Start Competing: Harlequins Tactics

An article by    Gaming Tactics        0

Are you ready to get down with the clown? Then welcome to Start Competing: Harlequins! In this article, we’ll cover the ways you can get the best out of the servants of the Laughing God, and show that you’re all about that Juggalo life. 

Normally these articles are not exhaustive (we leave out stuff that just isn’t competitively relevant), but given that there’s only about 8 units in the book, we’re going to go through each one of them in detail and discuss why you do or don’t want to include it in your Harlequins lists. We’ll also run through Masque forms, relics, stratagems, and Warlord traits. 

Note that Harlequins received a significant update in White Dwarf in a pseudo-Psychic Awakening release similar to the Deathwatch. Unlike Deathwatch though, they got a proper update with a ton of new content. That stuff is not covered in this article yet – at time of writing, the White Dwarf containing it has not technically been released, although Games Workshop accidentally sent some to subscribers. It will be added to the article in future once there’s been time for people to play some games and try it out; in the meantime, we gave it a review here and it’s worth checking that out in conjunction with this article, because it changes some of our assessments.

To start us off, let’s take a brief look at the key strengths and weaknesses of the Harlequins:

Army Strengths

  • High mobility
  • Army-wide 4+ invulnerable saves
  • Excellent, high quality units
  • Cheap, powerful characters

Army Weaknesses

  • Most units are expensive and fragile
  • Mostly short-ranged
  • Tiny unit selection

 

Competitive Rating

Weak-Medium

Harlequins sit in a funny place in the meta. Individually, their units are really good, but the codex is very limited in what it offers, so you rarely see full armies of them. As a pure faction they’re a bit of a flat track bully. If your opponent doesn’t know how to handle them, they can seem really overwhelming, since they’re fast enough to get in your face aggressively, and with a plethora of -1 to hit and 4+ invulnerable saves all over the place they have the tools to stay there. Against someone who does know what they’re doing, though, things can quickly fall apart, as they efficiently pile wounds onto T3 dudes and wait for you to throw tails on the coin flip of the 4+ invulnerable.

What you see most commonly, then, is a big pile of characters and/or Skyweaver jetbikes souped in to other Aeldari lists – often something like Drukhari Grotesques or Talos with the Skyweavers providing fire support, and the characters helping to clear screening infantry. 

Special Rules

There’s three key special rules which apply to almost all Harlequin units, outlined below:

Rising Crescendo

Allows models to Advance and charge, and Fall Back and still shoot and/or charge. A hugely useful ability, which adds to the high mobility of Harlequins and also allows them a lot of freedom to join and leave combats at the right time.

Flip Belt

Flip belts give Harlequins models a pseudo-FLY ability, allowing them to move over enemy models and terrain (but not charge AIRCRAFT) in the Movement phase. They can also move over enemy models in the Charge phase, where the ability to leap over enemy screens can be key to reaching out and hitting the target you really wanted to get to.

Holo-suit/Holo-fields

This is the rule which gives the army-wide 4+ invulnerable save referred to previously. The only exception is the Solitaire, which has the “Impossible Form” rule for a 3++ instead.

A group of Death Jesters

A group of Harlequins Death Jesters. Credit: Corrode

Masque Forms

There are six Masque Forms available to the Harlequins. In standard 8th edition format, each of them has an associated ability or “trait”, a relic, a Warlord trait, and a stratagem. The nice thing in the Harlequins book is that they’re all pretty good, with something to recommend each of them. There’s also the possibility of bringing in the Ynnari characters, and taking Ynnari Harlequins, who probably benefit the most from what Ynnari has to offer out of the Aeldari. We’ll talk about “Ynnariquins” separately, in the Start Competing: Ynnari article; here we’ll focus purely on the Harlequins codex itself.

In the same order in which they appear in the Codex, the Masque Forms are:

 

Midnight Sorrow
FormMove D6” extra when Falling Back, and consolidate up to 6”.
StratagemNo Price Too Steep – 2 CP – when a MIDNIGHT SORROW CHARACTER dies, it can fight as if it were the Fight phase. If the character is a SOLITAIRE or was slain by a CHAOS unit, it adds 1 to its Strength and Attacks for resolving this.
RelicMidnight’s Chime – once per game at the beginning of the Fight phase, you can activate the relic and all MIDNIGHT SORROW units within 6” increase their attacks by 1.
Warlord traitNemesis of the Damned – Each hit roll of 6+ for your Warlord scores 2 hits instead of 1. Against CHAOS, add 1 to hit rolls for your Warlord.

 

 

Veiled Path
FormAt the start of each Fight phase roll 2d6 and discard the highest. Until the end of the phase, any of your opponent’s matching hit rolls are rolls are discarded.
StratagemCapricious Reflections – 1 CP – Use at the end of your opponent’s Charge phase. Select a VEILED PATH unit, which can immediately perform a Heroic Intervention as if it were a CHARACTER.
RelicThe Mirrorstave – Shadowseer only relic which improves the miststave. It gains a 12” Assault 6 profile with AP-1 D1, or a melee profile with AP-1 and Dd3. Instead of Strength, the stave wounds on the target’s unmodified BS (Shooting phase) or WS (Fight phase) – so a BS/WS2+ model is wounded on a 2+,, BS/WS3+ is wounded on a 3+, etc.
Warlord traitWebway Walker – Set up your warlord in deep strike, and you can use Webway Assault twice

 

Frozen Stars
Form+1 Attack on the charge
StratagemMalicious Frenzy – 2 CP – Use before a FROZEN STARS unit fights in the Fight phase. Until the end of the phase, add 1 to wound rolls that target INFANTRY, BEASTS, or BIKER units
RelicThe Ghoulmask – The wearer of the Ghoulmask can deny a psychic power, or if it’s already a psyker it can deny one extra power. Also gives +1 to Deny the Witch tests.
Warlord traitOur Kin Shall Rise Again – Roll a D6 when a model from a unit within 6” of your Warlord is slain, on a 6 they don’t die. 

 

Soaring Spite
FormModels that can FLY or in a transport which can FLY treat Pistols as Assault when they advance, and ignore the penalty for advancing and firing Assault weapons
StratagemSkystride – 1 CP – use when an INFANTRY unit consolidates. Instead of consolidating towards the nearest enemy model, they consolidate up to 6” towards the nearest SOARING SPITE transport and may immediately embark if they can all get within 3”. You can do this even if you disembarked earlier in the turn.
RelicFaolchu’s Talon – While the wearer is embarked on a SOARING SPITE TRANSPORT, the transport can move an additional 6” in the Movement phase. Additionally, if the transport is destroyed while the wearer is being transported, it doesn’t explode and no models are slain getting out of it.
Warlord traitSkystrider – Your Warlord can disembark from a transport even after it has moved

 

Dreaming Shadow
FormOnly one model must flee when a unit fails a Morale test, and on a 4+ a model can shoot one weapon or make one melee attack on death
StratagemAn Example Made – 1 CP – Use in the Shooting phase. Each successful hit roll by a DREAMING SHADOW CHARACTER counts as 2 hits, or on a 6+, 3 hits
RelicCurtainfall – Death Jester only, replaces the shrieker cannon with an upgunned version. The new shrieker profile is Assault 1, S7, AP-3, D1 and the shuriken profile is Assault 3, AP-2, D1. Additionally, a wound roll of 6+ is now AP-4. Both profiles gain 6” of range to go up to 30”, and the shrieker profile retains the D3 mortal wounds effect for slaying an INFANTRY model. Intriguingly, the -2 Ld debuff that normally only applies to the shrieker shot is extended to the shurikens here too, meaning that if you’re fishing for the debuff but you’d rather not play the odds of missing with the shrieker round, you can fire the shurikens instead and still get it.
Warlord traitWarden of the Dead – Add 1 to your roll to fight/shoot on death for units within 6”, or add 2 if there’s any NECRON units on the battlefield

 

Silent Shroud
Form-1 to Ld for enemy units within 6”, and your opponent rolls 2d6 and discards the lowest for Morale tests taken for units within 6” of this ability
StratagemThe Silken Knife – 2 CP – Use at the start of the Charge phase on a SILENT SHROUD unit; enemy units cannot fire Overwatch against that unit in this phase
RelicThe Scintillant Veil – Troupe Master or Shadowseer only. Increase the range of all aura abilities by 3”.
Warlord traitThe Final Joke – If your warlord is slain in the Fight phase, roll a D6. On a 2+ the unit that killed your Warlord suffers D3 mortal wounds. On a 6, they suffer D6 mortal wounds instead.

 

That’s a lot to unpack! What I like about the Harlequins book is that there’s a reason to take every Masque, depending on what playstyle you want to use.

Broadly, our suggestions are:

  • Harlequins with fusion pistols in a Starweaver bus want to be Soaring Spite, since that allows you to Advance and still fire which is important with the tiny range on the pistols. The Warlord trait, stratagem, and relic all encourage this
  • Death Jesters benefit hugely from Dreaming Shadow, with the combination of the excellent relic weapon and the stratagem. Also good for getting a little extra out of your expensive Troupers and bikes
  • Silent Shroud’s trait is merely ok, but the relic has a lot of utility for getting the most out of that -1 to wound aura on the Shadowseer, and The Silken Knife stratagem is handy for breaking up castles – imagine some Skyweaver bikes slamming into a Tau gunline and denying all that overwatch
  • Midnight Sorrow opens up some great tricks with the Fall Back move and the massive consolidate range, but the really cool thing here is the stratagem – great to pop on a Solitaire after they’ve cruise-missiled their way through something
  • Veiled Path is probably the weakest of the pack; there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here but it doesn’t quite come together
  • Finally there’s Frozen Stars, which adds +1A to every model. Pretty great for getting that bit of extra output from your melee units. The stratagem is good too, but slightly limited by the keyword restriction – if you run into a Knights army, you’re going to feel the pinch

Overall, this is a good set of stuff, and you can’t go too wrong with whatever you pick. That said, one thing to keep in mind is that going all-in on a single trait isn’t the only choice – you might get better results from using a couple of different Masque forms that play to the strengths of the units you’re including.

 

Psychic Powers

Harlequins have their own unique psychic discipline, Phantasmancy. Like other 8th edition psychic lores, this includes six powers to choose from, as below:

PowerWCEffect
Twilight Pathways6Select a friendly HARLEQUINS unit within 3” and visible to the psyker; that unit can immediately move as if it were its Movement phase.
Fog of Dreams6Select an enemy unit within 18” and visible to the psyker; until your next Psychic phase that unit subtracts 1 from hit rolls that target HARLEQUINS INFANTRY units.
Mirror of Minds7Select an enemy unit within 24” of the psyker. Both players roll a D6; if the Harlequin player rolls equal or higher than the target unit takes 1 mortal wound. Repeat until the target is destroyed or the enemy player rolls higher than the Harlequin player’s roll.
Veil of Tears7Select a friendly HARLEQUINS INFANTRY unit within 18” of the psyker; until the start of your next Psychic phase, subtract 1 from hit rolls for attacks made against that unit.
Shards of Light7Select an enemy unit within 18” of the psyker and visible to it. That unit takes D3 mortal wounds and subtracts 1 from its Leadership until your next Psychic phase.
Webway Dance7Until the start of your next Psychic phase, any friendly HARLEQUINS unit within 6” of the psyker has a 6+ FNP.

 

Phantasmancy is a bit of a grab bag. In my opinion the clear two best powers are Twilight Pathways and Shards of Light. Twilight Pathways opens up some absolutely blistering charges with the Solitaire (more on that later!), and also offers up some intriguing possibilities for other units to go pinging around the board. Shards of Light is a targetable Smite with a Leadership effect which combos nicely with the Shadowseer’s own gun, and potentially a torment grenade from allied Drukhari, not to mention Mind War or shenanigans with a Hemlock from allied Craftworlders. 

The rest of the power list is a little less appealling. Webway Dance at a lower warp charge value would be great, but WC7 is a bit steep for a mere 6+++. Veil of Tears and Fog of Dreams are similar effects with slightly different targeting; in both cases, the limitation to INFANTRY restricts their usefulness. You can see what they were going for – the bikes and boats all have in-built -1, so a potential -2 or -3 from powers and -4 from Lightning Fast Reflexes may have been seen as a bit much after the Alaitoc experience, but it does rather dampen the power unless you’re going heavily in on guys on foot.

That leaves Mirror of Minds, a more balanced version of the Genestealer Cult Psychic Onslaught. Sadly the balance comes at the cost of not being that good – needing to get off a cast and then do a weighted roll-off is a lot of possible variance, and unlike Onslaught you have no way to stack the deck. Theoretically you could cast it and your opponent rolls badly and you burst down a Knight, but it’s easy to roll a 1 on your first dice-off and do nothing, and you basically end up with “Smite with a fail case”. Shards will often accomplish the same thing more reliably.

The above may seem a little negative, but don’t let that put you off – there’s certainly uses for all of the powers, you just need to think carefully about how you use them.

 

The Weapons

There’s a bunch of weapons which are common across several Harlequins units which we’ll talk about here to save repeating them in each unit entry. These are:

Ranged weapons

Shuriken weaponry – both the pistols and cannons are in here; identical to the Craftworlds versions, these are AP 0 guns which on a 6+ to wound become AP-3 instead.

Fusion pistol – a tiny little melta gun, with a mere 6” range but the same S8 AP-4 Dd6 and two-dice-pick-highest-in-half-range punch.

Haywire cannons – did you ever look at the haywire blaster and think “I need this, but more?” The haywire cannon is the answer – 24” range, Assault D6, S4 AP-1 D1 and the haywire rule which does mortal wounds to vehicles on a 4+.

Melee weapons

There’s four core melee weapons in the Harlequins army, which provide a range of possible profiles for output depending on what you need the unit to do.

  • Harlequin’s blade – S: User, AP0, D1
  • Harlequin’s caress – S: +2, AP-2, D1
  • Harlequin’s embrace – S: +1, AP-3, D1
  • Harlequin’s kiss – S: +1, AP-1, Dd3

Broadly the blade is for keeping things cheap (say you’re using your Troupers primarily as fusion pistol carriers in a bus), the caress is excellent for clearing out hordes since you’ll then be reliably wounding on 3s and applying exactly enough AP to get through their light armour, the embrace is intended to clear out elite infantry (although mathematically it works out a little worse than just taking a caress, since most elite infantry are T4 or better) and the kiss is for punching through multi-wound units (although again, most multi-wound models are T4 or T5, at which point the caress may work better on average).

In general, the Caress is the weapon of choice if you’e outfitting models for melee in a competitive setting – getting to the break point of S5 outweighs the advantages of every other option.

 

The Units

There’s a mere 8 units plus a terrain piece in the Harlequins range, which is quite a limited selection all told. We’ll go through them one by one, talking about their strengths and weaknesses. It’s worth noting right up top that apart from the Solitaire which moves 12”, all the other infantry have a base 8” move – this really is an army that’s all about mobility!

 

HQ

Units available:

Shadowseer

Troupe Master

There’s two choices here, the Shadowseer and the Troupe Master. Broadly, the Shadowseer is a psyker, and the Troupe Master is a combat character, but they both offer a lot more than those descriptions suggest.

 

Shadowseer

There’s a lot going on with Shadowseers. They’re ok in melee, toting around a miststave which makes them S5 AP-1 Dd3, although they only have 3 attacks. They’re decent psykers, knowing two powers plus Smite and being able to cast 2/deny 1. They have a shuriken pistol by default or can trade up to a neuro disruptor, which is 5pts more but gives them AP-3 and damage d3 which is a decent upgrade (though it only works on non-VEHICLES – against those, they’re back to D1).

They also tote around a hallucinogen grenade launcher, which is a mere 1 shot at 18”, but instead of having a Strength or AP value does D3 mortal wounds to its target instead as long as you beat their Leadership on 2D6. This combos nicely with Shards of Light – a Shadowseer is a great option to burst down a screening unit on their own. There’s even a 1CP stratagem, Vessel of Fate, which allows them to cast an additional power – so they can conceivably fire off a Solitaire with Twilight Pathways and still use Shards, Smite, and the hallucinogen grenade launcher to fire out a potential 9 mortal wounds (or even 15, if the Shadowseer is DREAMING SHADOW and uses An Example Made for a potential 2 or even 3 hits, though expecting 15 mortals from a single Shadowseer in a single turn is getting well into the realms of improbability). The grenade launcher being Assault usually means the Neuro Disruptor isn’t worth taking, as it’s a pistol so you can’t fire both,

The other cool thing here is Shield from Harm. Attacks against friendly <MASQUE> INFANTRY within 6” of the Shadowseer are at -1 to wound, which is a big deal on your squishy little T3 guys. Suddenly lasguns wound you on 5s and the unit of Guardsmen rapid-firing at you is looking a lot less certain.

Weighing in at 125/135pts these guys aren’t cheap, but they offer a lot. Pretty much any Harlequins list or detachment wants at least one, but you also probably only want one, unless you’re totally committed to pure Harlequins and using mixed Masques with infantry units in both. This is especially so because although the aura is <MASQUE>-locked, the powers aren’t, so if you need to buff across sub-faction lines you can do. This plays into one of the common builds we’ll talk about later, using a mixed detachment of Harlequin characters to maximise the benefits from stratagems and relics. 

A Harlequins Shadowseer

A Harlequins Shadowseer. Credit: Corrode

 

Troupe Master

The Troupe Master comes loaded with a similar statline to the Shadowseer, though they benefit from 5 attacks instead of 3. By default their gear is pretty tame – a shuriken pistol, a Harlequin’s blade (yes, the “default close combat weapon” one) and plasma grenades. They do get a full suite of gear options, though – they can take either of a neuro disruptor or a fusion pistol to replace the shuriken, and any of the other three Harlequin weapons or a power sword to replace the Harlequin’s blade. This lets you tailor them to do whatever job you like. They also offer a really helpful aura – re-roll wound rolls in the Fight phase for friendly <MASQUE> units within 6”.

Additionally, you can spend 2CP on the Great Harlequin stratagem to buff one Troupe Master into giving out re-roll 1s to hit in the Fight phase. With no other sources of re-roll 1s to hit in the army (except the possibility of bringing in the Visarch in a Ynnariquins force), this can be a really helpful buff to squeeze that bit more out of your elite infantry.

There’s a couple of solid uses for Troupe Masters. The first one is obvious – throw them into melee! A Great Harlequin Troupe Master with the Player of the Light warlord trait throws out three crucial buffs – re-roll failed charges, re-roll 1s to hit, and re-roll wounds. They can take their pick of the Harlequin melee weapons, or take up one of the relic weapons – the Storied Sword or Cegorach’s Rose. Alternatively, they might take a more utility role – taking the Starmist Raiment to grant themselves a 3++ invulnerable save against ranged weapons, and make themselves immune to overwatch if they Advance, perfect for charging in first and protecting your other, potentially more vulnerable units from being shot on the way in. A Silent Shroud Master could also take the Scintillant Veil, extending the range of those crucial auras to 9”.

Alternatively you can skip the melee side altogether, and use the Troupe Master to up the mobility of your fusion bus to really put the hurt on enemy vehicles. Equip them with a fusion pistol of their own, take them in a Soaring Spite detachment using Faolchu’s Talon as their relic, and fly around the board doing melta drive-bys at things. If you didn’t skimp on the melee bits, you could possibly even look at taking Skystrider to enable them disembark after their transport moves and go charging into something on the other side of the table.

What we’re saying is, there’s a lot of possibilities here. The main thing with the Troupe Master is that you need to have a plan for what you want them to do, and build your character – and your army – to support it. Trying to do everything with them is a great way to end up overpaying for stuff you don’t end up using.

 

Troops

Units available:

Harlequin Troupe

Just one Troops choice here, the Harlequin Troupe. For basic infantry, the statline on these guys is pretty wild – they come with the standard elven WS3+/BS3+/S3/T3, but then on top of that they have the aforementioned 8” move and a whopping 4 attacks per Player. For “as sold in the box” purposes they come in units of 5-12. As standard, they come equipped with a shuriken pistol, a Harlequin’s blade, and plasma grenades, but like the Troupe Master they can pick from across the whole range of pistols and melee weapons (except, for some reason, power swords – there’s even one in the box but apparently that belongs to the Troupe Master so it doesn’t count). There’s no restrictions on this – if you really wanted to, you could take a whole squad of 12 with neuro disruptors and caresses or kisses for a ludicrous 30ppm, though I can’t say I’d recommend it.

Much like the Troupe Master above, what you need from these guys is to make a decision about what they’re going to do, and specialise accordingly. Are they going to run around on foot, utilising the Shadowseer and Troupe Master auras? Are you taking big squads to maximise buffs and stratagems, or small squads which are easier to hide before using their flip-belts to bounce over terrain and screens and get stuck in to the heart of an enemy army? Are they equipped for melee or are they taking a fistful of fusion pistols? Build your list with these considerations in mind. Despite the range of gear, these guys aren’t generalists – if you try and get them to do a bit of everything they’re going to end up being expensive. This will also influence your choice of Masque form – there’s no point picking Soaring Spite for a bunch of guys on foot with caresses, or taking Frozen Stars when you want them to operate as fusion buses.

A Harlequins Troupe

Harlequin Troupe. Credit: Flavivirus

 

Dedicated Transports

Units available:

Starweaver

Another one-unit slot here (in fact HQ and Elites are the only slots where Harlequins have an actual choice of units). The Starweaver can be best described as “what a Venom wants to be when it grows up.” It rocks a 16” move and an automatic 6” advance, meaning that it can blitz around at a cool 22” per turn, and thanks to its Mirage Launchers and Holo-fields rules it’s at a baseline -1 to hit in the Shooting phase and 4++ invulnerable save. For some reason it also has WS3+(!) and BS3+, S5/T5, W6, and 3 attacks, which doesn’t sound like much but is actually pretty reasonable as a tertiary benefit of a flying, hard to kill transport. That said, their more relevant armament is a surprisingly punchy two shuriken cannons.

Most importantly though, Starweavers have a transport capacity of 6 <MASQUE> INFANTRY, and they’re open-topped. This allows them to load up on Harlequins and go flying around the table either delivering them into melee or, even better, popping pistol shots out of the top with reckless abandon. The capacity 6 gives you scope to throw in 5 guys and a character, which opens up neat tricks with reducing drops in deployment, or of course allowing a pistol-toting Troupe Master to ride into combat alongside some Players (sidenote: I really wish GW would review some of the “legacy” transport capacities in the game to allow this to be more common). 

Something worth noting here is that the Starweaver itself does not have a rule exempting you (and your opponent) from measuring to its base, but the guys inside fire from any point on the model. This opens up a neat trick of potentially allowing you to get into fusion pistol double damage range of a character without exposing yourself to a possible heroic intervention. It’s less useful than on Venoms, which have a similar situation, since you lack the long-range shooting from the guys in the boat to really take advantage of it, but it’s still handy especially as Starweavers are much bigger than Venoms. 40k is a game of movement where every inch counts, and this helpful tip can let you get the most out of your Starweavers.

Other than that, there’s not much to say about them. Starweavers are cheap enough for what they offer, they do their job well, they’re surprisingly tough to get rid of, and they look extremely cool. 

A Harlequin Player

A Harlequin Player. Credit: Chucat

 

Elites

Units available:

Death Jester

Solitaire

The other slot with choices in! Except they’re not really choices because you probably want to take both in any list! Truly, Harlequins are magical.

Group of Harlequin characters

Harlequin characters. Credit: Corrode

 

 

Death Jester

Death Jesters are 45pts. Forty-five. It’s almost stupid. They have a profile which would be decent on most characters, with WS2+, BS2+, S3/T3, W5, A4, and of course the requisite 4++. As well as the standard Harlequins stuff, they have two additional special rules – Deadly Hunter, which lets them target characters even if they’re not the closest model, and Death is Not Enough, where if a Death Jester attacks a unit and that unit later fails Morale, the Harlequins player can choose which is the first model to flee – so if you really want rid of a Sergeant or special weapon or whatever else, then you get to just point at that guy and off he goes. The Jester itself is also a CHARACTER, so they’re relatively easy to protect.

That’s all great, but what enables you to take advantage of this pile of rules? This is where the shrieker cannon comes in. This thing has two profiles, both with 24” range and the shuriken rule i.e. wound rolls of 6+ are AP-3. There’s a base shuriken cannon profile with the typical stats – Assault 3, S6, AP0, D1. Handy for piling wounds onto an enemy character, particularly buff characters like Warlocks or the Genestealer mob. Then there’s the shrieker cannon – S6, AP-1, D1, but if it kills an INFANTRY model, that model’s unit suffers D3 mortal wounds and is at -2 Leadership until the end of the turn. This thing is fantastic for picking off the kind of trash infantry units which are everywhere in 8th edition – bullying Space Marine Scouts, Guard Infantry Squads, little units of Dire Avengers or Kabalite Warriors, etc. 

In terms of Masques, my opinion is that these guys pretty much always want to be Dreaming Shadow. The relic gun, Curtainfall, is a big part of this – as highlighted in the Masques section above, it’s nuts and buffs one of the Jesters up to be even better at putting the hurt on things. The exclusive stratagem, An Example Made, plays in here too – you can turbo-charge one Jester and really make a mess of something.

As well as the Dreaming Shadow exclusive stuff, there’s another helpful generic stratagem, Shrieking Doom. This costs 1CP, and makes the shrieker profile +1S and D3 damage, bringing you up to S7 on a regular gun or S8 on Curtainfall. Extremely handy if, for example, the target you need to put some wounds on is a Primaris Marine.

One final handy combo to mention is the Death Jester/Shadowseer gun club. Combining their powers to drop -4 Leadership on a squad is a great way to get the most out of the hallucinogen grenade launcher, and potentially force a whole pile of guys off the table in the Morale phase. Even better with a souped-in Hemlock Wraithfighter! 

Credit: TheChirurgeon

Solitaire

The Solitaire is the polar opposite of the Death Jester. The Jester is a ranged hunter, best utilised as far away from the enemy as possible, sniping away at characters or bursting down infantry units to clear objectives. The Solitaire is a targeted cruise missile, aimed straight at the heart of the enemy army. Boasting a massive 12” move, WS2+/BS2+, and a mighty 8 attacks, and coming stock with a caress and a kiss, the Solitaire is a tasty prospect just at its baseline. The real money is in the Blitz move, however. Once per game, the Solitaire increases its Movement by 2D6”, and increases its Attacks to 10. You can’t do this if you cast Twilight Pathways on it in the previous Psychic phase, but the important thing here is that the 2D6” additional move applies for the turn, so what you can do instead is Blitz yourself next to a Shadowseer, then Twilight Pathways to move again – an average of 19”, but potentially as far as 24”. Alternatively, you can use the Twilight Pathways move to use Blitz – so you don’t have to risk the Blitz unless the power actually goes off. This, combined with the flip belt’s pseudo-FLY rule allowing you to bypass models and terrain, is enough that the Solitaire can get pretty much anywhere it wants to go.

Once it reaches its target, there’s a few extra things you can do to really make sure it sticks. It can’t take Warlord traits, but as a character it’s eligible for relics, and Cegorach’s Rose is an obvious choice here – S+1, AP-1, Dd3 (which increases to a flat 3 against INFANTRY), and the ability to re-roll failed wounds. Other possibilities include the Starmist Raiment for denying overwatch (though the Solitaire comes standard with Impossible Form, giving it a 3++ invulnerable, which does reduce the utility of the Raiment) or the Suit of Hidden Knives, which can kick back mortal wounds at an attacking unit. Helpful for if you want to charge the Solitaire into something like a unit of Ork Boyz.

Stratagem-wise, there’s a ton of different things which enhance Harlequins melee. We’ll cover most of them in the stratagems discussion below, but two of the faction-specific ones are worth picking out now, since they might influence your Masque choice. The first is the Frozen Stars one again, Malicious Frenzy – adding +1 to wound against INFANTRY, BEASTS of BIKERS is very relevant for the targets Solitaires are most likely to be pointed at. A Frozen Stars Solitaire is also at a mighty 11 attacks, just for that extra bit of punch.

Alternatively, there’s Midnight Sorrow, and No Price Too Steep. For 2 CP a MIDNIGHT SORROW CHARACTER can fight on death. The Solitaire adds +1 Strength and Attacks when doing so, so killing one can often be even worse for your opponent than leaving it alive.

One other relevant stratagem here is Torments of the Fiery Pit for 1 CP; if a HARLEQUINS CHARACTER has lost any wounds this battle round, you can increase its Strength and Attacks by 2 until the end of the phase. Did your opponent chip off a wound on overwatch? Welp, guess the Solitaire is S5 A12 now.

Coming in at a mere 98pts, Solitaires are monsters that your opponent has to seriously think about how to deal with, and having one in your back pocket is always worthwhile.

 

Fast Attack

Units available:

Skyweaver Jetbikes

Skyweavers put down an old foe

Skyweavers put down an old foe. Photo: Wings, Models: Wings & Flavivirus

After the brief excitement of the Elites slot, we’re back to a one-unit selection in Fast Attack. Luckily that unit is really good!

Coming in with a unit size of 2-6, the base profile on Skyweaver Jetbikes is WS/BS3+, S3, T4, W3, A3. Unlike most other Harlequin units they have an appreciable armour save of 4+, so it might actually be worth thinking about utilising cover with them. They also share the Mirage Launchers rule with the Starweaver, so they’re always at -1 to hit in the Shooting phase. They come base with a shuriken cannon and star bolas each, but you can swap the shuriken for a haywire cannon and the star bolas for a zephyrglaive.

Like all Harlequins units, they can advance and charge thanks to Rising Crescendo, which combines nicely with their 16” move and 6” auto-advance – you can bomb a unit of Skyweavers 22” across the table and pile into enemy units. At base these are just S3 attacks, but you can pop zephyrglaives onto the unit for 6pts per guy and suddenly they’re S4, AP-2, D2, which is a lot more threatening.

Melee isn’t the only, or even necessarily the main, reason to take them, though. The base armament of a shuriken cannon is merely ok, but for 5pts per model you can upgrade to a haywire cannon. As highlighted in the Weapons section, these things are money, and provide your best source of anti-tank from more than 3” away. Once upon a time when Doom worked cross-faction these were utterly ferocious, but even without that they’re still pretty good – sheer weight of dice should ease out the variance on their D6 shots.

These guys aren’t cheap, coming in at 40pts base, or 51pts with the full array of haywire cannon and zephyrglaive, which means that a full unit of 6 with all the kit is 306pts. They do offer a lot for that cost, though. Well worth the investment. In terms of Masques that play to their strengths, Frozen Stars is handy for upping their melee attacks, Silent Shroud gives them the option to be immune to overwatch (great for flinging a unit forwards and tying up large parts of a gunline with their big move and big bases), Veiled Path increases their survivability in combat, Midnight Sorrow enhances their mobility even further with the big 6” consolidate move – basically anything is good for them. Dreaming Shadow may well be the strongest choice, since the 4+ roll to shoot or attack on death lets you squeeze out that bit more from them, but realistically almost every Masque has something to recommend it and the main thing is that you pick based on what you want them to do and plan accordingly.

 

Heavy Support

Units available:

Voidweaver

After the run of great units in the Death Jester, Solitaire, and Skyweaver Jetbikes, it’s time to cool down a bit with the Voidweaver. The Voidweaver is based on the same chassis as the Starweaver, and trades the Starweaver’s transport capacity for two shuriken cannons and a single haywire cannon, which it can swap for a single prismatic cannon. It’s either 103pts or 108pts respectively.

The Voidweaver is reasonably tough, sharing the same defensive stats as the Starweaver, and the same -1 to hit rule for its mirage launchers, and of course the 4++ invulnerable save.

The prism cannon is theoretically quite cool. It has three profiles at a 24” range, either Assault D6 S4 AP-2 D1, Assault D3 S6 AP-3 Dd3, or Assault 1 S8 AP-4 Dd6. The problem here is really that the range is too short to make it a useful backfield piece, and the output isn’t all that high. For 100pts+, that’s disappointing, and of course Skyweaver Jetbikes are right there and can also fight well and offer more or less the same shooting output.

Ideally for me, you’d see these go down in points a bit, and/or change up something about the prismatic cannon to make it more attractive – whether that’s double firing, or ignoring line of sight, or some other alternative that meant the Voidweaver offered something unique to the faction instead of its current semi-pointlessness. They have the potential to be cool, and I like the idea of how they fit into the faction where even the Heavy Support option is a light skimmer which mostly flies around at high speed, but the execution doesn’t quite work here. T6 wouldn’t go amiss, either.

 

Terrain

Webway Gate

Like many factions in 8th edition 40k and 2nd edition Age of Sigmar, Harlequins have their own unique terrain piece (which other AELDARI factions can also use). Hooray! Unfortunately it’s pretty pointless. Boo!

The Webway Gate’s main problem is that it does something nobody needs at a cost that nobody is willing to pay. It’s kind of tough at T8 W14 Sv3+ and a 5++ invulnerable, but not so tough that anyone equipped to kill a Knight will have any trouble taking it down. It’s also surprisingly hard to place – the prongs themselves are pretty big and are deployed 5” apart, and then you have to put it down anywhere on the table more than 12” from the enemy DZ or models, and more than 3” from any objective markers or other terrain. It’s not inconceivable that you could get to the table and struggle to even put it down anywhere useful. Once it’s down, it can’t move or fight, and enemy units auto-hit it in the Fight phase. 

So what do you actually get out of this thing? Well, you can deploy AELDARI units off the table, and then deep strike one per turn out of the Webway Gate. For some reason this still has the same restrictions as normal deep striking – i.e. you have to turn up more than 9” away from enemy models, plus they have to be wholly within 3” of the gate. If the gate is destroyed before you deploy them, they’re dead too. In matched play, this of course means that you can get a maximum of 2 units out of it, since you can’t arrive before turn 2 or after turn 3.

“But don’t Eldar already have a dozen ways to deep strike their units if they want?” you might ask. The answer is yes. They even, thematically, use the webway. So what you’re doing here is buying a terrain feature which is hard to place usefully, which doesn’t add anything to your actual deep strike capabilities, which you can also replace with a stratagem common to all Aeldari factions. If this thing did something cool, like allowing you to DS less than 9” away (though, do see the stratagems section for more on this!), then it might be worthwhile. If it didn’t struggle so much to get placed on the table anywhere useful in the first place, that would be great. If it let you ignore tactical reserves, even better. But right now it’s just…. There. At least the model is kind of cool, although it desperately wants basing because the unsupported spurs will fall over every time there’s a light breeze nearby. Add one to your terrain collection, but do not under any circumstances put one in your army.

 

Other tips and tricks

That’s it for the unit breakdown. We hope you’ve enjoyed running through 8 units in about 3,000 words. Next up we’ll discuss the remaining stratagems, relics, and Warlord traits not yet covered elsewhere, then talk about army construction. Realistically, we’re going to focus on soup here – Harlequins are great, but as a monofaction army they’re pretty one-dimensional, and the limited unit selection really encourages you to branch out with them and throw in bits and pieces in other Eldar factions. 

A Harlequins player consults her strataegms

Stratagems

We’ve covered the faction-specific ones in the Masque Form section, but there are a number of other key stratagems available which are generally applicable. In the order in which they appear in the Codex, these are:

Webway Assault – 1/3CP – the standard Aeldari stratagem, for 1/3CP you can put 1 /2 units into the webway and jump them out in deep strike. You can only do this for INFANTRY or BIKERS, so the main use here is probably hiding Troupes off the board before dropping them onto objectives.

Prismatic Blur – 1CP – after a HARLEQUINS unit has Advanced, you can use this to give them a 3+ invulnerable save. The big win here is that you can do this twice a turn – once in your Movement phase, once after you Twilight Pathways a unit in the Psychic phase. Great for making Jetbikes even more annoying to get rid of, but also valuable on Starweaver buses when they fly right up in your opponent’s face.

Heroes’ Path – 2CP – at the start of a Movement phase, pick up a DEATH JESTER, SOLITAIRE, and a SHADOWSEER who are all within 6” of each other. At the end of the phase, set them up again more than 9” from enemy models. Fun and thematic, this can be handy if you need to emergency redeploy right now, but it takes a bit of set-up to achieve. One to have in the back pocket – every so often a situation will be just right to pull this off usefully. One thing that is worth noting here is that it’s the start of “a Movement phase” and not “your Movement phase”, so you can use this in your opponent’s turn – handy if you want to try out an aggressive deployment, or if for some reason you have this combo of characters stuck out in the open and you really don’t want them to be. 

Cegorach’s Jest – 1CP – when an enemy unit falls back, and assuming there’s no other units within 1”, play this and your unit that they fell back from can shoot. Has the potential to be hilarious if a vehicle tries to fall back from some Jetbikes or someone foolishly falls back to a position within 6” of a unit of guys with fusion pistols.

The Hundred Swords of Vaul – 1CP – at the start of the first battle round, before the battle begins, redeploy one unit anywhere within your deployment zone. Sadly the potentially hilarious use of this to redeploy your whole army is restricted by the “once per battle” limitation, but if something is badly out of position this can be vital to helping it out. Unlike Phantasm, the one unit restriction probably means that you can’t get much out of it for setting up clever refused flank deployments.

Torments of the Fiery Pit – 1CP – as discussed in the Solitaire entry, bonus strength and attacks for a CHARACTER which has been wounded this round.

Vessel of Fate – 1CP – the aforementioned bonus cast for a Shadowseer.

War Dancers – 3CP – a hefty price tag for a possibly hefty reward. At the end of the Fight phase, a Harlequins unit can immediately pile in and fight a second time. Solitaire didn’t quite finish the job the first time around? Try another 10 attacks!

Fire and Fade – 1CP – as with other Aeldari factions, for 1 CP you can move a unit 7” after firing with it, but can’t charge. Handy for sneaking onto objectives, slipping out of Line of Sight, or, if you’re using fusion buses, getting within 3” of a character to fusion them and then scooting out of Heroic Intervention range if you don’t stick the landing. Alternatively, you can go the other way – shoot with the transport and use Fire and Fade to move 7″ closer to your target. Great if you couldn’t quite get there with movement alone.

Dramatic Entrance – 1CP – a HARLEQUINS CHARACTER can heroically intervene 6” instead of the normal 3”. Another one that’s handy against a forgetful opponent who carelessly gets within 6” of a Solitaire or Troupe Master who’s feeling ready to ruck.

Warrior Acrobats – 1CP – an INFANTRY unit can auto-advance 6” instead of rolling. Much like the Craftworlds version, this is dead handy for when you really need to get to a specific objective – but don’t sleep on this one for when a vital charge would be helped out significantly by your guys getting a 14” move. Also dead handy on a Solitaire who’s somehow survived the initial rush – using this gets them a base move of 18”, which is nearly as good as Blitzing.

Shrieking Doom – 1CP – as discussed in the Death Jesters entry, for when you want your shrieker cannon to get really mean.

Isha’s Weeping – 1CP – at the end of any phase, pick a HARLEQUINS unit which took casualties this phase and improve its invulnerable save by 1 (to a max of 3+) until the end of the turn. One more way to make your guys stick around that bit longer, but often kind of pointless unless you took exactly one casualty in the psychic phase or something.

Mirthless Hatred – 1CP – when your unit is chosen to fight, play this and you can re-roll failed hit rolls and failed wound rolls against SLAANESH units until the end of the phase. WIth Slaanesh units becoming more common in general, this has more utility than it used to, and since it works until the end of the phase it combos with War Dancers if you really need that extra bit of kick.

The Labyrinth Laughs – 1CP – use when a Webway Gate from your army is destroyed. You can immediately set up one unit that was waiting to come out of the gate, within 3” of the gate and more than 1” from enemy models. Since you won’t have a Webway Gate in your army, who cares?

Lightning-fast Reactions – 2CP – shared with their Aeldari cousins, use this to make a unit -1 to hit for a phase. Combos nicely with the psychic powers, or the flat -1 to hit on Starweavers and Skyweavers.

Haywire Grenade – 1CP – throw a plasma grenade at a VEHICLE, make one hit roll, if it hits you do D3 mortal wounds. Useful for getting a bit extra out of Harlequin shooting, and potentially a points saver if you plan to use this instead of a fusion pistol on one guy. Troupe Masters are also great targets for this with their BS2+.

Webway Ambush – 1CP – for some reason this is stuck at the end of the stratagems, not even co-located with The Labyrinth Laughs. Choose either 2 units to both emerge from the Webway Gate rather than just 1, or deploy 1 unit but it can set up anywhere more than 1” from enemy models. This is the one conceivable use of a gate, but since you still have to deploy within 3” of the Webway Gate itself, the likelihood is that your opponent has to be very bad or very careless for you to get anything out of this. Still not enough reason to take one.

 

Relics

As for the stratagems section, this will cover the generic relics – for the faction-specific one, see the Masque Forms section above.

The Mask of Secrets – +1 Leadership for your character, -1 Leadership for enemy units within 6” of your character. The idea here isn’t totally terrible, since Harlequins have a surprising number of Leadership tricks, but there’s vastly better choices than this.

The Storied Sword – discussed briefly above, this is a power sword with +1 Strength, AP-3, D3 damage, which allows you to re-roll failed hit rolls. Nice combined with the re-roll wounds that Troupe Masters already have, but redundant if you already paid for Great Harlequin  (which with WS2+ is effectively the same thing).

The Suit of Hidden Knives – a funny choice against an Ork or Cultist horde or similar. Each time an enemy model targets the wearer of this and rolls a hit roll of 1, you roll a D6 and on a 2+ that model’s unit takes a mortal wound. Note that this is hit rolls, not unmodified hit rolls, so you can conceivably Lightning Fast so that 1s or 2s proc this, or combine with Veil of Tears for even more. Mostly this is funny rather than necessarily good, but on a Solitaire which can reasonably hope to barrel into a horde and then take a bunch of attacks, it can be surprisingly effective.

Crescendo – a relic shuriken pistol. Much better than the Craftworlds version, being D6 shots, S4 AP0 D2 (with the normal shuriken roll), but still not worth ever actually using.

The Starmist Raiment – as previously, 3++ invulnerable save and immune to Overwatch if the bearer Advanced. A potentially great pick.

The Laughing God’s Eye – friendly Harlequins within 6” auto-pass Morale, and get a 6+ FNP against mortal wounds in the Psychic phase. Morale is rarely an issue for small units of Ld8 guys, and the over-restrictive FNP is extremely ok and no more. Pass.

Cegorach’s Rose – as discussed for the Solitaire, a potentially great relic weapon. Pay particular attention to this if your opponent has Kataphrons on the table – damage 3 against INFANTRY is highly relevant.

 

Warlord Traits

As previously – check the Masque Forms section for the faction-specific ones! The generic 6 are:

  1. Luck of the Laughing God – your Warlord can re-roll hit rolls, wound rolls, and damage rolls of 1.
  2. Fractal Storm – your Warlord has a 3++ invulnerable save against melee weapons.
  3. A Foot in the Future – add 2” to your Warlord’s Move characteristic. Additionally, add 1” to the distance every time your Warlord Advances, Falls Back, charges, Heroically Intervenes, piles in, or consolidates.
  4. Player of the Light – re-roll failed charge rolls made for your Warlord and any friendly <MASQUE> units within 6”.
  5. Player of the Dark – each wound roll of 6+ made for your Warlord’s attacks in the Fight phase does one mortal wound in addition to the normal damage.
  6. Player of the Twilight – once per battle you can re-roll a hit roll, wound roll, or save roll made for your Warlord. In addition, each time you or your opponent uses a Stratagem, roll a D6. If the result matches the number of CP used for that stratagem exactly, you gain that many Command Points.

This is an interesting list. 

Luck of the Laughing God at first glance seems a bit pointless since your main platform here is a Troupe Master and they can already grant hit and wound re-rolls for most of their relevant fire – but if your Master is going to be toting a fusion pistol around, this suddenly becomes super relevant, particularly the damage roll. Wings Note: I’ve been wondering about this on a Curtainfall Death Jester in Dreaming Shadow – it seems pretty great as a fairly out-there pick.

Fractal Storm is ok, helpful for a Troupe Master who’s likely to want to rumble, though you might be better off just taking the Starmist Raiment.

A Foot in the Future is a great trait which enables you to make a character even more of a missile than Harlequins characters already are. A Troupe Master who can move and advance an effective 11+d6” and then pile in and consolidate 4” each can get more or less wherever they want.

Player of the Light is very, very big, as highlighted in the Troupe Master entry. All that advancing and charging comes to nothing if you fail the charge, and adding a re-roll helps a ton. A well positioned platform for this has the potential to be game-winning.

Player of the Dark is merely ok, and probably the weakest trait here – fishing for 6s for a single mortal wound is a bit whatever given your other choices.

Player of the Twilight is great for something like a Shadowseer or even a Death Jester who isn’t intending to run face-first into the enemy. It’s specifically exempted from Tactical Restraint, so you can get more than one CP back per battle round (though it still only works once – once you hit the lucky number, you have to wait until the next round for another go). If you get this on something big like Agents of Vect with allied (or even enemy!) Drukhari, that can be a game-winning swing of CP. A great trait that’s very worth taking.

Introductory souping

It will hopefully be no great surprise to anyone if we say that Harlequins are ok as a monofaction, but really shine as a soup element with other Eldar. There’s two particular builds that we’d like to highlight here as being especially relevant for this. 

Eldar soup army, including a Harlequins clown carnival detachment. Credit: Corrode

Clown Carnival

This is a simple little detachment of 1 Shadowseer, and then 2-3 Death Jesters and 0-1 Solitaire. It’s entirely built to take advantage of the strengths of the cheap, self-supporting characters which are such a strong feature of Harlequins, with the Death Jesters providing a great spread of anti-infantry firepower, the Shadowseer bringing a bunch of mortal wounds and/or the ability to reposition with Twilight Pathways – or, of course, fire the Solitaire off into the distance to devastate something.

Often, the detachment will give up a specific Masque form in order to take advantage of mixed Masques – most commonly making the Death Jesters Dreaming Shadow to take advantage of their stratagem and the Curtainfall relic, and the Solitaire Midnight Sorrow so that they can fight on death. The Shadowseer has a free choice given that their powers aren’t Masque-locked, but matching the Death Jesters for Shield From Harm is probably a good choice – the Solitaire is likely to meet some form of harm pretty bloody quickly, but the Death Jesters are more likely to be hanging around close to the Shadowseer late game and will benefit from the aura. “An Example Made” can also be good on the phantasm grenade launcher in a pinch.

 

Skyweaver Storm

Remember how I said Skyweavers were good? Well, they’re so good that one common build is to just take as many as possible of them, fit them all out with haywire blasters, and stick them in an Outrider detachment with a Shadowseer to fire them off at the enemy. The plan here is very simple – slam haywire shots into any vehicle you can see, and then follow up with a charge on the contents if necessary. A super relevant place to utilise the double Prismatic Blur strategy, as two units of 3++ save bikers is a lot for anyone to deal with.

 

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide, which now weighs in at slightly longer than the Harlequins codex itself! As ever, if you think we’ve missed anything, or got anything wrong, then hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com or over on our Facebook Page, and we’ll do our best to respond.

 

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