With the new update, the Eldar HQ section has been largely revamped. Whilst some choices remain similar, there are changes to those units we knew and loved, as well as completely new choices emerging with new possibilities and potential strategies. In this article, I am going to go through each choice in detail, outlining possible ways to use them, what combinations may work and where the cheese is!
Firstly, we have the main man himself: Eldrad, High Farseer of Ulthwe. Eldrad was amazing in the last edition of the codex and he has only gotten better. Five points cheaper, an extra mastery level and some really fun special rules, Eldrad has gone from good to great. I will not go through all of his special rules one by one as many are globally available to other Farseers or units in the codex, such as runes of warding or battle focus.On the topic of Eldrad’s own special rules, he still has his 3+ invulnerable save, and the ability to re-deploy D3+1 units after both sides have deployed, but before scout moves are performed. He still has his staff, though it has been changed slightly. It is AP3, using his strength with the fleshbane special rule; however, it now gives him a one in three chance at giving back one of his warp charge counters whenever he passes a psychic test. Oh, did I mention it was a force weapon now as well? Yes, Eldrad can now cast on average about five or six psychic powers per turn, as well as inflict instant death with his force weapon. Ouch? Yes, ouch. He also generates his psychic powers from the divination and telepathy trees in the rulebook, as well as the runes of fate table in the Eldar codex itself; whilst I do not like telepathy, the other two tables are both very strong and Eldrad gets four roles total on them! A very, very solid choice for an HQ and a good choice for a warlord if you want one who will probably stay alive, though his fixed warlord trait of giving all units within 12″ of him the stealth special rule once per game for a single shooting phase isn’t the greatest.
Next up, another familiar face: Prince Yriel, Autarch of Iyanden. He remains largely unchanged, with an extra wound and the spear of twilight working slightly differently, he wades in at fifteen points less than he used to, with a general buff as he gets some of the lovely global Eldar special rules that have been introduced. Ambush of Blades, his fixed warlord trait, can be used nicely as it allows you to re-roll 1s to wound for every Eldar unit within twelve inches, which considering how much firepower the Eldar have now, that’s potentially going to hurt a lot. His spear no longer automatically wounds him at the end of the game, either, as it now just forces him to re-roll all saving throws of six. More risky, but potentially less deadly. I like him, for his points cost he is definitely worth taking, but he’s not too broken so if you’re playing to win, there are other choices that are just better. Plus, I dislike named characters, so I’m biased in that respect.
Next on the list is a newcomer to the codex: Illic Nightspear, The Walker of the Hidden Path. Illic is basically a pathfinder on steroids, with weapon skill and initiative scores of six, a ballistic skill of nine, a power sword for no reason other than to annoy people, and a sniper rifle of over-powered killing-ness; Illic is a must have for any competitive army and I haven’t even gone into the juicy details yet. Firstly, let’s look at his sniper rifle, Voidbringer. With a 48″ range, AP2 and the distort special rule which means he auto wounds on a 2+ (WRONG! It’s a 4+. Now you see why I am called Refined Fail) and causes instant death on a six, he kills whatever he shoots at. Not only that, he has the sharpshot special rule, which makes all shots, excluding snap shots, into precision shots. Not only does he kill whatever he shoots at, but he chooses exactly what he wants to shoot at, giving you the ability to surgically remove any characters, heavy or special weapons that your opponent may have. In addition to this, he has the warlord trait fixed that gives him the split fire special rule, and another rule where any outflanking, friendly Eldar Rangers or Pathfinders can just arrive within six inches of him via the deep strike special rule with no scattering, he can not only kill whatever he wants, but also help a load of other snipers kill what they want. To add insult to injury, he gives you the option to field pathfinders, as you cannot field them without Illic, though as they all have sharpshot as well, they are well worth the points if you have Illic in your army. I will cover pathfinders in more detail tomorrow in my article on troops.
We still have all of the Phoenix Lords, though they are not that impressive to me. They still have their insane statistics and new rules and weapons, but compared to Illic and Eldrad, especially for the points cost, I don’t really see them as being that useful. That being said, there are no longer the barriers that say a Phoenix Lord can only join their own aspect warriors, leading to the shenanigans when Jain Zar joins a unit of Striking Scorpions and gives them the benefit of her super-powered banshee mask, or when Fuegan joins anything close combat based and tears everything apart. Asurmen is like a powered up Dire Avenger with a 4+ invulnerable save, D3 warlord traits and a master-crafted diresword that gives him +1 strength. Jain Zar is a Howling Banshee with a pumped up triskele, an AP2 shredding close combat weapon and a banshee mask that also subtracts 5 weapon skill as well as initiative. Karandras isn’t that great, with a better mandiblaster than other Striking Scorpions, along with the stealth special rule. Fuegan is a close combat monster, and one of my favourite Phoenix Lords; boasting an AP1 axe with armourbane, fast shot for his firepike, feel no pain and a special rule that increases attacks and strength by one for each unsaved wound he takes. Think about that for a second. Yes, have him followed by a Warlock with the destructor / renewer psychic power for a potential of strength and attacks characteristics of ten with an AP1 axe. Ouch? Baharroth is a Swooping Hawk with an addiction to blinding opponents, which is not that powerful. Finally, Maugan Ra, my second favourite Phoenix Lord. With a thirty six inch range on his four shot rending shrieker cannon of pinning goodness that can also be used to club enemies to death at strength +2 and AP3 and precision shots on a 5+, he is very good at killing lots and lots of your enemies; combined with battle focus, he can run and shoot that cannon in one shooting phase. Also, did I say four shots? He has the fast shot Exarch power, so make that five shots at ballistic skill seven. For me, they are not worth the points for what they are with the possible exceptions of Maugan Ra and Fuegan; if I wanted to win, I’d take Eldrad, an Avatar of Khaine or Illic over any of the Phoenix Lords I think.
Then we have the Avatar of Khaine. The Avatar has gone from an eight out of ten on the broken scale to troll-face out of ten. His points cost has gone up by forty, but let’s look at what you get for that. He still makes all Eldar within within twelve inches to be fearless, and causes fear in close combat due to being a daemon. He is now also immune to pyromancy psychic powers, as well as any weapon with the soul blaze special rule to go along side his immunity to flamers and meltas. He is also now Fleet and has the battle focus special rule, so he can move, run and also fire his twelve inch melta. Wherever you run, the Avatar will get you! He also had his ballistic skill and initiative both increased to ten and gained an extra attack and wound. He also has the option to purchase a large variety of Exarch powers, such as +1 strength, monster hunter and disarming strike to name a few. In my opinion, they are largely unnecessary, but when your Avatar suddenly disarms your opponent’s daemon weapon totting daemon prince, the look on your opponent’s face is worth the extra points cost! Beware though, the Avatar is not an eternal warrior, so he can be killed by weapons that would inflict instant death, such as distort weapons, force weapons and other such items. Also, his save has been downgraded to a 5+ invulnerable save and a 3+ armour save, as opposed to the 4+ invulnerable save that he used to get. However, the fact still remains that the Avatar is under 200 points for his base cost for a whole lot of pain. Very worth the points, very painful. Take one if you want to win and possibly cause your opponent to cry.
Now getting onto the non unique or named characters, otherwise known as the only HQ choices that I take. First up: The Autarch. Autarchs have generally been buffed, though like before, they are nothing special. Seventy points base with a few new rules and the same statistics as before. Some points costs have been tweaked to balance better, though the nice thing for the Autarch is that he or she, depending on your conversion, can take items from the remnants of glory list. In particular there is a sword which gives +2 strength, fearless and rending, as well as fleshbane and instant-death in challenges. It’s forty points, but you can really surprise players when you run up to Scarbrand or any other expensive character without eternal warrior with a banshee mask, attack him first and get lucky in a challenge, slaying him or her or it outright. One hundred and fifteen points for an Autarch with the Shard of Anaris and a banshee mask, having a decent chance of inflicting instant death on your expensive character in a challenge? I’ll take it! Or you could take the Firesabre, otherwise known as the Smokey’s Bane or the Sword of Setting Everyone on Fire as it causes soul blaze that spreads to nearby units; paired with a Phoenix Gem and your Autarch is running into hordes, setting everything on fire, then exploding on a 2+ when he or she dies; then if said explosion causes any casualties, the Autarch gets back up with a wound to do it all over again. One hundred and twenty five points for a Saint Celestine with more of a troll factor? I didn’t think it was possible. All in all, I like the Autarch, even when not exploiting remnants of glory to make cheap yet effective powerhouses. It’s a diverse commander which can be set up however suits your army, providing a decent synergy between commander and units. If there’s one thing the Eldar need, it’s unit synergy.
Next, the staple unit for any Eldar army: The Farseer. This humble HQ unit has the same statistics as before, as well as the same statistics and special rules; though like the Autarch, he or she can take items from the remnants of glory section. They have the two global special rules, Ancient Doom and Battle Focus, but otherwise they are the same. Oh, but they’re now mastery level three and cost forty five points more. This sounds like a lot until you realise that you don’t have to pay for your psychic powers any more. You pay one hundred points for a mastery level three psyker with a 4+ invulnerable save. They can still take a jetbike, runes of warding and runes of witnessing, as well as a singing spear to replace their witchblade. The two runes have been changed for the worse, no longer having the anti-psyker net or the runes of I May Cause Perils But I Will Always Get My Powers Off. They are both now one use only, the runes of warding giving you +2 on a deny the witch role, and the runes of witnessing allowing you to re-roll a psychic test, potentially avoiding a perils of the warp. Oh, ghosthelms now operate like warp charge trading posts to get rid of perils. With mastery level three, you are likely to have a warp charge lying about, so perils of the warp are a thing of the past. Well, unless you happen to be playing against Tyranids.
Lastly, we have the Spiritseer. They’re mastery level two warlocks who let you take Wraithguard and Wraithblades as troops. They work best when used in tandem with wraith constructs, due to their spirit mark ability that lets you mark an enemy unit and then re-roll all 1s to hit against them with Wraithguard, Wraithblades, Wraithlords, Wraithknights and Hemlock Wraithfighters for that turn. However, it only has a range of twelve inches, meaning you have to get your Spiritseer close to your enemy. However, they also make very capable warlock leaders, able to roll twice on the runes of battle or telepathy tables which will allow them to take a good number of buffs and debuffs to help your army along. I like the Spiritseer, as he or she makes a very affordable psychic commander with a decent selection of abilities to pick from and use. Whilst he or she does best with more Wraith units, I could see them used effectively with no Wraith units as well. Plus, I dislike named characters, so between the Spiritseer, Farseer and Autarch I have two slots to fill. In that sense, I think that I will not take it that often in my army, preferring to use a Farseer and Autarch combination, but that’s personal preference.
I will dedicate a small part to Warlock councils here on the end, as they are a part of the HQ section, though they do not take up any slots on the force organisation charts. It’s a single squad of one to ten that you can either run as one seer council of doom, or break individuals off to lead squads of Guardians, Artillery Platforms and Windrider squads. I could see some people doing a combination, perhaps breaking two off to lead your Guardian squads whilst eight of them congregate around the Farseer, potentially on jetbikes. I will speak more on Warlocks in the article tomorrow about troops choices, as they augment troops very well, but now that they’re mastery level one and able to roll on the runes of battle table, they make very capable psykers, as the runes of battle table is far more powerful than the old warlock psychic powers. They are ten points more expensive than before, but they come with one more initiative point than before, as well as a better psychic power. However, they do have to make psychic tests on their leadership of eight when they want to manifest them. I will probably keep a Warlock council around to protect my Farseer and aid in turning the tables on my opponents with their buffs to my troops or debuffs to theirs’, but I will also split them off to lead any squads of Guardians that I may use. More of a psychic net means that more of my troops are doing more than they should for their points costs.
This article has ended up being far longer than I anticipated, so I apologise for the wall of text here, as well as the lateness of posting. For now, I should go and collapse on my bed, though keep your eyes open this week for more articles outlining my thoughts on the new Eldar codex!