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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Army List: Saim Hann and Harlequins



Here is my first attempt at list building with the new Codex Eldar Harlequins. It is not intended to be an optimised tournament list (no Wave Serpents) but should be able to hold its own against most armies. My unit selection is primarily driven by the models I have on my workbench right now—Harlequins, lots of Jetbikes, and a Lynx—that are going to be painted up in Saim Hann colours as a change from my old Ulthwe army.

The Wild Hunt



My Saim Hann force will be primarily comprised of Jetbikes, and lots of them. I want to field 30 or so Jetbikes and I expect this will allow me to achieve fairly good board control. The flying base supplied with Eldar Jetbike kits is roughly 40 mm in diameter (I actually just use 40 mm bases for mine) and with maximum squad coherency you can generate a fairly big footprint even with small squads.

A minimum-sized Windrider Guardian squad is only 51 pts, or 61 pts with a single Shuriken Cannon. Consider that a single Harlequin Skyweaver costs 50 pts and has a Shuriken Cannon and two wounds with a 4+ save—meanwhile those three Windriders bring three wounds with a 3+ save, and a pair of twin-linked Shuriken Catapults alongside the Cannon. Three Jetbikes also have a much bigger footprint than one! This should reinforce why Skyweavers are really not very efficient shooters.


I will be taking a Combined Arms Detachment for my Saim Hann force so I have six Troops slots to fill; I have eighteen Windrider models so six squads of three will do nicely:
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
For only 366 pts we have bought ourselves a lot of board control potential in six super-fast Objective Secured units. These guys are worth their weight in gold in Maelstrom and Objective-based Eternal missions, but are of course quite a liability in Purge the Alien and similar kill-based missions—reserving and hiding are the way to go in such cases.

Again, consider that the same investment of points would only buy six Skyweavers with Zephyrglaives—that is a huge difference in board control and Objective scoring potential.


But of course, minimum-sized Windrider squads aren't very efficient in terms of damage output, so we'll need to also bring something with which to actually kill the enemy. In keeping with the Saim Hann theme—and the models I want to build and paint—the next addition to this list will be a squad of Shining Spears. The MSU approach does not work here, so we'll take a maximum-sized squad to maximise their damage potential. We'll also add an Exarch for access to Hit & Run and Monster Hunter:
Shining Spear Squad, 8x Shining Spears, Exarch with Star Lance, Hit & Run, Monster Hunter [265]
Very fast, fairly tough, and potent in both shooting (at close range) and assault, this will be the hammer unit that does the damage while the Windriders control the board.


We still need to fill a mandatory HQ slot, and an Autarch on Jetbike will fit the theme and add some much-needed reserve manipulation utility to an army with so many Windrider squads. With the right gear, we can also use him to add extra power to the Shining Spear unit too. A Laser Lance makes our Autarch S6 AP3 on the charge; the Celestial Lance from the Iyanden supplement is S6 AP2, but I don't think paying an extra 25 pts for AP2 is necessarily worthwhile.


The Shard of Anaris is a good alternative, making our Autarch S5 Rending even in the second round of combat—useful considering that Shining Spears hit like limp noodles when they haven't charged. But more importantly, the Shard confers Fearless to its wielder—essential for a big expensive unit like this one—and this justifies the hefty 40 pts cost of this Relic:
Autarch with Jetbike and Shard of Anaris [125]
We still have a second HQ slot available, and since we're already investing a lot of points in our Shining Spear unit, we may as well invest some more to improve its resilience. A Farseer on Jetbike adds three more wounds (with a 4++ Invulnerable save) and the potential for defensive buffs like Fortune, Invisibility and Shrouding:
Farseer with Jetbike [115]
Of course, we'll need something to boost the Warp Charge battery if we actually want to get those powers off reliably, but we'll get to that later.

So far we've spent 871 pts on twenty-nine Jetbikes of various flavours, including a decent hammer unit and six MSU squads for board control and Objective scoring. Not a bad start, but we still need something that can hit hard from range, since relying on assault alone is just asking for trouble.

The Hand of Death

If you want to kill hard targets at range then the Eldar Lynx is the most efficient D-shooter in the game. At 420 pts base for a Pulsar—R60" D AP2 Primary 2 Large Blast—the Lynx is already more efficient than a Revenant, and for a mere 10 pts extra you can equip it with a Scatter Laser for a 99% chance for twin-linking through Laser Lock.


The downside to the Lynx is its relative fragility; with only AV11 and HP6 and no Jink, even its Eldar Titan Holofields will not keep it alive all game. With so many Windriders in this list, bubble-wrapping it against fast/Podding melta should not be too difficult, but the Lynx still benefits from an extra layer of protection. The 4++ Invulnerable save conferred by the Skyshield Landing Pad is very valuable when investing in a Lynx:
Lynx with Pulsar, Scatter Laser [430]
Skyshield Landing Pad [75]
This completes our Saim Hann Combined Arms Detachment for now, at a total cost of 1376 pts; time to add some Harlequins!

Cegorach's Emissaries

Harlequins can get very expensive, very quickly, and with so many Formation options available it pays to pre-determine their battlefield role before you start spending. In this army list, it's tempting to bring some Skyweavers to follow the Saim Hann theme, but when you already have Windriders for shooting and Shining Spears for assaulting, there really isn't much further need for Skyweavers. This army should already be able to shoot, assault, and block fairly well, but it is missing backfield scoring and Warp Charge generation.


Shadowseers are obviously the solution to the Warp Charge generation deficiency, and they are fairly efficient at this task—and good psykers in their own right too! You can get Shadowseers in the Harlequin Masque Detachment, and the Cegorach's Revenge, Cast of Players and Heroes' Path Formations. Now the first two are far too expensive to use as secondary force, leaving the Cast of Players and Heroes' Path as viable options for our army list.

Option 1: Cast of Players


A Cast of Players comprising a minimum-sized Troupe without upgrades, Death Jester, and Shadowseer upgraded to Mastery Level 2, costs a total of 240 pts. This investment gives you a small squad that can happily sit on a backfield or near-midfield Objective with Veil of Tears and/or Dance of Shadows for protection. They can contribute to the fight with the Death Jester's Shuriken Cannon and Phantasmancy Witchfires and Maledictions. And if the enemy get close, or something weak(ish) penetrates your backfield to steal Objectives or Linebreaker, then your small Troupe is still capable of charging in and doing some damage. Cleaning up Objective Secured Drop Pods is a good job for these guys:
Cast of Players
Death Jester with Haywire Grenades [65]
Shadowseer with Mastery Level 2, Haywire Grenades, Mask of Secrets [105]
Troupe, 4x Player, Troupe Master with Harlequin's Caress, Haywire Grenades [108]
This combined unit fulfils its intended roles of backfield scoring and Warp Charge generation, but it is certainly not cheap for its support role. This is the real dilemma of the new Harlequins: you have to spend a lot just to get a basic unit, but you have to spend a lot to get a unit that can inflict some damage.

Option 2: The Heroes' Path


Instead of hiding your Shadowseer in a squad with eight ablative wounds and a Shuriken Cannon, you can run him solo with Stealth and Shrouded and Infiltrate him into terrain for a 2+ cover save. You still get a Death Jester that can fulfil that Objective-holding role—likewise relying on Stealth and Shrouded for resilience. And instead of a Troupe you get a Solitaire.

Now that Solitaire is most definitely not going to be fulfilling a backfield scoring role! But he does give you one more hammer unit with which to deal some damage alongside the Shining Spears squad and its attached characters:
The Heroes' Path
Solitaire with Haywire Grenades [150]
Death Jester with Haywire Grenades [65]
Shadowseer with Mastery Level 2, Haywire Grenades [90]
For a huge 305 pts you get just three models; again we see Harlequins fulfilling their support role at high cost, but in this case we do get some extra damage output via the Solitaire.

I actually think that this Formation could work quite well in this army list, since with all those Windrider squads you may just overwhelm your opponent with MSU targets and correspondingly improve the survivability of your solo Harlequin characters.

Conclusion

The Cast of Players and Heroes' Path both seem to be viable options for adding Harlequins in a supporting role, so we'll take one of each in our army. When we put all these building-blocks together we get a list that looks something like this:
Combined Arms Detachment
HQ
Autarch with Jetbike and Shard of Anaris [125]
Farseer with Jetbike [115]
Troops
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Windrider Guardian Squad, 3x Windriders, 1x Shuriken Cannon [61]
Fast Attack
Shining Spear Squad, 8x Shining Spears, Exarch with Star Lance, Hit & Run, Monster Hunter [265]
Lord of War
Lynx with Pulsar, Scatter Laser [430]
Fortification
Skyshield Landing Pad [75]
The Heroes' Path
Solitaire with Haywire Grenades [150]
Death Jester with Haywire Grenades [65]
Shadowseer with Mastery Level 2, Haywire Grenades [90]
Cast of Players
Death Jester with Haywire Grenades [65]
Shadowseer with Mastery Level 2, Haywire Grenades, Mask of Secrets [105]
Troupe, 4x Player, Troupe Master with Harlequin's Caress, Haywire Grenades [108]
1959 pts
That's a whole lot of different units in a 2000 pts army list! In practice you have twelve manoeuvre elements:
  • Autarch + Farseer + Shining Spears hammer
  • Solitaire hammer
  • Lynx + Skyshield firebase
  • Support Troupe
  • Solo Death Jester
  • Solo Shadowseer
  • Six MSU Windriders
The Lynx and Troupe hold backfield, the Spears and Solitaire play aggressively, and the MSU Windriders and solo Shadowseer and Death Jester aim to control the midfield. I haven't nominated a Warlord, but I'm tempted to use the Troupe Master and roll on Twilight—the Random Game Length manipulation Trait would be obscenely broken in a MSU Jetbike army! But without a Trait reroll, simply nominating the Autarch or Farseer and rolling on Strategic is the more reliable option.

So will this army list be competitive? I think it could do alright if it was played well, but it definitely lacks the raw power and efficiency of Serpent spam. But more importantly, it gives me a plan for how I will use the Eldar models in my project queue, and I think it will be an interesting army to play.

But most of all, I think this list demonstrates how hard it will be to integrate Harlequins into competitive Eldar armies, beyond simply adding Faolchu's Blade for Haywire. With Serpents, Hornets, Crimson Hunters, Lynx and Wraithknights already at their disposal, Eldar just do not really need Harlequin assistance.

6 comments:

  1. I would add the Masque of Secrets to the Shadowseer for the -2 malus to Leadership.

    First of all, it is great with the Death Jester for a combined -4 as soon as you have caused one wound, which often lets to alpha-strike a unit off the board turn 1.
    Secondly, it works well with your melee unit to break the opponent quickly.

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  2. Celestial Lance is actually S8 AP2, so is really worth considering at least.

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  3. That's it's shooting profile only. In CC it's S+3 AP2 which is only S6 and really not worth 35 pts.

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  4. I did consider where to put the Mask, and decided on the Troupe for a few reasons:

    Firstly, it makes the Troupe Fearless, very important for a squad costing over 240 pts!

    Secondly, the solo Shadowseer is relying on a strong cover save to survive, so putting him within easy charge range of the enemy is counterproductive.

    Finally, the extra -2 Ld is likely to be most useful when cleaning Podders out of my own backfield.

    The Troupe is just as mobile as the solo characters, it just starts further away from the enemy; that's not a big deal considering that their role is not to leeroy directly into the enemy!

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  5. Looks like a nasty list, that should also be pretty fun to play! Man that lynx is nassssty.

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  6. Yeah it's pretty nasty, but it dies to a fart in its general direction!

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