Saturday, January 19, 2013

Eldar unit overview/analysis (Heavy Support)

Having gone over the rest of the army, this is my review and analysis of Eldar Heavy Support choices. Since some units have gotten much better, while others have stayed the same or gotten worse, I'll give a brief overview of how the individual entries transitioned into 6th with a little conclusion on each of them.

Heavy Support is probably one section of an army list Eldar players wish they had more slots for. There are so many good options and really, this is one of the few places we can get any decent long ranged fire support whether it be anti-infantry or anti-tank. So with all of that said, on the the options:

I wrote a Wraithlord tactica which can be seen here, however, a lot has changed in sixth which deserves mentioning. First off, you still get a WS/BS 4; S10; T8; 3+ armor save Monstrous Creature with 3 wounds that can still fire two weapons regardless of movement. What has changed is that: (1) it can now gain cover while 25% obscured rather than 50%; (2) it now counts as being a character (so it can issue and accept challenges); (3) it no longer rolls 2d6 for armor penetration (it hardly needs it) but it can perform a smash attack for when you absolutely must roll 2d6+10 such as against a Land Raider; (4) its attacks are AP2, so it now gets +1 on the damage table; (5) it can fire overwatch when charged making dual flamers even more appealing; and, (6) it gets a Hammer of Wrath attack at S10 AP- I 10 when it charges.


Put all of this together and you have an MC with the highest natural T in the game that is more survivable from shooting since cover is easier to get and it is also more survivable in combat since it can issue challenges to take out those nasty Power Fist wielding champions. The fact that Vehicles are either auto-hit or hit on a 3+ is a nice boost for the Wraithlord and worth highlighting is that when the Wraithlord charges, it gets a S10 Hammer of Wrath attack at I10 which is essentially an extra attack against vehicles.

Also, the Wraithlord is still the only place to get two BS4 S8 shots; these shots being the Bright Lance and Eldar Missile Launcher, respectively. With this load-out, the Wraithlord remains a strong ranged anti-tank option for Eldar players and it will still be able to get 2 Flamers for anti-horde when needed (and it can fire the two flamers in overwatch). Other than that, taking any ranged special weapon of your choice (Brightlance, Eldar Missile Launcher or Scatter Lasers are the top choices) with a Wraithsword seems pretty strong as you are more likely to throw the Wraithlord into combat against infantry or vehicles in 6th, so hitting more is always a good thing. Ultimately, the utility of the Wraithord  has gone up so I think one or two is a strong addition to any Eldar army.

Fire Prism:
I wrote a Fire Prism tactica here but with the changes in 6th, some things are worth mentioning. For starters, Hull Points make this vehicle a little more fragile as 3 glancing or penetrating hits will take this tank out while, on the other hand, the tank is slightly more survivable and effective in other ways.

It is more survivable in that you only need 25% of the vehicle obscured to get cover while simply moving gives you a 5+ cover save thanks to Jink. It is more effective in that (1) glancing shots no longer keep you from shooting; (2) weapon destroyed results are not guaranteed to take out the Prism Cannon (since it is random); (3) Blast weapons are no longer half strength when the hole is not over the vehicle; (4) cover is weaker in general so the shots are more likely to do damage; and, (5) AP2/1 makes a difference against armor.


Put all of this together and you have a fast skimmer that can launch a versatile blast weapon down field with the ability to take out tanks and infantry more effectively in 6th than in 5th. This is especially true against vehicles now that Ap2/1 makes more of a difference on the damage roll and cover is more likely to be a 5+ rather than 4+. I could see taking 2 Fire Prisms to focus fire for a S10 Ap1 blast that can potentially cover multiple vehicles as still being a very strong option for Eldar. If you are going to take a Fire Prism, take two instead, this is one choice that should always be taken in pairs.

Coming into 6th edition, the Falcon got better and worse in different ways. It got worse in that (1) Hull Points make Holo-Fields virtually useless as three glancing/penetrating shots will take this tank out; (2) units cannot score/contest while embarked on vehicles and the Falcon is not a denial unit; (3) units cannot charge out of the Falcon since it is not an assault vehicle or open topped. Long gone are those days where you had your opponent roll 2 dice on armor penetration results and laugh as a 1 would come up thus ensuring your Falcon could survive a bazillion glancing or penetrating shots.

With that said, the role of the Falcon has now changed from un-killable transport vehicle of late game objective grabbing/contesting doom to a gunboat with a transport capacity. I would now liken our Falcon to be that of a very, very expensive and glorified Razorback, with BS3. It's not all that bad, though, since you can get cover from simply moving (Jink) and only 25% of the vehicle needs to be obscured to get cover incase you don't move. Also, Fast Skimmers can move 6" and fire everything or move 12" and fire 2 weapons so you will now be able to go farther and shoot more.


Ultimately, the Falcon is not what it used to be. Because of the Falcon's cost and poor BS of 3; coupled with the 6th edition changes to assaulting out of vehicles/scoring from vehicles and the FAQ changes that make it so that a Farseer can't cast powers out of a vehicle, there really doesn't seem to be any reason to take a Falcon anymore. You are better off taking a Fire Prism or Wraithlord or another Wave Serpent.

Night Spinner:
The relatively recent addition of a Night Spinner through a White Dwarf article gave Eldar players a good ranged S6 Ap- Barrage large blast with the Rend special rule and one that places things in dangerous/difficult terrain. Like many of our other options, this one got both better and worse in different ways. For starters, Hull Points makes this tank weaker but Glancing shots no longer prevent it from shooting. It can also move and shoot it's weapon and get a 5+ cover save while doing so.

The main boost to the Spinner is that the hole does not need to be under a vehicle to get full strength, so the Spinner just became that much better against vehicles. On top of that, it is a large blast barrage so it will hit side armor thus giving you a potential to cover a lot of vehicles. Sadly, the dangerous/difficult terrain part of the Spinner's shot does not mean as much in 6th since armor saves can be taken against dangerous terrain, though, against vehicles it has a 1/6 chance of taking out a hull point and applying an immobilized result which means that the next immobilized result on that same vehicle will likely wreck it.


A Spinner can add a lot to your army in that it can hide pretty effectively behind terrain and continually lob shots at key targets. I would personally prefer other choices but as a one-off option, the Spinner is very versatile. Against IG, you can do some good damage with S6 rending on side armor so a crowded Chimera parking lot can really let you earn your points back and it's always fun rending up a bunch of Space Marines, Terminators or any large blob of infantry. All in all, an excellent tank that might have been better as a Fast Attack choice.

War Walkers:
Warwalkers have not transitioned too well into 6th edition. This is mainly because of how fragile they are with only having 2 Hull Points and with how so many armies usually bring a decent number of weapons that can easily punch their armor. Still, since cover is slightly weakened in 6th, these guys still bring the pain to anything they can shoot at. Now, more than ever, you will want to Fortune and Guide your War Walkers to get the most out of them as a re-rollable 4+ or 5+ will make sure these guys stick around and frustrate your opponents more than they did in 5th and Eldar psychic powers turn an otherwise easy set of 2 HP AV10 vehicles into a durable unit that can dig in. Another thing worth noting is that War Walkers can now fire Overwatch when charged and a full unit of War Walkers with Scatter Lasers is something that can do a lot of damage, even if they need 6s to hit (which Guide will help with).


As I mentioned above, the unit is a lot more fragile because of the 2 HP change, however, this can be mitigated with cover (which is easier to get) and Fortune so it's not all that bad. This is still a unit that you will want to put Scatter Lasers on because a torrent of 24 Guided S6 shots will do the most damage   weather you are targeting a Flyer or tank or infantry unit. Personally, I'd still prefer taking a Wraithlord or Fire Prism but some people love the amount of shots these guys get. I'd like to see them get some kind of energy shield that either lowers the strength of incoming shots or increases its armor like the Necrons get but in the meantime, they are too fragile for me. This unit has always felt like it belongs in Fast Attack so lets see what Phil does with Eldar later this year.

Dark Reapers:
Back in the day, these guys were the bane of any Space Marine army but with the shift towards vehicles, the Dark Reaper has lost its lustre. In my mind, this unit is a swiss-army knife unit of sorts. You get great anti infantry firepower with Heavy 2, BS4, S5, Ap3 guns at a 48" range while you can get an Exarch with a BS5 Eldar Missile Launcher that can either shoot twice or ignore cover saves and re-roll to-wound rolls. The unit can also take a Wave Serpent to boot so you can get a lot of firepower from one Heavy choice. The problems this unit faces are mainly cost related and that 5 strong is pretty easy to take out if an opponent really wants the unit gone. Fortune and Guide go a long way for this unit, though.


Ultimately, this unit will provide great fire support for your army but it is not mobile and vulnerable to assault. The cost is the biggest reason I don't take this unit as for less, you can get a Warithlord or Fire Prism that is likely to do more and offer more for your army. I would like to see these guys get a 2+ save and maybe a larger max unit size with a lower points cost.

Support Weapon Battery:
I love these guys and used them extensively in 3rd where CraftWorld Eldar: Iyanden gave you the ability to take 3 Wraithlords as troops and still have three open Heavy Support slots. Sadly, as the editions have progressed and the meta has changed, these weapons seem less and less viable for their points. Artillery was seldom treated well in any edition of 40k but at least in 6th, they have become pretty resilient with all being 2 wound T7 3+ armor save models. Fortune is their friend as is Guide if you bother casting it on them. The problem with Eldar Support Weapon Batteries is mainly the cost, the fact that they can't move and shoot and the very short range on the D-Cannons.

Ultimately, with a new Eldar codex looming on the horizion, I'll hold my breath and see what treatment these guys get but in the meantime, these are probably one of the least competitive options for an Eldar army. All of the options lack potency or range and cost way too much. Maybe if they could move and shoot. Maybe if the Shadow Weaver had rend; or the Vibro Cannon worked like the Tyranid Impaler cannon and caused units to move as if in terrain; or if the D-Cannon had a longer range? I don't know but I look forward to seeing how these units get re-vamped. In the meantime, only take them if you feel like shooting yourself in the foot or for fluff purposes.

All in all, Eldar have some strong Heavy Support choices and ones that are very unique from other armies. Dark Reapers with a Crack/Fast shot Exarch offer us things that no other army has access to and Wraithlords and Fire Prisms give us unique options as well. Sadly a lot of our options cost way too much for what they give us compared to what other armies get. The Heavy Support units you take depends on the rest of your army as certain Eldar armies need help in one area more than others.

If you are struggling with anti-infantry, all of our options have something to add as War Walkers can dish out a ridiculous number of shots, and all of the other options can fill some anti-infantry roll in one way or another.

If you are struggling with anti-tank, the EML/BL equipped Wraithlord or a pair of Fire Prisms can't be beat. If you are feeling brave, you can also throw some Bright Lances or Missile Launchers on War Walkers.

If you want some fire support and a close combat punch, a Wraithlord is the choice for you.

So thanks for reading my Eldar Heavy Support overview, I hope it was informative and spot on for you guys. I look forward to seeing what the new Eldar codex will offer us and then I'll have another overview/review on my hands =).


  1. I pretty much agree with your assessment. Some of the things I've found locally and at various tourneys.

    -War Walkers have become target priority #1. Folks go after them with a passion. This means I have 1 turn at best firing them at full strength. I'm halfway tempted to run 3 with Shuriken Cannons just to be a distraction unit for turn 1. Scout ahead and let them get shot to death.

    -Dark Reapers have been hit or miss. I have put them inside a Bastion (each Firepoint allows to models to fire). I run 3 Reapers and 1 Exarch with Tempest Launcher and Crack Shot. They are wonderful against anything that doesn't have a 2+ save. My last tourney I faced a lot of Deathwing models and another game had a Necron deathstar approach it with 2+ saves mixed in the unit. Not good. However, unit is great otherwise.

    -I like the Nightspinner because of how the barrage rules work. Casualty removal begins with models closest to the hole in the center of the template. After rolling to wound, it's not too uncommon to get a rending result and that is usually the what I will declare my opponent has to save against first and this generally will kill off a key model. It also is a great bypass to units behind an Aegis Defense Line and insta kills things like IG Heavy Weapon Teams (I see a lot of IG blob squads and Aegis Defense Lines).

    -The other tanks I've pretty much written off until a new codex.

    -One line of thought is the use of an Aegis Defense Line and War Walkers. I was a bit iffy on this due to potential arguements with 25% obscurement, but I've seen multiple tourneys now where other Eldar players used it and have had zero issues. You build your army around it, however, but Eldrad/Farseer and 2 x 3 Warwalkers with Scatterlasers (Fortune/Guide on each unit) has merit, although I believe there are some counters to this.

    Great write up and looking forward to more.

  2. Hi Yriel. Thanks for a great read.
    If you'll have time before the release of the new codex, please make a review of the additional Eldar units that are covered by ForgeWorld (in IA 11). I am particularly interested in your thoughts on Wraithseer, Shadow Spectres and Hornets.

    1. I'll second this. I'm seriously looking into FW these days and the one that really stuck out for me was the Warp Hunter. For 125 points, this thing looks really good on paper.

  3. I will definitely do an article on the FW units. I think FW has a lot of attractive options for Eldar and the Corsairs list seems very strong as well.