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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 4: Autarchs & Yriel


Autarchs - the wimpy Space Marine Captain. In essence that's what the Autarch is - you get the pretty good statline (though reduced to strength and toughness three) with a lot of upgrade options to tool the Autarch out for combat and even a few ranged options (which with BS6 is nice). However, the major and important difference between Autarchs and Space Marine Captains (or any other generic HQ) is they bring an army ability to the table - Strategic Force. This is why you don't see plain old Captains running around as HQs - they don't provide anything. Bike Captains do and you see them - regular Captains not so much.

The Review

Strategic Force allows you to add +1 to your reserve rolls and it stacks. FAQ logic that people. This is often an over-looked ability considering the advantages Eldar have when going second in objective missions and their mobility when going first. Consider what we discussed in Eldrad's post relating to Divination. Eldar are very good at re-mobilising thanks to their inherent speed and whilst Eldrad obviously enhances this very well, your stock standard non-Eldrad list is more than capable of re-mobilising Turn 1 and forcing your opponent into a bad position. Remember, few armies are capable of moving and firing tanks whilst going 12" with only Tau, Blood Angels and Dark Eldar able to do it en masse across multiple Force Organisation Charts. Fewer armies still can move as a group 24" or greater (i.e. Dark Eldar). Having this advantage when deploying first, along with sturdy AV12 tanks, and the ability to come in from reserve on a 3+ for 70 points, well it gives Eldar a lot of tactical advantages at the deployment phase of the game. Shockingly Autarch's add to this and that alone is a good reason to include them.

Beyond this Autarchs have lots of upgrades to make them decent in any situation and they come with a 4++ standard. The lack of strength does limit them in combat however so whilst they have good statistics there, they are more a super-Sarge for any squad they join rather than a beat-stick themselves. They can be quite beastly with a Laser Lance on a Jetbike but are expensive then, are only good on the charge and cannot ride around in transports. He does have some nice ranged options however, the best of which is the Fusion gun - aka a BS6 meltagun with whatever squad he joins. This is realistically is best load-out - it's cheap, he'll still help out in combat if the unit gets stuck there, you get a BS6 meltagun and the ability to maximise your strategic options when going second. Adding a power weapon can increase his combat utility to the unit he's added to but you don't really want to go overboard. You can tool the Autarch out with a bunch of stuff to make him scarier in combat but the reality is, 5th edition just doesn't cater for these type of models and there are better fighters out there regardless.

Which brings us to Yriel. For all intents and purposes he's a tooled out Autarch meaning he still has the utility you buy the original Autarch for - he helps influence reserves but at 155 points. He has near the same statline but runs with four attacks and initiative seven meaning he'll strike first and he'll strike hard (WS6). Rather than all the usual upgrade options your generic character has, Yriel comes with a singing spear which counts as a power weapon. This is nice as he gets a S9 ranged attack but he doesn't get +1 attack in combat as a singing spear is a two-handed weapon. Pffft. The spear can also kill him at the end of the game - something we all hope for. Beyond this Yriel has a special, one a game, attack in close combat where he foregoes his normal attacks and lays down a S6 AP3 5" blast. This blast itself is pretty nice as it's going to ignore cover and is the perfect anti-MEQ weapon (wounds on 2s, no saves). However, anything which is generally decent in combat is going to shrug this off and Yriel needs to engage the unit alone to really be useful as it damages your own guys. This leaves him vulnerable to shooting the next turn and it only takes one failed save against a S6 gun to kill him. Running a couple of Warlocks with Fortune in with him is an obvious way to try and negate this but you still have the chance of killing your own guys - not something you want to do with regularity.

Potential Uses

Deciding that you want to use an Autarch (or Yriel) isn't that hard a choice (generally after you've got your mandatory Farseer or Eldrad) but plugging them into a list can be annoying given the current state of the Eldar units. Your basic Autarch will often run just a Fusion gun, and sometimes a power weapon - S3 is limiting but five attacks on the charge at WS6 means you'll be killing something. This guy can plug into any unit in a Wave Serpent really to add some anti-tank utility and act as a clean-up crew. Not very efficient if you're not using his reserves ability and the power weapon isn't always going to find use (and is therefore often left at home), but easy to add into most lists. He can make a bit more of an impact in a Defend/Shimmershield Dire Avengers unit but you're paying a lot of points for a tarpit which still dies to torrenting fire and a bunch of S3 power weapon attacks - Imperial Guard blobs laugh at you. One could also argue to run the Autarch on a bike with a Laser Lance and some goodies can be a cute clean-up crew as he hides amongst Wave Serpents or joining a Guardian Jet Bike squad to make them a bit scarier but it's just that - cute. Any S6 guns pointed his way (or a torrent of so-so firepower at the GJB) and he'll die so you're really relying on being able to block LOS to him.

Yriel on the other hand is harder but easier to fit into a list - you've taken him because you want to get him into combat. A lot of people will take the combination of Eldrad and Yriel for a super duper Seer Council but the problem here is they are on foot, don't have an assault ramp transport and you're still relying on psychic powers to be effective. Sure double casting of Fortune is nice but the unit is very expensive and totally relying on that to be durable at all. Beyond this...well you're paying double the cost for a much more effective combat character so if you're buying him, make sure he's got a unit which is going to get into combat. Eldar don't have many of these and are again restricted by not having an assault ramp transport but putting him a unit which doesn't want to move up and engage the enemy is counter-productive.

Potential Changes?

The base Autarch needs a something a little bit extra - a cool command squad that we see everywhere else with FNP, the ability manipulate reserves up or down, etc. A slight points reduction wouldn't go amiss but currently he's just a paper weight with some utility added in. The utility is great as you get more tactical options when choosing to go first and the ability he brings meshes very well when going second during objective games (two turns of you can't shoot me? thanks!). However, the real issue here really is the Eldar army and wargear options. If he was able to take a special piece of wargear which allowed his whole squad to have plasma grenades (and it not cost 20 points) or was able to fit into squads more readily. Ya it's kinda cute to run one or two Autarchs in Defend + Shimmershield Dire Avengers, but it's not exactly a good points expenditure.

If the Eldar Aspect Warriors overall get improved. Being able to add a super-Sarge who can add some utility to the unit (and army with reserves manipulation) whilst still being part of the unit would be excellent. As it stands now, he joins a unit in a Wave Serpent to basically bring an extra Fusion gun and the tactical flexibility with reserves and it can often feel like a waste of points (particularly if you end up going first all the time).

Yriel on the other hand...well how often are combat characters really worth it? Mephiston is but he's basically a flying MC with utility. Whilst Yriel does have his uses and if you really want a combat character who can ride around in a Wave Serpent, Yriel isn't too shabby but combat characters are really not the way forward in 5th edition and for double the cost of your standard Autarch, Yriel could really use something else. Whether it's an extra cool bodyguard which can shoot and combat (hello Command Squads/Honor Guard), some Force Organisation movements or an even better reserves manipulation than an Autarch, Yriel needs to add more to the army than just a better beat-stick in combat over an Autarch.


Both the Autarch and Yriel add some great tactical utility to the army by being able to manipulate reserves. With the Eldar's speed and ability to move and shoot on the go, they have a few more deployment options and when combined with the ability to more reliably bring on reserves, well those options get even better. Beyond this though, they can often have a hard time fitting into an army. Yriel is expensive and whilst he adds combat ability to the army, you're paying double the cost for essentially the same utility and there are few units which work well where he can fit into nicely. Autarch's can feel like a waste if you don't make use of their reserve abilities and whilst they can bolster a unit, the units they are bolstering can often leave something to be desired.

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