As I'm sure you're sick of me saying now. This codex is somewhere between a supplement and a standard 'dex so there are plenty of formations like you'd expect from a supplement. Since the Masque detachment can be a little restrictive let's hope these formations prove to be a good way of getting Harlequins into your army.
This is pretty much a complete army of Harlequins and one which you could make using the Masque detachment without being as restricted. You're basically taking a Masque but the choices are made for you and you've used your full 7 Elites. It's effectively 3 Troupes who each have a Shadowseer and Death Jester. There are no Starweavers in here but there's nothing to stop you getting them as Dedicated Transports. The difference between this formation and the Troupe though is that you get to re-roll 1s on your invulnerable saves. Brilliant for the Solitaire but still nice for everything else. Don't forget they work for your vehicles too. Otherwise you keep the same benefits as the Masque for a couple of restrictions.
Firstly you have to take two units of Skyweavers as your Fast Attack. This isn't a huge hardship but it does mean more points than filling the Fast Attack requirement of the Masque with a couple of Starweavers and I'm not sure I'd bother with them in a Masque if I had some DE or Eldar allies. Secondly, you have to take three Death Jesters. Not necessarily a bad thing but if I'm allying this to another army I'd be tempted to take more Shadowseers to throw in allied units.
The formation costs well over 1,000 pts before you throw in any extra models, transports or upgrades. This doesn't leave much for the allies you might want. It isn't difficult to add in some stuff to get to the magic 1,850pts level though. If you're wanting to run a pure Harlequins army (which I'm bloody tempted by) then I reckon the sacrifices are worth it for the invulnerable save re-rolls.
The Serpent's Brood
Another large formation but smaller than the Revenge. Here the Troupes are forced to take Starweavers although this doesn't necessarily mean they have to ride around in them. There are three huge problems with this formation though. Firstly, it doesn't have the awesome Rising Crescendo rule (which is almost enough reason to ignore it on its own). Secondly, the Skystride rule would be awesome if we weren't talking about AV10 vehicles. What are the chances that even one Starweaver will survive long enough to make use of the rule? I'd also say the rules prevent them for getting out and back in again in the same turn but I'm open to debate on this. Finally, it doesn't include any of the Elites choices which make the Harlequins a totally different army. I'd never run a Masque without some of them. I'd avoid this formation completely.
Cast of Players
This formation is probably the best way to throw a few Harlequins into another army. It's basically a single Troupe with a Jester and Seer attached which isn't an awful choice at all. You don't get the benefit of the Rising Crescendo rule though which might be a deal breaker. The Crusader rule isn't particularly useful for Fleet units anyway. The main reason you'd take this is for the pretty minimal restrictions allowing you to throw it into another army. Here's a sample build:
Shadowseer, ML2, Mask
Troupe, 1 extra Player, 2 Neuros, 2 Kisses
That comes in at bang on 300pts and is 9 models which means you can stick them in a DE Raider with a Webway character. It's pretty pricey of course but won't be too much of a sacrifice to get them into your DE army. Of course you could swap a few things around there but it's just to give you a feel for the costs.
This is the cheapest way of getting some Harlies with Rising Crescendo. Again you can easily fit this formation into a DE or Eldar army. Not sure you'd necessarily want the Skyweavers or even the Voidweavers in that scenario though. At a minimum it costs the best part of 300pts. I suppose it depends on how much you like the Skyweavers and Voidweaver and whether you can cope without the Elites. Pretty decent but not great.
The Heroes' Path
As I said with some of the other formations it depends on what you think of Skyweavers and Voidweavers but if you're a fan then perhaps this formation is for you. Having a re-roll to Jink sounds awesome but I'm not sure it's that good when you really think about it.
It'll help you get through the early turns unscathed of course but the Voidweavers will be limited to BS1 quite a lot making them more durable but fairly redundant. The Skyweavers on the other hand don't care as much. If you make the squads a decent size and tool them up for combat, (i.e. giving them zephyrglaives since the bolas will be useless when Jinking) you have a pretty durable melee threat that will be quite an irritation to your opponents. In that scenario the Voidweaver becomes a tax for better Skyweavers. I'm not sure they're necessarily much better than DE Reavers in the same role though on a point-for-point comparison.
Of course even a re-roll is irrelevant if you meet Ignores Cover weaponry and there's the question of whether you'd normally bother Jinking when these units have a 5++ save anyway. This is one of those things that when you first read it you think it's brilliant but with a bit of thought it soon seems less so.
Overview of the Formations
I'm generally not a fan of Formations. To me they come across as a bit of shopping list to make you buy models you wouldn't normally pick up. The difference here is that with very few units to choose from you were likely to buy the stuff anyway. Clearly the standout choices here are the Revenge and Cast. The Blade and even Jest are outside options but the Path and Brood seem a waste of time to me at least.
I reckon if I did field Harlequins I'd be more likely to use the Revenge or Cast than I would the Masque. Even with the restrictions I don't think I'd feel too much like I couldn't design the list my way. As I say, without a wealth of options they don't seem too limiting at all. In fact I'd say the Revenge is probably worth it over the Masque 90+% of the time. As ever it all comes down to what you want from the codex. It's frustrating that you can't pick and choose more but I actually like that about the book. Too much of 40K these days is about taking the odd bits from books making other units rare sights on the tabletop. At least if you play someone who's using Harlequins you're likely to get a good flavour of them as a race. My poor DE have been reduced to "let me see how cheaply I can get a Webway and a couple of Venoms" meaning a lot of the codex gets ignored.
Through the course of writing these posts I've become a bigger and bigger fan of this book. It really does feel like something a bit special. Of course there are some obvious parallels with DE in terms of their combination of vulnerability and speed but there's a lot of unique content here to make them stand out. For the first time in a while I'm genuinely impressed with the effort GW have gone to in making this book. It's not perfect by anyone's standards with some dubious formations and the odd bit of wargear that seems daft but generally speaking I could happily run anything in the book. The Masque is a double-edged sword. On the one hand you desperately want Rising Crescendo but on the other that means you spend a lot of points (and money) to get Harlequins in your army.
I'm unlikely to be able to resist getting a Harlequins army for long which is irritating because I really didn't want to buy anything for a while. For now I want to focus on getting my scenery done plus my surprise Blog Wars army to at least three colours. That'll take me up until June though which still leaves half the year for more scenery work and another project. Perhaps Harlequins will inject some enthusiasm into my DE painting, will it be enough to do all that line highlighting though?
EDIT: Since writing this post I've already ordered myself a Shadowseer and a Troupe boxed set to enter the GW competition to win a stack of models. I'm planning on picking up a Death Jester and another Troupe box to give me a Cast of Players to run alongside my Dark Eldar. I'll be posting about combining Harlequins with DE after a brief break for another scenery update.