Dr. Oaklove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the D.

[Canada] Wow.  Quite the title eh? *slurps Tim Horton’s double-double* [/end Canada]

I wanted to post my own thoughts with respect to the rumoured changes to the Eldar in Codex Craftworlds.  It should be noted I have not reviewed the book as it hasn’t been released, or any such nonsense, this is simply a response to the rumours as posted throughout the whole goddamned internet.

So if you wanted to be surprised by the new book, read no further.  Consider this your due warning!

I also wanted to note that I’m not an Eldar player.  Nor am I particularly frightened in playing against the Eldar.  Nor am I a particularly competitive player, preferring to bring whatever the heck units I want, rather than the OP Netlist of the day.  I’d say most of the players I play with are of a similar mind when list-building, but we fight to the goddamn death in every game.  Win or lose, it’s never a bad time throwing dice.

Anyhoo, without further blundering I’ll get right to it…

It seems most of the gripes come from two points:

  1. Scatterbikes – you can outfit an entire unit (of up to 10 bikes) with 36″ S6 AP6 Heavy 4 shooting at 27 points per bike.  This is a lot of firepower for a troops choice.  It used to be that you could only equip a single bike with a heavy weapon like this, but clearly that’s been tossed out the window.
  2. D Weapons – It seems that the Distort Weaponry commonly found on the wraith constructs (Wraithguard and Wraithknights) are now officially Destroyer weapons, which is a significant improvement in their destructive capabilities.

For those uninitiated with 40k, D weapons are hugely powerful, and mostly have a negative stigma attached to them.  They have been toned down from previous editions, as now they only have a 1/6 chance of turning your all-powerful unit 90 degrees from reality and place it in a world of pure malice.  4/6 chance of doing some very significant damage (particularly to vehicles), and a 1/6 of doing absolutely NOTHING.  This is a dice game after all.


So the apparent changes allows the Eldar’s heavy-infantry access to these god-destroyers?  Naturally *everyone* that doesn’t play Eldar is in a tizzy, calling the new book filth, cheese, etc, without having read it, firstly, and without having picked up a single dice on the table top.

I’ll tell you what, I’m actually excited for this book.  It seems to me, they finally fixed the codex…

Before you have a stroke from apoplectic rage, you might ask “What needed fixing?”

Friggin’ Wave Serpents:

I never understood how the Eldar dedicated transport was more durable than a Land Raider, while being more shooty and mobile at half the points, while providing enough high-strength twin-linked dakka that it could double as an AA platform WHILE JINKING 3+.

This gives them more shooting power, versatility and more durability than their congruous chassis-mate the Falcon Grav-Tank, with a similar price tag.  However, you’re not limited to the 3 Heavy Support Slots for Falcons with Wave Serpents… No, you could take one for just about every goddamned troops choice in their army list.

In order to squeeze as many of these ‘transports’ into a list as possible, you also needed to purchase some troops to go along with them, but these troops rarely saw any practical use.  You could have a very effective army with 5 tanks and 25 Dire Avengers plus token support characters.  This made for a very bland battle.

In this battle I played against a gent who used *only* 3 serpents, in order to make room for a pair of Wraithknights.  He didn’t need to be that generous however, he could have loaded up with another 3 Serpents if he really wanted to….

In this new book, the Serpents have (reportedly) took the brunt end of the nerf bat.  Their shields no longer have the ridiculous 60″ range, that’s been reduced to 24″, so it’s more of a defensive weapon.  They’ve gone down from S7 to S6, making it slightly less viable as an AT choice.  They’ve also made it such that you can only use it once per game (albeit with 2D6 shots instead of D6+1).

To put the icing on the cake, the laser-lock on the scatter laser went flying out the window such that there isn’t a built-in Twin-Linking mechanism, and if Holofields work like they do in the Harlequin codex, they’re not jinking 3+ anymore, they come stock with 5++ invul or 4+ jink, a much more difficult choice if you want to maintain your shooting options…

If the above two paragraphs are lost on you, you need only know that the transport maintained much of its durability but lost almost all of its shooting.

I love it.  The transport is the transport again.  Serpent Spam is dead, unless it’s a by product of…

Aspect Warriors are Back, Baby: 

…providing fly rides for larger units of Aspect Warriors.

Banshees are potentially viable again.  They’re no longer roasted by overwatch, aren’t slowed by difficult terrain nor suffer the initiative penalty for assaulting through it.  They also have a Hormagaunt-ish +3″ to their assault move or when running.

Running a few units of these into the centre of a Tau Gun-line would be tear-inducing….

I remember being assaulted by Banshees when I played as marines back in 3rd Edition, when consolidating into combat was a thing.  I was tabled by turn 2, it was insane.

Striking Scorpions, also.  I can’t even tell you guys what they were before, I haven’t seen them since 3e as well.  Regardless, apparently they have 4+ cover in the open until they shoot or assault somebody, and can probably still wade through hordes of lightly armoured infantry like they used to, mandiblasters flaring.  Orkz and Nids, you have been served your notice.

These guys are *BEYOND* cool.

Holy crap, Swooping Hawks.  These guys can drop haywire weapons on fliers as they glide overhead.  Have an insane 18″ movement and a shooting attack that would make anyone cringe.

I’m not even mad if I get killed by these guys.

Warp Spiders can move once they’re shot at in their OPPONENT’S shooting phase.  I can’t begin to describe how helpful this would be for an already extremely mobile Eldar force.

Dark Reapers are now a pseudo AA unit, and are effectively twin-linked against those targets.  These are almost takeable in a back-field unit sense, to sit on that objective and pummel those down-range, MEQ or MC’s, doesn’t matter.

Consider for a moment that Serpents aren’t the kill-everything button they were before, you’ll see the focus shift from the transport, to the troopies that are INSIDE the transport (HALLELUJAH).

These guys all offered some very distinct flavour to an Eldar list, and I’m VERY pleased that they’ll be taking their rightful place on the table-top.  I get the distinct feeling that most Eldar players were just holding onto a hope that there would be reason to take Aspect Warriors again (an almost romantic appeal, if that makes any sense), and these changes are probably more than enough to sneak them back into service.

Great… Well, what about those Scatterbikes…?

270 points gets you 10 scatter lasers on 10 jetbikes.  An effective threat range of 48″ when considering 12″ movement.  Potentially 40 S6 AP 6 shots.

I gotta say, this isn’t really all that threatening anymore.  270 points kills 7.4 marines, statistically.  You would expect that 270 points of shooting would be able to do that.  You would also expect that many shots would also be able to kill AV12 relatively reliably, averaging 4.5 glancing hits per round of shooting.

Alright, fine, this would be a *very* good unit and should we really have expected otherwise, given that GW is hawking new models for them now?  At $49 CDN to field a full 10 you’d need to spend at least $170 taxes in…. but this is another story, I suppose…

The fact remains however that these guys would be a glass cannon.  This is not some secret “unsolveable unit”.

Make them jink by using AP2/3 weaponry (Basilisk, Battlecannon, Hot-shot Weaponry, Krak Missiles, whatever you have) and then laugh as the 270 point unit are no longer able to shoot the next turn…  They’re only Toughness 4, so if they’re stupid enough to get close to a gun-line they will melt to massed fire.

They’re also susceptible to reduction, if you get them down to 5 bikes for example they’ll only be throwing 20 dice at you the next turn, which is a much more manageable 3.7 marines per turn or 2.25 glancing hits per turn on AV12.

What would you rather see at the other side of the table…?  2 wave serpents as they were or 1 unit of 10 scatterbikes…?  I’d take the jetbikes every time.  Because flimsy.

And those D-weapons….?

This is what kind of confuses me the most and I’ll have to see it played out on the table top before I reach any strong conclusions.  I’m led to believe that in the tournament scene there are rules to limit D weapons or mitigate their monstrous power… but I can’t speak to that, as I rarely play with them.  It seems that this is likely to change in the near future, but again I’m not particularly frightened.

Wraithguard aren’t going to be found with as much regularity anymore because even with spiritseers they’re still going to be an elite’s choice.  And if you’re taking an Eld-curion you’re going to be hamstrung by points issues (~300+ points for a unit of 5 with Scythes hiding in a Serpent)… If you’re taking a Wraith-host that’d be about 1,300 points right there without considering the Wraithlord, seers, etc….

Functionally, there’s not much change for people playing against them.  They’re going to have to get right up in your grill in order to be effective, and that might not be possible in every game scenario…  Fortunately, the same things that knock out Wave Serpents at range also knock out Wraithguard so you won’t have to really change your lists too much (although I might pick up a second basilisk. oof.)

Another huge Meta-bomb on the game of Warhammer 40k…

Wraithknights making the jump from Jump Monstrous to Jump Gargantuan makes sense.  You look at these things, and they’re taller than a Super-Heavy Walker.  They’re far-and-away bigger than any other Monstrous creature.  If they’re not Gargantuan I don’t know what is.  So they get Stomp and immunity to Instant Death.  That’s a fair cop.  I think the rules suit the fluff in this case, and the Knight is deserving of a buff, particularly given the landscapes with iKnights prowling everywhere….  And their points went up!  Still makes sense!

I mean, seriously.  LOOK AT HIM.  HE’S HUGE.

I think we might see a shift in the common Wraithknight builds such that you’ll see more Glaives and shields now, because at Initiative 5, there’s not much that’s going to be striking before it in CC.  Stomping means that it’ll be tarpitted less than usual, so might as well help that along a bit.  A 5++ invul is better than a kick in the teeth, and gives some manner of resistance against the inevitable barrage of krak missiles.

On the other hand, WraithKnights are now a Lord of War choice.

So if you’re bringing a Wraithknight I wouldn’t feel so bad about bringing a Shadowsword or Stormsword (hah, jink a S10 AP1 ignores cover 10″ ordinance blast, you pointy head sonsabitches).

Dodge This.

In Summary…:

The flavours on the table-top are much improved with the death of serpent-spam, and you’ll probably see no two lists the same, as each player tailors for their own particular playing style.  Once again the focus will be on the brilliantly diverse troopies, rather than the (swoopy) boxes that carry them.

Eldar are still going to be a beast to play against, but this was always the case in previous editions.  Nothing has fundamentally changed with respect to the Wraithguard or Wraithknights.  If you let them in close, you were already going to have a bad day.  Now you’ll have a worse day.

Their plethora of special rules, flexible detachments and formations, powerful Aspect Warriors and Strength D weapons are going be extremely challenging to play against.

…but Game breaking…?  I really doubt it.  We’ll certainly find out once we start throwing some dice around…

So in the mean time, relax and enjoy the fireworks as the innernet self-immolates.