9th Edition Faction Focus: Harlequins

An article by    Competitive Play Gaming Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

9th edition is on the way, and with it a whole raft of changes to the factions of Warhammer 40,000. With the Munitorum Field Manual out in the wild and the Faction FAQs released, now’s a good time to start taking a look at what’s changed for all of our favorite armies. Here, Gunum starts to dive in with one of the unexpected winners of the past couple months, the Harlequins. 

Clowning Around

Well, team, we’ve finally made it. It’s time to dig into the upcoming 9th points changes for our clowns. We have some real winners, some losers, and some so-so changes made. What we will be doing here is going through all of the changes that have been applied to our units, one battlefield role at a time. We will also be diving into the FAQs and some tips I’ve found with playing 9th and some good choices for secondaries. Normally I’d want to drag Cyle, into this so he could give his thoughts on how incredibly right I am on all my viewpoints, but he’s busy with -REDACTED- so I’ll be going on a solo, unsupervised, journey today.

Let’s dive in.

The Roster Breakdown

Headquarters

When we are looking at our clowns as a stand-alone faction, our options have always been very limited, with only our Troupe Masters and Shadowseers to lead our glorious clowns to murder victory.   With that being said, our two leaders have gone up a small amount in cost. About 4% for the Shadowseer and 8% for the Troupe Master. When It comes right down to it, these point changes aren’t what I would call game-breaking, but if you’re like me and take 3 of each of these guys, an extra 30+ points in cost for the HQ tax can shake things up a little bit.

Does this change anything for our list building? No, I really don’t think anything changes. I do think that we will have to find places to cut back on the leadership of our forces. With all of the PA changes we were given, I’ve personally had a hard time not taking 2 Troupe Masters and 3 Shadowseers in almost every single list I make. With the new Look out, Sir! rules our really important HQs will be in a great place right now. Shield from Harm only becomes more and more important.

When we are looking at the two units the clear loser, if we had to pick one, is the Troupe Master. The murder Master we have all been just loving since the PA being dropped going up in price is just kinda rude if you think about it – though both the Troupe Master and the Shadowseer only went up by the standard 5pts, which isn’t too bad in the scheme of things. Our options are all tied up in these two HQs being able to provide the largest force multiplier they can, from the Prince of Light build to using him as a second kind of Solitaire. I see him leaning more into that role moving forward, really focused on close combat and character assassination.

When we are looking at our great leader, the Shadowseer, their small point increase isn’t the end of the world either when we are looking at things like our Pivotal Roles and just the general force multiplier they provide. The only cost increase for them is just the base price, most of our ranged weapons were untouched by points increases. We are still going to want these ladies(?) right in the middle of our Troupe blobs providing as much support as possible.

I wish I had more to say here, but when it comes right down to it we only have our two teammates here to pick from. The thing to really be excited about is that our close combat weapons went down about an average of 10% and that will allow us to really offset some of the price increases to make our Troupe Masters feel like the murder machines they were in the twilight days of 8th edition.

Harlequins Troupe. Credit: Corrode

Troo(u)p(e)s

Okay. Troupes. How can we talk about Troupes and still be able to explore their utility and changes, while still being able to brag up how good they can be even though they are our only choice. Well, I think first we gotta talk about what is changing which is their best cost.

Their cost on the base model goes up 27% and with that, our expensive T3 murder-sons continue to be one of the more expensive options in the game. The utility provided by our Rising Crescendo can really allow our clowns to continue to bend the rules a little bit. Being able to act however we want, at all times is still a huge deal, especially with all the changes to engagement ranges and close combat. Being able to focus on our unit’s mobility is going to be a HUGE deal, especially with the smaller table sizes.

With the cost increase, we have, hand in hand, price decreases for our weapons! Kisses go down 14%, Caresses down 14%, and Fusion Pistols going down a big 28%. Now, I don’t know how the rest of the world likes to play their lists but I really feel there is a strength to taking units who are comprised of either a fusion pistol or a melee weapon per player and not stacking too much on one model, so overall prices stay very similar to 8th.

As far as list building goes, I still don’t see much of a big change for us when it comes to the make-up of our Battalions and what our troupes are equipped with. We have our foot-quins, which we will need to be much more careful with due to the prevalence of the new Blast rule, we’ll want our foot units to be at 10 model squads. We can still protect them with things like Prismatic Blur and Shield from Harm. Also with the price decrease on the weapons, we are looking at off-setting the price increase of the troupes, allowing us to still take fusion pistols on our boat-bois, or a single weapon on our foot clowns.

If you’re taking a pistol and a CC weapon on your players, please, for myself and the good of your lists, stop doing that. 

Elites

So this section, as with all of my sections, is a bit limited. We have TWO, that’s right count ’em, TWO choices for Elite – the Heroic Solitaire and the guys who have guns/jokes so scary entire armies cover their ears, the Death Jester. Both models only went up a few points – Death Jesters 5 and Solitaires 4 (once you include their mandatory wargear), which is a minimal change, and with our new PA update the Death Jester is almost an auto-include of 3 in every single list. Not only that, but with the changes to the Morale phase we are looking at a powerful ranged threat that has to be dealt with. Their guns didn’t go up in price, thankfully, and I had expected a higher price hike with the recent buffs they received. Being able to hide these monsters inside of our Starweavers is just the high mobility threat we could really need.

The Solitaire right now is a conundrum for me. I still think he’s an auto take and is more than able to fulfill that assassin, small unit, killing role that he’s been doing so well, for so long. As mentioned above, his price change on the base model is offset by both of his weapons getting cheaper. We should still see him running around, grabbing people with his crazy ghost hands as often as possible. One big change, of course, is the -1 to hit being capped. My poor Dodge-a-taire is completely gone and with him the use of his artifact. I’ve really been on the fence on if he is worth even using the Pivotal Role stratagem.

Fast Attack

We have arrived at the biggest loser of our price increases I feel, the coveted Skyweavers. Now these bad bois, our primary anti-tank and also a powerful close combat unit to boot, have gone up 25% on the base unit. This is a case of good news, bad news with these guys, as their cost may have gone up, but the Zephyrglaive went down 16% and the haywire cannon has stayed at its 8th edition cost of 15 points. At their new price I don’t see these guys being as much of a staple in pure ‘Quins lists right now. In the playtesting I’ve been doing they just haven’t been able to carry the weight that the price tag has demanded of them. Now, they can still be used as a mean slingshot unit to threaten people in close combat. Mix in Prismatic Blur with Cegorach’s Jest and a brick of 6 can be a real annoying threat for anybody!

The cost increase is the real issue here, they are still going to be kinda playable but are we going to be seeing them in units of 6 anymore, especially with Blast to think about? Maybe. Maybe not. They also lose some of their defensive capabilities, as they can no longer push to -2 to hit. I personally will be either running them in small squads of 2-3 or not at all.

Heavy Support

Hear Me Out reader, we’ve gotten to one of the winners of the changes, our only Heavy Support choice, the mighty* Voidweaver. These little gunboats sporting 2 shuriken cannons and the haywire cannon/prismatic cannon, can put out a lot of fire. I really have found great luck putting all three into target units and watching those pretty 6s hit the table to rend away people’s saves. I can see a real use for these due to their high movement and weapons all being assault. With the smaller table, it will even be harder for people to stay outside of their 24″ range.  Might be a sleeper unit.

This is a unit I can really see being taken in a single battalion as a backline to help with holding objectives as well as putting rounds into units that are threatening the midfield. With their innate -1 to be hit, and their 4++ invulnerable they really will have some of the stick and move that is going to be very helpful with this new edition.

Group of Harlequin characters

Harlequin characters. Credit: Corrode

Dedicated Transport

The tried and true drive-by machine, the Starweaver is left untouched and pure. It has the same points, the weapons weren’t increased. GW must feel as we all do about our beloved transport, it’s perfect just the way it is.

Keep delivering my Murder Clowns to victory, you sweet, sweet prince.

Lighting Fast FAQ

Now, with all that out of the way. Let’s jump into our FAQ and the things our GW overlords blessed us with right away. These can all be found on Warhammer Community’s web page.

*Pages 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60 – Troupe Master, Shadowseer, Troupe, Death Jester, and Solitaire, Abilities, Flip Belt Change to read: ‘Each time this unit makes a Normal Move, Advances, Falls Back or makes a charge move, until that move is finished, models in this unit can move horizontally through models and terrain features (they cannot finish a move on top of another model or its base).

  • This is a pretty great FAQ when it comes right down too it, it basically just clarifies that we can almost fly without flying. The biggest issue here is, GW has completely missed ENGAGEMENT RANGE! Unlike our true flying counterparts, we are unable to actually cruise over the shoulders of enemy models. This is hopefully an oversight, but come on GW, clowns need this.

*Page 59 – Death Jester
Change this model’s Deadly Hunter ability to read: ‘Each time you select a target for a ranged attack made by this model, you can ignore the Look Out, Sir rule.’

  • Our Death Jesters can shoot at characters. News at 11.

Q: Does an attack made by a model with the Jest Inescapable Pivotal Role always ignore cover, or only on a wound roll of 6?
A: Only on a wound roll of 6.

  • Death Jester clarification that was probably needed? I don’t know how many people are scared of ignore cover, but with a Cegorach’s Lament on this guy, I can understand.

*Page 60 – Solitaire, Abilities, Blitz
Change the first sentence to read:
‘Once per battle, when you make a Normal Move with the Solitaire, you can make a Blitz move with it.

  • Blitz is now a Normal Move, hurrah! I had a whole thing written about this, but then they dropped another fast FAQ on us, so I had to delete all my salt.

*Page 69 – Masque Forms, Dreaming Shadow: Somber Sentinels Change the first sentence to read: ‘Each time a Combat Attrition test is taken for a unit with this form, it is automatically passed.’

This is a pretty fine adjustment. Our units are usually not very large, and with the addition of the Blast special rule, I don’t see our units ever being maxed size again. It’s a fine addition, but one I don’t see being used very often.

*Page 72 – Stratagems, The Labyrinth Laughs, rules text Change the second sentence to read: ‘Immediately set up one Aeldari unit from your army that has not yet been deployed from the webway, wholly within 3″ of the Webway Gate and not within Engagement Range of any enemy units.’

Add the following: ‘Units set up with this Stratagem can be set up during the first battle round, regardless of any mission rules.’ (WEBWAY PORTAL BUFF?!)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Warrior Acrobats and Chromatic Rush cannot be combined
  • Cegorach’s Lament is definitely not a shrieker cannon for Shrieking Doom
  • Twilit Encore had a slight tweak to wording to make the functioning clearer, no material change.

 

Credit: TheChirurgeon

Lists

So for the first list, I wanted to take something that may look a little familiar, the list from my PA post, and adjust it to the current point values to see what I really want to change. Now, I want to be upfront with everyone here, this is not a good list for 9th. Don’t play this. But what it DOES do is show what we lost vs what we had.  So with the cost increases, I can keep the foot presence and most of the characters I want to really take advantage of all the PA changes. Not only that, but with the CP changes, I am starting way in the hole with only 3 CP, which is not a great thing. I think I’ll be going fully into the Prince of Light Troupe Master that Boon and Wings like so much. With the release of the new GT packet coming up soon, I’ll definitely be making some changes with this list to match the missions, but right now with the smaller board, I think we’re in an amazing spot for the new world to come.

An 8th list brought into a 9th world

1,983-ish Points after new costs:

CP Spending – 12cp > 7cp Detachment > 4cp Extra Relics > 3cp Pivotal Role x1 > 0cp Extra Detachment

Harlequins Battalion Detachment (0 CP Cost)

Masque Form: The Dreaming Shadow: Sombre Sentinels

Enigmas of the Black Library (2 Extra Relics)

HQ: Shadowseer: Dreaming Shadow: Warlord: Warden of the Dead, Fog of Dreams, Veil of Tears, Shuriken Pistol, Role: Veil of Illusion, Free Relic: The Shadowstone
HQ: Shadowseer: Role: Sheild from Harm, Neuro Disruptor, Mirror of Minds, Twilight Pathways.

Troops: Troupe x10 w/Harlequin’s Kiss, 2x Fusion Pistol
Troops: Troupe x10 w/Harlequin’s Kiss, 2x Fusion Pistol
Troops: Troupe x10 w/Harlequin’s Kiss, 2x Fusion Pistol

Harlequins Battalion Detachment (5CP Cost)

 Masque Form: The Dreaming Shadow: Sombre Sentinels

HQ: Troupe Master w/ Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Kiss Role: Darkness’ Bite
HQ: Troupe Master w/ Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade Role: Prince of Light

Troops: Troupe w/Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade
Troops: Troupe w/Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade
Troops: Troupe w/Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Blade

FA: 6x Skyweavers w/ Haywire Cannon, Zephyrglaives

DT: Starweaver

Harlequins Vanguard Detachment (2 CP cost)

The Dreaming Shadow: Sombre Sentinels

HQ:

Troupe Master – Role: Regular w/Fusion Pistol, Harlequin’s Caress

Elites:

Death Jester – Role: Harvester of Torment
Death Jester – Role: The Jest Inescapable
Death Jester – Role: Humbling Cruelty

Solitaire- Pivotal Role: Unnatural Acrobatics, Extra Relic: The Suit of Hidden Knives (This guy is still pretty terrible with the Caped -1 to hit changes, but I think throwing him into characters could still really be worth it to pay some dividends.)

Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering how this plays and I’ll tell you. Really not great. Some would say -really bad-. The list had lost out on some of the things that made it good. I lost two Starweavers due to the point changes and it was just too strong of a hit to the mobility of the list. And as I have come to learn about 9th, mobility is KING.

So Gunum,” I can hear you asking, “What is a list that we could play as pure Harlequins and actually have a shot at taking some games!?”  Well my friends, do I have a list for you.

Behold!

Hear Me Out, New Clowns in 9th Edition! - Click to expand

Veiled Path – Riddle Smiths Battalion12 cp

HQ

Shadowseer – 115 Mirror of Minds/Move Again ,Shield from Harm -The Shadowstone
Shadowseer – 115 -1 Hit/ -1 to hit Sheild from Harm – Role Veil of Illusion -1 CP (11CP)
Troupe Master – 65 -HQ Blade Warlord – Player of Light/Prince of Light – 1CP Pivotal Role (9CP)

Troops
Troupe 200 10x Kisses
Troupe 200 10x Kisess
Troupe 200 10x Kisses
Troupe 200 10x Kisses
Troupe 95 5x FP
Troupe 95 5x FP

Elite
Solitare 101 – Chromatic Rush
DJ-50 – Harvester of Torment
DJ-50 – The Jest Inescapable (1CP Mythic Role)(9cp) (1cp Extra Relic)(8CP) Cegorachs Lament
DJ-50 – Humbling Cruelty

Heavy Support
Void Weaver – 95 Prismatic Cannon
Void Weaver – 95 Prismatic Cannon
Void Weaver – 95 Prismatic Cannon

Dedicated Transport
Star Weaver – 80
Star Weaver – 80

Okay! So the first thing you’ll notice is that I have more then 0cp to start with like in my first list, starting with a powerful 8cp instead. The next thing I know I’ll be asked about is why Veiled Path. My big reason for this is due to all the changes to negative to hit modifiers, and if there’s anything we can do to keep our guys more survivable in combat well, we’ve got to do it. Using this Masque Form of At the start of each Fight Phase roll two dice and discard the highest result. Until the end of the phase, each time your opponent targets a unit with this form and makes a hit roll that, before modifiers, exactly matches your dice result, the hit roll fails. With this our close combat suddenly has a chance to be a lot more durable when we are looking at the armies we will be tearing into, like Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. Armies that have just as many attacks on us, while we have different ways to mitigate these attacks and keep our clowns alive.

Next, we hit the base idea of the list, the Troupes. I decided to go heavy on the foot game because of the mass support we are able to bring to bear to defend them. From Sheild from Harm to  Veil of Illusion we are able to keep our troops very protected for those early game turns. The spike damaged provided by kisses is something I feel is absolutely required in the world of Primarius marines and two wound models. I still have access to two Star Weaver melta-buses and I have a hard time not taking Death Jesters to go along with them. The Death Jester with the Cegorachs Lament is one of the MVP’s of every single one of my games. With The Jest Inescapable allowing him a 48″ shooting range makes him a real threat.

Finally, you’ll see the Void Weavers here. As I kinda touched on above, these guys have a nice little part of these lists to fill out. With the Shuriken Cannon shots and the Prismatic cannons, suddenly they have a real role for putting the hurt on some elite units.

So, I can still see some doubt in your eyes. “Gunum, this is 50 players. How are you going to WIN GAMES without souping with these guys?! What missions do you even take.” I understand. So we’re gonna dive into my GO TO MISSIONS FOR HARLEQUINS NEXT!

GT Missions Pack

Okay, now if you haven’t picked this up yet. I highly recommend it. I bought it and was immediately impressed with how they lumped the Chapter Approved along with the missions in two very travel-sized books. Totally worth the money. Now there are a collection of difficult missions for us in this book, but the smaller board sizes and the needs of our opponents to hold objectives we can use to our advantage. I’ve played about 10ish games of 9th, and I’ve gone second in MOST of them and I’m sitting at a fine record of 6 – 4. The thing most armies are afraid of is the massive attrition caused by the first turns being pretty punishing to most armies. But to our clowns? Our Diamond boys? Maybe not so much.

Utilizing our tools along with terrain can make us a pretty unmoveable object sometimes. Reducing ranges as well as being able to apply Shield from Harm to our whole army using The Foes of the Mind can really keep us in the game to invest in the bottom of many turns. Our objective is to always be taking away things from our opponent, taking models, taking objectives, and taking away characters. You have mobility! Use it. Most scoring is based on how many objectives somebody holds at the end of their Command Phase, and if we are able to Rip them off of all the midfield objectives? Pretty spicy.

Going into the Secondary Objectives, we have five categories we can choose from, (six if you include the mission-specific secondary.) For Battlefield Supremacy I’m a huge fan of Engage on All Fronts. Now it’s not the highest-scoring secondary we could pick, but it plays right into what we are doing anyway. Being in all the table quarters at the same time, attacking everywhere. (I’ve also been a fan of using Hero’s Path to put two guys into Linebreaker range and start scoring a bunch of points at the cost of the utility of those units.)

Next, for No Mercy, No Respite I love to take While We Stand, We Fight. Now, this is essentially picking the 3 most expensive HQ’s in your army and don’t let them die. Well, I pick my Shadowseers and my Solitare and just use them in purely support roles, never putting them in danger unless I feel safe, and I always keep them near my Troupe blobs. I’ve had pretty good luck with this so far, just gotta keep an eye out for those snipers!

For Purge the Enemy, Assassinate is my go too for obvious reasons. Our army has great ways to attack characters, from the spell Mirror of Minds to our Death Jesters! Always a good pick for us.

Shadow Operations sounds like a category we would be good at, but I’ve been pretty lackluster on this so far. I think Deploy Scramblers is our best choice here. Again, leaning into our mobility, there’s not much people are able to do about our presence in their deployment zone, or even the mid-table to get these points rolling.

Finally, we have the Warpcraft options. Here, I’ve found the best luck with Psychic Ritual. Now, this is the Hear Me Out choice of these objectives. We have to have our guy close to the middle, and he also has to get his spell off 3 times to maximize the points. But it’s a -huge- number for points and with Shield from Harm plus the new Look Out, Sir! rules, I think digging out our second Shadowseer is a tough ask when surrounded by 40 players. Give it a shot and let me know how you guys do! Remember to snipe out those enemy psykers before you start enacting your great plans.

Harlequin, 1888-1890. Credit: Paul Cézanne

Putting It All Together

With looking at all of this information together, I think clowns are still going to be in the “Winner” column when it comes to the changes made in the coming 9th edition. Once again, with the new Psychic Awakening to buff our army into the sky, I don’t see anything really being phased out of what we do already right now. The units work well together, the points work well together, and the reductions in weapons offset the point increases that are put onto our core units. Our faction is already incredibly dynamic with the things we can do, of course coming in at that high price of CP. We are the most CP hungry army in the game, and I don’t see that changing in 9th.

Wrap-up

That’s our first look at Harlies in the new edition – as ever, we’ll be updating our Start Competing articles as and when there’s been more games played and more information is out there and available. In the meantime, we hope the above is a useful guide to where you can get started in 9th. If you have any feedback or comments, then as ever, hit us up on Facebook, in the comments, or at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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