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.
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.
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.
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.
-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.
-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.