Sunday, March 13, 2011

Eldar: Bringing Back Porch Mon-Keigh

Over the past two and a half years that 40k 5th edition has been out, several armies have taken a massive dip in popularity. Perhaps it's not so much a dip in their popularity, but instead their inability to keep up with the massive amount of 'codex creep' we've seen amongst newer books; some books have even become completely deficient because of 5th edition rules changes (e.g. Necrons).

Next to the Tau, Necrons and Witchhunters, the Eldar are one of those armies that can't seem to compete. Stand them up next to their Dark Eldar counterparts and you can see the massive deficit in effectiveness vs. point cost. For example, a unit of Guardian Defenders costs 80 points for 10 models and pays 30 points for a Bright Lance. Compare this to the Kabalite Warriors of the Dark Eldar - 115 points for 10 models with higher BS/WS/I as well as more versatile weaponry with a longer range, plus the ability to take a 'special' weapon.

Ok, so... some players might say that basic troops aren't the benchmark by which to measure an army. What about dedicated transports? For the Eldar to transport their units they pay a minimum of 100 points. Imperial Guard have Chimeras with slightly worse armor but the same (if not better) firepower, but for almost half the price.

About the only things that the Eldar have that can compare to high-powered units in other books are their Fire Prisms and Rangers. I would also venture to say that some of their Aspect Warriors units are almost worth their points cost, but the prospect of paying 15+ points per model with T3 and a 4+ save is daunting when you consider that the only way they're going to survive enemy fire is if they pay that extra 100 points for a Wave Serpent.

Finally, while many Eldar units might seem brutally efficient when it comes to offense, they can only achieve maximum effectiveness when they work in combination with other units. If one fragile unit must rely on another fragile unit in order to hit its peak power level, their collective reliability is sub-par.

All this being said, I think that if a savvy Eldar player takes a highly efficient army, it's possible for them to come close to being competitive.

Here's an attempt at utilizing them:

Farseer - 168
Singing Spear, Runes of Warding, Runes of Witnessing, Spirit Stones, Doom, Guide, Mind War

Howling Banshees #1 (10) - 282
Exarch with Mirrorswords, Wave Serpent with Shuriken Cannons

Howling Banshees #2 (10) - 282
Exarch with Mirrorswords, Wave Serpent with Shuriken Cannons

Guardian Defender Squad #1 (10) - 110
Bright Lance

Guardian Defender Squad #2 (10) - 110
Bright Lance

Guardian Defender Squad #3 (10) - 110
Bright Lance

Guardian Defender Squad #4 (10) - 110
Bright Lance

Pathfinders #1 (10) - 240

Pathfinders #2 (10) - 240

Fire Prism #1 - 115

Fire Prism #2 - 115

Fire Prism #3 - 115

For being a deficient codex, there's a lot of potential here for long-range anti-armor. Against an average MEQ force four Bright Lances and three Prism Cannons can smash up a couple transports each turn. Once the transports are dead the massed sniper fire of the Pathfinders and the low AP of the Prism Cannon templates can shred any troops (or hordes of troops). The Howling Banshees are just there for clean up duty (or for counter-charging depending on the opponent).

Where does the army fail? It falls way, way short when fighting off an army with 10+ vehicles backed up by a lot of Heavy Flamers (e.g. Imperial Guard). Against other top tier forces it usually can't compete with their speed.