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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Army List: Harlequins 1850 pts MSU Mech

Our next reader request army list is MSU Harlequins with Craftworlders. I want to design a list that employs lots of distributed S6 weapons, Leadership debuff shenanigans, and a handful of D weapons to deal with hard targets. Time to get creative with the Space Elf Clowns!

Unit Selection

You can read my full analyses of Codex Eldar Harlequins and Codex Eldar Craftworlds to get all the information you could possibly need on units from these two Factions; for this post, we'll keep it brief and just focus on what we want in our MSU list.

Harlequins are going to be the Primary Faction in this list, so we'll plan on taking the Masque Detachment. Unfortunately, the Masque Detachment forces us to take some very suboptimal units—especially the Voidweaver—to fill mandatory slots. Nevertheless, the units we actually want to include in a MSU list are:

  • Death Jesters
  • Troupes
  • Starweavers
Before the release of Craftworlds, I would have included Skyweavers on that list too, but Windriders are just so much better. Lots of different Craftworlds units will work well in support of Harlequins, but these are the ones we're going to use for this MSU list:

  • Autarch
  • Windriders
  • Hemlock Wraithfighter

Death Jesters

Paying 60 pts for a single Shuriken Cannon isn't great, but we mainly want the Death Jester for his excellent Death Is Not Enough rule: if he inflicts any casualties then his target unit must take a Morale check with -2Ld, and if they fail then you get to choose the direction they flee in. The Ld debuff is what we really want—to combine with a further -2Ld from an allied Hemlock—but being able to choose the flee direction is a nice ability too, especially if the enemy has a squad near a side table edge.


Paying 95 pts for a 5-man squad with no meaningful firepower also isn't great, but we need Troupes to fill mandatory Troops slots and unlock Starweavers as dedicated transports. Since we are taking a Masque, our Troupes will benefit from Rising Crescendo (Run and charge) so we may as well spend some points on making them decent in melee, to give them some meaningful damage potential:

  • 5-man squad with five Harlequin's Caress (135 pts)
And of course, a dedicated Starweaver.


A Craftworlds Vyper with two Shuriken Cannon and a Holo-Field would cost 65 pts; a Starweaver is exactly that, plus a six-model transport capacity, for only 70 pts—nice and efficient! We can fit a Troupe and one Death Jester into each Starweaver—or just a Death Jester—to give us a mobile gunboat that fires six S6 shots natively plus another three S6 shots from its passengers.


An Autarch starts at 70 pts and can be kept cheap or easily become very expensive depending on what you want to do with him. We mainly want him for his Reserve manipulation utility and can afford to treat him as expendable given he will not be the Warlord—we will therefore configure him for harassment duties:

  • Autarch with Banshee Mask, Swooping Hawk Wings, and Power Spear (105 pts)
His first turn assault threat range is 30", and with immunity to Overwatch and Fleet rerolls on his charge range, you may as well throw him at the enemy as soon as possible to apply early pressure. If we have 10 pts spare we'll give him a Fusion Gun too.


Harlequin Skyweavers cost 50 pts for a single Shuriken Cannon, while Craftworlds Windriders cost only 27 pts per Shuriken Cannon or Scatter Laser. Since we'll have plenty of Bladestorm shots from our Harlequins, our Windriders can bring Scatter Lasers for longer threat range:

  • 3 Windriders with Scatter Lasers (81 pts)
Their target priority will be light armour, so the Harlequins can prioritise infantry.

Hemlock Wraithfighter

All the units we've looked at so far bring plenty of S6 firepower, but we don't have anything to kill AV13+ yet. Enter the Hemlock, a Flyer with two D shots—albeit with -1 on the Destroyer table—who can deal with any hard targets we encounter.

Furthermore, Hemlocks each bring a Mindshock Pod, which creates a 12" bubble of -2Ld to enemies making Morale/Pinning/Fear tests; this synergises very nicely with Harlequin Death Jesters. Note that this debuff stacks by RAW. Finally, Hemlocks are also Telepathy psykers, so we can also use them to Psychic Shriek Monsters/Gargantuans that are inefficient to shoot with mass S6. So much utility for only 185 pts!

Army List

We'll start with our Masque Detachment, and fill its mandatory slots with three Troupes with dedicated Starweavers, two empty Starweavers, and the Voidweaver tax. This leaves us with seven Elites slots, which we will partially fill with five Death Jesters—three to join Troupes in their dedicated Starweavers, and two to individually ride in Fast Attack Starweavers. All this costs 1130 pts, leaving us 720 pts to spend on Craftworlders.

We'll use a Combined Arms Detachment for our Craftworlders, mainly so we can get Objective Secured on our Windriders. Our mandatory HQ slot gets filled by a harassment Autarch, and our mandatory Troops slots get filled by small Scatter Laser Windrider squads. This leaves us with 453 pts, which is not quite enough for three Hemlocks, so we'll just have to take two. We have just enough points remaining to take a third Windrider squad, resulting in this army list:
Masque Detachment: Eldar Harlequins
Death Jester [60]
Death Jester [60]
Death Jester [60]
Death Jester [60]
Death Jester [60]
5 Troupe, five Harlequin's Caresses [135]
Starweaver [70]
5 Troupe, five Harlequin's Caresses [135]
Starweaver [70]
5 Troupe, five Harlequin's Caresses [135]
Starweaver [70]
Fast Attack
Starweaver [70]
Starweaver [70]
Heavy Support
Voidweaver [75]
Combined Arms Detachment: Eldar Craftworlds
Autarch, Banshee Mask, Swooping Hawk Wings, Power Spear [105]
3 Windriders, three Scatter Lasers [81]
3 Windriders, three Scatter Lasers [81]
3 Windriders, three Scatter Lasers [81]
Fast Attack
Hemlock Wraithfighter [185]
Hemlock Wraithfighter [185]
1848 pts
All that amounts to five good gunboats, one mediocre gunboat, two Flyers, three Jetbike squads, and an annoying solo character. It fires a respectable 81 S6 shots per turn, distributed amongst up to 13 different targets. This firepower should allow you to deal with light/medium armour quite easily, as well as infantry—especially non-Fearless infantry. Once the Hemlocks arrive from Reserve you can start forcing Morale checks on -2/-4/-6Ld and really hurt a lot of armies.

This list doesn't have much in the way of anti-air, relying only on its high volume of fire to hit Flyers and Flying Monsters. It may also run into trouble against armies with multiple high-AV vehicles and Fortifications and decent anti-air capability, as you are relying on the Hemlocks to wreck these hard targets with their Distort Scythe shots.

I would nominate one of the Harlequin Troupe Masters as your Warlord, since the Autarch is sacrificial and the Masque allows you to reroll on the excellent Harlequin tables. Light Traits are a good choice for 2+ Seize the Initiative, or Twilight Traits for the +2/-2 manipulation of Random Game Length. I would probably take Light in Maelstrom missions to set up the alpha strike, and Twilight in Eternal missions to set up the last turn Objective snatch with Objective Secured Windriders.


Good MSU lists can be built from Eldar Harlequins with Craftworlds support, but you have to ask yourself whether you would be better off just with Craftworlds alone and maximum Windrider S6 spam. I think this Harlequin list has some advantages over pure Windrider spam, particularly its reduced vulnerability to Flyers and Flying Monsters thanks to being mechanised. And synergising Mindshock Pods and Death is Not Enough will make for an interesting playstyle.


  1. I imagine 80% of this list get shot off the table by Tau, and the rest of it get tabled by turn 3. I really want to play Harlequins too (Shadowseer Telepathy spam + invisible Harlequin bikes) but I just don't see them surviving shooty opponent's turn 1. "being mechanised" with AV 10 paper planes is nothing.

  2. + playing an MSU army without Objective Secured is a laugh of the GW design team.

  3. Please share your imagined Tau list that is capable of killing 15 units on turn one.

  4. Dunno about 15, but mine can easily kill 5/6 of yours a turn (if not more)
    1850 (haven't put exact upgrades on but can share exact list if required)

    Buff commander, iridium, hnr, shield gen, drone contr, cnc node

    Melta Crisis suit
    Riptide, ion, fusion, ewo, velocity

    6 firewarriors, devilfish, blacksun
    6 firewarriors, devilfish
    10 kroot

    6 Marker Drones
    6 pathfinders

    Skyray with sms, disruption, blacks

    Firebase cadre
    Riptide, sms, hbc, ion acc, ewo, skyfire
    3 broadsides, ewo, hymp, sms
    3 broadsides ewo, hymp, sms

    Bunker, void shield

    PS imo tau can answer a lot of these 'new' lists that people are coming up with to deal with the new scares

  5. That list has three mobile shooters. If you deploy and go first against these Harlequins on a table with reasonable terrain, and you kill more than four units, then the Eldar player is the real clown...

  6. I really feel that if you are going with an MSU list for harlequins, allying with dark eldar would be better, allowing you to nab their raiders in the fast attack slots with the real space raider detachment. You lose objective secured but gain a greater balance of options, as well as more chassis.
    (Mounting death jesters alone in raiders for example)

  7. I agree, but the original reader request was for Craftworlds allies ;-)

  8. Drop the autarch. Put warlocks and farseers in the bike squads. Hand out guide, doom, and shrouded. Laugh as your opponents flip the table in frustration at the scatter bikers being practically invulnerable unless they have ignore cover AP3 weapons.

  9. Apart from being about 150 pts short of affording that, the problem with using Warlocks to buff Windriders is that 2++ Jinking Jetbikes aren't shooting effectively and are thus pretty useless.

  10. They can easily find terrain to jump into for a 3+ cover without jinking, or a 2+ if they really need it. I just played vs two units this last weekend with that combo. It'll take most of your army to take them out if you don't have ignore cover AP3, and they will stay nicely out of range of any CC due to their mobility and 36 inch range.

  11. Well I assume you want to play the game too :). You're not going to be killing much since you're rolling into 2+/3+ cover/armour saves, and my riptides aren't going to let you come into range without being in range of the a pack of broadsides. You also forget that I have markerlights, so if you're counting my riptides as the only mobile units, my broadsides can move up, raise their bs to 5 (+their guns are twin-linked) from 4 marker lights, and still likely have two for ignores cover.

    Also I have up to 28-36 sms shots a turn, how is a table with good cover going to help you?

    My units that I will be using to score maelstrom are also much more expendable than yours so

  12. True, but killing four 'Terminators' can be done reasonably easily with enough dakka. It just depends how seriously your opponent wants them dead (relative to other units). I don't know if you need the Warlock investment for that in this sort of list, your opponent will already be at target saturation.

  13. I wouldn't expect too much from 2+/3+ saves against 40+ Rending S6 shots... The mobility of your list is very low. Moving Broadsides aren't very scary. Dependence on Markers is a weakness because they also need range/LOS and are a primary target. And all the vehicles have an invul so Ignores Cover is not really that significant.

    SMS is irrelevant because most of them are firing at the same target as your primary weapons, with shorter range, on slow movers.

    I'm not sure if you realise how ridiculous a Ld abuse list is against Tau. If you don't kill all the DJs on turn one (at least 10 different units destroyed, not going to happen) then you're going to suffer crippling losses immediately.

  14. Well you can't rend broadsides inside a bunker, and you can't rend a riptide who's out of range. Rending also won't help my other broadsides in 2+ cover with shadowsun. Ok some rending may do a couple of wounds to my buff commander.

    Cover was in response to your own point. The invuln is worse than your cover save tho right?

    Ok sir, so your death jesters who are supposedly coming in to threaten me, and since you are a canny opponent they will be within range of my sms out of Los no? Otherwise they must be in sight and therefore I can kill them and keep them at bay with some screening while shooting them or you are not threatening me.

    Re leadership. I have leadership 9 on my two riptides, 10 on my drones, and 10 on my broadside unit not sotting with shadowsun. Assuming you manage to do a wound with a jester which I haven't done the math for but assume would be in the region of statistically being 1 per turn when you have the full 6 since you're ap5 and then hoping for blade storm and then hoping I fail cover... You really seem to be overestimating their strength. Also I'm a bit hazy on the rules for them but I seem to remember you're t5 no save 2 wounds or something? A squad of fire warriors + a fish could probably kill that if u don't go to ground somewhere

    I do admit I haven't played against harlies yet so I may be really off, and I'm not saying it's a bad list, but I agree with the previous commenter that tau could give u a run for your money

  15. They may need a nudge in the right direction ;-)

  16. What would you say is the main weakness of this list?

  17. So I'll start off by declaring that I have a low opinion of Tau in a competitive context.

    Putting a short-medium range shooter into a Bunker makes them utterly useless. They can be range/LOS denied very easily by a mobile army such as this.

    Your Tau list has only four primary shooters, compared to 15 in this Clown list. That is a huge difference in threat distribution. Plus you have neutered one shooter by making them static. Another compromises its shooting if it moves.

    Without bothering to hypothetically play out a battle between these two lists, the fundamental difference is that you have to kill 10+ units to neutralise the Clowns, while they only have to kill 3 of yours. So even if Tau go first and don't get Seized, then you still cannot alpha strike the Clowns; the reverse is not true.

    You might want to read up those Ld-affecting rules. Your base Ld9/10 is not going to save you when you have a -4 or -6 modifier. You might also want to check up on Harlequin defensive stats.

  18. I'm planning on posting some multi-Eldar builds in the next week or so ;-)

  19. New Knights, for sure. All this list has for heavy armour is the two Flyers, and new Knights get Sky/Int Autocannon now :-(

    I'll be posting my Knights codex review this week.