11.08.2009

On Harlequins and Fritz's Army, Part Two

Jwolf said...
The best use for Harlequins in the current environment is as colorful objective markers.



It's hard to argue with that...  but I'm gonna!  You'll have to wait till the end to see if I make a cogent point though; read on, McDude, and let loose the clowns of war!

*oh, stomach ache*

JWolf's statement capped the comments from last post; frankly, I think most people agree with him.  If I may be so bold, for the reasons I outlined last post... Fire Dragons are too important a unit to do without.  Harlequins would see more use in the Fast Attack slot.

The Master Manipulator (every story needs one) and the Evil Homer both took stabs at creating a 1750 army using the restriction of 3 good-sized Harlequin squads and I think it's safe to say nobody is particularly pleased with the outcome.  I created one as well, but it wasn't significantly different from the approach they took so I didn't bother posting it, nor will I do so here.  There is a reason they all look alike.  They all must overcome the same weaknesses.

1)  Popping mech.
One of the choices every army needs to make is how it intends to deal with armor.  With so much of the army tied up in Clowns, much of the rest of the force needs to address this issue.  Fritz and the Master Manipulator (every store needs one) use Wraithlords in this role, while Evil Homer fits in two Fire Prisms.  As you can see, just these two decisions, focusing on Harlequins and how to combat mech, force the army list in a particular direction, given other choices are (arguably) substandard.

2)  Troops and the role they will play.
The other big choice an army must make is the investment in troops.  This is easier for some armies than others; ork boys, for example, are an inexpensive and useful addition to a list, so it doesn't hurt to have to find the points for them.  Given that many codexes are strongest in the Elites and Heavy Support slots - and the Eldar are no exception - sometimes its hard to want to spend any points beyond the minimum required on your troops choices.  Don't get me wrong, I like the options the Eldar have, but which unit fits best with the theme and expectations of the Harlequin list?  Fritz chose Pathfinders while Storm Guardians were used in the other lists.  As an aside, I used Jetbikes in the test list I did; 4 squads of 3 with no upgrades coming to 66 points each, there only role being to hold/contest objectives.  I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but obviously the choice dictates the play.  Fritz will use pinning as a tactic during the game, while Evil Homer mentioned screening the Harlequins to reduce casualties.  Regardless, this is a mandatory choice, and I believe an important distinction to make.

3)  Tanks a lot (another awful pun). 
Mech is obviously very important in 5th, being a combination of fast and resilient, but arguably the most important thing a tank can do is carry troops.  The issue I want to speak to today is how many is too many and how many is too few?  If you bring too much mech it can be difficult for an opponent to deal with, but chances are you don't have much in the way of soldiers on the field.  Meanwhile, taking only a few tanks means being particularly vulnerable to the wide array of tank-busting options littering the fields of battle these days.  These thoughts, while perhaps not codified in the way I've put it, had to play a hand in the decisions folks made when crafting their list.  Fritz and the Master Manipulator (every store needs one) chose not to include tanks - a choice I believe will be more popular over the next year - while Evil Homer went the other way and included 5.  There are a number of factors to consider here: a Rhino is much less expensive than a Devilfish, so the commitment isn't as great, just being one example.  Two tanks are vulnerable, while five are much less so... but I'll let it go with that for now.  Regardless, I believe these were the reasons you didn't see troop choices in transports in any of the lists.

To avoid the 'Wall of Text' as Mercer called it, I'm going to end this thread here, but I invite comments.  This thread is in no way meant to disparage Fritz's list; I enjoy it, and believe it is a very original contribution to the sometimes similar themes we're all seeing, but I did want to address his question in fullness and hopefully use it as an example we can all learn from.

Oh, yea - JWolf's comment.  I use exactly one unit of Harlequins in my Hybrid force because it fits a decision I was called to make.  I use two squads of 10 Fire Dragons plus numerous Bright Lances, so I didn't need that last Elite slot for more Fusion Guns, but I did need a fast response unit to support my Avatar and a unit of clowns met this description perfectly.  In that sense, I believe Harlequins fit the bill perfectly and I'll address this more in future posts on the subject of choices and decisions made during list creation.

That said, I don't miss the point he's making and I would invite him to comment further.

(Don't make me beg... that's a sad site...)

15 comments:

evil homer said...

I had 5 tanks in my list, 3 serpents bought with the guardian squads and 2 more prisms.

Brent said...

I'll change it.

Herr Fernseher said...

Is "sad site" another awful pun, or just an oversight? :D

I fight questions with questions:

Do you think a Harlequin themed army is the only competive foot-slogging army that the Eldar can muster?

Also, why do you think fewer/no tanks will become more popular within the next year?

Anyway, you are right about why dragons trumping Harlies in my lists. I just dropped out of Galaxy's build-up, so I am eager to turn my thoughts from SM back to Eldar. Maybe I'll finally get around to answering your question of "what do I like to play."

Brent said...

I'm sorry to hear you had to drop out, but I'm not surprised. It's hard to keep up with here, much less living out of town. And we've not started the games yet.

I don't think a Harlequin-themed army is the only competitive foot-slogging army the Eldar can produce; in fact, I don't think it's the best option available if that's the route.

I still maintain a mixed-arms approach to war is the best approach to Eldar... synergy is key.

I intend to touch on the many decisions involved in making an army list in the months to come, not too mention trying to get Shannon or some of the others to contribute.

Any ideas for what you'd like to see?

evil homer said...

foot slogging eldar, 4 options I think...

(1) DA backed by wraithlords
(2) Scorpions
(4) Storm Guardian horde
(5) My favorite....a true Iyanden list. I have one designed and sitting in my hip pocket for when I decide I want to buy a horde of $20 each models...

Herr Fernseher said...

I agree that Harlequins would be better in the fast category--except they're not anywhere near as fast as anything else in that category. To truly be fast, they'll also need something like the Dark Eldar's "Hidden Deployment" or a waygate or something (which would be in keeping with their fluff). Until then, I just haven't seen a Harlie list that I could play. Doesn't mean a better player couldn't do it, it just would be an uphill battle for me. That said, I like EH's DA/WL idea, and Harlies could probably have a limited support role in that line up...right? My one question for EH, though, is will his WG in the Iyanden list be in transports or on foot?

And as far as my big question about Eldar list building? Swooping Hawks. Is there really no way to fit them into a competitive list? Fragile, yes, but obviously very effective against heavy armor. And if the whole enemy line is mech, then they have to decide whether to concentrate fire on the first wave of Hawks or the second wave of Dragons. Oh, and is screening the Hawks with turbo-boosting jetbikes (with witchblade) too expensive a tactic? Ok, comment too long, ignorance showing...

Tyler said...

Herr Fernseher- Can you explain to me how they are very effective against heavy armour? Or how they are effective at really anything other than rubberbanding around, put down OH NOES! a large blast that really doesnt do anything anyway?

I really dont feel like they accomplish anything, and I'm not going to even get into how stupidly points-expensive they are. :[

Herr Fernseher said...

Tyler- Deep striking Hawks is suicide. They'll just sit there and get shot to death on their first turn (unless you can run for good cover). Now going out kamikaze-style, THAT's the way I think they should be played.

Haywire grenades glance on 2+ and pen on 6's. That's not that big a deal against lighter armor, which can be shot or assaulted by a lot of different things, but against AV 13+, which can absorb a lot of abuse and keep coming, the Hawks are a threat. High AV makes no difference to Haywire grenades. The problem is delivery.

Maybe that is what you are commenting on? I have a knack for stating the obvious. Anyway, this is what I'd like to see Brent & friends work out: Can Hawks connect with their priority target regularly, and if so, is it worth it? A squad of Hawks is cheaper than the LR they might take out, but if they can't get to the tank, then you're right about them being overpriced.

Brent? :D

Brent said...

I've tried Hawks once in 5th and it didn't work out too well. You're spot on that deepstriking isn't a great idea; it's too random and they can't assault the turn they come in.

Okay, the best case scenario is the Hawk's take out AV 14, be it a Monolith or Land Raider. That's the only reason to take them; there are better, more efficient ways to take out 13 or less. Yes, they can do it, but not reliably.

Not regularly. And it's a points sink. You need the Exarch to make it possible to hit skimmers and that's expensive. 143 points is the least you could expect to pay for something that's (possibly) effective, but if you were going to do it I'd have to advocate for the full squad at 227 points, simply so they survive to get there plus maximize the chance of a good result.

Even if the full squad assaults the transport half will miss and perhaps one grenade will penetrate. See what I mean? Even so, your opponent will almost have to decimate your squad just on the off chance you get luck, and it's easy enough to do.

I know it seems attractive on paper - hell, I tried it, 'cause I'm stubborn - but it doesn't pan out. Eldar need the points elsewhere.

Fire Dragons are still the most reliable option.

Master Manipulator said...

Hawks don't look that good on paper either. The eldar actually have better more reliable ways to kill AV 14.

A 10 man unit should hit with 5 (4+ to hit with Intercept), and then less than 16% chance to pen. That less than a 10% chance to pen (and lets be real here, glance tanks all day and they don't really care).

Then look at a wave serpent (available at fine eldar motor pools near you) with TL bright lances. They will hit 75% of the time (4+ twin linked equals 75%), from that you should pen 33% of the time. That means with a single serpent you have just under a 25% chance to pen a AV 14.

Those things are available up and down the force org chart. They are also expensive, but you get one for a little more than half what most AV 14 vehicles cost.

Heck take a BL in almost any other format and it is almost equal to your chances with a Hawk unit. Guardians with a platform hit 50%, pen 33% is just over 15% to pen with a single. I know you get additional glancing hits with the hawks, but you also require a more expensive unit as well as the opportunity to get them there.

I know not everyone looks at stats the same, but all things being equal they can give you a good idea how something should perform. The numbers for the hawks just don't measure up. Trust me, I wanted them to work in the current dex, and most times they just leave me with headaches.

One other thing, if you insist of them don't immediately discount deep striking. You don't have to use deep striking to get close to the enemy. You can also use it to buy time, ect. There is not a whole lot of difference between jumping up behind a piece of terrain and DSing behind a piece of terrain. It does allow you to wait to see where you opponent commits before you make a move.

Mercer said...

I've never rated harlequins personally. They have a 5+ invulnerable save, which isn't brilliant. They still need a transport, or one of them special characters to make all shots within a range not count etc. Once in range - bam! shoot dem clowns!

I'd rather go striking scorpions out the three c.c elite units.

Brent said...

I agree Mercer - if I was going to do three combat units in one army, I'd probably do Scorpions, too.

Fritz said...

I'm a little late to the party! Enjoyed reading the comments.

30X harlies- an interesting army to play, hardly competative. When I did the army the main theme was all clowns all the way- 30X maxed out with all the party favors. After that I needed to desperatly fill in troops and havy support with as much anti-tank as I could pack in. Fire prisms are probably better then the WL's but I also didn't want to have any grav-tanks in the list since I already have that with my Saim-Hann.

I've actually found the harlies get a 4+ cover save more then the 5+ invul since I can just sit in terrain and ignore it, etc. and for eldar a 4+ save is gold!

Brent said...

You're never late to the party, Fritz, you are the party... but where is Jawa? It makes it hard for me to net-stalk him when he's so busy with his commission work.

There's going to be a part 3 to this series today or tomorrow; if you're able, post a comment and let us know how your army is doing.

(I'm going to comment on your comment when I comment on the contents of... mmm, I lost track somewhere - check back!)

evil homer said...

Pricey choice but maybe vyper's wtih Bright Lances might fit the anti-tank bill if you are trying to stay away from tanks.

I've seen some decent harlie themed bikes and vypers before so I know with a little conversion work and some paint they can be made to 'fit' in a harlie themed list.

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