TACTICA: Eldar army construction 101

“Harden your soul against decadence. But do not despise it, for the soft appearance of the decadent may be deceptive. One need only consider the Harlequin dancers of the Eldar to see the truth of this proposition”
-Leman Russ, A Book of Admonitions for the Legiones Astartes

You are ready to tread the Eldar Path at last. It both twisting and rewarding in equal measure. The Eldar are one of the game’s oldest armies, with their first armylist coming out quickly on the heels of the original Rogue Trader Hardback in 1988. They have grown and evolved over the years , most recently with their brand new 4th edition codex, in which you will find one of the most varied, specialized, and rewarding armies in the game.

What are the Eldar?

The Eldar present a new player with a huge amount of disparate choices and are tough for newcomers to get a handle on. The codex gives players a robust 25 unit choices (compared with say 12 for the Necrons), and they are some of the most varied units to be stuffed into a single codex.

Above all other races, the Eldar provide you the player, a set of Surgeon’s Tools. They are laid out before you one after another, each perfectly suited to a specific purpose. Some are sharp, some blunt, some long, some short, some heavy and some light. Above all they are delicate.

What the Eldar codex provides a player is a force that with advance planning can achieve any objective with utter precision and grace.

What aren’t the Eldar?

Above all they are not forgiving. Make a misstep, or plan out your army poorly, and you will often find yourslef in an unwinnable situation. Almost no other army can go from utter domination to crushing defeat in a single bad phase like the Eldar, and you are truly walking a tightrope every turn you play them. Are you worried yet? Dont be, its just a matter of losing your fear of heights.

The List

Lets go over the codex unit by unit and categorize them as I suggested in the earlier tactica. Remember that these judgements are fast and loose, so don’t get to hung up on any in particular:

Autarch: Assault, Mobility
Avatar: Assault, Resiliance
Farseer: Mobility, Augmentation*
Phoenix Lord: Assault, Mobility(some)

Striking Scorpions: Resiliance, Assault
Fire Dragons: Firepower
Wraithguard: Resiliance, Firepower
Howling Banshees: Assault
Harlequins: Mobility, Assault

Dire Avengers: Utility, Firepower
Rangers: Resiliance, Firepower
Guardians: Utility
Guardian Jetbikes: Mobility

Fast Attack
Shining Spears: Mobility, Assault
Warp Spiders: Resiliance, Mobility, Firepower
Swooping Hawks: Mobility, Firepower
Vyper Squadron: Mobility

Heavy Support
Support Weapon Battery: Firepower
Dark Reapers: Firepower
Wraithlord: Resiliance, Assault
War Walker Squadron : Firepower
Falcon: Firepower, Resilance, Mobility, Transport
Fire Prism: Firepower, Resiliance, Mobility

Wave Serpent: Resiliance, Mobility, Transport

Have you noticed anything unusual about that list? If you said “Where are the utility choices?” or “Look at all of those Firepower choices”, or even “Thats not many resiliance units”, you would be off to a good start. Another thing to note, is that with Fleet of foot, you can count most of the infanty as being a little towards the “Mobility” side as well.

As with any army, you can build what you want, but to go against the basic premise of the race just makes things more difficult. Not impossible, just harder. With the Eldar you have been given an army that is fast, brittle, and throws out the shooting, backed up by some of the games most feared assault troops (scorpions, banshees and harlequins).

The Farseer is a special note, as there is not really an equivalent unit in any other army. He is mainly an augmentation force, who when equipped properly will make a Combat Block perform better, rather then directly aiding your cause through the destruction of the foe or capturing objectives like traditional units.

Combat Blocks

Now lets move on to some recommended Combat Blocks you can put together to emphasize certain aspects of the army. Remember, these are just introductory suggestions to get your thinking cap on.

Utility Blocks
These bread and butter blocks provide a solid base of infantry to be used for either static defence or aggressvie offense:

Aggressive shooting/assault block
Dire Avenger (x3)
Avatar (makes the block fearless)

Long-range shooting block
Guardian (x3)
Rangers (adds some pinning and anti high-toughness shooting)

Mobility Blocks:
These combat blocks keep the enemy off balance with their rapid movements and can shift from target to target faster then most foes can react.

Aggressive shooting block
Falcon w/Fire Dragons (x2)
Farseer (jetbike)
Warp Spiders

Near/Far assault/shooting block
Fire Prism (x2)
Banshees w/Wave Serpents (x2)

Harrassment fire/objective taking block (budget mobility block)
Vypers (x2)
Guardian Jetbikes (x2)

Assault Blocks:
These blocks excel as destroying the eneny in assault quickly often before they can react and put up a strong countercharge force. The speed can often be used to misdirect the foe during deployment as to the actual assault targets.

Highspeed assault w/midfield countercharge block (mounted)
Banshees w/Wave Serpents (x2)

Highspeed assault w/midfield countercharge block (lethal in Cities of Death)
Harlequins (x2)

Infiltrating midfield assault block with rapid-response countercharge (none shall pass block)
Scorpions (x2)
Shining Spear
Autarch (jetbike)

Firepower Blocks:
Like the old saying goes “Their arrogance is matched only by their firepower”. Few armies can dish out the shots like the Eldar.

Near/Far shooting block
War Walkers
Warp Spiders
Dire Avengers (x2)

Near/Far shooting block (mounted)
Dark Reapers
Fire Dragons w/ Falcons (x2)
Warp Spiders

Near/Far shooting block (specialized for big-bugs/monoliths/scary ICs)
Wraithguard w/Wave Serpents (x2)
War Walkers (x2)

Escalating pain shooting block (keep the foe in their deployment zone block)

Support Weapons
Dark Reapers
Fire Prisms (x2)

Resiliance Blocks:
These buildouts are the most cifficult for the Eldar but they can do it.

Spirithost block
Wraithguard (x3)

Fearless Assault block
Scorpions (x3)

Tankrush block
Falcon (x3)

The possibilities here are endless. What I’m trying to do is get folks thinking about using Eldar units synergisticly in concert with each other. Some of the blocks attack all at a single point en masse. Other strike from different positions to confuse the enemy. Above all, you should have a plan, but stay flexible, and look for exploitable areas of the enemy line to just shatter. Above most armies, the Speed of the Eldar allows you to pull this off. Whereas 80% of the game for Imperial Guard is deployment, 80% of the Eldar decisions are ones of maneuver. The Movement phase is your most challenging phase.

The most effective way to husband your valuable but fragile forces is to destroy much of an isolated section of the enemy line in a single turn, so there is very little to shoot back at you. Next turn you move on and repeat the process.

Start off with an army that uses 2-3 of these Combat blocks to perform 2 different characteristics you want to pursue (like mobility/shooting for example).

Now go forth and defend the Craftworlds.


  • Anonymous

    very helpful thanks.