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Been happily playing with a reserve\deny list based on a list which Niraco helped me make (thanks man, the list rocks). Reserve deny plays with 2 autarchs which leaves no room for a seer - my previous stable in every list. The time spent away from my seer has really made me question her usefulness. This will come across as eldritch heresy for many who like me never left their home without a seer, but In light of my recent experiences I wanted to take a second look at the seer and ask….
Do farseers really have a place in competitive, all-comers mech lists (lets say at 1850 pts)?
Let me start by saying I love farseers and this thread is not meant to bash them. I love the concept, I love the lore, I love the model and I love how they play in friendly games. I also have a small fetish for rerolling dice which makes me love farseers even more. So don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly fun to play, I just don’t see their value in competitive play.
So I will try to narrow the scope of thread in order to try to keep the replies on topic.
What is this thread NOT about:
1. This thread is NOT about how you use farseers in non all-comers (tournament) lists.
What does this mean: an all-comers tournament list is a list that can play any mission, against any army. This rules out some of the more popular uses for a farseer. Doom on a unit being charged by banshees is awesome, but banshees do not belong in an all-comers list, they become much less useful when you are playing orcs, nids, guard or any other army which doesn’t care about power weapons. So while the banshee-doom combo is awesome when playing against specific opponents, it does not belong in this discussion.
2. This thread is NOT about how you use farseers in non mechanized lists.
What does this mean: strictly speaking, mech refers to armies which spam vehicles with armor values. The strategic value of a mech army is that you eliminate the usefulness of half of your opponents firepower, if his anti infantry guns have nothing to shoot at, he is only fighting with half his army. Spamming armor values also means that his heavy guns also don’t have the ability to deal with all your threats, they must forgo shooting at some of your vehicles. As soon as you start putting non-vehicle squads in a mech army, even just a few, you start dramatically damaging your strategy, you let your opponent focus all of his anti infantry guns on your infantry while focusing his heavy weapons on your tanks (which will be fewer because you spent more points on non-tank units). This definition of mech leaves no room for a seer council on bikes. A fortuned seer councils on bikes are awesome, love them love them love them, but they do not belong in a mech list and they do not belong in this discussion.
3. This thread is NOT about how you use farseers in anything less than highly competitive games.
What does this mean: by competitive game I mean that you play to win as much as possible. Most 40k players (99%) are not highly competitive, in fact most people look down on highly competitive players with accusations of “you are ruining the fun”. There are so many cool things you can do with farseers in non competitive games. Fortuned wraithguard with conceal will soak up more fire than terminators, but you will not find wraithguard in any competitive list and so they are out of the scope of this discussion.
So what is competitive? Well fortunately, highly competitive elder are pretty cookie cutter and almost all highly competitive elder mech lists will have the same units.
• DAs in a WS
• FDs in a WS
• Fire prisms
• Warwalkers (arguable)
• Tri-flame stormies in a WS (very arguable)
So, how do farseers contribute to these units? FDs, prisms and nightspinners almost never benefit from seers at all (yeah you can guide or fortune them but you are almost always better off using the powers elsewhere). The most typical uses of farseers in this context is to doom a target for the DAs\tri-flame stormies, or guide the warwalkers.
Dooming a squad for my avengers to shoot used to be the highlight of my battles. Once I passed that psychic test I knew that my opponent was up for a surprised. 2 squads with bladestorm and doom will statistically wipe out a full 10 man MEQ squad or a 5 man terminator squad. I remember the look on my opponents face when I wiped out 10 assault vets in 1 shooting phase with 2 squads of DAs and 1 farseer. I felt I was making the elder proud. Like many of you I have a soft spot for doom, it makes me happy . But when you step away from the thrill you get from re-rolling 30 dice and you do the mathhammer, you will find that doom is actually a horribly inefficient use of points.
A seer dooming a GEQ squad, fired at by 10 DAs will take 5 turns to make its points back!! That is to say, the extra damage caused by doom, does not equal the points of the seer+ doom until 4 turns of shooting and dooming have passed.
4 turns to get a return on investment is horrible. You will almost never get 4 turns of dooming and shooting, and you will almost never keep all your 10 DAs alive. You take even longer to make your points back with bladestorm, and longer again if you are shooting at MEQ. Most good units in 40k can make a return on investment in 3 turns; avengers on their own can do it in 4 turns against MEQ and in 2 turns against GEQ. If you took away the 80 points you spent on farseer + doom and just bought 7 more avengers you would get a much better return on investment and an additional scoring unit.
There are a couple of caveats to this argument. Doom makes better and better return on investment the more shots you pout into the doomed unit. For example a seer dooming a squad of GEQ with 20 avengers shooting at it will return its points in 2 turns, but most competitive mech armies don’t even have 20 avengers in their whole list [average is 15], and since most mech elder play with 5 DAs per serpent, I don’t even want to contemplate the logistical consequences of parking 4 wave serpents in a way that lets deploy 20 avengers within 18” of a target.
Do similar mathhammer for guiding a squad of war walkers and dooming a squad for tri-storm flamers and you will see that the farseer makes very very poor return on investment.
So there you have it, I want to put out there a challenge to how useful seers can be in highly competitive, all-comer, mech elder lists.
I would love to hear how you guys how you guys play highly competitive mech elder and if you have found other ways to get your seers to pull their weight.
Last edited by Mango Eldar; April 27th, 2011 at 07:24.
Well with all youve said in your post I would say a farseer is essential in order to deny your opponent the ability to freely use phychic powers. Tryanids, space wolves, space marines an other armies have a lot of spells that will severly hamper your progress and the point you save from the damage that could be caused from these spells I would say makes up for the points. Most armies now have some sort of Anti-phyker defence and since a farseer is our only Defence against other Phykers I would say even just a basic Farseer with 1 power and runes of warding is essential to an all-comers list.
I would say that as long as more than 30 shots are poured into doomed unit’s doomseers would always be a competitive possibility. However, if you are not often finding yourself in positions to do this, and have a good use for an autarch then certainly doomseers become less desirable.
Making a case for a guideseer, fortune seer or multipower seer is certainly a more difficult argument, and once you start giving multiple powers and expensive wargears (runes of warding and witnessing are necessary) the farseer option becomes less appealing when confronted with the option to use Eldrad.
I personally find myself including Eldrad more often than any other HQ, as his three powers a turn are very useful to me. The ability of guide, fortune and doom multiple units and his better save and power weapon attacks make him a far better choice to me.
In short, any competitive list needs to think carefully about its HQ, Eldrad is expensive and a doomseer is at best a 3 shot pony. If you have a better HQ for that mandatory slot and cannot see yourself often utilising the farseers powers to full affect than certainly a farseer is not a good choice in your build.
I love Pathfinders.
@ Farseer Macleod:
Fair enough, there is a good case to be made for psychic defence, I have never found that psychic powers have any significant affect on a fully mechanized eldar army but perhaps you have.
@ eldratch the fallen:
30 avenger shots (15 DAs) at a unit of
GEQ (T3, 5+ sv)
With no doom: 13.33 kills per turn. At an average point cost of 7 points per model you are taking out 93.33 points per turn.
With doom: 17.78 kills per turn, 124.44 points.
MEQ (T4, 3+ sv)
With no doom: 3.33 kills per turn. At an average point cost of 16 points per model you are taking out 53.28 points per turn.
With doom: 5 kills per turn, 80 points.
A seer with doom only will cost you 80pts, this means that:
After 3 turns of shooting GEQ you can get a return on investment [(31.11x3)>80].
After 3 turns of shooting MEQ you can get a return on investment [(26.72x4)>80].
Now think about what this means, you need 15 avengers, to shoot the SAME unit, for 3 turns, without any of the units loosing any of the avengers or getting assaulted, and if you can do that, you make a return on investment. Thats quite a hard gig to pull, most opponents just wont let you do that.
Now consider the alternative. Instead of getting your doomseer you get 7 additional avengers (14 additional shots per turn and an additional scoring unit):
GEQ (T3, 5+ sv)
15 avengers with doom: 17.78 kills per turn, 124.44 points.
22 avengers without doom: 19.56 kills per turn, 136.89 points
MEQ (T4, 3+ sv)
15 avengers with doom: 5 kills per turn, 80 points.
22 avengers without doom: 4.89 kills per turn, 78.22 points.
GEQ shooting favours no doom by a 12.45 point margin, MEQ shooting favours doom by a 1.78 point margin.
If you can get more than 15 avengers, all shooting the same doomed unit, multiple turns then doom becomes very marginally viable and only against MEQ. Bottom line is I cant see this situation coming up in competitive play. In all other cases, the points are better spent on more avengers or other units which return their points more efficiently or grant some sort of strategic advantage (like an autarch alphastrike... delicious!).
P.S: I cant see Eldrad ever making his points back which makes me sad because he is my favourite Eldar character of all time. The guy went hand to hand with Abaddon and not only survived but almost killed the freak, whoa! Eldrad makes us all proud
Last edited by Mango Eldar; April 27th, 2011 at 22:01. Reason: Maths
Lets compare a doomseer to an autarch.
This comparison happens to be exceptionally difficult to do, the main challenge comes in quantifying the value of master strategist.
Suppose the autarch is completely naked, and never shoots or assaults the whole game. Does master strategist make 70 points worth?
There are a couple of ways to try to quantify the value of master strategist but I have to say straight off the bat that none of these will be as mathematically significant as measuring the effectiveness of doom.
1. Quantifying the effects of the extra reserves: master strategist increases the chances of any unit coming in by 16.67%. This means that if you are reserving your whole army, you will on average get an additional 16.67% of your points on the first turn. In a 1850 point army this is means that for each autarch you field you will have an additional 1850*0.1667=308 points to play with as you come from reserve (this number increases with larger games).
2. Quantifying the effects of the alpha strike: when you reserve your whole list, you effectively always strike first. The typical mech reserve force will boost its dragons forward, and use the rest of its army to alpha strike. The typical strike force (that is left behind) at 1850 points will consists of 4 x 5 man DA serpents with TL scatter lasers and underslung shuricannons, and some combination of prism, nightspinners and (more rarely) warwalkers, for simplicities sake lets just say 3 prisms. How much damage can this do? Well suppose the serpents do not unload and just fire you will have 28 S6 shots, 18 hits (remember the lasers are linked but the cannons are not), 15 wounds, and 15 GEQ kills (105pts) or 5 MEQ kills (80pts). 3 prisms will take out an average 15 GEQ (105pts) kills with large blasts, or an average of 6 MEQ kills (96pts) with small blasts. So in total our alpha strike can do about 210 points of damage to GEQ and about 176 points of damage to MEQ. So this represents a conservative point damage you inflict with your alpha strike assuming all your units are on the table. Since reserves come in on a 4+ we have to divide these numbers by 2, so coming in from reserve you will do an average 105 points of damage to GEQ and 88 points of damage to MEQ (out of their 1850 point list). For every autarch you field, you can increase the damage done by your alpha strike by 16.67% of the damage that you could cause if all units were on the table. Mathematically, each autarch causes an additional 210*0.1667=35pts of damage against GEQ and 176*0.1667=29.34pts of damage against MEQ. So as you can see, of the 70 points you pay for an autarch, he makes roughly half of them back on the turn your army comes into play.
These point values are a very very conservative estimate and basically assumes that you are shooting the cheapest unit in your opponents army, if you can sink your teeth into terminators, battle suits, land speeders, attack bikes, vendettas or anything juicy and expensive your alpha strike will be a lot more devastating. Also keep in mind that serpents and prism are perfectly capable on taking on lighter vehicles. Crippling key transports, destroying your opponents mobility and forcing him to play out of his usual strategy. The most effective alpha strikes will specifically target the opponents anti tank weapons (insta killing IG heavy weapon teams with my S6 spam is a favourite) leaving you with many many more grav tanks than your opponent has the ability to handle. Finally, your autarch also enables an additional 16.67% of your non-shooting units to come into play (turbo boosting dragons in a serpent), which is hard to attach a value to but is worth noting.
3. Quantifying the effects of the turn deny: a typical mech reserve/deny army will typically reserve everything and elect to go second. This denies your opponent 2 turns of shooting while you only loose 1. A smart opponent will force you to go first half the time so we can say that on average, reserve tactics will spare you 1.5 turns of shooting. How much damage an opponent can dish out in 1.5 turns of shooting will vary hugely, but if we take our conservative alpha strike estimates which stipulates that we can do about 200 points of damage per turn, this means that by being off the table for 1.5 turns we are avoiding 200*1.5=300 points of damage by employing reserve tactics. From this we can see that while the Autarch might not directly kill his weight in points, he can easily save his weight in points. Again, this 300 is on the very conservative side, some competitive IG lists are able to destroy almost half your army on the first turn, if you lose the dice roll to start you pretty much lose the game. I include this 'damage prevented' as one of the benefits of the autarch because I dont consider reserve tactics to be viable without master strategist. If you reserve everything without master strategist you might prevent an equal amount of damage to a game where you fielded an autarch but you will feed your opponent your army in little pieces which will have an even more damaging effect than the damage which you prevent. I play with 2 autarchs and so I will statistically come in with 5/6ths of my army so this is not an issue.
Mathhammer aside, turn deny makes a lot of sense for Eldar on a more intuitive level. We hit hard, but we dont win battles of attrition. If we can reduce the number of turns we play we get around our fragility by simply not being there for the opponent to hit. In a battle of a few hits, we can usually hit harder and win more kill points.
4. Observing the strategic benefits of better positioning.
I haven’t found a way to properly put this into numbers so I will just do my best to explain this in words. People always talk about the force multiplier effect that a farseer brings (which in my opinion can be challenged with a critical look at the mathhammer), instead try to consider the force multiplier an autarch brings to a reserve\deny list. An autarch lets you observe your opponents layout before you decide where you deploy your army, think of Eldrads divination ability but for your whole army. Deploying in response to your opponents layout gives you many advantages.
- Target denial: you are a mech army, only his anti tank units scare you, position yourself where they cant see you or where they are out of range. Force him to move out of his nice little position if he wants to use his big guns, position yourself in a way that is as annoying as possible.
- Target acquisition: does he have cover on one side? Position yourself on the other side, don’t give him his cover. Did he block line of sight from a certain angle, position yourself on the angle where you do have line of sight. Nowhere is really safe from you.
- Wolfpacking: you have the mobility advantage, use it. Don’t ever fight on even terms. If his army is spread out (which it will have to be in objective games), use your whole army, to attack one little part of his army. Overwhelm him with superior numbers in places where the rest of his army is made useless. By doing this you can usually outnumber your opponent 3 to 1 in small pockets on the field with 2/3rds of his army unable to do anything but move. Don’t let him play to his strengths, attack him where he is weakest. Leave his strongest units perpetually chasing you around the board, never giving them a chance to join the action.
Again, all mech armies have the mobility to do these things, but an autarch lets you deploy in a way that you can start playing how you want to play on the first turn, greatly increasing your ability to play the tricks which mech lists do best. With autarchs, you always get to play your strategy (which I always think is cool because that’s what autarchs are supposed to be, superb military generals).
5. How it all works together.
- You are spamming armour and making half your opponents army (the half that cant shoot down tanks) redundant - this approach does not benefit from autarchs, all mech lists aim to do this.
- In an ideal situation you elect to go second, your opponent loses 2 turns of shooting while you only lose 1. Given that the game can end after the 5th turn you can potentially reduce your opponent down to 3 turns of shooting - benefits from autarchs.
- You reserve everything, carefully responding with your deployment to your opponents firing lanes, keeping as many of your vehicles as possible hidden from your opponents heavy weapons - more effective with autarchs.
- You alpha strike, specifically targeting your opponents anti tank weapons that do have line of sight to you further hampering his ability to shoot down tanks - more effective with autarchs.
- This gives your opponents 3-4 turns, to try to shoot down large amounts of armour 12 values (with energy fields and turbo boost cover saves), with limited anti tank power (due to your alpha strike), and limited line of sight (due to your reserve deployment).
So to answer our original question, does a naked, 70 point autarch which never disembarks make his points back. My opinion is yes, though not directly. Some people say the same is true for farseers, but I think the mathhammer shows that farseers rarely make their points back, even indirectly .
You can also kit out an autarch to be more than just a pretty face.
An autarch with a fusion gun and power weapon is a spanner in your enemies plans. He works particularly well against armies that try to chase your serpents with fast but fragile transports (BAs, Orcs, DE), drop him off (alone) at the beginning of your movement phase, and continue moving the serpent away from the perusing assault. You now have 3 chances at stopping your enemies from perusing you, first by using the serpent to pop the transport, secondly by the using the autarchs fusion gun (which will get an additional +d6 for AV penetration if the vehicle is in close persuit), and thirdly by assault on the vehicle from the autarch with his haywire grenades. If either the serpent or the autarch break the transport in the shooting phase, the autarch can charge in for 5 WS6, I6 PW attacks. Autarchs do surprisingly pathetically in close combat, even with a power weapon, but here you are not trying to win combat, you are trying to slow down your opponent, leave them stranded, while your wave serpent gets away safely, anything the autarch takes down in combat is a bonus. Obviously never do this in annihilation games as you are just handing your opponent free killpoints.
In conclusion, autarchs rule.
Last edited by Mango Eldar; April 27th, 2011 at 22:10. Reason: Maths
The sort of list you're talking about would probably constitute a good list for a local small rogue trader tourney.
However when you start talking about the sort of tournaments where the winners are posted on the GW webpage, then, for the lists I've been able to chase down, there seem to be large deviations. Notably even otherwise mech lists seem big on wraithguard units. Those wraithguard just keep popping up.
Some lists with a Jetseer council are radically different.
I question if the reserves denial strategy is even benificial at all if you have the first turn. Even with dual autarchs, you're leaving an average of a sixth of your force out of your initial moves/attacks, you hve to come on from the board edge instead of forward positions, and you give your opponent a free turn of moving.
You do get to come on where you want on your board edge, and that is certainly an advantage, but I think on the balance you're only hurting yourself. Still, I don't play the style, feel free to discuss.
When I do field an autarch I will either take one on a jetbike with a laser lance and Mandiblasters mean on the charge he gets 6 WS6, S6, I6 power weapon attacks which isfearsome! OR I take yriel with 4 basic attacks on his profile WS7, I7 and 2+ to wound regardlessof toughness and no armour saves or S9 against armour values he is pretty kickass and if he finds himself surrounded that eye of wrath is certainly not to be underestimated even if it is a one shot. (19 kills in one go with the eye of wrath is currently my record.)
I agree that if you can get first turn you should not always reserve. Assuming you are right, and that your opponents agree with you that going first is better, in 50% of games, your opponent will chose to go first, you will not have first turn and your opponent gets the potential to lay a big alpha on you, so straight away having the reserve option is a very good idea. Of the 50% of games where you have the option of going first, here are the factors you should consider.
If you deploy on the board, you go first, but over the course of the game you take an additional 2 turns of shooting.
If you elect to go second, you still shoot first (with 1/6th less of your army), but your opponent loses two turns of shooting.
So think about it this way, who suffers more when you reserve everything? Do you suffer more for having 1\6th of your army stay off the board (and in all likelihood still come in on 3rd turn), or does your opponent suffer more for losing 2 turns of shooting? In almost all cases, your opponent draws the short straw when you reserve.
Now if suppose your opponent agrees with me that going second is the better option, in 50% of the games you will get your way, go second and he will lose 2 turns of shooting. In the other 50% of games your opponent will make you go first. In this situation, you are weighing up whether losing 1\6th of your army is worth being shot at for one less turn. Against most armies, and in most scenarios, I would still argue that this is a worthwhile trade-off. Why? Because in 2\3rds of games you win by capturing objectives, and eldar specifically wins by claiming one objective while contesting all others. In 2\3rds of missions it is more important to keep your scoring units alive than it is to kill your opponents forces, for this reason I say go ahead and reserve, we are fast enough to shoot an opponent off one objective and claim all others in 4 turns, our opponents usually cant do this. Once your serpents go down, your whole strategy begins to fold, by keeping them on the board for the minimum amount of time possible we keep our chances of winning high.
The same is true in kill point missions, we have small squads of dire avengers in transports, once they are out of the transport they can be dropped in 1 turn of shooting. We want to really minimize the number of kill points we hand our opponent by not giving them the chance to shoot at us for long. We can usually win a short fire-fight, but not a long one.
There are some situations when reserve is not the better options. I think it is better not to reserve if you are playing against a low fire power, fast moving, assault based army like blood angels, once their firepower goes down, we can always out-manoeuvres them, we want to move and shoot, they want to move and assault, and since we are equally fast (or arguably faster because we skim) we can play their game better than they can. Any army with very limited shooting based AT is also a candidate for a first turn deployment, if you can alphastrike their AT hard enough, you can win the game. But given the huge focus on AT in 5th this is a very small minority of games.
I would say reserve is viable in 80% of cases, and as mentioned before, reserving without at least one autarch is a bad idea. And in many games you can pretty much lose on the first turn for not reserving.
Now, if you don't have anything in reserve, I think the farseers win over autarchs hands down. And I didn't notice anything in your list of "good" units that has deep strike, and you don't seem a fan of walkers, so you aren't outflanking anything either.
So really, your title about farseers is equivalent to:
"Does not playing reserves denial really have a place in competitive, all-comers mech lists?
Do you agree with that assessment?