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Some of you may have already come across and read one or more of my breakdowns here on LO. This is actually the first time I am doing it for something outside of Codex: Space Marines.
A friend of mine who leads an army of the same xeno scum you all go to battle with has grown unsure of whether to use holo-fields on his skimmers or not. This issue has been discussed thoroughly on the forum and yet no final judgement has been consented to. Several different approaches to holo-fields are offered by different Eldar commanders and it is hard to decide which path to follow.
But never have I seen anyone dish out some numbers to enforce his statement and add some hard data to back up his point. This is what the Math Cavalry is there for, so here I am breaking down stuff I have no right whatsoever to get involved with: Eldar witchcraft (note that all technology we don't understand must be witchcraft, from a Mon-Keigh's point of view). Time to delight your pointy ears with some math-hammer...
Holo-Fields, the Eldar tank's personal lifeguard. Buy it and your skimmer will be indestructible. Is that so?
Holo-fields are very expensive and do not help you avoid damage, though the damage you will suffer will most probably be by far less serious. Many Eldar players have difficulties to decide whether these upgrades are worth their points cost or not.
For this reason I shall provide tables with numbers that show what exactly holo-fields accomplish for your tanks, give my recommendations, explain my reasoning and leave you to judge whether this makes any sense. Enjoy, all feedback and comments welcome!
First let me list the probabilities for different damage results for glancing and penetrating hits each with weapons of different AP values, namely weapons without an AP value, AP1 weapons, or weapons of AP2 through AP6. These probabilities are given for vehicles both with or without the holo-field upgrade. Note that weapons shot by a unit with the tank hunters special rule will advance one level, from AP- to AP2-6, from AP2-6 to AP1. Above AP1 just assume that the holo-field accomplishes even less - you will understand what this means soon enough.
This detailed view gives us too little information on a more global scale which is necessary to judge the upgrades effectiveness. I have thus combined the probabilities of the individual damage results to -hopefully- reasonable families: the inability to move (as expressed by crew stunned, vehicle immobilized, and of course vehicle destroyed or explodes), the inability to shoot (as expressed by crew shaken, crew stunned, weapon destroyed, or of course vehicle destroyed or explodes), and permanent damage (as expressed by weapon destroyed, vehicle immobilized, and of course vehicle destroyed or explodes). For each of these damage families I have assessed the adjustments to the probability of them happening with holo-fields compared to without.
[I am aware that spirit stones would reduce the inability to move by the crew stunned result. This will be dealt with later, but for the purposes of the following calculations the spirit stone upgrade has not been included. I am also aware that a weapon destroyed result does not keep the entire vehicle from firing, but it does eliminate the primary weapon, so for the purposes of these calculations, the weapon destroyed result has been interpreted as part of the inability to shoot damage family.]
When we try to ascertain what these numbers mean we have to keep in mind that not all of these situations occur equally. By the logic of the rules and my gaming experience, penetrating hits tend to happen a lot more often than glances against your Falcons and Fire-Prisms (unless you are versing Necrons), and most of these are AP2-6, the second most probably being AP1, and only few being AP-.
What we can see then is that holo-fields do not help at all help prevent the inability to shoot. All they do is ensure that the skimmers remain mobile and do not suffer permanent damage. This means that the benefit of holo-fields is that of being able to keep moving and surviving. Your unit will not be able to deal more damage, but it will be more likely to continue posing a target for your opponent to consider shooting at to disable it again every single turn. They will draw far more enemy firepower than units without holo-fields, but if the enemy has dedicated anti-tank units that couldn't accomplish much else anyways, this doesn't help at all.
Three units have the option of holo-fields.: Vypers, Fire Prisms, and Falcons.
The holo-field is almost as expensive as the base cost of the vyper. I need not say much more. The benefits are generally definitely not worth the trouble in this case.
The holo-fields increase the base cost of this unit by a good 30%. This is about equal to the benefits conveyed by the holo-fields. The question is whether this is worth the trouble, and this can be assessed most easily when considerung the fire prism's battlefield role.
The fire prism is supposed to deal a hard-hitting alpha-strike. Thereafter it is often more or less disposable. Its range gives it the ability to stay out of range of most return fire anyhow. And its primary purpose will always be shooting, which it will most likely be unable to do anyways, so why bother. If its prism cannon is destroyed, the skimmer is virtually useless (barring some dirty tricks, some of which are explained in my landspeeder tactica), and if the crew becomes shaken or stunned the Fire Prism can't even combine shots with another Fire Prism. So unless you run a mechanized army with lots of skimmers to shoot at, the Prisms' higher chance of survival won't benefit you much. If you do, they may draw fire away from the rest of your units longer and the holo-field may be worth considering.
Falcons are more a close-up type of tank, having lower-ranged guns than the Fire Prism, having more guns than the Fire Prism, and featuring transport capacity.
The Falcon thus actually benefits from still being able to move, it benefits more from remaining functional, and it isn't entirely robbed of its battlefield role when kept from firing, while also the weapon destroyed result will not make its entire shooting worthless.
For these reasons, holo-fields on Falcons make much more sense. Especially if they are used as transports and also outfitted with spirit stones that can further add to the ability to keep moving no matter the odds.
Sorry for being badly organized. I am very tired right now and shouldn't have begun writing this breakdown in the middle of the night. Nonetheless let me try to summarize what I think to be the essence of the truth about holo-fields...
Holo-fields convey very decent benefits, but these come at high cost.
They generally do not make sense on cheap vypers, because buying more vypers instead seems like a much more sensible option, increasing the chance of single vypers surviving while offering the enemy more targets and having more firepower to dish out.
Of the support skimmers, the holo-fields make the most sense on Falcons, especially if these are used to transport a hard-hitting unit to hotspots. In the latter case I recommend buying the holo-field, but generally I would suggest to invest the points elsewhere. The benefits are over-rated especially for fire support tanks, and unless you want to have your skimmers being harmless distractions for your enemy to disable anew every single turn but drawing fire away from the rest of your army, you will be much happier investing the points elsewhere. After all, vehicles -even with holo-fields- still are destroyed on a single lucky shot. The cheaper you keep them, the better for you. Redundancy is a better insurance than any upgrade can ever be...
Or for anyone interested in the opinion of someone who plays Eldar-
Way of Saim-Hann Blog - Article relating to vehicle upgrades.
This guy is really knowledgeable, and could probably be considered a bit of an expert.
Mathhammer is pretty worthless without an indepth understanding of the game/army/unit, and he generally provides a pretty balanced view in his Eldar analysis and tactics.
I don't read Fritz's blog, but I have seen a share of his videos. I know he is experienced and I value his opinion. But he is far from perfect. For example: he has always been against monolith and c'tan for Necron armies, only now has he suddenly realized that they can be very powerful units, as the Necron community on LO has known for ages, just to give one example. He relies on gut feeling, and his is pretty good too. But in this case his argument is wishful thinking.
As you may see, math-hammer is far from useless. It shows us that holo-fields do not prevent weapon destroyed results at all, as one might be inclined to think like Fritz does. It simply isn't true. And please do not belittle my own experience and expertise. I may not be Fritz and may not play Eldar myself. But I watch and analyze many, many battles very thoroughly, and for a fact my army is rather similar to an Eldar skimmer list, though I use Codex: Space Marines. I may not be an expert, but I'm not as detached from the issue as you seem to think.
And something I want to add: while Fritz's article suggests what to do, it does not really make you understand why. I do not tell you what to do despite giving recommendations myself. What's important is that I grant insight. If you read the article, you will be able to trace my reasoning and to see all the facts yourself. You can now make up your own mind, instead of blindly following someone else. I regard that as far more valuable.
I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you.
I agree that holo-field on Fire Prisms is not a worth while upgrade to cost. There's better things I can put the points towards. I think that too many players rely on Fire Prisms and so load them up with as much options as there are (not much really). I recently just got bakc into 40k after an 8year or so hiatis. So I last heavily played Eldar in 2nd Edition, before Fire Prisms. Perhaps this helps as I often don't field them (have 2 just in case I want to) and still do very well. I prefer D-Cannons (they also seem to frighten my opponents more than fire prisms and can't take out my whole battery in 1 shot).
Also, I agree that it's a waste to put on Vyper's.
I do use it on Falcon's to keep them mobile and flexible.
hmmm... very interesting i personally think holofeilds are good because of the fact that it ultamently keeps your vehicles alive and kicking and denying kill points that your opponent will have to try again next turn to destroy. as your math tells the chance of getting destroyed is severly reduced and also the chance of a stunned or shaken result is also increased ( the best result on the damadge chart for your vehicles espesially if you have spirit stones which every eldar player should put on his tanks). of course vipers should not have holofeilds because they are too easily destroyed for the holofeilds to be effective as you said. plus most of the time they are in a squadron so ignore shaken and stunned anyhow. while you do save points by not taking them the benifits of being able to move greatly increase and thats great for last turn obj. grabs, tank shocks ,ect. even with prisms. in all cases vehicle versatility late in the game is key to sucsess.
I too really enjoyed this. Thanks Red Archer, I appreciate the time and tenacity you took to crunch the numbers, and also the summaries and conclusions. I think your findings coincide very closely to the "general opinion" on holo-fields in most contexts. IE they aren't too popular on vypers or prisms but somewhat feasible on falcons.
The real issue is that falcons and vypers with their BS3 just aren't favored as much as the other two tanks =p. I've definitely seen lists with falcons and holo fields though, much more rare with them on other vehicles.
Thanks for the work. In the end it kind of backs up my personal choice of taking them off my prisms to save points on most of my lists.
If you are up to it any chance you could do a comparison between a waveserpent because of the energy field and a falcon using holofields? I would but interested to see which is more survivable to different guns. It would help me decide on which to use for a dragon wagon when I use them.
Thanks for your replies and comments! I appreciate the feedback.
Now that I have had some sleep and can actually keep my eyes from falling shut, let me reiterate my intentions. There are a lot of players out there -especially experienced ones- who have a more or less fixed opinion on holo-fields. Asked for advice, they sell you 'finished products'. "Use it there, don't use it here". Most fail to offer an explanation to their reasoning at all, others say things like "because it increases your chances of thisandthat".
It is easy to buy such a finished product and just hang on to the opinions of others. But you don't buy your models assembled and painted on ebay, do you? It is a little more work but all the more satisfying, to judge things for yourself. What I give you is not a ruling, but the data to found your own ruling on. An instrument, a tool to make your very own, individual 'finished product'. It's good to know that the chance of thisandthat improves, but is is important to know by how much.
Only when the benefits and drawbacks can actually be visualized can one effectively judge the usefulness of something. This is the purpose of my breakdowns: to give you the numbers. My conclusions and summaries are just my own thoughts that may or may not inspire you. The important thing is that you judge for yourself: "okay, if this is what holo-fields do, and that is what I intend my grav tanks to do, does this help me, is it worthwhile for me to take, does it suit my playing style?" This is worth a lot more than just being told "holo-fields are a must", or "holo-fields are a no-go".
Fire prisms seem to be the most discussed.
Of course holo-fields help prevent losing kill points in annihilation. It says that on my list of notes here, but it must have slipped my mind yesterday (or let's say last night) because I was really tired once I was done with the probability tables. The problem is that at the same time you lose the ability to score a kill point with the points you have invested in holo-fields. Eldar are hard-hitting but fragile, so striking hard (spending points on offensive potential) and thereby reducing the amount of return fire is at least as viable an approach as trying to absorb more return fire unharmed (spending points on defensive potential, like holo-fields).
And do not be mistaken: it is very hard to actually entirely destroy a grav tank with holo-fields, but if the enemy tries twice or thrice your skimmer will probably still die, especially the fire prism which only has two weapons (which are destroyed as easily with holo-fields as without) and one engine and thus in the end very likely to either be destroyed or at least kept from contesting all the same, but it will -very well- draw fire and spare the rest of your army a little trouble.
The point that I am trying to make is none of that, though. You will have to see for yourself whether keeping fire prisms alive but without its gun is worth it for you. The only point I am trying to make is: don't rely on its gun, even with holo-fields. They do nothing to prevent your tank from the inability to shoot, so your fire prisms usually won't get more shots off than without holo-fields. Don't rely on them dishing out any more damage, instead think of holo-fielded fire prisms as a distraction from the rest of your army and a means of objective contesting or other dirty tricks using skimmer movement (including tank shocks or the like) in case it really does survive. So it really depends on what you want your fire prism to accomplish, and whether you have enough other offensive power to take out the enemy...
very nice work Red, makes alot of sense and gives players who are not exactly super math-hammers but not newbie or retarded something to look at to improve their warhammer playing skills.
i have trouble finding a post of yours that i can't give rep for
Since the falcon and the wave serpent have the same base profile on the receiving end, the differences are based solely on the energy-field and holo-field. Since the holo-field is the more global of the two, always being in effect, you can compare the holo-field versus non-holo-field data given in the breakdown above.
The only exception are S9+ ranged weapons and/or ranged weapons that roll 2d6 for armor penetration that hit from the front or side, thus I will focus on these scenarios. But since the energy field interferes with the probabilities of scoring glancing and penetrating hits, these no longer are the same, and comparison can not be based merely on damage results (which would again result in comparison between holo-field versus non-holo-field as given above).
I will do the comparison for normal S9 hits, normal S10 hits, S8-10 ordnance hits (all assumed to have some AP value other than 1 or none), and S8 melta (AP1) hits. If you need any other scenario worked out, tell me.
S9 and S10 are standard AP2-6 hits, S8o through S10o are AP2-6 ordnance hits, S8m is a melta hit (from within effective melta range). Green is the falcon with holo-field, red is the wave serpent. The table shows the probabilities of suffering the respective damage result from a hit with the listed weapon (including both glancing and penetrating hits).
Note that, with the exception of explosions and in some cases destroyed or immobilized results, the energy field appears to be very awesome compared to holo-fields. Note, though, that hits from the listed weapons occur rarely as compared to hits that do not fall into these categories. Namely any attacks (included with the weapons listed) into rear armor, close combat attacks, or attacks with S6-8 weapons, etc...
On the other hand also note that the wave serpent is considerably cheaper!
As for me: I guess I would stick with the serpent because it is by far cheaper and one of the most awesome transports ever.