Eldar Vyper jet bikes from the Saim-Hann craftworld.
Fast forward twenty-something years and I'm now all set to do it again. I've painted them up, I'm reasonably happy with them, and I'm ready to use them to frustrate my opponents by zooming around all over the place.
The advantages that they have over the jet bikes are:
Shooting - they have a ranged attack so only adding one to a formation turns it from an engage-only formation to being able to prep an enemy formation for assault by shooting at it.
Armour - They have an armour save of 4+ vs the jet bikes' 5+.
The disadvantages that they have when compared to jetbikes are:
Light Vehicles - They can be targeted by both anti-personnel and anti-tank shooting. This makes them a bit of a liability when being shot at by formations with a mix of both. A pure jet-bike formation is relatively safe from anti-tank weapons.
Firefights - The jetbikes have a firefight value of 4+, vs the vyper's 5+
So basically what this means is that you are more survivable against AP weapons and in firefights, less survivable against AT weapons, and less likely to inflict casualties in engagements.
So I think to use them effectively there are a couple of key points that I will try to keep in mind:
- Put them near the front of a mixed formation, to make use of their better armour. This is situational depending on the range of opposing AT weapons, and on occasion hiding them further back might be better if it means keeping them out of range of AT fire.
- Use them primarily for "clipping" engagements. Clipping engagements are engagements where the enemy formation is only just in range by the attacking formation, and has another formation closer. This gamey tactic means that the formation being attacked can't counter charge towards the engaging formation, as they have to go towards the nearest enemy models. This means that they are less likely to get their full formation into a fight, so end up at a pretty big disadvantage. To be honest I feel a bit dirty using this tactic. It just doesn't sit right with me. I think that the defending unit should have the option of moving towards the engaging formation or the closest formation as they wish, which would result in a less frustrating game. But the vypers should be pretty good here, with their better armour meaning that they're suffering less casualties, and the fact that you're inflicting less hits is less important (as clipping engagements are usually won on combat modifiers more than casualties).
- Try them as a frustrating zooming, pop up, objective grabbing formation. The Saim-Hann list allows vypers to be a scout formation, so a formation of six can zoom around, setting things up for cross fires, and preparing enemy formations for clipping assaults by larger formations. They can also sacrifice themselves by getting in the way and being annoying, while the shining spears and other formations bully some poor sods somewhere else.
One of the first thing that I'm going to try is adding them to the supreme commander's Jetbike formation like this. It is a larger unit, with an additional three vypers added on. It has a reasonable amount of shooting, is very quick and with quite a few 4+ saves it should be able to perform clipping assaults pretty well.
The second formation I'm going to try is a smaller mixed formation like the one below. They should be able to prep enemy formations for the avatar, who can hopefully be summoned somewhere useful by the farseer thanks to their 35cm movement. They can then be annoying enough to zoom around grabbing objectives, and supporting the shining spear formations when they engage.
But as always, learning the tactics isn't too hard, it's being able to apply them in real life that is the challenge!