Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shining Spears:

The Eldar codex has some "good" and "bad" choices for each force org slot, especially with the advent of 5th edition, and Shining Spears are thought to have been one of those poor or sub-optimal choices. Well, someone had to take a unit, compare it with something else and come to the conclusion that it was a poor or sub-optimal choice in the first place and I would argue that given the proper battlefield role and use, Shining Spears can be a great choice and addition to the right army, namely, my army!

My most recent incarnation of Jetbike Eldar sees 2 Autarchs kitted out to harass/charge the enemy rather than a Seer Council and I keep these Autarchs in my Guardian Jetbike units to charge whatever comes close and just give them a nice LD10. Wanting to get the most of my Autarchs though, I've noticed that I would be trying to get them into a good position to charge a vulnerable target but in the process I would expose my scoring jetbikes to unnecessary danger. The overly aggressive use of my Guardian Jetbikes when led by an Autarch has led me to seek an alternative method of getting my Autarchs where they need to be and this comes in the form of a Shining Spear unit.

Driving the home the point:

I've always liked Shining Spears, I used to take them back in 3rd edition when they were 50 points, had no power weapons but the Exarch could take a bs5 Bright Lance and they worked rather well for me then; now, I feel they will work for me once again. After all, nothing ruins my Autarchs day faster than charging, whiffing on the wound rolls and getting locked in combat with a measly set of s3 attacks for the rest of the game. When added to a unit of Shining Spears, as long as the Exarch is alive, not only will the charge be more devastating but the option of using the Hit and Run USR becomes available thus allowing me to get out of a s3 wet noodle fight and charge again with my lovely s6 power weapons.

Wielding the Spear:

A quick look at historical battles will reveal that not every cavalry charge was successful and I would wager that for the same reasons, not every Shining Spear charge will be either. I doubt that charging your unit of Shining spears headlong into a unit of terminators, thunderwolf cav or a mob of orks will get you very far (unless those targets are sufficiently weakened by the rest of your army) so what, then would be the best way to use that 450-500 points (for me, 2 Autarchs with a kitted Exarch) of your army?

Cavalry charges hit home with devastating effect most noticeably when they caught their query unawares or unprepared for their charge and it was this charge that won the day. So translate this in 40k gameplay and how do you get your unit of Shining Spears to accomplish this? First of all, your army must have a sufficient amount threats or distractions that the enemy can't afford to ignore (like Fire Dragons) to take much needed heat off of your unit of shining spears. Don't send them down midfield, turbo boosting, with the hopes of a glorious charge and route of the enemy forces, probably won't happen.

The key function, then, for Shining Spears is to flank/harass the enemy army picking up easy killpoints where possible if playing a KP mission or if playing an objective mission, pretty much doing the same tactics except now you have another unit that can hit and run into a position to contest any objective on your next turn (3d6+18" makes for a very far reaching threat range).

Basically, it really depends on who you are facing but usually, I found that turbo boosting them up on the extreme (and by extreme I mean along the board edge) flank that the enemy doesn't have much shooting to target them with is the best and safest route. The more LOS blocking terrain between them and the enemy the better, too. After that, you can turbo again to get into the enemy deployment zone (for a charge next turn) or if you can, just move the standard 12" and get a charge off on something like Lootas, Long Fangs or the likes. You can also try to get 12" away of a transport, use the Autarchs' Melta guns to pop a tank then use the jetbike move to get out of charge range but also such that unless the disgorged unit moves away, you will be in charge range next turn.

So in a nutshell, that is how you use the Shining Spears but how do you equip them? A standard 4 strong with an Exarch upgraded with Expert Rider, Withdraw, Star Lance and if you can a Shiruken Cannon will come in at a hefty 217 points. You can always drop the Star Lance and Shiruken Cannon but I find that they add a lot to the unit as a whole as the s8 Star Lance may be that extra umph you need to pen vehicle armor or instakill t4  ICs and the Cannon will give you some ranged anti AV 10-11 dakka that might make the difference in popping a transport or picking up a KP. 

Feel free to post any comments, ideas or questions about Shining Spears and their uses and I'll post a few battle reports when I can with me using Shining Spears!


  1. I think the key, as you stated, is to have a number of higher priority threats that your opponent is forced to deal with. Concentrated fire will bring this unit down, but if they're an afterthought and can actually make it to your opponents lines, they can be very effective.

  2. In the past I have used them to good effect by keeping them in reserves. I will bait my opponent into my half of the board and then when they come in from reserves they are able to charge right away and don't have to try and weather any incoming enemy fire first.

  3. Good call, ppl will usually get really close if you reserve your army giving you that opportunity. Against some IG or SW armies, though, you'll have to get them up there =(.

  4. I just found your blog and it's been an interesting and informative read. As a long time Eldar player, I'm constantly trying to find new things to try out. Surprisingly, I'm yet to utilize Singing Spears and I can definitely see their uses combined with Autarchs.

    After reading through some of your battle reports, do youo think the Spears/Autarch combo can work with only 1 Autarch? 2 Autarchs makes me a bit nervous as I feel I really need a Farseer with Runes of Warding.

    Overall, thanks for sharing. So far, it's been a pretty interesting read.

  5. Charlie, thanks for the comment!

    Sofar, I have tried 2 Autarchs with Spear/Fusion and it works really well unless the squad gets focus fired on and the exarch dies, that hit and run is very nice to have.

    You could do one Autarch and a Farseer with fortune as that would basically be a mini seer council without an invul save.

    Since a farseer can't turbo boost when he casts fortune, you could fortune the Shining Spear squad, turbo boost them in such a way so every model moved 18" from their starting position and move the Farseer 12" to be in range of one of the squad members, that way the squad will get a Fortuned 3+ cover save to re-roll and the Farseer will still be a part of the squad (but not benefit from any turbo boost rules). It also gives some extra anti tank to the unit.

    In a little bit, I will post a battle report I did just for fun with me using 2X shining spear units that I think highlight their strengths and weaknesses and how not to use them =).