Wednesday, 15 November 2017

One Post a Week

When I started posting this year, I was aiming on creating one post a week. Once this started slipping due to other commitments, I adjusted the goal to be an average, rather than tying it fully to the calender.

This is my 52nd post this year. Given how sparsely I've posted in previous years, this is quite the achievement. Hopefully I can keep up the rate of at least 52 posts a year going forward :)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Asuryani Review - Part Eleven; Lords of War


There is now only one option left in this Battlefield Role, as the Avatar has returned to HQ where it belongs. The scourge of 7th Edition, the Wraithknight.


Wraithknight

First things first. This unit is now expensive. While the Codex has brought some points reductions, it will still set you back 452 points at cheapest. And at that level, it's not very effective. While that gives it an Invulnerable Save, and a close combat attack that does a flat 6 Damage at Strength 16, it only kits it out for melee. This makes it capable of taking out other Titanic units, but means it likely has to wade through the opposing army to do so.

It's better in one of it's two ballistic modes. The first and most expensive of these is the Suncannon and Scattershield. This keeps the Save and, if you also give it a pair of Starcannons, it has 4+2d6 S6 AP-3 shots. Great for annihilating the heaviest of infantry or light vehicles and monsters. That makes it 570 points though. Probably too expensive for the job.

The middle ground is the default. 502 points gives you no Invulnerable Save, but 4 shots at S16, AP-4 and Dd6 each. This will wreck opposing Vehicles, Monsters and Titanics at 36" Range. And with 24 Wounds itself, be really hard to put down. This still leaves room for shoulder mounted heavy weapons. Did I mention that an Iyanden one has to have 6 Wounds remaining to have a drop in it's stats, and 3 remaining to reach it's bottom level.

A peculiarity with it's close combat ability is comparing it's Titanic Wraithbone Fists to it's Titanic Feet. The Fists are 4 attacks at S8, AP-3, Dd6 but the Feet are 12 attacks at S8, AP-2, Dd3. It's usually better to stomp than punch. Same is true of the Imperial Knight. Combine this with the Psytronome of Iyanden for 24 Feet attacks!

The final chapter is next, Part Twelve; Summary and Thoughts Going Forward.

Asuryani Review - Part Ten; Fliers


Stormraven spam may have caused a change in the rules of 8th Edition, but the Aeldari truly rule the skies.


Crimson Hunter

The anti-flyer Aspect. It has the usual Airborne and Hard to Hit rules to give it protection. To help it hunt other Flyers, it re-rolls failed wounds against models with the Fly keyword. In 8th Edition, that also includes units like Jetbikes, Assault Marines and Bloat Drones. It's armed with 2 Bright Lances and a Pulse Laser, to bring opposing vehicles down.

Wings of Khaine is a great rule. Allowing the Hunter to turn 90° both before and after moving. This means it can strafe up and down your back line, while the long range on it's weapons punishes opposing Fliers and Vehicles. For 160 points, it's a great package. In an Iyanden army, it has to lose 8 Wounds before it loses any effectiveness too.

This unit appears to have replaced the Nightwing in the interceptor role.


Crimson Hunter Exarch

For an extra 15 points, you gain re-rolls of a 1 for shooting, and the option to replace it's Bright Lances with Starcannons. I wouldn't recommend the weapon swap, but the re-roll is probably worth it.

Now that you no longer take these as squadrons, the Exarch feels strangely out of place. The point difference almost makes it feel like an auto upgrade to the regular Hunter.


Hemlock Wraithfighter

Proving to be quite fearsome on the table top for a bargain 200 points, the psychic aircraft is back. It shares the Wings of Khaine, Hard to Hit and Airborne rules with the Crimson Hunter. It also has built in Spirit Stones to give it the ability to ignore wounds on a 6.

It's role is different. The short range of it's weapons means that it wants to strafe their lines, not yours. 16", Assault d3, S12, AP-4, D2. It has two of them and they auto-hit. Good at hurting anything, units that are too numerous to worry about the guns are usually not a threat to it. While it's that close, it's Mindshock Pods give enemy units -2 Leadership. The cherry, on top of this icing, on top of this delicious cake: It's a Psyker.

It can deny one power, and cast one. It know Smite and any one power from the Runes of Battle. It can only cast the debuff half of the power, but those are potent enough options. It's also a Wraith Construct for the purpose of the Stratagem that heals them.

The final unit review is in Part Eleven, Lords of War.

Asuryani Review - Part Nine; Dedicated Transports






The Aeldari only have one Dedicated Transport and it's come a long way in design since the Epic model.


Wave Serpent


The Wave Serpent has long held the title of best transport in the game. It's fast, with a 16" Move. It carries 12 models, allowing it to potentially carry two squads of Aspect Warriors. It's got a lot of firepower, with a twin heavy weapon turret and an under slung either Twin Shuriken Catapult or single Shuriken Cannon. It's got the ability to survive a lot of punishment too. 13 Wounds, 3+ Save and the Serpent Shield plus the option of taking Spirit Stones.

It only asks what guns you are giving it. 3 Shuriken Cannons is pretty good, allowing it to move and shoot with no reduction in effectiveness. It's a good fit for all the Vehicle Upgrades as well, allowing for more speed, more survivability and more firepower, if you have the points. It's a shame that all this means you are less likely to field a Fire Prism, especially as you can theoretically take 1 Wave Serpent for each other unit in the army.

I won a vehicle conversion competition with my first Wave Serpent by adding parts from the plastic High Elf Dragon model. I'd post a picture, but I currently cannot find the turret,

Part Ten will be almost as short, as we look at the Fliers.

Asuryani Review - Part Eight; Heavy Support


Just in case there wasn't enough mobile heavy weapons in the Fast Attack slots, the Asuryani pack out the Heavy Support slots too, with some unique weaponry to boot.


War Walker

The humble War Walker is a cheap way of getting 2 heavy weapons per model onto the battlefield. With a 10" Move they are relatively fast too. They don't mitigate the -1 penalty for firing them while moving, but if you are worried about that you can always give them a pair of Shuriken Cannons to hunt infantry.

However, having the weapons of your choice is only half the equation. It has a 5+ Invulnerable Save and the ability to come on from Reserve along any board edge. Another unit great for harassing either your opponents back row artillery or their flanking units. 210 points gives you 18 Shuriken Cannon shots against flanking Genestealers or equivalent troops. Or, Bright Lance their Basilisks. What ever you need, you can configure these guys to match.

Some people are complaining that War Walkers have lost the option to Scout Move at the start of the game. I feel that the "Outflank" ability is better, putting them where you want, when you want and avoiding Alpha Strikes which is a key property in 8th Edition.


Wraithlord

In the Index, they reduced the Wraithlord's legendary toughness to 7. I wasn't happy with this, as in previous editions it had been immune to Strength 4 weapons and in 8th that suddenly translated to Strength 4 hurting it on 5s. Thankfully the Codex restores it to it's former glory.

A slower, tougher, more versatile unit that the War Walker. It lacks the Invulnerable Save and the ability to be fielded in squads; but gains higher Toughness, more Wounds and great close combat ability. It can be built for the role you want. Ghostglaive to destroy Monsters and Vehicles in combat, Flamers to defend on Overwatch, Shuriken weapons to run around, other heavy weapons to be a static gun platform, or any combination. Obviously, the more roles you try and have an individual Wraithlord do, the more expensive it gets, and the Wraithbone Fists ensure that it's never a slouch in combat, even without the sword.

I think specialising is the way to go, as is par for the course with the Aeldari. A static one with 2 of the heavier weapons with Flamers for Overwatch gives you a gun platform that can defend itself. A mobile one with 2 each of Shuriken Cannons and Shuriken Catapults to run around shooting infantry. The options are actually limitless.

The Wraithlord hasn't always had Toughness. In 2nd Edition, it was a normal Vehicle with Armour Values. It was in fact at the time called the Eldar Dreadnought. 3rd Edition changed it's name to Wraithlord and gave it Toughness 8. I still have my 2 original metal ones, although they are actually the second version of the model.


Support Weapons

Static gun platforms with 3 options for firepower. They set up as a unit but after that count as separate units from each other, making it harder for the opponent to tackle them all at once.

The default is the Shadow Weaver. D6 shots, 48" Range and the ability to ignore line of sight. Otherwise, same stats as the weapons of the Warp Spiders. Decent for killing all sorts of infantry, especially in high numbers. Nothing spectacular in an army that already has lots of options for that job.

Next is the Vibro Cannon. Upgraded from the Index, it now has d3 shots and 2 Damage. Each subsequent cannon that hits the targeted unit improves its AP and wound roll by 1. Good for focus fire on a Monster, but again there are better options in the army. One interesting facet is enemy units it damages cannot Advance in the next turn, unless they have the Fly keyword.

Finally, is the D-Cannon. "Only" d3 shots at "only" 24" Range, and also ignoring line of sight. It's also been upgraded to Strength 12, one of the few weapons in the game with a printed Strength above 10. I've long been a fan of parking one of these behind something and daring the opponent to bring things nearby. 75 points may seem expensive for this, but many opponents will fear the potential of 3 shots doing 6 damage each, even when the reality could be 1 shot doing 1 damage.

Support weapons are in an odd spot. While they are cheap for what they do, their job is largely done better by other things in the Codex. While I've often taken the D-Cannon, I'm never happy taking the other two options, and I don't think 8th Edition changes that.

In 2nd Edition, this entry also included the Heavy Weapons Platform. 3rd Edition made those part of Guardian Defender units instead.


Dark Reapers

The Aspect that represent Khaine as the Destroyer, Dark Reapers have long been the heavy firepower unit of choice. Still armed with their signature Reaper Launchers, they now always hit on a 3+, regardless of modifiers. That means they can move and fire with no penalty, ignore the Hard to Hit rule of many Fliers, ignore the abilities of armies such as Alaitoc or Raven Guard. The flip side is they also ignore positive modifiers, but not re-rolls.

The Reaper Launcher still has it's two firing modes, either the Starswarm for Marines or the Starshot for Vehicles/Monsters. They excel at dealing with either target, and you can just keep an Autarch nearby to allow the re-roll of 1s. They wont kill units like Conscripts or Pox Walkers quickly enough, but you have more than enough other options to do that. Taking multiple units is an easy way to lose friends if your playgroup has a lot of Marine armies.

That last part isn't hyperbole. Dark Reapers tear Marines to pieces, and do decent amounts of damage to Terminators and Vehicles. I'm hearing a lot of online sources recommending taking multiple units, which is fine for competitive lists. Your mileage may vary.


Falcon

The first tank model that the Eldar had, and half transport/half gun vehicle. Receiving a near 50 point drop from the Index they are a more attractive option than they were, although still oddly competing with the Wave Serpent for their job. They are good for carrying a small unit and the Pulse Laser is a pretty good weapon. It just doesn't make sense when compared with the Wave Serpent. For near equivalent points, or identical Power Level, you get less transport capacity and less survivability.

It's a solid battle tank, that can also carry some Aspect Warriors. It also allows you to put your transports in the Heavy Support slot when trying to fill detachments but minimise deployments. It is a shame that the Wave Serpent outshines it.

Turning up near the end of 2nd Edition, the current model changed the way Eldar vehicles are designed, being different to the Epic versions at the time. It's a hull sculpt that has gone on to be the base of the other Asuryani tanks, plus the design basis for the Forge World versions.



Night Spinner

The closest thing the Aeldari have to vehicle-mounted artillery. The Doomweaver is a solid anti-light vehicle weapon that ignores line of sight. 2d6 shots, Strength 7, potential AP -4 and 2 Damage. That is perfect for tackling Razorbacks and Rhinos. More so with help from Guide and Doom. That not only deals with an opposing fire base, it strands the unit that was inside, hopefully while they are still in the opposing deployment zone.

This unit has always felt weird. It's on a mobile platform, but it feels like it wants to be static. It might prove to be the answer to the competitive Razorback spam, while also having enough shots to deal with screening units like Conscripts. Time will tell.


Fire Prism

The Aeldari rival to the Imperial Leman Russ. It also has the ability to fire twice if it moves half distance or less. It's not as tough as the Leman Russ, but trades that for a main weapon that combines many of the turret options the Imperium has.

For killing Marines - d6 shots, S6, AP-3, D1. Takes out heavy infantry squads and light Vehicles.
For killing Tanks - d3 shots, S9, AP-4, Dd3. Takes out heavier Vehicles and Monsters.
For killing Titans - 1 shot, S12, AP-5, Dd6. Punches a hole in Titanic units, especially those without an Invulnerable Save. All of this weapons are combined into one gun that can choose how it fires each turn. This is so strangely versatile for the Aeldari.

The original model for this had a different turret, with a shorter cannon made completely of metal. The plastic sculpting allows for a much better looking transparent prism.

This brings Part Eight to a close. Part Nine will be the shortest part, Dedicated Transports.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Asuryani Review - Part Seven; Fast Attack


The Aeldari are renowned for their speed and the Asuryani are no exception. Here is where the most manoeuvrable units reside, and they aren't slouches when it comes to firepower either.


Windriders

This unit is defined by it's 16" move and ability to advance 6", no rolling. Keep the Twin Shuriken Catapult or upgrade to Shuriken Cannon for mobile infantry slaughter. Or, keep them static and give them Scatter Lasers to keep them further away from the enemy, and use their massive speed if you need to redeploy to find new targets.

Or play Saim-Hann and use your Craftworld Trait to have the best of both worlds, this unit being one of two the Heavy Weapon part of their Trait is built for. The Fly keyword lets them both ignore terrain while moving, and still shoot should they Fall Back from combat.

Until 7th Edition, the upgrade options were 1 in every 3 bikes. The change to allowing all to upgrade lead to units focusing on certain types of firepower.


Vypers

Mobile firepower at it's finest. They have a 16" move that increases to 20" if there are 3 models in the unit. Each one has a Shuriken Cannon and a Twin Shuriken Catapult. You can upgrade the Catapults into a Cannon, for maximum mobile Shuriken fire, slaughtering infantry much like the Windriders. Or you can give them your choice of Heavy Weapon, getting -1 to hit when you move, but giving a cheap platform for Bright Lances or Aeldari Missile Launchers.

Again, Saim-Hann ignore the -1 to hit for Heavy Weapons on Bikers, so they excel here. They will be mobile tank hunters in with Lances/Missiles, or exceptionally mobile infantry hunters with 2 Shuriken Cannons.

Long gone are the days of 2nd Edition, where you could remove the heavy gun platform and instead mount a character on the back so they could ride around in style.


Swooping Hawks

And the award for most improved from the Index goes to - Swooping Hawks. And that's awarded for one simple change. Lasblasters have gone from 24" Range, Rapid Fire 2; to 24" Range, Assault 4. They have even dropped in points to boot. They've kept the ability to Deep Strike, cause Mortal Wounds as they arrive/move and even re-enter Reserves to come back the turn after. The Exarch still gives an aura bubble of +1 Leadership too.

Deep Strike these guys in far away from the opponent. Use their 24" Range to target the Infantry unit you want to kill and let rip. This should keep them out of combat, where they really don't want to be. Don't worry about the opponents army moving away, their 14" Move and Battle Focus should keep their targets in range. If things get too hot where they are, leave the board and return elsewhere the next turn.

This unit is one of the units that made the Eldar appeal to me in 2nd Edition, and drew me to Eldar as my first army. The ability to leave and re-enter the battlefield while dropping grenades sounded really fun, and still is.


Warp Spiders

From 3rd Edition onwards, this has become a strange unit. Their weapons, while okay, always seem to be outclassed by others in the army. I think their role in 8th is as a very mobile unit for grabbing and holding Objectives. They can sacrifice the ability to Advance or Charge, to move 7+4d6" and gain the Fly keyword. That gives them an average of 21" to get to the correct Objective. They can even set up in Deep Strike, though you risk losing a member on a double 1.

To help clear out anyone near the Objective, they have Range 12", Assault 2 weapons that gain -4 AP on a 6 to wound. The amount of shots can even help with Overwatch. To help them keep the Objective, the Exarch lets them re-roll Morale tests, and they can Flickerjump. Again risking losing a model on a double 1, this gives your opponent -1 to hit them in Shooting.

In 2nd Edition, the Death Spinner used the Heavy Flamer template. I'm not sure why the stats couldn't have been adjusted and let them keep the template rule, giving Craftworld Eldar a unit for clearing out horde units. Alas, it just wasn't meant to be, until D-Scythes.


Shining Spears

Much like ancient Knights looking for Dragons to slay, these guys are hunting Monsters and Vehicles while mounted on trusty steeds. Much like Windriders, they Move 16" and Advance 6". That gets them to where they are needed, while a 4+ Invulnerable Save against ranged weapons helps keep them alive. While they have Twin Shuriken Catapults for killing threatening infantry, that isn't their job.

Their Lances are what make them. They have an AP of -4 for both shooting and combat, and a Damage value of 2. The Laser Lance is Strength 6 for shooting and on the Charge, while the Exarch's Star Lance is Strength 8. The Exarch also gets to re-roll wounds against Vehicles and Monsters. This makes them superb for hunting Tyranid Monsters, denying your opponent Synapse and Shadow in the Warp at a key part of the Battlefield. With the Fly Keyword, they can also hunt enemy aircraft, something your opponent may not realise until it is too late.

While the Windriders got a model upgrade, the current models for Shining Spears are still mounted on the 2nd Edition plastic jetbike models.

With the end of Part Seven having arrived, it's time to tell you that Part Eight will be about the seven choices for Heavy Support.

Asuryani Review - Part Six; Elites





Where the bulk of the Aspect Warriors are found, as well as the deadly Wraith-units, the Elites section is where you start to see the specialisation that Asuryani excel at. With 5 options, each unit is great at it's purpose and bad at everything else.





Howling Banshees

Classically, this unit has struggled with it's Strength 3. In 8th Edition though, that can now hurt a wider range of units. A unique quirk is that Toughness 4 and 5 are the same, both requiring a 5+ to wound. They are armed with Shuriken Pistols and Power Swords, making them a nightmare for heavily armoured troops. They will struggle against units with multiple wounds and Storm Shields, like Terminators and Custodes though.

Where they shine is delivering their killing strike to the unit you want. Move 8 and the ability to Advance and still Charge gives them quite a threat range. When they do this, not only can they attempt to charge units up to 15" away, but they get +3 to the roll. That gives them a combat distance of 11+3d6! This even combos with Battle Focus so they can still fire their Pistols. Their masks nullify Overwatch and the Exarch give opposing units -1 to hit in combat. Establish a target, Charge the target, remove the target.

In the Index, the Banshee Mask let them always strike first. I think the Codex version of ignoring Overwatch is much stronger, allowing them to make a mess of T'au battle lines. They were at their strongest in 2nd Edition though, denying their opponents attack dice on the turn they charged, as well as stopping Overwatch.


Striking Scorpions

They attack at Strength 4 in shooting and combat, allowing them to pick apart Toughness 3 troops with ease and pressure Toughness 4-7. The Exarch can even strike at Strength 6 with a -3 AP and Damage d3, with no penalty to hit and extra attacks on 6s. Their Mandiblasters cause Mortal Wounds at the start of combat, allowing them to take on units much larger than them. The icing on this cake, and what defines their role is the combo of Deep Strike and +1 to hit units in cover. They excel at hunting your opponent's backfield units. Just put these guys in Reserve and wait for the time to strike.

These guys haven't changed over the years. They have always been about a combination of combat prowess and ability to cause extra wounds from the Mandiblasters. In this edition though, use of Reserves is important for getting to strike the units that would normally try and hide, while denying your opponent the Alpha Strike against such threatening units.


Fire Dragons



The truest masters of their art, and the best at it in the game. They carry Fusion Guns, all of them. The Exarch can even upgrade to a longer range one. This gives them 1 shot each at Strength 8, hitting on 3s. Battle Focus allows them to do this while Advancing, increasing their threat range. The Exarch also re-rolls 1s to hit at range. They have an AP of -4 and do d6 damage, rolling 2 dice and choosing the highest at half range. Finally, to make sure they destroy the target, if shooting a Vehicle of Monster, they get to re-roll 1s to wound. Get them to a Vehicle or Monster and make it die.

They really need a way of getting to the target though. I recommend a Wave Serpent, though there is an argument to be made for the Webway Strike Stratagem to Deep Strike them in. Which  ever method best suits your play style.

Here is a familiar refrain - These guys haven't changed. The heavy focusing of Aspect Warriors doesn't give them a lot of room for change, plus it really fits the flavour of the Paths that they are unchanged this far in the game across 8 editions now.


Wraithblades


The first of the Wraith-units is close combat based. They have been increased from Toughness 5 to 6 from Index to Codex. They also have 3 Wounds each and a 3+ save to help them survive. 2 Attacks plus an extra 1 when they Charge, from Fires of Wrath, gives them a lot of hitting power. These guys are for taking on in combat the units that are too heavily armoured for Banshees.

They have two load out options. You can either give them Ghostwords for a 4th attack and essentially a Strength 6 Power Weapon. This is for hunting and killing Terminators, possibly retaliation after they Deep Strike. The other give them a 4+ Invulnerable Save for more survivability, and a Strength 7 weapon that has -3 AP and d3 Damage. This is for taking on Dreadnoughts, Monsters and other Vehicles in combat. They get -1 to hit with this Ghostaxe, but you can easily mitigate that with a nearby Spiritseer with Enhance.

Wraithblades were introduced in 6th Edition, presumably to give Iyanden a more flavourful close combat unit. While they are effective once they get to combat, they are both slow and expensive. They suit a more defencive style of play, while Banshees are more about aggression.



Wraithguard


These have always been about bringing relatively short-ranged death to whatever you can point them at. They replace the combat abilities of the Wraithblades with Implacable, allowing them to Fall Back and still shoot, should your opponent try locking them down in combat. Even their, at Strength 5 they have -1 AP and d3 Damage, so they aren't terrible. This also allows them to finish of a Vehicle or Monster if their guns fail to do the job.

They have 2 options. Firstly is the much maligned (by their opponents) D-Scythes. Only 8" Range, but Strength 10 and -4 AP. Only 1 Damage, but d3 shots each with no roll to hit. They make a mess of heavily armoured troops that get too close, and are a nightmare on Overwatch. The second (and my preferred) is their traditional Wraithcannon. Similar stats, trading the auto-hit for +4" range, and the d3 shots for 1 shot but d6 Damage instead. They are a nightmare for Monsters and Vehicles, especially if they don't have an Invulnerable Save. Again, an expensive unit, but as an Iyanden player I'm not concerned.

The D-Scythe appeared in 6th Edition, alongside the plastic models. Still not sure what the reasoning behind bringing this weapon to the game was. 8th Edition is the first edition where the Wraithcannon hasn't had the ability to instantly remove models from play, something they had long before Strength D became a universal special rule.

That brings Part Six to an end, Part Seven will be a look at the Fast Attack units.