This is a review of the new Eldar Codex posted on DakkaDakka's Forums:
Since the preview copies of final Codex: Eldar are shipping now to GW stores around Europe, I managed to grab a hold of one too. I spent a couple hours with the book reading through every last bit of it and of course took some notes.
I like the cover of the book, and the fluff & hobby section of the book is filled with great art. Almost all of the art is black and white which gives the codex a certain feel, and I can't help but think that a few page-size color pictures would've made it look better. A lot of the art is re-cycled from ages old books but this isn't a bad thing as most of the art like the classic Avatar triumphant picture looks awesome, and of course there's a lot of new stuff in there too. The army list section has no art whatsoever and seems to have a totally new look to it. All the units are simply listed in as few words as possible. For example, the first two pages have 10 different HQ choices printed on them in a pretty cramped manner.
The book has a lot of fluff about the Eldar race, their history and their mysterious goals. All of the largest craftworlds get a couple of pages dedicated to them, and there's a few tidbits about the Dark Kin too. I think the pages have been filled well. All in all I give the outlook and 'feel' of the army book a B+. There's quite a lot of stuff to read but I would've liked to see more new art and a little more color, but to each his own I guess. Sometimes I felt I couldn't find proper descriptions of weapons and exarch powers, and would've liked a wargear section in the book but alas there is none. You have to jump back and forth from the fluff description of the unit to the army list entry.
To the units then, and how I think they work.
The biggest change in the HQ section is that none of the special characters count as special characters. They are simply HQ choices with wargear that you can't alter in any way, and none of them seemed unbalanced in any way. As a matter of fact, I don't think I would ever field any of them since the custom built ones are more points effective. However, if you want to use Eldrad Ulthran, Prince Yriel, or any of the Phoenix Lords, you don't need your opponent's consent. The Phoenix Lords are basically Autarchs with a slightly improved statline (higher WS, one more attack, etc) but cost a massive amount of points. For example Asurmen the hand of Asuryan costs a whopping 230 points. Phoenix Lords have special rules that apply to all of them, for example that they cannot be instakilled, but since it's not always easy to get these types of models into combat I fear we won't see a lot of them.
Farseer is an entry we will see a lot of however. It costs 55 points and comes already equipped with weapons and some gear. The weapons work exactly as before, and the upgrade from blade to spear costs 3 points. Runes of Warding make the enemy roll 3D6 for all psychic tests and any roll of 12 or more is a perils of the warp. Runes of Witnessing work as before, and so does Ghosthelm and Spirit Stones. The Farseer must choose one psychic power but may choose more, but can normally only use one psychic power per turn. All of the Farseer powers except Mind War are used at the beginning of the Eldar turn. Doom costs 25 points and has 24" range and requires no line of sight, and allows all Eldar units to re-roll wounding rolls against the affected enemy unit. Fortune costs 30 points and allows an Eldar unit to re-roll all saves of any kind. The Farseer can buy a Warlock Bodyguard of 10 models, but they cost 25 points each because they are equipped with Witch Blades and Pistols. Warlock Powers haven't changed.
Avatar is now about 70 points more expensive than before and works exactly as rumoured. He makes all Eldar units within 12" fearless. He is still painfully slow. He has 4 attacks, 3+ armor save and 4+ invulnerable save, comes equipped with the meltagun and is immune to melta.
Autarch is basically an Exarch entry with slightly improved stats. The special rule of having him in the army is that you can add +1 to all your reserves rolls, which might make him worth having. He can be given a jetbike and various Exarch weaponry, but the choice is not totally free and you have to choose from a rather small list.
Going to the Elite units, we'll quickly find that Fire Dragons and Banshees and Scorpions all cost 16 points per model. The Striking Scorpion Exarch now has a S6 power fist available to him, and powers available to him are infiltrate and move through cover. Mandiblasters gives the models +1 attack, and the chainblade +1 strength so the unit does have a lot of S4 attacks. The unit still can't fleet. Fire Dragons got their Fusion Gun strength upgraded to S8 which naturally makes them a lot better than before. The Exarch can get a heavy flamer.
Then we get to the Harlequins. I must say this is a wonderful unit, and I can't help but feel that this is one of those occasions when GW really wants to sell a model and writes unbelievably good rules to it. You'll see a lot less Fire Dragons in Eldar armies than you thought because Harlequins are not 0-1 like some punk tried to claim and you can take 3 units of 10 if you wish. So, here it is: The models cost 18 points each and have a pistol and a close combat weapon. Any number of models can buy a Harlequin's Kiss which makes their attacks rending. Two models in the unit can buy Fusion Pistols which are range 6" Fusion Guns with double penetration at 3". The Death Jester carries a Shuriken Cannon with the pinning special rule, but I don't know how often you would want to fire it instead of running in the shooting phase. Harlequins can fleet of foot, and have WS5 S3 T3 I6 A2 and a 5+ invulnerable save. Harlequins ignore difficult terrain, and have the Furious Charge and Hit and Run special rules and I really don't know how their points cost justifies these veteran skills, but I guess GW really wants to see a lot of these guys. So you're looking at 4 S4 I7 rending attacks per model on the charge. What's best, the unit can upgrade one model to Shadowseer status for 20 points, who gives the unit Hallucinogen grenades which make the unit always fight in initiative order regardless of cover, and the Veil of Tears special rule. The Veil of Tears is as incredible as rumoured, and you have to roll 2D6x2 (not 3!) to be able to shoot at the unit. If you fail the check to spot the Harlequins, you cannot shoot at anything that turn. There are no special rules that would ban independent characters from joining this unit or Harlequins from embarking on a Falcon.
Somehow I see the Seer Councils slowly fading away, only to be replaced by masses of Harlequin units lead by fleeting Farseers who cast Fortune on their units. Re-rollable 5+ invulnerable saves reduce casualties to minimum especially as most of the time you cannot be fired upon. The average range of spotting Harlequins is only 14 inches which is way inside their assault range. This unit is awesome to say the least and I know I'm going to try 2x10 Harlequins with Farseers, and one unit of Snakes on a Plane.
Going to Troops choices we see Dire Avengers, Guardians and Guardian Jetbikes. Dire Avengers cost 12 points per model and their catapults have a 18" range. The Exarch can get the Dire Sword or one Dire Catapult in both hands. I think with double Catapults and Bladestorm Exarch power he shoots 6 times at S4. The Dire Sword forces a wounded target to pass a leadership test or die instantly. The minimum unit is 5 models so you can take 6 and throw them in a Falcon if you wish.
Guardians come in units of 10 or more, and the same applies to the Storm Guardians, so no more 6 man throwaway flamer units in a Falcon. Guardian Jetbikes come in squads of 3 or more, and cost 22 points per model. Every third model can buy a Shuriken Cannon (S6 AP5 3 shots). Small 3man units might be a good way to use the compulsory Troops choices, and I guess you could take more if you like bikes. The Eldar Jetbike special rule of always being able to use the assault move is a nice bonus I guess. Wraithguard are totally horrible just like before, as they cost 35 points per model, can't fleet and and as we know have range 12" guns that are worse than Fusion Guns. The Rangers cost 19 points per model, and get AP1 on 5+.
The Wave Serpent cannot buy a holo-field upgrade unlike rumoured, but can buy all the other vehicle upgrades. It still has the energy field as before.
As Fast Attack choices we can buy Singing Spears for 35 points per model. They have T4 and 3+ armor save, S6 power weapon attacks on the charge (but of course each model only has one attack) and the weapon can also be used in shooting as a S6 AP4 Assault 1 Lance weapon. I read some rumours about a deep strike related Exarch power for these guys but I don't know where that came from. Singing Spears can hit and run and are skilled riders. I think they are rather expensive for what they do to be honest. Warp Spiders move as jump troopers and can teleport 2D6 in the assault phase but any roll of double results in a dead Spider. Their Exarch can be upgraded with Surprise Assault which allows the unit to always deep strike regardless of mission. The Vyper got more expensive believe it or not. It is still open-topped, and costs 45 points without weapons but you must buy one. The Bright Lance upgrade is 30 points and the Starcannon 25 points. This means that a Starcannon Vyper costs 5 points more than before and shoots less, which is ridiculous to say the least. Swooping Hawks cost 21 points per model and little has changed with them. If they buy the Exarch power they can Skyleap out of combat and go back into reserve only to deep strike at a later time. They can get Haywire grenades which are good, and the Hawks never need more than 4+ to hit a vehicle in close combat. The Exarch can get an Assault 6 S3 AP5 Pinning gun.
Heavy Choices look really interesting and just like with the Elites choices you'd want more than you can get. The Falcon is the obvious choice for most as the new Vectored Engines work exactly as rumoured: The tank costs 115 points flat, can get Holo-Field for 35 points, Vectored Engines for 20 points, Spirit Stones for 10 points, and Star Engines for 15 points. Shuriken cannon costs 10 points as an upgrade from the catapults, and 5 points as a normal weapon mount. Scatter laser costs 15 points, Eldar Missile Launcher 20 points, Starcannon 25 points and Bright Lance 30 points. I think the most popular pattern will be Holo-Field, Vectored Engines, Spirit Stones and 2 Shuriken Cannons as defensive weapons. This will make the Falcon cost 195 points and it can shoot twice with the S9 AP2 Pulse Laser and 6 times with S6 AP5 shurikens.
The Fire Prism also costs 115 points flat and can also upgrade the catapults to a Shuriken Cannon and has the same vehicle upgrades available to it. It has the Prism Cannon that fires S9 AP2 small blast or S5 AP4 big blast. If a second Fire Prism has line of sight to the tank and supports the beam, the beam gets +1 strength and +1 ap (S10 AP1 small blast or S6 AP3 big blast) and becomes twin-linked. The standard Fire Prism would thus cost 190 points. The Fire Prism has BS4 unlike the Falcon which only has BS3. Tough competition, eh?
The Wraithlord costs 90 points flat, still has catapults or flamers in both hands, and must buy one heavy weapon and can buy two. Wraithlord is a monstrous creature. Starcannon costs 30 points, Bright Lance 40 points, Scatter Laser 20 points, Shuriken Cannon 10 points, Eldar Missile Launcher 25 points and the sword that allows you to re-roll hits in close combat 10 points. If you buy two of the same weapon they count as twin-linked. This is dumb, as no such rule exists for any other vehicle in the army. Even War Walker weapons fire separately. Of course the Starcannon is way overpriced here too. To avoid Wraithsight problems you need to have a Warlock within 6" or an upgraded Warlock within 12". If you don't have one, you roll a D6 and on a roll of one you can't do anything at all that turn.
War Walkers come in squadrons of one to three, and only cost 30 points each without weapons. They have the Scouts special rule. Starcannon costs 25 points, EML 20 points, Scatter Laser 15 points, Shuriken Cannon 5 points and Bright lance 30 points. If you give them two Shuriken Cannons they only cost 40 points per model and fire 6 times at S6 to 24". They don't have the field anymore, but they are not open-topped either.
Dark Reapers cost 35 points per model so a unit of five is going to cost some points. They have 3+ armour save now, but considering they have no ablative wounds to lose and still only T3 I'm not sure how useful they can be. I guess GW was afraid of giving them a 2+ armour save which people would cast Fortune on. The Support Weapon platforms are still useless because D-Cannon became a mere Wraithgun with a blast template, and the other weapons didn't change.
All in all the army list looks somewhat promising but also lacking in the same time. Harlequins stand out as the best unit in the entire army and as one of the best units in the entire game no doubt, and Fire Dragons will be used. Falcons and Fire Prisms are good, and Wraithlords and War Walkers have their uses too. Dire Avengers aren't entirely useless now, and neither are Guardian Jetbikes. The units that I thought should've been better are Wraithguard, Banshees, Scorpions, Hawks, Spears, Spiders, Reapers and Vypers. As you can see the list is long and includes almost all of the Aspect Warriors, so we can't say that the army book was a total success. Some of the units still suffer from intolerable weaknesses because of the way Warhammer 40K 4th edition is played, and not enough special rules were introduced to counter them. Harlequins are a perfect example of an assault unit that works in 4th edition, since they have abilities and special rules that allow them to simply dance their way to the enemy instead of resorting to death trap transports.
Saying "anything but a 1" always gets you a 1.