12 Jun 2015

Eldar - Codex Summary Part V

Howdy all and welcome to the last Eldar Codex Summary article! Delays aside, let us begin.

Heavy Support

Dark Reapers - As the only Aspect Shrine that exists within the Heavy Support slot and given their generally consistent rules for several editions running, it kind of goes without saying that Dark Reapers remain the long-ranged specialists of the codex. They retain their Strength 5 AP3 guns that each fire two shots at a whopping 48" range and can optionally purchase Strength 8 AP3 missiles in addition to their standard ammunition. Whether as dedicated medium to heavy infantry hunters or as tank-destroyers, the units' Reaper Rangefinders mean they always ignore Jink saves making them ideal additionally for killing Bikes, Flyers and Skimmers of all kinds. They've been well suited to the current meta for two editions running - they are just that good - because they act as a hard counter to many of the more popular unit types, notably Jetbikes, and also serve as a handy anti-air unit in a pinch with a lot of versatility due to their two different weapon profiles. In an unsurprising turn given the rest of the codex, the rules designers saw fit to give Dark Reapers two significant buffs, the first of which is a 5 point reduction per-model which makes the optional Starshot missiles all the more valuable.

The second buff takes the form of a unique Aspect rule aptly named "Inescapable Accuracy", providing them with re-rolls on to-hit rolls made against any unit that either zooms, swoops, turbo-boosts or moves flat out in the preceding turn. This hilariously translates to the Dark Reapers becoming more accurate and thus deadly the faster a unit is, and given that 7th Edition Maelstrom of War missions are heavily suited to mobile armies, Dark Reapers carve out their own little niche of pure devastation. They are great anti-air units with their in-built re-rolls to-hit for their fantastic weaponry - both ammunition types are well suited to flying monstrous creatures and flyers - that also force bikes and ground vehicles to strongly reconsider making the most of their swiftness while dually denying all targets Jink saves. Otherwise, the unit is much the same as it was with their Slow and Purposeful combined with being one of the few units in the codex to sport a 3+ armour save, though it bears mentioning the Exarch has most of the same buffs as those in other Aspect Shrines, with his or her unique benefit being the addition of an extra shot to any weapon they fire. If Space Marine players were scared of Tempest Launchers before, they surely won't be pleased when an Exarch so equipped now gets to fire three shots rather than the usual two, though this is more of a nice bonus for the various weapon options rather than anything truly noteworthy. Gaining a boost to the units' Ballistic Skill via the Aspect Shrine formation makes them a truly terrifying source of heavy firepower, and generally speaking Dark Reapers already improved quite a bit to really justify their position as the most expensive Aspect Warriors in the codex.

Vaul's Wrath Support Battery - Fulfilling the role of static artillery in a codex that is generally more suited to mobility first, Vaul's Wrath Support Batteries have been a solid option for a few years now and the new rules haven't changed that one bit. Their base and upgrade point costs are mostly the same between the old and new codices, with the Shadow Weaver remaining the stock and best "generalist" weapon option. However, the primary change to Support Batteries in the latest codex is the introduction of Destroyer rules to the D-Cannon, turning it into one of the most terrifying weapons in the game even if it is still limited by firing a small blast and having a short 24" maximum range. I find Vibro Cannons to be an amusing but ineffective tank-hunting option that when used in a trio puts out the rough equivalent of two krak missile shots assuming average rolls each phase, not really justifying the price tag of an entire squad of Vaul's Wrath Support Batteries given their relative damage output compared to stock Shadow Weavers. Whether you choose between Shadow Weavers or D-Cannons will likely be dependent on spare points and the nature of your list, as an otherwise highly aggressive Eldar force won't really benefit from the limited-range of the D-Cannons other than suitably penning the opponent in. The only other change comes in the form of squad-leader Warlocks that are bought individually for the unit rather than as part of a detachable Warlock Council, doing nothing to solve the potential Leadership issues of the unit but acting as a cheap, guaranteed source of Conceal and other strong defensive psychic powers. Overall, I see these as a good but not particularly great unit that functions well in many Eldar lists given their unique unit type and role in the codex, while the new D-Cannons are hilarious if you have the psychic powers and abilities to maximize their incredible potential.

Falcons - Other than minor price reworks (mostly reductions) to its' secondary weapon upgrades and the addition of a cool but unreasonably expensive special rule serving as a reward for taking a full squadron, Falcons are much the same as they were in the previous codex. This means they have slightly stronger overall firepower compared to Wave Serpents, are generally more fragile due to the lack of a Serpent Shield and have inferior transport capabilities, making for an overall decent but hardly special unit that would really benefit from having some kind of Dedicated Transport classification. It seems the rules designers thought to address the declining popularity of Falcons by adding the option to use them in vehicle squadrons of up to three while also adding a unique no-scatter Deep Strike ability in a maxed out unit. While some believe this to be a fantastic tool to have up a players' sleeve, ultimately one must consider the incredible cost such a tactic requires; three Falcons are at minimum just under 400 points, not accounting for the extra 360 to pair them up with a trio of minimum-sized Fire Dragon units that most benefit from the no-scatter Deep Strike with their transports. Additionally, the three Falcons still follow the general vehicle squadron rules and thus are forced to focus their admittedly decent firepower at a single target rather than having the option of spreading the love among several enemies. Compared to Dark Eldar characters equipped with Webway Portals, the Falcon Cloudstrike tactic is incredibly points-inefficient and also hamstrung by its inability to combo with the utterly devastating Wraithguard. To those that say this is the best way to kill an Imperial Knight or other Super Heavy, consider that many Super Heavies are cheaper than a full-on Cloudstrike "formation" and the resulting explosion as a result of their probable elimination at the hands of the alpha-strike will more than likely obliterate the majority of the Cloudstrike in return. I do agree with the consensus that it will prove a nice surprise against clustered foes that have no counter-play options, but I am of the belief that the point spent here could be put to far, far better use elsewhere; any tactic that requires around 800 points to function and realistically will be destroyed the turn after it arrives while itself not dealing such ridiculously high damage to justify its' cost usually won't make a consistent impact in a competitive environment.

Fire Prisms - Much like the Falcon, Fire Prisms saw no real changes to their base cost or functionality but instead gained a unique special rule serving as a reward for fielding three of them in a newly available vehicle squadron. Of the various Eldar grav-tanks that benefit from being fielded in vehicle squadrons, Fire Prisms sadly have by far the weakest of the associated special rules; much like in classic 4th Edition rules, a group of Fire Prisms can link their Prism Cannons together to create a single devastating shot. This works by sacrificing two of the three shots the unit makes and improving both the Strength and AP of the remaining shot by two (or one per other Fire Prism in the unit), allowing for Strength 7 AP1 large blasts, Strength 9 AP1 small blasts and Strength 10 AP1 lance shots. This is all well and good but ultimately it is undone by the fact that you pay for three Fire Prisms in a single unit where the main benefit of fielding them in such a way is forcing two of them to be incapable of firing so that one gets an admittedly much improved (save for the lance variation) shot. I like Fire Prisms for the most part but aside from being generalists they really aren't points-efficient choices given the firepower each one puts out per shooting phase, and spending so many points on three only for one to shoot is utterly worthless. Besides, there's nothing stopping the one shot from missing outside of spending even more points on a friendly psyker to provide the unit with re-rolls, but given that you are already spending so many points on the squadron and Eldar psykers are far better served buffing other units in the codex, you'd be foolish to even consider this a viable tactic. If you want to field Fire Prisms, field them as a pair or singly; they can contribute to any shooting phase in a pinch with their three distinct weapon profiles and incredible range, but their firepower realistically pales in comparison to most other Heavy Support choices in the codex.

Night Spinners - Whereas Falcons and Fire Prisms saw no meaningful points reductions to their base cost, Night Spinners instead received a 15 point price decrease on top of having a very handy unique special rule for fielding them in a squadron. Their Monofilament Shroud special rule functions similarly to the Fire Prisms' Linked Fire rule, save that the Night Spinners don't lose shots when making their combined attack; not benefiting from improved AP values is hardly a downside next to actually getting to shoot with all free Night Spinners (technically) and still improving the Strength values of already very dangerous weapons. Besides, the Monofilament rule already has the potential to ignore armour saves on to-wound rolls of a 6, and I can already say that being on the receiving end of three Strength 9 AP4 large blasts that use both the Barrage and Monofilament rules is not pleasant at all. Heck, using each Night Spinners' normal firing modes so that they can use their torrent template weapon profiles usually ends in the target non-monstrous or non-vehicle unit being obliterated as well, and the beauty of this is that it all costs roughly a third of what a full Falcon Cloudstrike does. If you want to use any of the three Heavy Support grav-tanks in the Eldar codex, the Night Spinner remains the star as it was in 6th Edition, especially given that it has the most efficient and non-demanding unique special rule; you will actively want to squadron these given how comparatively cheap they are and how good their buff is.

War Walkers - One of the premier choices in the 6th Edition codex and top-billed with the mostly reduced prices of their various weapon options, War Walkers have ever made Sentinels jealous with their extremely efficient heavy long-ranged firepower and ability to perform minor jump-shoot-jump maneuvers with the Battle Focus rule. Their trademark fragility returns along with all their other key traits, though it ever remains somewhat mitigated by the aforementioned to shoot and then move out of sight via Battle Focus, or with their innate 5+ invulnerable saves due to the stock Power Fields. They remain capable of performing a Scout move at the start of the game to get into a favourable firing position, while the change to Scatter Lasers making them a free upgrade perfectly offsets the fact that they no longer contribute the Laser Lock special rule. These are still by far the most cost-effective source of raw heavy firepower in the Eldar codex and put most other light-walkers in the game to shame in the process, while their inclusion in both Guardian Hosts provides them with passive albeit significant buffs when the necessary conditions are met. War Walkers are the ultimate gap-fillers in an Eldar list; if you need a way to deal with Super Heavies or other heavily armoured vehicles, dual Bright Lance War Walkers are among your most reliable options, while dual Starcannon War Walkers absolutely munch through heavy infantry and monstrous creatures.

Wraithlord - I've always had a personal appreciation for Wraithlords even despite their growing redundancy with the introduction and further buffs of the Wraithknight, as well as the significantly more efficient fire platforms found in the form of War Walkers. When kitted out to a respectable level they are just over half the price of a Wraithknight but have less than half of the survivability, effective damage output in both melee and at range, and even mobility. They are much harder to kill than War Walkers against any army not named Dark Eldar but put out less than half of the effective firepower of that unit after point comparisons are made, while being stronger in melee in an edition where slow-moving combat units are usually comparatively weak next to the more mobile assault models. It even shares the unfortunate distinction of being a Wraith unit that lacks Destroyer weapons - much like Wraithblades - and not really contributing that much in any phase of the game despite its relatively high cost next to far more valuable and strikingly similar Dark Eldar Talos' and other monstrous creatures. Despite all of these many downsides and their oft-labelled worthlessness next to Wraithknights, I still find that my Wraithlords perform surprisingly well for me in all of my games; they are an amusing Warlord option given how easily hidden they are, a pair of Bright Lance shots is always handy to have on a semi-mobile platform and they can easily tarpit most units in the game via combat. The fact that opponents know Wraithlords aren't nearly as scary as most other components of an Eldar list makes them easy to ignore and thus get into a favourable scoring or tarpit position, while they are also good character assassins given that they themselves are capable of issuing and accepting challenges. To be fair, I wouldn't really use it competitively if it weren't a mandatory inclusion in the awesome Wraith Host, but I find the Wraithlord to be unworthy of the "terrible" label it so often receives, at least in my experience anyway.

Lords of War

Wraithknight - I feel like any thoughts I write out about this unit have been covered in excessive detail by others across all war-gaming circles, but I guess this was always going to happen given how ridiculously powerful the unit in question is. Yes, the Wraithknight is as utterly ridiculous as everyone was afraid it would be when the codex first dropped, and yes, it renders many other choices in the codex redundant not because they are necessarily weak units in their own right but more because the Wraithknight is just so insanely good in comparison to pretty much everything else you can think of. I'm not entirely certain if this really is the strongest single model in Warhammer 40,000 based on its relative worth next to that mind-bogglingly low points cost, but it sure as heck belongs in the top three of any such list. Instead of discussing what it is capable of, let me instead review how significantly an already great unit was buffed in its' latest codex iteration; the 6th Edition Wraithknight was, as many people should be aware, one of the more common units in tournament settings during the reign of "Serpent-Spam" Eldar, acting as a support choice to the over-powered transport cum battle tank. The Wraithknight was a star because of its high mobility as a Jump Monstrous Creature, its insane durability and place as easily the toughest model of its respective unit type in the game, its potentially devastating anti-tank and anti-monster guns in the form of medium to long-ranged Heavy Wraithcannons and its above-average melee capabilities with a wealth of Strength 10 AP2 attacks at Initiative 5.

With all that said, for a mere 55 point increase, the Wraithknight gained all of the following benefits; Destroyer ranged or Destroyer melee weapons, the Gargantuan Creature unit type, the ability to use Stomps and not be Stomped in return, pseudo-immunity to Instant Death and being removed from play, pseudo-immunity to Poisoned and Sniper weapons, Feel No Pain (5+), the ability to move 12" and still benefit from a re-roll on any random charge length roll, the ability to fire more than two weapons a turn as well as fire each individual weapon at separate targets, Strikedown on its melee attacks, superior Move Through Cover due to 7th Edition core rule changes, and finally both free primary weapon swaps and cheaper secondary weapon upgrades. No matter how you spin the few minor downsides associated with the change - namely that it is now a Lord of War, cannot fire Overwatch and doesn't gain the Laser Lock rule from Scatter Lasers - the Wraithknight has been buffed to a degree all would agree is undeserved given its' already strong place in the competitive meta, and reigns supreme as one of the most terrifying and unreasonably cheap units in the game given its capabilities. I've refrained from taking more than one Wraithknight in my games out of respect for my opponents and even then just the one has proven almost unassailable against the vast majority of opponents while dually acting as both the ultimate fire magnet and unit destroyer. Whoever thought the Wraithknight needed to be catapulted to the position of most absurdly priced Super Heavy or Gargantuan Creature-class unit in the game needs a good slap or two (addendum, I don't condone violence) to restore their sanity. The 7th Edition Eldar Codex was strong enough without turning the Wraithknight into the unholy over-powered monstrosity it is now, even though I do feel reintroducing it as a Gargantuan Creature makes perfect sense from both a gameplay and background perspective. The fact remains that it would be ridiculously powerful and competitive even if it was 600 points given its relative worth and abilities next to other Gargantuan Creatures, let alone how it compares to the already widely considered over-powered Imperial Knights that lack so many of the Wraithknights' capabilities and strengths.

Avatar of Khaine - As much as people like to harp on about how the Avatar of Khaine simply doesn't fit into the general play-style of the Eldar codex and that it ultimately doesn't even scratch the competitive worth of a Wraithknight in the Lord of War slot, I think people give too much unfair criticism to this classic unit despite how many crucial buffs it received. Rather than making it an extremely tough monstrous creature that - oddly enough - would bring it more in line with Wraiths, the rules designers went the less obvious route to making it useful by making it even deadlier in a melee as well as making it a far superior catalyst for other Eldar units to succeed. It retains its insane combat stat-line in keeping with something akin to a Bloodthirster, while it is also quite a bit faster than an average monstrous creature given that it has the Fleet special rule. It is still immune to all kinds of fire or melta-based attacks including the Pyromancy psychic discipline and weapons that inflict Soul Blaze, making him a hilarious choice to use against Sisters of Battle and Tzeentch Daemons, while it retains all of its Daemonic abilities. The real changes come in the form of a +2 Strength bonus and the addition of Armourbane to the melee profile of the Wailing Doom, making it a truly terrifying melee combatant and an easy counter to characters and even Super Heavy vehicles alike. Additionally, its' bubble of Fearless now also confers the Furious Charge and Rage special rules to all friendly Eldar within 12", giving melee-oriented Eldar forces some amazing buffs that more than justify its inclusion into an army list. While it now occupies that extremely valuable and contested Lord of War slot and is strangely no longer Unique while being incapable of purchasing the oft very useful Exarch Powers, it would be foolish to deny that the Avatar has been made far more useful for Eldar forces in general, even if its' Fearless bubble is made somewhat redundant by the introduction of the Will of Asuryan psychic power into the Runes of Fate psychic discipline. I think it is now a well-priced unit that could maybe do with improved move speed to make it a fundamentally ideal lynchpin for assault-oriented Eldar armies, though obviously players looking for a competitive option in an all-comers Eldar list should really look at the insanely more valuable Wraithknight.

Thank you for reading this article! This is the last piece of the Eldar series puzzle and I am eager to start working on other more recent codices, all of which I have had considerable experience playing against in the past few months. I also look forward to conducting a review of the latest Space Marine codex and how satisfied it has left me so far, but in any case, I'll sign out for now and leave you to your war-gaming hobby!


  1. Though I agree taking them as a Deep Strike Bomb is prohibitive, I think with the downgrades to the Wave Serpent, the Falcon is a great tank out there. I most always include one in my lists now to carry my Fire Dragons. Point for point, kitted out with a Scatter Laser, Under-slung Cannon, and Holo-fields, it is better than the Wave Serpent offensively except in the turn you fire the shields. Just a good all around tank that I'm happy to field again now that the age of the Serpent has ended.

    1. All Eldar Grav-Tanks are at the very least decent and generally efficient, but in the case of the Falcon its' firepower still isn't that much better than a Wave Serpent - you gain a Pulse Laser and that's it - and in other areas it is still weaker, even if only marginally. That it always takes up a slot means the Wave Serpent is still the better overall choice, especially as the Wave Serpent doesn't sacrifice any shooting when it moves 12" unless you intend to fire the Serpent Shield.

      Also of note is that the Wave Serpents' turret weapon is twin-linked, whereas neither the Pulse Laser or secondary turret weapon for the Falcon are. The Falcons' problem isn't that it is poor or anything, but that it has an identity crisis with the Wave Serpent and doesn't do anything the Wave Serpent does better in any meaningful way to justify its increased cost and usage of a Heavy Support slot.

      Thank you for the comment though! I do rate Falcons if my article wasn't clear, as I still think they and the other Grav-Tanks are generally good all-round units, but even with the heavy targeted nerfs to the Wave Serpent the main transport still ends up being generally a stronger overall unit.

  2. I'm left wondering what the point of ANYTHING in this codex is when you consider that the Wraithknight exists. It's just too good to *not* take!