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New Eldar Wave Serpent Review and Tactics - 6th Edition Eldar Codex

Updated on June 19, 2013
New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent
New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent

Introduction

Murphy, here, finally getting to review the Eldar Wave Serpent. I think this will be history in the making, at least for me, because I have never given a dedicated transport an article all of its own. Seriously, Space Marine rhinos? Dark Eldar raiders? Guard chimeras? Right, while all of these have their uses, they aren't exactly stellar units of their own. I've written 10 articles about the new Eldar Codex for 6th edition already, and I haven't given a whole article to any single unit. Even Harlequins were squeezed in with Fire Dragons. Eldrad had to share with Yriel and Illic Nightspear.

To paraphrase Seinfeld: "What's the deal with Wave Serpents? They're not waves. They aren't crashing onto any beaches. They aren't snakes. I have seen a few serpents in my day, and these, sir, are no serpents."

Please excuse my attempt at humor from the 1990s. Why don't we just get to the Wave Serpents and what makes them so good.

However, I'd be remiss not to mention that I have written a nearly complete, unit by unit, review of the new Eldar codex. If you haven't read any of the articles yet, you may want to pause and catch up. Check out the links below. We'll wait.

Okay, now on to the Wave Serpents!

New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent
New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent

The Wave Serpent

The Wave Serpent is a dedicated transport for your Eldar army. It does not take up a slot in any of the force organization categories and it cannot be taken without buying it as a transport for a unit. So, let's first make a list of all the units that can purchase a Wave Serpent, so you can see where you can buy them, and how many you might possibly field:

  • Dire Avengers - Troops
  • Guardian Defenders - Troops
  • Storm Guardians - Troops
  • Howling Banshees - Elite
  • Striking Scorpions - Elite
  • Fire Dragons - Elite
  • Wraithguard - Elite
  • Wraithblades - Elite
  • Dark Reapers - HeavySupport

New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent
New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent

Technical Readout (stats)

Okay, so we see where we can get one, what can it do? Why is this dedicated transport still deserving an article all of its own? We will get to that point, dear reader, when that point is ready to be made (hah, soon!).

  • BS 4
  • Armor of 12/12/10
  • Tank, Fast, Skimmer, Transport
  • Transport Capacity of 12
  • No fire points, one access point to the rear
  • Twin-linked shuriken cannon
  • Twin-linked shuriken catapult
  • Serpent Shield

The twin-linked shuriken cannon can be upgraded to a:

  • twin-linked bright lance
  • twin-linked scatter laser
  • twin-linked starcannon
  • twin-linked Eldar missile launcher - no Flakk

The twin-linked shuriken catapult can be upgraded to another shuriken cannon (which cannot be further upgraded).

It is here that I have to remind you of the special rule for scatter lasers: laser lock. The rule states that if the model hits with the scatter laser, then "treat all weapons on the same model yet to fire this phase as being twin-linked for the rest of the phase". All weapons are still considered to fire simultaneously.

So normally, you'd think, so I get a twin-linked scatter laser and maybe a twin-linked shuriken cannon. Cool. That is not the big deal, though. That is not why the Wave Serpent has an article all on its own.

New Eldar Codex Review 6th Edition Wave Serpent
New Eldar Codex Review 6th Edition Wave Serpent

The Serpent Shield

The serpent shield is what makes the Wave Serpent all the rage. It is a piece of Eldar Vehicle Wargear that is included free on the Wave Serpent and, in fact, is exclusive to the Wave Serpent. Let's look at what it does.

There are two things that the serpent shield does: one defensive and one offensive

  • Defense - all penetrating hits against the Wave Serpent's front or side armor is downgraded to a Glancing Hit on a 2+.

Think what this means for a second. As you are skimming your front line towards the enemy, your troops are depending on the protection of their transport. Well, not only are your skimmers ignoring all hits with a 5+ jink save, anything that does hit and penetrate will be downgraded 83% of the time. The Wave Serpent has 3 hull points, which means it will take a lot of fire power, or some damn lucky hits, to bring it down before your troops are deposited where they need to be. Dark Eldar Raiders, please take note.

This is great. However, all this would do would be to make the Wave Serpent one of the best transports in the game, as its almost guaranteed to do its primary job of depositing troops like the Easter Bunny drops eggs. This is still not why the Wave Serpent is so popular right now. It's the offensive capability.

  • In your Shooting Phase, you may elect to deactivate the shields to shoot a burst of energy with the following profile:
  • Range 60" Str 7 Ap - Assault d6+1, Pinning, Ignores Cover
  • If you choose to shoot the energy, the serpent shield is inactive until the start of your next turn.

So the blast of energy has crap AP, but it will on average get 4 shots at a very high strength that also ignore cover . . . which will ignore stealth, shrouded, and even jink saves given to jetbikes, skimmers, and even Flyers. I hope we are getting it now. There's more.

Remember that scatter laser I mentioned earlier? If you hit with it (and it, itself, is also twin-linked so you're going to hit) then all your other weapons are twin-linked. Yes, that includes the Serpent Shield as it shoots.

So not only are you pumping 4 twin-linked Str 6 scatter laser shots into something, you are now pumping out d6+1 twin-linked Str 7 shots that ignore cover.

  • Aegis Defense Line? Ignore.
  • Turbo-boosting skimmers? Gone.
  • Enemy Pathfinders with a 2+ save killing your characters? Not any more.
  • Flyers? Yes, they can be taken down by a transport.

New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent
New Eldar Codex Review Wave Serpent

Tactics of Doom!

You might be rolling your eyes at this. So what? d6+1 twin-linked shots ignoring cover. It's not game changing. Considering that it's only AP "-", I would consider you correct. However, the real game changers is that this isn't a Fire Prism taking up a Heavy Support slot. It isn't some quirky special character with a crazy weapon that takes up a precious HQ slot. This is a dedicated transport that can be taken by nearly every infantry unit in your army.

Now, they aren't cheap. 120 points for the twin-linked scatter laser upgrade. They will cost you, but they add so much more. Not only will they get your squishy units were they need to go, they will also unleash hell onto an unsuspecting unit.

If you are running mech-dar, you will likely not be using just 1 Wave Serpent. You will likely have 3 or 4, in addition to your other grav-tanks or walkers or jet bikes. Let's say you have 3 wave serpents, it's turn 3 and their unit payloads have already been dropped off, when whoosh an enemy Flyer comes in from reserve.

On your next turn you turn your 3 Wave Serpents (who are still alive, btw, because who is wasting shots on empty transports during turn 3) and face the Flyer. Now you have 12 Str 6 twin-linked scatter lasers + 3d6+3 twin-linked Str 7 shots that Ignore the jink save.

Or apply this to a stubborn unit of troops behind an Aegis Defense Line (the turn before your own Flyer arrives, perhaps?). Or apply it to a unit of terminators - who cares about AP "-" when you getting that many wounds on the unit from 60" away.

Heck, shoot anything with them!

Are you taking Wave Serpents in your army?

See results

Conclusion

This article was long overdue because I wrote about Eldar Troops more than a week ago. I hardly mentioned the Wave Serpent because, yeah yeah yeah, it's a dedicated transport. So what?

I was wrong. It took me digging through the rest of the codex, and the Eldar Vehicle Wargear for me to realize what was up. By that time, the Internet was seeding whispers about the new Wave Serpents, and I realized I'd done the new codex a grave disservice by not covering them. I hope that I've made up for it!

Before you leave, why not take the poll above and then leave a comment down below? I also have links to my personal gaming blog and several other 6th edition Warhammer 40k articles that I've written.

As always, thanks for reading! Murphy Out.

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    • profile image

      Sysentil 24 months ago

      Has anyone thought of an Eldar vs Grey Knights encounter where the warp is negated. How is this going to effect non-psykers?

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 3 years ago from Florida

      Jak, I understand your concern and I've had the same exact concern. However, literally EVERYONE on the internet plays it the way we've described. The serpent shield can be fired during the Shooting Phase, so it acts like a weapon. The same could be said for Hunter-Killer missiles on the Imperial side... they are vehicle wargear that IS a weapon. Havoc Launchers on the Chaos side are vehicle wargear that are also a weapon. I think this is the justification. I feel your pain, though, as it makes Wave Serpents incredibly powerful and not fun to be on the receiving end of all that firepower.

    • profile image

      JAK 3 years ago

      I'm not sure how you manage to interpret the rule "treat all weapons on the same model yet to fire this phase as being twin-linked for the rest of the phase" as being able to fire WARGEAR as twin-linked. It doesn't count as a weapon, surely?

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      They'll also be getting some nice new MCs and most of the kits GW haven't been bothered to release from the last update -.- And hopefully there's going to be some points drops across the board.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Rumor has it that some deep-striking Nids will have an ability that limits opponents to snap-fire on the turn the Nid deep strikes. That way it doesn't break the "no assault upon arrival" rule, but it allows the models to be more survivable.

      They won't really be unbeatable, but they will have some new tricks.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      eh, at the moment they're terrible, just load up on missile launchers, and then gun down any units deep striking or outflanking, as they can't assault on the same turn and they are prime targets for overwatch.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Ugh, you are correct again. I wonder if there will be any beating nids when they come out this fall...

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      the problem being that every 'Nid MC can get poisoned 4+, so it's a bad place to be for a Wraithknight!

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Is that what boneswords do now? I haven't played against tyranids for at least an entire edition of 40k. Still, I bet the wraithknight can do it, especially if combined with another eldar unit or some psychic powers. We will see... and even if not... then the wraithknight will still kick but verses other monstrous creatures that don't have the instant death weapons.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Well, Tyranids don't have 'arch-enemies', they're all under one big group called 'Food', But Kraken DID kill 1/5th of Iyanden's population, so yes, there's bad blood there. Ah, if it's got a pair of Boneswords, then if a wound is scored (most likely though Smash attacks), then you'll need to pass a 3d6 leadership test or die straight out...

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      I'm hearing people call tripple-wraithknight lists Gundam Wing :p I like the idea! I actually think the wraith glaive build will make sense when Tyranids come out. Aren't Iyanden and Tyranids arch enemies? With all the big bugs coming our way, wont it make sense to have a mobile melee unit with a master-crafted weapon? Yep... give it some shoulder mounted weapons for fire-support, and then charge that badboy into the big bugs and it will all make sense.

      Remember, if a hive tyrant is locked in melee with your wraithknight, then the hive tyrant isn't eating the rest of your army :)

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Wraithknights are the scariest distraction units out there... I'd give them a Suncannon, as you won't get that kind of AP2 firepower anywhere else, and they get a 5++ save from that setup.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      So far my wraith units have been the MVPs of every battle I've used them. I only have ten and they absorb a lot of attention (and fire!). My goal is to get a wraithknight soon, but I'm trying hard to not buy more than I can paint in any given month :) I don't care for the Iyanden paint scheme ( I actually like it, but wouldn't be happy painting it!), but I might run my Mymeara army with Iyandan wraith rules.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      I've just purchases some more Scorpions and should have a magnetised 10 man blades/guard unit finished in the near future, it's all looking good! (I might split them up 5/5 to get them onto serpents, Mechdar rules supreme!)

    • murphy80 profile image
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      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Ah, I love Kirby's site! It's in my weekly bookmark list :) I have more and more work done on my Eldar models, fixing up my friend's old 2nd edition army to fit 6th edition. So far so good!

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Actually I'll confess that I stole the maths from somewhere else, I just double checked it: http://www.3plusplus.net/2013/07/game-changers-the...

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Hey, that's some fancy math you did there :) You are correct, of course! Waveserpent spam is certainly the go-to list for Eldar players now. Thankfully, it's not the only list that works! It's just the most over the top! I need to post pictures of my new airbrushed wave serpent in the Mymeara scheme.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      Bringing up an old ghost, a Wave Serpent + scatter laser + shuriken cannon against a foe in cover will deal the same amount of damage on average as 4 multi laser manticores and 6 autocannon teams, and the scatter laser has a 99.98% chance of getting at least one hit if fired at full BS. Not bad for 130 points...

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      yes, I can see Falcons being a "Second wave" transport, let the Wave Serpents soak up the fire (and that they will do) and then bring the Falcons up to aid the engaged troops.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      To make it less of a suicide run, don't do it on Turn 1. If anything, wait until Turn 2 or 3 when more of the battlefield is occupied with close fights. If anything, put the Falcon in reserve and let it scream on and pull the trick. I've had some late arriving reserves save me some games recently :)

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      I'm of 2 minds about that, in essence it should work, but I can't shake the feeling that it's a suicide run, I'd normally have that upgrade on a Fire Prism to almost guarantee a kill if it hits, but I can't see why it wouldn't work for the Falcon...

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      Alright, what about this for the Falcon:

      Pulse Laser and the Crystal Targeting Matrix. Move it 12" in the Movement Phase, then 18" more Flat Out in the Shooting Phase to get to an enemy tanks' side or rear armor.

      Blast the tank with the Pulse Laser and hope for a kill. If anything, your opponent will have to turn something to face you, possibly exposing its side armor to something else back in your deployment zone.

      On your next turn, you can dump any infantry you were transporting (Fire Dragons perhaps?) and then take off to do the same trick again. It's nothing that a Wave Serpent couldn't do, but you'd likely be deploying them differently.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      I can see a good scatter laser/pulse laser combo, the Wave Serpent can get a single twin-linked S8 shot at best, the pulse laser gets 2, but I'm grasping at straws now, the Wave Serpent gets access to all the equipment the Falcon does; unlike last update, and is cheaper (only just, but it still says something)

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      That's not a bad point, SEG. If your sole purpose for a vehicle is to blast stuff, then it becomes very expensive if you have to buy a unit to go along with it :) The falcons are just fine, as they will fill a gap if you need them too.

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      The only bonus (that I can think of anyway) of taking a Falcon over a Wave Serpent is that you aren't obligated to take another unit to field a Falcon, whereas you have to take a unit able to use a Wave Serpent to unlock it, even if you don't intend to use it for them

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      You are right murphy the falcon is good, but the wave serpent can do a better job of covering the fire dragons i'm going to use, but to each his own

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      I can't believe it either. I really, really hope that they don't FAQ that the serpent shield "isn't a weapon" as it's from the vehicle wargear list. If they did that, then it couldn't be twin-linked from the scatter laser. I don't think they will do this, but they might. As of right now, they will be selling lots of wave serpents :)

    • SomeEldarGuy profile image

      Alex 4 years ago

      the 60" range does it for me, seriously, who the hell gives a -transport- a uber death weapon? Losing the shield for a turn really doesn't matter after they've dropped their troops off, the AP- isn't great, but why would you use it on infantry? Target those annoying walkers or other transports, flyers and hordes, the Wave Serpent is the best transport out there now, give it a holo-field and watch it ignore half of all shots thrown at it, then deny 5/6ths of the other penetrating hits! If anything, it's become the best distraction unit we can get our hands on for those comparatively measly points.

      I can't believe it's more likely to hit a target than a Falcon or Fire Prism now, that BS4 twin-linked is beastly.

    • murphy80 profile image
      Author

      Murphy 4 years ago from Florida

      I think I said in my review of the Falcon that "I liked it", but that it just wasn't better than the other options, including the Wave Serpent!

    • profile image

      Ray 4 years ago

      SomeEldarguy was dead right, I need this for my fire dragons, falcons can kick the bucket with this thing in my army, and I can replace it for a group of support batteries, so the enemies of the elder beware, for you will feel the serpents bite soon.