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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Article: Edenbreaker - Musings of Eldar in 5th edtion

Here we do have an article from Dave over at Crew Shaken not Stirred (he makes good cocktails). He wrote this recently on his blog and he sent it to me as a guest article on fester's recommendation. How exciting. He also asked for my comments and what better way to do this than post the article on 3++ and intersperse my comments within the article; snowmobile lite we shall call it. Let us begin... (my comments are in blue btw).

The concept behind "Edenbreaker" really is the cumulation, in my mind, of where the Eldar game has been going since late 4th Ed into what we can safely say is over halfway into the lifetime of 5th Ed. Eldar have evolved from a hybrid foot/mech army into a forced full mech state. The exception to this is of course Footdar, an interesting concept but one that is usually played poorly but by those who have a real solid understanding of the synergy used in such a force. -like all Eldar armies, it should be wielded like a scalpel as opposed to a sledgehammer- Eldar do not have a hammer or an anvil type unit which hurts when we play Marines or MEQs. We do not have a reliable gunline/mech gunline like Guard.

The internet has shown us over the years on sites such as YTTH, 3++ is the new black and Fritz 40k, that playing Eldar is to go for the harder option than many. It's far from a bad army, but its not balanced like the majority of 5th edition codexes. As we have seen from tournaments, battle reports, tacticas and even from a shift in GW rules, we must take advantage of 3 relatively well known factors;

  1. The great speed offered to the army, similar to Dark Eldar, through our Fast Skimmer Tanks and transports.
  2. The great opportunity offered to use all of our units in synergy, primarily using Farseers to "buff" units or "debuff" the enemy. - I'll point you to Kirby's article here on 3++-
  3. The mass of reliable suppression firepower offered, meaning weapons of S6 or S7 that as opposed to blowing up transports of other races, will reliably inflict damage upon them to such as a degree that they will become useless.

Thus, following these points in my mind we can liken the modern Eldar force to a serpent:- the army must be fast enough to our manouver, or to keep pace with the enemy to inflict its "bite". If it achieves this, the competant General can doupe his enemy using his speed by faking a split or a flank change and then completely altering course (whispering in the opponents ear for them to take the "forbidden fruit" of a few units sent away from the army only to have the rest of the army pick on an isolated unit that takes the bait).

The army must have united purpose, focusing on their objectives by supporting one another. Are there a few tanks alone on one flank? Don't just move your Prisms or Dragons to destroy them, move as a single strike to support. Are there infantry coming for you with meltas? Reform into a spear, deploy some of your own infantry (shedding the skin) and eliminate them as one fighting unit.

I'm hesitant to always suggest this. It's a great idea for any speedy army or deep-strike/reserve army (Jumper and Mech BA, DE, Daemons, Podding Lists, etc. all spring to mind) but you must be flexible enough to break the mould. Many a game can be won by scattering your army (sounds insane I know) which when done properly can force your opponent to deal with your tanks 1on1 because of your speed. 24" moves allow for a staggering amount of reform. To re-iterate, focus your force when you have the mobility edge, particularly when you can isolate part of your opponent's force but also remember the huge edge Eldar have other armies in terms of movement in a single phase and 1on1 tank survivability. 

Strike at the enemy with what makes sense. Are there two rhinos and a Land Raider in front of you? Use those Shuriken Cannons on the Rhinos, see what happens, don't immediately go for the high strength weapons on mid range armour. The Shuriken Cannon is the most useful weapon in the Eldar arsenal - it is cheap, usually 5-10pts in a unit, it has 3 S6 shots and on vehicles can generally be taken in pairs, for 6 S6 shots. Fire this at an armour 11 Rhino and ok, you aren't likely to expolde it; what you will get though is perhaps a few shaken/stunned results, maybe a lucky immobalised or weapon destroyed (the serpent's venom). You're slowly paralysing your opponent's armour then going for the kill once the bigger animals are brought to heel by your prism cannons and brightlances.

I'd actually suggest the opposite here as a rule of thumb. Take your biggest gun (that isn't a Prism cannon) and shove it into the weakest tank; this is a principle Tau live and die on (generally live). Do this 8-9 times out of 10 as it is the most likely to give you a return on your investment with some sort of damage result. What happens then is those 50+ S6 shots you have can be even more effective against infantry. There are times when this is obviously over-ridden (i.e. threat output from a unit) or when it might be more beneficial for you to literally get as many shaken/stunned results as possible. 

This is the simple tactic of the Eldar army; to be the serpent, confusing the opponent, out thinking and out manouvering him, paralysing his options and striking his weak spots.

Let's take part of my army for the Hallowed Halls KO tourney next weekend as an example of how Edenbreaker works, let's say I've set up in a table quarter opposite to that from my enemy and they have left a tank on their flank with a couple of transports and screening infantry as such;

Let's talk about our setup: we use the arrow -or serpent's- head formation why? First for placement of units where they need to be -which should be garanteed as you can relocate units in your arrow with Divination after the enemy has set up. Second for protection, our buffer unit -Eldrad- is in the most protected position in the force, then the prisms at the rear are covered by the DA Serpents. When we move, we move as a unit, thinking ahead to where our units need to be. Think what you're coming up against. Let's say this is a Tau army we're facing. Is it a Russ or a Land Raider on the enemy flank or is it a Ravager? What are those infantry and what do they have? Are they Battle Sisters or are they Fire Warriors. Fortunately for us, most transports in the game have the same armour (or near enough) so can we try to paralyse them with S6 Shurikens?

Lets imagine we're fighting Marines, we have a Predator on the flank, two Razorbacks with Las/Plas and a Tactical Squad with Multimelta and Meltagun.

First and foremost, what will we Fortune with Eldrad? The tip of our spear obviously, so the two Fire Dragon Serpents would be the obvious choice. Or are they; its very common for the Eldar player to assume the Dragons must be fortuned first turn. How will your spear look AFTER movement. From the diagram we can see that the two closest units to the enemy are the front left Avenger Serpent and the FD one. What do you think those Tactical Marines will be trying to blat?

Boom, we move to a new position. Boom Dragons out? Analyse what your options are. That Predator is a tough nut to crack, but what's in the rest of his army. Are there more? (Probably) Is there a Land Raider? Ask yourself if you can do without them for the moment, no use "shedding the skin" if it's going to leave you vulnerable. Our setup after movement gives both Prisms options to hit 3 targets each: one transport each, the infantry and the tank. Save them for later, shoot the Lances from the Avenger Serpents at the tank, see what happens. You blow it up great. Your big challenge as an Eldar player against battle tanks is preventing them shooting. You do that, leave it alone. Fail to do that, obliterate it with the linked Prism shot. I like this paragraph a lot in relation to target priority though I'd always have the Prisms as anti-infantry unless there are no good targets to shoot at. Especially understanding when to get your Fire Dragons out is important for an Eldar player to be successful and is one of their failings against a list like Mech Marines where nearly everything is equally as threatening as everything else. 

Your next port of call is the transports, make them "toxic". Making them toxic means to make them a poor asset to your opponent, by breaking them and killing the goo inside or by making them so unusable the goo inside needs to come out (at which point you kill them). Shaken, Stunned, Immobalised are all good for Eldar. Everyone really ^^. On most, Weapon Destroyed is ok, but I'd 100% of the time want them not to move. Most people will be reluctant to disembark their dudes without them moving into a favourable position first.

Finally are those infantry a threat? Yes, but not as much as you might think. They can either chose to shoot 2 meltas at you, one which is within 2D6 pen range and one which isn't. Oh...woops...they are both not doing 2D6 pen cos of your Sepent screen's Force Field. Oh yeah, and the two closest to him are Fortuned. Oh dear. The other option for him is to close in and assault. Then he has a meltagun which isn't getting double pen but he is getting the assault on rear armour. Hopefully you can
You will likely ride this out, but if you can't you have plenty of support to make sure that you can blast them, or use your speed to get away from them next turn. It's important to note the unit can still access your non-fortuned rides which forces them to move. This is really important (especially for Prisms) as they quite often have to move into the open to get a decent shot off at the units which haven't moved flat-out to shoot (i.e. no cover save). Although they might be more valuable targets (in this case a Dragon Serpent) compared to the fortuned targets, you've forced your opponent's hand and made him move. If he doesn't he gets poor shots off at the easier target (or he may not be able to see; unlikely) or at the fortuned target. Win/win/win for Eldar unless Lady Luck hates you (it happens).

If you have nothing left, you have no choice but to leave the troops. If you have the Prisms left grand. Don't shoot at them, chose something meaner looking, another Tank or a transport with a nasty unit in. Heck, if its just full of mech marines with nothing in particular nasty looking but Las/Plasbacks, just nuke 2 with the single shots from the Prisms. I would disagree here; Prisms are pretty reliable to suppress an enemy tank when you link them, not so when they are unlinked (40-50% chance to hit on one shot). Prisms are primarily anti-infantry and if there are clumped infantry (especially in the open or after a disembarkation), blast them. If there aren't any good infantry targets, then shoot the Prisms at tanks to try for more suppression.

So at a basic level, that is Edenbreaker, the Eldar way in 5th edition. Depending on reception, I'll continue my thoughts on it, so if you hated it and think I'm totally wrong, feel free to say. But I've seen it work time and time again, so try it if you aren't doing it already.

-Note the the reader; this is not my OH MY GAWWWDZ READ THIS AND WIN WITH ELDARZ post, this is my interpretation of how Eldar can be played from turn to turn to achieve the goals that you set out in a mission. Play the army with a little brains and you just might pull out the win-

Love, Dave

Overall this is a great look at how to play Eldar when keeping the force together. One or two things I would suggest doing otherwise but good movement, screen, reforming and target priority with this type of list is a tough nut to crack. It may lack in offensive potential compared to newer 5th edition armies and a few unlucky rolls in having lots of tanks drop early can spell it's doom but Mechdar are still a capable force in 5th edition. Hopefully Dave will expand upon other concepts of Mechdar tactics (like not clumping, reserving, blocking, etc. *hint*) and we can see more from the pointy-ears from the Drinksmaster!

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