Thursday, December 27, 2012

Range Banding in 6th Edition

One of the interesting phenomenons of 40K tactics is range banding which works better than it did in 5E thanks to the preeminence of shooting.  More sophisticated players actively use this idea to great effect.  Like Japan in World War II, the idea here is to layer the defense, create lines of repositioning and play the timing game.

To be less vague and esoteric, you want to line your guns up in strata, based on their range.  You will usually have three strata of Guns, and then you will have the sacrificial lambs whose only job is to die and keep those guns firing (while themselves contributing to the fusillade). 

In this strategy, the list may seem at first more disjointed than usual, but it's function is merely to time the enemy approach so that it most advantages the Big Guns.

Look at this example list here, farthest back first:

Strata 1:
2 x2 Broadside Team leads (TL plasma, Multi trackers)
2 Pathfinder units
Sky Ray
3 Kroot Units

Strata 2
3 Teams Sniper Drones
3 Missile Suits
2 Pathfinder Devil fishes with Flechette (use flat out movement to block for their charges)

Strata 3
3 Fire Warrior units
3 Devil fish's with Flechette (use flat out movement to block for their charges)
Aegis Quad Gun

This list is very specifically designed to slow and clog the enemy and generally make it as hard and slow a bit of work as possible for the enemy to get to the rear areas; and if they do get there, to protect the guns for an extended period.  The idea obviously is to maximize damage at the expense of mobility and simply playing a space denial game.  Some refer to the idea of "winning in the movement phase" and essentially, range banding can do that for you.  it also helps you create target saturation more easily than the more aggressive movement strategy of dividing the enemy efforts by exploding outward in all directions (a personal favorite way to fight for me, but certainly not the only way to skin the cat)

Deployment is key to this kind of idea and one of the oddities of it is that the Aegis Defense Line goes nearly to the very center of the board.  It isn't even used as a shooting barrier per se FOR the Tau Empires defense as much as it is used as a hindrance TO the enemy movement itself.  The SOONER in the game you are able to slow the enemy, the more fire you can pour in.  You don't want to give a lucky charge the chance to negate that Aegis Line right in front of you and you don't want the decision by the enemy as they are coming in to be an easy one.  By placing the Defense Line so far forward it means they are slowed SOONER and now they might well be tempted if taking casualties, not to cross it and take advantage of its value on defense.  Some of the advantage of placing the Defense Line so far forward is psychological: The option to utilize the line "for free" makes movement behind it ever so slightly more complicated.  In the end, this can put an offensive army on the defensive.  On its own not game winning, but consider that you as Tau can negate all of the benefit of the Defense Line.  So just one round of indecision by the enemy or one moment of caution by them can prove not only futile but ultimately, the tipping point advantage you need.  Once they realize their error, there will be one less turn to do anything  about it.  Their instinct to self preserve and convert over to the long game, even though they aren't really built for it may prove fatal and bring you victory.

This same basic mechanic is very adaptable to most armies.  The army that seems to make a lot of sense for it to work is the Tyranid forces.  I have often thought that they can fight very well with Range banding.  I know unbridled aggression is the philosophy of Tyranids but given their restrictions, it could be quite good.  They amongst all the army have readily available tar pits and units that are designed for exactly this kind of game.  They have counter charge units that are hard to beat, and they have outflanking/Sneaky mobility.  Unfortunately the build to do this is really specific, but the fun news is, they have the tools to actually do it.

Allies create an immense wealth of possibilities for this idea to flourish.  Armies that start with fearsome barrage capability can couple their forces with other forces of similar ferocity.  This wouldn't be done so much to add firepower as it would be to add UTILITY to that firepower.  Consider that IG have endless streams of long range artillery.  However, imagine what it might add to have a second Range band of artillery, much closer than the others, that is very tough (as Artillery now are), that can roll out a 3 small blast pinning barrage, Re-rolling misses, wounding on 2's, re-rolling wounds and Penetrating tanks 33% of the time (3 times)!  Now the enemy has a VERY tough choice to make:  let THAT keep firing at short range, or expend energy on Armored artillery long range!  Eldar D-Canons added to IG might be a terrifying prospect because within that range band, it's dangerous as hell to be anywhere near it yet the enemy knows if they assault towards it, its "bodyguard" units will defend it.  IG don't really have a unit that can change the VALUE of enemy loadouts when so much of what they bring to hurt you is ARMOUR, allowing an enemy's anti-armour to shine.  It changes the TYPE of weapon you need in order to kill the threat and it multiplies the amount of shots that must be expended, all of which is just ONE range band worth of problems added.

Intentional range banding of armies isn't as common a practice as I thought it would be, but it does seem an effective primary strategem to use (understanding that all strategems must alter as the battle dictates after it has been joined).  I have taken to using the similar approach with Sisters of Battle, especially in certain missions, but other armies can do this equally well. 

Give it a try and report back, or just tell me what you thought about the idea in general.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exchange units in 40K

How do you feel about them?
There is a brand of unit in Warhammer that I term the Exchange unit.  It is a unit whose characteristics make it ideal for killing certain targets but at the same time are quite likely to die in response to their effort since they are most often taken at minimal unit sizes. 

An example is 5 Swooping Hawks.  They are good at killing vehicles, but are also likely to be vaporized on the ensuing round, as an enemy can scarcely allow them to go bouncing about his parking lot a second time.  Their weak stats and decent but surmountable armor will insure that moderate effort will end the small unit of Hawks.

As a matter of strategic philosophy (in other words the overall plan going in moreso than the logistics of carrying out the plan) I know that First Blood makes an exchange unit a more risky proposition.  I also observe that Kill Points do matter in numerous missions.  Exchange units are by definition sure to die.  In tourney play that can make it difficult to win if you over invest in such MSU tactics.

Well first, strategically, the best place in the list for exchange units is in the Elites slot and the HQ slot (assuming you have 2 HQ's to avoid losing your Warlord).  If you take them from the Heavy or Fast Attack slots, that could penalize you in the Big Guns Never Tire mission and the Scouring mission.  Best to use Elites, as a practical matter.

So right off the bat, on the macro level of army and battle planning, we know where thse units should best come from but is there an exchange unit worth taking in Elites/HQ in your codex?

Many codex's have Elite/HQ units that can be used this way.  Eldar have Fire Dragons which may be one of the most well known exchange units.  Sisters of Battle have Celestian squads which really function well as Fearless Roadblocks to tie up the enemy until the Sisters next turn; so not an offensive juggernaut, but an exchange unit with a specific purpose.  Imperial Guard Storm Troopers could be considered because they can carry a fair amount of special weaponry.  Tau are famous for their "Suicide Command suit".  All of these fit the bill.

What all of them have in common is, you're conceding them to the enemy.

My question is, as you look at your battle plan, do you prize offense so much that you would abandon defense this way?  Keep in mind that just one member of a unit left alive denies the kill piont and allows you to score/deny with it.  Keeping unit fragments alive and fading them back can be an important part of your strategy.  If the unit is too small, then it is just a 1:1 exchange at best and has only weakened you if the enemy has more units than you do.

Overall I do not like this exchange idea for a couple reasons:  The 5 Fire Dragons will kill the LandRaider and die (for example), but if it had 3-5 ablative wounds in the unit, you're going to kill two LandRaiders with the same Kill point and/OR potentially live to see the end of the game! Since the enemy's firepower becomes less over time, the unit fragment will become progressively less endangered.  Yet it still adds to the target saturation issue when it would not have before!  So the ability to press forward after terrific losses to a unit is key.

My suggestion here in the end is that if you are sure you must have the three 5-man squads of Fire Dragons or the Suicide suits, reconsider and add bulk to the units.  That means another part of the list "suffers" (an overused term if ever there was one) but it also means you're not just throwing away the KP's that can be a big determiner of success.  Since exchange units are in the Elites/HQ slot, the enemy isn't firing at the more important slots in the army so in some ways the extra wounds are really wounds that you could consider to have BEEN in those other units!  Think about it:  if they weren't in that exchange unit, the enemy would have fired into the more important unit without fear of the now dead Elite.  Abstractly, do you really care how many die in total?  Not as much as you care which ONES died.  So by forcing the enemy to pour more of its units into THIS task, you are giving the scoring components of the force more shelf life.

Food for thought.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Wraithbone sings in anticipation

One does not want to make oneself seem as if one is only a one trick pony.  Some have suggested that Tony Kopach, the reknowned Warhammer championship level player could not do what he does with any other army.  He "sees the field" so well from the vantagepoint of his Thunderwolf Cavalry or the visors of his Grey Hunter Spamalotiness that he would simply be incapable of winning with anything else at the level he does.

Hey, going with what works is the orthodox aproach to take when you're paying good money to go to these events am I right?  But then, this isn'tthe land of the orthodox here is it?


So since I know that Sisters of Battle can bring me home the hardware, it's time now to see what other 6E concoctions will get me there.  Obviously we want something that defies the norm and uses tools not always talked about as much.  Enter my new Army.  The rough outline is as follows:

Autarch (Mandiblaster, Power Weapon, Fusion Gun, Warp Generator)

Farseer (Guide, Doom, Runes of neener neener)

Aegis Defense Line (Quad Gun)

D-Cannon battery (3 Cannons)

3 Dark Reapers (Tempest Launcher, Crack Shot, Fast Shot)

3 Dark Reapers (Tempest Launcher, Crack Shot, Fast Shot)

3 Jetbikes (Cannon upgrade)

3 Jetbikes (Cannon upgrade)

3 Jetbikes (Cannon upgrade)

10 Guardians (Eldar Missile launcher)

7 Striking Scorpions (Chainfisted leader)

8 Warp Spiders (Powerbladed Dualgun leader, Withdraw)

8 Warp Spiders (Powerbladed Dualgun leader, Withdraw)

8 Warp Spiders (Powerbladed Dualgun leader, Withdraw)

First, a few observations:  There is exactly ONE Melta Weapon in the whole lot.  This sets the list apart from a majority of lists on its own.  Secondly, it has zero vehicles.  It is a Footdar army.  Eldar are often characterized by their long range fusilades from Warwalkers, and their high AP.  This list does pack some decent AP weaponry, but not on the scale Eldar usually do, nor on typical platforms.  The D-Cannons are the only actual AP 2 threats in the list and they do tend to scatter and are plagued by 24" range which isn't too awesome.  In fact the entire army has incredibly short range for the most part.

Yet I think this list has scary potential.  When you look at list construction abstractly, you find out that there are some easily identifiable parts to a list that are needed to succeed.  They are:

Anti-LandRaider unit (Generally Melta variety weapons, though Scourges and EMP or similar systems can also be used).
General Anti-Armour (large numbers of grenades are exceedingly effective, but this can also include the plethora of STR 7, Rending, Powerfists and other tools for wiping Rhinos and Predators).
Anti-Horde (Sheer volume of fire, and the poor hordes of the world mourn its veritable proliferation)
Anti-Terminator (Just one unit is usually needed to soften them over the course of a couple rounds, and typically this is plasma or something similar)
Anti-Power Armor (Which can be through volume or through AP, or even melee)
Objective taking (Speed kills, peaches!)

So those are the pieces you want to have when you are building a list for success.  The real trick is in evaluating, based on the strategy you will use, how much of any one thing you really need, and also identifying where the areas of overlap can be so that your list will be more efficient.

In this case I built the list to exactly that list of needs.

For the LandRaider, I have sent my brave Autarch to bust it open with the help of the Bright Lance.  This may seem a very small amount but consider my real motivation:  I want whatever is inside to be outside.  Right?  So if I fail to kill it, while a bummer, the stuff inside is sure to come out and play with the prospect of a Warlord kill.  So I kind of get what I want either way.  Since my Warp Spider bodyguard unit can withdraw, it scarcely matters if I get charged; for now the enemy that charged me will be in the open.  I can then split the leader off to try again on the Raider, while the Spiders shoot the contents with their brethren.

Anti-Armour:  This list features a huge number of STR 6 shots, all of which are easily capable of reaching the side arcs of any tank they desire.  Put simply, this list does not fear armour generally.  There is less mechanization in the world these days and so fortunately I won't have to commit alot of effort to that task in more than half the games I'll play, but the army is absolutely filled with competence at this job.  Literally every unit can destroy the sides of more conventional tanks.  Leman Russ's are one area of concern because against a savvy opponent, I will really struggle to pop the 13 side armor on those things.  This is a potential weakness for the list since Leman Russ's tend to come in packs.  The one way to handle that is to force the tank through use of the terrain and movement to turn one way or the other and expose its rear.  Meanwhile I'll need to keep myself spread out in circular deployment until that problem is resolved.  I will acknowledge though that a large grouping of LeMan Russ's would be a real test for the list and perhaps I will seek such a force out as my first test.  That being one of 16 codex's I might face, at least I know I won't see them every round in a tournament in that configuration!

Anti-horde ability just comes purely down to the number of shots you can project.  This army not only projects a lot of shots (and at VERY high STR), but typically will have the initiative when doing so and Warp Generators extend the effective range ofthe weapons from a defensive standpoint.  Due to premeasuring, I can see where your maximum move+ fire distance is and can place myself at its edge and wait like a hunter in the grass.  Or I can just deep strike and outflank quite suddenly, wiping out the front line and then jumping back and prepaing to do it again.

Anti-Terminator duty:  This is where the D-Cannons can shine.  They are simply ruthless weapons, the bane of any multiwound model since they instakill on a 6.  They are Barrage so they can snipe characters.  They obviously work great against the threat of Deep Striking clumped up Terminators and similar threats, especially if they're not in tree cover or some other form of cover.  As a close defense weapon, you can't really find one that's better than a D-Cannon battery.  Whatever doesn't die from its blasts will still have to contend with the Guardian and other fire in the backfield.  We all know that Terminators only really can be finished off through volume of fire anyways.

The horror that this list brings is in its anti-Power Armor ability.  At this there are going to be few armies that can match it.  The Tempest Launchers and Reaper Cannons, The D-Cannons, the Autarch and the Guardian Bright lance and so so so many shots at short range (an area of overlap in the list since volume works against all unit types and the str of the weapon is unusually high making it ideal for blowing through FnP and so on) are just ridiculous in their efficacy.  That I can ignore cover and re-roll failed to wound rolls with the Tempest Launcher is really the scary aspect of it.  That I can snipe with 9 small blast templates in a first round means that any independent character should fear for his life.  The First Blood and Warlord points are easier to get with this list.  So is linebreaker. 

In single objective games it will never be enough for an opponent to control their own objective against me, forcing them into the teeth of my guns.  In the multi-objective games, my army has the speed to steal objectives with alacrity and conviction, and enough high value targets to keep you from ignoring them entirely in favor of my troops (and my troops will often be in reseve anyways).  In kill point missions, I am exposed somewhat because Eldar are squishy and there are 14 fairly small units out there that concentrated fire can eleiminate one at a time.  However to be fair, I also have all three Fast and Heavy slots filled, and so my number of scoring units is very high and very mobile in the missions Big Guns Never Tire and the mission The Scourging.  So I am well equipped for those missions.  In the case of the Heavy support, I stand a relatively good chance of not losing them unless i'm facing a drop army, but in the case of the Scourging, my special abilities are very good for avoiding the unit wipe on the fast attacks (I have withdraw, AND I have the Warp Generators!). 

I feel like the army can compete extrmely well, but the proof is in the pudding.  I will begin practicing with this army and we will see if I can master it.  Come back here later for updates.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Warhammer 40K Beasts and Cavalry

I love them. 

I got my first taste of their delightful ability with the Dark Eldar BeastMaster unit.  The unit simply FLIES across the table and can all but guarantee its arrival on target, on time.  That it carries around so many wounds within it is an added bonus.  It simply is a beastly unit to take down and while it often IS taken down eventually (after all, it's an assault unit, and most assault units, like NFL Running Backs, can only battering ram their way so far before they are stopped) the damage it can do is far in excess of the risk.

The most interesting target for Dark Eldar Beasts is the Parking lots of the world.  Imperial Guard and other Razorspam type lists rely on the effectiveness of their artillery and long range weapons to make the threats manageable before they arrive so that lesser weapons might matter.  They often wrap their vehicles in non-essential units.  So the trick is to assault the guardians from an angle directly opposed to the angle of approach the Beasts want to take, clearing the way for them, leaving the meaty insides of the enemy artillery attack open for the taking.

I personally have used 2 Razorwing flocks, 5 BeastMasters, and 4 Clawed Fiends to tremendous effect.  The Razorwings provide perfect ablative ability, especially in cover and the BeastMasters are distributed to avoid losing morale.

Perhaps scariest of all, adding a fearless character that's fast on the move can really make the unit a LOT tougher to take down.  Baron Sathonyx is a popular choice as an escort for the unit because he gives them better leadership and can take hits.  He's probably the best choice to accompany them but allied choices also exist.

Beastmasters are not the only Beasts in 40K.  The Chaos Space Marines now have a worthwhile Beast option, the Chaos Spawn.  Just 30 point 3 wound Beasts with random coolness in close combat (but all of their random coolness is good randomness). They cause fear and are fearless which really helps them fill a tarpit role if needed and it can potentially even the scales against more able combatants.  They get D6+2 attacks on the charge and possibly many more.  They can be in units of 5 And for 6 points per model, they can get tough 6!

So 168 points for 5 Nurgly Chaos Spawn?  That just is really a fantastic value buy.  Fleet just makes Beasts complete in their speedster role.  I am sure that most people can find a spot for a 168 point unit that is that cool.

The combination that caught my fancy is a force led by Huron Blackheart and a Chaos Lord on Steed of Slaanesh.  The ability to outflank them seems attractive to me and the advantages of Hurons Warlord trait suits my style of gaming very well.

Imperial Guard Cavalry are now seemingly much better also.  Though the rules need a slight adjustment on the issue of their lances, they are a fearsome counter charge unit.  In fact they are exactly that, protecting the lines with vicious power.  You are always torn with this unit between wanting to charge the field or do what they were designed to do:  defend.  But in the end, when they hit at or near full strength they can obliterate most units.  They are prices as a sacrificial unit after that and that's fine.  I don't know if a lot of people will turn to these fun figures given the FOC slot they fill honestly, but if they were to move it to a different FOC, you might start seeing more of them.  I have used Rough Riders for quite a while and really enjoy the whole idea of them, but in actual combat one can see that to take them is to be bold indeed!

I could go on about these unit types but my main encouragement is to try these things in your games and report back here with your experience using them.  I'd be very interested in hearing how that has gone for you and what your thoughts might be on the new Chaos Spawn and really any of the Beasts and Cavalry units there are.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Transports in Warhammer 40K

Tactically, movement with vehicles has become a more important consideration.  The main threat to motorized armies is that if you get blown out of a transport, you can only snap fire in the next round and cannot assault (save for the assault vehicles exception clearly spelled out in the main FAQ) plus may even be pinned   I am going to review just a few tactical questions that come up as regards this movement, but this is not going to be an exhaustive treatise on the subject:

Tricking enemies into not killing your Rhino:

When in a Rhino you have effectively taken the choice of the enemy out of his hands:  He now cannot shoot at what is inside and must kill the Rhino.

However when the unit jumps out in front of the Rhino, it now has cover many times and is now a very unattractive target for multiple reasons besides that.  So think about it for a moment:  If you start embarked, move up 6”, jump out 6” you are now presenting your scoring unit or special weapons unit etc… as a target.  MOST enemies will bite, attacking the unit instead of the vehicle.  This is  what you want them to do actually.  This goes back to my philosophy that having 10 man units is better than 5.  I have ablative wounds whose lose do not take away from my essential offensive abilities and furthermore have effectively shielded the Rhino from any harm!  When I get back in and back away towards my rear objective, the enemy realizes they have wasted a lot of firepower on a unit that was never going to be at the front anyways, and the unit may never be a target again.  Their superficial sacrifice protected other rhinos equally laden with threats.  The effect is to sacrifice the casualties without sacrificing the actual Kill point, and then retreating, allowing the rest of the force to advance much more unmolested.  When you figure the math, it can EASILY take 4 units or more of fire to take down an entire 10 man squad.  It’s a real undertaking.  But the enemy does not want those flamers/whatever in that unit reaching them so they will pound away as long as they need to to stop it from happening.  If they don’t, all the better for you!  Their shooting has also made it more difficult to charge the unit.

So in many ways, a unit thrown out there and fed to the lions is worthwhile if it is large enough.  But this hardly makes any sense to do if you aren’t basically a fully mechanized force because there won’t be enough transports to protect to make it worth it.   The goal is to keep at least one alive and preserve them for the endgame while saving other Rhinos their untimely fate.  You won't cut out all the anti-tank shooting this way but you will limit it at little tactical cost to you.

Advance Behind transports or advance in them?

Assuming you took transports:  Obviously if you advance behind a wall of Chimera’s/whatever you create two problems:  you can’t fire because LOS is blocked and you also aren’t going as fast, meaning you won’t make it to assaults until turn 3 in all likelihood.  Similarly, if you were in a Rhino and got out in round 2, you also aren’t charging til round 3.  So in most cases where the enemy isn’t walking into the charges, you are going to be doing it in round 3 regardless of whether you’re in it!  That is important information to know!

So the actual question to be asked is, given you took transports, is the loss of shots going to be more impactful or is the fact you preserved your unit strength going to matter more?

That’s a pretty interesting question.  Are counting on your longer range shots for good productivity?  IG flashlights probably aren’t doing a ton of damage at range, and so they might well want to advance behind transports.  But if you look at a Plasma veteran unit with 3-4 Plasmaguns, the effect of firing can be greater than the protection of the transport, but you run a SIGNIFICANT risk of losing a lot of them, PLUS losing your firepower in an explosion.   Space Marines don’t fear explosions as much but also cannot fire from their shells as much and so they may well be taking greater risk than reward when trying to fire from the safety of a rhino.

There really are a lot of factors to consider here which makes me think there isn’t a RIGHT answer, but each battle will present you with an APPROPRIATE answer if you think about these issues a little bit.  A broad sweeping statement that one is better than the other seems unlikely to mean much. 

One thing I will say though is this:  HAVING the Transports to do this is probably better than NOT investing in them.  For with them you can take advantage of all the tactical possibilities your opponent leaves you.  Without them, you simply don’t have the options and when a cluster of IG large blasts saturates an area, the devastation can be awe inspiring.  In games where you elect to run behind them I think you are not worse off than if you didn’t.  Tank Shocks attack morale directly without a shot being fired which is a big deal as well.  I cannot tell you how many times a tank shock paid off, but it’s enough to tell you that it matters against more than half the enemies you will face.

Land Raiders

These behemoths are a special case.  I will spare you the boring and advanced  math for figuring out whether the LandRaider is harder or easier to kill in 6E.  It’s harder in general.  In addition  its damage output is greater in general because glances do not steal its ability to do anything.  Of all the 40K vehicles, it is most iconic.  It made Assault Vehicles what they are now and it is the King of them.

This vehicle is perhaps the one vehicle you can safely say you want to be inside of.  Math says so and the Assault vehicle designation is pretty much a promise, not a possibility with this thing.  Though on occasion they may be silenced, that is the exception, not the rule.  It is truly a thing of horror for enemies to see.

One thing I will suggest with Land Raiders that I won’t with any other is that you should trust to its armor and allow it to move at maximum speed at minimum in the first two rounds.  Unlike other transports, you aren’t trying to “beat the odds”.  You are the odds to be beaten!  You can afford this level of aggression with it like no other.  Because its occupants CAN assault after its destroyed, you have little to fear.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Warhammer 40K Heldrake

Traditionally I don’t like to help my opponents win tournaments I happen to be in.  However, when my friend said he wasn’t planning on bringing his Helldrake to a tournament, I leapt up and Nerd’d out on him about it and told him he simply must avoid such foolish notions in the future.

The HellDrake is quite impressive.  I am aware that Skyfire exists but Skyfire is no more guaranteed to kill anything than its non-Skyfire counterparts would if firing at a Chimera and its not cheap to get.  Wringing ones hands over that is a fools errand and its not like you wont take a shot at shutting the big guns up anyways.

Just to review, both his movement and shooting phase are attacks.  Already that is a little scary.  Like The VoidRaven bomber, though they do it different ways, this monster can hurt you twice per turn, something most units cannot do and when there are only 8-12 Kill points on the board many times, that’s not a small thing.  In addition they provide an enormous punch that can fly from threat to threat, weakening them to the point of ineffectiveness so that your actual force doesn’t suffer the attrition it otherwise would have.  This Heldrakes need to be proximate to its target also means it takes more risks than some flyers but as its strength is in flanking anyways, it costs the bird of prey nothing to simply limit the enemy to the absolute minimum shots possible by flanking.

It can cook people in fortifications but good, wipe out entire squads dumped from Rhinos, peel the armor off multiple vehicles at a time when it gets the right angle (and a little luck) and it forces heavy weapons to fire at something that is a MUCH lower percentage play than any alternate target.  It cannot be hit by a plethora of weapons and really, if you can knock out the 2-wound sky-fire cannon in round 1, your opponent will cry a lot when the Helldrake arrives.

This is going to be a VERY popular model!

One thing about models like this is they really require you to build the list around THEM.  So if you’re going to field these death machines, you are going to have to think outwards from them rather than the more traditional HQ and scoring units that most plan around.

My question was, does the Helldrakes price seem worth it and if so how many SHOULD you afford?  It is by no means inexpensive.  The more elite the list, the more you cannot afford the smaller number of baskets for your points to sync into.

After seeing it in action, I have zero problem recommending two.  I’m not a “redundancy” fanboi but if the goal is for you to flank with them, there are two flanks, and you don’t wanna’ be in each other’s way.  This allows yout to ”cross over” your two birds as they pass the centerline and probably keep them active on the board longer.  So strategically two makes more sense than one unless you just aren’t going to flank.

In a list that does this, you need some High STR, HIGH AP stuff to bust the Interceptors. Early.  So make this a priority in the list.  Just one unit should do it if it’s an accurate  heavy squad with good range (or reach).  Alternatively you could rely on ordinance to do it in. but doing so really limits the Defiler in its role so try to take a dedicated anti-Cannon unit.   Lascannons make the most sense but failing that, something that pours out High AP volume will work too.  Stingwings, and even (gasp) Storm Troopers are actually pretty good for this duty.  What’s important though is that you do it at all cost because the devastation you are going to cause is worth every point lost to this pursuit in the end.  And heavy squads like Devastators are tailor made for the job.

One other thing:  Ive talked about it before but keep in mind:  whatever the NEXT target for the Winged wonders is going to be becomes a lesser priority for the rest of the army, so keep that in mind while you are choosing targets for the accumulation of skulls for the skull throne.

Victis Chaos!