First up, it is unusual that either force is tabled in a White Dwarf battle report; certainly not since 6th Edition has dropped have we seen a battle involving a new army end in one side being completely wiped out. That it was a Necron force of all armies is very surprising, though given the size of the game and the army lists in play as well as the dice rolling that was featured, there probably isn't too much to read into it. Other than that, it was an interesting game; certainly where some of the new rules and units were concerned. The Wraithknight in particular was a dominant presence on the battlefield, obliterating entire squads and shooting fliers out of the air with its impressive array of weaponry. Other details have emerged after fine reading of the sample images of the codex, and to say I am impressed would be an under-statement.
The Wraithknight - Wow, this thing looks super strong. Given that the Wraithlord is still likely Toughness eight or seven (more on that later) it is safe to assume that the Wraithknight has similar stats, but many more wounds. The popular figures are Toughness eight and six wounds, double that of the Wraithlord. We don't know much else about its raw stats, though as a wraith construct it will definitely be Fearless and have decent Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill. It has access to multiple ranged options and a few melee options, as well as a shield that presumably provides an invulnerable save. We know little about the combat potential of this monster, but we do know that it can be sublimely devastating at range - it shines even compared to the Riptide! - with two shoulder-mounted Scatter Lasers (or Starcannons) that fire on a target and then allow the Wraithknights' other weapons to be twin-linked when they fire. Given the sheer rate of fire of those two weapons, this is a great boon - and it is also likely a special rule that specifically allows the Wraithknight to fire more than two weapons, unlike other monstrous creatures. The other weapon that we do know about, the Suncannon, is ridiculous; it fires three Strength six AP two small blasts! Given that they become twin-linked provided the Scatter Lasers hit, this can bring unparalleled devastation against Infantry - and even monstrous creatures of some kinds - of any type, from Fire Warriors to Terminators. It is with this weapon that the Wraithknight obliterates entire squads of Necrons in the battle report. We know little else, save that the Wraithknight also moves incredibly fast; given its gargantuan proportions, it likely has a jump pack to at least resemble the speed of monsters of its size from the Apocalypse rule-set. I'm very excited to see the points cost of the basic model, its options, and how it performs when used for melee.
The Hemlock Wraithfighter - Though it is more geared to killing infantry, the Wraithfighter had the distinction of annihilating a "dormant" Monolith owing to its signature pair of weapons - the heavy D-Scythes - being able to automatically penetrate a vehicle on an armour penetration roll of a six. It also has mindshock pods that reportedly terrify enemies and, in conjunction with the D-Scythes, force enemies to flee after suffering casualties. This had the stronger debut of the two flyers, but like many of the 6th Edition flyers before it, the cost will be what determines the use of this flyer.
Farseers - The main point I want to discuss here is that the Farseer used in the battle report was mastery level three. Given that they were capped at mastery level two before, this is a big improvement and, in conjunction with the random psychic powers, should bring them in line with other 6th Edition psykers. The Farseer did have a good impact on the game, using the psychic powers to great effect to sway the outcome of certain battles. What I am really waiting to see is what this means for Eldrad Ulthran, the premier psyker amongst the Eldar; with a high level of certainty, I will say that Eldrad will be the first mastery level four psyker of this edition since Ahriman of the Thousand Sons.
The Avatar of Khaine - In the battle report, the Avatar was used to fight - and severely weaken - a C'tan Shard that allowed its demise from the Wraithblades. What I thought was noteworthy here is that the Avatar finally has Fleet; not only will this be a big boon for making it across the table, but for making it into combat as well with the re-rolls. No hints as to any stat changes, but given that this is a Phil Kelly codex, one could reasonably expect the Avatar to get a 'Daemon Prince' or 'Greater Daemon' treatment; that is, its durability may go down somewhat (as a Daemon, perhaps expect its invulnerable save to drop to 5+) but it will gain some big stat boosts. As its Weapon Skill is already ten, I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes Initiative eight with five or six attacks. A Strength boost may very well be in order too. All we can do is wait and see.
Wave Serpents - They now have a 'Serpent' wargear option that can kill enemies; it is used in the battle report to kill a bunch of Necron Warriors. A tasteful addition, but we know little else.
Psychic Powers - Given the psychic mastery present in the Eldar race, I was expecting them to keep a lot of strong psychic abilities and have access to more psykers than most other codices. Thankfully, this has proven to be the case; Mastery Level three Farseers, Warlocks with two wounds, two psychic disciplines and, interestingly, psychic powers that are "two for one" with one effect for allies and one effect for enemies. A good example of this is Conceal, which grants Shrouded to a friendly unit, or removes Stealth and Shrouded from an enemy unit. This power provides both a very strong defensive boost and can remove the shield behind which some enemy units lay; Nurgle Daemons in particular will learn to fear this power. Some of the old classics such as Doom, Fortune and Guide remain, though we don't know too much about them save that they probably function much like before. One of the more interesting powers touched on in the battle report was Quicken which, from my reckoning, can be used either to slow an enemy unit down (perhaps halve their movement?) or speed up a friendly unit. It is described as giving a big boost to mobility for a unit and, depending on how it functions, may be pivotal to the use of slower units such as Wraithblades and the Avatar that need to get close quickly to maximise their damage output. I would expect it either doubles the movement of the unit based on its unit type (Infantry move twelve inches, Jump Infantry move twenty four inches, and so on) but we will have to wait and see. All up, they look as strong as ever and having to roll for them randomly likely won't be a major detriment to their use.
It is all looking really swell at the moment for the Eldar. They have always been a tactically engaging force that really challenges your grasp of tactics and synergies behind specialist units, but with an array of staggeringly detailed models and some new rules at their disposal, using them likely will have never been easier. I hope it is true - I will be giving you the full run-down of the codex upon its release day in just under a week! Until then, stay safe and enjoy your gaming!
For the Craftworld!