With a brief lull in my crazy law school schedule, I continue with my Eldar unit overview/analysis... I now discuss our Fast Attack options and their roll in an Eldar army.
The roll of Fast Attack:
What we have to work with:
On to the choices:
Indeed, we only have four options for our Fast Attack slots and, sadly, only one is worth taking in competitive play. The rest are merely for those one-off fun games/armies you will play.
The Warp Jump Generator makes the unit Jump Infantry with the added bonus of being able to move 2d6" in the assault phase. If you roll a doubles with this extra movement, one model is removed as a casualty. This extra mobility is one of the biggest perks of this unit and makes them one of the faster units in the game as they can move 12" thanks to being Jump Infantry, Run D6" if not shooting and then jump an additional 2d6" for a potential 30" in one turn. On top of all of this, Warp Spiders can choose to Deep Strike and with how forgiving reserves are in 6th, this is never a bad idea because you can often appear where you need them most and get some nice side/rear shots on vehicles or engage a vulnerable unit like Lootas.
The Death Spinner is a12" Assault 2 S6 AP- weapon. Despite its short range, the Warp Spiders can make great use out of it thanks to their mobility and they have the added bonus of being able to "jump" 2d6" away from their target in the assault phase taking them potentially out of an enemy unit's charge or double-tap range. Also, since Hull Points have been introduced into the game, simply getting a certain number of glancing/penetrating hits will permanently put down vehicles. This means that this weapon can take out AV 10-12 vehicles rather well and is one place to get a fast, durable, and reliable source of S6 spam that Eldar are so good at.
The best option for the Exarch is an extra Death Spinner which is an amazing upgrade considering you get twice the shots of a normal Warp Spider on a better BS for cheaper than the cost of two individual Spiders.
Other options include a Spinneret Rifle which is a S6 Ap1 shot at 18" and Power Blades which are Power Weapons that grant +1 attack. The Exarch also has access to the Surprise Assault power which lets his squad Deep Strike and the Withdraw power which grants the Hit & Run special rule.
The Rifle is a waste as the one S6 Ap1 shot pales in comparison to the value of four S6 shots and since the rulebook lets them Deepstrike for free because they are Jump Infantry, you won't ever need Surprise Assault. Withdraw and Power Blades are worth taking if you think you will see Warp Spiders in combat but I would prefer to keep them cheap and use their mobility to shoot and run away and leave assaulting to the assault units.
Ultimately, a unit of 8 Warp Spiders with an Exarch equipped with an extra Death Spinner is the way to go. For 193 points, this set-up gives you 14 BS4 and 4 BS5 S6 shots, for a total of 18 shots a turn. Since they are Jump Infantry with a 3+ save, they don't have their effectiveness limited by shaken/stunned results and can keep doing damage as long as they have a model left in the unit. Last, but definitely not least, the unit is a "denial" unit which means that they can contest enemy objectives and if the mission is "the scouring" they are scoring. All of these reasons make Warp Spiders an effective and decent choice for any Eldar army.
The other choices...
here so I'll keep this write up short. The reason to take Vypers is to get a fast unit that can pump out a lot of shots as the only options worth taking in the turret are Scatter Lasers or Shiruken Cannons while the underslung Shiruken Cannon upgrade is a must. This will give you on average 6-7 shots per Vyper which is a respectable amount of fire-power. Your primary targets for this unit are transports or devastator type units like Lootas, Long Fangs and Heavy Weapon teams. They have the firepower to take out Rhinos/Razorbacks easily and the mobility to get side armor shots on Chimeras. In a pinch, Vypers can also be used to screen a unit from a charge or to limit enemy movement by zooming in front of them, which may prevent your opponent from reaching an objective.
All in all, Vypers have their uses and are cool, but we seldom have the points for them at the end of the day. =(
here, but I will speak a bit on them since things have changed in 6th.
For starters, with a max unit size of five, you are really limited in how effective the unit will be. This is because you are almost guaranteed to take some hits before charging into combat and perhaps even more over the course of any combat itself. Consequently, now, more than ever, Shining Spears fit into a specific niche of being a shooty, counter-charge unit rather than any sort of main line unit like Harlequins or Dire Avengers.
So with all of that said, Shining Spears can put out some effective shooting with BS4 with twin-linked Shiruken Catapults and S6 Laser Lances while the Exarch has access to a BS5 Shiruken Cannon and a S8 Lance weapon. The downside is that the lances have a 6" range and the rest of the unit's shooting, aside from the Exarch's cannon, is 12". This means you will have to get dangerously close to an opponent and one bad Jetbike assault move can be the end for this unit if you are not prepared to charge (or fail their charge).
So, how do you get the most of this unit? How should they be played in 6th? Ultimately, with a max of 5 models, you want to minimize incoming fire and casualties. The best way to do this is to find some LOS blocking terrain and pop out in the movement phase to take some pot shots at a target of opportunity then use the jetbike assault move to get back behind terrain. This way, you get some shooting and avoid taking unnecessary shots. You can also send them to an extreme flank to engage a Long Fang or Loota squad that is isolated from the main part of an army as with a potential 48" movement in one turn, they can literally get anywhere on the table. This is not a bad idea as you can deploy them near a Farseer/Eldrad, Fortune them and then send them on their task while they benefit from Fortune for the turn they will be exposed and charge the following turn. Adding an Autarch and or Farseer can greatly increase the unit's survivability and hitting power, but, at that point, you may as well get something else for the points.
Using Fast Attack in 40k:
So now that I've touched on our fast attack choices, I wanted to mention a few things about using our Fast Attack choices in 40k. Ultimately, they are fragile and fast. Keep them hidden by terrain or other units and deploy them so that they are not facing off against a lot of enemy fire power. Keeping them in reserves might be a good idea as they'll hopefully have less shooting coming their way after you destroy a few things or present more important/better targets for your opponent. This means that Vypers, Spiders and Shining Spears will need to work their way from cover to cover to get into good positions to take out their prime targets (notice how I didn't mention Swooping Hawks?). Be realistic about what you can expect out of these guys, they are not going to create huge swathes of destruction through the enemy lines but will hopefully do enough damage over the course of the game to maybe pop that odd transport that needs to die or put enough wounds on that devastator/loota squad to bring their threat level down.
Hopefully this write-up is helpful. Sadly, as I've pointed out, our Fast Attack is usually the last and least filled slot because everything else in our Codex is so much better and more points efficient. Next up, our tasty Heavy Support options!