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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary: Legionis Tacticum
Tactical articles

Legionis Tacticum: Eldar  by Patrick Eibel
“…And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how do I work this?’…”

Let’s get one thing clear before we begin: the Eldar are not the easiest army to use. Building an Eldar force is like trying to assemble a bicycle without having the instructions: each part has an important role to play to make it work, but if you don’t assemble it right, the thing will fall apart. 

Strengths: Psychic powers, Exarch powers, Fleet of Foot 
Weaknesses: Toughness 3
Key Wargear:  Brightlance, reaper launcher, scatter laser, Farseer wargear 

Tactics: There are four areas of the 40K game that an army can use to get an advantage: 

  • Weapons that can kill the enemy outright;
  • Shooting prowess;
  • Assault prowess; and 
  • Mobility. 
For many armies, focusing on one or two of these areas can be exploited to really good effect, but the Eldar must rely on a careful balance between all of these areas to be successful. Below, I will discuss the units that fit into each area and why they must be used as part of a larger whole.

Killing The Enemy
Isn’t “killing the enemy” the function of every weapon? Yes, but any weapon that negates your opponent’s saving throws or easily penetrates their armor is essential. I will break this section into two parts: weapons versus tanks, and weapons versus troops. 

A quick look at the Eldar weapons chart will tell you that there are not a lot of choices when it comes to tank hunting. The only weapon with a Strength greater than 8 is the Fire Prism, which at 115 points is a little pricey for one gun. Still, its mobility, range and the use of spirit stones make it an attractive option, especially if you know you are going to be facing plenty of heavily-armored tanks (Imperial Guard, a Necron Monolith). 

The options at Strength 8 get a little easier: the brightlance, the pulse laser, the missile launcher, and fusion guns (I am not counting the star lance, as only the Shining Spear Exarch gets one, and it has a ridiculously short range). The brightlance and missile launcher can be used in Guardian squads and attached to vehicles, but since the brightlance is a “lance” weapon and counts all armor as 12, it is far superior. The pulse laser is not a bad option, as it does get two shots, and since it will be on your Falcon, you can take a unit of Fire Dragons and make a little tank-hunting force. Which leads us to the problem with fusion guns: their short range means that they need help to get to their target or spend a portion of the game out of range. Oh, and yes, wraithcannons and vibrocannons have a chance to penetrate any armor, but do you want to pin your army’s fortune on them? 

For taking out troops, the Eldar have plenty of options. The two best are scatter lasers and reaper launchers. The scatter laser surpasses all of the other Strength 6 weapons the Eldar get to choose from because of its superior rate of fire. Sure, your opponent gets an armor save, which against Marines will get old fast, but the theory is that the more you make your opponent roll dice, the more they will fail. Combine using a scatter laser with the Doom psychic power and you are really getting some synergy. For those pesky 3+ Armor Saves, there is no weapon better than a reaper launcher. Since Dark Reapers have a BS of 4, they will hit more often than not and generally kill whatever they hit. 

The reaper missile launcher: one of the best troop-killing weapons in the game 

The other really good troop-shredding thing (quite literally) is Avenger shuriken catapults with the Bladestorm Exarch power. Give the Exarch a catapult, and a squad of ten can unload thirty shots in a round. Booyah! On the following round, when they are reloading, you can always assault the survivors.

Shooting Prowess
The Eldar are a pretty good shooting army, as everything other than Guardians and Guardian Jetbikes has a BS of 4 or better. You can always have your Farseer cast Guide on your Guardians to help them hit in crucial situations. However, certain weapons are really good for shooting purposes and thus are almost required. First, Ranger long rifles are usually a reliable option for making your opponent sweat. The Ranger’s Stealth ability and the long rifle’s chance to be AP 1 on a 6 makes a unit of Rangers a formidable force indeed. I have already discussed reaper launchers above, but almost as good are deathspinners. Give the Exarch an extra weapon and the unit can dish out a lot of firepower (although with no AP value, expect a lot of saves).

Assault Prowess
The three main assault units are Howling Banshees, Striking Scorpions, and Harlequins. All do certain things well, but all have drawback too. Banshees will usually strike first and all have power weapons, which make them quite deadly, but their Strength of 3 means they will have a hard going against most foes (though they’re great against Sisters or Guard). Scorpions are the best all-around, as they are reasonably priced, have a Strength 4 attack, and a decent armor save, but their lack of Fleet of Foot may leave them out of assault range. Harlequins can be very potent, especially when armed with kisses (yeah, yeah, I didn’t name them), but with only a 5+ armor save, any concerted enemy fire will wipe them out. 

Shining Spears have also gained in popularity as an assault force, but still have drawbacks. While they are great on the charge, you don’t want to get stuck in close combat, since the unit maxes out at five. Always take Withdraw for your Exarch so the unit can fly away to charge again.

While the benefits of the Avatar in close combat are obvious, his slowness may mean he never reaches the fight. Another option would be to take an Autarch and a unit of Warlocks (since the Autarch is an independent character, he can attach himself to the Warlocks). Yes, they are expensive, but they all have Fleet of Foot, invulnerable saves, and you can give the Autarch power weapon for maximum killy-ness..

The Eldar may be one of the most mobile forces in the 40K game. Aside from many units having Fleet of Foot, they have a variety of jetbikes and skimmers to choose from. One has to reconcile the speed these units provide, however, with their cost. A Wave Serpent can be great for getting your units across the board, but if you load up on weapons (an additional 10 to 55 points) and options (10 to 45 points) you may not have many points for the squad to go inside. 

Jetbikes, Vypers, and Shining Spears can really provide a quick unit to zip to where needed. Just remember that even though the jetbike increases an Eldar’s Toughness to 4, they still count as 3 for Instant Death. While mobility is a great asset for an Eldar army to exploit, the ability to get to your enemy quickly will mean nothing if you cannot take them out when you arrive. 

The Eldar are an army with a lot of character and a unique style of play. They have plenty of cool toys and psychic powers to help them out, and quite an array of potent weaponry.  Hopefully, the ideas presented here will help you understand how to put it all together to make a winning force. If a unit you like was not presented in this article, don’t despair. I merely focused on the things that stood out for me; other choices may be viable or perform just as well. The main thing is to cover as many bases as you can and use your force as a cooperative whole, rather than a bunch of individual units. 

Eldar Fire Dragon and Howling Banshee, part of Pat's collection

Related Pages
Introduction to the series
Other articles in this series

Posted July  2007. Used with permission.


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