Previously, I reviewed our Eldar HQ choices and next up are the Eldar Elite options. In this post I will cover all five of our choices.
Our codex gives us 5 choices for our Elites slots: Harlequins, Fire Dragons, Striking Scorpions, Howling Banshees and Wraithguard but I think only 2 of them are worth taking, Harlequins and Fire Dragons. The others essentially do what the Harlequins or Fire Dragons do, only, they do it worse. Consequently, the first two entries I will write about (Harlequins and Fire Dragons) will be quite in-depth and detailed whereas the remaining options will get more of a superficial gloss over with commentary on why they are inferior but why you may still want to take them.
To begin with, harlequins start off with 1 higher WS, 1 higher Initiative and 1 more Attack than any of our other Aspect Warriors. They also have the Furious Charge rule for +1 Strength on the charge and the "Flip-Belts" rule which allows them to ignore difficult terrain and have the "Hit and Run" special rule. These benefits are well worth the 2 points we pay over our other Aspect Warriors. What makes the unit almost an "auto-take" when you want some close combat power is their ability to buy a Harlequin's Kiss and a Shadow Seer...so lets talk about their options:
Note: This upgrade has great synergy with the Doom Eldar psychic power which allows you to re-roll To-Wound rolls allowing you to turn every failed wound roll into a potential rend. Also worth mentioning here is that the new Divination power "Prescience" offers Harlequins a lot in that it allows them to re-roll failed To-Hit rolls which means more potential rend rolls.
Until the Eldar FAQ is corrected, the power ALSO forces the enemy to roll 2d6X2 and the result is how far the enemy unit can see when shooting at the Harlequins thus giving the Harlequins immunity to any weapon farther than 24". Keep in mind that blast/template weapons targeting nearby units can still hit or scatter onto the Harlequins so keep the unit a safe distance from everything else.
Note: The Shadow Seer is a Master level 0 psyker which means the power is always on and cannot be stopped by things like a Rune Priest's Rune Staff.
This is the closest thing Harlequins get to an Exarch or Sergeant type figure. It gives the unit a model with Ld10, 1 more attack and the option for a free Kiss or Power Weapon. For 20 points, though, I generally never get this upgrade unless I have the points to spare and feel like it. Worth mentioning is that the Power Weapon can be modeled to be a Power Axe for +1 S Ap2 but otherwise, you have lotsa rending attacks for that so I'd keep every model equipped with a Kiss.
How to run a Harlequin unit:
If you are taking Harlequins to be your main close combat unit, then you may want to consider making it 10 strong, Shadow Seer with a Troupe Master if you have the points. If you are taking the unit just to support the rest of your army and need a cheaper close combat presence then 7-8 strong with a Shadow Seer is your best bet. Anything smaller and the unit will really start to feel every casualty. If you really have the points to spare, throw on some Fusion Pistols and maybe even a Death Jester for some light fire support and anti tank. Of course, you can always run multiple units of Harlequins if you feel like it which should see your army dominating in the Close Combat phase. Ultimately, you will want to doom their intended charge target, cast Prescience and Fortune on the Harlequins before they charge in and watch the enemy melt away if your dice rolls are decent =).
Note: Remember that with the "Fleet" special rule, you can re-roll all or just one of the dice on the charge roll making this unit much more reliable than most other close combat units (so if you need to charge 8" but roll a 6 and a 1, you can keep the 6 and re-roll the 1). Since Harlequins ignore terrain, they are never slowed by terrain when moving or charging (other units charging through terrain roll 3d6 and drop the highest). Also worth mentioning is how you can get cover saves from Overwatch/Snap shots so you can most likely get a 2+ cover save from any shots that do hit the unit as they charge (unless they are from flamers, darn flamers!).
For those people who don't know, Melta-Guns are 12" range, S8, Ap1, Assault 1 weapons that roll an additional D6 for armor penetration for being within 6" of their target. Melta Bombs are S8 Ap1 grenades that can be thrown at vehicles or used on Monstrous Creatures in close combat (see note below on using Melta-Bombs on Monstrous Creatures). This means that not only are the models very capable of penetrating armor (8+2d6= 15 on average) but the AP 1 makes any penetrating result all the more capable of destroying a tank as AP 1 gives +2 on the penetration table (4+ to destroy a vehicle on a penetrating hit, 3+ if it is open topped).
Just look at IG vets who spend about 175 per squad just to be able to take 3 Melta-Guns but have a slower transport, worse armor save and leadership compared to a unit of 5 Fire Dragons in a Wave Serpent for about 180 points. What makes the unit even better is the Exarch and the powers he brings to the table.
Note: Melta-Bombs can now be used against Monstrous Creatures. They are essentially S8 AP1 weapons that are used at I1 so this makes the Fire Dragon unit quite capable of downing any MC in the game, provided they survive the initial flurry of attacks coming their way. Worth mentioning is that the Divination discipline has a power that gives a unit a 4+ Invulnerable save, and when coupled with Fortune, this will allow any Fire Dragon unit to tank and kill any Monstrous Creature coming your way.
Fire Pike: This is an 18" Melta Gun (and consequently 9" for an extra d6 for armor pen). Quite nice for 8 points as it gives your unit a longer ranged threat. Quite often my Exarch would be taking out tanks left and right because of the superior range of the Fire Pike compared to the 12" range for the rest of the squad.
Dragon's Breath Flamer: A free S5 Ap4 flamer. Honestly, while some people like to have this upgrade, I think you are wasting the focus of the unit by taking this...The unit has Melta Guns for crying out loud, if you want a place to put Flamers, take Storm Guardians, Seer Councils or Wraithlords.
This lets your Exarch ignore cover saves and re-roll failed To-Wound rolls. This is probably one of the most amazing powers for the Eldar as the only way to stop a shot on a tank is by taking a cover save for most vehicles (as not many have an invul save). In short, you will get a 2+ to hit shot that is unstoppable by any form of cover. In 5th, I loved this power for the ability to take out pesky fast skimmers but it is still a worthwhile power to take in 6th as it removes any chance for the enemy to save a vehicle (or model) from cover.
Note: Since the Exarch is a character, if he rolls a 6 to hit, he can choose the model that takes the S8 Ap1 shot that ignores cover.
This ability was seldom taken in 5th because all it did was give +1 to armor pen rolls which was hardly ever needed. In 6th, the rule lets you re-roll any armor pen rolls, even glancing hits to try for a penetrating one. I definitely think this ability is worth taking, hands down, as it virtually guarantees the death of any vehicle you shoot at. This is especially true for vehicles that ignore the +1 dice Melta guns get such like Ceremite plating that Storm Ravens have or other Wave Serpents and you now vastly increase your chances of glancing/penetrating these types of vehicles.
When equipping my Wave Serpents for transporting a unit like Fire Dragons, I like to keep them as cheap as possible as they are more likely to die and be a target than any other tank when they come into play. Just the obligatory Twin-Linked Shiruken Cannon turret for me. I used to take Spirit Stones but that was when glancing hits had a chance to stun our tanks and the Penetrating chart is more forgiving now so Spirit Stones are no longer mandatory in my book.
Using the Dragons:
This power grants the unit Move Through Cover, which is more of a novelty as it only gives you an extra dice to roll when moving through terrain but not when charging. One nifty thing about the rule is it now allows the unit to automatically pass dangerous terrain tests incase you somehow need to make it through dangerous terrain.
This grants the unit Infiltrate which is nice considering you can now outflank with their Wave Serpent dedicated transport. Otherwise, you can use the power to be much closer to the enemy at the start of the game if deployed on foot. Worth mentioning is that you can't charge any unit on the turn you infiltrate or come on from reserves which greatly limits the utility of this unit.
This unit doesn't need a Waver Serpent to get where it needs to go thanks to infiltrate but it's not a bad idea if you like the idea of being able to outflank with a Wave Serpent. If outflanking, feel free to get any weapon you want, I recommend a Scatter Laser for some juicy Side/Rear armor shots.
Comparing Scorpions to our other options:
|This picture sums up how effective Banshees are in 6th|
Ultimately, Banshees are a 16 point S/T3, 4+ save unit that will decimate anything with a 3+ save but they have no good means of getting where they need to be. Sure you can take a Wave Serpent but you have to get out, sit around for a turn taking whatever firepower the enemy wants to throw at them and then charge any target that didn't run away while you were sitting around waiting to be able to charge. Or, you can take a unit of Harlequins that CAN handle getting shot, are fast enough to get to their target and cost less (considering the cost of a Wave Serpent).
One tactic I read about that might work is to simply have the unit for a defensive purpose and if they get shot at, go to ground and hope you had Fortune cast on them. If they get charged, they can get counter attack which is nifty (lol, someone dumb enough to stick their hand in a blender might choose to charge them, or someone with a 2+ save). Another thing that might be silly is to model them all as having Power Axes and hope that its ruled that they still get to strike at I10 on the turn they charge...Then they will be S4 AP2 weapon wielding maniacs and with Prescience and Doom, it will be a sad day for their target...if they get there anyway.
The only time I've ever taken Wraithguard in an Elites slot, however, is for fluffy reasons when I was running a thematic Iyanden type army. In this case, 4-5 Wraithguard with a Warlock and Destructor in a Wave Serpent ends up being a pretty versatile/survivable unit (if not expensive).
Comparing Wraithguard to Fire Dragons:
So why would you want to take Wraithguard in an elites slot? Because they are T6, 3+ armor and can take a round of shooting without folding like Fire Dragons are apt to do. Also, they can now reliably destroy any vehicle as all you need is about 3 glancing hits to take something out and if you happen to penetrate armor their AP2 gives them +1 on the chart.
Ultimately, however, their cost makes them less of a viable anti tank option than a unit of Fire Dragons considering how you'll need a Wave Serpent to get the unit where they need to be. You can easily get a 10 man Fire Dragon unit with upgrades for the cost of 5 Wraithguard and a warlock. One option to consider Wraithguard as an elites choice is if you want a fast and survivable denial unit. Thanks to a Wave Serpent, you can zoom wraithguard to an objective, get out and stick around while the average enemy unit will struggle to dislodge 4-5 WG in one or two turns by the end of the game.
So this is my overview of the Elites section of our codex. If you picked up a strong bias towards Harlequins and Fire Dragons, you are probably right. Feel free to tell me if you disagree/agree and why below but otherwise I hope this was a helpful overview of what our Elites choices are in the current edition. Also, let me know if you guys think this was too much info in one post as I'll be happy to break it up into smaller ones and make my future posts smaller as well.