How does one go about writing an article for the fast attack section of a very mobile and speedy army? Is it excessive? Is it just right? Is it not different enough? One thing we do know for certain is that we now have some rather effective non-Forge World flyers. As a note, I actually don’t own any fast attack units myself.
Firstly, Swooping Hawks. They are five points cheaper than they used to be, have Skyleap by default, shoot an extra shot with their lasblasters, have the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus special rules and, to top it off, do not scatter when they deep strike. Wait, what? They have been seriously buffed as well as seriously lowered in price! I liked Swooping Hawks before on the grounds that Haywire grenades could reduce a vehicle to nothing in a single phase, but now they are a really mean unit with the huge buff and point cost reduction. Hold on one moment while I go out and buy two boxes of them! They can now reliably decimate light infantry, as well as pop whatever tank they want to. However, like most Eldar units, they are not the most survivable thing out there, so if your opponent is paying attention, he or she could immediately turn their firepower to kill your squad before it can really come into its own. That said, it can move twelve inches in the movement phase, then fire all its multitude of shots and then run D6 inches with the fleet special rule in the shooting phase. As the title says, you thought our other units were mobile? Swooping Hawks redefine mobility! Their Exarch is largely the same as before, able to take a power weapon and a Hawk’s Talon or Sunrifle, though the Sunrifle is now only three shots with the blind special rule and no more pinning. It is AP3 however, and the Hawk’s Talon remains unchanged, rendering it a better choice in my opinion as we have enough anti-MEQ in our army and the rest of the squad are great at killing lighter infantry. He can also be given the hit and run special rule, meaning that if you do get in trouble then you can just pass an initiative check on stupidly high Aspect Warrior initiative to jump out of combat, though in my opinion the other Exarch powers are not that useful, making precision shots on a 5+ instead of a 6 and giving him night vision, though the latter is arguably useful as it can throw your opponent off-guard.
Warp Spiders, like Swooping Hawks, have gotten cheaper, though not to the same magnitude. Now three points cheaper with guns that are AP1 on rolls of six to wound, Warp Spiders can not only shred infantry, but they can also shred tanks with ease. With Battle Focus they can move, then run with the fleet special rule, shoot at potentially the rear armour of a tank where all rolls of six count as AP1 and then jump 6+2D6 inches in the assault phase. Just in case they do get into close combat, they also have hit and run as standard, meaning you can jump out of combat almost certainly, due to the fact that they have a very decent initiative like the rest of the codex. I think I’m starting to see a pattern here with Eldar fast attack choices. The Exarch’s options are good, though there are some choices that I would not take. For example, the twin-linked death spinner is not worthwhile, as he has a ballistic skill of five and therefore will rarely be missing. Also, I find that the Stalker Exarch power, as well as the powerblades are wasted points as you shouldn’t be keeping your Warp Spiders in melee combat for long, making the most of your Hit and Run ability to jump out and gun down the upstarts who charged you. The other choices, however, being the the spinneret rifle and the Fast Shot and Marksman’s Eye Exarch powers, are very nice indeed. The combination gives you a strength 6, AP1, 18 inch rapid fire gun that precision shots on 5+ and has an extra shot. Yes please?
Shining Spears were good in the old codex, due to their mobility, lances and annoying hit and run tactics to get multiple charges. Now they are just broken. At a whopping ten points less, you now get the same unit as before, but with the Ancient Doom, Battle Focus, Outflank and Skilled Rider special rules all included. Their laser lances took a slight hit in the fact that they are now AP3 on the charge as opposed to AP2, but otherwise they remain constant. For the Exarch, Hit and Run is a must take for a squad that relies on charging as this unit does not hit very well on a turn where they do not charge. Monster Hunter is useful as well, as it’s only a measly five points, and will really help you when you charge into your opponent’s Hive Tyrant or Daemon Prince. Suddenly, that’s a lot of wounds that ignore 3+ armour saves. I usually also take a star lance on my Exarch, as I like to have the strength 8, AP2 melee and shooting attacks from my Exarch; with the ten point cheaper models, I think we can afford to spend ten points to make our Exarch hit very hard.
Vypers are almost exactly the same as they were before, apart from now they are ballistic skill four as opposed to three and most of their weapons are now cheaper to buy. They make for useful mobile weapons platforms and I can definitely see their uses now that they are ballistic skill four, but I’m afraid I just don’t think that they are perhaps as powerful as other fast attack choices. I will be getting a unit myself, and I am very happy that the battleforce now comes with one instead of a War Walker, but that’s because I dislike how broken War Walkers are / were. In my opinion, it’s down to personal preference. Vypers are in no way a bad unit, but they’re not super broken either.
Then we have the two new flyers in the codex, the Hemlock Wraithfighter and the Crimson Hunter. Personally, I am not a fan of the Hemlock Wraithfighter, as it’s very expensive and doesn’t really put out that much hurt. Sure, it has two heavy D-scythes which are small blasts with strength 4, AP2 and the distort special rule, but other than that, all it does is cause lots of morale checks to be re-rolled and can cause fearless units to become cowards all of a sudden. This is all well and good, but let’s think who we play against most of the time. Most of the time, our enemies are some sort of Space Marine variant, or an army with a semi-decent leadership which makes rallying no problem. It’s a nice idea, but I think that most of the time it is just going to be a waste of points. The Crimson Hunter on the other hand is a great fighter jet for the Eldar. With a pulse laser and two bright lances (don’t upgrade to starcannons, it’s better as is) it can really tear up any flyers that it comes across, especially considering how it re-rolls all failed armour penetration rolls. Buying the Exarch upgrade and getting him some Exarch powers is nice, but for me I do not see it being worth the points; this is a really great fighter jet to just pay one hundred and sixty points for, keep it cheap and wreck some other flyers.
For me, I believe that the fast attack section is nice, but sometimes the insane mobility is just a little too much. Most of our normal units are more mobile than the fast attack choices of some armies but having said that, there have been some pretty solid buffs to all of the old Eldar fast attack units, and the Crimson Hunter can swat down enemy flyers nicely. I need to go out and buy myself some Swooping Hawks and some Shining Spears…