Eldar List Tweaking!

I love list building. Crunching the numbers, shaving the points, making a coherent list that isn't all fanfare and fluff, but is lean, streamlined, deadly.

When I build a list, I often spend days off and on working out the perfect list (because I game infrequently, list building is how I stay sharp). Then, once in a great while, I get to play a list or two. That is the moment of truth, the time to succeed or fail, where all of that painstaking building work is put to the test at the whim of the Dice Gods and the possibility of a hard counter from your opponent.

You build, you game. I love that part too, the playing. That's the core of the whole hobby, making a cinematic experience out of little "inaction figure" toy soldiers. And every dice roll, every turn, every phase, is a piece of data.

Once done playing, you go home, you mull over how you did, and get right back to list building. But, maybe you liked your list a lot. Maybe you liked it so much, you want to give it some polish, smooth those rough edges, then bring it back to the table next time.
That part is list tweaking.

Without further ado, time to tweak!
Here is my list from last week:

1500 pt Eldar List

Jetseer (Warlord, (Jetbike, Mantle of the Laughing God, Stone of Anath'Lan))
Warlocks (5x, Singing Spears)
Guardians (10x, Bright Lance)
Wave Serpent (Scatter Lasers, Cannon, Holo-fields)
Guardians (10x, Bright Lance)
Wave Serpent (Scatter Lasers, Cannon, Holo-fields)
Jetbikes (3x)
Jetbikes (3x)Warp Spiders (7x)
Crimson Hunter (Exarch)

And, my game record so far:
Win (1), Loss (1), Tie (1)

A perfect spread!

Sometimes a list needs a minor tweak.

Like that. Maybe it's a small Sergeant upgrade, maybe it's a single squad swapped out or reshuffled.

Other times, it needs some more major work

Step 1:
What worked?
The Jetseer and Eldrad both made up their points, the Jetseer little by little, Eldrad usually in a single combat - and neither of those is even counting the damage they inflicted or prevented with buffs and debuffs. Win!
Granted, I did get lucky with powers, but with that many rolls I'm likely to every time.
It would be good to work in a Singing Spear on the Jetseer, but it's not critical. He did make frequent use of the Stone of Anath'Lan (casting three powers/turn even if they were 2 warp charge powers), so I think that's still something I always want to take. And, to back him up it's either the Mantle or an escort squad. The mantle makes him nearly unkillable at range (with careful use) and is far cheaper than even a small escort squad. Taking him alone also makes many opponents ignore him, because he just doesn't look threatening enough to waste fire on, where a small squad of scoring Jetbikes would make him an obvious target.

The Seer Council, also, did surprisingly well. I actually expected them to get gunned down earlier, and not to get quite so much out of their Singing Spears. But, with powers support and Battle Focus, they're a nasty little bunch, even more so outside a transport than in. Also, I had expected to not get much out of their powers because of failed rolls, but out of three games I only failed a single roll (that was spectacular luck, but still, it's a good indicator that they *are* worth taking).

The Guardians were excellent too, they were rarely a priority target, and in most games received little attention from enemy fire until it was already too late.

The Crimson Hunter was a pleasant surprise, arriving more or less when I needed it and it died less often than I expected (although against armies with more Skyfire or Flyers, and especially Intercept, it wouldn't go as well).

The Spiders (when they didn't crash and burn) were great, and the Wave Serpents were brutal, as expected (especially when they were invisible!)

Step 2:
What didn't work?

What didn't work? The Jetbikes. They really did just about nothing. That said, there really weren't any games that fit what I put them in the list for: Objective grabbing. In one game, there were no objectives, and in the other two it was a Relic, which was too hot a target and negated their speed if they took it.
Another thing in the crosshairs is the Exarch upgrade for the Crimson Hunter. For 20 pts, I hit on 2+ and got precision shots for occasions where I was shooting at squads. It's a lot of points for something that really didn't come into play in these games, netting me maybe two or three more hits total, and I never even tried for a Precision Shot.

The places in game where I was weakest were when assaulted by armor - I stopped that Dreadnought in game 1, but it was a close thing, and cost me my entire Guardian blob for nothing.

Step 3:
So, I missed my Avatar. Plain and simple. In the first game, he would have saved my Guardians - making them Fearless so they wouldn't have run, and counter-assaulting the Dreadnought to wreck it on my turn. That Fearless bubble is a big buff for Guardian units. Their leadership is pretty good, but as a cheap/mob unit, they're likely to lose combat and suffer a penalty more often than not. Even in a combat they would probably win over time.
Also, this army list has no counter-assault to speak of, and is not great at getting to the opponent's backfield. I could use another unit of Spiders, or some Infiltrators to fix that issue. If I face Tau, or anything with an Aegis/Quad Gun/Icarus Lascannon, I could have a hard time taking it out...

So those are a few key questions. To answer those, I have to go back to how I designed the list in the first place.
For one, I deliberately traded the Avatar/Farseer combo for Farseer/Farseer. Losing some single-model oomph, but super-charging my other units with Psychic Powers, and sticking to my Ulthwe fluff.
In losing my Guardians, I forgot the rule that "if a unit cannot hurt the unit it is engaged with, it may choose to fail morale at the end of combat." Which, had they run less than 11", would have saved that Guardian blob in game 1. Also, the Singing Spears at range (with Doom and Guide) were arguably more reliable against armor than my Avatar has been at times.
Conclusion: Not enough evidence yet to switch back to Avatar, dual Seers was brutally effective!

The backfield weakness can be offset by a different deployment - deploying the Guardians in their Serpents and moving flat-out across the board (nearly all of my other units are just as fast) could get them in range very quickly. I'll have to see how I manage with this list vs. Tau...
Conclusion: Work on your tactics, before re-working units. It could prove more effective than I think.

The jetbikes were designed for a specific purpose they never had the chance to serve: to score. But, in a scenario with objectives, they are still my best bet as rapid-response scoring/contesting units. I think I'll keep them. 
Conclusion: Keep them as-is.

The Crimson Hunter is fragile, and all I really proved in these three games is that it does have the hitting power to offset its hefty cost. When dealing with more Skyfire, it would be even more critical to do as much damage on-arrival as possible, meaning a 2+ to hit could save my butt in a game where I roll four 2s to-hit. 
Conclusion: Stick with the Exarch for now.

Possible changes? Off the top of my head, I could exchange the Exarch upgrade for the CH to take one Shuriken Cannon per Jetbike squad. That would give them some actual teeth in game, and doing so a few times would give me a better feel for whether the Exarch upgrade is worth it or not (sometimes you have to play without it, to be sure it's as good to play with as you think).
It's also worth noting that if I play at any competitive level, the points limit will go up to 1800 - 1875 points, giving me another 300+ points to fill in gaps.

If I were to make any major change, it would be to switch those Warlocks to Wraithblades or Wraithguard with the D-Scythes. But that would be a serious re-write, and while fun, it would be significantly less fluffy.
That said, with the 300+ points listed above, I would add those D-Scythe Wraithguard in one of my existing Wave Serpents and a second unit of Spiders. That would go a long way towards preserving the core of the list while keeping it lean and dangerous, and making the best use of those extra points.

There remains, however, one final question that determines if this list is a "Tweak" list or an "Out the window" list. And that is the number one, most important question of all...

Fun Factor!
Was it fun?
It's all well and good to have a well-crunched, effective, kick-a$$ list on the table. But I, personally, would rather lose horribly and have a blast, than win easily but have a terrible time. I want to have fun! Show me some epic moments, some great gaming scrapes, some cinematic challenges and close shaves. Show me the fun!

So, was this army fun?
Heck yes - with a perfect Win/Loss/Tie ratio, and two games where the victory hinged on a single roll of whether or not the game ends, I had a ball in all three of my games. I loved using my list, it was competitive and dangerous but required finesse and care in every phase. This was a big pile of zippy but fragile infantry and a couple nasty tanks dueling with opponents of roughly equal abilities. There was a lot of laughter, a few great "Cheers!" moments, and some excellent "What?!" moments.

In short, I will be bringing this list to the table again, as-is. I'll look at it each time and see how it holds up, and if I get steamrolled, I'll see about making some changes. Until then? I'm set, let's get some game on!

Thank you for bearing with me this far, feedback is always appreciated, but even another new pageview is good enough for me.

Next article: The Seer Council!


  1. Been running 3 man scatterbike squads in a local garage tourney, 12 str 6 shots per turn is nothing to sneeze at. They were able to snatch a draw for me last game with a turbo-boosted line breaker. I recommend upgrading all the bikes in each squad to either shuriken cannons or scatter lasers for the extra punch.


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