BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40k: Codex Eldar – How to win in 5th Edition

6 Minute Read
Sep 21 2010
TPM reporting in.  I’m not here to talk about Blood Angels this time.  I’ve been reading the new Eldar book that came out not that long ago Path of the Warrior and it has gotten me nostalgic for the glory days of the Eldar Codex.
I am not necessarily talking about the un-killable 4th Edition Falcons but I am referring to the days when space marines feared seeing Eldar across the table from them.  Eldar had the best weapons for their points and excelled at defeating elite armies.  Space Marine power armor was no match for the potent weapons of the ancient xenos race.
The mighty Eldar have taken several hits with the nerf bat over the years and codex creep has all but left them behind.  When Dark Eldar are released they are likely to be the only pointy eared aliens in the universe for quite some time – at least that is what it will look like on the table tops.
What the rules designers, tournament mission designers and codex writers never seem to realize is that all Troop choices are not created equal.  This puts codices with weaker or poorly pointed Troop selections at a huge disadvantage and, on topic, leaves the Eldar unable to compete at the top level in two thirds of most tournament missions.
I am a long term die hard Eldar fan. They were my first army.  I bought the original Harlequin box because it was all my local gaming store (local being 30 miles away because no one carried these types of games at the time) had at the time.  I got back home and found out I could make somewhere close to 15,000 points of army with it. Been hooked ever since.
While I am certainly not suggesting a throw back to 2nd edition I am calling for a little more oomph in the Eldar Codex the next time around.  For the love of all that is holy make the Shuriken Catapult a deadly weapon and add a little more complexity to the Eldar Guardians.
So, after that mini rant, do the Eldar currently have the tools to be competitive in the current meta-game?
Its hard to say.  On one hand the Eldar have decent vehicles.  They would be great but they are horribly over costed compared to the Space Marine Rhino and the Imperial Guard Chimera.  The benefit is that Eldar vehciles are skimmers and can fly over things.  As soon as more tournament organizers provide 5th edition terrain this should make a difference.  As it stands now there is rarely anywhere for them to hide and the AV 12 will just get shot to pieces.  Is the answer just not to take any vehicles?
I am not sure.  I struggle with this in army builder.  What is the right mix of Wave Serpents and turret options and do I risk putting my Fire Dragons in a Wave Serpent that can just be blasted out of the sky on turn one or do I put them in a Falcon and sacrifice a Fire Prism slot?
This is 5th edition so of course we need vehicles but I honestly think the Wave Serpents are still not worth taking. You want your expensive troops that might actually get work done on the table for you in Falcons.  The trend is going in the right direction.  When the Eldar get another codex the Wave Serpent will probably be about 60 points.  That instantly makes it a better option. Weapon option points need to come way down too, considering they are all BS3.
But enough of that.  What can we Eldar players take right now?!
In the troop section I am torn.  I love the Rangers/Pathfinders. I just think that now that everyone and their second cousin Vulkan has a flamer and this greatly reduces their survivability rate.  With that said – the Pathfinders are great at killing almost anything not in a vehicle like a Daemon Price, The Deceiver, or other big bad guys that may end up being able to give your Avatar a hard time.  They also have the ability to make your opponents make pinning checks. A failed check buys you time and that is exactly what you want in the Eldar army. Your opponent will have more units on the table than you – any chance you get to put one of their units on lock down is great. A unit of 5 pathfinders are 120 points. A good buy for what they can do.  Set them up in cover far on your side of the table and your opponent could spend all game trying to dig them out. 
Jet Bikes are also great.  You get high mobility and use of the super nice turbo boost rule. They can include a Warlock with a spear upgrade and this gives you the ability to deal with mech. A min sized squad with a warlock and a spear is only 124 points.  I am not advocating a small squad since you’ll suffer in kill point missions but I am illustrating how these can be purchased on the cheap – leaving you more room in your other force org slots.
If you don’t have these options laying around and don’t feel like going out and getting a bunch of new figures then you can still make use of your guardians and dire avengers. Just don’t waste your points on too many Wave Serpents.  Take the minimum you think you need to get your strategy to work.
In the Elite section the choice of what to take is so glaringly obvious.  Fire Dragons. Take a min unit with an Exarch who has a Dragon’s Breath Flamer.  If you don’t put these in a Falcon then this is where your Wave Serpent points should go.
I wish Striking Scorpions and Howling Banshees could get it done on the table top but they just can’t.  This largely wallpapers them and their Phoenix Lords.
Skip right over the Fast Attack slots.  If you’re running a lot of jet bikes then maybe you want to take some Shining Spears.  If not – don’t waste your time with this section of the book.  Warp Spiders are far from where they used to be when they came out. They’ve got the same model and still look just as good as they did in my figure box as they did then but they don’t need to be on the table top for serious play.
Heavy Support is filled with goodness.  I actually think there are several concepts you can use here and do ok.  The only poor choices are the Dark Reapers and the Wraithlord.  The trick here is picking an option and committing to it.  If you take one Fire Prism you need to take two.  If you don’t have Prisms then I suggest taking a Falcon or two to transport your Fire Dragons around.  If you have opted not to take units that need a transport then I highly suggest Prisms and War Walkers with missile launchers.
A unit of Walkers with 6 missile launchers is only 210 points. These should destroy whatever the shoot at, as long as they are guided. (and why wouldn’t they be?)
Many people suggest using Scatter Lasers.  I just don’t think the Str 6 compares to the Str 8 even with the extra shots.  You need the Str 8 at every stage of the game and there is a point where the Str 6 will have diminishing returns.
I’ll make the HQ section short and sweet.  Take Eldrad and the Avatar!  Keep them somewhat close together, even if Eldrad is kept in a vehicle.  The Avatar is awesome in this version of the Eldar codex.  If he is fortune and you’re rolling average he’ll last deep in to the game and is such a dominating force on the battle field due to his high weapon skill and initiative.
No one wants the other HQ options to be more viable than I do. Feugan, Maugan Ra and Karandras and the other Phoenix Lords have beautiful figures and they deserve to get some play time.
The pictures in this article are from my personal Eldar army.
What do you guys think?  When is the last time you felt intimidated by an Eldar army and what did that list have in it that gave you the most trouble?

Paul Murphy
  • 40K ARMY: Aventine's Lamenters