As I read the leaked codex info and see people's commentary, I am so perplexed that suddenly everyone is an expert on Eldar, the Meta and game balance. The internet is wrong people, Eldar will not suck in the upcoming release and I'll tell you why!
As an update to this post, here is a blog with pictures of the new codex. Some things I posted below are inaccurate because of this new information (so disregard inaccuracies I'm aware of them:)) but I still maintain that Eldar are going to be better and different in 6th.
|I think, therefore it's true?|
With that said, Eldar are not going to be the next IG, SW, GK, Necrons or whatever. They will take some time to get used to and you will need to think to do well with them. One thing Eldar have always been great at is offering a lot of layers of synergy. The players that were able to pull out this synergy from the codex and apply it effectively through making good lists and playing it well in a game are the ones that do well in tournaments. So I am sorry that you can't have the blatantly obvious powerful units that some other codici have, Eldar are not built that way and a lack of such units does not mean they suck. So about this "synergy" stuff?
I want to point out that the new codex is chalk full of options and opportunities for effective synergy. For starters, almost everything in the new dex has become more effective/potent; everything in the dex CAN be very lethal with the proper support. Lets go over what we have to work with that we didn't have before:
WS/BS 4 buff, now everything is at a minimum WS/BS 4. This is what a lot of people had a huge problem with when playing Eldar...Having WS/BS3 on so many things was a real pain and so many things were unreliable that you had to have guide to make units do anything. Now, you can count on things being way more accurate than they ever were and this also makes our units synergize a lot more effectively with powers like Guide, though not dependent on powers like guide to be effective (as I'll discuss below).
Shuriken weapons, the staple and signature Eldar weapon, now auto-
So these weapons have a limited range, woop-ti-do? They are now generally on units with greater accuracy thanks to the BS4 buff and any unit with Shuriken weapons have ways to off-set this limited range. If Shuriken weapons had a range buff, then those wielding them would need to be more expensive and I don't think anyone really wants that when simply better play can take care of the range issue. For starters, the ability to run and shoot coupled with more reliable/survivable transports are enough to get our units where they need to be as I'll discuss below.
Battlefocus as a general army wide rule is huge. Now we have the ability to run and shoot or shoot and run on the majority of our units. Combined with Fleet, you can re-roll this distance if you don't like the first result and this then becomes a very reliable way to get closer to the enemy (or farther) without sacrificing your shooting phase. This also allows you to get more milage out of transports since you can actually get out farther from the transport (move vehicle 6", get out 6", run d6" then shoot or shoot then run away d6"). We also have a power that allows a unit to run 3" more so we can potentially have certain units run 9" thereby potentially increasing the threat range of Guardians to 27" (6" move, 9" run, 12" gun range). What's not to love about this rule?
Wave Serpents changed a lot but I think for the better...
Regarding survivability, The field initially just protected our tanks from Penetrating hits by making Penetrating hits less likely via a S reduction from anything over S8 and D6 reduction from Melta/Ordinance weapons. Ultimately, it did nothing to prevent Glancing hits but only made them more likely (than penetrating ones) and it did nothing to protect from anything already S8 or less...Back before HP were introduced, this was a great mechanic as Glancing shots were more forgiving on the damage chart. Now, the field simply reduces any Penetrating hit to a Glancing hit on a 2+. Everything can and will be glanced to death at some point, what this field does now is help ensure that the one off Lascannon/Melta/Railgun shot that pens your tank will not destroy it in one go by preventing a roll on the damage chart from taking place all together. Hopefully you can now take Holofields on Wave Serpents and get a nice cover save bonus...Keep in mind that Warlocks can cast Conceal on the transport they are in so you can have Serpents flying around with a 3+ Jink save (2+ if Holofields come into play or you go flat out). That is a pretty cool set of combos and it is effective use of synergy.
-Offensively, the Serpent is a lot more potent in that the Serpent field can be used as a ranged weapon that does D6 S7 Ap- cover ignoring/pinning hits (but if used as a weapon, no field benefit next turn). The Serpent is also more accurate and deadly since it is now BS 4, comes with a Shuriken Cannon as standard and can be upgraded with the same weapons we know and love. This tank is asking for a Scatter Laser turret and underslung Shuriken Cannon! First of all, the Scatter Laser has a new rule that allows it to fire before any other weapon and if it hits, every other weapon on the model/vehicle becomes Twin-linked. This basically gives you quite the punch and turns Wave Serpents into mini gunboats. Move 12" and you can have 7 BS4 S6 Twin-linked shots or if you move 6" you can add the Serpent Shield shooting attack for an extra D6 S7 shots. All of this together offers us a more potent offense from our vehicles. Sure they got a bit more pricy, but if Weapon upgrades are cheaper than I'll live with these changes.
Psychic powers received a huge overhaul and all of our powers have some use/purpose and synergize very well with just about any type of Eldar army...
Farseer powers have some interesting Witchfire abilities and our Staple powers such as Guide, Fortune and Doom all got majorly buffed (increased range, no restriction on Eldar units being the target and Doom now also allows armor pens to be re-rolled). Sure these powers are random and that sucks, but whatever you get, you are bound to put it to good use. Eldritch Storm has Fleshbane (wounds on 2+) and Haywire, so it can be a threat to any target while Mind War reduces WS/I of the target to 1 in addition to causing wounds that now Ignore armor and cover (sadly, if enemy rolls higher, Farseer becomes WS/I 1), for example.
-Warlock powers now offer us a lot of buffing/debuffing options and you are guaranteed a good power since Conceal is the Primaris power and what's not to love
Aspects are generally better. Many got a points reduction with good rules/wargear for a particular purpose. Banshees might have gotten the short end of the stick, though, but overall, every unit has some sort of increased utility/potential. All I will say in this section is that every Aspect is super good at a particular task and is ok at others. Banshees are prob going to take the most effort to make viable but I'm pleased with the points/wargear/abilities that the majority of Aspects get.
Guardian units received a large buff not only from the WS/BS 4, Battlefocus and Shuriken buff but now have better options/upgrades...
-Guardian Defenders went up a point but are now BS4, have deadlier Shuriken weapons and will get better use out of heavy weapons. One particular synergy I want to point out is Scatter Laser hitting more effectively at BS4 and effectively twin-links all the Shuriken Catapults if an enemy is dumb enough to get close enough (or you were smart and got in the opponent's face). These units beg to be used aggressively and sticking them in a Wave Serpent, zooming towards a target and then getting out will potentially unload 4 BS4 S6 shots, 18 twin-linked S4 shots with mini-rend on top of the shooting from the wave serpent. If you do take a large blob on foot, you can now take an additional weapon platform for every 10 Guardians so bulking up the unit isn't necessarily worthless.
-Storm Guardians went up a point as well but now are more survivable thanks to WS/BS4 and are a great place to stick a Warlock with +1 S or +1 WS/I. Options for 2 Flamers/Meltas are there with additional options for 2 Power Weapons. Great unit to stick into a Serpent.
-Guardian Jetbikes received a HUGE points drop and are now even more effective with their weapons.
Throw in a Warlock on a Jetbike and you have a reliable 3+ Jink or if you get a +1 Armor Save power, bikes with a 2+ armor save is pretty fun as well. A great unit to unload a lot of shooting with on a vulnerable enemy position with BS 4 Shuriken shots and then run away via the 2d6 Jetbike move.
Vehicles are generally better in that they have a better BS, some good vehicle upgrades and weapon options. For example, Vypers are now BS4, can take Holofields for 4+ Jinks (3+ if you hide them behind ruins) and my favorite loadout of Scatter Laser turret/Cannon bottom is a lot more effective without any real points increase. War Walkers are BS4 and while they are Open Topped, come with a 5++ which will protect them from things that ignore cover/close combat weapons and can lay down a lot more accurate shooting. Fire Prism now has a Lance mode offering us a S9 Ap 1 Lance weapon at 60" while the Falcon enjoys BS4 and is more likely to do something useful other than survive the game. Overall, between the BS upgrade, better vehicle upgrades and hopefully cheaper weapon options, our vehicles become a lot better offensively and even defensively.
Wraith units have also received a general buff in terms of survivability and damage output...
Wraithknight is a new addition that offers us a type of firepower unique in the codex so I see it as a sort of "Eldar Crisis Suit." If we need more S6 AP2 shooting, this is the place to get it via shoulder mount Star Cannons and arm mounted Suncannon; if we need more ranged S10 Ap2 shots, take the 2 arm Heavy Wraithcannons; if you need a fast CC unit that is tough, Sword/Shield generator is a good option as well. Regardless of how you equip the arms, the shoulder weapons provide great options too and I see dual Starcannons/Scatter Lasers as the top contenders. Either way, this unit offers a lot of utility by offering a lot of unique and potent Firepower as well as drawing enemy fire away from other Wraith units or possibly Vehicles. If this thing dies every game, but you have x number of Wraith units/Vehicles still alive that mean a lot more in terms of achieving victory, that is a win in my book.
-Wraithlord got a points increase and an extra attack with a S drop to S8 so that is a bummer and possibly a huge nerf. It ultimately depends on how expensive other meaningful weapon options are as if a Warithlord with 2 Brightlances is roughly the same as 155, we have not lost anything in terms of offensive capability but only vastly increased it as before you couldn't take 2 of the same weapon without them being twin-linked which was bad. Ultimately, Wraithlords got a boost in both CC and Shooting so I look forward to seeing how their weapon upgrades cost.
-Wraithguard/Wraithblades received a breathe of fresh air into an otherwise maligned unit. I personally always loved these guys and put them to great use and now, I leap for joy as their tactical potential has increased so much. First of all, they are now 32 points each rather than 35. I imagine their upgrades (D-
-Wraithcannons are S10 AP2 with autopen/ID on a roll of 6 so you can still utterly destroy T6+ models on a 6 and now ID anything T5 or less on a 2+ (in addition to basically penetrating vehicles A LOT more easily). Combined with Doom, these guys will destroy any vehicle they shoot at.
-D-Scythes are now S4 AP2 Template weapons that auto-pen/ID on a roll of 6 as well. Anyone that knows anything about 40k knows that proper application of flame templates HURTS (see internet griping about the old Tzeench Flamers that wounded on a 4+ and ignored saves). I can definitely see this unit protecting an objective or being put in Serpents and flown towards vulnerable infantry...Not only do you now have T6 Ap2 Template wielding scoring units (if you took Spiritseer) being crammed down your opponent's throat, good luck charging a unit with 5d3 S4 Ap2 shooting from overwatch...
-Ghostswords/axes are an interesting option now in that Wraithblades come with 2 S+1 AP3 swords (for a total of 2 base attacks) for dealing with hordes/tactical squad type units and a S+2 AP2 Axe with a 4++ for dealing with tough CC units like TH/SS terminators.
synergizing the Wraith units has never been easier and making them more powerful is a synch as you can now put the right buff for each game on these guys at deployment. Specifically, Every Wraith unit (except Lord/Knight) should have a Warlock and hopefully you get a +1 armor one or otherwise a +2 cover one for some protection from enemy shooting. Lords/Knights benefit greatly from the power that restores lost wounds and if you use Warlock powers to reduce enemy S, Armor, WS/I or even Ld with any of the Warlock powers, you make everything in your army ultimately more powerful against that particular target. Wraith units make a hardy bulwark witch which to receive an enemy charge or draw enemy fire providing the rest of your army some relief and ability to do their thing.
Flyers are a new thing for Eldar that have a mixed bag of rules. However, having no real protection other than a Jink save and being AV10 is going to be a real pain for these guys so perhaps going second against flyers and hoping you kill the Quad-gun before it can hit your flyers will probably be important strategic decisions.
Bomber has a decent damage out-put through the 2 Ap2 Blast weapons and can really mess with infantry formations in a unique way by casting Horrify on them and forcing re-rolls to morale/pinning tests. Combine this with either IG allied Psyker Battle squads or Warlocks casting -3 Ld on a unit and you can reliably pin/make certain units run away; and what's not to love about making an otherwise fearless unit run in abject terror? At least if this flyer Jinks, it can still cast Horrify which is one of the main reasons to bring this flyer in the first place.
-The fighter offers us a great platform for S8 Ap2 weapons that can effectively dominate opposing flyers. Conversely, it can also take 2 Starcannons for a total of 6 AP2 shots that are bound to lay the hurt down on anything as long as this flyer is still alive...I wonder how expensive and worthwhile the Exarch/Power upgrades will be as 160 base for a flyer that might have to Jink the first few turns to survive the game will be a bummer.
Ultimately, I can see the Flyers being pretty cool with 2 Autarchs who can make your reserve rolls be a 5+ which will help keep your flyers out of the game until your ground forces can deal with anti-air elements. Otherwise, Holofields giving a 4+ Jink might be essential and then you will be able to go to town on enemy units once anti-air shooting is dealt with. Taking multiples of these guys will definitely be a good idea as their damage output is huge (see Dark Eldar Ravagers) and they really are more survivable than a lot of things out there by virtue of their Flyer rules and options for a 4+ Jink.
So with all of this said, I just wanted to point out that many of our units have uses and are more effective with the right things in place. That is what Eldar have always been about...You pay X points for unit Y and on paper, unit Y can only do so much but when you introduce the buffs/utility from other units then the damage output/survivability of an Eldar army is greater than its individual parts.
Between our Wraith and Guardian units, we have very strong close range shooting while between our Vehicles, Wraithlord/Knight, Flyers, we have very strong ranged shooting. Throw in some Psychic power support and you have a lot of unique shooting/close combat that can address any other kind of army out there. Here's to a new and awesome codex!