This week we will be looking at the Eldar elite choices. These choices are normally the “best of the best” the hard hitters and the source of the offensive and defensive power in an army. However this isn’t shown in the Eldar codex quite as much as others. There are some good units, and on paper and in theory all the Eldar elites are exactly that, better than every other elite in what they do and again cheap as dirt. Lets take a closer look though and dissect them and what they do.
Starting with the first choice of the elites is the Striking Scorpions. They are a measly 16 points per model, that’s the cost of a space marine, and for that cost you get… an Assault marine, with one less toughness. But at 6 points cheaper, not too shabby. However you don’t get fleet of foot, which for an assault unit isn’t too good, but given an Exarch for 12points and then with shadow strike they get infiltrate. Infiltrate is brilliant you can either outflank which means the turn they show up anything within 12” of the edge will be tied up, so devastator squads and other heavy weapon units, or they can deploy as a normal infiltrator, if there is suitable terrain to hid you 12” away from the enemy and you have turn one, then you have a unit in the enemy for them to have to worry about before the rest of your army arrive. A 3+ armour save and str4 weapons means they are a good all round choice, best for taking on horde armies where they can use their 4 attacks to greatest effect. Also they are one of the few Eldar units to receive grenades. The Exharch weapons are cheap and you can take either a power fist, or a weapon which varies from str4 to str8, unfortunately no power weapon options.
The other combat choice you have is the Howling Banshees, and on paper they are the best unit the elder probably have. 16 points and you get fleet, power weapons (on everyone) and initiative 10 even when assaulting into cover. The Exarch can make the enemy WS1 and give you the counter attack rule and a str6 power weapon isn’t to be sniffed at, but its only 3 attacks on the charge. However, they are not the be all and end all because they will normally be assaulting the enemies best troops, or at least their most armoured, still good yes? How do you get them there, on foot, with a 4+ save I doubt they will get very far very quickly. So take a wave serpent for them, there goes another 100 points, and when you get it there they can’t assault, they either have to sit in the Serpent for a turn, or stand and withstand the shooting. Another downer is they are str3 the enemies best troops are usually going to be at LEAST Toughness 4 which means you need 5’s to wound, suddenly those 30 attacks are whittled down to about 3, and anything more than a light breeze will blow the banshees over after their attacks in the first round.
The second most popular choice for the Eldar elites are the Fire Dragons. These can be a great option, but they are hard to use. At 15 points each they are cheap. There is no real NEED for an Exarch but he is a good choice still, he can be given an 18” melta or a heavy flamer and his powers give them tank hunter, not really needed with melta weapons, the second choice removes cover saves, mmm tasty, roasted marines. The fire dragons require a transport, there is no need for a wave serpent, as you only have 5 dragons, there isn’t a need for more, unless you really want to. So a falcon is your vehicle, but it is already a tank hunter itself, there are two options really, take out two tanks (potentially) or use the falcon to take out a tank, and if it does use the dragons to kill the passengers, or to finish the falcons job if it cant cut it. However you have to be careful because people of a blown up tank aren’t always happy you blew their ride, and any left will shoot/assault you and with a 4+ save your 5 dragons with crumble.
That leaves two Choices left, and these two choices look mean, nasty and down right dirty. Lets look at the Wraithguard first you can fit a unit of 5 in a wave serpent, they have an AP2 weapon that kills outright on a wound of a 6, its an assault weapon, and it ALWAYS wounds on a 2+ nasty also against vehicles on a 2-4 causes a glancing hit and a 5-6 causes penetrating hit. They have a 3+ save, and are toughness – so they are hard to kill, they are also fearless to boot. There must be some drawbacks then, and there are some big ones. Firstly they are 35 points each, 5 points short of a terminator, but the weapons warrant that, however the weapon is only 12” range, again fair enough there shouldn’t be much left to hurt you. The biggest drawback is that you have to have a warlock, 25 points for one, and it must have a power, otherwise you will have to roll and a roll of a 1 means, you can’t do anything, and are hit automatically in combat. However, if you take ten Wraithguard and a Warlock upgraded to a spiritseer (for 6 points) they become Troops. Brilliant. But at £7.80 per model few people field them for money reasons.
The final choice is probably the least used and the best looking in theory. The fearsome Harlequins. At 18 points per model they seem ok, they come with furious charge and Initiative 5 with 4 attacks on the charge (I think) they also have a flimsly 5+ invulnerable save, which is ok against power weapons as lascannons, but massed fire brings them to their knees quickly. Which is where their character upgrades become effective, you can give them a Shadowseer, which means night fighting rules apply to the Harlequins, but aren’t affected by wargear or rules which negate night fighting, but he is 30 points. All the Harlequins can be equipped with a Harlequins Kiss which gives them rending, this was brilliant in 4th Edition when rending was on the to-hit roll and you were rolling 30+ dice around, but now its lost some effectiveness, not a lot but some. They have the same problem as Banshees in being too fragile for their own good, transport options provide no help as you can’t assault out of it and walking is just painful to watch. There are better ways to spend your points but you must look at how they work on the table, not on paper.
I suggest a mixture of Scorpions, Fire Dragons and maybe some Wraithguard if you can afford it, and remember that Eldar are only good for doing bits, not wiping out units. Each unit can mop up, or cause a dent, so focus your fire and assaults on the enemies weakest point, or strongest unit in the open.
That’s it for this week, you will have to pick your favourite and best unit to suit you. Next week we will be looking into their troop choices. Enjoy for now.