Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Avatars in Hybrid lists?

What is this madness??

Madness? No. This is Eldar!
So I've returned after my long holiday break to bring you a controversial (potentially) look at one of the funkiest HQ choices available to an Eldar player. The Avatar of Khaine.

Expect many pictures to follow.

I warned you
So what are we looking at with the Avatar for starters?

Well, along with the standard Eldar Battle Focus and Ancient Doom (which only gives the Avatar Hatred of Slaanesh because being fearless he will never take the fear test that it also affects) it has an amazingly beefy stat line (WS/BS 10,   S/T 6,   A/W 5,  I10!)  along with it's own melta gun in the form of the Wailing Doom (its sword which also grants it AP1 combat attacks, useful for chewing on tanks). Oh, and it completely ignores Pyromancy powers (not that I've ever seen any used), all flamer weapons and all attacks with Melta or Soulblaze. This is all for 195pts. A fairly solid HQ choice really, however it will become something of a bullet magnet (as MC's generally do) and with a 3+/5++ it's decently survivable, but it will evaporate to Krak Missiles if it takes a full barrage. There's not much we can do about this, it is carrying a 5++, so sticking it's toe in cover isn't going to get it a better save most of the time and we can't shrouding it with conceal as it can't join units.

What we need is a distraction. If it's the only big threat it's going to be shot to pieces before it can do any good (sometimes, a big bullet magnet is what we need however. Maybe not when it's your warlord though...). This is why it works well in an Elfzilla list. This list just brings as many MCs as possible (Avatar, wraithlord/knights...) for target saturation.

The other list the Avatar really compliments is Footdar. He gives off a 12" fearless bubble, which just does wonders to stop your guardians etc from high tailing it from the battlefield after a few casualties.

So these lists are where we commonly see Avatars. Yet I put it to you, that an Avatar can be used effectively with a hybrid list. And I'll explain why.

It's a miracle he doesn't set his own tabard on fire.
Naturally, a fearless bubble will benefit infantry units much more when they are on foot than when they are embarked in a vehicle (as that doesn't affect them at all, of course) and it will do nothing for the vehicles themselves. Therefore when adding an Avatar to a hybrid list we want him within 12" of any units we aren't embarking in transports (guardian blobs, jetbikes, etc) to help them last the first turn without running. Be warned though, some units may want to Go to Ground in the first turn and will not be able to do so if they are fearless. Hopefully though, there will be more present dangers for the opponent to shoot than these units.

What fearless can do, however, is stop you being pinned and stop you running from combat. How does this help hybrid lists then?

Well, Wave Serpents are the new must have for the Eldar. And admittedly this is because they're very good. Therefore when they are targeted and removed (which they will be. Always remember, your Wave Serpents will die. Not every game, but in a lot of them. It's very easy to see their Holofields and Serpent Shields and think they are verging on immortal but they aren't) your units inside will need to be taking pinning tests (dangerous if you are a LD8 Guardian). Keeping the Avatar within 12" of your vehicles will remove this risk, giving them fearless the moment they are forced out of their transport. This means they can act at full efficiency from the word go.

The second benefit is not to be underestimated. With units that are purely shooty, how do you stop a deathstar smashing into them? Fearless. This can be used in any list with an Avatar but remember it will also keep scary units away from your vehicles, giving you time to relocate a good distance away before shooting them to high heaven. Just check that it's a decent sized unit on speed bump duty as there only needs to be one alive to stop them from chasing after you.

All this is on top of the Avatar's already considerable combat prowess.

So what else can we ask about this concept?

How about, how can a hybrid list benefit an Avatar?

Benefit? I require no assistance!
I mentioned earlier on that an Avatar can be a big bullet magnet, not so good for a LD10 HQ choice, as he will often be your warlord. He is also quite expensive, 195 base (205 for an Avatar with Fast shot, great to give him two Meltagun shots a turn  OR  215 for one with Disarming Strike to remove the threats of powerfists or instant death weapons. Of course, this scales as you pile on the upgrades).

However, with Wave Serpents, he gains not only another worrying target for the enemy to look at (do I hit the Avatar now, or the Serpent before it moves and gets a 4+ cover?) but also something to hide behind. Mobile cover if you will. The GW Avatar should be able to hide behind a Wave Serpent (I don't know exactly how well but looking at their sizes, with correct positioning only a little of the head or an arm should be visible, at least to one area of the battlefield. This means you can block off the biggest threat to him, or even hide him completely if you have to (two serpents back to back should block him off fairly well). He can also keep up with the Serpents fairly well with Fleet and Battle Focus (giving him a reliable 6+d6" move whilst still being able to shoot his Wailing Doom).

With the Forgeworld models however, this may not be possible.

'May' in big bold letters
The FW ones are still the coolest by far though so will definitely be what I go for when I get an Avatar. Probably the sword one just for transport purposes.

Look at the size of it!!

And so ends my look into the use of Avatars. I think it can benefit a hybrid list a lot, adding a big combat threat to what is often a shooty list, along with other benefits that I've already mentioned. Definitely worth the consideration for these lists.

A big thanks to the painters/artists of the Avatar pictures that I've used here. It remains one of the coolest things in the codex in my opinion. So I will leave you with one more (slightly different picture). An Avatar of Cegorach, the God of the Harlequins.

Probably my favourite of the ones I've found.
Send in the Clowns!

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