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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Armies in 5th: Dark Eldar Part 4: Mobility

Dark Eldar are a mobile army. This much should be obvious. Not only are all of their vehicles fast skimmers but the majority of their units have fleet and higher than average initiative (5+) with the option to raise it through furious charge. This stat combination with an impressive Fast Attack (Scourges, Hellions, Reavers and Beastmastes) and a 12” moving Troop with the Baron. Beyond this, some of the Dark Eldar units can move up to 36”, firing more effectively on the move and come out of a web way portal. However, every unit which doesn’t move over 6” except the Talos and Cronos, has the option to use one of the Dark Eldar transports or can come through the WWP. All of these combines to make DE mech, hybrid and foot lists effective and fast. Speed is a hall-mark of DE lists and is quite distinctive from other fast lists such as Eldar and Blood Angels. Let’s look at some of these differences.

First off, mobility allows board control flexibility. By being mobile you can get where you need to go when you need to go. With the advent of run into 5th edition, even foot armies are pretty fast but the advantage of mech in this regard is the reliability of their movement. Furthermore, fast armies get an extra 6-12” over even normal mech armies and Dark Eldar get a further advantage over fast armies. Certain units such as Reavers, Razorwings and Voidbombers can move 36” and Raiders can take the Aethersails upgrade which allows an extra (random) 12” movement in lieu of shooting and disembarking. What this means is the DE army is even faster than normal fast armies and that extra 12” move can allow more effective relocation and entering from reserve.

The combination of having open-topped transports and this speed is also a rather unique combination. The true fast armies in Eldar and Blood Angels are generally not assault oriented when using their tanks as they are not assault vehicles and DE are significantly different from Orks in not relying upon numbers, being able to get 4+ moving fast saves, having 5+ invulnerable saves, moving faster and being able to get lots of fast transports/vehicles in all slots. This combination of factors makes Dark Eldar a very hard and fast hitting combat army and makes up for their fragility with open-topped AV10-11 vehicles. Combined with power from pain and DE units can get into combat early (even with bubble-wrap/sac units) and get more powerful as the game goes on.

So we can see Dark Eldar are extremely mobile across their FoC and build types. This plays into their hands with power from pain and excellent combat units which utilise open-topped transports to get into combat quickly. Combined with the very point efficient firepower of Dark Eldar and this overcomes their obvious weakness to torrent firepower. However, moving flat-out and being able to move even faster than other fast armies is useless when you can’t stop your opponent. Luckily Dark Eldar can. We’ve already discussed their open-topped status which allows their assault units to assault at extremely long ranges (add in Beastsmasters as well) but Dark Eldar have further advantages in being able to damage enemies on the move. Their vehicle heavy support is able to move up to 12” and fire as if moving at 6”. Everyone knows the huge advantage BA gain for their ACLC Preds who have fast status and can move 6” and fire everything compared to Vanilla Preds. Magnify this by another 6” for Dark Eldar with their long-ranged anti-tank vehicles. Furthermore, Raiders only have one weapon so have no opportunity cost for moving 12” outside of embarked troops not being able to fire and Venoms can fire all of their weapons at full potential up to 12” thanks to defensive status. These aspects of DE vehicles combined with units carrying special weapons (whether in transports or not) provide the DE army with exceptional ability to fight on the move.

Finally, the DE have a further option to them to use ‘slower’ units like the Talos and Cronos and offer deployment options. The Webway Portal. Taak did a pretty lol post on this before and whilst building an army around the Great Wall of Commonragh isn’t the best, the obvious merits of having the utility of WWP is not lost. When you are able to run 1 or 2 very survivable units such as 20 man Warrior squads with FNP or Harlequins with Shadowseer, the whole concept of reserve for DE becomes a much more likable concept. Although DE cannot manipulate when their reserves come in, they can manipulate how they come in. Units in reserve can choose after the game has started, to come in via the WWP or as their normal declaration (deep-strike, board edge, outflank, etc.). Since vehicles cannot come through the WWP but there are two ways to ensure they can deep-strike (retrofire jets and the Duke), this offers a lot of options to get a large portion of the DE army very close to your opponent. When you consider the base speed of many DE units such as Hellions, Reavers, Beastmasters, etc. which can come out of the portal and the 18-21” bonus even slower units like Wyches, Talos, Cronos, Incubi, etc. gain, this is a very scary proposition and works much like the concept of open-topped transports but for the whole army and when built properly, is a utility rather than an army construct. This forces your opponent to account for this and if they don’t or can’t, allows you to take advantage.

What all of these aspects combine to reinforce is Dark Eldar are fragile and need to stay mobile and aggressive to gain as much from their weak chassis and power from pain special rule. Being able to get easy flank shots and maintain a minimum of 6” move and generally 12” to avoid combat/render it effectively useless, is the best defense for DE armies.

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