Thursday, October 6, 2011

List breakdown: why I chose what I chose!

The wife helped me paint again last night, and I’m happy to say that everything is done except the edging and canopies on the Venoms, which we intend to finish both together tonight! Teamwork! I got no useable pictures last night, but will get some of the whole army done as soon as I’m able! I sure wish I had a good way to thank my wife…she’s added so much to the army with the details that I would not have even thought about doing!

Who the hell spams Reavers?!

So about my army….frankly, the list…I stole it.
It wasn’t intentional. I just came to the same conclusions as someone else for the same reasons, and my list ended up being the same as his. Separate and independent, but the same. That person was Xaereth of Delusions of Grandeur blog. When I was dissatisfied with my earlier armies, relying on Dark Lances and Blasters with a couple wych and/or incubi units didn’t cut it for me, I started looking at Hellions and more Heat Lances…and found that he was using that very thing. He had been using Beasts along with a few Reaver units, but dropped them…I’m not sure why, but he ended up going with the three Reaver units the same time as I bought mine.

His success in his battle reports helped me learn what to do and not do, and I’m thankful to him!

But really what motivated me to change up what had been working for the Kabal before was boredom. With all the speed the Raiders, Venoms, and Ravagers have to offer it really was nothing more than a Dark Lance gunline, where the only maneuver I’d do would be to get in range and try to give myself a Cover save. Meh. It was boring.

Dark Eldar are supposed to be a “finesse army”, but I felt there was no finesse involved as I just hoped my Dark Lances and Flickerfields made the dice happy. So I looked to do something different. With a lot of speed, firepower, melee ability, and an interesting “cool” factor. I think I’ve found it.

So, here’s my list, then a breakdown:

Baron Sathonyx


7 Incubi (Raider with Flickerfield, Enhanced Aethersails, and Shock-Prow)

19 Hellions (including Helliarch with Stunclaw)

3 Wracks (Venom w/ 2 SC)

3x 5 Warriors (Blaster; Venom w/ 2 SC)

3x 6 Reavers (2 Heat Lances each)

3x Ravager (Dark Lances; Flickerfields)


I really wanted that +1 to go first, which is what got me started down the Baron/Hellion road to begin with. By my horrible math, this means instead of 50/50 who’s going first, it’s more like 66/33 in my favor. Ironically, this army has moved away from a first-turn alpha-strike army in to a second turn assault army…but still winning that die roll is ok by me!

He makes Hellions Troops. This helps with FOC management, allowing for 3 Fasts plus Hellions. An extra (fast) unit that can actually claim objectives instead of contest them is another layer of difficulty the opponent has to deal with, and having their full points value for table quarters is awesome…with the Baron this unit is at 400’ish points down to the last models.

When run with Hellions, he brings some invaluable abilities: Stealth, and rerolling Dangerous Terrain is a wonderful combination and really allows these guys to shrug off ranged firepower as they close in.

But more than that, the Wargear he enjoys would cost more when bought with an Archon than on him…Phantasm Launcher and Shadowfield are a lot of points! The reroll for Hit & Run is seldom needed, but takes the chance of failure from 1/6 to 1/36…a huge change! And rerolling the distance is spiffy too…if you roll a bit below average, feel free to roll again and trust the dice to even out. And lastly, when given Furious Charge he assaults at Strength 7. He lacks a power weapon, but my use for them is more about generating a million high S attacks on infantry or vehicles…S7 is hell on rear armour!


Honestly, for this army, this guy is a 50-point Pain Point, and makes Wracks Troops. I think he’s worth the cost, as he’s required to get the cheap Wrack scoring unit and to get the Hellions their Furious Charge (which I think they require to be effective). Having a Venom Blade on him makes him a credible melee threat, though he will of course struggle vs. Power Armour. I envision him joining the Wracks after the Pain Point shuffle and stiffening them up, making them somewhat capable in melee vs. non-MEQ units fighting for objectives end-game. I’d love to have a Liquifier Gun on him, but can’t scrape up the points.


I was really torn between using the ubiquitous 5-man Warrior unit with a Blaster in Venoms, or using 5-man Wracks with Liquifiers in Venoms. It boiled down to needing more Lance shots to deal with vehicles. These guys will often be forced to go mid-field where their blasters can be used, but if the enemy has vehicles that will be running down my throat right away (Vendettas, Stormravens, etc.) they can stay home, use their Splinter Cannons on things that fall out of transports, and play for objectives mid-late game (turns 4-5). It boils down to having more of a need for anti-armour than anti-personnel. I have plenty of the latter!


The Wracks do two things for me. First, they’re a dirt-cheap scoring unit in a Venom. Second, they provide a Pain Point that the Baron can steal. They are again necessary in order to get the Furious Charge my Hellions need. As I said with the Haemonculus above, they are moderately capable against small/weak units fighting over an objective late-game.

The Warriors and Wracks combine to give me 4 Venoms: 48 splinter shots, which should get me on average 16 wounds per turn. Against Power Armour, that’s 5 dead guys, or one Dev/Long Fang unit gone per turn. Four is a small number relative to many lists, but I also have the Hellions spitting out another 40 shots per turn, plus their significant melee prowess, so I’m not too worried about my ability to torrent things off the table. Even MEQ with FNP will feel this!


These guys are my lynchpin. If I lose them too early, I’m in trouble. With the Baron in there, they’re almost a quarter of my army’s points. But they are very capable at a number of roles, and require a real dedicated amount of shooting to wear down.

The idea is they will start with the Haemonculous; while the Baron starts with the Wracks. On turn 1 the Hellions move away from the Haemi (who moves near the Wracks, getting in their empty Venom) keeping the Pain Point for FNP. Then the Baron leaves the Wracks; he takes their pain point and joins the Hellions, while the Wracks get in the Venom with the Haemonculus. This starts the Hellions with two Pain Points for Feel No Pain and Furious Charge. With the Baron, they gain Stealth…I would of course move them to where they’d have cover (or even better out of line of sight completely!) on the first turn, giving them 3+/FNP. If the enemy throws their High Str shots at them to take away FNP..well, they still have the 3+ cover, and those big shots aren’t going at my gunships (Venoms, Raider, and Ravagers). If they aren’t shot up, they should be in assault range of anything I want on turn 2 (unless I’ve goofed deployment horribly…which I’m perfectly capable of doing!).

Against non-embarked infantry, they’re a terror, as they can generate 13 wounds from shooting, then wade in with a very threatening number of S5 I7 attacks (57 + the Baron if everyone makes it in, which isn’t likely). Jump infantry with Fleet can really push their threat envelope around, so it’s hard to hide from these guys, and their guns can clear away most bubblewraps pretty easily, though with that many shots it’s hard to not over-do it!

These guys are stealth anti-vehicle too. I know popular wisdom says relying on assault to deal with infantry is a poor idea, and I agree with that, but these guys almost always cause unexpected carnage to enemy car-parks. By the math-hammer, if assaulting vehicles moving Combat Speed, every 2 guys gets one roll on the Vehicle Damage Table. Theoretically if I spread them out for a super-cool multi-assault, they can shake up to 10 vehicles per turn! More realistically is 4 or so, as I don’t find it possible to spread them out that much. Ideally I’d have a combi-assault in to some infantry where I can stay tied up for the second turn, or at least have the unit in some cover…which isn’t as hard as it sounds. When wrapped around a bunch of vehicles, it’s not that hard to have cover just from the enemies own vehicles! If the enemy shoots at me, I’ve still got the 3+ cover and FNP. When they assault, I’ve got Defensive Grenades from the Baron, strike at S4 I6, and can Hit & Run away, allowing the Venoms to finish off the disembarked people while the Hellions go after more vehicles, infantry, objectives…whatever! Note that when they’re wrapped around a bunch of enemy vehicles, templates, blasts, and large blasts become problematic for the enemy as he’ll struggle to not hit his own vehicles!

I’m trying the Stunclaw now. I’ve only used it in one practice game, where I didn’t use it at all! It might be wasted points, but at the same time I might be able to use it to do some really stunning cool moves that leave my opponent going “What happened?!” More than likely I’ll wish I stuck with the Agonizer, but it’s such a characterful weapon I’m going to go with it and hope I can use it wisely. While it won’t help me win a game, what I REALLY want to do is charge a Paladin Deathstar, yank out that stupid Techmarine with the “I WIN” grenades and feed him his own balls.

Of course they have Wych Combat Drugs too, which can do wonderful things like add an extra attack or an extra point of Str, which makes them shred vehicles even better. Giving them a free Pain Point allows me to put the Haemonculus with the Incubi, and they become 3+/FNP also.

So these guys have a lot of heavy-lifting to do, but I have a good supporting cast for them.


These guys I struggled long and hard with. Take them instead of Wyches? How many? Do they need FNP to start, requiring a second Haemonculus? I ended up with these guys over Wyches because I felt they did better against the things Wyches didn’t do as well against: FNP Marines and Terminators; and not using another Haemonculous, relying on their 3+ to keep them upright for awhile.

By my Math, these guys can walk in to an Assault Terminator unit and have a decent chance of winning, though they’ll be gutted. They can shred MEQ, of course, and moreover the enemy knows this.

I throw these guys across the field so the Hellions, Reavers, and these guys are all on the opponent at the same time. This gives the enemy some real difficult choices on what to kill, and if I’ve done things right everything has at least a 3+ save. Which do they shoot up? Hopefully it doesn’t matter, as anything they shoot up should soak up enough shots that I have enough left to do the job.

There are some weaknesses with these guys, notably there cost. At 22 points per model they are terrible expensive. I went with 7 because by my math they can lose a guy to explosion and the other 6 should beat an assault marine unit, though barely. In other words, Economy of Force: just enough to get the job done.

But really, I don’t expect them to make it in to too many fights. I expect them to die horribly. I painted them up so they’ll be the most prominent looking models on the battlefield, hopefully encouraging the enemy to gun them down. I sincerely think the Hellions and Reavers are a far bigger threat, so I play up the threat of these guys hoping to push my opponent to waste time shooting at them.

But, if he doesn’t, and they survive, they are enough to shred pretty much any unit out there. Combi-charge with the Hellions, the only thing I’d sweat is a Paladin death-star. They can even dish out enough S4 attacks to threaten vehicles a little bit.

As a side-note, I experimented with using the same Pain Point trick I use with the Hellions (using an Archon instead of the Baron) to start these guys with Furious Charge. The result was incredible, as even against Paladins the Archon’s Huskblade at S4, and the Incubi attacks at S5 I6 made quick work of the Paladins. However, this got very points intensive, and didn’t add a lot of effectiveness against many other troop types (at least no-more-so than just vanilla guys with S4 I5). Still, it’s something I may consider trying in the future.

Another mildly negative point for these guys is the lack of grenades. Not a huge deal, as the effect can be mitigated by smart movement…but I’m not that smart and typically fail horribly in moving these guys, wasting them a lot. Such is life!

I gave their Raider a couple of extra items, that I’m not sure if I’ll like but am sticking with: Aethersails and Shock-prow. The Sails I wanted for a few reasons: I can have them linger in the rear on turn 1, looking like I’m going to save them as a counter-punch unit…then sling them forward flat-out on turn 2 on average 32” and be amongst the enemy at the same time the Hellions and Reavers are hitting home; Or I can have them throw themselves in to or behind the enemy on Turn 1, while the Hellions and Reavers are still approaching, and force the enemy to deal with them hopefully allowing the others to survive relatively unscathed; and last, I wanted the ability for the Raider to zip around late game to contest and/or claim objectives. The Shock-Prow is primarily for the latter reason, particularly when the objective-holding units are those that lack any AT ability (example: a unit of Wracks!). I don’t foresee me doing any Ramming, as I find it a bit distasteful to blow myself up like that, but if I need to, or think I can get some advantage, I’ll do it!


There are so many good choices in the Fast Attack category. I’ve loved the Reaver models since the book came out, and have included two small units in all my armies since. As I became more and more frustrated with the failure of the Dark Lances to actually kill vehicles, I looked again at what things I had that could do the job better, and went after the Heat Lances on the Reavers. Hellions and Beasts can do some vehicle bashing, but require melee to do it. Scourges can get Lances, Heat Lances, or Haywire Blasters, but while I think the Haywires are superior for stun-locking, I think the Heat Lances are by far the best choice for actually killing vehicles, and the Reavers have the speed and survivability to actually deliver the weapons, and the best potential to survive or take advantage of the aftermath.

Moreover, the Reavers have reasonable Splinter firepower (hint: Relentless!) and the Bladevane attacks, which when combined with their unparalleled 36” movement these guys have can dish out a fair amount of anti-infantry wounds. My 18 bikes should average 6 unsaved wounds on Marines: another Dev/LF unit (note: Venoms can kill 1; Hellions can nearly gun down a second, and Reaver Fly-over can kill a third…deployment won’t let that happen often, but it’s a nice capability!).

Their Skilled Rider lets them slide in to and out of terrain to maintain their cover save, further enhancing the extra survivability provided by their increased T4.

With combat drugs, they are a bit above sucky in melee, too: each one is dishing out at minimum three WS4 S3 attacks at I6. Unless getting the #1 drug, anything else will surely help them deal some damage and/or be more survivable.

This is the unit on which I feel most acutely the lack of Grenades. Against small MEQ or full-sized Guards/Eldar, I have had no hesitation in throwing them in to melee with the passengers after the vehicle blows up…but that means a crater, Difficult/Dangerous, and my I6 meanies swinging at I1. Sad Bobby. I now will only drive them in to melee if I think they can survive long enough to be rescued, to keep them from getting shot up too badly. This works best when they already have a Pain Point, of course.

A key concept with these guys that I struggle to apply to the table is that the 9” melta range for the Heat Lance can really be thought of as 15”, since the bikes can slide away in the Assault phase. 15” should keep them out of assault range of whatever they just blew up, and will hopefully land them in cover to keep them safe. I have a tendency to try to get these guys in to melee, which is not where they’re at their best. Keeping them alive longer so they can kill more vehicles is something I struggle with, as I tend to use them as bait units too much.

I chose six as the minimum number to get two Heat Lances, and to make them a bit more resilient to running away. I'd been using units of 3 with a single Heat Lance, and these worked great as disposable disruption unit, but now since I'm making them the primary vehicle killers, I need them not only to not run away, but have enough shots to actually hit something!

I think going forward I’ll likely replace one of these units with a Beast unit…3 Masters, 5 Kyhmarae, and 4 Flocks. A lot of wounds, a lot of ability to dish out damage, even to vehicles, in melee, and a much better tarpit / bait than the Reavers and exact same points. Sadly they cost too damned much money!

I don’t really like Ravagers anymore. I used to love my Lance spam, but now there’s just so many vehicles that have better armour, and better shooting, that these are almost a waste. However, for the cost there’s not really any better option. They fill the role of relatively long-range anti-armour. 9 Lances should be enough to shake/stun two enemy vehicles per turn, but counting on them to do much more will lead to disappointment. They are ubiquitous in almost every Dark Eldar list for a reason: they’re the best Heavy option we have for the points.

So the overall plan is to have the Incubi, Reavers, and Hellions on top of the enemy as soon as possible, ideally all at the same time. The Warriors are mid-field anti-personnel and back-up anti-vehicle. The Ravagers are long-range anti-tank while the Wracks hold down the backfield objective. Incubi provide big scary threat to draw fire; Reavers open up vehicles, Hellions stun-lock vehicles while picking on infantry; Ravagers help stun-lock while the Venoms kill anything soft they can get in their sites.

I don’t think it’s a super-powerful take-all-comers list, really, but it can provide a good game to anyone. It will look interesting on the table, and require a lot of dynamic movement that should provide both me and my opponent a different kind of game than most 40k games are…i.e. there won’t be a lot of just lining up and shooting, instead lots of moving and juking and circling around.

Painting-wise, everything is done on 2 Venoms. The other 2 Venoms need edging and canopies. The Reavers and Hellions need edging. The Ravagers need an ink-wash to make them somewhat match the Venoms. I’m hopeful that I can get the Venoms and Ravagers done tonight, and most of the Hellions too. I’ll be taking off work tomorrow to do domestic things and will hope to have time to edge the Reavers. With a little luck, my better half can help me again tonight, in which case I think we can get all the edging done tonight and I’ll be free to do more domestic things and add more details to the army tomorrow!

This will be my last post before the tournament. I’ll try to take pictures and notes of all the games so I can do some write-ups of how they go! Wish me luck!!

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