1. The Eldar Guide is designed to help new and less experienced Eldar players.
2. It is written with casual, regular, friendly, or any other similar term which you prefer, play in mind. It is not a tournament, 'top tier', power gaming, or win at all costs, style of guide. If you want that kind of tactical discussion, please look elsewhere.
Eldar Fifth Edition Guide
The Avatar is a very good choice for Eldar commanders who wish to play an infantry based Eldar force. A powerful leader in an assault, the Avatar is at his best when he leads a significant number of Guardians, supported by Dire Avengers and Striking Scorpions, into battle. His ability to inspire those around him is particularly useful for the Guardians, since it compensates for their lower leadership, while the other infantry, such as Striking Scorpions can support the Avatar by launching assaults with him, so that he does not become bogged down in close combat. The Striking Scorpions and Dire Avengers also serve to keep the Guardians out of close combat, which is very important when you consider the impact of the no retreat rule if they are assaulted within the Avatar's fearless bubble.
While there are a number of benefits to being within close proximity to the Avatar, you need to be careful with placing too many units too close together to benefit from that fearless bubble if you are playing against an army which has a lot of blast, barrage or ordnance weapons.
The Avatar can also be useful for spearheading infantry blocks in mixed lists, particularly those which are going to be using the hammer and anvil strategy, as the additional staying power which he adds to the infantry block makes it more difficult for an opponent to punch through it.
The Avatar is a tough unit for the opposition to destroy, especially when protected by Fortune, and even if opponents decide to concentrate their fire against him, it will most likely spare your other infantry from taking as many casualties. You can use his ability to be a fire magnet to your advantage, by using him to launch a distraction assaults, while you go for the jugular using another unit, or combination of units. Fortune is even more beneficial once the Avatar is in an assault, as it is difficult for many regular units to hit and wound him as it is, so the few wounds which are inflicted are even more likely to be shrugged off if the Avatar is under the protection of this psychic power.
Given all these positive comments, are there any reasons not take him? The answer to this question is yes. The first thing to consider is that, he costs more than the Farseer and Autarch, so he is not really suitable for smaller battles. Next, he is not very good at working with mechanised Eldar armies, since there is no infantry block for him to work with, and he lacks the speed to keep up with Eldar vehicles. He may be tough, but leaving him unsupported is a bad idea, as the opposition will be able to concentrate all their fire on him as he advances without having to worry about other infantry around him reaching their lines intact, or he could just be ignored (due to his slow speed) in favour of other units.
One final note is that the Avatar does have the equivalent of a Fusion Gun, so he does have a ranged option which many players, myself included on occasion, do tend to forget about.
In conclusion he is a very good commander, but if you’re going to take him, make sure that he fits your army composition, and you have sufficient points to build your army around him.
Easily the best Eldar commander if you want to augment your own troops, the Farseer offers the most options to an Eldar army. (S)he excels at making other Eldar units more effective, and you can build an effective strategy, and set of tactics, around the Farseer’s powers. Here is a brief run through of how to get the best out of each power:
Doom: The most useful of the powers in my view. If there is a particular unit that you want to destroy in one turn, then have your Farseer cast Doom on it, and then shoot it with as many units as you can, and/or assault it with a dedicated close assault unit. It is a very good power, since multiple Eldar units can benefit from it. Units which particularly benefit from Doom are Dire Avengers and Guardians (re-rolling failed Flamer and Avenger and Shuriken Catapults wounds is very handy), and Howling Banshees whose Power Weapons lack strength against the MEQs they specialise in killing if you're looking to wipe out a relatively large squad in one player turn.
The fact that multiple Eldar units can benefit from it means that it is also a good choice for small battles, where you can normally only afford one psychic power. You want as many of your squads to be more effective as possible.
Fortune: Again, another very useful power, although you sometimes have to make a tough choice as to which unit gets the benefit of this power each turn. With the improvements to cover saves in fifth edition, it is now even more effective when cast on an Eldar unit in cover. It is a solid choice for Farseers in Wraith heavy armies, as it enhances the durability of those scoring units of Wraithguard. Fortune is also very powerful when used in combination with the Avatar, making it a very good choice Farseers which are part of Avatar led infantry blocks.
Guide: This power is a useful if you plan on using War Walkers in a fire support role, Support Weapons, and/or lots of Guardians. It really helps those units with an average warriors score more hits, which is important, given the effectiveness of cover saves in fifth edition, i.e. the more hits you get the more chances you have to wound, and the more chances your opponent has to fail his save. It can also be helpful for Aspect Warriors, but is less valuablel. Guide also works very well when cast on an Eldar unit that has LOS and range to a ‘Doomed’ enemy unit. If you really want to take out a pesky unit of MEQs, for example, try casting Guide on a fire support unit, such as War Walkers with Scatter Lasers to improve their accuracy, and then Doom the unit, and have a squad of Dire Avengers join in the fusilade. Such a combination is also a good way to clear out horde units. There are also other combinations which you can try.
Guide does not have as wide an application as Doom and Fortune, so is better suited to armies with larger fire bases in my view. More aggressive lists incorporating more Aspect Warriors than Guardians are less likely to find a Farseer with Guide to be all that helpful.
Eldritch Storm: The classic way to use Eldritch Storm is to spin tanks around, so that a less favourable part of their armour faces your guns. It can also be used to try to pin enemy units, but unless they have very poor leadership, the chances of this happening are not very high. Also counting against it is its range. It is not too bad if your Farseer is mounted on a Jetbike, but for a Farseer on foot, I just feel it brings him/her too close to the opposition. It is, therefore, a rather situational power in my view, and is generally only recommended if you have a particularly cunning plan.
Mind War: This power looks pretty good on paper, but the big problem is that there are so few squad leaders and Independent Characters that have a low enough leadership for it to work very often. You might be able to pick off the odd Ork Nob here and there, but it is unlikely to be consistently effective. Still, it can worry some opponents, and if you do manage to kill an expensive character by frying his brain with Mind War, it is very amusing. As with Eldritch Storm, it requires the Farseer to get uncomfortably close to the opposition on foot, so it is better utilised by a Jetbike mounted Farseer. As a shooting power, it also cannot be used while the Farseer is riding inside a Wave Serpent.
The last point concerns how many powers your Farseer should have. In smaller games (1000 points or fewer), you will most likely only have enough points for one. In larger games though, taking two is often advisable, especially if they work well together (e.g. Guide and Doom). While some Eldar players favour taking three powers in larger games, I do not believe that this is a wise use of points, since in my experience, you will never get the change to use the third power often enough for it to justify the expense.
The Farseer also has access to various pieces of equipment:
Singing Spear: A useful upgrade, especially if you are planning on assaulting, or shooting at, a tank at any stage with your Farseer, although I think that this is something of a secondary consideration for a Farseer. The disadvantage to the Spear is that you cannot use it with a Pistol to gain an extra attack in assaults. Given that the Farseer should not be assaulting most infantry, this should not be a problem, but if you are planning on running your Farseer with a Warlock Bodyguard and using them as a pseudo Seer Council to assault enemy units, this is something that you may want to bear in mind.
Runes of Warding: Very important if you are going up against an opposing force which has powerful psychic abilities, such as Grey Knights, Space Marine armies of various types, and Chaos Space Marines.
Runes of Witnessing: Not that great in my view. They actually increase your chances of suffering a Perils of the Warp Attack, and given that the Farseer has such a high leadership, I find that they rarely come into play. If you regularly face other Eldar or Tyranids they can be useful, but otherwise, I recommend spending your points elsewhere.
Spirit Stones: Do not leave your craftworld without these if your Farseer has two powers.
Jetbike: A good option if you are fielding an fully mechanised Jetbike themed force. The Jetbike gets the Farseer to where (s)he needs to be much more quickly. The downside is that unless you put your Farseer in a unit of Jetbikes, the lifting of targeting restrictions on Independent Characters for fifth edition means that (s)he will be a magnet for heavy weapons. If you have not got the points to get a unit for your Farseer to accompany, this will not be a good choice under the new rules.
Another problem is that you cannot cast psychic power if you are going to turbo boost in the same turn. This can limit the use of your Farseer tactically, and may be something which you wish to consider when thinking about giving him/her this piece of equipment.
The Farseer is a suitable commander for all Eldar armies, due to his/her ability to effectively augment just about any Eldar unit in the list, with the choice of powers determining exactly how best to use the Farseer in any given list.
As they are unit upgrades, I will discuss Warlocks in more detail with the units in which they can be fielded, however, I will comment on their powers here.
Conceal: Most cover confers a better save, so unless you are fielding Wraithguard, it is better to stay in cover, and equip the Warlock leading the unit in question with a different power. This power is, therefore, only really needed if you are playing a battle a board which lacks terrain, which should not be a common occurrence.
Destructor: A very useful power for taking out large squads of poorly armoured infantry. When combined with the dual Flamer Storm Guardian squad, it excels in this role, and this combination is also very good against a wide variety of infantry units. The only issue with this power is its lack of range, so to get the most out of it, and the Warlock and his/her unit need to be mounted in a transport, or the Warlock needs to be attached to a unit of Jetbikes.
Embolden: Very handy for Guardian units, since they are liable to failing a morale test at some point or other. It also benefits a Farseer who joins a unit led by a Warlock with this power. I recommend this power very highly.
Enhance: It can be of some benefit when given to a Warlock or Spiritseer leading Wraithguard, but beware of giving this to Storm Guardians. While this looks attractive in paper, their lack of grenades and durability means that it tends not to be a good idea to send them into close combat (see the Storm Guardian entry for a more detailed discussion).
You can also field a unit of Warlocks. Those of you familiar with the third edition Codex Craftworld Eldar may refer to this as the Seer Council, but this unit is an Ulthwé only squad. Any craftworld, however, can field a squad of Warlocks, so it is worth discussing how effective they are.
Warlocks are the most durable Eldar assault squad, and once you factor in the impact of their powers, the unit can look rather fearsome on paper. Imagine, for example, a unit of around eight Warlocks armed with an assortment of Witchblades and Singing Spears, with two or three Destructors, Embolden, and Enhance, for powers. Attach a Farseer with Fortune to the unit, and it starts to look even better, particularly in terms of increasing the unit's existing strength, durability.
The unit does, however, have two significant disadvantages. The first is that it lacks killing power against MEQs. Warlocks do not have many attacks, and none of their weapons, despite wounding with ease, can bypass MEQ armour, so they can struggle to take down larger MEQ units, unless they soften them up first with multiple Destructor hits. The second is that this unit is horribly expensive, and if you try to cut down on its unit size, it becomes vulnerable in combat, particularly when outnumbered.
On foot, it is likely to be a bullet magnet, so mounting it in a Wave Serpent, and fielding it as part of a mixed or mechanised army is advisable, although the cost of the transport will make the unit seem even more expensive. The alternative, especially if you are fielding a Jetbike themed army, is to mount the unit on Jetbikes. This gives it some very useful mobility, which is very useful for striking tanks by throwing Singing Spears at weaker side or rear armour, and for hit and run style strikes with Destructor against infantry squads. Beware attaching a Farseer to this unit though, as you cannot turbo boost if you want to cast psychic powers with your Farseer, so the Fortune plus turbo boost tactic is not legal, unless your Farseer is not part of the Warlock squad. The main problem with this unit is again cost, as those Jetbikes do not come cheap.
There is also the MSU option. This involves fielding a minimum sized unit, and giving them all Destructors and Singing Spears. This squad works well with unorthodox infantry armies, whereby it uses the Singing Spears for anti-tank fire support, and Destructors to burn through infantry. It is not meant for fighting in assaults, so has to be protected and well supported. It is also very difficult to use well, so is more a choice for veterans who like putting together strange army lists, and seeing how well they can get them to work, but if you want to try something different, by all means feel free to give this type of unit a go.
The Autarch is an attractive choice for fully mechanised Eldar armies if you want to have the option of employing the reserves strategy. This is because it is vital to have greater reliability over your reserve rolls, in order to time your plan of attack perfectly, and strike your opponent's army not only at the right time, but also in the right place. All infantry lists with outflanking and deep striking units also benefit from being led by an Autarch, since his presence gives you greater control over when those vital reserves will arrive to disrupt your opponent's attack, as well as much needed unpredictability in terms of where your attack will be directed.
The Autarch has a wide variety of equipment options, making him suitable for just about any list, although the more equipment you give him, the more his points cost starts to shoot up, so you need to be careful not to make him too expensive. It is also worth noting that mixed lists and infantry lists which do not include deep striking and outflanking elements do not really make much use of the reserves rule, so he is of less value to these armies in terms of his special abilities.
The Autarch does not really augment the performance of Eldar units. While he does improve the shooting and/or close assault ability of the Aspect Warrior unit to which he is attached, and in turn will benefit from most Exarch powers, he has no ability to make it easier for other squads to hit or wound enemy units, for example. When you do not have enough points to afford a Farseer and an Autarch it is, therefore, important to weigh up just how useful the Autarch is going to be to the list as a whole relative to the Farseer, as it can sometimes be a difficult choice regarding which of these to take.
How to equip you Autarch will depend a great deal on which Aspect Warrior unit you want to attach him to. Fielding him as an Independent Character is not a good idea, as a competent player will just pick him off. Also, the Autarch won’t benefit from any Exarch abilities if he is not with an Aspect Warrior squad, so it makes sense to attach him to one.
Some common Autarch builds are as follows:
Warp Jump Generator, Fusion Gun, Power Weapon, and Mandiblasters.
This build is very effective if you want to join your Autarch to a unit of Warp Spiders. It gives him mobility, good short range shooting to match up with the Spiders, and allows the Spiders to be used as a hit and run assault unit, providing you have equipped their Exarch appropriately. The Fusion Gun also gives the Autarch the opportunity to split off from the Warp Spiders to blow up a key vehicle, and gives him the option of staying with the unit, deep striking behind vehicles, and adding to the mass Deathspinner fire being directed at their weak rear armour. The only possible fly in the ointment is the threat of rolling a double if you attempt a second Warp Jump, meaning that you need to keep the Autarch with the Warp Spiders at all times if you do not want to take the risk of his being consumed by the Warp.
Jetbike, Laser Lance, Mandiblasters, Fusion Gun or Reaper Launcher
This is a solid build if you have a unit of Shining Spears to attach the Autarch to. It gives you a useful hit and run unit which is capable to taking down small units of MEQs, and also tanks. Some players like to give the Reaper Launcher to the Autarch to give him more ranged firepower, but I feel this makes him too expensive. The main problem with this build is that it does not come cheap, and unless you get your Autarch into the thick of the action, you may feel you have wasted the points.
Power Weapon, Mandiblasters, Avenger Shuriken Catapult
On paper, this does not look very useful, but it is quite cheap. What is more, if you add your Autarch to a unit of Dire Avengers with an Exarch with Power Weapon, Shimmershield and Defend, you can create a useful unit for pinning and assault support (see the Dire Avenger entry for more details). Also, the Autarch can benefit from Bladestorm, which is not to be sneezed at when you consider his BS.
Look here for Dweomer's notes on these.