I want to preface this "review" with a statement; I am not a power gamer. Everyone who has ever played against me knows that I MUCH prefer to enhance the narrative of any game from terrain placement to army construction. My initial impressions of the long-awaited Eldar Codex will be in the same vein.
Let me start off by saying that the book itself is BEAUTIFUL! I am on record saying that I feel some of the "grimdark" artwork in the GW universe is a bit over the top. That opinion has been thrown out the window with this book. From the awe inspiring cover art, to the individual pieces for each Aspect Warrior, the artwork is incredible! The book is also well laid out and bursting with fluff, even if it is all stuff we've read a hundred times before.
I'm going to break this review down into three sections: The Good, The Bad, and The Confusing. Within each, I'll give three examples.
2. Aspect Warriors are much better. Nearly all of them took a drop in points, except for the dramatically under costed Fire Dragons. They all have additional special rules that were previously available only if you added an Exarch. The "Swordwind" is also a very viable build now. Warp Spiders and Dark Reapers are the most improved! Reapers are SOOO much cheaper and have the option to buy Missile Launchers while Warp Spiders are more maneuverable (impressive for a unit as mobile as they were), and their weapons got meaner! I might have to include a unit of them in every list I play.
3. The humble Guardian is now a pointy-eared bad ass! With Shuriken weapons having their mini-Rending rule, Warlocks being significantly cheaper and more effective, and having access to one heavy weapon per 10 models, Guardians are cheap backfield objective holders. Throw in the Avatar or one of the Phoenix Lords to make them Fearless, you also have a great mobile brick to push towards midfield objectives.
1. Following the trend of GW flyers being bleh, the Crimson Hunter is underwhelming, to say the least, and the Hemlock is simply bad. I say this only because I am such a HUGE fan of the FW Nightwing! The Crimson Hunter has better weapons than the Nightwing, but without Agile and Shrouding, it will crumple to massed bolter fire! The Hemlock has two short ranged Blast weapons, making it completely useless as a Fighter. It does have some interesting rules (forcing a re roll of successful Leadership tests and the Terrify psychic power) that will take some planning to be effective, but at first glance, I am questioning my pre-order of one.
2. Eldar Rangers will probably never make any list I build. I'm glad I only own 10 of them! They lose their +2 cover save for Stealth and the Long Rifle is a simple Sniper weapon with an AP 6. To top it all off, the only way to upgrade to Pathfinders is by using Illic Nightspear, the new Pathfinder character, as an HQ. The upgrade is significant, but also significantly expensive. The add Shrouded and automatic Precision Shots, but at 25 points each, they still are lacking. Illic himself is merely ok for his points. If you play Aliatoc, you will definitely want to add these guys for fluff alone. However, I'll be leaving them all at home most of the time.
3. There is a HUGE lack of anti air support. The Tau codex had me looking forward to the possible options I would have. The Crimson Hunter will do a spectacular job of knocking down enemy flyers if it manages to survive the Interceptor fire it will inevitably bring down on itself. If it does manage to take something out, it will die the following turn is sneezed on. Other than that, only two other units can do the job; War Walkers and Dark Reapers. However, the Flakk missile upgrades they can get are EXPENSIVE! I'd rather take my chances with a ton of Scatter Laser snap shots! I'll be ordering a Firestorm turret or two from Forge World to put on my still useless Falcons.
1. Apparently, the most psychically attuned race in the galaxy isn't in touch with their gifts enough to pick their own powers before a battle. The random power mechanic can really hurt an army that relies on synergy like the Eldar are designed to do.
2. The Wraithknight, while an incredible looking model, will be difficult to use. With a base cost of 240 points, it will be hard to fit in a list. Fully kitted out with Sun Cannon and Scatter Shield and a pair of Scatter Lasers (to take advantage of the new Laser Lock rule), it clocks in at 320 POINTS! Will I use it? Hell yes! However, it will impact the rest of my list significantly! Considering how many awesome options there are in the Heavy Support slot and how much money this model costs, it will be hard for may people to justify buying one. Not a smart move from a business perspective, in my opinion.
3. Warlocks can't join Wraithguard units anymore. With the Seer Council being designed much like Wolf Guard or Necron Royal Courts, you would expect them to be able to join any unit. However, they may only join Guardian units! Aside from taking them as a single Council, I can't take them in my Spirit Host anymore. I'll still use them, of course, but this annoys me.
Does some of this seem like nit-picking? Sure. That's because, largely, this book is such a HUGE improvement over the previous one. Is it as dominating as the Tau book looks? No. Does it have a game changing unit like the Helldrake? Again, no. However, it will be an awesome army to play or pull allies from. In the hands of an experienced Eldar Autarch, this book can easily be considered top shelf. I'm looking forward to getting it out on the table ASAP!