Tuesday, July 3, 2012

40k 6th Edition - An Eldar Perspective

My last post gave a general overview of what I felt where the important changes made in 6th Edition 40k.  Now this post will turn my gaze towards a specific army, namely my favorite, Eldar.  How did 6th edition affect the Craftworld Eldar?  What about individual units?  I aim for this post to be a cogent article on how each of the Eldar units were affected by the release of 6th Edition 40K.  Now, these observations and judgements are made without any actual game experience and also with only a rough read through of the rules and the corresponding Eldar Codex FAQ.  I may have missed things and if so, I invite everyone to leave comments below.  At the end of the day I hope this post will generate a thoughtful discussion on the current state of my favorite Warhammer 40k army.

The overall state of the Eldar I feel has improved.  They are still an army of elite units and they still excel at hit-and-run or concentrating strength strategies as in previous editions.  While certainly certain units received sizable losses in power, many others gained what was lost or more.  The book itself feels incredibly dated though.  Everything from general layout and flow to certain rule descriptions.  The codex also lacks any degree of flexibility that the newer books allow.


Avatar - The Avatar gained a fair amount with the addition of Move Through Cover, Relentless, Fear, Hammer of Wrath, and Smash Universal Special Rules (USR).  Hammer of Wrath grants an additional attack at I10, although the AP will be "-".  Smash allows for the attacks to be AP2 and also makes the avatar far better at destroying vehicles.  Additionally the FAQ lets the Avatar keep the 4+ invulnerable save, something which other daemons don't get.  

Overall the Avatar gained in 6th edition and I feel he will perform better in close combat than previously and could fill multiple roles on the battlefield.  As a monstrous creature he can take on vehicles and infantry pretty easily and he has good durability with his basic statline and the 4+ invulnerable save he kept.  As a character he can issue challenges which is pretty huge.  Charge him in on his lonesome, challenge a character or sergeant, and the squad can't fight for at least a turn.  Also as a character the Avatar, at least for now, benefits from the "Look Out Sir!" rule and can also be the "Warlord" for the army.  I think more Eldar players will consider the Avatar as an option moving forward.

Farseer - Farseers didn't gain a whole lot but they are distinct in a number of ways due to other changes in 6th edition.  For starters, they have one of the best passive psychic defenses in the game.  Forcing all enemy psykers on the board to roll 3d6 and drop the lowest for psychic powers is incredibly strong.  They also have the only save against Perils of the Warp in the game with their ghosthelm.  At last, farseers became Mastery Level 1 psykers and can boost that to a 2 with spirit stones (presumably).  They also have access to a wide variety of psyker powers from the telepathy and divination lores.  

Farseers only gained in power.  They lost nothing and with the downgrades to psychic hoods, the lethality of Perils of the Warp, and the general minor changes to psychic powers, they only gained additions.  They still suck at combat, so Eldar generals need to watch out for challenges, but remember the glorious intervention rule.

Autarch - Autarchs really didn't gain or lose much of anything.  Their access to various wargear types now grants them the troop type accordingly and all the bonuses, but otherwise Eldar players will take Autarchs for the same reason they did before, the bonus to reserves.  Eldar generals will be especially pressed for HQ choices once Eldar have a flyer released and Autarchs can really start to help them arrive earlier in the game.

Phoenix Lords - I won't break these out, but Phoenix Lords became slightly more viable with the power weapon changes.  Now they don't have to worry about most power weapons cutting through their 2+ save.  I still think they will remain a niche choice until they receive a proper invulnerable save, but at least now they aren't considered a poor investment in points (just not optimal).

Warlocks - Again, no real change here although conceal is incredibly over-costed now and jetbikes probably a little under-costed.  Do note the change to witchblades.  They are not as effective against armor as they once were.

Striking Scorpion - Remain roughly the same.

Fire Dragons - Vehicle changes make Fire Dragons both more powerful as well as less of a "required" option.  Since more thinks can wreck a vehicle Eldar players will not have to rely on Fire Dragons to punch through vehicles as much.  Instead they can either leave them at home and save the points or they can concentrate them on other threats like terminators.  Exarch's crack shot to ignore cover will prove invaluable though since vehicles now gain cover at 25% of exposed hull.

Wraithguard - They were strong versus vehicles before and they grew even more powerful given their weapons ability to glance at ease.  Otherwise they are largely untouched.

Howling Banshees - Grew decidedly weaker in 6th edition.  The power weapon changes have made them less likely to hold their own against heavy armor like terminators and meganobz.  Overwatch will be a real problem with their relatively weak armor.  Lastly, Banshees can't rely on transprts anymore.  With the inability to move around in a vehicle and charge the turn they disembark, Banshees will have to wither at least a round of shooting before charging.  So while the banshees may hit hard versus power armor, they really have to pick and choose their targets more carefully.

Harlequins - Harlequins really gained quite a bit from the FAQ.  They have both shrouding and Stealth so they have a 5+ Save and opponents have to roll as if for night fight.  Again, with the changes to vehicles and quite possibly less reliance on transports, harlequins may make a comeback to be the close combat specialists within the Eldar that they were in 4th Edition.

Dire Avengers - Dire Avengers remained about the same.  I am curious if one can bladestorm when snapfiring or with overwatch.  Otherwise they largely grew more reliable given the new changes to regrouping and being able to drop down far lower in numbers and still recover.

Rangers - Snipers gained some power in 6th edition with being able to call shots if they roll a 6 to-hit.  Given that Eldar rifles are AP1 on a to-hit roll of a 6, this synergy is pretty amazing.  Also, with snapfire snipers are a bit more mobile and can do more than camp objectives if necessary.

Guardians - They were pretty horrible before and just as bad now.  They are useful purely for holding backboard objectives and will otherwise be cut down from rapidfire bolters or any number of other rapidfire weapons which can fire double the distance. The one advantage?  They can regroup all the way down to 25%.

Guardian Jetbikes - Holy crap on a cracker these things received a boost.  They are now one of the best troop choices in the Eldar book.  Bikes (of all varieties) offer up a +1 toughness now.  This isn't bracketed like in past editions, so it's plan +1T.  This means bike characters can't be squashed by IG power fists.  Regardless, jetbikes gained the jink rule which grants them an invulnerable save as  long as they move.  In addition, turbo-boost became a ridiculous 36" for Eldar jetbikes and they can now move 2d6" in the assault phase (even if not assaulting).

So what we have here is an Eldar unit that is considered scoring, is T4, 3+ Save, 5+/4+ invulnerable save, and can turbo-boost halfway across the long edge of the table.  Talk about fantastic!  All this and Eldar jetbikes are extremely affordable.

Shining Spears - This is another unit hit by the power weapon changes.  However, all the powerful additions to the Eldar jetbikes give this unit a gain ultimately.  throw in an exarch with skilled rider for the ability to make the jink save even better and you have a survivable squad of jetbikes.  That being said, they are still over-costed.

Warp Spiders - Jump Infantry received some pretty perks in 6th edition however,  most of them don't exactly add to the Warp Spiders forte of jumping in, cutting a bloody swath through units, and then jumping away.  However, they did return the ability of a Warp Spider to cause considerable damage to light vehicles again.  With S6 and Assault 2 a squad of Warp Spiders can easily lay waste to an entire squadron of light vehicles and then make a hasty retreat.

Swooping Hawks - No change here.  Swooping Hawks are still the bastard children of the Eldar codex. Their one shining moment is that they hit vehicles on a 4+ with their haywire grenades so can be used against hovering transports.  Additionally, they can snap fire a single grenade per shooting phase at a nearby flyer.  Otherwise, guardians are a more useful choice.

Vyper Squadron - With the squadron changes Vypers picked up some bonuses.  Immobilization results are no longer instant death to squadron mates so Vyper squads will sport 6 hull points to be wiped out and are a great choice for scatter laser spam given the relatively uncontested Fast Attack slots.

Support Weapons - Finally I have a reason to break out my plethora of D-Cannons.  Artillery is back!  The changes to Artillery reflect the sturdiness of the artillery units themselves.  No longer can a single random boltgun destroy an artillery piece on a lucky glance.  Now they have T7, 2W and a 3+ armor save.  With that change, artillery will start to see a comeback.  D-Cannons are absolutely vicious and Vibro-Cannons are useful as well for wrecking vehicles or thinning out herds of infantry.

Dark Reapers - Dark Reapers gained nothing directly from 6th Edition but the crack shot remains useful with abundant cover saves on the table (even if they are reduced to 5+)

Wraithlord - Again, the bonuses given to monstrous creatures are pretty impressive and one, Hammer of Wrath, helps the Wraithlord with one of the unit's biggest shortfalls, a low A characteristic.  While one additional attack won't change the world, the Wraithlord nonetheless gained a little bit of power.  Now, while the Wraithlord gained some utility and power, they largely lost the ability to tar-pit units.  Why?  Units can choose to fail their morale checks and run away from models they cannot harm.  For non vanilla marines, this is a huge bonus as now they can run away in the Eldar's assault phase, and then shoot plasma, missile launchers, etc at the Wraithlord's face.

War Walkers - Really didn't gain much.  Survivability is roughly the same by my estimation.  It didn't take much to kill them before and it still doesn't.  That being said, it is unlikely a single penetrating hit will destroy them (or any other vehicle) so one could argue they gained some extension to their length of time spent in the game.

Falcon Grav-Tank - Still the red-headed child of Eldar tanks.  It still suffers from the "I don't do anything well" syndrome.  Nonetheless, it benefits most from the new rules for vehicles since it possess the most number of weapons on an Eldar tank.  Choosing to snap fire the Pulse Laser or the auxiliary weapon will largely depend on  the target priority.  As for all Eldar vehicles, Holofields should not be considered mandatory anymore.

Fire Prism - Gained a boost from the changes to vehicles, skimmers, fast vehicles, and blast weapons.  Now even if the blast scatters their is a chance that the vehicle will still be clipped for the full strength of the hit.  This makes multiple fire prisms especially nasty.

Nightspinner - Again, same boosts as the other Eldar skimmers.  Given the importance of moving and the effects of difficult terrain on various troops and their charge distances, the Nightspinner proves to be an interesting area denial tool.

Wave Serpent - While the addition of the new skimmer rules and the vehicles rules in general added usefulness to this otherwise horribly overpriced transport, they really suffered a setback from the loss of being able to ferry around assault troops to their destination.  So overall Eldar get a vehicle that is slightly more survivable with expensive weapon upgrades that must drop off assault troops and let them get shot, all for the low price of two Dark Eldar Raiders (which are slightly less survivable, have a free lance weapon, and count as an assault vehicle).

Moving Forward
So where do the Eldar go from here?  Well, I am certain we will see an Eldar flyer in the short term.  Otherwise the Eldar need to be desperately rewritten.  A few point reductions here, a few whole unit rewrites there, some new models for age old models like the Avatar, and BAM!  Done.

I think GW has a great opportunity to make the next Eldar book extremely interesting.  I honestly think Swooping Hawks may find their role in "Flyer-Denial".  Imagine a unit of Jump Infantry that could "Swoop" like flying monstrous creatures?  Then when doing so can assault flyers with their haywire grenades?  I know it's a bit of wish-listing, but I think the Swooping Hawks deserve a unique role and I think, because of their unique status in the fluff as the only jump infantry that can technically sustain actual long-term flight, that being made into anti-flyer assault troops that can lay down some support fire from the sky, would be amazing.

Otherwise, I will wait with my fingers crossed and hope that GW doesn't decide to do another "4th Edition Chaos" treatment to my beloved Eldar.

So how have your battles with Eldar in 6th Edition been going?


  1. Impressive and complete, i must rewrite all my eldar force configurations soon...

    1. Thanks! I've had to really reconsider my lists as well. I really wish guardians were more viable (or just cheaper) as I would move even further away from vehicles, but right now I'm planning on using a bunch of jetbikes for troops.

  2. One thing you missed... I your assessment of the Harlequins, their cover save in the open is 4+. The Shouding USR gives 5+, and Stealth gives 6+. It specifically states that these two saves STACK in the BRB. So any unit with those two have a 4+ save out in the open :). go Harlequins and Tau Stealth Suits!

  3. One thing you might want to think of regarding the changes to 6th. ed. is overwatch. Overwatch WILL hurt most of our units as the units are far to small, with too low toughness and (mostly)too thin armour. Assault has taken a huge beating in 6th. :(
    Also you've forgotten that the swooping hawks can strip away hullpoints very fast from vehicles with their haywire grenades.

    Lastly: all characters can chose the target model, as if they were snipers today. meaning Dark reapers with missile launchers and Dragons with fire pikes can do some nasty damage to characters.
    Thanks for a good run down mate =)

    1. Thanks Enigma! That is true as far as overwatch. Although it can be mitigated to some extent by keeping a character out front with a good save (Phoenix Lords are perfect for this).

      Swooping Hawks do work great against vehicles but they suffer from a similar problem as banshees, they are incredibly fragile with T3 and 4+ armor. So they aren't useless, but for their points, I think there are better options.

      Characters can pick targets in the same ways as snipers... so if they roll a 6 to hit. I didn't include that in this breakdown because that is something I just learned the other day actually. Still, good find and they most certainly can!

  4. Can cover saves be used against overwatch fire? If so harlequins just got even more amazing!

  5. What do you think about the Wraithguard as troop choice? 10 units is very expensive, but hard to kill. I am contemplating one vs. imperial guard, take out some tanks! But you cant mount that unit in a serpent. I guess jetbikes are the way to go, but I don't have many quite yet...

    1. Wraith as troops can works. A unit of 10 can take a lot of firepower, particularly with a warlock with conceal and fortune cast upon them. Great for claiming objectives albeit expensive.

      Most armies will try and avoid the unit and engage at long range. The key is to give them many other significant threats so they are forced to choose. If they focus on one of the big threats then the other is intact, if they spread their fire around then both may be in fighting shape upon reaching the enemy lines.

      Wraithguard troops run in the same list as a harlequin deathstar (or the cheaper scorpion deathstar) work great, especially when backed up by some long-range firepower from War Walkers, Dark Reapers, Fire Prisms, etc. Fast moving threats will also throw off the opponent so lots of jetbikes, vypers, warp spiders, or other fast units may cause them to panic and react to those units instead of the actual threats.

      *Whew* Long response. As with anything Eldar though, it's not about a single unit. It's about the harmony and balance of multiple units acting in concert with one another.

  6. Regarding the Harlequins: are you sure about the " and opponents have to roll as if for night fight" part? The faq states that the entire veil of tears section is replaced by stealth and shrouded.

    1. At the time this article was written the harlequin's had not been FAQ'd to lose the "roll to spot" part of their rules.

      You are correct though, they did receive a FAQ back in August/September timeframe that removed that section from the shadowseer. Harlequins are still awesome though.