Friday, October 5, 2012

Eldar unit overview/analysis (Troops)

Continuing with my Eldar unit analysis and overview I now move onto the Troops section of Codex: Eldar.

Our codex was made in 4th when scoring units were not a priority. Two editions later, Eldar are faced with the challenge of winning games with sub-par Troops but fear not, we can still make it work. Below I will go over all of our options as far as scoring units go and then I will talk about the different ways you can make and play an Eldar army and talk about what scoring units work best for what type of Eldar army.

First up we have the mighty Wraithguard. They are normally an elites choice but if taken as a squad of 10 with a Warlock (upgraded to be a Spirit-Seer), it counts as a Troops choice. This unit can be one of THE most survivable units in the entire game if supported properly. Consequently it can also be one of the MOST expensive units in the game since it starts out with a 381 point price-tag before any Warlock powers are taken and not counting any supporting characters.

Indeed, the primary reason for taking a unit of Wraithguard is for a tough Scoring unit that the enemy is very unlikely to kill. The only weakness to Wraithguard (besides their points cost) is a lot of High Strength low AP close combat attacks like Power Fists as most shooting attacks can be shrugged off from a Fortuned cover save.

With all of that said, you get a very strong, Fearless and resilient unit with WS/BS 4, S5, T6, 3+ save and a 12" gun that wounds everything on a 2+ regardless of Toughness and glances Vehicles on a 3-4+ while penetrating them on a 5-6+. I usually take Enhance as my Warlock power but Conceal is a very strong option in 6th as well.

The key to using Wraithguard, then, is to get them to a part of the table where you know a lot of fighting will take place so that the Wraithguard can do the damage you need them to do, or take an objective you need them to take. To make Wraithguard really work requires a Farseer/Eldrad to cast Fortune on them and perhaps a Pheonix Lord to give them a tanky 2+ save that can be Fortuned as well. I prefer Feugan as his Tank-Hunter ability really makes the unit's shooting at tanks extremely potent and gives them a solid Close Combat punch. If used properly with this set-up, each shooting phase should see 1 dead vehicle, Monstrous Creature or even a unit and you can quite easily make back double the unit's points cost (blowing up a Land Raider or a few Rhinos while taking out a couple of Space Marine squads is not unheard of for Wraithguard) and hopefully win the game by securing or denying a vital objective.

 All in all, the points cost of the unit is very prohibitive where often more abundant and cheaper units would suffice but cunning generals can get great use and millage out of Wraithguard and this unit is probably my favorite one in the entire codex.

Guardian Jetbikes:
This unit was more of a novelty before 6th but in light of the changes to how Eldar Jetbikes work and how objectives are claimed, I think every army should have at least one or two units of these guys.

For 22 points each you get a T4, 3+ save model that can move 12" in the Movement phase, Turbo Boost up to 36" in the Shooting phase, or simply move 2d6" in the Assault phase. Put all of this together and you have the FASTEST scoring unit in the game at a decent cost with decent survivability.

There are several ways to run Guardian Jetbikes:
-First, you can simply take a cheap 3 man unit which costs 66 points, stick them in reserves and when they come on, hide somewhere the enemy can't get them until the end of the game where you zoom them up to 48" (12" move with a 36" turbo) to get an objective or line-breaker point. You can even give them a Shiruken Cannon to take pot shots throughout the game if you want.

-Second, you can flesh out a 3 man unit with a Warlock and give him Destructor or Embolden with a Singing Spear for some nice versatility against vehicles and hordes. This set-up, however, forces the unit to be more exposed than usual to enemy fire so don't be surprised if your opponent kills this unit when presented the opportunity.

-Third, you can take a large unit of 4 or more with or without a Warlock to provide more fire support and have more staying power through greater numbers. I think 6 bikes with 2 Shiruken Cannons is a solid build and when I have the points I throw in a Warlock with a Singing Spear and Embolden. This unit can put out a surprising number of shots on enemy units but be careful not to get too close and hope you don't roll double 1s for the Assault move.

Given the Jetbike's weakness in close combat and excessive shooting, you will want to purposefully stick an objective marker somewhere remote where the fighting is unlikely to be so that this unit can grab it towards the end of the game or if no objectives present themselves, you want to tubro into the enemy deployment zone for a tasty Line-breaker point.

Dire Avengers:
Dire Avengers used to be the ultimate cheapie scoring unit because you could take 5 of them, stick them in a Wave Serpent and zoom around for late game objective grabs or denials without ever having to get out of their tank. Gone are those days but how Dire Avengers function in an Eldar army still isn't all that different.

For 12 points each, you get a better version of a Guardian with WS/BS 4, 4+ armor, Ld 9 with an 18", Assault 2, S4 Ap5 gun . What makes Dire Avengers really worthwhile is the fact that you can take 5 and put them in a Wave Serpent (the cheapest way to get a Wave Serpent) or the sheer number of shots a full unit can pump out. When guided against a Doomed target, they can literally wipe out whole units considering a full unit with an Exarch Bladestorming can put out 32 shots. If you took an extra Farseer with Divination and got the Misfortune power, laugh as the target also has to re-roll successful armor saves!

There are several ways to run a Dire Avenger unit:
-First, you can simply take a bare-bones 5 man unit to put in a Wave Serpent and hang back taking pot shots with the tank while they wait until the end of the game to get out and grab an objective. This is still a viable tactic as a Wave Serpent with a Twin-linked Scatter laser is decent fire support when taken in sufficient numbers, though having to get out to claim objectives does tend to expose the Dires to more fire than usual and if the tank blows up, a 5 man unit is an easy kill.

-Second, you can take a larger unit (typically 9-10 strong) on foot with an Exarch, Bladestorm and an extra Catapult. This unit, as mentioned above, can throw down a scary number of shots then simply go to ground the following turn if necessary. The main problem with this set-up is that you have a unit of T3 models with only a 4+ save on foot so enough anti-infantry shooting can wipe this unit out if the dice are unkind to you and Heaven forbid you get charged by anything decent in Close Combat. It would be best to Fortune a unit with this set-up or take multiples of it.

-Third, you can take a full unit, only give the Exarch Defend, Shimmer shields W/ a Power Weapon and Blade Storm. This gives the unit more of a Close Combat focus and  gives them a chance against anything with an Ap4 or better weapon in combat like Terminators. The -1 attack is pretty strong and if Fortuned, you are just as survivable as a unit of terminators against other terminators, if not more so (because of the re-rollable 5++) considering terminators will usually hit you on 4+ like most other units and wound on 2+ with Fists/Hammers so the T3 on the Dire Avengers is irrelevant.

-Lastly, you can run a combination of the above builds such as taking a full unit in Wave Serpents to get them where their 18" Catapults can be in range much quicker than if they were on foot as well as protecting them from unnecessary incoming small-arms fire.

Ultimately, how you build your Dire Avenger unit depends on how you build the rest of the army. If you want a Mech-dar force, I recommend taking full 10 man units with Bladestorm in Wave Serpents as 5 man units simply don't cut it like they used to. If making a predominantly foot list, just take multiple full units with Blade Storm and hope they are alive by the end of the game to grab necessary objectives or deny Kill Points. Smart use of cover should see the units sticking around and giving you the most mileage.

Starting off at 8 points each, we have our cheapest scoring unit that is basically a guardsman with I4. There are two flavors of guardians with two distinct purposes: Defenders are your sit back and shoot fire support and Storm Guardians are more of your in your face close quarters unit.

Guardian Defenders:
Come standard with a Shiruken Catapult which is a 12" S4 Ap5 Assault 2 gun. Have options for the following:
-a Heavy Weapon platform which can move and shoot.
-Warlock character upgrade with all the standard Warlock upgrades.
-Wave Serpent transport for a unit containing 12 or less models.

Considering the unit is only BS3, when choosing what heavy weapon to take (and you always want a weapons platform when taking Guardian Defenders), I usually go for the Scatter Laser as it offers the most shots at the best range for a reasonable cost. The other attractive option is an EML but that is literally too hit-or-miss to be worthwhile. You can take a Warlock upgrade and if you do, give him Embolden so your unit is less likely to run away. Typically, people don't bother getting them a Wave Serpent as you would want a Serpent for the Storm Guardians or Dire Avengers. This unit sits in cover, plinks away with their heavy weapon and hopefully survives until the end of the game to claim an objective. If the enemy gets too close, you can get a good round of shooting off with their catapults, when Guided against a Doomed target they can do some decent damage although this should be more of a last resort tactic.

Storm Guardians:
Come standard with Shiruken Pistols and CCW. Have options for the following:
-2 models may be equipped with a Flamer or Meltagun.
-Warlock character upgrade with all the standard Warlock upgrades.
-Wave Serpent transport if the squad is 12 models or less.

People generally don't take these guys anymore because of their fragile nature but the most typical build is with 2 flamers and a Warlock with Destructor in a Wave Serpent since their meagre BS3 won't matter (BS3 is why I don't reccommend taking melta guns, take Fire Dragons instead). This is a decent way to deliver flamer death where you need it but it ends up being pretty expensive for what you get considering you really do need a Wave Serpent to get this unit where they can be the most use and you are likely to give up a Kill Point or two (unit+tank) unless you play very conservatively.

These are the standard Eldar sniper unit and are the game's best snipers hands down. For 19 points each, they have a good BS, are AP1 on a roll of a 6 (which also becomes a precision shot) and have the Stealth, Infiltrate and Move Through Cover special rules. This is a decent unit you can stick in cover on an objective and forget about and it can be quite effective at picking out leaders, special or heavy weapon models to boot. Close Combat, Flamers and a lot of shooting directed at these guys will see them dead pretty fast, though, so you want them in places where you have forward units that are more tempting targets or that prevent enemy access.  Fortune, Guide and Doom greatly enhance the survivability and damage output of these guys and some people love to take 10 Rangers (or Pathfinders) and stick them on an objective with a Farseer.

For 5 more points each, you get a sniper unit that also has Scouts, Ignores terrain completely, shots become AP1 on a 5 or 6 and gets +2 to all cover saves. Some people swear by these guys but I honestly think they are a marginal upgrade to Rangers as really only 6s to hit matter that much(because of precision shots) and you generally don't want to move them over the course of the game (so ignoring cover is not that big of a deal). The +2 to cover is perhaps the biggest selling point and justification for taking these guys over Rangers but I only upgrade them if I have the points to spare.

Wave Serpent:
Considering how many of our scoring units can take Wave Serpents, it only makes sense to talk a little bit about the tank itself. For starters, its a 12/12/10 vehicle that can get just about any twin-linked Eldar weapon in the turret and an option to upgrade the under-slung catapults to a Shiruken Cannon. It also has an energy shield that lowers the strength of anything above 8 to 8 and prevents anyone from getting an extra D6 for armor pen (including Melta, Ordinance and Rending) so that at best, the opponent will only roll 1d6+8 from anything in the front or side. Rear shots and Close Combat attacks are not affected.

Put it all together and you have a very resilient tank but what is the best way to run these guys? Personally, I think that simply taking a Scatter Laser and if you have the points, an under-slung Shiruken Cannon is the best way to go. Spirit Stones are not needed as Glancing hits don't prevent you from shooting and can't stun you and on the Penetrating chart, a 3 is not the most likely result.

So now that I've gone over all of the Troops available to Eldar, what should you take and why? Honestly, it really comes down to how you want to build your army as they all have a place in certain builds. There are four basic ways to make an Eldar army so I'll touch on each type of build and what scoring units work best for them.

Mech lists:
This type of army seeks to swarm the opponent with AV12 vehicles. This was a very strong army in 5th when you could reserve everything, come in on turn two and choose to fight only a part of the opponent's army while zooming 24" last turn to grab or deny objectives. Now, its still strong as Eldar tanks are quite survivable despite having Hull Points but you need to have enough scoring units capable of grabbing and holding objectives and you can't rely on holding everything in reserves or tank shocking 24" anymore.

With that in mind, I recommend taking at least 1 or 2 units of 3 Guardian Jetbikes because they can always grab or deny an objective since they are not embarked in any vehicle and have the mobility to literally get anywhere you could want them to be. They are also great for getting an easy Line Breaker point, just remember to keep them in reserves initially. Other than that, if you want to maximize the tanks you can fit into your army, 3-4 units of 5 Dire Avengers taken in Wave Serpents with Scatter Lasers are your best bet since they are the cheapest way to get a Grav Tank. They will just stay inside their tanks until it is time to get out and grab an objective or until their tank blows up. If you have the points, you can take full units of 10 Dire Avengers with a Blade Storm Exarch or full Guardian squads simply for the extra bodies and survivability since 10-12 T3 models in cover going to ground are more survivable than 5. Still, if you play it safe with your tanks/units you should be able to get away with the 5 man Dire Avenger units.

Foot lists:
This type of army is seeing a comeback since anti-tank fire is usually wasted on masses of infantry and you need to be on foot to grab objectives so not having vehicles isn't that big of a deal as long as you can get where you need to be to claim/deny objectives.

In this kind of army, you can build your force in so many ways but for starters, you will definitely want a unit or two of Guardian Jetbikes simply for their speed and ability to get a Line Breaker point the slower foot units are unlikely to get. Other than that, at least 1 or 2 Dire Avenger and or Guardian Defender squads are a solid choice for relatively cheap fire support and scoring units. Next, a resilient unit like Rangers/Pathfinders or Wraithguard would be good and you should strive for 4-6 Troop units to make sure that you can hang on to some objectives should things go bad.

Jetbike lists:
This type of army is all about using mobility to pepper the enemy with shots while staying just far enough out of reach so that the opponent can't get to you. With pre-measureing and how fast Eldar Jetbikes can move, you should never have a problem staying out of assault range unless an opponent rolls really good for charge distance and you roll really bad for Eldar Jetbike assault move.

For this type of army, you should (surprise surprise) take a bunch of Guardian Jetbike units, only with larger squad sizes and possibly with Warlock upgrades to maximize effectiveness. 6-7 strong with 2 Cannons and a Warlock with a Spear, Destructor or Embolden is a very solid choice. Keep in mind that you still are only T4 with a 3+ save so having 2 large units with a Warlock/Embolden/Spear and a Farseer with Fortune is not a bad idea and then flesh out your other troop units with smaller Guardian Jetbike units that can hide more effectively.

Hybrid lists:
This type of army can take any number of the above types and put it all together. I personally think this is one of the stronger Eldar army builds because you get the best of all of them while minimizing their individual weaknesses. Specifically, taking a few tanks with a few MCs with a bunch of infantry and Jetbikes all together will present your opponent with such a wide array of viable targets that hopefully he won't be able to effectively kill everything thus giving you plenty of options to achieve ultimate victory.

In this kind of army, you will want 1-2 units of Guardian Jetbikes of whatever size you want to use and have the points for; 1-2 units of Dire Avengers between 5-10 strong with whatever upgrades you want to use and have points for in Wave Serpents with Scatter Lasers; 1-2 units of Rangers/Pathfinders or even a unit of Wraithguard if you have the points and want to use them; and last but not least, you can throw in a 10 man Guardian Defender unit with Scatter Laser somewhere in there. All of that together will be a solid base of scoring units where you can just add some Fire Dragons in Wave Serpents, Harlequins and EML/BL Wraithlords and you are set.

Well, that is my Troops analysis, feel free to give me any feedback on things  I may have missed or any of your thoughts.


  1. Thanks Yriel, a nice read as always.

    I've made some more games with my 'Wraith-shield' list - had a lot of fun.
    In my roster I usually use a squad of 10 Wraithguard (Spiritseer with Enhance), 2 squads of 5 Pathfinders hiding in the bushes and 1 squad of 3 Jetbike Guardians for late-time point grabbing.

    This served me really well. My opponents (Marines, Sisters, Space Wolves, Templars) often try to wipe out my Wrathguard unit, but with all of the support (Fortune, 4++ invul, Feel No Pain (4+)) directed into them - this turns out to be a really, really hard thing to do.

  2. Thanks for the write up. Because I don't want to completely rebuild my Eldar army until we get a new codex, I've opted for the mechanized style. While many folks are declaring mech dead and going more infantry heavy, I'm noticing a trend that armies are being built to counter heavy infantry. This appears to be equating less weapons capable of dealing with armor. Granted, armor 12 is not uber, but like you've mentioned, if you overload on armor 12, opponent's may not have enough to deal with it. Not the best build, but until we get a codex that at least puts the codex points value in line with newer armies, I'll continue to tweak what I've got.

  3. For some sneaky cover saves for one of your Wraithguard units, take Dark Eldar as your ally, and use the Baron as your HQ choice, he's cheap & comes with Stealth.
    When you combine that with fortune, & conceal you have a 4+ cover save in the open, which really adds to your survivability.

    1. True story, I would run Baron would be my first choice when selecting DE allies. Cheap, Shadowfield with Stealth and Hit & Run, what more could you want?

  4. I agree with your post. I just can't come to grips with buying 10 Wraithguard for the points/$$$ sink. I've seen it be highly effective. I've been running 1 unit PF, 2 Units of DA with WS, and 3 Units of Jetbikes (2 three man units with Warlock and 1 6 man unit with Warlock). I know HQ was previous post, but I'm feeling Eldrad is a staple.

    I would say overall these have proven to be pretty effective. I find myself using more special rules type units in Scorpions/Spiders to eliminate my reliance on WS as a whole. But the Dragons have to have some way of getting to where they're going.

    Overall, I do like the versitility we get for troops. Nice review.

  5. Thanks for the comments guys. I can't wait to get plastic wraithguard that hopefully go WAY down in points! Other than that it will be interesting to see what GW does with Eldar, we are rumored to get a codex some time next year...

    Until then, I agree with Yvraith that Dark Eldar allies, especially Baron, are very nice for Eldar units like Wraithguard considering he gives them Hit&Run in addition to a 2++. Otherwise mixing it up with Guardian Jetbikes and Dires in Serpents is still pretty solid all things considered.

  6. Yriel-

    I recently found your blog and I'm beyond excited as I just started my own Eldar army. These write ups are great! Keep it up!

  7. Yriel-

    I am a die-hard Eldar player from way back. Been kind of discouraged with Eldar in 6th. After reading your posts it really helped me to re-focus and come up with a viable build.


  8. I'll have to contend your point of Wraithguard's *only* weakness as a lot of High Strength low AP CC. I've found armies with low-cost fearless blobs can run up and occupy-assault the expensive living dead fellows for a fraction of their cost for a frustratingly long time.

    My largely untested solution to this so far has been to join Maugan Ra to their unit. He is a very bad man.

    1. I've never had a problem with Wraithguard and close combat when Power Fists were not involved...Against a horde IG blob, for example, you should be killing 9ish a turn between Wraithguard, Farseer and any other special character. I usually run Eldrad and Fuegan and then there is the Harlequin counter-attack.

      If you play with allies, throw in Baron from DE and the unit has a 2++ to tank fists and power weapons as well as hit & run.