5 Jun 2013

Eldar Tactica - Army Special Rules and Psychic Powers

Hey there everyone, I am Learn2Eel and today I want to talk about the new and improved Eldar! The ancient warriors remain an incredibly elite, effective and mobile force, but a fragile one, and understanding this will be key to their use. I hope you enjoy this article!


The Eldar are warriors with few peers, and no better is this displayed than in their army-wide special rules - particularly the latter one - that serve to emphasise their sheer mobility and trickery. Few other armies can manipulate the movement phase as well as Eldar, and few can fire and fall back out of range across such a wide breadth of units. Almost the entirety of the codex is built for such tactics, and it really highlights how a skilled tactician will bring an Eldar force to life like no army list ever could. They have two fully fledged psychic lores to be spread around throughout the various psykers in the codex, and even though they are now randomly determined and thus cannot be relied upon in a specific strategy, I feel it is nonetheless important to cover their usage and potential. Overall, the Eldar have a lot of strong options in each slot, or at least units that are typically of very similar usefulness in any given army list; deciding which to employ commonly will likely come down more to preference than anything else. Like any other codex or army book, I strongly recommend experimentation with the army so as to work out which units you like and which you units you feel need some tweaking.

Army Special Rules

Ancient Doom - The Eldar fear and hate the scions of Slaanesh above all else; all Eldar with this special rule have Hatred against Daemons of She Who Thirsts and models with the Mark of Slaanesh. Conversely, and Fear test taken against such models suffer a negative modifier of one. Though this ability is obviously situational, the mostly above average Leadership of Eldar minimises the issues inherent with the latter rule, and the former is rather handy - particularly for deciding the always important first round of combat with Eldar assault units. Fittingly, every unit in the codex that could potentially fight in melee bears this special rule; the wraith units, in particular, do not suffer the ill effects owing to their natural Fearless. Of course, Slaanesh Daemons tend to be incredibly brutal in a melee; be wary of which units you send into combat against them, as even their lowly handmaidens, the Daemonettes, can brutalise the elite assault forces of the Eldar.

Battle Focus - The Eldar warriors are the most skilled and refined of any species, their sheer mastery of the ways of war leading to a calmed, almost graceful style of warfare that none can match. The speed of the Eldar is represented no better than in their ability to run and then shoot, or shoot and then run, in the same shooting phase; this unprecedented ability, particularly when applied to all but a handful of units in the codex, opens up some incredible layers of tactical depth. Effectively, the entire army has a minimalist adaption of the "jump shoot jump" tactics of which the Eldar made famous - and were later adapted by the Tau - that gives them the extra edge in dictating their engagements; anything from how quickly their assault troops make a melee to firing with all models and then retreating out of harms way are valid applications of this rule. That almost all Eldar have the Fleet special rule means that the reliability of this rule is significant; complimented with an almost unparalleled movement phase owing to heavily armoured fast skimmers and many jump or jet pack units, Eldar are an army designed to control the speed of the game like few others. This means that a more considered and devious mind is required to make full use of the army effectively, as more than any other army, you need to execute your movements and positioning with precision and foresight; the fragility of much of the force means that risks and rewards must be considered before each motion, and the potential to fight without rebuttal is what makes the army far deadlier than it would seem at first glance. This rule, when used to its full potential, could make or break a game for an Eldar force; and it is sensible to be so, as the army is highly expensive with little durability to compensate.

Warlord Traits

Like every other 6th Edition codex released so far, Eldar Warlords may choose from their own unique warlord traits table, or select from the three established charts in the main rulebook. Which table you roll on will really come down to personal preference; in any case, I feel the Eldar warlord traits are, while not particularly inspiring, handy to have in most situations. Interestingly, the Eldar codex also continues the trend of one use only warlord traits, a precedent set by the recent Tau codex.
Beware the howl of the Banshee!

1) Ambush of Blades - The prescient mind of the Eldar Warlord leads to the massed destruction of the enemy once per game, allowing your friendly forces within twelve inches to re-rolls to wound rolls of a one for the duration of a single shooting phase. This is a nifty ability that can be used at an opportune moment in conjunction with the typically high strength Eldar weaponry to maximise your damage for one round. There is never any "right time" to use this ability; it will always be at your discretion, and when you feel you both have enough units in proximity to benefit from the ability, and need its benefits enough to warrant its use.

2) An Eye on Distant Events - Aware of the incredible danger present to their forces, the Eldar Warlord can forewarn those within twelve inches once in an enemy shooting phase. Gifting them the Stealth special rule, this allows them a fighting chance to survive the inevitable torrent of fire. Obviously, this is a very strong ability that can be used to deny your opponent some important kills; that it applies to your vehicles as well is quite useful. Again, using this ability at any given point will depend on you alone; your judgement of when you need the extra boost, and even if it will matter - for example, typical Tau forces care little about cover saves - are key.

3) Falcon's Swiftness - Lost in the trance of battle, the fluidity and grace of the Eldar Warlord is apparent for all to see, adding an extra inch to any run move made by both they and any attached unit. This is nice to have, though it must be noted that Warlords mounted on Jetbikes gain no benefit from this. Given that almost all Eldar already have the Fleet special rule, it gives you an added boost to your mobility - for someone such as the Avatar, it is a priceless ability as it helps it to get into combat that much quicker.

4) Fate's Messenger - Caught amidst the wills of divine beings, the Eldar Warlord may re-roll failed saving throw results of a one to better serve the future they seek. This is a very handy result for any Warlord, as it gives them that extra bit of staying power to hopefully not concede a victory point for Slay the Warlord. On an Avatar or Phoenix Lord, it is somewhat ludicrous as the former effectively becomes an enraged Daemon of Tzeentch and the latter laugh at any attempts to get through their armour save.

5) Mark of the Incomparable Hunter - With a precision only an ageless warrior could display, the Eldar Warlord can fire at a separate target to their unit - delivering the killing strike with a veiled fist. For some Warlords, such as the Avatar, this isn't of great use; for an Autarch with a special weapon or a psyker with a witchfire power though, it may just come in handy.

6) Seer of the Shifting Vector - Interpreting the skeins of fate, the Eldar Warlord positions to guide their brothers and sisters on to the battlefield. Any friendly Eldar forces do not scatter from deep strike provided the first soldier arrives within six inches. With the number of units with the option to deep strike in the codex, this does open up some distinct possibilities; Warp Spiders in particular will love this ability, allowing for precision strikes with massed firepower.

Psychic Powers

The children of Asuryan are psykers with few parallels in the galaxy, their endless training and refinement of innate psychic skills leading to some of the most focused and powerful beings of their kind. Eldar psychic powers are naturally geared more for support than anything else, with a heavy emphasis on blessings and maledictions above witchfires; given the availability of psychic defence and Deny the Witch, this is a passive boon that allows them to more readily influence the game without fear of denial. The Eldar have two distinct psychic trees available, with the Runes of Fate available to Farseers and Eldrad Ulthran only, while the latter Runes of Battle can be accessed by Warlocks and Spiritseers. Overall, I would say that Eldar have the strongest set of in-codex psychic powers, owing both to their natural support focus and with most of them providing some very useful and potentially game-changing benefits. Though the popular pick for many may still be Divination, the two psychic trees have some very strong powers.

For the Craftworld!
Runes of Battle - Despite the name, this collection of psychic powers is actually more support focused than the Runes of Fate; the unique trait of these powers is the startlingly attractive duality of each power, with each one having a specific effect against enemies, and another against allies. This is a very strong psychic table with very few weak points, though it does heavily depend on which psyker - and by extension, which unit - rolls up any given psychic power. With no real way to control these, it certainly helps that the Primaris power is incredibly strong for almost any unit - a note that these are referred to as the '0' power for the purposes of the review. All of the following powers are Warp Charge one, and as such any psyker in the codex that has access to this discipline may use them.

0) Conceal/Reveal - The first effect is a blessing that grants the psyker the Shrouded special rule, and owing to the wording of the rule, it is conferred on to their unit as well. Unless you play against a Noise Marine or Tau force, gaining a +2 bonus to cover saves is an incredible defensive boost for almost any unit; the few units that won't benefit from it too much are those that either already have the rule or do not require the inclusion of a Warlock or Spiritseer anyway. The second effect is a malediction that removes the Stealth and Shrouded special rules from an enemy unit within eighteen inches. To put it lightly, this effectively grants the Eldar force a somewhat unreliable form of Night Vision to be used against a specific target, and is very useful for removing irritating units that feature these special rules - such as Stealth Suits and Striking Scorpions. Perhaps most amusingly, it is incredibly damaging for Nurgle Daemons, even if Eldar hate Slaanesh Daemons above all else.

1) Destructor/Renewer - The former power is the only witchfire power in the list and manifests as a heavy flamer with the soul blaze special rule, meaning it is very useful against all but the most elite of infantry. Between mediocre Leadership values and Deny the Witch, it is, unfortunately, unreliable. The latter power is a blessing with a range of eighteen inches that restores a single lost wound to a friendly model; though this won't be of much use for a typical Eldar force, it is hilarious in an army that can feature Wraithknights, Wraithlords and the Avatar of Khaine.

2) Embolden/Horrify - The blessing part of this power makes the psyker and their unit Fearless, while the malediction part of the power reduces the Leadership of a single enemy unit within eighteen inches by a whopping score of three. The former won't be of much use to a Wraith army, but will be highly useful otherwise to keep your fragile forces in the fight; the latter is incredibly synergistic with the amount of Fear-causing units in the codex, and particularly with the Hemlock Wraithfighter.

3) Enhance/Drain - Enhance provides the psyker and their unit with a bonus of one to both their Weapon Skill and Initiative; while the latter may be seen as unnecessary owing to the typically high Initiative values of all Eldar, the former is definitely a big improvement for any unit and is necessary to force through a greater number of hits and, consequently, wounds. The latter subsequently reduces the Weapon Skill and Initiative of an enemy unit within eighteen inches by one, which in some cases may actually be the more beneficial skill to use, particularly if you are trying to help another of your units.

4) Protect/Jinx - The first ability grants the psyker and their unit a +1 bonus to their armour save; while this won't be too useful for a Seer Council as they only have invulnerable saves - though a Jetbike mounted Seer Council does benefit from it - it will surely be a big defensive boost for most other units. Some popular uses of this have been making a 2+ armoured wall of Wraithguard, or granting Dire Avengers their much sought after power armour to make them true Space Marines....The second ability, as you may have guessed, does the exact opposite for an enemy unit within eighteen inches; reducing the armour save of a unit by one may not seem like such a big deal in an army where the basic trooper has a semi-Rending gun, but think of Howling Banshees charging into Jinxed Terminators and see the potential.

5) Quicken/Restrain - The former ability provides the psyker and their unit with an additional three inches to any Run moves they make; despite the claims of the White Dwarf battle report, sadly, this can't be used to get an Avatar of Khaine or other such unit into the fray quicker as they cannot be joined by the psyker. In an army that can run and then shoot with the Fleet special rule, this is ok, but mostly beneficial for the more plodding units such as Wraithguard and Wraithblades to help them reach their targets quicker. The latter ability removes the potential of running from an enemy unit within eighteen inches; this is handy for limiting the maneuverability of enemy units, though the short range means that its best use is to increase the time it takes for an enemy melee unit to make it to combat.

6) Empower/Enervate - The blessing segment of this power grants the psyker and their unit a +1 bonus to their Strength value which, given the typically low Strength of Eldar units, is a pretty fantastic buff to help them both survive 'Strength test or die' abilities, rare as they are, and wound their foes much easier in a melee. Eldar units already have the advantage of Initiative and, sometimes, Weapon Skill over their opponents; raising their Strength is sure to give them a very welcome boost in combat. The malediction segment of this power instead targets an enemy unit within eighteen inches and reduces their Strength value by one; this can be funny for making a Space Marine Sergeant with a power fist strike at Strength six and thus pose little threat to your Wraithlords and Wraithknights, though it definitely helps your Eldar forces to survive in combat that much more.

Our destiny is our doom.

Runes of Fate - As confusing as the names of the disciplines are, these powers are definitely more offensively oriented than the Runes of Battle. Available only to Farseers and the peerless Eldrad, this discipline suffers from high warp charge costs across the board and some rather situational effects. Much like Runes of Battle, the Primaris power here is very effective and helps out your ranged firepower quite significantly, at least depending on the unit blessed. Unlike the Runes of Battle, you do not get the "two for one" psychic powers that thus limit the sheer versatility of the discipline, though in reality, it is a good lore; it just doesn't stack up amazingly well when sat next to its main rival. From what I understand, the reasoning behind the high number of warp charge two powers is both the base Mastery Level three of Farseers and their Ghosthelms that can expend warp charge points to ignore the effects of Perils of the Warp; from a balance perspective, I can understand it in that sense, as it would just be too good a failure defence if a Farseer could still cast two powers each turn with little risk involved.

0) Guide - A blessing with a range of twenty four inches, this is effectively Prescience with double the range but half the effectiveness; it grants re-rolls to hit with shooting attacks to a single friendly unit, but not their melee attacks. Many players use cheap Mastery Level one psykers purely for the significant bonus to damage output that re-rolls to hit provide; with most of the Eldar army geared towards a firefight anyway, this is also a highly useful power that is particularly welcome because it is the Primaris. Interestingly, given that a Farseer can roll on both the Divination and Guide disciplines, it is possible to take both Prescience and Guide and grant re-rolls to hit (either from shooting or both) to two units each turn. Not bad. Not bad at all.

1) Executioner - A focused witchfire with a range of twenty four inches, Executioner deals three automatic hits to an enemy model with the Fleshbane special rule and no AP value. Against a typical single wound model with a three-up armour save, this will statistically kill them, and it also has a decent chance of killing a 2+ armoured model. If the chosen or randomly determined model dies, another model is selected and suffers two automatic hits instead; if they die, a third model is selected and instead suffers only a single automatic hit. This isn't a terrible power, particularly as if it isn't denied and you do get to select the model, you can pretty reliably pick out special or heavy weapon gunners in enemy units and kill them. A note here that the second and third models are only selected by the Farseer if the first model that died was selected owing to the rules for focused witchfire.

2) Doom - The favoured psychic power for Eldar players all over, this is a malediction with a range of twenty four inches that allows all failed to wound and armour penetration rolls against the chosen unit to be re-rolled. Obviously, this is pretty incredible in an army with semi-Rending weapons and massed high Strength guns everywhere; with the right application and use of the units at your disposal, the Doomed unit should suffer extensive damage. This power requires an acute knowledge of target priority and the ability to determine which units would be the most likely to either be destroyed or crippled beyond repair; a Land Raider with only a few hull points left that is in sight of Wraithlords with bright lances is an example of such a target. Use it well and it can win you games, particularly if the target unit is engaged in combat with your typically low Strength melee units; in short, it is a psychic power designed to minimise the issues involved with a low Strength army.

3) Eldritch Storm - A warp charge two power that manifests as a witchfire, the Eldritch Storm has a range of twenty four inches, a Strength of three and uses the large blast template. Though it may seem uninspiring at first glance, it comes stock with three useful special rules; Fleshbane, Pinning and Haywire. The first two are very useful for attacking high Toughness units, such as Wraithguard, that heavily rely on their Toughness to make up for minimal numbers, and for neutering a given unit for a turn; the latter provides a single chance at a glancing or penetrating hit on a vehicle, which is pretty decent. Of course, with only one shot and the potential for significant scatter, it is an unreliable and ultimately mediocre witchfire power that draws a considerable amount of warp charge points considering its damage capabilities.

4) Death Mission - One of the more interesting blessings available to a psyker, the Death Mission is effectively a vote of suicide; it gives the user a +5 bonus to their Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill and Initiative, as well as an extra two attacks. As the only psykers that can use these powers have the same stat-line and, effectively, equipment, they will end up with a the first three stats showing tens, while the last, when paired with the extra attack from holding two melee weapons, will give them four attacks base and five on the charge. Now, it must be said that for a typical Farseer this ability really isn't that great; randomly determining psychic powers means that building a character with this power in mind is out of the question, and typically they will only have a melee weapon with an AP of nil, though it must be said that Fleshbane and Armourbane are nice. For Eldrad, it is somewhat more useful, as his staff is actually a force weapon with an AP of three, meaning he can and should rip apart monstrous creatures and most characters with little difficulty. Of course, the power is not without some major drawbacks that make it a sketchy choice at best, particularly for your most expensive psykers. A Warp Charge cost of two doesn't really repay the investment, especially where the risks are concerned. When you cast the power, you gain D3+2 tokens that, on a D6 roll of a three or lower at the end of each phase for each turn, are lost one at a time; if you lose all of them, the model is removed from play. Bear in mind that this power is permanent, though it can be cast again to gain more tokens. The heavy risks and minimal returns considering the typical model that will receive this power just don't justify in my mind what is a very weak warp charge two psychic power.

5) Fortune - A blessing with a range of twenty four inches, and a heavy warp charge cost of two, that allows the targeted unit to re-roll all failed saving and Deny the Witch throws. Obviously, this offers an incredibly significant defensive boost to any unit; even allowing re-rolls for Deny the Witch is handy given the increasing number of psykers in the game, particularly those fielded by the terrifying psychic-spamming Tyranid army lists. When casting Fortune, you need to look at which unit would benefit most from it and actually make best use of it; a large Guardian squad in close proximity to flamer-toting units will have little use for this as they would get no save regardless, but a Wraithguard squad joined by a Spiritseer to provide them Conceal would undoubtedly make for a phenomenally durable platform. Try to give this to units that will be able to get some kind of decent save no matter what will be thrown at them in the subsequent turn; despite the somewhat alarming Warp Charge two requirement, it is still a very useful power that can be employed to devastating effect in some combinations. Of course, the random nature of determining psychic powers means that building an army list with this - or indeed any - power is not wise. 

6) Mind War - A focused witchfire with a range of twenty four inches, and, as expected, a warp charge cost of two. For the final ability on the table, it is rather decent; provided you get to select the model to target it with, of course, which isn't exactly guaranteed. In any case, the Farseer and the chosen - randomly or not - model roll a D6 and add their respective Leadership scores; if the Farseer scores lower, he or she is reduced to Weapon Skill and Initiative one until their next turn. If the scores are drawn, the target model instead suffers the penalty. If the Farseer scores higher, the target model is treated to both that nasty debuff, and is afflicted by a number of automatic wounds with no armour or cover saves allowed based on how much the Farseer won by. As cool as it sounds, the reality is that in an edition where the commanders and squad sergeants of most armies have a Leadership of nine or ten, it is unlikely the Farseer will achieve victory by a significant enough amount required to kill a commander equivalent model. Against monstrous creatures, though, it is incredibly useful to simply pick off their wounds - especially owing to their typically mediocre Leadership - and make them so much easier for the rest of your force to deal with. Owing to the rules for focused witchfire, Look Out Sir attempts are not allowed against the power either; as wounds are never "allocated" to the chosen model - it merely suffers them based on a D6 roll by either player - they cannot be saved from a bad roll. Still, the sheer potential to kill a multiple-wound monster (in both the literal and philosophical senses of the word) that lacks good invulnerable saves, such as a Carnifex or a Tau Commander, is definitely worth using this power.

Did you enjoy this article, or feel that I need to step my game up? Let us know in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback! Cheers!


  1. Doom : ".....allows all failed to wound and armour penetration rolls against the chosen unit to be re-rolled."

    incorrect. It allows you to reroll ANY to wound or penetration rolls. Basically it means you can reroll alot of dice that have wounded but your actually looking for more bladestorm or monofilament "rends" of a 6

    1. Against most units though, I would rather not re-roll the successful to wound rolls just to get a chance at Rending, particularly if I already need 4s to wound.

    2. A good point by 'The Voice' there - statistically against Sisters of Battle, for example, it is more beneficial to reroll Catapult fire, and especially Maugetar/Death spinner fire that wounds on less than a 6.

      Not always a benefit, but an important wording issue.

    3. unless there was a faq I do not think you can re-roll successful to wound rolls. The codex says "all failed to wound rolls", not "any to wound rolls"