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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-09-14, 05:11 AM Thread Starter
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Default The Long War: Winning With Chaos Space Marines

Chaos is not the easiest army to play, I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also agree that having a thread for information on how to beat certain armies and strategies would be very nice to have! So let's get on with it, shall we?

I'll start with a hot one; Defeating Tau!

The challenge:

The Tau are our foil in the way they function and play. We want to get in close and smash face, they want to sit back and shoot. We have individually powerful units, they have very strong synergy. We can use Psykers, they have no psychic defense to speak of. So you'd assume that with all of this, it'd be a pretty close fight!

Well there's some struggles. First of all, Tau being good at shooting is a lot more powerful than out assaulting tendencies. Second, the synergy that the Tau have as an army outclasses anything we can bring against them individually. And third, they can deal with almost any threat anyone throws at them. Though they lack extremely powerful specialists like Eldar, they have extremely flexible options. No amount of cheesy spam you can think of will bother them; they will expect it and have a way to deal with it.

The Solutions:

Despite their strengths, Tau do actually possess some very exploitable weaknesses. The obvious one is that they have very, very fragile troops, GEQ. They rely on cover to stay safe from shooting and will crumble in Assault to our most basic melee units. Also, their highest Infantry toughness is 4, so any Anti-MEQ weapon will be enough to take out anything outside of tanks and a Riptide. The Tide, by the way, is absolute garbage in close combat, so if you can catch it with, say, a Daemon Prince, it's going to explode.

Perhaps the most important weakness to examine though is their reliance on synergy. Tau need eachother to be powerful, so eliminating supporting units is vital. This means that focusing the Riptide is actually not the best option most of the time. In fact, I'd say your true threat lies in Markerlights.

Markerlights are the keystone of Tau. Without them they have average accuracy and very few means to ignore cover. If you can take them out on Turn 1, that Riptide is going to be a lot less scary when you can get 4+ cover saves (or 2+ jinks on your Nurgle DPs!). My most dominating wins (as in tabling by turn 3) against Tau have come from Noise Marines Blastmastering all of the Pathfinders off the table on Turn 1. The results are really quite shocking.

And of course Tau aren't good against Psykers and lack any of their own, so if you want to, say, ally with Daemons and start summoning some hordes, you'll meet little resistance. Also Psychic Shrieking a Riptide for 7 wounds? Delicious. Taking a ML3 Psyker of any kind is worth considering.

Speaking of which, getting Ignores Cover on any Anti-GEQ or MEQ weapon will work wonders. Blastmasters get this standard, but giving Obliterators Ignores Cover from Perfect Timing (Divination from Balestar) and spamming Plasma Cannons will feed into the strategy. Any low AP flamer like the Burning Brand, Heavy Flamers, or Baleflamers are extremely useful for clearing out firebases, though these are harder to find in the book. Heldrakes are risky to take against Tau due to tons of Skyfire/Interceptor, but knocking out the units that can do it early enough will earn you a nice grilled fish dinner.

The Strategy:

Alright, so Tau like firelanes. They want you to be in he open facing as many guns as possible. Do not give them this, stay behind walls and deny LOS. Move forward and move fast, being sure to press their weakest side so you can start isolating their units.

As soon as possible take out their Markerlights. Dedicate any firepower you have to doing this while not putting key units at risk. Once they're gone, cover becomes useful for you again and you can approach more quickly and more safely.

Always be forcing them to dedicate fire to one side of their Gunline, and make sure the choice to do so is a difficult one. A good example is Nurgle Bikers with Burning Brand Nurgle Biker Lord and Obliterators on one side, Raptors and Daemon Prince on the other. If you can manage Deepstriking Termicide units behind their line, do so as well.

As these units get sent in, use some long-range support to open holes in the line. Treat your Blastmasters and other supporting fire like a scalpel, cutting out an important unit by severing its connections to the units around it.

Your Target Prioritization until Turn 3/4 should be as follows:
- Markerlights
- Missilepod Broadsides
- Crisis Suits and Riptides
- Fire Warriors

On Turn 3/4, depending on how the game has progressed; focus on the objectives and the objectives only. You should have softened them up enough at this point to switch tactics and hammer out points.

Key Units:

Yeah yeah, Chaos has bad internal balance, blah blah blah. I don't need to tell you we're not going to even consider half of the codex. But here are the ones to strongly consider:

-Noise Marines w/ Blastmaster(s): Kills anything hiding in cover with the Single Frequency. Even Broadsides will die to 1 failed save! Also Fearless and can get FNP for an extremely durable objective holder.

-Nurgle Biker Lord with Burning Brand and Fisticlaws: Expensive but very powerful unit for finishing out the game and clearing objectives. Also capable of catching and killing a Riptide.

-Be'lakor: Invisibility says hello! This will kill anything you throw him at. Literally nothing in the Tau army can match him in Assault, and Shriek can decimate entire units. Very expensive but always worth considering.

-Nurgle Daemon Prince, ML3, Armor, Wings: Be'lakor Junior, can take Black Mace or Burning Brand for different role coverage

-Obliterators, Mark of Nurgle, with Balestar ML3 Sorc: Fills the role of Noise Marines but more versatile and more aggressive, though more fragile.

-Cultists in Reserves: They'll get blown off the table if they're in, so keep them in Reserves and use them to hold objectives.

-Allied ML 3 TzHerald with 11 Horrors, ADL Quadgun: Once their Markerlights are gone this is a nigh invincible Daemon engine. Pump out more and more daemons for various roles, and god help them if you manage to be able to create a Lord of Change.

-Allied Soul Grinder, Nurgle, Phlegm: Combines with the above unit for Divination goodnees on the Phlegm. After Markerlights are gone, becomes absurdly hard to kill, and will at the very least draw fire. If you're pressuring them aggressively he'll remain untouched, or will allow one of your guys to hit home. Also can move forward and punk Riptides.

-Termicide: Instantly forces one unit to dedicate their shooting to deal with, and can be used as a lethal means of clearing a Broadside team. With Heavy Flamer can roast a whole squad of anything not in a suit.

-Slaaneshi with Icon or Nurgle Bikers, 2 Melta or 2 Flamer: Goes with some form of Biker lord for a durable pressure unit. Slaaneshi version can be taken in Raptor form for Deep Striking.

-Plague Marines: Survivable and will hold a more risky objective to force shooting to be drawn to them. Take with 2 Plasma for anti-Crisis.

And that about covers it. Please add your own thoughts or ideas below, share your secrets with your Chaos brothers!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-09-14, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
they have no psychic defense to speak of
(barring Farsight Enclaves)

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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
The obvious one is that they have very, very fragile troops, GEQ.
Yup! Unfortunately, I find the fact that (with an Ethereal) they'll have 3 shots apiece (in close range), S5, BS5 with good markerlights, probably ignoring cover... ow. Painful. I've had to remove a whole squad of 20 allied Daemonettes from one squad's shooting. If you're trying to close with a wholly melee army, after the markerlights are gone, I honestly might start hitting these guys with your Baleflamer or BBoS...

As I see it, the Tau are so crappy in close combat specifically as a defensive mechanism: if you get into combat with them, they want to lose the combat so terribly that they have no choice but to run away with their crappy Initiative, get swept, and leave your unit hanging there with its trousers down for the Tau player's next shooting phase.

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The Tide, by the way, is absolute garbage in close combat, so if you can catch it with, say, a Daemon Prince, it's going to explode.
Well, yeah, but most things you catch with a Daemon Prince are going to explode. A T6 2+ armor MC is going to make a mess of any standard infantry unit, though. Anything less than a Daemon Prince or Juggerlord or such, really. You can expect the Tide on the front line of any Tau gunline to receive your charges, probably with a 3++ invuln to boot. That's... tough, for anti-infantry units like Berzerkers. Obviously you want to get your Daemon Prince in there to wreck face, but that's still assuming you didn't lose your 2+ jink save to markerlights then get S10 railcannoned off the board by a Hammerhead (a painfully possible proposition, for all that yeah, the enemy Pathfinders are Target Priority #1).

I wouldn't discount the Tides as "garbage in close combat," really. In fact, I build my lists these days with 3 units in mind: Wraithknights, Imperial Knights, and "T6 2+ armor MC" (be that Riptide or Dreadknight)--how does my list deal with each of those?

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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
My most dominating wins (as in tabling by turn 3) against Tau have come from Noise Marines Blastmastering all of the Pathfinders off the table on Turn 1.
Brings a tear to my eye, that does. Of course, that's assuming they haven't brought any other sort of markerlights: markerlight drones, their bomber, or Forgeworld Tetras or Sensor Towers... but Forgeworld isn't allowed in a large amount of games and places out there, the others of those you'll see rarely to never. So... still valid, definitely.

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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
A good example is Nurgle Bikers with Burning Brand Nurgle Biker Lord and Obliterators on one side, Raptors and Daemon Prince on the other.
What's the Art of War say? "travel apart and strike simultaneously," or something? This strategy is all well and good, but do bear in mind if you can leave some enemy units out in the lurch, that's better than giving every enemy unit an ideal target to shoot at. I've found rolling up the flank a bit more useful more often than pincering, against a castled enemy gunline, in my experience.

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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
-Cultists in Reserves: They'll get blown off the table if they're in, so keep them in Reserves and use them to hold objectives.
Very true, but be forewarned, if they have Interceptor units around... that's another risk that they'll just show up to vanish. Watch your lanes of fire.

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Originally Posted by Code: Crimson View Post
-Allied Soul Grinder, Nurgle, Phlegm: Combines with the above unit for Divination goodnees on the Phlegm. After Markerlights are gone, becomes absurdly hard to kill, and will at the very least draw fire. If you're pressuring them aggressively he'll remain untouched, or will allow one of your guys to hit home. Also can move forward and punk Riptides.
This guy... is great. But you can also go for Baleful Torrent, for the AP4 torrent flamer you get to put right on top of a Pathfinder squad. Poof goes the squad! Also works against Astra Militarum Command Squads slinging Ignores Cover orders while hiding behind an ADL--if you don't get a cover save, good luck keeping your Ignores Cover buffing unit with a poor armor save. Might not want to go Nurgle then, since you can't run on T1 to get into position for a T2 Torrent--you might want that mobility, for all that a 2+ cover save on an AV 13 vehicle is awesome.

Vehicles have really benefited from the new edition, especially against Tau. Riptides can only Smash for 1 attack, now; just beware DSing Crisis squads with 2 fusion blasters each, or something, and you should be fine. Though they're not so good as the AV13 Soul Grinder, I might also consider Maulerfiends or Forgefiends. 8 S8 shots (especially if you have Tzeentchi Daemons allies for Prescience) from a HAC Fiend are stellar early shooting, for popping transports and the like, and there's nothing like 2 or 3 Maulerfiends pouring up the board for support to your Princes/Bikerlords melee units. Plus extra free magma cutter hits are great against Tides.

I cannot emphasize the value of Be'lakor enough. With native Shrouded, he always gets a 2+ cover save--once those Pathfinders are gone, he gets free reign. Add Shrouding so any unit that can jink within 6" gets 2+ cover too? Bikers, Princes, allied Screamers... and then there's Invisibility. Let us never forget Invisibility, the guarantee for which you take Be'lakor.



Great tactica; very much food for thought and discussion. Agreed that Tau are tough and painful to face, but fall apart once you take out their markerlights. My real issues come up with Eldar Wraithknight+Wave Serpent spam... and I've fought 1 Imperial Knight enough times I don't even want to think about facing a pure Knights list, ugh. I look forward to any future installments, against other opponents--competitive or not--even if I do enjoy quibbling perhaps a bit too much over minutae. +rep

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-09-14, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mossy Toes View Post
As I see it, the Tau are so crappy in close combat specifically as a defensive mechanism: if you get into combat with them, they want to lose the combat so terribly that they have no choice but to run away with their crappy Initiative, get swept, and leave your unit hanging there with its trousers down for the Tau player's next shooting phase.
Fantastic point! The fact that you really can't stick in combat until the end of their turn makes an Assault more risky than one would like. Granted, an Ethereal nearby will increase their chances of staying (sometimes), but if the Ethereal is nearby with Firewarriors, you're in deep doodoo.

We can supplement this though by taking very limited upgrades for close combat; we want a round 2 sweep, not a round 1 slaughter. As usual though the best solution is to be picky about Assaults!

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Obviously you want to get your Daemon Prince in there to wreck face, but that's still assuming you didn't lose your 2+ jink save to markerlights then get S10 railcannoned off the board by a Hammerhead (a painfully possible proposition, for all that yeah, the enemy Pathfinders are Target Priority #1).

I wouldn't discount the Tides as "garbage in close combat," really. In fact, I build my lists these days with 3 units in mind: Wraithknights, Imperial Knights, and "T6 2+ armor MC" (be that Riptide or Dreadknight)--how does my list deal with each of those?
Oh lord knights, any knight makes my head spin. But yeah, Riptide is still deadly even if it's weaker than the other MCs up close. At least a Tide can be handled somewhat easily when you get a Fisticlaws or Juggernaut Lord up in it though.

And yeah, Railcannons + Markerlights = Dead DP. Do you think the Skull is worth looking at, since we don't need stuff like The Black Mace against Tau?

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Great tactica; very much food for thought and discussion. Agreed that Tau are tough and painful to face, but fall apart once you take out their markerlights. My real issues come up with Eldar Wraithknight+Wave Serpent spam... and I've fought 1 Imperial Knight enough times I don't even want to think about facing a pure Knights list, ugh. I look forward to any future installments, against other opponents--competitive or not--even if I do enjoy quibbling perhaps a bit too much over minutae. +rep
Thanks, Mossy!

I do plan on covering some more bases very soon, but I have the most experience against Tau. I greatly encourage anyone reading to add their own tactics; even something outlandish can happen to be amazing in the right situation!

I have a funny story about an Imperial Knight though. A friend of mine had just bought the Knight when it came out and he was thrilled to get the chance to field it. The rest of my playgroup looked at the stats and saw the terror we were about to face, but all I wanted to do was have a Pacific Rim fight with it using a super-buffed Daemon Prince.

I gave it Tzeench, Armor, Wings, Black Mace, ML3, and a Spell Familiar, rolling on Biomancy. I got lucky and rolled Iron Arm, Warp Speed, and Endurance, and prepared for glory. Turn 2 I get the charge, activate all 3 powers rolling 3 on Warp Speed and 2 on Iron Arm. I luck out again and roll a 6 on my Mace for Daemon Weapon.

Combat begins and ends on the first round with me landing all 15 attacks as hits and scoring 5 pens, 4 glances. The Knight fails to save enough of them for it to survive, exploding in a blaze of glory. Since the explosion is Strength D though, my victorious Prince faces certain death.

Until he rolls a 1 to wound.

He ragequit that game, and hasn't fielded the Knight since.
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And yeah, Railcannons + Markerlights = Dead DP. Do you think the Skull is worth looking at, since we don't need stuff like The Black Mace against Tau?
Perhaps. It's just sooo expensiiive (especially when Adamantium Will will do bugger all against Tau).

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The Knight fails to save enough of them for it to survive, exploding in a blaze of glory.
Knights don't get their invuln in close combat, for what it's worth, so all should have gone through...

Still. Be'lakor or Skarbrand, with their S7 Armorbane (on the assault), have a good shot at stacking several pens on a Knight. Add Grimoire to Be'lakor for a 2+ invuln--unless the opponent rolls a 6 to wound or on their explosion, you have a good shot at escaping unscathed. Invisibility makes it even harder to get the hits with the CCW.

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t Tzeench, Armor, Wings, Black Mace, ML3, and a Spell Familiar, rolling on Biomancy. I got lucky and rolled Iron Arm, Warp Speed, and Endurance,
What a powers generation roll to dream of. Looks like Tzeentch was pulling the strings, there.

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Knights don't get their invuln in close combat, for what it's worth, so all should have gone through...
I have been deceived! HERESY!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-12-14, 02:52 AM Thread Starter
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Alrighty, so Tau has been covered, next I'm going to cover a rarer opponent; Dark Eldar!

The Challenge:

Dark Eldar may be behind with the times, but they still pose a very decent threat when piloted by an experienced general. You may not see them sweeping tournaments but they do have some very nasty tricks up their sleeves. For one, their army is a lot, and I mean a lot faster than ours. They can easily get to your board edge by turn 2, and as such will be deciding where and when key engagements will occur. Not only are they fast though, they can dump an incredible amount of poisoned shots on your infantry and drill your vehicles with tons of lances in a turn. Their close combat units certainly aren't bad either with most of them striking before ours and being able to take AP2 weapons that strike at initiative(!!!).

Not to mention that Reaver Jetbikes, especially with Cluster Caltrops, will come tearing across the entire board in some deployment types and tearing apart your backline from reserves. You will have no interaction to prevent their Bladevayne attacks from hitting their mark, no matter how much cover you have. You may have 3+ armor saves, but dumping enough wounds into that will make it seem piddly.

Basically, they're extremely fast, hit hard, and can snowball incredibly quickly off small advantages. They will not play fair and have a lot of tricky pieces of wargear and tactics that can make your head spin. They can be at any objective at any time, and thanks to Shadowfields your weapons will have to get that much closer to begin glancing them.

The Solutions:

And yet, they have so many weaknesses. Much like the Tau, Dark Eldar are physically inferior to nearly everything in your army, meaning that they will crumble like wet cardboard when shot at. This also includes their vehicles, which have universally low AV (the highest being 12).

Also, these guys are a Snowballing Army. This means that they need to gain early momentum in order to actually close a game out, as they rely on cornering you into bad positions. If you consistently fend off their advances, they will be forced to play a defensive game to survive, and a defensive Dark Eldar is a useless Dark Eldar. They need to get close, which isn't hard for them necessarily, but they may not be able to once they drop in numbers.

Once again, a few Flamers will help greatly here, especially now that their open topped vehicles will be losing precious passengers thanks to 7th Edition rules changes. Also thanks to the changes to Jink, they will be forced to snap-shot if they want any of their transports or lances to survive, which they really do not want to do as their vehicle weapons are the best shooting their army can field. Autocannons will tear them apart with ease; you'll be glancing on 3's more often than not. Oh, and they'll also ID anything T3 that they have. Nice.

Anything that Ignores Cover is going to be a sound choice as well. You like Noise Marines? Dark Eldar sure don't, because your Salvo 3 Cover Ignoring Sonic Blasters will put out enough shots to actually destroy their Venoms. Blastmasters of course are also the bane of their existence, and taking the Icon will make you far more survivable. Oh, and Doom Sirens? Yes please!

They also lack Psykers, and have very limited Psyker defense. Feel free to go hogwild with boons and debuffs. Anything that reduces LD will be a solid choice as Dark Eldar suffer from lower LD while still wanting to get in close range. This also means that winning combat against them will have a much higher chance of sending them running than your average Space Marine.

Finally, they don't have great answers to Flyers. Heldrakes will are a nightmare for them to face if their Jetfighter isn't on the table, and even with it in play you're not in too much danger since an ADL with Quadgun will rip it to shreds.

With all that in mind, you may be inclined to play a very defensive game against them, perhaps by constructing a solid firebase and gunning them down. Do not do this. If you hold your guys back, they will have free reign over the rest of the table, so you need to move forward. Keeping everyone together though is a sound strategy; a unit alone is easy prey. Make your advancing army extremely scary to approach, and if you have a backline unit like Havocs, put them in a strategically insignificant location, or attempt to bait them with an objective in a narrow passageway.

Daemon Princes are also not the safest option against them since they have tons and tons of poisoned weapons, and plenty of shots to get something through even if he's Invisible or Swooping. Fielding him intelligently though will decimate their ranks very quickly, and if you make him a Psyker you can get some very, very nasty options. Be'lakor, as always, will do a lot of work as well as he preys on low LD and can make your key backline units Invisible when the Jetbikers come in to say hi. Also, avoid taking the Mark of Nurgle; poison doesn't care about your Toughness, and neither do Lances. With the amount of shots these guys can put out, it won't last long enough to be worth it.

The Strategy

I've covered quite a bit above, but I'll list off the important stuff.

- They want to corner you and isolate your units, stay together.
- They may be fast, but they're extremely fragile. Take Autocannons, and lots of them!
- High toughness is meaningless, don't waste points. You need them more for more bodies.
- Quantity over quality. You want a lot of cheaper options to make your army more durable.
- Noise Marines, as usual, are awesome.
- Do not panic, they want you to make a bad choice. Make them play your game.
- Once you have the advantage, force them to take risks.
- Be very, very aware of all of the rules their models possess, they are all very tricky.
- Psykers will punish them. Be'lakor says hi!
- Heldrakes are amazing here for popping vehicles open and killing guys inside others.
- Their weapons are not versatile; poisonous weapons can't hurt vehicles and lances are bad at anti-infantry.
- Low LD = happy day for Crimson Slaughter and Be'lakor!

They are a very stressful army to face at first, but with a little practice you can really start wiping the floor with them. We have a lot of good options against them, just play smart and keep your cool.

Key Units:

- Havocs, 4 Autocannons, 2 Extra Bodies: Taking 3 of these squads and slapping them in cover or behind the ADL will make things very, very scary for them very, very quickly.
- Noise Marines, Rhino, Blastmaster(s), Sonic Blasters, Doom Siren, Icon: In lore and in game, their worst nightmare! Pop vehicles, then melt troops.
- Be'lakor: Yup, still amazing. Be smart with him though, he's going to be a big target.
- Nurgle Obliterators: Yes, I know I said quanitity over quality, but if you don't like Havocs, these are a very nice alternative. Heavy Flamers eat Dark Eldar alive, and can even hurt their vehicles! Plus Assault Cannons, Plasma, Melta...
- A fast unit with the Burning Brand: Biker Lord or Daemon Prince, this thing will do some work. A Slaanesh Biker Lord will also give you Noise Marines as troops!
- Bikers, Mark of Slaanesh, Icon, 2x Melta or Plasma or Flamer, Meltabombs: Really, these can fill any role you need. Flamers for troops (inside or outside of transports), Meltas for transports (glancing on 2's, even though you won't have the Melta rule thanks to Night Shields). Also assaulting a vehicle will typically blow it up through sheer volume of Krak grenades.
- Raptors, kitted out like the Bikers: In case it's your style, helpful for fielding more bodies.
- Heldrake, Baleflamer or HAC: Really both are fine here, though the Baleflamer is usually the better choice.
- ADL, Quadgun: MOAR Autocannons! Also kills their flyer and can intercept the Jetbikers.
- Soul Grinder, Phlegm or Flamer, Nurgle: Combine with TzHerald for Divination powers, blast away vehicle and infantry alike!
- Daemon Prince, Wings, Armor, Nurgle, Black Mace: You know what to do with this guy, just don't get too crazy.

And that's about all I got. These guys are getting an update soon, but if rumors are to be believed (with a grain of salt), most of this should still apply.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-28-14, 06:31 PM
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Regarding the Balestar Sorc + Obliterator combo, which is versatile, I suggest considering plopping him with a unit of havocs armed with 4 lascannons. If you're shooting at armor that lacks an invuln save, it's pretty much going to die.


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-29-14, 11:34 PM
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Alrighty, so Tau has been covered, next I'm going to cover a rarer opponent; Dark Eldar!
Huh, you might have been better off waiting for their new codex coming out very soon--you might have to rewrite chunks of this. But you'e aware of that, yeah, so...

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- ADL, Quadgun: MOAR Autocannons! Also kills their flyer and can intercept the Jetbikers.
Bear in mind that with the changes to Interceptor, a Quadgun can only snap fire at non-skimmer ground targets, like Jetbikes...

All in all, good general overview, though I would have liked a bit more dissection of special rules inherent to certain units, and the like--I've faced DE few enough times that they can still definitely pull some nasty tricks out of the bag on me...

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