Eldar Wraithknight and Necron Wraith Hunting…. Nob Bikerz to the Front!

Back in the day (4th and 5th edition) Nob Bikerz were THE deathstar unit to fear, especially with their ability to use multi-wound shenanigans, cover saves, and FNP to distribute wounds without losing models.

Now, in 7th edition, Orks are considered a “mid-tier” army at best by many players and Nob Bikerz are only a shadow of their former glory, especially compared with recent books like Necrons and Eldar, with Wraithlords, Jetbikes, Wraiths, and Destroyers, etc.

Despite these changes, I think Nob Bikerz actually might be underated in the current metagame, especially in their ability to help Orks deal with armies like Necron and Eldar. If that is the case, what do Biker Nobz have going for them? Consider the following Biker Nob Battle Group:

-Warboss with Warbike, Power Klaw, and Lucky Stick Relic

-Painboy with Warbike

-10 Nobz with Warbikez and Power Klawz

Total, this unit has 26 x T5 wounds, all protected by 4+ armor, a 3+ cover save if they turboboost (which they should always be doing, for both mobility and protection reasons), and FNP. The unit also has WS5 (or better) due to the Luck Stick Relic and a total of 45 x S9 AP2 Power Klaw attacks on the charge (due to Furious Charge), which should be able to put a hurting on almost any unit they engage (remember, 12″ move + 12″ turboboost turn 1 gives a VERY high chance for a turn 2 charge).

Against a unit of 6 Necron Wraiths, Wraiths strike first with 18 S6 attacks at WS4, getting an average of 9 hits, 6 wounds (of which about 1-2 rend, on average), nettng a total of about 3-4 unsaved wounds after Nob armor saves and FNP rolls… that translates into about two dead Nob Bikerz. 8 Nob Bikerz and Warboss strike back with 37 x Power Klaw attacks, of which 30-31 wound and the Wraiths fail 10-11 invul saves, resutling in 5-6 dead Wraith (or a completed wipeout of this unit).

Against Craftworld Wraithknights, the Nobz Bkers charge in and the Wraithknight strike first at I5 with 4 attacks, hitting with 2 of them, and kiliing an average of 2 Nob Bikerz. 8 Nob Bikerz and Warboss strike back with 37 x Power Klaw attacks, of which 24-25 wound… 16-17 of these get through the Wraithknight’s 5++ Invul save and 10-11 of those get through the FNP saves, resulting in a very dead Gargantuan Creature in a single round of combat.

As you can see, Biker Nobz with a a Warboss/Pain Boy make for a very potent offensive tool for Ork Armies. Like some of the other anti-Wraithknight units I have mentioned in previous articles, the advantage of Nob Bikerz is that they have significant utility against other units and even other armies, so you are not confined to just using them to defeat “uber” units like Wraithknights and Necron Wraiths. Their mobility in particular makes them an exceptional asset for getting around the battelfield, sezing objectives, disrupting the enemy battle-line, and getting “stuck in” as often as possible.

Tactical Primer: Enter the Rhino Primaris

The Rhino Primaris, released as part of the new Space Marine command vehicle box set (i.e. Rhino Primaris and Land Raider Excelsior) is a tremendous force-multiplier for the Space Marine faction, and any allied Imperium detachment, for that matter.

What does the Rhino Primaris bring to the fight? Well, first of all it has a 6 man transport capacity and a “built-in” TLed Plasma gun for respectable shooting and infantry support abilities. On top of this, it gives a friendly Land Raider Excelsior within 12” +1BS (which makes the Lascannons and Grav Cannon/Amp of the Excelsior MUCH more potent).

Outside of these “organic” abilities, the Rhino Primaris also has a number of rules that truly enhances the army it is attached to. First, it can shoot a One Use only Orbital Blast (just like a Chapter Master), but with a Massive Blast instead of the normal Large Blast; quite decent offensive capability right out the gate there.

Second, if it doesn’t shoot that blast, it can allow you to AUTOMATICALLY bring in a single unit from your reserves each turn starting turn 2; this cannot be overstated, as competitive games can hinge on this very ability to guarantee units coming in when you need them. Finally, it has a Servo-Skull hub which provides three exceptionally useful, one-use only buffs (which are basically automatic as well, not requiring any leadership check or psychic test):

1 – Repair a Hull Point on a nearby friendly vehicle on a 2+ roll – This is a small, but quite useful, ability which can be a game changer when you really need to keep that Land Raider alive long enough to get its passengers into assault or when you want to give your flyer the edge in a dogfight against enemy flyers, etc.

2 – Make a unit Fearless – Again a small, but still potentially very useful ability, when you absolutely need a squad to hang onto an objective for a turn or hold up an enemy unit in melee for an Assault phase.

3 – Make a unit fire snapshots at full BS – THIS is the game-changer ability! There are so many uses for this ability: allowing a normal unit to shoot at flyers with full BS for a turn, allowing jinking units to get their cover save and still fire at full BS for a turn, allowing a unit to overwatch at full BS for a turn. My personal favorite is to use this on a very shooty unit (i.e. Gravcannon Centurions, Long Fangs, Leman Russ Squadron, etc.) and allow it to fire at full BS at an enemy unit with the Invisibility Blessing cast on it…. All it takes is one turn of solid shooting without the BS penalties of Invisibility and you can neutralize that opposing Deathstar (or wipe it out completely) for the rest of the game.

Remember, not only are the Rhino Primaris Servo-Skull abilities free, but they can affect ANY friendly units, not just units of the same faction. That means that Rhino Primaris servo-skulls can provide the above-mentioned buffs to basically any Imperium codex allied to you, which makes for some tremendous synergy potentials… imagine a Squadron of 3 x Leman Russ Exterminators with MM Sponsons and Lascannons being able to shoot 12 Autocannon, 6 MM, and 3 Lascannon shots at full BS at flyers for a turn, for example. Another example is combining DA Black Knights, Lias Issadon, and a Rhino Primaris… Issadon and Black Knight infiltrate up close, then use Shrouded (from Issadon) and Jink (from Bikes) to get a 2+ cover save… then the Rhino Primaris allows them to shoot at full BS with their TLed Plasma Talons in the following phase… pretty potent combo!

Dark Eldar and the Craftworld menace… the Talos Pain Engine

I have been scratching my head for a while trying to come out with a viable DE counter to Wraithknights, given that they are now basically immune to poison weapons with their Gargantuan Creature status, 3+ save, and multiple wounds.

Outside of massed Dark Lances (which means using almost your whole army to focus on a single Wraithknight… not a good formula for victory), the only real solution I have come of with is massed Talos Pain Engines. More specifically, the Corpsethief Claw formation, which consists of 5 Talos engines, all in a single unit with the Scout USR and Freakish Spectacle (-1 Ld to nearby units) rule.

Scout helps the unit get accross the board to get close to the Wraithknight and the 15 T7 wounds with a 3+ save and FNP should enable them get accross the board without being shot to pieces. Between Scout, normal movement, and running, the Corpsethief Claw can get betweem 13-18″ accross the board by the end of turn 1, setting up turn 2 for a 6″ move and 2D6″ charge for a decent chance of “catching’ the enemy Wraithknight in close combat.

Now, the key is to upgrade all the Talos with the Inchor Injector CCW… this gives each Talos 5 x S7 AP2 (they MCs, remember) Fleshbane attacks on the charge (so 25 such attacks if you keep all 5 Talos alive), all at WS5 and with ID on 6+ to wound. Translated to combat against a Wraithknight, say 3 Talos survive long enough to attack, that’s 15 attacks, about 10 hits, 8-9 AP2 wounds (of which, an average of 1-2 will have ID), and 5-6 unsaved wounds after Wraithknight FNP rolls — throw in the extra wounds inflicted from the ID results and you should have a very good chance of killing the Wraithknight in a single round (or two at the most) of close combat.

They key, of course, if catching the agle Wraithknight. Cunning positioning of your units and using the Corpsethief Claw as you “anvil” can trap the Wraithknight and allow you to charge it. Even if the Talos don’t successfully catch him, they can absorb LOTs of Eldar shooting (including from the Wraithknight itself) and threaten the rest of your opponent’s army, thus providing good utility even if they don’t accomplish their primary mission as “Gargant Creature hunters.”

“I’ve Been Expecting You”… Coteaz and countering WWP Wraithguard

Perhaps the single greatest “OP” threat from the new Eldar codex is the ability to combine Wraithguard with D-Scythes (i.e Scytheguard) with allied Dark Eldar ICs and a WWP.

This combo enables deep striking from reserve with zero scatter, followed by hitting your opponent automatically with D-Scythes (since they are template weapons) — on a 3+, you then inflict D3 wounds or D3 hullpoints per Template, all at AP2, so no armor or cover saves (remember, templates ignore cover).

For most players, there is almost nothing you can do to stop this tactic, outside of using throwaway units to “bubble wrap” you important units and so prevent the Scytheguard from getting to them. Imperial forces, however, do have an option… his name is Inquisitor Coteaz.

Coteaz has been an exceptionally valuable HQ choice for several editions now, with his access to Divination, Ld 10 Stubborn, enhancement to Seize the Initiative rolls, decent combat ability, 2+ save, etc. What really makes him shine, though, is his signature “I’ve Been Expecting You” rule, which allows him and his unit to get an immediate free, out-of-sequence round of shooting at any enemy unit that arrives from Reserve within 12″ of him (and in his LOS)…. better yet, there is no limit on how many times this can be used and, unlike the Interceptor USR, it doesn’t preclude Coteaz and his unit from shooting on their shooting phase later in the turn.

So, how does this work against Syctheguard with WWP Dark Eldar deep-striking? Position Coteaz and very shooty unit in a central location with good LOS (the top of an Imperial Bastion works great, giving both a 4+ cover save and elevated LOS)… in essence, you then get a 24″ diameter circle in which the Scytheguard dropping in can get engaged and, hopefully, killed off before they get to shoot their D-strength templates. Have Coteaz cast Prescience on the his unit the turn before (if you expect enemy deep strikers) to make them even more accurate.

The very best unit to use for this tactic is, of course, Grav Cannon Centurions …. a 4 man Centurion squad like this, attached to Coteaz and with Prescience succesfully cast, with have 20 Grave shots, 17-18 hits, and 15-16 wounds, effectively wiping out even a 10 man Scytheguard squad and any attached ICs before they even get a chance to shoot.

Even if your opponent has multiple Scytheguard/WWP squads, Coteaz and Grav Centurions can take all of them down in a single turn, provided they land withing 12″.

Coteaz is not limited to Grav Centurions for htis tactic. He can attach to Sternguard with combi-weapons, a maxed out Henchman squad with Plasma Cannon Servitors and Joakeros (i.e. Lascannon/MM/Heavy Flamer choice each turn), IG Blob squads with multiple heavy/special weapons and TONs of lasgun shots, Long Fang squads with max Plasma Cannons, Vanguard Vets with dual-wiel pistols, Cult Mechanicus Kataphron Destroyers with Heavy Grav Cannons, etc. etc. As long as it is highly shooty unit with at least 12″ range weapons, it can combine quite well with Coteaz.

While this won’t solve all your Eldar problems, it goes a long way to stopping Scythguard (or any other WWP shenanigans) and can also counter all kinds of other deep strikers, like Eldar Falcons with Cloudburst rules, Space Marine Drop Pods, Tau Crises Suit teams, Chaos Daemons, and Terminators of all shapes and sizes.

Destroyers to the rescue… beating Craftworld Eldar Necrontyr style

In the continuing quest to bring “balance to the force” by developing counter strategies for non-Eldar armies to deal with Eldar Wraithknights, D-Weapon Wraithgaurd, and Jetbike spam, I have been looking at the Necron codex and trying to find a viable solution.

The best answer to these threats from a Necron perspective, as I see it, is making use of the Destroyer Cult formation. This formation can be fielded as part of the Decurion detachment (and so benefit from 4+ Reanimation Protocols) or as an independent formation “allied” to the Necron main army.

A Destroyer Cult consists of:

-1 x Destroyer Lord

-3 x Destroyer squads

-0-1 x Heavy Destroyer squads

Extra rules that this formation gets are as follows:

-Move Through Cover

-Re-rolls on WL Traits of the Destroyer Lord is your Warlord

-“Extermination Protocols” – All units in the formation re-roll all failed to Wounds and failed Armor Penetration rolls.

Combining these special rules with Destroyers’ baseline weaponry (S5 AP3, Heavy 2, 24” shooting), their Preferred Enemy, and their strong survivability (T5, 2W, 3+ save, Reanimation Protocols, and Jump-Shoot-Jump (from being Jet Pack infantry) and you have an excellent unit.

Combine the 3 squads of 6 x Destroyers (so 18 total) with a nearby Triarch Stalker (for +1BS from Targeting Relay special rule) and you have a very respectable counter against the Eldar uber units:

1 – Jetbikes – Against a 10 man Jetbike unit, a 6 man Destroyer unit (with Triarch Stalker support) has 12 shots at BS5, re-rolling 1s, for an average of 11-12 hits…. With S5 AP3 versus the T4 and 3+ saves of the Jetbikes, incorporating the re-rolls from the “Extermination Protocols” rule you get 10-11 unsaved wounds, in essence wiping out the squad unless it chooses to jink… if the Jetbikes decide to Jink, then they lose an average of 5-6 dead Jetbikes, greatly reducing their combat power and also suppressing their shooting (they go from 40 x S6 shots at BS4 to 20 x S6 shots at BS1, due to casualties and Jinking). Basically, the shooting of a single 6 man squad of Destroyer should either eliminate a 10 man Jetbike unit or cripple it and take it out of the fight for at least the next turn. Multiply this by three and you have the potential to neutralize three full Jetbikes squads a turn.

2 – Wraithguard – Aside from WWP and riding in Serpents, Wraithguard still have to footslog across the tabletop. Destroyers from the Destroyer Cult formation (with Triarch Stalker support) are ideally suited to deal with massed footslogging Wraithguard. A squad of 6 Destroyers gets 12 shots, 11-12 hits, and about 5-6 AP3 wounds against a squad of Wraithguard in the open, either killing a small squad outright or crippling a larger squad (if you need to, use two squads of Destroyers to focus fire on bigger Wraithguard squads and bring the entire unit down in a single turn). If the Wraithguard do ride in a Serpent, then Destroyers can DS in (they are Jump Infantry, remember), shooting their S5 weaponry into the rear of the Serpent (i.e. AV10)… with Preferred Enemy and Armor Penetration re-rolls, they get an average of 12 S5 shots, 9-10 hits, and 4-5 HPs stripped, thereby killing the Serpent, leaving the Wraithguard without a ride, and then being able to Jump-Shoot-Jump in the Assault Phase away from any Wraithguard retaliation. Using this tactic, you could potentially take out three Wave Serpents in a single turn, thus de-meching the Wraithguard and making them far less of a threat.

3 – Wraithknights – Believe it or not, the Destroyer Cult with Triarch Stalker support can make a powerful counter to Wraithknights. With 3 full squads of 6 Destroyers, all shooting at BS5 with Preferred Enemy and re-rolls for all to Wounds from “Extermination Protocols,” that amounts to 36 x S5 AP3 shots leading to an average of 35 hits… with 6s to wound and re-rolls to Wound, the battle group inflicts an average of 11-12 AP3 wounds on the target Wraithknight… if the Wraithknight has cover or a 5++ save, then that is reduced to 7-8 inflicted wounds and FNP further reduces that 5-6 unsaved wounds… either an almost dead Wraithknight or a completely dead one, if you have slightly better than average luck (the rest of your army should be able to finish off the final wound with Tachyon Arrows, Gauss fire, Tesla weapons, Heat Rays, etc.). The net result is killing a single Wraithknight a turn, so over the course of a game your Destroyer Cult could deal with multiples of these beasts, if your Eldar opponent is so unkind as to field more than one of them.

As you can see, the Destroyer Cult, supported by a Triarch Stalker for improved shooting accuracy, is a very solid counter to the major Eldar threats described above. Even better, they are not a “one trick pony,” since they can be used effectively against multiple different enemy army types and really add to an effective TAC list.