Building an Eldar Army List

(See Part 2 here)
He's making a list, checking it twice! Gonna see if there'r any cocked dice!

Nice old Warcraft fanart for that one!

I've heard List Building described as a game in and of itself, number crunching and squeezing the most out of your units to make it in under a point limit. I absolutely agree, it's one of those things I can do no matter where I am or what I'm doing - and some days, a little mental list building is a great way to keep from going crazy.
** Note: I use Google Drive to have my lists (and notes) accessible from anywhere I have internet. It makes for less wasted paper, and it's harder to forget it!

Moving on, I have at least two games coming up this week, so I thought I would do a stream of consciousness on how I get to my points limit.

We've been playing 1500 pts (small lists), and I want to try some new units I haven't had the chance to, while staying as fluffy as possible and sticking to models I actually have.
**Note: here, if you find (like I do) that your games are infrequent and in limited time windows, it saves a lot of time to have someone setup terrain in advance, make sure everyone has their lists all set, and have everyone roll for Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers before you meet up

I generally like to try for Generalist lists (see what I did there?) that is, lists that have a decent chance of countering any other army, rather than targeting a specific kind of enemy.
Now, a lot of people object to Generalist lists, saying that it's a lost cause and any list will be countered by something. While that is true, there are hard-counters to any list, I would prefer to be able to face as many different enemies as possible.
In this case though, I know I'll be facing Space Marines. Blood Angels, Salamanders, or Space Wolves. That means a lot of power armor. I also know that the Blood Angels player is a big fan of Deep Strikes, usually with his Death Company Dreadnoughts and Death Company marines. He found, much to my chagrin, that Death Company with Bolters are actually nastier than with their pistols/swords - on Deep Striking they can do more damage at range, and they only lose one attack each (and they have plenty). That same Blood Angels player makes brutal use of up to two Stormravens (which I can never seem to kill) I also know that all three of those players love Terminators.
So, I have to be able to take on Terminators, stand up to Deep Strikes (weather bolter storms and deal with Dreadnoughts at close range) and handle a tough Flyer or two. I'll still be making a Generalist list, but I will keep those static elements in mind.

Without further ado - army building!

First up- HQs
The HQ is my favorite slot. This is where the Champions of any army go, and most of my favorite models/units are HQs. This is a slot that is VERY easy to sink points into, and you want to make sure you don't overdo it.

The HQs of every army fit roughly into two categories: Leaders and Champions (I made those distinctions up).
Leaders focus on army buffs and benefits to all the other squads around them (think Autarch, for reserves manipulation, and Farseers for Psychic Powers).
Champions focus on being as dangerous as possible on their own (think Phoenix Lords and the Avatar).
Now, if you want a big stick to throw around the table and knock things down with, the Eldar have some good options for Champions. Phoenix Lords and the Avatar can reliably wipe the table with most other Characters and many other squads in the game, and will be very likely to win any Challenge they wind up in.
If you want to get the most out of your other units, you'll want a Leader. There is no other HQ in 40k that can boast as much sheer super-charging buff-power as Eldar Farseers. Guardians aren't very scary, Guardians with a 4++ Invulnerable that re-roll to-hit and to-wound? Scary.

So which you choose really depends on what you want to do. A great cinematic representation of yourself on the table who will win epic battles? I lean towards the Avatar. But for making sure my units get where they need to and do what I put them in the list to do? Farseer.
I often take one of each, just to balance it out. 

However, for this list, I want pure psychic might. I want to see if an all-support oriented Leader/Leader pair can compete on the table with a Leader/Champion pair.
For this fluffy list, I've decided to use Eldrad (who I have not used since 6th came out) and a Farseer on Jetbike (or "Jetseer" who is my current favorite HQ). I use the Jetseer solo with the Mantle of the Laughing God (giving him +3 to any cover save, and allowing him to re-roll it. So if he moves on a Jetbike he gets a 2+ re-rollable cover save). Awesome unit, super-fast, able to hit or support anywhere on the table at the drop of a hat.
Why Eldrad instead of a base seer? He's tougher, I get more rolls on the Psychic trees, can cast more powers/turn - but the real gem for me is his re-deployment rule. It guarantees that even if I'm going first, I can still counter-deploy. In an army as fragile and specialized as Eldar, removing the counter-deployment advantage from your opponent is huge. Plus, he's my Fluff crush.

In the past (and most often) I run with a Farseer (Jetseer or otherwise) and an Avatar. The Avatar is a hard-counter to Deep Striking Dreadnoughts (which I love to blow up) but contributes less to the army overall than a Farseer.
I've tried other HQs before, and as much as I enjoy tinkering with them, Farseers and the Avatar have performed so well in game it's hard for me to justify anything else.

Sweet custom Jetseer, I'm working on a similar project now. The Dark Eldar Jetbike lends itself better to an aggressive pose - but I personally plan on kit-bashing a little more to make it a tad less evil-looking

Eldrad comes stock with a Warlord Trait, but it's not one I'm a huge fan of, so I decided to make the Jetseer my Warlord and roll on the table to try for a different trait.

Also, since Eldrad is on foot, he needs a unit to cover him. Normally I would put him in a Guardian blob. It's fluffy, it's scoring, it stands to gain the most from his psychic support. In this game, however, I want to try out a Seer Council. To save points (and because Eldrad can't take a Jetbike), I decided to do a Seer Council on foot with Singing Spears. It's still a chunk of points, but I gain a 12" S9 ranged attack that synergizes well with Battle Focus, and they're less likely to be targeted heavily than a Jetbike Seer Council. It also gives them an answer to the probable Deep Striking Dreadnought(s) I might see.

Jetseer (Jetbike, Mantle of the Laughing God, Stone of Anath'Lan)
5x Warlocks (Singing Spears)

575 pts.
That's a lot gone already, putting a lot of hope in the psychic might of all those Seers. It's arguably too much invested in HQs, especially for such a small list. In a game against any type of Horde army, small high-points squads are easily overwhelmed. In this case, against marines, I'm in less danger, but it's still risky.
1000ish to go.

Troops/Scoring Units
Counter to HQs, this is a slot that's very easy to under-invest in. Most games have Objectives, so you want Troops that can get to Objectives and hold them, and/or survive to hold them. Troops tend to be cheap, on the weak/fragile side, and more limited (but less specialized) than other slots.

Being fluffy, I'll be using a lot of Guardians. I prefer to use the ones that are painted, so that limits me to a total of 20, with two heavy weapons. I will be using Bright Lances (to take on those pesky Dreadnoughts and/or Land Raiders). So, I can take either two squads of ten with one Lance each, or one squad of 20 with two lances.
One squad is more durable, and would be the most efficient use of Psychic Powers. However, two squads would be more mobile, and less likely to be wiped out in a single assault.
As of now, I'm inclined to take them as a blob. Fingers-crossed that I can use them well enough!

Fear the blob!

To balance that out, I want some smaller, quick squads to catch distant and/or late game Objectives. There is nothing in the game better for that role than Windrider Jetbikes. So, two squads of three of those. Barebones, no upgrades, their whole purpose is to score.

That gives me 3 - 4 squads of troops. It's pretty minimal, but not bad. A small squad of Rangers (cheap, with Infiltrate), another squad of Jetbikes, more Guardians or Dire Avengers would be a nice boost for this. You want to make sure you have enough Troops to capture Objectives and give you enough bodies on the field to not be overwhelmed too easily. If I had the points, it would be a good idea to take two 20-man Guardian blobs.
As I'm so limited in points though, I've decided to move on for now.

Total so far:
Jetseer (as above)
5x Warlocks
20x Guardians (2x Bright Lances)
6x Windrider Jetbikes

897 pts.
That's the core of it. The bones of an army are the HQs and the Scoring units. You can minimize both of these to maximize other units, but I find that the most reliable armies lean heavily on Troops.

The Other Stuff

This can be anything. Which can be difficult to narrow down, as it's an endless sea of options and a limited pool of points. The new Codex compounded that problem by making most units cheaper - which is great, but makes choosing that much more difficult.

In the "filling" units, the non-HQs and non-Troops, you really get a sense for how you want your army to work. It's not unusual for me to build a list Troops and HQ first, and then once I get through the Heavy/Fast Attack/Elite slots, I go back and re-write it to work better as a whole.
For this list, I need more anti-armor. For that I lean towards Wraithlords, Wave Serpents with Lances, or Dark Reapers with Starshot Missiles. The Avatar is great for this, if I have the open HQ slot. The Crimson Hunter also provides anti-armor and anti-air, nice perk.
I could use some fast hard-hitters to deal with hard-to-reach threats. Warp Spiders and Wave Serpents excel in that role, I really should have some of each. 
It also helps to have some transports, Troops and Elites can take Wave Serpents, but for my Seer Council I'll have to use a Falcon. I want to love Falcons, but there are other tanks that do everything better...  Still, we'll try it here.

Here are the units I put into this particular list with the roles I want them to fill:

7x Warp Spiders - Interception, raw killy power.  
They can reach anything and take down just about anything, especially with Doom/Guide.
Crimson Hunter - Anti-air/armor.  
It's a unit I really want to try, and it will pose a serious threat to those Stormravens or Dreadnoughts. I chose to make it an Exarch too so it can score Precision Shots and hits on a 2+
Wave Serpent - How can you not? Fire support, mobile cover.  
These are so good it's nearly impossible not to have at least one. My Guardian blob allows me to take one, even if they're not embarked in it. It can be moved up as cover and used to snipe targets, especially those in cover. With Scatter Lasers and a Shuriken Cannon, the amount of S6/S7 this model can put out is terrifying.
Flacon - HQ transport, extra fire support.
My Seer Council needs a transport, and since I can't give them a Wave Serpent, this is it. I gave the Falcon a Starcannon because it's dirt cheap, and between that and its pulse laser it is a very real threat to 2+ saves, and still has a little punch against armor.

I, and every other list builder I've seen, always take Holo-fields with my tanks. So both the Falcon and Wave Serpent above have them. They're a cheap upgrade that vastly improves the survivability of generally expensive units.
I'm also somewhat lucky/cursed in that I have a limited selection of models. It helps to narrow down what I end up taking, but makes me sad when I dream of how much damage a Wraithknight could wreak on those Death Company...

Final list:
Jetseer (Jetbike, Mantle of the Laughing God, Stone of Anath'Lan)
5x Warlocks (Singing Spears)
Falcon (Starcannon, Holo-fields)
20x Guardians (2x Bright Lances)
6x Jetbikes
7x Warp Spiders
Cimson Hunter (Exarch)

1500 pts. on the nose.
When I first made this list, I had a barebones squad of Dire Avengers and the Jetseer had a Singing Spear, but I was over in points and had to scale back, part of the list building game!
In this list, I have a total of 4x Bright Lances, 2x Pulse Lasers, and enough Shuriken Fire/S6-7 dakka to make a Grey Knight army cry. It's a little short on bodies, and depends a lot on Psychic Powers. We'll see how it does in the field...
In a list where I didn't *know* I was going to face smaller, elite Space Marines, I would have tried to work in some Shining Spears or Scorpions (great against Tau) or Dark Reapers (cut right through Infantry and Bikes). When I re-work the list after tonight's game, I might still do that.

Speaking of Psychic Powers, I rolled in advance for the game tonight.

Eldrad - I rolled twice on Divination, liked what I got so I rolled once on Runes of Fate, then once more on Divination. I rolled for the Div. powers that have you roll 3d6 and pick what you want for reserves (6), Unit gets Ignores Cover (4) Re-roll to-hit (Primaris), and 4+ Invulnerable save (4). Runes of Fate gave me Doom, re-roll to wound (2).  
Unfortunately, the Ignores Cover power only affects the Farseer's unit, and since he's with the Warlocks with limited shooting, I swapped it for the Primaris. Had he been in a unit of Dark Reapers, that power would have been solid gold! The 3d6 on reserves will help me make sure my Crimson Hunter arrives after at least one of the Stormravens, so it won't be annihilated before it has a chance to do damage. DOOM, I love Doom, it's been awful to not have it guaranteed. I couldn't have rolled better on R o' F. With the Shuriken weapon Bladestorm rule, and the Warp Spider's Monofilament rule, that will be brutal.

Jetseer - I rolled Runes of Fate (hoping for Eldritch Storm) and got Death Mission (ick! 4) which I swapped for the Primaris (Guide). I then rolled twice on Telepathy hoping for a little more firepower and got Invisibility and Hallucination (5 & 6. Nice!).
The Jetseer is my fire-base psyker, this will be my first game using him as more of a buffing unit. Also, I gave him the Stone of Anath'Lan so he can use 2 warp-charge powers and still use 3 powers in a turn. Many Telepathy powers are 2 wc powers, and I want to make sure he can always do as much in a turn as possible.

Warlocks - This didn't go as well, I rolled the +Fearless/-3 Leadership (2) twice, the +1 Str. / -1  Str. (6) twice, and +1 WS, I / -1 WS. I once.
I was really hoping for the +1 save / -1 save at least once, but these are still fun. After rolling this I kicked myself for not taking the Telepathy Primaris like I usually do. Forcing a 3d6 Leadership check on a unit with -6 Leadership would have been beautiful.

But, that's that. We'll take it to the field and see how it does! Stay tuned for a Battle Rep in the next few days

It played three games with this list, and it became clear right away in the first game that it needed minor tweaks. For one, the single Blob squad had to be split. They're too vulnerable to the predicted Death Company Dreadnought, who took out all 20 in an unlucky fell swoop. So, two squads of 10x. That gives me a more mobile, more flexible force overall, and gives me that one extra scoring unit for a total of 4x (two Guardians, two Jetbikes)
That also allowed me to switch the Falcon (underwhelming) for a second Wave Serpent identical to the first, which turned out to be a great choice. The Seer Council does surprisingly well on foot, and being able embark my Guardians entirely in transports is a good option to have (especially when I face Tau, which I will soon!)

Other than that, this list worked brilliantly. Check out my Battle Reports for details!


  1. two days ago i decided to start an Eldar army, I have so much to learn and your blog is very good inspiration !

    1. Thank you! And good luck!
      Let me know if you have any questions or want to run any sample lists by someone


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