The Heart of a Strikeforce: Eldar Troops

Thus we start article number two of Eldar week. In the last article I talked about the HQ choices that will lead your army, so I decided to cover their troops choices next; being the other required units on a standard force organisation chart. Troops will probably make up the bulk of your army, unless you’re list-tailoring or being generally beardy, as they can capture and hold objectives regardless of the scenario. Before I start, I want to talk about some of the global rules that I referenced in my last article: Ancient Doom and Battle Focus. Ancient Doom gives your units hatred against all things Slaanesh, whether they are Slaanesh daemons or merely models with the mark of Slaanesh, your Eldar gain hatred against them which allows them to re-roll any 1s when rolling to hit or wound; however, the trade off is that you also take a leadership penalty of -1 when in combat with the units you gain hatred against. Most Eldar have at least a score of nine for leadership, so I’m not too fussed if it also gives me hatred. Battle Focus is one of the most broken parts of the new Eldar codex, allowing your units to run and shoot in whichever order you want to in the shooting phase, rather than one or the other. This takes your already mobile Eldar and turns them into what they should be, in accordance with how they are portrayed in the fluff. Also, I feel that I should write something about the new rule for all shuriken weaponry called “Bladestorm”. This is not the same as the old Dire Avenger Exarch power, giving AP2 and an automatic wound on any rolls to wound of a 6. Yes, Eldar players, all our shuriken weaponry is basically rending against infantry. Enough intro, let’s get right into it.

First, I will talk about Dire Avengers. These lads and ladies in blue have gone from a staple inclusion in most Eldar armies to… Well, it’s hard to compare them to what they used to do. The two main builds that I saw around before was either an Exarch with power weapon, shimmershield and defend, or an Exarch with dual Avenger shuriken catapults and bladestorm. Their Exarch powers have been completely changed, now able to purchase up to two out of three that come from a pool of shared Exarch powers rather than the fixed ones for each Aspect Warrior squad. Statistically they are identical to the old codex, now also boasting plasma grenades and counter-attack by default for an extra point cost. They have the Ancient Doom special rule, as well as the Battle Focus one, meaning that they can run and shoot in the same shooting phase with those pseudo-rending eighteen inch range shuriken catapults. Move up, unload pseudo-rending death and then run D6 inches away from your opponent or back into cover afterwards, with a re-roll if need be due to the fleet special rule. That being said, the dual Avenger shuriken catapults have been nerfed, now only counting as twin linked rather than having four shots, and the weapon upgrades generally cost more. You can also give your Exarch a power weapon as opposed to a diresword for a few points less, though in my opinion, it is not worth it. The power weapon and shimmershield sticks out to me as the best option for any Dire Avenger Exarch, as it still gives the whole squad a 5+ invulnerable save and turns them into a real tar-pit should they get charged. Just make sure to decline challenges from big, beefy, scary opponents! My biggest annoyance with Dire Avengers is the fact that Games Workshop have decided to make them financially impossible. Now, you get half the box for roughly the same price. I don’t know about you, but five Dire Avengers (six with a spare pair of Guardian legs!) for twenty pounds is just not affordable. Lucky for me, I already have all the Dire Avengers I will need.

Next up are Rangers. Not much has changed concerning Rangers, as they still sport all their old special rules, though they act like normal snipers now; meaning 6s to hit are precision shots, no longer AP1, and they have the rending special rule. They still have stealth, infiltrate, move through cover, as well as the two new rules stated in the first paragraph. They have gained an extra point of initiative and weapon skill as well though, unless things go horribly wrong, these are largely moot. What is nice is that they have been brought down to a measly twelve points per model, even though they have largely just been buffed. I will always be fielding at least one unit of Rangers in all of my Eldar armies, regardless of points. It’s a sixty point, five man unit of snipers with the stealth special rule who can capture objectives. Very useful! If your army contains Illic Nightspear, then you can pay an extra thirteen points per model, bringing the total up to twenty five points per model, to make your Rangers into Pathfinders. Pathfinders in this edition are basically normal Rangers with shrouded and sharpshot, giving them +2 to their cover saves as well as making all of their shots into precision shots. Watch your enemy weep as you kill all of his shiny weapons!

Finally, I will cover the last three choices in one part, as they are all three Guardian variant: Defenders, Storm and Jetbikes, renamed to Windrider Jetbikes. In terms of statistics, Guardians are much better. With an increased initiative of five as well as weapon and ballistic skills of four as opposed to three, along with the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus special rules added on and plasma grenades as standard, Guardians may actually do some serious damage on the tabletop now. They cost one point more now and do not have to take a heavy weapon platform, though just imagine their uses. Twenty Guardians is one hundred and eighty points; if they unload all their shooting, that’s forty shots that hit on 3s and have the Bladestorm special rule. That’s a lot of twelve inch range death that they can hand out for a very small amount of points, with the ability to then run away or into cover afterwards. However, one thing to note is that heavy weapons platforms are generally more expensive and nowhere does it say to treat them as assault weapons, meaning that if we want to fire our Guardian heavy weapon platform, we have to stay still like everyone else or resign ourselves to snap firing. Storm Guardians get the ability to take two power weapons in their squad as well as two special weapons between fusion guns and flamers. I believe that both Guardian Defenders and Storm Guardians benefit even more from a Warlock leader now than they ever did. Just imagine if your Warlock got the psychic power that increases strength by one; suddenly your Guardians are weapon skill and strength four with initiative five and two power weapons in the mix. That’s some cheap, yet very effective troops there, however they are still made of paper, sporting a 5+ armour save and toughness three. No matter, it’s the Eldar way: Kill them before they can effectively strike back. Windrider Jetbikes benefit from all the Guardian statistic increases, though they remain largely untouched. For every three, you can take a shuriken cannon, and squad size has gone down to a maximum of ten. The best part about them, however, is the fact that they are five points cheaper, despite all the buffs that they received.

All in all, Eldar now have a very solid selection of troops now that Guardians have gone from almost useless to deadly overnight. I believe that any combination of troops will work in any Eldar army, as long as they are used in the right way. You could viably field multiple Ranger squads, or an Ulthwe strike force of Guardians and Warlocks, or a Saim-Hann inspired mass of Windriders. Personally, I will be using a combination, though Dire Avengers will stay my preferred troops with a squad or two of Rangers to back them up. However, I may actually use my Guardians now… Hmmmmm… Let me know in the comments what you think of the changes, new rules, as well as my opinions. Don’t hesitate to tell me I’m wrong if you believe that I am, and feel free to post up anything I missed!