Hey all, my good friend John once again pulls through with the 40k book review – this time with his favorite army of all time, the enigmatic Eldar, in their return from their long-overdue update. John’s been chomping at the bit to get his hands on the codex, and I’m sure he’s already put together his new army lists (and purchase lists!) based on its contents. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the newest incarnation of these aloof and enigmatic xenos. John’s review follows:
After having time to digest (at least superficially), these are my first impressions of Codex: Eldar. First up, Eldar have some army-wide rules. They are:
- Battle Focus – Models with this rule can run and shoot in the same turn. The run can happen before or after the shooting. Combined with fleet, Eldar should have very mobile armies.
- Ancient Doom – Eldar have -1 LD when engaged in combat with units with the mark of Slaanesh or Slaaneshi daemons. They also have hatred against these units. I rather like having both a positive and a negative in the same rule, as it avoids situational bonuses, and the pro and con should balance out.
Further, standard Eldar weapons have special rules:
- Shuriken weapons of all type have half of the rend rule, specifically they auto-wound at AP 2 on any “to wound” roll of 6.
- Distortion weapons inflict instant death and auto-penetrate vehicles on wound (or armour penetration) rolls of 6.
- Monofiliment weapons have a half shred like shuriken weapons (but oddly at AP 1, but since this is a to-wound roll only, no bonuses from that AP 1 against vehicles), and gain +1 Str when the majority initiative of the unit they’re shooting at is 3 or less.
Another new edition is exarchs now have access to powers. There are quite a few of these, some are in the main rulebook (I think this is the first appearance of “Monster Hunter”, too), some are new in this book. My favorite is disarm, which can shut down an opposing model’s wargear (blocking a powerfist would be a wonderful thing).
With that out of the way, the FOC of the army is identical as that of the previous edition, with a new HQ generic HQ choice (Spiritseer), a new HQ special character (a ranger character), a close combat wraith unit in elites, the two new flyers in fast attack and the wraithknight in heavy support.
Starting with HQ, in the previous editions most (virtually all) Eldar armies revolved around Farseers with Fortune (and usually doom and guide). Farseers are now pretty cheap level 3 psykers, but have randomized psychic powers. They can select from divination, telepathy or one of the two new lists introduced in this book, runes of fate. Runes of fate does include fortune, guide (which is the primarch power) and doom, but other then guide you have to trust the dice gods. Further, the anti-psyker wargear has been seriously nerfed, Eldar have minimal psychic defense other then having lots of psykers for deny the witch rolls. The wargear nerf alone makes me reconsider using Farseers, as while still useful they are no longer auto-includes. I also expect you’ll see a lot less allied Eldar, as runes of warding have very, very limited use.
I personally really like the new generic HQ choice, the spirit seer. He’s a cheap level 2 psyker, and unlocks wraithguard and wraithblades (the CC wraithguard unit) as troops. He can take Runes of Battle, the 2nd Eldar psychic list, and telepathy. The interesting thing is that, unlike warlocks who also have access to runes of battle, the spiritseer can be attached to any unit, and you can do some fun things with him like getting 2+ armour save wraithguard.
The 3rd psyker is the warlock. Warlocks are slotted in HQ, but do not take an HQ slot. You can buy up to 10 per detachment, and these can be fielded together as a unit, or split up among the various guardian squads. Extremely cheap psykers, but with a LD 8 expect to fail a fair number of psychic tests. It’s also unclear if you determine powers before or after splitting the warlocks up into squads.
Autarchs are largely unchanged, except their “Path of Strategy” is a bit superior in that they can modify reserve rolls by either +1 or -1, and can adjust it for each unit in reserve.
Avatars went up substantially in price, got a slightly higher statline, slightly worse invulnerable save, and access to six of the Exarch powers, including the aforementioned disarm, which would be a blast with an Avatar. They also got fleet and battle focus, which seriously ratchets up there mobility. I’m pretty happy with how they ended up.
Special characters are Eldrad (who’s still a first rate psychic, a level 4 psyker who can toss around a lot of powers), Prince Yriel (who ate a serious nerfing and I would never consider fielding), Illic Nightspear (a fun looking sniper character, I am going to try him out) and the Phoenix Lords (mostly still overpriced, though Asurmen (who gets a d3 warlord traits!), Karandras and Fuegan all look like standouts.
Autarchs, Farseers and Spiritseers also can access Eldar Remnants of Glory. These are army artifacts, and while they have lots of rules, most look very situational.
Getting to the meat of the army, when looking at troops, I can see 3 themes of the army emerging. A wraithgunline, a jetbike horde or a wave serpent rush.
- Dire Avengers – Increased in points, but with battle focus and quasi-shred shuriken catapults, this may be evened out. For some reason they received counter attack, which is not that impressive on a Str 3 unit. They also got plasma grenades, if you feel like assaulting. The exarch has access to some decent wargear and exarch powers, it looks like you can do 2 different builds, either an offensive melee build with him with a diresword (AP 2 and removes the opposing model from play on a failed LD test), or a shimmershield (gives the unit a 5+ invulnerable save), but you can’t take both. I’ve been pondering this and am not sure the best build.
- Guard defenders – Went up in points, got a higher WS and BS, still very vulnerable to enemy fire. On the plus side they can take a cheap weapon platform, so this might be an option to sit on a deployment zone objective and fire their heavy weapon.
- Storm Guardians – Guardian stats, but geared for CC and can take flamers, fusion guns, and power swords. Still flimsy guardians, though, and with no effective means to get into assaults.
- Windrider Jetbike Squads – Terrific. Big point decrease (a couple points more then a space marine) and updated states means these guys are a great pick. One of the Codex standouts.
- Rangers – Greatly cheapened, but with worse offensive capabilities. I don’t like snipers all that much in this addition of WH40K, and these guys seem very generic for that. The sniper character can upgrade them (over doubling their cost!) to give them shroud and the ability to place their own shots. Not sure if it’s worth it, but might be interesting.
Dedicated Transport –
- Wave Serpent – The only dedicated transport in the book. It went up in price, but that’s slightly deceptive as it’s weapons are cheaper, and a wave serpent with a twin linked bright lance is cheaper then before. The power field now reduces penetration hits to glancing on a 2+, meaning getting rushed by several of these would be very hard to deal with (especially if they have holo fields giving +1 cover save when moving, combined with jink that’ll be a 4+ cover save). They can also drop the field to fire a pretty nasty blast.
- Howling banshees ate a nerf and they sucked before. They will now be, at best, striking simultaneously at opponents in cover. They did get a very small price break, and the exarch has access to decent exarch ability and wargear, but I see these as a subprime choice.
- Striking Scorpions – Went up in price, but got infiltrate, move through cover and stealth. The exarch has some decent powers, too, and can get access to the scorpion’s claw, a power fist that can be combined with a shuriken pistol for +1 attack and doesn’t strike last! These guys are good.
- Fire Dragons – Had a significant price increase and got better armour. Given the current price cost, still look useful, but not sure if you shouldn’t just pay the extra points and get wraithguard.
- Harlequins – Still virtually the same. Would be terrific in cityfights, I’m not seeing them in much else.
- Wraithguard – Virtually identical, but cheaper, and wraithguns are now Str 10 (!) instead of the fixed wound. They can also (at a large point cost), take a Str 4 AP 2 flamer. With the potential of these being troops, very effective.
- Wraithblades – Wraithguard stats and point costs, but either with 2 AP 3 +1 Str swords, or 1 AP 2 +2 Str axe (and a 4+ invulnerable save). An assault unit mired by having only 1 attack, I personally think the shooty wraithguard are superior, but your mileage may vary.
Fast Attack –
- Swooping Hawks – Cheaper, improved grenade attack, one extra shot each turn with their lasblaster. And they don’t scatter on deep strike. I’m still on the fence with them, but they are vastly improved.
- Warp Spiders – Most improved unit in the codex, IMHO. Extremely mobile (they combine battle focus with their jetpacks), combined with the quasi-rending of their death spinners, this is a solid unit.
- Shining Spears – Picked up skilled rider, outflank a significant point decrease and larger unit sizes, all things they needed. I think this is another tremendously improved unit.
- Crimson Hunter – The first Eldar flyer (well, technically this is the pilot, the flyer is a Nightshade interceptor). Really good guns (2 Str 8 Lance shots and 2 Str 8 shots, all at AP 2), vector dancer, and can take an Exarch with Exarch powers. A seriously heavily gunned interceptor, which would terrific if it wasn’t extremely expensive and extremely flimsy. It’s still fieldable, but pretty sure the FW Nightwing is superior.
- Vyper Squadron – Improved with BS 4, but still open topped with AV 10 means it’ll get popped really easy. I’m not fan.
- Hemlock Wraithfighter – I love the flavor of this model, and it’s my preferred model among the two flyers, and I think it’s massively overpriced. It’s very short ranged, and comes armed with 2 heavy d-scythes (which are worse then the regular d-scythes), and a mindshock pod that forces all pinning and moral tests within 12″ be rerolled (this is both side). The pilot has the terror psychic power, so I guess the idea is that will synergize with the mindshock pod. I am curious on how this actually performs, so will probably try it out at some point but I have very low expectations.
Heavy Support –
- Dark Reapers – Slow and purposeful, increased unit size, and the ability to take real krak missile equivalents, dark reapers are greatly improved. I want to try a big squad of them in a wave serpent.
- Support Battery – The vibro cannon looks greatly improved and the D-cannon will benefit from being Str 10. Will be tough to include these though as heavy support is very full.
- Fire Prism – Terrifically improved with 3 modes of fire, one to tank infantry, one to tank terminator equivalent infantry and one to assault armour.
- Nightspinner – Can fire as a template, but lost the terrain effect. I think there are better choices in heavy support.
- Falcon – No real improvements. Some decent wargear options, and significantly cheaper but I can’t see anyone taking one of these over a fire prism.
- Warwalker Squadron – Big point increase, but increased WS and BS, the ability to move through battle focus, and a 5+ invulnerable save. They can also take anti-aircraft missiles (but this is very expensive).
- Wraithlord – Had a point increase, stat adjustment (Str went down and Att went up). Overall, still a good pick. And the weapons went down significantly in price, and no longer twin-link if you buy two (so dual bright lance wraithlords are entirely fieldable).
- And the 800 pound gorilla, the wraithknight. I’m not a fan. Very expensive, and with solid stats. However, it’s guns are not great (the standard guns are upranged wraithguard guns, you can upgrade at a significant point cost to a worse version of a plasma executioner (that I can field on a 125 point predator)). You can give it a scattershield for a 5+ invulnerable save (that can also blind all models within 6″, so be careful were it’s at relative to your battle line), but doing this will clock it in to Land Raider point levels. You can also give it shoulder weapons, probably a good idea on models that lose the wraithcannons (as monstrous creatures are limited to two weapons a turn for firing).
So, overall an interesting change to the Eldar. Some things improved, very little got worse (except for banshees). It’ll be interesting to see how people make armies without the fortune farseer all the time. The biggest weakness I see with the army is a real dirge of anti-aircraft, and no models with interceptor (which seems really counter intuitive for Eldar). Let me know if you have any questions,