26 Apr 2015

Eldar - Codex Summary Part I

Greetings everyone and welcome to the beginning of my early codex summary for Craftworld Eldar, a prelude to my full review which should begin circulating in the coming weeks. I am personally very happy with the codex as a whole, even if certain elements introduced by it do serve as perhaps the worst examples of game balance design in recent memory. In any case, I hope you enjoy the first part of my Codex Summary series which should comprise roughly four or five articles.

Army Special Rules

Ancient Doom - This similarly saw no changes to its functionality between codices, though one could argue it will actually be more relevant now in 7th Edition with less-common Wraith armies and a greater number of potential Slaanesh units via summoning from Malefic Daemonology. Still, I see this as a "fluffy" special rule that will very rarely have any real bearing on matches, and truthfully is unlikely to pop up at all in most matches containing an Eldar force.

Battle Focus - This remains unchanged in every way and thus remains one of the stronger army-wide special rules with regards to using it to maximise the effective shooting range of a unit or to deny the opponent any counter-attack, much like the "Jump-Shoot-Jump" tactics employed by Jet Pack units. This is made particularly powerful when combined with the Eldar Warhost Detachment that not only provides Battle Focus to units such as Wraithguard and Wraithlords, but also allows all units affected by Battle Focus to always be treated as rolling a 6 when making Run moves. This is insane when combined with War Walkers that can safely hide after unleashing their devastating salvos, Warp Spiders that have pitifully short ranges but are the ultimate in deny and escape tactics, and really any other unit in the codex - even the basic Guardians!

(A note, though the next two are not strictly army-wide special rules, I still consider them as unique and integral aspects of almost any Eldar army.)

Bladestorm - Despite rumours to the contrary and as expected by most given the evidence present in the Harlequin codex, Bladestorm has seen absolutely no changes and as such it still gives even basic Eldar infantry the potential to tear elite 2+ armoured models or monstrous creatures to shreds. While I have painted this special rule in an unfavourable light in a previous article based on how it affects game balance due it to being mostly present on common Troops choices, I can't argue against its presence because it helps to alleviate the issue of balancing fragile yet elite (i.e. expensive) forces. A close analogy one could have in that regard is to Elves in Warhammer Fantasy with their army-wide Always Strikes First and their various "Prowess" rules. However, Bladestorm saw an external buff with the various formations present in the codex, notably that Dire Avengers gain additional shots with it in a single turn and Jetbikes gain the Shred special rule for a similar duration.

Monofilament - Unlike the prior trio of special rules, Monofilament actually saw a pretty major rework to its functionality and this is what I find most interesting here even though it only directly affects a handful of units in the codex. Firstly, Monofilament still automatically wounds at AP2 on to-wound rolls of a 6 and thus acts similarly to Bladestorm. However, it no longer gives Warp Spiders in particular the ability to engage and destroy even highly armoured vehicles by providing a +1 Strength bonus again Initiative-lacking or low Initiative enemies; instead, Monofilament weapons now resolve to-wound rolls against the targets' Initiative value, substituting that for the units' Toughness value. While this is a good change in the sense that we no longer have Warp Spiders hunting AV13 tanks and thus can be seen as a nerf to their overall damage output, the initial negative reaction to rolling to-wound against Initiative has been entirely misplaced. I assume people forget that all Monofilament weapons are a minimum of Strength 6, meaning they wound almost everything in the game on 2s or 3s. What a lot of players may not realize at first glance is that this makes Warp Spiders insanely powerful against monstrous creatures in general because most such units are Initiative 4 or lower, particularly Tyranid monstrous creatures; the few rare exceptions include the various Greater Daemons, the Avatar of Khaine and so on. Considering those units would previously have been wounded on 4s or 5s by Warp Spiders generally, that they now wound them on 2s or 3s is a gigantic buff to their damage output; an insane example is that a unit of 10 Warp Spiders with an Exarch clock in at 200 points and on-average will put any C'tan Shard down in one round of shooting, even if that enemy started at full wounds. Heck, they now wound Toughness 8 Wraithknights on 3s rather than 6s! They are most definitely worse against Eldar and Dark Eldar in particular as would make sense given the "fluff" behind these weapons, but against almost everything else (again, barring vehicles) they are more devastating than ever. This earns a big thumbs up from me for thematic game balance!

The Forge of Vaul

I have elected only to cover the constituents of this category that saw actual changes and significant ones at that to save viewers from sifting through large amounts of unnecessary information.

Banshee Masks - Rather than forcing an Initiative penalty on enemy units engaged with a model or unit wielding these iconic pieces of wargear, Banshee Masks now entirely deny the potential of Overwatch to any unit charged by a squad bearing them. This is a pretty significant buff to Howling Banshees which combines with all their other various improvements to finally make them a competitive option in the codex, though what it means for Eldar, Dark Eldar and Harlequin combat units in general is quite frightening when you realize that only one Banshee Mask is required in a squad for this effect to become active. Considering how cheap Autarchs are and that they pay a handful of points for this particular wargear option, the potential to spread out the Overwatch-denial love between the various Eldar codices is awesome and gives units such as Wyches and Incubi some much-needed albeit "specific" defensive boosts.

Distortion Weapons - As I am sure most know by now, Games Workshop went the distance and made all of these Destroyer weapons. Instead of trying to blindly defend this change from a game balance perspective, I'll instead direct the audience to the 4th Edition Eldar Codex; in this tome, Wraithcannons had no Strength value and instead were resolved almost exactly like modern Destroyer weapons with every hit then consequently being resolved by rolling on a unique damage chart where there was an admittedly greater potential of the hit doing nothing at all. You could say that the classic Wraithcannons were a precursor to modern Destroyer weapons in terms of functionality, though obviously they were nowhere near as obscenely powerful. With that in mind, I can understand why this change was made as far as "fluff" is concerned and bridging the gap between army background or story and in-game capabilities. However, from the perspective of balance, it obviously makes absolutely no sense that the units whom received Destroyer weapons saw no points increases - barring the Wraithknight that also became a Gargantuan Creature in the exchange.

Destroyer weapons are nasty enough when they are restricted to melee because this allows players to deal with them by limiting the turns in which they are actively hurting you and potentially removing entire units - particularly expensive vehicles and monstrous creatures - from play with no regard to their individual defensive properties. Giving an army a way of massing ranged Destroyer weapons is inane and silly, no matter how you slice it, especially when one of the carriers is a super-mobile, exceedingly tough and comically under-priced Gargantuan Creature. The limiting range of most of these will act as a way of toning down their potential impact on a game, but those that try to justify this change when the units that received them had absolutely no price increases or other nerfs - unless you count Wraithguard being incapable of becoming Troops choices - are simply kidding themselves. Are there ways to mitigate the impact the affected units have on the game? Of course - barring the Wraithknight - but people keep forgetting that this is a codex that has some of the fastest and toughest transports in the game, access to no-scatter Deep Strike abilities from its Battle Brothers in Dark Eldar, incredible psychic capabilities with easily accessed Invisibility and so on. The trick is to understand the various strategies Eldar players will employ to get these units into a favourable firing position and learning to adapt to and counter them, generally by doing what we should always try to do by focusing their transports down as early as possible. As for those say that say the buff from Distortion to Destroyer isn't significant, let's use some examples to prove why this is unfortunately an incorrect assumption;

1) Five Wraithguard backed by a Spiritseer firing at a brood of three Carnifexes outside of cover - In 6th Edition, this unit would have averaged roughly four hits and four unsaved wounds on the Carnifexes, killing one and doing no wounds to the others. In 7th Edition, this unit now averages something more akin to eight unsaved wounds, killing two outright.
2) The same unit firing at a Land Raider - The 6th Edition incarnation would deal roughly two hull points to the Land Raider on average, the 7th Edition version will instead strip off eight hull points.
3) An identical squad shooting at a Hierophant - Instead of taking off three wounds at a time against the Toughness 9 monster, the unit now takes off eight wounds on average with any roll of a 6 dealing D6+6 wounds rather than D3 wounds.
4) A copy taking on a Baneblade - Rather than "just" three hull points, it now has an extremely high chance of destroying the vaunted super-heavy outright.

Let's put these examples into perspective; against monstrous creatures, Destroyer weapons are significantly more effective even if a 6 is rolled because the ultimate result on the chart offers no saving throws of any kind and is similarly a hilariously powerful character assassin tool. The more durable the enemy unit or the "higher" its unit type, the more distinct the advantage offered by Destroyer weapons becomes. Now, there's obviously no difference where single-wound models are concerned other than the fact that rolls of a 6 ignore all saves, but the fact that they are substantially more effective against "larger" enemies indicates this is by no means a slight buff to their damage potential. Heck, these are still Strength 10 for Instant Death purposes just like old Wraithcannons and are just all-round far superior against vehicles and really anything beyond single-wound non-vehicle models. Though they obviously aren't equipped to deal with hordes, those that imply Wraith armies will struggle against such forces probably haven't considered how insane the following weapon-type is....

Distort Scythes - Yes, even D-Scythes and Heavy D-Scythes gained the Destroyer weapon rules, though they thankfully receive a toned-down version of that chart. The introduction of a -1 penalty to rolls on the Destroyer chart makes it impossible to get the "unit-removing" 6 results and also sees that any 1s and 2s rolled do nothing at all, but to say D-Scythes aren't ridiculously powerful would be a lie. These were previously Strength 4 AP2 guns that had the potential to inflict Instant Death on to-wound rolls of a 6 or automatically penetrate vehicles on a similar dice roll; now, rolls of a 3+ automatically wound and remove D3 wounds or hull points while also inflicting a penetrating hit on vehicles regardless of the enemy units' Toughness or Armour values. Basically, D-Scythes no longer wound Toughness 2 or lower opponents on 2s but in any other situation they have been buffed to jaw-dropping heights. Higher Toughness opponents including monstrous creatures are far more vulnerable than ever to these weapons given that the template-variant ignores both cover and armour and remove D3 wounds per successful wound. Vehicles similarly are now no longer safe from D-Scythes with the wielders of these destructive weapons no longer relying on rolling 6s to harm them, instead removing between one and three hull points per hit on the roll of a 3+. Much like Wraithguard armed with Wraithcannons, you absolutely need to destroy their transports before they can close and fire as otherwise they will obliterate whatever lies before them - horde or not. And my goodness, the Overwatch....Thankfully - I guess? - the Heavy D-Scythes mounted on the Hemlock Wraithfighter still aren't template weapons but retained their blast type, but that only raises another issue; a sub-200 point zooming flyer armed with two Destroyer weapons of its own that can hit more than one model at a time with each. Oh, and that particular flyer is a Mastery Level 2 psyker that can humorously gain Invisibility or provide itself with Shrouded via the Primaris power from Runes of Battle, and it even has Vector Dancer to boot. Yeah, Eldar aren't very friendly people...

Eldar Missile Launchers - While many were disappointed that these received either minor or no points reductions to compensate for the fact that they are usually hopelessly outclassed by most of the other heavy weapons in general, these received a very handy buff with the addition of in-built Skyfire missiles using that same groan-inducing Flakk missile profile. These still aren't great and don't really make for highly useful anti-air weapons except when taken in moderate numbers - a problem compounded by their high cost - but it does make them far more appealing and provides Eldar players another option when dealing with both vehicular and organic flyers. 

Holo-Fields - These have been reworked from their 6th Edition incarnation to now function identically to Dark Eldar Flickerfields, providing the parent vehicle with a 5+ invulnerable save instead of boosting whatever cover save they had by +1. This is a defensive "debuff" for vehicles that would claim Jink saves and make use of the Laser Lock special rule provided by Scatter Lasers that may or may not be known as Wave Serpents, but are superior in a 7th Edition context where Jink saves now affect the shooting attacks made by the unit and Laser Lock no longer exists. Instead of providing a 3+ Jink save to the unit and forcing them to Snap Fire as a result of Jinking, this allows Eldar vehicles to keep firing normally albeit with a weaker 5+ invulnerable save. There are a few reasons this change has been highly contentious among the community, most prevalent of which is that the 3+ Jink save is superior if you absolutely require the vehicle to survive and you aren't too concerned about its ranged presence for a turn or two. This is most important usually for transports such as Wave Serpents and Falcons where sometimes the unit inside is more valuable than the transport itself, though unlike some I actually feel the change to Holo-Fields makes them a superior upgrade now for various reasons.

The first of these is that a change the rumours and leaks failed to address is that Holo-Fields function all the time unless the vehicle is Immobilized and do not specify they work only against shooting attacks, meaning Eldar vehicles just gained a 5+ invulnerable save against close combat attacks - the phase in which they are most vulnerable from my and most others' experience. How the leaks failed to address this is beyond me but it is nonetheless a massive buff for vehicles that are commonly brought down by assaults from  krak grenade-armed units, and for the "gunboat" vehicles such as Fire Prisms and Night Spinners it is also a big buff because those are generally taken for their shooting more than anything else and gaining a save without being forced to Jink is very handy indeed. That Wave Serpents and Falcons can also fire on the move without sacrificing their firepower to gain a Jink save that can still be made redundant by massed Ignores Cover firepower from Tau and other such armies I feel more than justifies the changes made to Holo-Fields and even has me considering them more than I would have previously. Heck, that they don't boost a vehicle's Jink save doesn't mean they players can't still Jink when the 4+ cover save is needed. I'm a big fan of these mostly because they work all the time and even give Eldar vehicles a defence against close combat attacks rather than being a boost to Jink saves that would sacrifice the affected units' strong firepower.

Mandiblasters - To say these have been buffed and that Striking Scorpions as a result are far more appealing as a competitive melee option than prior would be an under-statement of grand proportions, especially as they form such a focal part of that units' damage output. Instead of giving Striking Scorpions a hilariously poor Hammer of Wrath attack that was thus highly limited in terms of use and the potential for actual hits, Mandiblasters now provide them with what amounts to an additional attack that functions merely by the wielder being in close combat; no regard to proximity or actually making a charge is made for this. These are resolved at the Initiative 10 step in a close combat and always wound opponents on a 4+ with armour saves being taken as normal, with the exception that vehicles are unaffected and gargantuan creates are instead wounded on a 6+. This makes Striking Scorpions the ultimate horde-killers in combat much akin to the classic Purifying Flame used by Purifiers in the 5th Edition Grey Knight codex, while it also just generally gives them a significant boost to their damage output against almost anything, particularly monstrous creatures. A unit of ten Striking Scorpions would thus gain ten Mandiblaster "attacks" against - for example - a Necron Tomb Spyder that each wound on a 4+ regardless of the opponents' Toughness value, dealing one or two unsaved wounds to that monstrosity assuming average rolls before the Scorpions themselves actually strike. I laud the codex designers for making these even better than the 4th Edition variants and thus catapulting an already decent unit back into competitive contention.

Mindshock Pod - Much like the Hemlock Wraithfighter itself, these have seen a rework; they reduce the Leadership of enemy units within 12" when performing any kind of Fear, Morale or Pinning test rather than forcing those same units to re-roll such tests (excluding Fear). I'm not entirely familiar with the averages and associated chances of failing Leadership tests when influenced by either effect, but I'm pretty sure that making a Leadership 10 unit take a single test at Leadership 8 is more likely to result in failure as opposed to forcing a Leadership 10 unit to re-roll a successful test. Again, I can't really tell which is better for any specific unit but this is nonetheless a nice change given that it now affects Fear tests and Fear is more prevalent in the codex than before by my account.

Scatter Lasers - The heavily advertised loss of Laser Lock does make this a slightly less appealing weapon option than previously on certain units, but in most cases it remains the best value Eldar heavy weapon due to its combination of long range, high Strength and great rate-of-fire. Removing Laser Lock only affects units that could fire two or more weapons at a time such as vehicles and monstrous (or gargantuan) creatures, and even then many such units were often equipped with dual scatter lasers (like War Walkers) anyway because of how good they are even without that handy rule. This is obviously a direct nerf to Wave Serpents, Falcons and Wraithknights armed with Suncannons in particular, but let us look at a few handy facts; it was too powerful on the first, it is a free upgrade now for the second, and the third unit will almost never use the Suncannon regardless with the change to Heavy Wraithcannons and the Ghostglaive. It also removes the utility of War Walkers armed with a scatter laser and a bright lance or any other such combination, though again I feel most preferred the dual-weapon builds on those anyway. Honestly, the fact that every model in a Jetbike unit can be equipped with these is a warning sign for opponents that scatter lasers will be even more numerous than before; it won't take long for uneducated players to realize just how insane massed high strength shooting is regardless of its respective AP values when armies of Jetbikes backed by almost anything begin to pop up.

Serpent Shield - It is always good to see a specific piece of wargear toned down to an acceptable and sensible level in the same codex that another set of weapons was transformed into apocalyptic death-dealers. My snark aside, I feel the change to the Serpent Shield was not only warranted but definitely a good one that leaves the Wave Serpent as a good but not over-powered dedicated transport for Eldar armies. The defensive benefits remained but importantly cease to function once the one-use-only ranged profile is used, actually forcing players to employ Wave Serpents as they should be used per their standard battlefield role and thematic place. The weapon as mentioned above is one-use-only and provides users with a tactical consideration to activating it, though the weapon itself remains quite powerful by dealing out 2D6 Strength 6 shots that Ignore Cover and have the Strikedown special rule. In my mind it seems like the addition of Strikedown and change to one-use-only is designed so that the Serpent Shield is used defensively up until it unloads its cargo, and then fired once a unit is about to engage another in close combat.

Swooping Hawk Wings - I was honestly shocked that these - and their parent unit by extension - received such a big buff given that the abilities Swooping Hawks possess are already crazily good in a 7th Edition context with variable mission objectives resolved on a turn-by-turn basis. Heck, the rules designers even fixed the inability of Autarchs to properly join up with Swooping Hawks by making Herald of Victory and Skyleap tied to the Swooping Hawk Wings and Exarch, respectively; hooray for winged Autarchs that also conveniently received a new plastic model! Back to the wings themselves, these now allow the user to move an incredible 18" as opposed to the usual 12" typical of Jump Infantry, while also allowing them to freely go back into ongoing reserves by performing a Skyleap as mentioned prior. While the latter isn't a buff to Swooping Hawks themselves, it does allow Autarchs to use them even more effectively than before, but obviously the 18" move on a unit carrying Haywire grenades that now also performs Haywire attacks on flyers they move over is pretty darned insane. Basically, opponents that thought Swooping Hawks could be ignored because of their mostly Strength 3 AP5 shooting are going to receive a rude shock when they realize these skyborne warriors have a 30" assault threat range and are a hilariously potent anti-aircraft and anti-vehicle unit that is uniquely mobile like no other unit in the game.

Various Changes - Some things of note are that both Laser Lances and Star Lances are are always AP3 and AP2 respectively in close combat rather than losing their AP values in a combat after the charge, making Shining Spears a superior melee unit in protracted combats to make up for their painful loss of Hit and Run. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Starshot missile profile for Reaper Launchers no longer has the Pinning special rule, but this realistically a minor nerf at best given the other buffs Dark Reapers received to compensate. As for the Remnants of Glory or "relics", these are mostly unchanged; the Mantle of the Laughing God was replaced with a Strength 4 AP3 Rending pistol aptly named "Kurnous' Bow" and that's about it.

Detachments and Formations

Craftworld Warhost Detachment - Confirming the suspicions of many that the Necron Decurion Detachment would see successors in codices to follow, the Craftworld Warhost is a unique detachment that functions as several individual formations that each gain an over-arching buff in addition to their own distinct buffs. The Command Benefit of the Craftworld Warhost doesn't appear as ridiculous as the Ever-Living bonus provided by the Necron Decurion at first glance, but it is still a pretty darned powerful ability; it allows all units to automatically be treated as running 6" rather than having to roll a separate D6 whenever they make Run moves. Considering that Eldar units have the ability to Run and then shoot and vice-versa while Wraith units in the Wraithost formation gain the Battle Focus special rule as a reward, this is massive boost for the army if only because it effectively increases their shooting threat ranges by 6" and adds the reliability of guaranteed 6" Run moves. The potential this allows for effective Jump-Shoot-Jump tactics with almost the entire army on top of effectively mitigating their often short-ranged weaponry makes for a devastating and supremely mobile force in direct contrast to the plodding albeit impossibly durable Necron Decurion armies. Also like their more ancient counter-parts, each constituent formation is classified either as a Core, Command or Auxiliary formation; one Core formation is required, then up to twelve optional Auxiliary and three optional Command formations are available as a result. Unlike the Necron Decurion that solely uses the Reclamation Legion as its' Core formation, Eldar players can choose from one of three differing Core formations; two of these are largely the same and based around either Guardian Defenders or Storm Guardians, but one is instead a Jetbike-oriented formation that is perfect both for highly aggressive army lists and Saim-Hann themed forces. This makes the Craftworld Warhost Detachment more flexible than the Necron Decurion, while the buffs associated with many of the formations are only made even more ridiculous by the Matchless Agility Command Benefit.

Guardian Battlehost - I'm a big fan of this formation despite its' seemingly short-ranged focus because the mix of units it comprises is generally a solid mix to form the core of an Eldar army, featuring artillery, heavy firepower and "outrider" elements in good proportions. The special rules of the formation are centred around the titular trio of Guardian squads, providing them not only with free heavy weapon platforms but also giving the supporting firepower elements of the formation Preferred Enemy with their ranged attacks against units in close proximity to the Guardians. Considering the close-ranged nature of Guardians and the fact that only the Vaul's Wrath Support Batteries are entirely static, using this to your advantage with Wave Serpents as Dedicated Transports actually makes for a solidly powerful formation. As a Core formation for the Craftworld Warhost, this provides a solid and moderately flexible force to build such an army around.

Windrider Host - This formation gives me the chills simply because it is comprised almost entirely of units on Eldar Jetbikes - that is a potentially a lot of Scatter Lasers or Shuriken Cannons - and has an insane one-use-only ability dependent on the formations' mandatory Farseer being alive which is not a difficult feat to achieve. Gaining Shred on all the Shuriken weapons in the formation - even on the Farseer, Warlocks and Vypers - not only gives players a reason to equip their Windriders with Shuriken Cannons over Scatter Lasers, but also simply classifies as an absolutely jaw-dropping boost to an already devastating shooting phase. The potential to roll 6s and thus ignore armour and wound automatically regardless of Toughness is increased, while generally just forcing an insane amount of wounds from Shuriken weapons is sure to put almost any non-vehicle unit down in one round.

Guardian Stormhost - Considering this is essentially a Guardian Battlehost where you exchange the Guardian Defenders for Storm Guardians, I'll treat it as such and similarly label it as a fun and handy Core formation that has some very nice bonuses of its own. Storm Guardians obviously give it a more close-assault oriented focus that makes the Preferred Enemy buff for the other units more prevalent given the range requirements, while the Storm Guardians themselves get two special weapons and two power swords for free per unit rather than one or two Heavy Weapon Platforms per unit. Deciding which of these buffs fits your view of the various units involved in the two Guardian formations and what kind of Guardians you prefer are the only real methods of determining which you should use which is a nice way to differentiate them in my opinion, making both a solid choice in their own right.

Seer Council - This formation has hilariously minimal requirements when you consider that a classic Eldar Seer Council usually comprised a unit of Warlocks joined by one or two Farseers, essentially giving that always famous and powerful psychic death-star unit some free bonuses and the ability to be taken either as their own formation-detachment or as part of the larger Craftworld Warhost. While Seer Councils themselves aren't quite as good as they used to be in the sense that each Warlock no longer generates their own powers with the addition of a heavily modified Brotherhood of Psykers special rule, the benefits provided by the formation do help to mitigate this somewhat; warp charge points are successfully manifested on a 3+ instead of a 4+ when attempting to cast psychic powers, while the whole "Warlord in this detachment gets a re-roll on their codex Warlord Traits" shtick is also present. It's a nice little formation that even specifies that Eldrad Ulthran can be taken in place of one of the two mandatory Farseers, the bare restrictions providing Eldar players the perfect reason to keep fielding their highly coveted Seer Councils.

Aspect Host - Comprised of a trio of Aspect Warrior units of your choice that can either be a mix or the same type repeated three times, the Aspect Host is a brutal formation not only because the free-form nature of its construction allows you to assign units to it as you desire, but also because its special rules provide such massive bonuses to the participants. The first of these is that you can choose to provide either +1 Ballistic Skill or +1 Weapon Skill to all of the units in the formation, choosing the stat for the formation as a whole rather than on an individual unit-by-unit basis. Obviously, only Howling Banshees and Striking Scorpions will want the Weapon Skill bonus while the rest of the Aspects become truly bonkers with the Ballistic Skill buff from my experience so far with the formation. The secondary benefit is also very good considering that all Aspect Warriors are Leadership 9, allowing them to re-roll failed Morale, Pinning and Fear tests and thus almost never fail Leadership tests in general. Whether as part of the Craftworld Warhost detachment (wherein always making 6" Run moves combined with these benefits is ludicrous) or in their own singular formation, Aspect Hosts are sure to make a huge impact on any game they feature in. The only "restriction" here is that each squad requires an Exarch, but given how powerful and useful Exarchs are in the new codex, I hardly consider this a "penalty" for taking the formation.

Dire Avenger Shrine - Though Dire Avengers can be taken as part of the Aspect Host and two of the benefits are shared - they re-roll failed Morale, Pinning and Fear tests and always gain +1 Ballistic Skill - the third bonus they uniquely gain from this formation easily warrants taking this over a Dire Avenger themed Aspect Host. This unique special rule is aptly titled "Killing Strike" and allows the Dire Avengers to treat their Avenger Shuriken Catapults as being Assault 3 rather than Assault 2 for one shooting phase in the game, giving each member of the three squads an extra shot; the restriction here instead is that only one Dire Avenger unit can have an Exarch, but I bet most players won't care about this at all. The fact is that if thirty Dire Avengers in three squads of ten are all in range with their 18" Avenger Shuriken Catapults on the turn you activate their Killing Strike, there will be carnage aplenty with what essentially amounts to having another 15 Dire Avengers firing with their awesome Bladestorm weapons. Combine this with the Matchless Agility Command Benefit from the Craftworld Warhost and you have yourself one heck of a nasty Auxiliary formation.

Crimson Host - Formed (I'm so sorry) out of three Crimson Hunters that are free (oh dear) to operate independently of each other, the Crimson Host is the ultimate anti-aircraft tool available to an Eldar player and it irks me that this Aspect exists yet people complain that "Eldar have poor anti-air". Heck, the one mandatory Exarch (which happens to be the "restriction") in this formation will kill a Flying Hive Tyrant regardless of whether it has the 2+ armour save benefit from the Ymgarl Factor assuming average rolls, unless the Tyrant Jinks. Even the two standard Crimson Hunters here will achieve similar results given that one of the formation benefits gives them Preferred Enemy of Flyers and Flying Monstrous Creatures, making them a true hard-counter to those units barring the tougher forms of the latter. Heck, all three Crimson Hunters in the formation even gain a much needed defensive buff with a permanent 4+ cover save that can then be re-rolled if they deign to Jink. If you play Eldar and struggle to deal with flyers despite all the other various tools in the codex such as Dark Reapers and Swooping Hawks, use the Crimson Host and watch most of those worries wash away in a tide of blood and shrapnel.

Wraith Host - Regardless of whether you feel the Iyanden Codex Supplement is a valid addition to the current Eldar rule-set or not, the Wraith Host does provide some of its' benefits albeit compressed into a more restrictive formation (that coincidentally has no actual restrictions other than specific unit composition). Featuring a Spiritseer, three units of Wraithguard or Wraithblades, a Wraithlord and a Wraithknight, the Wraith Host serves not only as another method of adding the exceptionally over-powered Wraithknight to an army but also allows Iyanden players to field a force comprised entirely of Wraiths by avoiding the standard Combined Arms detachment. It would have been nice if it could also be a Core formation in the Craftworld Warhost but obviously having a Wraithknight as part of a Core formation would probably draw just a bit too much ire from the general gaming community, and besides, you can always run the formation itself as your main detachment. The actual benefits of the Wraith Host involve providing the units with Battle Focus - which conveniently is massively buffed in the Craftworld Warhost - to help mitigate the short range of the Wraithguard in particular, while all Wraith units in the formation get to re-roll failed to-hit rolls for both shooting and close combat against enemy units that are within 18" of the formation Spiritseer. This may very well become the primary method of fielding Wraiths given how powerful the Craftworld Warhost detachment appears on a theoretical level, though obviously those looking for a way to spam Wraithknights will instead gravitate towards the Wraith-Construct Auxiliary formation unique to the Craftworld Warhost.

Thank you for reading the first article in my Eldar Codex Summary! I am eager to hear your thoughts on the latest version of this ever-popular army, particularly a description of your initial reaction to the Distortion equals Destroyer change that has managed to become an internet meme in record time. How do you feel about bringing Destroyer weapons in such numbers to standard matches of Warhammer 40,000? Thanks again and I hope you have a great day!


  1. I'm really curious to know if it iyanden suppliment is still legal. I also wish their was a wraith host minus the knight, because you can get the knight in the auxiliary detachments.

    I think destroyer weapons are over board. I would have preferred a distort roll of 6 becoming a destroyer hit, at least for d-scythes and wraithcannons.

    I like the aspect changes, especially moving some of the skills to aspect gear and giving each aspect a squad skill default and an exarch only skill. It simplifies list building and reduces record keeping. The exarch only skills now make sense and give you a reason for taking an exarch. Exarchs having 2 wounds is a big plus too.

    I like the nerf to waveserpents, but I think they are now over costed by 10 points. Vypers and war walkers are still paying too much for vehicle upgrades.

    1. This is honestly the best Aspect codex Eldar have had, and I agree with most of your other comments. I would argue that the Iyanden supplement is legal but ultimately that is going to be something you will have to work out with your local gaming group. Thanks for your comment!

    2. I forgot to comention on the missile launcher. You are the first blogger I have seen mention the sky fire missiles being rolled up into the base profile. I had to double take when I noticed it, but was surprised no one else was talking about it. I guess they might have been concentrating on the shockers.

      Also, long time reader, first time commentor. thanks for all the posts.

  2. Two things I noticed. Exarch's in aspects that have 4+ armor lost their 3+ armor. Also warp spiders got a hidden boost on their warp jump. Now you only lose one model if you roll a double 1 instead of any double. Great article. Look forward to more!

  3. I think this is the best book I've seen for 40K in all my time playing. They can just do everything well.. not just average well, but really well. And so many list possibilities too.. all of which are powerful. Stinks of 7th Ed. Fantasy Demons.

  4. Te problem is that if only D-weapons were the only issue. It's the fact that EVERYTHING got better for no points cost increase, and then when you add in the Formation bonuses the power level goes off the chart :)

    The rules themselves are great, the warp spiders jumping when shot reminds me off the the opening cinematic of one of the Dawn of War computer games and is a great nod to the fluff. Monofilment wounding against Initiative is also suits the fluff better. The issue is how this happened with out a even a single point increase is beyond me, and this is repeated throughout the entire codex :(

    Looking forward to your review, which are always level headed, and thanks again for the DE review which was a good read.