Eldar Craftworlds: Do Wraith Units Work? 10 Game Competitive Summary over the Christmas Break.
Well this little piece comes as a reminder, to myself as much as anyone, how my Eldar seem to function from the point of view of getting Wraith units to work.
The core of the list is loosely the following:
- 2, and then 1 squad of Wraiths (now on foot, x10 with Axe and Shield).
- 3 Vibro Cannons. (Cheap and easy)
- 1 Wraithknight. (Popular configs: Suncannon/Shield w/ Scatter Lasers, OR Dual Heavy Wraithcannons (NO INVULN unless it comes from the heavily CP intensive Vigilus Defiant Specialist Detachment.)
- 2 Sniper squads (and a various troop). Just dirt cheap in a very expensive list.
- 1-2 Wraithlords. At first assault oriented, then dual Missile Launchers.
- HQ x 4. A variety of the staples. Warlock, Farseer, Spiritseer, Autarch.
- Most lists included the Hemlock (Wraith unit) Flyer, and sometimes a Crimson Hunter Exarch flyer, however the last games were played without any Flyers.
- The rest of the list has been a revolving door of transports, heavy options, and flyers.
Starting at the End.
I confess at the very most I am a competent Eldar player, and at worst I am a fumbling Craftworld idiot who could not tell the difference between a Wraithbone and a chicken bone. Therefore I admit I still feel more comfortable with my years of Chaos (in general) and Ultra’s, and even Admech than I do with these guys. That said I am now several games in, and I come to this army after not playing Eldar for a VERY long time, but I rejoin just as Psychic Awakening comes out.
For the sake of my end of year Eldar review, it’s important to note this comes after the Psychic Awakening Eldar/Deldar book Phoenix Rising. Ironically this book’s rules would really not help the new, beautifully sculpted Banshees, or Jain Zar one bit. (They’re still terrible) But it did give a new lease on life to creating your own craftworld! For the sake of all the battle reports and references I make, assume the following was used from Phoenix Rising:
- Expert Crafters. (All of my Battalion based armies used this. It’s great for small units that only have one or two shots. This instantly helps Artillery, and any Missile Launcher, or Pulsar Laser type unit you can think of. Essentially 1 reroll to hit, and 1 reroll to wound in shooting, overwatch or fighting.
- Wrath of the Dead. While this accurately describes how difficult it was for me to digest this year’s Christmas dinner, the true power of this ability is to give ALL Wraith units re-rolls of 1’s ‘To Wound’.
- While those were the most popular, I often used Masters of Concealment instead of Wrath of the Dead on my super heavy detachment consisting of the WraithKnight. Also on my Spearhead detachment if consisting of 3 Vibro Cannons.
- Masterful Shots was a close consideration for the heavies in the Spearhead for denying cover saves. (Think of Vibro’s, and Night Spinners, all with bad to no AP value.)
- There are other very good ones, like extending your Shuriken Weapon range, or adding AP to your Shuriken weapon types. I just never had enough to make it warrant the experiment in this army type.
A Quick Message from other special Abilities That Made This All Possible:
Not to dive too deep into this but it’s worth noting Phoneix Rising gave me the ability to swap “Smite” on those really poopy smite characters (I’m looking at your Spiritseer/Warlocks). This included:
- Smite Swap for Impair Senses. Great on Wraithfighter
- Smite Swap for Enhance. Great for Spiritseer to MAKE sure the Warlock would have a better shot at Jinx/Protect.
- Smite Swap for Ghostwalk. Better chance of Wraithblade making assault.
Let’s not forget Exarch power swaps which I also used, but won’t get into great detail.
Finally…. The Last 2 Battle Reports:
These last 2 games were played back to back with different opponents. Now that you have the core understanding of what all of my games have revolved around, I finally settled on one, 10 man Axe Squad of Wraiths on foot, marking up protecting the Psyhic Core. In game one, I would face:
Necrons: Ancient Toasters from Hell.
+++Note: Here I illegally deployed my Vibro cannons. Let this be a lesson to us all: Artillery MUST be deployed on the ground level (unless it has fly).
In game 1, I of course go first. We play a new CA19 Maelstrom. Man those are fun, and very competitive. Still dynamic, but not loopy/goofy like previous iterations. Anyway, my list is using a BRAND NEW Crimson Hunter Exarch. I am proxying my Chaos Tyrant Knight as Wriathknight.
I know my opponent knows his Necrons, but as he deployed second, I personally feel he made a critical error in deployment. He deployed his large Wraith Unit, and 2 beefy troop squads so far into the back right corner of the table, I simply avoided them entirely and surged up the mid/left side of the table allowing me to dominate board control of… 66% of the board.
Here you get the gist of this game. My Wraithknight takes the blunt force of the action. Three of his Doomsday Arks are plenty threatening, but I don’t have a lot of anti-infantry firepower and feel I need to ‘stomp’ with the Knight to have a chance at getting rid of some infantry.
Here’s the breakdown of the game:
- We are tied almost through this entire game! I sure am happy that I don’t have to face about a fourth of his army these opening turns.
- My flyers, the Hemlock, and Crimson Hunter are easily dealt with by him. I only kill 1 Doomsday Ark in my first turn, so it was incredibly easy for him to take down both flyers which was scary, especially with Lightning Reflexes, making one of the flyers -2 to hit. I keep focusing down the large Destroyer Squad he has, however I don’t have the fire power to kill them. Losing 400 points in flyers so easily was also ugly. In the interest of honesty, his C’tan Deceiver did get off a 6 Mortal Wound power on the Crimson Hunter, half killing it.
- Over the course of the game we counted 350… 350… points… of… reanimated Destroyers. Sometimes I would get them down to 1 model, but he’d end up with 3. That is really hard to deal with.
- I essentially ‘hung out’ with my big Wraithsquad at mid table awaiting the arrival of the giant Wraith Squad. His Wraiths arrive. I get off Jinx just on luck (because I failed Enhance this game.) and the axes really went to town on the Wraiths.
- I feared his HQ’s. A “sniper” Lord on Comand Barge, C’tan and Destroyer Lord are no joke. The Knight tried 2 times to charge his command barge. I just couldn’t do any damage. My Wraithlords silently plunked away with their dual Missile Launchers at his ‘stuff’. The minus 1 to hit isn’t terrible with one reroll. Not fantastic, but not bad either.
- Those Destroyers. So annoyingly. Would not. Die. I would turn my Wraithknight on them with his Suncannon (once rolling snake eyes thank you oh great Eldar god: Random Number Generator.) The Scatter Lasers to diddly against Destroyers in cover. I eventually had to run my Dire Avengers out across the board to shoot, then assault his Destroyers only to leave ONE left on ONE wound… which… you guessed it….. would reanimate 2 more models in our final turn. (It’s Cypberdyne Systems all over again!
- The endgame has me get one successful stomp session off on his Destroyer Lord, while the Wraithblades axe down his C’tan. This leaves us in a very tight game but I have board control and he has little punch left. His troops on the far right are finally in a position to really be involved in getting objectives, or killing, however the rest of his army is too depleted. The Eldar win a very, very close game.
Mini Battle Report 2: Eldar Craftworlds vs. Pete Moss and the funkybunch (Orks).
In this game my opponent was playing a pretty competitive Ork list that featured a lot of bodies. I asked him halfway through our game how many Orks he had. We both couldn’t count that hi so we estimate, 4.7 trillion Orks were on the table. These included a large Loota Squad, a deep striking Tank Busta squad. 450 grots for shielding, and buffering. Warboss on bike. Shokk Attack Gun, Relic Shokk attack gun. (I can’t tell you how much I despise this ridiculous weapon made largely of snot, toothpicks and lighter fluid.) 6~ Kopters in deepsrtike. Bomba flyer, and Dakka Jet.
My Adjustments are as follows:
- Last game made me really rethink the whole Flyer thing. I mean we all know the skies are now owned by Iron Hands (Makes sense, they own 40K right now, right?) So maybe me putting 400 points in the air just isn’t a good idea anymore. I have an issue killing infantry, and I have a super small model count. So….
- Flyers out for 2 Night Spinners. (More RNG weapons!), It’s my belief that in current 40K if you don’t have flyers, you need indirect OR Deep Striking. I think the Spinners give me anti-horde/infantry at range. I also reduce the Dire Avenger squad by 1, to fit in 5 Dark Reapers. The Exarch gets to fire twice and has the Missile Launcher. So that’s essentially what I get for taking the Flyers out. Ironically this Ork player brings 2. This is either sheer brilliance on my part, or incredibly stupid. Let’s find out…
Our game starts out with Eldar trickery. That means I go first yet again. A common theme for both games.
The Orks do not seize, so I go on my merry, pointed ear way. Here is a breakdown of the game:
- I get my Wraith units including the Knight to get a move on up the table to try to stake a claim at center. I have trouble killing a unit, but I do kill his Bomba Flyer with Wraithlord missiles, and then kill a Smasha Guh or two with the Vibro cannons. That’s about it. I do very little damage with the Night Spinners. They target the Lootas of course, but he just “Grot Shields” the wounds losing zero Lootas.
- In his turn he hits back with Lootas, and a Da Jump. I foreward him about “Forewarning”. (No pun intended). This Strat allows me to fire at his reinforcement while using Da Jump. So he just ports some Grots over to a distant edge. His other flyer comes in and rakes over some Reapers. I get luck and count as ‘in cover’ and just the Exarch dies. I loose a fair amount of my Wraithblades to Lootas and combined firepower. The Shokk attack guns are in a great spot and untouchable with gots, etc shielding him. However they do very little in T1.
- I take a risk for 2 critical points on Objective 2. I do this stupidly. I say this because it breaks my golden rule of 1: Moving the Knight beyond 6″ of my Farseer. And 2: I know I MUST get Fortune off on the Knight, and I can nearly guarantee it passing, but I didn’t do so. This has 2 effects:
- Without the Farseer nearby, his Tankbustas come in from Deepstrike, and I can’t use “Forewarning” on the Knight which, in my experience, can put a serious dent in low armour squad like that. and the second effect is fatal: Without Fortune on the Knight, the Tankbustas, and Shokk attack gun nearly kill him! The Shokk attack gun goes ballistic and does something like 10 mortal wounds (Thanks for the ‘narrative’ gun Games Workshop!). Then in assault, his Warboss would just remove the last wounds remaining. Here’s an interesting sidenote which proves my stupidity. As I took all that damage I rolled dice as if I had passed Fortune. The result? I saved 8 of those wounds before the Warboss charged me. That’s a big, big difference. It could be game changing…
- Ork shooting (what’s left of it) is still good. I think he targets my Wraithblades too much. They have Protect on them, and this means they are getting a 3+ on Loota shots, and a 2+ against his split fire from his Kopters (which come in on T2 from a table edge).
- My Vibro’s are really the last threat here so I somehow get lucky and just save enough with my ‘cover save’ from the Experts of Concealment Ability. I still have 2 Vibro’s left. And I’m down to 4 Wraiths after receiving a boatload of firepower.
- Another goofy moment goes my way. The Ork Dakka jet cleverly parks itself next to my Autarch and tried to snipe him. I roll box cars for saves. BUT then I heroically intervene into the Fighter. (This doesn’t count as a charge so my Laser Lance is basically a lightsaber with a dead battery!) I get lucky and roll 2 x 6’s for wounds and just kill the flyer. Very, very lucky.
And here’s where I think I get exceptionally lucky:
- Without the Wraithknight I have to rely on the Night Spinners for anti infantry, and they each fire about 8-9 times. They don’t kill anything, but reduce the pond scum….errr Orks to manageable levels at mid field.
- My remaining Snipers barely stumble into some grots and grab a key objective.
- My two Wraithlords with dual Missiles ALL HIT, and ALL WOUND the mass of Kopters that came in. I roll a MINIMUM of 4 Damage on all dice (the Kopters are 4 wounds!). This immense luck means I get breathing room with my last Reapers to finish them down to 1 wound on 1 model which would fail morale.
- The Nightspinners actually put a small dent in the Tankbustas… just enough to cause one more to die from a morale test.
- The Dire Avengers pew-pew a handful of Boyz, and my Fortuned/Protected Wraithblades make into CC to try to kill the rest of the Ork boyz in center table. I even charge every HQ I have and a Wraithlord in to help. I totally screwed up the order. I KNEW my Wraithlord should go last (This is to multi wound the Nob which I know he will leave til last.) I Screw this up royally and sure enough he is left with 1 model, the Nob, with 1 wound left. So I am wholly responsible for screwing myself out of the point I needed to take the lead in the game.
In the Ork turn he tries to ‘Da Jump’ the Tankbustas into the Nightspinners territory, but somehow fails to put a single wound in. The only real targets he can see that are worth shooting at are my Vibro cannons. I am reduced to 1 cannon, with 1 wound. With that we call the game. I had the points to win the next turn, but he did have 2 Shokk attack guns, but very few of his 4.7 trillion bodies left. Another exceptionally close game.
The Wraith Construct Conclusion:
So although I conclude with these 2 mini-battle reports, I will conclude my thoughts on this process over the last several games with the following thoughts:
- My Ork Opponent thought the Knight was a non-factor. This is a common thought. It’s not one you want to hear on a ~385 point model.
- My Necron Opponent thought the Flyers were a non-factor. This is… also a common thought. It’s not one you want to hear from ~400 points of models.
- This tells me, that…. right off the bat I could probably make my list a LOT better by simply removing 785 points (which is 3 models!) from my army, and swapping it with just about anything else.
- That’s really disheartening. My favorite models to paint, and basically play with are: Wraithknights, Wraithguard/blades, Flyers, and Wraithlords. Are we being too hard on these units? Are the match ups the problem? Is it just not viable to take expensive models when your core of Wraithblades are 350 points as well? I’m starting to doubt the idea.
- Truthfully one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned about eldar is if you aren’t playing the super strong units, you are playing sub standard units. There’s a lot of poop in this codex that needs rewriting. The lesson here is Psychics. Unlike my Chaos, the Eldar Psychics in my lists do nearly zero damage! But what they do is take mediocre crap like… massed Shurikens, and make them ‘okay’ to use. I am so reliant on the psychic phase to get any real use out of this army, it’s a little scary.
- I look for advice all the time. (Not just about my personal hygiene) and I’ve come to the conclusion not many Eldar players are doing this. I’ve played a lot of mediocre armies in 8th (intentionally) and this might be one of the most complex to get working. It has a lot of moving parts. It is the exact opposite playstyle of a Knight army I’ve used. There is no autonomous unit that is a wrecking ball that you just continually yell “FIRE” and roll dice and watch your enemys fall before you. This army, more than any I have, requires a complex overlapping plan of execution and is delivered in ‘waves’. It can be rewarding, it can be exhausting, it can be frustating. It can be fun. But almost always… it is a nail biter. You do not ‘annihilate’ anyone with this army, even when it all goes your way.
I’m still in limbo after this game. I’ve seriously considered putting the army away for a long time. But it has an addictive quality. But is it like a ‘high’ you get from finishing a marathon? Or more like you need that extra hit of crystal meth to get you through the day? Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, but there are elements of this army I love.
I would love to finish what I have. The flyers, the Knight, the Wraiths….. but I feel as I understand it, this is not a competitive army. (My goal was to mould this into something I take to ITC this summer.)
This post was something I wanted to do for a while. I apologize for its length, but if you’ve read this far I thank you for hanging in there, and I leave with a few pictures, and go on trying to research a better way to do this!