Friday, June 14, 2013

An imperial player view on Eldars

For all of my hobby life, this is the first time I'm really excited about collecting an playing a non-Imperial army. I have always find the Eldar to be one of the most interesting armies out there, both from a hobbyist and player perspective, and with the new codex I just can't help myself to start a small army. As SW player I have struggled to get close and personal in my games against Eldar, they would just dance around me for 2/3 turns, then hit with a seer council or fire dragons in Serpent, all while getting re-rolls for everything while having me cast powers through Runes of Warding!

As a player, I have been stunned by the organic shapes of the tanks, the wrong humanoid proportions or the wraith constructs. I guess having played against some incredible armies like this one below has been a huge motivation for me.

Now I'm in love with the new Eldar codex. For one, I'm glad that its power level is way below that of Tau, Daemons or Necrons, for I have very little interest in that. Game wise all I care is it's fun to play and boy, I bet it will be! A mech army will be quite resilient, while jetbikes, Swooping Hawks or Warp Spiders provide very mobile components. But it is yet a T3/5+ army so it needs to be played with finesse. Compared to SW/BA that I'm used to play, I don't need to rush to midfield and I don't want to start any attrition war, but instead maneuver around my opponent and hit with a sting, instead of a sledge-hammer, when the time is appropiate.

This is a brief overview of the new codex from the point of view of an Imperial player (for now!). So I won't be covering all the units, but just touching those that look interesting so far.

HQs

The Farseer is a lv3 psychic that can provide re-rolls to 2 units per turn (with Divination/Guide), plus a third power for a measly 100 points. It will be near auto-include.

The Spiritseer makes Wraith units scoring, and since I don't plan on using any will see little usage. Other than that is lv2 psyker with access to teh Runes of Battle and Telepathy branches, so no re-roll buffs for you.

The Autarch is a combat oriented character which ironically is best kept from it. Instead it provides reserves manipulation, which are important for this type of army where some key units (read War Walkers) are very fragile. That aside there is a very interesting build with the Mantle of the Laughing God, that provides Stealth/Shrouded with re-rolls, and a jetbike to make it a very mobile, difficult to take down tank-hunter.

Warlocks are now Wolf Guard-esque in the sense that can be assigned to join certain units. While the idea of providing Shrouded to a home camping unit is nice, they are just Ld8 and W1 so it's not exactly reliable. The Seer Council though could be nasty, yet very expensive.

The Avatar is of course very characterful; it might not be the most competitive option and will die to missiles like in 5th, but I'm loving his fluff and the FW models and is not a terrible choice.

Elites

WraithGuard are reasonably tough with T6 although only 3+/W1, and come with a 12" S10 weapon so I can see them working as a sort of walking Vindicator (remember this is the point of view of an Imperial player); so will be taking a lot of shots early in the game, and for 160 points aren't that expensive. Now if they could be infiltrated with Ilic...

Fire Dragons have destroyed me more than 1 Land Raider (actually quite a lot of them!) but with the plethora of Lances the Eldar army can get, seem less important now. I would still take a unit of them as most SM armies still carry Land Raiders full of Terminators...

Striking Scorpions have move through cover and other goodies that allow them to make it to the assault, however I'm not sure they hit hard enough for this type of unit. I don't really see Eldars doing many assaults, especially in the very shooty game 40k is today.

Howling Banshees and Harlequins I rate them lower, as don't have good ways to making it onto combat, and even there the most they'll do is destroy a tactical or infantry squad before being wiped out. Perhaps there are better ways to use them, but I just don't see them.

Troops

Dire Avengers are the cheapest way to access a Wave Serpent, but are as survivable as the cheaper Guardians so I'd probably lean towards taking 10 Guardians for a similar price, leaving them sitting in an objective shooting a heavy weapon while the Serpent moves forward.

Speaking of Wave Serpents, these seem to be the star of the codex. The reason being their shield, which can be used offensively or defensively. When used to attack, it's a D6+1 autocannon that ignores cover and causes pinning! if the Serpent is also equipped with a Scatter Laser, then the Shield shots would be twin-linked. It's easy to see that 3 or 4 Serpents can provide a ton of firepower for a reasonable price, are difficult enough to take down and can protect / move around troop choices. If the shield is used defensively (which admittedly will be in T1 when going second), then downgrades internal hits to glancing on a 2+ roll. Pretty damn good for someone who comes from a world of AV11 shoe boxes with a storm bolter...

Jetbikes is the another great feature of the codex and are serious contenders for the best troop choice in the game. They are extremely mobile, with decent defences and good shooting. Can be used to harass the opponent early on as well to contest objectives late game. I expect to see a lot of them, both in Eldar armies as well as allies.

Rangers are like Sniper Scouts - a cheap scoring unit that sits in a ruin and harasses Devs and MCs. With the rise in popularity of the Riptide, Nurgle units and other high T units, they can have a place.

Fast attack

There are some very interesting units that I had never seen on the table. My favourite so far are Warp Spiders, who have a terrific (and complicated) movement being Jet Pack infantry with a Warp Jump Generator, and carry very nice S6 weapons. Essentially they are a super mobile unit that threatens infantry and light tanks alike. The minis are also beautiful if yet a bit aged.

Swooping Hawks have even older looking minis but are very interesting in tournament game. The combination of no scatter when deep striking plus their ability to go to reserve on any given turn to return the following is too good to pass. It's my T4, I know we'll only play until T5 as there is no more time so I'll send whatever Hawks are still alive to reserves, only to drop them T5 by an objective. Boom. Shaenigans aside they can drop a large blast, ignore cover, no LOS required grenade at 24" which is perfect to get rid of cultist squads, pathfinders or infantry platoons camping behind ruins. For about 100 points they are a good deal I think.

Shining Spears are non-scoring jetbikes. 'nuff said.

About the flyers... it is often said flyers are the elephant in the room of the 40k universe. In this case they would be the mosquitos, as they are terribly fragile with AV10 all around and a hefty price tag. The models are very nice but game wise it is unlikely they will survive a turn. Similar to the DA flyers, you are paying through the nose for the ability of being almost inmune to anything that has no AA in its profile, however the comparison with price tag of Vendettas/Night Scythes or the raw power of the Hell Turkey makes them look subpar in comparison. 

Heavy Support

This has to be my favourite slot - plenty of options and all of them seem to have their place. War Walkers are even better than before as they can Battle Focus back to cover after shooting, and if not will sport a 5++ save. It is also worth mentioning most of their shots will be twin-linked thanks to a nearby Farseer or the Scatter lasers lock rule (if a scatter laser impacts, the rest of weapons of the unit are twin-linked).

The Fire Prism has 3 fire modes now, with a large blast, small blast and lance. The lance gets the highest strength and lowest AP, and now it doesn't need a second Prism supporting it so it provides great flexibility at a reasonable price. Very solid.

The Night Spinner shoots a S7/S8 weapon and can have a template version. Not bad although it lacks the flexibility of the Prism nor the sheer number of shots of the Walkers.

Dark Reapers are very fragile and are too specialized on killing machines, but could work if using a Bastion to man the AA weapon (they ignore jink saves). I love the minis though so at least they will make it to the cabin... and perhaps to the board. We'll see.

The Support battery is very solid. 90 points give you 3 S9 AP2 shots, and will have a field day from behind an Aegis or some ruins. If the points are short I can see them replacing a War Walker unit.

And the mighty Wraithknight... I think the disappointment comes from comparing it to the Riptide, which is very good. I have yet to see a Tau army without one which suggests the thing is either too good or too cheap. The Wraithknigth on his own is fine I think; yes it gets very pricy and yes, poison will kill it. However... it also does other things like deep striking in front of a gunline and wreaking havoc, and attract a ton of firepower that would otherwise be directed to weaker units.

The Wraithlord on the other hand I don't know what to make out of it. It feels like you are getting half a Wraithknight, in terms of firepower, cost and statlines (wounds). Again unless I'm going for a Wraith army I don't really see its place.

So what am I looking at?

The idea is to start a small Eldar force based in the units I like the most as a hobbyist, which happen to be pretty decent when gaming as well :) Something like this:

Farseer
Autarch in jetbike, mantle of the laughing god, spear

5x Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent with Scatter lasers, Holofield
5x Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent with Scatter lasers, Holofield
5x Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent with Scatter lasers, Holofield
10x Guardians, heavy weapon, Wave Serpent with Scatter lasers, Holofield
6x Jetbikes, 2x Shuriken cannon
6x Jetbikes, 2x Shuriken cannon

5x Warp Spiders

3x War Walkers (2xScatter Lasers)
3x War Walkers (Scatter Lasers, Lance))
Fire Prism, Holofields

So the Farseer sits in backfield buffing units. The Guardians sit on an objective, and the War Walkers / Prism take good shooting positions. The Serpents remain back shooting, ready to move forward when (if) needed. This seems like a pretty solid base to begin with.

Then we have the mobile elements; the Autarch in jetbike goes tank-hunting solo.The Warp Spiders move through a flank, looking for side armour or for backfield units. The jetbikes should stay a couple of turns behind LOS / in reserve, then push forward in the late game.

And there you go. I think Eldars have some very solid units in the form of Serpents, Jetbikes or War Walkers that will be the backbone of many armies. Other constructs like Wraithguard based could be a thing, depending on the FAQs (if Ilic is allowed to infiltrate a Wraithguard unit, who wouldn't take them with a FP2 flamer?). Exciting times ahead for the Eldar fans!

2 comments:

  1. Nice breakdown. Just something to note on the scatter-lasers, it's model by model, not unit, so in a Warwalker squadron, they would not benefit from each others' scatter lasers. Still a good buff and a good unit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good catch, it says by model indeed. It's ironic they buffed what already was the staple heavy weapon

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