Friday, January 14, 2011

The Swiss Army Knife of the Dark Eldar, the Archon

Well we have covered pretty much the entire Dark Eldar codex. We now need someone to lead our forces.  I think I’ll hit the regular leaders before getting to the named and special leaders. The Acrhon and Succubus are where I’ll start.

I’ll get the easy stuff out of the way, they both thave Night Vision, Fleet and power Through Pain. Everyone and their sister know this and what they do. Heck even people that don’t play 40K have some idea that the Dark Eldar have these rules.
The Acrhon comes with a pretty nice set of stats: WS 7, BS 7, 3 strength, 3 toughness, 3 wounds, 4 attacks, initiative 7, leadership 10 and a 5+ save. He has a close combat weapon, splinter pistol and plasma grenades as well. All this will run you the cost of 4 chaos space marines. The WS and BS alone are great. Having a BS of 7 gives you the chance to re-roll if you miss. Sure you will need a 5 or 6 after the initial roll, but a re-roll on a miss shot is great. The WS also doubles up non marines and makes him tougher to hit in hand-to-hand for some armies. It also ensures he’ll be hitting on 3+ against most opponents. This along with his initiative 7 is just stellar. It is also really cheap.
He has many different weapons and gear options which can be used to make a shooter, a close combat monster, or cheap and reliable.
First he can swap his pistol and/ or close combat weapon for……a venom blade, power weapon, agonize, electrocorrosive whip, blast pistol or blaster. The first thing that him me was the blaster, not a pistol, but  a full on blaster. The other weapons are the typical flair. They run from the super cheap venom blade to the expensive and obscure electrocorrosive whip (the Electrocorrosive Whip is a power weapon, but strength 3. It does have the ability to ½ the targets' strength if it causes an unsaved wound. This is nice. However, it only lasts that round and is coming from a strength 3 attack). One can easily pick their poison with weapons, and we will later on.
Then we get the wargear. Here are the armor variants, weapons and misc stuff that can make the Archon whatever he is or wants to be.
Ghostplate armor, which gives you a 4+ and a 6++ invulnerable save. Cheap, but I would pass. A 6++? Really? 
The Clone Field seems handy. It generates holograms or  images that confuse the enemy. Roll a D3 each round. This number is the number of clones the Archon has that round. If the Archon is hit, but before to wound rolls are made, the Archon can designate a clone to nullify the hit. Well not bad. It can really throw a curve ball at your opponent.
“Ok I have 3 clones and you hit me with a power weapon and two power fists. I’ll burn my clones before you roll to wound with those.” The Archon lives! Sure weight of attacks will bring him down, but still the ability to outright nullify hits is great.
The Shadow Field is the next in the realm of saves/armor. It gives the Archon a 2++ invulnerable save. However, before everyone starts with the cheers of “HOORAY!!” If you ever fail, roll a 1 it is burned out and gone for the game. From personal experience, it will happen. I don’t care for the math/ statistics. I have never made it through a game with my Shadow Field intact. Sure this was last codex, but it was the exact same wargear. If you need a 2++ to shrug off a big hit or multiple small hits, you will fail and the Shadow Field and soon you Archon is gone. Now it won’t always happen, and it can be great to ignore hits on a 2++. Just know that when you fail, the Archon will fall. He is toughness 3 and has only a  5+ regular save.  
By the way, you may only have either the Shadow Field or Clon Field, not both. Choose wisely.
He may also purchase combat drugs like the Wyches and Bloodbrides have.
He can also grab a webway portal, but there are others who are better for carrying this item.
Haywire Grenades are an option and cheap. I don’t really want my HQ up against vehicles. Some might take these because they have a few extra points left over.
The Phantasm Launcher is also available. It gives the full squad the Archon is attached to offensive and defensive grenades. I think this is a real must, since so many Dark Eldar units have zero grenade options. Especially the dedicated assault units seem lacking in grenades.
The Djinn Blade is the first of the more arcane pieces of gear. It is a power weapon that grants +2 extra attacks a round. Now these attacks are rolled separately. If a double is ever rolled then the blade rebels, and the Archon is hit with these two extra attacks. Now if you roll double misses does the Archon still get hit? It appears so. It is also base strength, but it is two extra attacks. A piece of gear for the gambler.
The Huskblade is another power weapon. It will cause Instant Death, regardless of toughness, on any unsaved wound. Well, being strength 3 hinders his weapon a bit. If your opponent is toughness 6 or more, then you will not even be able to wound him, let alone Instant Death him. Unless you have already used…..
The Soul Trap is the last arcane piece of gear. It comes into play if your Archon kills an Independent Character or Monstrous Creature. This can be no easy task to start. If it happens and he has the Soul Trap, he can choose to take a leadership test. If it is passed, then he automatically gains 2x strength. Well, now the Huskblade really shines! A strength 6 modified force weapon seems pretty sweet. It will also ensure nobody with more than one wound gets near the wielder.
So the Archon has some stellar stats and is cheap. How can he best be used? I see three ways.
1.       The Combat Beast- Combat Drugs, Agonizer, Venom Blade, Phantasm Launcher and Clone Field (or Shadow Field pick your favorite both are good here). The drugs are there for the potential of getting extra cool stuff, +1 WS, +1 strength, +1 attack etc. The Agonizer is there to help with tougher targets. The Venom Blade is for soft targets. The amount of 2+ wounds is nice if they haven’t the armor to mitigate. The Phantasm Launcher helps the squad he is in with combat/ cover if needed. The Clone Field is for taking away a single if not more incoming hits to the Archon.

2.       The Shooter- Blaster and then whatever wargear you want. He is primarily a shooter first. A  shooter first! He then runs with a squad of Trueborn that are armed with 4 Blasters. They should be in a transport of some kind. This Archon and squad are the mobile fire base, vehicle wrecking crew, big gribbly control, etc. the idea is to keep them shooting and out of combat. The guns they have and mobility is there to help get vehicles open/ monsters wounded for easier assaults be the remaining forces.

3.       Beowulf/ Buffy- A Huskblade, Soul Trap, Drugs and Shadow Field. This our monster slayer. The drugs give some buff (hope for +1 strength or +1 attack). The Huskblade gets the kill and then the Archon gets the strength boost. The Shadow Field hopefully keeps him alive long enough to get the benefit of the Soul Trap. The problem will be to reliably get the Independent Character/ Monster kill. If you do…look out here comes some trouble!

4.       Cheap Skate-A Venom Blade and Clone Field. This guy is cheap and can even be effective. The always wounding on 2+ Venom Blade is nice and the Clones help mitigate incoming damage. He is also super cheap. Just don’t throw him into the wrong situation. He is frugal in points and those points can be used for more army stuff.

Here is the Archon. I know there is more he can do and there are several builds out there. These four are how I would use one if not two of them. The joy of a cheap HQ is being able to take two for the same or differing roles.
Now bring on the Succubus!

1 comment:

  1. Personally I plan on running with the Beowulf/Buffy build as I feel the Shadow Field is the toy to run with. Though I can imagine using a Clone Field with a gaggle of Blood Brides with 3 Shardnets being an awesome combo, though that build is harder to play with due to the model placement issue.