Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Eldar codex review and tactics series part 1:

This will be the first post in my long overdue Eldar Codex overview and tactics articles. I will start off by doing a general and brief overview then go into each individual unit divided up by relevant sections. This post will have the introduction, overview and the generic HQ options.

Introduction to the series:
How this series will work is that I will give a general review of each section of the codex followed by a more detailed discussion about each individual unit entry. I will break the series up by HQ (generic HQs and Special Characters will each have their own post), Elites, Troops, Fast Attack and Heavy Support. I will then also do a series of tactical articles for each unit entry followed up by a set of articles on allies, some good combos and how they interact with Eldar. Somewhere in there I will also do a post dedicated of the Forgeworld units since they are becoming more mainstream.

HQ Overview:
The new codex has revamped and changed our HQ choices a lot. For starters, a lot of things got toned down or nerfed while a lot of other things got slightly better and we even have an additional new HQ in the form of a Spiritseer. Ultimately, Autarchs, Avatars and Warlocks have been hit the hardest and seem to be the least useful/powerful options available to us while the Farseer and Spiritseer have become our go-to choices simply because they add so much more than the rest at a reasonable cost.

What I like:
I really like the addition of the Spiritseer and how it makes any sized unit of Wraithguard troops. Also, how Perils can be mitigated by using up a Warp Charge for the Farseer is a nice touch. I also like how Warlocks sort of got cheaper in a sense and the drop in price of Jetbikes. Ultimately, our Psykers offer a lot of buffing goodness that really goes a long way in the right army.

Where I think Kelly dropped the ball:
I think there was *A LOT* of room for improvement regarding how our HQs were handled and some things just seem to be kind of clunky...

-The Autarch not benefiting from Exarch powers or Aspect abilities kind of sucks and really limits his use. He can add some good CC punch to a unit but really, that is actually the last thing Eldar need in this codex (sadly). Also, his reserves manipulation ability is not that great either since we don't generally rely on reserves anymore and things are easier to get in anyway. Therefore, you will probably never see an Autarch outside of casual/friendly play.

-The Avatar increasing so many points and having a generic 5++ really hurts, especially without easy access to Fortune. Sure some of the Exarch powers are cool for him, but you will probably never see an Avatar outside of casual/friendly play either.

-The Warlock suffers from Perils like nothing else in the Eldar Codex and if you happen to roll that 2 or 12, say good-bye to your 35-55 point model. This is just poor design as the Warlock should have had another wound or some ability to mitigate/negate Perils wounds. Ld 8 is also pretty weak for trying to get some reliable support or use out of this guy. So all in all, the concept is cool but the Warlock simply did not translate well into 6th edition with how the Psyker rules are. To put insult to injury, the Warlock cannot join a Wraithguard unit anymore, what was up with that change? Sadly, this is a model/unit you will hardly ever see outside of a Seer Council focused list or a fun casual game.

-The Spirit Seer is a great addition and change to allowing how Wraithguard are made into troops for the Eldar army...However, what's up with no options for any Runes or the lack of a Ghosthelm? Ld 9 and Mastery 2 is kind of meh as well but I guess for the points, its a great model to have around so the way the Spirit Seer functions isn't too big of a let down.

-The Farseer is still pretty cool but I wish there was some wargear to allow us to get powers more reliably-I mean Ultramarines get a psyker that is cheaper than Eldrad but can more reliably get the powers he wants and has better stats/gear/options...Thanks Kelly. I really think some ability to re-roll powers would have been great and sad that Space Marines get it but we don't. Also, what's up with the one-use Witnessing/Warding? CSM get a re-roll to failed powers for 15 points and its not one use!

-Psychic powers deserve their own mention as I think that the tables are all messed up. All we care about are Fortune, Guide and Doom, the rest are meaningless and virtually down-right useless. It should have been maybe Mind War (Primaris 1) Eldritch Storm (Primaris 2) Fortune (1-2), Doom (3-4), Guide (5-6) such that you had the option of getting either Mind War or Eldritch Storm as a Primaris and the good powers we know and love are more easily obtainable but perhaps Kelly wanted to mix in some useless powers so everyone allying with Eldar are not all of a sudden OP thanks to getting great powers or something...

So on to the actual review of the options themselves...

Ah, the mighty Autarch. He still has some nifty options for Wargear and can add a decent Ld, Shooty/CC boost to a unit he joins for a reasonable cost. I wrote a 5th edition Autarch Tactica that can be seen here but some of it is out-dated with how 6th and the new codex are. Still, it is a decent read in terms of analyzing the use/wargear options. None the less, since some things regarding the Autarch have changed over the new edition/codex, I'll discuss those changes here...

-First of all, he no longer benefits from Exarch/Aspect Warrior abilities/rules. This is a bummer as if you have him join a unit of Banshees, for example, they can no longer benefit from the Acrobatics special rule.

-Second of all, his "Master Strategist" rule has changed so that he can now add or subtract 1 from a Reserves rule. This is nifty as it gives you some better control over your reserves but this no longer stacks with itself so you can't take 2 Autarchs to have a +2 or -2 to reserves. I think this rule would have been more potent if you could somehow choose what turn your reserves came on and on a certain roll, they come in "just as planned" or otherwise you have to roll for reserves as normal.

-Other than that, some options got cheaper and even better while others stayed the same. For example, a Jetbike increases his natural T to 4 (thanks to 6th) and is now only 15 points. This really increases his mobility thereby giving him a 48" threat range if you want to contest an objective late game. Also, the Banshee Mask now causes any unit the Autarch charges to get -5 to their I which helps mitigate the lack of Grenades on a lot of our units (like Shining Spears) or even give us the jump on something with innately high I like a Greater Demon/Demon Prince.

-There are not some special items called "treasures of Vaul" that can give our characters some decent and unique weapons or special rules. Regarding the Autarch, the Mantle of the Laughing god comes to mind as it essentially gives him a re-rollable 2+ cover save if combined with a bike and gives him the Hit & Run rules, though he can't join any units (loses IC rules). This is a nifty way to run an Autarch, though with how much cover-ignoring things out there, this may be relatively cute and nothing else.

So putting it all together, if you want something that can be a little more punchy/shooty to add to a unit and have any use for some Reserves manipulation, this is a decent HQ option for you. Give him a Fusion Gun, Laser Lance, Jet Bike and even a Banshee Mask and he can be a useful addition to your army. The Iyanden supplement has some interesting weapon options as well and I rather fancy the idea of a potential S10 thanks to the x.

Probably the quintessential Eldar HQ option, the Farseer is our go-to guy for being our Warlord as well as handing out buffs to the rest of the army. Mastery 3 base is solid as far as Psykers go in the game and we have access to some good powers in Divination, Telepathy or even Fate if we can manage to get Fortune or Doom (otherwise we generally stick with Guide).

So yeah, I generally try to fit at least one Farseer in my army and roll twice on Divination hoping for some good powers (usually get Prescience at least) then roll on Fate for the hopeful Fortune or Doom power but ultimately usually end up swapping for Guide because the other powers are so bad. This way, you can buff 2 units with re-rolls and hopefully have some 3rd power that can add something to your army

Runes of Warding: So a one-use item to increase a deny the witch roll by +2? I think Kelly swung the Nerf Bat a bit too hard here.

Runes of Witnessing: So a one-use ability to re-roll a failed Psychic test? So not worth it in comparison to what anyone else gets in terms of re-rolling failed powers. Again, the nerf bat was a bit brutal with the Runes...

Jetbike: If you are never going to embark on a transport, and you have 15 points extra, this is a solid buy for your Farseer. Increasing the natural T to 4 and mobility to a potential 48" in a turn is quite potent. This is a must if you plan on accompanying anything that can move more than 6" a turn in the movement phase and has an Assault move *cough* Tau Suits.

Singing Spear: A solid and cute buy if you know you will be near any armor. I generally avoid this option unless I have nothing better to spend 5 points on, though.

A new addition to the codex that unlocks Wraithguard as troops. This is pretty cool as before, to make Wraithguard troops you needed 10+Warlock upgraded with a useless "Spiritseer" ability. Ultimately, this saves us 45ish points per Wraithguard unit so that is nothing to sneaze at.

Other than that, considering how this is an IC and can get access to Runes of Battle, it is a great character to stick with Wraith units to hopefully give them good old Conceal or even a 2+ save via Protect. Either of these powers are amazing for any unit you choose to attach the Spirit Seer to. Spirit Mark is another ability this guy comes with and ultimately comes in quite handy as I tend to roll a lot of 1s to hit with my Wraith units, for some reason or another.

So putting all of that together, you have a Mastery 2 Psyker with access to Runes of Battle and Telepathy powers. Ld 9 is a bummer (as mentioned above) as you will fail powers from time to time but the ability to join any unit and spread the otherwise inaccessible Warlock Powers around.

The Spiritseer only has access to a Singing Spear...Quite a disappointment. I would have liked to at least have an option for a Ghost Helm or a Jetbike.

The Warlock used to be an iconic support character that would be attached to other units, however, there really isn't a point in taking these guys anymore. (1) the powers are far too random (however Conceal is amongst the better ones to have for a Primaris) and (2) the powers are far too unreliable as Ld 8 for powers is hardly something you can count on. As I mentioned above, the Warlock simply did not transition well into the new codex.

Warlocks can still be played in 2 ways, either formed up as a Seer Council or split off to join units of Guardians, Support Batteries and Jetbikes. It really breaks my heart that they can no longer join Wraithguard, however =(. Anyway, other than for the extra Wytchblade and occasional power going off, I can hardly recommend adding a Warlock-you probably won't be taking anything that can take one anyway unless you are playing with a bunch of Jetbikes and you probably won't have the points.

-If you want to play a Saim-hann list, however, the Warlock really does have a lot to offer a Jetbike unit with a potential +2 to any cover save (so 3+ for moving and 2+ for going flat-out) or 2+ armor save. Also, the addition of a Singing Spear to a unit and a Wychblade helps give your Jetbikes something else to threaten vehicles reliably.

Singing Spear or a Jetbike are all the variety a Warlock gets, which are still pretty solid. The Jetbike got cheaper which is nice but the thing that really kills it for the Warlock is no way to mitigate a Perils. So ultimately, the more you spend on these guys the more you stand to lose with some bad dice. I wish there was some option to ignore the first perils each game or something.

The Avatar used to be a decent MC to throw around since Fortune and a 4++ was fairly survivable. The stats were decent as well. now, the Avatar costs about 40 points more than before and if you get any Exarch powers, he costs even more! Sure he gained BS10, I10, AP1 in CC, Fleet, Battle Focus and an extra wound/attack but he now only has a 5++ and no access to Fortune. You can probably expect this guy to die in one round of shooting any game you put him down on the table. All in all, a very depressing thought considering this guy is supposed to be the Eldar incarnation of war and marital prowess...

So you have access to a bunch of Exarch powers but really only maybe Fast Shot for 2 Melta Shots and maybe Monster Hunter for the ability to threaten other MCs. Other than that, you are paying way too many points for the Avatar and even as it stands, he isn't worth his points.

So yeah, can you tell I am pretty disappointed with how things ended up regarding our HQ options? All in all, it is what it is, though-Farseers are still good buff machines and the new Spirit Seer is a cool way to unlock Wraith troops and spread Warlock buffs around. However, everything else is just a waste of space in the codex, sadly. Sure, you can make an argument for using an Autarch, Avatar or Warlock, just don't expect to win any tournaments or competitive games with those units.

So at the end of the day, what really changed? We still use Farseers in just about every list with maybe a Spirit Seer here and there for buffs and nothing else-just like in the last codex but Warlocks, which at least saw some play in the previous codex, will never see play in the new Codex unless you are throwing down with a Seer Council. Oh well, here's hoping for the next codex to do a better job.

With all of that said, I still like the codex and it has some strong options/builds-its just that not much really seemed to change in terms of our HQs and that just makes me sad =(.

Going into the rest of the reviews, I just want to point out that ironically enough, my least used slot has moved from Fast Attack (because now Spiders are almost an "auto-include")  to Elites (because nobody needs Fire Dragons anymore). Some units got revamped and will see a lot of use while others, sadly, will continue to collect dust on the shelves.


  1. I agree with you Y'riel. Farseers are good, but the HQ lack character. The Autarch with Iyanden Treasures of Vaul on a jetbike is pretty nice though, and can make for an exciting HQ choice. Also wanted to mention they really nerfed Y'riel himself. I really hate how they changed Doomed. Alas it was would be difficult to get him to into CC anyways but still it was disappointing that they essentially downgraded his armor save.

  2. I agree on a lot of points (especially random powers, no re-roll for powers, and the Runes/Warlocks just got hammered), however, I disagree about the Avatar. He got some stat buffs (some fairly useful ones, especially with Fast Shot) and can benefit a lot from abilities like Disarm. That said, he also benefits from Fleet and Battle Focus, both of which add to his survivability - he can get into assaults more reliably, and can zip behind LoS blocking cover if you keep him in the right places. I took him to a local tournament this month and he just waded through enemy armies. He is more fragile, but much more deadly on top of it.
    Also, I've been running a Farseer on a bike with MoTLG. He has some benefits that an Autarch doesn't, being a mobile buffer/debuffer. And so far, he's quick enough to avoid most retribution (ignores cover or assaults) that would come his way.