Eldar have always had an extensive HQ section and 8th has only exacerbated this with the Farseer and Autarch entries being broken up into different data sheets… never the less we can kind of cover them as a single entry as they share similar traits… I will go through them as they appear in the order of the book and give a few thoughts on each, but as I build and paint new versions of all these models, expect more extensive write ups! So without further ado, let’s get started.
Eldrad Ulthran – We will be seeing less of Eldrad these days than previous editions thanks to his key word <Ulthwe> and a propensity for people to run <Alaitoc> (more on that in future articles) but Eldrad is still an excellent choice for the Eldar who do join the forces of Ulthwe. For not much more than a standard farseer you get a better invulnerable save, 2 solid weapons to choose from in combat, an extra point of toughness and an extra wound. On top of that you get to cast 3 powers a turn instead of 2, know 3 powers instead of 2 and can get better at casting spells after being successful in a previous casting. If you are playing Ulthwe – Eldrad should be there! A very good choice!
Farseer/Farseer Skyrunner – For those not Ulthwe, the Farseer (and his skyrunner counterpart)are both solid HQ choices. Reasonably costed and flexible thanks to runes of Fate psychic powers, a farseer is also necessary for a number of the stratagems the craftworld forces have at their disposal. Expect Guide and Doom for them most commonly as these provide great utility alongside the ever present smite. The skyrunner version can act as a cheeky assassin with Mindwar or Executioner while Fortune will see use but it’s a far cry from the must take of past editions. Will of Asuryan is improved from prior editions but still the last power you are likely to pick. Oh how I wish they had included Eldritch storm! The skyrunner version adds a point of Toughness and a Wound as well as a much increased move rate but otherwise remains a support element like his foot based counterpart. Expect a farseer in most craftworld lists.
Warlock Conclave/Warlock Skyrunner Conclave – 2 Warlocks in unit, either on foot or on jetbikes. The jetbike variant picks up a point of toughness and wound per model as well as the much increased move rate but otherwise the 2 units are the same. The biggest issue with the Conclave is that it has a weaker version of smite combined with the loss of being characters like the single warlock entry. They can manifest more powers and they know plenty thanks to the duality of Runes of Battle but the issue they present is they cost so many points they will inevitably end up casting the protective powers on themselves rather than supporting other craftworld elements. They don’t deal enough damage to justify the cost sadly which means by buffing themselves they are throwing support on a unit that doesn’t really deserve it. The best use for a warlock conclave is using a stratagem that allows them to double the range of one of their powers. Being able to protect or jink from outside deny ranges is an amazingly useful way of supporting assault elements of your force. An ok choice.
Warlock/Warlock Skyrunner – Much like the conclave but a single model with the character rule. Sadly, he is relegated to obscurity as he is only a handful of points cheaper than the Spirit seer on foot and to much more than the spirit seer while on the skyrunner, gets the reduced smite rather than the full version and with only 2 wounds is likely to die on the first perils roll. Bring him down a few points (and put the spirit seer up!) and he might have a place. Pass
Prince Yriel – Yriel is a beast! His points are low enough that he is good value, he brings the path of command to the force and despite him having to reroll saves of 6 in the fight phase, Get Yriel to charge and things just die! 4 attacks, hitting on 2+ with reroll 1’s, always wounding on 2+ with -2ap and d3 damage means any average character is just toast and even daemon princes have to consider if they want to risk facing Yriel in combat. He is a little squishy with T3, 3+/4++ and 6 wounds but is a solid combatant and assault deterrent.
Autarch/Autarch Skyruner/Autarch with Wings – Again we have slight variations of the same thing – on foot, winged (which doubles his move but nothing else) and skyrunner which is faster than wings as well as increasing his toughness and wounds by 1. All 3 share the same statline and saves. The core special rules also duplicate. On foot you get a cheap and cheerful combat unit with the ability to get back CP. Hes not great to be honest. With wings he gets the swooping hawk abilities to deep strike and leave the table but again has no options for weapons and is kind of a mixed bag. Moving to skyrunner and he gets a single option to swap his sword for a lance or fusion gun (take the lance) and gets a fixed advance move but again is mediocre. Where these entries shine is using the Designers Commentary to access their options in the index. Reaper Launchers, Fusion guns, Warp Jump Generators and more become options and make the autarch variants go from ok to solid. It’s a whole other post to cover some of the combos and costs but suffice to say that in the short term, a reaper launcher will likely be a fixture on autarchs for competitive play.
Avatar of Khaine – The Avatar has been a mixed bag over the years and has had something of resurgence with this codex though his cost is still quite high. Being a character he is now likely to actually make it across the table with the right screening and when he gets there he hurts a lot! 3+/5++ and then a feel no pain 5+++ on wounds suffered makes him the most durable he has ever been without supporting powers and his buff aura is still there for supporting his advancing friends and giving himself rerolls to charge. S8 in shooting and combat with d6 damage and -4ap means what he hits is likely to die and with 2+ to hit and 5 attacks, you don’t really want to let him charge. T6 is a little of a letdown and 8 wounds is 1 less than I would like. Hes a little over costed but otherwise a solid addition to a foot based list.
Asurmen – The first aspect warrior has been renewed again and boy is he dangerous! He is expensive but his rules make up for it for sure. Solid statline including a 2+ save, 4++/3++ invulnerable saves (shooting/combat) and overwatching on 5+ rather than 6. Its when you look at his combat abilities and his aura that you understand his costing. His aura is a 5++ invulnerable save to all aspect warrior units within 6”, increasing to 4++ for dire avengers. This is a huge boost to a large section of the eldar forces and synergises really well with the avatar and a foot based list. It works on Phoenix Lords as well so again encourages synergistic choices. In combat, Asurmen wails on you with 5 attacks, 2+ to hit, S5, -3ap and d3 wounds. If this wasn’t bad enough, 6+ to wound results in D3 mortal wounds on top of the other damage. With a couple of 6’s – Asurmen can kill whole squads by himself! Building around his aura and support is a great way to start an army!
Baharroth – The same statline as Asurmen with 1 less attack and no invulnerable save (that’s a pattern you should get used to for the Phoenix Lords), Baharroth is largely a pass on the table. In melee he is ok with his S5, -3 D3 sword that also trigger a hit penalty when he kills things but his 4 attacks don’t go very far. He does offer reroll 1’s to other Swooping hawks and gets a slightly modified grenade pack but ultimately is average to use. He is cheap enough to not feel bad when you do but feels like he is lacking something… I just cant put my finger on it.
Fuegan – another copy of the stock phoenix lord statline though he does get S5 base… which is largely irrelevant as his axe is S user so he ends up the same as most of the others anyway! He does claim a 5+++ feel no pain save and if he is wounded in combat he does get extra attacks and strength which is cute but with no invulnerable he is likely to die when wounded in combat to anything dangerous. He offers reroll 1’s to hit for him and other fire dragons and gets rerolls of 1 to wound in shooting vs Monsters or Vehicles which is nice, making his fire pike pretty reliable against those targets for d6 damage. Better than Baharroth but not by a huge amount.
Jain Zar – Copy paste stats with +1” movement. Moving on! -1 to hit in combat is nice, no overwatch when she charges, can charge up to 15” if she advance and gets +3 to the charge roll. Always strikes first even when she doesn’t charge and confers this to friendly Banshees within 6”. All this stacks up pretty well – and combined with her last rule, Disarming strike – which essentially lets you deny the opponent t to use a weapon of your choice on a 3+, makes her surprisingly durable in a fight. S6, -3, d3 damage with 4 attacks hitting on 2+ is a solid enough (if strikingly similar to other phoenix lords) but again no invulnerable save feels like a hole. She would synergise well alongside an avatar and Asurmen where she is all but assured of a charge and has defensive stats to keep her fighting longer.
Karandras – Copy paste again… its getting old. I wish the Phoenix Lord statline had some variation. Karandras is the heavy hitter in combat with S8, -3, D3 damage and 4 attacks alongside a pretty nasty mandiblaster and boosted attacks from 6+ to hit rolls which he confers to friendly scorpions near him. He gets +1 to hit enemies in cover as well so its likely his base 4 attacks will end up with at least 5 or 6 attacks with this rule in effect. The +1 to hit enemies in cover also affects shooting attacks which is a nice to have boost for him. His main niche is Master of Stealth, allowing him to deploy at the end of one of your movement phases more than 9” from an enemy. Not having to pay CP for this is nice and mirrors the scorpions own rules… would have been nice for him to have the range reduced to 7” or a little less. Ok
Maugan Ra – Reduce movement by 1” and then use the same stats again. Maugan ra has an updated and pretty effective Shuriken Cannon – 4 shots with S6, -1ap and 1 damage or a single shot with the same profile but should it slay an enemy, sees the unit that enemy was intake d3 mortal wounds. It’s a shame his shuriken cannon doesn’t get the same shuriken rules as every other weapon with that name! Combat sees Ra with S6, -2 and d3 damage so its pretty similar to everyone else at this point. Ra does get to fire twice every turn and gets to always hit on a 2+ regardless of modifiers. He offers reroll 1’s to hit for fellow reapers in close proximity and gets to reroll 1’s to wound vs chaos himself. Hes not bad all things considered but again, feels lacking like most of his fellow lords.
Illic Nightspear – An autarch statline with only a 5+ save. What makes illic worth considering is his rifle and his rules. The sniper rifle can target enemy characters is S4, -3ap and 3 damage. On top of this it always wounds on a 2+ unless the target is a vehicle. Its looking nastier now right! Roll a 6 to wound? Add a mortal wound to the damage. All things being even he is a pretty solid sniper! He picks up rerolls 1’s vs necrons to hit and wound (essentially being 2+/2+ hit wound with rerolls!) and is -1 to hit for ranged weapons on top of the -1 to hit from alaitoc! He even gets +2 to his save when deployed in cover! Illic can be hard to shift! His deployment also helps greatly being set up after everyone is on the table to take advantage of getting fire lines on enemy characters. With 48” on the rifle for range, he shouldn’t have a hard time scoring kills! When is just 20ish points more than a squad of 5 rangers… I think I would prefer Illic!
Spirit Seer – Perhaps the hidden gem of the HQ section, the spirit seer is the Eldar version of the Malefic lord from chaos pre FAQ. Cheap (less than 50 points!), 4+ invulnerable save, 4 wounds and decent statline. Ok in combat but lacks ap to make the 2 damage per wound stick. He knows 1 power from rules of battle and can cast 1, deny 1 per turn. He also buffs friendly wraith constructs when he is close to their target. His super low cost, full smite and decent durability mean the single warlock is a waste of time for such a small difference in points. Accessing runes of battle for your army has never been easier! Protect/Jinx is an easy go to power while Conceal/Reveal is also a solid pick. The other 4 dual powers are more situational but they are by no means bad if you are running multiple spirit seers. The Spirit seer is likely to see a similar price rise to the Malefic Lord… but as of time of writing, he is a steal!
The Craftworlds are still spoiled for choice and the selections you make will ultimately come down to what type of army you are playing.