Saturday, July 28, 2012

Eldar Unit overview/analysis (HQ)

Now that 6th edition and the FAQs are out, I thought it would be a good time to go over EVERY unit in the codex and talk about how they've changed alongside how they can be used in 6th. This will be a series so I will break it up based on force org slots starting with HQ units. This post will cover our HQ units and special characters.

General overview and theory regarding HQ selection:
Every army will need at least one HQ choice and for Eldar, your HQ choices should be chosen in light of what you want the rest of your army to look like and how you want them to function. Specifically, your HQ choices should be a natural extension of your army and enable your units to perform above and beyond what may be expected of them.

For example, Dire Avengers are pretty mediocre with a 4+ save and an 18" assault 2 gun. If you throw in a Farseer with Doom, Fortune and Guide, this unit's performance and survivability is vastly increased.  Whereas most other army HQs simply add more attacks/better leadership to a single unit, our HQs potentially add functionality, survivability and killing power to our whole army either in the form of our psychic powers from Farseers or from the "Fearless bubble" from the Avatar. We also have quite a selection of generic killing power in our HQs if that is your cup of tea.

Generic HQ choices:

With how reserves have changed in that now you can only put 50% of your army (rounding up) into reserves; if you don't have a unit on the board at the end of a turn, you automatically lose the game, the Autarch and his +1 to reserves has become almost useless. Most other army HQs simply add more attacks/leadership to a single unit, the Autarch is now one of those generic dudes. I really don't see any reason to take an Autarch over any other choice we may have but for an in depth review of the Autarch and their options check out my previous Autarch tactica here.

The Avatar's stats are WS10, BS5, S6, T6, I6, W4, A4, Ld10, Sv 3+/4++. For 155 points he is a solid MC and bulwark for any Eldar army with a foot element. Now that you don't have to worry about Fearless saves from losing combat, this guy is a lot better. His stats ensure he hits everything on a 3+ and is hit on a 5+ from WS 1-4 models, he goes before most everything with his I6 and, consequently, can effectively run things down that break from combat if he wins. Having a 3+ save means that he can take a beating and the 4+ invulnerable is especially nice as this lets him tank attacks that would normally see other MCs running to the nurses office to call their mommies to take them home.

All in all, what really makes the Avatar a beast is having a Farseer (or Eldrad) around to cast Fortune on him. Being able to re-roll his saves is almost essential as people will focus their firepower on the Avatar to bring him down before he can get into combat and wreck havoc. This model is a nice anvil that can tie up enemy units that would give the rest of your army trouble in CC.

Thanks to the Smash rule, he can effectively take out tanks in CC as well as he will have around 3 s10 AP2 attacks on the charge that re-roll armor pen results and all vehicles are hit on 3+ at worst. Do the math and all of a sudden you see how the Avatar can destroy a Land Raider/Monolith in close combat on average rolls whereas before he could hardly scratch anything like it.

last of our generic HQ choices, but definitely not least, is the Farseer. He is our generic psyker who starts off with Mastery level 1, a 3+ save against perils but has options to get up to 4 powers, Mastery level 2 (through Spirit Stones), Runes of Witnessing (which allows him to roll an additional d6 and drop the highest when taking psychic tests), and Runes of Warding (which force enemy psykers to roll an extra d6 when taking psychic tests and on a 12 or more a perils is triggered).

Add all of this up and you have a Psyker who will reliably cast psychic powers with a nice save against any potential Peril's of the Warp that may come into play; who will give enemy psykers a headache when trying to cast their powers; who will provide a 4+ deny the witch roll to any unit he joins; who can get a good number of rolls on any discipline chart or get some nice Eldar powers and cast two of them a turn.

How you build your Farseer depends largely on how he will be used and what you need but generally, we will always have a certain unit we want to be extra survivable each turn so Fortune is always a nice choice as is Doom as that increases the effectiveness of our whole army against a particular threat. Fortune, Doom, Warding, Witnessing and Spirit Stones clocks in at a reasonable 155 and is a solid HQ choice.

These guys deserve special mention as an HQ choice. You can get a unit of 3-10 Warlocks for each Farseer you purchase and there really is only one way to run them that I can see, all mounted on Jetbikes. They can be expensive for what you get (45 points which is more than the average terminator!) but they make up for that in survivability. Take a Farseer with Fortune on a Jetbike and stick him with a unit of Warlocks and you have a very fast, survivable and destructive unit that can literally go toe to toe with anything your opponent can throw at you.

You will always want at least one Warlock with Embolden, as this lets your Farseer re-roll failed Psychic tests in addition to the unit re-rolling any failed Ld based test (this can be huge if you lose combat). If you have the points to spare, 1 Warlock with Enhance to give your guys +1WS/I which allows them to hit WS4 on 3+ and makes them all the more deadly against dreadnoughts with any remainder of points in Destructor if you can afford it as what's not to love about a S5 AP4 template weapon? This is an especially nice place to put Destructor since Eldar generally lack in template weapons and this is an "in your face" kind of unit that will get good use out of them.

Special Characters:
Special characters are a unique version of our generic HQ choices with added rules and wargear that set them apart. Some of the characters are so good there is really no reason not to take them over a regular HQ character while some of them are there for people who want to take a purely thematic force with no regard of winning or losing.

For 155 points you get an Autarch with 1 better I, a Singing Spear that ignores armor saves and once per game, a S6 AP3 large blast template he can place in close combat (from his Eye of Wrath). Yriel is great if you can spare the points-Fortune him, Doom the target and throw down the template for carnage your opponent will never forget. This tactic is called a "Yriel bomb" where you send Yriel into a target for the sole purpose of doing as much damage as possible from the blast template. Sadly, Yriel may not be as viable as he used to be in that it is unclear what AP his spear actually is and the change to how Pile In moves work may limit the number of targets his Eye of Wrath can hit on the turn he charges. It may be best to charge him into the flank of a unit where there is no danger of being instant killed and after the pile in moves are complete use the Eye of Wrath the next turn. Regardless, I think that taking one of the Pheonix Lords, or another Farseer, would be a better choice than Yriel.

This guy is one of those HQ choices that are so much better than what our generic HQs can be that there is almost no reason not to take him unless the points limit is prohibitive or he just doesn't fit in the army type. Footdar armies gain the most benefit from this guy. For 210 points, you get 3 powers a turn (Mastery level 3), ALL of the Eldar powers, Runes of Warding, Runes of witnessing and a lovely base T4 and 3+ invulnerable save. This lets Eldrad be quite a beastly tank as a re-rollable 3++ with a natural T4 allows him to take Plasma shots with impunity and able to tank power fists for your Wraithguard (the latter because of the re-rollable 3++). For me, the ability to Fortune TWO targets a turn is one of the biggest draws as I usually take a unit of Wraithguard and Harlequins I both want Fortuned, and I still have a third power I can cast which is usually Doom or Guide depending on the situation.

In short, Eldrad is everything a Farseer could want to be, unless you want a Farseer on a Jetbike.

Phoenix Lords:
These guys are our super exarchs that embody a particular aspect warrior way of fighting. Their statline is WS7 BS7 S4 T4 I7 A4 Ld10 Sv2+ with Eternal Warrior and Fleet to boot. These guys are mainly close combat specialists that cost as much as a Harlequin unit but are not as good. A few of them are worth taking as they add a certain unique close combat power to a unit or unique shooting element to your army, or both.
Note: According to our FAQ, Phoenix Lord powers only affect aspect warriors and since our codex/FAQ trumps the BRB, it is uncertain if Phoenix Lord powers will affect any unit they join (such as Feugan's Tank Hunter rule). Just something to keep in mind until it gets clarified!

Maugan Ra:
This is the Dark Reaper Phoenix Lord and he packs quite a punch in both shooting and close combat. For me, this is the best Phoenix Lord choice as I place him with a unit of Wraithguard to tank AP3 missile launchers with his usually Fortuned 2+ armor save (Eternal Warrior makes failing the save no biggie) and his shooting is nothing to laugh at with a 36" Assault 4 S6 Ap5 Rending, Pinning gun that can either ignore cover saves and re-roll failed to-wound rolls or get an extra shot from Crack/Fast Shot.

This is huge as it ignores Smoke, any and all cover a model might hope for and Jink Saves that might otherwise frustrate your shooting attempts to down a tank. This guy can also take out anything with a weak armor save but strong cover save like Pathfinders or Orks going to ground behind an Aegis Defense Line. Heck, I've taken out quite a few Land Radiers with his rending shots too so Maugen never ceases to amaze me! Keep in mind that since Maugen is a character, any 6s to hit are precision shots so you can choose where they are allocated which is awesome if he also rends with those shots.

Due to the changes with Power Weapons being AP3, you only need to fear Power Fist type weapons so he got a lot better in close combat with his 4 S6 power weapon attacks. You can literally send him fortuned into a Paladin squad and tank their Ap3 weapons with your re-rollable 2+ armor save which is quite hilarious (This also applies to every other Phoenix Lord).

This is the Fire Dragon Phoenix Lord and he has a good ranged weapon in the form of a Fire Pike (18" Melta Gun) with Crack Shot (ignore cover saves/re-roll failed to-wound rolls) and great close combat abilities as he hits like an MC which means his attacks are Ap2 in combat. Ultimately, his weapon's range is a limiting factor on his utility and the fact that it is only one shot per turn doesn't help. If you really want a tank dead, a unit of Fire Dragons is the way to go. However, Feugan is a good tank in Close Combat, more so than Maugen because of his 5+ FNP and the fact that his CC attacks are AP2 means you have a means of dealing with terminators in close combat, though a unit of Harlequins is perhaps better for that.

This is the Striking Scorpion Phoenix Lord and what he lacks in shooting he makes up for in CC. He gives a squad he joins Stealth and Infiltrate (though other ICs without Infiltrate won't be able to Infiltrate if the squad does). He has 6 S8 Power Fist attacks base and this is pretty much it, he makes the squad he joins more survivable through Stealth and hits really hard in CC. For the points cost, a unit of Harlequins would probably be more survivable and hit harder IMO.

Jain Zar:
The Howling Banshee Phoenix Lord. She has a decent S5 AP2 shooting attack and 5 S7 power weapon hits on the charge. Once again, if you really want a good CC element, take a unit of Harlequins.

The Dire Avenger Phoenix Lord, the only one with an Invulnerable save (4+). Otherwise, quite mediocre as his shooting and abilities are nothing special and a unit or two of Dire Avengers with the right upgrades will do a lot more for you than this guy.

The Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks....Cute. Take him if you want to try out a Swooping Hawk type army, otherwise don't bother. Oh, he gives a unit Hit and Run which is pretty nifty, can you imagine a unit of Wraithguard or Warlock Seer Council on foot with Hit and Run? 

Ultimately, you will want the right HQ for the right type of Eldar army but fitting in a Farseer is definitely my first choice. Fortune and Runes of Warding are too good to pass up and if you want, take two Farseers to buff multiple units.

Eldrad is a great boon to any army as far as special characters go and I hope to include both Eldrad to use Eldar powers coupled with a Farseer with 4 powers to pick from the Divination chart for my Wraithguard-centric army.

I see our HQ choices as filling a roll of support which enable the rest of our army to tear through our opponent's army. Our HQ choices to our army are akin to a sniper scope to a sniper rifle, when used together, you can do some serious and meaningful damage. This is why Farseers are so potent as they help our army more than any other choice we have available to us.


  1. Nice run down man. Myself have not had a chance to try eldar in 6th yet. Really want to try out the avatar though surrounded by hordes of fearless storm guardians with enhance and fusion guns. I really think they will provide a decent tar pit unit now when taken enmass.

    1. I agree, the lack of fearless wounds really makes the Guardian tarpits more viable. Just make sure the Avatar survives and roll well for fortune =).

      One interesting thing is how the Avatar can potentially charge 12", or 2"...I think getting the Avatar in combat asap is the best way to protect him since shooting is where he will take the most damage.

    2. I was thinking of using the Avatar as a counter assault unit and advancing him behind the guardians. Not sure what to use as a hammer though, on first blush I'm thinking shining spears or harlies.

      As an aside, one thing I believe is that my normal mechdar list does not appear viable with the new rule set and that a significant foot element needs to be incorporated. I'm also thinking that as far as HQ's go an Avatar and Eldrad combo might form the basis of a decent list in 6th.

    3. Avatar+Eldrad has always been solid and now, more so.

      For counter charge, Harlequins are going to definitely do more for you than Shining Spears. Specifically, you will have more attacks, more survivability and the potential for AP2 attacks through rending. For a similar cost I personally don't see Shining Spears being used except for fun, off games.

      I am personally thinking of taking Eldard+another farseer with divination to see how that works out.

  2. I know I've commented on a couple of other posts, but I do agree Eldrad is just too good to pass up. Eldrad/Avatar HQ's make for a sweet spearhead and for 365pts for 2 HQ with their abilities: may be the best bargain. Eldar just suffer from not having a cheap fodder type (though guardians with the Avatar may fill this role).

  3. And with a new Eldar book looking to be coming Q1/2 of 2013 - we're looking to get new HQ units as well (maybe).

    1. I hope you are right, it will be very interesting to see what the new Eldar codex brings us!

  4. Hey,

    I do not mean to pick appart your posts. I do appreciate reliable information for improving my eldar army. However you need to double check your new 6th edition rule book. For example karandras would not get a power fist and s6 in cc because it sates you can only get one cc weapon bonus. Altthough you may wanna rethink how to play karandras because in cc he gets 8 attack (on the charge) all at either s6 OR s5 i1 with the power fist, I've recently been playing him as my "champion challenger" because with his stat line he is a beast at challenging enemy mc's. so I know I'm going to get yelled at for being picky but I just want you to be correct before posting. I am highly looking forward to future analysis's of other parts for the eldar army

  5. Hey Mawz, thanks for your post, I appreciate people double checking my work.

    As far as what I posted, though, I never said Karandras would get S6 in combat, I only said he gets 6 S8 power fist attacks (4 base+2 for scorpion's bite). Otherwise, he is S5 with 6 attacks base. So with that in mind, I am not sure where I am actually wrong or mistaken?

    1. sorry i keep forgeting to look up the power fist rules and i just noticed you said 6 on base attacks sorry. just me being a noob reading to fast

    2. It's all good! If I was wrong you would have helped me correct the mistake so no worries. Hope your Eldar gaming is going well.