40k: Harlequins Codex - First Thoughts Review

 Hi folks!
 So we've got ourselves a Harlequins Codex! And, granted, (almost) no one has one in hand, but we have leaked images that give us a solid idea of what's in it. So, for the first time, let's take a look at Harlequins as a whole army, shall we?

 We have seven units, that should be more or less familiar by now:


 Harlequin Troupes (Troops)
 Shadowseer (Elite)
 Death Jester (Elite)
 Solitaire (Elite - sorry for the early confusion)
 Skyweavers (Fast Attack)
 Starweavers (Fast Attack/Dedicated Transport)
 Voidweavers (Heavy Support)

 *The Death Jester, Shadowseer, or Troupe Master may be your Warlord. The Solitaire may be as well, but may not have a Warlord Trait (so don't do that!)

 Right off the bat, this is cool and not cool. For one, to use an Allied FOC, you *have* to have an HQ. So anyone who wants to field tournament-legal Harlequins Allies will have to take Formations. Which is cool, because Harlies are supposed to be special snowflakes - but it sucks, because that means you'll be very limited in what you can take. And you'll probably have to take at least one Voidweaver, and I think they're a waste. Not to mention that anyone who wants to go all-Harlequins is pretty tight on options.
 Also, it's seven units, and the book costs the same as a full Codex. No HQs, no Lords of War, no Named Characters. That's a gut punch... 

 Quick thoughts-
 You've got some *amazing* Troops in Harlequin Troupes. They're super-fast, not horribly expensive base, can be customized all over the place (D3 S6 Hammer of Wrath hits, AP2 Fleshbane Pistols, Instant Death CC weapons, Weapons that hurt anything in the game on a 6 to-hit...) and have good Leadership, loads of Attacks, and a lot of tricks up your sleeve. They are fragile, and with upgrades get expensive fast, but they're still going to be the envy of many other armies out there, if used carefully. Plus, optional Haywire on every Character, on Fast-Skimmer and Jetbike platforms as needed.
 You also have Transports second to only Dark Eldar for delivering Assault troops - Open-Topped Fast Skimmers with stock Invulnerable Saves, at a low price point, that even have a little firepower of their own.
 What you *don't* have is respectable firepower over S6, and the Heavy Support option compares (unfavorably) to Eldar Vyper Jetbikes - which you probably haven't seen on a table in a long time, for good reason. These guys are meant to run with Allies who can offer long-ranged firepower, and help to handle heavy armor and Flyers.

 Let's move on-

 Then we have Relics/Psychic powers:
 *New School called "Phantasmancy" for Shadowseers, who come stock Mastery Level 1 but can be upgraded to 2 for 25 pts.

 0 - WC 1, Veil of Tears, Blessing, (Shadowseer & Unit)
 Any unit wishing to shoot the affected unit has to roll 2D6x2. If they are farther than that distance (in inches), they forfeit shooting this turn. (Nice!)
 1 - WC 1, Dance of Shadows, Blessing (target Friendly unit within 18")
 The affected unit gains Stealth and Shrouding (Fragile as they are, Harlies need this one...)
 2 - WC 1, Peal of Discord, Witchfire/Nova
 9", S4, AP-, Assault 2D6, Concussive (Nothing more to see here)
 3 - WC 1, Shards of Light, Witchfire
 24", S3, AP-, Assault 3D6, Blind (As above, although nice range and sheer volume of shots are solid)
 4 - WC 2, Fog of Dreams, Maledictions (target Enemy unit within 24")
 The targeted unit may only fire Snap Shots and hits on 6's in Close Combat. (It's Invisibility, only better and worse - because it only affects one enemy unit, but you get to choose which one. Stupid good against an enemy unit with only Blast or Template weapons)
 5 - WC 2, Laugh of Sorrows, Witchfire
 24" range. The Target Unit must take two separate Leadership checks. The Unit will take one wound for each point the first test is failed by, and one wound for each point the second test is passed by. Ignores Armor and Cover. (BRUTAL. No mention of Fearless protecting against this). 
 6 - WC 2, Mirror of Minds, Focussed Witchfire
 24" range. The target Enemy Model and the Shadowseer roll off D6+Leadership. If it's a tie or the Shadowseer wins, the target suffers a Wound that allows no armor or cover saves. Repeat this process until the target is dead or the Shadowseer loses. (A more random Mind War with no drawbacks).

 Loving these powers! The big drawback is that a Shadowseer can only be Mastery Level 2, so you're limited on powers, and there's every chance you won't get the one(s) you really want. Personally I would be rolling every time for #1 and #5, but coming stock with Veil of Tears is a nice perk.
 It's also worth noting, that as of this writing it appears that Shadowseers have no option to take a Jetbike. So if you want to run a Character with your Skyweavers, you're lookin' at Allies. Eldar really shine here because of the Shard of Anaris (unit gets Fearless), Farseer powers (especially Fortune for the re-roll to saves), and Warlock powers (a Spiritseer can guarantee Shrouded with Runes of Battle). And of course Telepathy. 
 All of the Leadership targeting powers (#5 and #6) benefit nicely from the Relic "Mask of Secrets"- see below

 Enigmas of the Black Library (Relics)
 1. Crescendo (5 pts, Troupe Masters & Shadowseers only)
 12", S4, AP5, Pistol, Bladestorm, Quickfire (# of shots = wielders Attacks characteristic)
 *It's a Shuriken pistol with three shots. Not bad, not great, very cheap. On the BS5 Troupe Master, it could be pretty good if you don't want to shell out for the Neuro Disruptor.

 2. Cegorach's Rose (15 pts, Troupe Masters & Solitaires only)
 Harlequin's Kiss (CC weapon, wielder makes a single attack per round at S6, AP2, a to-wound of 6 = Instant Death) only with Shred (re-roll to-wound) Master Crafted (re-roll 1 to-hit per round). 
 *It's a Harlequin's Kiss that grants a re-roll to-wound and to-hit. In most cases, it's going to be worth it if you're running a Kiss. It helps the Solitaire by granting re-rolls to wound for his beastly number of attacks, helps both by re-rolling that to-hit (which would be best used on the Kiss of Death attack) and particularly makes sense for Troupe Masters because, if they're using a Kiss, they're paying points for it already anyway!

 3. Mask of Secrets (15 pts, Shadowseers Only)
 Grants Fearless and Enemy Models within 12" of the bearer get -2 to their Leadership.
 *Solid. Gold. It's cheap, and not only do you give a valuable unit Fearless, but you make that Fear the the army comes with more reliable, and if you're rolling with any Mind War, Psychic Shriek or Phantasmancy number 5 or 6 you're dropping enemies all over the place. Pairs nicely with the Dark Eldar relic armor that does the same thing - nothing says they don't stack.

 4. The Laughing God's Eye (20 pts)
 Grants Adamantium Will to all friendly units within 12" of the bearer.
 *Meh. I think Adamantium Will is overvalued by GW rules writers. Not worthless, probably not worth 20 pts. Although the 12" bubble is a very nice perk over similar wargear in other books.

 5. Starmist Raiment (25 pts)
 If a model with the Starmist Raiment Runs in it's shooting phase, it gains a 3++ Invulnerable Save until it's next Shooting Phase
 *Seems pretty lackluster at first, but then look at the Formations - several of them allow units to Run and Assault in the same turn. If your Character is going to be in a Challenge with something scary, buffing them to a 3++ for the first round of combat is not bad at all. Also could be used with Hit & Run for multiple rounds!

 6. The Storied Sword (25 pts, Troupe Masters only)
 It's a Power Sword (AP3 CC weapon that strikes at Initiative) that also grants +1 S and is Master Crafted. 
  *If you run your Troupe Master with a Power Sword anyway, this is a better one at 10 pts more. Worth every penny - S5 on the Charge (Furious Charge) and Master Crafted means that it competes far more favorably with the other Harlequin Weapons than a normal Power Sword.

 Warlord Traits-
– Death Jester and Shadowseer Warlords can roll a D6 on the BRB tables or a D3 (that’s not a typo) on the Harlequins ones
– Troupe Master Warlords can roll a D6 on every tables (BRB & codex)

 *With that split above, I would be inclined to take a Troupe Master as my Warlord, especially since 1-3 are the same on all three of the below tables. But 1-3 are good enough that, if you were keen on using one of the other Characters as Warlord, a higher chance of getting the one you want could be worth it. 
 *#s 1 & 2 are particularly good for making for fragile Warlord just a little bit tougher.
 *Also keep in mind that to take *any* of these, the Harlequins must be your Primary Detachment

“Light” table
1) the warlord re-rolls all to-hit of 1 (shooting & cc) and all saves of 1 (Niiice!)
2) 4++ invulnerable save for the the warlord (Solid, better than a 5++)
3) the warlord and his unit can add 1″ every time they move (movement, running, charging, fall back, regroup, hit & run, consolidation, sweep etc etc) (Meh... They're fast enough already)

Troupe Master only-
4) you can add 4 to any roll to steal the initiative (Seize on a 2+? Yes please)
5) before deployment, choose up to D3 units from your primary detachment. every unit gain one of: deep strike, infiltrate, scout (choose as you like) (This one is my favorite on the list)
6) immediately after deployment and after scout moves, you can remove from the table your warlord and/or up to other D3 friendly units with the Harlequins faction within 12″ of the warlord. Any units removed this way may immediately deployed using normal deployment rules or put in Reserve (This one is very good, and combined with Eldrad's re-deploy, could easily allow you to move your entire army after your opponent has played their hand)

“twilight” table (See above for notes of 1-3)
1) the warlord re-rolls all to-hit of 1 (shooting & cc) and all saves of 1
2) 4++ invulnerable save for the the warlord
3) the warlord and his unit can add 1″ every time they move (movement, running, charging, fall back, regroup, hit & run, consolidation, sweep etc etc)

Troupe Master only-
4) if the mission use variable length, you can add or subtract 2 to the roll to determine if the game ends (Nice!)
5) any to-wound roll of 6 made by the warlord in close combat (or any to-wound roll of 5+ while making a Kiss of Death attack) gains the Instant Death special rule (Very nice for that number of attacks, especially with one of the low-AP weapons)
6) once per game your warlord and his unit can make a “mirror leap” instead of moving: they can move 24″, moving over other models and terrains like in open terrain but cannon end over other models or in impassable terrains. They cannot charge in the same turn (Handy!)

“darkness” table (See above for notes of 1-3)
1) the warlord reroll all to-hit of 1 (shooting & cc) and all saves of 1
2) 4++ invulnerable save for the the warlord
3) the warlord and his unit can add 1″ every time they move (movement, running, charging, fall back, regroup, hit & run, consolidation, sweep etc etc)

Troupe Master only-
4) enemy units in base contact with the warlord or his unit must roll an additional D6 while taking Fear or Morale tests (With this and the -2 Ld. Relic, anything you break will run.)
5) at the end of the game, before declaring the winner, you can move one time only your warlord and his unit like in the movement phase, than they can run or shoot like in the shooting phase, and, next, if you so desire, can charge and fight a single turn of combat like in the assault phase (the adversary can overwatch and fight normally). If your warlord is locked in combat at the end of the game, he and his unit can only choose to fight an additional turn of combat. If the warlord unit is embarked, it can disembark but the transport cannot move or shoot. After the warlord and his unit have done this extra action the game end (This one is fun, but meh)
6) if your warlord is removed from play while in a challenge, the players roll out immediately: if you win the roll out or if it is a tie the adversary of your warlord is removed as well (See #5, it's funny, especially if you pulled it on something like Abaddon or Skarbrand, but most of the time will be wasted)

*Personally, I would almost always roll on the "Light" table, with a Troupe Master Warlord, and try for #5. It is really, really good. I particularly like these Traits as an Eldar player, because the Eldar Traits are only ok, while these could do a lot to help an Eldar army be nastier than ever!

 And finally,
1) 3 Troupes, 3 Death Jesters, 3 Shadowseers, 1 Solitaire, 2 units of Skyweavers, 1 unit of Voidweavers

Restriction: none

Special rules:
Outstanding Performance (you may re-roll invulnerable saves of 1 for all the models of the formation) (Re: most Harlequin Infantry saves. Solid! Makes the Solitaires super-tough)
Emissary of Cegorach (if the Troupe Master is your warlord, you can re-roll his Harlequins Warlord Trait) (Nice, since it wouldn't get this otherwise)
Pressing Crescendo (from the beginning of turn 2, all units in this formation with the Fleet special rule can Run and Charge in the same turn) (The real winner!)

 *This is the formation you want to run with Harlequins Primary. It's big as an Allied Detachment, and it does amazing things for Harlequins. Again, it looks like a lot of rules are written to encourage the use of Troupe Masters as Warlords. Also, as part of this Formation, you have total control over how those Troupes are fielded, so you still get the chance to load them in Starweavers without breaking the Formation rules.
 I don't like that this one requires a Voidweaver tax. But keep it barebones, and it's not big. Worth it after a few re-rolled Invul. Saves. It's also pretty brutal to require *3* Death Jesters and Shadowseers each, but it also allows you to take 3 Shadowseers, and more of those is always better...

2) 3 Troupes, 2 units of Skyweavers, 3 Starweavers, 1 unit of Voidweavers

– each Troupe must take one of the formation Starweavers as a Dedicated Transport (So no free Starweavers for your Allies here)

Special rules:
Emissary of Cegorach (if the troup master is your warlord, you can re-roll his Harlequins Warlord trait)
The Aerial Walk (one Troup from this formation can use his Hit&Run to embark in a free Starweaver from this formation. If the Hit&Run rolled distance is enough to move all models within 2″ of the Starweaver the Troupe can embark immediately. If a consolidation movement is enough to move all models within 2″ of a free Starweaver from this formation the Troupe can embark immediately) (Eh. It's kind of cool, it may protect a unit for a critical turn, but it's nothing special)

 *In terms of the units you take in this one, this is a nice mid-size Allied Formation. However, not having the run & charge special rule sucks, and it's still very expensive for an Allied Formation. AND, it doesn't give you access to a Shadowseer.

3) “Company of Actors” 1 Troupe, 1 Death Jester, 1 Shadowseer

– all models from this formation must deployed as a single unit. DJ & SS can’t leave the unit (So they can't be in a Starweaver, as that's 7 models)

Special rules:
Crusader (2D6 Run moves, pick the highest, +D3 Sweeping Advance)
Heralds of the Laughing God (any models with the Eldar or Dark Eldar faction (friend or foe) within 6″ from one or more models of this formation gains the Crusader special rule)

4) “Cegorach’s jest” 1 Troupe, 1 unit of Skyweavers, 1 unit of Voidweavers

Special rules:
Pressing Crescendo (from the beginning of turn 2, all units in this formation with the Fleet special rule can Run and Charge in the same turn)

 *THIS is your go-to Allies Formation! It's cheap, it's small, it gives you the barest tools to field Harlequin's alongside something else. Throw in a Dedicated Transport Starweaver, repeated as needed to fill Allies points!
 BUT, it sucks that this Formation alone doesn't give you access to any of the Elites options. If it included a Shadowseer, it would be about perfect...

5) “Way of Heroes” 1 Death Jester, 1 Shadowseer, 1 Solitaire


Special rules:
- Infiltrate, shrouded, stealth
- A Lonesome Path (models from this formation cannot join other units and no one can join them)

 *This one makes all of the solo Elites into Solitaires. Cool to throw them into another army, and it's a good way to play with the Shadowseer powers. It's also worth noting that this doesn't say they can't take a Transport, so you can get empty Transports up the field with Stealth and Shrouded, if you so choose.
 This is also your only - small - option to add extra Shadowseers to the other Formations. But you can't put them in any other unit, and with those three Elites you're looking at at least 300 pts without upgrades.

6) “Faolchu’s Blade” 2 units of Skyweavers, 1 unit of Voidweavers


Special rules:
– the Wings of Faolchù (you may reroll failed cover saves while jinking with units of this formation)

 *If you want to run Skyweavers, this Formation is very powerful. Throw in Spiritseers with Runes of Battle to buff up those Jinks with Shrouded, and barring Ignores Cover those units are incredibly durable, with 2+ re-rollable Jink saves.

 Quick thoughts on the Formations-
 They all have their place, but unfortunately ALL of them come with the 100-ish point tax of something you don't want. I don't think highly of Voidweavers, and Skyweavers (although I do like them) cost a boatload of points. Any list that requires Skyweavers costs 100 points per unit, before upgrades or more models.
 I'm also a little bothered by these Formations. Since Harlequins can't run a normal FOC, having these be the only way they can be fielded (non-Unbound) seriously limits how/what you can field. If I want to run 2 Troupes, 2 Starweavers a Shadowseer and a Solitaire, for example, I'm out of luck. I either need to run a huge force to get the Troupes and Shadowseer, or take one of the Cegorach's Jest Formations and tack on the 300-point Way of Heroes, just for one Shadowseer.

 Time will tell, there are likely more Formations and other ways to run them. But, time for me to start building armies and models with this!
 What do you think about Harlequins so far?


  1. Death jesters make so many armies way more awesome. They are ridiculous and I love them.

  2. Please explain how, I don't see it. Also annoyed I can't run a 'troupe' with my eldar (one of each character and a troupe plus a unit of bikes) it's very restricted

    1. Sadly it is incredibly restrictive for the exact units you want to use. I wanted to use a full troupe with a shadowseer and a solitaire for the kicks (but that means I need two deathjesters and and another shadowseer which runs the points up by another 180 or so). But it looks like you have to go with formation 4 and 5 to play what you want in a bound list (that does mean you need to get a voidweaver or two though and the shadowseer would not be as helpful to the troupe as it should). Alternatively you could go with 3 and 6 (again with other things you probably don't want).

  3. I agree that Harlies without unbound are quite restrictive. I think that the Troupe Master and the Shadowseer should be HQs for allowing Harlies to do the rulebook detachments and the Masque Detachment should be "more standard", something like mandatory 1 HQ and 3 Troops and then the rest of the Combined Arms detachment optional.

    About the Troupe, I think at 15 pts/Player without upgrades they're quite expensive considering their fragility, being only a S3 melee unit and that the closest equivalent that I can think of, Daemonettes of Slaanesh, are only 9 points/model with Rending base. The Player should cost 15 with either the caress or the embrace included in their base price

  4. They really need to give the DJ back his ability to choose a Bright Lance like originally.

  5. No option for Death Jester to swap out to bright lance like in original version


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