Paradigm, Tactica, and a Goatboy

Theoryhammer and his idiot-savant little brother Mathhammer go out the window when the dice start rolling.

You know you've done it: fallen in love with a unit, struck by an epiphany as you flipped through your codex for the God-only-knows-how-many time. We all of us spend more time thinking about gaming than actually doing so, and this leads to some interesting speculative diversions as we come up with all these scenarios that will bear out whatever story we're currently, lovingly crafting in our heads about just how well said unit is going to perform.

So it goes without saying it's often a surprise when the gaming table doesn't reciprocate the love and whatever uber-unit you're invested in goes tumbling off the pedestal to lay among the other hopes and dreams you've all but given up on ever achieving and... WHY GOD WHY?!

Case in point, Herr Fernseher and his sterling defense of Swooping Hawks.

I feel funny defending the Hawks so much, because I can’t make them work either. I just wish someone would, because I think IF they can connect to their target, then they are competitive with other options in the Eldar army list.

And here is the crux of it: our good man Mr. Television can't make the unit work but is convinced someone should be able to! Paradigms are a trap: you must shake off your illusions and mistakes and move on.

Don't worry, I'm not picking on Herr Fernseher. I know him personally and he's got a first-class mind - more importantly maybe, he's not afraid to be criticized. On the contrary, I love his passionate defense - there's a lesson in there to. The conversations were good and certainly worth working through if you're someone who wants to understand more about Eldar. There are available in the comments sections of recent articles, specifically HERE.

To close this off though, I'm going to answer the question for him in a way I believe he'll appreciate. Here's the short answer, cutting to the heart of the problem. It's twofold.

1) Army creation is problem-solving; when adding anti-mech in a list, it is important to plan for destroying a tank, not shaking it. Hawks can reliably stop a tank from shooting, but that's beside the point. Solve the equation.
2) The Eldar cannot afford to throw units away. If you get lucky and penetrate then destroy a tank, there's a good chance Hawks will die from the explosion. There is a better chance the occupants of said tank will climb out of the rubble and kick the crap out of you.

Close combat is the second best way to destroy a tank. These points, while Swooping Hawk specific, apply to any army. If you have a problem in your list somewhere, simplify then solve it.

All this said... all these words spoken, Herr Fernseher, and I'll let you in on a secret. The Master Manipulator (every store needs one) and I both, on more than one occasion over the years, have tried and failed to make Swooping Hawks work. That's not a bad reason to leave them at home, is it?

A sighting of the infamous Goatboy... his eyes really are red...

Strictly Average is turning its digital face in the direction of tactics and strategy.  Evil Homer is currently posting on objective denial and this is my first real attempt at writing a tactical article.  If you've a mind, please offer feedback so we can improve our focus.


Herr Fernseher said...

Thanks for the tough love, Brent. Years ago I was in a student film called The Pebble Proposition. I played a doctor who became obsessed with penguin sexually. His obsession ended up driving him well into the grey area between sane and insane, through years of depression, and finally to the censure of his university. I think I might have been typecast...

Brent said...

But was it pertinent? :)

I was serious - I loved reading your comments, and it would seriously bum me out if you quit. People have to work this stuff out on their own, to some degree; so keep it coming.

At some point you'll hit on something others have missed - it happens, usually when the meta has changed everything.

What was your thoughts on what I wrote? Make sense or no?


Herr Fernseher said...

Definitely pertinent, and I'm glad you enjoy my recent bout of loggorrhea. I was worried I might be scaring away readers. And the truest thing you said was that I welcome criticism. Anyway, you succeeded in making me rethink a few things in a succinct post.

1) Why not destroy the tank if you can? Good point. (Of course, this prompted a quick calculation of the Hawk's chances of stopping a tank's shooting or moving permanently, which were still surprisingly good).
2) Don't throw away units. Another good point. Strangely, I used to think Skyleap was a waste of points, but like you said, people who get out of the tank you just killed are usually pissed. Skyleap lets me leave the table at the end of my turn.
3) Close combat is the second best way to destroy a tank? What was the first?

I'm still not totally convinced to box up the Hawks, BUT I am convinced they can't be a primary anti-tank answer. More a way to diversify your tank threat ability. Ok, the coffeeshop is kicking me out...

Herr Fernseher said...

BTW, make that "penguin sexuality."

Jwolf said...

I haven't found a solution that makes Swooping Hawks work for me, either. They had some hope in 4e, where a forest hid them and they could take objectives. In 5e, they're awfully expensive in a Codex struggling for enough points to begin with.
That said, if you love the unit (or model), there is nothing wrong with trying to make it work. I have to say that, because I keep trying to do something useful with Al'Rahem...
And back to your 2 points -
Creating an Eldar army and getting tank defense, anyone who is looking in the Fast Attack section is in the wrong place. Of course, since I've been goofing around with Necrons for a bit, I have to point out that Haywire Grenades are one of the effective ways to do anything at all to a Monolith in the Eldar army. Wraithlords, Wraithcannons, and triple Prisms being okay as well. Sure, you could try to kill it with your council, but it's not worth using a unit that can reliably beat up a unit of robots a turn to maybe kill a monolith (in my opinion).
That said, I disagree with the Eldar not being able to throw units away, and I think that betrays a weakness tactically. I think you have to play every unit as being worth throwing away for the right price. Seer Councils are an ideal example - feeding one to the Deceiver seems insane, but if you can effectively take him out of the game at the cost of your Seer Council, you're generally making a good trade in a Capture and Control mission, and probably in Seize Ground as well. Same goes with using a unit of Fire Dragons to explode Abbadon's Land Raider. If you really meant throw away for no tactical or material gain, no army can really do that, and only dying to assaults that couldn't be directed elsewhere really qualifies anyway.

Brent said...

Herr Fernseher:

Shooting is the best way to destroy a tank, always and forever. It allows you to assault the unit that comes tumbling out. Close combat is sometimes the only option, but I tell you three times there have been games I've lost more Eldar to exploding tanks than I have to enemy fire!


Well said, and of course I agree. By throwing units away I meant losing them for no purpose; sacrifice and bait are always-useful options.

Speaking of the Council, I've become disillusioned with them of late, more I suspect because I can't find a place in my list for them than any other reason, but here's my thinking... I fill my army with units that offer my opponent no other option than dying, such as power weapons and AP2. The Council can torrent wounds, but they're savable. That's become a problem for me.

Not that I don't get why people use them, they're probably the best tarpit in the game, with the possible exception of TH/SS Termies... cancel that.... the Terminators have Thunderhammers...

(Brent, stop talking. Okay.)

Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said...

Skyleap does not help you until your next turn. It allows you to leave the table during your movement phase.

So, those angry gremlins clawing their way out of the wreck you left....will probably come up to you and punch you in the face.

Herr Fernseher said...

Balls! I had it in my head that Skyleap was like Hit and Run. Looks like Skyleap is probably a waste of points after all.

Damn you, Swooping Hawks, I tried to love you!

Gauthic said...

Spideys shooting rear armor, ftw!!!

Herr Fernseher said...

You like to deep strike the Warp Spiders, Gauthic? Do you bother with the Withdraw exarch power?

evil homer said...

oh no, not again...

Brent said...

Lovely! Got there Matt!

Gauthic said...

I haven't played my Eldar since mid 5th edition... don't listen to my rants ;)

I normally don't deal with Withdraw--too expensive and things that will kill spideys will kill them to the point it's no longer worth withdrawing. That might change this edition and whatever targets I choose.

I did deep strike quite often to attack devastator squads (16 BS4 shots wounding on a 1 is niiiice!) or killing rhino chassis pillboxes. I almost always run with 6+exarch with powerblades (just in case I've gotta get scrappy).

But, however, I've always been a fan of Warp Spiders since second edition. The few times I've tried Hawks they've been cursed even coming on the board on top of my own models--or even the only enemy model on that half of the board (and subsequently being destroyed during the Deep Strike).

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