Saturday, 4 November 2017

Eldar Harlequin 8th edition review / tactica


A disclaimer as we begin – I am no expert in tactics for 40K and am much more a hobbyist. Having said this, I have dedicated a reasonable amount of time over the past month to how to use harlequins in 8th and watching several battle reports to get a feel for them. I also played a game with them recently that gave me further insight. This will try to address a few things that I learned.

Overview

First turn is key. Already it is becoming clear that this is a factor in 8th, even more so for Harlequins, who rely on their speed and hard hitting ability to turn things to their favour early on. When it comes to staying power, they have the advantage of a 50/50 chance everytime, but are pricey, low toughness models and thus don’t really have any staying power. Thus it’s ever more important to get where you want to be and do what you need to do fast.

In general, all units will have a 4++ and can pretty much ignore cover making life very easy when deciding where to go and what to do next. Everything is darn fast in the army, with the infantry moving 8”, bikes/skimmers 16” and the solitaire at least 12”. Added to that, all the non-vehicle units have the rising crescendo rule, meaning they can still advance, fire assault weapons (in the case of the bikes) and then charge in the same turn. This makes their threat range greater than that of 24” and, when added to rules such as blur of colour (for the skyweavers) and the Solitaires psychic boosts they are ludicrously fast. Rising crescendo has another perk, in that you can fall back from combat with impunity and still shoot and charge in the same turn. Extremely good assuming you or your opponents survive 2 combats if you charged, or if you’re locked and losing badly against a counter-charge by one of their elite melee units. Simply leave the combat, fusion something then charge something else.

Close combat weapons choice is a tricky one for the same reasons that choosing between power axes, swords and mauls can be. They are all good for different situations and you will only have the option to run them on Troupe Masters, Players and (compulsory) on Solitaires. The Troupe Master is wasted if he hasn't got at least a power sword, and the Troupes I would tend to upgrade 2-3 of the models leaving the rest as ablative wounds. The standard weapon will still cost you 1 point and has no benefits so bear this in mind when allocating points to upgrade them. The 3 meaty weapons are the kiss (s4, ap-1, dD3) at 14 points, caress (s5 ap-2 d1) at 9 points and embrace (s4 ap-3 d1) at 6 points. There's no real right or wrong as to which is best to take but I tend to steer towards the caress as the middle ground. Perhaps a mixtue, say 1 of each per Troupe is a good way to experiment and naturally different weapons will be more or less effective against different units). Remember, the most effective way to increase your damage output is going to be to have a Troupe master nearby and increasing the hitting strength of your army by rerolling wounds.

A word on leadership, I personally wouldn’t worry about taking anything that bolsters your leadership as if we assume a unit is no larger than 5 models in the whole army, the lowest leadership value is 8. Even if you only had one man left in that unit having taken 4 casualties that turn, you still have a 2/3 chance to pass and at worst would lose one more.

Try to deploy as close to the enemy as possible taking advantage of LOS blocking terrain. Cover is totally irrelevant for an army of ++ saves so unless it blocks LOS, just go for it. You should aim to keep units as small as possible – best way I’ve found is to put 5-man Troupes into starweavers with a character then some bikes, which at 1500 points should only leave you with 5-6 units on the table, which can immediately jump out if need be.

Warlord traits wise, whichever you choose you’ll likely be putting it on a Troupe Master or Solitaire. Inspiring leader is not so useful as you will not really need it with MSU. In terms of the others, legendary fighter means you will get an extra attack when you charge (most of the time) and tenacious fighter gives you a 6+ feel no pain. I would choose legendary fighter personally – Harlequins aren’t known for their resilience but making hard hitters hit that little bit extra hard is useful. Command rerolls are very useful for when you fail a ++ save that kills a character or miss that all important fusion shot. Counter-offensive too is very useful as once you’ve wiped the floor with the first enemy units you may well find yourself being charged. Chances are that insane bravery won’t be very useful if you are running MSU.

Units worth taking


Troupe Master – take at least one and keep near your troupes. The reason for this is he grants rerolls to wound for units within 6” in the fight phase – this is essential for a CC army with low strength. This chap should be tooled up with a fusion pistol for certain (to take advantage of his BS2+) and a close combat weapon of your choice. High attacks and wounds make him semi-resiliant, but I would avoid going toe-to-toe with any close combat units / characters without backup.


Shadowseer - your only Psyker and, IMO, worth bringing every time. It is also you most expensive unit. With a comparable profile to the Troupe Master (minus a couple of attacks) and a few pieces of wargear included in the profile, a Shadowseer is still almost double the cost of a tooled up Master. However, it does bring a few tricks along that will benefit the army as a whole so make sure to keep other units nearby. First though, the standard wargear is a hallucinogen grenade launcher, which can cause d3 mortal wounds at 18" if you roll higher than the units leadership on 2D6. Added to smite as a standard power (more on others in a moment) and you have the capacity to put out up to 6 mortal wounds per turn! It can also equip a neuro disruptor (no fusion) but I wouldn't bother. The other weapon is a mistave, s+2, ap-1, dD3, effectively a force stave and reasonable melee weapon.

Now we get to the interesting part. Its shield from harm ability grants a global -1 to wound rolls against the shadowseer and any Harlequins within 6". Given their relative fragility, this can be crucial in turning those S6+ wound rolls from 2+ to 3+, S4 from 3+ to 4+ and S3 from 4+ to 5+. It is a level 2 psyker and can use the phantasmancy powers, which do the following. Twilight pathways is WC6 and the most useful IMO. A friendly unit within 3" can immediately move as if it were the movement phase, including advancing! A great way to get first turn charges off. The second power, fog of dreams, is WC7 and targets an enemy unit in 18". If successful, that unit must -1 to its to hit rolls. Great for softening up a threat that will be a challenge in combat or that you expect to lay down heavy fire on you next turn. Lastly, Mirror of minds is WC8 and allows you to pick on an enemy unit within 24". Each roll a D6 and so long as your roll is equal or higher then you inflict a mortal wound. Repeat until the unit is destroyed or they roll higher. Might get lucky and inflict some damage and don't forget that a command re-roll can be useful here.


Solitaire - the solitaire fills a unique niche in the army list (and thus only one can be taken) and is effectively a super Troupe Master with the same stats except for 12” move (!) and 8 attacks (!!). Comes with a Harlequins kiss and caress as standard and has the same rising crescendo rule/flip belt as the rest of the army. That on its own is pretty formidable, but the Solitaire also has a 3++ save for extra durability. Lastly, the blitz rule now means that the Solitaire can make a once per game blitz move in order to add 2D6 to its move and increase attacks to 10. (this doesn’t stack with twilight pathways) Unless you’ve been significantly outmanoeuvred I would try to use this for your first turn alpha strike as for several reasons. Firstly, a 3++ is great but he’s still only T3 with 5 wounds and so will go down pretty easily still. Secondly, there’s no reason not to advance all the time due to lack of ranged weaponry, so it’s likely you’ll get into charge range with 12 + 3D6. Being able to switch between the kiss and caress is useful to tailor it to targets, and ideally try to get a Troupe Master in 6” too. 


Troupes – MSU seems to be the way forward as mentioned above. I tried with larger squads but they just didn’t work as well, lacking the staying power. These chaps will likely make up the majority of your army and should be tooled up as seen fit. I would tend to take units of 5 and keep 2-3 of the models tooled up and the others bare – this will allow you to remove ablative wounds while retaining the maximum effectiveness of the unit, whereas spreading the weapons around the models would mean tough choices early on as the casualties mount up. 2 fusion pistols seems about right, and the same for close combat weapons of your choice. Their 4 attacks each make the CCWs very cost-effective, but you need fusion wherever you can get it for anti-tank/monster in this army and so have little choice on that front. That being said shuriken pistols are far from shabby when you roll the occasional 6, but avoid the neuro disruptor (mentioned below). Incidentally, don't forget every unit has prismatic grenades which at d6, S4, -1AP are worth a shot.


Starweavers – Reasonably fragile with only T5 and 6 wounds but there are a few tricks that help it to survive a bit longer. Firstly, a 4++ and -1 to hit against it in the shooting phase. Secondly, auto-advance 6” to make a 22” move out of danger if need be. Combine this with a range of 24” on its 6 assault weapon shots and you can move yourself away from harm and still fire hitting on a 4+ to a decent range. The real purpose of the starweaver becomes clear in its supporting role. Being used as a transport to keep your deployment model count low and help gain first turn is one of its most useful roles, as well as providing relative safety to your troupes should you lose first turn. Supporting up close is another key role, allowing fusion pistols to do ‘drive-by’ shooting by way of open-topped (while again keeping passenger relatively safe) and being able to tank overwatch fire for its passengers should you be expecting high volumes when charging (it's no slouch in combat either). Lastly, it is excellent for running off and grabbing objectives while the troupes get stuck in or evacuating troupes when need be. An excellent unit and I would recommend one per Troupe if you’re going down the MSU route.    


Skyweavers – another excellent unit, though beware charging anything with D3/3 damage weapons as they will kill them off very quickly. 3 wounds a piece, with a 4++, -1 for enemy shooting at them and an auto-6 to advance. As with the voidweaver below, I would avoid taking anything other than the shuriken cannon on them as the haywire is a heavy weapon and will incur a -1 to hit penalty, plus can’t be fired if you advance. Star bolas are nice but as they’re grenades you will have limited range and again can’t use them if you advanced. The best upgrade is the zephyglaive, giving you +1S, Ap-2 and 2 damage. I would outfit as many bikes as you can with this in the hope that you will get into CC first turn and start wreaking havoc with their 3 attacks each. (strangely less than a player) It may be worth leaving a bike or two as ablative wounds and I would take a maximum of 6 per unit.


What best to avoid

Neuro disruptors – slightly more expensive than fusion pistols but with no advantages save for range. Avoid.



Death Jester - this is a model I want to love but am finding it tricky to, thus he doesn’t really make the cut I’m afraid. Points wise he’s about the same as a tooled up Troupe Master and comes armed with a shrieker cannon. First the pros: he can target a character even if it’s not the closest and has the same flip belt, holo-suit and rising crescendo as the other infantry. Now the bad. The Shrieker is a standard shuriken cannon which is widely available on your vehicles anyway. The alt mode fire is a single S6 AP0 D1 shot which, unless you roll a 6 (making it -3AP) is fairly mediocre and certainly not going to inspire fear in many characters. If any attacks should slay a model (in the unlikely event that you use him to shoot regular infantry instead of sniping) then you do get the (back to the pros) benefit of inflicting D3 mortal wounds. Lastly, if any models flee from a unit in the same turn the Death Jester attacked it (note, you don’t have to even hit or attack in the shooting phase even) then you can choose the first model to flee.

So, he’s a bit of an odd one. Most of his rules seem geared up to benefit you if you are attacking squads, but then he has the ability to snipe characters. The ant-infantry ability is good, but then you need to really roll a 6 to wound or rely on your opponent to fail an un-modified roll to benefit from the mortal wounds. Also, choosing the model to remove from the board is all well and good, but they are unlikely to fail the morale check from the Jester alone. Perhaps targeting the unit with another of your units first to mount up the casualties before attacking with the Jester and hopefully forcing that morale check is best. I expect a point reduction or rules improvement when the real Codex comes out.  Saying that, he did win me a game by being pretty much the only thing left on the board at the end, but that was only because he was so crap I didn’t really do much with him nor was he even worth my opponent shooting at him! 


Voidweavers – effectively the same as a starweaver, you are sacrificing an ever useful transport ability for the ability to shoot an extra weapon. Sadly, this weapon will be of the heavy variety and thus will be shooting at -1 should you move. All weapons have a range of 24”, which begs the question if you can get into that range anyway why are you not simply deploying models with fusion weaponry to destroy big nasties. I don’t think that they have the staying power nor firepower to go toe-to-toe with long-mid range firepower that other armies can put out, and thus you’d be better off pouring the points into other units.

Take home messages

All in all Harlequins are a fun little army that rely on synergy from their characters (as many do) to be fully effective. MSU seems to be the way forward and, though I'm sure people use them, I personally steer clear of voidweavers and death jesters. Deployment and target priority are key in the first turn - hit things hard where you need to while you still have the numbers and don't be afraid to focus on one chunk of the army, wiping them out totally before moving on to the next. Also, while the infantry do the majority of the killing your transports are ideal to lay down some ranged fire support while grabbing distant objective.

Don’t forget, as I did on the first turn, that your pistol weapons will not be able to fire if you used rising crescendo to advance. This may be important as it may mean the difference between getting into charge range or not, making starweavers even more attractive to protect your units. Having said that, with the help of a solitaire, there’s no reason at least one of your Troupes (and bikes) can’t get into charges first turn unless your opponent is particularly cunning.

Example 1500 point build:

HQ
Troupe Master
1
59
fusion, caress
18
77
HQ
Troupe Master
1
59
fusion, embrace
15
74
HQ
Shadowseer
1
134
miststave
0
134
Elite
Solitaire
1
94
caress, kiss
23
117
Troops
Troupe
5
75
2 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
3 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
4 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
5 fusion, caress, embrace
36
111
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Fast
Skyweavers
5
175
4 zephyrglaives
44
219






1500


Example 2000 point build:

HQ
Troupe Master
1
59
fusion, caress
18
77
HQ
Troupe Master
1
59
fusion, embrace
15
74
HQ
Troupe Master
1
59
fusion, kiss
23
82
HQ
Shadowseer
1
134
miststave
0
134
HQ
Shadowseer
1
134
miststave
0
134
Elite
Solitaire
1
94
caress, kiss
23
117
Troops
Troupe
5
75
2 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
3 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
4 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
5 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Troops
Troupe
5
75
6 fusion, caress, kiss, embrace
49
124
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Transport
Starweaver
1
79
2 shuricannon
20
99
Fast
Skyweavers
6
210
5 zephyrglaives
55
265






1998

Please let me know if I have made any mistakes and I hope this has been a useful guide. Also, though I didn't read it til after I had written this article it's definitely worth checking out the 4chan article on 8th edition tactics HERE. Cheers.