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The Good, The Bad, And The Irrelevant: An Eldar Codex Review  by Patrick Eibel
Games Workshop continues to release new books for 6th Edition at a breakneck pace.  We are on our fifth release in less than a year, a pace that previously would have taken two years.  What is also interesting is that we have only had one Space Marine, or Imperial aligned-, codex in that span.  Perhaps that is just an indicator of how long xenos players have had to wait for updates in the past.  For instance, Eldar players have been eagerly awaiting a new codex for seven years, so let’s see if the new book was worth the wait, shall we?

What’s New and Not So Much…
Every new codex has to have new stuff to sell and new rules to exploit; the question is whether any of the new stuff will make you put models on the table.  The new Ranger character (Illic Nightspear) allows Rangers to become Pathfinders, so not essential unless you want an Alaitoc army.  There are two new Flyers – the Crimson Hunter and the Hemlock Wraithfighter.  Of the two, the Hunter is the better option, though the Wraithfighter would be cool in a Wraith-only army (wait, isn’t there an Iyandan supplement coming out too?  Go figure…)  The major drawback to the Flyers is their AV of 10 all around. 

 
It's like what Batman might get Robin for his 16th birthday.  "Here are the keys, old chum!  Try her out!"

Speaking of Wraiths, there is the new monstrously huge Wraithknight.  This thing follows in the footsteps of the Dreadknight and Riptide, but dwarfs them in size.  While there are plenty of people getting gooey over how nasty they are, I am unimpressed.  Once you get past the wow factor, you are spending 240 points (and over $100) for one unit with a 5+ Invulnerable Save and 6 Wounds.  Ask a Tyranid player how long that lasts on the board.



"My little brother here says you Orks have been picking on him, calling him names.  Is that true?"

What I Like, and Why
Battle Focus. 
Eldar units with Battle Focus (which is most units that do not have “Wraith” in their name) can run and then shoot or shoot and then run.  This helps to compensate for the relatively short ranges of their weapons.

Guardian Defenders.  Back in the days of 2nd Edition, Guardians formed the backbone of an Eldar army.  I know because my wife fielded a sizable Eldar army with tons of the little guys.  For one point over what they used to cost, Guardians got +1 to their Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, and Initiative.  More importantly, you can have up to two heavy weapon platforms in each squad (one for every ten Guardians).  And, you can still attach a Warlock to the unit for added oomph.



"You're in the army now/You're not behind a plow..."

Wraithguard.  Someone at GW must have an Iyandan army because (almost) all the Wraith stuff got cheaper and better.  You no longer need to babysit Wraith units with a psyker to keep them from going stupid, and their Strength 10, AP 2 gun will be nice against everything.  Wraithguard are Toughness 6 and have a 3+ Save, so they are pretty survivable, but to be sure you could pop six of them into a Waveserpent (darn Bulky rule.)  There is also now an assault weapon variant, but you would have to be playing a Wraith-only army to want to go there.


"We're not ignoring you: we just can't hear you over all this awesome all around us"

Warp Spiders.  Here’s an idea: let’s take some jump troops and give them a (basically) rending, 2-shot, Strength 6 assault weapon. Tasty, yes?

Dark Reapers.  OK, first the bad news: Reaper Squads will get expensive quick.  Here’s why: the reaper launcher is normally a Strength 5, 2-shot weapon, but for an additional 8 points you can get starshot missiles that make them Strength 8 and AP 3.  Did I mention you get Slow and Purposeful so you can move and fire your missiles?  Did I mention that you can now have up to 10 Reapers in a unit?  Did I mention that the Exarch can get flakk missiles and Fast Shot for his missile launcher (an additional 40 points to the unit, but who’s counting)?


"I am Iron Elf"

What I Don’t Like, And Why
The Backstory. 
Don’t get me wrong, the tragic fall of the Eldar is written out in great, heart-wrenching detail.  The problem is that it is ultimately depressing.  “We are all doomed to die” is not a great rallying cry for an army.  While I don’t begrudge the writers for going with the canon, I wish that they might have offered a way out other than continued existence in the Infinity Circuit. 

Also, while each of the Craftworlds has brief descriptions, there is no suggestion, or list modification, to build Craftworld-specific armies.  This really nerfs Biel-Tan, who are described as being heavy on using Aspects and Exarchs.  Iyanden are getting a separate supplement, but you can do a passable Iyandan list (Wraithguard as Troops), Alaitoc list (Illic Nightspear and Rangers), Saim-Hann list (Jetbikes and Vypers, but no Nuatha Fireheart), and Ulthwe (uhhh, lots of Guardians).  See, was that so hard?

HQ.  For a dying, doomed race, the Eldar sure are top-heavy.  Not counting Warlocks (because Warlocks don’t use up a FOC slot), there are 13 different HQ choices, and only three are generic.  I know you had to include the six Phoenix Lords, but they are generally overpriced and really don’t add much to your army (e.g., why doesn’t Jain Zar make Banshees a scoring unit?  So, like, you could do the aforementioned Biel-Tan).

Howling Banshees.  Back when power swords were money, Banshees were bad ass.  Sadly, they were left at the station when the goodie train came to town.  Furious Charge would have really helped, but at this point, I would rather take Ork Burnas for an all-power weapon unit.



"Wait--what?  Hold on: we used to be awesome!  This totally isn't fair...."

Runes of Warding/Runes of Witnessing.  These used to make Eldar the (rightfully) baddest psykers in the game.  Their powers were almost certain to go off, while yours were most likely going to be suppressed.  Not any more, as the runes are vastly changed. 

Conclusion
As with the new Chaos Space Marine Codex, Phil Kelly has written a well-balanced book.  In the current climate of 6th Edition, these armies provide interesting combinations that can be competitive in just about every game.  But “competitive” players may be disappointed (they’re all picking up Farsight-bomb armies or Necron air cavalry, anyway), since there does not seem to be an “auto-win” option for the Eldar.  Hopefully, I can get some games in soon to see just how effective the Space Elves are in this edition. 

Hmmm.  I believe I know someone who can help out with that….



Posted June 2013. All images are copyright 2013 by Games Workshop and used for review purposes. 

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle