While I was working on this guide I saw that there was already an Eldar Tactic thread thrown up, however, I noticed that there was still a cry for definitive (As definitive as Eldar get anyway), theoryhammer , this is what you do, kind of guide so here it is!
The best way to describe the Eldar would probably be to compare them to the Air Force. They can hit hard and fast. They will deliver an unparalleled amount of destruction to any location in seconds. Not only that, but they have the right tools for any task. You need some armor taken care of? Call in an A-10 Strike (Fire Dragons), you need some up close and personal dog fighting units? Pull out your heavy air superiority F-14s (Striking Scorpions) or some light air superiority F-16s (Howling Banshees), or maybe you want a nice multipurpose fighter bombers that can shoot and take it in close like an F-15(Dire Avengers). You also have the option of some stealthy jets, the pin-point precision and evasiveness of an F-117(Swooping Hawks) might work well, or you can call in the stealthy, but still deadly B-2 bomber for a heavy barrage of high strength bombs (Warp Spiders). When all else fails nothing can compare to completely leveling the area with a nice B-52 carpet bombing (Dark Reapers). Like the Air Force, when everything is working perfectly and you take care of all the variables you will be unstoppable and have incredibly low casualties. But if you rush in or get sloppy you will get shot up faster than a duck in hunting season.
I do go a lot into theory hammer, some people may not like that but personally I think it’s necessary to fully understand the effectiveness of your units. Just remember, it’s not what you know, but what you can prove!
Now that your mind is on the right track, let’s get started!
This guy is a beast! A lot of people don’t field him but this is the first edition where he can actually do something in hand to hand. Primarily he can be used to take out vehicles, a S8 AP1 Melta weapon and the monstrous creature close combat bonus will chew up just about anything out there. T6 W4 and a 3+ armor save means that he can take on average (First Theory Craft Alert lol) 108 bolter shots before going down (108*.66 to hit*.16 to wound*.33 to get through armor save=3.99 wounds). I personally would rest easy with him charging down my lines keeping my elder around him fearless. Oh and he’s immune to flamers and Meltas.
Once he gets into close combat he is best used against heavy armor targets like marines. He will kill 2.78 marines on the charge and only take 0.019 wounds for each marine attacking back. So if he charges a unit of 10 marines he will kill 2.78 marines and have a 69% change of taking one down in the shooting phase leaving on average 6.5 marines left who will only cause 0.12 wounds total!(In other words all the marine’s attacks have a 12% of wounding the avatar back). That’s a pretty decent combat win, and 10 marines are usually more expensive than the Avatar so you can see how easy it is to get your points back on him Even a Terminator close combat squad will have problems with him since they can only hit him on a 5+ and he gets a 4+ invulnerable save!!!
Against horde or swarm armies he’s not as good, since his wounds are going to be comparable just against larger squads with a cheaper point cost for each troop. Try and use him for dred hunting against Orcs or for taking out large Tyranids. Keep him away from Gene Stealers until the rending nerf, even though they also only hit him on a 5+, they still auto wound on a 6 to hit so 30 attacks will get 5 auto-wounds without armor save (Which is ridiculous but hey that’s rending). Your saving grace against rending is the invulnerable save.
Bottom line: Avatar Good! Against MEQ- Avatar Amazing!
What can I say about the Autarch…. Some people love them but I’m not a huge fan. His primary role is going to be using him for that extra strategy rating and +1 roll on reserves. If you’re going with some deep striking warp spiders or swooping hawks then taking one of these guys is usually a must. Especially if you’re doing the whole bombing hawk strategy, you can’t afford to miss a turn with your swooping hawks if possible. If your making a jet bike army then one of guys with a laser lance is usually what people like to take but I don’t deal with jet bike armies that much.
As far as equipment goes you have some options but I wish that games-workshop gave us more. Don’t be fooled, he’s not a close combat monster. Even though you can give him a power weapon, he has no way to augment that oh-so-sad strength of 3. On the charge he will be lucky to kill 2 marines….. not too impressive. What I would like to do is give him the swooping hawk wings, a power weapon just in case and either a fusion gun or a reaper launcher depending on what I think I’ll be facing. Don’t be fooled, shooting is not their primary role, they cost more than a whole squad or fire dragons or dark reapers. They make their points back with their master strategist special rule, just give them something so they’re not completely useless otherwise.
Only give them a warp spider jump pack if you’re actually going to position them in a warp spider unit. Otherwise if you use their ability in the assault phase and roll a double, your Autarch is gone. They are a good way to make the warp spiders a great close combat unit though. Something to think about.
Boottom line: An acquired taste. Very situational but they are a key part of some armies. Easy to use incorrectly.
I saved the best for last. The Farseer is probably the most common HQ choice, and for good reason, they are bloody amazing. Their psychic powers are next to none. The main reason for their psychic dominance is the fact that most of the psychic abilities they use are pretty much always useful. I’ll go in order from my favorite to least favorite:
Doom: Pick an enemy unit within 24’’, re-roll all failed rolls to wound against that unit until the start of the Eldar players next turn. Pretty damn amazing. The 2 things I like about the spell are the unusually long range for an Eldar psychic power and the ability to augment the damage potential of multiple Eldar units at the same time. Probably the most effective way to use this power is against a unit that is about to be charged by some howling banshees, their low strength is their main fault but if you get this off they will massacre just about anything. Also good against high toughness monsters, if you require 6’s to wound then Doom comes very close doubling your damage output. And it doesn’t require line of sight.
Guide: Is my second favorite power. In my opinion the best equipment for a Farseer is a signing spear, spirit stones, guide and doom (And runes of warding sometimes). Guide lets an Eldar unit within 6’’ re-roll misses. Pretty nice but the Farseer has to be right there, which is the spells main drawback. If you take this make sure you place your Farseer carefully. One thing to remember is that the lower the chance to hit the unit has, the more effective guide is. If you’re hitting on a 4+ guide gives you a 50% damage increase. If you’re hitting on a 3+ guide gives you a 33% damage increase and if you hit on a 2+ guide only gives you a 16% damage increase. If you’re playing with a battle line (It happens sometimes) try and put him there. The ultimate guide success is when you get it off on a scatter walker squad, giving you 24 S6 shots with the ability to re-roll misses. On average that will net you 5 dead Space Marines in that one unit’s shooting (Or 15 Orcs). Getting guide and doom off together is also one of the greatest feelings an Eldar player can have
Fortune: One unit within 6’’ can re-roll “Any” saves until the start of your next turn. Pretty nice, but again your Farseer has to be right there to cast it. Of course this is a great ability (Most expensive one too) but I’m not as for it as I am with guide and doom. The big drawback of it is that it doesn’t help against rending. It works great on the HQ choices with the ability to re-roll their 4+ invulnerable save (Keeps that Avatar up a lot longer), and really all you need to do is save the **** of 1 wraith guard or dark reaper and you make your points back, but you probably won’t have him close enough to help your close combat squads and you other rank and file units will probably have their armor penetrated with an AP5 or AP4 weapon barrage. A good ability and many will swear by it, but for me I will almost always prefer to cast guide and doom. One way to get creative and scary is to have a large unit of wraith guard with a conceal warlock and guide/fortune Farseer just plow up the middle. T6, re-rollable 3+ armor and 5+ invulnerable is nasty, it will take about 81 bolter shots just to kill one wraithguard! Just to put that into perspective, 10 marines firing at long range would require more than 8 turns just to kill one wraith guard. I just can’t express enough how impressed I am with that stat. Something for you to think about.
Eldritch Storm: Imperial guard killer, plain and simple. S3, no AP, large blast and pinning pretty much screams “Take me against the Guard!”, oh and it spins vehicles around causing some damage. As if the spell wasn’t anti-guard enough. So yeah, it’s a guard killer. Have I said that yet? Also decent against Tyranid guants and Orcs because of their condensed formations and low LD. Usually it’s too situational for me to take but it’s still not a bad power by any means.
Mind War: In my opinion it’s usually only worth it in low point games where every single model counts. Other than that it’s too situational compared to the pure awesomeness that is Doom/Guide/Fortune. Terrible against Tyranids since the good targets all have LD10, nothing worth targeting in Guard armies, but it has its uses against Orc bosses. Personally I don’t see this as being worth taking when compared to how good the other powers are.
Wow! There you have it, the Farseer psychic powers. Bloody amazing is what they are! At first glance they might not seem amazing, but with everything Eldar, their true greatness shines once you start digging.
As far as equipment goes most people like to tool their Farseer up, and so do I. I think spirit stones are a must to really get your full money’s worth. Runes of witnessing usually aren’t for me since you can get a double 1 easier and you only have a 1 in 12 chance of failing a psyche test anyway. I absolutely love runes of warding though, they effectively shut down enemy psychers making them role 3D6 leadership tests and suffering perils of the warp on anything more than 12. A good way to try and cause some extra wounds on those pesky librarians and their darn psychic hoods. At 3 points a singing spear is a must. Losing an attack in hand to hand isn’t that big of a loss since their attacks didn’t ignore armor saves but it’s the S9 against vehicles that makes it great. You hit on a 2+ and can even penetrate a land raider on a 6 or glance it on a 5! Never leave home without one. Jet bikes are a personal choice, if you like mobility by all means throw him on one, you can get guide and fortune off on more select targets. For me, the ground has always been fine.
Bottom line: In my opinion, one of the best HQ choices in the game. Even if you take one of the other choices, try to include one of these bad boys as well.
Warlocks individually can be quite impressive. But a whole squad of them will struggle to make up their points. Unfortunately they can only take one power. My personal favorite is conceal, a 5+ cover save is perfect for protecting your precious wraith guard against rending or heavy AP weapons. Unfortunately they can only join wraith guard or guardian squads and I usually don’t put that kind of point value with the guardians. Always put one with your wraith guard and chose conceal if their slugging it out on foot or facing rending attacks, but I kind of like enhance for wave serpent drops because WS5 and I5 means striking first and on 3+ against A LOT! Of key targets (as opposed to striking simultaneously and on 4+). Embolden seems kind of a waste to me but it’s ok from keeping you guardians in position, too many other good choices though, and destructor is basically a heavy flamer… yay
I haven’t found many good ways to run a 3-10 man warlock squad. However, a group of warlocks all with jet bikes and signing spears is surprisingly effective at tank hunting. Expensive, but effective. Warlock squads are probably most effective against orcs. Give one enhance and maybe a destructor lock or 2 and they can chop up basic orcs with the greatest of ease. They hit on a 3+, wound on a 2+ and the lack of armor penetration isn’t that big of a deal against the low save of orcs. Add a Farseer into the mix and that’s a pretty nice unit against lightly armored and high toughness foes. The only thing is that they cost so many points that you can usually conjure up something more effective for cheaper. Against standard orcs 10 warlocks (No singing spears), with enhance and a successful fortune buff will kill 14 on the charge and have a 4+ re-roll able invulnerable save. Very nice but without any other powers that unit will run you more than 400 points (Well over 500 if you want them in a wave serpent). You can get a lot of striking scorpions or scatter walkers for those kind of points. 9 Scatter walkers can kill 30 orcs a turn in shooting. Don’t get carried away and think they will be great against the Tyranid’s high toughness either, all the choice targets have high armor saves and the little ones will just overwhelm that unit with numbers.
Bottom Line: Nice, but incredibly expensive. Don’t get carried away, buy them with some restraint.