Codex Deathwatch: Xenos Hunting part 3 (or, how to beat ancient Zombie Robots with Lightning Guns)

Continuing with our look at how the new Deathwatch army can effectively deal with competitive Xenos forces, here is my take on how to build effective Deathwatch Battle Groups to combat the Necron Empire:


[1] Wraiths with Whip Coils that are part of the “Canoptyk Harvest” formation — Again, this is one of the classic “power units” that you can expect to face in a tournament Necron army. Right out of the box, Canoptyk Wraiths are already very potent units, being Fearless Beasts with S6 T5 and Rending for all their close combat attacks. On top of this, they can be taken in squads of 3-6, come with 2W a piece, have a built-in 3++ save, and with the Whip Coil upgrade strike at I5 in close combat. Not bad for 43 points per/model! What really puts them over the top, however, is when they are included in the “Canoptyk Harvest” formation and, using the Adaptive Subroutines rule, they can gain Reanimation Protocols for each friendly Movement phase that they start within 12″ of the formation’s Tomb Spyder. This gives them a 33% increase in survivability on top of their T5, 2W, and 3++ (which can be increased to 50% if they are taken as part of a Decurion or have a nearby Illuminor Szeras). Taken all together, this makes for super tough unit that is very fast and dangerous in assault, which means it is a real threat to any army, and particular to a Deathwatch force with its “elite” make-up and typically low model count. Below is my best take on how to deal with Canoptyk Harvest Waiths —

EAGLE BOW Battle Group configuration:

-Two Aquila Kill Teams, each with two Terminators (both with CMLs) and eight Veterans (all with Stalker Boltguns and Bolters).

The key here for the EAGLE BOW Kill Teams is to use their superior range/firepower to defeat the Wraiths at long range, before they can close the distance and get into assault. Starting turn 1, I would have both squads engage the Tomb Spyder at maximum range with their 8 x S8 AP3 Krak missiles (with re-rolls of 1s to Hit using Malleus Mission Tactics and 1s to Wound from Aquila Doctrine), which should reliable kill that Monstrous Creature in a single shooting phase (even with 4+ Reanimation Protocols). This removes any Reanimation Protocols from the Wraiths, making them MUCH easier to bring down in subsequent shooting phases. Turn 2, the Wraiths should still be moving up to try and charge, so you can engage them with the full firepower of both squads using their CMLs and Stalker Boltguns. With Venator Mission Tactics and Aquila Doctrine activated (for re-rolls of 1s to Hit and to Wound against the Wraiths), these two squads put out 8 x Krak Missiles and 32 x Stalker Boltgun shots with Hellfire rounds (so, wounding on a 2+). On average, this results in 31-32 hits, 30-31 wounds, and 10-11 Unsaved Wounds after the Wraiths’ 3++ saves, which nets about 5 dead Wraiths out of a max squad size of 6. Even if the surviving Wraith manages to subsequently charge one of the squads in the EAGLE BOW Battle Group, Overwatch should net about 1 Unsaved Wound, meaning that the PFs on the Terminators ought to be able to finish the last wound on the Wraith off in combat reliable (especially with re-rolls of 1s to Wound from Aquila Doctrine). While the EAGLE BOW Battle Group is quite pricy points-wise, the ability to reliable kill of a Canoptyk Harvest (minus Scarabs, which are relatively easy to deal with) at range is very powerful and, fortunately, can translate effectively against other Necron units or even other armies as well.

 

[2] Triarch Stalkers — While these Necron Walkers are not exceptional combatants in their own right, with only 3 S7 AP- attacks in combat and a single Heat Ray for shooting, they bring A LOT to any competitive Necron army via their Targeting Relay rule, which grants +1BS to friendly Necron non-vehicle units within 6″. On top of this, they tough to bring down, with 3HP, AV13 on their front and side (as long as Quantum Shielding is up), and the Living Metal special rule. Efficiently eliminating any Triarch Stalkers, somewhat like dealing with Tau Pathfinders or Eldar Farseers, can be key for forces seeking to “de-synergize” their Necron opponents. Here is my take on the Deathwatch can assassinate Triarch Stalkers —

PALADIN DRAKE Battle Group configuration:

-Dominatus Kill Team with two Vanguard Vets (both with PF/LC), two Terminators (both with SB and PF/auxiliary Meltagun),  and five Veterans (all with Meltaguns and Storm Shields).

The idea here is to use the Black Spear Strike Force “Sudden Onslaught” special rule to Deep Strike right next to the target Triarch Stalker(s) and light them up with 8 melta shots (with re-rolls of 1s to Hit with Dominatus Mission Tactics and re-rolls to Penetrate from Dominatus Doctrine), which should easily strip Quantum Shielding and kill even an entire squadron of 3 Triarch Stalkers. The Terminators can tank any non-AP2/1 firepower for the squad and the Vets can use their Stormshields to absorb AP2/1 attacks after this, so the squad is not on a complete “suicide” mission. In subsequent turns, the squad can shoot its Meltaguns again and then charge with 14 x PF attacks (or 8 LC attacks and 6 PF attacks), making it a significant threat to any Necron units that had previously been positioned near the Triarch Stalkers to take advantage of their Targeting Relay rule, be it a giant phalanx of Necron Warriors, Heavy Destroyers, or even Death Mark snipers. While the PALADIN DRAKE Battle Group is a more specialized build than some of the other Battle Groups I have proposed, against any army that relies on Elite infantry or heavily armored vehicles, I think it can be the Deathwatch’s more durable and more versatile version of Eldar fire Dragon squads.

 

[3] Doom Scythe — While perhaps not as notorious as Canoptyk Wraiths or event the Triarch Stalker, the Doom Scythe is a very potent Necron Heavy Support Flyer that presents a very significant threat against Deathwatch forces because of its S10 AP1 Small Blast Death Ray and multi-shot TLed Tesla Destructor, both of which can inflict multiple casualties on Deathwatch units every Shooting Phase. While the Corvus Blackstar (with the Blackstar Rocket Launcher) might seem to be the “natural” counter to Doom Scythes, I think actually the following Battle Group  might be a more efficient defense against this Xenos threat —

IRON PIKE Battle Group configuration:

-Malleus Kill Team with two Terminators (both with TH/SS) and five Veterans (four with Missile Launchers/Flak Missiles and Bolters and one with DW Shotgun and Bolter), all on top of a Bastion with a Quad Gun.

The idea here is that the entire squad starts on the top of the Bastion, with the DW Shotgun Veteran manning the Quad Gun and the Terminators up front to tank enemy shooting with their 2+ armor and 3++ Invuls. Once the enemy Doom Scythe comes in, the Veteran manning the Quad Gun engages it (thanks to Interceptor and Skyfire) with 4 x S7 shots. Using re-rolls to Hit (because the Quad Gun is TLed) and to Penetrate (thanks to Malleus Doctrine), he averages 2-3 stripped HPs (or 1-2 HPs, if the Doom Scythe opts to Jink). If you are lucky, this kills the Doom Scythe outright, before it can even fire, but even it does survive, it probably Jinked, so it cannot shoot its Death Ray at all and its Tesla Destructor is MUCH less dangerous. When your shooting phase comes up next turn, the remaining four Veterans can shoot their 4 Flak Missiles at it using Malleus Mission Tactics and Malleus Doctrine, removing an average of 2-3 HPs (or 1-2, if the Doom Scythe jinks again), which either way should be sufficiently to destroy it. Like the PALADIN DRAKE Battle Group above, the IRON PIKE Battle Group is pretty specialized against Flyers and FMC in the Heavy Support slot, but can still use its shooting against various enemy flyers or skimmers and, if required, switch to Krak Missiles against enemy Heavy Support Vehicles/Infantry, thus maximizing Malleus Mission Tactics and Malleus Doctrine.


Overall, like before, these are not perfect Battle Groups but, just like Tau Crises suit builds, they each can do a specific “mission” quite well against some of the more crucial elements of a competitive Necron army and yet still are versatile enough to be included in a Deathwatch faction “all-comers” list, I think.

 

Codex Deathwatch: Hunting Xenos, Part 2 (or, how to kill Blue Frog Gundams)

Shifting from Eldar to Tau, here is my thoughts on how the Deathwatch can handle some of the more dangerous units from the Tau Codex:

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[1] Riptides with Ion Accelerator and Early Warning Override/Stimulant Injectors  – One of the classic Tau “power units,” I would say it is rare to find a competitive list without at least one (if not 3-5, as some armies go all out with things like the Riptide Wing formation). The Ion Accelerator provides long range infantry killing power at critical S8 (so able to double out T4 and below) and AP2, while the Early Warning Override makes it a very potent defense against Deep Striking units that would otherwise be a significant threat (e.g. the GHOST EAGLE Battle Group riding in a Drop Pod I described in the counter-Eldar article). With T6, 5W, a 2+/5++ save (which can be improved to a 3++ via the Nova Reactor), plus the option to take a Stimulant Injector for FNP, the Riptide can be a challenge to take down, especially if you can’t use a Drop Pod alpha strike against it because of Early Warning Override. So, how would a Deathwatch army deal with Riptides efficiently? Here is my best take so far —

“PALADIN SPEAR” Battle Group configuration:

-Dominatus Kill Team with two Vanguard Veterans (both with PF/SS) and eight Veterans (4 with Frag Cannons and Bolters, 4 with Plasmas and Bolters), all riding in a Corvus Blackstar with the Auspex Array upgrade and TLed Lascannon/Stormstrike Missiles.

So, I think the key here is to not Deep Strike from Reserve (since the squad might get sucker-punched by a S8 AP2 Interceptor Pie Plate before it even gets to engage). To achieve this, the entire squad starts in the Blackstar, which itself begin the game in Hover mode on a Skyshield Landing Pad (you would have to take an allied CAD to get this, of course). The Blackstar moves 6”, disembarks the PALADIN SPEAR Battle Group 6”, and then the Blackstar and Kill Team shoot at the Riptide at 12” with 8 x S9 AP2 Frag Cannon shots, 8 x S7 AP2 Plasma shots, and 5 Lascannon/Stormstrike Missiles shots by the Blackstar (at BS5 due to Strafing Run). With Dominatus Tactics and Dominatus Doctrine activated, this yields an average of 5-8 Unsaved Wounds after both the Riptides 5++ and FNP saves, which should be sufficient to kill the Riptide outright in that one Shooting Phase. As with the other Battle Groups, the PALADIN SPEAR is specifically designed to kill Elites like the Riptide (or Crises Suits, Stealth Suits, Ghostkeels, etc.), but I think can be effective against other types of units, and even other armies besides Tau, with the Vanguard Vets providing “tanking power” up front via their Storm Shields and Close Combat capacity with their PFs, the Frag Cannons and Plasma Guns allowing engagements against all forms of infantry and medium-light vehicles, and the Corvus Blackstar adding mobility, additional firepower, and a rapid objective seizer as required.

 

[2] Pathfinders – One of the “cornerstone” units of the Tau army (if not THE cornerstone unit), Pathfinders are the most efficient source of Marker Lights for most Tau forces and often begin the game camped in heavy cover to maximize their survivability while “lighting up” (literally 😉 ) the enemy army for improved accuracy, Ignore Cover, and/or Strength D Destroyer Missiles. Thus, it goes without saying that removing Pathfinders efficiently is one of the top priorities for a Deathwatch army, so how can that be done? Without spending excessive points, here is my take on how to accomplish this –

“BOWHUNTER ” Battle Group configuration:

-Venator Kill Team with two DW Bikers (both with Power Mauls) and five Veterans (all with Stalker Boltguns and Bolters)

If the Pathfinders are in the open/not in cover, then the BOWHUNTER battlegroup can use Hellfire rounds, which causes an average of 7-9 Unsaved Wounds on the Pathfinders, basically eliminating even a max size squad. Alternately, if the Pathfinders are in cover, then the BOWHUNTER Battle Group can use Dragonfire rounds to ignore that cover, resulting in an average of 6-8 dead Pathfinders, which is still a significant blow to the Markerlight capacity of the Tau army. Since the Bolters and Stalker Boltguns all can shoot out to 24”, the BOWHUNTER Battle Group can likely sit still in terrain in their own DZ and take out multiple Pathfinder Teams (or other Tau infantry, as required) over the course of a game. If the enemy shoots back with AP3/2/1 firepower, then the DW Bikers can tank wounds up front with their 3++ Jink saves and, if for some reason the unit needs to charge, then the two Power Mauls on the bikers provide some anti-vehicle and anti-infantry hitting power. While this Battle Group primarily exists to sit and shoot, it can move and fire when required (thanks to the Veterans having both Stalker Boltguns and normal Bolters) and can deal with a wide variety of non-vehicle targets, thanks to their multi-purpose Special Issue Ammunition.

 

[3] Stormsurges – The new “heavy hitter” LOW option for the Tau Empire, this unit can really drop the hammer in shooting with Strength D missiles (with ML support), a multitude of long-range shooting options, and the ability to anchor and “double-tap” shooting. Like with Riptides and Pathfinders, dealing with Stormsurges efficiently is an important ability for any Deathwatch player facing competitive Tau armies. This can be a challenge, given that Stormsurges have T6, a 3+ save, FNP, the “Unstoppable” special rule, the ability to take a 4++ Shield Generator, and 8Ws! I think the key weakness of the Stormsurge is close combat, since they cannot fire Overwatch, only have 2 x WS2 I2 S6 AP2 attacks base, and cannot use Stomp if they are anchored. To exploit this, I think the following is an effective Battle Group for dealing with Stormsurges –

“EAGLE HAMMER ” Battle Group configuration:

-Aquila Kill Team with one Vanguard Vet (TH/SS) and six Veterans (two with SS and DE Shotgun, three with Heavy Thunder Hammers, and one upgraded to a Black Shield with LC/PF), plus an attached DW Chaplain with MB, all riding in a Corvus Blackstar with Infernum Halo-Launcher.

The EAGLE HAMMER Battle Group starts in the Blackstar in Reserve. Turn 2 (hopefully) the Blackstar comes in hot in Zooming Mode and, between forcing Tau units that do not have Velocity Trackers to snap shoot at it and its re-rollable Jink save (i.e. a 75% chance of ignoring Glances/Penetrating hits), survives long enough to position itself for Turn 3, where it drops into Hover mode, moves 6” , disembarks the EAGLE HAMMER Battle Group 6”, and then the Battle Group charges 2D6” (with re-rolls, thanks to Heroic Intervention) into the Stormsurge, which cannot Overwatch because it is a GMC. The three Storm Shields should be able to absorb the Stormsurges two S6 AP2 attacks at I2 and then the Battle Group piles in with 1 x S8 AP1 Melta Bomb attack, 9 x PF attacks and 9 x Heavy Thunder Hammer attacks, all hitting on re-rollable 3+s (thanks to Zealot) and wounding on re-rollable 2+s (thanks to Aquila Doctrine), which results in an average of 16-17 AP2 wounds and 6-7 Unsaved Wounds after the Stormsurge 4++ and FNP saves. While this is not enough to kill the Stormsurge in one turn, the EAGLE HAMMER should be able to finish it off in the next Tau player Assault Phase, thus freeing up the Battle Group at the end of the Tau player’s turn and allowing it charge another enemy unit in the subsequent Deathwatch player’s turn.

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Overall, while not perfect by any means, I think these Battle Groups are pretty solid against any Tau opponents and should be particularly effective against these “lynchpin” Tau units described above.

Counter-Tau Tactics: Canoptyk Harvest Wraiths

Most people already know that Canoptyk Wraiths are one of the top units in the game, especially when used as part of the Canoptyk Harvest formation/Decurion detachment to give them 4+ Reanimation Protocols.

Given the release of the recent Tau codex and its increased power level in terms of competitive gaming, I think Necron players will be relying on “Wraithstars” even more than ever to hold their own against the forces of the Greater Good.

Reviewing Wraiths’ stat-line, they have S6 T5, 2W, a permanent 3++ save, plus 12″ move (from their status as Beasts) and the ability to ignore intervening terrain due to the Wraithflight rule. Their close combat attacks also have Rending and they can either take a ranged weapon (Particle Caster or Transdimensional Beamer) or Whip Coils (upping their Initiative from 2 to 5 in close combat).

The first and most important part of fighting Tau is being able to survive their tremendous firepower long-enough to deliver damage in return. As long as they have the Canoptek Spyder within 12″, Wraiths can use the 4+ Reanimation Protocols to basically double their (already exceptional) durability against anything but D attacks. Additionally, since Tau can easily remove cover saves and increase the accuracy of their shooting with MLs, the fact that Wraiths have a 3++ Invul save makes them an ideal unit for “tanking” firepower from the Blue Socialist Space Frogs. Couple this with Fearless to ensure they can’t be pinned or morale checked off the board and they have very good resistance to Tau shenanigans. Finally, because Wraiths are beasts, they have the mobility to quickly cross the board (12″ move + D6″ run, with re-rolls from Fleet and ignoring difficult/dangerous terrain) and reliably get the charge off (again, Fleet helps tremendously with this).

So, based on all this, how can Wraiths be used on a tactical level against Tau?

(1) Gun-line Rushers — With the speed and durability described above, Wraiths are perfect for rapidly moving across the board and, by turn 2-3 at the latest, multi-charging Tau units, both to tie them up from shooting and, in most cases, beat them down in close combat. Riptides, Ghostkeels, Crisis Suits, Fire Warriors, and even Storm Surges are WAY less effective when tied up by Fearless, T5, 2W, 3++, Reanimation Protocol Wraiths. Even if just a few Wraiths get into the enemy DZ, you should be able to tie up multiple Tau units and/or force other units to displace to prevent being charged, thus taking the pressure off the rest of your own army.

(2) Counter-assault Units — Everyone knows that Tau are quite shooty, but Necrons can be shooty as well, and even beat Tau at their game in the right circumstances. This, combined with the relatively shorter range of many new Tau units (i.e. Breacher squads, Ghostkeels, Stormsurges equipped with Pulse Blast Cannons, most Crisis Battlesuit weapon options, etc.) can force a Tau Commander to actually maneuver closer to you, in turn setting up an easy “counter-charge” by a squad of Wraiths standing beside your own Necron gun-line for just such a purpose. Also, should the Tau attempt to actually assault you with, say, Kroot hordes or even some of their MC Battlesuits, the Wraiths provide an excellent counter-assault antidote to these threats.

(3) “Damage Shield/Distraction” Unit — Given the tremendous Tau firepower potential, and also what a threat they can be to the Tau army, Wraiths are a great unit for absorbing Tau shooty away from the rest of your units. Just doing the Mathhammer, it takes an average of 48 BS3 Pulse Rifle shots, or 36 BS3 Plasma Rifle shots, or 11 TLed BS3 HYMP shots, or 6 BS3 Destroyer Missiles, to kill a single Canoptyk Wraith that has 4+ Reanimation Protocols. That is obviously quite a lot of firepower which would, if not directed at the Wraiths, could do significant damage to the rest of your army.

(4) Vehicle/MC Hunter — With their superior mobility and 4 x S6 Rending attacks on the charge each, squads of 4-6 Wraiths can be used to tear down dangerous tau vehicles (i.e. Hammerheads, Sky Rays, Piranha squadrons, etc.) and even MCs. A 6 Wraith squad on the charge has 24 attacks at WS4…. against a T6 Riptide, they average 18 hits, with 3 Rending Hits and 6 normal Wounds… this in turn translates into about 3-4 unsaved Wounds, which should be enough to win combat and, since the Riptide is not Fearless and I2, very likely “sweep” the Tau Battlesuit into oblivion that same turn.

As you can see, Wraiths are a tremendous asset no matter what army you are fighting, but they are particularly useful against the new Tau Empire forces due to the threat potential and damage absorption capabilities discussed.

 

Tomb Blades: Utility Skirmishers of the Necron Dynasties

I think more players are beginning to understand what tremendous value Necron Tomb Blades have in the current codex, but there are probably still many people who consider them a “second tier” unit. While not able to put out as much raw damage as, say, Wraiths or Doomsday Arks and not as survivable as Lychguard with Shields and 4+ Reanimation rolls, they are nevertheless an extremely useful all-purpose unit for any canny Overlord to employ.

Consider the following:

-Tomb Blade squad of 10 models, all with:

***TLed Gauss Blasters

***Shieldvanes

***Nebuloscopes

So, for the price of 44 Melta Bombs, you get a unit with a basic MEQ stat line, except that they are I2 and have Ld10 and T5 stock. Additionally, they have 20 TLed S5 AP4 Gauss (auto-glance/wound on rolls of 6+) shots at 12″, they can move 12″/Turbo-boost 24″ (being Jetbike units), and they have access to Jink (4+ cover save) and Reanimation Protocols. This unit can do almost anything you ask of it because of its versatile profile:

1 – Shooting — With TLed Gauss Blasters and Nebuloscopes, Tomb Blades are a threat infantry and vehicles alike. Against light infantry in cover, say the with the standard GEQ profile, 10 Tomb Blades get 20 shots at 12″, about 17-18 hits, and 14-15 AP4/Ignore Cover wounds. This means they can reliably remove pretty much any T3 infantry squads behind cover (i.e. Guardsmen, Cultists, Aspect Warriors, Fire Warriors, etc.), which is great for neutralizing those threats and opening up objectives. Alternately, because they Ignore Cover, Tomb Blades equipped like this can also deal with RW Bikers, Eldar Jetbikes, Tau Stealth suits, Tyranid Venomthropes, Orky Bikerz, Harlequins with Psychic Support, Imperial Assassins, or pretty much any unit in the game that relies heavily on its cover/Jink saves for survivability. Finally, Tomb Blades are also quite good at dealing with enemy vehicles (especially ones that depend on Jinking, such as Eldar/DE Skimmers)… with 20 Gauss Blasters shots and an average of 17-18 hits, their Gauss weapons can strip an average of about 3 HPs from any vehicle they target, be it a AV10 skimmer or an AV14 Land Raider. This versatility really can be the difference in a Necron army’s shooting phase, as Tomb Blades can deal with (or at least assist in prosecuting) almost any unit in an enemy army.

2 – Objectives — With a the ability to displace up to 36″ a turn, T5, a 3+ armor save, and 5+ Reanimation Protocols, there really is no better Objective grabber/holder in the Necron Codex. Even a bare minimum squad of 3 Tomb Blades (costing a mere 11 Melta Bombs) can dash around all game for Necrons and seize objectives while using their armor, Jink, and RPs to absorb enemy counter-shooting (note: it takes 20 BS4 Bolter shots or 5-6 BS4 Plasma Shots, on average, to kill a single Jinking Tomb Blade).

3 – Screening/Melee — While these are certainly not the ideal functions for Tomb Blades, they can still do quite a good job of providing mobile cover to your other units, “bubble wrapping” critical vehicles to protect them DSing melta units, or even tying up enemy shooting units in assault to prevent them from shooting. With their above average survivability and exceptional mobility (especially for their points cost) they can quickly tarpit enemy “fire base” units (Grav Centurions and the new Ta’unar “Titan battlesuit” comes to mind as ideal deathstar shooting units to tie up in combat) in order to allow the rest of your army to operate free of the danger from their tremendous shooting output.

Overall, you can see how many uses Tomb Blades have, whether you use them in minimum squads of 3 or maxed out 10 Bike Squadrons with all the upgrades. Don’t forget, while they can operate very effectively independently from the rest of the Necron army, they also can benefit from synergizing with other units, such as increasing to BS5 if within 6″ or a Triarch Stalker or gaining Preferred Enemy if a Destroyer Lord is attached to them.

Deathbringer Flight + Farsight Enclave

Since Tau and Necrons are Allies of Convenience, they can be ally without the major drawbacks of Desperate Allies or Come the Apocalypse.

Ironically, Tau actually are somewhat weak in terms of high strength, anti-tank shooting since Broadside Heavy Rail Rifles are not only S8 AP1 and S10 shooting is only found on Hammerheads these days.

It just so happens that, for the cost of 32 MBs per Flyer, Necrons have access to a formation called “Deathbringer Flight” which allows them to take 2-4 Doom Scythes and grants them the following bonuses:

1 – Doom Scythes firing their Death Ray get +2BS for each Doom Scythe from the formation that has previously targeted that same unit that same shooting phase.

2 – Enemy units within 12″ of two or more Doom Scythes suffer -1Ld

Combine all this with each Doom Scythe’s S10 AP1 Lance Small Blast shooting against ground targets and its TLed Tesla Destructor, which puts out 4 x S7 AP- shots at either ground or air targets (with bonues hits from rolls of 6+ to Hit), and you have a very versatile flyer that can provide tremendous fire support to an allied Tau cadre.

Now, how can the Deathbringer flight combine with Tau effectively? I would offer that the Farsight Enclave is an excellent counterpart to a Necron flight of 4 Doom Scythes. Consider the following:

— TAU CAD — (1360)

HQ (288)

-Tau Commander with Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle, Vectored Retro Thrusters, 2 x Shield Drones (144)

-Tau Commander with Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle, Vectored Retro Thrusters, 2 x Shield Drones (144)

TR (348)

-Crises Team with 3 Suits, each with Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle and Target Lock (174)

-Crises Team with 3 Suits, each with Fusion Blaster/Plasma Rifle and Target Lock (174)

FA (120)

-Pathfinder Team with 5 x models (60)

-Pathfinder Team with 5 x models (60)

HS (604)

-3 x Missilesides with HYMPs, 2 Target Locks (208)

-3 x Missilesides with HYMPs (198)

-3 x Missilesides with HYMPs (198)

— NECRON DEATHBRINGER FLIGHT — (640)

-Doom Scythe (160)

-Doom Scythe (160)

-Doom Scythe (160)

-Doom Scythe (160)

As you can see, you have a solid firebase, with Missilesides to engage light vehicles and infantry, Crises Teams and Commanders to DS in and engage heavy infantry and vehicles, and Pathfinders to “force multiply” the entire battle group with Markerlights.

Additionally, everything in this task force is backed up by the Deathbringer flight, which really is the “hammer” of this army list, providing the Tau with S10 AP1 and massed S7 shooting support once they come in. Against enemy hordes, you can use the HYMPs, Smart Missiles, and Doom Scythes. Against MEQs and light mech, you have the Crises Suits and torrent of fire from the Missilesides. Against TEQs and MCs, you have the Crises Teams and the Doom Scythes.

Overall, I would say this a pretty versatile force that employs the varying strengths of both the Tau codex and the Deathbringer Flight formation.

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.

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.