Building an Eldar Army List 3: Breaking down a current list

See the somewhat outdated part 1 here, and the very popular (very dense) part 2 here.

So! Hot on the heels of reports from the recent Las Vegas Open (LVO) - a hearty Well Done! to Reecius and the Frontline team! - where Eldar armies dominated the Top 10 armies, and fresh out of a quick weekend of gaming, let's break down my current list. Here's what I started with last weekend:

Eldrad                                   HQ        Runes of Fate
Warlocks (5x)                       *            Singing Spears
Guardian Defenders (11x)    TR         Scatter Laser  
Guardian Defenders (10x)    TR         Scatter Laser
Guardian Jetbikes (9x)          TR        3x Cannons, 3 squads of 3
Wave Serpent                        DTr       Scatter Lasers, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon
Wave Serpent                        DTr        Scatter Lasers, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon   
Wraithknight                         HS         Suncannon/Scatter shield, Scatter Laser
Warp Spiders (7x)                 FA       
Shining Spears (3x)               FA        Exarch, Hit & Run, Star Lance
Crimson Hunter                     FA        Exarch    

1850 points

Quick tactics:
Eldrad is my HQ (and I don't know if I could do without him!) rolling four times on Runes of Fate and hoping for Fortune and Doom, preferentially trading Mind War (ick) for Guide. The Warlocks are his bodyguard, their powers have been brutal at taking down Terminators (my nemesis) and their Singing Spears are a great deterrent to backfield armor (I deal with a lot of Dreadnought drops in most of my games).
To bodyguard Eldrad, I need a unit that is useful, not prohibitively expensive, and has an Invulnerable save to soak the most damage from everything trying to kill my squishy Warlord (and benefit the most from the coveted Fortune). The other options I've considered here are Wraithblades with axes and Dire Avengers with a Shimmershield Exarch (now that in 6th, the Shimmershield applies a blanket 5++, rather than just being in CC).
The Wraith-Axes are tougher and far superior in CC, but don't have Battle Focus or any ranged threat at all. The Dire Avengers are the cheapest and most generally dangerous at range, but are the weakest and have the lowest ++ save of all the options. Still, I'm playtesting all the options.

The Defenders are my troops/Wave Serpent tax, the Jetbikes are my cheap fast troops and zooming distraction units (even in small units, properly cared for, they can shift a surprising number of scoring units and are pure gold at reach distant objectives late-game)
The Wave Serpents are there for the massive S6/S7 spam, and especially for taking out early-game Scout and Pathfinder units that can be tough to get rid of later. I try not to take more than two of them, because to me this is a Gentleman's game, and I try to be respectful to my opponents by not abusing units we agree are a touch over the top (they're friends I see often, after all).

The Wraithknight is there to be scary. He's especially for punching heavy tanks, particularly those in hard-to-reach places. I take the Suncannon because I want the 5++, and because it gives him a credible answer to large blob units, and is the best thing for blasting Terminators. The Scatter Laser I take to maximize his ranged threat by adding more S6 shots and twin-linking the Suncannon - great combo.
This does make him somewhat less of a threat to heavy armor at range (losing the Wraithcannons), but so far he's done all right, and for what I have faced most often, I need more help against tougher-armored mobs than against tanks.

My Warp Spiders and Shining Spears serve the same purpose: to get in my opponent's face fast, and have a decent answer to just about anything in the game. The Spears were taken as an Outflank unit that could arrive in an inconvenient place and threaten weak troops or lone tanks/MCs. I also took them hoping they could handle Riptides.
The Warp Spiders are so fast, and surprisingly durable, that they've consistently been rockstars.

The Crimson Hunter is there for pure anti-Flyer, and if there's no Flyer in play, anti-Armor. He does a number on exposed Riptides too, but is better served focusing on one-shottable tanks.

As for deployment, I tend to counter-deploy. I make sure to get the best use of terrain (stay mobile, spread out but keep the fast stuff in places where it can respond anywhere) and protect my weaker units (especially the Jetbikes) for the first few turns. Keep as much as possible out of LOS or in solid cover - always be prepared to get seized on!
Also, I try to maximize Eldrad's nasty little re-deploy trick. If deploying first, my opponents deploy to aim straight at what they most want to kill or really bundle up what they want to protect, being able to shuffle 2 - 4 units after deployment (after both sides deploy Infiltrators, but before Scout moves. Remember that!) is amazing.

I ran this list twice, both times against a pure Tau player. In the first game, he tried to do something besides the typical gun line, so he ended up Deep-Striking nearly everything. However, my army was so fast, that I was able to almost wipe out what he deployed in the first turn, and then was able to tackle everything that came in separately a little at a time. He still gave me a run for it in the later turns (a Riptide falling on your head will do that), but in the end I won handily.
It was his first time (ever) facing a Wraithknight, and I can't say he was prepared for it. He deployed three Hammerheads directly in front of it, and I promptly Fortuned it, then had it race across the table and wreck them. The Battlesuits and Riptide that could have held it off were in reserves until it was too late.

In the second game, he ran a more traditional gun line with a little Deep Striking/Reserves (especially some held back APCs with Fire Warriors, to late-grab points). He also played a bit differently to hold off my Wraithknight (which I unfortunately let him do). Instead of facing the Knight against tanks, he ran his Riptide and Buffmander Suit unit together to face off with him. They stuck to cover and kept me at arm's length. In hindsight, I should have re-deployed my Knight to tackle the Hammerheads on the other side of the board first (the Serpents would have been better suited to taking on the Battlesuits) or at least been more aggressive. In the end, the Knight hand a heck of a time doing any damage to the Buffmander's unit, and wound up gathering dust most of the game. A proper piss-poor use of 300 points...
It was a much closer game, but in the end he'd nearly wiped me out, and had almost twice the points I had. I did all right at the end of turn 5, but by the end of turn 7 (yep, 7) everything had gone seriously down hill.

My weakest performers were the Guardians, hands down, but they're my bulk troops (and they fill the Fluff role) plus, the way I've been playing them, they spend nearly the entire game in their transport and/or are mostly wiped out when it's blown up.
They had two moments to shine, each time unloading everything they had on a Battlesuit unit. Each time they did one, maybe two wounds even with Guide and Doom (due to some absurd saves being rolled by my worthy opponent). So, it was mostly bad luck, but it goes to show that having a unit that only fires once per game just ain't doing it. I mean to get them out there, more vulnerable but more valuable, and see if some agro-Guardians do better.

A close second is my Crimson Hunter, getting not a single kill in either game. Although it stunned and immobilized a Hammerhead in the first game (the last model left on the table too, I would have won turn 2 had the dice been a little hotter), and seriously wounding - but failing to drop - the Riptide in the second.
Still, I want to keep it because it's such an awesome anti-flyer, and if I focus on tanks should be able to punch holes in armor lines. The next time I face a Stormraven (soon, no doubt) I think I will appreciate keeping it.

Then, there are the Warlocks. Whose major purpose is to protect Eldrad (and in both games they did so magnificently). In the first game, I still lost all of them, but Eldrad survived to face-punch two units of Battlesuits and the Buffmander (beautiful moment) by himself with one-wound left for the last three turns. Seriously, love that guy.
In the second game, I failed to get Fortune, so they were considerably more fragile. Even with that though, with careful playing and some flaming hot dice, they survived up through turn 6. And only because I was playing it as the last turn and threw caution to the winds (hoping to nail a Pathfinder unit off of an objective) did they go down.
In short, they're tough as nails, and when things go well they tie up silly amounts of enemy units pouring shots at them (really, entire turns have been spent shooting an entire army at my Seer Council and not killing a single member). But, they don't do that any better than Wraith Axes would, and have much less of a bite than Avengers would - especially when I need to play cautious, running in and out of cover, in those games where I don't get Fortune.

The Shining Spears I really liked, but when they took on a Riptide with only two wounds left, I got a good look at how precarious their position really was. They took it down, but had it taken one less wound, it would easily have killed them all, and they only just barely killed it with both shooting and a flawless assault.

Plan for next time?
And here's the list I re-worked to try next:

Eldrad                                   HQ        Runes of Fate
Dire Avengers (10x)             TR         Exarch, Power Weapon/Shimmershield
Guardian Defenders (10x)    TR         Scatter Laser, Warlock (Singing Spear)  
Guardian Defenders (10x)    TR         Scatter Laser
Guardian Jetbikes (9x)          TR        3x Cannons, 3 squads of 3
Wave Serpent                        DTr       Scatter Lasers, Holofields, Shuriken Cannon
Wave Serpent                        DTr        Scatter Lasers, Holofields   
Wraithknight                         HS         Suncannon/Scatter shield, Scatter Laser
Warp Spiders (8x)                 FA       
Warp Spiders (7x)                 FA      
Crimson Hunter                     FA        Exarch

1853 points (I can drop the Singing Spear for 1848, if an opponent minds 3 points over)

I've made some tweaks to the list. Mostly, the Shining Spears swapped for more Warp Spiders. The Shining Spears did very well in both games, but in both games I was *really* lucky - and they just barely took down a Riptide (a big reason I took them) and didn't exactly do better than Warp Spiders. For about the same points, I can have a second set of Warp Spiders who are more dangerous at range, rely less on CC, and are so fast that they can start on the table rather than maybe come in on the last turn. We'll see how that goes.

Also, I traded the Seer Council for a unit of Dire Avengers. It's more bodies, a scoring unit, much cheaper, and has a greater ranged threat range - which I foresee using more than getting my Warlocks into CC. Besides, Eldrad is the star in CC anyway.
This will mean I won't have my beefy anti-MC unit, or the epic S9 spray of Singing Spears, but for the points I think this will be more efficient overall. And, with two units of Spiders and the Wraithknight, I have some heavy-hitters to handle a few MCs and Dreadnoughts. 

I used the extra points from taking out the Seer Council to add one Warlock to a Guardian unit. These guys are suffering a lot from being in a transport the whole game, and I've seriously underestimated the value of Conceal/Reveal. While some units can still ignore cover, many can't, so a reasonably reliable 5+ open/2+ in cover Cover Save on a Guardian Blob should actually make them tougher than being in the Serpent.
I plan on trying out whether they perform better as a 20-man blob (best utility from Conceal) or two 10-man blobs (maximum Scoring units). Since this army has a minimum of five Scoring units, I'm leaning towards the bigger blob.

I will have to tweak this, because as of now I only have 9 Warp Spiders (one of which is an Exarch), so I'll also do a modified list that uses models I have, in case I really like the list and want to take it to a local tournament, or if one of my friends is feeling prickly about proxies.

I'll be back with results from further testing!