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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 21: Vypers


The Review -

The weakest vehicle of the Eldar army isn't even the cheapest at base cost but it comes with a potential two heavy weapon systems, fast skimmer status and can come in squads. They aren't the cheapest but they can still be damn cheap which they need to be when you're running around at AV10 open-topped.

The two heavy weapons are limited though, like most Eldar tanks. The second weapons is simply an option to upgrade twin-linked catapults to a shuriken cannon, often a steal at 10 points but without the flexibility of most turret heavy weapon slots. The turret weapon slot has every available Eldar weapon open to it though due to BS3 and the high cost of the one shot weapons such as the Bright Lance and Missile Launcher, these aren't often a good bet. Even the over-priced Starcannon is outshined but its cheaper and shootier cousins the Scatter Laser and Shuriken Cannon.

Beyond this, well there's not much to the Vyper. It's a fast gun platform with cheap and expensive weapon options without being very durable. It's cheap and decently efficient if you buy the cheaper weapons but due to BS3 and higher weapon costs, the other weapons aren't really worth it. The usual assortment of vehicle upgrades is available to Vypers and as usual it's best to say no to them. For the most part they aren't worth it even on expensive tanks and trying to get lots of upgrades onto cheaper tanks makes the cheaper tanks less cheap - and they still die easily regardless.

Potential Uses -

Vypers are cheap firepower mech units. They don't make effective heavy gun platforms in relation to the higher strength/lower AP Eldar weapons as they are just too expensive (Eldar Missile Launchers have a case due to S4 blast but not much) but they do make excellent torrent platforms with Shuriken Cannon(s)/Scatter Laser without breaking the bank. Scatter Lasers offer that extra 12" range which can be critical in staying away from your opponent. The extra shot is nice, too. They are fragile which being a squadron both helps and hurts (helps fob off single results onto one vehicle, hurts in that more results = destroyed) but with Wave Serpent/Falcons/Prisms around, should always be getting cover.

Being cheaper than your other vehicles they are also much better vehicle blockers - it's a lot easier to throw a ~60/70 point vehicle forward to block or clog lanes compared to a 100+ point vehicle. They may be much more likely to die but over-extension often has that consequence.

Squads of one or two are probably best as three can become hard to hide and the units themsevles become quite expensive. Squads of one are easy to completely shut down and are cheap KP but you're only sacrificing one vehicle as blocker if needed and not dying on a 3+ to a pentration result. Squadrons allow the fobbing off of single results, bring more firepower/blocking potential but are more vulnerable to dying to penetrating hits whilst in a squadron.

Potential Changes -

Price drops for weapons are a must, not the already cheap ones but the expensive one shot ones. BS3 is BS3, lots of armies deal with it but when you're paying 30+ points just for a single shot weapon, it's way too much. The chassis point cost could do with a minor reduction but not much, it is weak but it has pretty nice potential and mobility - suck it up. Beyond this, Vypers need something to differententiate themselves from some of the stuff coming through Forgeworld such as the Hunter. The most obvious option here would be to add some transport capacity such as the Venom though there might be some trade-off here in relation to weapon systems - i.e. lose the secondary heavy weapon system for transport capacity for balance purposes though keeping both with a price hike works as well. Making these a dedicated transport for Aspects gives the Eldar army a lot more options in relation to taking vehicles other than the expensive Wave Serpents.

If the Hunter does not make a case for being included in the next book, the Vyper is alright as is though with decreases in the total price. Some additional vehicle upgrades aren't going to go amiss either and perhaps the ability to move 12" and fire both weapon systems (though this would need to be balanced in relation to weapon costing).

Concsluion -

Vypers are at their best as cheap(ish) fire platforms. Use them to spam out S6 shots, add some extra vehicles and mobility to the army and not much more and you'll find whilst fragile, they provide efficient firepower to an Eldar army low on efficiency. This can also free up the heavier vehicles to take more dedicated anti-tank firepower or simply add S6/armor saturation to the field.

You can field them as expensive sniper boats at a cheaper cost than you can with a Wave Serpent but they're a lot easier to deal with for your opponent and without the twin-linking, not nearly as reliable. Their main competition in the future looks to be the Forgeworld Hunter - basically the same platform but with two full weapon systems and the ability to twin-link them + not being open-topped. If this became a mainstream option Vypers would need something to differentiate themselves to see use such as transport options (to go hand in hand with reduced weapon prices).

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