Tuesday, 3 January 2017
So the carnage continues, and I have definitely regained my Bloodbowl bug :)
Above is a pic of s sneek peak of the upcoming Skaven pitch that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for as the the bloodbowl stuff seems to get sold out extremely quickly.
Last time I was wondering how to get a starting human that works, after a nasty game against goblins where 2 blitzers and another player died. Bad luck a side the team a built had two few rerolls and too many positionals (including 3 catchers reducing the overall strength of the team) meaning I only had 11 players.
A revised starting team of the following:
For my 1st game with this new team I was up against Slann. They play completely different, and I few things I took out of the game were:
For a starting team its appeared even harder to stop them doing a two turn touchdown. Marking their catchers with 1 tackle zone meant that they still caught the ball on a 2+ (AG4 plus Diving Catch giving an extra +1 to catch accurate passes). However they are still suceptable to a Bashy team 2-1 gringe tactic* with a lack of block or dodge anywhere in the team and AV7/8. Secondly because some of the players can leap into a cage on a 2+ for a 1-dice block (once the other assists are taken out) makes it harder to have a safe cage until you get Guard, also knowing this tactic made the catchers useless for holding the ball inside a cage because the Slann would leap in and get a 2-dice block :(
[eriochrome has correctly pointed out that only the Slann Catcher leaps on 2+ and he is Str2, the rest leap on 3+, still nasty but not quite as good as I wrote]
Overall I liked the new team set-up and think it's a good one, once you want to start with the Ogre, which I think is the right way to go to give the team some hitting power particularly against the more agile teams.
My Norse are assembled (apart from 2 extra linemen). I've used a Dark Eldar Clawed Fiend as the Yhette, the Kairic Acolytes from Silver tower for the Berserkers, Runners & Lineman, and finally the Darkoath Chieftain (also from Silver Tower) for the Ulfwereners. So far I've got a starting team of 11 (sitting on the laptop) and then a second Runner and Ulfwereners for when the team expands. I just need to build the last two Linemen. I may put a ball in hand of the limemen with an outstretched hand to represent a thrower. I really don't rate the thrower and so have much prefered a linemen to take Sure Hands, as I much prefer Block and Sure Hands over Block and Pass. As the team develops I may pick a Thrower to diversify the team tactics with a mild passing game.
The Norse have so far only played the aforementioned Slann, and went one better than the Humans (1-1 draw) winning 2-1 helped by the Casualty score being 4-0, mostly in the second half meaning the Norse could control the field.
To get practice with the Norse in advance of playing them on the tabletop I installed Bloodbowl 1 on my laptop (it was only £2.67), however I have to put out a warning: playing against the AI can make you a worse coach if you are not vigilant !! You can get sloppy because you are playing against the easy AI, you have to force yourself to still play like its a close game and the opponent will play well.
Later I also installed Bloodbowl (its was on sale on Steam at 75% off). I was a bit worried that my laptop (not bought for gaming) wouldn't be able to play it, but it plays it fine. Between the two Bloodbowl games I have got in 40 games over the last month. Which has really helped me get used to the new teams I'm playing (Norse and Underworld).
I researching leagues, and depending on the time commitment I may join one, but as a father of two kids with a busy job I'm wary about committing to too much.
As I decided not to use my favorite team and the one I'm most experianced with, progress on the Skaven has slowed due to work on other teams. Here's a pic of the team half built. Since them I'm assembled a second Stormvermin (Blitzer) and to my surprise I assembled a second thrower which is normally one of the last models that gets added to the team. The reason for that was that I've decided to start an Underworld team.
At first glance they seem like a bad half of the skaven team (no Rat Ogre or Gutter Runners) with Goblins without their perks of secret weapons or cheap bribes and two big guys. Unfortunately as a starting team that a very good assessment. However where there is a glimmer of hope is that once a team starts developing they have access to Mutation skills on a normal skill role. This gives Mighty Blow and Claw on normal skill rolls to the Troll and 2 Stormvermin, Extra Hands on the Throwers for great ball handlers, and Two Heads on the Goblins to dodge in any number of tackle zones on 2+ followed by Horns for Str3 Blitzes.
They also lead to fun game with Carnage on both sides !! For their first game (I proxied some models for the goblins) I played a Goblin team, they would have won 2-0 if it wasn't for laser guided Goblin Ball & Chain which started 4 squares diagonally from a thrower guarding the other thrower with the ball 2 squares from the touchdown zone, It went 5 squares (2 Go For Its) directly in the right path to knock over both throwers (seriously injuring one) allowing a Poggo Stick Goblin to move over pick up the ball, throw a long bomb, and it to be caught all without any rerolls !!
The Underworld went in half time 1-0 down, but came out (without both Throwers, the second being injured by the same Poggo Stick Goblin) and made short work on turn 1 of the Chainsword Goblin, and even fouling the second Troll of the pitch mid half to at one point leave on 5 goblins face down on the pitch at one point to equalise at the end of the second half.
One the Goblin's Trolls woke up for the final turn, put the one turn touchturn failed when an Ag4 Goblin failed to land after being thrown to give the Underworld a very deserved 1-1 draw (They were robbed!!).
I've waiting on some Silver Tower Grot Scuttlings which will be the Goblins for my Underworld team:
Discussing our teams with my mate who was playing the Goblins he said as Goblins die, and both Goblins and Underworld aren't the most prolific scorers their team rating tends to stay low compared to other teams. This will be especially true of my Underworld team as I'm starting a bit late in the league, so next job will be convert up some Star Players to spend my inducement money on.
When you compare the cost of mercenaries as inducements (70k for a goblin, 100k for a skaven thrower) the Secret Weapon Star Players seem like a worthwhile alternative.
So far I'm really enjoying playing and modelling Bloodbowl. I'm sure they'll be more Bloodbowl posts to come.
* A favorite tactic of Bashy teams which involves kicking to the opposition, then bashy up their team and threatening the ball carrier to hopefully force them to score as early as possible. Doing a slow grind up the pitch smashing up their team to equalise at the end of the 1st half, and then doing the same thing for the whole of the 2nd half to win 2-1. Learning how to stall against a Bashy team, defending against them to stop the 1st half equaliser, and learning how to breakdown a strong cage is a key skill of top (agility and balanced team) players.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Welcome Sports Fans !!
It feels so good to be playing Blood Bowl again :) As I mentioned on my last post early this year I was in a league with some mates, and with the release of the new Blood Bowl we're going to start it up again.
As the most experienced coaches, my mate Mike & I decided we wouldn't take our favourite teams, and would try out new teams with a different playstyle. Mike, bravely opted for Goblins, and while he joked that I should use Halflings, I was inspired by one of the other coaches, Ben, who commented when he saw Mike and I playing a Orcs vs Human game "Why are you using Humans, they're shit !". This game was also my first ever game with Humans. I initially started Blood Bowl with Undead and expanded with first Skaven and then Amazons, and although I had bought a basic team from ebay (as they're a good team to learn with) I had never used them myself.
That first test game vs Orcs ended 1-1 and I was disappointed with the hitting power of the Humans so decided that I should start with an Ogre for the league, so last night I went round Mike's to try out my new starting team roster against Mike's Goblins. My proposed starting roster was:
My reasoning is that team had speed with 5 players with speed 7 or higher, hitting power with 4 Blitzers and the Ogre, and even a decent passing game with 3 catchers for potential recipients of a pass. I liked having passing option of the three Catchers able to form a nice triangle, one behind the line of scrimmage and 2 in the wide zone in the opponents half in scoring range. This would allow the thrower to move up for a short pass to the middle catcher who would run to and hand off to one of the forward catchers allowing the ball to be moved most of the length of the pitch in one turn, However was I trying to make the Human play like my Skaven ?).
More experienced Human coaches will see the immediate weaknesses in the team roster. 11 players meant I had no reserves, and with three catchers a few casualties would mean not only would I be down on players but the average strength of the team would be quite low.
Seeing the deep bench of the goblin team I actually dropped a reroll for a 12th player, as another weakness is that on defense I was immediately forced to put a non-Lineman on the Line of Scrimmage. However with everything there is a cost, in this case that at the end of each half I would struggling to have any rerolls left.
Only 50,000 goblins fans turned for the match, so I just needs a 6 to have more fans and a +1 FAME modifier, so I rolled a 3 giving the Goblins +1 FAME, Then when kicking at the start of the first half there was a pitch invasion. The Goblins fans rushed the field Stunned 4 players, however it was all 4 Blitzers (who were key to knock down the Goblins with their Block skill), so 4 key players out for 2 turns. My fans rushed the field (and while I rolled lots of 5's) they didn't hurt any of the Goblin players (losing the fans dice off for FAME really hurt me there).
This was compounded by my big mistake of setting up too aggressively. Stupidly thinking the two trolls on the front line was the big threat, I didn't fully appreciate how nasty the Goblin special weapons were. The Ogre found out turn one when he was sent to the turf turn 1 by the Ball & Chain. I blame it on playing against Haflings on the PC version recently and thinking this game was going to be the same - how wrong was I. I also thinking playing against the AI of the PC game makes you unprepared for human opponents (the AI is bad, and the game appears to make up for it in weighted dice for the AI in regard to dodging, 2 dice against blocks etc.
The Goblins scored half way through the 1st half, and I couldn't even the score in the rest of the half, but was receiving for the second half. As the second half began the goblins started to cause more casulties, and what started to looking good for me quickly changed as I started being outnumbered. Both Trolls were smacking my front line, and a Bribe purchased by the goblins (this was their second game) allowed the Ball & Chain to start the second half (I knocked and over and injured the Chainsword wielding Gobby in the first half).
As things started to look dicey I had to make a rush for the end zone unprotected. My cather only had to survive a turn, but unfortunately he was caught by 2 goblins and his head was intrudced to the pitch..forceably ! With the catcher knocked out the Goblins were able to pick up the ball next turn, and with itmy chances of equalising.
At the end of the brutal game, 2 Blitzers and a Lineman had DIED (out of 5 casualties), leaving me with a team to disband and back to the drawing board.
I think the starting roster was trying to do too much at once, I had two options (imho) either lose the Ogre or reduce the number of positionals to be able to afford 3 rerolls and 12 players.
To Ogre or Not To Ogre
I initially picked he Ogre was his lovely Str5 and Mighty Blow skill, but like all Big Guys he has a nedgative trait. After declaring his action, if he rolls a 1 he not only wastes the action (which is a big pain with your only Blitz a turn) but he also loses his tackle zone. Losing the tackle zone is a huge pain, not only does it suddenly create a huge hole in your defensive line, it can be a major pain if the Ogre us being one of the front corners of a Cage*.
Also with the Block skill and no way to get it outside double skill rolls, combined with Loner skills Big Guys get which means they find it harder to use team rerolls, Big Guys can cause turnovers more often than Blitzers for example who have the block skill and can use rerolls normally. This can make your team more unreliable.
Not having an Ogre also means your team cost is spread more evenly, so if someone dies it will matter less. If the Ogre dies, when I haven't been able to afford an Apothecary then it's probably another team disband,
However even with these issues I still want an Ogre to start with, as the Human team is not Elf team so can't go their long passing and dodgy plays, and has not other Str4+ guys to compete with the other teams.
So I will try again with the following team (I had to lose a Blitzer and a Cather for 3 Linemen:
My next game is against Slann, which should be interesting with all their Leap and Very Long Legs.
2 fantasy Ogre Bulls arrived from Ebay, so I've created an Ogre (and a Morg proxy) for my Humans. Pictured along side 2 Blitzers for scale:
Talking of new teams, the first model arrived for one of my new teams:
Although I've played Clawed Fiends in my Dark Eldar for some time, I never got any of the official models, but when I saw some metals ones on Ebay I had to pick one up, particularly as the original owner had altered the pose of the outstretched arm into a more natural pose.
Can you guess what new team I'll be starting with the Clawed Fiend ?
Do you think a starting team should use a Big Guy ? I was always happy starting Skaven without a Rat Ogre even though I think he's better than the Ogre.
* A Cage is where you where you surround a ring of players around the ball carrier so that the ball carrier can not be blitzed, normally done with 4 players on the 4 corners of the square round the ball carrier, meaning anyone wanted to dodge next to the ball carrier is facing a -3 dodge (just watch out for players with leap).
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Jab & Feb earlier this year I was in a tabletop bloodbowl league, which was a great laugh. I played Skaven, and although they are fast they are also fragile, which can be seen from this end of game pic of my dugout at the end of the first game:
Yes that's 2 gutter runners in the DEAD column of the Dead and Injured box (one was killed by the Chaos Dwarf opponents while the other face planted the pitch and killed himself while trying to Go For It.. I still won the game, and only lost one game during the league, but learned you can't get too attached to your skaven players :)
So not surprising with the new Bloodbowl coming out we've decided to start up the league, all the old players are interested, but with a league under the belts will be much better. However the friend which annihilated my skaven and I are still the most experienced coaches so he suggested we give ourselves a challenge. He is going to use Goblins, and after one of the old league players walked across our first game with the new game and said "Why are you playing Humans; they're stit !" he challenged me to put away my Skaven and play Humans, but that's for another day.
Even though I have a Skaven team I picked up the Skaven team as not only are the models really nice, but it would give me a chance to paint up a Skaven team (I bought my existing team from ebay over a few auctions - had to have the extra gutter runners and rat ogre).
When buying the team boxes one of the first issues for veteran coaches is getting the extra models to have an optimum team, For Skaven teams this is getting extra Gutter Runners. While surfing I saw someone suggest the Deathrunners from Silver Tower - I didn't even realise there were Skaven in Silver Tower so another search quickly uncovered the model:
So a few days later and all my bits had arrived:
The skaven sprues are really nice, not only filled with the lovely detailed models, but also containing nice additions such as tokens for the score, turn marker and rerolls, as well as 6 skaven themed warpstone balls.
As well as a ball made to slot into the hole on the model bases, there was also a ball with a flat base. This was important for me because of my Deathrunners, whose base didn't have a hole in it:
For converting my Deathrunners into Gutter Runners I started by cutting off and then filing the spikes on the helmet. I also cut of the rivits on the side of the helmet to make it look more like cloth (like on the actual Gutter Runners).
My next issue was the high elf cloak, as it contained the back of the torso on the inside. I cut this out and filed it down. Cutting off the spikes and on the back of the Deathrunner allowed the cloak to fit against the back and partially cover his left hand blade, like he hiding it before striking.
Here's the other side of the Deathrunner. I'll need to do a bit of greenstuff around the top of the cloak, and I'll probably swich the right hand for a dark eldar punch dagger hand to finish off the model.
A comparison with one of the new Skaven linerat shows the new Deathrunner is a good size to blend in with the new Skaven team. The Deathrunner looks slightly larger, but that's mainly due to the large tail being more upright, and the cloak having to point upwards between the tail and the right hand blade. He's more lightly armoured than the linerat and overall I'm quite happy with the model. What do you think ?
Well back to assembling the rest of the team for me. More WIP pics will follow shortly.
What team will you be playing ?
May Nuffle smile on your dice :)
Friday, 7 October 2016
In Part One I went my idea for a new unit in the ATT challenge (the rail rifle moving to it's next stage of field testing), Part Two covered the new unit (Fire Warriors in training to become Firesight Marksmen with new Stealth technology taken from the Sniper Drones), and now I show you the final product.
Here's some pictures of the models just before basing:
Unfortunately I think the pictures did not come as sharp as I wanted, and weren't as well lit as I wanted, but let me know what you think:
Here's a link to my completed entry, and a small pic is below:
Now one of the best things about these competitions is seeing all of the great conversions, painting and fluff writing all the competitors produce. In total there was 16 competitors covering all the force organisation slots with some truly exceptional entries. I highly recommend you give them a look here where you can see (along with all the entries) the judging criteria and how the voting is going (spoiler - I'm not going to win, but a recent surge has seem me move to a respectable mid table). Alternatively you can follow this link to see the pdf containing all 16 entries, and this link here contains just my entry..
It was fun coming up with the idea behind the new unit, converting and painting it. I would have liked to have the time to do the painting better, but real life got in the way. I'll probably go over the red to make it smoother and change the shade slightly, but overall I'm happy with my entry and can't wait for ATT to run another competition like this.
A big shout out to the organisers of the competition, its clear they put a lot of effort in (such as the gorgeous dataslate templates), as well as all the competitors which have given the community lots of inspiration with such brilliant entries.
Sunday, 2 October 2016
The wonderful guys over at the Advanced Tau Tactica was running a competition to design a new Tau unit (here's a link to the competition thread).
In part one I described my inspiration for my unit, the wonderful Rail Rifle, and what would be its next stage of field testing.
I was thinking the Tau would give the Rail Rifle to their best infantry to try to get the best out of the weapon. This would be, by a large margin the Firesight Marksmen, who control the Sniper Drone teams with their excellent BS5. However I didn't like this for 2 reasons:
- The Firesight marksmen seems very rare, in both the fluff and on the battlefield
- Having a model that is quite fragile, being no tougher than a basic Fire Warrior, and yet with BS5 and an excellent weapon to give it excellent offensive firepower would be quite hard to give a reasonable points cost for. On one side they would die to a stiff breeze from a few heavy bolters, but on the other side if they are allowed to fire, just 2 of them would have the offensive firepower of a 52 point crisis suit (with 6" extra range).
Next, to set the unit apart I wanted them to have some other new technological advancement, New Stealth technology on the Ghostkeel was something new in the last codex, but nothing infantry sized has Stealth and Shrouded, however the Sniper Drones teams have Stealth, so an advancement could be that this Stealth technology used on the Sniper Drones had been made lightweight enough to be carried by infantry. This would give the model something different from just slapping a Rail Rifle on a Fire Warrior, and I had the perfect part in mind; a crisis suit shield generator:
So time to rummage around the bits box, I found 6 Fire Warriors, so I quickly assembled the legs and torso. I had to leave the heads because I wouldn't know what direction to point the head until I had assembled the arms. I also found 3 crisis suit shield generators, so I ordered the rail rifle arms, 3 more shield generators and Commander helmet aerials from bits websites.
The rail rifles and commander aerials arrived first so I quickly assembled the first three Firesight Warriors (as I called them):
|[2 Old Shield Generators on the left]|
Finally I had my Firesight Incursion Team:
One complication I had was that the pathfinder arms were not expecting a Fire Warrior shoulder guard to be attached to them. This wasn't really an issue on 5 of the models, but for the model holding the Rail Rifle across his chest there was no way the shoulder guard was fitting on, so I had to slightly cut the shoulder guard. It looks a bit odd, but couldn't be helped and once the model is painted shouldn't look too bad.
That's all for now, part three I'll cover the painting and creation of the unit dataslate.
Saturday, 1 October 2016
I logged onto my favourite Tau forum (Advanced Tau Tactica, known as ATT), and the main page had the logo above on it. This looks interesting I thought, so I clicked in. It was competition to get the creative juices flowing, there were prizes but the best thing would be loads of Tau generals coming up with new ideas and conversions.
I had also noticed that my Tau painting (Commander, Ghostkeel and Breachers) was really getting anywhere, and hopefully this would kick start my painting. Without a tournament deadline to focus me on getting things painted my entruisiam for painting had dryed up. I was hoping that the competition deadline would get me going.
The competition started in Aug, I came across the competition late August, and the deadline to get submissions in was the 30th Sept (for the observant among, yes that was yesterday, as we were barred for posting publically about our entry until the deadline had passed).
The aim of the competition was to build a new unit, including a fan codex dataslate for the unit. Here's a link to the full rules.
The forum moderators and helpers had done a great job producing templates for the dataslate, but also stressing that the competition was for new units, and encourged the 2nd page of the dataslate to include fluff and more information to increase your chance of winning.
It definitely sounded fun, so I considered what unit I would like to make, but really it came down to what weapon I would like to see more of. It was the Rail Rifle:
In the 5rd edition codex, and the main place to get it was Sniper Drones, which in that codex could be purchased as 1-3 separate units for 1 heavy support slot ,each unit comprising a controller and 3 drones. However even with nice stats of a Str6 AP3 shot the Sniper Drones could not compete with the other heavy Support slots, particularly the Broadsides and Hammerheads. Also back in those days before the ally matrix each Heavy Support slot was crucial as you couldn't just start another detachment and in most cases were limited to 3 choices.
Rail Rifles were also available in pathfinder teams as experimental weapons. They had the Gets Hot rule to show that they occassional killed the bearer from a power surge, and you could only take 3 per unit of pathfinders (but at least they came with a target lock so you didn't have to fire at the same target you were marker lighting.
In the 6th edition codex the Sniper Drones unit configuration changed and their weapons were changed to Long Shot Pulse Rifles (still a very good unit that I use all the time). The Rail Rifle with the Pathfinders had lost the Gets Hot rule, but also lost the target lock so they had to fire at the same target as the marker lights. Also joining the Rail Rifles were the experimental Ion Rifles (which could still kill the bearer if overcharged). I think this was at the time that the profile changed to be AP1.
So the Rail Rifle is now a weapon that puts the Plasma Rifle to shame. Both are rapid fire, but the Rail Rifle has 6" longer range, and 1 lower AP. However it was still never seen on the battlefield, as at 26 points for a model as tough as a guardsmen is to much, particularly as most opponents would already be trying to kill the pathfinders as they are a source of marker lights.
So the premise of my entry would be to consider what the next stage of field testing for the Rail Rifle would be.
So who should take this lovely weapon into the next stage of field testing. The pathfinders already had the task of marker lighting, so who could make the best use of the Rail Rifle.
Well that will be in Part Two, coming in over the weekend,
If you can't wait, follow this link to the Competition thread, voting will take place between 3rd October and 7th October, so there should be the reveal of the entries some time over the weekend. Not only will you be able to see my entry, but there should be loads of great ideas and conversions to look at :)
Thursday, 1 September 2016
What was the Beaststar ?
|[a Beaststar gets ready to support an Eldar army, link to battle report]|
A bit of history, the Beaststar came from the previous Dark Eldar codex. In that codex you could have up to 5 beastmasters in a unit, and each beastmaster could bring 0-1 Clawed Fiend or 0-2 Razorwing Flocks or 0-5 Krymerae. What you could do was take 5 beastmasters and 25 Krymerae to make a big fast assault unit. Then add in the Baron, a cheap (105 points) special character who gave the unit a higher leadership (ld9), Hit and Run & Stealth. Back then the Krymerae were only toughness 3, but sported a 4+ invulnerable save, so another buff was having a nearby farseer give them a reroll on their save making for an resilient unit with loads of wounds that could not be tied down by a blob and would kill units by the weight of attacks.
All this changed when the new codex arrived :( The maximum size of the beastpack was changed to 12 models, although you can now freely pick any of the available models to make up the unit. The Baron who gave the unit so many nice rules also disappeared from the codex.
Can we rebuild the Beaststar
Although we can only have 12 models in a beast pack now, we can have more than 12 wounds by using Clawed Fiends. Clawed Fiends got a bit better and cheaper in the new codex, being a poor man's Grotesque while not requiring a transport.
Now we could go for 12 Clawed Fiends, but it costs a whopping 360 points, for 36, toughness 5, wounds. While doable this is a huge unit before you add any characters. Krymerae are still not bad in the new codex; they went down by 2 points each, while going up to toughness 4 for the cost of their invulnerable save going down to 5+ from 4+. By adding in some Krymerae we can have the best of both worlds, majority toughness 5 while also have the first shots go against the Krymerae's invulnerable save.
My starter for 10 Beaststar is:
6 Clawed Fiends
totalling 240 points, 24 wounds (majority toughness 5) and a total of 2 Str 3, 15 Str 4 & 36 Str 5 attacks on the charge. However please note this unit is all about the charge as the Clawed Fiends have Rage. The unit would drop to 1 Str 3, 10 Str 4 & 24 Str 5 attacks if they are charged or it is the 2nd round of a combat.
Why the beastmaster rather than a 6th Krymerae ? It's not really for the leadership 8, its really that the three options for a decent character to join the unit is toughness 4 (see below), so having one Beastmaster keeps the majority toughness at 5 after the character joins. Another option would be to add a 7th Clawed Fiend instead of the Beastmaster pushing the unit up to 260 points.
Leadership 8 is Not Enough
As a unit get large in size, and more importantly points value your whole game will depend on whether than unit performs well or not. It also means it could be game over if a unit fails a critical leadership test. For the beaststar I propose leadership 8 is not really enough. In most games an opponent will see it as a threat and it is not that tough so it will be easy to force a morale test (4 casualties required). In this case you can't have a nearly 1 in 3 chance that the rest of the unit will run off the board. Leadership 9 is a minimum requirement, leadership 10 is better while being fearless is ideal. So bare this in mind when choosing which character should be used to supplement the Beaststar.
How do Star's fail ?
When looking at what character we might want to add to the Beaststar, we have to ask what does the Beaststar really need, and what will prevent it doing well in a game.
1) As mentioned above morale is fickle thing, and you can't have so many points invested in a unit which has anything but a very small chance of running off the table due to a morale check, being fearless would be preferable.
2) Being bogged down - some armies can have fearless cheap large units which will tie up the beaststar all game, large guard blobs with 4+ inv save come to mind, or really any large unit which has had invisibility cast on it. Alternatively they may be too tough for the beaststar to deal with, eg. thunderwolf cav. In this case the Beaststar needs a way to get out of these bad match-ups and on to better targets. Previously the Beaststar used the Baron who had Hit and Run, so another character with Hit and Run would be useful. Its possible to play the Beaststar without Hit and Run, but you have to be careful not to be tied down by a bad match-up.
3) Unlike other deathstars the Beaststar is not that tough (it has lots of wounds, 24, but has very poor armour saves) so anything that can improve it's resilience would be a great help
4) The beaststar can't deal with heavy rear armour or walkers (non-walker vehicles with poor rear armour will be ripped apart by the beaststar), so anything that can help with Walkers or units with high rear armour would be nice
Up first we have the Eldar Autarch. Stock he gives the Beaststar leadership 10, and helps with reserve rolls.
First upgrade you must give him is something to increase his speed. Unlike some deathstars such as Necron Wraiths with Characters the Beaststar can not afford to be slowed down by a character with the basic 6" move. The beaststar (and more importantly the rest of the Dark Eldar army) does not have the resilience to play the waiting game, it must rip the strategic heart of the enemy in the first 3 turns, and can not afford to play the attrition game. Options for speed are Swooping Hawk wings, a Jetbike or a Warp Jump Generator. I would advise against the Warp Jump generator because the Autarch would not be able to flicker jump in the Beastpack, and even if he could the unit couldn't. Swooping Hawk Wings gives him great speed being able to move 18" in the movement phase, great for springing from the back to near the front of the unit in preparation for a charge. However the Jetbike gives the Autarch toughness 4, the option for a very ling move of 48" if he leaves the beastpack, plus relentless allowing him to fire a heavy weapon on the move (eg. a repear missile launcher). Ultimately it's down to your personal preference, but I would advise the Jetbike.
The Autarch can also choose more wargear to help the beastpack. He can have a Banshee mask, meaning the unit charged can not fire overwatch at the beastpack, allowing them to easily charge units they may have worried about, eg. units with lots of shots and/or flamers, D-scythe armed wraithguard or large blobs come to mind. The Autarch can also include include some anti tank weapons in either a fusion gun or a reaper missile launcher. The Autarch can include some extra combat punch to unit, taking advantage of his high Weapon skill, Initiative and Attacks. If on a bike a lance is nice, but even a basic power weapon would help against marines with their 3+ save.
Finally if you want to go the extra mile the Autarch can take the relic than makes him fearless. However please note that with the cost of a Jetbike or Wings, a ranged weapon, a lance or a relic weapon and the cost of the Autarch can get quite costly, moving the cost of the Autarch and the Beastpack quite expensive.
When it gets to that level of points you have to ask yourself would two slightly smaller beastpacks be better than one with a Character, but that's a question for all 3 contenders.
Next up we have the Eldar Farseer. This time we have only one option to improve his speed which is to put him on a jetbike. Rather than some combat punch and a bit of shooting, the Farseer adds loads of support to the unit through his psychic powers. From the basic rerolls to hit powers the Farseer can really up the surviveability of unit through castings of invisibility or the power to reroll saves which is great on the invulnerable saves of the Krymerae.
The Farseer is also good at supporting the rest of your army with his psychic powers. Another good use of the Farseer psychic powers is using spells such as Psychic Shriek to deal with opposing units the beastpack might find differcult to kill (the beastpack will struggle against units with good and/or rerollable saves).
The Baron Rebron
The best thing about the old Baron Sathonyx was that he was cheap, and had Hit & Run, meaning it was hard to pin the beastpack down, and the distance they could travel between the end of the opponent's combat phase to the end of their next charge was phenomenal and easy to catch an opponent off guard. The average distance was 29.5" (3D6" Hit & Run, 12" Move, 2D6 Charge).
So what character can give us Hit & Run ? It's Baharroth "The Cry of the Wind" the Swooping Hawk Phoenix Lord. He comes in at a very reasonable 65 points over the cost of the old Baron. Although he doesn't have the Stealth of the Baron, he does bring toughness 4, a 2+ armour save, Eternal Warrior, a faster 18" move, and even Haywire grenades. Baharroth also Fearless, meaning once the Beaststar can stand a round of combat without getting too depleted they can Hit & Run away (provided they don't roll a 6) and charge something else.
As I have a converted Baron model (there never was an official model) I plan to add the Autarch Swooping Wings to him, however so far my search of ebay and my usual bitz sites have turned up a blank. I'm going to keep watching and I'm sure I'll come up with a pair of wings soon. Below's a picture of my Baron after assembly (I suddenly realised I don't have any pictures of him painted):
Overall the three character options all add something nice to the beastpack, with each giving different benefits. Being Eldar characters they all require a troops choice to make an Allied Detachment to keep the army bound, buts that's not hard with cheap and effective Eldar Jetbikes. You can either go with the 3 unupgraded jetbike to do the 5th edition come from reserve to do a last turn objective hop, or for 16 points more than a dual splinter cannon venom you can upgrade the 12 poison shots to 12 str 6 shots.
This is still theory hammer at the moment, but as soon as I find some Autarch wings I'm going to slap them on my Baron, paint them up and give the new Beaststar a whirl. They aren't as good as most tournament deathstar, eq. Necron Lychstar with associated characters or Thunderstar with friends but they can dish out the pain to most units in this shooting centric 7th edition, and plays well with the glass cannon approach of Dark Eldar. Lastly as most people have not played against Clawed Fiends I don't some people may underestimate how hard the unit will hit.
So here's my revised Beaststar, ready for playtesting:
Phoenix Lord Baharroth "The Cry of the Wind"
7 Clawed Fiends
430 points for a fast but fragile-ish (unit that puts out on the charge 42 Str 5 attacks, 20 str 4 attacks & 5 Str4 power weapon attacks. I think the rest of the army would need to put a bit more than usual focus on low ap weapons and anti tank to face walkers, Imperial Knights, Wraithknights, Stormsurges etc., but nearly everything else can taken care of by the Beaststar or avoided while the Beaststar takes apart the rest of the enemy army.
Do you think this unit could work ? Is it viable in a casual or competitive setting ? What do you see as its biggest weaknesses ? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the unit.