Welcome to Librarium Online!
I have always been intrigued with theme based armies and lists and though they are not the most competitive lists I think they still have a place in 5th edition. I will admit though that I still have not found Zen in using the Dark Eldar - the nuances of the game are still being realized and to find a list that can win and still be fun to play is the ultimate goal (emphasis on fun).
So this is the first time I have revisited the Coven theme in 5th edition. I think Coven type units in general have gotten a little better even though the main scoring unit (warriors) are really Kabal units. For those who do not know what a "Coven" list is it is fashioned in the same way as a Wych Cult but embraces the Haemonculi and their "creations" - meaning no lords, no wyches or wych type units. Since it is not legal to use Grotesques as "troop choices" I will still maintain at least one Grotesque squad as an elite choice and just continue using warriors and raider squads to not only be legal but still be competitive at the same time.
My starting line-up for this project is really an old 4th edition list with some slight modifications to fit into 5th a little better. Here it is:
Haemonculus (my leading Haemy), Destructor, scissorhand, shadowfield, combat drugs, trophy rack, haywire grenades, reaver jetbike.
Haemonculus, Destructor, scissorhand, combat drugs, trophy rack, haywire grenades, skyboard
3x Haemonculi, Destructor, scissorhand, & trophy racks (each one rides in a different raider squad)
Haemonculus, Destructor, scissorhand & trophy rack (leads grotesques)
7 Grotesques, Raider w/darklance & horrorfex
2x 14 warriors with 2 darklances and a sybarite with poison blades.
10 warriors, 2 blasters, 2 splinter cannons (super gunboat candidate/option)
3x Raider squads of 9 men, cannon, blaster, sybarite w/agoniser, pistol, plasma
Raider w/darklance and horrorfex.
Now I have been a big portal supporter in 4th and I have still been trying portals in 5th with decreasing results. With this list I would normally use as a portal list with the natural deploying system using the Haemys and grots but I wanted to try a “rush” style list and use normal reserves if the situation warrants it – general idea being to have more units on the table and present more targets for the enemy to shoot at rather than just having the enemy fire at the portal carriers. The extra 100 points from not using the portals went into wargear for the top 2 haemonculi’s “bling”.
Haemonculi are not your average CC monsters and you would think that since I gave 2 of them drugs that it was to create just that but the drugs serve more as a “defensive” measure in case they do get charged. My overall goal with all the Haemonculi is to keep them shooting at all times. I am not planning on rushing them in close combat unless the preceding shooting phase really “softened” them up and I believe I can confidently win combat resolution. My plan for the bike and skyboard haemy are to start on the board and simply support the starting units.
The plain 3 Haemonculi are strictly for supporting the troop choices and each will ride in a different raider squad – in hopes of giving the raider squad a huge shooting phase before the charge in. These 3 raider squads with Haemys are going to most likely start in reserve and will primarily be a “last turn grab” unit – shock any enemy units with shooting and assault and not give the enemy enough time to react. With just these guys being in reserves it should still allow me to put a decent force on the table and keep the enemy busy when these guys arrive.
The Haemy leading the 7 Grotesques on the raider has the option of starting the game on foot and perhaps give their raider to the 10 man “super gunboat” unit on the opening turn. My determining factor on creating a super gunboat will depend on the opponent and how well I think a Haemy with 7 grotesques will do in close combat on their own – typically, if they are facing a power armor army (with marines) their role becomes more diminished and strictly become a supportive “meatshield” unit rather than an offensive one. This unit will always try to start on the table and in Dawn of War setups they will arrive on the first turn and not be put into reserves.
I have always been a big supporter of the mandrake unit as once you know their limitations and what they can bring to the table strategy wise I can usually get a very productive output from them. Yes, they did get a lot weaker in 5th edition and the way I used them in 4th is going to change a little to the way I use them now. Simply, a support unit or sacrificial unit to help facilitate my overall plan. I do not consider them a stand alone unit in which they can go off and assault the enemy on their own but rather they will be a counter charging unit or a distraction unit for either contesting objectives or tying up infiltrating outflankers. I am going to give them a fair shot and see what they can do.
All foot squads will start on the table to start the game. The 2 large sniper squads with sybarites will take defensive positions to embrace the new TLOS rules with their lances. I normally do not like sniper squads (especially the 10 man ones) but with not having any ravagers in the list I needed some long distance dark matter shots in the list and early in the game. General setup plan is to put them into cover and have the Talos screen them to take fire off the troops and onto the Talos.
The 10 man “gunboat” squad is to find a safe spot to board the empty grotesque raider and be functional to fire by turn 2. Their primary goal is to respond to outflanking, deepstriking and infiltrating units but to stay on the raider as long as possible.
Raider squads are going to be my pivotal unit that will concentrate on shadowing objectives and punishing enemy units that have “over-extended” themselves. Their most important feature however will be to either stay on the raider to get to an objective or to disembark at one objective and turbo-boost the empty raider to contest another. I really do believe keeping these guys off the table in the opening turns to be a sound strategy and really promotes the “shock” value when they do arrive.
Their setup is going to be to pretty much start the game on the table and obscure the troops or raiders in the opening turns. Now I do like to putting them in the portal and I also prefer using ravagers but I really want to see what my opponent will do and if they will divert any fire off of my scoring units. They will initially be placed together and will work in tandem whenever its possible – they will be my primary close combat squad that I hope will be supported by the Haemys and grots. One thing I do want to explore is if they make a tougher kill point than a ravager – that alone carries a lot of value to me when playing for kill points (yuck).
If I win first move I will be looking to take it and advance everyone but the 2 warrior squads and look more towards playing for “wipe-out” rather than the objectives. The different deployment missions will dictate who goes into reserves as well as the opposing army's deployment.
If I lose first move I will be looking to play a more defensive setup with “last turn grab” as my primary goal. I will definitely put my raider squads into reserve and perhaps even more depending on the deployment mission, the terrain and the opposing army.
I have had a game already with this list so if you want to guess or make any comments about my strategy or the lists contents we can go over that now before I post the battle report.
"On a hunch, I melted them down and inhaled the fumes and read the dark eldar codex again, AND FOUND A BUNCH OF NEW RULES HIDDEN BEHIND THE OTHER WORDS..." [Gardeth on modelling & interpreting the DE Codex]
As always you present something new often and I look forward to your Battle Report highlighting all your tactics.
In particular how to keep those Haemies shooting as long as possible as I believe that this is the key to your list winning.
In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.