Monday, August 19, 2013

Serpents In Paradise: Wave Serpents The New Meta

I think its about time we get down to business with the codex. I am plotting and planning for the Michigan
GT as is Spellduckwrong. We do have different ways of doing things though. I am a fan of Footdar and he is a Mechdar kind of Autarch. I wanted to start touching on some of the units and I am going to be starting with the Aspects of Khaine series reboot starting next week.

I wanted to touch on and throw my two cents into the ring about the one unit that seems to be real popular on the net right now and in the tournament circuit. I speak of course about our ubiquitous transport, the Wave Serpent.

So our good old reliable transport has become the internet darling and all the band wagoners are hopping on. I don’t blame them. Several of the Podcasts I listen to have been saying the new Eldar codex is a meta changer. I have to agree. People have been unable to adjust quickly to the new units and how they function. In fact a lot of Eldar players are having a problem adjusting.

I digress though. The Wave Serpent. Armor 12 on the front and sides and 10 in the rear. Fast skimmer armed with a turret mounted twin linked shuriken cannon and a chin mounted twin linked shuriken catapult. Protected by the Serpent shield. This bit is what is making our transport so popular with the younger races. On a 2+ roll all penetrating hits are downgraded to glancing hits. Then in the shooting phase it can lower the shields for a nice blast of energy that is strength 7, pinning and ignores cover. It has a 60 inch range which reaches everything on the board.

The standard load out for the Serpent seems to be holo-fields and scatter lasers on the turret. A chin mount cannon is an option for some, myself included. Basically this means anything within range of the scatter laser is going to get twin linked fire from the Serpent shield.

Shooting at a Wave Serpent is very frustrating now as the holo-fields bump up the jink save to a 4+ or if you actually have decent cover a 3+ cover save. Intervening terrain really doesn’t matter as long as you have line of sight for the serpent shield. SO there is no reason for you not to have decent cover, especially if you move. You should always be moving. Since the shield is a hull mounted you have a relatively narrow field of fire. Keeping the nose pointed at your targets is important.

Now it seems that people are running as many Serpents as they can. Given the points cost this leaves little room for actual troops. The popular thing seems to be using minimal squads of Dire Avengers or Guardians. Granted I am not a top tournament player, but this doesn’t seem tactically sound. I run maybe 4 serpents if I am running a mech list. Many players seem to be using 6 or 7. Minimal squads are easy to wipe out. And completely relying on your serpent shield weapons is not a good idea. You can nay say, but here is why.

The shield is a potent weapon, but it is also the real primary defense of the Serpent. It is a secondary layer in the defense of the vehicle. You have the holo-fields for the added cover save, but the shields keep the penetrating hits from wasting your Wave Serpents. Not to mention the small squads contained within. Shields down means an easier kill. You cannot consistently rely on a cover save. There is a decent amount of weaponry that denies or removes a cover save. Given an armor value of 12 on the majority of facings most heavy tank busting weaponry needs a 4+ or 5+ to penetrate the hull. Given the notoriety of the Wave Serpent you can assume players will adjust for the meta and use more heavy weaponry and have contingencies to protect their units.

Despite armies now having very capable anti air capability, flyers are not as dead as people think. Several flyers in the game are very well suited to laying waste to ground targets. In fact Crimson Hunters and Vendettas are very good at taking out armor on the ground. The former having a knack of being able to get into position on rear armor very easily. Although you can saturate the sky with shield fire, most of the lists I have seen that are Serpent heavy lack anti air. Trying to take out flyers with armor 12 is pretty hard with only strength 7 fire at your disposal. It also makes you split your fire. Granted you may have quantity, but the quantity of fire only really works when its concentrated. Flying monstrous creatures can be a big problem especially when they have access to biomancy psychic powers. Vector strikes from these big guys can really hurt an armored force, especially if you have no way to deal with flyers. Massed fire can force ground tests, but they are no less deadly once on the ground. This forces you to once again divide your fire.

Armour 13 and 14
Ok so yes you have a plethora of strength 7. Well your opponent has been getting pounded at his local shop by Eldar and he has decided to dust off his collection of land raiders. Despite the fact they will possibly be changing soon, probably with nastier options, the land raider is still in use and as the meta has shifted I think we are going to be seeing more of them as it shifts further to compensate for the saturation of Eldar allies and new Eldar players. These guys can deal with the one or two fire prisms you have to deal with heavy armor and then they can then get to work on your fleet of Serpents. The units inside remain protected. This same logic applies to Necron Monoliths, to a lesser extent a well placed Ork battle wagon and Necron Vehicles with its own shielding. Space Marine predators and Vindicators. Vindicators although pretty close range can deal some hurt thanks to high strength and the fact the Serpent shield no longer screws with ordnance. You still get 2 dice.

Don’t get me wrong its an effective strategy currently. I am always looking at my codex and looking at how I can beat it. In this way you develop new stratagems and how to counter what people may do to counter the current meta. Given how fast we have been getting codexs its been really hard adjusting to new stuff and developing counter tactics to new units, weapons and metas. Space Marines coming up should makes things very very interesting to say the least.

Well there is my two cents. I love that the Eldar are feared once again, but as always I have to nay-say and do things differently. I have always approached the Eldar as a synergistic army and I hate to spam it. That said I am trying something I would not normally do just to expand my horizons a bit. I will be detailing “The Guardian Wall” once I have kicked off the New Aspects of Khaine series.

Until Next Time..............

Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Old Phil did crank the Wave Serpents up to eleven, that's for sure. I am curious if they are going to be bad enough to actually shift the meta towards anti-tank or not. When Tau came out, people's jaws dropped at their power level, but I didn't see much of a global change in lists. Though, I guess assault armies became a little more rare than they already were. With Space Marines coming out shortly, I'm sure there will be a new bully on the block. I hope so anyway.
    My main beef with the Wave Serpents stems from how strangers view me now. I've been playing mech Eldar for a long time now, and figured out how to use Wave Serpents to really bash in some heads when they weren't considered good at all. A few months ago, someone might giggle when they saw I had nine Eldar tanks on the field, now they might cry foul. Nowadays, I have two choices, either explain myself and sound like a hipster, or say nothing and look like a WAAC d-bag. Oh well, like you said, at least Eldar are causing some fear out there again. It's been awhile.

  2. I think the overall effect will be limited for a couple of reasons. 1. They are self-defeating, wave serpents are very good at taking down wave serpents 2. Tau already have enough high strength shots to scare them. However if the marine codex comes out with good armour I think a shift will happen.

    I'm in between the two of you in terms of tank usage, I own a bunch but I've taken more than 3-4 hulls of any sort of non-apoc game. I don't think they are mandatory for Eldar to take, but I do they are mandatory for some units (such as wraithguard with flamers). In an army of specialist they are a very good generalist (but as pointed out still have limits).

    1. I agree. If the Marine codex comes out with some good tanks, two codexes with them will definitely shift the game.

      I also agree that they aren't mandatory, which I am very thankful for. Having a single, auto-include unit that stands out above the rest leans more towards a poorly written gimmick codex. The Eldar have a book with most options being good to decent choices, mostly relying on the overall composition, which, in my opinion, is how it should be. I think that once the shock value of the Wave Serpent wears off, the game will level out. For example, when the Heldrake came out, there was borderline mass hysteria, but now they are no big deal. They are still a rough unit, but people have adjusted to them.