Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, January 23, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 3: Eldrad Ulthran (not Eldard)


Eldrad Ulthran is your typical special character for an army's psyker - you get access to all the psyhic powers available with something a little extra. Eldrad's statline also gets a nice buff with base T4 which has minimal relevance in the current edition (4th edition Perils of the Warp was S6 which therefore caused instant death) though does increase the threshold of instant death and improve durability in combat. Otherwise the statline is the exact same as your bog-standard Farseer and despite WS/I5 and having a power weapon which wounds on 2+, Eldrad like Farseers should be avoiding combat.

The Review

What Eldrad brings above your normal Farseer is increased utility. Whilst quite expensive at 210 points, Eldrad is a very good choice over a more expensive Farseer as you gain a lot more utility. In fact, a Farseer with all the upgrades and powers Eldrad has would be more expensive (215 points) - if you're going this route for some reason then it's a no-brainer to be going after Eldrad instead. However, a more normal Farseer looking to cast two powers a turn would end up around 140-150 points and whilst Eldrad has a lot of advantages over a normal Farseer, you need to make sure you're going to make use of those advantages. So let's take a look at them!

When not locked in combat, Eldrad can cast three powers a turn including the same power twice (which the BRB FAQ now disallows for anyone else). This is really important as you can double cast Fortune or Guide (spells limited by impacting only one unit) or Doom (a spell impacted by opponent's squad size). A normal Farseer is never going to be able to reach this level of psychic dominance as they can only cast two spells and not double-cast. This really helps get off that important power against psychic defenses for Eldrad as he is allowed to double cast one power once (assuming he's not locked in combat).

This is the primary reason for taking Eldrad as it opens a lot of options - Seer Councils can be semi-viable with Eldrad for example as he can ride along in a Serpent to double cast Fortune (alongside the normal Farseer's cast) to ensure it goes off. Not exactly a great strategy but these kind of options are available. Running around in a Serpent and double casting Guide on Vyper squadrons is going to get you a lot of reliable firepower from them. Double casting of Fortune on fast moving skimmers gives you two very sturdy threats thrown at your opponent. Double casting of Fortune on units in cover means the standard T3 of Eldar is less daunting. Double casting of Doom on two MSU styled units or two individual models (i.e. MCs) means more of your firepower can be extra effective, etc. etc. The ability to double-cast post-FAQ is a very unique ability and allows you to more reliably overcome psychic defense if you really need to cast a power and opens up tactical options. The fact that you can cast another power separately is extra icing on the cake as Eldrad's utility jumps through the roof (i.e. double-casting of Guide + single Doom, etc.).

However, psychic defenses still limit Eldrad and in today's game, these are common. Fortunately, Eldar are a pretty mobile army and can keep Eldrad away from psychic defenses in certain games whilst still providing army buffs. If Eldrad wants to get more offensive with Doom/Storm/Mind War though, well psychic defenses are more likely to come into play. This is significant as paying 210 points for what is primarily a psychic conduit on the battlefield can be limiting if half of his spells aren't going off. Whilst this obviously affects all psykers in the game, your basic HQ psyker is often much cheaper (~100 points) and the other decent psyker characters often bring a lot of utility. Eldrad has further utility but nothing approaching what say Njal brings to the table.

What Eldrad's extra utility does bring though, is excellent flexibility in deployment - especially combined with an Autarch. Eldrad allows two to four units after deployment to be repositioned within their deployment zone. This doesn't allow them to go into reserve but can alleviate one of the issues of deploying first or can allow you to simply overcome a mistake you didn't notice until your opponent deployed. Safety nets are always nice. Being able to re-deploy certain units in relation to how your opponent has set up whilst still going first is a very nice option to have as you limit one of the downsides of going first. This is particularly useful for allowing a refused flank deployment (particularly combined with Eldar's natural speed) whilst appearing not to go for one. If you add an Autarch into that equation you can have benefits when going both first and second (much easier to reserve with an Autarch). Your opponent still gets to make scout moves after this though (per FAQ), so don't forget about that.

A lot people like to use Divination to allow a couple of units to be deployed poorly to try and encourage the opponent to deploy badly. Whilst this is certainly a use, it's really only going to be effective in two ways. Firstly if your opponent is new or doesn't know Eldrad's rules off the top of the head, they may forget and aggressively deploy to deal with the poorly deployed units and end up screwed themselves. Secondly, if you can find a situation where you deploy units which are capable of drawing the opponent out of position during their deployment if they choose to counter-deploy against these units whilst also being in a position to hurt the opponent if they do not counter-deploy. If you use it more in this regard rather than as bait, you'll find you get more mileage of your deployment as you can compromise certain portions of your opponent's deployment and make your deployment more precise.


Eldrad is like your basic Farseer, he's going to slot in pretty easily to any Eldar army though one which makes more specific use of his ability to re-deploy during deployment and ability to cast three powers (including a double cast) would obviously do better than one he's simply dropped into. However, at 210 points one has to question whether he is worth taking. His utility is greater than that of a Farseer, but the basics are still there with your normal Farseer. You get Runes of Warding and one or two powers for roughly half the cost. Is the extra couple of powers a turn, the double cast and Divination really worth 100 points? When that 100 points can buy another Farseer to end up with a potential two-four powers (including two double casts)? It certainly can be though not as regularly as before - such is the fact of life under psychic defenses. However, if you want to have multiple psychic powers and an Autarch, Eldrad puts all that into one HQ slot and does give you more flexibility from one point of control on the battlefield (not to mention the re-deployment factor).

He's certainly expensive and not nearly as a must have as he was back in 4th edition or even earlier in 5th edition but he does have some uses in today's environment.


With that in mind, what changes would we like to see with Eldrad? Personally I think his current evolution is fine (with the added assumption of an increased psychic power base) but is too expensive. He also really has no need for T4 other than to stop him from being one-shotted by S6. I know he's cool...but that cool? Anyway, a reduction in points would certainly bring Eldrad back into favor within his current ruleset though we can also expect Runes of Warding to be range limited (24"), he'd still be an excellent utility piece with a nice points drop.

If not however, another passive ability would be greatly beneficial to give him something else above and beyond what your bog-standard Farseer (or two) can do. A special psychic power, FoC swap (Warlocks to Troops?...not liking this), aura, improved ability to cast psychic powers, etc. would help Eldrad stand out from the pack whilst justifying his points cost more.


Eldrad, like your basic Farseer, is all about utility and he brings a little bit extra to the table with the ability to cast three powers a turn, including a double cast, Runes of Warding for excellent psychic defense and Divination to provide a myriad of options for the Eldar army during and right after deployment to maximise their advantages and force their opponent's into compromising positions. However, he is very expensive and compared to two cheaper Farseers, the only real advantage you are getting is the ability to re-deploy some of your units during deployment. This is a nice bonus but the two Farseers allow you to cover more of the field, cast two-four powers (though they become a bit more expensive compared to Eldrad if you take the latter option), including one-two double casts (same as before) and provide reliability through repetition in relation to psychic defenses.

In the end, Eldrad's main advantages come down to having the ability to cast three powers in one HQ slot (so can be taken with an Autarch) and the ability to re-deploy part of the army. If you find you aren't using either of those advantages, running two Farseers instead might net you a better result. Eldrad isn't a bad choice, he's just a questionable inclusion due to his points cost and the prevalence of psychic defenses currently in the game. He'll provide for the army and generally do a good job but isn't the best use of points for every army.

Follow us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...