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Warhammer 40K: Meet 1988’s Original Rogue Trader Harlequin Armylist

4 Minute Read
May 8 2024
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The first Eldar Harlequin Troupes danced across our planet in 1988. Let’s take a look at that original armylist from many Editions ago.

Today we go back to the early days of the game.  The dancing, prancing warriors first arrived in White Dwarf 105 and 106 in September and October 1988 – during Rogue Trader, Warhammer 40,000’s first edition.

The first issue covered the lore and background of the Harlequins and the Eldar. It was from here that we got a first look at the Black Library, and many types of Harlequins, some of which have not yet returned to us.

The Lore

The lore arrived in White Dwarf 105. This seminal article laid out all the basics of how Harlequins worked, their performances, roles and subtypes, and ways of war.

Here’s a page of units that are still missing in the current Harlequin codex. Can we please get Mimes please…

An intriguing piece of lore on how the Solitaires move silently within Eldar society.

The Army List


The initial list arrived the next month in White Dwarf 106. It laid down all the details on units, equipment options, and point costs, along with some more detail and artwork on all things killer-clowns.

Yup, I remember when Death Jesters had Las-cannon options.

High Avatar, Troupes and Death Jesters on page one. I’d like to call out the Equipment section first. Put a pin in that.  Note the two ranks of Death Jesters, the psychic options for the Avatars, and those sky high statlines.


Page two has the Warlocks and Solitaire. It was the psychic abilities that were both formidable and expensive in points back then. Level 4 Psykers were not to trifled with in Rogue Trader! Note the Solitaire could be built almost any way you wanted, including with a Death Jester Shuriken Cannon.

This is where the magic happens! Want Harlies with D-cannons – cool! How about your Troupe’s characters loaded down with Vortex grenades, zipping around the table on a Flight Pack – not a problem! Conversion-beamers, Jokaero digital weapons?  Well, let’s just say the High Avatar and Solitaire has a LOT of crap in their knapsacks for the Troupe to pick and choose from.


Now we get to the original metal Harlequins the Troups boxed set. Note the Solitaire center lower row, and High Avatar leftmost, 3rd row from the top.

The next month, even more would be released as blisterpacks.


There is also some fantastic early 90s artwork in here. Note the potential political commentary by Jes Goodwin back in the day (1988)…

It’s been 36 years and the Harlequins are all grown up with multiple codexes behind them and most recently inclusion in to the Aeldari Index for 10th Edition.  The killer clowns have come a long, long way.  We still wait to see how they will fare in later 10th Edition once the Aeldari Codex arrives.

Do you have any Fond Memories of the Rogue Trader Harlequin list? Let us know.

Author: Larry Vela
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