Tuesday, 25 January 2011

TACTICA: "Edenbreaker" Musings on 5th Edition Eldar

The concept behind "Edenbreaker" really is the cumulation, in my mind, of where the Eldar game has been going since late 4th Ed into what we can safely say is over halfway into the lifetime of 5th Ed. Eldar have evolved from a hybrid foot/mech army into a forced full mech state. The exception to this is of course Footdar, an interesting concept but one that is usually played poorly but by those who have a real solid understanding of the synergy used in such a force. -like all Eldar armies, it should be wielded like a scalpel as opposed to a sledgehammer- Eldar do not have a hammer or an anvil type unit which hurts when we play Marines or MEQs. We do not have a reliable gunline/mech gunline like Guard.

The internet has shown us over the years on sites such as YTTH, 3++ is the new black and Fritz 40k, that playing Eldar is to go for the harder option than many. It's far from a bad army, but its not balanced like the majority of 5th edition codexes. As we have seen from tournaments, battle reports, tacticas and even from a shift in GW rules, we must take advantage of 3 relatively well known factors;

1) The great speed offered to the army, similar to Dark Eldar, through our Fast Skimmer Tanks and transports.

2) The great opportunity offered to use all of our units in synergy, primarily using Farseers to "buff" units or "debuff" the enemy. - I'll point you to Kirby's article here on 3++-

3) The mass of reliable suppression firepower offered, meaning weapons of S6 or S7 that as opposed to blowing up transports of other races, will reliably inflict damage upon them to such as a degree that they will become useless.

Thus, following these points in my mind we can liken the modern Eldar force to a serpent:- the army must be fast enough to our manouver, or to keep pace with the enemy to inflict its "bite". If it achieves this, the competant General can doupe his enemy using his speed by faking a split or a flank change and then completely altering course (whispering in the opponents ear for them to take the "forbidden fruit" of a few units sent away from the army only to have the rest of the army pick on an isolated unit that takes the bait).

The army must have united purpose, focusing on their objectives by supporting one another. Are there a few tanks alone on one flank? Don't just move your Prisms or Dragons to destroy them, move as a single strike to support. Are there infantry coming for you with meltas? Reform into a spear, deploy some of your own infantry (shedding the skin) and eliminate them as one fighting unit.

Strike at the enemy with what makes sense. Are there two rhinos and a Land Raider in front of you? Use those Shuriken Cannons on the Rhinos, see what happens, don't immediately go for the high strength weapons on mid range armour. The Shuriken Cannon is the most useful weapon in the Eldar arsenal - it is cheap, usually 5-10pts in a unit, it has 3 S6 shots and on vehicles can generally be taken in pairs, for 6 S6 shots. Fire this at an armour 11 Rhino and ok, you aren't likely to expolde it; what you will get though is perhaps a few shaken/stunned results, maybe a lucky immobalised or weapon destroyed (the serpent's venom). You're slowly paralysing your opponent's armour then going for the kill once the bigger animals are brought to heel by your prism cannons and brightlances.

This is the simple tactic of the Eldar army; to be the serpent, confusing the opponent, out thinking and out manouvering him, paralysing his options and striking his weak spots.

Let's take part of my army for the Hallowed Halls KO tourney next weekend as an example of how Edenbreaker works, let's say I've set up in a table quarter opposite to that from my enemy and they have left a tank on their flank with a couple of transports and screening infantry as such;

Let's talk about our setup: we use the arrow -or serpent's- head formation why? First for placement of units where they need to be -which should be garanteed as you can relocate units in your arrow with Divination after the enemy has set up. Second for protection, our buffer unit -Eldrad- is in the most protected position in the force, then the prisms at the rear are covered by the DA Serpents. When we move, we move as a unit, thinking ahead to where our units need to be. Think what you're coming up against. Let's say this is a Tau army we're facing. Is it a Russ or a Land Raider on the enemy flank or is it a Ravager? What are those infantry and what do they have? Are they Battle Sisters or are they Fire Warriors. Fortunately for us, most transports in the game have the same armour (or near enough) so can we try to paralyse them with S6 Shurikens?

Lets imagine we're fighting Marines, we have a Predator on the flank, two Razorbacks with Las/Plas and a Tactical Squad with Multimelta and Meltagun.

First and foremost, what will we Fortune with Eldrad? The tip of our spear obviously, so the two Fire Dragon Serpents would be the obvious choice. Or are they; its very common for the Eldar player to assume the Dragons must be fortuned first turn. How will your spear look AFTER movement. From the diagram we can see that the two closest units to the enemy are the front left Avenger Serpent and the FD one. What do you think those Tactical Marines will be trying to blat?

Boom, we move to a new position. Boom Dragons out? Analyse what your options are. That Predator is a tough nut to crack, but what's in the rest of his army. Are there more? (Probably) Is there a Land Raider? Ask yourself if you can do without them for the moment, no use "shedding the skin" if it's going to leave you vulnerable. Our setup after movement gives both Prisms options to hit 3 targets each: one transport each, the infantry and the tank. Save them for later, shoot the Lances from the Avenger Serpents at the tank, see what happens. You blow it up great. Your big challenge as an Eldar player against battle tanks is preventing them shooting. You do that, leave it alone. Fail to do that, obliterate it with the linked Prism shot.

Your next port of call is the transports, make them "toxic". Making them toxic means to make them a poor asset to your opponent, by breaking them and killing the goo inside or by making them so unusable the goo inside needs to come out (at which point you kill them). Shaken, Stunned, Immobalised are all good for Eldar. On most, Weapon Destroyed is ok, but I'd 100% of the time want them not to move. Most people will be reluctant to disembark their dudes without them moving into a favourable position first.

Finally are those infantry a threat? Yes, but not as much as you might think. They can either chose to shoot 2 meltas at you, one which is within 2D6 pen range and one which isn't. Oh...woops...they are both not doing 2D6 pen cos of your Sepent screen's Force Field. Oh yeah, and the two closest to him are Fortuned. Oh dear. The other option for him is to close in and assault. Then he has a meltagun which isn't getting double pen but he is getting the assault on rear armour. Hopefully you can ride this out, but if you can't you have plenty of support to make sure that you can blat them, or use your speed to get away from them next turn.

If you have nothing left, you have no choice but to leave the troops. If you have the Prisms left grand. Don't shoot at them, chose something meaner looking, another Tank or a transport with a nasty unit in. Heck, if its just full of mech marines with nothing in particular nasty looking but Las/Plasbacks, just nuke 2 with the single shots from the Prisms.

So at a basic level, that is Edenbreaker, the Eldar way in 5th edition. Depending on reception, I'll continue my thoughts on it, so if you hated it and think I'm totally wrong, feel free to say. But I've seen it work time and time again, so try it if you aren't doing it already.

-Note the the reader; this is not my OH MY GAWWWDZ READ THIS AND WIN WITH ELDARZ post, this is my interpretation of how Eldar can be played from turn to turn to achieve the goals that you set out in a mission. Play the army with a little brains and you just might pull out the win-
Love, Dave


  1. Awesome article - really encapsulates the essence of Eldar.

    "the competant General can doupe his enemy using his speed by faking a split or a flank change and then completely altering course"

    I may have spent about 2-3 turns achieving this in a recent game vs an all-jump infantry Blood Angel army, but it worked like a charm ;)

  2. Seriously, send this to Kirby to guest-post on 3++.
    I loved it.


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