Knowing is half the battle; the other half is 25% red lasers and 25% blue lasers. COOOOOOOOBRAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Cobra is one of several Aeldari tanks based off of a similar chassis; just like their lighter vehicles such as the Wave Serpent, Fire Prism, and Falcon, which all share the same stock frame but with modifications and additions on top of it, the Cobra is built off of the same hull as the Scorpion, Deathstalker, and Storm Serpent. In the Cobra’s case, however, the priority for the vehicle was simple: mount the single largest distortion weapon on the chassis that could possibly fit, and that goal was most certainly met.
The Cobra’s stats are pretty much identical to its sister vehicles; with toughness eight and a 3+ save it has pretty decent-to-good durability, and twenty-six wounds mean that the opponent has quite a big pile to chew through if they want to remove you from the table (or even just degrade you.) A base movement of 14″ means it is fairly speedy, albeit not quite as quick as some Aeldari vehicles, and garbage melee stats are pretty standard for all tanks. But the big selling point is ballistic skill 2+, which means you should be able to land almost all of its shots every turn, always a fantastic thing to have. At roughly 560 points in its base configuration the Cobra is quite expensive, although cheaper than some of the alternatives.
Special Abilities and Wargear
The Cobra comes with a small handful of abilities, most of which are pretty standard (though there is one exception.) Hover Tank means you can measure to the hull, rather than just to the base, and Distort Fields give it an invulnerable save based on how far it moved in its last movement phase- this will typically be a 5++, unless the vehicle is degraded to its final tier or chooses to advance. D-Rift is the Cobra’s version of Explodes; it triggers on a 4+ (rather than the usual 6+) and does d6 mortal wounds to anything within 2d6″- that’s a full-size Knight explosion, my friends.
However the main attraction of the Cobra, as with most titanic units, is the guns. The Cobra’s primary armament is D-Impaler, which is a fairly weird weapon. With only 36″ range it can struggle to reach many targets, and Heavy D6 doesn’t complement that terribly well as you have little to no way to ignore the movement penalty (nor is the random number of shots enticing.) On the other hand, Strength 16 is pretty excellent, wounding essentially everything in the game on 2s, and AP-5 will likewise cut through essentially all armor. 2d6 damage per hit will really scorch most targets and as a minor bonus any 6s to wound deal an additional d3 mortal wounds to the target- not as exciting as that ability might be on some other guns, but it’s not awful.
The Cobra also comes with a single underslung gun, which can be chosen from among the usual list of Craftworlds heavy weapons; the Shuriken Cannon comes as default and is a perfectly reasonable choice, but I am a fan of switching over to the Scatter Laser to save a couple points and net yourself an extra shot and some extra range in the bargain. The Cobra can also take any of the Craftworlds Vehicle upgrades, with Spirit Stones (6+ FNP effect) and Crystal Targeting Matrix (ignore Heavy penalty against closest target) both being solid options that are comparatively quite cheap.
So, if we’re looking at the Cobra we have to consider it in comparison to other options, and unfortunately for it that comparison does not look all that good. The Craftworlds book is full of extremely powerful units and while the Cobra is certainly not bad, it has trouble standing up against some of the options present there. Worse yet, when we match it against its sister vehicle the Scorpion it looks particularly poor, although it is not completely without advantages.
Just from a raw numbers standpoint, the Cobra averages well below the Scorpion’s damage output- almost one third lower, in fact. However, since the Scorpion costs more (about 700pts), this is perhaps not unfair, as it probably should deal more damage at that point. However, the Scorpion also has the advantage of getting far more shots than the Cobra, 4d6 rather than merely d6; while of course each of these shots is weaker individually, this means the Scorpion is much more useful at shooting targets besides other massive vehicles and the distribution of its damage across a significant number of shots means that it is less swingy.
This swinginess is probably the Cobra’s biggest failing; with d6 shots it is all too easy for it to just roll a one and do little or nothing that turn, and with 2d6 damage per hit it isn’t that hard to just roll poorly there also and not kill something critical. The low shot count also makes it much easier for the enemy player to spike on their saves, as well as to use a command point to reroll a critical one and ensure they don’t take lethal damage.
Now, some of these factors can also work in reverse, too- if the Craftworlds player is well-supplied with command points they may be able to afford to spend a CP to reroll the number of shots or a critical damage roll, but with more points of failure it is quite likely that the randomness will work against you, rather than for you. After all, it doesn’t matter if you overkill a Rhino by ten wounds- that Rhino is exactly as dead as any other dead Rhino would be. But if you fall short of killing a unit- as will happen reasonably often with a very random weapon- the fact that you overkilled the other one doesn’t help you any at all. In short, consistent damage is almost always more valuable than random damage for a tournament player, and the Cobra fails this test pretty badly.
Even beyond the Scorpion, however, Craftworlds have many units that compete for the tank-killing slot and are arguably a lot better; Fire Prisms have an excellent strat and come in at a similar price, but with more durability against most guns and much, much longer range and damage output for the cost. Crimson Hunters and Hemlock Wraithfighters are, of course, quite popular units, as are Dark Reapers. D-Cannons can fill a similar niche while remaining out of line of sight and are a small fraction of the price (you can get seven of them, averaging fourteen shots to the Cobra’s four shots, for the same price!) There are just too many other options to do the same job that are largely better.
I will close, however, by noting that the Cobra does share one other trait with the Scorpion that might make you want to use it over some other options (although probably not over the Scorpion itself, should you have one)- its efficiency of buffs. By being a concentrated single unit that takes up a big chunk of your resources, the Cobra has the advantage of also giving you better effectiveness when you use psychic powers, stratagems, or auras to benefit it. Would you rather use Lightning Fast Reflexes to protect one of your three Crimson Hunters (so the enemy just switches targets to another one) or your only Cobra (leaving them no good targets to switch to if they want to get rid of your firepower)? It’s not really enough to make up for the other failings of the unit in sum, but it is a nice compensatory prize and a way to use it in more casual games.
If you’re faced down with a Cobra, you have several good options. Now, you can just shoot at it and kill it- and that won’t be the worst thing in the world. It’s -1 to hit, 5++, and T8, but you can grind it down if you have good firepower. However, there are other ways besides just brute force that can deal with the unit, so we’ll focus on them more here.
First off, it is quite short-ranged; with only a 36″ reach, you can place units in places where it simply can’t get to them in many deployments, at least for the early turns. This short range can also be exploited to lower its ballistic skill (effectively dropping it to a 3+ many turns). You can also use it to bait the Cobra forward- if you have some backline support units that it will want to shoot (e.g. a Basilisk), you can force it to come towards your army if it wants to shoot those units and thus expose it to your shorter-range guns (e.g. Melta) and assaults, which can be very dangerous in the right circumstances.
The Cobra also suffers from the “one big gun” problem, meaning it can only ever really kill one target per turn- and if that target is a single Land Speeder or Rhino or whatever, the Craftworlds player is gonna feel pretty stupid. Deny it big, obvious targets as much as possible, especially by use of terrain and its short range. Due to the sheer size of the chassis, you should also be able to hide yourself pretty effectively when there is a lot of terrain around, as the Cobra will struggle to maneuver in many ruin-based tables.
Finally, as always, remember that you can just ignore it. Sure, it’ll take out a tank per turn and that sucks- but if you kill all the infantry and other models supporting it and leave it with no scoring units or melee protection, that simply may not matter once the game rolls into turns 4, 5, and 6.
The Cobra isn’t a horrible tank, but it’s definitely not an impressive one- and since there is a near-identical datasheet that is just better all around literally right across the page from it, I don’t think there is much of a reason to ever bother with it. That said, however, if you like it and own one don’t feel horrible about bringing it to a game now and again, as there’s certainly ways you can build around it that can be at least moderately interesting and not completely terrible, which is about all you can ask from Forge World a lot of the time.
As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.