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40k: X vs Y – Eldar Wraithguard vs Fire Dragons

8 Minute Read
Jun 23 2013

I have been looking at Wraithguard in the new Eldar codex and really fancy using them. Fire Dragons offer almost the same thing for a fair bit cheaper. Choices, choices. Here’s an X vs Y from Imperius Dominatus


Wraithguard come in a unit of 5 and cost 160 points. For that you get a Space Marine profile but with S5 and T6. Wraithguard do not get the Eldar army rule of battle focus, which means they will bail out and will have to walk into cover or stand in the open. They are also bulky so taking double the amount of room in a Wave Serpent. They do get fearless which means they are not running away if needed to take morale tests for any reason. They also have the ancient doom rule too. 

The T6 will keep them protected from small arms fire, though anti tank weapons will be punching holes through them, however if anti tank weapons are firing at your Wraithguard (who have hopefully already done their job) then your vehicles are not being shot at.  For example:

10 x Tactical Marines firing bolters with 20 shots – 13.2 hit, 2.11 wound, 0.72 dead Wraithguard.

The S5 will also be handy for punching vehicles, if the wraithcannons do not finish something off then the Wraithguard could assault as the wraithcannon is an assault weapon.


5 x Wraithguard charge an AV10 rear vehicle and get 10 attacks, they hit with 6.6 and will score 2.18 worth of damage, which is 50% chance to glance out of that. Providing that the vehicle has taken damage from the wraithcannons, then the Wraithguard should be able to take off the last few hull points and get the job done.

The Wraithguard carry the fearsome wraithcannon which is 12″ S10 AP2 distort. The distort rule causes instant death on the wound of a 6+ and will auto penetrate a vehicle on the roll of a 6+. You’re probably think that a S10 gun will penetrate anything, but we will come back to that.

If the wraithcannon isn’t your choice of destruction then you can switch them out for d-scythe, which is 10 points per model. The d-scythe is basically the wraithcannon in template form and is S4. The template is excellent for destroying units in cover and you still have chances of taking out a vehicle (remember AP2 gives +1 on damage table and distort auto penetrates on a 6+) even if slim. However, I do not think the d-scythe is worth 10 points and really should be a free swap. The reason is you are losing a bit of range and the S10 power but in return gain a template at lower strength. The template is cool, but the much lower strength is a bit harsh. Perhaps these should be 5 points a pop? If you consider taking d-scythes then you’re looking at 210 points for a unit before you start getting any transport, which Wraithguard need no matter what weapon you do take.

One thing to keep in mind when using the d-scythe is you get D3 hits per d-scythe if used for overwatch. This certainly can off put assaulting units.

In either case the weaponry available to the Wraithguard is awesome for hunting multi wound models thanks to the instant death rule, especially monstrous creatures who do not tend to be hidden away in units or destroying elite infantry. The chances of rolling a 6+ to wound is 0.53 (based on 3.3 hits from a unit of 5 x Wraithguard), which is slim, but it is a nice perk. Personally I would consider the wraithcannons as:

1. the d-scythes cost a little too much.

2. you get heavy armour destruction in the form of wraithcannons.

3. Eldar have buckets of anti troop fire power, do you really need more?

A nice ability Wraithguard have is they can be made troops if you take a Spiritseer. Having T6 scoring troops is very cool to have. The Spiritseer also isn’t a too bad HQ choice and can bring some handy powers such as conceal (gives shrouding to friendly unit), terrify (-5 leadership to enemy unit), protect (+1 armour save to friendly unit). Keep in mind these powers have dual effects, so a positive for Eldar and negative for enemy unit. As you can imagine a 2+ T6 troop unit is going to be very tough to shift with shrouding if you haven’t got the right tools for the job. With a Spiritseer in use it means you do not have to invest more points into troops and if your Wraithguard are going up front then that means they are a possible chance of getting linebreaker.

Another nice ability the Spiritseer brings is spiritmark. This allows you mark a single unit in the movement phase and ALL wraith units reroll result of 1 to hit.

Fire Dragons

Fire Dragons are your normal Eldar who get the bonus of having a 3+ armour save. They have fleet, battle focus and ancient doom. They cost 110 points for a unit of 5.

The ability of battle focus combined with fleet is absolutely awesome; you can destroy an enemy armoured target and then run into cover or out of LOS and your Fire Dragons are a little bit safer. As fleet lets you re-roll run moves it will help you get over those low rolls you get. An extremely useful ability, never under estimate it.

Dragons come armed with two weapons; fusion gun and melta bombs. The fusion gun is basically a meltagun.

You can take an Exarch who can bring a dragon’s breath flamer (heavy flamer), fire pike (18″ melta) and may have two of the following Exarch powers; iron resolve, crushing blow and fast shot. Iron resolve gives +1 leadership, as the Exarch is leadership 9 this isn’t give a huge advantage. Crushing blow gives +1 strength, as the Exarch doesn’t possess anything cool in close combat then I probably wouldn’t bother. The fast shot allows you to fire an extra shot, which for 10 points isn’t too bad as is basically another meltagun which hits at BS5. Out of the extra ranged weapons I wouldn’t bother as the fusion guns are anti tank and elite infantry slayers while the heavy flamer is for light infantry. The fire pike gives you that little bit of extra range but I do not think it is worth the extra 15 points. Personally I wouldn’t bother with an Exarch either, Dragons have LD9 already and you are paying 10 points just to get BS5 and an extra attack.

Like the Wraithguard, the Dragons also get an option of a Wave Serpent, but as they are not bulky you can pile a lot more of them inside.

Just like Wraithguard, the Dragons’ primary target is armour. They have AP1 over the wraith weaponry AP2 and the ranges match against the wraithcannon, however to get the true benefit of the fusion guns you need to be in half distance to get 2D6 armour penetration. When in half range the Fire Dragons will excel at destroying heavy armour far more than the Wraithguard, though the Wraithguard will destroy basic transports if the Fire Dragons are not in half range for example wraithcannons only need a 1+ to glance a Rhino while Fire Dragons out of range will need a 3+ to glance.

Fire Dragons can do close combat against vehicles and even monstrous creatures better because they come with melta bombs. If a vehicle is not destroyed they can charge it and will certainly destroy it. Ok, against a monstrous creature they are striking last because melta bombs are unwieldly, but they do have a chance while Wraithguard will probably get mushed, though at least the Dragons have a high chance of taking the monster down. Of course this is the case if the monster is I1, if not then the Dragons are also dead.

 A weakness Fire Dragons do have is their T3 which means they can be dakka’d by small arms fire. For example:

10 x Tactical Marines fire bolters with 20 shots – hit 13.2, wound 8.7, 2.95 Fire Dragons die. As mentioned above, this is where battle focus comes in very useful. Also 110 points to lose for 5 x melta guns and melta bombs isn’t a too bad price to pay, especially if you have just took out a Land Raider for example.

Final Thoughts


The Wraithguard are an extremely tough unit to kill and if you invest another 70 points you are getting a tough scoring unit.

They are very good for basic transport destruction i.e Rhinos and Chimeras though against AV14 they have 50% chance to score some damage.

Wraithguard do offer flexibility as you can take d-scythes and make them an anti infantry unit, though this makes them expensive and do you really need more anti infantry when Eldar are practically mostly anti infantry?

The distort rule is a nice little perk, but lets be honest here, how often you going to roll a 6+ if using a unit of 5 x Wraithguard?

Fire Dragons

When making an army list I try and make it as balanced as possible and that includes some method of dealing with AV14. Fire Dragons can deal with AV14 better than Wraithguard if they are in half range, which when using meltas you really should be.

The Dragons are also 50 points a unit cheaper, if taking multiple units that can add up and give you some points back to be invested else where. This is very important as even though Wraithguard are survivable they are still in a suicide mission role and you want suicide units to be as cheap as possible.

Dragons also have battle focus and fleet which is an extremely awesome combination of rules. If you have the right scenery in use and get good rolls then your Dragons can be using cover to their advantage of have LOS blocked to them – you cannot shoot or assault what you cannot see.

In addition, Dragons can deal with vehicles in close combat if they are able to assault. They also have a method of dealing with monstrous creatures too, so if a slow monster wants to assault Fire Dragons then it best think twice!

The weakness of Fire Dragons is the low toughness, but I think this is offset by battle focus which can get into good position and you are playing Eldar – all infantry (except all wraith units and jetbikes) are T3 so really I do not see that being an over all issue.

One problem I do have with Fire Dragons, this is personally me, that is they are finecrap or metal and neither of those I can stand. Wraithguard comes in plastic which gets two big thumbs up from me.

Winner = Fire Dragons

The Fire Dragons offer better heavy armour destruction and the rest of the Eldar army can deal with light armour and transport vehicles, which the Wraithguard do very well. Dragons are also cheaper and without a doubt both units are on a suicide mission and will be shot at or hacked to bits one way or another. Sure they are weaker, but the majority of Eldar models are T3 anyway so I cannot seeing that being a problem.

Wraithguard or Fire Dragons, which unit is your favourite and why?

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