Friday, 23 May 2014
Dark Eldar Voidraven - Part Eight - Completed Pic and Musings on it's Use
Browsing through my old posts I noticed that I didn't put a final pic of my Voidraven Bomber. You can see my blog posts going over the conversion in 7 steps here.
The last pic I showed was before my first game at the MAD tournament last year:
However here's a better pic from the A Small Matter of Honour tournament from last year:
Musings on the Voidraven
Since the Voidraven was complete I have never played a Dark Eldar game without it. Even though that it partially due to the fact that I really like the model, I wouldn't use it in so many games if I didn't think it added to my army.
Why haven't you taken a Ravager ?
When taking Dark Eldar heavy support choices you have to ask yourself the above question. I would even go as far as to advise most people that they would have to consider a change of army list, or ensure they catered from a weakness in early game long range anti-tank firepower elsewhere in their army list, if they did not include at least 2 Ravagers in any games at 1500 points or more.
So saying this why should you pay 45 points more than a ravager (or 65 points in the configuration I use) to use the Voidraven.
1) The Voidraven is the most resilient vehicle the Dark Eldar have access to - still fragile, but tough by Dark Eldar standards :). Unlike the Ravager it isn't open topped, and if the opponent does not have access to skyfire, or you kill their skyfire quickly (Quad guns die to splinter cannons as easy as 2 marines) then it is hard to hit (needing snap shots).
2) The Voidraven is fast, with a move of up to 36" it can target far off enemy units which the rest of the army might struggle to get to (particularly if it is later in the game when most of the Dark Eldar transports have been destroyed). The height of the flying stand also helps to get line of sight against enemy units trying to hide. An example being a small marine unit huddled behind 1.5" high wall (which blocks line of sight to the rest of your army) praying the game will end asap so they can claim an objective they're sitting near; the Voidraven's increased height will allow it to see the marines and can it let rip with lances and, if purchased, missiles.
3) It can me made dual purpose for a turn or two with the additions of missiles, I prefer using 2 shatterfield missiles, but the basic monoscythe missiles are also good (for the better AP5 to kill light infantry). Most targets are already wounded on 2+, so the poison missile is pretty meh, and the implosion missile is expensive, situational and only a small blast.
4) The scare factor; mentioning str9 lances on a platform that can move 36" in a turn can make some opponents worry too unnecessarily about the Voidraven, and without skyfire it will take them the same firepower that could kill 3-4 venoms or raiders to kill the Voidraven :)
5) The Void Mine can be a nasty surprise, it may not do much most games, but a str9 ap2 lance small blast has killed vehicles for me. If you're forced to fly off the board the Void Mine can be useful to do some damage as you fly off.
6) Outside of fortifications and allies the Voidraven is our best anti air unit. Even having 1 Voidraven can threaten fliers, and distract them for a turn or two while the rest of your army concentrates of wiping out the enemy's ground troops.
7) By combining the fact that the Voidraven comes on from reserves, can move very fast (up to 36"), and by coming on at oblique angles means the Voidraven is very good at getting side armour shots the first time it fires. A Ravager can struggle to get side armour shots against a good opponent, and Wyches have to survive the enemy firepower and sometimes take up to turn 3 to slap haywire grenades on a tank, so if a Voidraven can get side armour shots with str9 guns it can really help get rid of enemy vehicles early; assuming it doesn't stay in reserve for too long.
Why not take more fliers ?
I have tried this. I took a Razorwing Jetfighter, Voidraven Bomber and a Quad gun in the same list to a tournament and in a few test games. It was nice in some games ruling the skies, taking out the enemies anti-air quickly so my fliers were slightly less fragile than usual.
However by it's nature Dark Eldar are an alpha strike and glass cannon type army (particularly the way I play with them). Although you can mitigate this, my taking more resilient wracks and going MSU (multiple small units) so the enemy has to kill multiple squads before really affecting your firepower, you will rarely win a war of attrition.
This leads to a problem with fliers - they don't start on the board turn 1. Having both a Razorwing & Voidraven off the board meant that for at least 1 or 2 enemy shooting phases I had over 300 points off the board. This impacted the army too greatly, especially combined with the issue caused by using a Quad Gun.
Quad guns are great, and the Defense line it comes is also great...in some armies. For the Dark Eldar I found it hampered one of their best advantages, speed and unpredictability. Putting down a defence line and quad gun meant that before the enemy deployed s/he knew exactly where at least 2 small units of wracks were likely to be, in line of sight (rather than hiding on a hidden objective) that would probably be supported nearby by other units to ensure the guad gun was not overrun (one game I had to kill by own quad gun because it was overrun by traitor guard and choas space marines and was about to be used against my own flyer).
The Quad gun led to a more stand off and shoot attrition game which did not suit my Dark Eldar. I much prefer the enemy having no idea how my army will deploy, and having the flexibility to completely switch their area of focus turn to turn to keep the enemy guessing.
So why a Voidraven over the Razorwing Jetfiighter
The Razorwing comes with 4 missiles for the same cost as a stock Voidraven before adding any missiles. Iconically this makes the Razorwing Jetfighter the better Infantry Ground Attack vehicle (particular with the option for swapping the lances for disintegrators and having a nose mounted splinter cannon) while the Voidraven (with it's better lances) is the best best at taking out vehicles.
With anti infantry poison weapons through out the rest of the Dark Eldar army, the Razorwing Jetfighter more of the same of what I already had, while having some of the flier benefits mentioned above.
However having the stronger anti vehicular guns (in most cases 2 Void Lances is comparable to 3 Dark Lances) I didn't feel as bad not taking a Ravager as the 3rd heavy support slot. Also the Voidraven was clearly the best tool against other flyers which was a concern, particularly if I was not taking allies (to get access to a Crimson Hunter) or a Quad gun.
So in Conclusion
The Voidraven helps with anti air, is very fast allowing it to target distant enemy targets, and it's missiles (for a turn or two) let it turn into a good anti horde unit, and if they pack too close even marines and terminators can find themselves having to make a good number of saves on top of the the two str9 lance shots the Voidraven has as it's main armament. To me it's Ravager+, and well worth the extra 65 points over a 3rd Ravager in my army list.
Mine for one will keep flying :)
What the future holds
Well 7th edition is released in less than 24 hours, and one change that helps the hard Dark Eldar heavy support choice is that all armies can ally with themselves*, so if you aren't using Eldar allies you can take Dark Eldar allies to fit in a 4th heavy support choice. I'm tempted to have both 3 Ravagers and my Voidraven.
Let me know in the comments below, what your experience has been with the Dark Eldar fliers, and what you think of their anti-air capabilites.
* In 7th edition you can also have as many primary detachments as you want, but I'm sure that this will be restricted in any tournament, as the result can be become pretty ridiculous pretty quick, as the guys at the Sons of Sanguinius blog explain.