Thursday, October 25, 2012


 As the song continues this week, always keep in mind The Mission. Victory conditions drastically alter the makeup of any particular realspace raiding force. Heading into November the Kabal prepares for MURDER on the Tabletops at the local 1750pt Hall Of Heroes as well as this years final 2500pt Contest of Champions in Sacramento.

Maximum MURDERpower!
There are an amazing number of factors that go into "maximizing." One of the basic precepts of the Oadius Astartes is to bring EVERY gun you can. The bigger the better, but bring them ALL. If it shoots, then stick it on someone and point it at the enemy. Often this precept quickly starts to conflict with the other stuff you need to win games and tournaments - namely scoring power and durability. For the Dark Eldar this easily translates in terms of Lances vs Poison vs Troops.

Enough lances kill opponents big, repetitive guns that will chew your army to bits over the course of 3-6 turns, they also take out the boxes the enemy is hiding in. Enough Poison to reliably burn enemy units right off the table, turn after turn. Enough Troops that the survivors can survive firstly and then hold Many objectives AFTER the enemy has had at them for a few turns. Its a difficult equation to balance, since many of the units that fulfill these roles can rarely do more than one at the same time. Very few units in the Dark Eldar codex can be classified as durable at first look.

The actual sad part of the Song, is that the Dark Eldar can almost never achieve balance here. The struggle between Lances long and short (Dark Lance vs Blaster etc) is never ending. Lances are cheap but the sacrifice is airpower and durability (Ravagers vs Razorwings vs Trueborn.) Blasters have seemingly unending utility, the sacrifice is range and troop or poison power. Troops score objectives of course, but they are not durable compared to almost any other troop, and although they might add tiny bits of lance or posion power the sacrifice is real significant parts of your firepower, lance or poison (Trueborn in Venom vs Warriors in Venom.)

This is the dirty rotten core of the Dark Eldar army. When it comes time to throw MURDER around on the tabletops. Stack up on the reliable: long range Lances (Blasters on Trueborn dont blast GK dreads out of the corners of the board even if they live long enough to get there.) Long range poison in the form of many Venoms, and as many Troop units as you can stand. As a rule of thumb, the Army on the Board should be able to de-mech and wipe 10 marines in cover without breaking a sweat, at about 30-36" range. Besides being evil and scary, this is the most important and first stepping stone to making the MURDER machine run.
Listbuilding like this doesnt leave a lot of room or points for many shiny and/or decorative elements. Most of the Dark Eldar utility built into top table competitive lists is found in the forms of redundancy, mobility/speed, and buckets of poison. Utility doesn't mean able to make tactical decisions in the middle of the battle. Very few units in the entire game are able to meet that description. So little items that allow you that type of leeway are simply invaluable.

The Eldar Farseer in his various flavors is one of the cheapest and most potent forms of bolt-on utility elements available. Amazingly he and the jetbike guardians can actually add MORE speed and mobility to a Dark Eldar list in addition to the moveable psychic buffs. The Farseer is also Leadership 10 - a healthy boost not found often in most Dark Eldar lists. He can easily double the use and value of any other unit in the list, and repeat that feat on multiple units throughout any game.

Overlooked and often underestimated in the new game - the Web Way Portal. Although it can easily change the entire makeup and strategy to win of the army, it should be hard to pass up wargear for almost any Dark Eldar general. Its an impenetrable shield for one or more units for about half the cost of one Raider. With 3+ reserves on turn 2, no reserve assaults, and very little available to modify reserve rolls, it does have its limitations/weaknesses. Its still the strongest form of protection Dark Eldar infantry have. USE IT! A simple example of its Utility value is to put deepstriking Hellions and Scourges in reserve, and the targets, mobility, and range of those jump units increases drastically as they can still use the Web Way to enter play.

Beasts and Hellions bring their own Utility to the table as they can kill tanks and infantry with almost equal ease. They are durable, being big foot units that can take easy advantage of various types of cover and sport lots of wounds. They also move very fast: Being mobile, killing anything, and having durability makes them the ultimate utility really. They also benefit from many Farseer buffs or leadership, and the Hellions have a HUGE scoring footprint. The points invested into these units are golden, as very few other choices can do it all.

Do not underestimate the value of Warlord Traits and Combat drugs. Any army can suddenly find massive buffs on the Warlord tables, but be sure to be ready to use them. Almost nothing on the Command chart is useful, but almost everything on the Personal and Strategic charts can be powerful boosts to the dark host. Outflanking beasts or hellions on a hammer and anvil deployment, for one really mean example. Hellions benefit drastically from almost any Combat Drug result. Evil scrum Xeno generals cannot afford to pass up any advantage, and that includes a super-scary-killy-Attitude, and the gusto to capitalize on any scrap offered.

Flamers are VERY BAD for Business
All Xeno hate flame. Besides Flickerfields and Shadowfields and easy access to FnP - the Dark Eldar Host almost relies on cover saves for decisive Victory. Nightfighting, The Baron, Phantasm grenade launchers, Jink and turbo boost are some of our best defensive tools.

Xeno generals Must Know Thier Opponents List, they Must deploy to win, and MUST use great target priority combined with speed to outmaneuver or quickly snuff out enemy units or big guns that ignore cover. Especially Flamers that dont need to hit, cant scatter, and if they happen to be Str6 or more, Ignore FnP on top of no cover. Flamers of various sorts also fire in overwatch, and so with each keystroke and murderboat full of dead xeno - these weapons of fiery destruction climb quickly to the very top of Bad Shit you need to avoid or kill, right away.

While we are here, anything that will spit out boatloads of dead xeno every turn needs to die fast. Mobility lets us dictate the battle to many an enemy. With the proper build of durability, utility, and poison, your opponents scoring units can often take a backseat on the kill list while you take out or outmaneuver the stuff that will eventually chew through your list. Like it or not, the stuff you brought to do the job wont live very long at range if your target priority is wrong. We are talking about durable hard targets like Riflemen, Predators/Vindicators, and Leman Russes. Kill them right off the board asap, and keep your poison boats alive to whatever degree is possible.

BREAK your Opponent with Waves of Abuse
Without getting to much into the specifics of any particular Dark Eldar army build you must plan to hit the enemy in waves of pain. The true first turn alpha strike days are over and more a result of poor listbuild/deployment on your opponents part then anything you have done as a Dark Eldar general. Changes to the new game have moved listbuilds you will find on top tables into a new realm of durability. Plan the waves carefully and unleash with Murder on the mind. Scariness wave, long range Lance wave, heat from the pending and crashing Assault wave, and be sure to pack a wave of Poison in between all the others.

Your opponent needs to know and respect your range of Murder. He must know that anything he doesn't carefully protect will be shot off the board by lances or poison or both, also that whatever is just standing around waiting on the assault wave will get some, and that anything not inside a metal box or out of line of sight will be punished with almost never ending poison. That, if he uses his big guns to silence yours, then the beasts will have him for dinner or that pounding the beasts means his guns die. When he presents you with the same conundrum, smile and burn it right off the board because mobility is YOUR tool. This is how you create combat Heat that burns at the edge of your opponents collar.

Dark Eldar can out-dance almost anything in any army build that is durable or killy on its own. Weak troops force you to paper the board and take out your opponents ranged firepower. Margins of Victory, particularly on objective missions force you to stock up on scoring units and stack them to win decisively. Systematically destroy your opponents tools to achieve victory, and in the right order to keep your army alive while you do it.

Mobility and bricks on top of bricks of poison dice are the real key to victory. Next we have to understand our opponents list to really get the mileage out of HEAT and PAIN elements and paint the board each game in decisive prize-winning MURDER!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

6th Edition - Deploying for the Win

Wanna win more?  Deploy better...How?

Here are my tips for carrying out your victory plan from the start of the game by deploying for the win.  Let me preface the rest of this article by saying the previous sentence is primary to the following contents.  Let me say it another way...

        Competitive generals must formulate a plan to achieve victory

I don't want to insult any one's intelligence but let's consider the statement's ramifications.  It's not enough to understand that you are playing Mission 1;  mysterious objectives with a vanguard deployment vs such and such an army, blah, blah, blah.  A competitive general needs to make an internal visualization of how many objectives he'll hold and how many he'll contest.  He needs to visualize what units will be holding those objectives and what units will be used to contest enemy objectives.  He needs to consider what firepower and assault forces he'll encounter and he needs to anticipate what units of his, said firepower/assault, will be brought to bare on.  He needs to predict deployment tactics of his enemy(especially if you are deploying first).  It's very predictable and easy to say that you need to think a few moves ahead, but it is absolutely vital.  First Blood, Slay the Warlord and Linebreaker all need to be pre-conceived and planned for.  All that visualization needs to take place before you even think about deploying your models. 

When you have stared at the board long enough to formulate a plan it's time for you to deploy.  Deploying for the win requires several considerations.  Aggression needs to balanced by prudence.  The desire to win via attrition needs to be tempered by the actual requirement of enemy unit destruction vs objective holding, the big 3(first blood, slay the warlord and linebreaker) and other victory requirements.  Only put down what really needs to be on the table.  Make sure deployed units are durable enough to last as long as you need them too.  My recent lists include a deployed force large enough to reserve as many units as I want to reserve.  You never know when an opponent will have just the right amount and type of firepower to blow you off your side of the board on turn 1, for those types of match-ups you'll need to know you can reserve your most important units(thereby making them more durable).  Make sure you have options....

When planning for things like First Blood make sure you have a back up option.  In other words don't rely on popping a rhino with one dreadnought, instead, have 2 or even 3 within range and with line of sight.  Don't count on one unit being enough for linebreaker, give yourself 2 or 3 units that will be behind enemy lines by the end of the game.  Redundancy can be key.

Don't expose your warlord too soon or too often.  Torrents of firepower can be brought to bare on even the most insanely tough HQ and it's only matter of how many times you'll need to roll to die, not if....  Make sure he's being escorted by a sufficiently tough unit or being transported by an extremely fast and or tough transport.  Don't give these points away needlessly.

For God's sake use the terrain on the table to your advantage.  Look at what blocks line of sight, examine the firing lanes and place your models appropriately.  Never, ever give them the opportunity to cripple you on turn 1.  Make sure the points you spend on power units get used.  This means reserving more or foregoing shooting sometimes in lieu of going flat out, popping smoke or just hiding behind something.   Play with your toy soldiers like they were your very own flesh and blood, use them as effectively and efficiently as you can.

Be proactive in every move you make.  Be deliberate and aggressive but maintain your plan for victory.  Take a step back after every phase and make sure you are keeping your goals in mind.

Just a few general suggestions for deploying for the win.    


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Song of PAIN and MURDER

When it comes to the Dark Eldar of the sDm Kabal it all starts with Attitude! Kill everything that wont convert, kill some of the things that do, kill a lot of other stuff also just for fun. Killing, killing and more killing! Give 'em six in the belly - one at a time of course to maximize the PAIN!

The sDm Kabal is thriving in the grimdark environment of 6th edition 40k. Huge additions have been made in the wake of the new Game. Hellions, Scourges, Jetbikes, and a craftworld worth of Eldar Allies joined right into the Murder Fleet alongside this years earlier Grotesque and more recently Beast unit builds.

Im not into comparing anything in terms of 5th vs 6th edition and often caution folks to stay away from doing it in almost any sense. Sometimes its hard to frame items in any other context. Still a bunch of stuff got better and other things got worse and a lot of it just changed. As far as laying down the MURDER on the Tabletops when it matters its still all about Gaming the Mission and to do that we have to be able to put checks in all the boxes.

Night Vision is a BFD!
In the past its has always been a nice albeit unreliable edge in the small amount of games it ended up applied to. Now in a real big way it has become an often used and dependable advantage. Other things like Lances getting the ap2 boost on the vehicle damage chart, hull points, new leadership rules making once flimsy units very sticky on the battlefield, skirmishing with rapid fire weapons at  full range when moving, +2 to cover save when going to ground in area terrain, Defensive grenades offering units stealth, Fearlessness and other USRs being transferred to units by single models, multiple pile-ins by initiative assaults for the rooftop pros - and the list can go on: true hardcore advantages offered to Dark Eldar with just the drop of a Rulebook...

The Web Way Portal is not useless!
Not being able to assault the turn units arrive from reserve is a big change for a lot of army builds. The real killer for the web way assaults is the 3+ reserves on turn two and changes to units disembarking from vehicles. Many hardcore Dark Eldar web way generals were not even using much in assault units from the webway itself, and now there is not much choice as the speed and durability of web way assault units has been reduced. The advantage of the web way portal remains that it utterly protects the units 'inside' from being shot dead with big guns (or anything.) Changes to fleet and new obstacles/tools like Overwatch and the Secondary Mission Objectives have really drastically altered the entire landscape of the Murder-field.

They are basically great in almost all ways. The can even score in tournaments that use The Scourging mission type (although they can give up an extra VP also.) Nowadays they ignore difficult terrain, can get up into buildings/ruins, and are super-fast as ever. The avalanche of wounds, models, and attacks this unit can put on the table is amazing and always hard to ignore whether you are list-building or standing on the other side of the table. Being so ultra fast and able to kill almost anything can really clarify your opponents target priority very quickly. 

With The Baron and other buffs the unit can gain hardcore durability or even get some of that invisibility unstop-able-ability. My favorite part is that they are scary - and they make the Baron even harder to kill as Warlord. They play a huge role in keeping the rest of your army alive as very few opponents can handle this unit with concentrated shooting and WILL die in close combat, so they end up with no choice really but to pound the Beasts in order to survive their charge.  For the same reason they are an almost vital to any competitive webway list - to ensure safe delivery of the portal, of course as an early first wave super threat, but also to put much needed boots on the ground when it comes time to count units for possible reserve.

Long Lost Brothers
Eldar allies are super-leet additions to the Kabal. Although including many or any of them in most lists is a hard sale more often than not. Craftworld stuff cost billions of points and its not like anyone has any of those to spare to begin with. Harlystar options are hard to ignore but start to quickly force the army build into very few choices. Very little of the codex offers much that cant be found cheaper, better, faster in a Commorragh version - with the exception of Farseers.

Farseers in all shapes and sizes and flavors. Harlystar aside - my favorite is one on a Jetbike with one or four powers, usually one. With the right build and three Jetbike guardians to babysit its a real bargain for the awesome utility package of psychic power possibilities and psychic defense. Nothing of its kind is really anywhere to be found within the pages of the Dark Eldar codex.  At two to three hundred points max its a scalable and very useful addition to the Kabal that has been able to more than carry its own water across many games and opponents.

The Baron and Hellions
Not really great in 5th edition compared to the cost, use and utility of Wyches in Raiders or Webway delivered. 6th brought great buffs for jump infantry in general and other changes mentioned above have shifted the ranking of Hellions vs Wyches in a big way. Three items in particular quickly boost them to the top of the list for troops in almost any list currently: Stealth from Baron plus +2 for going to ground in area terrain, Skilled rider from Baron plus armor saves and FnP versus dangerous terrain failures, and Defensive Grenades from Baron plus Overwatch among many other advantages.

For me the web way portal is a basic necessity for the Big Baron Hellion unit as it lets Baron fly with the Beasts for a turn or two without needing him to protect the hellions, meanwhile they are completely safe from any turn 1 and sometimes turn 2 bombardments/torrents that are out to flatten your troops, and when they hit the board they have increased tabletop range and a guaranteed turn of shooting. Fifteen Hellions pack the same poison shots as two and a half Venoms. Hull points has made them a serious threat to almost any vehicle, and thats before combat drugs, power from pain or say any buffs from a Farseer are stacked on them to really create a mean as hell shooting, jumping, scoring, gigantic footprint of pure Murder that is capable of being wherever its needed in a real hurry.

This unit particularly combined with the Farseer is the new utility belt I often reference. On thier own or as backup to the Beast unit, its a major bundle of  threat, footprint, and scoring. Almost impossible to pass up.

Whats next for the sDm Kabal?
Currently I am playtesting a couple Forgeworld Tantalus as the next real addition to the Murder Fleet. They are dripping with murderous potential and becoming harder to ignore as mainstream tournaments like the Bay Area Open and others start to allow Forgeworld models and units. They are expensive and will be pain in the ass Forgewold kits, so I havent pulled the trigger yet. But soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

MurderChant: sDm Kabal and The Hall Of Heroes

Good MURDER Morning to ya! Herding up the sDm Kabal for some fresh killing today, down the road at the Wolfbrothers local stomping grounds, Heroes Games and Hobbies

The Hall of Heroes of one of the few no-holds-barred full on Sixth Edition Warhammer 40k tournaments you will be able to find. Thats right, no expert-hat fix-it modifications to deal with. That means the missions, the secondaries, the mysterious stuffs, the warlord chart, and yes even Terrain placement, are literally by the book. Its our local escalation league tournament, increasing 250pts each month. Today we are dealing in 1500pts of MURDER on the tabletops.

Recently I have received a great deal of inquires about the sDm Kabal. Have they been benched by the hard hitting 6th changes? Is the web way portal useless now? Can you Dark Eldar hang?

There is not a lot available on the Internets as far as real hard hitting competitive Dark Eldar - the brutal generals of Sacramento and Reno/Sparks know the vicious bite of the sDm Kabal has only gotten much worse, and Dark Eldar generals are representing on the GT scene quite well. So here you go.

 1500pts of Hard hitting Dark Eldar MURDER:

"Hold My Hat While I Have Sex With Your MURDER"

The Baron
Haemonculus w/ Web Way Portal

3 Wracks in Venom (Splinter cannonx2)
5 Warriors in Venom (Splinter cannonx2)
5 Warriors in Venom (Splinter cannonx2)
5 Warriors in Venom (Splinter cannonx2)

15 Hellions

1 Ravager
2 Voidraven Bombers w/Shatterfieldx2 and Flickerfield

Eldar Farseer on Jetbike with Spear, Warding, and Mind War
3 Guardians on Jetbikes

The web way portal is not dead by any means and either are the Dark Eldar. Really, as far as web ways go, 6th has illustrated its proper use to many DE generals. The days of the Beast and Wych rush are over, but its value in delivering overwhelming blaster-haywire-poison killyness has only increased. How to deliver the delivery system, is the real question.

This list is specialty in many ways. The Hall of Heroes uses a Margin of Victory each round throughout the tournament. You must defeat your opponent by 5 Victory Points to achieve massacre. With this in mind, as well as the local metagame, and Relic and Scouring mission archtype - the list and its various tools take shape. Of Course there is a lot of stuffs I wish this list had room for, as is the case with any list and tournament.

So the plan is to simply game the mission. Hope to go first, paper the objectives, and then use utility and poison to burn the opponent off the table. The list has a utility belt to come up with solutions as necessary and is obviously lopsided in shots downrange at infantry or tanks. As we all know, those are the decisions agonized over and the razor we walk as dirty evil scum Xeno generals. Tomorrow we can get into the nitty gritty of the Dark Eldar 6e Menace, today is the Murdermake.

Death To The Enemies Of The Wolfbrothers!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Big Guns Never Tire

These good ole grimdark times are getting more and more grimdark each day. In and around Wolfbrother Territory, we love it and only want more!

So the MURDER FACTORY burns on endlessly - and General Oadius prepares to hand out Death To The Enemies Of The Wolfbrothers:

The Legions of Baal start like many others, the beautiful color of GW plastic grey. After a quick dusting of home made white primer, we move on to the real work of slapping a layer of Green down with the airbrush on the bottom of the model and underneath or in-between any surfaces. Next is another "color band" of Tin across the center section targeting pretty much only on the "side" of the model and all surfaces. 

This Green to Tin to White color scale across the model is what will "show through" the under-painting and top coats of final paint application after the salt mask is washed off - it will become the damage and weathering, and any Green will eventually become deep shading for the bright Red and Golds of the 444th.

Once the initial color bands are established, a kind of "medium" salt mask is applied using super hold hairspray to stick the salt to the model. Spray the hairspray on heavy and use a mixture of different sizes of salt. Like everything else practice makes perfect and this is not the first time I have used this method. The salt application and effect gets better every time. The hairspray dries fast but its a good practice to let everything settle for an hour minimum before moving on (gasses escaping and blah blah etc.)

 Nowadays at the MURDER FACTORY very little is done in a small way - the 444th went through this ordeal together:

After the salt everything gets a bright layer of White on the top of the model/surfaces and then a few coats of Red and more Red. The final color here is actually GW's Mephiston Red.

Very close to 24hrs later, the Salt Mask is washed off using a very soft toothbrush and very hot water. You can actually scrape or peel off any layers of paint you installed over the hairspray at this point. Using your fingernails or whatever tools you can install all sorts of additional weathering or damage. Under the White and Red layers are the Tin and Green color band so the scrapes and cuts have natural effect built in. Your options at this stage are endless.

The models then sit and dry for another day. Throughout this time period I inspect the models and use another soft toothbrush to remove any excess salt from crevasses or flaky paint before moving on to the actual paint stages. 

 The paint is fairly simple - highlight the armor and finish the details. The armor effects are built into the paint process. Most of the armor highlights as well. On some of the more damaged vehicles where the salt made its way up the model and even onto the top of some surfaces, a little more work was required to complete the weathering/damaged effect. All told really a handful of simple techniques stacked for a nice and easy finish.

These Chimeras are ready for Markings AND the Tabletop. 

 This is a BIG Army - stay tuned for more! Thanks everyone!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Right Stuff: Baal Legionnaires

The Legions of Baal burn with a raging lust for war and MURDER! They are coming for you and at tip of the burning spear is General Oadius himself!!! The glorious days of Warhammer 40k Sixth edition are upon us!

 Psykers of all kinds are a must have weapon!

 Vet teams with multiple kits. Hardcore Imperial Guard troopers.

 A big Platoon and Commissar with lots of guns.

 More Tanks! Starting with Chimeras.

 Leman Russ Battle Tank Squadron.

Enough Hydras to kill... anything.


Vendettas for, "heavy lifting."

On to the real work - there will be more than enough MURDER on the tabletop for all of you soon enough!