Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fighting Eldar: Some things I think I learned

My previous post was a battle report from the last game I played.  It was Chaos Space Marines with Guard allies at 2,000 points against Eldar.

I have played against Eldar many times over the years.  I have some knowledge of how they like to operate. With a new codex here one of the big questions on my mind and probably everyone else's is; How have the Eldar changed?  Can the old school players still play the Eldar like they like to?  Does the new codex invalidate older models in favor of new ones?  What in the devil does one do to fight the new Eldar?

Well I have some ideas.  I had some good comments from the battle report I listed and I thought I would write up a new post to address the questions and concerns from those comments.

A few things that stood out about the Eldar.

The majority of their heavy weapons still have only a 36" range. 

The first turn I got seized on.  I had deployed first with the idea that I would go first as well.  Well I went second.  Bad news right?  I am going to get blown off the board before I get a chance to do anything, right?
The Eldar haven't dropped in points enough to change their army composition dramatically from their previous codex to this new one.  Especially if they still take vehicles.  This limits their heavy long range fire power to about what it used to be in the old codex.  There are a few exceptions but there were some before as well like the fire prism.
What this means is you are looking at mainly one or two long range weapons per squad, in a 2,000 point list that means probably between 7 and 14 long range guns spread throughout the army.  The majority of these long range weapons will be 36" range.

So what does this mean?

If you are playing an Imperial army that means you can out shoot them at range.  The majority of Imperial long range heavy weapons are 48" range.
If you are playing Guard you can really overload the amount of heavy weapons you take.  Take lots of Autocannons and missile launchers and lascanons.  Heavy weapon squads are cheap.

The Eldar are deadly at 24" range or less.

In the previous game I took a 30 man Guard blob squad with a commissar and attached Primaris Psyker who had the Endurance Biomancy power.  It gave this unit feel no pain and with the commissar they had reliable leadership.  I counted on their numbers and their leadership and their feel no pain (which i successfully cast every turn) to keep them alive and be able to move into the open field.
Once I got in range, in one turn I was shot down to just 2 models.  It wasn't pretty and it was a bit surprising.  I didn't think that they would be able to do that but with their shuriken weapons now with essentially rending and the amount of shots they get, you just can't survive when you get close to them.

My other squad of 25 cultists with an attached chaos lord to make them fearless didn't do any better. In one turn a Guardian Squad and a Dire Avenger squad killed them all.
Guardians have gotten much better as have dire avenger because of their new Shuriken ammo.

So what does this mean?

It means blobs will disintegrate against Eldar fire power.  But only up close.  If you must take blobs keep them far away.  Maybe Nids can pump out enough gaunts that they don't care.  I am not sure though.

Vehicles are not the enemy in 6th like many tend to think.  Against Eldar you need to be protected from their anti-personnel firepower because of how much they have and how potent it is.  Staying in vehicles and shooting can be a solution to the Eldar especially if you use your longer ranged guns to site back and fire while staying in vehicles.  Make them come to you, do not go to them, you are walking into a trap.

Eldar are much more mobile and that does extend the range of their guns.

All of the basic Eldar infantry units have anew ability that allows them, in the shooting phase, to run then shoot or shoot then run which combined with fleet gives them the ability to extend the range of their shooting up to possibly 12".  This allows their infantry's basic weapons (shuriken weapons which are deadlier now) to hit the enemy harder from farther away then they could before.

Their vehicles can also move farther (under 6th ed rules they can move 12" and shoot 2 weapons, which is better than 5th ed) and with their vehicle upgrades they can even move flat out and fire a weapon.  This also extends the range of their wave serpents' weapons and their falcons' weapons.

So what does this mean?

It means that at the end of your turn you have to make sure you understand the Eldar's threat range appropriately.  In my game I underestimated just how well their basic infantry could be effective in shooting because I was still thinking about how most infantry move.  The Eldar move farther so when they reach their shooting phase all of a sudden they are on top of you firing at full effect with a bazzillion weapons shredding your troops when other armies' guns would still be out of range or at least out of most effective range.

If you stay in transports their shurikens are not effective.  Stay in vehicles if you can or stay out of their ranged weapons range until you can bring the full force of your attack.  Again make them come to you don't stumble blindly at them.

Their vehicles need to be a priority.

Their vehicles are much better now (yes even the Falcon no matter what the interwebz thinks).  Their transports can move 6" dump the squad 6" out and then they can run a d6 with a reroll to get closer.  This gets their infantry even closer to you than other armies allowing their guns to be more effective when and where the Eldar want them to be.

Wave Serpents can get a 3+ cover save when they flat out and a 4+ when they just move normally.  They are tough nuts but must be dealt with.  If you score a penetrating hit against their vehicles they also can turn it into a glance on a 2+ making them tough to take out in one shot.

So what does this mean?

You need to focus fire on their vehicles first. They are armor 12 so autocannons are only mildly effective unless you have tons of them.  Missile launchers and above are the best bet.  Again with Imperial armies that can spam these weapons I would recommend doing so.

Hit the vehicles early and often and take them out first.  It will cut down their long range fire and slow down their transported troops.  Once Eldar infantry are on the ground they generally only have a 5+  or 4+ save and are toughness 3 so can be easily shot down.

Eldar Psykers are not as important as they once were.

While the Eldar still have Psykers and can have a lot of them, they are not as integral to their strategy as they once were.

Farseers are level 3 psykers and can take powers from either chart in their codex or the divination tree in the main rulebook.  They are able to then get Prescience and Guide to allow them to target two units who can reroll their to-hit rolls.  Farseers can also do all the tricks they used to be able to do with psychic powers except now they are not guaranteed to get Doom or Conceal like they used to.  They also have some perils of the warp defense.  The other thing is Runes of Warding no longer makes opponents roll 3d6 and add them together when trying to cast powers.

Warlocks can be bought like wolf guard.  They are only Ld 8 and can take powers from the psychic table that has dual powers in the codex.  They are less powerful and more random but their psychic powers are potentially useful.

Spirit Seers are the new guys who are half way between Farseers and Warlocks. They usually join up with Wraithguard squads.  Not much more to say about these guys really.

So what does this mean?

This means that armies playing against Eldar need not be afraid to take and cast psychic powers.  If you are casting primarily Blessings you will have no problems.  If you cast Maledictions and Witchfire just know their deny the witch rolls will be either 5+ or possibly as good as a 2+ so those powers will not work as reliably against Eldar as against other armies.

Eldar used to rely on their psychic powers to enhance their armies ability to shoot.  Now they all have BS 4 across the army so their buffs with their psykers are not as required as they once were.

They used to also rely on psychic powers to give them cover saves and reroll dice.  They still do this but there are a lot of things in the game that ignore cover and again hitting on 3s now with everything allows the Eldar to play with less psychic powers than they used too.  I think there are viable builds now in the codex that don't even use Psykers.

This means that when playing against Eldar sniping out their Psykers is not a strategy that needs to be pursued as rigorously as it did before.  If they still have all of their psykers at the end of the game it is not as big a deal because even without psykers they are more potent than they used to be.

Some other notes on Eldar.

They have one flyer which is great at shooting down other flyers.  If it gets the jump on your flyer it will shoot it down.
To mitigate this you could go second to help with the odds that your flyer comes in after theirs and cn shoot down their flyer.  Both their flyers are only armor 10 so they are easy to take out.
Perhaps investing in some sort of reserve manipulation could help with this either an aegis with comms relay or the imperial guard advisors or even use the warlord table in the main rulebook that affects deployment (i can't think of the name of it offhand).

If you do take guard blobs give them Krak grenades.  If you do not and you assault a wraithlord or get assaulted by one that squad can't hurt it most likely.  With krak grenades they are a threat to Wraithlords, WraithKnights and all of their vehicles.

Be careful of getting lured into traps.  The Eldar can move and reposition themselves so quickly in one turn that they can lure you in one direction then move all the way across the board and leave you stranded.

Pure assault armies will get destroyed against Eldar.  Do not think you can get into assault with them and win.  The will out shoot you and out maneuver you and have surprises in hand to hand as well.

Warp Spiders are amazingly good do not underestimate them, their guns are better and they are faster than ever before.

I think I will leave it at that.  If anyone wants to comment on this post that would be great maybe we can get a conversation going about Eldar here.

Until next time...


  1. That's a pretty good overall sum-up. I think your point about staying in your transports is a wise idea. You are right on the money about Eldar "death" range being about 20in and closer. I really don't dispute anything you said in the above... since you have such a handle on Eldar, I expect you to table me next game. ;)

  2. haha I doubt I will ever table you.

    What I've put up above if I follow my own advice, I think we will have a good close game.

    There is a heck of alot in that codex I didn't even touch on.

    Its a pretty rad book.

  3. Idea number one: mortars.

    Idea number two: mortars and landraiders.

    Thoughts -?

    Great write up, very helpful and thanks.

  4. Landraiders are not that great against Eldar. They are too expensive points-wise. Eldar lance weapons will lower the armor on the landraider to 12 when they shoot at it. So the landraider becomes an expensive armor 12 tank.

    Mortars are not a bad idea. I would take a decent amount of them because one or two probably won't do much.