If you’re like me, many 40k gamers have felt that 9th edition has been in beta mode for quite some time. Obviously, Covid has led to a lack of events, slowing down the release schedule, model production, and forcing many to turn to Table Top Simulator to satisfy their 40k fix. The recent FAQs and Erratas have served to spark some life back into the overall community and it appears that we are headed towards version 9.1 of this latest edition of 40K.
Aeldari factions, other than our precious Harlequin Murder Clowns, have been in a bit of a tough spot for a good portion of 9th edition. The combination of relatively weak troop options to play the primary, punishing secondaries (Bring it Down, Abhor the Witch, Grind Them Down, etc.), inflated unit costs, and power creep from the newer codex books (and better PA books) have left Craftworlds and Drukhari a bit wanting.
I believe the release of 9.1 helps the Aeldari factions in a big way and we will review the following in this article:
1) Changes to the GT Mission Pack
2) Core Rules Changes
3) Improved Troops
4) Biggest Winners
5) Final Thoughts
GT Mission Pack Changes Changes
Bring it Down
The change to the Bring it Down secondary is probably one of the single biggest changes to 9.1 that will make Aeldari factions competitive. Mechanized Craftworld lists and Venom Spam Drukhari lists were practically giving up maxed secondaries every game in early 9th edition and while the game would seem competitive on the tabletop, we would be playing from behind on the primary and secondary objectives most games. I like the change to the secondary, though I think GW could have done a better job with the points tiering for the new Bring it Down to something like:
1 – 7 wounds (light transports) = 1VP
8 – 12 wounds (transports, walkers, light armor) = 2VP
13 – 18 wounds (heavy armor) = 3VP
18+ wounds (ultra heavies) = 4VP
Craftworld armies won’t be hamstrung as much since the majority of their firepower options come from mechanized platforms. Drukhari armies can utilize their mobility without fear of allowing max points from Bring it Down and also giving up Grind it Down, thus allowing the army to leverage what makes them strong. I foresee many CW and Drukhari lists to feature a number of “vehicles” and multi-wound units that would give up a maximum of 7-10 VPs for their opponent, thus making it a very difficult decision to take as the Aeldari can play cagey and deny those secondaries based with savvy play.
Abhor the Witch
Another secondary that made it difficult, especially for Craftworld Aeldari to lean into their strengths, was the Abhor the Witch secondary. Craftworld psychic support has long been a strength of the army and being limited to 2 Psykers to prevent your opponent from maxing this secondary was a difficult tradeoff. With the change to Abhor the Witch, Craftworld armies don’t need to be quite as picky when selecting their units. Bring those two Farseers, Warlock Conclave, Wraithseers, Hemlock Wraithfighters, etc. Similar to Bring it Down, I would expect many builds to be centered around making it a tasty choice for your opponent to take this secondary as opposed to one of the action-based secondaries, but then playing cagey and denying your opponent the ability to run up the score.
Player 2 Primary Scoring
Another big win for the Aeldari. This was always one of the challenges in going second was that your opponent would be able to influence your last turn scoring. The ability for a mobile army to score primary points at the end of their turn allows for many ways to score where your opponent cannot impede or interact with you. Proper movement, Fire and Fade, Auto-Advance stratagems, Black Cornucopians, etc. This is a huge change that will benefit many Aeldari builds when forced to go second.
Abilities such as Fire and Fade, Quicken, Twilight Pathways, Black Cornucopians, Heroe’s Path among other ways to reposition in the late game, are going to be very valuable for scoring purposes in the late game.
Core Rules Changes
There were some interesting changes to Core Rules and Rare Rules that benefited the Aeldari.
Fire and Fade
There has been a long debate on whether Fire and Fade was considered a “normal move” and thus would allow fire and fading back into transports (the alternative is that Fire and Fade is considered a special move and thus not precluded from being used after a unit comes in from reserves). However, thanks to some nifty intention clarification, out of phase movement that states “move as if it was the movement phase” are now considered Normal Moves.
*Page 366 – Rules Term Glossary Add the following: Move normally: Rules that refer to move/moves/moving normally are the same thing as making a Normal Move, e.g. a rule that states ‘instead of moving this unit normally’ means ‘instead of making a Normal Move with this unit’. If a rule simply tells you to make a move as if it were the Movement phase, but does not specify what kind of move is being made, it is a Normal Move.
This opens up some interesting builds. Dark Reapers Fire and Fading in and out of Wave Serpents can now be an obnoxious play to annoy your opponents.
One of the primary reasons Aeldari haven’t been as competitive in 9th (Craftworlds in particular) is due to our lackluster troops. A fundamental aspect of a successful 9th edition is the availability of bodies that can control and last on objectives. Strong 9th edition armies have durable (or numerous) obsec bodies. Craftworld Aeldari in particular suffers from expensive troop options that lack durability. This has forced many Craftworld armies to turn to other options, such as Wraithblades.
While our options are no better than they were prior to the FAQ and Erratas, their points decrease means they can be fielded in larger numbers. Combined with the change in Abhor the Witch, now we won’t be punished as severely for bringing much needed psychic support to keep the troops on the board.
- Dire Avengers: The points decrease really helps these guys as either cheap MSU fillers for a patrol / battalion but also can be used in larger squads to lay down some dakka (perhaps coming out of a Wave Serpent).
- Guardian Defenders: These guys are the big winners to me. Their points decrease + changes to Abhor the Witch means that you can run big blobs of 20 again and provide them with psychic support to take or stay on an objective.
- Storm Guardians: Still probably the least useful of the Craftowrld troop options. They drop pretty significantly in points and could be useful as a screening unit or cheap bodies to try and take an early midfield or backfield objective while diverting fire away from other precious elements of your army.
- Rangers: Rangers have always been expensive for what they offer in 9th edition. In previous editions, their scout moves and cover bonuses offered some unique tools. However, in 9th edition, the biggest advantage they offer is the ability to achieve secondary objective points such as Deploy Scramblers, Behind Enemy Lines, etc.
Drukhari (Apparently a Horde Army Now)
Drukhari saw some big changes and points drops as well. However, some of the bigger changes are that Warriors, Wracks, and Wyches can now be fielded in squads of 20. Points drops are meaningful across the board in pretty much every build, and Drukhari troops are as strong as ever. I will be curious if these changes are precursors to larger changes that are forthcoming in the new Drukhari book.
- Wracks: Let’s start with my personal favorite, Wracks. The second best troop option Aeldari have available (behind Harlequin Players), Wracks drop to 8ppm but can be fielded in units of 20 models … I believe this has to be a typo as 60 T5/4++/6+++ models that can be picked up and brought back to full unit strength for 2CP (as many times as you’d like throughout a match) seems oppressive. If this sticks, I will most certainly be running a minimum of 60 Wracks and marching them up the board. Toss in an Ossefactor so that they can Fire and Fade onto a midfield objective, and you might have one of the single most durable Troop selections that can dominate board control all game long with Black Cornucopians.
- Warriors: The points decrease are welcome and in addition to the change in Bring it Down, typical Venom Spam or mechanized Drukhari forces become much more competitive as they give up far less secondary objective points.
- Wyches: Also received a much welcomed points drop. Truthfully, Wyches have seemed to be in sort of limbo for me as I have tended to lean into Wracks or Harlequin Players as my Aeldari troop options. They don’t hit quite as hard as I’d like, and aren’t as durable as other Troop options (see Wracks) but do have some interesting utility (less interesting when getting pasted by all sorts of bastard Primaris combat variants).
Overall, these are huge boons to Aeldari armies. These are some of the biggest winners from the FAQs, Errata, and points updates.
Let’s quickly talk about the elephant in the room. Reavers dropped to 10ppm and while I personally believe this is an oversight, typo, or mistake (swapped Hellion and Reaver points?) … on the off-chance that it was deliberate, these are an auto-include. Can you imagine a list containing 60 Wracks and 36 Reaver Jetbikes … yeah and that’s still under 1,000 points …
Hornets, Wraithlords, Wraithseers, War Walkers, Wasps, Vypers only yield a single VP when destroyed now. Wave Serpents can be a very difficult 2VP to obtain as well. Overall, I would expect to see anywhere between 8 – 10 Bring it Down eligible units in a Craftworlds army. The change to Abhor the Witch also helps minimize giving up max secondaries and allow us to lean into more psychic support again.
Mechanized Drukhari (Venom Spam / Raider Variants)
Overall, with points drops and changes to Bring it Down, mechanized Drukhari is back on the menu. 7 Venoms and 3 Raiders/Ravagers still only yields a maximum of 10VP for your opponent. With the change to how the second player’s 5th turn scoring works, mobile armies definitely benefit from being able to maximize potential points. There’s still the synergy between Bring it Down and Grind it Down, but overall, these are huge changes for this build and it is much more viable.
I would highly expect Dark Reapers Fire and Fading into Wave Serpents to be a viable tool for most Craftworlds list again. Return of the oppression of the Dark Reaper!
The change to Bring it Down help these blokes a bit and they saw a slight points decrease as well (depending on how you equip them). Two squads of 3 only yield 6 BID points, and are pretty difficult to take down as well. They offer some unique versatility to Drukhari coven builds.
Overall, I’m very excited about the changes we’ve seen in 9.1 with these latest rounds of FAQs, Erratas, and points changes. I expect Aeldari, more specifically Craftworlds and Drukhari to be more competitive as a result of these changes and I am excited to test out some new builds and combos that may not have been viable prior to these changes. The changes to Bring it Down, Abhor the Witch, and how the second player scores on their final turn really open things up for Aeldari players. The points changes, especially to Aeldari troops definitely help play the primary more effectively.
Other than the Reaver Jetbike changes, none of these seem too heavy-handed and are just enough to help make Aeldari a little bit more competitive.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to reach out to us and share how you feel the Aeldari will fare in this new version of 9th edition.
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