This was the section that saw the most interest towards the end of 6th edition and early 7th with competitive players adding a beast pack to their Eldar lists as a deathstar. Well things have changed quite a bit for the beasts so will they still be popular? This section has expanded somewhat with the addition of the empty raiders/venoms and the razorwing. Otherwise it's business as usual on the surface but there are some significant changes when you look a little deeper.
Well, Khymerae got cheaper but are now just 5++. It seems to have escaped peoples' notice but they're now T4 which is interesting. Their save might be worse but they should be making less of them with improved toughness. Still, I can't see them being anywhere near as popular with the top flight players. Razorwing flocks have gone up in price significantly and are now WS2 plus they've lost two wounds an attack per base! That's some hit they've taken. I'm very glad I didn't buy any or find a third party alternative.
Whilst I recognise they were powerful I've never seen the appeal of a beast pack and the new book hasn't changed my opinion. Glad I don't need to fork out for the incredibly expensive models. As I say, they're not going to disappear completely but they're far from what they were, which was to be expected really.
Raider & Venom
The basic raider is now cheaper but you pay to upgrade the disintegrator to a dark lance meaning the lance version is the same cost. With nearly all of the vehicle upgrades jumping in price and flickerfields vanishing completely for raiders it's hard to see a reason to upgrade them. The exception is probably splinter racks which now applies to all splinter weapons. That throws in some interesting options for trueborn with cannons, sslyth with shardcarbines or just ten warriors with rifles.
I think I'm going to be taking advantage of the saving and keeping the disintegrator cannon rather than upgrading to a lance. That means that a splinter rack raider is effectively the same cost as it was before. The disintegrator is by now means awful either and compliments the occupants role of anti-infantry well. It'll also prove irritating to MCs etc. There are other, better, ways of getting the dark light weaponry into the list. Not only that but you'll not worry about Jinking if you aren't particularly bothered about losing a lance shot. You could give yourself night shields but personally I think it's too expensive and sometimes useless. Keep the raiders cheap and don't worry about losing them.
Nothing has changed with the venom really. They're the same cost and will still want the upgrade to a second cannon. I'm actually pretty amazed they didn't get more expensive to be honest. Like with the other new books you can now field them empty which is incredibly tempting in the case of venoms. If you wanted to run the faction specific detachment you could be looking at 12 venoms (6 empty, 6 with 5 kabalites) for just over a thousand points. That's a pretty scary thought. Of course it's useless if your opponent is holed up in transports but some armies would melt in the face of that much poisoned firepower.
Finally, both the venom and raider can now Deep Strike by default. Since you used to pay for vectored thrusters this effectively means raiders and venoms are cheaper than before. I'm not totally convinced deep striking is the best idea without having some reserve manipulation but if I lost the roll off I'd strongly consider null deployment. It's nice to have the tactical flexibility if nothing else.
To me they're now a source of mobile anti-tank and a decent combat unit (assuming they aren't charging through terrain). Should they get a decent combat drugs roll (thankfully the 3D6 to run has gone) they should be able to pick on weaker combat units without worrying too much. Should they find themselves in hot water they've now got Hit & Run. Unlike some of the other combat units in the army reavers actually have a good chance of getting there. Skilled Rider means they can totally ignore terrain and gives +1 to their Jink saves. Should they get FNP they'll be pretty tough to shift at range and they can cover a lot of ground quickly.
They're a decent anti-tank platform, reasonable combat unit and durable enough to be around at the end of the game for some objective grabbing. It's a shame there's no DE character that can join them on a bike or board.
I really really want Hellions to be good as they're awesome models. In the old book you could throw in Baron to give them Stealth plus a helliarch with phantasm to give them grenades. Both of those options are gone now. The phantasm doesn't work the same and Baron is plain deleted. They may be quite a bit cheaper but I can't see me using them. They've got a decent amount of firepower but they don't offer anything you can't get elsewhere. In addition they're flimsy as hell and most of the time won't get to use their I6 with their lack of grenades.
What I also don't understand is why the melee weapons for the helliarch became so expensive? The stunclaw is interesting with S4 and Instant Death in challenges but you're relying too much on a failed save if you actually ever make it into combat to find out. Generally they just can't compete with the other Fast Attack choices so I think they'll be staying on the shelf. One less thing to rush to paint I suppose!
I think people are fixating on that too much though (especially with the voidraven but I'll get to that). The ace up the Razorwing's sleeve is the rack of missiles it carries. Having the option to come on and fire four S6 large blasts is a big deal. You could upgrade to Necrotoxins but I like the flexibility of hitting both troops and light vehicles. The shatterfield missiles bump the cost of the flyer up too much for my liking so I reckon I'll leave the monoscythes. I think the night shield is tempting but costs too much. It's a shame to lose the option of flickerfields as you're now forced to Jink for a save which means no missiles next turn. The secret I think is to run 2 or more razorwings and have some redundancy. Don't forget the faction specific detachment allows you to run six if you wanted.
I'm a big fan of the razorwing and it's benefitted a lot from a move to the Fast Attack section since it's no longer competing with ravagers. Expect to see more of them I reckon.
Like the reavers they used to be horribly overcosted and, again like the reavers, they've now been significantly reduced in price. The big thing though is that you can now field four special/heavy weapons per squad. In the old book you'd have had to take a full 10 to get the same number of special weapons. That means they're now an awesome choice for anti-tank duties. The choice in this role is between haywire blasters, heat lances (now cheaper) and blasters. Blasters can be found elsewhere in your list though so it's between heat lances and haywire which are the same points. For me the haywire wins on ground of range. Although scourges have a decent save their still T3 and so you'll want to keep them away from other units as much as you can. Having 12" move plus 24" haywire gives the a big threat radius and should keep them out of range of most of the return fire/charges.
With four haywire blasters in a unit you're pretty likely to strip hull points from a vehicle (cover saves permitting). That's probably more useful than the heat lances anyway which might not penetrate anyway and still aren't that likely to blow a vehicle up. Of course they're less useful if your opponent doesn't have vehicles but S4 AP4 isn't too bad as a backup.
Scourges are definitely the stars of the Fast Attack section as far as I'm concerned. For just 120 points you get a unit that's probably more reliable than a ravager against wave serpents which are the bane of DE. I can also see a role for razorwings and reavers too. I personally won't be fielding beasts and I can't see anyone taking hellions. That means scourges, reavers and razorwings have to compete for te slots.
Speaking of which, it's important to talk about the Realspace Raiders detachment here. Having the option of six fast choices will be very tempting but I'm still not convinced it's worth losing objective secured for. Having said that, your opponent isn't likely to have trouble shifting your troops if he needs to and your fast choices could be contesting/grabbing objectives in the end game. Coupled with Night Fighting your units will all have 5+ cover saves turn one as well. Troops will have 4+ of course but they're unlikely to be on the ground turn one (unless they find themselves rudely ejected from their transports.
One section left before I wrap things up and talk about some lists I'm considering. I hope you're finding these posts useful.