Eldar – Codex of Missed Chances?

Is it just me or did the Eldar codex miss a few opportunities to be great?

The Eldar codex is now out in the world. And its very shiny. I’m warming up to a lot of units, recovering from my very doom and gloom view of the book when I first started seeing leaked rules online. I’ve played a few games with the new dex, beaten the guy I usually lose to with it and am really enjoying playing my Eldar for the first time in a year. And without using the FW IA as a crutch too!

Its certainly not going to knock Necrons off the top of the power ranking scale any time soon, but the book does have some potent units, that have already been discussed to death by people on forums, message boards, blogs and this very page, so i’m not going to discuss how good Fire Prisms are, how potent Scorpions can be, how scary and cheap jetbikes are, how great a rule Battle Focus is or how great Wave Serpents are as battle tanks here.

I’m writing this article because of something that’s not sitting right with me. The book feels like the fluff sets it up to have some great rules, that are just not applied, missing out on some great potential. It might sound like wishlisting, but a lot of units seem to have had the potential to be great, but fell short of the mark.

I remember UK Games Day 2011. Dreadfleet was just about to hit shelves and was the focus of the event. I was fortunate enough to meet Mister Phil Kelly himself, shake his hand and thank him for the Dark Eldar codex (to me still the finest codex in terms of potency, power and balance available). I asked him then if he would be doing codex Eldar when it came round again. He told me then;

“Maybe. It’d be weird to re-write my own rules. If I thought something was good back then, chances are I wouldn’t change it much now”

I may be paraphrasing a bit, 2 years memory loss will do that to you. But the point stands. If he thought X unit was good enough back then, why would he change them significantly now? This effect seems to be felt in a few of the rules now. Some of this stuff will likely comes off a bit wishlisty from me, but its not intended to be that way. To me they’re missed opportunities, rules that would have better reflected the fluff and I’d happily have models cost more if they had these in their rules;

Shuriken Catapults – Everyones favourite point of contention. 12″ on an assault weapon may have been good enough in 4th or 5th ed, when marines with bolters could only fire to 12″ if they moved, but in 6th its simply not good enough

Nope…..still not good

Illic Nightspear – The greatest living ranger, whose fluff claims he has killed Warlords, Warbosses and Overlords across the galaxy. Sure he’s BS9. Sure he always calls his targets. But his gun that fires miniature versions of the D Cannon Wraithguard carry….still only wounds on a 4+. And then you get a cover save (something say a Vindicare assassin doesn’t). Then you get your 2+ Look out Sir. I feel the greatest living ranger should have been able to deny at least one of these. (While on the subject of Ilic – his special rule of infiltrating anywhere he wants…..why? If you’re a sniper, with a 120″ sniper rifle….why would you want to infiltrate him 2″ away from the enemy?)

Warlocks – Glossing over the Ld 8 (so our pyskers who command the battle from the front lines (Farseers are backline leaders) have a lower Ld than the troops they’re supposed to be commanding?) that means they’ll fail their important physic tests most the time, Warlocks can be bought as a unit and split off to join other units, a la Wolf Guard and Crypteks. But they can only join Guardians, Jetbikes and Weapon Batteries. It even says in the codex fluff they go back to their warrior shrines to join aspects in battle. In Path of the Seer, the main character as a Warlock goes into battle with her former Aspect, Dire Avengers. So why can’t a Warlock join an aspect squad? Or even a Wraithguard squad? So many of their spells only work on them and their squad, so limiting them to only guardians shoots them massively in the foot, and goes heavily against the fluff.

Physic Defence – Old Runes of Warding were broken. Thats not opinion, I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. GK players, and anyone using Tzeentch deamons hated those things. So the result is, with the new Runes, the most physic race in the galaxy, adapt and neutralising everyone else’s powers are less effective than a physic hood. If you don’t target a unit with a Farseer or a Warlock in it, then we have no defence.

Assault Vehicles – The fluff for Banshees in the book even talks of them jumping straight out of Serpents onto their enemies! So why can’t they do that in the rules!

Yep. Just no real way of getting there….or surviving the charge…

Crimson Hunter – The most agile airframes imaginable, capable of incredible aerobatics, whose pilots reactions apparently are so refined they can see enemy fire and avoid the beams of lasers shot at them. And yet they have the same jink save….as a sluggish human pilot in the aerodynamic brick that is a Valkrie. The FW Nightwing is equivalent points, less hull points, and less firepower. But gets a 2+ jink save because the rules reflect how nimble it is! Yes it gets Vector dancer to show its agility. You know what else gets Vector Dancer? Vulture Gunships. Real aerodynamic that is….

Hemlock Wraith Fighters – And now the other aircraft. The fluff describes it as having a weapon so powerful it “cuts the enemies soul from their bodies, leaving their corpses undamaged”. What staggeringly powerful rules did it get to reflect this? It can cast the Terrify power, making enemies take a Ld test that they must reroll or be WS1. Terrifying….

There’s a few other things that I’d wished for but didn’t get, but I can understand those. Things like Wraithlords having an Invuln option, the Wraithknight not blinding your army when he passes an Invuln save, a return to 3 shot star cannons, a wargear option for Farseers to pick their powers…..these are things I’d have liked, but aren’t sensible. Everything else I’ve mentioned here is established Eldar fluff and traits. Some of them are even mentioned in the codex itself. And yet, the rules simply falls short

And as a result, the codex does too.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll be happily playing these guys for a long time. Its just a bit frustrating looking at the potential the book had in some places that it just doesn’t live up to. And I know other codexes don’t always give rules for all their fluff traits, but I feel there’s a lot more missed opportunities in the Eldar codex that could have bought the level up a bit. How about you?  

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