Eldar: Deeper Dive

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Over the past week, I've been able to spend some more time with the new Eldar codex digging a little deeper and challenging some of my initial impressions on the latest 6th edition book. The more time I spend with it the more I like it! It's a very solid 6th edition codex for a number of reasons, but the best thing I like about it (and what I've come to love most about 6th edition) is the sheer number of options it contains. Just as the 6th edition rulebook really shook up the way the game is played, each 6th edition codex continues that trend and pushes the game further away from the mono-build, mechanized spam lists of 5th edition (which was more than a little boring by the end).

It has taken some getting used to -- all the random elements such as warlord traits, psychic powers, special tables, charge ranges etc, not to mention flyers, fortifications, allies, huge monstrous creatures -- but the overall game has really gained from these things, in my opinion, helping to take the game to new heights (literally with things like the Wraithknight) and keeping each game fresh and interesting for the players. I agree with Hyv3mynd and his reflections on the game, that we really are entering a 'golden age' of 40k and for the first time, well probably ever, GW is on pace to have all armies in the game updated within the same edition. This is really exciting for both hobbyists and gamers alike as the new model releases are always fun for painters / collectors and the pace of new books should help keep the game and power level for each army balanced.

"Balanced" is the keyword here, and it's the word I would use to describe the new Eldar codex. It's hard not to do this when a new book comes out, and I'm certainly guilty of it as well, but we can't just compare every book to Grey Knights or Necrons. If something doesn't immediately jump out as OP it doesn't mean the book is crap. You can't maintain balance in this game simply by giving each new book something more powerful and cheaper points-wise than what came before; that would only perpetuate the problem.

The Eldar codex is far from crap and actually offers a number of viable builds right out of the gates with a great selection of core Troops: Windrider jetbikes, Rangers/Pathfinders, Guardians/Dire Avengers, Wraithguard/Wraithblades. These are all excellent choices with which to fill the backbone of any number of lists and playstyles - you have fast (jetbikes), foot (DA/guardian), mechanized (with Serpents which are awesome!), tough (T6 wraiths), and tricky (infiltrate/outflank/precision deepstrike w/ Illic rangers & pathfinders). Eldar Troops are a big win in this codex and with so much variety and viable options this book will have a very long shelf life for players. And that's just one section of the book! (although, arguably the most important).

The HQ section is chock full of fun and flavorful options, 14 to be precise, and each can take your list in a slightly different direction. I'm not going to go through each of them as there are already pleanty of other reviews out there that go in depth on each one. For me, I'll most likely be taking a Farseer on bike as it is cheap and can keep up with the rest of my army while handing out Guide/Prescience among other buffs. I know a lot of people are disappointed that Eldar can't pick out the powers they want anymore (namely Doom and Fortune) and Runes certainly took a hit, but you know what... if they could still pick out all the best powers it would have put them over the top. I think it was a conscious decision to randomize them to keep Farseers more balanced and it keeps them in line with other 6th edition books that roll for powers & abilities. And lets be clear, the Primaris powers for each of the disciplines they can choose from are no joke either -- if you don't like the random roll, build around these and you'll still get a lot of utility and force multiplication from them. Had they been able to pick out Doom and Fortune (which now works on "friendly units") along with Guide, this is the only configuration you would ever see on the table, and at only 100pts all non-Eldar players would be crying bloody murder at how OP that would be. It's still possible to roll those powers of course, but even if you don't get those the Farseer is still a fantastic, points-efficient HQ choice.

Fast Attack has some great options too. I really like Swooping Hawks - no scatter deep striking, dropping a large blast (with 6 or more) grenade pack that ignores cover, and Skyleap so you can do this a few times over the course of the game; a decent rate of fire and they can easily grab you Line Breaker, all for under 100pts... not bad at all! Warp Spiders are also quite fast and pack a mean punch with Monofilament weapons which threaten both elite infantry and armor. I definitely intend on trying both of these units at some point. Then of course you have both Flyers to choose from in this section. The Crimson Hunter can knock any other Flyer out of the sky with ease (and with a little  help from an Autarch, you have a better chance of this coming on the board after your opponent's Flyers). The Hemlock Wraithfighter is an interesting, albeit expensive, entry. It took me a little while to find the value in this one, but I believe the answer lies with careful coordination with other psykers and Dark Eldar allies -- Torment Grenade Launchers, Arcane Wargear such as Archangel of Pain, Crucible of Malediction, etc. With the right combination of psychic powers, the Mindshock pod, and DE wargear, no squad in the game is completely safe against this deadly combo. It's quite an expensive set of combos and there's no guarantee it will always work, but there's certainly potential and I think it would be fun to try out at some point. It would probably be best with Eldar as the primary and DE as allies, that way you can get more psykers and hemlocks in the list and you can still pull in 3 haemonculi for the Arcane wargear and enough raiders w/ TGL's through the allies FOC.

I've spent the least amount of time on the Elites section of the book. It's not that it's bad, I've just been more drawn to the other areas of the codex. If anything, the Banshees seem the most underwhelming and difficult to use, but that's not to say they can't be effective in some capacity. I just think they are overshadowed by Scorpions, Fire Dragons, and Harlequins which all do their jobs quite well. Wraithguard and Wraithblades are both fun and I'm glad they got the plastic treatment, but more than likely they'll be taken as Troops with a Spiritseer. I know I'm glazing over this section, but it's just because I want to get to the HS section ;)

The Eldar Heavy Support section is awesome! Probably my favorite in the new book and like the Troops slot, it has a lot of viable options. I'll try to run through each quickly. Reapers are a tad bit expensive in my opinion for what they do, however I do love the rangefinder for denying jink cover saves. This unit can certainly deal some death to ground units, but adding flakk missiles for the exarch seems like an after-thought; just too expensive for a S7 shot (and for 2 shots, you're talking about 70pts tied up in that single exarch model!). I'd skip the exarch & flakk upgrades altogether and just place this unit on a Quad gun - much better anti-air gun and it benefits from the rangefinder.
Vaul's Wrath Support Battery is awesome for the points cost; I'd go with 3 Shadow weaver platforms for 3 devastating large blasts with barrage and monofilament action for only 90pts!
I really like the Fire Prism and Night Spinner entries. Both offer some great all-around shooting able to wreck infantry and armor alike in a nice AV12 chassis for a very reasonable point cost. I don't think you can go wrong with either of these tanks and I can see myself trying both at some point. The Falcon isn't bad, but gets overshadowed by the Prism and Spinner in my opinion. And the Wave Serpent is certainly a better transport ship (and still packs a huge punch, but everyone on the internet is talking about this one, so I wont go over it again here).
War Walkers are fantastic. They were pretty awesome before the update, but even better now (BS4, Battle Focus, 5++). Flakk is overpriced, and again feels like an afterthought, but it's all Scatter Laser for me. These things will wreak AV 10/11 Flyers no problem and can even knock AV 12 if your dice are with you. All around, great utility unit and will definitely find a place in my army!
The Wraithlord and Wraithknight are both cool options for a wraith themed army. The Wraithknight is a little more expensive than I thought it would be, but again I feel like GW didn't want to go over the top with this entry and make a 6W T8 jump monstrous creature too cheap points-wise (or $$$ wise). I'm curious to see what the Iyanden supplement will add to these options. At the end of the day, it's a sweet model and it will divert a ton of shooting away from the rest of your army if that's what you're going for. If I were to field one, I would deep strike it in along with a full squad of Illic-infiltrated wraithguard/wraithblades to keep the enemy preoccupied the rest of the game while the rest of my army  secures objectives.

That's it for my deep dive into the Eldar codex. Overall, I really like the book and look forward to adding more Eldar to my collection! My son really likes the new codex too :)