Dark Eldar Tactica: Grotesques
Greetings! Sorry for the lack of articles lately, it's been a whirlwind of a few weeks. First, my Grey Knight bet with Adam is still on, I've just been lacking the time to actually play the games. That, and I'm genuinely excited about the army, so when I do have time I'm wanting to play a real game, instead of one with random movement and shooting. So far in limited tests, the Paladin based army does great. I'm excited to try to develop my tactics to turn it into something seriously competitive. Second, I've been play-testing different builds and combinations with my Dark Eldar. Right now, my core is performing quite well. Unfortunately, it's a standard Venom-spam Dark Eldar list, and will rightfully be labeled as such. But I don't want to be like the other guys! I want to have something in my army that makes my opponent stop and say, "You're taking that? Wow, interesting..." Enter Grotesques. I've been play-testing with them lately and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I run them on foot, with beasts close behind to make my army truly hybrid, and give it a close combat edge in comparison to other Venom-heavy armies.
Why do I prefer to start them on foot instead of in a Raider? Simple, they are bait. If my opponent shoots 4 missiles at them, I'll suffer 1.1 wounds with FNP. Not really a big deal. It will take 3 squads shooting to take down a single Grotesque. On top of that, by using the extra pain tokens Urien generates, or by including multiple Haemonculi in the unit, the Grotesques will start the game with FNP, FC and be Fearless.
I could go into detail on how you can convince your opponent to shoot at your Grotesques instead of your Venoms, but for now I'll just say it's a good idea to place them centrally, and talk up their strengths to your opponent. Get excited about them and how awesome they are. Chances are your opponent hasn't seen them in action many times (if at all), so a tactic like this can really be effective. I'm planning a set of 40k Psychology articles for the future which will cover this and other topics more in depth.
Now, let's look at a few ways to run Grotesques.
Option 1: Urien (190 points), 5 Grotesques with +1 strength and Abberation (210) - 400
Option 2: 2 Heamonculi Ancients with Agonizers (200), 5 Grotesques and Abberation (185) - 385
Option 3: Raider with Flickerfields (70), 4 Grotesques (+1S with Urien), Urien OR 2 Haemonculi Ancients - 430 / 420
Good Against: Charging transports (S7 with Furious Charge), charging anything that doesn't negate their FNP. Since the Grotesques are taking away 3-4 blasters from using a Trueborn spot, they need to hold their own in the anti-AV department. S7 on the charge certainly fits the bill. They also take on crowd control duties quite well. A standard tactical squad will have quite a time surviving a charge from a unit of Grots and Urien. Even BA Assault Marines with FNP will have a hard time generating wounds.
Bad Against: Grey Knights with force weapons! Unfortunately Grotesques do nothing to address the growing population of Grey Knight players, which may prevent them from making the cut in my tournament lists. Another issue these guys face is Imperial Guard Manticores - instadeath with no save or FNP. Goodbye Grots!
So there you have it. A curve ball unit that has some hard counters in Grey Knights and Leafblowers, but if used correctly can really catch people off guard. Here's a sample 2,000 point army list I recently ran that utilized Grotesques.
Urien - 190
4 Trueborn (Haywires, 4 Blasters) - 116 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 4 Trueborn (Haywires, 4 Blasters) - 116 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 5 Grotesques (+1S, Abberation) - 210
5 Warriors (Blaster) - 60 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 5 Warriors (Blaster) - 60 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 5 Warriors (Blaster) - 60 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 5 Warriors (Blaster) - 60 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 5 Warriors (Blaster) - 60 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65 3 Wracks - 30 -Venom (+Splinter Cannon) - 65
3 Beastmasters (3 Venom Blades, 5 Khymera, 4 Razorwings) - 171
Ravager (Flickerfields) - 115 Ravager (Flickerfields) - 115 Ravager (Flickerfields) - 115
As you can see the Grotesques are on foot, and are being used in conjunction with Beasts to a) distract from my fragile vehicles and troops and b) pound my opponents from line. The army still packs 8 Venoms, 13 Blasters and 9 Dark Lances.