Dedicated Assault part 2 - Units!

We covered the HQs, I'm absolutely open to debate on those, I know I was a bit hard-line and made some arbitrary assertions. I'd love to hear if anyone swears by their Autarch or thinks Asurmen is the best of the Phoenix Lords for Assaults - the case could absolutely be made. So please, fire away, Internet!

But now, moving on to Assault Units. I want to cover every FoC slot, from Troops to Heavy Support. Eldar have some awesome options, all of which have serious strengths and drawbacks. Of special note, all non-Wraith Eldar infantry benefit from Battle Focus (can run and shoot in the same turn, running either before or after shooting) and Fleet.

Any of these units can benefit from an included HQ, especially a Farseer for buffs, an Autarch for some Dakka/CC options, or a Phoenix Lord for Fearless, etc. The Farseer or Autarch can also be armed with the Shard of Anaris to give the squad some AP3 and Fearless (this is a great option for expensive Assault units you want not to run from combat). Standing next to an Avatar also grants Fearless.

Without further ado, the Assault stars of the Craftworld Eldar!

1.) Eldar Storm Guardians (Troops)

Thanks to for this cool custom squad!

These guys are meat shields. Don't get me wrong, in the right situation they can do great things - they're cheap, can come in large units, have Warlock support, special weapons, etc. But at the end of the day, they're a scoring/tarpit assault unit.

Rolling in at 9pts/model, a large squad of these guys is very cheap. They start out with a nice 2 attacks each (1 base, 1 for two CC weapons) with swords and shuriken pistols. Don't underestimate those pistols, a 6 to-wound is still AP2, and a good roll (especially on a unit hit with Doom) will still ruin an elite unit's day.
They can be given up to two Flamers or Fusion Guns, and - for a hefty points bump - can be given AP3 power swords. They still have battle focus, and with BS/WS 4 and I5 they're the match for many other troops out there. The Flamers are especially good at moving troops from cover near an objective, or softening up large mobs, or even a solid Overwatch booster (D3 auto-hits per template weapon on any unit that assaults them). The Fusion Guns are a nice boost against armor, such as a deep-striking Dreadnought, but probably not as useful as often as the flamers.
At the end of the day, you could sink tons of points into these guys, but they're best kept cheap. Take the flamers, take the Warlock (Singing Spear or Witchblade, depending on whether you want the extra CC attack and shuriken pistol, or a single S9 ranged attack) and roll with it. They're a decent cheap scoring unit, especially if you know you're going to be up against an army that's weak in Assaults, such as Tau or Guard.

Dirt cheap, fast, 2x attacks base, a nice baseline profile and high Initiative, their special weapons are also handy, and they have the option for Power Swords

5+ save, S3, T3, and there are many better troops options.
*Remember that a 5+ save is ignored by standard Bolters. Stick to cover, buff the heck out of them if you can!

I have a unit of these guys because I like the concept, and because they're fluffy. I even saw them wipe out a squad of Battle Suits in an especially lucky round of shooting, but Guardian Defenders are better in most ways. Storm Guardians are, however, the only Assault unit that is also scoring (without investing the points/HQ slot in a Spiritseer), so if you wanted to go all-out on CC units, these are your guys!

2.) Striking Scorpions! (Elites)

The Striking Scorpions are my absolute favorite Assault unit, especially with the new Codex - but I'll do my best to be unbiased here.
Where Eldar Striking Scorpions really shine is in volume of attacks at a decent strength. Their swords give them +1 Strength for a total of 4 base, and they get two attacks (1 base, 1 for two CC weapons) and still have the wonderfully lethal shuriken pistols. They also get an automatic S3 AP- Hammer of Wraith hit in every round of combat, thanks to their Scorpion's Bite masks. They also boast a solid 3+ armor save, Stealth, Plasma Grenades, and Infiltrate - making them one of the toughest and most aggressive Assault units available to the Eldar.
And, the real icing on the cake, is the Exarch. A Striking Scorpion Exarch can take the deadly Scorpion's Claw, for a minimum of 3 S6, AP2 attacks at I6, WS5 - while keeping his pistol no less. There are few Sergeant units who can, and a number of more expensive Characters who can't, stand up to that. Absolute beast for the points.

3+ Save, S4, Stealth, Infiltrate, Offensive Grenades, many attacks, shuriken pistols, high initiative, Exarch monster

Still T3, most of their attacks have no AP value (a tactical unit can potentially stand up to them), on the higher side of points costs.

They really benefit from Infiltrate - Infiltrate even small squads of these guys up the field, you can even Infiltrate them up inside a transport. Hit hard, hit fast, and use them most to chase away shootier units. The Exarch is definitely worth the points if you want to challenge tougher opponents, and be sure to look at Exarch Powers if you have a specific counter you want (Monster Hunter and Crushing Blow are good investments).
These guys also benefit a great deal from Karandras, who fits in well with the tactics of the unit and makes them Fearless, among his other benefits. They also could benefit from Illic Nightspear - he also can Infiltrate, and adds Shrouded to their Stealth, giving the whole unit a +3 to Cover Saves instead of +1.

3.) Howling Banshees (Elites)

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a fan of this unit. People have been trying to talk me into loving them for years, but I don't see it. That said, I'll give them a fair shake.
Rolling in slightly cheaper than Striking Scorpions, Eldar Howling Banshees have two very distinct pieces of wargear: the Banshee Mask, and every one of them comes stock with a Power Sword.
The Banshee Mask makes a defending unit suffer an automatic penalty to Initiative, and with the Banshees' already high Initiative, is meant to guarantee that they strike first. And, since the whole unit hits with AP3, they can do some serious damage before getting hit back. The Exarch also has access to more powerful weapons and Exarch powers, making her often a worthwhile investment.

They do have an extra run distance, and the ever-valuable shuriken pistol.

Very quick, AP3, will nearly always strike first, Exarch Special Weapons/Powers are rockin' awesome

4+ save, S3 (usually 5+ to wound), Initiative bonus is lost if they charge a unit in cover (no grenades)

I do like the idea of Banshees, an entire unit with Power Swords is nothing to sneer at. They're built with the opposite strengths/weaknesses to Scorpions - Scorpions hit more at higher strength, but any unit gets saves. Banshees hit faster and wound less, but many units will get no armor save.
Banshees benefit a great deal from an Exarch, and are vastly improved by the addition of Jain Zar. She makes them run faster, gives them a nice 2+ save buffer, and adds significant punch to the unit, which allows the bulk to the unit to be all they can be.

I would never take Banshees without a transport, and be very careful about when they disembark. With no option to disembark and Assault, any unit will be left in the open for at least one round before being able to charge. That's true of any unit, but at T3 with a 4+ save, it's especially true of a unit like Banshees.

3.) Harlequins (Elites)

A VERY popular unit, and another one I'm uncertain about. I'm mostly leery of them because of their presence in the Dark Eldar Codex. You may have gathered by some of my other posts, I seriously dislike Dark Eldar. Moving on.
Eldar Harlequins are a couple more points/model than Scorpions, and have a wide array of expensive (but actually worthwhile) upgrades. At first glance, they look like normal 4+ save Aspect Warriors but with WS 5. Looking a little closer, they also ignore difficult terrain entirely (Flip-Belts), and the entire unit has an Invulnerable Save (!) from their holo-suits. It's a 5++, but still, any save vs. Power Weapons is awesome. They also still have a CC weapon and shuriken pistol.

Now, the upgrades.
Troupe Master - adds slightly nicer stats and a few nice pieces of wargear, but essentially just a Harlequin Character.
Death Jester - gives some ranged teeth to the squad, he can be armed with a Shuriken Cannon that causes Pinning (Shrieker Cannon).
Shadowseer - Here's the real winner. The Shadowseer is a Mastery Lever 1 Psyker who adds Offensive Grenades (nice!) and another Character, plus a handy Psychic Power called Veil of Tears. This piece of work (if successfully cast, it used to be always on in 5th) forces any unit wanting to shoot at the Harlequins unit to roll (2d6)x2. If they roll under the distance between them and the Harlequins, they can't fire. Which means anything over 24" is out of luck by default.

Also, the unit can take Harlequin's Kisses, which are a replacement CC weapon that grants Rending, and up to two can take Fusion Guns.

All in all, a very fast - even durable - unit with the potential to get close without taking as many casualties as other units, and capable of doing a lot of damage. They still have the S3 of Banshees, but with Rending, they have a chance to ignore even 2+ saves.

Fast, not slowed by terrain, 5++ save, high Initiative, Rending, potentially hard to shoot, and has some sweet ranged firepower as well.

T3, S3, Rending is risky, because you may not roll any 6's, and Veil of Tears may fail (or be countered by an enemy Psyker)

Excellent unit, and they benefit a great deal from the inclusion of any CC specialist Character, and Rending combos beautifully with the Farseer's Doom power.
They also are less in need of a transport than any of the previous units, because of they ability to run right through terrain and potentially negate most ranged shooting.

4.) Shining Spears (Fast Attack)

These guys are rockstars - they cost a lot of points, but benefit from all of the best things about Eldar Assault units, while mitigating the main weaknesses a little bit.
As Eldar Jetbikes, Shining Spears are FAST. Stupid fast. They can move 12", and Flat-Out move all the way across most battlefields - and if they move at all, they get a 4+ cover save (thanks to Skilled Rider, which all Shining Spears have base). If they move Flat Out, they get a 3+. Add to that that they can move an additional 2d6" in the Assault phase (if they don't assault) and you've got a unit that can out-run nearly anything.
Another note on Skilled Rider, Shining Spears all automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests (!)

Then comes their weapons, which are unique (as far as I know) among 40k units. They have the Jetbike twin-linked Shuriken weapons, but the real gem is their Laser Lances. These are S6, AP3, Assault 1 weapons with two attacks on the charge (or a gun with the same profile at 6" range). The Exarch can be upgraded to carry a Star Lance, which is the same, except S8, AP2 in both combat and shooting.
The downside to that is that the Lance only works on the charge. In every round of combat after the one where the Spears charged (or any where they were charged), the Lance counts as a normal CC weapon.

This is both amazing and terrible, it makes them a hard-counter to any unit they can overrun with few attacks, and a 3+ or worse save. It makes them brutal against back-field gun units, such as Devastators or Fire Warriors, and very dangerous to many Assault units as well. With the massive number of Tau players ruling the field, I'm surprised to not be seeing more of these units on net lists.

T4 (!), Strength, decent AP on their attacks, Jetbikes (Hammer of Wrath, super fast, re-roll charge distance, 3+ save, cover save for moving), twin-linked shuriken catapults (a fall-back shooting option if they're more than 6" from their target before charging)

Very expensive, not good after the charge (S3, no AP), and if they're charged first they're mostly worthless.

They can also take an Exarch with Hit & Run (and a Star Lance) for a few extra points. Considering how much more dangerous they are on the charge than in subsequent rounds of combat, Hit & Run is a key ability for getting the most out of these guys.
Used carefully, they're arguably the best Assault unit available to Eldar armies. Especially because of their massive speed without the need for a transport.
Shining Spears, as a jetbike unit, are also excellent places to add in a Farseer and/or Autarch on a Jetbike. The Farseer adds buffs and some offensive ability, either with a Singing Spear or Psychic Powers. The Autarch adds some leadership, a single ++ save, and an extra Laser Lance - or either HQ could be kitted with the Shard of Anaris to give the squad Fearless and some AP3 beyond the charge.

Next up, Wraith units!
5.) Wraithguard, Wraithblades, Wraithlords, and Wraithknights

Let's cover some basics first off, all of the Wraith units have Fearless, high Toughness, high Strength, and a 3+ base save. They also all have Space Marine WS/BS/Initiative and don't benefit from Battle Focus or Ancient Doom.
All Wraith units also benefit from a Spiritseer HQ, who makes Wraithguard/Blades troops, and has the ability to "Mark" enemy units for all Wraith units to target. The Iyanden Codex Supplement (understandably) also has some big bonuses in terms of wargear etc. It also allows you to take one Wraithknight as your Warlord, making an opponent work that much harder for that Slay the Warlord point.

Now, for the differences-
First, Wraithblades (Elites or Troops)

Eldar Wraithblades are scary combatants. With S5 (base), T6, a 3+ save, and burly CC weapons, nearly any other unit in the game will think twice about tangling with them.
They come in two varieties too: they can take swords for +1 Strength, AP3, and +1 Attack, or they can take an axe and shield for +2 Strength, AP2, and a 4++ Invulnerable Save (!) although at the price of hitting at Initiative 1.
If facing a horde army, more attacks hitting first will serve them well. Especially since few units will have better than a 3+ save. But if facing a more elite army, S7 and a 4++ looks pretty darn good. That ++ also gives them a better-than-average chance of weathering the anti-tank fire they're likely to take as a high-priority target for most opponents.

The biggest drawbacks to these guys is they're slow as molasses. Initiative 4 (positively sluggish for Eldar) and can only ride a transport in units of five. They also cost an arm and a leg, at over 30pts/model. Still, with their stat profile, they are absolutely worth it if used correctly.

S6-7, T6, AP3 or AP2, 3+ save, option for 4++, Fearless, can become scoring (with a Wraithseer as an HQ)

Slow, very expensive, very few attacks, lacking Fleet makes them easier for enemy units to out-run, can only take a Wave Serpent in units of 5 or less.

I will mention Wraithguard here as well, because even though they aren't dedicated assault, their D-scythe weapon upgrades and stat-line make them a huge deterrent to just about any enemy assault. The D-scythe is a S4, AP2 template weapon with Distort (6 to-wound always wounds with Instant Death, or automatically causes a penetrating hit on a vehicle). As a template weapon, it causes D3 automatic Overwatch hits per gun in the unit. Charging that is suicide for most units. Even if they are heinously expensive per-model (42 points each), these are a contender for Assault/Anti-Assault unit in my armies.

Second, Wraithlords (Heavy Support)

Thanks to for this sweet pose!

The Eldar Wraithlord is an iconic Eldar unit, the equivalent of a Dreadnought only more graceful and (I think) cooler. They come in with an eye-popping S8, T8 - enough to completely ignore bolters or entire units of Ork Boyz - on a Monstrous Creature with two of either shuriken catapults and/or flamers, and up to two heavy weapons or a sword.
And, they can Challenge. In the past a Wraithlord could be bogged down killing Ork Boyz one at a time, while the Nob chipped away at him with a Power Klaw. Now, a canny Eldar player can knock that guy out first before dismantling his squad.

All of that, and points-wise they're quite reasonable. In the latest edition they gained attacks, gained bonuses for being Monstrous Creatures, and lost the hindrance of having to be hand-held by a psyker. These babies can be kitted out to handle any target: Crowd control, with flamers and Scatter Lasers, tank-hunting with Bright Lances, or some combination of both.

Fearless, base S8, WS/BS/I of 4, with a decent number of wounds, and they don't cost too much. On the other hand, they do cost a lot for a single model, are slow, are massive fire magnets, and have zero option for an Invulnerable Save (ouch).

S8, T8, 3+ save, Fearless, Monstrous Creature, adaptable to any role, Character (can Challenge!)

No ++ save, slow, pricey for a single model, can be easily overwhelmed by large Assault units.

I like 'em. My Wraithlord has been a mainstay of my army, and even though I do (fairly often) play lists without one or more, they appear more often than not - and have been known to make some real messes. I enjoyed putting one on a Quad Gun recently, because it made for a tough gunner to get rid of, and clarified the Wraithlord's role as a tank/flyer hunter. Because of how many roles they can fill, Wraithlords can be a problem. If you take a Wraithlord, try to be clear about what purpose it serves in the army, and try to stick to that role. Otherwise you may end up moving in too many directions at once and not doing anything well.

And finally,
The mighty Wraithknight (Heavy Support)

Easily my favorite modeling/paint job - an Exodite Wraithknight being awoken by a Farseer. I saw it on Bell of Lost Souls (, but I don't know who the original artist is

The Wraithknight is a beast, and you pay the points for it. It weighs in at 240 pts base, and the way I would take it, over 300. It has an absurd stat line, most notably S10, T8, and 6 wounds. Also, it's a Jump Monstrous Creature. Meaning it can move 12" per turn. Or Deep Strike.
Chances of losing it if you Deep Strike are high because it has a huge base, but the look on your opponent's face may be worth it.
So, if you want power, this is it. It's an enormous model, the largest non-Titan/Apocalypse model GW has ever made (I think).
It has, base, two Heavy Wraithcannons (S10, AP2, Heavy 1, Distort), and can take a Wraithglaive/Shimmershield or Suncannon/Shimmershield, as well as up to two shoulder-mounted versions of some more basic weapons. I think the Shimmershield is crucial, because even T8 isn't invincible, and because of what the Wraithknight is most shots fired at it will ignore it's 3+ armor save. The Shimmershield mitigates that by providing a 5++ Invulnerable Save. It also causes Blind on any unit within 6", if a successful save is made.
The Wraithglaive/Shield is significantly cheaper as an upgrade, and the glaive allows the Wraithknight to re-roll to-hit in CC, which is pretty nice. However, I prefer the Suncannon - because (with three S6 AP2 Blasts) it is the perfect counter to mobs of Elite units. Softening up large units before charging them is big for this model, because despite his incredible stats, he is only a single model, and can be overwhelmed by squads with Power Fists (or Klaws, etc.) or Thunder Hammers.

Jump Monstrous Creature (move 12", causes fear, Hammer of Wrath, re-roll charge distance, Deep Strike), Fearless, S10, T8, 6 wounds, 3+ save, option for 5++, awesome gun options.

Single model, hard to hide, can be mobbed, the gun (while great) is a small amount of firepower for a unit this size/cost.

Personally, I would kit one of these guys out with the Suncannon/Shimmershield and a single shoulder-mounted Scatter Laser. The Scatter Laser is a little extra S6 oomph, and twin-links any other gun fired after it, maximizing the damage from the Suncannon. I would be very aggressive with a Wraithknight, as they can ignore most of the firepower on the table. Shoot the heck out of Elite units, bash heavy tanks in CC, and don't be afraid to roll up and punch those pesky Riptides, they're no match for a Wraithknight in combat.
**I should note here though that the Heavy Wraithcannons are much more suited to a tank-hunting Wraithknight, and that Distort ability causes Instant Death, which offers the potential to one-shot Monstrous Creatures (including Riptides).

That's it! I'm done! And if you made it this far, congratulations for digging through this LONG blog entry. I wanted to make sure to cover it all and just power on through. Hopefully none of my other entries will drag on this long...

Particularly astute readers will notice that I did not cover Seer Councils. Because of their particular importance to the Ulthwe Craftworld, I want to do a single article dedicated entirely to Seer Councils soon. Hopefully I won't keep you waiting too long!

My hope is that these blogs will be helpful to beginning Eldar players, or players suffering badly against nasty Eldar armies. Good luck, and good gaming!


  1. Like my comment on your last update, it's great to see a well-written article on an Eldar force with a focused role! :D

    I would point out a few things though (sorry man!):

    With the Iyanden supp the special rule is to make a Wraithknight your Warlord, not your HQ. So he's still a HS choice meaning you're still limited to three and need to pick an HQ unit as normal. But a Wraithknight with a re-rollable save or spirit mark or 6+ FNP or preventing deep strikers from scattering for some CC support or...well, it can be a bit nifty AND the opponent will have to work a bit harder for their Slay The Warlord.

    Wraithlords are S8, not 10, base.

    The Wraithknight's scattershield's Blind effect also hits friendly units ;(

    Thoroughly enjoyed this entry :] I've had an Eldar army for a while now and I've fielded it a few times recently, mostly with Wraithblades, Guard & Rangers for objectives and a Spiritseer, Scorpions, Wraithlord & Hawks for support. My Wraithblades I've fielded twice, both times as a unit of 5 + Seer or 6 without in a Serpent for anti-deep striking Terminator work. With swords they got bogged down vs Terminators so more recently I dropped the versitality of wraithswords for axes, in my last game 6 Terminators (inc Chaplain) dropped into my back-field to engage my Wraithlord. One Term was dropped before they closed with the Lord and they wounded it on the charge. As they closed in on my Lord my Serpent dropped off my five axe Blades (ha!) with their Seer who counter-charged the now-engaged Terminators and between them and the Lord they killed all five in a single round of combat. Absolute beasts. The Seer was then randomly turned into a Chaos Herald the following turn which killed one before they slew it but wahtever ;]

    Not managed to field my Knight yet, but I'm itching to do so with Banshees in support to aid with assaults...and to hopefully enjoy running about with the Knight soaking up fire instead of them!

    I look forward to more updates dude, subbed :]

  2. Oh man, thank you for the fixes! Nothing bugs me more than having something in there that isn't true, keep me honest please! I updated with those changes.

    'Lords are only S8 now? Really? Nuts. I've been playing that wrong...

    Heh, yeah, with their stats and wargear, Wraithblades should be able to handle Terminators nicely. They're high on my wishlist to get soon. That said, the Terminators I tend to face often have two wounds (Paladins) or FNP (Sanguinary Priest escort) making it difficult for any single unit to outlast them. Ouch on the Herald, I still haven't faced Daemons on the table yet...

    How are you planning on kitting the Knight? And have you been successful with Hawks? They're one of my favorite units on paper, but there's just too much that S3 can't hurt for me to invest much in them...

    1. Most welcome duder, I almost didn't post them as it seemed a bit...gobby!

      Aye, 'Lords are S8 until you add a glaive, then they're up to S10, not bad for +5 points and I always take it given the benefits!

      I think given the power sword's drop to AP3 Banshees are no longer the go-to anti-Terminator melee unit, but 'Blades fill that gap very well. I think with their 4++ they'll have the staying power to combat 2W Terminators better than anything else in our codex. You may want to field more than five in that case though ;(

      Daemons are a massive pain. For everyone's complaining that their save went from 4++ to 5++ the fact that they have a invuln save makes high-AP weapons no better than anything else. That doesn't help low-model count low-AP specialist armies as the Daemons shrug off low volumes of powerful fire and can mob tough units in melee, especially if they have AP2 aether-blades on Heralds, power-armoured and Aspect units just get mullered with no saves. Lots of mid-strength rubbish AP shots makes daemons cry...and I didn't have too many of those!

      My Knight I plan to field with a Suncannon, not sure about secondary weapons yet given the cost! But then it seems to be a shame to have just a tough capable unit and only have it fire three shots a turn from the back-field. We'll see!

      Hawks, ah, I've fielded them each time I've played and they've aaaalmost been great but just not quite. I don't think it's because they're lacking, I think they're either best used to take out damaged units that think they're safe behind cover, best vs Guard or Tau and best used as a distraction. I was aware of their haywire grenades (took a point from a ven dread but that's about it so far!) and their grenade pack (always take more than six Hawks!) but I was pleased to discover that they don't scatter when deep striking and while I thought that they just had a crappy single-shot lasgun each I was pleased to find out they had three shots each. I'd fielded ten Hawks and was very surprised to roll 30 dice in one round of shooting. They're a useful unit but in a straight-up fight they're going to be decimated fast. They're good for preying on weak units or the rear of hostile armour and then using skyleap or their jump mobility to escape reprisals but they do need looking after and careful use. Like a lot of Eldar :]

  3. No no, fire away! I've noticed - a lot - that rules I'm used to from 5th tend to slip in to my analysis without being checked. For example, I didn't know the Glaive added +2 S for the Wraithlord as well.

    Banshees... I just don't like 'em. In play, they're too fragile, too unreliable. In the games I've taken them, tactical marines have handily smacked them down because I didn't roll enough wounds. I don't even want to think about what they'd do against terminators, and they're not really better against mobs either because they don't have enough attacks. Wraithblades though! Thing of beauty.

    So, Wave Serpents and Warp Spiders are the ticket vs. Daemons? That's a handy tip, thank you!

    I think the Suncannon is too good not to take, although hearing stories about Heavy Wraithcannons one-shotting Riptides (with the Distort Instant Death) gives me pause. I also think a single Scatter Laser is worth it, for the extra shots and the twin-linking effect. However, that's for one Wraithknight - if I had more than one in a list, I would probably take them base with the shoulder Scatter Laser to twin-link the Heavy Wraithcannons. S10 AP2 is awesome, but with one shot you better hope it hits!

    Hawks are just so cool. No scattering, the large-blast that ignores cover, the hail of fire - they're just great. But they are still expensive, distract from the more-reliable Warp Spider, and S3 just isn't enough. Their guns have a fairly good AP, and against squads of T3 with bad saves, they could really make a mess. Also, against stationary tanks, their mobility and Haywire Grenades make them a fairly reliable armor-hunter. But... What if you bust a tank and it explodes? I've lost a whole squad to that, twice.
    They also lose some appeal for me because the models I have are the old metal ones, I'd like to trade them for Finecast or plastic ASAP.


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