Psychic Assassination … Shadowseers, Succubus, and Grotesques

So, this is a way to combine Harlequin and Dark Eldar allies to make a resilient, very hard hitting unit that can drop in and precisely assassinate a powerful character, then continue contributing the rest of the game.

The battle-group is as follows:

-2 x Harlequin Shadowseers  with PML(2), both using Telepathy Discipline; one has Mask of Secrets.

-DE Succubus with Archite Glaive, Armor of Misery, and Web Way Portal.

-Max unit of Grotesques, with Liquefier Guns as appropriate.

Entire unit squads together, then uses Web Way Portal to deep strike in turn 2+ with no scatter, putting both the Mask of Secrets and the Armor of Misery within 12″ of the intended target (let’s say it is a Tau Riptide, just for example). That means that the target already has -4 Ld, which means, on a Riptide with base Ld9, it is operating at Ld5. Next, both Shadowseers use Psychic Shriek (primaris power, so guaranteed) to target the Riptide… on average, each Psychic Shriek that gets through is inflicting about 5-6 wounds, so a total of about 11 wounds if they both go off, which in turn means about 7-8 unsaved wounds after the Riptide 5++, killing it and any drones in a single volley. If you really want to have some insurance, bring Neuron Disruptors on the Shadowseers and a Blast Pistol on the Succubus so you can dish out some more AP2 goodness in the Shooting Phase and finish off the target (if required).

The Grotesques make everybody majority T5 and provide some major tanking (FNP and multiple wounds), plus can deal with hordes with their Liquefier Guns and multiple close combat attacks. If any of the Shadowseers get Invisibility, then you can basically make the formation invincible on the turn it comes in (or even later turns), giving it time to continue to put out more damage in both shooting and close combat. Alternately, if you get The Shrouding power, then you can combine them with terrain for very strong cover saves.

To get access to two Shadowseers you either need to take Masque Detachment or one of the Formations that include multiple Shadowseers, so there is a significant “tax” for this, but generally you can make the rest of the required Harlequins quite useful to your army alongside their dark brethren. If you ware fighting a non-fearless/non-ATSKNF army, then have the Succubus bring along an Archangel of Pain as well and pop that when you arrive from reserve… every enemy unit within  9″ will then have to a take a Ld test at -6 (so Ld 4 if they start with Ld10, Ld 2 for most units) and suffer a AP2, no cover saves allowed wound for every point they fail the Ld test by… given that average Ld roll is 7 and most units will be reduced to Ld 2, that means most units within 9″ will take about 5 unsaved wounds, on top of any shooting/Psychic Shrieks this battle group puts out afterwards.

Tyrannosauros squared… I mean, Tyrannofex + Tyrannocyte!

The Tyrannocyte (read, Tyranid version of the Drop Pod) adds SO much to the forces of the Hive Mind, it is almost impossible to capture all the possibilities it opens up and how much more effective it makes Tyranids in the competitive scene.

 That said, I think one of the potentially most effective uses of the Tyrannocyte is to drop a Tyrannofex (or three!) in your opponent’s DZ starting turn 2. With the ability to take effective template weapons, it can deal with hordes and even threaten MEQs with its shooting on the turn it comes in on. From there, its 6W, T6, and 2+ save (basically the toughest MC in the game against most armies) means it can absorb some serious return fire (which, by the way, is now not being shot at the rest of your army) and be prepared to charge critical enemy units and Smash them up good and proper.

To illustrate its survivability, let’s take a look at some common weapons shooting at the Tyrannofex:

-BS4 Bolters — With 66% chance to hit, 16% chance to wound, 16% chance to fail an armor save, and 6 wounds to get through, it would take 324 BS4 Bolter shots to kill a Tyrannofex!!

-BS4 Plasma Guns — With 66% chance to hit, 66% chance to wound, and 6 wounds to get through, it would take  13 BS4 Plasma shots to kill a Tyrannofex.

-BS4 Krak Missiles — With 66% chance to hit, 83% chance to wound, 16% chance to fail an armor save, and 6 wounds to get through, it would take about 64 BS4 Krak Missile shots to kill a Tyrannofex.

Now, one weapon type that will absolutely each Tyrranofexes for lunch is Grav weapons, especially Grav Cannons with Grav Amps… at BS4, it only takes about 9 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to kill a Tyrannofex, so steer clear of Centurions or deal with them before the Tyrranocyte comes in from reserve.

Aside froms it shooting and close combat output and the damage it can absorb from enemy attacks, perhaps the biggest advantage of dropping 1-3 Tyrranofexes into your opponent’s DZ using Tyrranocytes is the psychological element… seeing three massive Tyranid MCs with tons of wounds and serious close combat threat suddenly right up against his army will make many players overeact, abandon their game-plan, forget to deal with the rest of your army, or all of the above, allowing you to exploit their decision-making. Put another way, you could say that the “Tyrranofex Drop” is a shock tactic as much as it is a way to get these MCs into the fight!

Get on the Bandwagon… I mean, er, Battlewagon. Drive by Dakka, Ork style!

Orks… despite the begrudgings of many, I think they are actually pretty solid in 7th edition, especially if you take into account the Ghazkull Supplement and the trend of other codices in recent months. I also think that the new Ork book allows/encourages fluffy builds (i.e. Green Tide lists, Trukk lists etc,) which are still competitive, which is a big plus.

Now, from a tactical perspective, looking through the updates to Ork units and equipment I think there is a little gem that not many players use (I certainly haven’t seen it) which could be quite solid in competitive play. The unit combination is as follows:

-Big Mek with Mega Armor and appropriate shooty weapons
-Max Squad of Flash Gitz
-Battlewagon with Deff Roller (Big Mek and Flash Gitz ride in this)

Now, since Mega Armor confers Slow and Purposeful (which applies to the whole unit and makes them count as having not moved) and since the Git Finders on the Flash Gitz increase their BS to 3 if they haven’t moved, the entire Flash Gitz squad should be able to ride forward in the Battlewagon turn 1 and shoot out to max range and with BS3. Now, 10 Flash Gitz put out 30 shots, of which 15 should hit with BS3. Of these, against a normal MEQ opponent, S5 Snazz Guns means that they should inflict about 10 wounds. Now, depending on the random roll for AP, if they roll 1,2, or 3, then that is an entire squad of Marines that just got vaped in a single round of shooting.

If they roll AP4 or worse, then only about 3-4 MEQs dies after armor saves, but you still use Flash Gitz firepower against less well-armored opponents and inflict quite a lot of damage. For example, against a typical Guardsman Equivelant unit (GEQ), Flash Gitz have 30 shots, 15 hits on average, 12-13 wounds and, unless they roll a 6 for AP, that’s 12-13 dead Guardsmen (or Guants, or Cultists, or Guardians, or DE Warriors, etc.etc.). Throw in the Big Mek shooting for additional damage and the Battlewagon’s firepower and you can basically take out a squad a turn.

Flash Gitz shooting out of their “mobile bunker” can also do solid damage against light vehicles, with an average of 15 S5 hits a turn, which translates to 2-3 HPs stripped against AV11 vehicles and aout 5HPs stripped against AV 10 armor (i.e. say they are shooting at a Land Speeder Squadron). Finally, after shooting, Flash Gitz are not half bad at assault, so after softening up a unit with lots of S5 firepower they can charge out of the Battlewagon and finish them off with fisticuffs (or, more appropriately for Orks, “fistichoppas”).

Skyweavers and Farseer Allies… Harlequin/Eldar Integration

Looking for synergies with the new Harlequin Book, especially with their Eldar/Dark Eldar cousins. Right now, one of the best combinations that I can come up with is as follows:

-6 Skyweaver Jetbikes, all with Zypherglaive upgrade.

-Eldar Farseer on a Jetbike with Singing Spear and all powers taken from Divination discipline.

Based on what powers the Farseer gets, he can buff the Skyweavers appropriately:

-Prescience – The best power, improving both shooting and close combat (and guaranteed to have). With 24 x S5 AP2 attacks on the charge, all with WS5 and I5, the Skyweavers with Prescience on them will get an average of about 21 hits against normal WS4 opponents (i.e. MEQs), of which about 14 will wound, with no armor saves. That means this unit can wipe out an entire Power Armor Squad a turn, or about 9-10 Terminators before they even strike, or about 4-5 Hammernators before they can strike back (this doesn’t even account for the Hammer of Wrath attacks by the bikes and the Farseer’s attacks as well). Shooting-wise, with Prescience on, the Skyweavers can put out 18 S6 AP5 Bladestorm shots a turn, all at BS4 and Twin-linked… against MEQs, that’s about 16 hits, about 3 “quasi-Rends” and about 10 “normal” wounds, of which MEQs will fail another 3. Even against vehicles, 16 hits with S6 means the Skyweavers have a solid chance of glancing to death any vehicle with AV12 or less.

-Perfect Timing – Ignoring cover is great, especially with the multiple Shuriken Cannons the Skyweavers bring to the fight, whether shooting at infantry behind cover or targeting skimmers that can use a Jink save.

-Forewarning – Great ability that gives unit a 4++ (not just against shooting and not just once a game, like the Skyweaver Mirage Launchers normally allows). This is a significant improvement over the normal 5++ the bikes have from their holo-suits and reduces their inherent fragility.

-Foreboding – Decent ability that make charging Skyweavers (which most units will not be doing anyway) extra dangerous, especially allowing them to overwatch at full BS.

-Precognition – Allowing the Farseer to better tank wounds and inflict damage on his own (especially with his Witchblade), this is a decent ability that can support the overall Skyweaver unit in both survivability and close combat.

-Misfortune – A Malediction that causes all attacks against the selected target to have Rending… since the Skyweaver Shuriken Cannons already have Bladestorm and their close combat attacks are already AP2 on the charge, the main benefits of this power to the Skyweavers is enabling them to damage vehicles better (especially AV12 and above vehicles ) and to give them the ability to inflict wounds in close combat better in turns after their initial charge, where they are only S3 AP3. That said, still a very useful power, especially when combined with other Eldar and Harlequin units.

-Scrier’s Gaze – Not directly benefiting the Skyweavers, but still quite a boon to the overall Eldar/Harlequin task force in terms of reserve manipulation. A useful power to have on the Farseer in any event.

So, as you can see, almost all Divination powers on a Farseer make Harlequin Skyweavers much better, especially Prescience, which is guaranteed. Combining a large Skyweaver squad with a Divination Farseer can be quite an effective Tactic, especially if you integrate this fast-moving, hard-hitting unit effectively with the rest of army to provide supporting fire, target saturation, and redundancy for seizing objectives.

A Talon of Deredeo Dreadnoughts…. Death from Afar

Given that these are Relics of the Armoury, you must take a Master of the Forge (for Space Marines; other HQs required for other chapters)  to take more than one. Also, they are not cheap at all, starting at the points cost approaching two Thunderfire Cannons, without any upgrades:

That said, even without upgrades, these things are holy terrors, especially against any vehicle with AV12 or worse and especially against Flyers. Take three of them, put them on a Skyshield Landing Pad for improved LOS (i.e. due to height) and a 4++ save and they can reliably take out 2-3 enemy transports a turn or, if they stand still, they can choose to have Skyfire and Interceptor and take out 2-3 incoming flyers a turn before the flyers even get a chance to move, shoot, or drop off troops. To prove this, let’s crunch some numbers:

-Against AV10 vehicles (like very light Flyers, Marine Land Speeders, Sentinels, Dark Eldar Skimmers of all kinds, Ork Trukks, etc.) each Deredeo will have 4 shots, likely 4 hits (BS5 Twin-linked means a 97% hit ratio) and an average of about 3-4 glancing/penetrating hits (i.e. S8 vs AV10, with re-rolls from Sunder special rules, means 2+ to glance, 3+ to penetrate, all with re-rolls)… that basically means, not counting any kind of Invul or Cover saves, one dead vehicle per Deredeo… in 2-3 turns of shooting, these 3 Deredeo Dreads can completely “demech” an opposing army all by themselves, leaving the rest of your force free to move, shoot, and assault unmolested.

-Against AV11 vehicles (like Rhinos, Immolators, Tauroxes, Devilfish from the sides, light flyers, Necron Vehicles with their Quantum Shielding gone, etc.) each Deredeo will likely get 4 hits and an average of about 3 glancing/penetrating hits (i.e. needing 3+s to at least glance, 4+s to penetrate, with re-rolls from Sunder), so that will kill most of these vehicles outright, again letting you taking out three transports/light tanks/light flyers every single turn.

-Against AV12 vehicles (like Chimeras and Devilfish from the front, Wave Serpents, Heavy Flyers, and almost all Eldar Grav Tanks), each Deredeo will likely get 4 hits and about 2-3 glances/penetrations, meaning that you can reliably down about 2 AV12 enemy vehicles a turn with your 3 Heavy Support Deredeos (you can use the rest of your army to make that 3-4 dead AV12 vehicles a turn, if you have some additional long-range shooting to support the Deredeos). This is especially useful against deadly flyers like Stormravens or Stormfangs or Heldrakes, since the Deredeos can use Intercept to neutralize them before they even can contribute to the battle (and neutralize any squads they happen to be carrying).

As you can see, against the most common type of vehicles in the game, flyer or otherwise, the triple Deredeo Talon on a Skyshield can be a game changer. Even if your opponent doesn’t have many vehicles (or any, like Tyranids), the Deredeos long-range, uber autocannons and access to Skyfire makes them quite useful, whether chipping away at troop formations, shooting at flying monstrous creatures, or concentrating on high toughness units like Bikers or beasts with there very accurate, S8 shooting.

Scions and the Taurox Prime

The Militarum Tempestus, not unlike the new Harlequins book, have a pretty small codex and, while containing some very solid units (i.e. good value for their points and decent versatility), struggle with heavy/long-ranged fire support if taken as a pure MT force. To some degree, the Taurox Prime makes up for this, if given the proper build. Despite its relatively weak armor, the Taurox Prime does have several things going for it:

-Fast Vehicle — Being able to move up to 24″ a turn (with Flat Out move) allows it to quickly get its Scions/Scion Command Squad into position and bring their significant, but generally short-ranged, firepower to bear. Also, being a Fast Vehicle, it move up to 12″ and still employ to weapon systems at full BS. This means it can maneuver for the best shot and/or best defensive cover, all while not sacrificing shooting (like most regular fire support vehicles). Finally, while not a game-changer, its inherent ability to re-roll difficult terrain tests makes it that much more reliable when traversing the battlefield.

-Transport/Firing Points — Unlike many “shooty transports” (i.e. Razorbacks, Wave Serpents, Devilfishes, Land Raiders, Immolators, etc.), the Taurox Prime can carry a full size squad (i.e.  10 models) AND also has firing ports for that squad to shoot out without disembarking. Even the Chimera has only two firing points in its latest configuration, compared with two on each side (so four total) for the Taurox Prime). This again lends to its versatility, allowing it to transport large or small squads and also still access their firepower without being forced to dismount them. Finally, even bulky allies (like Ogryns, Terminators, and Centurions) can ride inside Taurox, with no limitation like what exists for Rhinos/Razorbacks.

-Firepower — While the Taurox Prime has superior accuracy (BS4) and lots of options (Taurox Battle Cannon, Taurox Gatling Cannon, TLed Hotshot Volleygun), the best load-out in my opinion is the Taurox Missile Launcher (same stats as a Cyclone Missile Launcher) and the TLed Autocannon. Not only does this give solid, 48″ firepower, but it gives very solid options against light infantry (Frag Missiles and Autocannon), heavy infantry (Krak Missiles and Autocannon) and light-medium vehicles (Krak Missiles and Autocannon). I have heard it suggested that a Taurox Prime with this load out be treated as a better armored (i.e. AV11 up front), more heavily armed (i.e. Autocannon instead of Heavy Bolter) Land Speeder Typhoon, since it shares much of the same damage out-put, range, and mobility. Whether used with a pure MT force as with other allies, the Taurox Prime with the Missile Launcher/Autocannon load-out can make for a very effective transport/long-range gunboat, especially when dealing with armies with lots of lighter armored targets (i.e. Eldar, Dark Eldar, Orks, AM, Tau, SoB, etc.).

In terms of survivability, the Taurox Prime’s weak point, I think this can be mitigated in a number of ways:

1 – Using speed/terrain — As mentioned above, the Taurox Prime’s superior mobility enables it to make the most use of terrain. Similar to Dark Eldar, the MT have to use their mobility to compensate for the general fragility of their units.

2 – Target Saturation — While the Taurox Prime can be expensive Transport-wise, it is still relatively cheap compared to the more high end transports, meaning that in a 1750 or 2000 point game you can easily field upwards of 6+ Taurox Primes. As any experienced 40K player knows, numbers of targets have a quality all their own, dividing up enemy target priority and, unless your opponent is very disciplined, diluting its overall potency.

3 – Allied Psykers — Whether Using Force Dome (5++ bubble), Shrouding (5+ cover save bubble), or even an allied DA Librarian with a Powerfield Generator (4++ save for all models within 3″) or the Forewarning power (4++ on a target unit).

The “Heavy Hellhound” Squadron … making the most of the LR Eradicator

Leman Russ Tanks are some of the most iconic units in 40K, and in the Astra Militarum in particular. With the new 7th edition rules and the most current AM codex, almost all of the Leman Russ variants are useful, but one which has received probably the least attention, especially compared to the well-known LR Punisher, LR Executioner, and LR Battle Tank, is the Leman Russ Eradicator.

What does the Eradicator bring to the fight? Well, its Nova Cannon is a S6 AP4 Large Blast Weapon with a 36″ range. More importantly, it is NOT an Ordnance weapon (which means that the Leman Russ can fire all of its other weapons at the same time) and it has the Ignore Cover USR (which has tremendous tactical implications). Finally, the LR Eradicator is one of the cheapest Leman Russ variants points-wise and is tremendous value for an AV14 tank that can be taken in squadrons of 1-3 and (thanks to 7th edition rules) is now a scoring unit.

So, how to maximize the tactical employment of the Eradicator? Using several assets available to the Astra Militarum, you can make quite a potent, affordable battle-group:

a) A squadron of LR Eradicators, with 3 Tanks total, all armed with 3 Heavy Bolters and Camo Netting

b) An Aegis Defense Line

c) A Company Command Squad with attached Primaris Psyker (Divination Discipline) and the Kirov’s Aquila relic (grants Preferred Enemy to any friendly AM units within 6″).

Placing the Eradicator Squadron behind the Aegis Line (for a 3+ cover save, between the Aegis Line and Camo Netting) and casting Prescience on the squadron by the Primaris Psyker (improving the accuracy of the scatter dice for the Nova Cannons and the normal shooting of the Heavy Bolters) improves both the survivability and the firepower of the squadron. Finally, the squadron gets Preferred Enemy from the Command Squad/Kirov’s Aquila, so they are able to re-roll 1s to Wound.

So, what are good targets for this Eradicator Battle Group? What really sets it apart is the Ignore Cover special rule. Coupled with AP4, S6, and re-rollable 1s to Wound, this can be the antidote for many different units that have gained prominence in the game, all of which depend on numbers, cheapness, cover saves, and/or quantity of firepower and attacks to be effective:

-Necron Warrior and Flayer Ones Phalanxes, as well as Tomb Blades and Scarab Swarms

-Chaos Cultists

-Chaos Daemon infantry of all kinds (not having cover saves means they are reduced to their 5++ saves)

-All Ork non-vehicle units outside of Meganobz (but including units with ‘Ard Boyz armor)

-Dark Eldar Warriors/Wyches and DE infantry of all kinds (aside from Grotesques)

-Eldar Guardians/Rangers and all Aspect Warriors with a 4+ save

-Tyranid Termagaunts/Hormagaunts/Warriors/Genestealers (and anything protected by Venomthropes)

-Enemy Astra Militarum infantry of all varieties

-All Tau non-Battlesuit infantry (including Fire Warriors, Drones, and Pathfinders)

Against all of these units, the 3 x S6 AP4 Large Blasts, with Twin-Linked from Prescience and Preferred Enemy, will on average cause numerous casualties (especially when targeting large squads). On top of this, the squadron can engage with 27 Heavy Bolter shots, all backed by Prescience and Preferred enemy to increase their accuracy and ability to wound. Together, the 3 large Nova Cannon Blasts and the 9 Heavy Bolters can devastate any medium-light infantry it engages.

Even against Heavy Infantry, like MEQs and TEQs, the sheer amount of wounds (and the relative cheapness of the Eradicator Squadron, especially given its durability with AV14 and a 3+ cover save behind the ADL) that this battle-group can generate is enough to do significant damage and “make back its points” in a competitive setting. For example, if each of the three large blasts causes an average of 5 hits, then total they inflict 15 hits, of which about 14-15 will wound MEQ squads, in turn causing about 5 unsaved wounds. Throw in the 27 Heavy Bolter shots, about 14 of which will hit, and about 9 will wound, causing another 3 unsaved wounds on average… against the standard 10 man MEQ squad, that is an 80% casualty rate, which is basically making it combat ineffective.  About the only non vehicle targets that this squadron are not effective against are MCs and infantry with 2+ saves, which is only small portion of most armies.