First off, I want to preface this with saying that Autarchs are not for every Eldar army. Some armies will benefit more from them than others, especially depending on the loadout of the Autarch. Since the Eldar HQs are designed to support aspects of your forces, when you include an Autarch in your army it is for 2 specific reasons:
1.) The Master Strategist rule that gives you the option of adding +1 to your reserves rolls.
2.) The ability to add a noticeable punch to any unit and benefiting from Exarch powers is a definite plus!
These things come into play quite nicely if you are banking on the tactics of reserves denial, like the current incarnation of my Jetbike Eldar army does. Reserves denial is basically keeping your army in reserves to come in later on in the game. In practice, this does several nifty things:
-It denies your opponent the luxury of seeing where your attack will come from (by not deploying your forces he has nothing to react to or act upon)
-It gives you the first strike capability of coming on wherever you want and dictating where the battle will start.
-It denies your opponent a first strike capability which is devastating to armies that are built for that strategy.
-It denies your opponent 1 or 2 turns of shooting. This is huge if you go second as it will actually give you an extra turn of shooting over your opponent. Another thing that makes this huge is that most armies need the whole game to do enough damage to your scoring units or army and you basically deny them that-especially if you use the advantage of coming in suddenly and are able to cripple the enemy force from being able to mount a meaningful counterattack.
Building the Autarch:
Now as the Master Strategist rule benefits your army when using the reserves denial tactic, how you build the Autarch determines which units he will go in and how he will impact the game. For example, giving him a Fusion Gun will give whatever unit he joins a reliable anti tank capability. Some of the most common units that typically see Autarchs joining them are Fire Dragons, Dire Avengers, Warp Spiders and Shining Spears and or Seer Councils.
So with that said, lets take a look at several options and loadouts.
Shiruken Pistol, Plasma Grenades, Haywire Grenades, Force Shield.
-These ensure you will always get +1 close combat attack, strike at initiative when assaulting through cover and have a grenade for tanks as well as a 4+ invulnerable save. A pretty respectable kit for starting out.
One-handed weapon options (in order of expense):
-Scorpion Chain Sword. This is the cheapest of the three options and can be ok if you know you won't need to be slicing through armor as the extra strength is always nice for your s3 models. Overall, though, the ability to slice through armor makes the power weapon a better option and will give you the best results.
-Power Weapon. This is pretty standard and useful, giving your Autarch a base of 4 power weapon attacks (which can be increased with the Mandiblaster). This is going to be what gives any unit the Autarch joins that much needed close combat punch.
-Laser Lance. This is only available for a Jetbike riding Autarch and is probably the most potent, expensive and hit or miss option. Potent, because it gives you S6 power weapon attacks on the charge, expensive because it is 20 points, twice the cost of a regular Power Weapon and hit or miss because if you roll poorly on the charge and don't do enough damage, you will be striking with a mere s3 non-power weapon armed character in subsequent turns. Invariably, I always run my Autarch on a Jetbike and pick up this option as it adds an undeniably powerful punch to any Jetbike unit, be it a Seer Council on Jetbikes, Shining Spears or a regular Jetbike unit.
Two-handed weapon options (in order of expense):
- Las Blaster. Never, ever take this. I just wasted your time by even listing it as an option.
-Avenger Catapult. A cheap option if you place your Autarch in a Dire Avenger squad but really, it won't add as much as the Fusion gun will to your overall army.
-Death Spinner. Useful if you place your Autarch in a Warp Spider squad or maybe even on a Jetbike for 2 S6 shots but there are other options that are better like the Fusion gun or Reaper Launcher.
-Fusion Gun. This is probably the best gun for the Autarch as it gives you great utility. You have a shot that can instant kill t4 models, destroy tanks and or put a wound on a squad reliably well before charging. This is the option most people go for/advocate.
-Reaper Launcher. This is probably only going to be seen on a Jetbike riding Autarch since he can move and shoot with it due to the relentless rule that Jetbikes provide. This is a personal favorite of mine as I place my Autarch in a Jetbike unit and harass all game with them until a good opportunity presents itself.
Mobility options (in order of expense):
-Swooping Hawk Wings. This is the basic jump pack, cheapest of all. The fact that the Autarch has fleet makes this an interesting option to consider since he can move 12", fleet d6" and then charge another 6".
-Warp Jump Generator. This is the option for you if you are going to put him with Warp Spiders.
-Jetbike. This is the most expensive option but offers the most. All of the benefits of an Eldar Jetbike on an Autarch opens up so many tactical options and allows him to ride with any other Jetbike unit adding a considerable punch/utility if armed with a Laser Lance/Fusion gun or Reaper Launcher.
Mask Options (in order of expense):
-Banshee Mask. This is kind of useless since you already have such a high I (6) and have Plasma Grenades to negate cover when charging. This might be useful when fighting against Lash Whips or crazy Dark Eldar characters, though.
-Mandiblaster. This is the mask option to take because, as far as I am concerned, every Autarch should have one! This provides an extra attack and considering how other armies pay around 10 points for a sergeant upgrade (which grants +1 attack) this is a great buy.
-Warp Spiders: Warpjump Generator, Mandiblaster, Power Weapon, Fusion Gun or Death Spinner.
-Fire Dragons/Dire Avengers: Fusion Gun, Mandiblaster, Power Weapon.
-Jetbike Units: Jetbike, Mandiblaster, Laser Lance, Fusion Gun or Reaper Launcher.