Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bringing Eldar into the 5th Edition - HQ Choices

First, let me start off by apologizing for the length of time between this article and the first part. Shortly after writing the first one, there was a significant change in work and my schedule was thrown all out of whack, but this is a 40K blog, so on to the Eldar...

Based on my own experiences, not too many armies have their entire functionality depend on one HQ. Sure, they can have builds which revolve around a particular named HQ (for example, flamer/melta heavy Vanilla Marines list that use Vulkan), but if those HQs didn't exist or were taken away, the army wouldn't be irreversibly damaged to a point of unplayability. Of course I'm speaking generally, and not about particular army lists. After playing Eldar for as long as I have, it is in my opinion that we do have this problem. Thankfully, the truly viable HQ choices we do have are awesome and definitely makes the Eldar codex competitive.

Before my head gets taken off or I start to hear about the fluffy lists out there, my perspective is based entirely on tournament winning lists or lists built for winning a game, not to lose in style. If you're going to respond to my post and whine about how I have Eldrad in my list and no Storm Guardians, this isn't going to be a blog for you!

To keep this particular article short, I'm going to cut right to the chase: farseers win all. So many Eldar players are upset that other armies are getting psychic powers that close to being on par with Eldar powers, but we still have the best psykers in the game by a long shot! The farseer units add both army wide utility and offensive power without having to actually be on the front lines. For example, a farseer can be left inside of a wave serpent and use his fortune power on units outside, or he can doom enemy units in much the same fashion, while units like Lysander or Marneus Calgar (sorry to pick on Marines, it's just that they're the army I'm most familiar with outside of Eldar) are only fully appreciated once they get into an assault.

That being said, with farseers winning the day as far as HQ choices go, there is of course Eldrad Ulthran. Eldrad is truly a powerhouse of the 40K universe. He can cast 3 psychic powers per turn, 2 of which can be the same power (but not more than one shooting attack, remember that), and he has a stat line that makes him something to be respected in close quarters, along with his power weapon that always wounds on a 2+. The real strength behind Eldrad is definitely his ability to cast 2 of the same powers per turn. Powers like doom and fortune are nasty enough on their own, but when you can affect two units with it, there's trouble brewing for your enemy. Eldard is a must have in my opinion for any army list that is greater than 1500 points (anything 1500 points or smaller, you should really just use a regular farseer).

When building a regular farseer for your army, there are a few basics to consider: what's his purpose and what will he be attached to? The typical build I like to run is Doom, Fortune, Spirit Stones, and Runes of Warding (if Eldrad isn't the list already). Runes of Witnessing are a waste and shouldn't be bothered with (while increasing the number of successfully cast powers, they also have a nasty side effect of causing more Perils results). Just like any other specialist unit in the Eldar army, build your farseer to suit your purposes. There's a myriad of different strategies for farseers, and maybe I'll write a more specific article in the future concerning this, but for now, I'd like to discuss the second choice for Eldar HQs, Autarchs.

Autarchs are rather underwhelming as far as how much they bring to the table for the army. They're second to the farseers, and that's a pretty distant second. Despite their variety of build options, I definitely find it best to go as minimal as possible and to just use the Autarchs for their Master Strategist rule. Personally speaking, I prefer to run 2 farseers for my larger point games, but if you had a build that depends on reserving your entire army list every single match, then having an Autarch might be the choice for you, and it should be fairly apparent that I think Yriel is a waste of points by now as I prefer any Autarchs in my army to be stripped to bare essentials.

As for the other HQ choices, I'll try to sum them up fairly quick.

The Avatar is good for a fluffy build. He's a powerhouse to be feared, but only if he makes it across the board. He offers nothing else than being a monstrous creature with a melta gun and an invulnerable save. The fearless thing is neat, but not very practical as the trend of the 40K game is now all about mechanization, and the thought of foot slogging fearless guardians seems rather ridiculous to me. If I was playing against an Eldar list using an Avatar, I would just use my transports to move away from it and ignore it the whole game.

Phoenix Lords are just a big travesty right now. They offer nothing to the army in terms of utility, partially because of the aspect themes and that any utility they would provide only apply to their particular aspect, and since there are a few aspects that just bite the dust in 5th edition, their Phoenix Lord counterparts do pretty much by default. The Phoenix Lords are essentially cut from an elfy version of a mold of the Lysander variety. Big, super-expensive power houses that only have their full potential appreciated in close quarters, but even then that's iffy. Take for example Asurmen: a true close combat contender. He can make mince meat of any target he sets his eyes on, and is almost as durable as a terminator with a storm shield, but he's a Dire Avenger aspect. I want those guys to stay as far away from close combat as possible! For as much as I want to berate every individual Phoenix Lord, I'll just close here with they need to be reworked thoroughly, are dramatically over-costed, and suck in the competitive bracket.

In closing, farseers are definitely the way to go for your army, and Autarchs if you have a build that works around their Master Strategist rule (they don't offer a whole lot else). I know some may have a love for the Phoenix Lords, but they are so flawed that in my mind, they're unplayable, and Avatars should remain in fluff lists for now.

As always, for true success with Eldar, use the units for what they're designed for.

Next up, Troops choices!

-Farseer Frank

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