Today we’re looking at the ruinous Eldritch D-slinger of top tables – the Warp Hunter skimmer tank, specifically the Corsair Warp Hunter. If you have not yet faced this hovering beast, read on and learn how to prepare yourself. For more tactics and analysis, be sure to check out the Tactics Corner.
Izdrakh rose into the air, the bunkers behind him each spewing gouts of flame. Ahead, clunky armoured reinforcements were arriving just as predicted, this was going to be fun.
Shimmering trails of energy, the Prince’s cherished clutch of Warp Hunters plummeted from above the armoured company, void burners falling away as the pilots powered up their Distortion Flails.
Glorious fissures in reality arced through the air, the Warp bubbling and sparking from within the lumbering Imperial vehicles. Armour plates were partially displaced in space-time, creating lethal collisions between the Warp and human creations. Pieces of three tanks imploded and vanished, causing smoke and crackling energies to fill the air. In a moment, the Warp Hunters crippled seven vehicles and their occupants, only broken and distorted shells remaining.
If you ever wondered what would happen if a Distort Cannon and a Falcon grav-tank had a lovechild, the answer is the Warp Hunter – a Falcon with a massive D-slinger, able to turn around a game on its own. Supposedly a Corsairs invention, commonplace amongst the pirates but scant amongst Craftworlds (out of shame!), the Warp Hunter is a classic Falcon-chassis vehicle with 12-12-10 armour, 3HP and BS4. It is a fast skimmer tank, giving it great mobility and threat range, able to move 12” and shoot at full ability.
What a Warp Hunter uniquely brings to the table is its ponderous phallic cannon of preposterous proportions, representing the comically named D-flail. This is a hull-mounted D-cannon, which does exactly what you would expect it to do – create Distort rifts in real space to tear apart the enemies of the Eldar, rolling with that Strength: D AP2. Most importantly, and what many players often do not realize, is this guy has TWO fire modes: Blast and Rift.
Like the focused artillery version, the D-flail can project a cascading Distort rift from afar, shooting D3+1 small Barrage blasts out to 36”. This strikes at Strength D AP 2, but with the Dispersed special rule, meaning it cannot ever roll a 6 on the Destroyer chart.
Then what the D-flail can also do is unleash an unfocused rift at point blank, shooting a single Template attack from the barrel of the weapon (NOT a Torrent weapon, thank the Emperor), which also hits at Strength D AP 2. In my mind’s eye I see this grav tank twerking around in the air, literally flailing a distortion rift around in front of it like a life-destroying jump rope. Not a refined, elegant firepower solution like most Craftworld war engines, which is why this is clearly an inspired invention of the space pirates.
Both the Blast and Template attacks are Strength D and AP2, but with the Dispersed special rule which means rolls of a 6 on the Destroyer table count as 5’s instead. The fact that a Warp Hunter cannot ‘6’ out a model is at least a small comfort. Even so, with potentially 4 blasts in one shot, obliterating a Superheavy or Gargantuan in one round is not unusual.
Something to watch for though: the Corsair Dispersed rules stipulate that 6’s count as 5’s, meaning Corsair Warp Hunters cause a Destroyer wound on a 2+, and are otherwise unmodified D counting as s10 for Instant Death. The Craftworlds Eldar version is a bit more confusing, as their Dispersed rule causes a straight -1 to the D table, so they wound on a 3+ like a Heavy D-scythe, however unlike a Heavy D-scythe the D-flail is also still s10 for Instand Death purposes. The Devil is in the details sometimes, as D-scythes cannot Instant Death the likes of Thunderwolves, Centurions, or other T5 models, but the Warp Hunter D-flail will most certainly double them out with raw s10 power, so watch out for that.
What makes the D-flail especially nasty is the Barrage rules, which allows this fearsome weapon to shoot indirectly at targets out of line of sight, ignore intervening cover, and potentially snipe key models with the centre of the blast marker. For a classic case study of this application, check out Sean Nayden clipping Alex Harrison’s Autarch Warlord in the final of last year’s LVO. If you are prepared for this kind of shenanigans, it is not so bad, but that one game where your Renegade Knight, Maulerfiend, and Soulgrinder are all right next to each other and get completely obliterated by Destroyer barrage… that’s not a fun game.
On the flipside, Barrage does come with a lot of randomness thanks to the vagaries of the scatter dice, and particularly so when shooting out of LOS without Ballistic Skill modifiers. There are definitely turns where a poor scatter roll ends up wasting a whole turn of shooting, probably more often than those volleys that somehow flip exactly where you want them to go. Fortunately Corsairs do have access to the Divination psychic discipline, which means a 60-point jetbike Baron can easily swoop in at key moments to cast Prescience and twin-link those scatter shots. Really watch out for Warp Hunters with Guide or Prescience on them, they easily roll a string of Hit! dice and can walk through your army.
Also it is generally very difficult for vehicles to get cover saves against Barrage weapons (Jink is still good to go though), and even more so Superheavy Vehicles and Gargantuan creatures. Combined with causing D3 wounds/hull points as a Destroyer weapon, this makes the Warp Hunter a very effective solution for knocking out these units, and also for tearing through multi-wound characters or Deathstars. Anything that would normally be tough is usually a mildly enjoyable D party for the Warp Hunter, and juiced up with Prescience the D-slinger will rarely miss a large target.
Defence Against the Dark Arts
There are a few things you can do to defend against a Warp Hunter, with good effectiveness. First and foremost is always carefully measure that 48” effective range once the foul war engine is deployed (12” move +36” barrage), and keep important models out of the way! Secondly, Ruins are a lifesaver – the ITC FAQ rules that barrage weapons always hit the top levels of buildings, so having a roof over your head helps a lot. Not to mention non-vehicles in ruins will always benefit from a 4+ cover save, which can reduce the impact of a Warp Hunter significantly. Units with Stealth/Shrouded also tend to shrug off Warp Hunters with ease unless they are in template range. Junky troop units don’t take any more damage from a Warp Hunter than they would from plasma cannons or other heavy weapons, unless you rely on FNP, so they are great fodder to hold down the table until you can deal with the menace.
Unfortunately vehicles and Gargantuans do struggle to benefit from cover against barrage weapons, and that brings us to defence strategy #3: Get the drop! If the Warp Hunter is ever Shaken or forced to Jink, it is completely unable to fire the D-flail, as neither firing mode can Snap Fire. As a middling-armoured AV12 vehicle, pushing through a few penetrating hits each turn is not a mammoth task, or at least providing enough threat to make the bugger Jink. Get those skimmers twerking each turn and you effectively take it out of the game. In several games my Warp Hunter has been neutralized this way and only gotten a shot off in turn 4 or 5, if at all.
Playing against Warp Hunters with my own Eldar, the plan is usually to hide in reserves and cripple the hovering deathmobiles as fast as possible with incoming scatbikes, Warp Spiders, and friendly Warp Hunters, before the enemy tanks can get their barrages into a Wraithknight or other high value units.
Corsair special: the Drop-Shot Hunter
Counter to this tactic, the Corsairs have one more trick up their sleeve, which makes the space pirate Warp Hunter that much more effective than their Craftworld cousins – void burners. Void Burners are a ubiquitous and fluffy Corsairs vehicle upgrade, which grant the recipient Deep Strike at just +5pts/model.
Combined with Sky Burners for only D6” scatter on the drop and re-roll Reserves, Void Burners allow Corsair players to keep their Warp Hunters in reserve then drop them literally anywhere on the table with good reliability. This can be devastating, as the Warp Hunter is able to choose the ideal spot for maximum damage and best defence, coming in danger close to unleash a warp rift across bunched up transports, or coming down in the enemy’s back corner to start unleashing barrage from behind. Landing next to a unit of Centurions and vaporizing the whole bunch with a D-flail template is a particular favourite of mine, closely followed by pouring barrage blasts into multiple wyverns and killing the lot.
This is especially powerful when you consider how common Shrouded is on key units these days, thanks to buff stacking and psychic powers. Recently I saw a Warp Hunter dropping blasts on a Shadowsun-star of 8 Crisis Suits, rocking a 2+ cover save in Ruins… not much to report on that one, it was a huge waste of firepower. But when the second Warp Hunter arrived from Deep Strike, Pffroooop, unit was pretty much crippled by one Template hit. Although bear in mind that Corsair Detachments can only take 1 Warp Hunter unit, so this army was a double-detachment build with the extra Prince tax.
The Corsairs have another unique vehicle upgrade that is so close to being great, and represents the Corsairs so well, but just fails in practice – the Kinetic Shroud. The shroud is a forcefield which becomes more powerful the faster the bearer is moving, in classic Corsair fashion. It starts at a 5++ after moving more than 6”, then improves to a 4++ when moving Flat Out. When Deep Striking, all that kinetic energy cranks the forcefield to max, allowing the 4++ to be re-rolled and making for one tough Warp Hunter. The catch is that FW rules state that models with a Kinetic Shroud that Deep Strike “count as having moved Flat Out”, which I’m sure they meant in reference to generating a 4++, but in practice this prevents the model from making any shooting attacks, oops. Most unfortunate. If your local scene is happy to play this one RAI then this wargear drastically increases the survivability and consequently damage output and impact on the game of a Corsair Warp Hunter, making it a worthy impressive 15pt investment. However be aware of the funky wording, and make sure to clarify before bring the Shrouds to a competitive event. Anything you can do to avoid rules issues before you get to the table is time well spent.
The Warp Hunter is without question a game-changing vehicle on the tabletop, able to gut deathstars in one volley, take down a Knight, Wraithknight, or even a Stormsurge in a cascading Distortion rift. Corsair Warp Hunters are particularly nasty thanks to always wounding on a 2+, and being able to pinpoint Deep Strike turn 2 exactly where you don’t want them to turn up. If Kinetic Shrouds worked the way they were supposed to, granting a re-rollable 4++ on the Deep Strike, Corsair Warp Hunters would even be pretty tough as well. Fortunately Warp Hunters are just 3HP AV12 skimmer tanks, so with some foresight and a bit of elbow grease they are not that difficult to deal with. Just never forget that Rift template attack, it catches a lot of people off-guard.
Fading into the inky darkness towards his rendezvous point, Izdrakh saw heavy weapons fire being bounced in all directions by the Warp Hunter kinetic shrouds as the deadly skimmers soared once more into the air.
After visiting such destruction from virtually on top of the enemy, the three Hunters skimmed away and nestled themselves behind the wrecked bunkers, turning to cast their Distort rifts across the path of the remaining enemy and cutting off their advance.
Alighting back upon the Vampire Raider, Izdrakh’s Reaver band crowded around the holo-feed to watch a replay of the Warp Hunter strike. Yet again Yaribdiss won the pouch of the finest Stardust, wagering that his brother Yeznari would claim the most Mon Keigh hulls in the first volley – this time no less than four of the seven targets. Soon that upstart Reaver would have too much Stardust and have to fly with the Malevolents, Izdrakh grumbled to himself.
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