Musing: Harlequin Holofields on a Wave Serpent

My primary army, which is growing alarmingly large, is a Corsair-themed Eldar/Dark Eldar force, and I have a known and profound weakness for small, fast, lightly armored gunboats.

You can imagine my delight at the release of the Starweaver/Voidweaver kit. But the rules for the two craft carried an interesting twist: The holo-fields that come with the *weaver give a 5+ Invulnerable save as long as the vehicle hasn’t been immobilized, rather than the +1 to cover saves (and thus Jink saves) that the Eldar currently have. Assuming I’m not wrong about a push for modular consistency in codexes, what does this mean for everyone’s favorite medium skimmer-gunboat, the Wave Serpent?

I’ve been meaning to write a post on tuning the Wave Serpent, and taking it down a notch – in my mind, it needs it, though I think most of the suggestions I’ve seen are vast overreactions in the other direction. But that post will be saved for a time when I can look at things more systematically.

This, instead, is merely musing about a 5++ save for the Wave Serpent.

On the surface, it’s a nerf. The most infuriating thing about the Wave Serpent is it’s survivability. A 3+ jink save is no joke, and it can mean a Wave Serpent fighting on far past it’s time. Knocking that down to a 4+ is a pretty big deal, as in my experience Wave Serpents tend to be glanced out, rather than killed via explosions, so letting just one more glancing hit through is a big deal.

On the other hand, it means a more interesting choice. Right now, basically if you’re taking fire that’s at all likely to kill you, you jink. The consequence of almost any penetrating hit involves snap firing (or worse) anyway, so why not? If you don’t, you run that risk, and the holo fields you’re carrying are dead points.

With a 5++ field, there’s more tactics – do you run the greater risk of letting the hit go through with the 5++, or do you err on the side of more protection? The 5++ will let you hit back harder, and that’s a big deal. If you’re taking fire from something the Wave Serpent can hurt, hitting on 6’s vs. hitting on 3’s for your retaliatory shots is potentially huge – though you have to survive the enemy fire first. And the best way not to take fire is to kill the units shooting at you.

In other ways, it’s actually an increase in survivability – it’s protection against the Wave Serpent’s natural predators. Things that Ignore Cover or Ignore Jink, like…well, other Wave Serpents, Tau, melee combat or the Sicaran. Against these, a Serpent would have the 5++ save, which is infinitely more protection than they have right now.

All of this is, of course, idle speculation, but as an avid user of Wave Serpents, I think it would be an interesting direction to take them in and, in some ways, be more enjoyable. One of my complaints fighting Tau is that my army works entirely differently against them than against most other opponents.

One of the biggest impacts I think will be on the heavier gunboats – the Fire Prism and Warp Hunter. A 5++ save for them would protect them when they crept out of cover, and as both of these tanks are nigh on useless when snap firing, would prevent the problem of just a little bit of fire coming their way effectively shutting them down. That, I think, would solve one of their fundamental weaknesses, and make them far more interesting on the battlefield

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