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Monday, February 13, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 11: Harlequins

Shane Shofra

Harlequins are very similar to the Howling Banshees we reviewed before and as was pointed out in the comments, a few quick changes can make them seem pretty similar. There are a few key differences and it should be strived to maintain these differences within our potential changes section and in reference to how they can be used.

The Review -

Harlequins are another assault based unit but with several key differences. The Harlequin is still based off the usual Eldar statline with good stats outside of strength and toughness but they also have improvements in weapon skill (up to five), attacks (up to two and they come with two close combat weapons so get four attacks each on the charge) and initiative (up to six). However, they only come with a 5++ save which combined with T3 means they don't like being punched back and are weaker than all the Aspect Warriors. Whilst WS5 and A2 base are nice, it's not really special, particularly when you consider S3 and a very weak defensive statline.

However, for four points a model, each Harlequin can purchase a close combat weapon which provides Rending and they also come standard with Furious Charge, Hit & Run and a special rule which allows them to completely ignore terrain and its effects. Whilst this does make Harlequins expensive at 22 points a model, four attacks at WS5, S4, I6 and Rending on the charge is pretty good. And since Halrequins ignore terrain, you can always be sure they'll be using their I6 and will never be caught short by a bad terrain roll. They also come with Fleet of Foot to give them that extra bit of threat range. The important difference compared to Banshees here is Harlequins can deal with more mundane units and tougher units with their higher number of attacks, improved weapon skill and rending options. They won't carve through Marines but they can put a nice dent in them.

Hit & Run also allows them to maximise their damage by continuously getting the charge, minimise damage against them by consistently getting charges off and avoiding protracted combats and ensures they can bounce between units so they are always attacking a more vulnerable unit. Harlequin units can also take up to two fusion pistols per squad at 10 points a piece - expensive but cheaper than Blood Angel infernous pistols and it allows Harlequins to deal with vehicles outside of combat (particularly before assaulting their contents if possible).

There are also three character upgrades - Troupe Master which is basically a Sergeant who comes with rending or power weapon attacks for free, Death Jester who brings some ranged medium strength firepower or the Shadowseer who's a psyker which really ups the defenses of the unit. The Death Jester is generally a pretty poor choice as the Harlequins want to be moving and Fleeting more often than not and the Troupe Master is expensive but is the only way to get a power weapon into the unit which can add some guaranteed punch. The Shadowseer though is nearly always a must take for without him, the unit is very vulnerable to shooting.

The Shadowseer brings Veil of Tears which is always in used and forces opponents to roll 2D6x2 when shooting at the Harlequins - much like night fight but worse. If they fail to see them, they cannot shoot. That's an average of 14" - double-tap weapons are still really going to hurt Harlequins but an opponent's ability to damage them before they reach their lines is minimal. For this one reason, Harlequins can actually be quite decent on foot which can overcome their lack of a dedicated transport option and the general lack of good assault vehicles in the Eldar arsenal.

Potential Uses -

Harlequins work great on foot though not so great in Wave Serpents. Unlike in Dark Eldar, Eldar have no assaulted based transports and whilst you can again use threat ranges from the Wave Serpent's hatch + other movement mechanics to push opponent's into range of assault units from Wave Serpents, Harlequins are one of the better foot units thanks to Veil of Tears - it's just hard to shoot them from range. Otherwise they are a general-purpose assault unit, not as specialised as the Aspects and quite capable of dealing with large squads of GEQs or smaller squads of MEQs without much damage in return. What they don't want to attack is squads which can put lots of attacks back on them as even with a 5++, they cannot take much of a pounding.

Hit & Run allows them to access units foot units often can't which is very important for by-passing bubble-wraps or blocking units. Add in a couple fusion pistols and rending and Harlequins have an answer to most things whether as an aggressive assault unit or a counter-assault presence.

They will do very well with Farseer support as most Eldar units but a key difference here is they don't need Doom & Fortune to be good - they are good regardless and become better offensively and defensively with those powers.

Potential Changes -

As it stands now, the unit is pretty good just a bit expensive and lacking an assault transport (either as as dedicated or non-dedicated but Eldar option). Coming with Kisses standard or perhaps making them 20 points with Kisses would be a good ballpark figure and giving them access to a transport which could let them assault from it on the move would give them more build options. Most importantly however, Eldar need anti-tank options outside of Fire Dragons so each time you take an Elite that's not a Fire Dragon squad, you don't feel the massive opportunity cost of doing so.

Conclusion -

melta pistols, they are hard to shoot down as they approach your opponent, have the threat range to work beyond the average distance of their shooting defenses (unlike say Tau stealth suits) and can hit like a ton of bricks against a variety of targets and simply keep going. They are T3/5++ though so whenever anything hits back, you're likely to lose some Harlequins and managing how much they can assault becomes a big part of using them.

Without an assault based transport though they are forced to rely on their ability as a foot unit and this can seem a drawback in a mechcentric environment. Add in they are directly competing with one of the best anti-tank units in the game in Fire Dragons, and Harlequins have a huge hidden cost and therefore don't see much use. However, as an assault and counter-assault unit, they are still one of the better units in the game and with Eldar psyker support, become even better.

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