Thursday, 29 September 2016

Tactica Biel Tan - AKA Zoom Zoom Pew Pew - Using the Pointy Eared Space Panzies

Zoom Zoom Pew Pew - Using the Pointy Eared Space Panzies 

General strategies - Speed Speed and more speed! Eldar have amazing access to fast units and skimmers meaning that a solid player is going to be able to utilise this to make sure he's doing lots of damage in shooting and engage but minimising the casualties in return. The only time this doesn't work is against lots of long range artillery but Eldar have high strategy rating and excellent artillery options themselves so that's usually not a problem after the first turn! The only real weakness to some Eldar units is lowish armour but if you're not getting shot that's really not a problem. 
      I would also argue that Eldar have some of the best army wide rules available, they break standard game mechanics in a huge way which is an enormous advantage if you can use it well. 



Farsight - The good ol triple retain, how do I hate the. Easily one of the best advantages available to Eldar is their ability to do the triple retain, they have access to a high strat rating, heaps of highly mobile troops and even some bonus 1+ activation options. When I usually see this one happening it's at the beginning of turn 3 when an avatar has just popped up and my opponent will move a unit or possibly 2 into support positions then retain and engage which is usually devastating. The other use for this could be at the beginning of an earlier turn when you want to use things like void spinners or scorpions to knock out enemy artillery formations. In both cases I would suggest you will need at least 12-13 activations (including avatar) to really take advantage of the rule. 

Hit and run - Move/shoot/move when combined with standard Eldar speed and skimmers is another option you need to learn how to use well. The weakness of things like Falcons and even Eldar heavies like scorpions is their comparably light armour but if you can get this rule right the ability to dart forwards, fire and fall back out of sight will cause your opponents no ends of frustration. The same applies to the engage options where a full move afterwards especially with fast troops like shining spears or swooping Hawks opens up a wealth of opportunities where you could move/engage and then move to support a follow up engagement, grab an objective or just escape reprisal. 

Holofields - the weakness of Eldar Titans is certainly not their armour... Holofields are just absolutely amazeballs. There is no downside to consider here like when you are running Knights and have to be a little careful. Combined again with hit and run rules your Titans are going to be all but unkillable. That said your Titans are walkers too so hugging a piece of area terrain for the extra -1 to hit is never a bad option.

Lance - A well balanced list will aim to include either some lance of some macro, whatever works really just give yourself some options for taking on the big armour. 

Webway Portals - Again the value is very dependant on your build and strategy. Holding things in reserve might seem great but that's activations you don't have on board. Then again you do some some amazingly fast and hard hitting units that you could sit one of inside to guard that objective, personal taste really, not essential. 
Avatar - well he's free so there's no real question of whether to include him. What I would suggest is if you want to use him you will need 2-3 gaurdians formations in order to give yourself options on 

Wraith gate - it's only really worth taking if you have a build to take advantage so there's no good answer on whether it should be in there. The thing to remember is you need to balance the advantage of the surprise hit with the loss of the activation on the table. 

Core options 
Gaurdians - personally I think gaurdians are a flexible and effective little core choice. They are cheap enough that they won't eat into your points too badly and you have the option to run free weapon platforms allowing you to put that blast marker down and generally be useful. With a great FF capacity they can hold ground so long as there's some cover and the best bit is they can summon a giant metal God who happens to synergise well with the aforementioned firefight abilities.



Aspect warriors - for the points I don't really rate many of these options. Most of them just don't do enough damage for their points and usually need transports or some sort of transport to be effective. The two I do think are worth looking at are shining spears and swooping Hawks both because they are fast and hit hard in an engagement. You're going to want at least one unit of something so you can take a supreme commander and the double inspiring possibilities shouldn't be underestimated. I think that shining spears are the most flexible of the lot, great armour, speed and the option to do a lance BC engage or just float up in the sky with skimmer you are fighting something you can't take otherwise. Their speed also gives brilliant options for a clipping assault as I've described in a previous article if you're not carrying a blastie but you've prepped the opponent well you can come into the engage up by 4 before you even start, great stuff. 



Craft world support troupes 
Engines of Vaul - Unless you have a particular plan in mind the only one of these worth considering is the scorpion. The cobra bring nothing you can't do better with other options and the storm serpent is great for armies like Iyanden but isn't needed for Biel Tan where the focus is different. The option to upgrade to fire prisms is one of personal choice, if you are running scorpions, night wings or Titans for example you probably don't need any more lance attacks. 

Night spinners - yep these are good, but remember what I said at the beginning about being spoilt for choice, here's a classic example. I wouldn't bother with night spinners because I could take void spinners instead, they've got better range and much better resilience to blast markers and damage in general. 

Rangers - Another compulsory choice, not only are they an amazing scout unit along with a cheap activation but they can deploy in forward positions easily enough for setting up crossfire or grabbing objectives. Not to mention having sniper which just might come in handy one day!

Swords of Vaul - combining speed, skimmer, awesome shooting and the option to take the best ground based AA in the game, what could be bad about these guys! I'd take 2 of these as well, allows you to cover a huge chunk of the board with a solid flak bubble. 

Void Spinners - Two of these, suitably positioned can reach every part of the board and be able to take out enemy artillery formations, Deathstrikes or any of those hard hitting but relatively soft targets. If you are going for an air engage option these can be perfect for zapping enemy AA. Always remember when firing AA that you can pick out characters in enemy units if you are clever, arty snipe if you will.

War Walkers - Yeah... Everything about these guys is terrible. They might make a nice scenic addition to a Titan base or something 

Wind riders - not a bad unit at all but I'd much rather invest the few more points to get shining spears. 



Spacecraft, aircraft and Titans 

Night wings - not cheap but they are a premium unit with solid armour and a solid lance attack. 

Phantom Titan - great weapons and super resilient thanks to the holofields, you will trade off activations for the hitting power but it can be worth it. 

Phoenix bombers - definitely an interesting unit for the points but it feels like void spinners do a better job of barrage and other units and night wings are better aircraft in other areas. 

Revenant Titans - easily the most powerful of the smaller Titans in the game, fast, hard hitting and with holofields too! The only problem again is the points cost which will limit your activation potential if you use them aggressively though that won't be a problem. 

Spacecraft - I'm never sure why you would bother upgrading to the bigger ship option because for 150 points the wraith ship will give you a double pie plate of macro death which can ruin entire armies if you plot it well and take advantage of the high strat rating or you could always just switch to a TK zap if you need to kill that pesky enemy war engine 

Vampire - solid little air engage option just like the thunderhawk. Doesn't have the same shooting abilities as the marines but if you want to load him up with aspect warriors it could be a nasty tactical option. Personally I wouldn't put one into Biel Tan, because if I wanted big engagements I'd be using Iyanden.

Warlock - Another solid Titan option, sacrificing a slight amount of shooting compared to the phantom to gain an obscene amount of FF support for engagements. If you can combo this bad boy with shining spears, an avatar or even just guardians you can get great value as he runs up for some shooting death followed by a retain/engage with his FF support. 



Assembling the Biel Tan
Biel tan are very different to many other armies in that you really are spoilt for choice meaning there is no single build that works as can be the case with more one dimensional lists, anyone who tries doing a ground pounding marine force knows what I mean. With that in mind I would suggest that all competitive Biel Tan Eldar lists are built around the following core. The priority is to find a balance where you have heaps of speed and firepower backed by at least 2-3 solid engage units that can finish off formations and take ground. This will be more balanced than say Iyanden Eldar which would include many of the same options but would be focusing more on smashing the enemy with engagements rather than the finesse of Biel Tan. The following are what I consider the essentials, take them or leave them then add what you like. 

Compulsory inclusions
  • 2x bare gaurdians - with 1 heavy weapon platform to give you blast marker placement and 2 potential options for the avatar to pop out of. 
  • 2 units of Falcons with 2 firestorms each - you can basically cover the table with an AA bubble with these 2 units.
  • Shining spears with Autarch - speed, armour, lance/macro engagement or FF clipping assaults with double inspiring, what's not to love! 
  • 2 single void spinners - for dealing with enemy arty and small units 
  • 2 single scorpions - long range reliable macro skimmers. Gold 
  • 2 rangers - cheap effective scouts 

That comes in at 2425 points but you will notice that both the strong Eldar builds from this year's Cancon were running essentially this core. That's already 10 (11 with avatar) activations with plenty of shooting and engage options. You could spend the rest in a variety of ways you can fit another support Troupe without needing more core, or maybe you would prefer to load up a vampire raider with some solid engage troops. Night wing interceptors would be interesting and the wraith ship is a bargain with the flexibility to do a double macro pie plate or pin point attack. Repentant Titans could be fit too but you would need to drop something and if you look at the builds below its hard to justify their inclusion when you look at how much activation advantage and flexibility you lose. Experiment, don't let yourself get caught in the open and don't stress, you're race won't be dying out anytime soon. 

Starting strategy - 
The reality is there is no one good strategy, recognise you are using one of the most powerful lists out there and take advantage of that flexibility. You have the speed to get to any objectives going and the hitting power to take out a BTS, without Titan support of your own you might struggle to take down an enemy Titan but disrupt artillery will go along way to breaking it. 
      In the early game I'd suggest focusing on sniping off enemy activations, you've got heaps of great long range shooting options which are perfect for breaking enemy formations and doing extra damage when they are broken. Turn 3 is an ideal time to summon the avatar and if your prep work has gone well you should be able to finish off formations and drive the enemy off key objectives. No army has more capacity to do a big late turn reposition and then do a big hit at the beginning of the next turn. You will have a big strat roll advantage against most armies, enough that you should be able to rely on that too. 
One ting to remember is that you don't have e resilience of say a Gaurd army, your super heavies do have good armour but it's not great so use speed and skimmer to do damage and then fall back, same goes for whatever variety of falcon you will run with. If you are trying out a Titan recognise that most armies can't kill them, the amount of shots you need to get past holofields is obscene unless someone gets ridiculously unlucky but at only 6DC breaking them isn't a bad idea so don't treat them like they are invulnerable. Move, kill, move, most armies would love the flexibility Eldar get across the board and its your ability to use it that will determine your success. Always remember that if you can't win games with Eldar, it really is just you that sucks, the army is no excuse. :) 

Sample Builds

Sample Build 1 
This one manages to get to an impressive 12 activations whilst including a phantom titan. Double artillery, Double shining spears, double scouts, Double AA bubble and a Phantom titan as well! 


1. ASPECT WARRIOR WARHOST [400]
8 Shining Spear, Autarch, Exarch

2. ASPECT WARRIOR WARHOST [325]
8 Shining Spear, Exarch

3. GUARDIAN WARHOST [150]
Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

4. RANGER TROUPE [100]
4 Ranger

5. RANGER TROUPE [100]
4 Ranger

6. SWORDS OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

7. SWORDS OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

8. NIGHT SPINNER TROUPE [175]
3 Night Spinners

9. ENGINE OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
Scorpion

10. ENGINE OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
Void Spinner

11. AVATAR [0]

12. PHANTOM TITAN [750] 



Sample Build 2
This time around the priority is activation count and spreading the shooting around rather than having it condensed in a single target. The night spinners have been upgraded to double void spinners backed by double scorpions and 3 lots of falcons. There is potential for a 14 activation turn if you want to use the spaceship and Avatar at the same time but more likely you can use the ship in the first turn to put some serious pain onto enemy formations, finishing them off with artillery and save the Avatar until turn 3 when your guardians are in better positions to offer FF support to engagements led by the War God and the double inspiring Shining Spear unit. It would be easy enough to switch the spaceship out for another activation on ground but I'm a fan of the psychological impact that you can achieve and frankly double macro templates are going to hit something... 

AVATAR [0]

ASPECT WARRIOR WARHOST [400]
7 Dire Avenger, Exarch, Autarch, Shining Spear

GUARDIAN WARHOST [150]
Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

GUARDIAN WARHOST [150]
Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

GUARDIAN WARHOST [150]
Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

ENGINE OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
Scorpion

ENGINE OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
Scorpion

RANGER TROUPE [100]
4 Ranger

RANGER TROUPE [100]
4 Ranger

SWORDS OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

SWORDS OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

SWORDS OF VAUL TROUPE [250]
3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

VOID SPINNER [275]
Void Spinner

VOID SPINNER [275]
Void Spinner

WRAITHSHIP [150] 


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