Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Eldar Codex Unit Reviews - Fast Attack

Probably the weakest section of the codex but that's often the case recently. Once again the aspect warriors are still nice models but with mediocre rules they'll not see the light of day very much. However, this section does contain the only reasonable dedicated anti-air choice in the codex.

Swooping Hawks
The fun of swooping hawks in the old codex was dropping them in, pie-plating a unit then taking off again before any reprisals. They can still do that in the new book but as before it's a case of whether you think the shenanigans are worth it. They have a decent amount of firepower but it's only S3 AP5.

The most interesting thing about them is their appropriately titled special rule "Herald of Victory". With it they can deep strike without scatter. When you combine this with Skyleap they can be doing their grenade pack thing and in turn 5 drop in to contest an objective late on. They'll be an irritation to your opponent but they won't necessarily win you the game if it goes beyond turn 5.

Warp Spiders
In the old book these were pretty survivable unit but with S6 at 12" range their weapons weren't all that stunning. Monofilament is interesting as it makes 6s AP1 which is great against vehicles, especially when combined with S7 (as vehicles don't have an iniative characteristic). Sadly they're still limited to 12" range but with Battle Focus and their jump generators they should be able to stay out of trouble better than guardians.

Having a 3+ save is crucial but sadly they suffer from the same problem as fire dragons. They're effective but pay a fairly hefty price at 19pts per model. Still, Hit & Run at initiative 5 (or 6 with an Exarch) is going to keep them alive better than fire dragons. They're certainly not a bad choice and worth a look but again I think people will be put off by their hefty price tag (money not points).

Shining Spears
Shining spears are another unit that suffers from both points and £s costs. The models are £10 at GW prices (20 for 3 jetbikes and 10 for the upgrade pack). They have the benefit of Skilled Rider and Outflank giving them some survivability. The Eldar Jetbikes & Battle Focus rules will help them stay alive when shooting too. However, 6" range is particularly pathetic and having the Lance special rule is a bit pointless for an S6 weapon. Giving them an exarch with Hit & Run and Monster Hunter could make them a good anti-MC unit but the points really rack up.

For a 5-man squad with the Exarch you're paying 170pts for what is essentially 5 space marines when they're being shot at. Personally I think that's a lot and there are better ways to spend the points. It's a shame because I've always liked the idea of the unit.

Crimson Hunter
As mentioned in the title of the post. This is the only really viable anti-air option available to the Eldar. Offensively it's probably the best anti-air unit in the game. Having 4 S8 shots at BS5 (for the Exarch) that re-roll to penetrate against flyers. When you first read the Vector Dancer rule I'm sure, like me, you expected it to apply to Eldar flyers and sure enough, it does. Once of the problems with flyers is their poor manoeuvrability. Most of the time they get a couple of turns of shooting before they're left with a choice between flying off the board or doing a lap unable to shoot anything. Obviously Hovering is an option for some flyers but it makes them particularly vulnerable. Vector Dancer's extra pivot means you can do a nice zig-zag strafe along the board and hit something every turn.

Sounds pretty good then. Well to balance out all this awesome offensive power GW have made it out of paper. Realistically an army that relies on flyers, like Necrons or Guard will be taking this thing out as a priority. That means one, maybe two, turns (and probably a flyer killed per turn) before it gets brought down by whatever fires at it. It's a shame it couldn't have just been AV11 which I don't think is unreasonable for the points. With AV10 it relies on having an Autarch to manipulate reserves so that it can come on when you're sure it'll be able to kill an enemy flyer. Even against armies without much anti-air it'll still struggle to survive. When you consider a lot of flyers are cheaper, is it worth paying 180pts to take out what might be just one enemy flyer before being shot down?

Personally I love the model. I didn't at first but it's grown on me. That means I'm going to give it a go. It's a hell of a lot better than a Nephilim at least! Less said about that the better though.

Vyper Squadron
Never much use in the old codex and probably not much better now. It's got great agility as a weapons platform and plays a similar role to Tau piranhas. However, it's around 20pts more expensive than the piranha. For similar points you can have War Walkers which, as I'll discuss in the Heavy Support post, are probably a better unit.

Again, I love the models and bought one when they first came out because I always thought they were stunning. It's a shame they swapped the war walker in the battleforce for a vyper. The big issue for them is that they can't contest any more. Otherwise they might find a role. You can give them Crystal Targeting Matrices to make them durable but they just don't do enough for the points I reckon.

Hemlock Wraithfighter
The latest swathe of codices has been full of what are termed "synergy" units by the interwebs. The Hemlock is one of them. On it's own it can kill a unit with shenanigans. Basically it can cause enough wounds to force a morale check that must be re-rolled thanks to the Mindshock pod. If that fails then the Terrify power should succeed. The ability to strip Fearless and then make a unit take a test works beautifully with the Mindshock pod. It can also work well with other units by creating a coward bubble and allowing the shooting of your army to make units run in droves.

Sadly to use these things it needs to be within 12" and therefore it'll be taking a lot of rapid fire shots and even with free Spirit Stones it'll struggle to make it past a turn. It's certainly a force multiplier but the price tag is steep for an AV10 flyer. Could be enormous fun to use but it's a brief candle!

Realistically you can build a great Eldar army capable of taking on pretty much anything without even considering the Fast Attack section. That's a sad thing really but with the flyers on the pricey side for AV10 and the aspect warriors not really pulling their weight it's pretty true. Once again, I'm sure people will have great fun with these units and in fact none of them are diabolical (except maybe Shining Spears).

The heavy support section is next and unlike Fast Attack it has a wealth of viable units.


  1. So sad about Shining Spears. They could have at least given them AP2 lances, but apparently that's too much too ask for enormous laser spears.

    1. With AP2 they might be worth considering but for nearly the same cost as terminators they need to be more devastating or more survivable. They're fine against light vehicles and units of marines in the open but there are plenty of ways to deal with both of those in this book.

  2. crimson hunters surely are too fragile if considered alone, but a pair of them will be the bane of flyer heavy lists (expecially cron air), since these lists will have very little in terms of AA except their own flyers and these little beauties are designed to kill flyers... i don't think that a pair of c.u. are too expensive either: they come for 340 pts which is only a slightly more than a single stormraven... i think the key is using them in pairs so the ennemy will always need to choose if they want to split fire (making it a lot less effective) or focus only on one of them, and let the other be for another turn (and another kill...). and ofc, a pair of hunters coming at the right time can wipe any ennemy air force from the sky in no more than 2 turns.

    1. 340 points is only slightly more than a single stormraven?

      Urrr... a Stormraven is 200 points. 340 is not "slightly more than" 200. In fact, it's 70% more.

      While I agree that pairing things up is the way to go, the Crimson only really works IF 1) the two come on at the same time 2) after your opponents fliers and 3) there isn't a quad gun or any other interceptor around forcing you to jink.

      That's a hell of a lot of "if's". You would probably need to bring an Autarch along to accomplish points 1) and 2) (and even then, it's not guaranteed), and while Eldar DO have some good options for killing Quad Guns T1 & 2 (Jetbikes, Rangers) it's still not guaranteed, and at the end of the day if you're shooting a quad gun, you're not shooting your opponents troops.

      I'm not saying "don't deal with fliers" - I just don't think two very fragile fliers and the Autarch to make them work is a good way to spend 450+ points in an already points expensive army. I think those points would be better off being another one or two of those fantastic Wave Serpents (which, when armed with a scatter laser, aren't horrendous at Anti Air).

    2. Agree! The best AA Eldar have are Serpents with scatter laser and dragons and spiders with a Farseer

    3. Shame then, the models were awesome.

    4. There's a place for a crimson hunter in the Eldar army. If you take them as your only anti-air then you're screwed but for the ability to almost guarantee a heldrake or stormraven will die I think they're worth a go. You can spend less than "450+" points on them. If you're taking two then there's less need to buy an exarch and the autarch can be bare bones so you just use him for reserves. Having said that a farseer has a decent chance for scrier's gaze so you might not need him at all.

  3. I quite like both hawks and spiders, for different reasons. The hawks are neat when combined with jetbikes, because they mean that the enemy must leave quite a lot of forces defending their home objectives, or the hawks will kill the cultists/guardsmen/firewarriors, and the jetbikes will claim the objective. Plus, the whole perfect drop then jumping behind cover thing works so well against just about anything that a 6 strong unit (for the large blast)can normally pay for itself (provided you don't fail every reserve roll and come in when the enemies had nothing but tanks, which I did in a recent game). The spiders are good because they're so mobile, and can put out a scary amount of high strength fire, as well as being moderately resilient.

    1. As I say, neither unit is awful I just don't think we'll see them all that much in competitive play.

  4. Do you even play this game? Range 6 on shining spears is not an issue, it's basically another CC attack, check the AP value. Hawks are dirt cheap, come with lovely pieplate that ignores cover and is AP 4, prefect for hordes, and 3 shot AP 5 lasguns are nothing to sneeze at. Combine with haywire and no scatter on DS, you have objective clearer. Vypers cost the same as before, but are BS4 and have cheaper weapons, so the only bad thing with them was fixed.
    And please, what AV did you expect eldar fighter to be? If it can take out vendetta/helldrake on turn it comes, it's good enough to me.

    1. Range 6 on shining spears is still an issue. Great for those couple of turns when you charge but how often are your charges more than 6" in all of these games you must play? I can see their AP is good for marines but seriously for the points there are better units in this book. S6 AP3 on the charge with 2 attacks each is hardly stellar. If you don't kill them when charging you're then stuck with S3 attacks. Unless you pay for Hit & Run which makes an already expensive unit even more so.

      I agree 16pts isn't much to pay for Swooping Hawks. Indeed I haven't actually said they're awful at all. I merely pointed out that their main trick is the pie plate and people have to decide if it's worth it. Personally I don't think dealing with hordes will be much of an issue for Eldar so I don't see the use for the swooping hawks. If you can't win objective games without them you're doing something wrong with this book.

      Vypers are by no means awful either I just pointed out that for their points war walkers are probably more effective. Both are pretty flimsy but you have to weight that against fire power and in that case the war walkers beat them point for point. You can't think of units in isolation. Yeah Vypers are fine but compared to other things in the book they lose out. I'd rather spend the points on other things. You may disagree because they fit in with your playstyle but a blog is by definition an account of personal opinion.

      I didn't really expect the fighter to be higher AV. The new trend for flyers is lower AV but it still grates compared to a heldrake, stormraven or vendetta which are all similar points but AV12. Granted some of them will be updated soon(ish) but for now you can't ignore that AV10 is weak. Of course it can take a vendetta out the turn it comes on but then what? It isn't a guarantee you take the vendetta out and you can be pretty sure you won't get to fire again. Any opponent with a decent number of flyers isn't going to let such an easily destroyed unit hang around. You have to decide if 180pts is worth it. Personally I want to field at least one because with some reserves manipulation they can be great against armies with a single flyer but if you're playing multiple flyers you need more than just a crimson hunter anyway.

  5. You seem a little disappointed by warp spiders, yet they are truly a real gem. You run 4 of them and a exarch with twin linked and fast shot, giving you 3 twin-linked bs5 shots and 8 bs4 shots. This unit is then placed in reserves and deepstrikes behind a crutial unit, preferably a vehicles like a battlewagon with weak back armor. With 12 in range guns, fleet and battle focus scattering should not be an issue. The war spiders will usually destroy this unit. You can also warp jump on the turn they arrive, spreading them out. They are a perfect line breaking unit and also force your opponent to deal with them else they wreck another vehicle. Not to talk about that they all have a 3+ save, so they can still absorb some fire power (still toughness 3)


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