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Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, HQ Units

Let's analyse the HQ options available to Astra Militarum . Like all my reviews, this will be from a competitive play perspective, ...

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Review: Death Masque Harlequins


The Eldar Harlequin range has some very sexy models, that are sadly rarely seen in competitive play. Will their new datasheets in Death Masque change that?

Formation Substitution

Death Masque includes a number of datasheets for unique versions of normal Harlequin units. There is a new Formation that lets you take all those unique units together with Eldrad (The Coherian Host), but interestingly you can also use these unique units as substitutions for their generic equivalents in other Harlequin Formations. So let's review these unique units with a view towards improving the competitiveness of the Harlequin Faction.

Death's Companions

This is a six-model Harlequin Troupe with fixed weapon options that costs 135 pts and has an extra rule allowing them to Run and charge in the same turn. This is a very nice rule for fragile assault infantry, and it is not restricted on the first turn like the Codex equivalent rule Rising Crescendo; however, the fixed size and weapon selection for this Troupe means that they will not hit as hard as a larger all-Caress or all-Embrace squad. That said, being able to move 6" in a Starweaver, disembark another 6", Run D6" (reroll, average 4") and charge 2D6" (reroll, average 8") means you have an expected assault threat range of 24" on turn one.

A normal Troupe of this size and configuration would cost 146 pts—without the Run-and-charge rule—so you save 11 pts on this unique unit and get a nice upside, but note that its leader only has trooper stats (albeit with W2) so that's one less attack then you would normally have, and there is also the opportunity cost of not having a Haywire Grenade.

And before you start dreaming up any deathstar combos, the Run-and-charge rule only applies to models from the unique squad. Which also sadly means that they are not even worth considering as a Cast of Players.

Company of the Threefold Stranger

Another six-model Harlequin Troupe with fixed weapons options and the Run-and-charge rule, this one costs 155 pts which is a 5 pts discount off the price of an equivalent normal Troupe. Unfortunately, this unique squad has a terribad weapons configuration and has no business being in melee against anything not-garbage.

Inriam's Spectre

A unique Death Jester with Haywire Grenades costing 70 pts, you pay a 5 pts premium for the benefit of Shrouded—now that's a deal I'd make any day! The utility of adding guaranteed, always-on Shrouded and Hit & Run to any Eldar/DE/Harlequin/Corsair squad for only 70 pts—with a relevant gun attached—is a good option to have in your arsenal. If you just want to splash Harlequins in another army with a Cast of Players then this is the Death Jester you want to include in that Formation.

The Blades of Fate

A two-model Skyweaver squad with Zephyrglaives for 125 pts represents another 5 pts premium over the generic equivalent, but these guys get a super-good reroll Jink rule which is worth much more than only 5 pts. Like normal Skyweavers, Craftworlders are better off taking Windriders or Shining Spears, but the other Eldar Factions prefer clown-bikes over their own. And if you take a Formation with a Skyweaver tax then these guys make a worthy substitute (except Cegorach's Jest, that already rerolls Jink for free).

The Serpent's Breath

I don't know if I'm missing something here, but this looks to me to be just a normal Voidweaver with the Prismatic Cannon downgrade for a 10 pts premium and zero upside. If this is indeed the case, then this represents a terribad unit, only ever taken as a Detachment/Formation tax, with a weapon downgrade and an extra points tax... OMFG I'd rather shit in my hand and clap, thanks GW.

Formation: The Coherian Host

Take all the models in the box and Eldrad gains Eternal Warrior and everyone gets a truly unmodifiable 6+ bonus save that can even shrug off D weapons. Meh. Both these Formation rules are decent, but the Formation composition is just too crap to bother with.

Conclusion

Sadly, Death Masque does very little to improve Harlequins. Since the release of Codex Eldar Harlequins, Craftworld Eldar skyrocketed to top-tier and have no need of allies, and DE have sunk so far down the competitive ladder that the addition of Harlies is not enough to save them. There is nothing in Death Masque that makes Harlies good enough to appear in Craftworld lists. A Cast of Players is still a good way to include Harlequins as a splash in other Factions—and I recommend including Inriam's Spectre in any such Formationbut otherwise these rules are sadly just dead weight.

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