Bmoy here with part 1 of our GDFC analysis of the Aeldari factions post Chapter Approved 2019. GDFC’s review will focus on reassessing the effectiveness of units that have changed, their post CA2019 usefulness, potential list options/alternatives, and how we think this may impact the overall state of the Aeldari in the meta today. So if you’re filthy casual Aeldari player like me, who has been collecting Eldar and Eldar like things obsessively for the past few decade(s), fear not! You may have a chance to play with more of your finecast toys post CA2019!
GDFC Unit Nerdalysis
In consulting, we have a saying “let the data tell the story.” However, data is often boring and tedious. Our job is to provide context, perspective, and options to help synthesize this data into something meaningful for you to consider.
Matrix Within a Matrix
At GDFC, we utilize a matrix within a matrix review methodology that allows us to better understand the overall value of a particular unit. Within each of these 8 categories, are a host of other metrics that are utilized to drive to an overall category score.
For example, to determine the overall offensive rating of a Ravager, we determined the offensive output the Ravager has against a myriad of targets such as T3 Guard Equivalents (TEQ) , T4 Marine Equivalents (MEQ), Terminator Equivalents (TEQ), T7 Vehicles (VEQ), and T8 Knight Eqvuivalents (KEQ). This damage output is then compared to the damage output of other similar units and then assigned an overall rating between 1 and 5 based on the distribution of their results.
We will provide a more in depth breakdown of our matrix within a matrix review methodology in another article, for now, know that there is method behind the madness.
Ravagers, Razorwing Jetfighters, and Crimson Hunters … oh my!
Let’s start by addressing some of the top units that received points increases in CA2019.
Ravagers and Razorwing Jetfighters were pretty much staples in every Drukhari or competitive Aeldari soup list. 3 Ravagers and 2-3 RWJFs will cost the average Drudari player (see what I did there?) an additional 65 – 75 points. Additionally, the inclusion of a triple Crimson Hunter Exarch Airwing detachment will cost you an additional 45 points. This becomes less of an issue if you are running battalions or souping your Aeldari army, due to the points decreases across the other units. If you were a filthy Drudari player like me running the triple Disintegrator Ravager Spearhead, RWJF or CHE airwings, you may have some decisions to make with your list.
At a high-level, the points increases or decreases across the various Aeldari units seems to have brought the overall effectiveness of these units closer to the mean. Fundamentally this is a good thing and harkens to increased balance across the Aeldari Codex books.
What this really means is that you are free to choose units based on your playstyle, the role that unit will play in your army, the tools that it offers, and frankly, whether you like the unit or not; as opposed to taking an “auto-include” cheap unit.
St. Eldrad’s Fire Prisms
The Fire Prism looks to be a clear winner post CA2019. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you happen to have a Fire Prism or three sitting around. Chances are, you were already playing with them. Prior to the points decrease, Fire Prisms were already a popular Aeldari Heavy Support choice. GDFC had them rated at a 3.5 overall effectiveness and its increase in efficiency pushes its overall rating up to 3.7.
Us filthy Drudari players running a triple Disintegrator Ravager Spearhead might consider migrating to a Craftworld triple Fire Prism Spearhead. While efficiency and value may steer some towards Fire Prisms, there are a number of other reasons as well:
- Range: Many armies have a wealth of 24 – 36″ weapons. Fire Prisms offer a tool that allows Aeldari armies to zone out their backfield and fire down range whilst being outside the threat range of many of your opponent’s weapons.
- Durability: T7 with a 3+ save, and let’s not forget about Linked Fire. Fire Prisms, when played correctly, can be surprisingly durable and provide consistent damage throughout the course of a game.
- Strategic Options: Psychic Awakening and custom craftworld traits may be a big part of the resurgence of the Fire Prism. There are many combinations that benefit the Prism, such as Expert Crafters for that sweet sweet Salamanders-esque re-roll, Masterful Shots for the Ignore Cover, Masters of Concealment for the cover save, as well as various others. Some of these traits, in conjunction with Craftworld stratagems such as Linked Fire, Forewarned, Fire and Fade, etc. provide generals with strategic options.
Other Aeldari Tank Options
As many used the ever-versatile Ravager to fill the role of supplemental anti-tank firepower or taking down elite infantry, there are a couple of other options I expect Aeldari players to consider. Expert Crafters really dials these up notch, and I continue to suspect a resurgence of more traditional Craftworld units (e.g. Falcons, Support Weapons, War Walkers, Wraithlords, etc., again, more to come in Part 2).
- Night Spinners: Already seeing considerable play, the Night Spinner was untouched and remains a rather effective unit. The Nightspinner also brings indirect fire and the ability for Aeldari to deal with the dreaded “magic box”, something that some Aeldari armies (mine) struggle with.
- Falcons: While the overall effectiveness of the Falcon does not compete with the Ravager or Fire Prism, the tactical flexibility in its ability to transport units, could provide an interesting tactical option. As we will discuss in another article, much of the change I suspect is a shift towards a more traditional type of Eldar playstyle focused on synergies between aspect warriors supported by a firebase. More on that in Part 2.
- Hornets: The decrease in points has raised the overall efficiency of the Hornet. Sadly, they may never see their glory days of 7th edition, but the ability to take them in a unit of 3 makes them candidates for guide, fortune, or other Craftworld buffs. Let’s not forget that “deepstrike” is still a thing, and the ability to blast a deepstriking unit with forewarned from a unit of 3 Hornets with the Hornet Pulse Laser could be a nasty surprise.
- Warp Hunters: Because these are simply some of the most fun and unique units the Aeldari have access to. Everyone should own one and it’s always fun to whip it out and play with it from time to time …
- Reapers: There is a little play here with some of the new Psychic Awakening Drukari Obsessions but overall, this will likely be limited to a fun / fluffy alternative.
The End is Nigh for Flyer Spam
With the points changes to the various Aeldari flyers in CA2019, some new toys from Psychic Awakening, and the ability for Space Marines to blow anything out of the sky, I expect Aeldari flyer spam lists to adapt. The CHE and RWJF have had their overall effectiveness reduced a smidge to be more aligned with the Hemlock Wraithfighter and Voidraven Bomber (both of which find their way into a few competitive and casual lists alike). Some of the other Forgeworld options received ancillary boosts due to decreases in various armament choices. Ultimately, I think the days of 6+ flyers are gone and you are more likely to see 2-3 included in a battalion or single airwing detachment for mobile fire support.
GDFC Commentary: Fellow GD Filthy Casual, Brian Tabata and I agree that this is a good thing. Ultimately, the Flyer spam list was not much fun to play or play against. To really do well, one had to really push the boundaries of rules in the movement phase which can create contentious conversations with your gaming partner, often leading to some “feel badsies” during a match. Good riddance.
- Hemlock Wraithfighters: I expect to continue to see maybe 1 or 2 included in some Aeldari armies. With the CHE being pushed up in points, it’s overall value more closely aligns with Hemlocks. There are some interesting combinations from Psychic Awakening that can be pulled off with the ol’e Hemlock as well.
- Voidraven Bombers: Voidravens fill a unique role in the Drukhari army and I expect this will continue to be the case going forward.
- Nightwing: The Nightwing is an interesting option. With some Aeldari weapon loadouts decreasing in points, the Nightwing sees a slight increase in efficiency. It maintains the typical Eldar flyer mobility and can provide effective mobile fire support.
- Phoenix: Another Forgeworld flyer option. These are fine. I don’t expect people to be running out to pick them up, but they exist and can be used to fill a role within an Aeldari army.
What is Dead May Never Die
If you were an Aeldari player back in 7th edition, chances are you own a Wraithknight (or three). CA2019 saw an additional drop in points to the once vaunted boogeyman of the tabletop. It’s fair to say that the Wraithknight has paid for its sins and the latest points decrease in CA2019 makes them an interesting option once more.
For those who caught our battle report from last weekend, you already know that I’ve been trying to fit the Wraithknight back into my “competitive” list alongside a Prophets of Flesh Coven battalion with 6 Talos (and the Vexator Mask Haemonculus), and the triple Ravager spearhead. If you have not had a chance to read the battle report, you can check it out here.
The combination of Expert Crafters, Masters of Concealment, or Masterful Shots (though I value the 2+ save on a Titanic unit more highly than eliminating the benefit of cover with the dual Heavy Wraithcannons), in conjunction with some powerful Craftworld buffs, makes the Wraithknight surprisngly formidable and durable. Also, the Wraithknight does not have the <vehicle> keyword which can protect it from some tech that is being utilized to take down big targets these days.
Throwing Big Daddy Wraithknight into a Supreme Command detachment with a few Spirit Seers and the Wraith Host specialist detachment opens up some powerful options as well (and we haven’t even talked about adding Wraith Guard or Wraith Blades yet, more to come in Part 2). A Wraithknight with a 2+/4++/5+++ (Masters of Concealment, Spirit Shield, and Fortune respectively) can be incredibly tough platform that can provide significant board control, put out 7-14 damage per turn with it’s Heavy Wraithcannons, and kick a fool while they’re down with Wrath of the Dead and/or Supreme Disdain, you’re looking at 18+ stomp attacks.
Give him a try and let me know in the comments how he performs for you. I will continue to test him in my competitive lists and you can check back in future battle reports to see how he does!
Look to the Sky … weavers
Another interesting option that also received a points decrease are Harlequins Skyweavers. These units were already considered top-tier by many with their Haywire Cannons, Zephyrglaives, mobility, durability, and ability to threaten a myriad of targets. I’ve run anywhere between 6 and 12 Skyweavers in various iterations of my own competitive list, and they have always performed well for me.
Skyweavers may have taken a hit in recent months due to the prevalence of the Space Marine menace but I believe that they are here to stay. One neat trick that can get even more mileage out of your Skyweavers is the double Prismatic Blur tomfoolery.
Double Prismatic Blur: If running more than one unit, you can put a lot of pressure on your opponent through the usage of 2 large squads of Skyweavers with a 3++ invulnerable save from Prismatic blur. Simply advance and declare the usage of Prismatic Blur in the movement phase. The second Prismatic Blur can be obtained after using Twilight Pathways from a nearby Shadowseer in the Psychic Phase, for a secondary move and advance, and then declare using Prismatic Blur on the second unit as well.
New Age for The Aeldari?
While I don’t think the triple Ravager Spearhead is going anywhere (especially Flayed Skull variants), I’m sure many Aeldari players will be testing some new options for old models which are more viable today than they were pre-CA2019. Aeldari Flyer spam lists are likely to take a hit and I would expect to see Aeldari players begin to adapt their Flyer lists in the near future.
CA2019 brought some nice surprises that opens up more options for the Aeldari player. I am excited to explore some of these options in the coming weeks and months leading up to Adepticon. Specifically, I am planning to test Fire Prisms, the Wraithknight, and perhaps Hornets in some future iterations of my “competitive” list.
Part 2 of GDFC’s Aeldari Review will focus on the other Aeldari units that received points decreases, especially characters, infantry, Aspect Warriors, Wraith units, and Harlequins.
Have you been testing some new options in your Aeldari army? What are your thoughts on the state of the Aeldari moving into 2020? Comment below to join the conversation and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all the latest content and releases from the GDFC team.
Thanks for reading!