Eldar Unit Tactica: Swooping Hawks
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This nifty little gun got a boost with the new rules. Finally it has a decent AP value. That combined with its range and the Hawks' ability to move around makes it a great weapon.
Swooping Hawk Wings:
New rules for the wings now only allow for a Deep Strike if the mission allows. It's all good though, because the Skyleap ability counters the new rule. Otherwise, it's business as usual in the wing department. Swooping Hawks are still classified as jump infantry.
Swooping Hawk Grenade Launchers:
Everything has stayed the same with the Swooping Hawk Grenade Launchers. However, the ability to "bounce" with Skyleap is huge. Now you aren't limited to using the grenade launcher once per game. Use them every time you arrive. J
Fleet of Foot:
I suppose Swooping Hawks have always been Fleet of Foot. Under the old codex, the Swooping Hawks qualified, but not the exarch. Now it's official. The Hawks are Fleet. This means that you get the extra movement of Fleet to clear that last little bit of ground before assaulting a vehicle.
Obviously you won't want to use Fleet all of the time. Keep in mind that the Fleet move does not count as a Jump Infantry move, so you don't need to take dangerous terrain tests, but, likewise, you can't avoid impassible terrain.
Whoever decided to add Haywire Grenades to the Swooping Hawks' wargear should be canonized. J Haywire grenades give Hawks the little bit of umpf they were lacking in the anti-vehicle department. Being able to fly, fleet, assault into a vehicle with haywire grenades is awesome. This ability is further augmented by the Intercept ability.
Exarch Upgrades:Hawk's Talon
This gun got the same boost the Lasblaster did plus some an extra strength. In the end, this gun is still very nice for high toughness enemies while retaining a decent range and rate of fire.
This shiny new gun is my personal favorite exarch weapon. While it lacks the strength and armor penetration of the Hawk's Talon, its insane rate of fire and pinning feature more than make up. Go ahead, run the mathammer numbers, the probability with that many shots outweighs the Talon's stronger blasts. If you ever face gaunts or Imperial Guard infantry masses, the Sunrifle will be your best friend.
This exarch upgrade is simply a must. First of all, if you are in a scenario that doesn't allow you to Deep Strike, Skyleap effectively counters that. Secondly, being able to pull your Hawks out of combat (or out of a dangerous situation) and redeploy them during the next turn is invaluable. Being able to use the grenade packs every time the Hawks return is even better.
What can I say, haywire grenades and Intercept? Now you have a lethal tank hunting unit. Not only can these guys pop over cover, assault 18+ inches in a turn, they will score a successful hit on a vehicle on a 4+, guaranteed. Haywire grenades just add to the madness.
Furthermore, until GW Definition: Games Workshopfixes the rules, this means that Swooping Hawks with Intercept can hit a walker (dreadnaughts included) on the Intercept's number instead of a 6. This makes Swooping Hawks excellent dreadnaught hunters.
Hawk Tactics:Here's my recommended Swooping Hawk unit:
Exarch with Sunrifle, Skyleap, and Intercept
5 Swooping Hawks.
To use them, deploy them on board for turn 1. This is done for two reasons. #1) It gets you in the habit of deploying your Hawks in the event that you can't Deep Strike them. Besides, they're Fast Attack so they will normally deploy last anyway. #2) It helps to throw your opponent off as to your strategy and gives you the chance to use your Hawks on turn 1 if needed.
If your opponent doesn't have any vehicles that need to be eliminated immediately, Skyleap your Hawks during your turn 1 movement phase. If there's a viable target for the Hawks, jump, fleet them closer and assault if possible. Often this will have to wait unit turn 2. But remember that you can't assault during the turn you arrive from a Deep Strike, so its important to keep the Hawks on board if you want them to have that turn 2 vehicle assault.
From there, you can pretty much either hunt vehicles, harass infantry or bounce the Hawks to the dismay of your enemy. Bouncing occurs when you return from a Skyleap and drop your grenades on an enemy unit then fire a volley of lasers into them (especially potent with the Sunrifle). Next turn, you Skyleap again only to appear to ruin another units' day.
This tactic actually works well against Space Marines because at the max range for a Lasblaster, they are outgunned. Dooming the Marines and Guiding the Hawks can make this tactic even more effective. But it's important that the Hawks get away as soon as possible. They don't fair well against assault weapons with high rates of fire (storm bolters and assault cannons eat Swooping Hawks).
I will also recommend using a pair of Swooping Hawk units. For just over 350 points you can alternate your Skyleaps to maximize the effectiveness of the chaos sown by your Swooping Hawks.
A few closing words on Swooping Hawks:
1) You cannot Deep Strike & Skyleap the same unit in the same movement phase. No matter how hard you wrinkle your forehead when you read the Deep Strike rules. Sorry, it can't be done.
2) You cannot assault the turn that you Deep Strike. Keep this in mind. It would be tons of fun to Deep Strike and assault a vehicle in the same turn. But you can't. So forget it. Use the jump infantry movement, fleet, and assault moves instead.
3) Fleet moves don't count as jump infantry moves. This is good and bad. This means that you can jump over a wall and then fleet into the woods with no dangerous terrain test. However, this also means that you cannot fleet over an obstacle. Imagine how much it would hurt if you only rolled a 1...smack!
4) Until GW Definition: Games Workshopsays otherwise, Intercept applies to all vehicles (walkers included). Please exploit this!
5) If for no other reason, use the Sunrifle because it's always fun to hear your opponent say "Assault what?!?!?"
Well, I hope my little rant on Swooping Hawks has inspired you to toss a few of these winged killers into your army list or has helped you figure out ways to annoy your opponent with them.