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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eldar Codex Review - Part 18: Guardian Jetbikes


Guardians, on Jetbikes - yay! GJB nullify some of the issues one sees with Guardians whilst adding some extra dimensions but at almost triple the cost.

The Review -

GJB are literally Guardians on a bike so they have the same crappy statline but with an improved save (3+) and toughness (T3(4)). This provides a nice array of abilities which can improve upon the rather weak Guardians (i.e. tougher to kill) but this doesn't make them great. Jetbikes are a fast and mobile scoring unit effective at anti-infantry but have limited utility against tanks, are poor in combat and not cheap. With a 12" move and 6" assault move no matter what (jump shoot jump), Jetbikes can make more effective use of their 12" guns but are still vulnerable to assault and will only find maximum benefit if with their assault move if they can hide behind terrain (hard for larger units with bigger footprints). They are also twin-linked so can overcome the average BS of the Guardians without Farseer support.

Jetbikes also come with two important upgrade options - shuriken cannons and warlocks. One in every three GJB can take a Shuriken Cannon for 10 points which provides the unit with some higher strength firepower and extra ranged punch. It's not enough to take on tanks reliably but it does give the unit something to throw at side and rear armor. The Warlock adds the usual array of utility but being Guardians, Embolden is very useful due to poor leadership (8) whilst Enhance (shit in combat), Conceal (they have JSJ) and Destructor (already good anti-infantry) add a lot less. Being able to bring a Witchblade or Singing spear to use against tanks along with the Shuriken Cannon adds some nice, if not super reliable, duality to the unit as well.

Potential Uses -

Jetbikes can be used as relatively cheap and mobile scoring units and this is where you see them employed the most. Throw them in reserve and hide them as they come in followed up with smart use of terrain can see them provide a minor harassment force against backfield units after some turbo-boosting and late game objective grabs (or just harassment in kill point games). Three man units cost a paltry 76 points with a cannon which is pretty decent if not fantastic.

Running a higher model count with Warlock upgrades can bring more mobile firepower (6 xS6 shots + S9 & 8 twin-linked S4) but the unit footprint is pretty big. Chuck in a Farseer and/or Autarch and you have a pseudo council with pretty good survivability from Fortune and 3+ saves and decent combat from the Autarch but the unit's footprint is pretty big (even for just the six strong unit + Warlock) and the unit is still pretty bad in prolonged combats. Whilst they have decent firepower, the range is generally too short to be of much use and sinking many points beyond the double cannon unit can become prohibitive quickly.

Potential Changes -

A minor price drop would be nice, particularly if there are some associated upgrades. Seeing Warlocks bumped to Ld9 would be particularly useful as would upgrading catapults to have range 18". Chuck in a Hit & Run option with a roughly 20 point price tag and you'd have a much better harassment unit on your hands which could use its mobility to greater advantage. 

Other changes to Warlocks could also see greater GJB use, particularly if there was a better ranged attack available, combat powers or the ability to attach two to a squad (like Royal Courts). This would particularly make pseudo-councils a bit more viable though you'd probably be running such without Autarchs.

Conclusion -

Currently, Guardian Jetbikes are too expensive to see regular use and whilst their twin-linked guns and awesome mobility make up for a lot of their paltry statistics, the short ranges of their guns and poor ability in combat makes this price cost quite a hindrance. Small squads can get shot off the table easily though can find using JSJ to hide a lot easier whilst larger squads will be more durable and bring more firepower but find hiding harder. They do bring some nice and mobile firepower but without a way to get out of combat or affect the battlefield consistently out of range of opponents means they are very vulnerable.

This sees GJB generally taken as smaller units for late-game objective holding and some harassment though larger units can also be utilised for improved firepower over Guardians or as a much cheaper and less able replacement over mass Warlocks on bikes. 

A few quick changes beyond a points reduction could see them more capable of fighting without always being in combat range of most assault based units whilst also making them more reliable for staying on the table and having more options as a harassment unit (i.e. Hit & Run).

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