Hey there everyone, my name is Learn2Eel and I am one happy gamer! The release of the new Eldar codex is easily one of my most anticipated, with my love of the models and the background now justified by new rules designed to mesh with the other 6th Edition Warhammer 40000 codices. With that in mind, as a prelude to my full Tactica, I've been rummaging through the book and have some high hopes for this codex. Whether you play competitively or more for fun, I feel Eldar will be a tactically challenging and diverse army that rewards risk and application of their incredible maneuverability above all else. I hope you find this an enjoyable read!
Eldar look to be an army where understanding their special rules and what role each unit has could make or break them in the hands of a player. Like before, they are definitely not for beginners; the sheer number of different unique rules to remember, the way they function as a fragile and mobile but hard-hitting force, and their unique methods of movement will probably be a bit too advanced for just anyone to pick up and play. However, in a sense, there is no better army to learn with; the first several games may leave one hollow, as they come to grips with the focus on speed and trickery above all else, but it will ultimately prove rewarding later on. Though I won't go into detail about the special rules here, it is nonetheless important to note that the Battle Focus rule in particular - the ability to fire after running and vice versa - in conjunction with all of their 'Rending' weapons could lead them to them being a far more deadly force than anyone can realize before actual extensive play-testing is conducted. Going from that, I will study each unit in the codex in lesser detail to give you my initial impressions of the army as a whole.
Eldrad Ulthran - Now he is Mastery Level 4, and generates additional warp charge points on a 5+ after every successful psychic test - repeat, psychic test, so stopping the power doesn't matter. This is useful for having spare warp charge points to save Perils of the Warp wounds - owing to the new Ghosthelm rules - and for casting multiple Warp Charge 2 powers or using his force weapon after casting all of his powers. He also has an AP3 Fleshbane force weapon, and is cheaper to boot. In a word - wow! He may very well be the most brutal psyker in the game, particularly with access to three psychic disciplines - all of them good, including the best one available to any psyker (Divination).
Prince Yriel - His Doomed rule is a big drawback, as he re-rolls successful saving throws of a 6, but I think his others rules compensate for this; he has the same reserves manipulation rule as a regular Autarch, with a similar stat-line, but he has a bonus wound and an awesome AP3 Fleshbane and Armourbane spear. His eye is still devastating, with a S6 AP3 large blast sure to wipe out entire squads of heavy infantry. In short, if you want a cheap combat power-house, you want Yriel.
Illic Nightspear - A super-ranger that confers super-infiltrate and Shrouded on to his unit, though certainly the application of the former ability is subject to future clarification. His sniper rifle is nasty, he's cheap, he allows Pathfinders, and he can get any unit you need somewhere they need to be owing to Infiltrate. Of course though, this depends on whether that particular rule has been house-ruled (which is becoming increasingly popular) as it actually isn't legal in the standard rules - as an example, my local area plays it as they can, but many others may not. That, and he's no slouch in combat with a slew of AP3 attacks. Nice.
Asurmen - D3 Warlord Traits and a 4+ invulnerable save on a character with 7s for stats says hi. That doesn't even begin to cover the Sword of the Asur; on the charge, Asurmen has 6 S5 AP2 I7 attacks that, for every unsaved wound caused, force the enemy to take a Leadership test or be removed from play. In short, even eternal warriors will need to keep away from this guy; whilst Skarbrand would likely best him, he can rip Draigo or Mephiston apart with little difficulty.
Jain Zar - She has an incredible number of S4 AP2 attacks and shots, with the former benefiting from the Shred rule. In short, she is designed to reave entire units with little difficulty, and few characters can reliably stand up to her. Her Disarming Strike should allow her to remove the valuable weapon a challenger carries that, in conjunction with her special Banshee Mask that forces enemies to strike at Weapon Skill and Initiative 1 in the first round of combat, will see her rip enemies apart and suffer little damage in return.
Karandras - On top of conferring Infiltrate and Stealth to any unit he joins, Karandras is first and foremost a melee powerhouse, perhaps more so than the others offensively; on the charge, he has a free S6 I10 impact hit - much like Hammer of Wrath - that is soon followed by 6 S8 AP2 I7 attacks. Yeah, he carries a powerfist that isn't Unwieldy, a nasty trick of the Striking Scorpions in the new book. To put it simply; woah!
Fuegan - Essentially the same as before, save that he now fires his Firepike twice in the same shooting phase. So basically, he is nasty in assault - and in shooting - against well armoured enemies and vehicles alike, and continues the trend of being a combat monster with a Strength 5 axe that strikes at Initiative 7.
Baharroth - He has seen a big buff and is still very cheap, with a bunch of blinding AP3 melee attacks, several high strength shots and haywire grenades. Effectively the "utility" Phoenix Lord, the new Swooping Hawk rules make Baharroth a very interesting proposition; he doesn't scatter on deep strike, and any unit within 6" of him after his deep strike has to take a Blind test. Remember all those Necrons and Tau that are popping up at tournaments everywhere? Give them something to think about with this guy, especially given he can jump out of the game on the next turn.
Maugan Ra - What do you want out of a ranged character; ask yourself, how many do you feel are worth it? How does 5 S6 AP5 Rending and Pinning shots with Night Vision, Precision Shots on a 5+ and BS7 that fire normally on the move with a 36" range sound to you? What if the character is also S6 AP3 with a 7s for stats? Pretty darn nasty, that is for sure, and he is tied for the cheapest of the Phoenix Lords as well. Though not as much of a melee powerhouse, he is nonetheless very useful when paired with a similarly long range unit that, owing to his presence, won't be easy to beat in melee either.
The Avatar of Khaine - With stats that could make even a Bloodthirster jealous, as well as the addition of Fleet and Battle Focus, the Avatar is now a very strong and tough monster. It also can take Exarch powers to really mess up enemy units for a good cost.
Autarch - Still a cheap character with a modest profile that shines in certain builds more as a support character, particularly with their reserve roll manipulation. Optional speed boosts and 'relics' spice things up; a popular combo popping up is a Jetbike-mounted Autarch with the Mantle of the Laughing God and kit to bear. Do you like a 2+ cover save toting commander that re-rolls failed cover saves, can have nasty melee and ranged weapons and modifies your reserve rolls? You know you want one.
Farseer - With a mastery level of three, Farseers are incredibly cheap psykers with handy natural defences against Perils of the Warp. Access to Divination in particular will prove popular, though as long as they are uses as support characters they will be a strong choice regardless of the lore they choose.
Spiritseer - Effectively a cheaper but weaker Farseer, the Spiritseer benefits from the powerful Runes of Battle, though they will likely prove popular because they perform the very handy task of making Wraithguard and Wraithblades Troops choices. Strong, particularly to get the many defensive boosts of Runes of Battle into units other than Guardians.
Warlock Council - Functioning like a Necron Royal Court, Warlocks are now Leadership 8 psykers that randomly generate their powers. They function well in units of Guardians and the like, and their easy access to a power that provides Shrouded will likely be their best use; they work well in general though, and can make for more random but potentially more brutal Seer Councils.
Dire Avengers - Though costing as much as a Chaos Marine may seem bad, Dire Avengers make for perfect defensive or close assault units with the crazy semi-Rending applied to their 18" assault 2 guns. They work best in a Wave Serpent to make them a deadly and mobile ranged unit with Counter Attack and powerful Exarch wargear allowing them to punish aggressors.
Guardian Defenders - Though their weapons are still pitifully short ranged, the addition of semi-Rending and handy stat boosts combine to make Guardians a stronger choice that, particularly with Battle Focus, are utterly brutal at short ranges for a low cost.
Storm Guardians - The main reason to use these is the flamers, fusion guns and power weapons; otherwise a regular Guardian squad would probably be the best choice owing to their ridiculous firepower at close ranges.
Windrider Jetbike Squad - Amazingly cheap Eldar Jetbikes with good stats worthy of a Space Marine, potent twin-linked short range guns, chunky squad sized and up to three medium ranged Shuriken Cannons. You want these. You really do.
Rangers - Darn cheap Snipers that Infiltrate and have Stealth. Nothing more, nothing less; these are great back field objective holders that are helpful against most targets.
Wave Serpent (Dedicated Transport) - Not to be mistaken with a typical transport, a Wave Serpent is well armoured, highly armed, incredibly fast and effectively fills the role of a main battle tank while ferrying models around. They rock, but they pay for it.
Howling Banshees - Though their Banshee Masks aren't as useful now, they still make for a decent counter assault unit; their main issue is the lack of an assault transport.
Striking Scorpions - Between Infiltrate and Stealth as standard rules, as well as a price drop, the Scorpions remain one of our strongest melee options; they do not need a transport, they have gained Fleet, and they offer a large number of Strength 4 attacks. A great unit.
Fire Dragons - Though expensive, you get what you pay for; an elite tank hunting unit at short ranges that, when considering both their fast transports and ability to run and shoot, are both mobile and reliable. The improvement to 3+ armour and the new special rules more than justify the price hike.
Harlequins - As one would expect, these are an odd but effective melee unit that will benefit greatly from an attached character with Infiltrate to allow them to start irritating your opponent early on. Their options are expensive and of debatable use - I feel they will need play testing and the right army to know for sure.
Wraithguard - Incredibly tough with short ranged weapons that can eviscerate Land Raiders and Terminators alike, with the potential - and recommended - boost of being a scoring unit when paired with a Spiritseer. Costly, but both worthwhile and scary.
Wraithblades - Effectively the Eldar equivalent of Terminators, these come either with S6 AP3 I4 A2 or S7 AP2 I1 A1 and a 4+ invulnerable save for dealing with medium or elite units - even monsters and vehicles - alike. Strong, best used with either Infiltrating characters or a transport.
Swooping Hawks - A cheap harassment unit that brutalises light infantry like few others, Swooping Hawks are reliable hunters; 3 shot weapons and dropping a S4 AP4 large or small blast that ignores cover mince entire Fire Warrior units as an example. Now consider that they don't scatter when deep striking, possess haywire grenades to destroy any vehicle, and can leave the board and repeat the trick. Yeah.
Warp Spiders - Have you ever seen a unit of infantry that can move potentially 36" in a turn, while firing twenty S6 or S7 shots that are AP1 on a to-wound roll of a 6, and cost less than two hundred points for a full squad? Potentially the stars of the codex.
Shining Spears - Elite Jetbike riders with short ranged AP3 lances that also function in combat at Strength 6, Shining Spears are mostly a close assault unit designed to shred Space Marines before they strike. Significantly cheaper, and strong on the charge.
Crimson Hunter - A flyer that is arguably this editions most devastating fighter yet, the Crimson Hunter packs four S8 AP2 shots - two with the lance special rule - that can re-roll failed armour penetration rolls against flyers, though it is very fragile to compensate. Vector Dancer allows it to avoid and destroy enemy fliers with ease, though it needs to be kept away from ground based anti-air platforms.
Vyper Squadron - Effectively the Eldar Land Speeder, Vypers provide good firepower at a very low price on the move at the cost of durability. Ballistic Skill 4 makes them a very appealing option now.
Hemlock Wraithfighter - Though its firepower is minimal compared to the Crimson Hunter, the Wraithfighter is considerably more expensive based on somewhat more situational abilities. It is handy as a psyker that always has Terrify, and it forces all Morale and Pinning tests within 12" of it to be re-rolled; just be wary that it also affects friendly units.
Dark Reapers - Long range anti-infantry artillery units that are infamous for the devastation they wreak against Space Marines, a task in which they still excel. A price drop, ignoring jink saves, the option for pinning krak missiles, an amazingly strong tempest launcher upgrade for the Exarch, and very cheap Night Vision, they are a great unit amongst a superb cast.
Vaul's Wrath Support Battery - Cheap and effective heavy weapons that are tough to kill owing to the artillery rules. They offer strong firepower at a minimal price, and there isn't anything wrong with that.
Fire Prism - Given the popularity of Hammerhead Gunships, the appeal of a Fire Prism should be obvious; three firing modes, including a S5 AP3 large blast, a S7 AP2 blast, and a S9 AP1 lance, all at 60", make it an incredibly versatile and destructive vehicle. As a well armoured fast skimmer, it can move and fire two weapons - the other one provides decent short or medium ranged firepower - at full ballistic skill through cruising speed, and it is well armoured to boot. A fantastic unit.
Night Spinner - Though I feel the Fire Prism is the better all round choice, the Night Spinner has an incredibly potent anti-infantry weapon that either fires a large blast or a torrent template. With the monofilament rule, sixes to wound are AP1, giving it an edge against elite units. Very useful.
Falcon - The main Eldar battle tank that also doubles as a durable transport with very decent firepower. It works best with smaller elite units such as Fire Dragons, and it can fire a wealth of guns on the move; all of which are cheap options, and it also comes stock with a two-shot AP2 missile launcher.
War Walker Squadron - Though their base cost doubled, their weapon options are significantly cheaper, and they come stock with Fleet and Battle Focus. Open-topped isn't great, but having a 5+ invulnerable save included in the base cost certainly makes up for this. A great choice that managed to improve.
Wraithlord - As both a monstrous creature with a Strength and Toughness of eight, and a character that strikes at Weapon Skill and Initiative four with three attacks, the Wraithlord is a spectre to be feared by squad sergeants and captains alike. Three wounds and a 3+ armour save mean it will drop quickly to sustained heavy weapons fire, but its sheer Toughness makes it almost entirely immune to small arms fire; that it also has access to cheap heavy weapons, as well as a laughably inexpensive melee upgrade, just shows how diverse and multi-purpose the Wraithlord is.
Wraithknight - This thing is incredibly tough against anyone that doesn't have sniper or poisoned weapons in abundance, and that is only if they can get close to it; with a movement of 12", ignoring terrain and long-range weapons that can fire from across the board, catching it is no easy feat. With six wounds at Toughness eight, a 3+ armour save, the new cover rules for monsters and a possible 5+ invulnerable save, this thing is ridiculously hard to kill and pays a heavy price for it. Its weapons range from decent to good, though it must be said that - sadly - it can still only fire two of them, like any regular monstrous creature. It is an effective melee monster though, with four attacks at Initiative five meaning it can strike down characters with ease - especially given it has a base Strength of ten! Its only real issue is the fantastic competition it faces.
So there you have it everyone, those are my quick and initial thoughts on the Eldar units. I hope you found that an entertaining read, and be sure to stick around for my in depth review of the entire codex; from the psychic disciplines and the army special rules, to the Defender Guardians and Eldrad Ulthran. I hope you have an enjoyable morning, afternoon or evening, depending on your time-zone.