The Notorious Webway Portal (WWP)

If there is one single piece of Wargear that has more potential impact on the game of 40K than anything else, I would argue it is the Dark Eldar Webway Portal.

Costing 7 MBs, this simple piece of gear can be taken by DE Archons, Succubii, and Hameonculii. Provided the model is in Reserves/Ongoing Reserves, then it gains the ability to Deep Strike without scattering. Additionally, it any unit that the WWP is attached to also gains “scatter-less” Deep Strike, which is the really amazing part of this Wargear (this also includes any transport that the WWP bearer and his unit is embarked upon!).

Now, the new FAQs have slightly nerfed the allied application of the WWP, since the DE characters can no longer embark on allied transports before the game begins/in Reserve (i.e. Eldar Wave Serpents, Corsair Falcons, Harlequin Star Weavers, etc.), but even with this there are numerous tactical applications for the WWP and its bearer on the tabletop.

Just off the top of my head, here are some of the best units two join a WWP toting Dark Eldar character to:

–DARK ELDAR (PURE)–

1 – Court of the Archon with multiple Medusae — Being able to put numerous S4 AP3 templates EXACTLY where need them means you can basically eliminate an entire infantry unit of your choice on the turn you arrive from reserves, provided they don’t have a 2+ save or solid Invul save (i.e. the vast majority of non-vehicle units in the game). Basically, think of this combination as an infantry “assassin” type unit.

2 – 3 x Grotesques with Liquefier Guns in a Raider — Not only does this get the Grotesques up close and personal so they can put pressure on the enemy firing lines and set up close combat in subsequent turns, but the multiple Liquefier Gun templates are not to be ignored, especially if they happen to roll AP2/1. Combine this with a strong combat DE character (like a tricked out Succubus, who benefits from majority T5) and you have a real CC threat that the enemy cannot easily afford to ignore.

3 – 20 x Kabalite Warriors with 2 x Blasters, 2 x Dark Lances, and a Blast Pistol on the Sybarite — If you want to put down a ton of Poison shooting at close range and/or seize objectives with a big “blob” of cheap Dark Eldar, this is the unit to do it. Not only can it threaten pretty much any non-vehicle unit because of Poison, but with 5 x S8 Lance shots (two are Snap Shots, unless they are standing still), this unit can reliable hurt vehicles and heavily armored infantry as well.

4 – Dark Artisan Formation (1 Haemonculus, 1 Talos, 1 Chronos, all forming a single unit) — With a WWP on the Haemonculus, you can put 2 Monstrous Creatures anywhere on the board, with no scatter, starting turn 2 of the game. Add is -1Ld for enemies within 12″, plus solid shooting and deadly close combat ability and you have a potential “spoiler” unit here that can greatly disrupt enemy plans and pull attention away from the rest of your army.

–CRAFTWORLD ALLIES–

1 – 10 x Fire Dragons from Aspect Host formation — With 10 BS5 Fusion Guns that can be placed exactly where you want them, there is almost no vehicle (and very few MCs/GMCs) out there that can survive the shooting from this unit, so basically this is your “trump card” unit to surgically remove a selected enemy Super-Heavy, Lord of War, or other uber-unit in a single turn.

2 – 5-10 Wraithguard with either Wraithcannons or D-Scythes — Either weapon option is tremendous, with the Wraithcannons bringing “full-up” Destroyer shots at guaranteed close range and D-Scythes providing ridiculous AP2 templates. While not a cheap battle group, this one is much more durable than many other alternatives and can bring game-changing firepower to bear exactly where you want it, thus mitigating the two Wraithguard weaknesses of short-range and poor mobility.

3 – 20 x Guardian Defenders with 2 x Shurikan Cannons Warlock Leader and attached Farseer — Not only can this unit put out 42 Bladestorm shots a turn at 12″, but the Warlock and Farseer can buff the entire unit in multiple ways and/or debuff enemy forces, making it even more effective (imagine Invisibility on this unit to make it very difficult to target). Finally, if the DE character bearing the WWp also has the Armor of Misery relic, then enemy units within 6″ have -2Ld, meaning the Farseer can use Psychic Shriek and other Leadership shenanigans from the Telepathy discipline quite effectively.

–HARLEQUIN/CORSAIR ALLIES–

1 – 12 x Harlequin Troupe of Player with Fusion Pistols and special CCWs, plus an attached Shadowseer — Not only does this set up the 12 man Troupe for getting into combat on the other end of the board (which is where it excels, but has difficulty getting, since the Starweaver transport can only hold 6 troops), but you can the Fusion Pistols to bring some serious heat (pun intended!) against enemy vehicles, MCs, or elite infantry before the Harlequins charge. Finally, the Shadowseer can protect the Troupe, debuff the enemy, or even snipe out enemy Psykers with Phantasmancy and Telepathy powers.

2 – Corsair Balestrike Band with Jetpacks (for Relentless and JSJ) and massed Dark Lances — This gives you the option to put massed Lance Fire on the table wherever you need it, whether to bring down vehicles or tough infantry/MCs, plus once you DS in with no scatter, you still have solid mobility due to the Jetpacks on the Corsairs. Basically, think of this as a longer ranged, more mobile, but not quite as destructive against vehicles version of the Fire Dragon battle group described above.

 

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.

Jain Zar and Grotesquerie….

Looking at the new Craftworld Eldar book and there appears to be several strong combinations between them and allied Harlequins and Dark Eldar.

One particularly strong combination is combining Jain Zar and the Grotesquerie formation (one Haemonculus and two Goteques squads) from the Haemonculus Covens supplement. Have Jain Zar and the Haemonculus (with Flesh Guantlet and a Liquifier gun) join a squad of four Grotesques (all with Liquifier guns) in a Raider. Based on the “Latest Experiments” rule from the Grotesquerie, the Groteques all have either S6, T6 (which goes to the whole unit, through majority toughness rules), Fleet, Shred, Rage, or FNP(4+). The Haemonculus also improves their Power through Pain “status” by +1, meaning that by turn 3 they will gain IWND, turn 4 they will also get Hatred, and turn 5 they will additionally get Eternal Warrior.

Add to all this Jain Zar and you get a -1WS/Initiative bubble for all enemies within 6″ of her. That means that the entire squad should be hitting on 3+s (and likely being hit on 5+s, for most enemies) in assault and also striking before their enemies in combat. Additionally, due to her Banshee mask, enemy units cannot overwatch on the squad as it charges in (looking at you here, Tau). Finally, Jain Zar has Fear and her “War Shout” ability, which makes enemy locked in close combat with her have -2Ld. Combined with the “Freakish Spectacle” rule of the Haemonculus to net -3 Ld for the enemy (so at best they are Ld7), this means that if the Squad wins combat, as it is likely to do, the enemy is very likely to break and, with its initiative reduced by -5, basically automatically lose the Sweeping Advance roll off and be wiped out (unless they are Space Marines and have ATSKNF, of course).

Shooting-wise, this squad put out 5 x S3 AP (variable) Templates a turn, plus Jain Zar’s 4 x S4 AP2 Triskele shots (fire at BS7, so very likely to hit). Combined this should do great damage against hordes and even do well against heavy infantry (especially if the Liquifier guns get a low AP value).

Combat-wise, on the charge the squad puts out 21 x Flesh Gauntlet attacks (Poison 4+, with 6 to Wound getting Instant Death), most of which are S5, so good chance for re-rolls to wound against most targets due to Poison rules. Add into this Jain Zar’s 5 x S4 AP2 Shred attacks on the charge, all at WS7 and I7, and you have some brutal close combat output. Should you have to challenge an enemy (or be challenged), Jain Zar can “neutralize” one of their close combat weapons per turn by giving up one of her attacks… i.e. she can make an enemy “lose” his Thunder Hammer or Relic weapon while in the challenge while still having 4 x S4 AP2 Shred attacks a turn herself in the challenge. Translation: DO NOT get into a challenge with Jain Zar!

Since the whole unit can ride in the Raider, they should be able to rapidly move accross the board (12″ move + 24″ Flat Out with Aeither sails upgrade), survive enemy shooting (Jink + Night Shields gets you a 3+ cover save), and then set up a turn 2 charge (since the vehicle is open-topped) by Jain Zar and her Frankenstein bodyguards. Finally, with good use of Look Out, Sir! and model positioning, you can maximizie the survivability of this unit against shooting… Jain Zar can “tank” AP3 and below shots with her 2+ Phoenix Armor while the Grotesques, with their T5, FNP, and 3W each can “tank” torrent of fire shooting that might normally be a threat to Jain Zar and the Hamonculus.

Overall, I think this is a very affordable (points-wise), survivable, and deadly unit that can be quite effective in competitive games.

Killing Wraithknights part 3…. Dark Eldar and Harlequin Assassin style

Continuing to look at how each different army deals with the new Eldar Wraithknight and its Gargantuan Creature/LOW status.

Dark Eldar have taken a significant hit in this category, since all their poisoned weaponry are reduced to wounding on 6+s (and the Wraithknight has FNP), so they have to rely on Dark Lance/Blaster spam to deal with T8 Gargantuan Creatures (and even this takes tons of focused fire and may not even succeed).

One way to mitigate this is to take an allied Harquin formation, specifically the “Cast of Players” formation, which consists of the following:

-One Death Jester

-One Shadowseer

-One Harlequin Troupe

The entire formation gets Crusader USR and hands it out to allied Dark Eldar within 6″, so not a bad bonus. Also, the Death Jester and Shadowseer must remain attached to the squad, but they are useful enough and the overall points cost of this formation is low enough ot justify taking it without detracting too much from an overall Dark Eldar force.

Now, here is where the the “synergy” comes in. Take 12 Harlequin Player and equip the entire Troupe with Neuro Disruptors (the Shadowseer as well). That’s 13 Neurodisruptors total. Also, take Telepathy and Phantasmancy on the Shadowseer for access to Psychic Shriek and Veil of Tears as the Primaris powers. Finally, take the Mask of Secrets relic on the Shadowseer.

Next, attach them to a Dark Eldar HQ equipped with a Webway Portal and a Blast Pistol (Archon with a Shadowfield could work well). Finally, starting Turn 2+, having them DS without scattering right within 12′ of the target enemy Wraithknight.

From there, in the Psychic Phase, hit the Wraithknight with Psychic Shriek to try and strip some wounds off (average 3D6 roll is 11 and Wraithknight, after -2 Ld from Mask of Secrets, has Ld 8, so that 3 wounds with no saves, reduced to 2 unsaved wounds by FNP).

Following that, in the shooting phase, hit the Wraithknight with 13 Neuro Disruptor shots…. at BS4 and with AP2 and Fleshbane, that should translate into 7-8 wounds…. after the Wraithknight gets its FNP rolls, the end result shoul dbe about 4-5 unsaved wounds. Throw in the BS5 Blast Pistol and you might even get one more unsaved wound.

Now, between Psychic Shriek, the Neuro Disruptors, and the Blast Pistol you should be able to be able to, in a single player turn when the squad comes in from Deep Strike, inflict an average of about 7 unsaved wounds, which results in one dead Gargantuan Creature Lord of War for your opponent and a dramatic shift in combat power in your favor in a single turn.

Of course, the Shadowseer can also cast Veil of Tears in that same turn in order to make the squad MUCH more capable of absorbing enemy return fire after they assassinate the Wraithknight, in turn allowing them to be set up to move, shoot again, and hopefully charge the following turn, thus contributing even more to your overall game plan.

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.

Tactical Thought of the Day – Incubi and Spiritseers

Incubi are generally pretty good units, for their points, especially since they strike at I5 with AP2 weapons, which is quite uncommon for non-hero units without Relic equipment. Now, they are fragile, with T3 and a 3+ save (off-set a little as the game goes on and they gain FNP) and they lack assault grenades, but other than that they have quite a solid profile in close combat, with 3 x S4 AP2 attacks on the charge each, all swing at WS5 (this becomes S5 on the charge once Power through Pain activates Furious Charge on Turn 4 and they gain Rage on Turn 6 for a total of 4A each on the charge).
So, how to make them even better? Eldar allies of course! With their access to the Runes of Battle discipline and PML(2), Spiritseers are a great IC to attach to a squad of Incubi. Runes of Battle means the Spirit Seer can potentially:

-Increase the Incubi Strength by +1 (so S5 base, S6 with Furious Charge)

-Increase Incubi WS/I by +1 (so WS6 and I6, putting them on par with elite enemy characters)

-Increase Incubi armor by +1 (2+ save means they become like uber Honor Guard)

-Grant Incubi Fearless

-Add +3″ to their run moves (with natural Fleet, than means very solid ability to foot slog)

-Grant the squad in essence a “Psychic Heavy Flamer” (to soften up hordes)

-Give the Squad Shrouded (combined with some terrain and they are shrugging off even AP2/3 shooting).

As you can see, the Spirit Seer potentially brings A LOT of utility to an Incubi squad. If you really want to go crazy, add a Spirit Seer and Jain Zarr to a squad of 8 Incubi in a Raider (Jain Zarr’s Mask decreases enemy I and WS by -5, meaning that the lack of grenades doesn’t matter so much and also increasing the sqauds’ damage and survivability in close combat; oh, and she is a beatstick herself in the assault phase). Pretty much anything they charge should be toast and, with the right psychic abilities and Power through Pain buffs, they should become pretty survivable as well.