The New Eldar Codex?

I'm hearing some possibly-credible rumors about a new Eldar codex in the works. Surely, this is far from a confirmation, but I'm getting the sense it could come to pass. I could analyze the rumors, but that's a discussion for another time.

The thing I'm not looking forward to is this: The Eldar codex comes out, some of the rules are insanely unbalanced, and then people say to me "See? Now you have a codex that's just as powerful as those other books. Everything's fine."

The thing is... my concerns about balance pertain to the entire game. Another codex that's full of busted, stupid rules isn't going to be make that any better, even if it's my army's codex.


Warlock brain dump

The first part of getting my 19 Warlocks up to speed is cleaning the crap off of them and getting them to a "neutral" starting place. Previous owners have used the strangest paint, glue and epoxy... made the strangest choices about what to clip and shave off the model... broken the models in the most inexplicable ways. Once I got all that dealt with, rebasing them. Then hand-priming them all black. Then blocking out the Wraithbone parts with Deneb Stone. Then Bleached Bone. Then the wash over the bone. That's about where I am right now. Still to come: Shading on the robes, glyphs and runes, fancy looking base, and gems. That should do the trick.

Pics soon I think. Maybe.


How to destroy an Eldar Falcon

(This is a continuation of the project log I started here)

After taking a long, hard look at this Falcon, I realized that my painting/modeling game was way under par. I pride myself on a being a guy who takes some chances and works without the safety of a net... but the guts that went into creating that thing makes me look like a scared kitten. I decided not so much that I would copy what he did (because, honestly... like I could do that) but, instead, that I would show some courage and break some trends. The point wasn't so much to end up with beautiful, innovative models. The point was more to develop the guts necessary to make them. Fine distinction.

I approached this idea thinking that the Eldar vehicles look far, far too human. With their panels and air intakes and exhaust pipes and canopies, I couldn't help but think the basic Eldar Falcon could be rolling off the production line of the U.S. Air Force in 25 years. This is not a criticism, as I happen to think that Jes Godwin's ubiquitous Falcon is the most beautiful tank in the entire game. I simply want to stretch and try new things. I want to make my tanks look more eldritch. It occurred to me that, unlike humans, Eldar do not always need to see where they're going. Due to powerful psychic vision or the astral perception of Wraith constructs, the canopies with pilots therein seemed like they weren't always necessary. Add to this the BFG rules for Ghost Ships which are piloted by the souls of dead Eldar warriors and I got my vision in mind.

I decided to section off part of the hull in a long stripe (a stripe that has, like it or not, become somewhat common in my work) and remove all the details, thus making it a smooth, featureless expanse wedged between two standard sections of detail-laden Falcon. With the Forgeworld Mk II Falcon expansion installed, I did exactly this by filling the cracks with Brown Stuff and filing/sanding it down. This isn't a project that would work well with GW's Green Stuff; the Brown Stuff dries harder and responds better to sanding, especially fine grit.

The yellow needs evening out. There's always more to sand, more to file, more to repaint. Getting a simple, even yellow surface is much, much harder than you probably imagine. It's harder than I imagined at least.

This picture represents where I'm at with it now. As you can see, it's nowhere near done. Will I fill the yellow area with runes or art? Will I leave it blank? Will this be my Sistine Chapel? Or will this be my Hindenburg? I guess we'll find out.


Warlocks without powers...

There are few things that strike me as more blasphemous than Warlocks without powers of one kind or another.

But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. My current list is desperately starved for points. There's no fat to trim away. No one thing that doesn't remove an absolutely essential component.

Or so I thought.

I'm going to start taking some of the powers away. Enhance and Embolden are essential, yes... and a few Destructors are good to keep on hand. But... do all the other Warlocks need to be loaded up?

Maybe not. Maybe not.


Eldar versus Tau

So yesterday I took the exact same list I used against Dennis last Friday and put it to work against Jason's Tau. I'm going to be completely honest: I expected to really pound him out, and I did. There were surprises along the way and it was a closer game than I thought it would be, but the end result was the same.

As I did the last time, I rocketed four Wave Serpents into Jason's deployment zone, bit down on a belt to withstand a turn of shooting, and then let the clown party loose. Constant point: If you have two large Seer Councils running wild in your deployment zone, you're going to lose a lot of stuff fast. Broadside team and Crisis Suits were gone completely by the end of turn 2 (when my War Walkers came in, by the way).

Jason's vehicles presented me with a challenge that was a little tougher than what Dennis offered me. What I didn't expect was the Flechette Dischargers, which cause hits on the assaulting unit before my hits are resolved. My first three casualties (all Warlocks) were from this. Jason's also been running a Kroot-less list with O'Shovah and he strikes with considerable precision, so I lost a transport, a squad of Storm Guardians and almost all of one Seer Council. Personally, I thought O'Shovah wasn't as interesting or effective as Kroot would have been. I fear those far more.

The game ended on turn 5 (so it was a short game because we both deployed nothing on turn 1, so our turn 2 was really our turn 2), and in the end I'd blown up some vehicles, killed his scoring units and picked off several other units along the way.

Eldar players, take heed: This is the first time I wished I'd used at least a couple of Singing Spears. On at least two occasions I was close enough to a Devilfish or Hammerhead to pop it from close up, but just couldn't catch up to it in close combat. That's the only change I would have made, list-wise, but I also played through a few dumb mistakes: I have to start thinking about what I'm supposed to do after after the transports dump out and all hell breaks loose. As it was, I didn't do a lot of thinking ahead in this game and found myself dispersed and a little unfocused as the game drew to a close. Jason's a smart player, so he knew when to turn his vehicles to keep the front arc facing enemies, throw intervening models between assaulters and their targets, and how to use cover against me. If I had played smarter, I would have kept the pressure on until the end instead of coasting on the successes from early in the game.

In retrospect, there's no arguing that this is the most powerful list I've used in 4th or 5th ed. Whatever it is you have in your deployment zone as you start the game, this list has the means to a) Get to it quickly, b) Destroy it easily. The only thing that can stop me from delivering my biggest fist to the enemy's face in turn 2 is if the dice rolls are bizarrely against me. To really refine this list, I need to start playing against armies with more unusual first-turn deployment, such as masses of Imperial Guard or Drop-Podding Marines. I think that either spreading targets out or massing so many targets that I can scarcely hit them all will be my foil.

Naturally, there are always going to be those macho men who boast "That list isn't bad. All I have do is x, y, z and I'll crush it", but I think that so long as the dice remain statistically average and I don't switch off my brain after turn 2, these Eldar will be hard to subdue.


Der Vårlöcken

My latest approach to the Eldar list involves two Seer Councils. The popular choice these days is to put them on jetbikes, as this increases their toughness, their mobility and their saving throw. I've decided, instead, to put them into Wave Serpents. This is for five reasons:
1. With Star Engines, their first turn mobility is better than bikes.
2. Individual Warlocks are protected by the Wave Serpent if Ordinance or other stupid things should fly at them.
3. The point cost is much lower.
4. I don't have to buy $300 of Jetbikes and convert them and find place for them in my transport.
5. More heavy weapons on the table, as well as vehicles that can contest objectives.

Now, even with Wave Serpents, the point cost of a solid Seer Council is very high. Farseer and 7 Warlocks comes to about 330, and the transport (as I run it) is another 135... for a grand total of 465. That is not a cheap unit. And I like taking two in my lists, so...

I've been scrambling to collect Warlocks so I can try this stuff out. So far I have 15 and will get three more tomorrow. That should hold me.

Rumors of my death

I've decided I'm going to finish my Eldar army this year. I'm hoping we're not talking about a whole year, but that's sort of the timeframe it may require. See, when I got most of this army it was right around the time when the new Eldar stuff was released, and it was a massive pile: The contents of the huge release box plus a bunch of other things I threw in. And there it was: A gigantic pile of unpainted stupid. Intimidating. I think this is why it's taken so long for me: A lot of painting doesn't really put much of a visible dent in the whole.

There's also the fact that, to be blunt, I've had way too much other stuff to do to worry about whether or not I've done the line highlighting on my War Walkers.

What's nice is that I have several cool projects which are only partly done:
- A crazy Falcon conversion that uses the Forgeworld Falcon II extensions
- A Forgeworld Cobra that needs some finishing touches
- Two Jetbike conversions (Autarch and Farseer)
- An ambitious Fire Prism conversion
- The Reaperhawk
- Scores and scores of basic infantry

Finishing them is easier than it might sound, as most of this stuff is started and put on hold.

Gaming will also happen, but that's for another post.


New Tyranid Codex vs My New Eldar

(This is clipped from the Game Summit Forums)

Tonight I played my first game against the new Tyranids with Matt Varnish (aka Dennis Campbell). This was my return to 40k after playing for what's at least six months and maybe longer, and my first run-in with 5th ed Tyranids. I'm also trying out a new Eldar list, which is as follows:

The List
• (2x) Farseer (w/Fortune)
7 Warlocks (5 w/Destructor, 1 w/Enhance, 1 w/Embolden)
Wave Serpent (w/Eldar Missile Launchers, Star Engines)
• (2x) 10 Storm Guardians (w/Flamer x2)
Warlock (w/Enhance)
Wave Serpent (w/Eldar Missile Launchers, Star Engines)
• (2x) 3 War Walkers (w/Scatter Lasers)
Points: 1750

What happened: I shoved four Wave Serpents right into the Tyranid deployment zone on turn one. With the Walkers in reserve, the army was mostly Witchblades and Flamers. I wanted them to get to work as quickly as I could. What ensued was a very tangled mess on MV's side of the table where Eldar were hacking and slashing their way through handfuls of Nids every turn, but the Nids (particularly the monstrous creatures) were really hitting very hard. As MV will corroborate, it looked as if there was absolutely no hope in hell for an Eldar win by the end of turn 2: It was a slow grind against the masses of Guants (with more being pooped out by his MCs), Wave Serpents were getting wrecked, War Walkers being eaten by Genestealers and the first Seer Council to touch down was mostly torn up. As three squads of Genestealers were outflanking as my army was gradually being expended, I really thought that was it.

The two things that really turned the tide were my second War Walker squad arriving and the second Seer Council killing the Tervagon. This created a ripple effect that caused an epic 34 wounds on the surrounding Gaunt squads, pretty much clearing them out. To the flank, the War Walkers were unleashing hell and, combined with one lucky Wave Serpent, managed to clear the flank either with massed fire or by tank-shocking units off the table. Make no mistake: This was pure luck, but luck is part of how the game flows.

There was some wrestling for the victory after that, but the struggle was much easier for me than it had been for the previous four turns or so. I really do believe that I broke the Tyranids' back with the execution of the Tervagon and the ridiculously lucky breaking of two Genestealer squads.

Against the current generation of 5th-ed books, the Warlock-heavy Eldar army is the only build I consider to be reasonably viable if your luck is average. I chose not to put the Warlocks on Jetbikes and, after this game, I stand by that decision. Getting Flamers and Witchblades deep into the fray by turn 2 requires Star Engines and Wave Serpents. I also stand by the Storm Guardians: Their respectable CC skills and Flamers managed to keep a crazy number of Gaunts under control. Also, anyone who tells you that War Walkers aren't that great has no idea what they're talking about; not only did they perform brilliantly in this game, but they are consistently brilliant in every game. I've never regretted taking them.

I would have made sure to find the points for Runes of Warding somehow. With the Tyranid psychic powers being as formidable as they are, I could have really put a much-needed speed bump in their way. I will also be considering ways to somehow increase the scoring units; I'm not sure how yet, as there's no fat in this list to trim off, but I felt the pressure in the last two turns. I may experiment with Destructor on the Warlocks who accompany the Guardians instead of Enhance, as there were several times when having one more Flamer would have helped a lot. On the other hand, Enhance also gave them that WS4 edge which helped put a lot of Gaunts in their place, so I'm undecided about which would be better. I would also like to say that Embolden is very valuable, as the Shadows of the Warp did harass my Farseers and re-rolling my failed tests came very much in handy.

Bottom Line
It was a fair but lucky win for me. While Lady Luck took a steaming dump on some of my rolls for the first half of the game, she decided to share the pain with Dennis for the second half. I wouldn't count on this game unfolding the same way a second time.

For me, the Warlock-heavy army is really my ticket to survival in 5th ed, but I'm still very tentative because of the insane point cost of the two 7-Warlock units (Seer Council + Transport crests about 450 points). But, because there's no fat in the list, it's hard to find a place to trim something out... and, with this particular army, if you try to shave anything off any of the units you may as well just remove it and start new.

This is pretty close to an army that I can fall in love with again. Ever since my experiments with Ulthwe Strike Force and Iyanden in 3rd ed, I haven't found a concept that really grabbed me. This Warlock-licious list might just get me back into playing more often, as it gives me some confidence against the current generation of codices without being insanely overpowered.

I think a video battle report is coming soon, and MV can probably points you in the direction for that.