Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Eldar army development

Greetings all,
today I wanted to have a quick look at how I go about developing an army list, and where better to look than my current project in planning - the Aeldari (specifically the Asuryani). I posted up last week about my 1st draft list, and today I want to look at how I've gone about tweaking it so far.

Ok, so the first draft was as follows

Farseer Skyrunner
Warlock Skyrunner Conclave (2 warlocks)
5 Dire Avengers
2x 10 Guardians
6 Howling Banshees
5 Fire Dragons
Wave Serpent
Autarch Skyrunner
2x 6 Windriders
2x Vypers
Fire Prism

Now, inevitably, as a first draft list (and without the codex yet) there were going to be changes to this, and in particular there were a few holes that I wanted to look at and to explore use of the various stratagems to hand.

First among equals here is the linked fire stratagem with the Fire Prism. Ok, it limits both units to fire at a single target, but the sheer potential devastation that could engender is insane. Assuming neither fire prism moves too far (or at all) then you're looking at 4 S12 shots with -5 AP and D6 damage, so potentially 24 damage in a single turn! And with re-rolls to hit and to wound that stratagem is a super-heavy killer right there. Alternatively, you could go for the middle profile and kick out a mighty potential 36 damage per turn, which I think is probably the more reliable way to go actually, though this is a gut feeling. Whilst I wouldn't normally recommend building an army around a stratagem, this is such a potential game winner that it's worth ensuring you at least have the potential in your list to make use of it.

Next up was the stratagem I talked about using with the Warlock Conclave. This doubles the range of a warlock psychic power, but as they're all 18" basic and the skyrunner's movement is 16", you really shouldn't be prevented from being in range of what you want to target, so I don't think there's a need to work round that one. Added to that, by switching Warlocks out of the conclave they all gain the character keyword so can't be targeted unless they're the closest model.

Right, so looking at the list, where are the weaknesses?

My intention here was to use the wraithlord in an aggressive role, kitting him out for close combat. I still rate the model in that respect, but I'm concerned that with only 1 in the list, it would be crippled too early to be useful. I'll probably work up a variant list in the future using more wraith units with this as a key element of the strategy, but for now he's gone.

Nasty, nasty guys they can kick out up to 4 S5 attacks each on the charge, so should mince through quite a bit. However, at 175pts I just had a little nervousness about them, particularly given they would likely be targeted by enemy heavy hitters. Again like the wraithlord, they'll probably make it into my collection, but for use with a variant list.

2 Guardian units sitting on objectives in my deployment zone are fine, but with no long range weapons that would be 160pts that wouldn't be affecting the outcome of the game unless my opponents were being aggressive and failed to get charges off against them. I could certainly look to make a saving here, though I'd made the philosophical decision not to use rangers in light of the craftworld background I'm working on separately.

So, how did I go about changing the list up?

Well, first I stripped out all the units I thought could be tweaked around, so out came the two guardian squads, the wraithblades, the wraith lord and the warlock conclave.

Instead, I added in a single Warlock Skyrunner so I would still have access to key runes of battle (not fussed about their smite tbh, the buffs are more important to me)

In came a second fire prism, to really boost up my ranged killy-death-ray-guns-of-doom.
I then looked at rearranging the troops units. By taking out 1 guardian squad, I could give the other a bright lance platform to influence things from afar, and instead take a second unit of dire avengers. I also figured I could re-jig the transport situation. Initially I had thought to support the Howling Banshees with the 5 Dire Avengers, but then I figured why not make the Howling Banshees the support unit? So, instead the Howling Banshees join the Fire Dragons in the Wave Serpent, meaning they can both get out, with the Fire Dragons hopefully rendering a transport to slag, with the Howling Banshees then charging the contents. That meant I had to find a place for 2 units of Dire Avengers and I'd got a Falcon buzzing round spare. Hmm. I like the Falcon, especially the Pulse Laser's fixed 3 damage. Maybe I should take 2 and put the Dire Avengers in the back? Sold! After a few more little tweaks, I realised that by foregoing the bright lance on the falcon turret and taking a shuriken cannon instead (along with a second shuriken cannon underneath) I could then fit on Spirit Stones and a Crystal Targeting Matrix on each one.

Cool, so now the list looks a little something like this.

Battalion detachment
Farseer Skyrunner (witchblade) Probably Guide & Doom
Warlock Skyrunner (witchblade). Probably Empower/Enervate

5 Dire Avengers (exarch dual wields catapults)
5 Dire Avengers (exarch dual wields catapults)
10 Guardian defenders (bright lance weapons platform)

5 Fire Dragons (fire pike exarch)
6 Howling Banshees (executioner exarch)

Falcon Grav Tank (2 shuriken cannons, crystal targeting matrix, spirit stones)
Falcon Grav Tank (2 shuriken cannons, crystal targeting matrix, spirit stones)

Outrider detachment
Autarch Skyrunner (fusion gun)

2 Vyper Jetbikes (bright lance, shuriken cannon)
6 Windriders (twin shuriken catapults)
6 Windriders (twin shuriken catapults)

Fire Prism Grav Tank (spirit stones)
Fire Prism Grav Tank (spirit stones)

Wave Serpent (Twin shuriken cannons, twin shuriken catapults, vectored engines)

The list now looks a whole lot more devastating at range, with a pair of pulse lasers, 2 prism cannons, 3 bright lances, 8 shuriken cannons plus a multitude of lighter weapons, and 5 fusion guns and a fire pike for close range anti tank.

The big loss is in close combat punch, with the howling banshees the only unit with any capability in that regard. On the whole though, I think the additional firepower at range makes this army build a much scarier prospect than previously, and with so much of it having the fly keyword and generous movement allowances, it's going to be really hard to pin down.

Obviously it suffers up close in comparison to the first draft list, and if I were to expand this list to 2.5k or higher that's where I'd look to focus the additional elements. Equally, I'm unsure yet whether this list would benefit from dropping the Banshees entirely for another warlock and some upgrades. At the moment I think I'd rather keep the combat unit, even if it is a minor thing, it'll still scare stuff like guard squads etc, and is incredibly useful for charging flamer units to prevent overwatch.

What do you guys think? Better? Or do I need to allow for a greater CC presence still?

Till next time,

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