Enough of the forthcoming Codex Eldar Craftworlds has been previewed or leaked to send the usual internet crybabies into a new frenzy of failing. Let's take a look at what we know—or believe—at this point in time, with less hyperbole (but more sarcasm and arrogant disdain).
JetbikesThe new rules for Windriders have been confirmed. Same price, same squad size, same profile and rules, but a significant change in weapon options: now every single model in a Windrider squad can upgrade their twin Shuriken Catapults to a Shuriken Cannon or Scatter Laser. This is a huge change from the one-in-three limit that's been around forever—the cynic will say this is GW's way of forcing established player to buy new models, but if you take one look at those sexy new models you will realise that nobody is going to need coercion to replace their venerable old Jetbikes.
This change is certainly a big boost to the offensive potential of Windriders—cue mass crying over Eldar spamming S6 shots (because they've never been able to do that before... dumbasses)—but let's turn to mathhammer to quantitatively assess this change:
Both heavy weapon options are viable, with the Shuriken Cannon better against exposed targets and the Scatter Laser better against targets with a 4++ cover (or invulnerable) save. The extra range of the Scatter Laser is nice, but I think you'll probably see both options in competitive lists—primarily driven by whether the old or new models are in use!
Importantly, both heavy weapon options are much better than the stock Twin Catapults option, and this will significantly change the way that Windriders are played. Instead of being relegated to minimised units that spend most of the game hiding, and are included in armies only to snatch Objectives, Relics and Linebreaker, we will likely see Windriders becoming mainline fighting units in many Eldar armies. This is a very nice change, and I'm a big fan.
What's that? The fluffy option is now viable for use outside a purely casual gaming environment? GW are giving players what they've demanded for years? OMG!!!1 TOO MUCH SHOOTY!!!1 RAGEQUIT!!!1
Now while the crybabies are ragequitting, and the crusty old veterans are frantically scrounging for Shuriken Cannons to convert their 20 year old models, the more astute players amongst us will realise that the new Windriders are by no means the auto-win button some are calling them. At 27 pts per model for what is basically a fast Space Marine with portable cover, you can't expect Windriders to face-tank serious firepower, and a big investment in Windriders will likely leave you with quite a fragile army. Have another look at that mathhammer table above to see how well Marines in 4++ cover stand up to the levels of firepower that have been the norm in 40k since late 5th Ed.
One option to buff the resilience of your Windriders is to invest a further 50 pts for a Warlock, whose Primaris power is apparently still Conceal, conferring Shrouded to the unit. A 2++ cover save when Jinking makes your Windriders tougher than Terminators against most shooting, although if your 330 pts unit is Jinking every time they get looked at then your army is probably suffering from the loss of offensive output.
At this early stage, I think MSU Windriders will be the way to go: five-man squads of all Cannons or all Lasers, who can do respectable damage for only 135 pts and retain all the VP scoring potential of their previous incarnations. Warlocks are probably not worthwhile to protect MSU squads, but you do have the option of spamming Warlocks as 'Warp Charge batteries' if you're including a Seer Council in your list.
Lastly, rumour has it that the Windrider Formation within the Warhost Detachment has a special rule that confers Shred to all Shuriken weapons once per game; if this is correct, Shuriken Cannons will obviously be the go-to option rather than Scatter Lasers.
Wraiths and DMany tears have been cried over the change to Distort weapons, upgrading them to the 'dreaded D' that so many players still irrationally fear. But how much of a difference is there really between S10 and D?
Let's start with the much-maligned Wraithknight and its pair of Heavy Wraithcannon. These were S10 AP2 with Instant Death on a 6. In other words, they were already:
- Wounding everything on 2+
- Always one-shotting T5 and lower
- One-shotting T6+ on a 6 (except Gargantuans and Eternal Warriors)
- Taking a HP automatically from AV10 and AV11
- Taking a HP on a 2+ from the very common AV12
- Taking a HP on a 3+ or 4+ against the rarer AV13 and AV14
- Still wounding everything on a 2+
- Still always one-shotting T5 and lower
- Still one-shotting T6+ on a 6 (now including most Gargantuans and Eternal Warriors)
- Taking D3 HP on a 2+ regardless of AV
- One-shotting vehicles on a 6 (except the most expensive Super Heavies)
- Ignoring cover and invulnerable saves on a 6
Oh well, haters gonna hate!
I think the thing which gets players up-in-arms about D weapons is the ignoring cover and invulnerables on a 6. But when you consider that those same players likewise complain about rerollable strong cover and invulnerable saves, the argument loses all credibility. Every measure has a countermeasure. If you choose to invest heavily into a deathstar or expensive single model that is nigh-unkillable by conventional means, then you have to accept the risk that you will encounter an army with a 'nuclear option' capable of countering your strategy.
The Wraithknight fires two shots per turn. That means it can kill two models per turn. MSU and horde armies don't care. If you're bringing Knights, Riptides, Greater Daemons, Hierodules, or Wraithknights of your own, then you're complaining loudly all over the internet right now.
Look in the mirror before you cry, "cheese", retards.
Let's look quickly at the smaller Wraiths. Squads of Wraithguard are going to overkill their target if they get close, but that has always been the case. They are still slow and expensive. The template variant is rumoured to have -1 to its Destroyer rolls so they will be only a little bit better than they currently are. Webway Portal Wraiths are still going to be a threat, but if you haven't learn how to deploy defensively against Deep Strike then you deserve the butthurt. Suck less.
The Hemlock could be interesting, but we'll need to see its full rules before we can pass a fair judgement.
Wave SerpentsIt looks like the shield is being changed to a 24" S6 Ignores Cover 2D6 shots one-use weapon. I think this is a very reasonable change, and I'm very glad that GW did not knee-jerk to the opposite extreme of the power scale. As a result, I think we will see more light and medium armour return to the battlefields of the 41st millenium, and we may end up moving back towards a Mech MSU metagame similar to late 5th Ed given the proliferation of D weapons; and eventually, the inevitable breakdown of tournament resistance to change. Adapt or perish.
I think three will become the optimal number of Serpents to run in a 1850-2000 pts army, down from five, and this will allow room for some more interesting list choices and greater diversity. I'm looking forward to running an Aspect Host Formation of three Fire Dragon squads with BS5, who can ride their Serpent 6", disembark 6", run 6" and then shoot thanks to Battle Focus—I'm not worried about killing Wraithknights!
Warhost DetachmentPure awesomesauce.
GW have hit a gold mine with these new Mega-Detachment-of-Formations like the Warhost and the Decurion before it. Instead of using fluff as a stick, GW have figured out how to use it as a carrot; instead of Jervis crying about players building unfluffy lists (protip: only morons want to lose) the design team have offered powerful bonuses to players who build their lists around fluff archetypes.
Will there still be min-maxing? Of course there will, this is gaming for fuck's sake. Min-maxing is not a problem unique to 40k, get over it.
Rumour has it that the Footdar Formations pass around Preferred Enemy like candy, the Seer Council harnesses the warp on a 3+ (massive!) and the entire Mega-Detachment always Run the full 6" without needing to roll. Combined with Battle Focus, Footdar could actually be viable again for the first time in four Editions—nice! There are some other good Formation rules rumoured at this point, but we'll have to wait and see to assess the full rules.
But it does look like the Warhost will be a viable option for competitive games, which is really good for the game. People have been complaining that Unbound and the relaxed Allies table have resulted in 40k armies that are not recognisable as 40k armies, and I sympathise with this perspective to a degree. Seeing Eldar summon daemons always made me die a little bit inside, and Nids & Knights is just retarded. Now I am not a fan of artificial restrictions that stop players from playing by the rules however they like—but offering significant incentives to play recognisable, archetypal 40k armies is going to be great as we move further into 7th Ed.