Sunday, June 9, 2013

Three Dark Eldar/Eldar lists up for review!

I'm more Archon than Farseer.

Alright guys, it's your turn to review my lists.  I know I show off a lot of lists all the time and talk about them, but I think it's time for you guys to pick one of my lists.  I'll present three and give you guys a decent breakdown of what they have.

*Allied force

First list
17 kp

Farseer (JB, Spear, Mantle) = 160
Succubus (VB) = 70*

5x Dire Avengers (WS/Holo/Scatter/SC) = 210
5x Dire Avengers (WS/Holo/Scatter/SC) = 210
5x Warriors (Venom NS/SC, Blaster) = 135*
5x Jetbikes (SC) = 95
4x Jetbikes (SC) = 78

3x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 3x Blasters) = 156*

Crimson Hunter Exarch = 180

Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Night Spinner (Holofields, SS) = 140
Ravager (NS) = 115*

Alpha Potential: 8x TL Scatters, 6x TL Shurikens (or 2d6 S7 Ignore Cover), 24x Poison shots, 2x S9 AP1 Lances, S8 Monofilament blast, 3x Dark Lances

Main Strength of list: 5x AV12 Grav-Tanks with Holofields, flexible shooting methods.

Main Weakness of list: Lack of scoring bodies.

My competitive Eldar bucket

Scream at things.

So here's what I'm thinking:

Competitive bucket:
Farseers - Great. Should outright be in every list, or 90% of lists not focusing on specifically designed lists such as Wraith armies.  Double Guide is just fantastic and vastly improves the shooting output of your army.  When you need every shot to count, do not settle for anything less.  Plus you get the awesomeness that is Divination:  Giving you possible 4+ ward on Wraithknights, Scrier's Gaze, and the ability to combine Misfortune with Doom.

Avatar of Khaine - Works in the right list, mostly footslogging ones holding and offering target saturation. If you're running plenty of big units, Wraithguard, WK and WLs, then the Avatar is just another piece of the puzzle.  These guys shouldn't be too expensive with Fast Shot and possibly +1S for S7.

Eldrad - Works in the above said army and will continue to do so. Footslog is in a pretty good place right now minus the odd-ball AP2 template weapons. This is why I generally feel that footslog outright might not be the best, but mech + foot will be stronger. You are better able to conserve units that matter (scoring) while fielding units that someone like Tau can't really deal with (Wraithknights).  He's a footslogging champ because you get a very efficient Farseer that comes with all the bells and whistles plus a few more.

Autarch - Good.  His Strategy clause and reserve manipulation is the reason why he deserves to be in lists. When he is in a list, he needs to be cheap. Either hopping around with Warp Spiders, hanging around with Singing Spears, or tagging along with Jetbikes. Keep him cheap, for real.

Spiritseer - Better than Warlocks IMO, better leadership, larger array of spells, can join any unit, just an overall stronger pick than the Warlock. Wraithsight is just nice to have but the real boon is taking T6 3+ units as troops.

Warlock - Works in the right list, but is limited in where he can truly perform. His lack of spells worries me, his Ld.8 as well, but default Conceal gives him a spot in weapon teams, Guardians, Jetbikes, so if you're running those then he can see a spot. Otherwise, I prefer the stronger option of a Farseer with double guide, or the flexibility of a Spiritseer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

GDS: Translating fantasy into reality

Huskblades are well-designed.

To follow up on the previous article, I want to give you guys a first hand look on how fluff translates to any given ruleset.  I'll be going over my actual suggestions later, so stay tuned for that.  For now, lets look at how I go about translating fantasy into a playable ruleset.

  • The designer has the fantasy:  They make up the fluff and fantasizes on what is actually cool.  It plays out with stunning visuals and sound effects in his head, and this is when he'll pitch out ideas like.. wouldn't this be cool?!  E.g. D-Cannons briefly opens up a rift into the warp.
  • Now he has a pretty good idea of the type of item he wants to implement (keep in mind I say item and this can be unit, weapon, actual item, or whatever) and talks with other designers to see if they share his vision.  They gather around in a room and throw ideas at each other.  There is a lot of "wouldn't this be cool if..", and "what you think about this?"
  • The designer translates the ruleset based on the game system.  How does the D-Cannon in his mind play out on the table-top?  How does it work and what does it do exactly?  He has the vision of the weapon in his head, but he goes over the ruleset that exists in the game and translates it to the table top.  e.g. He constantly asks himself:  How would the devastating effects of the warp have on infantry models?  What does it do to vehicles?  Flesh targets need to wound right?  Or should it auto-wound?  How does it hit?  Does it have a template?  He uses the ruleset that already exists to generate a profile suitable for the item he's generating:  A weapon will follow the Strength, AP, Type profile that exists in 40K whereas a new Hero would have rough WS, S, T..characteristics.
  • The designer looks over the rules he has written and evaluates the consistency of his work.  Is this a completely new ability he has created or are there other ones like it in the existing ruleset?  If it's a Lance weapon, how does it differ in design and functionality to another weapon of its type?  E.g. How does this D-Cannon compare vs. other anti-infantry weapons in the game?  How does it compare as a anti-tank weapon?  Does it share similar properties of a lesser or greater weapon?  E.g. a Flamer vs. Heavy Flamer, both should have flamer templates.
  • All during this time, there's several design meetings going around to see if this is still plausible and solid.  Sometimes he would talk to the sculptor or production to see if this new weapon (pretend we're doing he D-Cannon) needs a new mold/model.  Which existing models would this be used on?  Are there any technical limitations that can prevent this idea from coming to fruition.  Keep in mind that these steps are not finite, all these steps go on constantly in the back of the designer's mind.  Sometimes the idea is even abandoned because a better idea comes along.  Personally, I'm always thinking about how the piece translates from the fluff onto the ruleset, how consistent is it, and how well it will play once it's released.
  • After the designer is confident about his test piece, he looks at the balance of the item compared to everything else (internal and external).  How does this new item compare with the rest of the book?  How does this weapon balance out with the other weapons in the book he's writing.  Are there any glaring balance concerns that need to be addressed?  This is the time where he internally balances the piece with the rest of the elements of his book (internal balance), and makes SLIGHT changes with respect to external balance (how does it compare vs. other armies).
  • The reason why external balance was put on the backburner is because this is the playtesting and QA phase.  Playtesters get their hands on the piece and gives it a whirl.  They right feedback to the developers and they make changes to the internal and external workings of the item at hand.  This can take days, weeks, months, but after several revisions and multiple playtesting sessions with these different revisions, the designer is happy about his work.  It is now ready to ship.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

GDS: More Eldar tidbits

Come on man, you can do better.

I originally posted this in the BoLS forums, but I don't think people have a clue about what I'm talking about so I'll transfer it here.  Hopefully the IQ jumps up a bit more.

Here are my predictions on Eldar:
Eldar will be very much in the middle of the line of 6th Ed. books power wise (and only 6th Ed. books and not including 5th), but weaker in terms of overall design mechanics. There's just too many inexcusable misses which seriously weakens the book. Fortunately, there's enough units in the Eldar war arsenal that doesn't throw off internal balance too badly.

I just need you guys to understand one thing:
Eldar is a hard army to design, so I can't rag on Kelly too much. The reason for this is because you're trying to design a high-priced, elite army with specialist roles, all at the same knowing that it's army-wide T3 in a very lethal environment. In order for this to this design to succeed for such a specialist army, every role must be clearly defined in design, function, and balanced through points. A specialist unit that's not good in its role is simply, trash and not worth taking.

For example, and let me just throw out some design ideas (or changes rather) I came up with so you can get a better picture:

What if Banshee Masks also counted as having assault grenades?
...Runes of Warding forced enemy psykers within 24" to re-roll their successful psychic tests.
...Runes of Witnessing allowed you to re-roll your failed ones.
...Crimson Hunters come with Holofields and Exarch upgrade allowed him to ignore the Snap Shot rule.
...Hemlocks were Torrent/Template weapons.
...Wave Serpents gained assault ramps.
...Harlequin's Veil of Tears should not require a psychic test.
...Autarch could take Exarch weapons and powers.
...Dire Avenger's Exarch kept his Bladestorm mechanic from the old book.
...Wraithtknight's Heavy Wraithcannons are 36" S10 AP2 Blast.
...much much more.

This is an example of what I call design inconsistency AND incorrect fluff to table-top translation:
Heavy D-Sycthe loses template, gains Blast, when the fluff and description of the weapon says it ignores cover and is NOT a blast. The lesser version of the weapon, the D-Sycthe, is a template weapon and ignores cover.

This is an example of just poor, lazy design:
Wraithknight's Heavy Wraithcannon only adds +24" on the weapon's range and nothing else.

This is an example of poor design AND incorrect fluff to table-top translation:
Banshees are melee specialists without grenades, and masks don't do anything to change how they attack into cover.  Why?

This is an example of poor design AND incorrect fluff to table-top translation:
Crimson Hunters are an Eldar Ace aspect, the best pilots in the galaxy, and has the same defensive ability as an Ork pilot.  Not to mention it doesn't come with the most basic of all Eldar vehicle countermeasures; Holofields.

What do you guys think this is?  Bad design, design inconsistency, or poor fluff to table translation?
Random spell generation, Ld. 8/9/10 Warlocks/SS/Farseer, one-use crappy psychic items.

I think it's all three.

Poor design, inconsistency, and poor table-top translation are all over this book.  This is one of the reasons why I docked them so hard in my previous review.  My next article will go over some of my own alterations to the book and explain the fantasy and logic behind all of them.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What kind of player are you?

Ready yourself, shit's about to get deep.

There's 4 camps for me in terms of table-top games:
  • The story-driven casual player who likes to bring one of each unit, regardless of their effectiveness and adhere to cinematics and fluff.
  • The competitive player who min-maxes his list, picks only the most points effective and stellar units for the purpose of winning games.
  • The WAAC player is a competitive player but will do anything to win.  This includes cheating, calling the judge for random shit, being a horrible sportsman, running the clock, and is generally the type that gives competitive players a bad name.
  • And then there's me.  I have no idea what happened over the years, but I think I'm somewhere between casual and competitive now.  Probably around ~5 years ago, I was definitely the competitive player:  Taking only the best choices without looking at anything else that's ineffective.  If Dark Eldar came out then, I would of probably went pure Venomspam.

However, something happened to my personality between then and now and I think it's changed for the better.  Shhh.. I'll tell you a secret:  I started off this hobby being very casual, only playing with what I like, loving the fluff, never fielding an army if it's not painted, and enjoying every facet of the hobby.  Sometime around the time where I'm constantly getting my teeth kicked in by better players using min-maxed armies like Nidzilla and Eldar, I changed.  If I started at year 1, my second year was devoted to becoming a better player.

Given my personality, this seems fitting because I'm by nature a min-maxing Tuner Spike.  From year 2 to year 7, I became a very good player.  During that time, I attended and won a lot of tournaments, placed well in many GTs and become to go-to person at local shops for strategy and tactics.  I also taught GW Academy during some of these years and I'm actually quite proud having introduced, taught and mentored many fine tournament players today.  I still get emails from them from time to time to talk about the hobby and how things have changed since I moved to the West Coast.

At year 8, something changed.  I refused to play the units I thought were lame fluff wise or didn't look good on the table top.  I found myself running themes like Kabal-only and no weird Haemonculi shit.  Hell, I don't own a single Thunderwolf because I think the idea of Space Marines riding giant wolves is a crapmix of Sci-fi and Fantasy.  Even today, I own a single constructed Venom lol.

I look back and see what has happened in the last 5 years and I see the following:  I started working at Blizzard (where a lot of people play casually), I got married, I got a house, and I'm looking to have kids in the near future.  Could this be me maturing as a gamer?  Or am I just getting old?  I find myself focusing more on the design of the units and talking about how things should be a lot more.  Part of this is because I work in the gaming industry, but maybe the other part is that I just don't find cutthroat games fun anymore.  Shit, maybe some day I'll paint again.

What about you guys?  How do you play your hobby?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

GDS: Eldar Review

This is part of the Game Design Series.

Overall Design: 3.5/5

As much as I like Phil Kelly, I think the Eldar codex took a bit of a hit in terms of overall design.  There are some blatant fluff to gameplay mistakes that I didn't think should of happened.  From a purely design perspective, I can't for the life of me understand why the most superior aces in the galaxy go to battle without at least Holofields on their aircraft.  In fact, there's no option for them at all!  The Hemlock suffers a bit more when you look its weapon profile and question why D-Scythes have template weapons but not the Heavy D-Scythe.  You would think that the giant Pulsar-sized Heavy Wraithcannons on the Wraithknight did a little more than offer +24" onto a standard Wraithcannon.  I see missed opportunities, raised eyebrows and sighs of why? everywhere. That's always a concern.

Despite these things, Kelly was still able to capture much of the Eldar fluff on the table-top.  Everyone is now BS4 for the most part and Battle Focus brings back the old Move-Shoot-Move playstyle that many veterans will remember.  Monofilament and Shuriken weaponry has changed to match the fluff and I think the rules are pretty well done considering what they can do.  However, the changes to Eldar psykers leave much to be desired.  Consistency was something that Eldar was sure of in terms of the psychic field.  Unfortunately, random spell generation, Ld.8 Warlocks and a severely nerfed Runes of witnessing/Warding leaves me questioning if Eldar psykers even match the fluff.

What really hurts the overall design is the fact that Eldar, like High Elves, are an specialized army.  Specialization dictates that the points invested in whatever unit needs to do what you need it to do.  Dire Avengers should be good vs. Infantry, Banshees should rule assault, Fire Dragons should annihilate vehicles. This is very different than an all-purpose unit like most MEQ units where you can spread the love in all categories and balance it out with the correct offensive and defensive stats.  If you're spending points into a unit that's not able to execute on its sole purpose in the game, then that's a much serious design issue compared to a general-purpose unit decent at everything.  This right here is the difficulty when designing Eldar; especially when you have keep T3 and points cost in mind at all times.  Overall, I think Kelly did an alright job with this.

Internal Balance: 3.5/5

There are some questionable decisions here as well.  Maybe it's 6th Ed. in general where assault is not as glorious, but Banshees took a shovel to the face.  There were so many ways to address the assault void with Eldar and after so many years, one would think this will be addressed.  Then again, the Wave Serpent still don't have assault ramps so I guess it doesn't matter at this point.  Sadly, Banshees don't have even grenades, have a severely weakened mask and are still paper thin.  Where the design for Banshees have been embarrassing, other units fared a little better.

Kelly buffed a lot of other units that were sitting on the shelf before.  Striking Scorpions and Swooping Hawks have been re-designed slightly and buffed significantly.  Warp Spiders are now rock solid but Dire Avengers took a bit of a hit.  Were they really that good before with Bladestorm?  Not really but I think they added something unique in gameplay.  Now because their weapons have a chance to virtual-rend, Avengers have been brought down a bit in terms of points cost and having a useless Exarch.  I'm a little sad about this because I think the conscience decision to unload everything and reload next round is brilliant design.  In fact, anything that actively promotes player options is favorable army design.

Some units actually saw some minor redesign which is a nice surprise.  Aside from Guardians receiving BS4 along with many other units, the War Walker gained Fleet, Battle Focus and a 5+ invulnerable as stock.  Their price went up for sure, but if I'm looking at artillery support choices as a viable option in Heavy this is only a good sign.  I just wish the Falcon was made as dedicated transport and the Vaul's Support Batteries were molded into the Guardian squads.  Price-wise, we see some increases in units across the board; but with this comes reduced heavy weapon choices and effective special rules.  Another example is the Fire Prism, which no longer relies on another Prism nearby to utilize its weapon options.  Instead, it comes built with 3 different firing types!  Options man, options.

In terms of unique special abilities, they still sing with old Eldar flavor.  The Serpent Shield on the Wave Serpent, for example, can be used as a defensive option that reduces penetrating hits down to a glance on 2+, or it can be used to shoot out S7 hits that ignore cover.  However, in order to use this nice shooting attack, the player loses the defensive bonuses from the shield itself next round.  This is basically the design philosophy behind the old Dire Avenger Bladestorm, which is fine by me.  Sadly, this needed to happen more across the codex as I think it adds something fiercely unique to the Eldar playstyle.  No matter though, Wraith armies look to be pretty fluffy and solid, and from what I read about the Iyanden supplement they're going to get extra rules as well.  These supplements is definitely a step in the right direction.

External Design: 3/5

Although the codex has solid internal design, there are some things that just will not work.  Despite how good Striking Scorpions look on paper, I don't think they're going to be good simply because they'll got shot to death.  Harlequins now need to test for Veil of Tears, Banshees are a joke, and I'm pretty sure Eldar is going to erase CC completely from their builds.  In fact, the only competitive option I see are the bigger fatty units like the Wraithlords and Wraithknight.  Huh?  They have the stats worthy of a solid CC unit, come with high T, good armor and a good amount of wounds, but the fact that Eldar will be designated to a primarily shooting army is a bit of a let down.  I really hope next edition fixes this.

So where does this leave us really?  We have questionably better psykers than Space Marines, zero CC options outside of the Wraithknight, questionable viability in the form of fliers and AA options, and only a couple of troop choices that look competitive.  It always comes down to the competitive choices when we evaluate external balance.  I mean after all, you're comparing your bells and whistles to what the next guy has in his army.  Stacking Conceal on your bikes with your Ld.8 Warlocks is great and taking a bunch of scoring Wraiths is great, but what happens when your opponent is Tau and he rips your cover while dropping S8 AP2 templates on your Wraithguard?

To accurately judge a book's ability to impact the metagame, you have to look at what you have available.  I'm sorry to say, my competitive unit bucket doesn't look all that great compared to some of the other armies I've seen out there.  Eldar is one of those armies that is not auto-pilot and by nature is more difficult to play successfully.  All those specialized units must be utilized correctly or you lose a piece to an otherwise complete puzzle.  It's this reason that makes Eldar one of the tougher armies to design.  Their units are expensive to keep the army count elite, but how do you justify their effectiveness?  In this way, they share a commonality with High Elves.  Shocker.

A slight re-design on Eldar fliers

Eldar Top Gun.

Man, I absolutely love the fluff and idea behind the Crimson Hunter aspect.  Sadly, I don't think Kelly did a good job capturing the aspect to the best of his abilities.  The fluff speaks of the Crimson Hunter aspect at being so fast with their reflexes that they can dodge light.  This makes plenty of sense if you consider the fact that all they do is fly around at breakneck speeds dueling against each other with Bright Lances (probably set to stun).

I can understand the Sky Hunter rule and why re-roll Pens vs. enemy aircraft.  It's to symbolize the pilots uncanny ability to accurately hit his target's weak points to better eliminate them from the sky.  Unfortunately, the game as we know it does not always translate well from the fluff.  With AV10 and 3 HP, it's safe to say that this almighty ace aspect is just as bad on the defense as an Ork fighter.  That's just disgraceful.

So... how do I want to append this rather questionable fluff to design implementation?  How about this houserule for fun:

The Crimson Hunter comes with the Holofields vehicle upgrade.
Replace the text for Perfect Strike (Crimson Hunter Exarch) with: A model with this special rule does not fire Snap Shots after choosing to Evade.

What this does essentially is allowing the Crimson Hunter Exarch to make a 4+ cover save (Jink + Holofields) and fire with full effect next turn.  This allows the Exarch to standout as an ace among aces while Holofields help negate some of the issues of AV10.  The Perfect Strike with Precision Shots just doesn't make sense to me while this does a lot more.  I still think it's hysterical that an air superiority fighter doesn't come with Holofields.  Even us 21st century humans know how to equip flares, chaff and other countermeasures on our aircraft.  Just ridiculous.

Next on the list.. the Hemlock.  The only thing that needs to be changed here is the Heavy D-Scythes should be Torrent/Template weapons.  It makes my heard hurt why regular D-Scythes are template weapons and not these.  I would of personally made them S4 AP2 Torrent/Templates.

Thought process:
Torrent and templates allow the aircraft to match the fluff.  The goal of the Hemlock is to destroy infantry, where it virtually casts the souls of those affected into the warp.  No cover should be allowed from such effects.  This also keeps design consistent with the D-Scythe being a template weapon.  If that weapon doesn't allow cover saves, why should the Heavy D-Scythe allow cover saves?  In addition, this is a mere extension of the effective range of the weapon.  A Wraithknight's Heavy Wraithcannon only extends the range of the Wraithcannon itself.  Thus, two design consistencies are matching.

Furthermore, Torrent/Template weapons allows the Hemlock to apply its effects immediately the units affected by the weapons due to its Mindshock Pod.  This is not comparable to the likes of the Heldrake in function because it's not AV12, does not have It Will Not Die and a demonic save, nor does not have a S6 template that is also effective vs. vehicles.  The function of the Hemlock is to be a terror weapon which is effective against moderate-Toughness infantry where armor and cover is no defense.  This is offset by its fragility in AV10, the fact it needs to be close to fully utilize its abilities, and its hefty price tag.

I'll touch upon the other units in the book in another post.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Eldar primary, Dark Kin secondary

What sound do Warp Spiders make?

After some soul-searching the last couple of days with the Eldar codex, I've decided to go in another direction.  Instead of using Dark Eldar primary and using Eldar secondary, I've flipped the armies to take advantage of Eldar's stronger grav-tanks.  This is what the current army looks like:

16 kp

Farseer (JB, Spear, Mantle) = 160
Succubus (VB, Haywire) = 75*

3x Jetbikes = 51
3x Jetbikes = 51
10x Warriors (Raider NS/SR, Blaster, SC) = 195*
10x Warriors (Raider NS/SR, Blaster, SC) = 195*

3x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 3x Blasters) = 156*

Crimson Hunter Exarch = 180
10x Warp Spiders (Ex/Spin/Fast Shot) = 225

Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Night Spinner (Holofields, SS) = 140
Ravager (NS) = 115*

Another version at 1750:

16 kp

Farseer (JB, Spear, Mantle) = 160
Succubus (VB) = 70

3x Jetbikes = 51
3x Jetbikes = 51
5x Warriors (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130*
5x Warriors (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130*
10x Dire Avengers (WS, Holofields, TL Scatter) = 265

3x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 3x Blasters) = 156*

Crimson Hunter Exarch = 180

Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Fire Prism (Holofields, SS) = 150
Night Spinner (Holofields, SS) = 140
Ravager (NS) = 115*

At first, the looks incredibly skinny, but the amount of weapon options available to me is gigantic.  The Laughing Seer starts the party off strong with reliable and mobile psychic support, alongside a strong shooting force of 3x Eldar Grav-tanks + the Dark Kin's lances.  The Venoms help support the cause as well and the Warp Spiders are fantastic units at killing just about anything.  Drop them behind some and have them stalk other flyer's rear armor all day!  There was a good amount of horde vulnerability with the old list, but I think this list gives me plenty of poison, templates and large blasts to handle most threats thrown my way.

All in all, I think this force gives me a better chance vs. the Tau.  Having Fire Prisms reach out and touch stationary gunlines gives greater reliability at doing damage from range.  Unfortunately, the Eldar race is still too few to present much of a intimidating presence.  Which list do you guys like more?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

So how about that Tau?

Stupid blue fishgoatmen.

Well, I think it's something like 2 months now since the Tau army came out and I'm not too happy with the book.  The reason why I'm not happy is because of the meta changed for the worse; the balance and the general popularity of the codex is what kills it for me.  For one, I think there's something off about the Tau book.  This might be due to the fact they're the strongest shooting army in an very shooty edition, but I don't like a lot of the mechanics that the Tau incorporates.

In short, I think Tau has all their weaknesses covered.  Being able to take allies is one thing, something that all armies can look forward to for the most part, but there's something else much more worrisome.  When you look at the Tau from an external balance point of view, I think they're the kings of the battlefield.  A lot of the mechanics that they bring to the board outright counters others.  The best example of this is how they can outright remove cover from something.  In the last book, this wasn't a very common thing and you had to pay to play with this luxury.  Not so much in the new book: you have very cheap ways to get SMS, Pathfinders rock, Marker Drones are everywhere, and there's even viable Skyrays.  I don't think any ability should outright remove another ability; it's just bad game design and completely negates a defining feature of the game.

I honestly don't think the balance of the Tau codex is in the right spot.  They seem to annihilate most of their counters and make up for their weakness of low I, WS and poor CC with outright impossible firepower and extreme overkill.  Not to mention most of these scenarios ignores cover, is twin-linked, has volumes upon volumes of high S attacks, and is just capable of destroying most answers forced to meet them.  There's Skyfire, Intercept, but most of the time you don't even need protection vs. air because you just twin-linked and/or marker it to death.  Broadsides stand out as the most problematic, the Marker Drone Crisis Suit Leader is another, the +1ROF Ethereal with Fire Warriors on OW duty, the Riptide being god damn amazing, and someone tell me why would you take anything else other than SMS?

1/5 for External Balance.  Get some real playtesters GW.

Eldar Codex: First Impressions

Eldar release day!

Hey guys, really quick:  This will be a quick snapshot review of the Eldar book from a realistic standpoint.  I'll talk about which units I'd be interested in, and for those that will receive a lower rating, I'll talk about why I don't think they'll have a place on the battlefield.  Please feel free to disagree, as I plan on doing another design-focused review later that'll talk about overall balance, internal and external balance.


Eldrad Ulthran - Not bad, is now Lv.4 and has some pretty good abilities for cheap.  Comes stock with both runes, has a better weapon and have better protection, for cheaper than he was before.   The only problem with Eldrad is that he was nerfed indirectly.  He can no longer pick his spells, cast the same power per turn, and is limited to walking around everywhere.  However, if you're taking a footseer, I think he's the best choice.

Prince Yriel - Still good because of his price, and I think his extra wound is to balance out the fact the has has to successfully re-roll saves of 6s.  I don't know if this balances out well because when you need that 6 to save you from being ID'd, Yriel is in a very bad place.  However, his attacks still trump on MEQ really well and his S6 AP3 boom is still there.

Illic Nightspear - Not bad, but not fantastic.  If you like to shoot, I think he's a good addition to your army for the price.  His ability to unlock Pathfinders is also interesting, but having him sit back and shoot with Rangers while Split Firing is probably what he'll be doing.

Phoenix Lords - I grouped these guys together because all of them fit under the same category of expensive HQs that doesn't really make back their points.  The only ones that stands out for me is Karandras, Maugan Ra and maybe Fuegan.  Karandras is just a beast because of his S8 AP2 Scorpion Claw, Maugan Ra because of his ability to shoot sitting behind an ADL, and Fuegan because he can double-tap his BS7 Firepike while being a serious threat near vehicles.

Avatar of Khaine - I like him because of the stats and the abilities that he can take from the Exarch.  It's to note that he becomes noticebly more expensive with Exarch powers, however, I think some of them are definitely worth it (such as Fast Shot or Crushing Blow).  WS10 I10 with a good amount of attacks is no joke, what made him really stand out before is Fortune and now that's not garaunteed.  However, if you're taking an Avatar with Eldrad, Wraithknights and Wraithguard, I think he'll definitely play a role in the army.  In short, I think it's up to the list.

Autarch - He was never bad I thought, as you can bring in your reserves more precisely.  He can now alter your reserves as well just in case you don't want those scoring Jetbikes to come in just yet.  Maybe hang around with those scoring Jetbikes, equip yourself with a missile launcher and hang back with a Power Lance to do some damage when the time comes.

Farseer - The stable HQ is going to continue be the staple I think.  A lot of cheaper options, access to Fate and Divination gives him the potential for 2x Guides, but loses a lot of juice because of indirect nerfs.  With Runes of Witnessing and Warding being pretty bad, one-use only items, I can see this guy take a Singing Spear and a Bike and just calling it a day.

Spiritseer - Much better than the Warlock council IMO.  The reason why is because of the higher leadership, Wraithguards become troops, an ability that makes them better as well, while having access to Runes of Battle.  If you want to run a Wraithguard army, you take one of him and Eldrad and you're good to go.

Warlock Council - These guys are OK.  Access to base Conceal/Reveal is great, but having Ld.8 is a real big letdown for me.  Being able to be a Seer council is still cool, but I honestly think these guys will be overshadowed with more points effective options.


Dire Avengers - These guys are basically the same for me.  Their Shuriken weapons got better overall and this applies to everyone's Shuriken weaponry as well.  Built-in Counter-attack, but I'm not sure on losing Bladestorm.  I really liked that mechanic from a deisgn perspective and now they don't have it anymore.  I'm pretty upset.

Guardian/Storm Guardians - They're troop fodder that has been buffed indirectly.  Better Shuriken Weaponry, BS4 across Eldar, Battle Focus, but their weapons are still 12".  You can equip the Storm Guardians with better stuff, but you're still looking at T3 troops with paper armor at the end of the day.  The one thing that really stands out for these guys is that they're cheap, and can take a cheap artillery piece to make them a threat vs. almost any unit.

Windrider Jetbikes - Pretty damn good man.  Better Shurikens, Battle Focus, cheaper price, these guys are great.  For the price, I don't think there's a better scoring option in the Eldar warbook.  You're looking at 51 points for 3, adding +10 for a Shuriken Cannon for every 3.  Solid buy.

Rangers - Cheap, Infiltrate and Stealth.  These guys are good at sniping things and keeping points on the back side of the base.  Good choice if you need a cheap backfield scoring choice.

Wave Serpent - I guess I put this here because it's a dedicated transport for most of these units.  The Wave Serpent is truly amazing and worth its points IMO.  Much cheaper heavy weapon options and Serpent Shield reducing pens to glances on a 2+ is insanely good.  For a dedicated transport, it can shoot well, with heavy weapons, and can mitigate a lot of damage with good stats and Holofields.  The only thing that prevents him from being the best dedicated transport in the game is probably the no assault ramp.


Howling Banshees - Trash.  No grenades, AP3 weapons, strikes at the same time with opponents into cover.  I don't get it man, there were so many ways to fix these guys but I guess Kelly forgot how?

Striking Scorpions - Better Scorpion Claw (Power Fist without Unwieldy), price, rules and solid 3+ AS.  You're go to unit for dedicated combat in a transport.  No assault ramp is bad, but Fleet, Battle Focus and Infiltrate should be alright for now.  Much like all of the Eldar units, I don't think assault is an Eldar focal point.  That's more in line with Dark Eldar Wyches and Incubi.

Fire Dragons - More expensive, now has a 3+ AS, but otherwise the same aka does their job and does it damn well.

Harlequins - Take note on the Shadowseer's abilities being changed yet again.  Looks like we're back to square one with 2d6x2 or no shoots.  Otherwise, they're exactly the same as they were 3 editions ago.

Wraithguard - The improvement to D-cannons is something to take note here:  S10 AP2 is a much stronger statline than it was before.  It still has the 6s ID and gained 6s to auto-pen.  However, I don't think with S10 AP2 guns that we'll take advantage of the 6s to pen unless you're fighting something more Apoc flavored.

Wraithblades - The melee version of Wraithguard is pretty interesting.  You can give them pseudo TH/SS with the axes and 4++ invul, but I'm not seeing the value of CC Wraithguard because I'd rather take the shooting variant.  Why would you engage in melee when you would rather shoot people with S10 AP2 guns?  Seems a little weird to me.

Fast Attack

Swooping Hawks - Much better than they were before.  When they come in, they come in without scatter and drops a large template S4 AP4 blast that ignores cover.  Haywires, decent weapons and the ability to just hop out of there and precision contest later makes these guys good.

Warp Spiders - Really solid unit that puts out a large number of monofilament attacks at ranged.  With Battle Focus, these guys gained a lot of mobility and can cause some serious damage when they land.  With the Monofilament rule giving you +1S on the weapon if you're shooting at I3 or lower and 6s AP1, I think Warp Spiders are going to be fantastic in this new book.

Shining Spears - I never liked them, but I think they have a use with Skilled Rider and AP3 lances on the charge.  They do their job at killing MEQ well, with the Star Lance doing enough damage to rear-pen most vehicles.

Crimson Hunter - The fluff is amazing and the rules itself are quite nice.  However, you're still paying 160 points for an AV10 vehicle with no Holofields or anything.  Why?  I have no idea why there's no vehicle upgrade options for these guys.  Skyhunter with 4 S8 AP2 shots (can be BS5, 2 of them are Lance) is enough to do some serious damage to most fliers, but these guys die insanely quick to volume of fire or Quad-guns.

Vyper Squadron - Pretty solid shooting platform with Jink and BS4.  Scatter Lasers having Laser Lock really helps up their damage output when you factor in the BS increase.

Hemlock Wraithfighter - Just.. not good.  The fluff behind this piece had so much promise too!

Heavy Support

Dark Reapers - Solid anti-infantry units at long range with the ability to take multiple ways to deal long-ranged death.  However, I'm hesitant on their price and resilience compared to other heavy weapon options. Overall, not bad, but I don't think these will see much play over vehicles and Wraith units.

Vaul's Wrath Support Battery - Cheap artillery units that competes with a lot of the more mobile options.  I would probably just stick with the Guardian heavy weapons over these.. although adding a bunch of D-cannon templates into the fray can really do some work.  That's what the Warp Hunter is for right?

Fire Prism - The Fire Prism is now an all-star as far as heavy choices go.  The different firing modes are now S5 AP3 Large Blast, S7 AP2 Small Blast, or S9 AP1 Lance all at 60".  You don't need to take 2 to get mileage out of this unit and with affordable Holofields and Spirit Stones, I think Fire Prisms are going to be the go-to unit for handing out multi-purpose pain.

Night Spinner - Monofilament as an torrent option and as a Large Blast option is always good.  S7 base gives you the potential for S8 AP1 hits on 6s on select units, and that's ID range for a lot of threats in the game.  The price allows this guy to fit in most lists as its utility is really top notch.  I like it.

Falcon - I wish these guys went to dedicated transports, but I can see why Kelly wanted to keep these guys in Heavy.  The Pulse Laser is a strong choice along side the Scatter Laser, and the reason why the transport option is good is that Fire Dragons always find a home inside the protection of this main battle tank.  The fact that Falcons are flexible is the reason I think they stayed a a heavy choice, although I feel that if they moved to Dedicated it wouldn't be so bad.

War Walkers - Price has increased, but they gained Battle Focus, cheaper weapon options, Fleet and 5+ ward.  This basically makes them a better quality unit that you pay a little more for.  Other than that, these guys are just as good as before, but now can function as heavy weapon platforms due to BS4 and better weapon prices.

Wraithlord - The same old Wraithlord is now S8, but has a cheaper way to buy into heavy weapons and melee options.  Just as good, very few changes here.

Wraithknight - Not bad at all, but I think the Wraithcannons can be better.  There is the Suncannon/Scattershiled variant, bu unfortunately, this jumps their price up considerably and I'm not really feeling that's needed.  I mean, when you can take a singular Wraithknight with a Suncannon, you can have 2 kitted out Fire Prisms with 3 different firing modes.  I'm not too disappointed because they can still move around the battlefield quickly and punch/shoot things to death no problem.