Eldar Apocalypse is back, and this time we are talking about Shield Breakers; those units and tricks we can use to take down the shields of other races. How do you deal with shields?
Taking down shields is a critical part of dealing with a lot of the Super Heavy/Legendary units in Apocalypse. With the Eldar art of war, timing in dealing with these units while protecting your own troops and vehicles from being destroyed in the process.
Dealing with Limitations
One thing to keep in mind, is that in Apocalypse, the Eldar are severely out-ranged. Vehicles like the Scorpion are only at a paltry 60", which in the terms of the size of the games being played is basically nothing when compared to the other weapons you will be seeing.
You also need to consider that even your best stuff on the table is still very vulnerable just like in regular games, but the problem is compounded when dealing with the nasty stuff in Apocalypse.Getting into proper position, and dealing a killing blow swiftly is the best way to ensure you'll end up on top.
The problem with taking out these vehicles is dealing with the shields. Good solid hits will mean nothing if there are shields blocking you from dealing any damage. Not just that, but you can't spend your whole turn dealing damage to the shields with your best weapons.
The order you fire your weapons becomes very important, and choosing the right weapon to take down shields is just as important. I want to stress this point, but it should be fairly obvious to most: Do not use destroyer weapons on shields. You are just wasting good shots that would be better served in doing the actual destruction.
So, what do I like to use to bring down shields? I have to say that I think the best unit for the job is a Nightwing or a Phoenix. The reason being, you can drop them in anywhere on the table (even right next to the vehicle you are trying to eliminate), and dish out lots of S6 and S8 shots to cause the hits needed on those shields. The upside to using flyers in this manner is that the Super Heavy may not be able to retaliate against the flyer depending on what weapons it is armed with - this is a big plus.
The Nightwing is my prefered choice, since if the first strike doesn't get those shields down, Impossible Maneuvers will let you stick around for another pass. A pair of bright lances and shuriken cannons is usually enough to knock down 2 shields.
Not everyone has flyers though, but there are other options. A Cloudstrike Squadron is just perfect for this task. Having some Falcons that are able to act as if they were flyers means you can dish out the shots with the speed and instant place-ability of a flyer.
Other units on the ground are a challenge because of the low range. If you don't have flyers or a Cloudstrike squadron, the next thing I would recommend is the Sunstorm Squadron. The Sunstorm has a very unique ability for combining the beams for the Fire Prism shots. The best thing is since we are dealing with template weapons, the physical size of your target means that it will be near impossible to miss. Pepper enemy shields with the Prisms that you need to take them down, then target the vehicle with the remainder in a combined shot which will hopefully still be destroyer strength.
After all those fancy tricks, Eldar missile launchers are probably the best option for taking down a shield, and they work even better when mounted on Warwalkers for the volume of fire. The 48" range provided by the EML is your best way of staying safe, but Warwalkers are fragile as it is in normal games of 40K, so don't expect them to last long.
Remember, that shields are armor 12 all around, so they can be picked off by smaller weapons. Put your shuriken cannons, scatter lasers and star cannons to the task if the target presents itself.
Getting Rid of the Threat
I like to down the shields of my target on the same turn I intend to fire off the killing shots. This way it gives me control over when I commit units for that task, and when my units are vulnerable. If all goes well, the war-machine is destroyed and no longer poses a threat to the units that I use to make the attack. The worst thing is to be on the receiving end after firing all those shots just to watch your own vehicles turn to slag.
For the actual destruction, my preferred weapon is the Scorpion Twin-Linked pulsars. The accurate and deadly fire provided by my Scorpion is usually more than enough to deal some crippling blows to the enemy war-machines. The Scorpion also has the speed to be where needed in a pinch, so you can maneuver into position and get the shots you need.
The other units I would recommend using are the Revenant Titans, and the Sunstorm Squadron for the reasons listed above. Revenant Titans have two pulsars, although not as accurate as the Scorpion, the extra shots and the physical size of your target will more than make up for it. The Sunstorm squadron is perhaps the best weapon you can make in Apocalypse with Eldar vehicles, getting rid of the 60" range limit, and going for a massive destroyer blast.
When dealing with super heavy vehicles, keeping your distance is something that I recommend simply for the fact that I have seen too many explode in amazing fashion taking whole forces with them.
Subverting Shields Altogether
While this article primarily focuses on taking down shields, there are some units in the Eldar arsenal that are just as good at subverting them all together.
Seer Councils in particular remain useful for carving up war-machines in close combat, simply for the reason that the rear armor on vehicles tends to remain low and shields do not function at close range. Jetbike mounted councils have a lot going for them in Apocalypse, as they can survive some of the nastier weapons thanks to fortune. Just be weary of a vortex grenade and the like.
Fire Dragons are also prime for dealing lots of penetrating hits with fusion guns and melta bombs if they can survive long enough to get that close. In my own experience, a unit of Fire Dragons will more than pay for themselves during the course of a battle in Apocalypse.
The Cobra can effectively ignore shields from the D-Cannon, but for that advantage, it needs to be at closer range. With a clear shot, the Cobra is highly unlikely to miss your target. The downside is that the weapon can only cause one hit, when compared to two from pulsars.
Apocalypse brings a really difficult, albeit fun challenge to the game. There is so much variation it is hard to know what to expect.