Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dark Eldar Tactica: Wyches!

For the second article I am primarily going to focus on Wyches and Bloodbrides. As I mentioned in the last article Wyches are probably my favorite unit in the Codex. For me they are consistently the best performing unit in my army, pretty much every game and they have some of the nicest models Games Workshop produces. Like Warriors there are tonnes of different ways to run these ladies to tailor them to specific roles. Once you start adding in HQ choices it gives you just that many more options.

The main role for Wyches is to tie units up enemy units and pin them down while you whittle down the rest of the enemies army with shooting. They are fairly resilient in close combat with their 4+ invulnerable save and once they get their first pain token they are downright impossible to move. Their role (like anything I suppose) also changes slightly depending on how you arm them. You can turn them into character/monstrous creature assassins but adding in lots of shardnets and impalers, or you can turn them loose on crowd control with Hydra Gauntlets. The biggest thing to focus on is making sure these guys get into combat and stay there. You pretty much want them locked up for as much as the game as possible since they go from being one of the most fragile units in the game to one of the most maddeningly durable units in the game.

Like everything in the Dark Eldar Codex even though they have some awesome up-sides they have some serious weakness too (which is partially what makes this Codex one of the best Codices’s ever made). The big one is their durability out of combat. With only being T3 and a 6+ save they are probably the second most vulnerable squad in the game to shooting after Grots (without a pain token or cover of course). Flamers are your bane and will just remove these guys from the table effortlessly. Another thing to note is how many will typically die when their transport crashes. I had one unlucky game where my opponent wounded 8 times out of 10 on that 4+ to wound and I failed all those saves so the squad was left with a Hekatrix and a Hydra Gauntlet. Painful Stuff. Another thing to really think about is since they are only Str 3 they do have a hard time really putting “the hurt” on enemy units, so they aren’t really your big heavy hitters in combat (although, with some lucky rolls you can do some damage). With all this in mind lets get to it!

The Two Main Wyche Load Outs:

The Crowd Control Squad: This build would be focusing on having Hydra Gauntlets in the squad with maybe a special character to get as many attacks as possible. For the troop version I normally run either a max squad of 10 with a Hekatrix that has an Agonizer and 2 sets of Hydra Gauntlets or 9 with 1 Hydra Gauntlet, the same Hekatrix and a Succubus with just an Agonizer (so 10 Agonizer attacks on the charge). It gives you a fair amount of attacks and is fairly cheap (between 210-220pts with a Raider, depending on upgrades plus another 85 for the Succubus if you take her). I have had this unit do 17 wounds to an Imperial Guard unit in one round of close combat as well as taking out an 8 man unit of Death Company (obviously got lucky on that one and also already had a pain token but it happens…a lot). You will notice that I haven’t included Razorflails for weapon upgrades for this squad since, for me, Hydra Gauntlets win out every time. This is for three reasons. The first is you can get “re-roll to wound” for your combat drugs so that negates half of the flails benefit right there. The second is its just plain old fun rolling a bunch of dice (they can literally triple the amount of attacks that one model gets). The last, and most importantly is I have an obsession with yelling out “SHORYUKEN!” (and sometimes even make the motion) every time they get to attack.

The Blood Brides version of this squad really pushes the envelope for the amount of attacks this squad generates. If you have 9 Blood Brides with 3 Hydra Gauntlets and throw in Lilith you could have a possible 82 attacks on the charge if you get the +1 attack combat drug and roll perfectly with the Hydra Gauntlets. Not bad for a 10 man/woman unit. Even just putting in a plain old Succubus for almost 100pts less then Lilith adds another 6 Agonizer attacks which is still fantastic. You can take these squads from being irritating in combat to being deadly. If I wanted an elite Close Combat squad I would actually take this unit over Incubi every day of the week. Invulnerable saves, assault grenades, base initiative of 6 and being almost half the cost per model just push them over Incubi in my mind as their huge increase in close combat durability and grenades makes up for in their slight decrease in offensive power when compared to Incubi.

The Neutralizing Squad: This squad is made up of focusing on Shardnets/Impalers as your special weapon. While the Crowd Control Squad has a very specific purpose that it is designed for this squad a little bit more of a “Jack of all Trades” type squad. First off how I typically arm this squad (for Wyches specifically) is 10 Wyches, 2 Shardnets/Impalers, a Hekatrix with a Blast Pistol and Venom Blade all armed with Haywire Grenades. As you can see with these options you are quite a bit more versatile than their Hydra Gauntlet wielding cousins as you can literally affect every unit in the game. They are still great in regular close combat (maybe lacking a little bit of the “punch” from not having an Agonizer), but they can take on a much wider variety of targets.

The first main target I focus on with this squad would be Dreadnoughts which as I mentioned in the Warrior tactica is one of the biggest banes of this army now that Agonizers can no longer glance vehicles. With this squad you can now tie down virtually any Dreadnought and reduce its attacks to 1 which means you should only take 1 wound every 4 rounds of close combat (On average). You also have 10 attacks that hit on 6s but glance on a 2+ which means you can nickel and dime it down over a turn or two without much fear of taking any damage. They are also another great tool for anti armor, especially on pesky things like Monoliths since the most you will ever need to hit one is a 4+. Also, because of the Shardnets this squad is great at taking out Monstrous Creatures. With this lone squad I have taken out Trygons, Demon Princes, Warbosses, you name it, they have done it.

Like the Crowd Control Squad the effects ramp up as you turn them into Blood Brides. You can really turn them into great character assassins. One of the more interesting builds is having 3 Shardnets with Urien. You effectively have to have a minimum of 5 attacks base just to get ONE hit on Urien (-3 attacks for the Shardnets and Urien’s clone field negates D3 attacks which can reduce you to 0 attacks). Urien’s attacks also all cause instant death and always wound on a 3+ so it is just a matter of time before he does in whatever it is you want to kill especially since he regenerates a wound after every round.

Alternative Builds:

Blob Squad: Like the Warriors you can take Wyches in larger squads up to 15 strong which also allows you to take 3 special weapons. The great thing about this squad is it becomes a bit “hordey” and has the bodies, attacks and special weapons to actually do some serious damage to whatever they might charge. The only real issue is they are now too large to put in a transport and WAY too fragile to just walk across the board so you pretty much have to have them come out through a Web Way Portal which is actually a great unit for that purpose.

Venom Squad: If you are running a Wyche cult army one of the biggest issues you will run into is anti tank and ranged anti infantry. This squad is 5 Wyches armed with haywire grenades and they have a Hekatrix with a blast pistol and venom blade loaded up in a Venom with an extra Splinter Cannon. This squad comes in at 155pts and serves the same purpose as the Warrior Venom squad except it just goes about it in a slightly roundabout way as you really have to get into people’s faces (which is what Wyche cult armies are all about).

Succubus Hit Squad: This squad is made up of 4 Bloodbrides armed with a Hydra Gauntlet, a Hekatrix with an Agonizer and a Succubus with an Agonizer all in a Venom. It may look a bit wimpy at first until you realize how cheap this squad is (245pts total) and you get 11 Agonizer attacks minimum on the charge as well as at least 12 regular attacks (up to 21 attacks with the right drugs/hydra rolls). The vehicle has a small profile and the squad itself is very small so it’s very easy to hide until you can get it into position to snipe smaller squads like Long Fangs, BA assault squads, etc.

Bloodbrides and When to Use them:

A big question many people have is when to actually use Bloodbrides over standard Wyches. Unlike Trueborn which have vastly different weapon options available to them then Warriors, Bloodbrides are actually very similar in many ways to regular Wyches in how they are armed and the options available to them. Despite having more attacks and ability to get slightly more Wyche Weapons into a squad they do have 2 major draw backs over Wyches. First off they are more expensive then Wyches (obviously) without that much of a benefit. With the extra weapons and the fact that they are 3 points more per model you are paying 47points more for a 9 strong squad with a Hekatrix. The other issue which is way more important is the fact that Wyches are scoring and Bloodbrides are not. In the current climate of 40k you have to have lots of troops to win since 66% of the missions you play are based on capturing objectives which of course only troops can do. This fact alone makes me take Wyches most of the time over Bloodbrides.

The one area where Bloodbrides do shine though is filling the role of the Elite Close Combat unit in the army. The main reason for this is because you only need 9 Bloodbrides to max out your unit options which leaves that one space for your General so you can really maximize their efficiency. I also like the fact that they can act as a total throw away/distraction unit as they can’t score so in those missions it 100% doesn’t matter if they die. The last main place for this squad is if you are running a Wyche cult army and want to add some heavier hitting, offensively minded Wyche Squads.

Characters and Wyches:

Haemonculi: This is going to be the single most common character to throw in this squad as it helps negate their single largest weakness and that is their durability. The reason for this is the Haemonculi transfers his pain token to the squad so they now have Feel No Pain which is huge. He is also really cheap and you can get 3 of them per slot choice so it’s really easy to spread out the pain token love. As far as arming your Haemonculi I would suggest wasting as few points as possible since they are brutal in close combat. I typically just give him a Liquifer (which is worth its weight in gold) and maybe a Venom Blade and maybe the occasional shatter shard and call it a day. It does work really well so I would definitely try it out. One thing to also mention is that you will notice that the Haemonculi doesn't come with fleet of foot and will naturally slow the squad down. For me the best way to get around it (and the main reason why I normally only arm him with a Liquifier) is to just leave him in the transport and have your Wyches "steal" his pain token. That way you still gain his benefit while not slowing yourself down at all meanwhile the Haemonculi is free to zoom around the board liquifying things.

Archon: As long as you give your Archon combat drugs you are golden. As I mentioned before just due to their assault grenades and invuln saves in close combat Bloodbrides in particular can be much better suited for your Archon’s body guard then Incubi. They also save your Archon 25 points as he doesn’t have to purchase a Phantasm Grenade Launcher. In my mind the best load out for your Archon in this combo would be a Husk Blade, Soul Cube, Combat Drugs and a Shadow Field. Cheap, simple and deadly.

Succubus: Like the Haemonculi she really is a no brainer choice and one that I really LOVE using. In my style of list building I almost never spend points on HQ. No idea why, I just don’t. I like spending my points on more units instead which is one of the main reasons I love this HQ so much (kind of like a Prime for the Tyranids). She is only 85pts has 6 x WS8, Init 8 Agonizer attacks on the charge. If she dies it totally doesn’t matter as she cost virtually nothing and your game plan doesn’t even really factor her in to win.

Duke Slicus: Ah, the Duke. This guy is 100% MADE for a combat drug heavy army and in my mind is probably the most important character you can take to get the most out of your list. If you want to throw him in with your Wyches there is a catch though. In order to have him actually join a Wyche squad you can’t have ANY Warriors (Kabalite or Trueborn) in your army as he MUST join those squads first. The main reason why he is so great for this type of list is his ability to roll two dice for combat drugs and choose the one you want so the chances of getting Painbringer (best drug by far…re-roll wounds) or Splintermind (pain token) is that much greater.

Lilith: The strange thing about this character is that the Lord of the Wyches just isn’t very good (in my opinion of course because there are a lot of people out there who love her). The reason I say this is because she DOESN’T come with combat drugs. In my mind that is one of the biggest mistakes in this entire codex. The reason I say this is specifically from a game balance point of view since she is 175pts and is only str 3. Even with her 11 attacks on the charge she only (on average) kills 2 Space Marines. Combat Drugs would really help to make her worth her points and would allow her to actually keep up with her fellow Wyches when the roll the dreaded “1” on the combat drug table (roll 3d6 and pick the highest for fleet).

That is pretty much all I have for now. As with all my Tactica Articles this should just be used as a jumping off point as there are just so many ways to run these squads and no way is really “wrong” per say. Next up will be either be the Heavy Support Section, Fast Attack or I might just get into some themed armies J


keith said...

Thanks Ghoulio great article! When I was working out squads I found myself always leaning toward the shardnet/impaler squads and was looking for something with more hitting power, thanks for the ideas!

The very first time I read the codex and checked out Lilith (because everyone was raving about her) I noticed she was missing combat drugs!!! I still can't figure out why... she is the Lord of Wyches after all? SHE should have the dukes re-roll combat drugs ability.

From The Fang said...

Great aricle, plenty of food for thought as I start my DE army.

My only comment is that putting the haemonculus with the witches prevents them from using their Fleet special rule and therefore restricts their range.

Ghoulio said...

@FromTheFang: Yup, you are very correct and it can be a problem. This issue is probably the main reason why I only arm mine with a Liquifier.

If I ever come up on a situation where I know I am going to need to fleet I just leave the Haemonculus behind in the Raider so he can zoom around flaming people. Doing this allows you to steal his pain token while gaining the benefit of having him in the squad and you
aren't slowed down by him :)