Virai Dronescourge Starter Swarm
Tim Bancroft gives us a quick run-down of how he’d put together the units in the Starter Swarm to make a useful force
This was the pre-order army for the launch of the Virai and The Dronescourge Returns, sometimes referred to as the Virai First Strike army. A breakdown of its contents, and approximate points, are below. As ever, exact contents may differ, but I’ve mentioned where, in case. The points given are those I’d use to make up an army and don’t include upgrades. Further, the warrior squads are minimum sizes to transfer models elsewhere as bodyguards, where they may be more useful.
[Personal tip – the two drones in the Virai First Contact pack are really useful to add as weapon team or bodyguards, 2 packs being one team + a pair of bodyguards for the Secondary Instance. It means the warrior squads can be given an extra drone each.]
|Unit (with comments and Combat Level)||Order
|First Instance or NuFirst plus two bodyguard (taken as NuFirst, Tactical)||2||209/173
|Secondary Instance architector + 2 bodyguard||2||148+48||417|
|Tertiary Supervisor architector (1, Tactical, Support or Auxiliary)||2||83||500|
|Hive Defender warrior squad (5) – extra model as an option||1||120||620|
|Assault warrior squad (5) – extra model as an option||1||135||755|
|Weapon Drone with flamer array (1, Support)||2||87||842|
|Constructor squad (6) – can use four as bodyguard for the tertiary, instead||1||48||890|
|Scavenger squad (4+1)||1||74||964|
|STAA Probe Shard (6)||1||30||994|
On the table
This makes a useful 1000-point, 13-dice army, even as it stands, with a lot of flexibility at the 750 point level. An option for 750 is to drop the First Instance and a bodyguard on the Secondary. I’d always advise keeping a Tertiary Supervisor or two around as they provide a lot of bolstering: none of the non-command units have Leader or any command related attributes. Whilst it seems the force may struggle against heavier support units at 1000 points, the usefulness of the warrior and weapon drones really come into their own: in assault the ripclaws have ‘Compound SV’, meaning even 4 hits gives an attack at SV 8 – very dangerous for a combat drone – and the weapon drones can focus their flamer array at short ranges up to SV 5 or three shots at lower SV.
[Tip: If you do have a couple of crew constructors from the First Contact packs, then they could be used as constructor bodyguards for the Tertiary or as crew for a suitable support weapon they’ve scavenged from another army.]
A point to note is that, despite the number of MOD2 units, Virai need every dice they can get! The architectors have to use their MOD dice to reprogram the swarm and the weapon drones are brittle – almost certainly because their twin micro-fusion reactors are under significant stress. Away from their architectors, Virai units can quickly become bogged down and destroyed, so keep them up close and make maximum use of the Res rerolls from the commanders’ Repair Swarm, their Co, and their vital Reprogram ability. It’s often a good idea to move architectors with their first dice so they are in position with the rest of the army (perhaps using Follow) and hold back the assigning of an architectors second dice to handle any problems or use it for a Reset or Overclock with a unit in trouble or which needs the extra shot.
The various constructors can be useful, even as raw. Their numbers and cheapness means they can be used as Distort Dice dumps when facing Ghar, but can also be used as a shieldwall to protect architectors who would otherwis ebe exposed. Whilst weak, within 10″ or in hand to hand against most units, they can be surprising effective, having multiple attacks, but heavily rely on the Co stat of a nearby architector. Scavenger constructors have their own, specialised uses but need to be protected: scavengers can use their auto-workshop (p.120, core rules) to help lift pins from nearby weapon and architector drones or weapon teams, and can also add bonuses when weapon teams are firing at buildings – their Fractal Charges aren’t to be sniffed at, either!
As suggested, whilst the Assault style warrior drones are great in assaults with a Res of 8 and Savage Strike, the Defenders are also good at close range, as well, and are also deadly in close combat, especially against units with a low model count. Whilst they may struggle against undamaged Ghar battlesuits or Boromite Lavamites (like most units!), they are comparable with Algoryn AI Assault squads. Like the rest of the army, all the warrior drones need to be fairly close to their opponent to really inflict penetrating damage (they normally fight on ships or underground, after all).
STAA probes can be tricky to use, despite their ranged effect. Like targeters, they have multiple uses, but do not automatically apply their bonus (they ‘shoot’ as part of their move to apply it at Ac 6). It can be useful to save them till last so that you can paint multiple enemy units, but a great use is to have them gang up on an enemy unit behind cover and force it to move to shed teh STAA paint tags.
In short: get close, don’t be afraid of assaults on the warrior squads, and protect and make maximum use of the command architectors – a Virai army is allowed plenty of command units, but needs them all!