- You just planted 30 SCORING units in the enemy backfield
- You just killed a unit on the drop.
- The enemy couldn't do anything to stop you
- They can't respond with shooting that matters unless it ignores cover
- They must assault to silence it in the end and Illic can fight.
- Line Breaker is pretty much assured.
- You can repeat the death sentence twice more while wiping valuable heavy weapon assets from the enemies force QUICKLY through Sharp shot
Friday, September 27, 2013
Illic Nightspear is one of those characters in a codex where you see a LITTLE potential, but that potential is overshadowed both by the AWESOME Psychic powers of the Eldar codex or the awesome utility of the Autarch, or perhaps the beastly combat ability of the Avatar. Regardless of the cause, Illic was one of the first characters people wanted to know about, and then as quickly as his celebrity had come, Illic faded from the spotlight.
It is certain that most readers will not have seen much of Illic on the field and even more certain that those playing Eldar will have quickly dismissed this figure of Eldar legend from their lists. For those that are a part of the Unorthodox Empire, the Generals for which are listed to the right of this post, Illic represents that most wondrous of things in the 40K universe: possibilities.
So let's take a gander at Illic Nightspear and see what wars we may wage at his command.
Illic carries a power sword that strikes at I9 when forced to, and he comes with 4 attacks, 5 on the charge. It raises to respectability any unit he decides to join. That sounds bad in what army? None really. WS 6 makes him plenty capable when called upon as well. So as Tough 3 characters go, he's as deadly as you could expect him to be and he is in no way expensive, so this all sounds pretty decent for the price. In fact his middling cost is likely one reason people looked into him. In a list squeezed for points, you must at least consider characters like Illic.
Illic's gun is the real weapon however. The eye popping BS of 9 makes hitting things essentially certain. Even if he misses, he gets a re-roll. The Void Bringer is a serious piece of AP 2 shooting hardware that can lay low any target from quite a distance. If the shot wounds on a 6, POOF, Disruption goes off and bleaches the enemy model from existence. Illic Nightspear can use the weapon separate from within his unit. His Warlord trait allows him to hide while dealing out his death from safety. All the shots are precision shots, so he basically acts like a Vindicare Assassin in that way. Obviously things like Heavy Weapons and banner bearers are all worthy targets for Illic's attentions, nerfing the enemy capabilities through selective targeting. Imagine the fun of ending Mephiston in one fell swooping die roll. Though only a 17% chance of that happening, still… I've done it with Disruption weapons.
Illic is both fleet and Shrouded, and this truly makes his unit a ghost until it wishes to strike; and of course the Battle Focus ability, which almost all Eldar units possess, allows Illic to fire on enemies and then melt into shadow using Shrouding to protect him whenever necessary. In fact Battle Focus is a key to how Illic can be used.
Now Illic allows you to take Altaioc Pathfinders instead of Rangers. Any number of your Rangers can be converted this way. Why would you want to pay 25 points for an Eldar Pathfinder? Good question. They were that expensive before actually, but with the added benefit that their Ranger Long Rifles would be twice as deadly with Rending on 5's AND 6's to hit. Not so anymore. That deadliness took a new form in the new codex. Now every Pathfinder gets the Sharp shot ability which means the entire unit is Precision Shooting its target… with Blade storming (basically rending that doesn’t affect vehicles) Shuriken Pistols. That is a seriously deadly combination en masse, particularly if they are given an ability from their Farseers such as Prescience, or from another psychic power of which there are several. Being able to fire off, say, 10 Rending shots that can choose their specific target model could be useful, no?
So the best way to use this tactic is with an Autarch AND Illic. The Autarch makes the reserve rolls all but certain or helps delay some of the reserves if it is not yet the time. That means that a Psyker is probably out of the picture. However, if you wanted a Psyker, go with a Jet bike Farseer and an Aegis Defense Line that utilizes the Comms Relay to gain back some of the reliability lost
Now let us assume you bring in 30 Pathfinders around Illic with a Farseer to cast prescience on one of them. Against a MEQ unit, That's 13.33 wounds, of which 4.44 are Rends from Blade storming. So you would kill 8.5 MEQ on the drop including Illic's shot, and even a TEQ unit would be toast. With Doom, the enemy unit in question is a goner. On the subsequent enemy round, the Stealth and Shrouded Pathfinders are getting 2+ saves in all likelihood against shooting. Then they repeat their massacre. Assault is the enemies only true weapon against such a combination.
Now I am very aware that the opponents of this plan will say that it is a very large points expenditure to do this. They're not wrong. With Illic, That's 890 points worth of Pathfinders. While you'd take a Farseer in most cases, opponents will even try to lump in the Bike Seer as yet another "expense" of the plan. Here's my question: if it works, do you care?
A few things you got for your expense:
Not a bad return.
Now we know that the one thing the enemy can do to our valuable scoring units is use Ignore Cover weapons or they can assault. So we need a contingency plan to deal with those things to the extent it is possible to do so. No one lives forever.
If you're running DFO (which I hate) you can use the Sky shield Landing pad which also provides Invul saves. Turns out Illic's ability lets him literally deploy anywhere, including on top of one of these babies and it is the PERFECT things to use in DFO since you needed the Comms Relay. But if you're using the Farseer option, you'll need DFO to do this. If no Sky shield, then plan B: Saturation. Put simply, the enemy doesn't want a repeat of Illic's buddies and their firepower, but if there is something ELSE equally dangerous nearby, then they are forced into choosing. Well it so happens that there are other units that infiltrate, wouldn't you know it? And those units can run interference for your scoring units when they show up. They also offer Illic a safe harbor until he can join and defend his less melee capable Pathfinder buddies.
So in a list using Illic I would take Striking Scorpions. It's an ideal unit for two reasons. First it is VERY hearty and they come with Stealth. Add this to the Shrouded ability of Illic and you have a nigh impossible to kill waiting room for Illic to flip through his newest issue of GEQ (GentleElfs Quarterly). The Scorpions then serve as the shield against assault and also as additional shooting when Illic is done scampering into his Pathfinder unit. Scorpions can easily finish off anything the Rangers shot and set up the next target FOR the Pathfinders.
Okay so we now have a way to keep Illic and later the Rangers safe, so what to do about Ignores Cover type weaponry when we have no Landing pad? Well our first defense is the Battle Focus ability to scatter once we fire so we aren't as juicy a target for Torrent flamers and other ignores cover stuff. Battle Focus is important for making sure we keep surging as well to our next target after the drop. Our second potential defense against the Ignores Cover brand of weaponry is the target priority issues we created for the enemy with Scorpions etc… The third defense is a bit more forward: Kill the units with that ability first.
Clearly Heldrakes are a problem. For everyone. Pretty much always. Baal Predators, Land Raider Redeemers, Tau Smart Missile Systems, Imperial Guard Barrages and so on all provide a challenge to our cover saves.
Imperial Guard Hydra Flakk batteries are clearly the last word in anti-aircraft and anti-Skimmer technology and they can come in units, unlike the Space Marine Stalker (which is actually a really good choice also but you can only get one as an ally and the other costs associated with Codex:SM would be higher). No unit strikes more fear into Flyers AND skimmers like they do and lets face it: Eldar Skimmers have a lot of Ignores Cover firepower, as do Heldrakes. A pair of these in reserve could be one answer as could a pair of Vendetta because they strike fear into every armored thing of any kind. Just let them stay off camera until the flyer shows up, then blast it from the sky. Frankly this unit solves a lot of problems but does require the use of allies. But what to do about those Riptides with Pathfinder assists? The Vendettas are probably more useful as that goes.
Personally I'd make sure to kill anything that ignores cover first with the parts of your force not involved with the Eldar Pathfinders.
Lets take a look at our list and see what we are up to here:
70pts Aegis Defense Line (Comms Relay, cause yeah)
140pts Illic Night Spear
170 Farseer on Jet bike (Runes of Witnessing, Mantle of the Laughing God)
120pts 10 Rangers
250pts 10 Pathfinders
250pts 10 Pathfinders
250pts 10 Pathfinders
193pts 9 Striking Scorpions (exarch w Claw)
70pts Primaris Psyker
140pts 10 Veterans (Hvy Flamer, 2 Melta Guns)
65pts Guardsman Marbo
280pts 2 Vendetta (Heavy Bolter Sponsons)
This is in keeping with our plan to use Illic to maximum advantage as well as maintain our theme. What we are after here is to turn the flank with a stealthy strike team army that uses the shadows to hide, strikes hard and rarely misses its prey while obtaining superior position.
It wins through forcing the enemy to come from all the way across the battle field to come get us instead of being able to just line up and fire. Units deployed on one side of the board will never reach us and potentially never fire a shot.
The Vendettas are heavy duty anti-aircraft that can also expose the tender insides of the enemy transports. Guardsman Marbo is a distraction who can hold up units from getting to us quicker, perhaps near the middle of the enemy line. The Veterans can come and support the Pathfinders as exposable Deep Striking shields that pack a bit of punch.
The Pathfinders will force the enemy, through massive precision shots, to fight with their second or third tier weaponry instead of those they would rather use. Imagine in your minds eye the surprise on the faces of those soldiers as their heavy weapons are picked off from afar.
The pinning attacks of the Pathfinders could also find some help if you were so inclined, by including a unit of Battle Psykers in the force. Though Marbo would have to go it would help ensure that while the Pathfinders pummel their nearest foe, the Rangers can pin the next nearest, making approach almost impossible.
One last note: the Aegis Defense Line should probably be placed midfield, instead of way back in your deployment zone. If going second, use it to lure the enemy to line up on the wrong side. If going first, keep in mind that you can move and run to it with IG if you like, wherever it will force the enemy to split off in order to deal with them and away from the main thrust of your attack. Ultimately for this force it makes little sense not to use it to slow down any enemy approaches sooner than later to keep them within your ranges when you still have more of your force available to fire. Measure it in any event so that the Vendettas can fire , then turn and fire again at any enemy that gets close to it. You may not actually need to do this but its wise nonetheless. Just gives you more options. It may just be a grey wall but its still one more tool in your bag of tricks for misdirection.