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Monday, August 12, 2013

So how do we kill Wave Serpents?

Hey all, Kevin here to talk about the new menace of the tabletop. Something so cheese-tastic even Heldrake cares. I am talking, of course, about the Wave Serpent. The standard Wave Serpent load out is coming out to be upgraded with Scatter lasers, holofields, a shuriken cannon and the 5 man Dire Avenger upgrade. Thats an Average of about 11.5 S6-7 shots that are more than likely all twin linked and, either ignore cover/cause pinning, or could be auto wounding with AP2 from an AV 12 fast skimmer with 3 hull points, a Serpent shield, and a 4+ cover save most of the time. So basically its a fast vehicle that will either be shooting you from the edge of its range, or scurrying away out of range of any threats just to scurry over to an objective late game.

Now a smart Eldar player will check ranges to anything on the table and if he/she feels that enough threats are in range that can kill it he will just back away skirting the table edge or will stay put and not shoot off the shield relying on it, and the holo fields, to keep the serpent alive. This does, frankly, work pretty well as long as the Eldar player keeps hull points intact through out the game by staying out of range. So his army will realistically only stay intact as long as he keeps scooting away waiting to use the shield defensively until you need to grab an objective late. With the shield still intact, using my crude version of math-hammer...sorry Simhammer DJ haha, from an MEQ it would take 18 missile launcher shots to reliably down a Serpent with it's shields up (Saying you had 18 shots, 12 hits, 6 pen, and three HP's reduced from 3 holofield blocks) So realistically even with three full missile squads it is not good odds. So to have shooting be viable we need to basically ignore cover and/or re-rolling hits or penetrating rolls. With Re-rolling hits the number of missiles needed drops down to just about 13.3 shots. A significant improvement yet still lacking as it is still an unrealistic amount of missile launcher shots to do enough damage to take out 6+ Wave Serpent. Although ignoring cover would be better as only 9 shots would be needed to take down a wave serpent this still would be too many. 

So basically the common shooting ability of a normal MEQ army is just plain insufficient to deal with a Wave Serpent spam army. Remember those totals are of course relying on average rolling and the fact that you are even in range as most wave serpents will just run away at the first sign of threatening Anti-tank fire. Although it is also on relying on the serpent shield downgrading all damage results to shaken results, which is only likely not a given. Although we have to remember a Serpent shield only works defensively in the front and side armor and can only shoot in the forward arc. Also a Wave serpent needs to actually move to get its cover save.

Still this points to an obvious fact that normal shooting armies cannot reliably deal with Wave Serpent spamming in an efficient manner. So this has pointed to a lot of blog writers out assault as the one viable way of dealing with Wave Serpents is assault and when you think about it they do. In assault your only dealing with AV 10 rear armor and are ignoring the serpent shield since it doesn't work on the rear armor and you cannot get cover saves in assault. So this means if they are threatened with being assaulted Wave serpents usually will need to run away and more than likely turbo boost in order to avoid being destroyed. This means it will not be shooting.

So there are a few builds, although some ridiculously uncommon, that can deal with Wave serpents. This does include  Ravenwing bikers as they would have the speed to threaten Wave serpents in assault with power fists and grenades as well as pack a few melta weapons/divination access which will help lower the amount of results reliably needed to take down a Serpent. Although getting into threat range needs to happen quickly as Serpent shields do make a mockery of Dark shrouds and the high strength shot spam can easily thin a bike horde.  

Now any list that could keep Wave serpents moving away and not firing off their shields or with the potential of actually getting into assault would work decently against Wave Serpents. Especially if it could be coupled with saturation of anti-AV 12 shooting. Yet we do have Vanilla Marines and potential Meta shifts coming our way soon to help bring out weaknesses in Wave Serpent builds. So is the answer easy right now, or even common? Not really....only game play will tell.

So what do you find works well against Wave Serpents? With all the different game factors at play there are at least a few tactics that could benefit the whole. Put them down in the comments and lets try and get a conversation going. In the mean time I am gonna keep building and painting more Wave Serpents ;)


  1. I've heard that wave serpents can do a decent job...

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    1. Well to be honest I haven't gotten to play much against the new Eldar... but Tau Crisis Suites work well with Missile Pods and if you throw in the Commander that gives twin-Linked, ignores cover, and tank hunter.

      For Chaos Marines I can see Forgefiends with the Hades Autocannons doing well along with Autocannon Havocs. Ymgarl Genestealers for nids (If they happen to be near the terrain they are hiding in), Drop Podding Space Marines with Melta, Vendetta and Hydra for IG, the Hydra get's to ignore the cover save. Mortis Contemptor with Kheres Assault Cannons...

      That's all I can think of off the top of my head for my armies.

      I think the goal with the Wave Serpents is just to put on a lot of glancing hits, high Str does not matter if it can reduce a Pen to a glance. What you need is volume of fire.

  3. I have a couple game against the new Eldar under my belt and they were ugly. We were playing in a 40k league at 1000 points and I only managed to kill one waveserpent by deep striking an lone obliterator within metla range and I got lucky. We go up in points soon and my new list will probably have some chaos bikers with plasma or melta guns, an autocannon havoc squad or two and field the obliterators in pairs instead of as a single model squad.

    Assaulting them seems to be the answer but like you said you will have to run them down and catch them first.


  4. IT really is interesting. AV13+ that has Anti AV12 capabilities seems to be the hardest thing for my Wave Serpent armies to face. Yet other that lasplas preds I dont really see much of those types of vehicles. It really is just damage results that can kill WS's right now. It will be interesting to see what the new Vanilla marine codex, or Black Legion suppliment, does to help fight WS's.

  5. Other Wave Serpents is their achilles heel. I learned the hard way when my opponent sat way back and launched the Serpent Shield and getting a penetrating from every single Serpent he fired. He'd gotten Immobilized against two of mine and the way they were facing made it easy to then stay out of those Serpent Shields fire arc.

    They aren't twin linked, but it's not overly game breaking and if someone really wants it twin linked, they likely have a Farseer with Guide/Prescience in their army.

    1. Yes they are, why wouldnt they be? (Saying scatter laser hits of course) It really isn't that debatable

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  7. Im new to the game (since ive been on a 15 year break with the game), and I decided to start out as DA (love their fluff and looks). My buddy (equally new to the game in the same maners as I) chose Eldar.

    We figured we would try out some mini skirmishes of 500 pts just to try out the 6th rules. We lined up for 5 battles, and the result was depressing, atleast to me. He took all 5 battles in a row. I was not even remotely close to dealing with his wave serpent (or the rest of his army). At that kind of battle, the tank with various upgrades costs 145 pts, and it did an average 60 % of the killing in each game (some 250 pts of damage, which imo is a rather large share compared to this being a transport/tank). It seemed slightly OP'ed to me that a.... The rest of the army I could deal with but not the wave serpent.

    My questions is: Will this even out later on in bigger games? I tried everything but the ravenwing. When I finally did manage to get an assault squad in close with him, he just darted away before I managed to take it down, and the assault squad was gunned down by a combination of guardians and vipers. I must admit that as a marine player, I am a bit at a loss against this tank. Also I know for a fact that he will indeed be spamming the serpent on each list I will face....


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