40K Eldar Tactics review: The Hemlock Wraithfighter

*The original post made reference to Terrify removing Fearless, sorry folks, I'm still in denial about the Telepathy nerfs

NoName1 here with a quick tactics article, this time focusing on a unit that was almost entirely ignored in 6th, that may or may not be worth a damn in 7th.

As often happens - especially since 6th sped into 7th without passing Go - many of the Tactics articles I've been finding are out of date. My personal favorite is 1d4chan Eldar Tactics, but while they've done better at keeping up than most, they're still far behind the 7th Edition train.
And, when it comes to re-visiting tactics articles, it's often most fun to start with units that "just weren't worth it" in the previous edition, and received subtle (or not so subtle) boosts in the new one.

Top of my list at the moment: the Hemlock Wraithfighter.

Here's a very (very) points-heavy Flyer for the Eldar that, in many ways, just didn't stack up to its twin, the Crimson Hunter.

What you get, for 25 points more than a base Crimson Hunter, is a decent BS of 4, on a super-fast chassis that will blow up in a stiff breeze. It brings with it two Heavy D-Scythes, granting a pair of Strength 4, AP2, Blasts with Distort (auto-Pen on a 6, plus Instant Death on a 6). In addition, it comes stock with Spirit Stones (yay?)
Now, all of this is a bit of a head scratcher, but then we get to the Psychic Pilot stocked with Terrify (Telepathy power #3) and the Mindshock Pod, which forces any unit (friend or foe) within 12" to re-roll successful Morale and Pinning tests.
Terrify is a Malediction (*not* Witchfire, so you don't give it up by Jinking) -1 Ld. to the target unit, plus they treat all enemy units as having Fear, and must take a Morale check at the end of the Psychic Phase.

Mmmm, Spirit Stones!

Now, what changed?
The biggest complaint about the Hemlock back in 6th edition was that that handy-dandy Terrify power didn't work on the turn it arrived (d'oh). However, now in 7th Edition, it does, as the Psychic Phase comes after the Movement phase.
In addition, the Vehicle Damage Table has been upped slightly, so AV10 isn't (quite) the instant-dead button it used to be. Not to mention that the Wraithfighter's biggest draw isn't it's guns, so Jinking isn't a huge sacrifice (plus, it's a better save than it was) and if you can hit it with Stealth/Shrouded, it actually has decent survivability.

Not to mention, in cases where Terrify isn't the best choice (say, against a Fearless unit), Psychic Focus grants the Wraithfighter Psychic Shriek as well, which is an incredibly nasty power. However, that IS a Witchfire, so Jinking (which you'll almost certainly have to do) essentially negates that option. Still, it's nice to have for when you don't Jink.

Also, unlike the Crimson Hunter, the Wraithfighter doesn't rely on coming on before other Flyers, because it's not an Anti-Air unit (in fact, it's useless against Flyers). So long as there's Infantry on the table, it can come in and make a splash.

So, how to use it?
There are three main ways to use this: with Pinning weapons, with dedicated melee, and with Psychic Powers.

You can just feel the pinning there...

For the first, the current Eldar Codex is full to the brim with Pinning weapons - every Missile Launcher in the book, the hated Serpent Shield, etc. The big boost there is that these are likely to already be in most Eldar lists, so the Wraithfighter would just be icing on the cake. Pinning units all over the board is a nasty prospect, especially since just about every Eldar army has Wave Serpents, but none of us really expect Pinning to work on targets like Space Marines - with a re-roll of successes, it just might.

Dedicated Melee-

Dedicated Melee is a little tougher, but against some armies, an Avatar, Jain Zar, some Howling Banshee Exarchs (with Fear) and the combo with any unit and Terrify provides a significant chance for your melee units to wipe enemy units who flee from combat. It's not a great option (as a Melee-dedicated Eldar army is likely to be outmatched), but it's there.

Psychic Powers-

Third, and my favorite, Psychic Powers really make a mess in this combo. Warlocks with the Horrify power stack on top of Terrify for a total -4 Ld., taking even the toughest enemies down to Ld. 6, and bringing those poor Tau and Orks into wetting-themselves territory. Force Pinning/Morale checks on units dropped that low, and re-rolling successful rolls, and you're practically guaranteed they'll fail.
Then, my favorite cake topper, throw around some Psychic Shriek. If I'm using a Wraithfighter, I'll also try to write up a list with two Farseers, each equipped with Psychic Shriek. Since the range got boosted to 18" since 7th Edition, you can even more reliably cast this power outside the Mindshock bubble.
The Psychic Powers build also has the added bonus of defensive powers. If you have the powers/dice, you can hit the Wraithfighter with Shrouding and/or Invisibility to give it a better chance at surviving a turn or two.

Of course, all of that said, the Hemlock (like the Crimson Hunter) is essentially dead if it hits a table with Dedicated AA with Interceptor still standing, so be careful. Watch the range and LoS over enemy models to try to make sure the Hemlock Wraithfighter is where you need it to be when you need it there.

My main inspiration for even writing this article was facing twin-Riptides on the table. The Hemlock is fast enough to catch them (if they *don't* have Intercept, that's a gamble), and between Terrify and re-rolling Ld. tests, a Riptide is very likely to run for the hills. If it's on a table edge, even better!

So that's that. Thoughts? What's a unit you completely looked over in 6th, that suddenly caught your eye in 7th?


  1. So my understanding is the hemlock doesn't gain psychic shriek, as it has its power assigned to it, so it doesn't gain the bonus power. Of course, it is a small point because the need to jink. The need to jink for the hemlock actually seriously screws with it to be honest, since if it does so, it cannot fire its weapons at all the following turn since you cannot snap fire blast weapons. So it will get only 1 guaranteed turn in which it can be effective and still on the board. The new psychic powers rules also make it hard to find the warp charge dice for the hemlock, given that most people are dropping around 4 dice per power to make sure they go off, so your farseers, spiritseers and warlocks are likely to eat your charge pool with more critical powers than terrify.

  2. I liked it for the fact it can make things flee. And seriously, jinking ALL the time? You may as well not use flyers and skimmers with guns if all you do is jink. Take a chance and take the odd hit for the chance of full BS next turn :D

    1. On my AV 10 Flyers, even when I don't Jink they've been either Stunned anyway or flat out blown up in one round of shooting - but I field them against Tau kind of a lot…
      If I do Jink, the Flyers tend to soak damage from Tau gun lines surprisingly well!

  3. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include.
    check out here

    1. Hey David!
      Almost a year isn't too long to take to reply to a comment, right? I played 6th edition a LOT, so I have the Codex for that as well as the new Craftworlds Codex, and the 7th Edition rulebook. I don't think I posted anything that wasn't in those sources or from direct play experience...

      I hope you're still enjoying the game! I found with life and work, I've "downgraded" to a combination of X-wing and Age of Sigmar nowadays :)

    2. Actually, this entire article is tragically out of date since the Craftworlds Codex dropped, but the only major change there was that the Hemlock now has S:D (-1) guns, which is a big boost.


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