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The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 03:49   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

The Wisdom of Saim or “Stupid Vyper Tricks”
TACTICA: Vyper


“Pre-ramble”
The Vyper is an oft neglected and misunderstood part of the Eldar Arsenal which receives mixed reviews at best from most (Non Saim-Han…) players. While it’s Speed, Maneuverability, and Firepower are amazing, the twin weaknesses of it’s light armor and it’s open top often causes the craft to take a back seat to fast attack aspect warrior units like Swooping Hawks, Shining Spears, and Warp Spiders.
I myself have maligned the Vyper as “mostly useless” for many years, and had side boarded my own to the bitz-box since the advent of the most recent Eldar Codex. The Loss of the Crystal targeting matrix was keenly felt among those of us that used the Vyper as a jump-shoot-jump unit, as was the nerfage of our favorite Vyper weapon: The Starcannon.
One day my younger brother, wife, and I were playing a 3on3 of ‘Dawn of War: Dark Crusade’. I was admiring the fact that the Vypers in that game could pin down enemy infantry squads with their Eldar Missile launchers (Heretofore: EML) and destroying enemy buildings and vehicles alike. They did so from a stand-off range and I rarely lost one. I said to my Bro, “I wish that the vipers could do this on the table-top…”, sadly. He was quiet for a moment while we shattered a Chaos Marine charge; and then replied, “Well, can’t they?”
Just having to know, I began to playtest Vypers in an EML configuration, fighting them from stand-off, and pumping Plasma-Missiles. They did well… Very well! Usually going the whole game without taking a hit. We then re-opened the entire subject, and came up with the following. So this article is dedicated to my little Brother, who dared to ask, “Why Not?”

The Vyper in Combat:
The Vyper is conceived of as a high-tech hovercraft, with a heavy weapon on the back. It can get places quickly, and lay down heavy firepower, but cannot take very much return fire without dying a horrid, flaming death. As such we need to take advantage of the Vyper’s two most valuable assets: Speed and Stand-Off range. You can also extend their life by preventing them from becoming a priority target. Finally, the configuration of the Vyper allows you to use some terrain as almost undefeatable cover!
I don’t think that I need to harp on the Vyper’s speed. We all know that a fast vehicle can cover half of a standard board if it foregoes it’s shooting, and that as a skimmer it benefits from a 3+ cover save when doing so. This allows the Vyper to rapidly reposition when threatened, and it allows you to pressure an enemy flank or rear to draw strength away from your main attack.
We also know that it’s primary weapons have a decently long fighting range. Do not hesitate to retreat from battle when the enemy is getting into small-arms range. Bolters will bring you down! Move and shoot. (More on this below under “Vyper Weapons”) Attacking from long-range minimizes the enemy’s ability to engage you. EMLs are especially useful for this as you are placed beyond the range of heavy bolters, plasma cannons, and the like.
If you are too far away to be shot by small arms, and you have other Armor closer to the enemy than your vyper, (Say a fully kitted Grav Tank or Wraithlord) you are unlikely to have the vypers take fire as they are far less threatening. (This may be untrue in an annihilation game, but the distance still improves your chances)
I’ve said it before, and I always will: Eldar Tanks are Ninjas! Think like a ninja, and HIDE. Use cover to block LOS, and to provide yourself with cover saves. The cover needs to obscure ½ of your hull to be effective, but because your guns are on a turret, and do not show the skimmer’s hull you can hide the WHOLE Skimmer AND shoot your enemy. (Look at the model, try different cover, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. You can set it up so that you can shoot them, and they can’t shoot you!)
Vyper Squadrons vs. Lone Vypers: In this edition it really doesn’t matter which way you go. This is a two-edged sword in either case: The Lone Vyper has a small footprint, but must be upgraded with expensive spirit stones to shake off any hits. A Vyper Squadron can shake off some hits thanks to the squadron rule, but the same rule makes them even easier to kill. Choose your poison…

Vyper Weapons:
This is an in-depth look at the standard armaments available to the Codex: Eldar Vyper and their usefulness (or lack there-of) to the unit as a whole.

Twin-Linked Shuriken Catapults:
This is the standard armament on all Vypers that is sometimes replaced with the relatively inexpensive Shuriken Cannon upgrade. It is an Accurate weapon thanks to it’s twin-link, but unless you are facing Guardsmen without weapons upgrades: If you are close enough to use this weapon you are probably too close. I am not suggesting that you upgrade to the Shuriken cannon, I am merely saying that this weapon system should be considered as a weapon of last resort.
It has the major advantage of being a defensive weapon, so if you DO find yourself close enough that it’s use is necessary, it’s fire can be combined with whatever main weapon you are using.
If you have this configuration, and you lose your primary weapon, don’t despair. Your Vyper is still perfect for running end and contesting objectives late in the game, or moving fast (Granting it a Cover Save) and moving in front of a friendly Tank. (Giving the Friendly a Cover Save as well!)

Shuriken Cannons:
The Shuriken Cannon, (Here-to-fore ShC) is extremely cheap, and comes in both a turret, and an under-slung (“Shrieker” Cannon) version. As a Top mount, and the Vyper’s Only armament it allows for a craft that will only cost you 50 points, and can be spammed. (Popular with some Saim-Hann Players) With a Pair of these you are only set back 60 points, and can rain fire down upon your foes as long as the Vyper doesn’t move full-speed. (An even more popular variant for the Points-conscious user)
The only disadvantages to this configuration are that it lacks any real stand-off range, and that it lacks versatility for use against heavy tanks. With a max firing range of 24”, Bolter-Variants and (worse) pulse rifles will liquefy you. In this, the twin Shuriken Catapults do not tempt you to get close nearly as much as their lower firepower, and shorter range; while longer range weapons provide ample reason to keep away. This is largely a judgement call for you.
The final advantage to this upgrade is that if you take a hit, and lose your primary weapon, (A depressingly common occourance) you can still strike with some stand-off capability, though your mileage may vary…

Scatter Lasers:
The weapon provides the same stand-off range as a heavy bolter, the firepower of a Multi-laser, and the rate-of-fire of an Assault Cannon, all for just enough points to bring the Vyper to 60 points. This versatile weapon can do everything that the Shuriken Cannon can do against most troops from well out of bolter-variant range, and even from beyond Pulse-Rifle Range!
It still lacks the punch in Strength or AP that more expensive Eldar Weapons carry, but it slams troops, light infantry, and the weaker sides of vehicles. It also gets a Higher kill ratio/round against MEQs in cover than the Star-Cannon does for a fraction of the cost. (Fired at BS 3. Scatter Laser: 55% chance of a kill. Star Cannon: 42% chance of kill in cover/83% chance of a kill out of cover.) So unless your opponent has his marines stand in the open, you get a lot more bang for your buck, and even if they do stand around, you are paying far less for the weapon.

Eldar Missile Launcher:
For the total price of 65 Points/Vyper, you can have the Eldar Missile Launcher. This is my personal favorite weapon in the Vyper arsenal, as it provides maximum Stand-Off Range, (As much as a Las-Cannon!) and maximum flexibility. (Either a tank-busting Krak Missile, or a Pinning, Carapace Armor-Eating blast template that wounds MEQs on a 4+)
The Stand-off range is key. Most multi-Shot anti-light vehicle weapons have a range cap of 36”; so not only is your vyper safe from small arms fire, it can also ignore Heavy Bolters, Missile Pods, and Disintegrators. This range also allows you to pick and choose the terrain that you use for cover each turn, You Pick your fire-Lanes! The Vyper is also far enough away that it is marginalized as a target; making the Vyper a less-tempting target than say: That Squad of Dire Avengers lurking behind the nearby Wave Serpent…
The Plasma Missile aspect allows you to use the Vyper Squadron in the same way as a marine Player Might use a Whirlwind, or the Imperial Guard a Griffon Mortar Carrier. You can pin down the enemy from a distance, and almost guarantee a hit every round as long as you hit a large unit of infantry. This ability to produce suppressive fire is invaluable. If you need to hit a light/medium tank, you can always switch over to Krak Rounds, but you are then at the mercy of BS3, so this is best done in Squadrons. (See The Brightlance, below) As such I recommend the Eldar Missile Launcher config over all others.
Finally: It was recently pointed out to me that the Eldar Missile Launcher fired in Plasma Missile mode counts as a defensive weapon, and so can be fire in tandem for max effect, and only 75 points… This isn’t bad either.

The Starcannon:
For 70 points you can have a Star-Cannon Vyper. This was the scourge of everyone in the old Codex, but sadly our Starcannon has fallen on hard times. It only fires twice/round, giving it the lowest rate of fire of any non-single-shot weapon. It’s kill ratio against MEQs in the open is still impressive, (83% chance of a single kill/round at BS 3) but it loses out to the Shuriken Cannon and the Scatter Laser once the enemy bunkers down due to same strength, but lower rate of fire.
Unless you play against mostly Deathwing-style armies in open terrain, I would highly recommend just about any other configuration, as you’re points/kill ratio is abysmally low with this configuration. As such (and for the reasons listed below for the Brightlance) I do not recommend this expensive configuration.

The Brightlance:
The Brightlance is the Eldars’ Premier anti-armor weapon for anything short of a Fire Prism or Super-heavy. It can defeat any armor whether infantry based, or vehicle mounted. (With the Notable Exceptions of the Inquisition’s Blessed Hull, and the Necron Monolith’s Living Metal) This firepower comes at an extreme price for a platform as vulnerable as the Vyper: 85 points. You can have an entire scoring squad of Guardians for that much! The main issue though is that the Brightlance is slaved to a BS of 3, resulting in a 50% hit ratio, so that you need two vypers to get to a respectable 75%. For this much (170 Points) you can afford a Fire Prism or a Twin-Brighlance Wave Serpent with similar accuracy, and far more versatility. So I do not recommend this configuration…

Vyper Equipment:
This section details the relative usefilness (Or lack there-of) of the Wargear Upgrades Available to the Vyper. As a preamble I will say this: Most of these are completely unnecessary, and adding them only adds to the cost of your craft, making it an even more tempting target…

Vectored Engines:
This upgrade allows you to survive an Immobilizing hit when moving at Flat-Out Speed, and allows you to settle to the ground rather than crash and die. It is useless in a Squadron where all Immobilize results count as destroyed, and even for an individual vyper it will only save you if you moved at Flat-out speed. Remember that we are now in 5th Edition, and unless we move at flat out, we just get stuck like everyone else! (See page 71 of the Core Rule Book under Moving Skimmers, and Shooting at Skimmers) We are no longer destroyed when immobilized while moving 12”, and many folks don’t realize this yet. Spread the word! - Not Recommended.

Star Engines:
This upgrade gives us “Fleet of Afterburner”. We get to move again in the shooting phase, and including our Flat-Out Skimmer move we can soar a phenomenal 36” in one round. Very useful for getting a Transport like a Falcon or Wave Serpent where we need it, Great for repositioning a shaken Fire Prism, and a pricy way to quickly grab a last-round objective with a Vyper. This upgrade should only be considered if this is the primary use of your Vypers. In standard variable-turn games where you don’t know what will be the last round, it is largely a waste of points. – Not Recommended unless this is for Objective Stealing.

Holo Fields:
This advanced defense screen forces your opponent to take the worst results on two damage checks. Sounds good for a vulnerable vehicle like the Vyper, no? The Trouble is that it costs almost as much as the base vehicle itself! Beyond that, being open-topped means that we are likely to take critical damage from even the lowest results. Thus the upgrade is useless without further taking Spirit Stones: Now the cost of the Upgrades = The base Vehicle - Not Recommended.

Spirit Stones:
This upgrade grants us our mobility when we might not have it from a stunned result. Not bad, but like the Holo-Field we are very likely to take real damage regardless. The Upgrade is rendered ineffective by using Vypers in a squadron, because they already get the benefits from the Squadron Rule. - Recommended only on Lone Vypers, and even then not very highly.

Stupid Vyper Tricks:
In my Blitzkrieg articles for the Witch Hunters forum, I wrote a series of small tactica called “Stupid Tank Tricks”. This listed some really dumb, but useful things that the vehicles could be used for. In that spirit I give you:

The Saim-Han Shuffle:
Jetbike Squadrons can be led by Warlocks and a Farseer to get a 5+ cover save from the Warlock, and a re-rollable save from the Farseer. Jet-Bikes are ½ the size of vypers in silhouette and can grant Vypers a 4+ cover save. In turn the Vyper Silhouette is 50% that of a Grav Tank, and Vyper Squadrons can benefit from Guide and/or Doom from the Seer ahead of them. Now your tanks get a 4+ save on the go, and both the Vypers and the tanks can benefit from the Seers. Your entire formation has a cover save, and because eldar weapons are set at the very top of their turret assemblies, the enemy in front may not get obscured by the friendlies in front…

The Alaitoc Vyper Sniper:
Vypers can travel to the top of buildings, Trees, and even Impassable Terrain is they can be physically placed on it! Use stand-off range, and the ability to hover over the tallest terrain to punish your foe!
Alternatively use your speed to control fire-lanes and Cover, then barrage with multiple Plasma Missiles or Scatter lasers.

The Iyanden Shield Bearer:
Move a Vyper at Flat Out, and Place him to obscure your Wraithlords or Vehicles. The Vyper benefits from it’s cover save, and so does the Wraith behind it.

The Ulthwe Psychic Squadron:
Put a Farseer in a Holo-Field Falcon, and have the Falcon screen a full vyper squadron. Have the Farseer Guide and Fortune the Vyper Squadron so that their cover saves (from the falcon) are re-rollable, and their shots are all twin-linked. (This is particularly good with the twin-Shuriken Cannon or Shuriken Cannon + Missile Launcher Configurations!)

The Biel-Tan Aspect Support Wave:
Follow a Wave Serpent full of Assault Aspects with a Vyper Squadron, using the Wave Serpent for Cover, Dump out aspect warriors behind the Wave Serpend, but surrounded by the Vypers to grant the Aspects an all-round cover save and fire support. The Vypers meanwhile enjoy the same cover from the Wave Serpent that the Aspects do!
This is also wonderful for protecting the Aspects if their transport is disabled, as Vypers moving at high speed can protect themselves with the Flat-Out cover save, while Aspects dumped from a destroyed vehicle are granted the “I’m behind a friendly” cover save too!

Do you have any “Stupid Vyper Tricks”?
Ged
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 06:27   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

+1 Karma

Before I thought Vypers were totally useless and now I just think they're kind of useless, which is a huge step.
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Old 22 Jun 2009, 20:17   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged of Paragon
Finally: It was recently pointed out to me that the Eldar Missile Launcher fired in Plasma Missile mode counts as a defensive weapon, and so can be fire in tandem for max effect, and only 75 points… This isn’t bad either.
No, I don't have any "Stupid Vyper Tricks" as I'm just starting Eldar, but I'm intrigued by this aspect... I know that a defensive weapon is Str 4 or lower but how does one "fire in tandem"? By purchasing the underslung Shuriken Cannon?

Also, can you fire a defensive weapon moving Flat Out? I think the answer is no, but if it isn't >.

Anyway, good article and I may be using (a) Vyper(s) in the future...
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Old 22 Jun 2009, 21:02   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

Nice write up, Ged. It's good to have you back. Some of the formatting looks a little screwy, though. A couple thoughts to add in there. For a reasonable amount of points, you can take an EML and a Shuriken Cannon. I prefer this set up since it lets you get 3S6 and 1S4 blast while still moving 12". That's not shabby at all. Or you can stand still and pound away with your ShuCannon and EML's.

Also, in 5th edition, anything can elect to stay in Reserves. This is especially handy in keeping your Vypers alive as you can keep them off board for the first turn of shooting, then bring them on and open fire...or move Flat Out and get them into position quickly.

Cheers,
Em
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Old 23 Jun 2009, 22:46   #5 (permalink)
Shas'Vre
 
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shasel_Ahab
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged of Paragon
Finally: It was recently pointed out to me that the Eldar Missile Launcher fired in Plasma Missile mode counts as a defensive weapon, and so can be fire in tandem for max effect, and only 75 points… This isn’t bad either.
No, I don't have any "Stupid Vyper Tricks" as I'm just starting Eldar, but I'm intrigued by this aspect... I know that a defensive weapon is Str 4 or lower but how does one "fire in tandem"? By purchasing the underslung Shuriken Cannon?

Also, can you fire a defensive weapon moving Flat Out? I think the answer is no, but if it isn't >.

Anyway, good article and I may be using (a) Vyper(s) in the future...
Shasel_Ahab,

Tandem-fire may be used anytime that your vyper moves 6" or less. This is because skimmers can indeed still fire all of their weapons when moving slowly. Tandem-fire at high speeds (up to 12") is only possible in the situation that Emlyn mentioned above: EML + Enderslung Shuriken Cannon, and then only when the EML is fired in Plasma Missile mode. (This makes the EML count as S4, and therefore fall into the category of Defensive Weapons!)

I hope that helps,
Ged
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Old 26 Jun 2009, 05:16   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

I take two vypers in the same squadron, one with a scatter laser, and one with a bright lance. I speed around the table and shoot vehicles in the side or the back. Extremely effective? Not really. It's a great distraction and has resulted in destroyed preds, vindicators, and even land raiders with that beautiful lance weapon. Str. 6 on rear armor w/ 4 shots is pretty darn good, too.
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Old 26 Jun 2009, 16:10   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Wisdom of Saim or "Stupid Vyper Tricks"

Eh my problem with a brightlance on a Vyper is it's such an expensive gun on such a flimsy vehicle. It will make your vyper a higher priority target which means more shots it's way and it doesn't take much to down a vyper. That and BS 3 for a one shot expensive weapon is bleh to me. Better off on your wave serpent so it's twin linked or a BS 4 Wraithlord.
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