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Author Topic: Eldar Army Composition and Tactics in Space Marine (last updated: 16/08/2012)  (Read 3284 times)

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Offline Irisado

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Preface:

This is a work in progress article on putting together Eldar armies in Space Marine.  Even though this era of Epic has long since passed into history, it is still played by some gamers, and also has some similarities with its fan based follow up NetEpic, so it will, hopefully, be of interest to some.

It is being compiled in response to some recent activity in relation to Space Marine on the Tactical Command boards, but I have elected to post here, because I find SMF forum software much more enjoyable to use.  I will, however, post a link to this on Tactical Command in due course.


The Eldar in Space Marine:



Introduction:

Of all the armies in Space Marine, Eldar are one of the most rewarding, mobile, and destructive.  They are also incredibly fragile, and require a significant amount of skill to use correctly.  Timing is everything.  If you attack too early before you have softened the opposition up from afar, your fragile elite troops will be slaughtered by opposing supporting units.  If you attack too late, your opponent may have inflicted far too much damage on your supporting units to enable you to recover the lost victory points, or press home your attack against any holes in your opponent's battle line which you strike force manages to create.  Learning when to attack, and when to hold back requires a lot of practice, but hopefully this guide will go some way to assisting you with this.

Unit selection is also vitally important when playing the Eldar.  Unlike large horde armies, such as Imperial Guard, the Eldar do not have any cannon fodder.  Every unit is valuable to the craftworld, and cannot just be tossed away as a distraction to soak up fire power.  It is, furthermore, important to choose the right units to deal with the opposition which you are facing.  The Eldar have a number of highly specialised units which are excellent against certain armies or units, but poor against others, so before you even get as far as working out how to execute your battle plan, you need to choose the units which will get the job done for you.

This article is divided into two sections.  The first offers a unit by unit analysis of all the different options available to an Eldar commander, suggesting the best ways to use each one, and the types of armies/units they are most effective against.  The second discusses strategy and tactics, offering examples of how best to employ Eldar armies to defeat your opponents, and how to take advantage of some particularly effective unit combinations.

The Eldar Army:

The units are analysed in the order in which they appear in the Renegades rulebook.

Guardians:

Guardians are the backbone of any Eldar force in Space Marine.  There are many ways to include them in your army, but the most commonly chosen options are to field them as one of two hosts, the Eldar Warhost or the Defender Warhost.

The Eldar Warhost includes Falcon Grav-Tank transports for all the Guardians.  This is a flexible host, which provides effective anti-infantry, and anti-tank fire support.  It is also durable, and has the necessary mobility to advance to capture objectives, or to re-deploy if it comes under sustained attack.  The disadvantage with fielding this host is that the Falcons must transport the Guardians, and cannot be used to ferry other infantry, such as Aspect Warriors, into a position to attack the opposition.  This means that the Eldar Warhost makes for a pretty solid defensive formation for holding objectives in your half of the board, but that if you're looking to use your Falcons to go on the offensive, you would probably be better off choosing the Defender Warhost, and purchasing Falcons separately (see below).

The Defender Warhost lacks the flexibility of the Eldar Warhost.  It is not as mobile, and does not have much in the way of anti-tank capability, as the Guardians are only likely to be able to damage the lightest of vehicles.  It is, however, a more focused host, which means that you do not get caught into two minds as to how to use it, and you may find it easier to get the Guardians into position to make use of their Shuriken weapons if you are not holding back just relying on the fire support of the Falcons.

In my experience, I find it better to take the Defender Warhost, and then purchase the Falcon host, as this allows me to use the Falcons much more aggressively, and means that my valuable elite Aspects do not have to advance into the teeth of the opposition's guns on foot (see below).

One final comment about Guardians is that if you are using the Titan Legions rules, rather than the Space Marine rules, they are useless at stripping shields from titans.  Make sure that you do not forget this, otherwise you could find your plan to wreck an advancing titan with your heavy weapons is ruined when you find that the Guardians who you were relying on to strip the titan's shields first are unable to fulfil that role.

Finally, Guardians are completely hopeless in close combat.  Protect them at all costs from this, especially if they are holding valuable objectives.  Make sure, in particular, that you have some means of seeing off attacks from Thunderhawk gunships, or teleportation units, which can really hurt your Guardians very badly if they are remotely capable in close combat.  Units of Jetbikes or Vypers can be useful in this fire fighting role, but I'll talk more about this later.

Falcon Grav-Tanks:

The staple fire support vehicle for Eldar in Space Marine, these tanks also act as valuable transports for Eldar infantry units.  They are available as part of the Eldar Warhost, independently as the Falcon host, or as support detachments.

It is very tempting to use Falcons solely as fire support.  Their pop-up attacks, relatively long range, and good save, make them very useful for protecting shorter ranged objective holders, such as Guardians, and for neutralising shorter ranged opposing vehicles trying to close with your infantry.  To only use them in this way, however, is to neglect their other two main assets: transport capacity and speed.

When used as a Falcon host, you have the option to transport multiple detachments of Aspect Warriors with the bonus of one Falcon in every three flying empty, meaning that you have extra insurance to protect your valuable Aspect Warriors.  Their speed also means that you can get close combat Aspects into action much more readily, saving them a slow charge across the battlefield, and allowing them to neutralise shooting threats more rapidly.  Short ranged shooting Aspects, such as Fire Dragons, also benefit from being transported into position.

Falcons are very vulnerable to multiple shot weapons with a save modifier.  Space Marine Devastators are a good example of this, so watch out if you're facing armies with this kind of fire power, especially if they are have fire fire orders, and you are looking to make pop-up attacks.  They're also pretty poor in close combat, so if you are transporting assault Aspects into the fray, make sure that you keep the Falcons out of the combat, unless you're attacking really weak opposition, such as artillery.

Falcons are a valuable asset to an Eldar army, and I would certainly never field an Eldar list in Space Marine without them.  They are your best all round vehicle unit as an Eldar commander, and are very versatile, so make the most of them.

Warlocks:

These are effectively the commanders of the Eldar host in Space Marine.  This may seem strange, but in the absence of any rules for Farseers in Renegades, and the fact that the Autarch and Phoenix Lords didn't exist when the rules were written, there are not exactly a lot of options!

Warlocks are very useful psykers in Space Marine.  Their psychic powers can really help you out at a critical moment, and being a command unit, they are very flexible in terms of their shooting and movement options, and are difficult for your opponent to target if you deploy them carefully.  Having their own transport also makes them an ideal accompaniment to many of the Eldar's most potent formations and combinations, such as the hosts described above.

The real bonus of taking Warlocks though is their ability to allow you to place the ideal orders for units nearby.  For further details of how this works, please see page ten of the Renegades rule book.  This can really help you out, especially when you are unsure as to what your opponent is going to do, and it is for this reason that I always try include two Warlock stands in my armies, so that multiple units will benefit from this bonus.

Warlock powers are devastating, but most are a lacking in necessary range to target anything really powerful on a regular basis.  Mind Blast is a good deterrent if you are looking to defend an objective, and Eldritch Storm is a great power for disruption, but my favourite is Psychic Lock.  If you can manage to use this against a titan or a powerful superheavy of some description it can turn the tide of the battle in your favour.

Anti-Grav Lascannon:

These are only available as support cards.

Their long range makes them handy for fire support, but their slow speed, and terrible CAF, means that they are very vulnerable to close combat troops.  Their durability is also non-existent compared to the Falcon, which has exactly the same ranged capability, so unless you're playing a very static Eldar gun line style of army, these are not likely to be a high on your list of support cards to purchase.

If you do take them, the best way to use them is to have them provide fire support for Guardians, while your Falcons are away transporting Aspects.  Keep them on first fire orders if at all possible, and use them to defend your objectives.

Harlequins:

A very valuable close assault unit.  Harlequins are designed to take the attack to the opposition, and are particularly effective for punching through small elite formations, where their excellent CAF will overwhelm small elite formations which lack the close combat prowess of the Harlequins.

The only real downside to the Harlequins is that they don't come with their own transport, and on foot they are such a high priority target, that they will never reach close combat, so you must find ways to get them into your opponent's half of the table quickly.  You can, of course, mount them inside Falcons, and use them in conjunction with Aspect Warriors, but you may also wish to consider mounting them in Wave Serpents, since these are a lot tougher, and nearly always get your Harlequins where they need to go, providing you do not start firing off the warp wave as an offensive weapon (see the Wave Serpent entry for further details).

As a special card, you may also find it difficult to fit them into your army.  While they are not overly expensive compared to other Eldar close assault units, competition for special cards is fierce, so they may lose out in your army selection to Warlocks, titans and Exarchs.  If you're going up against armies with a lot of long ranged shooting units though, they are worth their weight in gold, so try to find space for them if you can.

Background note: Harlequins are primarily used against the forces of Chaos, so if you are building a themed army, or are strongly influenced by the background, you may decide that you only wish to include Harlequins in your army when facing Chaos.

Jetbikes:

These are available as part of the Wind Rider Host, or support cards.

Exceptionally fast moving, with a good CAF, Jetbikes are an assault spearhead, and rapid response force to protect the vulnerable Eldar base line.  Their speed on charge orders makes it very tempting to send them into close combat as early as the first turn, but this can be too soon to strike, as Jetbike squadrons can be wiped out by supporting opposing units on advance orders.  This is why attacking multiple units en masse with multiple units of Jetbikes, Vypers, and/or Aspect Warriors is advisable.  It can be worth waiting to strike for two, or even three turns, to ensure that your forces can engage the opposition in unison.

Jetbikes are also a valuable defence force for your skimmers acting as fire support.  These can be vulnerable to assaults from fast moving opposing assault units, such as Marines riding in Thunderhawk Gunships, thus by placing Jetbikes around your valuable skimmers, you can prevent them from being assaulted, and with the Jetbikes being somewhat more capable in close combat, they often take many of the opposing units with them.  An important caveat is that you do risk diluting your attack force by adopting this defensive tactic, particularly if you are using the Wind Rider host, so I recommend that you do not divert more than one or two squadrons to this defensive role.

Vyper Jetbikes:

These are very similar to Vypers, and fulfil the same battlefield role.

The only difference is that their ranged weaponry has a longer range, and fires more shots, making them handy for making pop up attacks against infantry and light vehicles.  This can make them a better bet for acting as a defensive unit for other skimmers (see above), but also makes them a more flexible attacking unit, in the sense that they can shoot at targets in terrain that skimming bikes cannot enter, and reasonably expect to cause a few casualties.  Vypers are, therefore, more flexible than Jetbikes, but how much use you make of this flexibility depends on your preferred strategy and tactics.

Aspects Warriors:

These are available solely as support cards, and comprise the original six Eldar Aspects from White Dwarf 127.

All Aspect Warriors are fragile, in view of the small number of stands, and low break points.  Transporting them is highly recommended in most cases, in order to protect them as they get into position to attack, since most of them have far too short a range, or have no ranged weapons, making it very risky to foot slog them across the board.

Dire Avengers:

A mid range fire support unit, Dire Avengers are pretty much Guardians with a better CAF.  I've rarely found much use for them, owing to the fact that Guardians can perform their ranged duties, and other Aspects are far superior in close combat.  They're a reasonable objective holding unit, providing they have support, if you are looking to fill a gap in your list though.

Striking Scorpions

These excel in close combat against infantry, but are poor against vehicles and titans.  Use them against pretty much any small infantry unit, and they are likely to come out on top, but watch out for reprisals from opposing units on advance orders.

Striking Scorpions are a high priority target, so mounting them inside Wave Serpents can be a good idea, in order to ensure that they reach their destination.  It is also highly recommended that you support them with other units, such as Jetbikes, in order to ensure that they do not get stuck in combat against larger infantry formations, which could kill them through weight of numbers, regardless of their close combat prowess.

Dark Reapers:

These are an exception to all the other Aspect formations in the sense that they have a long ranged weapon, and that their CAF is weak.  They are best off positioned somewhere in your half of the table which gives them both decent cover, and a good field of fire.  Try to set them up centrally if you can, so that they cover as much of the board as possible, but don't leave them too exposed in doing so.

They can be protected by Guardians, and/or Jetbikes if need be, but you can take some heat off them by not deploying them on an objective.  That said, they do make quite a good defensive force for objectives, so it can be something of a dilemma.  I find that placing them with other units in close proximity to an objective is the best way to use them, since it really does dissuade opponents from advancing on the objective, at least with infantry, owing to the sheer amount of fire power the Dark Reapers can unleash.

Note too that Dark Reapers make for superb shield strippers, especially if you are using Titan Legions rules.

Fire Dragons:

A solid all round Aspect.  They have reasonable CAF, and solid anti-tank fire power.  Their lack of range means that the best way to get them into a position to melt lighter vehicles is to transport them inside Falcons.  I have found that a good tactic is to combine Fire Dragons with Striking Scorpions when launching attacks, since the Scorpions can handle the infantry, while the Dragons take on the vehicles.  Note though that it remains important to back up such attacks with Jetbikes if facing a substantial number of opposing units.

Swooping Hawks:

Like Dark Reapers, they do not need to be transported, but for different reasons.  They are fast enough not to require a transport, and have a reasonable CAF, so they can handle themselves against other infantry in a close combat situation, as well as pull back if slower moving opposing infantry is threatening to engage them.

Their fire power is pretty light, but reasonable for picking off the odd infantry stand, or extremely lightly armoured vehicle.  Their best role is to snatch objectives late in the game though, as their speed makes them able to cover quite a bit of ground when given charge orders.

Howling Banshees:

These are very similar to Striking Scorpions, but are at their most dangerous against infantry without a saving through.  Against all other infantry types, Striking Scorpions have the edge, and are more reliable against infantry of any type.  The Banshees are better against vehicles, but since the Eldar have other ways of destroying armoured targets, I do not tend to advocate taking Howling Banshees, unless you have a particular love for this Aspect.

Exarchs:

These constitute the best infantry unit in the Eldar army.  They are only available as a special card, and they are very expensive.

In spite of their high cost, I find Exarchs to be worth their weight in gold.  Being a command unit gives them some protection from fire, and tremendous flexibility in terms of the actions they can take.  Their anti-infantry/light vehicle fire power is even more potent than that provided by Dark Reapers, while their CAF is so incredibly good that they can even take on small titans and some super heavy vehicles in close combat.

You must protect your Exarchs.  They give your opponent a significant lump of victory points for the loss of just two stands, and they are fragile.  Their speed means that they don't really need a transport, but some players may still prefer to mount them inside Falcons for safety, although this can waste their shooting ability.  I prefer to use mine as mobile fire support.  This allows them to keep out of harm's way, and soften up infantry to be attacked by your more aggressive units.  You can also use them to strip shields quickly from titans should you need to do so.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 08:57:05 PM by Irisado »
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Offline Irisado

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Tempest:

Tempests are available as support cards or as a host.

The host is horrendously expensive, but immensely powerful.  The support card squadron is more affordable, and generally all that you will need, or be able to afford, unless you are playing a very large battle.

The range of the Tempest is such that it covers the board, and its laser is a vehicle, super heavy, and titan destroyer, making it a very powerful asset to your base line fire support.  Each Tempest also has a useful array of anti-infantry weaponry which it can use to defend itself should it come under attack from close range, and it is also pretty handy in close combat, although it can be overwhelmed by multiple stands of infantry.

Tempests are devastating.  I have used them to wreck tanks and titans on a regular basis.  For this reason, they are a high priority target.  The best way to keep them intact is to make sure that you only make pop up attacks with them from behind cover, and hold them back for as long as possible in the first fire phase, so that reprisals are minimised before they sink back out of sight again.  It is also imperative to protect them from close assault infantry delivered to your base line, and this is where Jetbikes can come in useful (see the Jetbike entry).

They are durable, and will stand up to most small arms fire very easily, but mass fire power will bring them down, and they give away a lot of victory points to your opponent if the squad is broken.  Do not be afraid to attack with them, but time their pop up with care.

Vibrocannon:

These are only available as support cards.

Vibrocannons are relatively cheap, but they are very unpredictable, as their effectiveness is so dependent on how many beams you can get to cross.  Sometimes they will do immense damage by destroying a crucial building with stands inside, but on other occasions they will achieve very little.

Their weaknesses are much the same as those which the Anti-Grav Lascannon suffers from, and like this weapon, they are generally best employed as fire support for Guardians.

Deathstalker Prism Cannon:

This is available as a support card.

This is a very strange vehicle.  Only available on its own, yet more effective when fielded in pairs or a three, thanks to the combined shot rules.  These multiple shots can be devastating if the last Prism in the chain hits, but it is not really much of a titan killer as you might expect, owing to its relatively mediocre save modifier, so the best use for Prism Cannons is to take out moderately armoured vehicle squadrons in my opinion.

Its range is not as long as you might expect, and its CAF is very poor, so some careful positioning is required when deploying if you want to exploit its ability to make pop up attacks.

Wave Serpent:

Wave Serpents are only available as support cards.

This ties with the Tempest for being my favourite Eldar vehicle.  It is relatively durable under normal circumstances, but it becomes almost invincible if you do not fire off its warp wave.  Providing you keep the Serpent facing forward, and don't allow the opposition to establish an elevated position, so that shots can be fire over the wave, it is impossible to stop the Wave Serpent.  For this reason, two Wave Serpents make for an excellent transport choice for Eldar assault troops, and are an essential purchase for most Eldar armies.

Do not fire off the warp wave for any reason while the Wave Serpents are transporting troops into position.  Yes, it can be used as a weapon, but it is not that great, and the primary role of the Wave Serpent is to deliver expensive infantry into close combat as quickly as possible.  Remember too that the wave can be used to push stands aside, in order to make it easier for your disembarking assault troops to engage more juicy targets.

Warp Hunter:

Another unit which can only be chosen as a support card.

The Warp Hunter is a potentially destructive fire support Grav Tank, but its lack of accuracy makes it literally pretty hit and miss in terms of the amount of damage it can cause.  Against most armies, there simply are too few large formations to warrant fielding a Warp Hunter squadron in my experience, and too many shots will simply scatter too much to hit anything.  If you regularly face Imperial Guard or Orks, the Warp Hunter is more of a threat though, so it can be worth taking if you want to thin out those large infantry companies and Ork clans.

Doomweaver:

These are only available as support cards.

Like the Warp Hunter, this is not the most accurate of weapons, making it a better choice against the armies described in the Warp Hunter entry above.  That said, I have managed to use it to some effect against elite armies, such as Space Marines, as the way in which the Doomweaver templates remain in play allows you potentially block off lines of attack, and disrupt opposing units, especially those which are on first fire orders.  It also has the added benefit of not being range limited, which also makes it superior to the Warp Hunter.

Doomweavers, like other Eldar base line fire support units, can attract attention from opposing units teleporting into battle, or from assault units disembarking from Thunderhawk Gunships or similar transports.  Unlike Tempests and Falcons, however, I find them to be less of a priority to defend, since their main role tends to be one of disruption, so providing they are not located close to an objective, I do not recommend allocating significant resources to defend them, as they are not a consistent enough threat to most opposing armies to warrant tying up valuable units of Jetbikes to screen them from assault troops.

Scouts:

To be continued (units remaining: Avatar, Wraithguard, Dreadnought, Phantom Titan, Warlock Titan, Revenant Titan)

Note that while I'm not working on the topic, I lock it, in order to avoid having to use place holder posts.  If you want to offer feedback while the topic is locked, please send me a PM.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 11:26:54 AM by Irisado »
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