Greetings all, well, I've done these for a couple of other armies now, and as I've now decided that my next project will in fact be an Eldar army instead, I figured it was probably sensible to do the same for how I'm planning on taking my Eldar army forward. I should probably preface this post with a little caveat however - this is not an attempt to push the capabilities of the codex to its limit. The intention is to represent a cohesive, flexible and mobile force that represents some of the wilder, vengeful elements of the Eldar spirit.
Don't forget to vote in the poll at the top right of my blog - I'm still undecided on the name of my craftworld to be and you guys will make it happen! Mael Dannan is ahead by 1 vote at the time of writing this!
First up, I tried to look at filling out a brigade detachment. Didn't work. So instead, I reverted to my default mix, with a battalion and a smaller detachment, in this case an outrider.
Warlock Skyrunner Conclave
5 Dire Avengers, including dual catapult exarch
6 Howling Banshees, including exarch with executioner
5 Wraithblades with ghostswords
5 Fire Dragons with firepike exarch
Falcon with pulse laser, bright lance and twin catapults
Wraithlord with Ghostglaive and two shuriken catapults
Wave serpent, with twin shuriken cannons, twin shuriken catapults and vectored engines
Autarch Skyrunner, fusion gun and twin shuriken catapult
6 Windriders with twin shuriken catapults
6 Windriders with twin shuriken catapults
2 Vypers with bright lance and shuriken cannons
Fire prism with spirit stones
So, that's the basic list (and I'll be honest, I haven't actually got the codex yet, which is why some of the equipment might seem odd, and why this is a 1st draft on which I'd love to get feedback!)
Now for the explanation of why I've included the various units and how I see the strategy unfolding.
First, I've always liked the imagery of an army of jetbikes and other skimmers, so it was important for me to keep a solid core that met this visual ideal. Saim Hann are viewed as 'wild' and 'untamed' and I wanted something similar from my craftworld, perhaps aiming for a slightly unrestrained fury, so I picked very carefully which aspect warriors I would consider for the army. As you can see from my previous assessment of the stats associated with windrider weapons it seemed reasonable to keep them equipped with twin shuriken catapults. They would then provide me with some volume of firepower that could threaten enemy lines, which other shuriken fire was unlikely to achieve. To achieve a better target spread from the jetbike contingent, I took a couple of vypers with bright lances to give me some solid anti tank firepower. These would be able to fire on the move quite comfortably with the Saim Hann attribute, and giving them shuriken cannons would also give me some heavier backup to the catapult fire from the windriders if tougher targets presented themselves.
The remaining skimmer/bike contingent then comprises a fire prism (to my mind here the only real question is why you wouldn't include 2...I'll get to that), a Falcon to provide a lighter capacity transport that still kicks like a mule (I'm sure I can find something to fill that 6-man capacity), a Wave serpent to transport, well, something I haven't covered yet, an Autarch, a Farseer and a small Warlock Conclave.
Fire Prism first then, this was a must-have in my list for a few reasons, but the truly awesome model is the first of those. Absolutely beautiful. Add to that its 'profile for every occasion' on the prism cannon, and the new ability to fire twice for moving slowly and you can easily see why this went in the list. I did restrain myself from taking two, though I'm already thinking that the 2nd draft is likely to renege on that idea.
I knew that even with the fire prism I'd want to take some Fire Dragons. The Warhammer 40k wikia has this to say about them:
No Eldar Aspect Warriors revel more in destruction than those who serve the Shrine of the Fire Dragons. Taking as their totem the fierce, fire-breathing creatures of Eldar legend, they epitomise the brutal, wanton destruction of war. When called to arms their goal is the total annihilation of their foes, to the exclusion of all else.Sounds perfect for what I wanted! Added to which they're awesome, and I could fit a nice sized squad into the back of the Falcon. It could then blast forward, firing off pulse laser and bright lance shots before disgorging the real tank killers of the 41st Millenium onto the field. And even if my opponent did manage to take out the falcon, if anything its contents are even more deadly!
Wave serpents have been up and down in the popularity stakes over the editions, but my first thought was to get one to carry a big unit of howling banshees (which to my mind also fit the idea of an unrestrained Aeldari host). Sadly points made that tricky, so the unit got cut down to 6, but that did mean that there would be space to include another unit inside if needed! On the top I place the twin shuriken cannon, and gave it vectored engines to allow it to become harder to hit on the way to delivering its cargo.
As for the characters, I figured it made sense for them to be on bikes. The farseer can therefore get exactly where he needs to be to make best use of his powers, similarly the autarch can deliver a supremely accurate fusion gun shot, and the warlocks would be able to support most of the battlefield with their mobility. I did toy with the idea of including them as separate characters, but I think their stratagem to allow them to double the range of their powers is too good to ignore. The only remaining question therefore is if they'd be better on foot as with that sort of potential range they would necessarily need the mobility of the jetbikes, and I'd actually be able to include more of them as a result.
For the remainder of the list, I have a unit of 5 Dire Avengers, mainly because they're cheap, but they also fit the idea of the merciless killer, and if they jumped in the wave serpent would be able to follow up and support the forces it would drop in the enemy lines.
The two guardian squads initially had bright lance platforms to allow them to hit from afar, but I needed to save the points. Their job would simply be to hold any objectives near my deployment zone.
I've already mentioned the howling banshees, who would be one of my assault units, but I like to build armies with redundancy, and the wraithblade models are simply stunning, so in went a squad of 5. I'll probably try and use the webway stratagem with them so they're not stranded on the field, but they'd provide some real solid backup to my banshees.
Speaking of which, I also love the wraithlord model, and had an idea about converting one to show just how mobile these things really are (I had the Dawn of War III trailer in my head and the easy grace with which the wraithknights in that move around). Originally I was going to give it a pair of shuriken cannons to go with the catapults and a ghostglaive, but again I needed to shave a few points here and there.
I think that's everything! In terms of strategy, I think it's pretty clear, the guardians and fire prism hold back, while everything else piles forward, being hyper aggressive and trying to catch my opponent off guard. The wave serpent should be tough enough to survive a turn to then disgorge the banshees with dire avengers in support, whilst the falcon does the same for the fire dragons. the wraithlord moves up to support in combat and the wraithblades come out of the webway on turn 1, using the Saim Hann attribute to re-roll their charges.
There will be changes, but I'd be really pleased to hear your thoughts on the plan! If you were facing Eldar, would you expect this kind of force, and this kind of tactic? And if you play Eldar, would you expect it to be able to work, have you tried something similar?