Monday, January 9, 2012

Basic Eldar tactics: Part 1

Eldar can be a tough army to use so I wanted to talk about some basic tactics and ideas on building Eldar armies and using them. This will be the first installment of a multi-part series covering all things Eldar!

A brief introduction:

So yeah, Eldar are not for the faint of heart. Things can go bad faster than a carton of milk left on a radiator on a hot day or things can come together very well and you can win games in really big ways. It all comes down to your army list, how you use the list and your overall familiarity and expectations for each individual unit as it relates to a larger battle plan.

But first, the very basics:

The foundation for every army that you play is laid out in the codex and core rule book. Know the codex, the units and their rules along with the main rulebook and you are on the right track. This is the most basic thing I can suggest, just read and study the rules that involve your army in both the codex and main rulebook.

One quick example regarding Eldar units and rules from the core rule book is that I found that Skimmers (which Eldar have a lot of) can't dodge a ram from another Skimmer, that makes ramming Vendettas and DE vehicles a lot easier. 

So with all of that said, when I first learned how to play 40k, I had no idea what was what or how things worked exactly, it took time and I had to make an effort to read, re-read and understand how things worked regarding my army rules and main rule book rules. Also, practical experience through playing games was a great way to learn things. It's one thing to read about a rule and another to see how it works and looks in an actual game.

Once you understand your basic codex rules and core rule book rules you can fit together an army list that will work well in not only 40k but any game system you pick up. 

Now on to what I consider to be a vital concept when making an Eldar army list and playing them in a real game...

Unit synergy is essential and key:

Every unit in the Eldar book has a specific use and functions best under certain circumstances, it is your job as an Eldar player to find out what works best in what way and then try to manipulate the circumstances of the game to allow said units to work to their full potential as this can mean the difference between success or failure. This is where player skill plays a determining factor but none the less, understanding the basic concept of Eldar unit synergy is important.

A simple illustration:

To better understand this, let's compare and contrast the anatomy of a basic Space Marine unit compared to Eldar units in general. Typically, Space Marine squads have a Sergeant with a fist or special weapon for close combat, a Melta gun for anti tank and bolters for all around anti infantry in one squad. 

Eldar, on the other hand, would have three separate squads to do the same thing-a squad dedicated to close combat like Harlequins/Howling Banshees/Striking Scorpions, a squad dedicated to anti tank like Fire Dragons and a squad dedicated to anti infantry like Dire Avengers/Dark Reapers. The difference is that Space Marines will typically have a bunch of units that are all OK at everything (hence their tactical flexibility) and cumulatively work together to achieve a potent Close Combat, Anti Tank and Anti Infantry role whereas Eldar will have units that are not OK but are super effective at what they are designed to do.This is where the strength of the Eldar army comes into play. One thing to note is that Eldar units further specialize in their areas of close combat, anti tank and anti infantry based on their intended targets like how Howling Banshees are better against units with a 2+/3+ armor save due to their power weapons whereas Stricking Scorpions are better against things with a 4+ save or worse due to their extra attacks.

This is the mentality I want to ingrain and impart upon my fellow Eldar players in this post:
Integration is key!
For every battlefield roll, you will need a specific unit (or set of units) for the job. To reiterate, where one Tactical squad may come to around 200 points plus a transport and provide only mediocre results, you can for the same price per unit, get dedicated specialist units that are super effective at what they do (close combat, anti tank, anti infantry). While fragile on the individual level (unlike most other army equivalents), when working together they become nigh unstoppable and very strong. 

What this looks like (and what I will try to enable you to do through these tactical articles) in a game is where you can pop a Space Marine transport with some supporting shots, light up the squad with your anti infantry to soften them up and then charge in some close combat specialist and wipe out the unit in one game turn-and if you have done it right, you will have denied the enemy any meaningful counter attack by positioning your grav tanks as a metal wall of protection from any other units that can come to retaliate or by destroying any nearby mobility (like Rhinos) thus preventing any units from getting there in time. Then you just get back into your grav tanks and zoom to the next target area, rinse and repeat. 

The key to making a good list and winning games with Eldar, then, is to get the right combination of units to do the right jobs and use them properly.

Something I've noticed about my fellow Eldar players that have a hard time winning/playing Eldar in general lies within their list building and gameplay. They simply fail to allow or empower their units to reach any meaningful potential/synergy in their games so I want to talk about how to achieve this from a list building perspective as well as a practical in game perspective so stay tuned for part II of Eldar Tactics for more on the topic!


  1. I have to admit that I've been getting more and more frustrated with my eldar army. Facing Grey knights and longfang razor SW on a regular tournament basis I've lost a lot of interest in playing eldar competativly.

    I have to admit I do run some apparently noncompetitive lists with multipull nightspinners or a Jetbike council. But I just seem to do worse and worse loosing to equal generals based on list. Which means I will either have to become an better general and mold my army closer and closer to the boring copy paste Mech builds.

    So it's always very refreshing to see your battle reports unusual armies with apparently great synergy so looking forward to your insights.

  2. Right on, I hear you with how frustrating certain games can be... Right now one of my friends plays a vicious venom spam DE army and they hurt my wraith armies pretty bad (though our games are pretty even).

    I have found that taking a mix/hybrid between foot and mech is a really great and balanced army against the SW/GK and IG armies. They are usually too busy with your mech so your foot elements make it to their lines and thrash them, Harlequins and Wraithguard/Lords are great for this.

    In all honesty, try a list with Maugen/Eldrad/Harlequins and 2 Wraithlords as a base then add some Fire Dragons and DAVU wave serpents-That is generally what I run to great effect in 1850.

    I think against GK and SW (but not so much IG unless you are cunning with the side armor shots), S6 spam is actually very viable and powerful.

    I have a BR I am writting up with Iyanden VS a modern incarnation of nidzilla- 9 Carnifexes and some tervigons!!

  3. your base army is so far of my beaten trakc that I would like to play it but I have to admit money will be somewhat of an issue with everything gooing finecast now a days. Wraithlords have for somereason never really tickled my fancy but would be great to play someday.

    Looking forward to that batrep btw cool to see some nidzilla's getting splattered :).

    p.s. a rough overview of my models:

    1 biked farseer
    1 biked autarch
    5 biked warlocks
    2 foot Farseers
    12 Guardianjetbikes (4 Shurikan cannons)(bits for another 12 or so bikes)
    20 Fire dragons (plus exarchs)
    20 something Dire Avenger(probably 30)
    6 Banshees
    6 vypers
    6 Wave serpents (fully magnetised)
    3 Heavy chassis (can become all three heavy tanks)

    2 fusionpistol harlequins somewhere I believe :)

    as you can see I'm from the speed is a fun thing to play with department everything generally has a ride and Is either supported by farseer autarch or eldrad Yriel

  4. Eldar speed is definitely FUN. I can't wait until we get our supersonic rules... I mean it makes no sense that other armies are now able to go faster than us...

    Looking at your list, I think

    2 squads of 5 Fire Dragons with Exarch/Firepike/Crackshot in wave serpents
    6 banshees in wave serpent (Eldrad and Yriel go here)
    2 units of 5 DA in wave serpents
    5 GUardian Jetbikes with a cannon
    2 units of 2 Vypers with scatter/cannon
    2 Fire Prisms

    This comes out to be around 1987, have you tried anything like this? Basically, just reserve if you need to against armies that can out shoot you like BA/SW/IG and even GK if you want and then just come in all on an extreme side where the enemy shooting is weak and start taking out their forces. If you are playing against any other army where they have no real shooting threat, just deploy and have fun with Eldrad's redeploy shenanigans and focus fire down one unit at a time (starting with anti tank threats to transports)

    The GJB just hide for late game objective grabbing (reserve them always) and you are set, Banshees with Yriel and Eldrad are solid close combat and the Fire Dragons add a lot of punch, I especially love popping skimmers moving fast with the firepike (dice permitting of course but ignoring cover is HUGE).

    Try that out and let me know, to get the list down to like 1850 drop a Vyper unit and you'll be fine =). Also, keep in mind you can fortune the banshee unit, the tank and turbo at a longfang firebase and then get out and charge 3 different targets with banshees, eldrad and Yriel.

  5. Look like a fun list indeed. what weapon loadout do you generally run on your serpents?

    and exicutinor or mirrorblades on the banshees and anything else? haven't played them so curious to see what upgrades would be usefull on these.

    Most games here are arnound the 1750 mark with the exception of the ETC preperations.

    SO I would probbably need to drop all vypers and maybe run 2 units of bikes with cannon with the remaining points ( I spend a lot of time and effort on my bike conversions so would be nice to field them). Does this sound reasonable?

    I like your views on the crackshot/ Firepike exarchs those seem like a solid investment points wise and I've got plenty of them laying around.

    overall battle plan looks very solid indeed. this should provide me with a nice change of pace. Thanks a lot for the suggestions!

  6. I usually just run spirit stones and shiruken cannon turret bringing them to a cheap 110. IF I can afford it I put Scatter Lasers on the troop tanks. For the banshees, I do counter attack and executioner.

    For the troops, you could do 2 units of 6 with 2 cannons and a Dire Avenger unit in a Wave Serpent and drop the Vypers.

    If you can drop one jetbike unit and split the other up you can still add a Vyper unit with 2X3 jetbikes and a DAVU wave serpent and have 45 points left over.

    I just read the leaked 6th edition rules and it looks like Jetbikes and Vypers will be super viable in the new rules, hitting on 2/3+ agaisnt stationary targets and being hit on 5+/6+ on average, I'll do a blog post about it all shortly !

  7. War walkers with scatter lasers are hot! 24 shots and glance heaven. I am definitely using my bikes more and I still can't decide if I will run my fire prisms. Warp spiders still get no phoenix lord in 6th but I love them to death (despite the scatter). Now that flyers are a norm I wouldn't be seen dead without my autarch(B^6) manning a quad gun. And use it against anything. Gotta love that interceptor rule!!!