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From Idea to Reality
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Haemonculi/Talos <> Reavers <> Wyches <> Warp Beasts <> Archon <> Final
From Idea to Reality,
Part 8: Wyches
When I began to sit down and turn the Themed Army Idea into a real tabletop battle force, I decided to re-orient the Scorpions into an “assault army” that would swoop down on the enemy and butcher them in close combat. Why? I was looking for a change; my Fighting Tigers are pretty much a “shooty” army.
Though Raider squads and Reavers can do well in close combat, they’re not real “heavy hitters.” Raider squads aren’t optimized for that role and Reaver squads tend to be small and expensive (both in points and cash). I could have sunk a lot of points into each Raider squad’s Sybarite to them into assault monsters (for example, giving them combat drugs and agonizers) but I didn’t want to. When it comes to Dark Eldar, I prefer quantity to quality.
I could have left the hand-to-hand combat to my Taloses and Archon, but these units are the first targets that everyone aims for. In addition, a Talos is slow, and even if brought on the field with a webway portal, is not guaranteed to reach close combat. Tooled-up Archons are expensive, and can’t win the whole battle by themselves.
Of the Elites, the Wyches seemed to fit best with my concept of the army. Not to mention that taking a unit of Wyches would allow me a unit of Warp Beasts….
The Role of the
Games Workshop recently revised the options for Wyches, so I chose to give the squad the new Wych weapons, of course. They're well worth the extra points. I also gave my Succubus a handy-dandy agonizer: always wounds on a 4+, ignores armor saves, and—on a lucky roll—can hurt vehicles, even a Land Raider.
Taking a closer look at the Wyches entry in Codex: Dark Eldar, I saw that up to two of them could each have a blaster or a shredder. My initial thought was to disregard this option and go for the extra attacks that splinter pistols and close combat weapons would bring, but then I reconsidered.
Dark Eldar—even Wyches—only have Strength 3, meaning that they need 5s or 6s to wound Space Marines, Orks, and any other opponent with a Toughness higher than your average Girl Scout. If I could first soften up the target with some Strength 6 (shredder) or Strength 8 (blaster) firepower, however, things would probably go a bit more my way.
But what to take? Shredder? Blaster? One of each? Both are Assault 1 with a 12" range. Shredders have a blast marker and no Armor Penetration, while blasters have two more points of Strength and AP 2. Not to mention that blasters nuke vehicles and cost fewer points. No brainer, right? Take the blasters, right?
Actually, I went for the shredders. I want my Wyches to attack infantry, not vehicles, so the blaster’s special ability against Armor Values higher than 12 doesn’t mean much to me in this case. And though blasters are Strength 8 and would vaporize even Space Marines, the most I would kill with blasters would be 2 targets a round: that’s fine if you’re fighting 5 Blood Angels, but not if you’re going after 16 Orks.
Two hits with shredders will wound Space Marines and Orks on a 2+ (same as the blasters) and force a bunch of saves; I’m betting that at least 3 Space Marines would drop, as would just about any Ork hit. Not to mention that the shredders will probably blow large holes in the enemy unit’s formation, allowing my Wyches to charge deep into the middle of them, where they can get all their attacks.
Lord, sometimes it feels so good to be so bad….
Modeling and Painting
From a fluff standpoint, my Wyches—like my Reavers—aren’t what they claim to be. The story behind the Ozone Scorpions is that they are in exile from Commorragh—Wych cults are not technically part of a Kabal, so why would they have gone into exile with them? So my “Wyches” aren’t really gladiators for hire, they’re actually Warriors—drawn from the best close-combat fighters— hopped up on combat drugs. Within the Kabal, they are known as the Silver Scorpions and often receive spoils of battle directly from the Archon himself.
Accordingly, they look pretty much like the rest of the army: blue bodysuit, silver boots, gloves, and helmets. They have a few extra touches to distinguish them. To build each Wych, I used Warrior legs, torsos and arms from the Reaver jetbike riders, and weapons from the GW Wyches or from the Warrior sprues.
Regular Wyches don’t have headgear, but mine have Striking Scorpion helmets, which I acquired by trading some old figures. The Scorpion helmets tie in nicely with the name of the army and give them that “fallen Eldar” look that will complement the Reavers and the Archon. The resemblance to Striking Scorpions tips off the opponent that this squad is an Elite close-combat unit and it visually reinforces the general assault tendency of this army.
Doing the actual conversion work was a real chore. I had to cut the heads off the Reaver riders and remove the helmets off the Striking Scorpions; all of these were pewter models. Worse, I decided to save some money and just use the hacksaw I already had rather than go out and buy a Dremel. That’s right—I cut the heads off 20 figures by hand. I must be some kind of masochist.
I laboriously made the head swaps and filled in the inevitable gaps with green putty, and I suppose they look okay. As my friend Scott Mallinson says, these figures look best at “Bette Midler range.” You know, “From a Distance….”
By spending a mere 20 to 30 dollars on a Dremel, I could have saved myself a lot of time and probably had nicer-looking conversions. Not to mention I would have a tool that would come in handy later on, when I start doing some conversions for my Marines. Ah, well. Learn from my mistake: if you have the option, always invest in the proper tool for the job.
I had the most fun converting the special Wych weapons (above). I took the falchion from a fantasy Orc model; the razorsnare is a Reaver jetbike chain. The hydraknives are from Drazhar, Master of Blades. I made the shardnet from plastic mesh (taken from a fruit crate), primed it black, painted it Boltgun Metal, tangled it around the Wych’s hand, hung it down, and glued the ends to the Wych’s base. The impaler is simply the bit used by the regular Games Workshop Wych model.
For the Succubus (below), I used one of the new Striking Scorpion Exarchs and added lots of spikes to his armor—I even used some green stuff to mold him one protruding from his codpiece. I placed a short stabbing blade in his right hand and used my clippers to cut, pinch, and twist his Scorpion’s Claw into an agonizer, described in Codex: Dark Eldar as often taking the form of a “barbed gauntlet.”
At first, I was concerned that my converted Succubus was wearing too much armor, considering the Wychs’ 6+ Save. Briefly, I contemplated using another model. But then I recalled something my pal Paul Hill once said: “You can wear all the armor you want and it won’t do you any good if it’s made out of plastic.”
That’s the position I’m taking: it may look intimidating, but my Succubus’ armor is lightweight, flimsy stuff like the kind the Stormtroopers wore in Star Wars—and you noticed how much good it did them against frikkin’ teddy bears, right?
Similarly, my Wyches seem a bit more armored than the regular Wych models (who wear spandex and electrical tape). Rather than introduce some kind of special rule that allows my Wyches a better armor save (and that requires my opponents’ permission), I created a “fluffy” explanation:
The Kabal’s Haemonculi create combat drugs from their own special recipes, using inferior ingredients in place of those not found outside Commorragh. These “special” combat drugs provide the usual benefits but also, as an unintentional (?) side effect, make the user feel invulnerable, leading them to be especially careless in battle. Though they wear more armor than the Wyches of Commorragh, the Silver Scorpions fight with a reckless abandon that often places them in harm’s way.
A final note on painting the Wyches. You might notice from the photos that the Silver Scorpions have long white hair hanging down from under their helmets: the hair is from the Reaver jetbike rider models that I used for the torsos and arms. As with previous figures in my army, I painted the hair Skull White and highlighted with strands of Mithril Silver.
As I mentioned before, if you take
at least one unit of Wyches, you’re allowed to have a unit of Warp Beasts.
time, I’ll discuss them.
Posted October 2001
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