|CMON - hors|
Having managed to get hold of the club's copy of the new Eldar codex, I thought I might have a go at writing a list or two based around the new book to try to understand it better. I'm coming at this from an opponents eye view, and will give my first impressions and attempt to write a balanced pure Eldar list to try to understand the codex's strengths and weaknesses. First up is mechdar. Before giving you each list, I'm going to go through the thinking behind the unit selection.
As with most of the internet, I agree that initially wave serpents look great. The shield gun is very nice, if a little unpredictable, and with a scatter laser upgrade to give it twin-linking provides a decent mid-strength, cover ignoring weapon. Pinning is a bonus, but not something I would rely on. I'm thinking that I would use these as a main battle tank accessed from the troops FOC, with the added ability to transport troops in a fairly resilient box. For now we'll take 4 with minimum squads of dire avengers as the cheapest way of unlocking the wave serpents, and come back later to consider the rest of the troop choices.
Heavy Support - Fire Prisms
Since we're going mech, I look to the heavy support slot and start looking for hulls or something equal in resilience to try and increase target saturation. For me, the stand-out unit for this role is the fire prism. Comparable in cost to a rifledread, the fire prism's main gun brings superb versatility, with the ability to choose (yes choose - no rolling a dice to decide folks!) either an anti-MEQ large blast, anti-TEQ blast or a S9 AP1 lance shot. That is a lot of tools covered from one unit, and for this starter list I'll take 3.
Although the wraithknight appears to be a tough beast with T8 and W6, it only has a 3+ so it is vulnerable to missile and lascannon equivalents. Really, the wraithknight is equivalent to AV12 with 6 hull points that you need to glance to death. And for something that cost as much (or even a lot more) than a land raider, a decent shooty enemy army should be able to concentrate and whittle it down fairly quickly if required. But even then, is it's damage output strong enough to be a priority target? I'm not so sure for the points. I may be proved wrong, but I would prefer to take the fire prisms in a mech list.
Moving to fast attack and noticing that so far the biggest hole in the list is anti-air, I start considering whether to take a couple of crimson hunters. Compared to the big 3 fliers (night scythe, helldrake, vendetta), in my opinion it follows the general 6th edition trend of being a decent but not jaw dropping unit.
It's offensive potential is fantastic against other fliers, but two things in my opinion hold it back. First is AV10 all round - it so fragile and such a high threat to your opponents fliers that it is likely to be targeted and bought down asap. Interceptor guns go giddy with excitement at the chance to shoot at this thing, and if you're facing forge world or Tau this is a huge problem. Even an aegis line with a quad gun has a good chance to bring the crimson hunter down. Add to this that if you're coming on before you're opponent's fliers, there is a strong possibility that your paper plane isn't going to get a change to fulfil it's primary role. Secondly is it's points cost - I'd prefer to have a vendetta that is 30pts less, as AV12 front and sides and can also carry troops.
However, we need anti-flier, so rather than write off the crimson hunter too hastily, let's consider what could be done to protect it.
First priority is getting it to arrive at the right time (i.e. after the enemy fliers). What can we get for free or little cost that helps reserve manipulation? Well, firstly there's the strategic warlord traits. This is the most useful (read - has the least number of useless rolls, and some handy rolls) table, and gives a 1/6 chance to get the re-roll reserves trait. Not something that is ever going to be reliable in getting, but it's free so there's a good reason to give it a go. Next is psychic powers, and if you're taking a farseer you can have three rolls on the Divination table. That's three opportunities to get scrier's gaze, which can be brilliant on turn two to pretty reliably bring in or hold off your reserves. Otherwise there is an autarch for the +1/-1 to the reserves roll, mount him up on a jet bike and equip him as a harassment unit. Not sure on this in a mech list though, so I would probably lean towards the farseer who I expect to be more useful by casting other powers from the safety of backfield.
So there is some hit-and-miss potential for reserves manipulation. Next is protecting the crimson hunters on the battlefield. Against a 48" interceptor gun, it is possible to try and stay out of range (or ideally out of line of site entirely). Against multiple interceptor guns that is a lot harder to achieve, especially if your opponent has wisely spread them out to cover as many angles and as much of the board as possible. So that forces us to try and create a safe zone to fly into when we come on. The range of the wave serpents and fire prisms do offer a possibility of targeting the interceptor guns/units early on one side to try to create this safe zone. It really depends on terrain, your opponent's army and deployment at this point, so it's by no means a reliable tactic, but it is something to consider if the situation arises.
Is this enough to warrant taking the crimson hunter? I'm not sure yet. Fire dragons on a quad gun have some potential, but this would be a foot element in an otherwise mech list so far. Lets stick with two crimson hunters for now and see where we get to with points.
Aiming for reserve manipulation and added utility powers, let's go with a bare-bones farseer. Quick note here is that they lost the board-wide runes of warding, so Wolves now have the best psychic defence in the game (good for my Space Wolves!). This makes other army builds like psychic-choir 'nids more reliable.
A quick total of the points takes us to 1535pts. The list is currently very light on troops for my liking, so to take it to 1650pts I would take out one fire prism and add another 5 dire avengers with a wave serpent and throw in a small backfield unit of rangers to sit in cover. That makes 1655pts, so take off a scatter laser to hit the correct points.
1650pts Eldar Mechdar list - First Impressions
4x 5 Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent with scatter laser
5 Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent
2x Crimson Hunter
2x Fire Prism
That's 7 mobile AV12 hulls, 2 AV10 fliers, 6 minimum sized troops and a utility HQ. This list packs some respectable mid-strength firepower, decent anti-MEQ/TEQ, anti-vehicle (light to heavy), and excellent anti-flier (if it gets to shoot!). The fire prisms can also provide a number of large blasts, but otherwise the anti-horde is just ok rather than amazing as the dire avengers should be sitting in their boxes to keep them safe in objective games and only getting out at a critical moment if required.
Playing against this list, I would notice the low number of squishy troops and paper-thin fliers, and possibly vulnerable HQ. However that is a fair few AV12 hulls to work though at this points level, also assuming a jink save all the time. I would expect the Eldar to try use their mobility to keep away and shoot as much as possible, before a late game objective grab with the dire avengers. This means that I would probably push mid-field, try to pop the paper airplanes and look to take out the scoring troops a unit at a time.
To bring the list to higher points levels I would probably look to introduce some allies to shore up the low number of troops, taking out the rangers to free up some more points. Less fragile anti-air would also be on the shopping list! I would maybe consider Tau for this, kroot could provide some temporary bubble wrap to keep the Eldar hulls away from alpha striking drop pods and on-coming mid-fielders, plus a commander and battlesuits on a quad gun would assist with anti-air. Other options are available though, so this is not necessarily the best choice!
Well that's a starting point at least, and it has been interesting to put a list together to highlight some of the potential strengths and weaknesses of the codex. Please feel free to add your thoughts! Now to take a look at an infantry based list with jetbikes and war walkers...
CONCEPTS: Mech in Early 6th