Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ITC Mission 3

I made a commitment to compete earnestly in the Independent Tournament Circuit (ITC) last year.  Sometimes you just want to know where you stand.  It is surprisingly challenging to go to that many "serious" events, along with the pressure of actually caring what happens, instead of my more typical point of view which is that it's just fun to get three games in and hey, only one person can win it so there's no real pressure.  You hope it happens but it's $10 for a good time if it doesn't.  This was different because I actually felt the pressure to win, in every single event.  I won't lie, it's not an entirely pleasant feeling actually, and losing seems to sting more than it does when you're playing just to enjoy the event in general.

Looking at the way they ranked players, I could see that anyone who had 400+ points was in relatively rare air, and so my goal was to both get over the 400+ point mark and be in the top 5% of the 5575 players who gave it a shot this year.  I am happy to report both things happened, and I was in the top 3% without even attending the largest and most points rich tournament, the Las Vegas Open and attending only two majors.  Not too shabby.  I say all that so that you will understand that my experience on this subject of ITC Missions is substantial.

As intensely as I competed this year, I saw the ITC missions many times.  The one I specifically didn't like, and that has generated a LOT of consternation among its players, is Mission 3.  For your reference, here is a link to their missions: ITC Missions link

Take a look at Mission 3.  It is a terrible mission.  It was with shock that I realized they were moving forward to keep it in the list of missions for 2017, given how many negative comments I get about it.  Even more disconcerting is that there isn't a hew and cry over it anywhere that I have seen online,.  Surprising.  So I thought I would raise the hew and cry for you.

The mission uses Vanguard Strike as its deployment zone.  That seems innocuous until you think about the Maelstrom objectives on this one.  The longest possible distance between two points that exists on the board are the diametrically opposed corners.  Its the one Deployment Zone where the models can meaningfully be placed at those distances and still face the enemy and yet capture the Maelstrom objectives of the mission if need be without being isolated from them as much.  All of that is seemingly innocuous.  The reason it becomes not so innocuous is that you will have an objective in your deployment zone to start.  Objective 6 is more or less a given if you are MSU and simply killing the units as they enter your 12" backfield, without moving much if any of your force.  The worst of the Maelstrom objectives is #4.  MSU forces can sit idly within their own deployment zone and casually score Objective 4.

Space Marine Battle Companies essentially win the Maelstrom component of this mission immediately.  They can easily have 26 units units, and possible more.  In comparison, the average number of units tends to be 12-16 for other armies.  It can more or less score most of the Maelstrom objectives at will with the volume of free transports they can employ in that mission.  A Battle Company SHOULD be able to easily score Objective 2 or 3 (whichever one they are sitting on to start the game) with Objective Secured and sheer mass.  They will take Objective 4 by default every time they roll it.  Anyone they face who isn't a Battle Company will be unable to stop it.  Objective 6 can be argued if the enemy gets a death star into the backfield, but otherwise, 6 is a given also, as ITC missions do not allow you to score them until the START of your turn, giving the Battle Company ample time to focus down on the interloper if it means denying them their points and focusing down on an enemy with a vast array of weapons they can afford because of their transports being free is likely.  Gravity Spam is a thing in Battle Companies.  Nothing "normal" will last long enough to stop the Battle Company from scoring 6, but some units can withstand it, so we son't call that a given.  However they can definitely make it hard for an opponent to attempt with sheer bulk.  5 is a debatable one, and probably no easier for either opponent.  Number 1 also debatable, but the Objective Secured in Battle Company makes it unlikely that the opponent will score it even if the Battle Company does not.  Therefore, through addition by subtraction, the Battle Company has the advantage here also.

In ITC missions, you gain half your final Battle Points from the Maelstrom objectives, and half the Battle Points from the Primary objective (8 from each, a total of 16).  Obviously you have some secondaries as well that break ties (worth 1 each).  The Battle Company is not likely to win the Primary objective portion of the mission.  Anything is possible but its fair to note that the Battle Company, for all its winning ways, does have a lot of easy to slay kill points in it, as long as the enemy has anti-tank means.  Therefore you have an 8-8 Battle Point split in all likelihood, barring poor play or bad luck etc...  It comes down to Secondary objectives.  My first question is, should it even come to that and be such an automatic fate?  On this mission the Secondaries are First Strike (having a kill in round 1), Slay the Warlord and King of the Hill (most units within 6" of the center by games end).  The Battle Company has the advantage here, as they are likely to get First Strike like most armies, if they focus down on it, and are likely to have more units in the center simply because they started with a boat load more than their opponent.  A final score of 10-9 is very likely in these match ups.

Herein lies another issue.  A person who wants to win the tournament, at the best of times, is going to win 11-8 in these match ups against a Battle Company.  His chances of being in the number one spot are almost immediately dashed as soon as he sees the opponent, because he knows he's already lost 8 points in the Tournament against such a force even if he wins the match.  Best case, he might even go undefeated against 5 Battle Companies in a row, but so what?  Others will have scored 19x5 = 95 points going undefeated (potentially) while the undefeated guy who faced five battle companies comes away with...55?  You can see the problem clearly.  Even if the mission didn't favor the Battle Company to win (it does slightly because of the tie breakers) it definitely favors the Battle Company to "steal" points from every opponent it faces with sheer numbers of tough hulls they don't pay for.  I mean how are you ever going to get to his Objective when its ringed with so many units?  How are you ever going to outnumber him in no mans land, as the Maelstrom objective 4 demands that you do?  How will you ever stop him from stowing points away for the one he can squat on unless he falls asleep?  Objective 1 will be uphill at best for both forces.  Due to Objective 4, he has ample reason to flood the middle and ensure that.

Mission 3 in the ITC is bad.  People complain about it all the time, yet I was prompted to write this for the lack of anyone else doing it.

Objective 4 needs to be replaced with something more fair.  "Kill two Enemy Units" perhaps to balance it out in its place.  No one would ever argue with that Objective.  Objective 6 should be altered slightly as well.  It isn't nearly as egregious but it still is as simple as pie for an MSU force to get, whereas an elite or assault army suffers.  Assault needs no help in suffering.  Perhaps making it an either/or Objective like "Have at least 3 of your scoring units and no enemy scoring units at least partially within 12" of your deployment edge OR Kill 2 enemy units that are partially within your Deployment Zone at the start of the turn"

Given that it is a Kill Point Mission, it makes more sense to require two kills instead of one, as you would already be required to kill units anyways in order to win in a Purge the Alien situation.  The Deployment Zone could also be changed to a Dawn of War deployment zone which would make conventional movement far more adequate for getting to the Objective 2 and 3 (remember that you place those in your enemies deployment zone so they can be right on the enemy deployment line)

Whatever the change, I think that Mission 3 is just a Tournament killer for anyone forced to play a Battle Company.  A change like this would be very good for the Mission and the play experience.  the new Objectives I mentioned do not disadvantage the Battle Company, they just stop it from stealing an enormous amount of points from their opponent almost by default.

Mission design is a big part of the game experience and as a TO who runs a Major Tournament (defined as 5+ rounds and minimum 32 participants in the ITC) I spend a lot of time every year adjusting the missions we use slightly in order to take into account the new armies and even the new version of the game.  I think the ITC should reconsider Mission 3 in its next poll.  the situation demands a change here, I think.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

8th Edition Warhammer 40,000 rules are being floated

Games-Workshop has indicated some of the changes that are coming to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and it is a serious change that looks like it is seriously affected by previous editions of Fantasy as well as innovation moving forward.

The changes being discussed are pretty fundamental to the DNA of the game experience.  I will simply react to what I learned thus far.  Keep in mind that all of what I am reacting to is actually from Games Workshop itself, and not some rumor mill online.

To Base Or Not To base?

The first thing is a tongue in cheek joke about placing the models on square bases.  Do not count on this any time soon.  It is purely a joke, made reference to in a little video Games Workshop put out.  However, I sense that they may be considering whether or not the base itself should be used to measure things.  In a round about sort of way their joke, if one reads between the lines, isn't one about the actual bases being changed but about whether they should matter at all.  I imagine in the end that they will, but Warhammer Fantasy uses literal model parts for ranges, so it isn't fanciful to think they could do something similar here.


The timing of the 8th Edition surprised me.  They make mention that it could be coming in time for Adepticon next year!  That gives us a pretty definite time frame to speculate on actually, as we know most of the time they won't use the new rules if it drops less than 30 days from when the tournament is to be!  March 22nd 2018 is Adepticon 2018, so given that the release dates are often end of week for delivery reasons, my money is on April 18th 2018 or sooner.  A new update from Games Workshop that dropped on 4/22 says this year!

Three Ways to Play

As some have speculated, they are drawing on the dubious way in which Warhammer Fantasy rolled out and there will be three modes to play in.  they describe these modes as open, narrative and matched play.

I think open play boils down to an unbound, anything goes version in which the players determine the forces and they may well not be balanced in the least.  While I honestly cannot understand the actual attraction, having played in the chaos (pardon the pun) that was the initial release of Age of Sigmar, there seems no ACTUAL downside to at least allowing it.  People will rarely, if ever, prefer it but whats the harm in saying its an option?  Not much.

The second version, narrative play, strikes me as a way to play historic battles and set up specific scenarios which are campaign-like, with each battle building upon the previous one and it will allow Games Workshop to sell their campaign books in a more literal way.  Much like Dungeons and Dragons modules, they would instruct you in how to run through the story and how to evaluate the effects of the battles on the involved forces and this could be a lot of fun.  As I have often said, the models are just stupid awesome, and the fact that there are actually RULES to play with them still blows my mind every day I am in this hobby, so this could be a really fun way to get non-competitive people to play and feel as if their battles mean something without tying as much importance to any one win or less.  It is also a lower key way to play so I am intrigued at least.

The matched play will be tournament play and I expect that to look a lot like it does now:  regimented rules, standardized missions and so on.  I would think that these rules would be presented to give every faction their day in court, whether it succeeds at it or not.  The burning question I might have is regarding the Maelstrom version of play.  Maelstrom battles are a very fun way to play 40K in a lower key way and while I disagree with the ITC's heavy use of it in competitive play, I do wonder how they will integrate this.  Why?  Because as per my article on Games Workshop Partners (click to view) they have been listening to us more.  In Games Workshops communications regarding the new edition, they directly named the people from the ITC, Adepticon and Mike from NOVA as direct contributors to their thinking on the new edition.  So if the people who run the ITC have that kind of pull, is it possible that the basic book missions will address directly how to integrate it?  I'd like the answer to that question.

Building Your Force

The best thing I heard about 8th Edition Warhammer 40,000 was in regard to benefiting entire armies that are actually representative of their factions.  For example, as cool as it might be in practice, A Riptide wing next to three Imperial Knights is never going to feel right, no matter what the final score says.  Likeways, the absurdity of Chaos Sorcerer Cabals hanging out with their Necron buddies is equally odd.  I have seen those forces and a lot like them that are abominations of the fluff.  Let's face it, the story is the thing that has made 40,000 rise above its competitors.  The entire story is very deeply responsible for the attraction, when the market is filled with other options (good ones in fact!).  Specifically, Games Workshop is talking about allowing re-rolls and army specific advantages you will get when you play purer versions of the army.  I like this middle ground because what they did before was made the actual army irrelevant, no more than a scrap pile for parts to build your doom engine with. The idea of simply taking the "best thing in this codex and the best thing in that codex" with no regard to the identities of them or the stories behind them was disappointing.  This signals a change of direction on that element of the game.

Individualized Movement Rules

An odder change is movement.  They are testing the idea of making every units movement quite specific to the unit and eliminating unit types (assumedly as far as movement goes but possibly in general) fro the core book.  I dislike this news.  It complicates the game and adds a layer of player knowledge that will be hard to keep up with.  Warhammer Fantasy used to do this and every model had its own movement statistic.  Memorizing that or dealing with codex's you don't know in organized play could get cumbersome if you need to check the movement rates on everything and while I'd love to say no one ever cheats on movement it's just not true.  I had a Necron player, a good one, move his Night Scythe 36", disembark and then run.  He wasn't allowed to shoot (and therefore could not run) He as an extremely accomplished Necron player who knew it was not legal, but he did it anyways in a fit of frustration to rob me of a few points. Given that this rule would really only be known by the Necron player in many cases, the opponent now would seemingly have to deal with delving into every codex just to make sure there are no shenanigans like this one going on.  I guess this core rules change will make the core rules smaller.  Movement would be left to Codex's in whatever form those take at that point.  That would also signal a complete removal of any value your codex's have for you.  Start selling the ones you don't use!

Imagine a World in Which Your Ranged Cannons Actually Did Something...

The crew at Games Workshop are testing the idea of Armor save modifiers in the shooting phase.  That was pretty vague.  Their end goal is to make ranged weapons "better represent how you imagine them working in your head", to quote them directly.  This could mean a lot of things.  Some will recall that armor save modifiers used to be a thing in Warhammer Fantasy.  The way it has been handled in other Games Workshop products is to reduce the armor save of the victim by any STR over 3.  For example, a STR 5 creature would inflict a -2 armor save penalty to its target.  In other iterations of the rules, such as Age of Sigmar, some weapons simply apply a penalty to saves in general.  In this paradigm, the STR is irrelevant and the weapon specifically and simply  does modify it.  We have had an Armor Piercing (AP) stat for every weapon for quite a long time.  It already represents how little armor matters to some weapons.

An "armor modifiers" approach would treat it as less like an on/off switch.  It would instead inflict a penalty to the armor save.  I took a little time to imagine how that could work using current mechanics and I was somewhat at a loss.  Take the example of an AP 4 Autocannon against Terminator armor.  In our current understanding of it, that would essentially be the same as AP -.  The massive power coursing through that shell does not translate to much of anything and is "turned off" by the enemy armor.  But that is not really how you imagine it in your mind.  Its a frigging auto cannon!  75mm guns firing into a dude should hurt, right?  May as well be a STR 7 stick for all it matters against Necron Immortals.  If the goal is to make a weapon like that be a little cooler when it lands in a guys belly, what do you do against say a Terminator?

I think that when you get hit with a STR 10 Manticore, you should be filling your pants with unpleasant waste.  If anything I am thinking they will set a base number in shooting like they did in Fantasy and anything over that number is a modifier.  For example if they set it as 6, then any ranged weapon over STR 6 will reduce the armor of its victim by one or even one per point of difference so that a STR 10 Manticore dropping shells dead on is going to reduce the save by 4 (for example).  A Tactical Terminator caught in that blast would then be a 6+ armor and still a 5+ Invulnerable save.  AP would still apply only to the base armor of 2+ and thus the 6+ does not negate his ability to take the 6+ he's been whittled to.

This enhances the value of Invulnerable saves, as I imagine those will be as inviolable as they always have been.  Again all guesswork based on what they have said.  Fun to think about.

Sweeping Assaults Swept Aside...What Does It Mean?

Another development is the direction of assaults.  They want the mechanic to favor the charger and perhaps even have the charger always going first.  As happens in other games, you run into this absurd situation where certain armies simply are cut down before they strike as they charge and then with the full weight of their momentum they get cut down again in melee.  this makes the charges a completely untenable idea, for armies that should totally be able to assault like Orks.  Lets face it:  Fire Warriors charging bravely into the fray when their enemies are upon them is pretty cool, and you gotta root for the little guys even if they are ultimately going to get their lunch money taken away.  Why would a charging unit not have the momentum?  Even Hammer of Wrath is sort of a rule that recognizes that the sheer force of a battle front hitting you can have some initial value.  Opening up the tactical option of giving the charging unit initiative in the first round of combat sounds good to me as it always did in Warhammer Fantasy.  This also gives armies that use speed instead of sheer awesomeness as a weapon a little boost, like Dark Eldar.  Assault has already been diminished in importance, so what better way to spice it up than giving aggression a chance?  And Terminators everywhere will be cheering for their resurrected value.  I like it.

Deserters Will Be Shot!

For morale they are taking a page out of the Age of Sigmar playbook and looking to install the "morale = deserters" paradigm.  In essence, they propose rolling D6+casualties taken - Leadership score and removing that many more casualties.  I can only speculate that these losses would happen win or lose which leads to some strange situations where you've killed all your foes and then explode and die in a second or subsequent round of combat.  The way they worded it made it seem as if this would be wounds dealt, not models removed, which is an important distinction indeed!  So if I lose 6 wounds, and roll a 6 (LD is 9) then I lose three more wounds.  It feels like a daemonic instability check except I don't need to know how many wounds my opponent took, just my own.

One impact of this is that you would certainly value leadership more than you do now.  Paying points for upgraded Sergeants has definitely fallen somewhat out of vogue in many forces.  I would foresee many more people taking them moving forward.

Monstrous Creatures like a Riptide will be virtually unaffected though, as even a roll of a 6 after taking 3 wounds would do nothing to him in close combat and he only has 5 to begin with!  In fact such a contest might be more favorable to the Riptide in the long run other than insofar as the fact that it virtually guarantees that in order not to get caught out in the open the following round, the Riptide will want to charge more often!  Wouldn't that be a funny quirk of such a rule?

Attrition hurts hordes.  Low armor means they will assuredly take a far worse toll from the rule.  Tyranids and orks hordes already don't need help being terrible so if a unit of Orks loses 6 guys no matter how much damage they did, exploding ork parts will be everywhere after almost any close combat.  I foresee this as the greatest argument against such a rule.  Now keep in mind that orks charging would be going first in this brave new world of Warhammer 40,000, so some of that would absolutely be fixed, but it is worth noting.  Even the best Ork charge may find itself losing a lot of fellows to a volume of attack type of a unit like Flayed Ones which are also very hearty, but I suppose that was always the case.

I also observe that this would mean that you are fighting to the death and sweeping advances would literally go away.  That is an enormously important statement. Sweeping Advances are one of the mechanics that make assault a tenable thing to do in a futuristic game like Warhammer.  Not being able to do it changes everything.  Charging and getting clogged up by Fire Warrior... is going to end well for the chargers and badly for shooting forces.

I think just in the dribbles that Games Workshop shared we can see that a very different game is coming.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Musings on Speed vs. Power

It's a great question.

Tournaments are where actual money is on the line, actual street cred earned or lost, and where actual prizes are to be won.  Tournaments change the viewpoint a bit when you are attempting to plan well.

In casual games, we try out "interesting list ideas" like a 16 year old teenage girl tries out clothes.  That analogy REALLY isn't that far off, because I think we get the same kick out of "seeing how it works" as they do "seeing how it looks" on them.  The infatuation often lasts just as long.

In tournaments the luxury of screwing around kind of drops away and you are left to ask this pivotal question among many others:  Speed or power?  Which do you need more of, given that you need both to one extent or another.

On the raw surface, one might argue that the ITC values power by having both Maelstrom and Primary missions at work.  Does that really equalize them?  Not really,  Many of the Maelstrom objectives are just "kill something" anyways but a host of them are positional.  The ITC isn't TRULY advantaging speed over power, but then many of the objectives are literally impossible without speed, which puts speed at a premium simply because in any one contest you cannot afford to be physically unable to do things, even if "over time" it served you better to give on that point on occasion!

Speed advantages you by allowing you to be where and when you need to be for blockading.  Imagine for a moment that you are facing a Space Wolf player who uses the Thunderwolf Cavalry to form a super duper "Wolfstar".  It streaks across the board in one round and absolutely will assault you in turn two.  The normal proposition here is that you have "one round to do something about it" before it strikes.  Suffice it is to say, it isn't going after a fair fight when it does this.  It is there to maul your ability to hurt it in future rounds for good.  What if you were simply to vacate the area and move two Raiders into position, forcing them to target nothing more significant than a couple 55 point sacrificial lambs, for lack of anything it can get to now?  I did this to a very good player when he came to kill my Beastpack some time ago and when he got there, I moved at maximum speed away and then cordon'd the wolves off, using his own drop pod as one of the corners.  Given that games do not have unlimited rounds, you have spent up to three of the Wolfstars rounds far from anything, and killing little.  Speed allows those kinds of shenanigans.

Power units allows you to disallow the enemy his speed in the first place.  It is a form of defense really, because when you blast units down to size, you're lowering the inevitable damage you will take or their ability to position themselves the way they wished.  You are taking away their resources BEFORE they can actually sacrifice them.  Stranding an enemy who relies on speed can be very harmful to their chances, as these armies often only require one round to express that speed in order for it to be worth it.  A bevy of firepower that steals the opportunity certainly matters.  That relies on you gaining the initiative on the enemy however and as we know, that is at least in theory only happening 50% of the time!  If you faced five fast armies in a day and went first just twice, would you lose the tournament simply for losing initiative?  It surely emphasizes how important new models like Guilliman and oldies resurrected in new form such as Inquisitor Coteaz can be to a power minded list.  Utility has a place even in those instances.  

If you favor raw power, you will favor power that has serious staying ability.  MSU (Multiple Small Unit) army concepts really don't work as well when Power is your modis operandi, without toughness to back it up.  The trouble you always run into is the more elite the force, the less models you will see in your force.  Every casualty hurts.  Ask a Grey Knight player or other elite force General.  They will tell you that the raw power that the force pumps out is diminished far too quickly.  War Convocations are an example of an army that is pretty poor in the mobility department and relies on the elite power of its units.  The better generals spend the points to get as much hard core armor and protection leading those units as they are allowed.  The War Convocation does not tend to dominate tournaments because it lack the simple ability to get to where it wants to go.  Power house force components like a Riptide Wing for example, might have some elements of speed and power.  Increasingly we are seeing the units that can pump out raw power become really really sturdy as well.  Not in all cases, but certainly that is the trend.

Some additional food for thought on the matter:  Just look at the "power lists" below.  What do you see?

Tyrands:  6 Flying Hive Tyrants
Tau Empire:  StormSurge/Dual StormSurge W/ Y'Varah spam and/or Riptide Wing to back them up.
Space Wolves:  Wolfstars and Wulfen all with Thunderhammer and StormShields
Eldar:  WraithKnight+Jetbike spam with spare points spent on units to guard the line like D-Cannons.
Dark Eldar:  Venom spam with Haemonculous Coven or Corpsthief Claw allies
Space Marines:  White Scar Battle Companies featuring a thousand transports and Grav Amps.
Orks:  Meganobz in Trukks and lots of them backed by a Buzzgob Stompa
Grey Knights:  3-5 DreadKnights with deep Striking allies
Chaos Daemons:  Screamer Star with Belakor and summoning.  Possibly even Magnus.

The commonality cannot be lost on anyone.  These armies are tough, fast and powerful.  They don't tend to be MSU nor gun lines in the least (only the Battle Company can even afford to be because of its silly rules).  The pendulum strongly favors the speed here, even though it comes in all kinds of forms, whether it be the Scouting/outflanking Corpsethief Claws and Rhinos or it be the fast jump moves of the Tau Empire.  No one would take the Tyrant without the Wings.  No one would take the Y'Varah if it weren't faster than lightning.  No one would take the Kabalite Warriors without venoms if they could avoid it, and the ork general would probably not be so bold as to take Meganobz and walk them (I would but then, you's me and I do those things).

In all cases, they have power and speed.  It is the speed with which that power can be deployed or pulled to safety that makes them as feared as they are, for firepower alone without the speed would leave all these choices at the mercy of faster forces that can limit their opportunities to strike.  It is that they are able to clear away from danger (or speed to it as the need may be)!

An example in the debate over Power vs. Speed:  I won with Tau Empire this year.  I was using the Gunfort for this tournament.  I used a StormSurge, a couple of Riptides (no Riptide Wing), and the rest of it was Fire Warriors, Sniper Drones and similarly ground bound things for the most part.  The list was lacking in more powerful Formations like the Drone Net.  I swept the tournament without them.  I used speed, deployment shenanigans, and good old Tau Empire Ethereal leadership.  The army didn't have lightning speed but it did have speed in the general sense, which allowed me to be JUST fast enough to get JUST far enough in my missions.  Without the luxury of the Gunfort's mobility, would the result have been the same?  Probably not.  Terrain alone would have seen t othat.  I needed mobility to win with less powerful units.  The lesson is:  it's possible.  Mobility was the ingredient that made it work.

I think the new question isn't just speed vs. mobility anymore.  A third element has been added by Celestine, Cawl, Magnus and the like:  Toughness.  The firepower of 7th Edition in all phases is lethal.  Heavy hitters without protection will disappoint.  My Fire Warriors got tough via their Gunfort, Celestine and Cawl through her rules, Magnus and WraithKnights through stat lines; and it is starting to matter as much as both speed and Power.  Toughness was never "not important", but it has taken on quite a life of its own with the extreme examples we now have, and more are on the way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ynnari and the BeastPack

I'm always looking for ways to make units work better than they appear to on paper.  The mad scientist in me enjoys the work.

Gathering Storm: Fracture of Biel-Tan is a supplement that just came out, which allows you to combine the Harlequins, Eldar and Dark Eldar into a Detachment that uses the same force requirements as a Combined Arms Detachment does.  They collectively become Ynarri.  You give up battle Focus and also Power From Pain in order to gain a couple of abilities, one of which is that if you are within 7" of your fellow Ynarri unit, then you unit does not have to take morale tests for taking 25% casualties.

The truth is, the Beastpack in the Codex: Dark Eldar has always had an achilles heel.  It pretty much requires you to take a BeastMaster to bolster the Leadership of the group because Psychic Shriek is a thing but also because the leadership of the BeastPack is abysmal without him there to steady them.

This is all good and fine if the enemy does not have precision shot.  Precision shot can not only pop the 5+ armor of the BeastMaster, but with just three casualties it can send the whole thing fleeing off the board in round one before you mov a muscle.  I know because it has happened to me.

There is no Duke Sliscus to protect the unit like there once was in the old codex.  Yet if you take the Dark eldar portion of the force as Ynarri you will now be able by proximity to keep the unit from failing this way.  

I was very excited to learn this.  I think giving up Battle Focus actually does matter to some units like Warp Spiders, who make excellent use of the ability but for Dark Eldar, one can easily argue that the Dark Eldar Power From Pain chart is just not fruitful enough to care if you lose it.  It's best abilities come much later than one would like it to.  Unless you field Urien Rakarth in your force, there's no economical way to wind that clock forward much faster.  There are only two HQ slots in a Ynarri formation, so you'd need to pay a fairly high tax to get more Haemonculous in the force to wind the clock forward on  enough units for the Dark Eldar Power From Pain to help you more.

Your downside is that any Troops choices you take will not be Objective Secured as they might have been otherwise.  That is a real downside but from the perspective of making the Beastpack itself a potent and persistent force in the army, there's no doubt in how useful this is on the approach and against precision shots.  The Beastpack itself does not normally benefit from Power From Pain except for the BeastMaster in the unit anyways, so it hardly matters to them if they lose Power From Pain in exchange for becoming Ynarri.

If you want beastpacks to do some work for you, definitely look at this possibility,