2Q22 Faction Focus: Nick Nanavati Talks Harlequins

Games Workshop dropped its Q2 Balance Dataslate for 40k in mid-April, dramatically changing a number of key factions. Astra Militarum, Marines and Sisters were buffed, Harlequins, T’au, and Custodes were nerfed, and some key game rules were changed. Now with Tyranids looming on the horizon, we’re looking at several key factions and examining their place in this new emerging meta.

In today’s article we’re joined by Nick Nanavati from The Art of War, who will be providing his thoughts on Harlequins, and whether they’re still hot in the new meta.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


Faction Overview

Harlequins are sitting in an interesting spot in this new post-balance dataslate world. Immediately upon codex release they came out of the gate with the legendarily broken 9 void weaver list, which was so powerful it eclipsed all other competitive innovations and explorations, putting up punishing 80% win rates. Now, Voidweavers have been nerfed, the meta has reset and added Tyranids, and we can finally start to unpack Cegorach’s favorite clowns.

Voidweaver spam withstanding, Harlequins’ strengths lie in their ability to move elegantly through models and terrain features with the ability to Advance and charge. This lets them make very precise, calculated strikes into the enemy army to steal their primary objectives, secure secondaries, and kill key units. They have a very good secondary game as well. Stranglehold, Engage on All Fronts, and Behind Enemy Lines are all viable secondaries to the Harlequin player for the Battlefield Supremacy category. Deadly Performace is an amazing option in No Mercy No Respite, which far outweighs the challenges of To the Last. Finally, in addition to the standard “go-tos” of Raise the Banners High and Retrieve Nachmund Data, Harlequins have a pretty decent psychic secondary game.

Harlequins hit hard, especially when using the Dark Saedath, however not insanely hard. While Light and Twilight both have their unique abilities, in the current meta where Armor of Contempt rules the day I think the AP bonus given by Dark is mandatory to be able to contend with Marine targets. Harlequins at AP-2 really won’t make headway quickly into a bucket of terminators sitting on an objective. On top of that Harlequins will still struggle with damage reduction abilities since almost all of their shooting and combat is damage 2. They will also struggle with toughness 8 targets. Spamming Voidweavers eliminates both of these durability break points, which allows Harelquins to function as an army that can kill every archetype in the game, though at 130 points per model I think void weavers will be a helpful tool rather than the main focus of the army (thankfully).

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Matchups

Harlequins thrive against armies they can outmaneuver and that cannot credibly shoot them effectively. They will have more success on tables with heavier terrain, since it allows for more opportunity to creatively move block your opponent and hide from their fire power. They’re also not a big fan of durable objective secured or mortal wounds in mass. From a meta perspective they are looking fairly decently placed.

The Positive:

If you’re playing Dark Harlequins and have adequate terrain, Marines and Tau should both be pretty winnable matches. Harlequins in general should be able to outmaneuver marines very effectively, and Dark packs the AP to actually kill them. Tau aren’t packing too much indirect fire these days, and Dark has the lovely utility stratagem to ignore Overwatch. Eldar will be trickier with their speed, firepower, and mortal wound output. They’re also highly vulnerable to Assassination plays from your Foot in the Future Troupe Master. Eldar v Harlequins will really come down to the generalship on both ends.

The Struggle:

The biggest challenge in terms of matchups for Harlequins is Tyranids due to their crazy durability per cost and high mortal wound output. But that’s old news–who isn’t riding the struggle bus vs Tyranids? Harlequins will also have a hard time with Grey Knights and Thousand Sons (both of which I think are very powerful in the new metagame), each of which really pushes the upper limits of Harelquins’ killing power and poses interesting challenges to accomplishing what are otherwise normally safe psychic secondaries. These armies also have the ability to clear screens in the psychic phase, then teleport to a new spot with 40+ bolter shots, which is a very powerful thing against our fragile clown people.

Credit: Robert “TheChirugeon” Jones

Building for the new Meta

When you’re writing an army list it’s important to first determine your army’s premise, i.e. how your army plans to win the game. Since we can no longer follow the beautiful three-step plan of “take 9 voidweavers, kill everything, calculate points later,” we will have to get a bit more creative. Our lists need to focus on actively playing the mission and scoring points, with killing as a means to an end, not Plan A.

The List

Harlequins Battalion Detachment

HQ: Troupe Master- WL Foot in the future, Queen of Shards, Ceogorach’s Rose, 110
HQ: Shadowseer- Mirror architect, twilight pathways, mirror of minds 125
HQ: Shadowseer- webway dance, shards of light 100

Troops: 5 Troupes- 2 embrace, 1 kiss, 1 caress 85
Troops: 5 Troupes- 2 kiss, 2 caress, 1 embrace 90
Troops: 5 Troupes- 2 kiss, 2 caress, 1 embrace 90
Troops: 10 Troupes- 2 kiss, 2 caress, 1 embrace 155
Troops: 10 Troupes- 2 kiss, 2 caress, 1 embrace 155
Troops: 10 Troupes- 2 kiss, 2 caress, 1 embrace 155

HS: Voidweaver 130
HS: Voidweaver 130
HS: 3 Voidweavers 390

DT: Starweaver 95
DT: Starweaver 95
DT: Starweaver 95

This army has a ton of tactical flexibility on the table, and you can even catch me playing a game with a prototype version of this army on our youtube channel.

The army is designed to systematically launch units at your opponent to contest an objective, score a stranglehold, kill a key unit, and move block another, all at once, every turn. Simultaneously, it should be quite capable of mustering a psychic secondary and Deadly performance. When played correctly this army should have just about nothing left alive by turn 5, however by that point you should also have a huge advantage on the scoreboard.

Harlequins are an amazing army for setting the pace and tempo of a match. Since they are one of, if not, THE fastest army in the game the onus comes onto you, the general, to determine when and where to attack. I rarely try to simply blitz my opponent and rush up with everything. A big part of playing an army with speed is having control in the game, and being able to leverage that control to pick and choose favorable engagements is a far better strategy than simply using your speed to run at your opponent.

This army is all about using Fire and Fade on your large Voidweaver unit to keep it shooting for 5 turns while the rest of your units are there to “simply” play the mission.

Wrapping Things Up

Overall, despite the nerfs to Harelquins I think the army is an awesome spot. They still have all the tools they need to compete, and while they aren’t without their weaknesses, they are truly a high skill cap army that rewards mastery.

You can get more great analysis and insight from the Art of War by heading over to our site. Become a part of our awesome community and enjoy your hobby even more!


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