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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 15: Guardian Defenders

Dakka via TKE

Guardians are the Guardsmen of Eldar minus the cheapness and access to cheap heavy and special weapons.

The Review -

At 8 points a model, Guardians are very expensive (relatively speaking). Consider they have the same defensive statline as a Dark Eldar Warrior but lower WS, BS and initiative, have a worse weapon beyond 12", only one heavy weapon per squad, no specials, no possible improvement for Ld and much more expensive transports. Yay? Guardian Defender's main issue is their lack of multiple heavy weapons and the ranges on their guns. They are too squishy to get up close to blast the opponent with mass shuriken fire (which is very efficient but very short-ranged) and aren't providing enough (nor at a cheap cost) at range. Heavy weapons are quite expensive and due to BS3, the one shot guns are expensive and unreliable leading to the stock-standard Scatter Laser being the most efficient bet with 36" and four S6 shots. Requiring a minimum squad of 10 + having expensive heavy weapons also hinders their use - though squads of five would have crap durability and would be a pretty poor form of MSU.

They can take a Warlock but don't get any improved leadership from this though do gain some tiny combat ability and a few powers which are useful. Enhance lets them strike before most opponents and brings them to WS4 - they still suck in combat though. Embolden is very nice to overcome their power leadership but you'll most often be losing squads rather than taking Ld checks. Destructor helps pump out more anti-infantry and close range. Conceal should really be foregone for natural cover though if that's harder to get in 6th, taking your cover with you is nice. A singing spear can also add the the unit's anti-tank arsenal.

Potential Uses -

A lot of people like to use Guardian Defenders in Footdar lists with Avatars when it really doesn't make sense. Yes their crappy Ld doesn't become an issue, but they are still terrible in combat and will lose members faster (though perhaps not as fast as being swept) and are still only going to get one or two turns of maximum shooting benefit with their shurikens. A  better use is taking a couple of squads in this role but having them hold backfield objectives with heavy weapons - keep them cheap and they can compete with Pathfinders for backfield objective holders with a bigger and better gun (but only one).

Potential Changes -

A points drop. A significant one, particularly in heavy weapons. 40 points for a heavy weapon is silly even though it is relentless. Even 25 points for Dark Lance is too steep. Making a squad of Guardians 60-70 points + heavy weapons would make them more viable as backfield objective units though they are still going to suffer with the majority of their firepower within the 12" range, making them cheaper at least gives them a purpose. Furthermore, one heavy weapon per 10-Guardians gives you some benefit for having larger squads. Being able to buy more than just the Defender squad as part of the FOC slot would be a nice change as well - i.e. like Imperial Guard platoons. Obviously not multiple Defender squads but something like a Defender squad then weapon battery with multiple heavy weapon platforms or the like - it would provide a useful unlock to make taking the Defender squads more viable.

Improved Warlock powers (and Leadership) could also go a fair ways to helping the Defenders be more viable, particularly if you can attach two Warlocks to a squad. This depends a lot on how Warlocks work and what options they themselves have. Decreasing the cost of Wave Serpents also gives Defenders the ability to be a cheap Wave Serpent unlock whilst still scoring - no restrictions on squad size please.

Conclusion -

Guardians are lacklustre, over-priced, terrible in combat and whilst they have good anti-infantry, it's very short-ranged. Add in terribly over-costed heavy weapons and they aren't a very good choice. You can try and get decent mileage out of them as backfield objective scorers in a Footdar list but running them just for their heavy weapons over Dire Avengers in such lists is a poor trade-off. Anti-infantry firepower which can stay away from reprisals is much better.

Making them more useful is difficult within the current environment but making them more viable as objective sitters (cheaper, particularly heavy weapon options) or giving the FOC choice as a whole more options (associated weapon platform squads for example) gives them more options outside of their transports where they are just a scoring upgrade. If you're looking to get mobile anti-infantry though, Guardian Defenders probably shouldn't be your solution and I don't think improving on their 12" range without making Dire Avengers 24" is going to do much to make them more viable here (though that of course is an option).

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