Heavy is not Quite the Operative Word: Eldar Heavy Support

Oh. My. Goodness. Eldar heavy support is choc full of some of the most deadly units I’ve ever seen, especially considering how incredibly mobile they generally stay. All of the units in the heavy support section of the codex are worth taking, though I’ll separate them into three tiers. Tier 1 will include the top, most powerful and most broken units in the section. Tier 2 will include the slightly less overpowered units and tier 3 will include the rest. However, none of these are not worth taking, all very useful units.

Firstly, tier 1. You all knew it was coming, and you all knew it was going to be here: The Wraithknight. The Wraithknight is really, really powerful. With enough ranged weapons to ruin the day of anything, and a statistics that make Hive Tyrants look like little insects, the Wraithknight is sure to ruin the day of whatever it shoots at or stomps on. The best equipment that I’ve found is taking the suncannon and scattershield, along two scatter lasers as the scatter lasers will allow you to re-roll your scatter die for the suncannon, leading to a Wraithknight that just melts entire squads of MEQs each turn. This also gives it the scattershield, giving it a 5+ invulnerable save at the trade-off that everything within six inches must make an initiative check or be blinded whenever it makes a save, though if a unit passes an initiative check then it becomes immune to blind until the end of the phase. This build of Wraithknight is a real pain for any enemy who doesn’t have an abundance of poisoned attacks in their army, as toughness 8 with a 3+ armour, 5+ invulnerable, six wounds and four initiative five, strength ten, AP2 attacks in close combat, combined with squad melting firepower is a real tough nut to crack. Here it does come to three hundred and twenty points, though it’s worth every single one of them. I generally do not like any of the other weapon loadouts, as in my opinion they are not as effective. Oh, this unit is a jump monstrous creature as well, because it didn’t want to be left behind by the rest of the army!

Next up, we have War Walkers. These were powerful before, but with ballistic skill four instead of three and generally cheaper weapon options, these have gone from powerful to truly broken. You can still take dual scatter lasers, though now you can average a total of fifty six hits, as opposed to thirty six before if you shoot the weapons in the correct order on a squad of three; that’s enough to even cause terminators to die in droves, let alone the hordes that it is designed for! You can go the other way and take dual bright lances to turn any tank that you turn your attention to into a pile of useless metal in one or two rounds of shooting, and even starcannons are viable choices now, though I believe that scatter lasers are still more versatile, and shuriken cannons are just cheaper. Eldar missile launchers are not worth it any more though, being the only weapon to not be ridiculously cheap, especially as scatter lasers deal with infantry better and bright lances deal with tanks better. Take a squad of three War Walkers, kit them out with whichever weapon you want and watch them melt units. Oh, did I mention that they have a 5+ invulnerable save, as well as the Scouts, Battle Focus, Fleet and Ancient Doom special rules? Yeah, they’re pretty ridiculous now.

Lastly for tier 1, we have Dark Reapers. Cheaper, slow and purposeful, can all upgrade to take strength 8, AP3, pinning missiles, no jink saves against their shots and can now be taken in squads of ten. Dark Reapers laugh at anything with a 3+ or worse save, and can now be fitted to deal death to vehicles too. I wouldn’t recommend upgrading their Exarch to a missile launcher, not even to take flakk missiles as there are better anti-air units in the Eldar codex that are also cheaper, such as the Crimson Hunter and War Walkers. Keep them doing what they’re good at doing: Killing MEQs in droves and causing power armoured armies to shake in their boots. We’re Eldar, we specialise unlike those Mon-Keigh who like to have units that can do a little bit of everything. All of the Exarch’s powers are decent, so it all comes down to personal preference. More precision shots, more shots or ignoring Night Fighting? I’d probably go for the latter two, as a unit of Dark Reapers firing at any heavy infantry will likely deal enough damage without worrying about more precision shots. Hey, those heavy weapons will die anyway if I kill enough of the squad!

Okay, so onto tier 2. First up, the Fire Prism. The Fire Prism has gotten a buff as well at the cost of not being able to link shots any more. We have either strength five, AP3 with a large blast; strength seven, AP2 with a small blast, or strength nine, AP1 with the lance special rule. It still has a sixty inch range and costs ten points more now, so I would say that overall the Fire Prism is about the same as it was before in terms of power, which was pretty powerful, mind you. The reason why I like Fire Prisms is that you can spend forty points extra on star engines and a crystal targeting matrix to make them able to move thirty six inches total if they move flat out, as well as fire their prism cannon once per game when doing so. You bait them in, then boost to the other side of the board and still fire your prism cannon, it’s demoralising! The Fire Prism, however, falls under the category of “it’s not one of the units above.” It’s a good unit, but if you’re looking for the most powerful, you just don’t have enough heavy support slots on the force organisation chart. They are still a very capable unit, however, and I know that I will be taking one in my army.

Next up is the Falcon. This has gone from terribly broken in fifth edition, to useless in sixth edition, to useful in the new codex. They are ten points more expensive, but now have a ballistic skill of four and a shuriken cannon by default. Their weapon replacements for the shuriken cannon are the same, but they’re now cheaper and the scatter laser now has a use on a Falcon now that it has the laser lock special rule, allowing all other guns on the Falcon to re-roll their to-hit dice if the scatter laser hits. I will still be taking a starcannon and star engines for a measly one hundred and forty five points of AP2 death. Now that I have ballistic skill four, I may actually kill something! Also, it makes a useful transport for any units that may need it, providing there are no models with the Bulky special rule and the squad size is six or less.

Last for tier 2 is the Wraithlord. The reason why this unit is tier 2 rather than tier 1 is because it has been nerfed. At thirty points more expensive with two less strength, I can’t see how this would be among the likeness of the Wraithknight or War Walkers. The Ghostglaive is a must take in my opinion, at only five points to increase its strength by one, as well as having the master crafted special rule, I can’t see why you would not take this upgrade. Its guns remain expensive, which makes the Wraithlord into a unit that is tough and has its uses, but is nowhere near the same level as squad melting tier 1 units. I will not be taking a Wraithlord, as I just cannot justify them any more.

Finally, in tier 3 we have the Nightspinner and the Vaul’s Wrath Support Battery. Both capable artillery units, but like the tier 2 units, they just don’t have what it takes to compete with the rest of the heavy support section. I dislike the Vaul’s Wrath squad’s lack of mobility, as it will become isolated when it cannot keep up with the rest of my army, and the Night Spinner no longer causes anything it hits to treat all ground as difficult and dangerous terrain when it tries to move after being shot at. I do not have much to say about these units as I have never fielded the artillery batteries and rarely fielded a Night Spinner, but I dislike them and will not be using either of them in my army. They are useful, but I do not see them being that great.

I also wanted to talk about the Wave Serpent, the Eldar dedicated transport. It is now cheaper, unless you take Eldar missile launchers, with ballistic skill four and a different shield. It’s still a lot more expensive when compared to other armies and their transports, but with the Wave Serpent you get what you pay for. It carries twelve models, can carry bulky models, is a fast skimmer and can take some rather effective upgrades. Generally, they are less useful than before, due to how mobile the Eldar warhost is on its feet, but if you still want to run a mech-Eldar list, then the Wave Serpent remains a very solid choice for a troop transport. I’ll still be running a few of them to carry my Dire Avengers around if I need to rush some objectives, mainly with twin linked bright lances to swat down any enemy tanks on the way.

Eldar heavy support is very broken. The only problem we have as Eldar players is which units we want to take in our three slots. Unfortunately, it’s possibly the hardest choice we will have to make when army building, as our heavy support section is incredibly powerful. Much like the rest of the codex, however, all of the units are useful, depending on what kind of army you field. The above comments are my thoughts and opinions, so if yours differ, please leave a comment and let me know how you will be fielding heavy support choices.

And You Thought Our Other Units Were Fast…: Eldar Fast-Attack

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…

The Benefits of Specialisation: Eldar Elites

The elites section of the Eldar codex has quite possibly been my favourite section since I started collecting them. It could be because it houses the Eldar dedicated melee squads, which I absolutely love to field in order to protect my dedicated ranged units. As we all know, an Eldar army relies on synergy between units rather than aiming for a specific idea. The way the Eldar warhost operates allows for many different types of units to be fielded, allowing for more diversity than any other army out there through units of specialists, rather than the more Space Marine approach of having every unit as a relative jack of all trades. These units all inherit Ancient Doom and Battle Focus like most units in the new codex.

First of all, my personal favourite: Howling Banshees. Whilst we all remember the days of our power sword wielding maidens charging into units of terminators, only to decimate them and strike fear into the hearts of the hordes of power armour wearing opponents, they are not the same in sixth edition. Their power swords only being AP3 has really swayed people against using them in the current meta, preferring to just take Striking Scorpions instead, though I believe that the Banshees still have a key battlefield role. Whilst their swords merely bounce off the armoured shell of a Terminator or other 2+ save models, they still carve a bloody path through anything with a 3+ or worse save. I’m not saying that you should charge them into hordes, as they still only have a toughness score of three and a 4+ armour save, but any non-Terminator Space Marine squad (these ladies will absolutely decimate Vanguard Veterans for about half the points cost) is a prime target; non-Terminator Grey Knights weep at the sight of Howling Banshees, as do Sisters of Battle, just watch out for those incinerators and flamers as they fire overwatch! Their masks now reduce your opponent’s initiative by five as opposed to bumping yours to ten when you charge, which again is nice as unless your opponent has an initiative score of ten, or some other way of reducing your initiative, you will be striking first on the turn that you charge in, which is invaluable for such a fragile unit. They also now run D6+3 inches, as opposed to just D6, and also keep the fleet special rule, which will really help you to charge your enemy and not the other way around. Their Exarch largely remains the same, although her Executioner has been made AP2, her Triskele is AP3 and her Mirrorswords are now master crafted and only give +1 attack as opposed to +2. With an initiative of six, she remains a great choice for challenging enemy sergeants only to chop them cleanly in half in a few seconds. Where Howling Banshees fall short, in my opinion, is through a lack of support. Without the ability for our Farseers to reliably take doom and fortune, these ladies have certainly lost some of their appeal as a dedicated melee unit on the tabletop; whilst they have AP3 attacks and will likely be going first, they only have strength and toughness of three and a save of 4+, which means you’re wounding Space Marines on 5+ without a re-roll some of the time. That hurts.

Striking Scorpions in my opinion have taken a hit. Their scorpion chainswords are now AP6, so they’ll ignore some armour saves, but the fact that their mandiblasters are no longer an extra attack has hurt their horde killing potential, now working as an automatic hit at initiative ten with strength three and no AP on a single model in base contact. I much preferred my extra attack as now I believe that Striking Scorpions just aren’t as effective as they used to be. They come with infiltrate and move through cover as standard, however, and also now get stealth as well, so they’re a bit faster and more durable than they were before, and at only one point more I can say that they are still very much worth taking. In terms of the Exarch, I feel that the Scorpion’s Claw is now redundant with the Biting Blade almost doing the same, striking at strength +2 and AP4 as opposed to strength x2 and AP2, but keeping the Exarch’s delicious initiative of six. My favourite choice for the Exarch are the Chainsabres, though I will be keeping an Exarch model with a Biting Blade as it is a very viable option, because it is now AP5, grants a bonus attack for being two close combat weapons, increases his strength by one like the normal chainsword, but also gives his melee attacks the rending special rule. For a measly ten points, I can definitely get on board with that idea! He can also take an Exarch power that increases his strength by one, giving you a model with four attacks on the charge, with strength five and rending. Definitely still a unit that is worth taking, though overall I feel that they aren’t quite as effective as they were before.

Fire Dragons are a double edged sword. The good news is that they have been given that much needed 3+ armour save, so they won’t just get annihilated as soon as they show their faces. The bad news comes in the form of their points cost. Now, Fire Dragons cost a whopping six points more per model. They do get the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus special rules as well, so they are overall a lot more of a solid unit, but you really do pay for it. There’s not much else to say about Fire Dragons, as they have remained largely unchanged apart from those points stated above. I will probably not include a unit of Fire Dragons in my army list most of the time as I prefer my anti-vehicle firepower to be long range or durable enough to be on the front lines; even with their 3+ armour save, at twenty two points per model they just don’t fit the bill. However, they are far from useless, especially with the Battle Focus special rule, I’m just saying that I won’t be taking a squad myself.

Harlequins weren’t really anything special in the last edition of the codex, being expensive, toughness three and only possessing a 5+ invulnerable save whilst being generally not as deadly as Howling Banshees or Striking Scorpions. In this edition of the codex, they are completely unchanged, though the Death Jester, Shadowseer and Troupe Master have been explicitly labelled as characters. With the general buff that the army has gotten overall, I find that Harlequins are still lacking, trying to do a job that can be done better by other units. I will be fielding a unit of Harlequins because they look amazing, especially when painted well, but thinking from a practical point of view I would prefer to take more of other units instead of Harlequins. They also don’t benefit from Battle Focus or Ancient Doom.

I will talk about Wraithguard and Wraithblades in one paragraph as they are effectively the same unit, just equipped differently. Wraithguard have the same statistics as before for a slightly lower points cost, both Wraithguard and Wraithblades costing three points less than Wraithguard used to, as well as not suffering from Wraithsight and gaining the Ancient Doom. Standard Wraithguard are equipped with Wraithcannons, which in my opinion have been vastly improved. They no longer wound on a 2+ and cause instant death on a 6, now with strength ten and cause instant death on a 6. Also, against vehicles it doesn’t glance on a three or four and penetrate on a five or six, it’s just strength ten with AP2. A unit of Wraithcannon wielding Wraithguard are now, in my opinion, far better at shredding tanks as well as infantry. Strength ten has a tendency to kill with ease anyway. They can also take D-scythes, which are basically AP2 flamers with the distort special rule, which is very useful considering how close range your wraithguard usually are, though it costs a heavy ten points per model for this upgrade. I feel sorry for anyone who tries to charge that unit! Wraithblades are basically Wraithguard equipped for melee combat. They are equipped with either two Ghostswords, which strike at strength +1 and AP3, or a Ghostaxe and forceshield, basically strength +2, AP2 and unwieldy (strike at initiative one) but also having a 4+ invulnerable save. You want a tar-pit unit? There you have it; toughness six, 3+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save, with strength seven, AP2 close combat attacks for only thirty two points per model.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Wraith units, so I won’t be using any, though I will still be taking a unit of each close combat Aspect Warriors, and occasionally a squad of Harlequins when I get the points for it. Hey, I field what I like the look and feel of, not what I think works well!