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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eldar Codex Review: Part 16 - Storm Guardians


The close combat, special weapon versions of Guardian Defenders!

The Review -

Storm Guardians have the exact same statline as Guardian Defenders. The major difference is they cannot take heavy weapon platforms but rather can take up to two special weapons and instead of shuriken catapults, they have pistols and close combat weapons. This means their ranged ability is virtually non-existent and whilst Defenders themselves aren't flash hot at range (one BS3 heavy weapon), they at least can put out a lot of shots up close. Storm Guardians cannot and rather rely on close combat attacks or special weapons (i.e. flamers) to deal with enemy infantry.

Unfortunately...well they are T3/5+ which combined with I4/WS3 means they are pretty crappy in assault. They do get three attacks on the charge which allows them to deal with other weak infantry like Imperial Guard (especially if an Enhance Warlock is brought along) but a stiff breeze from shooting or in combat will see them fall over.

Although Storm Guardians are lacking in the anti-personnel department due to a lack of shooting weapons and durability in combat, they can carry special weapons and importantly, fusion guns. Unlike many other Xenos races, Eldar are one of the few who can actually take solid anti-tank guns in their Troops department and these anti-tank guns come with AP1 - win. They may be BS3 and fragile as all hell, but they are meltaguns and they are scoring. The flamer option is far less sterling. Although both weapons have short ranges, it's much easier for the fusion gun unit to protect themselves with their own units to avoid reprisal (i.e. vehicles) but with flamer units this is harder to do and means you need to kill your target or suffer the next turn.

Warlocks are also a solid addition to Storm Guardian squads. Enhance is a decent way to ensure Storm Guardian attacks are more reliable in hitting and swinging before most opponents. However, this doesn't really help them against anything come close to an MEQ statline, it just makes them more reliable at taking on units they are generally already beating (i.e. Tau Firewarriors, Imperial Guard, etc.). Embolden helps overcome their poor leadership but being T3/5+ the squad isn't hard to kill so you're more likely to lose the squad than need to take Ld tests. It is useful however when jumping out of a burning tank or any incidental damage the unit takes. For 5 points it's quite a decent buy and mitigates one of the limitations of the unit. Destructor gives the squad some nice anti-infantry options  though be prepared to be chewed to pieces next turn unless you kill your target. Conceal is less useful with the abundance of cover in 5th edition and assuming the Storm Guardians are using Wave Serpents to get around, not as useful as the others. Warlocks can also bring more ranged anti-tank with a shining spear - a nice buy for cheap to help augment those Fusion guns.

And this is another major difference between Storm Guardians and Defenders, they use Wave Serpents well. For the base cost of 92 points + Warlock + Serpent, you get a (fragile) scoring unit with good special weapons and the means to use them (Serpent). It's not super fantastic or super reliable but it gives you more options than an MSU Dire Avenger unit or foot Guardian Defenders.

Potential Uses - 

See above really - use them like you would normally as Dire Avengers in Serpents as scoring Serpents but you're bringing extra options to the table with the ability to throw out some AP1 melta or templates (specifically Destructor) as needed. I would lean away from using them as shock units unless against a poor combat army like Imperial Guard or Tau and you need to remember threat ranges as well. Storm Guardians are fragile just like most Xenos, so aren't going to survive outside of a transport or in prolonged combats for extended periods of time. You need to ensure they can do their job, are protected from the opponent as much as possible and then get back in their ride for protection.

Wave Serpents are fast - use this to the advantage of Storm Guardians and to put potential pressure on your opponent but be very careful when over-extending. With BS3, only two fusion gun shots and being a scoring unit, Fire Dragons are often the better and more reliable sacrifice unit. By taking Storm Guardians with fusion guns, you get more of this however and don't cry like a pansy elf when all of your Fire Dragons get taken out early.

Potential Changes -

Hand in hand with Guardian Defenders, I'd like to see these squads pushed back together. The option to have special OR heavy weapons and ccw/pistol OR shuriken catapults would be nice (i.e. Catapults + Specials for units in transports, Catapults + Heavy for backfield work). Also having Warlocks improve to Ld9 really is essential for Guardian squads to get some more reliability on the tabletop. If Warlocks work like Royal Courts as well, being able to put two into one unit would come in handy a lot with Storm Guardians.

Beyond that, three special weapon options would be great - one say in every four? Would potentially need to re-work Wave Serpent capacities then but a trade-off for that 3rd special weapon or a Warlock (or two) is a nice in-army balancer as well. A points drop would also be nice like Guardians, somewhere in the 6-7 range though this depends upon any other changes implemented.

Conclusion -

Storm Guardians are underrated personally and whilst they certainly aren't great, they bring more options to the table than Dire Avengers (at a greater points cost) whilst still being effective units from within Wave Serpents (unlike other Troops). They are very fragile and will not always be getting out of their transports however, so people can often see them as extra points thrown away beyond your smaller Dire Avenger squads but the option to have AP1 melta outside of Fire Dragons brings a lot more anti-tank potential to the Eldar army, even if it is BS3.

These guys are not shock troops however, and running them around assaulting everything is going to get them killed. Same with over-extension to get into melta-range. They have some combat ability and can mop up one or two model strong units or go toe to toe with GEQs but they do not have durability and prolonged combats will see them knocked over - even Fortune support doesn't increase this a whole lot. Throwing them forward as suicide melta will also see them dealt with quickly and they aren't reliable enough to do this even against Land Raiders. Rather, the Eldar speed should be used to advantage here to ensure they can fire and are as protected as possible from return attacks. They aren't MSU Marines, don't use them like they are.

In terms of potential changes, I'd really like to see the Guardians brought back together as a single squad and you get a choice of heavy OR special weapons and catapults OR pistol/ccw. Add in a points reduction, improvement in weapon numbers, decrease in Wave Serpent cost and improved Warlocks (i.e. Ld9, potentially attach two to a squad, etc.) and a Guardian based forced augmented by Aspect Warriors is much more feasible. 

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