Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kublacon 2011: The Lessons of the Past

Retreating to Craftworld Urm to lick my wounds after my ignominious and sound defeat, I came to several conclusions about my "Arachnophobia" army list.

1) The Doomweaver doesn't do much to a unit that doesn't want to move; for example, one sitting on an objective.

2) Even three Night Spinners isn't enough to bog down the entire board.

3) I really need to start following my own advice...

Having had time to mourn the dead and place their spirit stones into the Infinity Circuit, I am now satisfied that I have given the Night Spinner a decent playtest. While at excels at taking out hordes of infantry, it's a poor cousin to the fire prism when it comes to tanks and space marine-equivalent troops (MEQ).

With Kublacon coming up in a mere three months, now is the time to start planning. I am no longer interested in running a fluff list at this point. I sold all those Eldar lives cheaply at Dundracon and now it is time to earn them back.

First of all, what list to bring? Last year I discovered the advantages formulating a list first, then working toward building and painting  that list. It gives you goals, it lets you portion out the work in discrete chunks, and it is oh so satisfying to complete! I think I'll use this process again this year.

What goes into the list this time? Well, I will be dispensing with infantry upgrades this time around. While I love the idea of exarchs leading their squads into battle with all their dirty tricks, without full-sized squads and crack timing these tricks are insufficient to the variety and scope of tricks available to more current armies. So, bye bye Exarchs!

Next to go is the autarch. Don't get me wrong, I really love the autarch, but he's nothing against a thunderhammer/storm shield terminator. Adios!

The Night Spinners will be replaced with 3 or 2 Fire Prisms. Whether I take 2 or 3 depends on whether I choose to bring along a squad of war walkers. Three war walkers sporting star cannons sounds very appealing right now...

Next, I will deploy a second unit of fire dragons in a wave serpent. For the first time in ... well a long time... my fire dragons really paid off. They were able to take down tanks, terminators and battle suits with relative ease, and I will put these bad boys to work again since they seem to be in a more helpful mood now.

This gives us a core of 3 fire prisms or 2 fire prisms and a war walker squadron, 2 squads of fire dragons in wave serpents and 2 squads of dire avengers in wave serpents. All tanks will be loaded up with spirit stones and star engines (NON-negotiable if you run eldar and DON'T let anyone tell you differently; you MUST be able to move to survive). With my option load-out, we're looking at something like:

  • 10 fusion guns (fire dragons)
  • 2 twin-linked brightlances (wave serpents)
  • 2 twin-linked starcannons (wave serpents)
  • 3 prism cannons OR
  • 2 prism cannons and 6 starcannons (walkers)

The real question is what else can I fit in there? I'm leaning towards a smallish Seer Council. This unit can carry a serious punch, even though it doesn't do well in protracted assaults.

I can squeeze in a 6-bike seer council if I leave one of  my warlocks without powers. That will give me 6 singing spears or 3 Destructors, while the farseer cranks out Guide and Fortune. That gives me a touch of anti-horde (three heavy flamers) and some decent tank-busting, particularly with Guide. I will have to be careful about getting locked in assaults, but this list is really light on assault anyway. "Light" as in "None."


  1. I started using 2 squads of fire dragons mid way through last year, and the thought of going back to one fills me with dread. i rather susp[ect if I ever tried 3 squads I'd never want to go nack to two, but that's a bit too spamming for me (feel guilty with the 2).

    In the spirit of your blog (i.e. perceived interwebz wisdom) could I challenge you statement that thou shalt always take star engines and spirit stones? You're are paying - what? 210 points for the 7 tanks or 180 points for the 6 tanks in your list. How many times in an average game does it really save your bacon? once? twice? Sometimes? i think in every 3 or so games I lose a vehicle through not being able to get out of dodge. So your 210 points is saving a 140 point vehicle one game in 3 (if your experience is anywhere close to mine). Spend that on another tank (and the squishy bits to got inside and you can lose it every game and still be up. just a thought. p.s. for tank busting consider the falcon it's pretty good, especially when guided! (and also your cheapest troops option with the naked 5 dire avengers cowering under the back seats)

  2. I would feel bad running 3 squads too! Two squads should bring me enough oomph to stay competitive.

    Given that outranging an opponent is nearly impossible these days, that part of your argument against SS/SE is true.

    Spirit Stones allows you to keep moving after getting hit with a Crew Stunned result, allowing you to keep your moving-fast cover save. For me, I just can't bring myself to leave home without them, if only because it forces my opponent to work that much harder to kill my tanks.

    The real reason I take star engines is for objective grab missions, which account for roughly 50% of the games I play. If I park a tank in an extreme corner, I can move 36" up on turn 5 or 6 and contest an objective in the center of the table. With multiple tanks capable of this move, I'm threatening almost every objective on the board, which also prompts the other guy to try to down my tanks whenever he can.

    This combination of upgrades has probably never won me a game, but it has bought me a lot of draws.

    Now take out the spirit stones and star engines. That saves me 25 points per tank. I would need to have a minimum of seven tanks in the list just to buy the cheapest possible unit with a transport: 5 dire avengers and a TL shuriken cannon wave serpent. I'd rather spread those points out across the vehicles I have as insurance than bring out another expensive and weak Troop choice.

    I should qualify that as my personal choice; I just never run without them if I can avoid it. Other people have systems that work for them and that's fine too. I think, however, that they are totally worth their points cost.

    At least until the next codex...

  3. Oops, thought star engines were 20pts each. Still, even with your 6 tank list that's a lot of points. in fact that's an avatar, and I reckon having him ion the tables (especially the mighty forgeworld one) will provide far more protection - sucking up 12 or so lascannon (or the like) shots before he goes squish.

    On the seer council front - do you have models? I've yet to see (what I think of) a convincing seer council and am always looking for ideas.

    Understand the personal choice thing (and star engines in particular are so eldar-ish they have an appeal/effect that cannot be phrased in simple effectiveness terms) but I would encourage you to try an go cold turkey for a few games, just to see how it works out. And then report back! Your public (i.e. me:) ) needs to know what life is like after star engines.

  4. Hmmm, I may give that a go, at least during practice games.

    My seer council is still a WIP. I've got jetbikes and riders, and initially I was going to build up my seers using my trusty, dusty old warlock models, but when I saw how much metal I was going to have to cut through, I started looking for a fall-back position.

    What I came up with was... Dire Avenger Exarchs! The DA kit comes with such an excess of spare parts (including swords and spears) that they can be modeled into jetbike-riding seers with little difficulty.

    One thing I did do to make them seem less like DAs on bikes was to pare away the crest so that they had a more 'standard conehead' look. The extra spirit stones on the helmet and other accoutrements give the models a sufficiently non-guardian look.

    I also have plans to make cloaks using green stuff, but my first experiment with green stuff didn't go very well... must needs work something out there...