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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 24: Hornets

Fawcett Avenue Conscripts

So I'm re-doing this post as I had an older version of the rules last time around. *facepalm*

The Review & Uses -

Hornets are a combination of Vypers and War Walkers...on crack. Not only do you get two weapon systems, Scout and a fast vehicle chassis but you're also getting free star engines, BS4 - something not seen on Eldar vehicles, Aerial Assault (the ability to move 12" and fire all your weapons) and AV11 on the front & side. And the chassis itself is relatively cheap coming in at 65 points with two Shuriken Cannons (so five points more than a Vyper with all those bonuses). The only bad thing one could say is none of the guns are turrets so if you have a solo Hornet who gets immobilised, their field of fire is limited. Oh and they don't come in the codex standard.

I'll preface the weapon discussion quickly by shooting down the concept of mixing weapons - there isn't a fantastic anti-tank and fantastic anti-infantry combination like with many Space Marine vehicles (Dreadnoughts, Land Speeders) and this generally means taking two of the same weapon type is going to produce a better outcome. Use more models to differentiante your firepower rather than mixing on the same model and losing efficiency.

Your basic Shuriken Cannon Hornet is a very good buy but is limited by range (24" shooting). The ability to move 12" and fire both weapon systems helps this out but there are really better options though this is obviously the cheapest. At 10 points per weapon you can get Scatter Lasers - extra shot and 12" range but an extra 20 points. That being said, it's faster and has comparable if not better firepower than a Razorback yet has roughly the same durability/points cost. The other options are generally still too expensive - the EML certainly has viability at only an extra 15 points but with Aerial Assault added in, the defensive nature of their guns matters less. Starcannons in their Heavy 2 format are always going to be too expensive when there are Heavy 4 S6 options abound and Bright Lances are not worth 10 points more than EMLs. Pulse Lasers though... On the face of things you're getting another S8 shot at the same price of the EML (i.e. two S8 shots for 30 points) which again, isn't so flash (even with the AP2 bonus). However, for an army without the ability to really put out lots of high strength shots on relatively durable platforms, 125 points is pretty reasonable for four S8 shots, particularly at BS4 and with Aerial Assault.

People love the comparison of a Rifledread here and it's pretty apt - you trade some durability (AV12 to AV11) for increased mobility and ability to fire on the move and twin-linking for S8/AP2. In an army of AV12 walls where one can get ample cover, that's pretty good. Which brings us to their main strength - mobility. Aerial Assault along with Scout and Fast Skimmer is pretty bloody mobile. You're not getting 36" moves out of these guys but Scout + 24" puts you in very good positions Turn 1 - it allows you to get cover/hide out LoS depending upon who goes first, get into good firing positions and/or throw your opponent's deployment off with a rapid remobilisation. Add in Aerial Assault and your effective Turn 1 move is up to 36" with the ability to protect yourself from being shot down/seized against and the ability to fire into side/rear arcs.

Scout also allows the Hornets to outflank - useful and yet not. If you're planning on keeping them in reserve, chucking them into outflanking positions isn't such a bad idea. With the option to move on 12" and shot up to 36"-48" away, getting on the 'wrong' flank isn't that bad and still gives you side shot opportunities. This depends a lot on the opponent's army and terrain setup however but its an option mainly when you want to send your Hornets into reserve to protect them - don't make them dedicated outflankers.

Hornet's also come with Star Engines - a neat upgrade which can bring in some movement fun times when Hornets are shaken but not stunned. The ability to allow another unit to shoot through clear LoS and then plant a flat-out skimmer in front of them afterwards allows you to seriously protect certain units (ahem: Fire Dragons) from reprisal next turn. This also makes Hornets excellent blockers in general as they have a greater potential reach (now we are moving 36") and the ability to block after your opponent has reacted to your shooting (removal of models, disembarking placement, etc.). That being said, Pulse Hornets are very expensive in this roll and Hornets in general should be trying to hang back as much as possible - they have the range and mobility to so this is much more situational then their cheaper Vyper counterparts.

Squadrons also come into play here - squads of Rifledreads! This really has two uses: getting more firepower into a single Force Organisation slot (something Eldar don't really have the points for currently) or freeing up more Fast Attack slots for different units (something Eldar don't really have a problem with currently). At larger games running squads of Pulse Hornets is obviously very appealing and even at lower points, Scatter Hornets or Shuriken Hornets can be run in pairs for a huge outpouring of firepower. With their mobility and squadron rules as well (stunned = shaken) they have lots of options in how best to utilise this and their AV11 can offset the usual survivability issues AV10 support skimmers run into when plunked into squads.

Potential Changes -

It's too good, there has to be nerf sorry. I'd be dropping Star Engines - you don't need that extra bonus and maybe tacking on five points to the base cost. From there though, well you've got a pretty good basis. I'd considering dropping the Bright Lance points as well - similar to EML level. Starcannon really depends on what changes are made to make it a different gun but as it stands, much cheaper as well.  I wouldn't be surprised at a drop back to BS3 either.

Conclusion -

If the Hornet makes it into the Eldar codex similar to what it is now, there will be a lot of pointy-eared rejoicing. It adds relatively cheap firepower at range which is not only decently durable and accurate but mobile with options (basically S6 or S8). All things the Eldar codex could really do with a dose of as this allows their Aspect Warriors to, well do what they were designed to do. All in all, it's a great package and quite cheap all things considered and I wouldn't be surprised at a price jump or a few decreases in options when it rolls out. Regardless, if it is similar to what it is now, the Vyper can kiss itself good-bye as it loses out in all but the raw points department. We'd need to see a significant change of role in the Vyper for both options to be viable (something we should be aiming for) as we discussed in the Vyper review.

Phew, hope I got all the information right this time =D.

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