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I've just recently started getting more Dire Avenger Squads, and I was wondering what you guys think are the best options to give to the Dire Avenger Exarch. I've got 3 squads now, one exarch's got the Dual Shuriken Catapults, another's got the Power Weapon/Shimmershield and I haven't given anything to the third yet. DA's are supposed to be the most versatile of Aspects, but all Eldar are quite fragile. Does this mean that the more shots from the Dual Catapults are more useful? The Shimmershield has saved me before when obnoxious power weapons get too close. The Diresword... well I kind of ignore that. The chances it'll do anything are kind of slim.
And what of Defend/Bladestorm? Bladestorm can be good in case of something getting too close and assaulting will happen. Is Defend any good though? Most models only have one attack as standard, but could be good for being assaulted.
I suppose that you could just ignore the Exarch completely. What do you guys think?
Truthfully I think Dire Avenger Exarches are over rated. Yes blade storm does kick ass but the fact that you can only use it on S4 AP5 weapons is such a downer. A lot of the time the extra 15 points for Blade storm is over kill more than it is essential. However in saying that if I am going to take an Exarch I do take Blade Storm so long as I have the points spare.
I have found the shimmer shield useful against MCs, shooting then assaulting an MC to try an slow them down to save a more valuable unit or to save one of my objectives getting contested has worked for me in the past and just getting a save against an MC is always a bonus and offers your squad that little bit more durability. Use ful against genestealers as well. (I play against a tryanid player...but I'm sure you've already guessed that. )
It really comes down to how you want to use them - as much as it is nice to take the 'just in case' options you have to think about the cost in points. In some situations bladestorming an elite CC unit and then chargin in with your shimmer shield and defend can be awesome - but how often is that you'r intended strategy? Bladestorm is only useful if you know that you will not need to shoot anything next turn, or you are in mortal danger from something moving towards you. On ther other hand you do get to roll loads of dice!! Bladstorm gets better the more guys you have in the squad (obviously) defend is good anyway.
in high points games I'll take both, in low points games I err towards defend or nothing. As with all things Eldar, it depends on what else is going on in your list.
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I prefer to go with the "kill the enemy in one round of shooting" strategy. Since my Avengers are inside serpents, if they get out, it's to make something go away.
I play a mech list and dires are my troop choices. Naked dires are what im currently preferring with support form a Doomseer. I sometimes opt for a dual cat exarch, but lately the bladestorm has really let me down.. I bladestorm, and then find that I really need them to fire again next turn and then I can't. I prefer not to get my dires in combat with this option.
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Some people might not agree but i found that 2-3 power weapon attacks that come with my shimmer shield REALLY helpful. It really does help to finish off that squad that is barely left alive after a turn of shooting.
The last time I played with e PW/Shield option, the exarch managed to kill a whole single Space Marine. He'd have done better if the squad was doomed, but my Farseer got punched in the face a lot and died.
I've only just started playing with the Eldar, but the few games I have played so far, I really enjoy the tactical ability of the Avengers to tie up my enemy's elite units. I run two Avenger squads with a pw/shield exarch with 'storm and defend. I've found that the ability to unload on a unit after they jump out of the serpent, then assault the unit (if they don't get assaulted in turn, which did happen once) because they don't get to fire that next turn, has really infuriated both my opponents. In both cases, the units they wrapped up in assault were effectively out of the game. By the time the end rolled around, in one, I had only my exarch left, but his space marines were down to three (from 7), and in the other, I had two plus the exarch, and his Nobs had only three left (from 6). Obviously, that won't happen every time, but I really liked the way you can use one squad of Avengers to claim an objective, and the other to tie up the elite unit he sent to contest, which both times threw a pretty good monkey wrench into their plans. Also, it should be noted, a doom-seer helped out in both cases.
That's just what I've seen so far. My opinion could obviously change if they got rolled over, or something. Clearly, since my opponents haven't been thrilled with the way the Avengers have performed so far, it must be somewhat effective.
I run one with BS/Defend + exarch with PW/SS and the other just exarch with dual cats. Any lone unit of infantry trying to get close usually gets fairly shredded from 50+ bolter shots and then locked in combat for the next couple of turns if not the rest of the game (the PW is just icing)
The other is just a doomed unit shredded by the standard dual cat DA's and then charged by some banshees. That wastes most infantry units, but its risky. Usually leaves my banshees in not so good a position
Never touched dire sword. I do not, in any circumstances, see it being useful in the manner in which i play my avengers, period