New Eldar Wave Serpent Review and Tactics - 6th Edition Eldar Codex
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.
- New Eldar Codex Review 6th Edition - Part 1 - New Army Rules
- New Eldar Codex Review 6th Edition - Part 2 - HQ
Okay, now on to the Wave Serpents!
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
- Forever War - my personal hobby blog
- New Eldar Codex Review - Part 4 - Elites
- New Dark Angels Codex Review 6th Edition
- Flyers in Warhammer 40k 6th Edition
- New Chaos Space Marine Codex 6th Edition
As always, thanks for reading! Murphy Out.