Eldar and their 'one hit wonders'

Saturday, 8 May 2010 , Posted by President Evil at 12:30

3 more units from my Eldar army today. Each illustrate perfectly what makes the eldar unique and often difficult to get the best out of for some players. They are the ultimate 'glass hammer' units. in other words: Brutally efficient killing machines as fragile as a paper hat. Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons and Howling Banshees are all regular features of my eldar armies, and my opponents have rightly grown to fear them. I think the reason for this is that used in the right way, your enemies will usually see 3 of their key units dissapear in 1 turn. Using them requires careful planning, finesse and, like everything in 40k, the right amount of luck.

To Start with i'll go into more detail for each unit and then the overall tactics at the bottom of the page.

Dire avengers:
They were the first unit i painted for this eldar army, and i must admit, i rushed them a bit and regret not spending more time on them. Someday i might have nothing else to paint and decide to tidy them up....

I use this one as my exarch, I wanted to paint a banner... :)

I pretty much always run a farseer with these guys

Dire avengers. A common eldar unit that, if you read many of the internet discussions on their use, seem to be used little more than to make a scoring tank with a minimum squad of 5. I guess this tactic works for some, but dire avengers are capable of brutal killing power. First they get a full squad of 10, an exarch (dual catapaults optional) and the 'bladestorm' ability. Personally i find there are only a handful of eldar units that can be effective without a transport. Dire avengers are not one of these units! So i buy them a wave serpent. My favorite combo is EML & shuriken cannon. This gives you the plasma missile to function as a S4 defensive weapon and its versatile. Then add a guide/doom/spirit stones seer.
Remember they are a scoring unit that is more than capable of wiping out a whole squad with one turn of augmented shooting. A guide and/or doomed bladestorm gives 30 BS4 (3@bs5) s4 ap5 shots with re-rolls to hit and/or wound. I don't always use doom, and i suppose it depends on your target as to whether you need psychic powers or even bladestorm to wipe out a whole squad, but i'm talking about what they are capable of and with this bladestorm bomb, you force so many saves out of your opponent that only the largest or most well armoured squad would have any chance of survival, often with so few wounds left that it can be finished off in an assault (they are I5).

My real assault specialists are the howling banshees:

6 of these feisty females do the job for me. Exarch gets the executioner for S5 attacks. War shout is useful and acrobatic is usually something i buy if i have spare points. 18 Powerweapon attacks on the charge. S3 is a downside but keeping them within supporting range of the farseers 'doom' power is required if the target is high toughness. They always strike first because of their banshee masks, and a failed leadership test will give their targets WS1 (i love it when that happens) from the warshout power. I like Scatter laser falcons for their volume of fire, so the banshees ride in one of those. Again, their potential when augmented by the seer is to carve apart most targets in combat. If in doubt doom the target and unload some laser fire into it from the falcon to thin the numbers before charging in.

Finally the dedicated anti armour: Fire dragons.

I have 6 to fit in a falcon. Usually scatter laser, but as i have magnetised my tanks, i sometimes give it a starcannon as its AP2 compliments the pulse laser and is more effective against heavily armoured troops which are a secondary target of the fire dragons inside. In the squad pictured i have an Exarch with the dragons breath flamer (heavy flamer EQ). Although this weapon has proved useful on a number of occasions, it is not important - 5/6 melta dragons will get the job done.
Pretty much the most straight forward unit in my army, no special rules, no tricks, just a bunch of meltas looking at your tanks exhaust pipe. In my experiance fire dragons die. Opponents hate fire dragons. The most amusing thing is that they are the cheapest (sometimes 2nd cheapest) unit in my army and once they get out and melt that land raider or terminator squad they've killed over 2x their points value. In the following turn these guys will most likely be public enemy number one for your opponent. Although i will try to get them back in the transport safely to turn their weapons on a secondary target, i will not sacrifice another unit to achieve this. After their high value target is turned to slag, they pretty much become the most expendable unit as most other units will still have important roles to play. This isn't always true, but the inevitable return fire from your enemy has to go somewhere...

When explaining how these units work in my army, it's impossible to describe their roles individually. My tactics involve having all 3 of these units working together to remove 3 high value targets in quick succession. I will spend a turn or 2 moving fast, shruggung of shooting (hopefully) waiting for my opponent to leave their back door ajar. in 90% of games, your opponent will either look to advance across the board or in the case of a gunline, spread their forces across their deployment zone to get the best firelanes.
Either way, it takes a tricky general to deploy in such a way as not to allow your eldar the time and space to perform a surgical strike against a crucial part of their army. By turn 3, you should have a good idead of where your surgical strike will do the most damage for the least casualties. You move your transports (fast) into position, being careful not to expose your rear armour or park your falcons too close to melta weapons, although this makes no difference to wave serpents. Again you ride your luck and hope that the various energy fields and coversaves will not take down your transports. I always give them spiritstones and holofields to ensure that they get to where they need to go. After a turn, you are free to pivot, drop your cargo and shoot or fly off as required. At this point Your focus should be on positioning your transports to block lines of sight to your disembarked units. The passengers inside can, move, shoot, assault as normal. If deployed close enough together you can doom your banshees target after guiding your bladestorming avengers. The odds are strongly weighted for you to erase 3 high value targets in one turn, crippling the core of your enemies force and, with careful positioning, denying LOS to your units enough that they might survive to re-embark, or move on an objective. My army list often includes other units purely to harrass, tie up or otherwise distract other elements of the enemy force. A small unit of jetbikes to boost around and unload shuriken at targets of opportunity, before making a late grab for an objective. A small squad of hawks to pour laserfire into an isolated unit or attach grenades to advancing vehicles. And the all important pathfinders to keep an eye on an objective and generally be an annoying thorn in the side for any footsloggers or lightly armoured vehicles trying to put shots on my skimmers.

The downside to all of this is that once out of ther transports, the eldar are like wet cardboard. T3 4+ save in squads of 6-10 doesnt take alot to kill, so its really important to be aggressive. These units can dish out far more hurt than they can take back, so the key is to deliver it all in 1 decisive attack. When you expose your fragile units, make sure that whatever you leave alive stands a good chance of not wiping you out in the next turn.

That's about it. The glass hammer surgical strike. A good example of why the Eldar are my favorite army in 40k.

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