Few armies personify "Fast Attack" quite like the Eldar do; almost the entire army is themed around the concept! You have your slower, durable units, but for the most part the Eldar are about duking it out in close firefights and dancing away at a moments notice. It stands to reason that some of their strongest units are present in the Fast Attack slot; with fliers and jump or jetpack infantry lining up for your approval, there are some tough decisions to be made in what is a very congested slot - and codex, for that matter. Thankfully, each unit is tailored to dealing with specific enemies, as is the Eldar way, and thus all have a good place in any army list based on the rest of your force. Swooping Hawks are death incarnate to light infantry and vehicles alike, while Crimson Hunters can deal with any enemy flier or vehicle with impunity. Vypers provide light harassment against a range of foes, while Shining Spears provide nasty anti-elite firepower and melee capabilities to your force. Though an oddball choice, the Wraithfighter has some particularly devilish synergistic abilities that, if exploited, can be truly devastating against most anything with a Leadership value. The real stars of the slot, and perhaps the codex, are doubtless the Warp Spiders; capable of incredible feats of mobility, while bringing devastating firepower against almost any enemy short of a Land Raider, they are truly my pick for one of the best Fast Attack units in the game. Each choice has their uses, and each of them requires a deft touch to use well.
A note here that I will be covering the Eldar fliers in a separate article so as to provide more accurate thoughts after some play testing.
Swooping Hawks - Leaping from the skies in a blaze of light, the Swooping Hawks dance with the hover craft of those opposed to the Eldar; their precise strikes with laser and haywire weaponry disrupting enemy positions with calmness and speed. As befits an Eldar Aspect Warrior, Swooping Hawks have specialized gear and a somewhat more impressive statline, if only marginally; they possess a 4+ armour save and a Leadership of nine which, for a unit that likely will be taking fire, is very handy. What serves to make Swooping Hawks distinct is not one or two unique rules or wargear options, but a slew of traits that give them an identity grounded in fragility, speed and flexibility. For one, you can never expect them to win a direct engagement with a non-vehicle unit of any significance; they lack the firepower, durability and melee capability to effectively engage large or elite units in a straight fight. However, this doesn't serve to put them on the back-foot, but really emphasise how important it is to identify and understand their slew of rules to really make full use of their potential. First up is their weaponry, as how they function is integral to the deployment and movement options that Swooping Hawks possess. Each Hawk carries a lasblaster, a Strength three and AP five ranged weapon that fires three shots at twenty-four inches; obviously, this is designed for hunting light infantry of all kinds though, handily, it also helps for putting wounds on high Toughness monsters more reliably as opposed to the fewer shots fired by many other units. Even a small unit of Hawks will decimate light Infantry of all kinds, as the sheer number of shots paired with a Ballistic Skill of four leads to too many armour-ignoring wounds for critters and meat shields alike. To add to the anti-chaff carnage, the Hawks have grenade packs that, after deep striking, can be "thrown" by one model instead of firing; this acts as a Strength four AP four large blast that ignores cover with a range of twenty four inches. Put simply, if your worried about bunched up Fire Warriors making full use of both an Ethereal and Supporting Fire, give them a nice and sparky light show to intimate the error of their ways.
To add to the chaos, Swooping Hawks each come stock with haywire grenades which, in an edition where vehicles effectively possess "wounds", are undeniably brutal. Each hit with a haywire grenade has a two in three chance of causing a glancing hit, with a one in six chance of a penetrating hit; though restricted to melee, they will assuredly destroy any vehicle, from walkers to Monoliths, in but a single round assuming average rolls. Add in the high Weapon Skill of four and Initiative of five common to all Eldar, and any kind of walker will be scared to death of them; let alone the poor, hapless tanks that can't even attempt to save themselves. Now this is all well and good, but how do the Hawks - with their Toughness of three and 4+ armour save - get close enough to use all these tools effectively? If the grenade pack wasn't a sizable hint, the answer lies in deep striking; something that the Hawks have an amazing proficiency for. Owing to their Heralds of Victory special rule, Swooping Hawks do not ever scatter when deep striking, save for when a character is attached without that special rule. The implications of such a unit with devastating light infantry firepower in the form of cover-ignoring large blasts and sheer numbers of AP shots, as well as toting haywire grenades for vehicle death of all kinds, having no deep strike scatter are simply ludicrous. You can precision strike nearly any unit in the game with amazing efficiency, exposing isolated or otherwise undefended units, and then moving away to a safer location. With jump packs paired with Battle Focus and Fleet, they can subsequently make a re-rollable run move after firing - or vice-versa - and hide in cover or out of sight after annihilating a light infantry unit. Utilising their speed, they can then jump away from terrain for a nearby vehicle and, with masses of haywire grenades, rip it to shreds in moments. And to cap it all off? Swooping Hawks can leap back into reserves with their aptly named Skyleap special rule, utilised on any turn in which they didn't deep strike and allowing them to re-enter the board on the next turn. Oh, and in one of the six missions, they are not only denial units, but scoring as well. Yeah. Use a squad of ten of them, start them on the board and promptly Skyleap immediately so as to not require a reserves roll in the subsequent turn, and proceed to troll the heck out of your opponent. Last-turn objective denial? Wiping out a Land Raider without warning? Obliterating some pesky Fire Warriors giving your Guardians grief? Do it all, and do it with the troll song playing in the background.
|"From the shadows, I come!" Ten bucks if you get it.|
Warp Spiders - As the aspect that perhaps embodies the theme of Eldar - a force that strikes hard and hurriedly retreats to a strong position - more than any other, Warp Spiders are suitably an exceptional unit with some insane capabilities. For one, they are easily the fastest non-vehicle ground-based units in the game, with a whopping potential total movement distance of up to thirty six inches. Even most flying monstrous creatures can only hope to match that kind of speed, not surpass it, which is insane given Warp Spiders lack both jump packs or the ability to fly. Covering an average of about twenty four inches a turn is ridiculous for a ground-based unit of any kind, particularly for one with some serious firepower to boot that suffers no restrictions to firing them despite their mobility. What gives them such sheer speed is their Warp Jump Generator and type as Jetpack Infantry; they get a 2D6 inch movement after their normal move in the movement phase, followed by a re-rollable run move, with a free 2D6 inch movement in the assault phase. That they leap over all terrain while doing so and can effectively perform the "jump shoot jump" tactic better than anyone is more than enough reason alone to employ them, even if the "jetpack move" performed in the movement phase has a slight chance of killing one of the Warp Spiders. They are fast, in case it wasn't obvious. For Eldar, they also happen to be decently tough despite their Toughness of three, with a 3+ armour save and base Hit and Run allowing them to survive more punishing salvos and strikes while weaving out of combat at a moments' notice. Of course, having them out in the open isn't the way to use them well, as they will die to sustained firepower all the same; though those pesky cover-ignoring Heldrakes, as they do, simply don't care how much you try to keep your poor infantry alive. Thus, you need to abuse your superior speed with Battle Focus, Fleet and the Jetpack move as much as humanly possible to both provide maximum damage and reduce any incoming shooting as much as possible.
What Warp Spiders are really defined by are their weapons; making full use of the Monofilament rule, each Death Spinner fires two shots at twelve inches with a Strength of six and no AP. The high Strength is offset by the lack of AP, though it nonetheless serves to put through a tonne of wounds on anything short of a Wraithknight or Great Unclean One; their Ballistic Skill of four helps out a lot here. What really gives Warp Spiders their edge is Monofilament; each shot fired wounds automatically and is treated as AP one on a to wound roll of a six, decimating anything with a Toughness value in short order. To really spice it up, all shots from these weapons also treat their Strength value as one higher against any target with a majority Initiative of three or lower, while any unit without an Initiative value similarly suffers more. Question; how many vehicles, walkers aside, have Initiative values? Answer; none! Question; what armies are incredibly popular right now? Answer; Necrons and Tau, with low Initiative values of three or lower normally! Question; what do you think Mr Eel? Answer; get off my lawn! No, but seriously, ouch! Strength seven firepower in abundance against almost any vehicle in the game, with weapons designed specifically to give some of the top competitive armies grief. Do I even need to mention what that kind of shooting capability is like when paired with the ridiculous mobility of Warp Spiders? Able to jump in and out of engagements at will, even on the first turn, they are quite capable of laying waste to any and all enemies - such as the rightly feared quad gun, which is great for helping out your fragile fliers - at any point in the game.
For some added foolery, they can deep strike in and potentially warp jump, then run, then shoot, then jet pack away, though the warp jump after deep striking may be illegal as it is does say instead of making a regular move. This is brutal for attacking the rear armour of vehicles or exposed infantry, and with reserves manipulation from an Autarch, can come down when you most need it. As befits the theme of Aspect Warriors, the only option available to the unit are found on the Exarch alone; a neat but unnecessary upgrade, the best use of the Exarch is to add a nasty AP one Spinneret Rifle, or some handy but situational powers such as Stalker and Fast Shot. All up though, you really don't need to give Warp Spiders any additions, save for some extra members in a squad; they are brutal at range, decent in combat, faster than almost any ground unit in the game, and can get the heck out of any situation if necessary. They will function in almost every army, and can harm almost anything with surprising reliability outside of armour fourteen vehicles or armour thirteen walkers with Initiative scores of four or more. Warp Spiders are, understandably, my top pick for your Fast Attack slots, and easily one of the best units in the codex.
|No time for sight-seeing as an Eldar. Sigh.|
The Spears do have some nifty advantages over Windriders to consider aside from their weaponry and boosted Leadership of nine - which is truly a useful boon to a melee-oriented unit that will expect to take casualties. This is apparent in their special rules, with both Outflank and Skilled Rider giving them some additional levity; the former gives them an additional deployment option to be used as you see fit, such as when you expect a torrid initial few turns of firepower with little cover available. The latter allows them to automatically pass any dangerous terrain tests they are called upon to make, a truly invaluable trait for Jetbikes to allow them to jump from cover to cover, while also giving them a +1 bonus to their Jink saves. In short, Skilled Rider makes them so much less risky to use in the movement phase, while their cover saves on the move or in cover are boosted to strong levels on a fast Toughness four model. If that wasn't enough, a Shining Spears Exarch - a good upgrade for a dedicated combat unit owing to the boosted Weapon Skill, Initiative and Attacks - can take Hit and Run as one of their Exarch powers, allowing the unit to thrash enemy units on the charge and then blink out in an almost hilarious fashion. Obviously, one needs to be mindful that, Overwatch aside, such a unit will still be able to catch them, or open them up to shooting; be wary of the best times to employ this trait, and they will dance as well as any Harlequin. If you want to give the squad some love against 2+ armoured foes, or just want to have a squad leader that slaughters HQs, give the Exarch the relatively cheap upgrade of a Star Lance. Functioning similarly to a Laser Lance, it gives the Exarch three Strength eight attacks at AP two only on the charge; otherwise, it fires at such a Strength and AP at range which, paired with Precision Shots, can be particularly brutal. Something to always remember for the Spears when assaulting is Hammer of Wrath; even at Strength three, some extra free hits are always nice for a mostly melee-oriented unit. With good durability, even compared to most Jetbikes, as well as brutal short range damage capabilities and a low cost, Shining Spears are a stupidly good unit that can function very well as your dedicated assault forces in a generalist or Saim Han themed army.
Vyper Squadron - Suppression teams, FIRE! Anyway, have you ever wanted a Land Speeder for a Xenos force that is not one of; a) Piranha; b) Venom; c) Warbuggy, or; d) Wartrakk - you know, some kind of fast vehicle with good firepower that explodes from a slight breeze? Then Vypers are tailor made for you! On to the next unit....But seriously, a fast skimmer bristling with some devastating firepower works wonders in this edition for a number of reasons, even if it has the durability of a grot jumping on a wee tricycle. Coming stock with a shuriken cannon and a twin-linked shuriken catapult - identical to a Wave Serpent - it has some pretty serious anti-infantry firepower that can even be used for light vehicle harassment. What is really nifty about this is that you can exchange the shuriken catapult for another shuriken cannon, doubling up your Bladestorm goodness, or even switch out the main shuriken cannon for a range of heavy weapons suited to your needs. For generalist purposes, a scatter laser to provide twin-linking as well as a shuriken cannon can deal with a wide range of targets effectively, from infantry to monsters and light vehicles. A bright lance always helps if you feel you are short on anti-tank weaponry, while a Starcannon is sure to bring some heated exchanges from those invested in their puny Terminators - mwahahaha! As a fast skimmer, whatever firepower you add is compounded by the ability to fire two weapons at full ballistic skill even when moving at cruising speed; you can dart right up into range with your shuriken weaponry and let loose a hail of blades.
|Old boof is a classic.|
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