Tactics: Eldar in 5th Edition: Mechdar! Part 3 of 3

In the end of this article, I discuss Mechdar as I would have played them then. I still like the larger squads to the serpens spam you see today in Mechdar lists. What do you think of Mechdar in today’s meta?

Winning with Eldar in 5th Edition Part 2


Last time we looked at taking a foot Eldar list that was capable of going toe to toe with the heavy hitters and come out on top. Today we will look at an aggressive mechanized Eldar list that is designed to actively engage the enemy and win in 5th edition.

The first thing to consider when making a list in 5th edition in my opinion is always the same: how will I win games? The answer in two out of three missions is to hold objectives, and in one in three it is to kill more enemy units than you lose.

With a mech list you are paying for speed, fire power and defense against small arms fire. To get this you typically have to give up numbers. What this means is that what you do take must perform its function in your list well, or you will not win games. This list’s overall strategy is speed, overwhelming force applied where needed, and the ability to always alpha strike your enemy and react to him after he has committed to his game plan.

So as always, I begin in the troops section, as this is where you score those objectives and win most games. This army uses the strength of the Eldar list which is the HQ, Elite and Heavy Support sections, to do all the heavy lifting. The troops in this list merely focus on scoring and not dying. Therefore you need the most mobile scoring units you can muster for the least amount of points. In this case go with four units of bikes, two of them naked, one with a shuriken cannon, the third with a cannon and a Warlock with a spear and destructor. This gives you four very fast scoring units to win you games. Now they don’t pack a lot of punch (although the unit with the Warlock can hit fairly hard), nor can they take much of a hit, but they will allow you to focus your scoring units where they are needed at any point in the game, which is huge in 5th. The standard tactic with these guys is to reserve them up and keep them off the board for as long as possible. Watch how the game develops and then send them where they are needed.

Now the second section I always focus on is H.Q. as this typically determines the overall feel of your army. For this list I take two Autarchs. Why? The ability to choose to apply +2 to your reserve rolls (and with the Bikers, you should nearly always choose NOT to use that to try and keep them off board). What this means is that you can always start in reserve and it doesn’t matter if you go first or second as you will effectively always “go first.” What I mean is that no matter if your opponent goes first or second, he will have nothing to shoot and 5 out of 6 of your units will come on board turn 2 and get to hit his army with nearly your full strength where he is weakest. Thanks to the speed of your units and the ability to react to your opponent, you have a huge advantage with this setup as you can see where he deploys and look for areas you can exploit. For this list we will be taking Yriel, because he is a beast in combat and fills the gap of monstrous creature killing that the list needs, and an Autarch on a bike with a Star Lance, Melta Gun and Mandi Blasters. He rides with the Warlock bike squad or goes solo and actively seeks to hunt tanks, or engage soft targets like Long Fangs, Devastator Squads, etc. Now, there is also a strong case to be made for taking a Farseer in place of an Autarch for psyker defense and those great Eldar psychic buffs, but since the list is nearly all mounted, most enemy psychic powers won’t have much impact on you. It is up to the player to decide how he or she wants to play the list, but bear in mind, not having the dual Autarch set up means your alpha strike from reserves is much weaker.

The next section to fill this list out is Elites, where Eldar are spoiled for choice. For this list I think a solid mix of units is the best choice as in a tournament or league setting where you may not know who your opponent will be, you need to be prepared for any list. Therefore, taking one full unit of Fire Dragons with an Exarch with Firepike and Crack Shot, a full unit of Banshees with an Exarch with an Executioner and Acrobatic, and a full squad of Striking Scorpions with an Exarch with a Claw and Shadow Strike, all of them in Wave Serpents with Spirit Stones with Shuriken Cannons, gives you a wide range of very fast units able to engage a number of different opponents. I know many number crunchers will make the argument that 6 Fire Dragons is the optimal amount to destroy any vehicle (baring a monolith), and that no more than 8 of an assault unit are needed as it makes the squad points inefficient, but in practice with a list with this few bodies, you need to get more than one assault out of the combat specialists and those fire dragons need to destroy more than one tank to make the list function. More bodies mean more endurance on the board. Also, since in 5th the ability to outflank is transferred to the unit’s dedicated transport, the Striking Scorpions are able to come on from a flank if needed which can really disrupt an opponent’s plans.

Now, on their own, the above units are fine, but they are prone to being destroyed easily if not used correctly. This army needs to focus all of its power on one portion of the enemy’s army, destroying it and minimizing the counterpunch. In nearly all cases you simply cannot engage across a broad front as it diffuses your punch and leaves you open for retribution in your opponent’s turn. So use the turns you have off board to study your enemy and see where you can best apply your units to maximum effect.

This army so far has speed, the ability to always alpha strike, multiple scoring units and some fairly potent combat characters. What it needs is the ability to thin hordes and engage transports and heavy tanks at range. Luckily the Eldar have a great answer for this dilemma in the Fire Prism. This list is rounded out with 3 of the tanks, all with Holo Fields. This gives you the ability to drop accurate pie plates on enemy horde armies such as Orks or Nids, open up transports so that your aspect warriors can engage the units inside and to put wounds on Monstrous Creatures. Also, with three, you can almost always count on having the choice to combine shots with the Fire Prisms, although with cover everywhere it is usually best to put more wounds on infantry as they will typically have a 4+ cover save. When you see a Land Raider or Battle Wagon bearing down on you though, a twin linked strength 10, ap 1 shot is a good bet.

This list plays best aggressively. Your elites and HQ are meant to actively engage and occupy your opponent’s attention. Get right in his face with all of your transports and trust the survivability of your Wave Serpents to get your Aspect Warriors where they need to be. Target saturation increases survivability, he may be able to down one skimmer, but usually not three without great luck. Destroy his scoring units and cripple his fast movers. Combine Yriel with the Banshees for a very hard hitting unit that can cut through most units like a hot knife, even high initiative units like Genestealers. Because of Yriel’s special weapon (a power weapon wounding on a 2+), high WS and attacks, you can trust him to destroy Monstrous Creatures so long as the banshees can hurt it and contribute some wounds. The Fire Prisms stay at maximum range, ideally behind cover and fire on those targets that most need to be destroyed. They are also mobile enough to position for side shots and to move to contest objectives where needed. Use your Wave Serpents to block charges, block firing lanes and go for side shots on enemy vehicles as well as to contest objectives. Use them to tank shock at every opportunity. This army lacks numbers and so each element in it must be maximized in order to win. By playing a smart game and focusing your hitting power on eliminating those units which can stop your bikers from scoring objectives, you will be able to earn victory consistently. In kill point missions, hide your bikes once they come on board and do not engage unless there is a clear opportunity take down a weakened unit with little chance of losing your squad.

Always try to take second turn with this list, as it allows you to skip turn 1, then come in bottom half of turn 2. This means that you have taken two turns away from your opponent. You also have the benefit of moving on objectives in the final turn without a reaction from your opponent. This is a big advantage in and of itself, but it also allows you to maximize your strengths as this army lacks endurance with its low model count and low toughness. It lets you hit hard without getting hit back as hard. This list performs great in all deployment styles too as it will always be playing its game, coming from reserve, which is a further benefit as many strong builds suffer in certain deployments such as Dawn of War. This list also performs well against armies that depend on deep striking or outflanking as your board will be empty and those units will likely do nothing to you in the course of play and end up as points wasted. Armies with lots of high rate of fire, high strength shots, like Auto Cannons, etc. will be a tough match up, but again, the ability to alpha strike and a little luck means it isn’t a total mismatch.

So those are two lists that allow the Eldar to get in there and fight with the enemy instead of hiding and running and using tricks. Now don’t get me wrong, you should still use those sneaky tricks when you can, you are a Space Elf after all, but it is more fun to strike the enemy than hide from him in my opinion.

The list:



Autarch, bike, star lance, fusion gun, mandi blasters


Fire Dragons, Exarch, firepike, crack shot

Wave Serpent, Spirit stones, shuriken cannon

Banshees, Exarch, executioner, acrobatic

Wave Serpent, Spirit stones, shuriken cannon

Striking Scorpions, Exarch, Claw, shadow strike

Wave Serpent, Spirit stones, shuriken cannon

Heavy Support:

Fire Prism, Holo Fields

Fire Prism, Holo Fields

Fire Prism, Holo Fields


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

2 Responses to “Tactics: Eldar in 5th Edition: Mechdar! Part 3 of 3”

  1. Avatar
    Mike November 29, 2011 9:59 pm #

    Nicly written. I’m starting an Eldar army, and your articles helped quite a bit.

    One question, though: The bikers seem like a watse. I understand the need for fast moving scoring units (or 4, in this case), but it seems like they rely too much on staying in reserve unitl turn 3-4; what if they come on turn 2? Sure they can move pretty darn fast, but still… And it seems like a bad idea to have points in a unit that ,may have to run and hide if things take a bad turn.
    Given the Mech-nature of this list, is there a specific reason you chose bikes over Dire Avengers, or even guardians, in a wave serpent?

    Again, I’m starting an army, so I’m curious (no nit-picking intended).

    • Reecius
      Reecius November 29, 2011 10:17 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback! And it doesn’t seem nit-picky at all, trust me, I have been around the net long enough to develop thick skin! We appreciate your interest.

      I prefer bikes because they are easily hidden, mobile, and not as big a points investment as the Serpents. Even if they come on turn 2, they turbo boost, hopefully out of LOS, and focus on staying alive. If you play the list correctly, you should be putting enough pressure on the other player that they will be focusing on your damage dealing units as opposed to your scoring units.

      Different strokes for different folks, and as I always say, play all the options, or those that appeal to you, and run with what works for you in your local scene.

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