Kirb your enthusiasm!
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted by Kirby Enthusiasm
So your choices here aren't actually that varied; "skimmer gunship" or "monstrous creature." Still, it's good stuff; you'll almost always want the skimmers but the MCs have their places in Webway based lists. That being said Archnomad's mini-review of the Dark Eldar Heavy Support whilst funny does have some nugget of truth; is it a Ravager? Let's check them all out then and see if anything is ever actually worth taking over the ever reliable and useful Ravager or if it really is the only Heavy Support of worth.
We have to start with the Ravager of course and this is your go-to Heavy Support choice. Just over a hundred points of pure, tank-killing goodness on an AV11 and highly mobile platform. If you're looking for raw bang for buck it's hard to go past three Dark Lances on an tank which can move 12" and fire them all for 105 points. Sure AV11 isn't too flash and open-topped doesn't make it exactly survivable but point for point the Ravager is hard to beat for any codex. If your list otherwise lacks AT, Ravagers can go a long ways towards making that lack up.
Flickerfields and Night Shields are both good upgrades but depending on how you use them you may need either, both, or neither. Armies with aggressive deploying transports such as Venoms with Trueborn will find generating cover a lot easier for Ravagers and thus make Flickerfields less necessary. Night Shields are also quiet situational and can really hurt armies with 24" ranged anti-tank but aren't going to help too much on Ravagers against many anti-tank guns due to the Dark Lance 36" range. They are certainly both fine upgrades but obviously lower the efficiency of the unit when they are not always necessary. Other upgrades really aren't really worth it though retro-fire jets are nice to have if you aren't running the Duke (and since no one can ride around in a Ravager, you don't have to suffer the disadavantages of retro-fire jets). Everything else is much more useful on Raiders and has minimal to no applicability to a ranged gunboat.
Disintegrator Cannons... okay, so they're not horrible and have uses and reasons to take them, but long story short you probably shouldn't. A bunch of AP2 strength 5 shots after all is pretty damn good for 105 points but you lose out on some very handy and mobile ranged anti-tank firepower. At the very least, NEVER mix guns- all of one or all of the other. Know what you want the unit to do and be good at it- you are not a generalist unit.
The Razorwing Fighter is the 'generalist' Ravager and pays for it. Probably a wee bit overpriced if you've got a lot of anti-tank firepower in your army and are looking to supplement that whilst adding anti-infantry, look no further than the Razorwing. Only AV10 (but not open-topped!), which is sad compared to the other two skimmers, but on the other hand it comes with four missiles for free, which is awesome. These missiles are what make you take it over the Ravager and can add a huge amount of firepower in any given turn. Any units which start clumped or end up clumped (forced disembarkation for example) will find a bunch of 5" blasts repeatedly placed on them to be very annoying and when there are no missiles left or no good targets, the Razorwing can still put out a couple of Dark Lance shots every turn on the move just like the Ravager.
The Splinter Cannon upgrade is plausible to help add some anti-infantry firepower (particularly after the missiles have been used) but it's not automatic and if you have to scrape some points it's fine to go without. Night Shields and Flickerfield are same as the Ravager- sometimes you need one, sometimes both, sometimes neither, depends a lot on what the rest of your army is doing. Flickerfields are probably a bit more useful on the Razorwing though due to the height of the flight stand. A lot harder to get cover when you are so high above the battlefield so having a guaranteed 5++ is very beneficial. No other upgrades are available except the missiles.
Monoscythe Missiles are pretty excellent just as-is, but you may want to shell out the little bit of extra for the Shatterfield, which is pretty sweet, as it gets rid of that annoying "what the hell, dice" syndrome. Necrotoxin doesn't impress, as it can't inflict ID on stuff (nice against other DE or IG to prevent FNP saves) and S6/7 should be wounding pretty much everything on 2s anyway though the extra Ld test forced by pinning is always a bonus. Remember however, Shatterfield takes -1 on vehicle damage results due to AP - though these missiles aren't exactly prime anti-tank material regardless. If you are concerned about hordes but still want to wreck tanks, Razorwings are a great compromise platform without breaking the bank in half.
Well, it's tougher than the Razorwing thanks to AV11 and basically the same as the Ravager in terms of mathematical probability in wrecking tanks but much pricier. Void Lances are better than Dark Lances but not enough to make up for only having two of them versus the Ravager's three Dark Lances and the lack of AP1 really hurts. Any weapon destroyed results are also much more serious on the Voidraven compared to the Ravager. The Void Mine is also nice but honestly you're not going to get to use it all that often and pushing your very expensive fighter into range so you can use it is a very dicey prospect indeed. Flicker/Night are still both good options, as above with the Razorwing (particularly flicker).
Your missiles are likewise nice and presumably the reason you'd take this thing, but since you're costing points versus the Razorwing it doesn't seem to be quite as good an option. Unlike the Razorwing you don't start with any missiles so the 10 points for most of the missiles is a fine price but since the base cost is the same, the Bomber gets expensive quickly. Implosion Missiles seem... overcosted, but will be 'killing' most grunts on a 2+ and those pesky two wound T5 models on a 3+. Is it worth 30 points though considering the amount of poisoned firepower Dark Eldar can generally cobble together in a list? No, 30 points is just too steep for a blast that scatters on an already expensive platform.
In the end the Razorwing is a much better platform if you're going for a dualistic role in your Heavy Support or the Ravager if you're going for pure anti-tank. AV11 and not being open-topped is awesome in a Dark Eldar army but not super durable and not worth the 200+ points you'll end up paying if you use Missiles.
Talos Pain Engine
100 points for T7? Sounds pretty good. Unfortunately the rest of the Talos statline looks more like a strong Independent Character, comparable to the Tyranid MCs in toughness but only has three wounds. Pain tokens can greatly improve this statline (T7/3+/FNP and S8/I5 on the charge) but for 100 points it's still pretty decent. Lack of Fleet or any sort of movement bonus however makes it quite slow. Random attacks mean it is NOT a reliable combatant though chain-flails help make this much more reliable. It has Move Through Cover twice (naturally and from being an MC) for some reason.
There are a couple of options for the Talos centered around providing a ranged weapon or improved combat abilities to the platform. There is some disagreement here amongst us as AbusePuppy thinks the twin-linked Liquifier is the best option whilst Kirby prefers the Chain-flails. The Liquifier is a good option and can really help with clearing out Stubborn infantry without getting bogged down in combat but Chain-flails makes the Talos much more reliable in combat and more likely to get a high number of attacks. Both agree however that the Ichor injector is pretty blah as you're already causing Instant Death on T3 targets and with two pain tokens are causing it on T4 models as well. The extra close combat weapon is only worth it if you don't buy any of these upgrades but 15 points for +1A is pretty expensive.
Adding the Haywire Blaster or Heat Lance (the only non-FA slot you can get it in) gives you a little bit of duality, I suppose, and twin-linked mostly makes up for your shoddy BS. The Stinger Pod is just more anti-infantry firepower which isn't that good. If you're really strapped for AP1 here the Heat Lance is viable thanks to twin-linked but the Haywire Blaster can cause quite a bit of annoying damage as well.
In the end the Talos is a tough but slow monstrous creature but it is dirt cheap (115-120 points) and should really only make it into lists with Webway Portals. Even then, Ravagers or Razorwings are pretty hard to pass up for ranged support and without any other really tough targets (Grotesques are it really), the Talos can jump out as a pretty high target priority. If you can get them into combat they are pretty scary but hidden Fists will make short work of them due to only three wounds (they could of really used four).
Cheaper than the Talos and actually serves a useful purpose other than smash and crush- it distributes Pain Tokens to units that need them, which can be handy. It's kinda shoddy in combat but just as with Tyranids, there's a limit to how bad a MC can be- you're still ignoring saves and T7, so immune to lots of armies' attacks. Just like the Talos though, hidden Fists are just going to make mince meat of the Cronos due to its low Wound count but the Cronos doesn't require to get into combat to be effective.
Spirit Syphon is decent as an AP3 template but obviously close ranged. It will quite reliably be able to hand out a pain token to a squad within 12" but exposes the Cronos to counter-assaults. It is definitely recommended to consider the Spirit Probe upgrade. For only 10 points it lets you take advantage of getting into CC more effectively but with only two attacks base and WS3, isn't too reliable. Spirit Vortex is a bit pricey for its stats, as models will get cover saves against it despite the good AP. Keep in mind, however, that it suffers from the same problem as the Talos- it's big and slow and won't have any effect on the game during the early turns, when you want the tokens the most.
In the end, like the Talos the Cronos is only really viable in Webway based lists where the short-range weapons and ability to hand out pain tokens to combat units is more capable of coming into play without exposing the Cronos to too much firepower.
Heavy Support for Dark Eldar is split into clear two categories: skimmers and MCs. The skimmers are all highly mobile, able to move 12" and fire most of their weapons and focused more at ranged support. The MCs are split between combat and utility support but both are limited by speed and only really viable in Webway Portal based lists where they can overcome their poor speed. Although they are both quite cheap, a low wound count (3) makes them very vulnerable to simply being shot down quickly or hurt by hidden fists. Without the Webway Portal or similar units in other force organisation slots this makes these guys really hard to justify.
In the end it's hard to go past the Ravager. It's cheap, fast and efficient with three Dark Lances. Unless you are looking for a more generalist unit (Razorwing Jetfighter) or are running a Webway Portal list and want to use Talos/Cronos Engines, the Ravager is a cheap and effective default Heavy Support choice.
P.S. Voidraven/Cronos by Philip Henderson but couldn't find links to his stuff (found pictures on d6 gaming)
Dark Eldar Review: Part 10 - Heavy Support