Start Competing: Craftworld Eldar Tactics

An article by    Competitive Play Gaming Start Competing Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Welcome to our guide to learning how to wield the elegant, sophisticated weapon that is the armoury of the Craftworld Aeldari. If you want to play an army of sleek, elegant vehicles filled backed up by deadly Wraith constructs and powerful psykers, supported by a wide array of devious tricks, this army could be for you.

Like the other articles in this series, this one will focus on the core of what the Craftworlds Codex has to offer you, outlining the key units and strategies that form the bread and butter for players using them at every level. This is also the second iteration of this article, representing a substantial re-write – the combination of buffs from Phoenix Rising, point changes in Chapter Approved and the advent of Marine meta have left the old article looking very dated, and it was also one of our oldest SCs, so the time is ripe for a revision

As with the rest of our “getting started” guides, this article isn’t going to go through every single unit in the codex in exhaustive detail, focusing only on the ones that are generally at least somewhat competitive and giving a quick explanation on why some of the other ones

With all that out of the way, let’s start by covering the strengths and weaknesses of the army, hopefully giving you an idea of whether they might be the codex for you!

Army Strengths

  • High mobility.
  • Exceptional vehicles.
  • Some of the best psychic powers in the game.

Army Weaknesses

  • Fragile and expensive infantry.
  • A high number of weak units.
  • Weak against Marines.

 

Competitive Rating

Medium. After being dominant for a lot of the edition, the rise of Marines and the general levelling up of shooting options have hit Craftworlds hard. They’re not bad, and there are good strategies still available, but as an Asuryani player you can find yourself very vulnerable to being smashed off the board by some armies with little they can do. A lot of the units in the codex also look very dated at this point, and plenty are largely worthless. On the flip side, some previously weak units have been given a new lease of life by major point cuts of new abilities, so there’s still plenty to explore.

A well executed Craftworlds game can see you in total command of the board and the enemy boxed in.

Pure Craftworlds are also a decent army to take your first competitive steps with, because their mobility and the array of cool tricks they have available to them mean that you will have lots of options available to you at most points in the game, and can come up with plans to adapt to most situations. While most units are fairly fragile, there are some high-quality core options that can be quite forgiving on the table and teach you how to best make use of your resources.

 

Army Rundown

The Eldar book has a huge number of datasheets in it, but as is somewhat characteristic of earlier codexes, there are quite a lot of options that are either a bit lacklustre or are made redundant by something else doing their job better. The major point rebalances across Chapter Approveds 2018 & 2019 have done a modest amount to address this, but there are some units that are still just pretty terrible at their jobs. Before we get to that, we will cover the various abilities available to the army across special rules, traits, stratagems, powers and relics. Strap in – thanks to Phoenix Rising, this is pretty long.

 

Special Rules

Outside of Path of War (their version of “objective secured”), which is common to all armies, Craftworlds units get two special rules that apply to a lot of units (Battle Focus and Ancient Doom), and a subfaction trait as long as you build detachments from the same Craftworld.

Ancient Doom

We can get Ancient Doom out of the way first because it’s extremely rare that it’s relevant. 

Down with this sort of thing

This ability appears on all units in the codex other than grav-tanks and planes. In a turn where a Craftworld unit charges or is charged by a unit with the “SLAANESH” keyword, they can re-roll hit rolls. However, as long as any SLAANESH units are within 3”, units with this ability add 1 to their morale tests, making it more likely that some models will flee.

This comes up so rarely because of the the double whammy that 

  • It only applies to a sub-faction within a few armies, and because 
  • There really aren’t that many units in the Craftworld Codex that want to be in melee. 

The only time this will likely seriously affect the game with the units discussed in this guide is if a unit of Wraithblades runs into some Slaaneshi models, in which case it’s great, but it doesn’t affect unit selection or evaluation in any way.

Battle Focus

This is much more like it. Most infantry and biker models in the codex (notably excluding Wraith constructs) have this. It allows you to use all non-heavy weapons as if your unit remained stationary even if it moved or, crucially, advanced.

This is a decent bonus – the main Eldar infantry weapon is the shuriken catapult, which is a powerful but short-ranged Assault weapon. Battle Focus lets you use an advance to get units with these into a firing position without the normal penalties to hit. It also lets your units throw a grenade even after advancing, which is a nice bonus given that plasma grenades are substantially better than the frag grenades used by Imperial armies.

Infantry surge into position ready to slay some Daemons

The upshot of this is that unless you’re planning on charging with your infantry units, you can pretty much be advancing with them all the time, meaning that your basic infantry is shuffling an average of 10-11” a turn – nearly twice the speed of the core troops of many armies, helping them to get into or out of trouble very efficiently depending on what the moment demands.

 

Craftworld Attributes

All Eldar units other than a few named characters come from a <CRAFTWORLD> as their subfaction. Like the majority of armies, taking a detachment entirely made up of units from a single sub-faction (in this case a Craftworld) grants a bonus to those units. Unlike for some armies, these don’t just apply to Infantry and Bikers – everything, including vehicles, gets them. As well as this, units from each faction get access to one extra stratagem, and the characters have an extra relic or warlord trait to choose from. There are five of these in the book, and you also have access to custom Craftworlds, where you pick two traits from a pretty extensive list in Phoenix rising.

Named Craftworlds

If you’re starting out trying to build a strong Eldar list there are only two that are worth strongly considering for your core, Alaitoc and Ulthwe, but some of the others have a few neat tricks up their sleeves:

Alaitoc

  • Attribute – Fieldcraft: Your units are at -1 to hit with shooting outside 12″
  • Warlord Trait – Puritanical Leader: Your warlord has a 6″ fearless aura
  • Relic – Shiftshroud of Alanssair: Your warlord can Deep Strike
  • Stratagem – Pathfinders 1CP: A Rangers unit in cover can only be hit on an unmodified 6 for the rest of the phase

Alaitoc is taken for the huge boost to the survivability of your units against a lot of armies, especially those that can stack further hit penalties through other abilities, and was once one of the most powerful faction traits in the whole game. However, this has diminished a lot as Games Workshop have rolled out abilities designed to counter it, and especially as Marines have hit the big time, where their volume of re-rolls and bonuses often lets them nearly ignore this. It’s still very strong against some armies.

The rest of this is merely fine – Pathfinders can be great in a pinch to stop a Ranger unit getting wasted off an objective by a heavily buffed Thunderfire, but you’re here for the trait

Ulthwe

Warlock Skyrunner

Warlock Skyrunner. Credit: Corrode

  • Attribute – Foresight of the Damned: All units have a 6+++ feel no pain.
  • Warlord Trait – Fate Reader: Roll a dice at the start of each turn and gain a CP on a 6
  • Relic – Ghosthelm of Alishasir: +1 to cast Smite
  • Stratagem – Discipline of the Black Guardians 1CP: a GUARDIAN unit gets +1 to hit when it shoots or fights.

Similar to Alaitoc, Ulthwe gives you a widely applicable boost to your durability, something Eldar badly need. It tends to be less good than Alaitoc in a shootout against low BS armies, but if you’re planning to push forward can be considerably better, and doesn’t ever get completely switched off by enemy buffs!

Some of the other tools here are nice as well – Guardian bombs are out of fashion, but Discipline of the Black Guardians is a good boost if you do bring them, and the warlord trait is at least OK. The other thing (and honestly, one of the best things) that Ulthwe brings is the ability to take Eldrad, an extremely powerful named character.

Biel Tan

Falcon Grav Tank

Falcon Grav Tank. Credit: Wings

  • Attribute – Swordwind: re-roll hit rolls of 1 with shuriken weapons. In addition, ASPECT WARRIORS have +1Ld
  • Warlord Trait – Natural Leader: Give a BIEL TAN unit within 3″ at the start of the shooting phase re-rolls of failed hits
  • Relic – Spiritstone of Anathlan: A PSYKER can re-roll failed psychic tests, but if they fail again can’t cast any more for the phase.
  • Relic – The Burnished Blade of Eliarna: A D2 power sword that’s better against Orks
  • Stratagem – Court of the Young King – 2CP: An ASPECT WARRIOR unit gets +2″ to their charges and re-rolls hits of 1 if they make combat. Alternatively, if they use this within 6″ of the Avatar, get +3″ and re-roll failed hits instead.

Biel Tan is in many ways terribly frustrating (for someone whose army is painted their colours) – there’s some great stuff here, but it doesn’t come together as a cohesive whole and attached to a trait that is both narrow and often redundant. Taking the Spiritstone in a mixed detachment used to be popular, but at this point if you’re doing a dedicated caster setup it’s most likely using Children of Prophecy. The remaining big bonus is the stratagem, which is specifically great on Shining Spears dropping in from deep strike. However, there are plenty of other ways to boost their charge, and Biel Tan mostly just doesn’t get there.

Saim-Hann

Saim Hann Autarch on Bike

Saim Hann Autarch on Bike Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

  • Attribute – Wild Host: Re-roll charges. In addition, ignore the heavy penalty for moving and shooting on BIKER units.
  • Warlord Trait – Wild Rider Chieftain: Your warlord can pile in, consolidate or heroic towards the closest enemy CHARACTER instead of the nearest model, and if they put all their attacks into a single CHARACTER they get +1 attack.
  • Relic – Novalance of Saim-Hann: a ridiculously over the top relic laser lance. Has 12″ range on the shooting profile, is S8 rather than S6 while charging, S+2 when not charging and D4 if you roll a 6 to wound.
  • Stratagem – Warriors of the Raging Winds – 1CP: A BIKER unit can advance and charge, then re-roll charges in the fight phase.

A lot of this is, once again, pretty niche, but enough of it pulls in a helpful direction that there’s real utility here. Scatter laser armed windriders tore up the metagame for a bit in 2019 and are very good with this trait, while an Autarch with the Novalance is a brutal killing machine. Finally, advancing and charging is both great for the aforementioned Autarch and great for Shining Spears, who can also flex to coming in from Deep Strike if you give them Swooping Dive. Saim-Hann can definitely build cool detachment that can help as part of a larger force, but at the moment if you’re trying to piece together a very specilised detachment a custom craftworld might be better.

Iyanden

  • Attribute – Stoic Endurance: Only one model can ever flee to morale, and you double the wounds of units with a damage chart when determining their characteristics.
  • Warlord Trait – Enduring Resolve: Your warlord gains an extra deny (even if they don’t have one)
  • Relic – Psytronome of Iyanden: Once per game, double the attacks of IYANDEN WRAITH CONSTRUCTS within 6″ of the bearer (an IYANDEN PSYKER). At the end of the phase, each unit takes D3 mortal wounds
  • Stratagem – Guided Wraithsight – 1CP: Double the range of a Spiritseer’s Spirit Mark for a turn, and it grants re-rolls of failed hits rather than re-rolls of one.

Poor Iyanden. These buffs are aimed squarely at Wraith armies but basically end up as a swing and a miss compared to other traits that either boost their survivability or increase their killing power without so many hoops to jump through. The Psytronome is very funny but not actually terribly good in any meaningful sense, and of all the craftworlds this is the one that almost never makes it into lists.

Custom Craftworlds

Following hot on the heels of Marines, Craftworld armies got access to “build your own” faction traits in Phoenix Rising. While the book as a whole was a little bit of a letdown there’s some serious power in these abilities, and currently the majority of competitive Craftworld lists make use of them.

To build your own Craftworld, you pick two abilities from the list to make a trait. There are a couple that confuse this by using both your slots, but they’re also terrible so you don’t need to worry about them. You can, obviously, make multiple different custom craftworlds for different detachments, but be aware that in a tournament they will need to be visually distinct, and some abilities won’t work across them.

The available traits are as follows:

  • Children of Prophecy: Dice rolls of 1 when casting count as 2. Makes getting off some powers ridiculously reliable, and can be a strong choice in a supreme command, as a lot of craftworld powers are not faction locked. B
  • Children of the Open Skies: +2″ movement on flying units. Fine on the aforementioned supreme command, but the mobility you’re most interested in boosting is that out of Deep Strike, which this doesn’t help with B
  • Expert Crafters: Re-roll one hit and one wound each time a unit shoots or fights. The cornerstone of the most common Eldar archetype right now, and an enormously potent force multiplier. A
  • Masterful Shots: Ignore cover. Deceptively powerful, and one of the most commonly used. A
  • Masters of Concealment: Always in cover outside of 12″. Less good on Eldar than it is on Marines, but still very handy for buffing up the defences of vehicles and planes. B
  • Hail of Doom: Adds -1AP on Shurikens within 12″ (although not on a 6 to wound). Got a lot of hype on release, but no one has yet found a build where it actually gets there. C+
  • Children of Khaine: Aspect warriors do +1D in melee on an unmodified 6 to wound. Cool on paper, but the only worthwhile melee aspect is Shining Spears, who don’t need the help. D
  • Diviners of Fate: All models have a 6++. Currently, defensively, this is inferior to Alaitoc and inferior to Ulthwe against D1 weaponry on infantry. However, you get to take this and another, so it could be worth a look if you really want one of the others and don’t have any particular needs. C
  • Headstrong: +1 to charges. Most people who are succeeding with Craftworlds that aren’t leaning on Expert Crafters are spamming Shining Spears, and Sean Nayden took a custom craftworld using this to help secure his Deep Strike charges all the way to the LVO top three, so it obviously gets an A

Big Papa Slice and the Ghostly Bois. Credit: Boon

  • Martial Citizenry: GUARDIAN units re-roll 1s to hit. Not broad enough to be worth it. D
  • Mobile Fighters: Re-roll hit rolls of 1 for a unit that disembarked from a transport this turn. There are much easier, broader ways to get re-rolls. D
  • Superior Shurikens: +4″ range on Shuriken weapons. Surprisingly turns out to actually be a bit better than Hail of Doom, comboing particularly well with Dire Avengers and being seen in the wild in a top four list from a major. That lines up with my own testing – this genuinely helps a surprising number of units. B+
  • Webway Warriors: You can use Webway Strike an extra time for each detachment in your army with this trait. Uses beyond the first must select a unit with this trait. There’s just not really anything you obviously want to do with this, other than maybe stick more Spears in the webway on the cheap. C
  • Wrath of the Dead: Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for WRAITH CONSTRUCT units. Not broad enough, and even though Wraithlord/seer armies exist that look like they might sort of want this, Expert Crafters just outperforms it. D
Iyanden Hemlock Wraithfighter

Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

  • Savage Blades: Re-roll hits of 1 in melee if you charged, were charged or intervened.  Hits the same problems all the melee options do – you only have a couple of decent melee units in the list, and they’re much more interested in boosts that get them to combat that minor output boosts like this. C
  • Children of Morag Hei: Get +1 to hit rolls if half the models in your unit have been destroyed. Way too hard to set up for a pretty mild payoff. D
  • Grim: Re-roll morale tests. You do not need this. D
  • Hunters of Ancient Relics: +1A while within 3″ of an objective. So I have to talk about this because it’s in a top 3 list from LVO and it basically comes down to the following – if the entire reason you have Craftworld stuff in your list is to kill people with Shining Spears this can be quite good – while I’ve said previously they’re not interested in minor output boosts +1A is a huge buff, which also lets you get away with fewer in each unit. This has to be an A but understand that it’s for a very niche build.
  • Strike and Fade: Uses both your picks. You can fall back and charge, and if you are not within 3″ of an enemy when consolidating, you don’t have to move closer to the nearest enemy. I have really racked my brains on this and just can’t work out what it’s for – it seems to be aimed at a Craftworld that is somehow consistently winning combats overwhelmingly. I am not aware of this Craftworld. D
  • Students of Vaul: Vehicles regain a wound at the start of each of your turns. Extremely marginal and it’s a crime that it doesn’t work for Wraith Constructs. C
  • Vengeful Blades: Re-roll hits in melee if you charged, were charged or intervened against CHAOS units. I am not going to use my customisation to lock in a bad bonus against a single faction, thanks. D
  • Warding Runes: Ignore MWs on a 5+. I guess that theoretically a metagame could arise where this is good, but it hasn’t yet. D

While there’s a lot of trash ones here there are also some big hits, and there are broadly five combinations that you need to be aware of:

  • Expert Crafters & Masterful Shots: Currently the most popular Eldar build (if not always the most successful) these lists tend to go wide with a large amount of small units (strapping as many aeldari missile launchers/starcannons as possible) to squeeze the most benefit out of Expert Crafters, while Masterful Shots ensures that their output isn’t getting no-selled by Stealthy Marines.
  • Expert Crafters & Masters of Concealment: Speaking of Stealthy, some lists mix up the go-wide builds to this instead, and where people are still making use of Crimson Hunter Exarchs this is often seen as a set of picks on an Air Wing instead of Alaitoc. The brutal calculation at the moment is that being in cover often has more impact against the shootiest marine lists than -2 to hit, and even when it doesn’t you really want to get more killing done in the turns you have with the Marines. If Stealthy ebbs in popularity in Marine builds this goes up in value, and if it gets more popular again Masterful Shots takes the slot back.
  • Headstrong & Hunters of Ancient Relics: Is your entire Craftworld plan built around throwing Shining Spears at people? Good news, this might be for you.
  •  Masterful Shots & Superior Shurikens: For the last few months I’ve been working on the assumption that there was a good build around Asurmen and Dire Avengers available and it looks like I might have been right – a Battalion built around that featured in the 4th place list at Genghiscon. This is a bit more fringe than some of the other stuff here, but from my own experimentation there is something decent here. It does tend to just make everything a bit better across the board, as there’s lots of incidental shurikens in the army, which is helpful!
  • Children of Prophecy & Children of the Open Skies: If you want a supreme command of bike seers to land must-cast powers, this is extremely good. Can be good as a setup for two psykers alongside the Yncarne if you want to bring an avatar of death along.

Plenty of core craftworld lists are still seen, but if you’ve been away from Eldar for a while, and have the models, you should definitely give the Crafters builds a go – they’re decently potent.

 

Psychic Powers

Credit: BuffaloChicken

As befits one of the most psychically powerful races in the galaxy, the Asuryani have access to a mighty three psychic disciplines (please ignore Marines having 11 and counting). These are:

  • Runes of Battle: Powers available to Warlocks and Spiritseers
  • Runes of Fate: Powers available to Farseers
  • Runes of Fortune: Powers that any psyker can swap out for Smite

This totals up to a huge number of options, especially as each power in the Runes of Battle is actually two!

Eldar have some incredibly good options among these, and the only caveat we should put out up front is that the Warp Charge values do tend to be pretty high, so make sure you plan how to use the various re-rolls or boosts you can get access to in order to ensure you land the key ones each turn.

With that out the way, let’s dig in.

Runes of Battle

For each runes of battle power there are two effects – a buff that can target friendly INFANTRY or BIKER units, or a debuff that can target any enemy unit, always at 18″. When you choose the power you know both, but you can have different psykers cast both the positive and negative version in a single turn (they count as separate powers for the purposes of the Psychic Discipline rule). For quite a few of these you’re definitely taking them more for one effect than the other, but it’s always worth being aware that you have the option in your back pocket.

  • Conceal/Reveal (WC6): Conceal gives a friendly unit  -1 to hit against shooting while Reveal removes cover from an enemy unit. Conceal has some uses but has fallen out of favour as a defensive tool as hit bonuses and re-rolls have gotten better. It is still good if you’re dipping into something like Shadow Spectres who come with an additional built in modifier. Reveal is pretty niche, and while it can be good sometimes is way less consistent than Jinx and suffers a lot from the short range. C+
  • Embolden/Horrify (WC6): Embolden gives a friendly unit +2 Ld, while Horrify gives an enemy -1 Ld. Both effects are trash, with Embolden occasionally being comedy trash if you use it to load up a Farseer for a Mind WarD+
  • Enhance/Drain (WC7): Give a friendly unit +1 to hit in melee or an enemy -1 to hit in melee. Less good on its own merits than Empower/Enervate in both modes, but does have some niche upsides – Enhance combos well with the Supreme Disdain stratagem, while Drain can hamper enemy units relying on similar exploding effects like Discolords. That can make it the right pick over Empower/Enervate depending on the matchup, especially if you’ve got Wraithblades where it can either counter the -1 from their axes or leverage their huge number of sword attacks. C+
  • Protect/Jinx (WC7): Protect gives a friendly unit +1 to saving throws, Jinx gives an enemy -1 to theirs. Importantly, both of these affect invulnerable saves, and that makes this easily the best power in here and one of the best in the game. Taking enemy invulns down by a point is a gigantic boost to your output against a single target, and against lots of popular Marine choices just giving your regular shots an effective extra one AP is a big deal too. Combine this with Doom to really ruin something’s day (anyone who reads my tournement reports will know how important that is for the faction). Not only is Jinx incredible, Protect is extremely good as well when you need to try and keep a key unit alive. It’s especially good on anything with a decent invuln, and can make Wraithblades, Shining Spears or even Guardians with Celestial Shield a nightmare to shift, but it’s also great on Dark Reapers in cover. You’ll almost always want one caster with this, and often two. A+
  • Quicken/Restrain (WC7): Quicken lets a friendly unit move a second time, while Restrain halves the movement characteristic of an enemy unit. Restrain is occasionally useful in a pinch, but unlike more recent iterations of similar effects it does nothing about advances or charges, and most units you really want to slow down are leaning on advance and charge boosting abilities, so it’s a bit underwhelming. However, Quicken is a whole different beast and extremely powerful. Double moving Shining Spears can let them pull off a turn 1 charge even against an enemy who backlines, while letting slower units like Wraithblades get their hustle on is handy. It can also have other useful effects in a pinch, letting you reposition another caster to get off a key effect or (if you’re feeling brave) pull one you’ve sent forward back to safety. In the late turns of close matches, just being able to double move the caster to hustle between objectives can sometimes get you that key extra point too. Really, having access to this effect is always useful – it isn’t quite as consistently good as Protect/Jinx, but it’s a close second in terms of utility. A
  • Empower/Enervate: Empower adds +1 to wound in melee, while Enervate subtracts 1 from your opponent’s wound rolls in melee. Generally, in both modes this is a more useful “all around” buff than Enhance/Drain, and if you want to bring a melee buff caster along this is usually it. I’d generally want to be making sure I had something else I could do with my cast as well (either a Smite or a Runes of Fortune power), as you definitely don’t need to be casting this every turn of the game, but it can definitely help a lot when it’s good. B

Realistically, every list wants a Protect/Jinx caster, often two, and many lists want a Quicken/Restrain one too. Beyond that, it depends a lot more on what you’re brining – you might want one of the melee buffs to go with Spears or Wraithblades, and could just about want Conceal with a shooty deathstar like Dark Reapers or Shadow Spectres.

Runes of Fate

Farseers get access to this Discipline, and while the powers only have one effect each they’re some spicy, spicy stuff in here.

  • Guide (WC7): Give a friendly unit within 24″ re-roll failed shooting hits until your next psychic phase. A tremendously powerful force multiplier that is most famously combined with Dark Reapers or deep striking Guardian units, but has also seen lots of use with various ways of stacking up Scatter Lasers, and is also surprisingly great on a rampaging Shining Spear unit. You definitely need to be bringing something you actively want to target with this to get the most out of it, but it’s really, really good when you do. Don’t forget that if you stick it on Reapers it’ll still be active if you intercept something with Forewarned. A
  • Doom (WC7): Contender for “best psychic power in the game”, Doom lets you pick an enemy unit within 24″ and re-roll all wounds against it for attacks made by Asuryani units until your next psychic phase. If you want something dead, there’s really no better way to ensure it than by casting this on it, and the ability to pick out and brutally murder your opponent’s best unit each turn is a big strength of the faction. It also combos super well with shuriken weapons, as if they need a high target number to wound then re-rolling all fails will get a lot of hits with the -3AP through. Also frequently seen comboed with Jinx for when something really, really needs to die. The best power and something you should almost always take – the only armies that sometimes don’t are those super deep on Expert Crafters, but even then it’s usually included A+
  • Fortune (WC7): Give a friendly unit within 24″ a 5+++ FNP. This is another very strong effect that needs a bit more finesse to use than the other two. A lot of Eldar armies have high redundancy, which can make this a bit weaker – if your opponent can just ignore the unit you target in favour of another then it loses a lot of impact. However, put onto a must kill unit like Spears that are going straight towards your opponent’s lines it can be hugely valuable, especially on multi-wound models, as it makes them very durable against common D2 shooting. It isn’t bad elsewhere, and in lists where I’ve taken it and lost my primary target just sticking it on a Wave Serpent to hold some space has orften been good, but just like Guide you do want to have a plan for it before you bring it in. B+
  • Executioner (WC7): Executioner does d3 mortal wounds to the nearest unit within 18″ (note that it doesn’t need line of sight), and then if any die does another d3. This is an exceptionally good alt-smite and one of the best examples of the genre if you can get it to double tap. Having a real chance of just vapourising an entire Space Marine Scout unit that’s hiding behind a wall is crazy good for a single cast, and even against bigger targets where the effect never works just having the option on another Smite is good. An important tactical recommendation is that when you’re going after multi-wound units like Intercessors with this, and have some smites to cast as well, you should start by smiting, because if you roll a 1 or 3 for the damage then there will be a model left with a single wound – at which point you pop this for the big damage. Sometimes you’ll just have to cross your fingers and hope you don’t roll a one (try and save a CP for this if it’s super important), but playing smart can avoid that. Overall, this is just absurdly potent, and much like Doom is basically always great, not needing any setup. A
  • Will of Asuryan (WC5): Gives a Farseer a 6″ fearless bubble and +1 to their denies. This almost never makes the cut but it isn’t outright bad in some matchups – +1 deny on a caster with two denies and some built in re-rolls is tricky for some armies to navigate. Sadly, however, the first part almost never comes up in a relevant way, leaving this the clear last choice in the set. C
  • Mind War (WC7): Pick an enemy character within 18″ and roll off, each adding your leadership. If your total is higher, inflict Mortal Wounds equal to the difference. A very cool ability that I have used to some effect, but enough of the stuff you want to go after with this has Ld9+ as well that it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth to set up for a big hit – and even when you do, you can just low roll. If you are planning to use it, bringing a Hemlock along is mandatory, and comboing in some Harlequins to add more Ld modifiers can help. C+

Doom and Executioner are the easy choices here – you want a Farseer in most lists, and these are the powers to pick if you have nothing specific you want to do. If you are bringing either a bomb unit you want to defend or a powerful shooting unit then Fortune or Guide can leapfrog doom. Alternatively, you can just bring two Farseers and have all four!

Runes of Fortune

The final discipline is unique in that rather than taking up a power slot, these powers are swapped out for Smite. This is a really cool piece of design, and it also makes them especially useful on Warlocks, as their Smite is a bad version with only 9″ range and 1MW. The flipside of this is that these powers tend to have lower-key effects, but two are great and at least a few others have niche uses. Unlike the rest of the Eldar powers, the buffs here are all <CRAFTWORLD> locked, so you do need to make sure you have a Seer from the right detachment lined up to do them if you’re mixing and matching.

  • Fateful Divergence (WC4): Give a <CRAFTWORLD> unit within 6″ a re-roll that can be used for a hit, wound or save until your next psychic phase. This is a pretty handy one to have in your back pocket if you have enough casters, especially if you have something with good invulns around, but it isn’t usually worth skipping a “real” smite for, meaning it’s generally restricted to lists with lots of Warlocks. B
  • Witch Strike (WC4): The caster gets +2D on their melee attacks till your next psychic phase. Unfortunately, all casters only have 2A and tend to be missing AP, which usually means that if you’re close enough to do this you’ve got something better to do with a cast. Was briefly exciting with Warlock Skyrunner Conclaves, but got errataed to only affect a single model. C
  • Ghostwalk (WC6): The big one – give a <CRAFTWORLD> unit within 6″ +2 to charges. This can be slightly fiddly to set up, but is incredibly good for any sort of deep strike threat, several of which are very popular at the moment (at least partially because of this now existing). It can actually be OK in other contexts too – I’ve profitably cast this on a Wave Serpent to help make an early bully charge, so if you’ve taken it in preparation for buffing up your big hitters keep an eye out for other places it’s good. A
  • Crushing Orb (WC4): Pick an enemy character within 18″ and roll 3d6, dealing a MW for each 5+. It’s worst than a real smite – but it’s probably better than a warlock smite, so can be worth swapping out on one of those if your opponent is character heavy. C+
  • Focus Will (WC6): Give a friendly caster +2 to their casts for this phase. This is pretty much the “default” swap out on a Warlock – Craftworld armies can live or die on landing doom, so being able to give your Farseer +2 to cast at a crucial moment can be incredibly good. It’s even better if you’re casting it on Eldrad, who can stack it up with other bonuses to get as far as being able to super smite on a 7. A
  • Impair Senses (WC6): Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″. Until your next psychic phase, that unit can only shoot at either the closest visible enemy unit or any enemy unit within 18″. This could have been cool but the 18″ get-out clause kind of kills it, at least in combination with this only being 18″ range. It’s incredibly difficult to set this up to be super good – and because not taking smite or one of the others from here is a real cost, you probably won’t bother. There’s probably some crazy combination with Shadow Spectres or Warp Spiders that can leverage this, but otherwise it isn’t as good as it sounds like it’s trying to be. D+

Two big winners here in Ghostwalk and Focus Will, while Fateful Divergence is at least fine. Don’t go too crazy with these though – remember that Smite is actively a good ability, so you shouldn’t sacrifice your access to it on a caster with a real one unless you have a good reason.

Stratagems

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Eldar have a very good set of stratagems. While there are some things that have become “standard” over time that they’re conspicuously missing, there’s some extremely good stuff here and you’ll want to be familiar with them.

  • Matchless Agility (1CP): Automatically advance 6”. An extremely useful trick to have up your sleeve, as it can be vital to make sure you reach a key objective. Doesn’t sound flashy, but it’s useful way more often than you’d expect. B+
  • Celestial Shield (1CP): Gives a GUARDIAN unit a 4++ vs shooting. Full Guardian bombs are out of fashion, but if you take one you definitely want to use this. Can also be handy to try and save a Support Weapon in a pinch, as they have the right keywords. B
  • Cloudstrike (1CP): Deep strike a VEHICLE with FLY, but cannot be used if you are using Webway Strike. Webway Strike is much more commonly used but this does have a role, which is to deep strike planes in a matchup where your opponent is guaranteed to shoot them off the board if they go first (this was my tactic during the Caladius Grav Tank’s reign of terror). Hasn’t been needed for a while, but is potentially going to be super relevant again when up against Marines in the new ITC format. B
  • Forewarned (2CP): Intercept shoot at a deep striking/redeploying unit with a unit that’s within 6” of a Farseer. Basically the best version of this effect in the game, extremely good with Dark Reapers, Scatter Bikes, War Walkers and sometimes even a big Guardian squad if they try and bring deep strike melee to bear on it. Make sure to set up to maximise this if you have a good user. A
  • Concordance of Power (1CP): Double the range of a Runes of Battle power cast by a Warlock Conclave. Useful if you have one, but you probably don’t, and if you do it’s quite likely a Skyrunner Conclave up in their face who will be in range anyway. Sadly doesn’t work with Runes of Fortune, as if it did you would actually have a way to exploit Impair Senses properly. C
  • Unparalleled Mastery (1CP): Extra cast with a Farseer immediately after succeeding on their last power. Handy when you really need to just shovel mortals onto something by tagging on a smite, and especially worth using if you’ve also popped Seer Council and/or have your Farseer rerolls in hand so you can fish for a super Smite. B+
  • Linked Fire (1CP): We’ll explain this in the Fire Prism section. If you have them, you’re spamming this. B+
  • Lightning Fast Reactions (2CP): Give an INFANTRY or FLY unit an extra -1 to hit when targeted in the Shooting or Fight phase, lasting the rest of the phase. Fantastic on Alaitoc stuff in shooting, and remember that it works in the Fight phase. Do try and watch out for skillful opponents baiting it out on a unit that isn’t their priority target, and also make sure not to waste it if there’s an “equivalent” target they can switch to with no real cost. A

Lightning fast reactions says no – the Hemlock survived.

  • Webway Strike (1/3CP): Deep Strike one INFANTRY or BIKER unit for 1CP or 2 for 3CP. Fantastic with Guardians or Scatter Bike blobs, but currently most commonly used with Shining Spears, with Wraithblades and Skyrunner Conclaves also getting a look in. This is a supremely useful ability to have access to. A
  • Overloaded Energy Field Projectors (1CP): Shoot a Wave Serpent’s shield again in a later turn. A tremendously handy ability in a pinch, and it means that if you’re up against an opponent with no multi-damage shooting it’s worth getting at least one of your shields fired off as soon as a good target presents itself so you can spam this. B
  • Seer Council (1CP): Add +1 to a Farseer and Warlock’s casts if they’re within 6” of one another. Extremely great, you should very often use this on a turn where you’re relying on getting Doom/Jinx of if you can spare the CP. A
  • Fire and Fade (1CP): Allows a unit to move 7” after shooting, it then can’t charge. Great for hiding Reapers (the most common targets) or scatter bikes, also useful to sneak an extra 7” movement to grab an objective – nothing says you have to use this to run away from the enemy. A
  • Treasures of the Craftworlds (1/3CP): Standard extra relic strat. Craftworld Relics aren’t great, and this is most commonly used either in soup builds or to add the Phoenix Gem to a vulnerable character against Snipers. Much more skippable than for a lot of armies though, and the number of high scoring ones on this list means the opportunity cost of spending a CP is high. B
  • Feigned Retreat (2CP): Lets a unit that falls back still charge/shoot. This can allow Shining Spears to rampage on to their next target if they’re stuck in against a few stragglers, or let your Reapers pull out and murder something if they’ve been tagged. It isn’t cheap and if you can avoid having to use it you should, but it’s a very useful emergency button. A
  • Runes of Witnessing (2CP): Gives a Farseer a 6” re-roll 1s to wound bubble for a phase. Doesn’t come up that often because it overlaps with Doom, but it has its uses. If you desperately need a turn to go well and fail Doom, slamming this can obviously help, but you sometimes plan more cleverly around it. I’ve had some success, when I’ve gone against guard with lots of scatter lasers and shurikens, building a castle around a Farseer and Autarch and just going ham on their infantry with re-roll 1s on hits and wounds. If you’re picking targets where you’re already wounding on 2s and 3s this gives you more value (as re-roll 1s is a proportional increase on your current output), and if your firepower lines up well for that keep this in mind. B
  • The Great Enemy (1CP): Re-roll wounds against Slaanesh in the Fight Phase. In a meta where lots of Chaos units are Slaanesh marked for Endless Cacophony, and Slaanesh Lords Discordant or Daemon Princes are making themselves known, this can be handy, but you do have to remember you have it. Also, the best users are pretty likely to slaughter those things already. C
  • Supreme Disdain (1CP): Extra attacks on 6+ to hit in the Fight phase. Very funny on Wraithknights (more on that later), and sometimes OK on Shining Spears or Wraithblades. C+
  • Starhawk Missile (1CP): An INFANTRY model with a Missile Launcher gets +1 to hit against a FLY target and does d3 MWs instead of normal damage. Once upon a time this could be relevant on Dark Reaper Exarchs, but now they have access to Rapid Shot (which doesn’t combo with this) they’ll pretty much always want to do that. D
  • Tears of Isha (2CP): Heal a Wraith Construct for D3. Wildly too expensive for the impact, and it would be a very tough spot where I’d really want to use this. D+
  • Vaul’s Might (1CP): Lets two support weapons re-roll wound rolls of 1 for a phase if they’re close to one another. Has always looked terrible, and Expert Crafters makes it look comically terrible. F
  • The Avatar Resurgent (3CP): If the Avatar died in the fight phase, it survives on D6 wounds instead. Obviously hilarious when it comes up, but the Fight Phase restriction stops it being actively good, especially as the Avatar ain’t great. C

And last, but definitely not least…

Phantasm (2CP)

Phantasm almost needs an article all of its own (and indeed we talked a bit about it in our deployment tactica). For 2CP, at the start of the first Battle Round (i.e. after you know who’s going first) you can redeploy up to three units. They have to stay on the board (i.e. you can’t move something “into” Webway Strike) but you can move a Transport with everything inside.

A classic cowardly corner deployment, which Phantasm encourages

Because of how much stuff you can pack into a Wave Serpent, this lets you potentially reposition quite a sizeable chunk of your army for the cost, and notably it’s all the “range constrained” stuff like Dire Avengers. You can often bundle a considerable proportion of your on-board presence into three transports, letting you go for an alpha strike if you get the first turn and avoid a hammerblow by moving back out of range if you don’t. A lot of supporting tools like bike characters are fast enough that you can deploy them further back and still catch up.

The advent of seize-less full army deployment in the ITC for 2020 does significantly reduce the frequency with which this will be relevant as the Defender, as you should already be deploying your army with perfect information that isn’t going to change. Salvaging a seize was also a major use of it. However, as the Attacker it should help you ensure you can tighten the noose and make the most of going first.

One thing that can help with this is playing mind games with ranges. Even if you’re intending to go for an all out assault, it might be worth deploying a bit further back, hoping to lull your opponent into a false sense of security before Phantasming forward for a strike. Alternatively, set up in an aggressive posture but skewed towards one side of the board, then Phantasm over to the other side if your opponent tries to get away from you.

If you go through my archive of tournament reports you’ll probably see some more ways I’ve used it. The new ITC rules probably do bring it down a notch, but it still has its uses and will remain extremely good in any format with seize still active.

It still gets an A.

 

Warlord Traits

Craftworld Warlord traits are a mixed bag, being a little bit weak compared to newer ones but still having some valid choices. In addition, recent changes in the ITC and the move of banshee mask Autarchs to legends gives a few of them a new lease on life.

  • Seer of the Shifting Vector: Gives the warlord one re-roll of a hit, wound, save, psychic test or deny per battle round. This is one of the better ones, and I’m a big fan of running this on my Jinx casting Bike Warlock, as it means that when you really need to land Jinx you have the choice of a “full” reroll from this or re-rolling one dice with a CP. Combined with +1 from Seer Council, that puts your chance of landing it around 90%. A
  • Fate’s Messenger: Gives you +1 wound and a 6+ Feel No Pain. Used to be pretty weak in ITC as using it on a 5W character would make them Kingslayerable, but with Kingslayer gone (for exactly this sort of reason) this is a real option if you have nothing better to do. C+
  • Mark of the Incomparable Hunter: Lets the warlord snipe characters. Not commonly seen (especially now Index Autarchs are gone) but can be hilarious on a Wraithseer with a D-Cannon in a Crafters list. C+
  • Falcon’s Swiftness: +2 Move. Never horrible, but not usually needed, and now Fate’s Messenger is “safe” as a backup plan you probably won’t ever see it. An exception is that if you decide to bring the Avatar this is a good choice on him as it helps with his dire mobility. C
  • An Eye on Distant Events: Warlord is immune to overwatch. Now that Autarchs don’t just get this for free this is a common and powerful choice – there’s a tonne of stuff in the metagame that you want to charge and lock down but can’t rely on pulling off safely through their overwatch. Best on a Wing or Bike Autarch. A.
  • Ambush of Blades: Grants an extra -1AP on 6s to wound in the Fight phase. This would require hefty volume melee attacks to be even slightly worthwhile, and Eldar do not, in any way, have that. F 

Picking your warlord is something you should do with a trait in mind, and at the moment I’m usually either picking a Bike Warlock and taking Seer or a Wing Autarch and picking Eye on Distant Events.

Relics

Eldar relics are kind of naff. They’re an early codex and it shows. There are a few gems (including one literal one), but many are very skippable, and the weapons in particular are mostly wildly behind the curve of modern competitors.

  • Faolchu’s Wing: Gives an INFANTRY model 12″ fly speed, but doesn’t change their keywords. Probably the best of the bunch, helpful on a foot farseer or Autarch to get them where they need to go while saving points on one of the pricier versions. A
  • The Phoenix Gem: The first time the bearer dies, every unit within 3” takes D3 MWs on a 2+. If any do, the bearer survives on 1W. Theoretically useful for protecting a squishy character like a Warlock from snipers by parking them next to a unit (like a Wave Serpent) you don’t mind taking a few wounds, but I’ve soured on this use a lot – it’s a pain to keep set up in practice. I have had good results putting this on a BIke Autarch prior to them getting nerfed, but unfortunately the Wing Autarch really needs to take the Shard of Anaris to get any damage out, so can’t really afford this. If you’re still taking a Bike Autarch and he isn’t Saim-Hann, this is fine. B
  • Shimmerplume of Achillirial: Gives an Autarch -1 to hit when attacked. Another one that was useful on old bike Autarchs in some games, but now doesn’t really have a slot. C
  • Kurnous’ Bow: A bad relic shuriken pistol that’s D2 and does AP-3 on 4+ rather than 6. Still a horrendous choice. D
  • Shard of Anaris: Eldar have no less than three relic power swords, all of which look a bit silly next to modern relic weapons, but this is definitely the least bad. It gets damage d3 and re-rolls wounds all the time, so while it won’t let your Wing Autarch do much to a tank, it does actually let him meaningfully engage with enemy characters or elite infantry. B
  • Firesabre: This, on the other hand, is a garbage trash power sword. It’s S+1 and AP-4, but still D1 and merely does a mortal instead of its normal damage on a 6+ to wound. Don’t bother. D
  • Blazing Star of Vaul: Adds +2 shots to a shuriken weapon. Not terrible but not really worth a relic slot either. C

At the moment Faolchu’s Wing on a Farseer, Shard of Anaris on a Wing Autarch or the Phoenix Gem on someone are the main choices. If you’re Saim-Hann, obviously consider the Novalance from their section as well!

 

Aspect Powers

Added in Phoenix Rising, each Aspect Warrior unit in a Craftworlds detachment can pick between six different Exarch powers, or take the default one and an additional from the other five for a CP. We’ll talk about these in the individual units that they’re applied to, rather than in a separate section.

 

Specialist Detachments

Wraithknight

Wraithknight. Photo: Wings

During GW’s abortive dalliance with the concept of Specialist Detachments the Asuryani picked up two, each costing 1CP to put on a detachment:

Wraithhost

Applies to all SPIRIT HOST units in a detachment and gives:

    • Stratagem – Wrath of the Dead – 1CP: Use at the start of the Fight phase to give a WRAITH CONSTRUCT unit +1A. Helpful on pretty much any of the Wraith units, but not really quite worth the price of entry alone.
    • Stratagem – Spirit Shield – 2CP: A Spiritseer can lend a WRAITH CONSTRUCT their invulnerable save for a turn from the end of your movement phase. Useful if you’re someone foolish enough to bring a Wraithknight (i.e. me) and was good when sword Wraithblades were the hotness, but now they’ve been replaced by axe units it isn’t needed.
    • Warlord Trait – Revered by the Dead: Re-roll charges for WRAITH CONSTRUCT units within 6″. Not worth the price of entry.
    • Rune of Battle – Twilight Gloom (WC6): Taken instead of a Runes of Battle spell. Give a WRAITH CONSTRUCT cover. It’s OK? Not, sadly, good enough that you can ever really spare the slot.
    • Relic – Warp Spawn Bane: A relic Witch Staff that ignores the invluns of PSYKERs and DAEMONS…but doesn’t have any AP, so most still get a good save, making this one of the worst relics in the entire game.

Windrider Host

Applies to all Skyrunner characters, Skyrunner Conclaves, Windriders and Bikers. Note that this does not include Shining Spears. Gives:

    • Stratagem – Nimble Escape – 2CP: Allows a unit from the detachment to move immediately after fighting, including falling back. This can be tremendously powerful on a Skyrunner Conclave, letting them hit and run away behind terrain. As long as you have access to it, you can also use it to save a unit from being stomped in melee if your opponent messes their ordering up – blow 2CP to interupt then 2CP to pull away. It’s very pricey, so make sure it’s actually worth it, but if it’ll change the game the option is there.
    • Stratagem – Tempest of Blades – 3CP: Units from the detachment within 6″ of a chosen detachment Farseer get +1AP for the shooting phase. Occasionally relevant in armies that want this anyway for the previous one, but eye wateringly expensive.
    • Warlord Trait – Wild Rider: Detachment units within 6″ can charge even if they fell back. Pretty much only helpful for the Skyrunner conclave, but very good for them.
    • Relic – The Howling Skysword of Galaleth: A D3 witchblade. Bad thanks to how few attacks the characters have.

Both of these detachments are good in their narrow use cases – the Wraithhost is great if you’re messing around with a Wraithknight, while the Windrider Host is actually competitive levels of good when used on Warlock Skyrunner Conclaves. Both can be fine if you’re getting out some of the other units they apply to for a kick around, but these are the big competitive niches.

 

The Units

Now that we’ve got through all the pre-amble of covering units and special abilities, we’re ready to go through the units in the Eldar army. As with pretty much all earlier codexes, the units are a distinctly mixed bag, and we’re not going to dwell for too long on the ones that don’t quite get there. The good units in this book, however, tend to be real good, and for these we’ll make sure we’ve covered everything off!

HQ

Farseer

Photo: Bonds0097

You should always include a Farseer in a pure Craftworlds army. That’s it. Done.

Seriously though, we’ve been through the Runes of Fate powers and seen just how good they are, and these are the guys that get to wield them. You want those powers, so you want one of these.

Farseers come in three flavours:

  • On foot. Nice and cheap, and can be given a mobility boost via the Faolchu’s Wing relic.
  • On a bike. Faster, tougher, gets a bit of shooting but also pricier.
  • Eldrad Ulthran. A named character Farseer for Ulthwe who gets a bunch of extra stuff we’ll cover in a second.

All three forms of Farseer see some play, with bikers being the most common, foot as the second and Eldrad coming in third just because Ulthwe isn’t that heavily used.

Starting with their psychic might, the regular Farseers know two powers and get two casts and two denies each, and also have access to the Runes of the Farseer special rule, allowing them to re-roll one or both dice from a cast or deny each phase. This is an incredibly powerful boost, giving you a really good chance to land a key power and stop your opponent’s best one each phase. From a maths point of view with this, when you fail a cast you should (essentially) always keep a dice showing 4+ and re-roll a 3 or less. Denying can obviously be different – if you need to roll a double six then keeping a four isn’t going to help you! The other cool thing with this is that there’s no requrement to have failed the cast to re-roll – so if you roll a 1 and a 6 when casting a key power and your opponent has denies, it can be worth re-rolling the one, as you can’t possibly fail and it might make the deny harder. You can also use this to fish for a super smite if you’ve done all your key casts and have this still available.

As well as their runes, Farseers also have a Ghosthelm, giving them a general 5+++ FNP against mortal wounds and a 2+++ FNP against wounds from rolling a Perils of the Warp. This is a decent boost in a smite-off, but more importantly means you actively want to roll a double 6 on your casts a lot of the time, and very nearly don’t have to worry about perils at all. I have literally never had a Farseer die to perils in several years of playing Eldar. If you want to get even more bang out of your Farseer, remember that you have access to the Seer Council and Unparalleled Mastery stratagems to boost their casts or get an extra one, both great tastes that taste great together (though for my money I usually only go for the extra cast if I still have the re-rolls in hand).

Psychic is what you’re here for – the other stats are pretty mediocre. You get 5 or 6W and a 4++, which is nice but does mean you’re actually very vulnerable to small arms fire, especially on the T3 foot version. Offensively, Farseers come with a Witchblade as stock, which always wounds on a 2+ and does d3 damage but completely lacks AP. Given they also only have two attacks, that makes them unlikely to get much done, although in an emergency rolling them into something that’s Jinxed is OK. This can be upgraded to a singing spear, which can also be thrown as a shooting attack at 12″ range with the same statline. It’s a fine way to spend 5pts if you have nothing better for it, especially on a biker. Finally, a footseer has a shuriken pistol and a bikeseer mounts twin Shuriken catapults. Not a lot, but I’ve had a Farseer take of Guilliman’s last wound with a lucky pistol shot, so I guess remember you have it!

If you play Eldar, get hold of (ideally) both versions of these early, as you’ll find lots of uses. If you have to pick one, probably grab the bikeseer, but more static builds like some Crafters lists can be happy to shave the points off.

Photo: Corrode

Finally, your other option is Eldrad, who is a souped up footseer for an extra 35pts. For this, he gets:

  • A third known power and cast. Very nice.
  • Spiritlink, which gives him +1 to his next cast after successfully casting a power (non-stacking, so only ever +1). Useful both to lock in key powers or charge up a Smite.
  • T4, an extra wound, and a 3++. This makes him considerably harder to shift than a normal footseer, and one of the few units in the game able to hit a 2++ with Protect.
  • His staff, which is S5 AP-2 d3 damage, usually a better bet than the witchblade (though he still only has 2A).

Eldrad is awesome if you can build a list able to slot him in, and that’s really the only thing holding him back. Worth experimentation.

Warlock/Spiritseer

So that’s our Runes of Fate covered, what about Runes of Battle? Step up to the plate Warlocks and Spiritseers, both of whom get one known power and one cast from this discipline. This (and cheaply filling HQ slots) are the main reason you want to take them, as they’re even weaker than a Farseer in terms of combat stats, but these powers are so great that you’ll usually want at least one. Like Farseers, Warlocks can ride bikes (62pts) and for them you almost always want to unless you’re shaving points.  Spiritseers are stuck on foot, and roll in at (55pts)

In terms of choosing between the options the differences are:

The Warlock has are:

  • Higher mobility.
  • Higher toughness
  • Better shooting
  • Access to the Seer Council stratagem.

With the major drawbacks being:

  • Only 3 wounds (so at risk of outright dying from Perils of the Warp or an unlucky vehicle explosion).
  • Loses Smite for Destructor, a bad version of Smite with short range and only doing 1W

The Spiritseer has:

  • 4W, so outside of “hilarious mishap” range.
  • Full Smite
  • Better melee.
  • A fringe buff for Wraith Construct units.

But at the cost of:

  • No mobility option.
  • No Seer Council

Best buddies who have riden across many battlefields together. RIP index Autarchs.

Generally people come down on the Bike Warlock for their first choice, especially now the Runes of Fortune exist to give them something to do with that bad smite slot. However, if you’re adding more casters a Spiritseer can be a good later addition, as building up some Smite firepower is good.

Just like with the Farseer, you ideally want to have access to both options.

 

Autarch

Following a trend, Autarchs come in three flavours:

  • Foot
  • Winged
  • Bike

All have a few things in common, having the Path of Command, which gives re-roll 1s to hit to <CRAFTWORLD> units within 6″, and 6+ CP regen on CP you spend if they’re your warlord. They also all have a 4+ invulnerable save and a 3+ base save.

Where they differ is in the costs and the rest of their stats. The foot Autarch has plasma grenades and a star glaive to use with his 4A (-1 to hit, Sx2, AP-3, d3 damage) and weighs in at 73pts. Being cheap is his main attraction, and he can be a good choice to slot into a gunline army (and is another good user of Faolchu’s Wing).

Winged Autarchs weigh in at 93pts and (obviously) have wings. This lets them Deep Strike, which you don’t really care about, but gives them a 14″ move, which you very much do as it lets them keep up with the army’s mobile elements. They’re locked in to a single weapon loadout, having a fusion pistol and a power sword. The pistol is very nice, but the power sword is trash on a S3 model and if you want one of these to do any melee damage the Shard of Anaris is effectively mandatory. If you’ve got the relic slot that can be a decent setup, and making one your Warlord with An Eye on Distant Events is a good way to get some emergency Overwatch suppression.

The final choice is the Autarch Skyrunner, and while they’re still good they’ve sadly fallen from the heights they once occupied. Prior to Legends, you could take one with a laser lance and a fusion gun and got a free banshee mask, allowing them to be super deadly in two phases at a bargain price. Now you have to pick either or, and while you pretty much always pick the lance (getting to 105pts) they’re just not quite as impressive without the full loadout (unless they’re Saim-Hann with the Novalance). They can still be a good choice if you have the points, and the removal of Kingslayer from ITC probably gives them a minor leg badk up as it stops making them your warlord being a terrible idea.

Eldar tend to have a lot of decent shooting going on, so the re-roll 1s can be a big massive force multiplier, making Autarchs a decent choice. With the loss of Index equipment, they could probably stand to be a bit cheaper, but they’re a nice unit to have around.

Warlock Skyrunner Conclave

Do you like giant biker squads rampaging around the board but think that only spending 272 points on a maxed out unit of Shining Spears is for cowards? Well the Skyrunner Conclave might be for you!

This is a giant squad of Warlocks on bikes, operating as a single unit (which doesn’t have the character keyword), and it’s a surprisingly competitive choice, mostly because you can layer a brutal number of buffs on them, and they’ve had some point cuts that mean even a fully tricked out squad only gets to 550pts. Protect is the key buff, as any squad of 3W models with a 3++ is going to be a pain to shift, but you also want to be loading up Fortune and probably Conceal. The conclave itself can help with the buffs, knowing 2 Rune of Battle powers and getting either 1 (1-3 models), 2 (4-6 models) or 3 (7+ models) casts a turn. As long as you have 4+ models their smite also goes back to d3 damage, and if you have 7+ it becomes a guaranteed d6.

Offensively, while each Warlock is only packing two witchblade or singing spear attacks, where these aren’t great solo they add up when they come in bulk, and you can add Enhance to boost their accuracy and Jinx to help them cut through enemy armour. A volley of 10 thrown spears, along with 40 shuriken shots, also makes them pretty deadly in shooting. A full squad of these can thus participate in all three “action” phases of the game and do lots of work in all of them while being pretty tough – all the characteristics you want in a death star unit. Most people running them also make them a Windrider Host, letting them hit and run from combat with Nimble Escape and fall back and charge if a friendly character packs the Wild Rider warlord trait.

For all that the unit is pretty tough they’re not indestructible, and you do have to be careful with these. They’re very vulnerable to anything that can throw out lots of mortal wounds (especially as they get less good as models die) and also to high rates of anti-infantry fire, which quite a few armies can throw out very large amounts of. Anything that can strip off their invuln (or even getting Protect denied or blocked by a strat) can be disastrous, so watch out for enemy casters with powers like Null Zone, and consider bringing a spare Protect caster along who can throw it in from outside deny range in an emergency.

Skyrunner Conclave lists require a tremendous amount of finesse to play, but have put up some extremely good results and can reward a player who learns the ins and outs.

Asurmen

Most of the Phoenix Lords end up in the “everything else” bucket but Asurmen sneaks out. The main reason for this is that, where pretty much all the others try to be lone powerful models (with woefully underpowered early 8th statlines) Asurmen brings his value in the form of synergy, specifically giving ASPECT WARRIOR units within 6″ a 5++ and Dire Avengers a 4++. Dire Avengers are a little bit over fragile for their cost, but giving them a 4++ makes a difference to that, and a large blob of them surrounding Asurmen is actually a respectable way of gumming up the board. He does also provide synergy with Shining Spears – their built in invuln only applies in shooting, and being able to give them a 4++ (with Protect) in combat can be extremely helpful if your opponent counter-charges them with something.

Asurmen is also no slouch in melee himself, packing a 3++ in combat (4++ at range) and 5 attacks with his sword, which is S5 AP-3 d3 damage and deals d3 additional mortal wounds on a 6+ to wound. That’s a horrific amount of spike potential, especially against anything Doomed, further complimenting your infantry core by giving you some counter charge potential.

He’s still, probably, just a little bit too expensive, but I’ve run this strategy myself and it definitely gives some opponents real pause.

 

Wraithseer (Forge World)

Iyanden Wraithseer with D-Cannon

Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Wraithseers have gotten some huge point cuts and a buff to T8 since they released, making them very attractive for their cost. They’re 12W, so can be shot at, but with T8 3+/5++ they’re as tough as anything else you can throw around, and provide a decent push threat that your opponent kind of has to do something about or watch their tanks get chopped up. In Expert Crafters lists, giving them the d-cannon they have the option of mounting can be really good as well, letting them be active in the shooting phase too, and mitigating the short range of the gun with the fact they’re likely pushing up the board. Just in general, those lists are also very happy to have a countercharge threat.

Wraithseers have a weird set of psychic rules that make them mostly useless in that phase except when you have a unit of Wraithblades, who they can give a 3d6 drop the lowest charge roll to. This is a handy way to boost their charge reliability, so if you’re bringing Wraithblades these get even more attractive.

They’re not broken or anything, but the package here sums up to something it’s useful to have access to in your toolbox.

Other HQs

Still rockin’ the model from second edition

 

 

  • The Avatar of Khaine: I really, really want him to be good but he just isn’t. Way too expensive for what he brings to the table, and having keywords precision designed to make him incompatible with most of your buffs and stratagems just takes the cake.
  • Yriel: If you ever want to take a Foot Autarch in an Iyanden list you should probably take him instead. However, you very rarely want to do either of these things.
  • Illic Nightspear: A victim of the stern cap on the power level of snipers that was seen in early codices. He isn’t quite powerful enough for his cost, and in a pure Craftworld army you normally want to be spending your HQ slots on force multipliers, not lone operators.
  • The Phoenix Lords: A similar story here – most of these are designed to be powerful, independent fighters but their statlines are just wildly underwhelming for that role. Jain Zar has popped up here and there, and Maugen Ra used to see play, but generally you have better things to do with the points. I guess maybe you could stick a Spearhead of Maugen Ra + 3×3 Reapers into an army and it woudn’t be horrible?
  • Warlock Conclave: The foot warlock conclave has no role to play in a world of Thunderfire cannons.

Troops

Once upon a time filling out troops slots in a Craftworlds army was a bit of a slog – you wanted one big squad of Guardian Defenders to deep strike, but after that were usually awkwardly filling out the slots with Rangers, as the other two choices (Dire Avengers and Storm Guardians) were a bit overcosted. The good news is that points cuts have left both the last two looking much more attractive, and all four Eldar Troop choices now have their uses.

As a general point, both types of Guardians and Dire Avengers have Plasma Grenades. These are great and you should always have one model throw one when a unit shoots (unless you could only do so by sacrificing firing with a non-default weapon). The S4 and AP-1 makes these outrageously better than the anti-personnel grenades of other factions.

Guardian Defenders

Hero Guardians defiantly face down the Imperium’s finest.

 

 

Guardian Defenders are in some ways a great summary of the Eldar army as a whole – in most cases they are way more fragile for their cost than similar units in other armies, but are also phenomenally more dangerous if you can get them into the right place at the right time (and the army gives you the tools to do this).

At 8pts for a T3 5+ model, the basic Guardian is twice the cost of a Guard infantry trooper for the same resilience. However, with their BS of 3+ and two shuriken shots each within 12”, if you can get them into that range they’re more dangerous than a 13 point Tactical Marine (as the rending effect from the Shuriken Catapult puts it ahead of a bolter).

The trick to using Guardian Defenders is therefore to make sure they get to shoot something worthwhile before they get shot up. There are a few ways you can do this:

      1. Include a grav platform (or two at a full squad size of 20). These have 2W and a 3+ save, which means they’re great “ablative” wounds against small arms fire – you can choose to assign the saves to these first, and use the 3+ until the platform(s) die(s). This will go a long way if you are in cover or have Protect online, or both – you can potentially have 4 wounds on a 1+ save, great for getting rid of pesky AP-1 wounds.
        If you do this, you need to roll the saves one at a time rather than all at once, as you have to move on to saving on the 5+ as soon as the platform dies. Generally platforms do their best work as ablative wounds, so don’t invest in one of the expensive weapon options; whack on a Scatter Laser or Shuriken cannon.
      2. Deploy them from reserves via the Webway Strike stratagem. This guarantees you get to bring them into play unharmed (unless you walk into Auspex Scan or similar – do not do this) and get a turn of full effect shooting, though be careful about choosing to do this against opponents with a lot of chaff screening. This is the most common way to use Guardians – if you see a full or almost full squad in a list, it’s probably going to do this. This is colloquially referred to as a “Guardian Bomb”. It is especially effective when combined with Doom and Jinx on a target, and Guide and/or, for Ulthwe, the Black Guardians stratagem on the newly arrived Guardians – at that point even against an Imperial Knight you can expect to shred off 7-8 wounds.
      3. Transport them via a Wave Serpent. This works well for squads of ten and a platform, though you more normally see a couple squads of Dire Avengers used like this as their extra range makes it easier to deploy them meaningfully from the transport.
      4. Buff them. Guardians can use the Celestial Shield stratagem to give the whole squad a 4++ against shooting for a phase. This can be improved to a 3++ by Protect at which point your models are suddenly a pain to shift (unless you immediately roll all 1s and 2s as happens every time I manage to set this up).

Guardian bombs used to be all the range but the majority of players have moved away from them. They’re a big victim of Marines, as they’ll instantly melt to Marine fire without the stratagem up, can be easily punched out by characters in the fight phase, and can be blocked from dropping in the right place by scouts. There’s still scope to experiment with them in some lists, but at the moment these aren’t your priority.

Storm Guardians

Since getting cut to 6ppm, Storm Guardians are now notably cheaper to field a unit of than any other Troops choice, meaning that they have a role to play in filling out detachments and putting cheap bodies in the way of Smite-heavy armies.

Fundamentally, these are basically the things you should be using them for – they will never live up to what the shooting of the Defenders can do, and if you want melee infantry (though Eldar are really not great at that generally) you should be looking elsewhere too. If you have the points, a minimum-sized squad with couple of flamers is the only upgrade setup I might consider if you know you’re in a Smite/Horde heavy meta – it gives you a unit that will marginally outperform a similarly costed Dire Avenger squad when clearing chaff and also has more purely expendable bodies.

Finally, Storm Guardians have a choice of melee weapons – always take the chainswords. There’s almost no conceivable situation where the Aeldari Blade is better and I constantly rue the fact that half of mine are built with them.

Dire Avengers

Dire Avengers

Dire Avengers are my beautiful blue bois and no one can take them away from me. Realistically, they’re probably still a point per model too expensive because of how fragile they are, but much like Guardians their high relative “threat” for their cost and the fact that they fill troop slots means they have a part to play in the warhost, and at the moment the majority of lists are using these to fill out rather than Rangers.

You will almost always see Dire Avengers fielded in units of 5 led by an Exarch with two guns, usually riding in a Wave Serpent (two squads can fit in one, which is nice). This unit weighs in at a mere 58 points, making filling out detachments pretty reasonable, and thanks to Battle Focus and their 18” range can bring their powerful anti-infantry firepower to bear a surprising distance when jumping out of their ride.

This, combined with being small nimble ObSec squads, is what makes them worth having, as the Eldar playstyle focuses on getting the drop on powerful enemy threats and sucker punching them out before they can strike back against your fragile units. Much more so than non-deep striking Guardians, if you plan properly you can reliably get these pointed at whatever needs to die at any given moment, and pour shurikens into it until it melts. The smaller squad size (making it easier to grab cover) and 4+ base save makes them slightly less prone to immediately melting to return fire, though they are still much more vulnerable than most things at this price, so use them with care.

Dire Avengers are also the first Aspect we’re covering, and have six powers to choose from on their Exarch, each of which can replace the basic Battle Fortune, which gives the Exarch a 4++. Three of these are relevant:

  • Bladestorm: Unmodified hit rolls of 6 with the unit’s non-grenade ranged weapons score an additional hit. With a two-gun Exarch in a min-size squad (the “default” loadout) that’s worth an extra two hits each time they shoot, which is a nice increase in efficiency on a unit that’s already playable. A
  • Shredding Fire: The Exarch’s Shuriken Weapons are flat AP-3. Can be useful in a Marine world, and lets your Exarch more reliably pling a last wound off a key target. Seen in the wild as a choice on one squad to provide some flexibility.  B
  • Avenging Strikes: If any model in the unit has died, add +1 to the whole unit’s hit and wound rolls. This is tough to set up, but when it goes off it really goes off. Kind of needs you to be running squads of 10, preferably with Asurmen, but is good there. B

Most people default to Bladestorm at the moment – the extra weight of firepower is considerable, especially with an Autarch in turn. However, the other two can have their place, and Battle Fortune is still fine, sometimes letting an Exarch hold a key position or act as an ablative wound against heavier firepower. Obviously if you’ve brought Asurmen you don’t need it though!

A Battle Fortune Dire Avenger Exarch being defiant.

Technically there are a couple of other options for arming your Exarch – he can take a Diresword (a power sword which can cause MWs) or a power glaive, the latter with either a shuriken pistol or shimmershield, which gives the whole squad a 5++. All of these are trap choices as far as I’m concerned – the dual gun build adds an additional model’s worth of firepower for only 3 points, and so it’s either that or no extra kit at all.

You need to own Dire Avengers and lots of lists will run some.

Rangers

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Rangers have been popular since the codex dropped as a relatively cheap troop choice that’s a pain to shift and don’t need any support. Their special rules give units shooting them a -1 to hit, and they get an additional +1 to their save in cover. That means that Alaitoc ones at range are -2 to hit and have a 3+ save if they’re in a ruin, meaning scraping them out is actually a serious challenge. This is a good characteristic for a slot-filling unit to have in a tournament setting, as it means you can park them on an objective and forget about them. They can also Deep Strike, giving you the ability to steal an objective outside your deployment zone on some objective/deployment maps.

They’re also not totally worthless offensively – if you have multiple squads they start to be an actual threat to characters that stray into range, and can also contribute to dunking something bigger that’s been Doomed thanks to dealing MWs on 6s. Unlike most of the other options here, they also don’t really need any particular help or to be built around, so they’re useful for slotting into a smaller Eldar contingent where you don’t want to be paying for Wave Serpents.

Their use has declined a bit over time – they used to get a pre-game infiltrate, which let you pull nasty shenanigans against some lists or control space early, and small Eldar detachments have dropped in value with nerfs to Drukhari and Ynnarri, but you will still definitely see them in lists, and it’s worth having access to a few squads to fill out detachments.

 

Elites

The Elites section is probably the weakest part of the Eldar list, being a historical dumping ground for units that didn’t fit anywhere else, and which GW don’t really know what to do with now. Stuff that looked cool or OK early in the edition looks a mixture of quaint/tragic where we are today – they just don’t do things well enough for their cost. Point cuts have helped this a bit, but with one exception you’re mostly still taking stuff from here for one very specific task, not as general killers.

Howling Banshees

Howling Banshees have one function and are exceedingly good at it, meaning that in the right metagame they can be very handy.

These models have also aged *extremely* well.

Specifically, what Howling Banshees do for you is to shut down overwatch – their masks mean that overwatch cannot be fired at them. You can get access to this effect froma Warlord trait, but the fact that you have a whole squad worth of models in the Banshees’ case means that if your opponent is careless or is forced to cluster up to benefit from auras, you can tag multiple units with a charge at once. This can give Tau or Guard gunlines absolute fits. In addition, against the kind of things they want to be charging they’re fairly resilient in combat, as the Exarch’s War Shout ability means that enemies attacking them in the fight phase are at -1 to hit (so, for example, most tanks literally can’t hit them).

Like all Aspects, Banshees get some replacement options for this in Phoenix Rising, but unlike lots of them I generally find keeping the basic option is actually better – it helps with what they’re trying to do, which is tie stuff up. If you feel spicy, it might be worth adding one of the following with a CP, but do bear in mind this is basically a sacrificial unit:

  • Graceful Avoidance: The squad has a 5+ FNP in melee while the Exarch is alive. Improves their ability to tarpit chaff substantially, and could just about make a full squad aiming to use their terrifying mobility for wrap and traps interesting.. A-
  • Piercing Strike: An Exarch with an executioner can take -1A to get +3S and D3 for a fight phase. While it leaves you with only two attacks, those two attacks hit like a truck. B
  • Disarming Strike: Pick a model within 1″ of the Banshee Exarch to get -2A  (minimum 1) at the start of the fight phase. Can be good against enemy herohammer stuff. B
  • Nerve Shredding Shriek: After charging, pick a unit within 1″ and deal d3 MW on a 4+. Doesn’t sound amazing, but can let them tap down something that’s clinging on to life. B

To compliment the overwatch lockdown, Banshees are also extremely fast – they can advance and charge, get +3 to their charge when they do so and have a base movement of 8”. If you’re deploying out of a transport (which you should be, most of the time) and combo in the Matchless Agility stratagem (automatically advance 6”), their minimum total charge threat is 22” (3” disembark, 8” move, 6” advance, 5” charge) and their average 27”. Against unprepared players who haven’t faced them before this can completely take them by surprise, and even against excellent players I’ve successfully deployed a squad to tag multiple high value targets at once – that kind of threat range is exceedingly hard to play around.

What Banshees aren’t really great at is killing stuff. You should always stick the Executioner on the Exarch as if gives her the ability to strip a few wounds off a target (or maybe punk a random character with a high roll), but in general their S3 means that without Doom they won’t get much damage through, and you’re usually pointing them at something you want to “switch off” for a turn while you kill something else rather than your current priority/doomed target.

If your metagame is full of Tau or Guard Tank Commanders, Banshees are a strong addition to your list, just don’t expect them to kill anything!

Wraithblades

Sword Wraithblades are the one Eldar melee unit that “gets there” in terms of killing power, and both Chapter Approved 2019 and Phoenix Rising were very kind to them.

S L I C E Y B O I S

Specifically with Wraithblades what you want to do is deep strike a full squad of ten in, apply a bunch of buffs, and turn them into an unstoppable death star that rampages around dominating an area of the board. This is now easier than ever – the axe build (which comes with a 4++ you can Protect up to 3++) is now the same price as the sword build (35ppm) and Ghostwalk exists to get them into combat out of Deep Strike with high reliability (even more so if you bring a Wraithseer). While only getting S7 on their attacks hurts against Knights, they’re a relatively small part of the metagame at the moment and against almost everyone else the squad is a terrifying, resilient wrecking ball – pretty much nothing goes through a squad of T6 3W models with a 2+/3++ easily.

This all combines to make these a real option for a melee bomb, but their lack of on-board mobility and shooting means that, at the moment, Shining Spears tend to win out. Still, these are now actively a very good unit, and one that people will probably underestimate.

Striking Scorpions

These aren’t great but they’re stupid cheap at this point (54pts with a claw exarch), and for that you get a unit with natural deep strike that can provide at least a decent menace to back-line objective holders because the Exarch is a horrific killing machine, getting three power fist attacks with no negative hit mod. Combined with the squad’s mandiblasters (a chance to deal mortals to INFANTRY at the start of the fight phase) you don’t have to get super lucky for these to randomly murder even a Space Marine character, at which point you’ve instantly made your points back.

The basic Exarch power here (Sustained Assault) gives the model extra attacks on 6s. This is OK, but there are some other choices worth looking at:

  • Stalker: Your opponent is at -1 to hit this unit with ranged weapons while they’re wholly on or within a terrain feature. Hit modifiers ain’t what they used to be, but if you’re planning to keep these in terrain it’s fine. B-
  • Crushing Blow: The Exarch is +2S, which makes him a mighty S10 with the claw.  Really menace those Marine characters, and at this point even tanks. This is just better than the basic one most of the time. B+
  • Scorpion’s Sting: +1 to Mandiblaster rolls. They normally work on a 6, this makes them go off on a 5. I still want to try this with a full squad at some point, because I find the idea of mortal wounding an entire Centurion to death amusing. B

Scorpions are still deeply marginal, as like several other units in the book they effectively need a full re-write to get them on par with modern melee options, but they can do some work.

Other Elites

The other Elites choices in the book are:

      • Fire Dragons: Fire Dragons are absurdly dangerous for their cost against vehicles without an invuln, but will pretty much always disappointed against anything else. As long as hordes and big targets with invulnerable saves continue to be common, these aren’t worth taking – in tournament land you can’t justify a very specialised unit that’s bad at doing its job against half of the things it should theoretically be good against.
      • Wraithguard: Have a similar problem to Fire Dragons in that their guns really, really don’t like the horde/invuln-heavy metagame we’ve been in for a while. I like them a bit more than the Dragons because of how vastly more survivable they are – your opponent does at least have to point some serious firepower at them to clear them out, and I’ve occasionally taken out a squad with the D-Cannons (which I drastically prefer over the scythes) and had at least some fun with them. However, if you’ve got some Wraith kits and want to take them to events, build Wraithblades as above. 
      • Shadow Spectres (Forge World): These keep catching my eye because they’ve gotten real cheap with successive buffs, but at the moment they’re not really viable – their gimmick is that their built in -1 to hit lets them get to truly eye-watering defensive modifiers, but Master of Machines-buffed stuff in a Chapter Master aura still kind of just shrugs and deletes them. The high stock of Grey Knights and Thousand Sons also hurts them. Keep an eye on them if the metagame shifts.
      • Bonesinger: Do these even exist any more? They’re in Legends…but also Chapter Approved. With different costs?!?! Luckily, they’re pretty terrible so no one cares.

One of my favourite models though

Fast Attack

For an army that’s supposed to be all about lightning strikes, the offerings in Fast Attack are quite slim, with only four choices in the main codex. However, there’s a serious gem in here along with some other units that are worth talking about, and one entrant from Forge World that we’ll cover.

Windriders

Ignore the Shuriken Cannon – always be Scattering.

Windriders (Eldar Jetbikes) armed with Scatter Lasers have been an on again off again anti-horde choice in Eldar lists. They’re currently on a very low ebb, as their main weakness (low save) means that Marines tear them up like tissue paper. They’re still one of the best anti-horde units in the game though (especially when buffed up with Guide), and can operate at extreme range so it is still possible to get decent value from them. No longer a “go out and buy these” recommendation, but a unit worth keeping in mind.

Swooping Hawks

Swooping Hawks have forever hovered on the edge of playabilty and occasionally sneak into lists as a screening/objective grabbing unit. Unfortunately, unlike a lot of Aspects they haven’t picked up big point cuts, and as the metagame is currently pretty hostile to them, they don’t see much play.

What they’re really good at is:

  • Killing T3 chaff – they get effectively 4 lasgun shots each (and the Exarch’s can be S5)
  • Screening against deep strike

They also get a chace to deal mortal wounds on dropping in or flying over an enemy unit, giving them a small increase in output in the right situation.

When Genestealer Cults were top dogs these were really worth a slot, as being able to fly out a wide screen that couldn’t be trapped was a big deal (plus they chew through Acolytes). With T4 Orks being the only real horde list in the metagame, and them being weak against Marines (both on the offence and defence) it’s currently hard to justify them – but they’re another unit that you’ll rarely hate having around.

Their Exarch’s basic ability (+1Ld bubble) is trash, but luckily there are two really good choices to swap out to:

  • Fast Shot: The Exarch’s ranged weapons become Assault 6. Extra shots with his better gun gets the unit even closer to being good. B
  • Suppressing Fire: When the unit fires overwatch at an enemy, subtract 2″ from the charge roll. Leans into their role as deep strike screeners and makes them extremely good at it. This only came out after the end of the genestealer era, but if that ever comes back look for these to as well becuase of this. Could also be fine if Raven Guard and Blood Angels continue in popularity. B+

A final thing to remember with these is that they have the ability to re-enter deep strike if they start the turn on the table. When they do this, they can stay there as long as you like, letting you bring them in for an emergency objective grab late game.

Shining Spears

Shining Spears

Shining Spears have had a wild ride of playability over the last few years, but if you like them then good news – at the moment they’re back to being probably the best unit in the book.

Shining Spears are fast, tough and spectacularly deadly, and currently priced to move at 30ppm. For that, you get a 2W biker with a 4++ against shooting, twin shuriken catapults and a laser lance. The latter is both an Assault 1 gun with S6 AP-4 D2 and has the same statline on charging. The Exarch can upgrade his to S8, and also has a 3rd wound. While they do only get 2A each, the quality of those attacks is so high that they’ll go through stuff, especially if you help out with Doom or Empower. If they run up against hordes then the shurikens will cut them down, and they can escape combat using the Feigned Retreat stratagem in an emergency.

If you’re bringing these then you’ve always wanted Protect  and (if possible) Fortune along for the ride as it ups their resilience even further. Just on all those credentials these would be good at the 30ppm cost, but Phoenix Rising has taken them to the next level. You often want to Deep Strike them, and Ghostwalk makes that a lot more attractive, giving you a vastly more reliable charge when they land. Three of their new Exarch powers from the book are also instrumental in their current success:

  • Swooping Dive: +1 to charges. Even more reliability. Seen in Sean Nayden’s list comboing with a Headstrong craftworld to give him a 7″ charge even before Ghostwalk. A
  • Skilled Rider: The Exarch has a 3++ against shooting, which can be stacked with Protect to a 2++. This can allow him to tank a spectacular quantity of firepower, allowing the squad to stay alive on the board once they’ve landed. A
  • Withdraw: Lets you always fall back 6″ at the end of the fight phase. Tricky to use correctly, but gets around the fact that these can’t do what a lot of powerful melee units do, which is wrap stuff on your turn then kill it in your opponent’s turn and re-charge. Because their lances only work on the charge this isn’t practical for spears – so this gives them an alternative way to spend a turn safely chilling out wrapping some chaff when needed. B

Any of these options is good, with a general trend that if you’re going for a single buffed up deathball then Skilled Rider gets the nod but if you’re loading up on multiple squads (and they’re good enough to justify it) then Swooping Dive lets them be more independent or Withdraw keeps them active.

If you want to play Eldar at the moment you should definitely get (or maybe convert, as the kit is old) some of these, and they’ll remain a fixture of lists for the forseeable.

Hornets (Forge World)

Hornets keep getting discounts, and are at this point a pretty decent unit on rate. With two aeldari missile launchers they can be pretty good in Expert Crafters lists, and you can stack negative hit modifiers on shuriken cannon ones to make them annoying harrassment units against low BS armies too.

The other build I’m keen to see in action at some point is loading a full squad (they can come in squads of 3) with hornet pulse lasers and going to town with buffs. This weapon is pretty well tuned against Marines, has a lot of range, and can benefit from you using Cloudstrike to bring them in for a safe round of shooting if you’re worried about them getting blown off the board. I can’t, ultimately, speak to the effectiveness here, but with lots of stuff they’re well tuned to kill in the metagame it feels worth a look.

Wasp Assault Walkers (Forge World)

Strictly in crafters lists that want to strap as many aeldari missile launchers/starcannons as possible, these can give you three more slightly pricier war-walker equivalents. They do have some extra upsides – they FLY, get full deep strike and have an extra wound – but none of that gets them over the line in “normal” builds – they’re worth it when you’re going deep on Crafters and nowhere else.

Other Fast Attack

  • Vypers: Too expensive given how constrained they are in what weapons they can take. 
  • Warp Spiders: These aren’t super horrible on paper, but they have a big problem in that the stuff they’re good against (elite infantry armies) is something that Eldar tend to crush comfortably anyway. Since they’re also not cheap, this makes them almost impossible to justify an army slot for. An Exarch option from Phoenix Rising giving them an on-board redeploy is the closest thing they have to a reason to exist, but even then they’re wildly overcosted.

 

Heavy Support

The Heavy Support section is deep and contains some excellent units, many of which have a new lease of life from Expert Crafters

War Walkers

Ready to shoot some hordes

I’ve had good success with a squad of three War Walkers with scatter lasers as an anti-horde choice, and think that’ll be worth looking at again if any horde lists pop up while Marines still dominate. Especially with Masterful Shots they give you a good anti-horde option that isn’t instantly dead if a Marine sneezes at them.

However, the most common use of these at the moment is as three invidual units in Expert Crafters lists. They are the cheapest way to mount two aeldari missile launchers/starcannons, and thus a very common inclusion.

They also have the handy ability to outflank and come in from a board edge as reinforements, which gives those (otherwise often quite static) lists a way to put something in the enemy backline, and maybe clear out an objective holder.

Those are your basic two uses, and they’ve both genuinely helpful roles for these, so they’re a good unit to have.

 

Dark Reapers

Credit: Corrode

Much like Shining Spears these have bounced in and out of playability over the edition as nerfs have come and gone, and like Spears they’re currently pretty good.

Dark Reapers have some of the best shooting in the game, each being able to do either 2 S5 AP-2 D2 shots or 1 S8 AP-3 D3 shot. They also ignore all hit modifiers, allowing them to terrorise planes and move and shoot without issue. The latter part is super important, as the most common way to use these is to Fire and Fade in and out from a hidden position, shooting the heck out of something then getting to cover. If your opponent doesn’t have a way to prise them out this is going to add up to some real issues through the course of the game, as in terms of bang for your buck shooting wise few units compare (especially once Guide gets involved). If your opponent is short on shooting threats and planning to bring in Deep Strikers, they’re also incredibly potent users of Forewarned.

The Reaper Exarch also has a few weapon options, being able to take either a shuriken cannon, aeldari missile launcher or tempest launcher. The shuriken cannon isn’t worth it, but both the others can be – the aeldari missile launcher is slightly cheaper than the normal gun and gives you some high-roll potential against some specific targets in the metagame, while the tempest launcher is its own beast. It’s slightly pricier, but fires 2d6 shots S4 AP-2 D1 shots that don’t need line of sight. This lets the squad pull double duty, with the Exarch picking off hidden chaff while the rest of the unit go after big targets (though actually if you run the maths it’s only really T8 stuff where the tempest launcher gets any worse at that). This is usually the right choice if you have the points, but both the AML and the basic launcher are fine too.

Reapers Exarchs re-roll 1s to hit by default, not fantastic since you’re often planning to Guide them. Luckily, they get three relevant options from Phoenix Rising:

  • Rapid Shot: The Exarch can shoot an additional shot each time he fires. Unless you have a tempest launcher, you are definitely taking this. A
  • Rain of Death: You can re-roll the dice for the number of shots on a tempest launcher. While you do have to re-roll both dice, protecting yourself against a double one is really good. A
  • Long Ranged Fire: The unit’s weapons have +6″ range. An alternative for the tempest launcher, mitigating its shorter range. B

Rain of Death and a tempest launcher is probably the most common choice on a big squad, but Rapid Shot is also fantastic, and also opens up the option of building list with 3x minimum sized squads of these with missile launcher Exarchs, squeezing a lot of firepower out, and preventing your opponent from being able to get as much value from shooting at them with guns like heavy burst cannons. This build seems to be legit, and is especially good in Expert Crafter lists.

The downside of Reapers is that, even with their 3+ save, they’re fragile if they get shot at, and at the moment plenty of armies can do that without needing line of sight. You definitely want to start them in a Wave Serpent so that you get at least once turn of full shooting before they get blown up.

 

Night Spinner

Night Spinners are an increasingly popular choice in Eldar lists, a fact that I feel incredibly smug about given that I a.) called it and b.) was thus doing it before it was cool.

Just look at its majesty

The Night Spinner is good because it’s:

      1. Cheap
      2. Threatens a diverse range of targets
      3. Gives you some indirect fire, which Eldar are short on.

At only 112 points, these are very easy to slot into a list, and very tough for their cost once you factor in the Alaitoc buff. This gets you a Doomweaver, which is Heavy 2D6, 48”, S7 AP0 and D2, ignores LOS and becomes AP-4 on a 6 to wound.

That threatens a substantial portion of a 6×4 table, and is potent enough that your opponent probably can’t afford to just ignore it. Left to its own devices it will pick a few wounds off stuff here and there, or pick apart a few select targets (Mortar Squads and Ork Mek Gunz being some great examples). It’s also pretty handy for picking off lone characters who have ended up out of position and too close to it. Finally, thanks to its high damage potential and boosted AP on a 6 to wound, if you need it to contribute to bursting down a Doom/Jinxed target it will excel at that too. 

There are a few extra tips for how to get the best from Night Spinners. When planning your shooting phase, it’s worth holding off firing them till late in phase – they’re very likely to have viable targets whatever dies, and a “1” on either of the dice for number of shots is a very good place to use a CP re-roll, so it’s worth leaving them till late so you can do so with confidence that you won’t regret it later on. It’s also worth finding the 5pts for a Crystal Targeting Matrix on their main gun if at all possible, as this can let them be mobile or move to hide in later turns of the game with less of an impact on their firepower.

All together, the Night Spinner brings a lot to the table at a bargain price, and at this point are fully accepted as a top unit. They’re also very easy to magnetise the turrets of so that you can swap them with our next entrant, the…

 

Fire Prism

Missing – the third one

Fire Prisms got a surprise point cut in CA19 (to 142ppm), making them really worth a look. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the giant crystal gun they’re toting around, the function of these is to blow tough targets to bits. This is helped by the Linked Fire stratagem, which lets you pick a single Prism, delay its shooting till the end of the phase, then channel the firepower of any other ones you shoot through the first one. As long as any others do, all linked ones and the original one you picked get to re-roll failed hits and wounds when they shoot.

If you’ve got a priority target you need dead, this is obviously phenomenal. It doesn’t just work on big tanks either – the Prism Cannon has three different modes tuned to different targets, and can fire twice as long as the tank moved under half speed (which it should always, always do). Factoring in firing twice, you can pick between:

      • 2D6 S6 AP-3 D1 shots
      • 2D3 S9 AP-4 Dd3 shots
      • 2 S12 AP-5 Dd6 shots

You should almost always be using one of the first two modes – because D3s are better on average than D6s, the “middle” profile does both more damage and a more consistent amount of it to a big target on average, and consistency via re-rolls is the big strength of the Prism. The top profile should only be used if it will deny your opponent a save thanks to the additional point of AP, and thanks to the proliferation of invulns that’s incredibly rare. Technically if you’re looking for a “spike” in damage the top option might look attractive (if you have a CP to throw at the damage roll), but even then you’re probably better using the middle profile and saving the Cp for a 1 on the shots roll.

Once you run the numbers you realise that these things working together are hideously consistent killers against targets without invulnerables. The drop-off from their damage potential to actual damage is tiny thanks to all the re-rolls, and just two of these linking fire will reliably pop a Leman Russ, and three will down a Repulsor. They’re a bit less great against things with invulns, but even then have their uses, as they help the army go after multiple threats at once, something Eldar aren’t always fantastic at. Because they bring their own re-rolls, if you have access to a group of these you can “Jinx” one big target and point these (and perhaps some MW options) at it, then Doom another and point everything else at it, allowing you to apply reliable violence across a broad set of targets – being able to comfortably flex to deleting Marine infantry is another strong upside.

On heavy boards, you can also keep two of them hidden while doing this, only popping out one a turn to lead up the shooting (and you can sometimes mitigate the move/shoot penalty by buying a crystal targeting matrix, usually worth it on these). While they can be popped pretty easily, they can stay at extreme range, which definitely helps with some armies.

Really the main downside of these is that the advent of Expert Crafters gives you a lot of other ways to get consistent firepower onto the table at a lower price point, and mostly these are still being eschewed in favour of loading up on just more units. However, they saw some reasonable success at the end of last year and have only got better since, and there’s really no feeling eradicating something with full linked fire, so I’m certainly going to get mine out again at some point. Plus, they’re the same kit as Night Spinners and easy to magnetise, so you’re going to own them anyway!

 

Wraithlord

Wraithlords

Wraithlords. Photo: Wings

After endless point cuts didn’t get them over the line, what finally did was being a durable way to mount two AMLs/starcannons in Expert Crafter lists, while also providing some counter charge/push threat. Crafters does a good job of mitigating the move/shoot penalty, so don’t be afraid to shuffle these up the board (as long as they aren’t going to get wrapped by chaff) to present a bit more of an aggressive stance.

This is pretty much the only place they slot in, but they’re very good in that slot. You can buy them a big fancy sword, or upgrade their arm guns to flamers, but I’d tend not to bother – the lists that run them want to go wide, so saving your points to spend elsewhere is better (though if I did have spare points the sword would be my first choice).

 

Support Weapons

Another big winner from the Crafters bounty, Support Weapons, specifically vibro cannons, are good now. Vibros split into separate units, are d3 shots each at S7 -1AP, and get +1 to wound and AP (up to +2) when more than one goes after the same target. This quickly pushes you to at worst wounding on 3s when you put them into a priority target and more likely 2s, and you’ll get to make just so many re-rolls when you unload with a full set of these. At a mere 35 points each there’s really nothing stopping you taking the maximum of nine, and as a bonus if they do any damage to a unit without FLY it can’t advance next turn, slowing down hordes like Orks.

Do be aware that in ITC this makes you a little vulnerable to butcher’s bill and kill more – people are still suceeding with them but it’s a real drawback on what is otherwise a fantastic unit.

There are two other weapon options (shadow weaver and d-cannon) but neither sees nearly as much use. The d-cannon is very powerful but is short ranged and pricy, killing off a lot of what’s good about this unit, while the shadow weaver is a little bit anemic. The latter does shoot without line of sight, so if you need to fill out some last points and can’t afford Night Spinners they can be OK.

 

Falcon

To continually labour a theme, Falcons are real good with Expert Crafters. At 115pts with a starcannon or 122 with an AML/starcannons, plus packing the extremely good gun that is the pulse laser (H2, S8, AP-3, 3D) they’re yet another way to put a cheap, relatively tough chassis on the board that adds some quality firepower. They also have a six model transport capacity, which lets them shield one unit of Dire Avengers during deployment.

Honestly there’s not much more to say – if you’re stacking up a Crafters list, this is another viable choice.

 

Warp Hunter (Forge World)

Realtalk – I don’t like these and think they’re way too expensive in the go-wide Crafters era, but the people who love them really love them so here they are.

A warp hunter has a gigantic d-cannon on it that can either do d3 shots at 36″ range (S10 AP-4 Dd6) or (the exciting bit) do a short ranged blast for d6 auto-hits at the same profile.

Now look, the latter is obviously really cool and has some incredible high-roll potential, but the fact remains that you’re paying 177pts for a vehicles that has to get close to the enemy to do its thing and is no tougher than a Falcon. That’s a no from me, but if you fancy bringing out the glassiest cannon available, go wild. I can’t talk, I keep playing Wraithknights.

 

Dedicated Transport

Eldar only get a single dedicated transport choice but don’t worry – you won’t be needing any others.

Wave Serpent

*Sabre Dance plays*

Wave Serpents are probably vying with Crimson Hunter Exarchs to make a claim on the title of the best unit in the Eldar Codex. For a very reasonable 134pts in their cheapest loadout, you get a fast transport with a generous capacity of 12 (letting you sneak a few characters in with a couple of squads) that sports some decent anti-infantry firepower and is one of the toughest things for the cost in the entire game.

The baseline defensive stats of the Serpent are pretty good – T7, 13W and a 3+ is easily competitive with similarly costed units from other factions – but what turbo-charges them is the Serpent Shield. This reduces the damage from each unsaved wound by a multi-damage weapon by one to a minimum of one.

This is an astoundingly good defensive tool, and gives armies that are leaning on the (very popular) choice of high rate of fire D2 or Dd3 weapons absolute fits, because it halves the damage output of the former and cuts the latter by a third. Add in the fact that these are probably running as Alaitoc or Ulthwe and you have a recipe for intense frustration for your opponents. 

Even better, in matchups where you don’t need the shield (or at a critical juncture) you can detonate it in the Shooting phase, which deals D3 MWs to the nearest visible unit within 24” on a 2+. This turns the shield off for the rest of the game, but in some matchups (such as Custodes jetbikes) that doesn’t really matter, and if having access to some extra MWs in a pinch makes the difference between a big target (such as a Knight) living or dying it can still be worth going for it when your opponent has relevant weapons. Once the shield is discharged, you can also fire it again in future turns by using the Overloaded Energy Field Projectors stratagem. This encourages you to fire off the shield early against matchups that don’t really threaten the Serpents. You should also generally fire one off if a Serpent has only narrowly clung to life through your opponent’s turn – once you’re down to 1-2W you’re not getting much benefit out of them.

Outside of the shield, Serpents are merely fine when it comes to killing stuff. You’ll generally see them mounting either a twin shuriken cannon or twin scatter laser on the top turret, both of which are fine for some mild anti-infantry firepower, but not nearly putting out what you’d expect for the cost – what you’re paying for here is the durability. My general take is to have the shurikens if possible, but not to cry too much if I have to swap to the scatters. You generally want to be using your Serpents in a quite aggressive and mobile manner, so the shurikens are generally slightly better thanks to their “rend” ability once you factor in the heavy penalty on the scatters, but if I need to free up five points in a list swapping out to scatters is one of the first places I’ll look. The extra range on the scatters can also be a virtue in some matchups if you need to castle up and let the opponent come to you. 

Finally, in smaller games (1500 or smaller) I’ve actually had a lot of success taking a heavy weapon on the turret and a Crystal Targeting Matrix, as it lets the Serpent play a bit of a dual role, and forces your opponent to try and kill them when they might not really want to put in the legwork to chew through the shield. I used to use bright lances, but since the cut to their cost I’d now take Aeldari missile launchers, as that maintains the flexibility to go after infantry.

Any Eldar player is going to want to have at least two of these to hand early on in their collection, and honestly if you stick with the faction you probably want to consider getting a third. Lists running even more than that have put up serious tournament results, and a popular combination in current high-end Eldar lists is to combine the brutal power of the fliers (which we’ll see in a second) with the toughness of the Wave Serpent to hold the ground and objectives. Even outside skew lists like that they’re fantastic though, giving Eldar’s brittle but deadly infantry a place to lurk until it’s time to connect with their inner Drukhari and rack up a body count.

The only important word of caution is to remember that the Serpent Shield doesn’t work in melee. With T7 and a 3+ save, most “moderate” things still won’t take you down (even a claw Daemon Prince only puts in 4-5W on average) but heavy hitters like Marine smash Captains or Daemon Princes with the relic axe can trash one, so be wary. 

While the advent of Crafters builds has taken the stock of these down a bit (they’re a bit pricy to spam) even they tend to want one to hold some of their infantry – even when this unit isn’t fully on-plan it’s still worth taking.

In conclusion: get at least one, magnetise the weapons and assume you’re putting them in every list.

 

Flyer

Craftworld flyers were once the best in the game, but someone picked up a monkey’s paw and wished for “no more Eldar flyer spam” and then Iron Hands/Fist successor flyers appeared to take the crown.

You still have some cracking units in here, but they’re quite a bit weaker than they once were thanks to the advent of large numbers of lists that can push past their negative hit modifiers, their main defence. The best one (the Crimson Hunter Exarch) also got a point hike in CA19.

Once upon a time the advice was to take at least three of these in every list – now it’s worth looking at other options. They’re still good, and you can still build lists with lots but they will die against Marines, and they aren’t the unholy terrors of the top tables that they were as recently as last summer.

One upside of including them in your lists, which is still relevant in a Raven Guard world, is that they can be good for screening out deep striking melee threats. This isn’t critical at the moment, but Orks and GSC still exist as well, so you can get lots of value from the amount of drop space they can close off. While units can move through their bases now, if you use them to stop a non-flying melee unit coming in within 12″ they still aren’t getting anything done for a turn.

It’s also worth considering what craftworld to run these as. Alaitoc was once the default, but since Marines largely no-sell that Expert Crafters/Masters of Concealment can be a strong alternative, with the latter also being credibly swappable for Masterful Shots.

No Tzaangors allowed

Crimson Hunter Exarch

The Crimson Hunter Exarch is our first entrant, and despite nerfs is still probably the best option.. The CHE mounts a pulse laser and either two starcannons or two bright lances. Most people take the starcannons as they’re 14 pts cheaper in total, and the fact that a Crimson Hunter Exarch with these is 176 points means that the vanilla Crimson Hunter (which has to take bright lances) is always behind these in the queue at 168pts.

The pulse laser is a fantastic gun, getting two S8 AP-3 D3 shots out to 48” range, while the two starcannons rack up a total of four S6 AP-3 Dd3 shots. These are both heavy weapons, but to compensate for the fact that the CHE has to move every turn it has a base BS of 2+, meaning it hits on 3s like everything else. Being an Exarch you also get to pick a power and one of the options here (Hawkeye, A+) means you ignore the move/shoot penalty, letting you hit on 2s. Which is, uh, pretty good. This is flat out better than the base ability (re-roll 1s to hit) in every way, so should always be swapped out unless you’re taking Evade (B+) that gives them a 5++ – which can be a good call if you know the local meta is shooty Marine heavy.

The accuracy and wound re-rolls make them hugely dangerous against armies where a lot of the good stuff has FLY, such as Tau and other Eldar, and has niche uses in picking off characters with FLY that mess up and let a CHE land next to them (assassinating careless characters is something Eldar planes are great at and you should be looking for a chance to do, just watch out for Heroic Interventions!)

This is important. I have lost a game to messing this up. Don’t fall into the trap.

They’re also fine against anything that’s been Doomed, putting in plenty of accurate fire with decent damage.

I (obviously) miss these being one of the best units in the game, but it is still good and you’ll basically never be sad to have them unless they die immediately. With the upcoming change to full army deployment and no seize in ITC, I think if you’re taking these you should be strongly considering avoiding any unit that wants to Webway Strike, as in games where you’re going second against opponent’s that can blow them straight up, you’ll want to bring them in via Cloudstrike.

Crimson Hunter

You only take regular ones of these if you’ve run out of slots for Exarchs and want more. Sometimes you do. At that point, these are OK.

Moving on.

Hemlock Wraithfighter

Once upon a time the Hemlock was one of the biggest generators of salt in the game, being regularly spammed in lists and generating a horrendous number of nerf demands. Over time people realised that, while they’re good, they’re just a bit too fragile for their cost when spammed, and switched to either all Crimson Hunter Exarchs or two of the former and one Hemlock in their Air Wings. The increased vulnerability of planes hasn’t helped this trend.

A Hemlock doing what it arguably does best – really upsetting Primaris Marines.

I still love these though, because the Hemlock brings some unique tricks to the table and is absolutely punishing in some matchups. Its guns are very different to the CHEs – they’re relatively short ranged (16”) but extremely reliable – they shoot D3 shots each at S12, AP-4 D2 and auto hit. While the damage ceiling is lower than the Crimson’s, this is an extremely dependable weapon profile that you can rely on to put a few wounds somewhere most of the time. It’s also especially good against other Flyers (which tend to be T6) and anything else relying on hit mods for its defences (flying over and wasting a carelessly deployed Vindicare Assassin is a hobby of mine).

The guns aren’t its only offensive trick though – the Hemlock is a psyker, getting access to Smite and the “offensive” half of one of the Warlock powers (realistically, you pretty much always pick Jinx). You know, just a casual, low-key psychic plane. Nothing weird going on. Smite adds yet more reliable damage potential against whatever it’s trying to kill, and the option to Jinx something basically wherever on the board is a great tool to have in your back pocket against targets that can stay out of range of your Warlock.

Finally, the Hemlock has the Mindshock Pod. This is one of the few worthwhile leadership tricks in the game, giving a -2LD modifier to enemies in a massive 12” bubble. While a lot of factions that spam infantry have anti-morale tricks, this can sometimes be great, letting you pick off a few models from a bunch of squads and reap a toll of more come the morale phase. It also lets you set up some possible combos with powers like Mind War, but those are a fringe thing most of the time.

Defensively, the Hemlock has a slight upgrade over the CHE in having Spirit Stones but they’re still fragile for their cost, and need to be used carefully. I tend to try and pick out a useful target that’s on the far end of my opponent’s setup and land the Hemlock out and behind where they are, if possible. Even if they have something that can threaten it, it forces that unit to double back away from the rest of your army. Also, charging a Hemlock is no fun thanks to the auto-hitting weapons, but savvy opponents will realise that things with a decent invuln can pull off a charge if needed (unless they’re insanely unlucky) and can then trash your plane in melee. 

If you do find yourself in this situation, it can sometimes be worth using Lightning Fast Reactions in the fight phase (which a lot of people don’t realise you can do), as combined with the 6+++ it often flips the average to the Hemlock clinging to life rather than dying. Because your offensive capability is all psychic or auto-hitting, being bracketed makes little difference to how dangerous they are (I’ve had Eldar flyer vs. flyer matches essentially decided by a Hemlock on one side clinging to life on a single wound at the end of a turn). You can also still boost the movement of a badly damaged Hemlock if needed, as you can advance with Impunity thanks to auto-hitting weapons, and planes add 20” when they do. This can also let you assassinate unsuspecting characters turn 1, as 80” gets you nearly corner to corner on a 6×4.

Finally, don’t forget that as a psyker you get a deny. I love catching out a player thinking their key caster is miles away from my characters and not noticing the conspicuous green and white plane lurking behind them.

Hemlocks may not be being spammed as they once were, but as you can see they bring a lot to the table, and the metagame can prise the one in all my lists from my cold, dead hands.

Nightwing (Forge World)

The rare Nightwing sighted in the wild. Photo: Wings, Models: Tony Chew

The Nightwing is one of the worst examples of Forge World problems, being ludicrously undercosted but stopped from being a metagame terror solely because hardly anyone owns them, the models being expensive and sufficiently distinctive to make converting them impractical. These were completely missed in the balance pass that upped the cost of Crimson Hunters and Drukhari Razorwings, leaving them an absurdly priced choice at only 133pts, but you’ll still barely see them.

If you do, be a bit worried. They have the standard plane defences but can pick up a 5++ through one mode of their incredibly confusing movement rules, and pack a twin bright lances and a twin shuriken cannon. The former makes them pretty good with Expert Crafters, while the latter gives a nice level of flexibility in going after infantry.

I can’t recommend you go out and buy these – there’s almost no chance they survive the Forge World revision in their current form, but if you own them then they’ll perform.

 

Lord of War

You might think that a gigantic lumbering war machine wouldn’t really fit in with the Eldar playstyle.

You’d be right – Eldar choices for Lords of War are basically garbage, and you shouldn’t take one..

Wraithknight

A Wraithknight with five markerlight tokens on it, about to die turn 1.

…but I’ll do it anyway. My adventures with the Wraithknight are now extensively documented, and honestly if you want to read too many words about them then go have a look at some of the tactics in there.

Wraithknights are the only codex LOW option available to the Craftworlds, and while they’ve got consecutive big cuts to where they’re nearly OK, comparing them to what Imperial or Chaos Knights get on similarly costed units remains extremely depressing.

For my money, the gun build with whatever shoulder weapons you can afford is the best choice – it’s a bit underpowered but being active in the shooting phase is important, and while the 5++ from the sword build is nice, being something your opponent can potentially completely ignore is bad. The sword build is now very cheap and could maybe operate as a decent distraction, but from the modest success I’ve had with lists built around them I’ve found the shooting to be a critical element. If you’re doing this, then saving the points on the gun needs to be unlocking a lot of firepower elsewhre.

If you are building around the gun build you’ll want to bring a Wraith Host – this lets you give him a 4++ in any game where you get to take a turn, suddenly shifting him to being pretty hard to kill, and also gives you access to Wrath of the Dead for +1A. This combos very well with his stomping feet and Supreme Disdain – comboing this gives you 15 initial hit rolls where each 6 generates three more hit rolls, letting you amusingly crush entire units while your opponent says “wait, how many attacks?”.

This is all very enjoyable, and I’ve demonstrated that you can win games with these even against top lists, but I can’t, with good conscience, really recommend it.

A Whole Bunch of Bad Forge World LOW Options

None of these are better than using stuff we’ve covered in this article. The Scorpion gets closest and is occasionally seen in tournament gimmick lists, but not ones that win GTs. I will admit to wanting to own one, but that’s because it’s funny, not actually good.

The rest don’t even come close to being usable in a serious list.

 

Army Lists

To close this out, we’ll take a look at two recently successful army lists. Thanks, as ever, to 40kstats for their phenomenal work in collating these.

Colin Sherman’s Expert Crafter Combined Arms

Army list - Click to Expand

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Aeldari - Craftworlds) [20 PL, 352pts] ++ 
Craftworld Attribute
. *Custom Craftworld*: Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots

+ HQ [11 PL, 194pts] +
Farseer Skyrunner [7 PL, 132pts]: 0. Smite, Shuriken Pistol, Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts], Witchblade
Warlock Skyrunner [4 PL, 62pts]: 0. Smite, Shuriken Pistol, Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts], Witchblade

+ Troops [9 PL, 158pts] +
Dire Avengers [3 PL, 55pts]
. 4x Dire Avenger [44pts]: 4x Avenger Shuriken Catapult [12pts]
. Dire Avenger Exarch [11pts]: Avenger Shuriken Catapult [3pts]
. . Exarch Power: Bladestorm

Dire Avengers [3 PL, 55pts]
. 4x Dire Avenger [44pts]: 4x Avenger Shuriken Catapult [12pts]
. Dire Avenger Exarch [11pts]: Avenger Shuriken Catapult [3pts]
. . Exarch Power: Bladestorm

Storm Guardians [3 PL, 48pts]
. 8x Storm Guardian - Chainsword [48pts]

++ Air Wing Detachment +1CP (Aeldari - Craftworlds) [27 PL, 528pts] ++ 
Craftworld Attribute
. *Custom Craftworld*: Expert Crafters, Masters of Concealment

+ Flyer [27 PL, 528pts] +
Crimson Hunter Exarch [9 PL, 176pts]: Two Starcannons [26pts] . Exarch Power: Hawkeye
Crimson Hunter Exarch [9 PL, 176pts]: Two Starcannons [26pts]. Exarch Power: Hawkeye
Crimson Hunter Exarch [9 PL, 176pts]: Two Starcannons [26pts] . Exarch Power: Hawkeye

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Aeldari - Craftworlds) [64 PL, 1,115pts] ++ 
Craftworld Attribute
. *Custom Craftworld*: Expert Crafters, Masterful Shots

+ HQ [6 PL, 118pts] +
Autarch [4 PL, 73pts]: Craftworlds Warlord, Forceshield [2pts], Star Glaive [6pts]
Warlock [2 PL, 45pts]: 0. Smite, Shuriken Pistol, Witchblade

+ Fast Attack [3 PL, 68pts] +
Swooping Hawks [3 PL, 68pts]
. 4x Swooping Hawk [52pts]: 4x Lasblaster [28pts]
. Swooping Hawk Exarch [16pts]: Hawk's Talon [10pts]
. . Exarch Power: Swooping Barrage

+ Heavy Support [37 PL, 651pts] +
Dark Reapers [13 PL, 345pts]
. 9x Dark Reaper [279pts]: 9x Reaper Launcher [198pts]
. Dark Reaper Exarch [36pts]: Tempest Launcher [27pts]
. . Exarch Power: Rain of Death

Night Spinner [8 PL, 112pts]: Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts]
Night Spinner [8 PL, 112pts]: Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts]
Night Spinner [8 PL, 112pts]: Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts]

+ Dedicated Transport [18 PL, 278pts] +
Wave Serpent [9 PL, 139pts]: Twin Shuriken Cannon [17pts], Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts]
Wave Serpent [9 PL, 139pts]: Twin Shuriken Cannon [17pts], Twin Shuriken Catapult [2pts]

This list pre-dates CA19, but happily the point shifts in both directions nearly perfectly balanced out, leaving it still essentially valid.

This shows off a lot of the very classic competitive Eldar elements. At this point, with CA19 in the books and Marines still dominant more skewed lists are increasingly popular, but this still has a tonne of power and would be a great starting point for any tournament player (while having the quality to put up top finishes in skilled hands).

Between Crimson Hunters, Reapers and Night Spinners this list has a tonne of firepower, but exposes very few easy targets until it’s ready to strike. While it’s a list from last year, I think the fact it doesn’t have any Webway Strike targets makes it worth a look in the new season, as it can utilise Cloudstrike to hide its planes in inclement matchups and then bring down an absolute hammer blow when its ready.

I’ve been playing lists like this for years and I love them, and the fact that Colin has still been managing to make them work in tough times is definitely uplifting!

Matt Schuchman’s Shining Spear Spam

 Army List - Click to Expand

Matt Schuchman - Hammer in the New Year

Battalion Detachment +5CP (Aeldari - Craftworlds) [24 PL, 430pts]
Craftworld: Mixed

+HQ+
Eldrad Ulthran [8PL, 145pts] Ulthwe (Doom, Guide, Fortune) (Focus Will)
Warlock Skyrunner [4PL, 62pts] Witchblade, Ulthwe (Quicken/Restrain) (Fateful Divergence)
Spiritseer [3PL, 55pts]: Shuriken Pistol, Biel-Tan
(Free Relic: The Spirit Stone of Anath’Lan), Protect/Jinx (Ghost Walk)

+Troops+
Storm Guardians [3PL, 48pts] 8x, Chainsword, Shuriken Pistol, Alaitoc
Rangers [3PL, 60pts] 5x, Alaitoc
Rangers [3PL, 60pts] 5x, Alaitoc

Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Aeldari – Craftworlds) [38 PL, 649pts]
Craftworld: Masterful Shots, Expert Crafters (ignore cover and reroll a hit/wound per unit)
Identifying Colors/Description: red base rims

+HQ+
Jain Zar [7PL, 115pts]

+Fast Attack+
Swooping Hawks [3PL, 65pts] 4x, Swooping Hawk Exarch, Herald of Victory

+Heavy Support+
Support Weapons [6PL, 74pts] 2x Shadow Weaver
Support Weapons [6PL, 74pts] 2x Shadow Weaver
Support Weapons [3PL, 37pts] 1x Shadow Weaver
Dark Reapers [13PL, 284pts] 8x Dark Reaper, 8x Reaper Launcher, Dark Reaper Exarch, Tempest Launcher, Long-
ranged Fire

Outrider Detachment +1CP (Aeldari – Craftworlds) [48 PL, 921pts]
Craftworld: Saim-Hann (reroll failed charges)

+HQ+
Autarch Skyrunner [6PL, 105pts]: Laser Lance, WARLORD


+Fast Attack+
Shining Spears [14PL, 272pts] 8x Shining Spear, 8x Laser Lance, Shining Spear Exarch, Star Lance,
Skilled Rider (no stripe)
Shining Spears [14PL, 272pts] 8x Shining Spear, 8x Laser Lance, Shining Spear Exarch, Star Lance, Withdraw (one stripe)
Shining Spears [14PL, 272pts] 8x Shining Spear, 8x Laser Lance, Shining Spear Exarch, Star Lance, Withdraw (two stripes)

Starting CP: 10
Total Points: 2000

No really, Spears are that good. This list goes pretty much all in on them as a push threat, with the rest of the list being built to volley powerful shooting in while the enemy is distracted dealing with the Spears. This list actually eschews even trying to cast Protect on the Spears (which makes sense when you have multiple squads) and instead leans on the plan of wrapping then Withdrawing them to keep them safe.

This list gives you the tools to really properly demolish people if you play it well – one Spear squad is bad enough, but three is a complete nightmare that will just eviscerate a lot of people.

 

Wrapping Up

And that’s it. With just over 22,000 words of Space Elf goodness above there’s inevitably some mistakes or stupid decisions in here somewhere, so if you spot any, or have any other feedback, hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com or over on our Facebook Page.

 

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