Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ms Lelith Hesperax, the sublime queen of close combat (dark eldar tactica)

Okay I first want to say that I am by no means a dark eldar guru by any stretch of the imagination and I have very limited game play with them. That said I'd like to start posting one to two tactical articles each week as I gain more experience with my army. I decided to run with Lelith over a Haemonculus for my second HQ choice after reading the recent White Dwarf batrep that featured Phil Kelly's dark eldar versus Matt Hutson's Blood Angels which incidentally coincided with the second wave for Blood Angels. Phil is a very competitive gamer and knows his stuff - he always writes strong codices and his dark eldar is no exception in my opinion. I always read his tactical articles and batreps as there is always something there to learn.

Ms Hesperax weighs in at 175 points. To me that point cost is more than a great deal for what she brings to the table. Sure she has a few short comings (S3 being the biggest) but her pros heavily outweigh all the cons. I like to use Lelith with a small squad of Bloodbrides (including a Syren) mounted in a raider. Here is my current build:

Lelith Hesperax
6x Bloodbride: 2x Shardnet & Impaler; haywire grenades
Syren: blast pistol & agonizer; haywire grenades
Raider: flickerfield

Bloodbrides versus Wyches
I prefer Bloodbrides over Wyches because they have higher leadership, more attacks, plus I can take two sets of shardnets and impalers in a smaller size squad. Wyches are an assault unit and as such you shouldn't count on them to hold any objectives. They are always safest when engaged in close combat. One flamer template and with no FNP they'll all literally go up in smoke. :'(( Bloodbrides only cost a tad more than Wyches and what you get for those few additional points are well worth it. Seven Bloodbrides can dish out an equivalent number of attacks to nine Wyches plus you can take two Wyche special weapons... The shardnets/impalers are very crucial to this unit!

Engaging Enemy Models in Base Contact during Assaults
You should always engage enemy units in base contact during assaults such that the two Bloodbrides with shardnets are on either side of Lelith. Lelith also counts as having a shardnet and impaler so you can reduce so those enemy models in base contact with her by a considerably number of attacks... Up to three versus a single model which is very defensive such as independent characters, unique characters and even monstrous creatures should have to engage them... Look at it this way, often it's better to tie down a powerful enemy model rather than letting it run ram shackle through your Warriors.

Lelith has WS9 so any model fighting her with WS4 or less is hitting her back on 5+. The combination of her unusually high weapon skill, shardnets plus her 3++ invulnerable save means that she is practically impervious in close combat versus the vast majority of other enemy units! It's actually better to place her in base contact versus a Marine with a power fist since her shardnet will most often reduce the Marine's number of attacks to only one in return. If the Marine simply piles in behind others then the shardnets have no effect. Here are the odds for one power fist attack to insta gib Lelith:

0.333 (to hit) * 0.833 (to wound) * 0.333 (failed invulnerable save) = 9%

I'll take those odds any time. Also the Marine is striking last so there is a good chance you'll wipe out his unit before he can strike back.

Targeting Enemy Units
I use Lelith and her Bloodbrides primarily to destroy enemy units such as Long Fangs and tactical Marines as they can quickly reap through these units and generate pain tokens. Once they have FNP that's a 4++ invulnerable save followed up by another 4++ versus attacks that aren't S=>2xT or ignore armor saves... That's pretty darn good and why I said earlier Wyches are safest when engaged in close combat. I also have Vect attached with a squad of Incubi to tackle harder units such as assault Marines... But that's another story I'll tell you all about at a later date. ; )

The Syren, your Support Character
The Syren has an agonizer, combined with Lelith versus a squad of ten tactical Marines on the charge that equates to around five unsaved wounds. Add in the other failed saves due to the Bloodbrides and you are going to be winning the majority of these assaults quickly while raking up those pain tokens. If and when Lelith buys the farm you'll still have her second in command to run the crew - the attacks from the agonizer then become even more important. My Syren also has a blast pistol as an insurance policy... It's much better if you can first pop a transport in the shooting phase then charge the contents spilling out of the burning metal bawx rather rely upon your haywire grenades to only take out the transport... If you only manage to wreck/destroy the transport then most likely your Wyches are going to be looking down the wrong end of some lasguns or bolters.

Haywire Grenades
Always take the haywire grenades. On average for the squad I've listed above you'll generally generate one penetrating hit and three to four glancing hits on a vehicle that has moved six inches or less. It's an important part of your tactical acumen to stun or immobilize the transport first with your vast arsenal of lance weapons before you charge in chucking all those grenades. It's probably not worth the charge versus a vehicle that has moved over six inches and is undamaged since you'll only be hitting on a 6+... You are practically throwing away the squad under those circumstances and it's just not worth it unless you're really between a rock and a hard place.

At first I wanted to run a webway portal army but then I decided to field Vect as my first HQ choice and with Lelith as my second HQ I couldn't fit it into my list. So I have come to rely upon the raider. The newly released raider has a much smaller footprint and is much easier to hide, combined with it's speed you can easily get into assault on the second turn in most situations barring a barren tabletop devoid of any terrain - who wants to play under those conditions with dark eldar anyways ?? Not me ! You can launch an assault from a raider that has moved 12" or less since it's open topped... Two more inches to disembark plus up to six more inches for fleet and you are looking at a charge arc of up to 26"... Not much can hide from that reach.

Raiders are tricky though and all it takes is one decent shot to bring them down - you can lose all your Bloodbrides and Syren when spilling out of a destroyed raider if they don't have FNP, so you have to be very very careful with your placements. Flickerfield is well worth the ten points for the 5++ invulnerable save. Make sure to move flat-out if you have to expose the raider then turn prior to the charge. Nightshields I'm not yet sold on... It only reduces enemy range by 6" which is practically nothing if your opponent is packing lots of long range heat. If you start tacking on a lot of options for your raiders it can quickkg add up in cost and that's less points to spread around the rest of your army.

If you can move the raider close enough such that your Wyches can assault the following turn without the 12" raider move then it's probably best to disembark them if you can do so in such a manner to keep them hidden prior to the next turn. Also be very careful if your opponent has guns which ignore intervening terrain such as barrage, Hive Guard or the soon to be released Grey Knight Purifiers.

So that concludes my first substantial tactical article on dark eldar. Like I said I'm a newb so feel free to constructively comment if you have something positive to add. Comments can be a great thing for sure. I've gone into greater detail to cover her support unit (Bloodbrides) plus touched on using the raider to reach your first assaults... And I didn't even mention combat drugs... Heh .



Aldonis said...

Nice article G!

I've played against her a couple games with Wolves. She is a HTH beast - but wasn't as effective in HTH as I thought she be against another top tier HTH squad (Wolf Termies with SS/WC - probably the best HTH unit in the game though). It was a three round fight every time - but at the end Wolf's won.

I can see her and her girls run through a squad per turn though of most PA types.

Do you think they are succeptible though to your BA's? The BA psychic power (Fear of Dark right - I call it the BOO! power) could be brutal to them.

Thanks for posting this - enjoyed it a lot!

Josh_theMexican said...

Interesting post! I have a couple of questions for you: What is the target priority(ies) for the Bloodbrides after the eaay/vulnerable killpoint? Do you have issues with the unit not being durable enough to accomplish the tasks you give it?

Black Blow Fly said...

Well as I said the beauty of Lelith is she has very good defense. Her main weakness is only being S3 and she doesn't have combat drugs. Assault termies with hammers and stormshields are a bad matchup due to their 2+/3++ saves. You really need to pop their ride first then shoot the crap out of them... I use Voidravens since the S9 lance is better than S8 lance versus AV14 (obviously) and it's been working well for me so far. Lelith works best versus units in power armor as Al has stated. S3 with a lot of attacks still works out well plus her squad of Bloodbrides have a Syren with an agonizer... That combination plus all the attacks the Bloodbrides are throwing down is lethal versus power armor. I typically use her and her posse to take out units like tactical Marines, Long Fangs, even harder stuff like Berserkers but I'd try to avoid Plague Marines due to their T5/FNP. I run Vect with a squad of Incubi to tackle harder units like assault termies. Once the Bloodbrides have their first pain token (FNP) they hold up much better until the next assault... Consolidate into cover for the 4++/4++ then launch another assault the next turn if possible.

I have not played against BA yet interestingly enough - Fear of Darkness while quite lethal is not that popular a choice of a psychic power where I play. The Rune Priest' living lightning though is really bad news and I have to deal with that a lot - it is really rough on the paper airplanes. I have been doing well versus SW in general though and feel that dark eldar matchup very well against them... Lots of good counters to most of their more powerful units. The typical approach is take out the biggest threats first then engage them in close combat.


Black Blow Fly said...

My apology for the late reply.