Thursday, 18 July 2013

Eldar: The Hack and Slash

So I've been attempting to draw up numerous Eldar lists for my Yriel led Pirates and I have to say I'm having a whale of a time. Everything in this codex seems to have a pull to it that makes me want to field everything!

Annoyingly they all cost many points so this is not viable.

Leafing through the Codex to begin composing these lists I've been trying to weigh up the value of the units compared to each other. Everyone and their dogs have been raving about wave serpents, which is understandable seeing how they can just do almost anything you need them to. So I won't go into that as it's been covered to death.

Well maybe not to death....I'm so sorry...
However, my current dilemma falls into a different category. Assault.

Yes I know 'Assault is dead' is repeatedly uttered without regard to the feelings of all those poor combat units out there. But regardless of this opinion I would disagree, assault is harder than shooting. And not as easy to pull off, but it is not dead. I can assure you.

You've just got to laugh about it
So, I like to have assault elements in my list. Particularly as Yriel himself flourishes in combat, and so to get the most of him that's where I want him to be. But what's the best unit to support him?

Well, here's what we have available:
They do look pretty angry

Howling Banshees:
  • An old fan favourite from what I can gather. 2 AP3 attacks standard (not counting assault bonus if they can get it) is pretty tasty when combined with their I5. They also have banshee masks which reduce their opponent's initiative by 5 when they charge they can reliably gut marines of all flavours. The exarch can also take an executioner (in my opinion the best choice, followed by the mirror swords) which gives her S5 and AP2, giving some counter to high T or 2+ save guys. 
  • Naturally the big problem with these guys is their lack of assault grenades, meaning that even though they're reducing their opponent's initiative (usually to 1) on the charge, they are also reduced to I1 themselves, not good when they're made out of paper mache (T3 4+ is ok, but that's only in comparison to other Eldar).
  •  Yriel could help out in this regard as he is carrying grenades, but this means they lose their acrobatic bonus (losing a D6+3 run isn't that bad if you're in a transport, but then you still have a turn of being shot before you can assault). He is, however, also quite squishy, so we're making a true glass hammer unit, if they're caught out, bye bye Warlord.

 Yriel helps them, but there may still be better options.

Green...the colour of death

Striking Scorpions:

  • Another old classic. The Scorpions are actually pretty good this edition. They have 2 S4 and 1 S3 (I10) attack again not counting an assault bonus and importantly, plasma grenades. This is useful because their infiltrate, move through cover and stealth naturally makes them gravitate towards targetting enemies who are in cover. Or, at least, behind it. They also have a 3+ save, making them closer to marines in survivability (T3 still, so not quite) and their Exarch can take a scorpion claw (I've ignored the other options for him because 3 I6, S6/8 AP2 attacks is murder!). These guys seem like a very capable assault unit.
  • Negatives are that their infiltrate deployment could leave them unsupported. Wave Serpents could scoot up to help out but they are going to probably need a big (ish) squad to weather the storm of fire coming their way . This is of course, drawing attention away from everything else. 
  • Sadly, Yriel doesn't add much to this squad. It adds to him in the form of another Character to take challenges against 2+ save guys (Yriel's nightmare) and probably win, but he negates their infiltrate move, relegating them to normal deployment or a Wave Serpent transport (which they can take). They may make a nice counter assault unit in this regard, but I can't help but feel their sneaky cover based bonuses are being wasted like this.

A solid unit, probably not a good bodyguard, but a very good offensive threat.

Ok yeah I'm going for it.
Why so serious?



  • My favourites! I just love Harlequins. They can throw out 3 S3 rending (the kisses upgrade is pretty much mandatory), or 4 S4 rending on the charge (furious charge being a big bonus and hit and run makes it likely they'll get a charge). The Shadowseer is mandatory, 30pts makes him the steepest upgrade, but he's worth it because he gives the unit veil of tears and assault grenades. These guys just ignore cover whilst he's alive and most of the time will be untargetable to units 15" away (at worst they have to be within 24" and roll well). They hit like 2 tons of bricks.
  • Negatives, T3 5+ invun is not great. Worse even than Banshees aside from the fact that their armour can't be ignored by low AP. Not that this helps against torrent, anyone turning lascannons on harlequins is making some unusual decisions. They also need a Shadowseer to work, and if he rolls perils of the warp he dies. Taking your defence and your grenades with him. For this reason a Troupe Master or even Death Jester is important, to intercept any challenges thrown at the Seer.
  • Yriel really benefits from the Veil of Tears, just as anyone does. It makes him much more survivable and he doesn't even need a transport. He can also intercept challenges himself to save the seer and in the worst case scenario brings his own grenades if the Seer pops his own brains. Hit and Run is also nice as Yriel gets this as well whilst in the unit, allowing him to escape from very poor match ups. However, it is still dependent on the Shadowseer casting Veil of Tears and staying alive, otherwise the unit will get blasted apart immediately, particularly if there's a Slay the Warlord VP in it. To risk a normal assault unit on that, yes I'm ok with the odds. To risk my warlord...probably not.

Nice synergy, but a lot of risks placed on a LD9 psychic check... 

It's alright guys we got this. I mean we are wearing armour...aren't we?

Storm Guardians:

  • The fluff-y choice. There's not a lot of talk about storm guardians. They epitomise the squishy-ness of Eldar and are generally overlooked in favour of their heavy weapon supported cousins, Guardian Defenders. They're not actually bad though, 90pts for 10 guys with a pistol and CCW is alright, particularly when you consider that they are a scoring unit. They are improved by the ability to take 2 fusion guns (standard melta-gun goodness) or 2 flamers, for very cheap. Making them great at popping transports or roasting standard guys. Their recent improvement to WS/BS4 making them even better at this (and at fighting in general). They're the Eldar equivalent of assault  marines, throw enough S3 attacks and the enemy should go down. They don't hit that hard, but they should be able to do clean up jobs quite well.
  • As I eluded to before they are paper thin. T3, 5+ save means that they will just get torn apart by bolters and the like. And although they'll hit first mostly (I5) when they're hit back they will take casualties. They do bring plasma grenades though, so the sculptors and painters of the Eldar come better equipped to kill than the elite Banshees do (in one regard anyway). 
  • Aside from being fluffy (Yriel's Corsair buddies) he does add some nice, much needed, killing power to the Storm Guardians. He'll be doing most of the work, but he can still pop Ambush of Blades (rerolls to 1's to wound for a phase) if they really need help. Of course, that applies to all the units he can join, but these guys are likely to need it most. So he gives a scoring unit a good bite, allowing them to better seize enemy held objectives than they could do alone.

Not a very devastating unit, but quite strong, and most importantly: scoring!

Look we can assault, honest

Dire Avengers:

  • Ok, not actually an assault unit but hear me out. These guys are a staple of many lists. Scoring, decent firepower, not too expensive. Their Exarchs can take some pretty good combat stuff and they come stock with counter-attack. These guys would only really excel at (appropriately) a counter attack use. If an enemy unit gets too close, run up, blaze away, and then assault in. Remember a shimmershield Exarch gives a 5+ invun to his entire unit, so they'll have the same save as Harlie's against low AP combat weapons. They also come with Grenades (just another kick in the teeth for banshees).
  • They are 1 attack behind Storm Guardians at 2 S3 attacks each, and that's it. They aren't going to be killing much. This is their main drawback, they are a shooty unit. They are here because as a bodyguard, Yriel can benefit them a fair amount if they get charged. This is a consideration of whether my counter attack should just be an intervention unit, and not a highly killy unit in itself.

This isn't an assault unit, but could potentially function well as prevention...

Just going to throw this out there...
These guys are cool


  • My final consideration. Now, they are the same price as wraithguard, but trade in S10 AP2 guns (with distort, so ID possibilities) for either 2 S6 AP3 sword hits, or 1 S7 AP2 axe hits with a 4+ invun. I'm quite smitten with these guys because I love wraiths and I love combat units. They are massively survivable with T6, 3+ saves and potentially the invun from the shields. They also hit very hard, although they lack in the number of attacks they have. They bring a much needed anti terminator combat unit in the shape of their axes as well. If they can survive being struck back (they'll both be initiative 1, if the enemy's using powerfists and although our invun is usually better than their 5+, powerfists will negate the ever useful T6). They can also be made scoring if I take a Spiritseer (not a negative as these guys look useful enough for me to want to bring one anyway). 
  • I mentioned their lack of attacks already. They don't put out a lot of killing power, most of their use comes from survivability. They also only have I4 (same as a marine) or I1 if they're using axes so they won't be going first as much as the other units. The hope is that they can survive enough that the meagre kills they manage outweigh the casualties they sustain, and then they can run down the enemy.
  • Now, I have great expectations of what Yriel can do for this unit. He adds a large number of attacks (4/5) to a unit lacking them, he adds assault grenades (even though that doesn't help axe wielders that much) and his eye of wrath template will kill the less of the wraithguard than it would any eldar (S6 against T6 instead of T3, also they can get invun saves). In turn, they give Yriel some toughness to counteract his glass body. And they can also give him scoring. The main downside really to this unit is that it's not Wraithguard, and they are generally better.

Very good synergy, but expensive, and are taking a place from the Wraithguard

So in summary my current list of favourites is
  1. Wraithblades - works very well with Yriel, can still be scoring. Need to decide whether axes or Swords is better.
  2. Storm Guardians - Scoring, cheap, good for anti infantry, something I don't always have a good unit to dedicate to. Very easy to kill however.
  3. Striking Scorpions - good offensive unit, squad of 10 with Yriel in a Wave Serpent could do some serious damage, but I can't shake the thought that this is a waste of their potential...
  4. Harlequins - Much as I love them and they work really well with Yriel, I'm not enough of a gambler to want to risk this.
  5. Howling Banshees - I wouldn't consider them without Yriel (or a normal Autarch) at all because of their grenade lack but I feel they could be a half decent counter assault unit with him. 
  6. Dire Avengers - They're a great unit, but they'll likely be wasting Yriel's potential on most occasions as I shouldn't be committing them to assault. They are a shooty unit after all.

So what do you think? What Eldar assault units do you think are the best calls? This is just my personal shortlist and needs more testing to iron out the problems. I didn't even get to mention Shining Spears because they do not work with Yriel.

Anyway, until the next time.

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