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Monday, 10 May 2010

Are Eldar Worth It?/What I Get Out Of Playing Eldar/General Blathering About Complicated Things

I got an email from Matt Sutherland again, following up on our previous discussion.  For reference, I've already discussed this topic, after a fashion, here, and here.  However, it's slightly different this time...On with the email.
"Hi TKE,

I recently e-mailed you about starting a new army, and you kindly responded with Space Wolves or Tyranid. I settled on the Wolves, considering my love for beer and mead, and have really enjoyed how much fun they are to play. But I still have an itch in the back of my mind, an itch to play a xenos army, one very different than my Wolves. And I kept thinking of the Eldar. I have always liked their models and background, and have even played them in 4th before. But before I take the plunge, I wanted to get your advice...are the Eldar worth playing? And if so, what would a good learning force be (need to know what models to get)?

Thanks for your time and input, they are greatly appreciated.

Matt"



I love playing Eldar.  Really, more than any other army I've ever played...there's something about Orks, and how random and hilarious fun they are...the Marines and Chaos armies I have are nice...but, there's something I simply cannot define about the Eldar...the graceful, lithe Grav tanks, weathering fire that would fell 2 or 3 lesser Transports - the manoeuvrability and speed of the vehicles making picking targets easy, and getting the shots I want child's play.  When I started, Eldar were very much perceived as the 'expert's army', and perhaps it's that I kinda see it as a badge of honour...

Eldar are by no means as easy to play as Codex Marines. They aren't, however, rocket surgery either.  Realistically, GW seems to be moving all armies towards a point where they are all easy to learn, while keeping the game seemingly difficult to master.  I've no intent to start a pointless flame war, but the majority of 40k players online aren't exactly tactical geniuses.  It's difficult to talk about tactics in any meaningful way when they relate so specifically to your army list, the board, the mission, the enemy, deployment, play style...It's no easy matter to help other players get better at the game.  Realistically, experience is the only solid way to learn.  [Get used to losing, because it's the only way to win.]  That said, using a better, more balanced, and easier to learn army list helps you to learn not only the system, but also the nuances of the rules mechanics and strategies.  When you learn how, and when, to Full Reserve your list, to employ a Refused Flank, to Alpha Strike, Good Target Priority, Last Turn Objective Contesting (a particular trademark of the Eldar*) etc etc then it's time to try starting from scratch more, and crafting your own potentially devastating builds.  The point being - it's easier to get better with a better list.

Anyways...I'm diverting from the supposed topic, lol.  Playing Eldar, and playing Eldar well, is very rewarding...and very frustrating.  The Eldar Grav Tanks are very survivable, and can weather surprising amounts of fire - but when they go down, everything inside burns to death, and your shooting is diminished more than the sum of the tank.  By having fewer targets for the opponent to concentrate upon, and by being able to suppress/destroy fewer enemy units a turn, you are critically weakened by each loss in a way that 5th Edition Codexes do not usually suffer.  The cost of Eldar units, particularly Wave Serpents and Gunboat Falcons, is a serious issue, that cannot be addressed without a new book to choose from.  The number of viable Eldar units is at it's least, and, frankly, when the new DH book comes out, be it August, or be it November, it will diminish by one more.  There's no way in hell that GKs won't be able to neutralise Seer Councils, in their current iteration.  Very little chance, if Vindicares get the boost they supposedly will, that Exarchs will even be remotely playable (YAY! You killed my 44 point 1W T3 model!) with the possible exception of the naturally suicide Fire Dragon squads.

Eldar aren't a good force to be buying into right now, and I think the community at large is aware of this.  This., of course, is bad for GW, hence the new plastic kits.  They aren't stupid - not really.  Check eBay.  I've been snapping up some neat bargains recently, and the number of Eldar seems higher to me - admittedly, I don't check it hugely often, but, as a proportion, I've seen more Eldar than ever before being flogged.

Essentially, I wouldn't recommend buying an Eldar army from scratch right now.  Wait until the plastic kits come out, and see if they moisten your eyes with coolness.  If, however, you are feeling like you have the money to burn, competitiveness isn't an issue, or you just want to prove me wrong - here's a suggestion of a list.  It will include Special Characters, because Eldrad is so much better than a regular Farseer it's depressing.  It will feature 3 squads of Fire Dragons, because, at 2k, any fewer and IG will laugh at you, BA will jump on you, and Long Fangs will kill all of your good anti-tank in one round of shooting.  Even Daemons can have a right laugh at your expense.  Ever try to kill 3 Soulgrinders without being able to commit a squad of Dragons to each?  I seriously do NOT recommend it - especially if you end up facing some beefy HQ MCs too.  I shudder to think how I would take down sufficient TMCs without Dragons.

Enough jibberjabber.  The list, a variant I have not yet run, but is probably as good as any MechDar list - especially at the end of the year, when we Eldar players are forced to jump to our Dark Kin just to avoid feeling cheated by the age of our book...oh the irony.

Eldrad Ulthran - 210

Autarch - 80
w/ Fusion Gun

7 Fire Dragons - 249
w/ Exarch [DBF], Wave Serpent [TLSL, SC]

7 Fire Dragons - 249
w/ Exarch [DBF], Wave Serpent [TLSL, SC]

7 Fire Dragons - 249
w/ Exarch [DBF], Wave Serpent [TLSL, SC]

6 Dire Avengers - 217
w/ Wave Serpent [TLBL, SC]

6 Dire Avengers - 217
w/ Wave Serpent [TLBL, SC]

5 Dire Avengers - 60

Falcon - 200
w/ H-F, BL, SC, SS.

Fire Prism - 125
w/ SC

Fire Prism - 125
w/ SC

Irritatingly, that leaves 19 points that can't be filled without losing symmetry, so... bugger it.

If you prefer, you could always drop Eldrad for another Autarch, saving 130 points.  Dropping the Falcon and 2 'extra' Avengers also, nets enough points for another BL Serpent, and another DA unit, with same.  Preference really - I find, for me, Eldrad and the Guided Falcon more reliable for busting Transports than 2 mediocre at best units in anti-tank rides.

I'm not sure how closely this relates to the title, or even answers your question Matt, tbh.  Buying Eldar, and getting the army done before the end of the summer could be a lot of fun for you - but if they can't be done by then I'd strongly recommend a more recent army (ie, Wolves/Nids, lol) because they will compete better with the next round of 40k armies to be redone, while Eldar will feel more and more fragile and overpriced.





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* - It would be remiss of me to neglect to mention Fritz in this article (though, technically, this is not part of the body of the text...)  While I despise the saps who label anyone who uses a Fast vehicle to contest things late in the game, or even ever performs a Tank Shock, as using 'Fritz-style' tactics, as though it were such a terribly complicated concept that he was required to invent it.  Every Eldar player I know was familiar with the concept before they ever heard of WOSH...anyway, this isn't an insult.  My beef is not with Fritz, not in the least, we get on fine, as far as I know.  I couldn't call him a friend, but certainly not an enemy either.  Sure, he comes across as a little arrogant for my taste, after a fashion, but then again, I'm sure I do too.  Either way, I respect his opinions, and obvious ability - and so recommend his site for Eldar advice as much as I recommend any.  Bear in mind the words above, however.  Advice, beyond basic things, and list-building, is difficult to come by.  Always apply liberal amounts of salt to what you read, and expect to lose more than you win early on - otherwise, it's your opponents doing things wring, not you doing it right.
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