Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dark Eldar Combat Units:Beastmasters are the Sleeper Choice

I'm still slowly processing my way through the Dark Eldar units.  I'm finding a lot of assumptions being challenged and some interesting finds in the process.  One such finding is that one of our best combat units is found in the fast section.  Sure we have impressive looking units found in the elite section like incubi and in the troop section like wyches, but it's my belief that perhaps the best unit we can take for munching non-elite units are our beastmaster units. 

That said, I think the thing that makes this unit so potent are the razorwing flocks.  With an fairly impressive statline, WS4, I5, 5A, and 5 wounds, the only "negative" is strength 3, until you note the rending. 

I ran some numbers and found that the best unit for killing MEQs is actually one that contain more razorwing flocks.  As mentioned in my previous post, I think clawed fiends look nice with S5 and T5, but they fail to impress when you run the numbers.  Adding attacks per wound seems nice also, but honestly, these guys are too expensive for what they bring to the unit.  The khymerae are decent.  I like them for one key reason, their 4++ invul save.  With everything, but the clawed fiend being T3, you want something that can absorb high strength damage.  Khymerae's invul save does just that.  Beastmasters are just a necessary evil for taking the good stuff.  I wouldn't even try to make them more killy by adding agonizers or venomblades because they only have 1 attack base, which sucks.

After running through the numbers for several setups, I decided upon the following:

4 beastmasters- 3 khymerae, 6 razorwing flocks- 174pt.

This provides a cheap-ish unit that can handle most other units of equal or slightly larger value that aren't elite infantry.  Once you get into elite infantry, we need to really make kills because when we get hit back, it hurts.  With beastmaster units, I feel that we can handle the return attacks of save 5 or so tac marines with little problem. 

Here are the numbers I ran.  Again, these assume we got the charge, which is fairly easy with "beast" rules.

@ I6
4 Beastmasters- 8 WS4 S3 attacks on the charge
3 Khymerae- 12 WS4 S4 attacks on the charge
@ I5
6Razorwing Flocks- 36 WS4 S3, rending attacks on the charge

Pre-Assault shooting

4 hits from splinter pods, 2 wounds dealt, .666 unsaved wounds

In Assault
Beastmasters- 4 hits, 1.332 wounds dealt, .443 unsaved wounds
Khymerae- 6 hits, 3 wounds, 1 unsaved wound
Razorwing Flocks- 18 hits, 3 rends, 3 wounds dealt, 1 unsaved wound= 4

Total wounds~ 5.5 wounds before strike backs

5 return attacks from Tac Marine- 2.5 hits, 1.6667 wounds, 1.4 unsaved wounds

Another beautiful thing is made apparent about beastmaster units when soaking wounds.  If we aren't dealing with S6+, then razorwings will ultimately soak damage far better because they have 5 wounds. This also means that they don't lose efficiency for quite some time as the unit will have to deal with 13 wounds before having to add a second wound to any one model.

Against GEQ, things get gross.

The Beastmasters deal 1.774 wounds, the Khymerae deal 5.322 wounds, and razorwings deal 9.313 (between rends and regular) for a total of about 16.5 wounds.

The thing I keep noticing though is that it is the lowly S3 birdies that are doing the real damage. 

I think a good DE player has to recognize the troop killing power of a beastmaster unit.  They can lay down some sick offensive power and at I5 and 6, most things won't hit back until it is far too late.  If you deploy the unit with a Haemonculus, you get a unit with FNP to soak some damage as well.  For their cost, beastmaster units need to be considered. 

Their down side comes in the form of combat infantry.  Anything with a decent amount of attacks will give them a hard time and if they lose by even one, they will be hard pressed to pass a LD7 or less morale test.  Don't even think about running them into assault terms or halberd wielding grey knights of various types. 

Again, for their cost, beastmaster units bring a lot of light offensive power to the table.  They are fast enough to keep up with most things (though nothing keeps up with fast skimmers) and get into combat quickly to tie up enemy units.  The key is to demech things quickly so that when the beastmasters hit, they are able to take out the soft squishies inside the metal cans.  If they run up in hopes of assaulting and you fail to de-mech, I think they will be tank shocked right off the board. 

That's it for this article.  I hope my ramblings brought a few ideas to the table. 

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