archon can choose from a number of weapons, the cheapest of which is a Venom Blade, providing a solid 2+ to wound - perfect for fighting hordes or things with high toughness and, at its points cost, is a nice tool. Spend a few more points and you can take a power weapon, even more and you get into the scarier weapons. The Agonizer is a weapon that seems to be made for killing Gods: power weapon that wounds on a 4+ breaks just about everything. The Huskblade requires synergy which I will explain later. For now, it’s a power weapon that when it wounds, causes instant death - created to make Daemons cry.

The Archon also has open to him a set of weapons that I consider worthless; or at least, theme required. Djin blades and Electrocorrosive whips are not worth the points. The blade offers 2+ attacks, but the bonus comes at a price: a 1 in 6 chance of those attacks hitting you and losing the bonus. The whip is a tar-pitting weapon, something your Archon shouldn’t be doing. Finally the dreaded blast-pistol. Your Archon should not be shooting tanks. He shouldn’t be shooting. He should be breaking Imperial Guard in half and metaphorically eating their souls.

Moving on to the Miscellaneous wargear now, you have quite a few options. The Haywire grenades give him some very light AT potential. It’s not a solid AT choice, but it gives him a chance to do something. Personally I wouldn’t want to be charging him into tanks anyway, but for 5 points it isn’t a large huge cost if you wish to use them.

Ghostplate armour, Clone field and Shadow Field are all types of wargear that help to keep the Archon alive. Ghostplate is a reliable upgrade from that puny 5+ armour to something with a half decent armour save, as well as an invulnerable save for a cheap price. The Clone Field is more expensive, but is much more effective at protecting the Archon in close combat – particularly against units without too many attacks like terminators or walkers – and it will definitely keep him alive longer as he brings them down. However, against hordes of orks or tyranids, the clone field won’t be as effective. Similarly for the shadow field – it’s much better against smaller, more powerful attacks – because in a horde it’s destined to fail quickly.

When taking either a clone field or a shadow field, first think about the role of the Archon in your situation. If he is in a squad that is tough to bring down (such as a large squad of incubi or grotesques) then the clone field is the better upgrade – however, when in smaller squads where more wounds will be allocated to him, or when he is in units that swiftly give way to ranged attacks, the shadow field will be the best upgrade choice to ensure he is alive to reach combat. If you’re spending over 100 points on a single model, he’d better do something! (I should note that my Archon once fought a Defiler for 9 turns of close combat before the shadow field gave out. The Defiler lost all weapons and was immobilized.)

Before, I mentioned the synergy of the Huskblade; the Soul-Trap is a piece of wargear that makes this weapon even more dangerous. The only setback is that you must first kill an enemy IC or MC for it to kick in. This can be very hard when you start off at strength 3. However, once you do make that kill, you are now strength 6, rocking a weapon that instantly kills. Bam, another MC down, strength 10. You are a walking God. The biggest problem is, your Archon will be as expensive as hell - you’re looking at 135+pts.

The last two pieces of kit are the Phantasm Grenade launcher (PGL) and the Web Way Portal (WWP). The WWP is so complex that’ll have to come in a different tactica. At this point, I would recommend never taking it on the Archon, as he’s too busy ruining peoples lives to play with magic balls. Onto the PGL: whether to take this or not really comes down to who he’s walking with, as with the clone/shadow fields. If he’s with a squad that already has grenades, then gaining defensive grenades isn’t worth the 25 points cost. Alternatively, if the squad has no grenades, it can save the squads life. I would suggest that, when with a unit of trueborn or warriors, you use the upgrade character instead (it’s cheaper and does the same thing).

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Court of the Archon

The Court of the Archon is something that I have only played with on a couple of occasions. It has taken a fairly long time to get my head around this weird looking squad and required ten minutes with a pen and a calculator. I do suggest reading and subequently rereading the rules on these guys before even considering taking them. After running the numbers, they seemed pretty poor, however when you step back from the raw stats and look at the big picture, they do serve a purpose.
The Court of the Archon does not take the Archon’s IC status away from them.
Furthermore, the Court of the Archon does not even have to be joined by the Archon, it could even be joined by another IC.
A unit of 3 Sslyths and 5 Ur-ghuls makes for a very tough unit to bring down with a webway portal carrier inside.
The Lhamaean does not have to be joined by the Archon for the Archon to receive the poison upgrade for his pistol.
Half of the Court units don’t have Power from Pain. The rule on page 25 only states that the unit with the rule, not models, which means even though they don’t have power from pain themselves, as long as a model in the unit has power from pain, they all benefit from the pain tokens they have.
You have to include at least 1 of every type of unit in the Court of the Archon.



Lhamaeans
The Lhamaeans are basically warriors with poison weapons that wound on a 2+, in both combat and ranged. Considering they only cost one more point than warriors, they're actually economical, and they also make the splinter pistol your Archon carries much more dangerous. Though it’s a shame they don’t help the rest of the unit, they aren't bad for the price.


Medusae
Lethal when close enough. Think a liquefier, but more potent. The +1 to strength means that you will never be stuck on strength 1 when trying to roast some marines, and can even get up to strength 7. Regarding points cost, they are pretty cheap for their template attack, however their combat ability is very limited. Not the favourite member of the court of mine, Medusae tend to be the target of my first wound allocation.


Ur-Ghul
You’re looking at a badass close combat unit, as well as one which can soak up quite a bit of damage. 5 in a Court unit will dish out 20 S5 attacks at I6 on the charge – something which, at their low points cost, makes them a bargain! Feel No Pain adds a nice factor to them as well, but only being toughness 3 makes them a great deal easier to wound. Regardless, I don’t mind having a few of these to knock around.


Sslyth
Think a grotesque which sacrifices a wound for an extra attack and a shard carbine. Oh and armour. And fleet. This is the fastest, toughest monster you can charge into the enemy – especially when coupled with a handful of Ur-Ghuls. 5 attacks each on the charge at S5 is pretty nasty, and having shard carbines and BS4 makes them quite handy shooters too – and all for just 35 points. Feel No Pain gives them a nice toughness factor, making them ideal for use in a Court containing a webway portal.

So in summary of the Court of the Archon. I wouldn’t use it in competitive games, but considering they aren’t really that expensive, they can be good fun, and also nice cover when using webway portals in larger size games (using either these guys or grotesques as WWP escorts). Also, they offer a nice amount of conversion work to make the models, which plenty of players thrive on – and every Archon has the ability to create his own court to suit his desires – to look as he pleases.

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Incubi

The Incubi, Dark Eldar who translate war into an art. The original body guards of the Archon, now able to freely roam outside of the old codex’s restraints. Whilst not being his personal retinue, they are still the best choice for the task. They are also the hardest hitting unit the Dark Eldar have. Marines shall know no fear, but the player behind them isn’t so immune.

First, a word of warning - don’t get too excited with these ministers of death. This was something I learned in one of my first games by the new rules; though they can crush just about anything, charging into a squad of nobz will end badly. You will kill a lot of them, you just wont kill enough for it to be worth the counter-attack.

Regardless of this, though their toughness is 3, their 3+ save makes them a hard nut to crack. Once they have diced their first squad and gained FNP, it really does take a team equipped with power weapons to touch them.

There are several schools of thought surrounding how to upgrade the Incubi. As they are so damaging from the get go, making them more dangerous can seem like overkill and a major waste of points. Nine of them with an Archon is around 34 power weapon attacks on the charge. Do you really need more? If you feel you do, or if the squad is smaller or going solo, the Klaivex is brought in with his Demikalves. This weapon allows him to choose between hacking up hordes with two extra attacks or bosses with two extra strength.

More often than not, the strength is the better bet as you’ll be wounding on 2s and 3s most of the time. Once you get furious charge, you’ll be breaking open just about anything - gotta love pain tokens.

I quite like the Bloodstone, contrary to a number of other people. You are generally close enough to your target when you dismount the raider (via explosion, with alarming frequency) that you don’t need the extra 6” to run. The bloodstone provides you extra damage when hitting a very hard target. Be warned, however: you don’t want your target too soft. If you kill it in your turn, you’ll get torn asunder in your opponents shooting phase. Use with caution.

I wouldn’t touch Murderous Assault. For its points cost, it just isn’t worth it. Typically, your Archon will be pounding the hell out of whatever IC steps up to the mark. The only time it’d be useful is when fighting someone particularly scary, like Kharne or Abaddon. Not worth it.

Onslaught, however, makes Incubi extremely dangerous. The more Incubi you have, the more effective it becomes. You again run into the same hurdles as previous upgrades, with respect to points cost: you require lots of Incubi for it to be effective. It is quite expensive. If it’s too powerful you’ll regret it. You’ll be powerful enough with that many Incubi. I’d bring it if you’re playing a high points game, or you know you’re going up against someone who you want to demoralise, like the cocky Blood Angels player you have at your club.

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Kabalite Trueborn

Trueborn are perhaps the best warriors in the 40k universe; at least in this player's opinion. They are so versatile that they can fill any gap your army might have. They can be bristling with some of the most dangerous and rage-causing guns, or catch a know-it-all player off guard as they charge into melee with several dozen attacks.

With all Dark Eldar squads, you tend to want to be as pure as possible. Taking a bit of AT, a bit of AI and some CCW will just be a waste of points and time as you wont be good enough at any to achieve your goals. You should have a clear image in your mind of what you want each squad to achieve. With this, Trueborn are split into 3 basic outlines:

1. Assault squad – Dracon with Agoniser and PGL, 1 or 2 blasters for back-up AT support, and the rest with Pistols and CCWs

This squad is very good at spooking players who have fought Dark Eldar before, or have some idea of what the warriors do, either from your first couple of turns, or just intuition. Suddenly you’re wailing on them with 30+ attacks and they have to scramble something to come deal with this sudden shitstorm. Hopefully your raider is still intact (although I doubt it) and you’ve moved on before reinforcements can arrive. As mentioned, they are mounted on a raider that’s given both a flickerfield and a nightshield in order to try and keep it alive. If you you need points, lose both, it’s only an optional extra.

2. Anti-Infantry squad – All models with shard carbines or splinter cannons, perhaps 1 or 2 blasters for back-up AT support.

Something I have been fielding recently, and to great success. The sheer number of shots you can unleash on a target is outstanding. If you can afford the raider for them, they are a highly mobile platform of death. If not, they will be taking their time getting about the battlefield. OR you can have them walking across the battlefield whilst you buy a naked Venom with 2 splinter cannons. A couple of my friends were shocked and confused when they saw this, shaking their heads. Until my opponents realised just how damaging a little skimmer roaming about can be.

3. Anti-Vehicle squad – Models with maxed out blasters for mobile AT support – possibly dark lances if the squad will be stationed in the one spot for the entire game (preferably in cover)

I don’t know if I have ever fielded an army without 4 Trueborn with 4 Blasters on a Venom. I don’t think I ever will (apart from Wych themed lists). For 163 (173 for 2 SCs) points you get so much raw damage that moves very swiftly. When moving in formation with other skimmers, the enemy can find it particularly hard to hit it until it’s too late. Bam and 2 terminators are gone.

The last weapon in their arsenal is the Shredder. This heap of junk is only useful when fighting players who are too lazy to spread out their hordes. For the same price, you can get a shard carbine that has an effective range greater by 6 inches and guarantees 3 shots. The only benefit they have is that they can nibble rhinos - that’s about it.

One final note: do not take a Dracon in any squad that isn’t going assault. It’s a waste of points.

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Kabalite Warriors

The GI Joe of the Dark Eldar. These guys are frequently complained about as being “overpowered” due to their stats - comparable to Space Marines - for a mere 9 points. They do have great stats, and can be given amazing toys, but they are very squishy. T3 and 5+ saving throw means they have to live in the shrubberies their whole life, probably a major source of their hate.

These guys come in a number of different flavours. Whilst very similar to Trueborn, due to their inherent weaknesses, they are more suited for more passive roles:
(I personally would not use them in assault - ever. Although they can compliment wyches to draw off attacks and pile more attacks in, it tends to be a waste of points.)

1. Airborne Harassment units – mounted on a raider. 10 warriors including a splinter cannon. Fly to a position on turn 1, then sit there and shoot anything near. Fly somewhere else when the targets have gone. Also good for late objective grabbing. If the raider dies, who cares – it’s a 10 man warrior squad for a hundred points!
2. Ground Harassment units – Same as above, but not mounted in a raider. Instead these guys footslog, or sit in cover, just silently picking off enemies, making targets of themselves. Just remember how soft they are – if a Space Marine player gets fed up with you, you will lose the squad in a small squirt of bolter fire.
3. AT Support units – Sitting in over or on an objective with a dark lance and a blaster, these squads provide some good AT, particularly in bulk. The biggest drawback is that you’re basically paying 115-130 points for 1 guy shooting once a turn. Very expensive for a basic objective holder, but effective nonetheless.

As with the Trueborn, upgrading one to a Sybrite is a waste of points. You’re gaining 1 leadership for 10 points whilst losing a shot. Burn those points elsewhere.

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Scourges

The new Scourges are a gift and a curse. They are the strongest ranged anti-infanty unit we have. I tend to just take ten of them on their own. That’s 30 shots at 18”, for 220 points. Highly mobile and deep-strikeable, they can appear, cause a ton of damage, then sod off.

They can be upgraded if you like, giving them splinter cannons for even more killing power, or turn them into anti-tank machines; giving them Dark Lances is an option, although you lose all mobility and taking a Ravager is typically a better option - I cannot think of a reason why it wouldn’t be, in point of fact. Haywire blasters are okay, but I have yet to find a scenario for which other AT weapons aren’t better suited. The Heat Lance is a new toy - basically a melta with a pretty good effective range; the issue is just how close you have to get in order to be effective. As mentioned, you can deep-strike, a tactic which rests on how daring you are willing to be. Your final option is the good old blaster, great range for the weapon and can nut just about any tank.

Herein lies the curse. Dark Eldar can kill men till the cows come home. Yet we always have trouble with armour, so you'll want more AT. Scourges are good AT, but not the best in our army. So taking them might be counterproductive to our goals. Especially with Scourges only having 2/5 of your models having AT weapons, the rest will be a waste of points.

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More to come shortly, or longly, depending on my free time.

Thanks to various sources who have given me help and inspiration in writing this tactica.

Disclaimer: It has been several months since I wrote this and at some point I will go over and review this tactica, changing my belief's and advice accordingly. Until that point, treat it accordingly.
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Local_Ork
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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 00:43

Hmm... why not add Kabal specials? They help and alter way you mau play (like Duke, he make Venom drop very, very good). This apply to rest tacticas too (frankly, I just can't see Coven without Supergrots)...

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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 00:46

One, because this was written before the meta-game really had time to develop. Razz
Two, because I was going to put all the special characters together in their own tactica and highlight key things.
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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 01:11

Hmm... considering Duke can be useful in either Kabal, Wych cult and some hybris builds quite reasonable.

However, we (You and users) need to look closer at rules - for example I've found one error in Court interpretation (actually, PfP rule)

Q: When a unit comprised of some models with Power
from Pain and some without has a pain token, does the
effect it gives apply to every model in the unit or just to the
models with the Power from Pain special rule? (p25)
A: It only applies to the models with the Power from Pain
special rule.

So while Fearless do apply to whole package, FC and FNP don't and that may affect their performance (check how that affect Beasts). But hey, that happen to all of us from time to time.

[hmm, I should fix that piece of turd, I should keep promise Sad]

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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 01:14

As the disclaimer at the bottom says, I wrote this pretty much like a month after the codex was released. The FAQ wasn't out yet to fix these errors, so there are bound to be old school rule errors in there. I remember when Beasts would get pain tokens.. Mmm...
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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 07:23

Also, a Sybarite doesn't actually have to replace his splinter rifle with a pistol and ccw, it's just an option they have. Still, 10 points to boost ld of a Warrior unit may not be the bets investment, unless you intend to use them as your main objective grabbers and want to keep them from running.

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PostSubject: Re: Tactica - The Kabal   Tactica - The Kabal I_icon_minitimeSat Jul 23 2011, 10:15

I disagree, unless using the 5 man throw away blaster units, i would be adding sybarites to units just for the LD bonus. 10 models or more for sure!

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