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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 1: Introduction

One of the major requests for a long time has been an Eldar codex review. I've tried to avoid this as the review itself is rather simple in what's good and not and we are expecting the new Eldar codex to be released this year or next. However, I'll bow to pressure. What this review will do is something similar to what we did with the Tau Codex review and not only look at the Eldar units themselves, but focus on how they could be improved with their upcoming codex release. Furthermore, we're going to focus on how to use them now despite their limitations. In the end this review will not only be a review but posts looking at how to get the best mileage out of bad units as well as changes one would like to see for them in the future.

With that in mind, let's look at the overall structure of Eldar and how they like to operate on the tabletop. Like their Dark Kin they are fast with very few models capable of only moving 6". Whilst the introduction of the Run! system has lessened this advantage somewhat, many of the Eldar units are quite capable of moving 12" or move. Unlike their Dark Kin however, there is a certain durability to the Eldar army. They are still a base T3 army but their vehicles are often AV12 with special energy fields to inhibit damage and there are a lot more units with increased durability (i.e. 3+ armor, high toughness, etc.). The end result is a fast army with pretty durable tanks and whilst their infantry may often be tougher than your standard Guardsmen, they still aren't exactly durable. The downside of course is cost and they suffer from 4th edition point balances - i.e. they are over-costed. Hopefully this will be changed in the coming codex but for now, Eldar have to suffer through this.

Beyond this Eldar known for three things - specialised Apsect Warriors, S6 firepower and psychic might. Whilst armies can be made outside of these constructs (which will be covered by the Armies in 5th articles), these are the core strengths of the Eldar force and what often plays a significant role in how they adapt on the battlefield. This gives the Eldar army a unique array of strengths when allied with their impressive speed and durability of their transports.

Aspect Warriors are quintessential Xenos - they are designed to be very good at a specific role. A major failing of the current codex is they aren't always that great at what they do and whilst being specialists, they shouldn't completely fail in all regards to what they don't specialise in. For example, Howling Banshees are supposed to carve through Marines like a hot knife through butter but even with Doom support struggle. Against anything which isn't a Marine or is a tank, Banshees just plink off them relatively uselessly. On the other hand, Fire Dragons are amazingly potent at opening tanks. Whilst they are often vulnerable to return fire,  the Fire Dragons are very likely to get the job done and whilst they aren't great against infantry or in combat, they do have some options there to help them out (an optional Heavy Flamer and melta-bombs).

S6 firepower is plentiful and provides excellent anti-infantry across the board (even Marines are being wounded on a 2+) and can importantly penetrate the AV11 of those pesky Marine armies. There is a general lack of efficient high strength firepower at range outside of this though which can lead to Eldar anti-tank being pretty mediocre at range. S6 is great at causing damage but you need quite a hefty amount of shots to reliably blow a tank up.

And finally, psychic might. Whilst Eldar have really shown their age over the past few years, their psychic defenses and defensive powers are still unrivalled. Runes of Warding is the single best psychic defense out there as it not only stops Ld10 powers roughly 50% of the time (and is thus more effective against lower Ld powers), when psychic powers fail, it is very likely to inflict damage to the casting psyker (depending upon their Perils of the Warp defenses). Furthermore, the psychic array of powers Eldar have access to is very nice and can often overcome some of their more mediocre stats such as low weapon skill and toughness/armor saves. There are offensive spells (i.e. direct damage) in their arsenal but Eldar get a lot more mileage out of the spells which make their defense or offense better.

Put these all together and you have the basic building blocks of most Eldar armies and what we'll try to be sticking to when we look at what changes Eldar need with their up coming release (no, they shouldn't all become T4). We'll be doing this on a unit by unit basis rather than whole Force Organisation Charts as we've often done in the past as more details will be looked into both in how to implement not so great units as well as changes we'd like to see in the future.

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