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Monday, June 14, 2010

Eldar Seer Councils

Both H-O and Warseer have recently been discussing Seer Councils. You can see Warseer’s here and H-O’s here. Farseer pic by Dverning (awesome yes?). Since it requires little cognitive effort on my part, I’ll chime in with a simple post again! Hopefully the Guest authors might post something whilst I’m asleep... we might get batreps from AbusePuppy’s semi’s <3! So, I covered Seer Councils rather briefly before near the birth of this blog with a sample 2k list. We’ll cover it a bit more in-depth here and take into account some of the changes in 40k since then. SW/BA/Tyranids have all been released and fit into the mainstream understanding and they have all brought significant psychic abilities to the table. This has unfortunately impacted negatively on the Eldar army overall and specifically on any army which is relying on psychic powers to succeed due to the overall increase in psychic defense. The community catches up at some point afterall.

This specifically has impacted heavily on Seer Councils which rely on Fortune and re-rolling their saves. A Seer Council is a group of Eldar psykers, specifically Farseer(s) and Warlocks which band together in a battle to pewpew their opponent. They don’t have fantastic combat prowess but through destructor can be quite effective close-range shooters and due to their inherent survivability from invulnerable saves and Fortune, can be a pain to kill. There are two types of councils, jetbike based and foot based (with the subset of using a Wave Serpent). We’ll disabuse the notion of not taking Councils on a bike, how you should arm them and what they are used for.

So you want to take your Seers without a 3+ save. Let’s repeat that: without a 3+ save. Don’t really need to go much further! Whilst you pay the hefty price for that 3+ save it’s well worth it. Your Council is essentially meant to be a tank unit and a re-rollable 3+ save makes it very resilient to torrent and small arms fire. Furthermore it protects against Null Zone considering a bare Seer only has an invulnerable save. There is also the added toughness which also helps against small arms fire (really, 4+ against S4 is huge compared to 3+ for a unit you want to survive and dominate the battlefield) when taking Jetlocks. Foot councils also have the obvious disadvantage of mobility. Whilst a council in a Serpent might be able to move as much if not more freely than a Jetlock council the inability to jump out and assault or JSJ leaves them more vulnerable to shooting or sitting ducks for a turn in their Serpent. Foot councils at least have the advantage of being significantly cheaper than a Jetlock council but a mounted council loses some of that. Overall the points are worth it for the extra toughness, 3+ save and mobility. If you’re taking a council, take them on bikes or not at all.

So now that we’ve decided on a Jetlock council, how do we arm our Council? First off we’re going to look at the differences from ‘older’ councils to current councils. With psychic defences being quite prominent, your Fortune needs to be much more reliable. First off, dual councils fall off a little bit. Whilst it offers your duplicity on the battlefield, you’ve got one Fortune chance per council and one should fail each turn, leaving an expensive squad open to torrent. This means casting Fortune twice on a single squad and the problem with Eldrad (easiest way to do this) is he can’t run around on a jetbike. Eldrad can certainly be used as support in a Serpent when you do versus psychic defenses but you have to keep it close to the council in a Serpent which limits your army somewhat. Or you could run two Seers on bikes in the same council. This puts more eggs into your basket and loses flexibility on the battlefield but makes your tank unit...well reliable. Also when versusing non-psychic defense armies, the double Seer is over the top. I would therefore lean towards Eldrad but would certainly steer away from double councils which were more common previously. You also lose the advantage of having an Autarch for reserve rolls.

So what should the squad be armed with? The Seer should have RoWit, Fortune, RoWard (unless Eldrad is in the army) and a Bike at the minimum and Stones + Doom is highly recommended for army wide support. A minimum of 6 Jetlocks should also be used and becomes a balance between Council size and army balance. At least one Embolden and Enhance are also musts so the unit has WS/I5 in combat and can re-roll all Ld tests (inc. Psychic tests). The rest of the Warlocks should have as many destructors as the army can afford, jetbikes (obviously) and NO SPEARS. Whilst Spears bring in wound allocation fun and add some ranged anti-tank, the Council loses significant combat ability making it more easily tarpitted. This is bad, stay away from them.

So now we’ve got our Council armed in theory, how do we use it? The Council will be taking 2-3 AV12 vehicles from your army which reduces the Eldar’s survivability (in a different way) and makes them much more aggressive in nature. The Council is not a huge offensive threat in combat but can wreck tank walls which don’t move quickly and torrent infantry units very effectively with mass S5 AP4 templates. More importantly though they are a huge psychological tool which takes a lot of firepower to down which has impressive mobility so is hard to hide from. The Council should therefore not be used as a hammer but a trump card. The Eldar army is still all about survivability and trouncing your later game and the Council is particularly effective at this since it can multi-assault and survive. Do not think of it as a dedicated combat unit as things like TH/SS termies will rock it back on its heels and is easily tarpitted against hordes. Again, it’s a trump card which Mech Eldar generally doesn’t have in that you have a very survivable unit outside of tanks which can do damage in combat and get up in your face and survive.

The game of psychic armies has changed. I feel pure Mech Eldar is much better than Jetlock led armies but they are some very pretty models and I know my Autarch on a bike which is useless cries out for use at times :P. It’s a much different way to play Eldar and whilst not as reliable or powerful as pure Mech, is a change of pace injection and contrary to belief, not cheesy but rather an enjoyable change for anyone who faces Mech Eldar regularly.

10 pinkments:

Raptor1313 said...

Once folks learned to take psychic defenses against me, I stopped fielding the Seer Council.

With fortune, they're absurd. Without fortune, they're as durable as marines in cover, but cost like terminators and are a huge threat. You KNOW any shooty army will drop a stupid amount of firepower into them if/when Fortune goes down.

I have to agree with you that pure mech is going to work better in terms of effectiveness. The Seer Council is GREAT against folks without psychic defense (IE: Tau, Orks, to an extent Tyranids since they have a range limit) but they still have ways around it (Orks and 'nids can drown you in bodies in assault; Tau can feed you plasma which negates your armor...)

I view 'em as a test; they're good way to convince folks of the need for psychic defenses, and a high-stakes gamble against anyone who DID bring it.

Smurfy said...

Same story as Raptor - Once the Hoods and Rune Priests started to appear,the Jetseer Council died. It is still useful on the defensive terms, but that's really not it's strong point which should be nigh-pure offense.

Also holding off going back to my Eldar cuz of this, because we rely so much on Psychic Powers to turn the tide of the game and a simple coinflip can deny us that game-changing move, it annoys me.

I'm sure Kirby knows from our VASSAL games before, Jetseers are really easy when it comes down to it and if your opponent doesn't know what they are they're screwed, if they do the Jetseers aren't as crazy.

That's the problem with 90% of "tactics" I see, banking on the enemy not knowing what the heck X unit can do. I mean, yesterday I saw a 120 model Black Templar foot horde, he faced off almost a standard Mech Marines, and the foot horde won. Know why? Because the Marine player didn't have any tactical sense of flanking the slower horde and focussing fire. (After all Chris, if you're reading this, the only guy that does any kind of real damage in that mass is the Fist.)

Alas, I can't ever express it on a personal level but goddammit, you think you have a good idea bent on a wild card? Think again and go back to basics, because I know what basics I can use against your army to make it null and void, lol.

But lastly going back to Jetseers - I love the Eldar Jetbike army's looks, just doesn't feel right quite yet (Anti-tank is nigh-gone) so am waiting for a update or at least until I finish the Rodeo.

Buzzer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buzzer said...


While I do agree with you on many points, I would like to disagree on the part about the singing spears. For a modest cost they allow for more wound allocation groups and give the seer council a chance to pop a transport and then charge the insides... yes they reduce the number of attacks in CC, but they are cheap and give some versatility to the unit.

That being said, with the increase in psychic defense and the way 5th ed is in general, mech eldar is the way to go until a new codex comes out.

- Buzzer

* I deleted my first post because I could not figure out how to edit it do to some weird formatting that happened when I posted

Kirby said...

Agree Raptor & Smurfy. Check out this post by Ron from FTW for a pretty Jetbike/Vyper army. It's just plain pretty!!

@Buzzer; obviously agreed on Mech Eldar but wound allocation is overhyped. For 2W models it's a lot better and whilst you reduce the statistics against you, it generally only happens when there are more wounds than models and limiting your unit's effectiveness for a tiny increase in survivability isn't worth it. You don't give Crisis suits different weapons/wargear for that reason and whilst it does give the Council some ranged anti-tank, they should generally be shooting at infantry anyway or prepping for multi-assaults against tank walls. Those extra 1As can make a huge difference.

And ya there's no edit option alas :(

The_King_Elessar said...

A fine article. This is a large part of why I have been telling people for several months that if they can't build t cheaply and quickly, then it isn't worth bothering with.

Admittedly, I also tell them that because I fear the damage next-gen Necrons, DE and GKs will be able to do to our fragile 'Locks...

Brent said...

Yea, I agree all the way around. A quality article, but my Seer Council never got off the ground. The thing that stopped me using the Avatar/Eldrad tag team was the same thing that put the kibosh on the Council.

Psychic defense and Null Zone.

Ironically, imho that actually makes a smallish Council with Destructors accompanying Eldrad at least a possibility now.

Ixe said...

My problem with pure mech Eldar is that they don't have a reliable way of annihilating enemy units. Torrents of S6 and S4 fire fail against 2+ saves, they fail against FNP, and they even fail against massive horde units in cover.

5th ed forces you to rely on templates to kill hordes, because hordes in cover are just not gonna die. And what's the most nastiest platform for templates? Jetlocks. Not the only platform, mind you, since you can have Dragons and Storm Guardians, and even Jetbikes carrying them. But all of those platforms have to get close, and they all suck sweaty monk-heigh balls in assault (storm guardians like to pretend they don't, but they do). All except the jetlocks, which will go first, hit on 3's, and survive the enemy's charge until a unit of Banshees bails them out. In fact, my jetlocks often win combat when charged simply because they don't die, and they always kill a couple enemies.

Not only are jetlocks an amazing template platform for hordes, they are the ONLY durable assault unit that Eldar have. They fail against 2+ saves and FNP, but they dominate everything else due to superior WS and survivability. And they still rock FNP and 2+ saves with help -- it can be hard to charge an enemy with Banshees, because they have to spend a turn parked nearby so they can assault out of a stationary transport. Jetlocks tie enemies down, survive, and hold enemy deathstars in place for some Banshees to sweep in with their always-strike-first power weapons.

My problem with pure mechdar is it's too hard to negate enemy saves and FNP and cover. And what's more, there's no way to tie down part of the enemy's army. To be honest, my jetlocks sometimes don't even kill stuff, they just act like a net and grab 3-4 different enemy units and hold them in place. With mechdar, the enemy is constantly fighting you with everything on the table. Jetlocks are like a loogie gun, they stick a bunch of units in place, and now the enemy is fighting you with only a fraction of what's on the table.

I haven't had a problem with hoods, either. Eldrad gives you three chances to Fortune your jetlocks. And a jetlock + Banshee tagteam will carve a bunch of new assholes in a Librarian, or pretty much anything else, really.

Kirby said...

Eh first off you're using Banshees :P. Eldrad can only cast Fortune twice, if he fails or gets one blocked he can't cast it a third time just like a normal seer can't cast it twice if it gets blocked. Mech Eldar don't really care how much they kill you as long as they shut down your anti-tank and stay mobile. It can be a boring way to play them but *shrug*, add in a lot of S6 and blasts from Prisms and you shouldn't have trouble with anti-infantry (Doom helps, too).

Jetlocks are without a doubt a good anti-infantry platform but relying on Fortune being cast dictates how your army works and you can end up sinking a lot of points into it. Before when you could run 2x medium sized councils it was a lot more viable because you had the duplicity and reliability needed. Fortune falters just once and you've got a 300-500pt unit which is T4/3+/4++ and therefore very subject to torrent.

OneMeanDuck said...

I have been playing mech eldar since 3rd edition and never ran jetlocks more then twice.. I never liked them for sooo many reason. I would say I do just fine without them. But I do run Banshees... Always have, they are amazing!

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