Start Competing: Strike Force Missions in 9th Edition

9th Edition is upon us, and with it a large number of changes to 40K and a whole new set of Eternal War missions pitched at 2,000 point (now called “Strike Force”) games. These new missions are very different to any set that Games Workshop themselves have published previously, giving players more choices and strategic options than ever before, and working with a completely new scoring rubric. They draw a large amount of design choices from a variety of different 8th Edition tournament packs, spice them up with some new 9th edition concepts, and present us at the end with something that manages to both feel familiar to tournament players while also very much being their own thing.

In this article, we’re going to cover the new Missions and how they work, with an eye toward the Strike Force size specifically (we’ll cover Incursion and other sizes at a later date). Then we’ll talk about strategies for playing and winning those missions, and how the new rules and mission parameters affect game plans. So settle in and join us for a detailed look at one of the most important changes to the 9th edition rules.


How the Missions Work

Before we get into the strategic musings, let’s outline how the missions work and what you need to know about them. Mike Brandt talked about this on Warhammer Community, and you can see an example mission outline in that article. However, that doesn’t cover all the necessary details, so let’s run through the structure of the Matched Play missions (of which there are 6 for Strike Force games):

Pre-game set-up and Decisions

Players still pick a battle size and build their armies before games as normal, according to 9th edition rules. Note that in 9th edition, many decisions that could previously have been made made just before the game at some events, such as psychic powers, warlord traits, litanies, and stratagems that upgrade a unit before the battle must now be made when you build your army and noted on your army roster — they can’t be changed before the game begins. Once players have done that, they determine a mission. There are six Strike Force Missions in the Core Rules:

  1. Retrieval Mission
  2. Front-Line Warfare
  3. The Four Pillars
  4. No Man’s Land
  5. Scorched Earth
  6. Vital Intelligence

Gone are the random deployment zones and player-based objective deployment options of 8th edition; each of these missions features a static deployment map and objective placement specific to the mission.

Four Pillars deployment map. Credit: Games Workshop

The Battlefield

As has been previously discussed and revealed online, Strike Force missions in 9th have been designed around a smaller battlefield/table size than 8th edition –  60″ x 44″ instead of 72″ x 48″ – this is the recommended minimum size. While you can still play on a larger table as you like, missions and gameplay in 9th edition have been balanced around this new, smaller table size and the word from tournaments is that major orgs plan to move to smaller tables, so we think it’s likely that these new sizes will become the standard.

Deployment and First turn

Once players have set up the battlefield and objectives, they choose Secondary Objectives, writing them down in secret before revealing them. We’ll come back to those in a moment. Once they’ve revealed objectives they roll off to determine Attacker and Defender. The Defender chooses which deployment zone they want and will have to deploy the first unit.

Before any deployment however, both players must make all of their decisions about Reserves, Deep Strikers, and Transports! These are made similar to Secondary Objectives, written down in secret (so in “double blind” fashion), and then revealed to the other player. This is also when abilities and Stratagems that allow a unit to set up in reserves like Strategic Reserves or Denizens of the Warp are used. You also have to declare which of your units are embarked in transports at this time.

Once these decisions have been made, players alternate deploying units one at a time, starting with the Defender.

Once deployment is over, players roll off and the winner can decide to take the first or second turn. There’s no bonus to this roll for completing deployment first.

Invitational Deployment
Photo: Wings

Game Structure and Winning

All Strike Force missions last five turns, at the end of which the player with the most Victory Points is the winner. A player can score up to 100 Victory Points (VP) in a game, based on the following criteria:

  • A player can score a maximum of 45 VP for achieving Primary Objectives
  • A player can score a maximum of 45 VP for achieving Secondary Objectives
  • A player scores 10 VP for having every model in their army painted to a “Battle Ready” standard

Primary Objective Scoring

Each Strike Force mission has a different primary objective, all of them Progressive. That is, they score you points each turn as opposed to at the end of the game. Primary objectives are scored at the end of a player’s second through fifth Command Phases (i.e. “start of turn” in 8th competitive parlance). A player can score a maximum of 15 VP from Primary Objectives each turn, to a maximum of 45 during the course of a game.

In all Strike Force missions except the 6th (Vital Intelligence), a player scores 5 VP each for:

  • Holding one objective
  • Holding two objectives
  • Holding more objectives than your opponent

In the 6th (Vital Intelligence), the number of objectives you need to hold for each of the first two objective criteria increases by one, i.e. you score 5 VP each for holding two objectives and holding three objectives.

Secondary Objective Scoring

Before the battle, after objectives are set up, players each choose three Secondary Objectives, writing them down in secret and revealing them to their opponent simultaneously. Each Secondary Objective has different criteria for scoring, and each one can be worth a maximum of 15 VP for the battle – though some may be worth far less.

There are five Secondary Objective categories for a player to choose from, each with three to four options, and a player can only select one Secondary Objective from each category. In addition, each mission provides an additional Secondary Objective category separate from the others that will give players an additional option or two, depending on the mission.

The categories are:

  • Purge the Enemy – These are all End Game objectives score VP for killing specific units or types of unit, such as Slay the Warlord or Titan Slayers.
  • No Mercy, No Respite – These objectives also revolve around killing units, but focus less on specific units. Thin Their Ranks scores points based on the number of models you destroy, while First Strike scores points for destroying units in the first battle round.
  • Battlefield Supremacy – These are all Progressive objectives that score VP for having your units in specific locations or controlling objectives, such as Linebreaker and Engage on All Fronts (Recon to you 8th edition tournament players).
  • Shadow Operations – These objectives each introduce an Action for your units to perform during the game, such as Investigate Sites, which scores 3 VP each time a non-Character Infantry unit completes the Investigate Site action within 6″ of the centre of the battlefield.
  • Warpcraft – These actions revolve around Psykers. Two are Psychic Actions (Psychic Ritual and Mental Interrogation) that score points each time they are completed; the third is Abhor the Witch, which can only be taken by armies with no Psykers and scores VP for each enemy Psyker Character destroyed.

The mission secondary objective categories run the gamut, offering a mix of End Game and Progressive options, some with actions. Whether these suit your army will depend on how you’ve built your army.


The Impact on Competitive Play

Compared to what we’ve traditionally seen from missions published by Games Workshop, these missions are probably going to have much more of an impact on the competitive scene, with major tournament organisers (including the ITC) confirming prior to release that their events will be running “GW Missions”, which most had been assuming meant these. Now, the announcement of a separate Grand Tournament Mission pack as part of a launch day Chapter Approved means that assumption probably isn’t correct – it seems extremely likely that whatever awaits us in that pack is what events will be using.

Wings: I’m frankly over the moon that GW is now paying enough attention to tournaments that they’re publishing a dedicated pack for them, but it does mean that my initial plan of going deep on the Eternal War Strike Force missions needs to wait a little. We don’t know how similar the GT missions will be to the rulebook Matched Play ones, so poring over the competitive impact of every line in the Eternal War pack might not help that much.  I’ve also, bluntly, not had a chance to properly get on the table with all of these, and I don’t love deep diving on missions based entirely on theorycrafting.

TheChirurgeon: Given our initial reaction to these missions, I’m glad that we have something even more refined coming down the pipeline for competitive play. There are a lot of things I like about these missions and the new structure; secondaries were one of the best things about tournament play and I think casual players were significantly short-changed by not having access to them. And GW taking a major interest in competitive play will have positive effects that I think will eventually pervade every aspect of the game – you can already see how this mission design philosophy affects Crusade and the Agenda mechanic.

So given that these missions will be supplanted in tournament play by whatever is coming in the GT missions pack, why even bother with a strategic analysis of the Core Rulebook missions?

Well, while there are obvious challenges as outlined above, there’s still some things we can talk about because:

  1. There are clear trends in the design of all of the missions in the book, and these have strategic impacts we can talk about that are likely to be present in the GT pack too. These include the five-turn limit and primary objective scoring in a player’s Command phase. In addition, since Secondaries and fixed objective maps are imports into matched play from the tournament scene, I’d be surprised not to see some version of that included in the GT pack.
  2. We may not have a ton of experience with the missions yet, but you better believe we have theories about how we’re going to try and win them.

Wings: We’re all being unleashed on a fresh new edition together, and we’re all going to get to find out what works and what doesn’t in the new missions. With that in mind, what I’ve got for you today is an outline of the considerations I’m going to be taking account as I jump into some games of the new edition.

One final thing before we start – I am aware that there is some skepticism online about the balance of the missions. I am not blind to that, and indeed have some critiques of my own – but that’s not what this article is for. Today, we’re engaging with the missions as presented and looking at some strategies to play into them, and I can only ask that people engage with this article on the same turns – we’ll have time enough to talk about how good or balanced the missions are once we’ve got the full picture from the GT mission pack, and right now I’m most interested in trying to understand the strategic impact of these missions and their structure.


Strategic Considerations

#1 – The Clock is Ticking

Almost all 8th Edition tournament formats ran with six turn games, and one of the single most impactful changes that 9th makes is to cut this down to five. In addition, a substantial portion of scoring mechanisms happen in your Command phase and can’t be used turn one, giving you only four “scoring turns” to try and max out your Primary Objectives, from which you will need at least one 15 VP turn to hit the cap. Objective- and positioning-based secondaries aren’t really much more generous in how constrained you are to achieve them, generally allowing you to “miss” on one or two turns at most.

This shifts up some of the assumptions about how you play tournament games quite a bit. Especially in ITC missions, if you were confident in mostly bodying your opponent off the board over turns two and three, you could afford to tread water a bit early on and rely on sweeping to maxing your secondaries and a succession of high-scoring primary turns later to buffer you to a comfortable win.

Bluntly, that isn’t going to work here – playing possum for a turn is going to lose you both primary and secondary points that you aren’t going to get back. It also creates fairly severe tradeoffs for putting units into reserve – unless you can either drop them directly onto an objective or charge onto one straight away, the earliest these are going to score you any primary points is the Command phase of your fourth turn (arrive turn two, move onto the objective turn three, score turn four). There are still going to be some reasons why you want to reserve units that can grab objectives, as flipping an otherwise inaccessible objective for turns four and five can have big impacts, but it can’t be your main plan.

I cannot overstate how much I think this changes games – and in particular, it’s going to lead to some early games that feel like they “should” be a win based on learned instincts turning into narrow losses with one fewer turn to cash in on a mid-game comeback.

TheChirurgeon: The Reserves problem is huge. It significantly limits the types of units you’d even want to put into Reserves, marking them primarily as offensive threats that need to be protected from a turn 1 alpha strike. I also think that the top-of-turn scoring makes being able to wipe a unit off an objective more important than most other factors, including staying in combat. I think this combines with new melee rules and stratagems to encourage “missile”-style melee units, who can rush in and eviscerate a target the turn they charge, but are cheap enough to not worry about whether they can stay in combat afterward to survive, since there are no guaranteed traps anymore. So I’m lookin real hard at Berserkers right now, is what I’m saying.

Wings: Yeah, stuff that can contrive to “follow” a melee unit onto an objective and stay there, freeing up the melee unit to go do further mischief, definitely has high value. I expect to have Wave Serpents charge in alongside my melee units just to get them into postion, and this is somewhere where you can definitely still get some movement mileage out of the charge and fight phases.

What I’m Going to Do About It

  • Play more aggressively – your plan for taking and holding meaningful numbers of objectives needs to begin from your first turn.
  • Trade more aggressively – spending units to earn or deny points has a more concrete impact, and you have less time to use them anyway!
  • Deploy most of my objective grabbers on the board – I want some durable threats I can push forward onto objectives straight away.

#2 – Maxing Your Score is Really Hard

The second strategic point follows on from the first, but as well as being a consequence of the shorter game it’s reinforced by the scoring conditions being tough. This starts right in the primary – picking up five or ten points will happen a lot of the time, but managing to remain on more objectives than your opponent after they’ve had a turn of moving and shooting is a tough ask. The secondaries aren’t any easier – in NOVA and ITC formats we’re used to aiming to pick ones we can consistently max out, but here that’s a rough ask – some of them outright can’t be scored for 15 VP, and the ones that can often ask you to play a near-perfect game.

TheChirurgeon: Maximizing your primary objectives is a lot easier if you have the first turn, I’ll say that. Even then, top-of-turn scoring encourages players to think a turn ahead than they normally might, since just reacting to an opponent’s actions isn’t good enough – you may prevent them from holding an objective and scoring, but they’ll likewise have an opportunity to respond before you can score yourself.

Wings: I think the challenge is a lot more pronounced in the three missions that only have four/five objectives. Bearing in mind the scoring cap, as long as player two can secure themselves 10pts in their first command phase then primary scoring is still very much live, but on the four objective missions you’ll often need to commit one of your melee units just to secure that.

As an example of how tough secondaries now are, Engage on All Fronts, 9th’s equivalent of the Recon secondary from other formats, will only give you 15 VP if you end the turn with a unit wholly within each of the table’s quarters on all five turns. That definitely can be done, but there’s zero room for error – and I’d honestly flag that as one of the easiest here to score maximum points on. The only “easy” secondaries are the ones built around killing certain targets, which makes armies that allow an opponent to max this out at least something of a risky prospect.

TheChirurgeon: True. Titan Slayers is maybe the easiest slam dunk choice in the list, since it’s easily maxed if your opponent is playing pure knights and if they aren’t, you still stand to gain 10 VP from doing something that’s already part of any winning game plan. I’d also suggest that Bring it Down and Assassinate are solid choices as well if they can be maxed. After that, though? Real tough pickings.

The trade-off for this is that while maxing your own score is trickier, you have a lot more agency to stop your opponent scoring too. As long as your opponent is not currently ahead, denying them some points is a decent alternative if you can’t currently max out your own scoring. It isn’t as good, because some scoring options can be made up later in the game, but it’s better than nothing. This makes it phenomenally important not to fall too far behind – once you do, your opponent has way more choices for how to win the game, and you’re locked into making extremely risky plays to try and make up the deficit.

What I’m Going to Do About It

  • Pay as much attention to my opponent’s goals as my own – interfering with their scoring is easier and higher value than it used to be.
  • Be realistic about adjusting my goals mid-game – you’re often going to have to abandon the goal of a perfect score in favour of a good one.
  • Avoid falling behind – letting your opponent build an early lead can be game-ending.


#3 – You Need Broad Options for Secondaries

Picking Secondaries in tournament formats is a subject with huge depth and a topic that generates plenty of content and think pieces both here and elsewhere. I don’t think 9th’s Secondary Objectives are going to be any different, and one of the things that I think is especially notable (apart from how tough they are, as above) is how much they vary based on your opponent’s army, the different objective maps, and whether you end up going first or second. This extends beyond just “does my opponent have enough targets to max this out?” as was often the case in ITC. Whether Psychic Actions are worth gambling on depends a lot on whether your opponent has denies available. Whether you can aim to hold more than half the objectives changes on four-, five-, or six-objective maps. Whether you’re going to have time to stick awesome flags on enough objectives depends on whether your opponent has first crack at putting units on them.

TheChirurgeon: I mean, they may vary based on going first or second, but you have to pick them before you know which it’ll be, so I think you have to pick as though you were going second.

Wings: Absolutely – but how much they vary again depends on the map. I’d be willing to risk Raise the Banners High on Retrieval Mission or Scorched Earth, not so much on The Four Pillars.

Adding another layer of depth, each mission comes with an additional secondary option, and these tend to be slightly differently weighted than the core ones, generally being easier to score a large number of points from in the late game. An example of this is the Raze objective from Scorched Earth. This asks you to try and burn down two objectives in your opponent’s deployment zone for 15 VP, and the upshot of how it comes together is that you can still max it out even if the first time you move a unit onto one of your two targets is in your third turn. That’s much more forgiving than most of the objective secondaries, and if you think you’re at risk of your opponent controlling the table early on, these can be a good pick.

TheChirurgeon: The Raze objective is real interesting because of how it can reward Strategic Reserves arriving on turn 3, but it’s still a big risk to do something that can only be accomplished on turn 5, provided the units that arrive on turn 3 can move 10″ to get within range on turn 4.

Wings: It’s still a risk, don’t get me wrong, but I’m imagining this as a choice when you think your opponent is going to be able to blitz the board centre early but get quickly whittled down. Punching up one flank to land a unit there on turn three then sweeping across on turn four seems feasible.

All of this sums up to mean that you want a broad set of choices available to you when it comes to picking secondaries. Quite a few of them require input from units with specific keywords to achieve, and in no particular order, having access to the following will give you more things to choose from:

  • INFANTRY that can make it to mid-board objectives or the board centre without advancing turn 1.
  • INFANTRY characters, who are easy to keep alive and in place for some actions. Even better if they meet the above criteria too!
  • PSYKERS, opening up two options that are viable against opponent’s that can’t stop them.
  • Sufficient AIRCRAFT to reliably score Engage on All Fronts.
  • Highly durable models or units, either to keep around for While We Stand, We Fight or carry out some of the more dangerous Actions.
  • Units that can make tailored moves in your opponent’s turn through various nefarious means (e.g. Custodes Jetbikes).

In general, performing an action uses up either your turn or your psychic phase, so do remember that when designating units for this – it needs to be models you can do without other input from!

Finally, be a bit wary about running a list that gives up Assassinate, Bring it Down or Titan Slayers too easily – or if you’re going to, try and at least lean in to it. This isn’t hard and fast (and I’m going to immediately break it in the list I show off) but you need to be at least getting some sort of payoff from it, and if you can shuffle a list to just dodge it then it’s worth it.

What I’m Going to Do About It

  • Build armies that can target a broad range of secondaries.
  • Pay attention to how deployment maps change the value of secondaries.
  • Pick mission-specific secondaries where I think I need to aim at a late scoring burst.


#4 – Understand How Unit Values Have Changed

9th’s core rules combine with the missions to shake up the value units can provide, with both ranged threats and assault units seeing substantial changes to their impact on the game. The core rules are certainly a lot harsher to melee units than ranged ones, but there’s at least some level of tradeoff for that in the missions – gunline elements alone can now score you a few secondaries and deny your opponent’s scoring at best, while close combat units can go out, get stuck in, and flip objectives for a disproportionate impact on primary scoring.

Your goal to eke out a big primary win in games is effectively:

  • Ensure you never miss at least 10 VP each turn.
  • Achieve at least one 15 VP turn.
  • Prevent your opponent from doing the same.

Especially on the maps with only four objectives and especially when you then go second, having units that can not just take your opponent off an objective but immediately put it under your own control gives you an ability to dictate the pace of the game in a way you can’t with gunline elements alone. Ranged threats might be able to blast an opponent off an objective, but they often won’t then be able to take control of it in the same turn, delaying your chance to make that vital 15 VP turn – something you might not have time for in the shorter game. I’m not going to pretend that melee tools are going to be able to take control of the game in the way they could in 8th, but I do feel like at least some of the commentary I’ve seen underrates this capability in the context of the missions. Bearing in mind that a well-timed melee strike is going to be one of the best ways to set up a 15 VP turn, or salvage a losing situation, I expect to aim to include at least one unit of melee shock troops in most of my armies.

TheChirurgeon: I agree with you, but at the same time I think keeping those melee units on the objective after they’ve cleared it is at best, a real risky proposition. I suspect you’ll need something more like a clearing unit plus a holding unit with them simultaneously. In an ideal world, this would finally make transports viable.

Wings: I think transports absolutely are viable here – even some of the ones that are less outstanding in their own regard. I expect to see much more experimentation with Chimeras and Rhinos.

Ranged threats do have their own value though – they’re decent at denying primaries but running an army with a broad spectrum of ranged firepower can make you great at denying secondaries. Secondaries requiring the completion of actions often require specific unit types to be alive and tank a turn in dangerous positions, and if you can blast them off the table you might be able to shut out a secondary entirely. Character protection is also weaker than it once was, and as your opponent spreads their forces out to contest objectives, they might open a key character up to having their defences shot out and being disintegrated. Gunline-only armies without a plan to durably contest numerous objectives are going to struggle, but ranged threats still have a strong role to play, and the broader a target profile you can prepare for the better.

Finally here, let’s talk about durably contesting objectives. Almost all objective-based scoring in 9th requires you to survive on one for an entire turn cycle, meaning that just pushing Infantry Squad #3 onto an exposed position is going to at best deny your opponent points, not score them for you. For that you want durable objective holders – troops in tough transports who can bail out and keep holding the position when it dies, Characters that can shelter next to tougher stuff, and units that can just tank like champions – all of these are extremely valuable in 9th, and you definitley want some of them, especially if you’re lower on fast melee threats.

What I’m Going to Do About It

  • Bring melee elements to flip crucial objectives.
  • Ensure my shooting armies can adapt to broad ranges of targets.
  • Bring durable objective holders.

#5 – Make Sure You Have a Plan for Going Second

As we’ve discussed in earlier sections, falling behind in a game of 9th can put you in a tricky position, and with the first turn being decided by a random roll-off after pre-game choices and deployment, it’s harder to tailor your pre-game choices to avoid this when going second than we’re used to. This is especially true on the three missions that have four or five objectives, where an opponent who can move in force onto multiple mid-table objectives turn one can be hard to dislodge.

The good news is that a lot of the advice I’ve given up till now is aimed at helping you be ready to respond to this situation. Making sure your army has broad secondary options lets you avoid trying to take something like Raise the Banners High when you’re on a four-objective map, because if you do that then go second it’ll probably be a complete disaster. If your opponent decides to make a play for multiple objectives at once, having a broad range of offensive tools lets you try and absolutely crush any weak points they’ve left in their configuration. Durable threats brought to take and hold objectives probably aren’t bad at tanking some turn 1 firepower as well.

Ultimately, a lot of 9th’s choices combine to make it very difficult to win if you’re not properly contesting the game right from turn one – so as player two you need to be able to do that even when your opponent has made the first move. Generally, as the second player, this is going to involve making a heavy counterattack against one of the mid-board objectives your opponent has taken early on, with stopping them picking up an early “hold more” and locking yourself in for 10VP being key. While you want to deploy defensively to mitigate the risk of taking the second turn, you need to do so in such a way that allows you to focus considerable force on at least one of the mid-table objectives out of the gate. If I found myself “worried” about going second in a game, I’d also lean towards some of the mission specific secondaries because of them being a bit easier to score in a comeback fashion compared to a lot of others.

I do have to briefly touch on the critiques of the missions here and say that while I think there are things you can do to make going second less bad, I’ll still be choosing to go first almost all of the time until I’m convinced otherwise – but if anything that makes it more important to be rigorously stress testing your plan for playing from second.

What I’m Going to Do About It

  • Avoid Secondaries that become traps if I lose the roll-off.
  • Pick an objective that I can attack in force, and deploy to do so.
  • Exploit any weaknesses my opponent’s early moves open up.

I have also had a think about whether there’s any situation where I might choose to go second, and I think the answer is that I would need all of the following to be true:

  • My opponent poses limited ranged threats to my army.
  • Some of my secondaries become easier going second.
  • Either:
    • My opponent lacks the speed to reach mid-board objectives in force reliably turn 1.
    • My opponent will be forced to use premium melee threats to take mid-board objectives turn 1 (as this diminishes their value compared to smashing into whatever I put on an objective).
  • We are not playing Frontline Warfare or No Man’s Land – the maps here give very little succor to the second player.


Eternal War Army List

It wouldn’t be a strategy article if we didn’t look at an army list at the end would it? Besides, quite a few of the things we’ve talked about impact on list design, so can we put that into practice?

Now, obviously we don’t have details of all the upcoming points changes yet, so I can’t 100% guarantee that this list is going to fit perfectly into a 2000pts game of 9th, but so that we’ve got something to talk about I’ve adopted the same convention as a lot of people online and built a list that’s 1750pts in 8th edition. Based on the rough magnitude of changes we’ve been told to expect, I imagine that at-worse there would need to be a bit of fiddling round the edges to slot this in.

Here goes:

Battalion Detachment – Custom Craftworld – Expert Crafters/Masters of Concealment

HQ – Autarch with Swooping Hawk Wings, Warlord (An Eye on Distant Events), Shard of Anaris – 93pts
HQ – Farseer Skyrunner, Doom, Fortune, Smite – 132pts
HQ – Warlock, Protect/Jinx, Focus Will, buys Faolchu’s Wing – 45pts

Troops – 10 Guardians w/shuriken platform – 95pts
Troops – 10 Guardians w/shuriken platform – 95pts
Troops – 5 Rangers – 60pts

Fast Attack – 6 Shining Spears w/Exarch, Skilled Rider, Star Lance – 182pts

Heavy Support – Night Spinner – 112pts
Heavy Support – Night Spinner – 112pts

Flyer – Crimson Hunter Exarch w/Starcannons, Eyes of Khaine -176pts
Flyer – Crimson Hunter Exarch w/Starcannons, Eyes of Khaine -176pts

Dedicated Transport – Wave Serpent w/twin aeldari missile launcher -157pts
Dedicated Transport – Wave Serpent w/twin aeldari missile launcher -157pts
Dedicated Transport – Wave Serpent w/twin aeldari missile launcher -157pts

Total – 1749pts – 11CP

This leans into a lot of what we’ve talked about, and takes advantage of some of the rules changes to squeeze some additional efficiency in at a knock-down price. All of the vehicles benefit from not taking the move/shoot penalty, either by not having to pay for a targeting matrix or getting to take a non-Hawkeye Exarch power, and by chucking AMLs on all the Wave Serpents you get a huge amount of flexibility to engage hordes (where Blast will ruin them) or heavier targets (where krak missiles with re-rolls from Expert Crafters are very dangerous).

Addressing other points we’ve discussed, the Shining Spears form a powerful shock assault unit that, between their speed, shooting and melee, should be able to reach out and steal an objective at a key point in the game. Meanwhile, Masters of Concealment makes Wave Serpents a pain to shift, and if an opponent does manage to chew through them then they have to get through a 2+ save grav platform before they can sweep the Guardians away, increasing the chance of the unit managing to stay on an objective they’re controlling. An INFANTRY squad that can jump to a 3++ in a pinch is also just generically helpful when considering secondaries.

Finally, the list has two INFANTRY characters that can move fast enough to sweep onto an objective behind a Wave Serpent or the planes and start planting a flag turn 1, helping to keep the list’s secondary options open. Having the two Crimson Hunter Exarchs also opens up Engage on All Fronts against any opponent that can’t trivially kill them if they fly up the board.

The only 9th-specific weakness is that it does give up maximum points on Bring It Down if an opponent manages to kill 5+ of the vehicles. It’s difficult to gauge just how bad that is, and given how many of Eldar’s best units leak this I think for now I’m happy just to lean into it, but it could prove to be a real problem, in which case it’s back to the drawing board. As far as I’m concerned, that’s part of the beauty of jumping in to a new edition!

TheChirurgeon: I hate this list for what it did to my Death Guard but next time we play I’m gonna shoot those planes out of the sky with sewage firehoses.

Wings: Some big words right here.


What’s Next

Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite for a more competitive skewed look at what 9th Edition might bring, and be assured we’ve got lots more coming over the next weeks and months, starting with a competitive roundtable on the new edition tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions (unless they’re “why didn’t the article just say melee is dead?” in which case maybe hang fire) feel free to email us at