Friday, July 15, 2011

A Seventh Venom? Yes or No?

As Dad's indicated, for the next two weeks, the blog will be filled with fantastic insights and quality discussions of some of life's true problems. As a new Dark Eldar player, an issue dear to my heart is the eternal question regarding Venoms: "How many is too many?"

The Venom-Spam list has gained notoriety around the internet for the sheer number of poisoned shots it can put out, and how it tables opponents left, right and centre in a matter of turns. Perfect, I thought, that's exactly what I'm after. I do love clubbing those baby seals.

And in all seriousness, here's the real blog post, but for the record, clubbing baby seals can actually be quite fun :)

So, last weekend Charlie came over and we talked Dark Eldar, as Dad's already said. After a lot of discussion, we quickly came up with the following list to test in a game against Charlie's Wolves.

Baron "Why am I only be 105pts?" Sathonyx

3x3 Trueborn with Blasters in Venoms

3x5 Warriors with a Blaster in Venoms
15 Hellions with a Stunclaw

4 Beastmasters, 5 Razorwing Flocks, 4 Khimerae

2 Ravagers

There were a couple of key points I took from the game. First, the Hellions aren't as resilient as other death stars while they aren't fearless. I mistakenly let Charlie's Wolf Lord charge them first turn (I'm too used to premeasuring distances!), and he won combat by three, meaning I was testing on LD6. Luckily, I passed, but that's not the point. It showed me that I need to get the Hellions to 3 pain tokens as fast as possible, and/or make sure they have Grisly Trophies nearby to let them have a reroll and try to avoid combats where they will lose (duh!).

My beasts charged a unit of 6 Grey Hunters in cover and fluffed, losing 8 wounds and only killing one in return, hence getting landed with a -6 modifier and being run down. I could whine all day about the dice (I should kill 4 and the GH should do about the same), but again that's not what's important. I had the option of pulling the Baron away from the Hellions and joining him to the beasts to give them grenades for the charge. It was a big mistake not to do this as I would be almost guaranteed to win the combat easily, rather than a dicey one when I don't go first.

I was disappointed by the warriors. I'm not sure they're the best choice as scoring units. 5 of Charlie's Grey Hunters went through all the trueborn, a squad of warriors, and the Haemonculus after the beasts failed to kill them. I'm tempted to try 5 Wyches with Haywire Grenades instead, as they can potentially give a little more punch than the warriors for exactly the same cost. The haywires probably make up for losing the blaster, and are likely more useful against Carpark Guard, which is going to be one of, if not the hardest matchups. The other thing with the wyches is that they get the combat drugs, which makes them harder than they look on paper. It's also quite easy to team the units up to take out threats (in my head at least), where 5 wouldn't do much, 10 or 15 might. At the very least, it's something to try out for a couple of games.

In line with the point about the Hellions before needing to get them to fearless ASAP, for safety and also to make the most of hit and run, I'm tempted to put in a small unit of wracks. This would let me play with pain tokens and get 2 on the hellions in the first turn if the situation required it. The wracks are also a nice cheap unit to score.

Also since I played the game, I've read/listened to 2 more completely different takes on the Dark Eldar, which has got me interested in investigating more options. One was the list that won Wargames/BOLS con, whic can be found here. This looks similar to the 3rd/4th ed lists, with big wych squad in raiders along with incubi in a raider. The other was from Ep 10 of the 40kUK podcast (can't recommend these guys highly enough BTW). They interviewed Mike Marlow, who uses a list with 2x Incubi and 3x Wyches in Venoms, along with the Hellion-Star.

Anywho, plenty of things to try out in the next few games. I'd definitely be keen to hear anyone's thoughts on the list, or DE in general.

On the painting front, I've airbrushed a basecoat onto my vehicles and am currently painting the bone on them one by one. I should have the bone finished in the next few days, and from there it should be easy.


  1. As a newish DE play myself I Find that I all ways have units running off or getting pinned. It all ways seems to be the Incubi and Archon hes all ways running off the board more times than he's died :D lol wryth will tell ya that. TBH I think 5 wychs in a venom is a waste with only a six up save when It goes boom beacause it will :P all 5 will be dead. I run mine in groups of 10 and they still struggle to get the job done :(. Iv found the warrior blaster venoms great they are like mini ninjas :D pop goes the wave serpent or rhino and then redeploy for scoring. Lately Iv been Noll deploying and working to great effect. This is the list I will be taking to Lords Of Tera Next week So I hope it works :D I would love to put in a 3rd venom but sadly theres no points left. As for the Hellions I find them a hit and miss some games the lack of anti tank hurts them but I love the models :D heres a quicky of my list whats your take I find im lacking lances due to not taking trueborn spam but I dont want to be a sheep lol.

    Archon, agonizer. combat drugs, phantasm, and shadow field 145
    7 incubi,raider , ff
    9 Hellions and hellirch agonizer
    10 wychs, 1 hydra,1 razer Heatrix with agonizer in raider with flicker and sails X2
    warriors in a venom with a blaster second splinter canon X2
    ravager ,ff
    ravager, ff
    razerwing, ff , ns

  2. I find myself wondering if venoms are a saturation point type affair, where they breach a tipping point and come up trumps, but around 6 could potentially be getting you into trouble. That being said, im only basing my initial thoughts off two games against you, and I think they're being put at unnecessary danger, as they're not making the most out of their 36 inch range.

  3. Tbh I think many of the popular DE 'netlists' which are spamming Venoms are not particularly strong lists. Sure they mess up anything outside a transport, but this is still very much a mech edition. They tend to be seriously imbalanced with far more anti infantry shooting than you really need and are light on anti tank (particularly when they are relying on single shot Blasters from Warriors and Trueborn who tend to be suicide units). They are also on the far end of a survivability scale, DE are never going to be hard to kill but you can still make things a bit tougher.

    Your list isn't a pure Venom spam list, but you have plenty of anti infantry already with Hellions, Beasts and the Razorwing pie plates. The beauty of the Dark Eldar codex is that if you find you need more anti tank then you have heaps of options to swap stuff around to get it without much or any need to juggle points.

    It's way too much effort to get 3 Tokens on the Hellions to start with and 2 is not that much more helpful that 1 when you are looking at survivability. Mostly just sounded like a positioning error which you can usually eliminate just by playing with the unit more.

    I'm committed to trying to get a WWP based list to work and get it done in time for next years tournaments, so can't really give you much more than theoryhammer help. Not sure if I'm going to go Hellion Spam (+ Reavers and Talos) or Beast Spam (+ Talos and Wyches) atm.

    @ Coldbane. Hellions are actually not much worse than Wyches against most vehicles, they just can't hurt AV14. Both can only hurt things in combat and hit just as often, with a glance by far the most common result, except the Hellions get far more attacks. If they get +1S and/or Furious Charge they are far better than Wyches against normal vehicles, and hopefully you have enough Darklight weapons to kill anything heavier.

  4. The "netlists" that float about with 9 venoms typically bring 25ish darklight weapons as well, so while they do have a few major weaknesses, IG is the only mech list that gives them problems, and so far that math up tends to come down to whoever makes the first big mistake.

    They generally have enough AT to pop the vehicles, and enough anti infantry to finish the models off when it counts, but they trade this off for 0 combat punch what so ever. If for one reason or another you ever find yourself needing that punch, you can be in trouble. Bringing this punch in via the beast pack and Hellion bomb fixes this up, but the question becomes "at what cost?".
    This is where my saturation point idea comes in.

  5. @Charlie: I definitely should have played the venoms better, and kept them far enough from the rhinos (it sounds so obvious!). Also, on the first turn, I should have moved 3/4 on 12" with the other 2/3 boosting in front to give cover. Those behind could then have tried their luck rolling a 10 to see the LF's. Not much chance, but better than nothing.

    In regards to 9 venoms, I'm sure you're right. Even if you lose 2/3, you can still overwhelm the opponent. I don't think I could handle having no counter-punch though. Maybe the answer (apart from playing more games) is to max either the Hellions or beasts and drop the other?

    @Powerguy: With the Hellions it was definitely a positioning error, no doubt's about it. But what I was getting at was that if by chance they wind up losing combat by 1 or 2, having a re-roll is very nice, and fearless is fantastic. I wouldn't base my plan around getting them to 3 as fast as possible, but it is something I hadn't thought about before (I'd pretty much dismissed the 3rd token as largely unimportant). Like you say, the first is by far the most significant.

    @Coldbane: The combat units in raiders are something I want to try at some point. Do you find the raider dies too easily though? That's the major problem I see with them

    Thanks for the comments guys, it's nice to be able to discuss the army without having to filter out noise on a forum ;)