Dark Eldar Reaver Jetbikes
by Black Blow Fly
The article is about the use of Reavers as a fast attack choice for dark eldar. Reaver jetbikes can serve several different roles depending upon how you build your unit:
Reavers are not overly priced point wise - you can field a unit of six with some nice options for under 200 points. A squad of six has a small footprint so they are easy to hide behind cover then later they can pop out and wreak havoc. Some players like to field their Reavers in a unit of nine jetbikes so they can take a third melta lance. A unit of nine starts to get a bit pricy though and then it's not as easy to hide them.
The Reaver is T4/5, I6, 5+ armor save, two base attacks and has combat drugs as well. The Reaver is armed with a splinter pistol, splinter rifle (mounted under the bike) and has bladevanes. On paper they might appear at first glance to be well equipped for close combat but in reality you want to keep them out of melee if possible. Dark eldar has access to other units that are much better at close combat - Reavers are primarily intended for shooting and harassing your opponent. I have swept genestealers with my Reavers on the charge but I waited until they had a couple of pain tokens (Feel No Pain and Furious Charge) to charge the genestealers plus I shot them up to soften the enemy unit first. If you find that you're having to assault with your Reavers a lot then you might be doing something wrong. It's very easy to avoid melee as Reavers are currently one of the fastest units in 40k.
Reavers can turbo boost up to 36" which is quite powerful as it's easy to move them into a good position to target enemy armor the next turn while hiding them behind cover. There are only a few units in 40k that are this fast and speed is one of the dark eldar's main assets. Reavers also have the Skilled Rider USR so it's okay to land them in difficult terrain if space is tight and you want to make sure that you can hide them for a turn. The Reaver jetbike counts as an eldar version so they can make a free assault move as well. If you've equipped your Reavers with melta lances it's fairly easy to move up 12", pop a couple of melta lance shots (18" range) at an enemy tank then finally use the free assault move to jump back behind LOS blocking cover. I typically will place mine such that only the Reavers with melta lances are out in the open to negate any cover save for my opponent then finally use the free assault move to jump them back out of sight again.
Never place your Reavers in a position where a Space Marine player can move up with a transport and rapid fire. I learned this the hard way. :'(( Even with the 3++ cover save following a turbo boost the Reavers will drop like flies to bolters.
I always take an Arena Champion and typically arm him with a venom blade. The champion boosts their leadership up to Ld9 which I think is very helpful once they start to take morale tests due suffering unsaved wounds from enemy shooting. The upgrade is cheap points wise and there is less chance they'll break. If the Reavers break it can be quite dangerous for the unit since they fallback 3d6". The venom blade only costs five points and it's a poisoned melee weapon that wounds on 2+. If you've whittled a monstrous creature down to it's last wound the venom blade can finish off the beast. You are typically striking first due to his being I6 and the Arena Champion has a decent number of attacks, hitting on 3+ as well versus monstrous creatures that are WS3. It just depends upon the circumstances - like I've said above typically I don't like to assault with my Reavers but there are a few situations where it might be worth the risk.
You have two main options to choose from - either the melta lance or cluster caltrops. The melta lance is for tank hunting while the cluster caltrops are for strafing enemy infantry outside any transports. I prefer the melta lance since mech is so popular and this weapon is excellent at cracking enemy armor. As already stated above the melta lance has 18" range and is both a melta weapon plus a lance (obviously... Duh :p). Combined with the basic 12" move you can place your Reavers at half range starting up to 21" away from an enemy tank. If you're playing against a heavily mechanized opponent then it's going to hard for them to effectively hide all their armor - typically it's just not possible. Also remember that Reavers come standard with bladevanes so they can still execute the fly by which works quite well versus units such as gaunts and guardsmen.
Cluster caltrops are great versus units such as tactical Marines and Long Fangs. You can fly over the enemy unit and inflict a lot of wounds (1d6 S6 AP- attacks per caltrop that automatically hit). You have to be careful though so that you don't end your movement phase such that your opponent can either shoot or assault your Reavers the following turn. Reavers as stated can turbo boost up to 36" so if you are careful it's possible to fly over an enemy unit, drop the caltrops and end your movement in a safe spot. If you can land your Reavers behind LOS blocking terrain that's most often the best choice.
Starting in Reserve
I always hold my Reavers in reserve. It helps to keep them safe plus often your opponent will forget about them and move a unit into a compromised position so that you can pop a tank the same turn they arrive. You can move them up to 75 percent of the way across the short side of the table so there is no real loss in terms of positioning them effectively once they come in from reserve. If the deployment is Spearhead remember that Reavers can come in from anywhere along your long table edge... To me that can be another big advantage if you hold them in reserve.
If you use the webway portal this is another great way to bring your Reavers in from reserve. Currently I'm not using the portal I've seen other dark eldar players use them very well with their Reavers. It's definitely worth noting if you do use the portal.
Reavers were one of my first choices when I decided to build a dark eldar army. Reavers are a solid choice and can integrate well with most dark eldar army lists. Reavers are one of fastest units in 40k and have many special abilities that can make them stand out if properly applied. Reavers give you rare access to meltas with great range and are helpful versus enemy armor including landraiders. Reavers can also disrupt the enemy's battle plan and take some heat off your other units.
Are you thinking about running some Dark Reavers? How would you equip your unit?