I have a point to make, and not everyone is going to like it.
I've been reading a fair amount online about Eldar. It's what I do (sometimes, anyhow). Eldar in tournaments, the Eldar codex, Eldar and powergaming, etc. There is this topic that keeps coming up over and over about how Eldar are overpowered when playing against Space Marines. I posted this not long ago on Warseer because I got to sort of a breaking point from hearing it over and over. Citing things like Seer Councils and Starcannons as the main (and sometimes only) factor that gives Eldar an edge, I finally needed to say something, and this was what I said:
As an experienced Eldar player, I pay attention to what gets said about Eldar in online forums. I consistently hear about Eldar wiping up the table with Space Marines. I know full well that there are those who take boxloads of Aspects, souped-up Falcons, too many Wraithlords, huge Seer Councils and more Black Guardians than they should. I'm not a fan of powergaming, but my point is about something else, and it's this:
I rarely lose to Space Marines and I play against them almost all the time. Why is this? If I had to attribute it to one thing, it'd be because Space Marine players, by and large, don't tend to do two important things: Play defensively and learn about other peoples' armies. Overall, I find that Space Marine players are often somewhat new to the game (though not all; I've played very seasoned SMs as well), don't know what other armies are capable of and don't bother to research anything. I also think that a lot of them get used to their armor save being better than any cover that's offered around them and that most armies would be lucky to muster basic troops that can match their abilities in a firefight or hand to hand, muchless exceed them. Even these two facts don't lead me to believe that Space Marine players are the architects of their own demise as much as the plain, old-fashioned hubris I see on their faces when the deployment starts. Look, I'm not Miss Cleo, but I know when my enemy is thinking that he's going to have a cakewalk with my Eldar. I pay attention to how he likes to banter about which units are going to be the ones to give him trouble, and he's often wrong. Most of all, I can clearly see shock on another person's face when an entire squad is vaporized because they walked in front of two full squads of Dark Reapers, or stood still while Howling Banshees fleet-of-footed up the table to them.
This isn't meant as a slam, and I sure do respect a lot of the SM players out there. All I'm doing is pointing out what I see and I don't mean to pass judgement. That having been said, I field a fairly if not *very* balanced, fair list (one Starcannon per 500 points, for instance, except in unusual situations) and I always make sure that I'm not min/maxing, that I'm taking at least two units of Guardians (regardless of the list) and that I'm not being a little bitch about pushing the rules at the cost of an enjoyable game. Even so, I still think of Space Marines as an easy win, and I'm rarely wrong about that. I believe that many get used to using their stat line instead of tactics and that when faced with the kind of challenges which Eldar, Orks, Dark Eldar, Tau, Nids, etc. have to face (such as ubiquitous weaponry that takes your armor save away, for instance) they don't have enough experience in reacting tactically to adapt to the situation.
So when a Marine player says to me that I'm fielding a cheesy list because his troops are little more than smoking holes in the ground by turn four, I have to shake my head and bite my tongue. Try grabbing some cover... try flanking... try drawing someone out with a sacrificed unit... try getting behind my tanks to shoot them... try hiding more than 50% of your units so I have to go to you... try focusing your fire... stop focusing on the throw-away units and try killing the Farseer so that I can no longer Fortune or Guide anyone... plant some land mines with your Whirlwind instead of trying to guess-range blast my Wave Serpents... and the most important suggestion of all: Try learning a little ahead of time about what the Eldar can do so that I don't have to listen to "I didn't know your bikes could move in the assault phase" or "I didn't know you could re-roll your failed saves" or "I didn't know your Banshees could strike first", etc. etc. I try to tell opponents up front what I think they may not know but, you know what? It's not my responsibility to read my entire codex to you before we play, or at the beginning of every turn say something like "Don't forget that I can fleet of foot so it's possible I CAN assault those troops this turn". That's not fun for me. I don't want to have to do my opponent's work for him; I have my own to do.
I love this game. I love the armies. I even love Space Marines (despite what it sounds like), because they're a really interesting and - if you put the effort in - dynamic army. I'm not even peeved that Marine players don't think tactically or learn what their opponents can do before the game. What I don't like is for the other player to waltz in, call me a panzy a few times, make some weak smack talk about how I'm going down, and then call me beardy when I get a few lucky rolls or he totally sucks wind with his tactics.
I'm running out of patience with people who blame their losses on Starcannons and Seer Councils. Me? I earned my wins because I'm taken the time to learn how to become a good player. No wargear or weapon can do that for you.