Eldar Unit Tactica: Falcon

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In reading the many posts concerning the Falcon Grav Tank since the release of the revised CODEX: Eldar, I have see great anguish and nashing of teeth. Many voice the opinion that the Falcon's days as a gunship are over, others say that it's utility as a Main Battle Tank is now eclipsed by the Fire Prizm and Wave Serpent . I have seen new players voicing the complaint that they love the model, but don't know if it's worth collecting.
The role of the Falcon as the premier MBT of the Eldar host has not changed in my opinion, merely it's implementation on the table top. Some of the wisest among us have voiced the concern that our Falcon can be kept shaken all game. On an open battlefield, lacking any kind of cover and concealment I agree, but I feel that under normal battlefield conditions this is not a huge concern. Furthermore I wish to expound that you can make it very painful for your opponent to shake your Falcon…
Article 1) The stock Falcon: The old "Stock Falcon" was Falcon (Starcannons, Holofield, Spirit Stones) - 190. This was fine when starcannon and pulse laser could liquefy MEQs with aplomb, and your Spirit Stones could ignore the enemy. I purpose that the new stock falcon is: Falcon (Scatterlaser, Shuriken Cannon, Holofield, Spirit Stones) - 185. You save 5 points over the old config, and you have a tank that can shoot 10 times/round at 24" with an effective 36" threat range. (Including movement). Why invest in so many ranged weapons when the tank is so easily shaken? Read on!
Article 2) Falcons are Ninjas: Gone are the days when we could proudly throw our falcon to the center of the board and watch it's spirit stones ignore stunned and shaken results; so we must change tactics with the times. Concealment of the falcon in Turn 1 is mandatory to ensure maximum effectiveness of the craft. Due to it's speed it can even "Share" cover by hiding behind a unit that is already using the terrain to block LOS. When shaken, you can use your amazing 24" movement to hide and prep for another strike, or skip to article 4)
Article 3) 1st Turn Alpha Strike: If possible, it is important to have your falcon move the full 12" and fire all weapons right out of cover. Target priority is: Light-Medium Vehicles first. If you can hit a warwalker squadron, or a Tau Devilfish in turn 1, you are likely to wreck it via sheer volume of fire. With careful target selection on ths initial volley, your Grav Tank can earn back most of it's points before the game even begins. This is why the Shuri-cannon upgrade is so important, you MUST hit hard when given this small window of opportunity.
Article 4) Troops and Falcon are a weapon system: The use of the Falcon as a Fire Dragon delivery system is well documented already, so I'm not going to expand on this any further. I want to talk about other troops types here.
-Scorpions and Banshees: If glanced, the falcon can use it's 24" full movement to set up these assault troops for a strike against your opponent's back line. On the round following their move, the troops can be dropped, and still move, shoot and assault after they're dropped off. (As long as the falcon moves no further than 12" after the drop-off). Scorpions can use a hidden powerfist, and are thus very valuable in this kind of strike; while banshees obviously benefit from the close in deleiver, and an excecutioner backed by war-shout is nothing to disreguard. This is true of the Seer Council below as well!
The assault can be used to block LOS back to the falcon, opening it up to fire again next turn.
-Seer Council: Ever see what happens when a Farseer with a 5-man Warlock bodyguard drop from a falcon, mindwar a squad's hidden powerfist, hit it with 2 destructors, and charge'em with "Enhanced" witchblades? That's right: Dead Squad. Ever see what happens to a tank when struck by 2-3 singing spears? You get the idea… It's expensive, but again the infantry can mess up the enemy's fire lanes and allow the falcon to fire.
-Dire Avengers: In mech lists, it can become difficult to fill in your troops core and still have space for other things. A cheaply Equipped 5 - 6 man avenger squad adds extra power to a falcon's role as an anti-infantry tank, and due to the low points cost of the squad, it is often ignored in the heat of battle. This again takes advantage of the falcon's ability to hold two viable scoring units for the game, and is cheap troops filler when you need those points for more Elites and fast attacks.
-Harliquins: This is where we can break away from the standard "10-Kiss Harlie Squad" a little and have some fun with the other weapons available. Inferno Pistols, and the Death Jester's Shrieker Cannon become a lot more interesting when you can drop a squad at point-blank range, and don't have to rely on a shadowseer for protection. 6 Harlies with "Kisses" can still generate a substantial number of rending attacks, and the other weapons options grant them utility for reliable anti-tank (Besides, this is a great conversion opportunity to use Falcon Stats to create a Harliquinn Venom Transport. Yum!)
Article 5) Double-Score!: Rememebr that both the falcon and it unit it carries are scoring units. So for strategic purposes even a shaken falcon, carrying troops, counts as 2 scoring units where it matters, and can "split up" at the last moment in the lat round to take multiple objectives.
Having this kind of thing at your disposal makes it almost painful for your opponent to glance your Falcon.

Summary:

When used to make hit and run attacks, and in the support of small infantry squads, the Falcon Grav Tank can still out-survive and out-fight the Wave Serpent and Fire Prism Tanks. It's a scoring unit that can carry scoring units. If glanced, you get to use your 24" full move to position your infantry (and possibly the tank itself) to destroy the enemy. (Having a fully loaded falcon show up point-blank to his Basalisk, or command squad can be very disconcerting for your enemy…) You have a tank that can make most of it's points back on turn 1 through sheer volume of fire.
OK, I opened this can of worms… Fire at will!
(Ducks and hides inside his Falcon) ;-)
Out of curiosity, how does the Falcon compare to some of the other tanks in the game?
For example, I have some experience with the Marines Preditor Annihilator. For 140ish points, you get a better armored and armed tank, with a higher BS Definition: Battle Sister or Ballistic Skilland twin linked lascannons. While it isn't as fast, it hits harder for fewer points. Not having played long, I imagine it is more vulenerable because it won't be glanced like the Falcon most of the time. Yet, its much cheaper. How does the Falcon match up with it though competitively?
What about some of the other tanks, like the Russ?
As Yriel says, it's not really comparing apples to apples, but I'll do my best:
Falcon vs. Predator Annihilator: Mission Profile = Tank Hunting.
Cost of Falcon (standard) = 185 + Cost of Weapon System: 123 (6 Dragons, Exarch, Tank Hunters) = 308 (remember article 4 above!)
So for the cost you can have a Pair of Tooled Predator Annihilator Tanks. Lets assume that the units start 36" apart, (about right for the standardf 48"x48" GW Definition: Games Workshopbattle board) with normal cover. Whether the preds go 1st or second is not a concern, because (as per article 2 above) you have concealed your Falcon behind cover. you surge out of cover and fire all weapons at (presumably) something other than the predators b/c most of your armament cannot defeat the forward armor of the Preds. Lets assume that your erstwhile opponent deployed REALLY GOOD and can hit you in his turn with BOTH predators: 6 Lascannons Fired, 2 with rerolls (so effecively 8 shots) = 2.64 hits, you need to roll two dice and take the lowest on each hit so your opponent needs an 11 or 12 on two dice. Approx. percentage is 11% chance of a kill. With both preds firing you have a 29% chance of losing your Falcon. (This same level of firepower has an 88% chance of destroying a Land Raider!!! ) I think theres something wrong with my math here... Maybe someone with access to a scientific calculator can check me...Odds are though that you can screen against one of the Preds and lower the odds of losing your craft under 15%.
By now the Falcon is most likely Shaken and cannot fire in the current Eldar turn. You now have options: Move 12 towards one of the Preds, brining 6 Tankhunter Fusion Guns within 12" of one of the preds. with tank Hunters you now hit at S9, even against it's forward armor you get: Exarch hit on 2+ (83% hit chance), 5 Dragons hit on 3+ (330% hit chance) = 4.16 hits at S9. You need a 4 to penetrate. (AP1 = all glances become pens!) 4.16 * 4/6 = 2.08 pens. On the pen table you get a destroyed result on 4+, so again 2.08 pens = 1.04 destroyed tanks. IOW you WILL kill that Predator. If you have positioned well the other pred may not even get a chance to shoot you in subsequent rounds before you can toast it too...IMHO that makes the overall Falcon/Dragon tank hunting system far more valuable than even a pair of Predator tanks.
On a Weapon for Weapon basis, this stacks up well to anything that any other army might throw at you. On the other hand you will always end up being outnumbered, and in 40k bodies often = victories. Where the Falcon makes up for everything else is in points denial, it takes a crapload of firepower to eliminate it, and it can shield it's occupants for the whole game if need be. In my recent battle with Khorne, my falcon was pounded on by a Bloodthirster for several rounds and shook it off easily.
 




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