Eldar Tactics 1: Deployment

I've been talking about doing some general Tactics articles, and this is as good a place to start as any! In fact, it may be the single most important part of Tactics that is almost never talked about. So, let's change that, shall we?

Deploy the fleet!

Aside from army building and Psychic Powers, Deployment is the part of the game where you have the most control to affect the way the battle will go - and, being able to put units where they're needed as safely as possible is key to making sure they make back their points.

So, with Eldar especially, we have some wonderful options here. While Eldar are, according to the fluff, the fastest race out there (second possibly to Dark Eldar) the truth is, most Eldar units aren't really all that fast. We don't get drop pods, none of our transports are Assault vehicles, and Necron Flyers will zip right by our stuff in a race (which... wha-?! Come on game designers!)

BUT, all that being said, an Eldar army can be absurdly fast in-game, and before then can deploy in almost every way any other army can.

Let's start with - Deployment Options:
1. Standard. Units sitting in your Deployment Zone. Some of your army will have to do this (unless you deploy only Infiltrators, you sneaky bugger!) or you will lose on the technicality that you have to have something on the table at the end of each turn. Not much to say here.

2. Reserves. That is, stay off the table, but then come in from your Deployment Zone. This is actually one of the better options - there's no scatter involved, you know exactly where your units can arrive, and you get the most benefit/overlap from the arriving troops and any units that are already on the table. Do this with fast units such as Eldar Skimmers, Warp Spiders, and Jetbikes, and you can reach just about anywhere on the board in a couple turns even if you start off the edge.

3. Deep Strike. A unit that is Deep Striking can choose to arrive just about anywhere on the board. This is the single fastest way to get where you want to, BUT, you can scatter up to 12" from where you intended to go, and if you land on the wrong thing your entire unit could just go up in a puff of smoke. This is a gamble, and while it can be great (and often is) it's not something I would want to rely on as a method of transportation.
*If you roll the 6 on the Warlord Traits table (units don't scatter within 6" of you Warlord), and your Warlord is mobile/durable enough to be where you want them, this is a much better option. Also, Swooping Hawks (and Baharroth, if you run him solo or with Hawks) don't scatter when Deep Striking, so I would almost always do it with them.  

Now, the fun stuff!

Sneak attack!

4. Infiltrate. Deploy anywhere on the table more than 18" of an Enemy Unit (with Line of Sight) and more than 12" away without LoS. This is especially good with Striking Scorpions and Rangers/Pathfinders. Rangers do well in heavy cover, on Objectives, or in that perfect Sniper nest, where they can be a thorn in your enemy's side, but not enough of a priority to actually deal with. Scorpions want to be all up in your opponent's business, but hidden until they're ready to strike.

5. Outflank. My new favorite, Outflank allows you to come in on one of the table sides perpendicular to the Deployment Zones. On getting these reserves, you roll a D6 - on a 1-2, your unit comes in on the side to the left of your Deployment Zone, on a 3-4, the right, and on a 5-6 you choose which side. This is a great one because it allows you to keep a unit in Reserve if you think it's going to get shot to death in the first couple turns, and still get onto the board somewhere other than your own home zone, all without any danger of scattering. This is amazing for things like Shining Spears and, again, Striking Scorpions - but absolutely best with something fragile and shooty like War Walkers.

Additional notes:
All of the off-board starting options are boosted a lot by even a barebones Autarch (you can choose +1 or -1 to any Reserves rolls) or a Farseer with the Divination power Scryer's Gaze to roll 3d6 for Reserves.
Also, any unit that can take a Dedicated Transport and also Infiltrate or Outflank may do so in their transport (however, they have to enter the game embarked in it). Since both Rangers and Scorpions can take Wave Serpents, this is a great way to get those Serpents in the fight without worrying about being shot up in the first few turns, and to avoid the ever-deadly Alpha Strike.

Ok, So what? What do I do with this?
Any army you build should have flexibility in how you deploy, where your units can come in, when they come in, etc. Just because you can Outflank/Infiltrate/Deep Strike doesn't mean you have to, but being able to in the cases where it will make the most difference is key in list building.

With that in mind, here are some units/combos to make the most of it:
1. Deep-Strike small units of Warp Spiders/Swooping Hawks. Both units are small enough to be placed without much danger and to make the best out of available cover, and can zip out to make a royal mess at the first opportunity. The Hawks are especially dangerous to heavy armor in Assaults, squishy mobs at range, and the Spiders are a threat to just about everything.
2. Outflank or place in Reserve units of War Walkers to get them the best chance of surviving to shoot, and get the big guns to those hard-to-reach targets by being able to choose where they come in in later turns.
3. Infiltrate Pathfinders/Rangers/Striking Scorpions onto Objectives. Either to hold them or to deter enemy scoring units from getting close.
4. Outflank Shining Spears (ideally with an Exarch and Star Lance) to snipe backfield-rear armor with their Laser Lances, then use their Jetbike move to get as far into cover as possible.
5. Deploy Wave Serpents and Wraithknights (etc.) so that they're protected by cover, and out of LOS as much as possible from the biggest anti-armor guns, but in a position to move out quickly and tackle major threats (watch for Infiltrating units of Snipers on that Wraithknight!)

*Don't forget to use Transports. If you want to Outflank Striking Scorpions, they can Outflank *with* a dedicated Wave Serpent. This gives them that extra chance to not be shot to oblivion as soon as they arrive.
Also don't forget that Wave Serpents are Transports first and foremost. Sometimes they work best as gunboats, but always be ready to fill them with a deadly unit (my favorite is Fire Dragons) and Flat-Out across the table turn 1 rather than shoot. Crystal Targeting Matrices can be worth the points here (although it's a lot of points for one shot), flat-out gives you a wide range of shots at rear armor, and a twin-linked Scatter Laser is a serious threat to AV 10.

There are a ton of possible combinations, but those are some of the ones I've found to be most effective. Watch out for Intercept, especially from Tau!