Friday, February 11, 2011
There's No Path to Follow
While I'm glad to have won the last tournament that we held up here at the Wizard's Keep, but I feel the need to change what has been working for the sake of some novelty. Oddly enough, my choice for how to change the army is actually fitting with the fluff of the Eldar, so let's go into that for a second.
The eldar empire used to run the galaxy much like the Imperium of Man does now, except the eldar embraced psykers and technology, allowing them to honestly boast that the stars lived and died by their whims. But much like the Romans, having no enemy to challenge them allowed them time for their 'indulgences' and their society soon got out of hand. The psychic feedback of their hedonism led to the birth of Slannesh and the Eye of Terror as well as the dark eldar. Those eldar that survived and didn't flee to Commorragh decided not to let their society to fall into excess like that again. To prevent a breakdown of order they created the eldar path.
The eldar path is actually a series of 'paths' that an eldar devotes himself to for a time. While they walk on a path they choose a skill and pore their lives into mastering that skill. Paths include the path of the artisan, where someone might be a potter, the path of the witch, the farseers and warlocks, and the path of the warrior with all of its aspects. With the eldar theme of 'we're better than you and we know it' they even can be more obsessed with something than humans can be. When this happens to an eldar it is seen with some shame, the term they use is becoming 'lost on the path.' Those that are lost on an aspect of the path of the warrior are called exarch, those on the witch path farseers. The eldar see becoming lost on the path as a sign of a lack of discipline and the ability to keep control of themselves. Those that are able to embrace different paths and turn away from each understand some of each path but can see the whole of the warrior path. These rare individuals are called autarchs, they command the eldar warhosts into battle.
Alright, so what was all that rambling for? Well it was to give you some of the background on the best army in the game (and we don't sparkle, thank you) as well as to bring up a concept.
In the narrow sense, I'm trading my line-up-and-punch-it-out eldar army with its psychic buffs for a more tricksy eldar army led by a pair of autarchs. I lose out on the re-rolls that I love so much, but it gives me the ability to almost guarantee getting in the first round of shooting if I want and reliably deep strike and outflank units. Most of my units stay the same, the only real change besides the HQ choice is splitting the warp spiders into two minimum squads and bringing in a pair of bright lances to give the dire avengers some anti-tank ability. I could go for a much different style of army, one of the luxuries of playing eldar, but I'm going in small steps to keep some of the understanding of how to best play my army.
In a broader sense we could all learn from the autrach in how we play our armies, and who knows, we might even have some fun with it. I know dramatt loves his blood angels and runs them with the same style every game. He has a horde of assault marines flying toward you with feel no pain led by Baron-Sergeant von Killstuffenstein, every game. That's how he loves to play his army and more power to him for having as much fun as he seems to when he gets to play.
What would he do if he couldn't run in and destroy an enemy, what it he was forced to try to shoot it out with someone else? Well blood angels have a pretty good answer for that situation. Like all of the 5th edition marine codices blood angels have access to razorbacks with different weapons loadouts that can make them good tank killers, but they have the advantage of their razorbacks being fast, letting them move and fire all weapons or one primary weapon after moving over six inches. A very different way to play the codex (especially when you take three devastator teams), but the possibility exists for the army to shoot down a lot of enemies.
What can you do in your army that would feel like the blood angels devastator army? I know everyone has their own preferred style of play, but what about flexibility? If you just keep playing the same army for so long it can get to be a drill rather than a game and the only drills I ever liked were tackling drills. Some food for thought as you play your games. Up next Loki said he'd be writing something about salmon killing bears, so I'll leave that to him.