Friday, 11 March 2011

[Dark Eldar] Venom Gets a Test Run – ASMOH Practice (& Lists)

In just under 2 months I’ll be attending the A Small Matter of Honour tournament, run by the Sad Muppets Society [link]. My mate came up from near Bristol and wanted some test games. He played another mate at 1750 and 1250, and then I turned up for my first game of 2011.

I had previously come up with a very cut to the bone style list, however upon reflection I thought the list was lacking MEQ close combat killing, so had the following 1750 list ready to go:

Haemonculus - 65
Venom Blade, Liquifier Gun

8 Incubi - 176
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

3 Trueborn with 3 Blasters - 81
in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons - 65

3 Trueborn with 3 Blasters - 81
in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons - 65

10 Wracks with 2 Liquifier Guns - 120
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

10 Wyches with Hekatrix with Venom Blade - 115
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

9 Wyches with Hekatrix with Agoniser - 120
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

10 Wyches with Hekatrix with Agoniser - 130
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

5 Wracks - 50
in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons - 65

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Totals: 1748 Pts, 70 Models (including 11 vehicles), 14 Dark Lances, 6 Splinter Cannons & 6 Blasters

The list is still pretty bare when it comes to wargear, compared to my previous list[link] it has a small dip in firepower (2 blasters & 2 splinter cannons) for more MEQ close combat killing power (agonisers and incubi) & and short ranged MEQ firepower (liquifier guns).

It always happens when a new book is released that some models that were used all the time previously are destined to stay in the case forever more. For my Tau it’s all but 6 of my 40-odd fire warriors. For my Dark Eldar it’s the 6 squads of warriors and the warrior retinue that I used before. The warriors to make the cut in this list are 6 blaster armed ones who represent the trueborn. So I have a Dark Eldar list without a single Dark Eldar Warrior in it. My old archon is hanging his head in shame, but my new Haemonculus leader is completely fine with the idea 

I might add warriors if I play a 2000 pt game; a nice blob of 20 as a 6th troop choice would probably be effective, however once I get my Beastmaster unit assembled I can’t see the warriors making the cut.

After getting my army across town my mate said he wanted to practice the 1250 point game for the tournament. The ASMOH tournament has 2 games at 1250 and two games at 1750. The 1750 list must contain all of the units in the 1250 unchanged.

The 1250 pt list also restricts the force organisation chart. You are only allowed 1 HQ, 0- 2 Elite, Fast Attack & Heavy Support, plus 2-4 troop choices. For my tyranid opponent this meant that the restriction to the elites slot meant that the only effective choice would be 2 units of hive guard. My mates list was roughly:

Hive Tyrant with Venom Cannon, the Leech and “you have WS1 & BS1” psychic powers, accompanied by 1 Tyrant Guard
2 units of 3 Hive Guard
8 Genestealers
12 Termigants
15 Hormagants (Furious Charge & Posion Attacks)
4 Warriors with Boneswords and Scything Talons

I’ve only just noticed that my make still had too many troop choices (however I don’t think it would have much effect on the game).

With only 3 units (Tyrant & Hive Guard) that could shot vehicles I had to prioritise them. If they went down quickly it should be an easy win.

When it came to my list. I first had to lose a ravager, and an elite unit. After losing the ravager I didn’t want to lose a trueborn squad (with their high strength blasters) as well, so I lost the incubi. The incubi would have been too many points in the same place at 1250 pts, I may have been tempted to keep them if they were the smaller squad I originally had, but at 8 strong they were too expensive for 1250 pts. Lastly I had to lose one of the troop choices. After losing the power weapons of the incubi it had to be the wych squad without a power weapon that had to go. This nicely bought my list down to 1232 pts.

We rolled up multiple objectives and dawn of war for the game, and my mate won the roll off and decided to go first to get his hive guard as far up the table as soon as possible.

He deployed the hive tyrant with the tyrant guard in the middle of the table. The tervigon behind the building just left of the centre line in his deployment zone, and the unit of 12 termigants behind the building just right of the centre line in his deployment zone. Everything else apart from the genestealers (who were outflanking) were due to come on turn 1.

I decided to let everything come on turn 1 rather than deploy anything, and let my opponent start the game. I decided not to try to seize, but in hindsight I should have. The hive guard would have been a turn further back when they would be able to fire at my army, and I still would have been in range of the hive tyrant. This might have allowed my army to be further enough away to avoid a turn of hive guard firepower after I was on the board.

Tyranid Turn 1

The tervigon spawned 9 gaunts (and ran out). The spawned gaunts moved forwards to be cover for the hive guard, who moved and ran on as far as possible (9”). They were arranged in 2 rows of 3, one unit behind the other. The other termagants moved and ran forwards as well, being replaced behind the building by the warriors (who were being a bit cagey with all the str 8 firepower in my army). The hive tyrant stayed put in cover and waited for the Dark Eldar onslaught.

Here’s a pic of the tyranid deployment zone after their turn 1:
Note the warriors hiding behind the building on the right, the tervigon hiding behind the building on the left, and one of the objectives (the tyranid spres) in front of the building the tervigon is hiding behind.

Dark Eldar Turn 1

The ravagers drifted onto the board in the centre with the large wrack squad’s raider between them. The Haemonculus with wyches was on the right of the ravagers. The other wych squad came on in their raider behind the building just to the right of the centre line (firing through the building would make no difference to the tyrant who was already in cover). All these vehicles pretty much had their back almost touching the back of the board.

Two venoms with trueborns flanked each side of the formation, and also moved to the edge of my deployment zone and the trueborn got off the front to fire their blasters at the hive tyrant. When I deployed the trueborn I thought the three enemy long ranged shooting units wouldn’t bother with the trueborn compared to ravagers and venoms.

The 2 trueborn units took a wound each off the tyrant and the tyrant guard. The venom on the right opened up, and did better than average and did 6 wounds. The tyrant passed 2 armour saved leaving it on 2 wounds, while the tyrant guard died.

Everything else opened up on the tyrant, and did...NOTHING !! This was compounded by 2 huge mistakes by me:
I forgot to to reroll the night fighting roll for a ravager and a venom
I forgot to deploy a venom with the small wrack squad (it went into reserve, as I only noticed half way through my shooting phase)

Not the best turn as I hadn’t killed the tyrant.

Here's pic of the board after my turn 1:
Please note the locations of the objectives (small tyranid spres):
  • Bottom right of the table, to the left of the building the venom is next to
  • In front of the building the tervigon is hinding behind in the tyranid deployment zone
  • Just to the left of the ruin that is in the centre of the board
  • On the far right, between the big yellow spore in bottom right and the building in the middle right
Although you can't see it, the second venom has sped into the building in front of my two wych raiders, and has dropped off it's trueborn passengers in front of it.

Tyranid Turn 2

The gaunts in front of the hive guard only moved 4” though cover, but this was enough to move diagonally sideways out of the way of the hive guard, but the hive guard would have had their forwards movement slowed by about an inch. The other termagants moved forwards (and after the hive guard shooting would fleet in front of the hive guard to give them a cover save).

The tervigon cast Feel No Pain on itself, and the Hormagaunt continued their sprint down the left hand flank towards the objective on that side of the board. They trailed back to ensure they would be within synapse range of the tervigon.

The genestealers outflanked (a little early for my mate’s liking), and came in on the right flank near the objective on that side.

My idea that the trueborn would not be a threat compared to the other targets backfired, because the unit on the right was the closest unit to the hive guard. After firing the back unit of hiveguard at the trueborn on the right it was obvious that only their venom would be in range of the front unit of hive guard. The trueborn unit was wiped out, and I got lucky with the venom when it was shaken, immobilised and had a splinter cannon blown off.

The tyrant took aim at the raider with the large wrack unit in it, and blew it too pieces

Dark Eldar Turn 2

My Small Wrack unit and their venom that I forgot to deploy did not turn up from reserve this turn.

I tried to play the range game, so I didn’t move forward much at all. Even though I fired all my dark lances, blasters and splinter cannons first at the tyrant to finish him him off and then at the hive guard, I only reduced one of the hive guard units by 1 wound.

Tyranid Turn 3

The tyranids advance rapidly and make mid field their own. The hiveguard advanced (behind termagants) to just behind the ruin in the middle of the board, meaning they could reach anything in my army with their shooting.

The tervigon advanced, so that the hormagaunts which had reached the objective in the bottom left hand corner of the board were still in synapse range once they ensured they were trailed back far enough. At 15 models the hormagaunt unit was big enough to surround the objective so I couldn’t contest with a vehicle (as I couldn’t tank shock) and still trail back far enough to remain within 12” of the tervigon.

The hiveguard opened up on the 2 ravagers and both went down in flames. The tervigon shot one of the trueborn on the left, and the termagaunts killed another, and the last trueborn failed his ld9 test and ran away.

Tau Turn 3

I was kicking myself for playing so cautious, as my assault units were quite far back, and their raiders were likely to suffer the fate of the ravagers next turn.

The wyches slightly on the right side of the field, moved the full 12” on the raider, got out, fleeted and charged the genestealers which had moved up to sit on the objective on the right side of the board.

The wyches accompanied by the haemonculus went flat out in their raider. They went to the right of the main tyranid blob in the centre of the board, and prayed for some hive guard bad luck.

The wracks decided to come on from reserve and went on the right flank to support the wyches in combat with the genestealers later.

In the shooting phase the 3 venoms targeted the hive guard that did not have feel no pain, and in a display or accuracy and hive guard cursing their meagre 4+ save, the untouched unit was wiped out

In the wych/generstealer combat it was close with 3 genestealers dying compared to 2 wyches and the genestealers passing their morale test.

Tyranid Turn 4

The hormagaunts stayed on the objective in the bottom right hand corner. The hive guard and the termagants stayed in the middle of the table near the two central objectives. The tyranid warriors thought it was time to advance a bit as most of the dark lances and blasters were gone. They advanced straight forwards so they could either head towards the wych/genestealer combat or the centre objective.

Shooting from the remaining hive guard failed to do anything to the raider containing the wyches and haemonculus. The tervigon fired a template which killed a few wracks that was advancing from the centre of my deployment zone to the centre objective, and a few termagants tried to kill a raider and a venom but failed on both counts.

In combat the wyches and genestealer hacked at each other killing two members of each other leaving the combat a draw. The genestealers were the better combatants but they were outnumbered 2 to 1 now, and each casualty was really affecting them more than a wych casualty.

Dark Eldar Turn 4

A lucky turn where I hadn’t taken much casualties had allowed me to get back in the game a bit, so now it was time for some bold moves.

The raider with the wyches and haemonuculus zoomed 12” behind the main tyranid blob in the centre. The haemonuculus separated from the wyches to get the best liquefier shot at the termagants, while the wyches prepared with a nice fleet move to assault the termagants and the hive guard.

The raider from the wyches fighting the genestealers moved between them and warriors, to make it very iffy that the warriors could get to the wyches. This was complimented by careful casualty removal that meant the wyches remaining in combat were on the far side of genestealers away from the tyranid warriors.

The venom with the small wrack unit moved up and the wracks moved to help out the wyches with the genestealers.

Two dark lances from the 2 wych raiders, managed to instant kill one tyranid warrior. Venom splinter cannons took two wounds from the hive guard (leaving them on 3), and the haemonuculus took out 6 termagants with his liquefier.

Moving onto combat the haemonuculus and wyches assaulted the termagants and wyches. Tyranid armies work best where units are supporting each other, so you should always look out for multiple assaults. The wych leader with an agoniser and one other wych went on the hive guard while the rest of the unit and the haemonuculus went on the termagants. The idea was to kill enough termagants to win the combat and make the hive guard take lots of no retreat saves.

The small wrack squad was quite far away from the genestealers so rather than risk a long assault through terrain they had run in the shooting phase, putting them right next to the action.

Combat worked out fine. All but 2 termagants died, and the wych leader took the last wound from one of the hive guard. The return attacks only killed one wych, meaning the tyranids had to take no retreat saves wiping out the termagants but good saves by the hive guard left it on one wound.

The wyches and genestealers did one wound to each other meaning another drawn combat.

With both wych units locked in combat and out of range of the tyranid warriors I was happy, as we rolled into, possibly, the last turn of the game.

Tyranid Turn 5

The tervigon stayed near the objective near the tyranid deployment zone. The termagants and tyranid warriors advanced (and ran in the case of the warriors) near the objective in the centre of the board. The hormagaunts stayed spread out to both hold an objective and stay in synapse range.

In combat the wyches with the haemonoculus killed the last hive guard, while the wyches against the genestealers killed 2 for loss of 1, leaving the last genestealer who didn’t run away.

Dark Eldar Turn 5

The wyches fighting the last generstealer were joined by the small wrack squad. While the wyches and haemonoculus (who had 2 and 1 pain tokens respectively) moved between the termagants (in the centre) and tervigon (near their “home” objective).

The large wrack squad, whose raider got blown up early, and weren’t so large after getting hit repeatedly by the tervigon’s template attack, had cautiously advanced enough that they were able to move forward and flame the termagants holding the centre objective.

One wych raider flew behind the tervigon to contest the objective near the tyranid deployment zone, while the other one moved forward to contest the middle one.

Firing from the wracks liquefier guns and and splinter cannon fire took out the termagants, and the last genestealer was taken out in combat. They wyches gained the pain token and the remaining few wyches left the wracks to hold the objective and while they consolidated toward their raider near the middle objective.

The wyches near the haemonuculus were feeling brave and therefore assaulted the tervigon, after all it only had 3 attacks and the wyches had a 4+ dodge. Unfortunately I got carried away and assaulted with the haemonuculus as well (who doesn’t have a 4+ dodge). I only managed to do 1 wound to the tervigon with the wych leader’s agoniser and the rest of the wyches and the haemonuculus did nothing. The tervigon then killed the haemonuculus winning the combat by one. The wyches promptly failed their morale test and fell back.

The score was 1-1 on objectives. The hormagaunts had the one on the bottom left, the small wrack squad was holding the one on the far right, and the other two were contested. We rolled the dice and got a turn 6

Tyranid Turn 6

The tervigon had to try and kill the contesting raider, but with shooting and assaulting the raider survived, after a scattered shot and the tervigon needing 6’s to hit in combat.

The tyranid warriors decided to attack the wracks which had raosted the termagants. The tyranid warriors slaughtered them and consolidated in the ruins inches from the central objective.

Dark Eldar Turn 6

The few remaining wyches from the genestealer combat embarked on their raider giving me a scoring unit within range of the middle objective. The wyches who ran from the tervigon were unfortunately within 6” of the tyranid warriors and kept on running.

Everything opened up on the tyranid warriors (2 Lances, 5 Splinter Cannons). However the combination of covers saves and Feel No Pain (given to them from the tervigon last turn) meant that they not only wouldn’t die, but refused to even lose a wound.

This time the dice game up to show the game was ended with the scored still tied 1-1. The Hormagaunts had the bottom left objective. The small wrack squad was holding the objective on the far right. The middle objective was contested by the tyranid warriors and wyches in a raider. The objective near the tyranid deployment zone was contested by a raider and the tervigon.

Final Thoughts

Having not played for a few months and playing a newish army really showed. I played much too defensive with the dark elder on turns 2 and 3 when the hive guard was in range to shoot most of my army anyway. Also moving aggressively forwards with the trueborn venoms on turn 1 allowed the hive guard to have a target on turn 2 was silly.

Forgetting abilities like night fighting rerolls and flickerfield saves also made this game an uphill struggle for myself. Even late in the game assaulting with the haemonuculus against the tervigon cost me dearly, but to make matters worse if the haemonuculus had rejoined the wyches they would have had 3 pain tokens between and been fearless – doh !

However apart from my bad playing I though the army showed that it can do well. I really liked the firepower the venoms put out (but tyranids are an army to make the venoms shine).

Playing with 8 vehicles I was surprised 5 were still alive at the end, but then tyranids don’t have the highest number of anti tank options. Playing mech dark elder means that it’s always a race between the enemy’s anti tank and your vehicles. If you can overwhelm the anti tank quickly even dark elder vehicles can survive, but if the anti tank isn’t silenced the dark elder vehicles will disappear fast.

I liked the addition of liquefier guns, and I think in bigger games the upgrades I picked at the expense of the 6th troops choice will do better for me. I also liked the survivability of wracks compared to the fragile warriors for the role of a small troop unit in a venom.

I’m looking forward to 1750 games where I can try out the large incubi squad. If 8 incubi hit a unit they should make a mess of it. I’ll try to keep them a few inches off the front line, and hope opponents underestimate their 22-27” threat range from the front of the raider.

I should be getting another battle in this weekend, so we’ll see how the Dark Eldar list fares.

Hope you enjoyed this, let me know what you think ?



  1. You look way more prepared than me for ASMOH! At this I'll just be photocopying my army list from last year!

  2. Great write up, thanks for taking the time.

    I'm thinking of running Venom blades instead of Aggonisers. As I'd prefer extra dice, forcing saves over pw hits. Does it balance out, over a game?

  3. @Neath Leanan: But I paint so so so slow :( If I paint at the rate I've managed over the last 2 months I won't finish the Dark Eldar in the 2 month till the tournament :( This is compounded by my list changing slightly most games; do I paint 3 more incubi to finish the unit, or do I start a beastmaster unit ? I'll just concentrate for the moment on what does in all lists - a ravager and venoms.

    @Ding-dang-dhu: It all depends on what opponent you are against. In this battle one of my agoniser Hekatrix was in combat with 5+ save genestealers. In this scenario a venom blade would have done more damage.

    The main reason I give some of my Hekatrixs agonisers is so that the unit can have a hope of damaging some units/creatures. Basic str 3 hits in eneough numbers will do damage, however for heavyily armoured troops they won't do much.

    Regarding which upgrade to pick I would go with agonisers to help against terminators, wraithlords etc. If I wanted to save points I would pick the venom blade. I', unlikely to ever pick a power weapon, even if it has the potential to be the best weapon aginst T3 (if the wyches get +1 str for their drug roll).

    Agoniser vs Venom Blade

    The blade does 67% more wounds so which is best depends on the armour save:

    5+, 6+, No Save: Venom Blade
    4+: Marginal win for the Agaonsier
    2+ & 3+: Agoniser win

    For me the deciding factor is that for opponents that the venom blade is better the basic wyches should win easily anyway. However troops with good armour save which cause basic str 3 attacks of the wyches an issue the agoniser. That's why for the moment I'm going for agonisers.

    Outside incubi the DE close combat attacks are great against low armour save opoonets. Agaoniser give them a chance to win against other units as well.

    Rather than buy a power weapon I'd rather spend more to get an agoniser or save points and buy a venom blade. My big issue is that most units that have a good armour save normally are T4 or higher making causing wounds an issue.




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