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Monday, February 27, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 14: Wraithguard

The cute little Wraithlords! Wraithguard are the tall guys little brothers and are similar in many respects.

The Review -

Wraithguard are renowned for their durability - with T6/3+ and Eldar psychic powers such as Fortune and Conceal, Wraithguard are a tough nut to crack. Unfortunately, that's about all they have going for them and if you can bring lots of low AP weapons to them in the open, disable their psychic buffs (specifically fortune) or catch them in combat, Wraithguard are very underwhelming for their points. Their guns are pretty powerful when you compare them to really tough, expensive targets such as Land Raiders or Paladins with their ability to inflict instant death and complete disregard for AV level.

Whilst this sounds great, against less powerful or more numerous foes (Rhinos, Orks, etc.), the Wraithguard are...well they are plain inefficient (which is polite for suck). Whilst they are certainly decent enough against any tanks, a full-sized unit is 350 points is only going to generate around two glances and pens each (regardless of AV value) before cover. Again, against Land Raiders and the like, this is pretty good and you're reliably going to put the hurt on Rhinos, et al. but for that points cost, even Eldar can find more efficient options.

This is what Wraithguard boil down to - you pay for their durability which is pretty good (excellent with Eldar support) but their killing power is limited despite pretty neat guns. Being Elites...well their durability is wasted but luckily you can make them a Troops unit by taking an attached Spiritseer (upgraded Warlock) with a full-size unit and they become Troops. This is super expensive (even more so if you add in the Farseer cost for Fortune) which is very inefficient at damage dealing and has a huge weakness to close combat units which ignore armor but are otherwise a very sturdy, hard to shoot off the table scoring unit. The Spiritseer can either provide eternal cover with Conceal or make the Wraithguard less crap in combat with Enhance - the other options aren't going to get much mileage out of Wraithguard since they are Fearless though one could use Destructor for some anti-infantry.

It should be noted as well that Wraithguard can jump into a Wave Serpent but count as two models (i.e.they must be Elites to do this) - they can also take a ride as part of their entry regardless of squad size. Whilst it's nice to have this option, non-scoring Wraithguard just pale in comparison to Fire Dragons in terms of efficiency and damage potential (melta, AP1). The only thing Wraithguard have over Fire Dragons is the ability to Instant Death T5+ models and mass S8 AP1 firepower can generally do the trick there regardless.

Potential Uses -

The main and most obvious use here is as a very durable Troops choice in a Footdar list. Whilst expensive, it's hard to get rid of outside of lots of low AP firepower or better yet - lots of high strength power weapon attacks in close combat. Making a list around this (and shoring up that weakness with good counter-assault options such as Harlequins) is where Wraithguards see their best use. The list is of questionable competitiveness as such lists are putting more into survivability (so bad dice hurt more) and has far less anti-tank than even your normal Eldar list due to the points investment in the durability of models. Combine with Eldrad for reliable Fortune and you have a unit which scores, has support and is hard to remove and even though they are inefficient, you don't want to bring many tanks within range of their guns and not be able to hurt them significantly in the same turn.

The other use is as tougher, more durable Fire Dragons in Wave Serpents but far less reliable. A squad of five is 175 points (nearly as much as Fire Dragons + Serpent) and is only going to average a glance and pen but they are much more likely to survive anything that comes their way and can therefore be overextended more easily. You still need to add a Warlock to overcome Wraithsight though and pay for the Wave Serpent so not a cheap notion at all.

Potential Changes -

Points drop (30?). A2. 5++ natural. AP1 guns - increase range to 18". Remove Wraithsight crap and make each squad come with a Warlock standard. A2/5++ makes them less shit in combat - they're not good but a squad of Space Marines isn't going to be able to tie them up forever unless someone comes to bail them out. Points drop is needed - they aren't Terminators and are only really useful as large squads so aren't going to be cheap whilst AP1 and 18" guns gives them more offensive kick and the ability to not shoot more than once before being engaged in combat.

Conclusion -

Wraithguard are a unit which pays for its durability which, whilst good, isn't fantastic though Eldar support can take it there. That being said, Wraithguard are still vulnerable to being tied up in close combat by much lesser opponents or being completely obliterated by things like power fists/weapons, rending, MCs, Dreadnoughts, etc. Their offensive potential is limited, particularly in range, which doesn't fit well with their high price tag.

Despite this, in the right list they can make an excellent scoring anchor though the viability of such lists isn't considered that high due to the points being sunk into the scoring Wraithguard and the list's focus on foot over mech. With changes to improve their combat ability from piss-poor to "Tacticals don't beat me" and making their guns useful in terms of range and damage (AP1) - Wraithguard could become a much more usable unit as a scoring option though they would still need support pieces around them to make an effective army (and these support pieces would need to also improve so the army as a whole can still deal with a wide array of threats).

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