Monday, November 8, 2010

Struggling with "Counts As"

Most of you have probably seen the basic Dark Eldar list I posted a little over a week ago. As stated previously, I intend to run my Craftworld Eldar army to "Count As" their darker brethren. I've tweaked the list since then, but the units are pretty much the same.

In my playtesting so far (just a few quick games to get used to the units) some of my opponents have been irked by the presence of Wave Serpents representing Raiders. The two arguments I've heard are fairly reasonable, and I expect many others like myself will face similar arguments. Let's take a look at what my opponents had to say:

1) Wave Serpents aren't Open Topped
This argument is mostly about suspension of disbelief, with the opponent having a hard time accepting that all the "Warriors" on board are capable of firing their weapons out at the various passers by. The Wave Serpent doesn't even have normal Fire Points to "Count As", so my models are basically shooting through the hull to get to their marks.

Furthermore, since the Wave Serpent isn't open-topped, they find it difficult picturing a squad of "Wyches" being able to rapidly deploy out and assault after the vehicle has moved at cruising speed. My understanding is that in the recent novel Path of the Warrior, the Scorpions are seen as being very adept at assaulting from their Wave Serpents, so we could have some new fluff justification to counter at least this half of the argument.

2) The Vehicle Profiles are Different
From a mechanics perspective, I can honestly understand the opponent's position. The Wave Serpent is shorter and wider than a Raider, providing a noticeable impact on the battlefield when trying to get at the troops inside them. My opponent brought up this remark when he managed to wreck on of the Wave Serpents carrying a squad of Guardians (Warriors). In this particular case, my models were being deployed at the rear of the vehicle to get out of assault distance of the Assault Marines that had just taken out their transport. With the Wave Serpent being shorter, this was more disadvantageous to me than using a raider, as I would have been even farther away from the enemy squad with the actual model.

The reverse, however, is when the front and back are blocked and I am using the width of the vehicle to actually gain an advantage. I could also do this if the enemy squad was attacking from the sides instead of the front or rear. Once a wreck, the vehicle's alternate profile also affects any units making their way across its scorched hull.

My personal opinion is that the advantage and the disadvantage of the profile difference balances out. Furthermore, the distances in profile aren't that great. I might make the point that anyone using older Rhinos and Land Raiders have similar concerns, or anyone that modifies Leman Russ tanks to convert for Chimeras and Ordinance platforms.

So I bring it to the readers to help me find a counter-argument or compromise that will make most players happy. Specifically, this needs to be a solution that tournament organizers and judges will agree with, as this is likely to become my primary army for 2011. As of right now, I plan on using Dark Eldar at the Nova Open 40k GT.


  1. I'm a big counts-as fan, but I can understand some of the issues here. As a short-term proxy, these things shouldn't matter, but if the intent is to use the WS long-term as Raiders, I agree it would be better to come up with a different model.

    The hull being different offers advantages and disadvantages, and in general should cancel out. Can shoot/assault from any point, but bigger footprint makes shooting it easier, harder to hide/get cover, etc.

    I think you'd have trouble getting this by many TOs, especially at the bigger events. While I don't think Guardians=Warriors is any kind of stretch, WS=Raiders is closer to a Nid player wanting to use a marine dread as a TMC. I'd suggest getting raiders (might be able to pick some older style ones up cheaply as some people get the newer ones), building a substitute, or finding some other model/toy that's a closer fit.

  2. Ugh, that's a tough nut and to be honest: I don't see a way to crack it.

    I think the big problem is not only that a serpent has not the same footprint as a raider, but the fact that we are talking about iconic units and some kind of gentleman agreements in regard to using proxy or count as models.

    At least around here (here=Germany) most tournaments have a rule that count as has serious limits. Like no proxy and count as needs to be approved by staff.

    Let me sketch up my opinion on using proxy and count as units.

    I don't mind playing against proxy armies, because in my definition proxy stands for a short-term solution. In most cases we are talking about giving units or whole codices a try, before you're going to buy them. So we are talking about practice games and I can really understand that people don't want to spend their hard earned money blindly on models, who may not work at all (or at least for them) on the battlefield. You use proxy armies at your store, against your fellow club members or your drinking buddies. You're not trying out a proxy army at a actual tournament or in some kind of league play.

    "Count as" for me means a long-term solution. Like running a WE force with the SW dex, using Zerkers on crushers as Thunderwolf Cav, Terminators with havoc launchers as Cylone Terminators and Havocs as Longfangs. Or using cold ones from WHF DE as cheap jetbikes for your Eldar jetlock council.

    So as long as I don't have some serious problems guessing what the model should represent on the first or second glance, I don#t mind playing against count as choices. Heck, I'm going to kitbash DE warrior with Eldar DA bits myself, running those models with both codices. The big difference is that I already bought a bunch of raiders and ravagers, so as long as there are still some tanks left on the table, you don't need to guess which codex I'm using.

    I would have some serious problems keeping track of the fact, that those 6 Serpents and 3 fire prism models on the table are actually raiders and ravagers, esp. if all the cargo are CWE models like dragons, guardians and banshees and painted into a Ulthwe scheme.

    That just screams Eldar to me, so unless I remind myself each and every turn "those are raider, those are ravagers" I would get confused a lot. Which means extra work for me, unless I want to make stupid moves, because I assumed that my targets has a Av12 front armor and serpent field. Or that those banshees have 4+ and S3 powerweapons, while in fact they are count as incubi with a token.

    And in my humble opinion: If you want to save money and run a count as force, or do it because you like your count as ideas, it is your obligation to work out proper "count as" solutions, who are not confusing the hell out of your fellow players. Anything else is just rude towards your opponent.

    Running a pure unmodified/unconverted CWE army as DE is as bad as putting a Thousand Sons Army on the table and telling me that those are actually Crons, with the raider being monos, the terminators being those elite-guys and the deamon prince is a c'tan.

  3. If the majority of the 40k community shares your point of view, my options are to either buy a new army, or not use the DE codex. I won't complain about the outcome too much, but I can guarantee my choice will be to simply not use the DE codex.

    This "Counts As" approach is meant as a means for me to use the models I own with Eldar and make them actually worth a damn in a competitive environment. I'll even gladly buy more Eldar models in order to get all the units properly represented.

    Realistically, money is not an object for making this work. While I'm not a wealthy individual, I have a decent disposable income and enough free time to generally do what I enjoy.

    I currently own about 13,000 points of various Space Marine miniatures, and about 6,000 of Eldar. Space Marines are adaptable and similar enough that I can run them with many different rulesets without a lot of people complaining.

    The sleek lines and awesome looking Grav Tanks of the Eldar are what initially got me into the game. I am also a very competitive person, and at least for me, I have no problem with remembering Counts As aspects in other armies. So what I am doing here is trying to give myself the best of both worlds: playing with my Eldar and being Competitive. If we want to be really serious, the game makes it nearly impossible in the tournament scene to do that using the current Codex: Eldar.

    With that in mind, can you help me find that compromise? I don't mind conversion work. My Fire prisms have been converted to actually use 3 bright lances when counting as Raiders. Simply repeating my own argument as to why the compromise is needed isn't all that helpful in the long run.

  4. You know how to make it work. Just make something with the sleek Eldar lines that is closer to Raider/Ravager.

    *Take a Vyper and extend it/add stuff.

    *Take a WS and add various webway type portals along the sides, letting people shoot out (and in...) and allowing for easy exit.

    *Take the basic WS/Falcon hull outline, shrink/stretch it a bit and build up a vehicle using that template.

    *Take a Raider and modify it to look more Craftworldy.

    etc. Take your pick.

  5. I have no problem with this whatsoever.

    However, I think the answer may be in this statement: "I'll even gladly buy more Eldar models in order to get all the units properly represented."

    Obviously, I can't speak for all the people you will come across even in a friendly environment, much less something like a tournament, but I would try to use this attitude to get yourself as close as possible. If you find yourself consistently having the same discussion over this issue, try and find another Eldar vehicle that cancels some of the issues. When someone does say something, ask them what they think is appropriate.

    Like I said, I can't tell you all the answers here, because I would never have a problem playing you, but those people who do have legit beefs will likely be over the same types of issues, so hopefully by asking what you can do to help will cancel them for more people than just the guy you are playing right now.

    Hope this helps. I think it's a great idea, and I think a lot of people are following how well it goes for you to see if they want to do something similar.

  6. Gnah, google login eat my whole comment.

    I won't type all the stuff again, that I wrote up.

    1. Asking your fellow gaming buddies and/or the tournament staff in your vicinity sounds like a good start to me. I agree with Counterfett that most people who will complain about your idea, will voice the same arguments/legit beefs.

    2. I personally don't think there is a way to pull of running iconic eldar tanks like serpents and spinners as DE vehicles, without converting them to a extent that they loose any resemblance to the sleek lines/design you love.

    I think that running CWE troops like guardians and jetbikes in a skimmer heavy list using actual DE vehicles may work out and don't receive too much flak.

    Running a whole CWE force, with the only conversions being swapping out the weapons on a prism tank to bright lances from serpent or walker sprues, doesn't give off a nice vibe to me. At least it is a "bit" confusing.

    For example: I took the time to browse through your blog and if I would ever field that army on the field during a tournament, not being a regular opponent of yours, my first thought would be "wow, those prism tanks are nice falcon conversions, seems like that guy tried to get CWE force without those ugly box-turret falcons, who don't fit into the new design anymore". It would def. not be "wow, that really is a nice alternate way to build a DE army". That third lance under the hull is not very eye catching, you won't see it at first glance. So the only thing you see is two eldar bright lances on a eldar prism tank turret, that really looks more like "eldar vehicle conversion A that counts as eldar vehicle B".

    So my misgiving is, that most people who play against that army at a tournament for the first time, will either get pissed off because they assume that you're trying to get an ingame advantage from running a serpent shaped tank as a raider (running violet SM as BA don't give you any advantage except having more money left to spend on wive, kids and holidays), or are starting to lament a lot after the game, when they didn't manage to get past third turn, because they are asking "what count as?" over and over again, or don't did as well as the excepted after reading the pairing, because they made a bunch of tactical errors assuming that those tanks are actual closed av12 serpents and not open-toped paper planes with av10.

    I also don't think that DE are a overly competitive tournament army. The only advantage you have over codex eldar is the improved internal balance, but in terms of codex vs codex comparisons they don't dethrone the great three (BA/SW/IG). So I would either collect them, because you can live with that, like the new models and don't want to be part of the MEQ crowd at tournaments, or skip them and play your SM army with either BA or SW rules.

    Running unmodified CWE as DE won't give you that huge advantage over just running those CWE models with CWE rules, but you will run in a lot of people being bothered by it. At least that what I expect based on my experience with very liberal "count as" solutions at german tournaments.

    Cheers Karnstein

  7. For all internet ramblers, I am the resident Dark Eldar player and I have no problem with it. I am also a competitive player who hates using models to gain an advantage, While the serpent's dimensions are different from a raider, the raider being 7 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 4(sail or tail included) The general point of it is the same.

    I also want to point out that using a ws while having an advantage in terms of a wider side and a shorter front, has the gun further back. Shooting the "dark lance" means you have to get closer to hit the 36" mark. The Raider has an advantage over shooting. The dark lance is on the front of the 7 1/2 inch frame Meaning I will be able to shoot at the WS Raider a few inches before I am able to get a return fire, are you now going to say, well that's fine because your using the actual raider model vs a counts as version. As a player for 12 years with a year and a half of it being dark eldar I can tell you that every inch counts.

    If you are shooting from a raider or hell your ravagers, which the guns on that model are ALSO on the back of the count as model vs the Front like the real ravagers that I will be getting over the xmas holidays. What I can do at 36" isn't what he can do using the count as model. Trust me, as a dark eldar player every inch counts at 36" (especially with a night shield equipped)

    Also, Considering the codex has only been out officially a week this friday, I think its too early to determine whether or not DE will be tournament viable or just wtf pwn things..

  8. Ray, I would have no problem playing against it myself in a non-tournament setting. However, GW does have that rule that says the model you are using to represent the model cannot be bigger than the model that it is meant to represent (battlewagons come to mind here).

    I think you should buy 2 raider kits, 3-4 viper kits, some plastic card, and a ravenger and kit bash your army with everything said here. Take various bits from all these parts and turn 4-5 vipers into 4-5 raiders and turn the raider/ravenger hulls into ravengers. Just my two cents.

  9. The only problem there is then I'm not running the Eldar tanks (or something closely resembling them) which is the whole point of this exercise.

    I would rather play space marines ad nauseum than build Dark Eldar.

  10. I agree with Karnstein above. Proxies are fine for general play and though I'd personally have no real objections to someone proxying in a tournament, it's pretty much verbotten.

    From an outsider's perspective, it looks like you're codex hopping (which, let's face it, you are), and that's frowned upon. Like it or not, the community as a whole tends to side with the GW sales team: not only do you need to have the right model, but it should be WYSIWYG (which forces everyone to buy more models).

    To summarize: I don't mind, but 90%+ of the gaming community around here would scoff at the notion of eldar counting as dark eldar (without significant conversion work.

    If conversion work is something you're game for, perhaps if you put handles around the outside of your tanks to represent where the people ride on top (or even go so far as to model riders outside the tank)? Or you could always cut off the top of your tank, and use that as a basis for a raider...

  11. There's no question that I want to use the DE codex for completely gamist reasons. When we take the game down to its core, the mechanics of the game are all that matter.

    I have been carrying this debate on over at Mike Brandt's blog as well (since specifically I had planned to run this at his event) and I have discovered more about what exactly I and my opponents have issue with.

    If your stance on me not doing this is because my vehicle models are the wrong dimensions, your argument has merit. This is because the size and shape of the models as well as their weapon placements are part of the game mechanics.

    For my argument's sake, let's assume the Wave Serpent and Raider share the same dimensions and weapon positions (the truth is that they are the same length, but width and height differ, which can be mitigated).

    You see, my army has very specific weapons modeled that each correlates to a very specific weapon in the ruleset (a Shuriken Cannon bit uses Splinter Cannon rules, for example). My models are appropriately sized, appropriately equipped (my stand-ins are the same size as the DE equivalents, so mechanics do not change), and the rules don't change simply because the piece of plastic looks slightly different.

    If you still object to a Wave Serpent representing a Raider under these given conditions, the fault is on you. Your only defense is that it hurts the 'fluff' and your suspension of disbelief might be challenged. To be honest, I don't care and it doesn't matter. When we are playing a game on the tabletop (especially in a competitive environment) the mechanics are all that matter. Whether my model is blue or green has no effect on the mechanics, so whether it is smooth or rough, spiky or streamlined makes no difference.

    I am in the process of building a VERY lengthy post on why the anti-gamist attitude is wrong. Most of the arguments I see just show me that some people are hypocrites enforcing double standards. It's absurd to assume that everyone is in this hobby for the same reasons as you and to enforce an unreasonable list of demands simply because "you don't like it".

  12. I don't mind an "gamist" attitude. I have that myself. I play to win, I won't field crappy stuff because s.o likes to tell me that any proper eldar force must have guardians. And I surely don't care if that eldrad+council wears black or red robes.

    I would never frown upon someone, who runs his DA with the SM codex, or mind playing against someone who runs a converted CSM force with both the SW and CSM codices.

    It is count as, but at least a rhino is a rhino (visually and in terms of size/behavior) and zerkers on crushers not only use the same bases as carnis (aka TWC reference model), they also have a similar height (which is important when it comes to the question of getting cover saves for tanks. He hands me his list and I neither would I mistake them for something else like fenrian wolves, nor does he gain anything from it as long as he don't put them on 25mm bases or deviates from the Carnis size too much.

    I hope I got my point across so far. I think of myself being very liberal when it comes to count as/conversions, as long as they are sensible and not change the game mechanics.

    You infantry force approach is sensible enough. You're not trying to sell me storm guardians as shard carbine wearing trueborn. Or Warp spiders as reaver jetbikes.

    But I have a gripe with the tank force.I don't accuse you of actively "modeling for advantages", esp. since you stated that you'r searching for proper weapon equivalents. But as it stands now, it changes how your units behave/interact.

    Most of your guns are mounted on a 360° turret sitting far higher than a prow mounted DLance. Your tank bodies are completely different from a raider in terms of size and shape. That leads to huge gaming issues when it comes to stuff like measure shooting distances for the passenger and disembark close combat troops.

    You surely have some disadvantages too, I won't deny that.

    If you use conversions, regardless of the reason (disliking the original model, not wanting to pay 20€ per jetlock model), the WYSIWYG rule still stands and it is your obligation, to keep things clear and stay away from "converting for effect".

    It is definitely not my obligation as your opponent to spend my precious time (esp if there is a time limit ) asking again and again what kind of units your models are representing and reminding you to take the modified game behavior of turret mounted dark lances and ~5.2 wide raiders into account, when you're eyeballing for cover saves and disembarking your wyches in front of my army.

    Sure, even with best efforts and intentions, you may end up facing that lone weird hypocritical hobbyist gamer once in a while.

    But right now you're not only going to get pissed on by those few weird guys, you will get a lot of well deserved flak from the tournament crowd, because your army is massively misleading AND warping the game mechanics. That may not be your intention, but it does look that way and work out for your advantage, unless you cut down the serpent/prism tanks to a size (length/wide/weapon placement) matching those of the raiders/ravagers (old or new ones, that's your choice).

    Cheers...I'm quit interested how your "anti-gamist attitude" post will look like. And don't get me wrong, I'm not posting here to piss you off.

  13. Through talking with some of the others over on Mike's blog (Whiskey & 40k, check it out in my blogroll) I have a solution that may be feasible, but I am not entirely sure.

    Suffice it to say that if I am allowed to use this army, I will play it in such a way that the physical models I use will have little or no impact on the mechanics, and I can get very close without having to touch the Wave Serpent itself (Prisms and Vypers will need a little bit of work)

    The idea is that each wave serpent is modeled to be flying in on an angle with its side thrusters pointing downward. This makes the wave serpent taller yet less wide. The Wave Serpent and the old style Raider are identical in length, so that does not need to be changed. What this does is gives a fairly accurate profile for line of sight issues.

    Next, we produce a custom base for the model. This base is large and has the dorsal profile of a raider. That way, when I am measuring disembarkation and firing of passengers I have a 100% accurate profile to work from. This base can also function as an appropriate crater/wreck when the vehicle is destroyed. The base can also include icons or features to show the locations of the Raider's actual weapons so that 100% of my measurements are taken without giving me a single advantage.

    Furthermore, to make things easier on my opponent, all of his measurements can target either the base, or the actual wave serpent hull as it is sitting. The opponent only needs to break the plane of the base's outline and does not need physical contact. If a portion of the wave serpent happens to extend beyond the base slightly, the opponent can hit that instead. This gives me no advantage and applies some disadvantages to me.

    Finally, in questions of whether my vehicles grant cover or are granted cover by physical obscurity, the advantage will once again be given to my opponent. My only methods of absolute guarantee of cover saves for vehicles are the Skimmers Moving Fast rules and the Flickerfield.

    By combining these aspects, if you still have an issue, I cannot take much of what you say seriously. An aspect of confusion can still be present, but with constant reinforcement, clear delineation of appropriate wargear, and me being MORE than accomodating, it can't truly be great enough to cause a major issue in game.

    What are your thoughts on that avenue of Counts As?

  14. *starts with grabbing his cup of coffee first (it is breakfast time in Europe)*

    I think that may work. At least it is definitely worth a try. Flipping the serpents really removes most of the problems. It also allows you to move them like raiders in terms of interaction with the battlefield. Neither are you blocking off that much space anymore, which is critical when it comes to parking a skimmer on a objective or tank-shocking stuff, nor do you punish yourself too much when you try to move into the space between two terrain pieces or try to stay out of shooting/cc range.

    If done right, you should have raider height or even exceed it, which means you're giving your opponent an gaming advantage on top of being very liberal with cover saves. So basically you're punishing yourself compared to running real raider model. That should clear most of the issues, because you are def. not modeling for advantage anymore.

    Regarding the base: I would shun away from that. First of all you're penalizing yourself far too much. Depending on the height of the fly stand and the size of attacking models, you may end up with cases where the only viable point of contact for CC-moves against a raider is his base. Using the flipped serpent should provide enough space to get in contact with, unless you use very tall custom fly-stands. On top of that it makes moving those tanks on some tables a bitch, think about hovering behind terrain with only the prow of the raider reaching into it. With that custom base, you really need to ram it right into that terrain piece, which either leads to a very wobbly raider or a unhappy tournament staff. Or think about city fight tables with a lot of rubble and minor stuffed glued on/lying around. Your model should be quit top heavy anyway, unless you glue heaps of stones on your base.

    My take on that approach would be to use custom made templates. I know that I read a tutorial about disembarking templates on the FTW blog-roll once. Why not create a plastic card (or strong cardboard) template with the profile of a dorsal raider and a small slot, which allows you to place it underneath the serpent, using the pin of the flying stand as a guidance point. So if your opponent insist on 100% correct measurements, you just place the template underneath the skimmer and take your measurements. After that you remove it.

    That way you don't need to build tons of custom bases and it saves you some movement and transportation problems.

    Cheers Karnstein

  15. Great debate going on here! Thought that I'd add my belated 2 cents:

    -Want to make your serpents open topped? Model some Eldar hanging around outside! It could be Scorpions sling themselves around the door frame, Banshees ready to spring off the hull, or even Guardians setting up a firing position on the hull. Modeling some extra hatches would be great, but if you have guys on the outside looking badass that should fix all kinds of problems

    -tipping the serpent may make your guns unable to see if done too much, unless you're relying on the chin gun to be the dark lance

    -speaking of that you could maybe chisel out the top where the turret goes and have it open to the elements, giving you open topped as well as a great access point for your warriors. Just replace the top and turret when you are playing Eldar and use the chin Lance for DE

    Just my 2 cents.



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